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Tuesday, January 31, 2023

February 2023: Listening... a LOT!





Aaaannndddd.... 2023 is off and running! I'm not even sure where January went. Phew. Usually this is a relatively slow month for me as clients take their time to get back in the swing of things after the holidays, but that lasted for all of one week this time, and then the requests to meet kicked in. Which I'm obviously thankful for!

As I look over this month's recommendations, I did not realize until I saw the entire list that there seems to be the pervasive theme of LISTENING, whether it's an informative podcast, tips on communicating better in a digital world, a story about paying attention, or understanding others who live life very differently from you. I hope you enjoy them -- I sure did.

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🧐 The science of happiness, with Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar. This is a very robust conversation, and had many highlights for me. Listen to it and learn more about #resilience, "anti-fragility," figuring out your #calling, and what does it actually mean to be #happy

🫒 Intent versus impact: a formula for better communication. Much of my #coaching right now is focused on equipping #managers on how to lead their #remoteteams. One often-neglected aspect of this is how to best #communicate because so much can be lost or misunderstood in #digital messaging. This article provides some clarity and next steps. It could be a spark for a good virtual team discussion on how you want to best communicate moving forward.

πŸ‘‚πŸ½You Have to Learn to Listen. My favorite read of this month. The title says it all. It's a long read but WELL worth the time. I think it's behind a paywall, so here is a PDF version. As we are bombarded by apps, news, devices, stress and just too much noise overall, we can lose our capacity to truly hear someone. This story is tremendously compelling. Do not miss it.

πŸ‘¨πŸ½‍🦳 πŸ‘±πŸ½‍♂️ Gen Z in the Workplace. This is a conversation between a Gen X father and a Gen Z son. Being a #Boomer myself yet having worked with young adults my entire adult life, I often function as a translator between the generations. I found this conversation very engaging and enlightening.

🎧 Science-backed productivity playlists to help you dive into deep workI don't know about you, but I usually need some instrumental music in the background to really focus when I have to.

🀝 Team-Building Questions and Activities, January 2023. Every few months I try to generate a new list of questions and simple activities to use to help foster deeper connections between groups. I hope you find these helpful - please let me know which ones worked best!

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

January 2023: Reading, Reflection and Revving Up


I don't know about you, but I'm having a bit of a hard time getting going again after the long break. Part of it could be the dark and dreary days of late (that's right, Santa Barbara is actually having weather recently, with many days of rain and overcast, which we certainly need), but I am guessing part of it is also how the holidays fell this year, which allowed for consecutive long weekends, about which I am NOT complaining!

But it is time to get started, and I am hoping that writing this post will assist me in revving up for 2023! I hope it proves the same for you. 

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πŸ’₯ Word of the Year GeneratorThere is nothing magical or prophetic about this. It is just a fun exercise to jump start your vision and strategy for 2023. My word was “Inspire” ~ I’ll take it! I spent some time in my journal considering how I might gain inspiration in the coming year, and how I might inspire others.

I passed it along to a few friends… one received the word “Yes!” and she loved it. Another received “Burn” and that was energizing for her: what might she burn down this year? What fires her up?

Yet another received the word “Work.” Nope! She didn’t want that one… the second was “Youth” - no connection for her there. Then she got “Surprise” and that worked. Again, no rules here. Just have fun with it, see if it sparks something for you and pass it along to others.


✅ Best Productivity Apps for 2023. This may feel like I am talking out of both sides of my mouth because I am a huge fan of the authors Oliver Burkeman and Walter Brueggemann, who both say that we need to focus far less on productivity and much more on being present and mindful. I could not agree more.

Nevertheless, I am also realistic that each of us are responsible for getting work done, and many of the apps described here are helpful in self-organizing and prioritizing. These words from the article put it well: 

The problem: productivity is deeply personal, and the words "productivity tools" mean a lot of different things to different people. What works for you may or may not work for me, which is why—after over a decade of writing about productivity software—I don't really believe there are objectively "best" productivity apps… Just remember: the specific app doesn't matter. The best productivity app is the one that works best for you. The most important thing is having a system.


⏰ Wake Up Your LinkedIn ProfileI often coach people who need help finding a new job or even a new career. One of the many key elements in that process is starting / improving / refining / maintaining your LinkedIn profile and presence.

First of all: I highly recommend working on your profile before you need to find a job. No doubt you are discouraged and exhausted when that time to transition comes, and the creative juices are often squeezed out by fear and stress. So please make a resolution to work on LinkedIn proactively and consistently, not just when you need to look for a job... you just never know :) Here are three links I recommend:


πŸ“š What Did I Read // What Am I Reading? I have mentioned here before that I am a recovering English major, so I am a BIG reader. (I also have Input as my #5 talent in StrengthsFinder). I have a few friends who are frustrated with me that I do not read fiction... I don't have big explanations for this other than perhaps I burned out on having to read two books a week throughout four years of college, the majority of which was fiction? ANYWAY, here are my top five favorite books from 2022, though it is difficult to narrow it down:
  1. 4000 Weeks: Time Management for Mortals. I am relentlessly pumping up this book by Oliver Burkeman (as I have done so previously on this blog). So, so good. It really made me reflect on my fierce focus on productivity and how that is unhealthy in so many ways. I can say I feel changed by this book.
  2. On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity and Getting Old. One of the favorite authors of my life is Parker Palmer, and he does not disappoint here. I initially was not interested in this book because he was writing from his 80 year-old perspective, and I did not think I was in that mindset yet. But I was humbled to realize that I should not wait until I'm 80 to think back (and forward) on my life --- DUH. 
  3. Codependent No More: How to Stop Controlling Others and Start Caring for Yourself. I feel like the title says it all. I recommend this book to so many clients and when the 25th anniversary edition came out this year, I decided to read it again. Gulp. This book kicked my ass, plain and simple.
  4. Calypso. Few writers make me laugh out loud like David Sedaris. His stories, especially about his family, are hilarious, and yet sometimes also a punch in the gut. Who needs fiction when I can read stuff like this?!
  5. How to Be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question. My favorite show streamed during COVID was The Good Place, and after I finished it I became borderline obsessed with the ideas behind the show and with its creator, Mike Schur. When I heard about this book, which emerged from his work on the show, I snapped it up. His goal was to write a book about philosophy that his teenage children would understand, and that was perfect for me! Check it out.

What Am I Reading? I am almost always working on a few books at a time, so here goes:

⁇ πŸ€” Questions for the New Year. I will end with this. As I mentioned in last month's post, I am a big fan of journaling, and a great resource for journaling prompts is the therapist Esther Perel. Here are her New Year's prompts:

What are your associations with the “new year”?

Does the promise of new beginnings motivate you?

Does the conclusion of the previous year stress you out?

Do you prefer to bring in the new year dancing with others or in quiet contemplation with yourself? Why?

What area of your life could use more structure?

What area of your life could use more spontaneity?

As I said, I hope these recommendations rev you up for 2023. Thanks for reading -- feel free to pass this along to a friend or coworker. And please send questions or feedback, or set up a free 30-minute consultation, at kelly.soifer@ksleadershipdevelop.me. Cheers! 







Tuesday, December 13, 2022

December 2022: Gearing Up for What's Ahead


I cannot say that I will miss 2022.
It was a rough year for a lot of people: more COVID, Mpox, RSV, war in Ukraine, layoffs, inflation, political tensions... for me, it was dominated by a severely broken ankle in May from which I am still recovering. The word of the year is apparently gaslighting. Bleah. My personal word of the year is physical therapy. Bleah again.

Sadly, we felt the same buh-bye feelings about 2021... 2020... so I'm cautiously (skeptically? tentatively? desperately?) optimistic for better news in 2023. In the meantime, I encourage us all to do some reflecting in these dark, cold winter days. I find it so important every year to take some time to pull the lens back and look back over my calendar, my journal, and world events in the past year and get my bearings for the one to come.

So my first recommendation builds on that idea, and then I throw in some other ones that sparked conversations with clients and fodder for new presentations. Tell me what you think!

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✍🏾 Journaling Prompts. As I have shared more than once here, I am a massive fan of journaling. Personally, I use Evernote, having given up on writing things down years ago because I ran out of room in my condo to store all the #@(#& journals. But I also found, in talking with many clients, that they often have earnest desires to journal but are quickly stalled with the pressing question of "What do I journal about?" So here I am with a multitude of prompts, links and opportunities. And I want to put a special endorsement on the prompts I've collected from Esther Perel, a therapist who has intriguing podcasts and whose interviews I have enjoyed. I think these might be just what you need to spark some energy to journal on a deeper level. You may want to bookmark this journal prompts link because I update it relatively regularly. Just do it!!

😑 What is Emotional Labor? I find the correct concept of emotional labor to be very helpful especially when working with clients who are customer-facing. Across the board, I am hearing from those clients that interactions escalate quickly when there is any sort of frustration, and that they are not equipped to deal with the barrage of anger and antagonism. Furthermore, it creates massive stress because they are not able to respond in kind (nor should they). But that is remarkably taxing and that has caused some significant churn within the workplace – it feels like someone is always quitting out of exhaustion and frustration and those remaining are having to adjust to new people and more onboarding. Further content can be found here: The Concept Creep of Emotional Labor and The Power of Non-Anxious Presence. Bottom line: we have got to learn how to settle down interpersonal communication in every area of our lives: family, friends, colleagues, customers. Closing in on 3 years of challenging world events has worn us down and made us more reactive and less resilient. Let's work together in 2023 to regain some patience, generosity and civility.

πŸ›‘ Urgency Doesn't Exist. Frequent readers know I am a massive fan of Oliver Burkeman, who wrote my favorite book of 2022, 4000 Weeks: Time Management for Mortals. I stalk him a bit online and subscribe to his newsletter. This link on urgency was a great reminder. Please read the entire post (don't worry, it's not long), but may this little quote tease you: "The first and most obvious sense in which urgency isn’t what it seems is that virtually none of the things that generate that knot-in-the-stomach feeling are the matters of life-or-death we tend to assume." Exactly.

πŸ’¬ Cringe quiz: Are you fluent in Gen-Z office speak? Gearing up to teach another course in January to college seniors, along with my work with some under-25 clients and heck, communicating with my 22 and 24 year old niece and nephew, I took this #genz quiz. Good luck! (PS I got 4 out of 6 right... but I doubt I really get it.)

☮️ Wellbeing at Work? I like this new trend toward #wellbeingatwork. Sadly, I am not convinced that it will continue though... Favorite quote: "The equation is simple: The greater the wellbeing of your employees, the greater the wellbeing of your organization. That’s not just good for your employees; it’s good for your business." #culture #employeeengagement

πŸ‘―‍♂️ Body Doubling. This may be an unfamiliar term to you -- it's certainly new to me. But for my clients who are #neurodivergent, this has proven helpful. For those who might struggle with focus, self-motivation, or executive function (prioritizing), body doubling can provide some assistance in remaining on task. As the article states, "You can body double in person, over the phone, via video chat, or even through text. The knowledge that someone is 'present' and aware that you are doing the task is intended to increase motivation and follow-through." Sort of like studying with a reliable friend in college. Try it out?


I hope you and yours get some good space to rest and restore some sense of hope and purpose for the new year. Thank you as always for reading -- feel free to pass it along to someone else. Reach out to me with questions or feedback at kelly.soifer@ksleadershipdevelop.me. Buh-bye 2022!

Thursday, November 10, 2022

November 2022: Ruts, Rest, and Remote Work

I always have ambitions of posting something at the beginning of each month. Yet here it is November 10... I'm never entirely sure where the time goes, but better late than never.

I am happy to report that one of the reasons that the start of November caught me a bit by surprise was that I got to go on vacation from October 22-29 to Sun Valley, Idaho. My best friend and I, who are great travel buddies, stayed in the guest house of a friend of hers and other than the shock of a 40+ degree temperature difference, the time there was fantastic. I came back rested and refreshed, and the only regret was that I had to do a bit of scrambling upon my return as I had so much to catch up on. Thus the delay in getting this out....

The view from the back of the guest house
(and no, I did not use the tub!)

Nevertheless, here are my most-used recommendations for the month. These especially found a lot of traction with clients. Enjoy!

♥️ Hygge CardsI’ve used this with friends, but also with teams who already know each other a bit. I had one client call these “palate cleansers” during meetings, when things need to shift between topics during busy, topic-filled tactical work together. Another client used them on a staff retreat to warm up the group. I could see them also being valuable as a way to get a team (especially one working remotely) to socialize a bit more in a less-threatening way.

⛏️ How to Get Out of a RutA quick but worthwhile blog post from one of my favorite authors, #OliverBurkeman. #productivity #patience #resilience P.S. I highly recommend subscribing to his newsletter.

😴 The Nap Bishop is Spreading the Good Word: RestHere is a podcast interview with the “nap bishop” as well. Y'all, this has been on heavy rotation with several people I am working with. Sure, we have all been hearing about the need for more rest in these stressful times. But I tell you what, this has some really new, really thought-provoking insights in regard to our need for rest. If you can only pick one of this month's recommendations, pick this one.

☮️ How 30 Days of Kindness Made Me a Better Person. Full disclosure, I have not done this yet. But I find it intriguing and encouraging. And here are the 30 days of challenges.

πŸ–₯ What Great Remote Managers Do Differently. I am juggling three different management training projects right now. This is clearly a huge need in the workplace, especially as we keep wading through the waters of hybrid, remote, layoffs, retention, quiet quitting, you name it. Great quote: “So what managers do remains the same; it’s the how that changes.” This article really highlights a huge shift in management – it is much more focused on people management and not just process management.

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“Especially after COVID-19 forced us all to slow down a bit, I found myself questioning for the first time ever why (and for whom) I and my peers are working so hard — often to the detriment of our mental and physical health — and how that can not only be normalized, but also glorified,” Devon Gates, 21, said. (from Nap Bishop article) 

 


Monday, October 10, 2022

October 2022: Reflect, Resolve, Remote, Recover


I found this illustration humorous -- of course in part because I am a devoted cat owner (shout out to 7 month-old kitten #Otisthecat) but also because I think we all tend to overcomplicate things. My hope is that this blog provides some hacks each month for you to help you wade through the noise and find some simpler solutions to complex issues. So here goes!

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πŸ›  How to Build a New Leadership IdentityI like this article because it captures some of the tension between transitioning from being an #individualcontributor to becoming a #manager and #leader. Do you have a "leadership identity"? If so, how did you discover and learn to define it?

⏳ Your Career Is Just One-Eighth of Your Life. Here are five pieces of career advice from a reliable source (Derek Thompson at the Atlantic - his podcast Plain English is also on regular rotation for me). Number Four on his five pieces of advice is the one I've especially taken to heart this year. And should you be in a reflective mood about your career and want to delve further, I also recommend this blog post, A Tale of Two Funerals

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If you find yourself at a crossroads professionally - you're hitting mid-life, you wonder if you're a good fit, you feel stuck... please go to my calendar and set up a one-time complimentary meeting so we can talk through your coaching options. I have just assembled a "coaching bundle" of various processes that could help you get started in a new direction.

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πŸ“‰πŸ“ˆ When Success Isn't SuccessI’ve had this conversation recently with a couple of people. I have found that an upside (perhaps the only one?!) of the pandemic has been that people have been drawn to the #existentialquestions of life – why am I here? what is my purpose? what is the meaning of life? This podcast certainly doesn’t solve those questions, but the conversation about it all here is very engaging.

πŸ₯Š Need Help with Conflict Resolution? I recently surveyed 75 of my clients, both past and present, and one of the things I asked was what specific issues do they need help with now. One of the most frequent responses I received was #conflictresolution. This article won't solve this struggle, but it gives some good baseline principles from which to start. #howtoargue #seektounderstand

πŸ–₯ Advice from the CEO of an All-Remote CompanyI’ve worked virtually since 2010. I find that the reason #remotework is challenging is because we approach it the same way we do in-person work. Which makes no sense. I’m working hard to help leaders learn how to adapt effectively and think strategically in regard to working remotely. If you like this episode, you may find this article useful as well: 4 Myths about In-Person Work, Dispelled.

πŸ€• What's Your Grief? We experience all sorts of loss: the passing of loved ones; job loss; the end of a key friendship; the death of a treasured pet; even the disappointment of how much the world has changed since March 2020. This website is a good resource to get started on addressing your grief and loss, which has many layers of complexity. Here's a sample article: The Grief of Non-Death Losses. Additionally, here’s a podcast that provides a glimpse into counseling sessions on a variety of emotional issues: Dear Therapists.


What we do every day matters more than what we do once in a while. 
–GRETCHEN RUBIN

Great reminder that our habits and routines matter.

Thanks for reading. Please feel free to pass this along to others. 

I am in the midst of compiling some new training and coaching resources for clients after five years of dedicating my efforts full-time to KS Leadership Development, and would love to share them with you if you're interested. Again, just set up a one-time complimentary appointment with me at https://bit.ly/KSLDApptScheduler.  


Friday, September 9, 2022

September 2022: Searching


For those of you who have followed my delightful journey this summer as I recovered from a severely broken ankle, I am happy to report the largest screws have been removed (see above) and I am gamely working my way back into exercise and just walking in general. Let's just say that that is no joke. Sheesh. But I am definitely glad to be on the upswing. And I'm even driving my scooter again πŸ›΅

Other than a day or two off after the surgeries, work carried on for me, and I was mostly grateful for the distraction it provided. Here are some things I used this past month -- hope you find them interesting and useful. As I look over them together, I see many different things we search for.

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πŸ‘€ LOTS of info out there on the how-to's of job interviewsPhew…. between #TheGreatResignation and #QuietQuitting (and are those even real?!), how do you keep up on what’s happening in the job market?! Here are two interesting articles I came across:

πŸ“‹ Everything You Need to Know About "Stay" Interviews. Sure, we've all heard of exit interviews, but this is a new term to me. In the midst of some layoffs unfolding as our economy goes through some unpredictable ups and downs, "stay interviews" have already become pertinent with some clients. What do you think?

πŸ™‹πŸ½‍♀️ How to Get Noticed on LinkedInThanks to my dear friend Rukshan Fernando, who sent me this #podcast episode from #CoachingforLeaders. Good basics on how to get started on #LinkedIn if you need ideas.

🦠 Many Americans say they have shifted their priorities around health and social activities during COVID-19I am an information nerd in general, so I found this article very interesting, especially as it discussed what has become less important to people. If you like polls and data like this, I suggest you subscribe to Pew Research Newsletter. All the cool kids are doing it….

☮️ Why Can't We All Get Along? I have relied on #DavidLivermore for insights on #culturalintelligence and thought this article did a good job bringing his insights to our divisions here in the USA. I liked this quote: "The same skills that help us work effectively with colleagues on the other side of the world can help us talk with friends, family members, and coworkers about sensitive issues closer to home." #diversity #DEI

πŸ‘©πŸ½‍🏫 Extremely helpful discussion on how and why to find a therapist -- and why it can be so hard. As someone who is NOT a therapist but often gets into significant discussions with clients around the issues of #stressmanagement, #mentalhealth and #wellbeing, I have learned how to assist people in finding therapeutic help. I especially liked this episode because it describes several of the hurdles one might need to overcome (insurance, availability, finding the right fit) in a way that helps someone stick with the search and not get discouraged. A must-listen!

πŸ€ͺAbsolutely random links. I saw these and just had to share them. They each are quite… interesting. I don't want to describe them because it will take away from the "WHAT??" impact:



Friday, August 5, 2022

August 2022: Stay the Course


In May I shared that I had broken my left ankle and that I was heading into a l-o-n-g recovery that I dubbed the "Summer of Slow." July 31st marked twelve weeks since my accident! There has been some good progress: I've moved from the leg scooter to crutches to a mere walking stick (without the boot), but my ability to walk is rather severely limited by two long screws that are still connecting my two leg bones to allow for healing. Thus I am counting the days (hours? minutes?) till they are removed on August 17. 

One upside of all this is that it has forced allowed more time for reading and reflection. So this month's set of recommendations are perhaps a bit more plentiful than usual. Last month I talked about "course-correcting" as I sought to move from surviving to thriving; this month I want to share some of the things I'm reading and learning about that are helping me to stay on that course. I hope they are beneficial to you as well!

πŸ—Ί Career Planning. Many people reach out to me for help in figuring out their next steps job-wise, especially during #TheGreatResignation (which some call the #TheGreatReassessment). But I am surprised to find that many if not most have not really done much career planning -- in other words, people know how to look for a job, but they may not have a definitive career path. This article is a good start - hit me up if you want or need more resources. #lookingforjob #lookingforchange

πŸ”Ž Managing Oneself. Perhaps that recommendation above could be "Part One" in your career map and this link could be "Part Two." Do not pass up this article when you see that it was written in 1999 ~ as one close friend told me, it is a gem πŸ’Ž.  As stated in the intro, "This article challenges readers to take responsibility for managing their futures, both in and out of the office." The author, Peter Drucker, is someone you want to become familiar with if you are not already.

πŸ—£ The 4 Most Important Voices for a Senior LeaderHere's a good inventory to use... as leaders we usually need to build a personal #boardofdirectors to cultivate and sustain long-term #growthmindset and #motivation. Do you have these four voices in your life?  #leadership #leaders

🎯 Marshall Goldsmith: The Essentials Of LeadershipA podcast interview that is a master class on leadership. I’ve referenced Marshall Goldsmith before, and this one is even better. 

🎧 Flourish FM podcastsExcellent podcast series on the whole area of wellbeing, flourishing, meaning and purpose. I especially appreciated Episode #2 on the importance of meaning. The series is generated by research from the Harvard Flourishing Program. This has been a great resource for my own growth and learning on wellbeing.

🧨 Burnout: A thread on how it works and how to deal with it. This bubbled up on my Twitter feed and I found it enlightening.

⏳ The philosophy of middle ageI would say the top three topics that clients bring to me are: 1) management or leadership needs; 2) wellbeing; 3) mid-life crisis! This is a “you too?!” podcast discussion that I definitely recommend. They open by defining mid-life crisis as a “general malaise” and then discuss the feelings, options, etc.

πŸ’­ Pandemic reflections from an executive coachI have to say that I resonate with most of his experience as described here: clients are re-evaluating when, where, and why they and their employees are now choosing to meet in person -- almost none of my clients are returning to their 2019 working arrangements, but they are enjoying occasional in-person meetings. Additionally, many are seeing the pandemic as a learning experience that enabled their organizations to become more flexible on a permanent basis… As I kept saying at the outset of all this, the pandemic did not create any of the issues we were facing, it only accelerated them. I imagine we'll be studying and reflecting on these years following March 2020 for years to come.

Thanks for reading -- is there someone who would benefit from reading this as well? As always, send feedback at questions to kelly.soifer@ksleadershipdevelop.me.

FAQ

Hearty Bread for the Whole Journey? aka, "What's with the vague subtitle?"

If you have sat through (endured? enjoyed?) one of my Strengths Finder presentations, you know that I often refer back to my life as an eter...