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Sunday, July 18, 2021

Coaching Conversations, July 2021: How to Keep Your Employees Engaged

First of all, an update: I floated a new series of posts here last month that I titled "The WAIT List," using the acronym "WAIT" to stand for "What Am I Talking" about with clients. The content appears to have been well-received... but the title? Not so much. So I'm going for the most basic, but perhaps most descriptive, title. So here's my next "Coaching Conversation." Thanks for reading.

* * * * *

In light of this summer becoming titled "The Great Resignation" by many, I met with two different
groups of managers this past week to talk about some of the many challenges they are encountering as their employees start returning to the office. The list is long: 

  • employers are experiencing remarkable levels of turnover;
  • many workers resent the return to commuting;
  • some feel they have not had any margin between persevering through the pandemic and now facing the return to the office;
  • a lot of parents are not finding reliable childcare;
  • there are several expressing a desire to continue to work remotely - as one manager described it, while working remotely even one day a week was not an option for most at the end of 2019, many employees in 2021 now cannot believe they are "only" being allowed two days a week to work from home; 
  • let's be honest -- some people just want a change.

As managers and leaders, how can we make the return a healthy and positive one? It will require all of us to adjust some of our approaches to leadership. The workplace in 2021 is changing rapidly, and we need to remain agile in order to stay ahead of it all.

Harvard Business Review recently published a very good article titled "The Real Value of Middle Managers." I heartily recommend it. This quote really stayed with me:
Especially as remote and hybrid work takes over — and the distance between employees increases — middle managers are more important than ever... It is time to reunite leadership and management in one concept, and recognize middle managers as CONNECTING LEADERS. (emphasis mine)

I appreciate how the author seeks to reunite the concepts of "manager" and "leader" into one concept, but I want to emphasize what I focused on with the two teams of managers I met with last week: middle managers will need to double-down on relational investment as we move forward. 

Every workplace newsletter and blog and podcast is stating some variation of this reality: employers and managers cannot just focus on project management and operations. Given the incredible tumult of these past eighteen months, and the vulnerability we experienced with one another on a variety of levels, leaders are going to be relied upon to provide coaching, cultivate emotional intelligence, and even offer psychological support at times.

I know, I know... perhaps this is not what you signed up for. But the workplace plays a significant role in most people's lives. Research has shown that employees who feel connected to their organization work harder, stay longer, and motivate others to do the same. People want purpose and meaning from their work. They want to be known for what makes them unique. This is what drives employee engagement. And they want relationships, particularly with a manager who can coach them to the next level: this is who drives employee engagement.

So if you want your employees to remain committed, and not just survive, but thrive, employers will need to devote consistent effort on a few key things:

  • FEEDBACK. Employees will stay if they know they will be recognized for their contributions.
  • PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT. Team members will be energized if they see opportunities for professional growth and career development.
  • TRANSPARENCY. Colleagues will band together if they understand when organizational change happens and why.

On top of all of your other responsibilities, how do you find the time to do this?? Great question. I recommend these 4 steps:
  1. Commit to monthly meetings for your team that are dedicated to professional development.
  2. Embed that time in your schedule: First Fridays? Last Thursdays?
  3. Try to build some fun around that: include coffee and donuts, or a unique location where you will be uninterrupted and able to collaborate in a creative way.
  4. The KEY: make a plan NOW for the coming year!

Professional development can and should come in a variety of forms: special speakers, webinars, articles, podcasts, book clubs, mentor programs, coaching, case studies, off sites...

Last but not least... I believe this plan is most effective if it is also paired with monthly 1:1’s with each team member. This is where you can customize the approach and focus on unique needs and issues. Transactional leadership simply does not work anymore. We have to be committed to building trust over time, and setting up our employees for success.

I have a TON of resources, so feel free to reach out to me if this feels overwhelming. I can't emphasize this enough: Set the schedule and make sure you prepare adequately. Carve out time each month to prepare, and bring variety to your training strategies. And let me know if I can help! Email me at kelly.soifer@ksleadershipdevelop.me.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

July 2021: Reflections on Returning


I don't know about you, but I am finding this a rather disorienting time. I am certainly thankful we're not quite as fraught as this time last year (escalating COVID numbers in the US, protests sparked by George Floyd's murder, and a contentious presidential campaign), but things are still complicated and scary. Just checking the news this morning sent chills: a presidential assassination in Haiti, chaos in Afghanistan as the US withdraws troops, rising numbers of bodies found in the condo collapse in Florida. I can chalk up some of the anxiety to the endless 24-hour news cycle, but these are tragedies regardless.

Fun blog post opening, right?! But I cannot try to happy talk my way around what I am hearing. At the same time, I am finding that it all becomes somewhat more manageable if I talk about it with those I trust. This is one of the things I have experienced out of the pandemic -- people are more willing to talk about difficult things more readily. The resources I am listing this month are borne from those conversations and reflections. I hope they prove useful to you too.

The Age of Reopening AnxietySure, there are a TON of articles out there about life post-pandemic. I felt like this one actually had something to say. [Hint: note the new term "cave syndrome."] I especially liked it because it put words to some of the hazy feelings and thoughts I was having. Even better, it's not all gloom and doom. As stated at one point in the piece, "Some individuals’ private lives had benefitted from the slowdown. 'Some people have let themselves discover empty time, and actually inhabit it, and not be pulled into the ever-present temptation to fill it,' he said."

You Can’t Cure Your Employee’s Existential Crisis. But You Can Help. While the previous article addresses more of our personal life challenges as we slowly return from the pandemic, this article is more geared toward the role of leaders and managers in the workplace.

How Do You Ask Good Questions? I suppose this post emerges from a discussion around how to be a good podcast interviewer. But in the spirit of the "I have forgotten how to socialize" dilemma that many are feeling as we return to in-person gatherings, I think this has some good ideas to try out.

What I Am Reading And Listening To. So many different things are occupying my attention right now as I try to process all the crazy going on:


  • Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted. I’m semi-obsessed with this book by Suleika Jaouad. My friend Nancy Rust, a writer, recommended this to me. I read it in about 5 days. You know that feeling, where you are reading it when you brush your teeth, go to the bathroom, make breakfast. The experience got extended when she was interviewed on several of my go-to podcasts and I learned even more. She provides profound insights on mortality, purpose in life, writing, suffering, etc. That has prompted great opportunities for reflection. My favorite interview of her was this one with Tim Ferriss. Fun extra: go to Jaouad's website, theisolationjournals.com, and sign up for their free weekly journaling prompts if you are already a journal keeper or want to get started.
  • Can't Even: How Millennials Became the Burnout Generation. Anne Helen Peterson provides fascinating (and sometimes cranky) insights on the struggles for Millennials and Gen Z as their early education and work experiences bridge the Great Recession of 2008-2009 and the recent pandemic. These younger generations have gotten a bad rap and clears that up real quick. Wow. She also has a newsletter on Substack that is pretty darn interesting.
  • Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-Mile Diet. This was a re-read for me to provide renewed motivation for good "food hygiene" in terms of eating seasonally, organically, and locally.  I first read this book 10 years ago or so, when I first decided to try eating seasonally and organically. "Locally" is mostly possible, but I have some dietary restrictions that sometimes makes that less possible. But Michael Pollan, in "In Defense of Food," taught me how to shop around the edges of a grocery store.
  • The "Sunday Read from the NYTimes." This is a part of The Daily podcast but it's become a regular Sunday habit for me to hear long-form journalism audibly. I recommend this recent episode about the woman who insured we would learn about Van Gogh. Amazing!
  • PBS News Hour. Feels less panicked and less dramatic that standard cable news, who feel like they are trying to stir me up hourly into a frenzy. I listen to the podcast while I'm making dinner and get caught up the latest without getting heartburn. I also occasionally listen to BBC World News to make sure my perspective is not too US-centric.
  • Smartless. 100% silly, guilty pressure. Few podcasts make me laugh out loud, but this is one of them. A fun way to unwind. Favorite episode so far: the interview with Maya Rudolph.


  • Last but not least: Read about a 70 year old woman who was the first woman to thru-hike the
    Appalachian Trail alone -- and she did it in tennis shoes.
    Wow. Who knew? Whenever I start feeling sorry for myself, I can think about Emma Gatewood. Sheesh.





Thanks for reading... stay tuned for updates on more recent podcast interviews (I just recorded two this morning!) and coaching conversations. Reach out to me at kelly.soifer@ksleadershipdevelop.me with questions or feedback.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

WAIT List, June 2021: Project Management


I have been committed to providing content for clients on this site monthly, and the feedback I'm receiving is positive. With that in mind, I want to try adding another component to this site: a monthly coaching conversation related to "What Am I Talking about with clients." In other words, a "WAIT" list. [Too corny? Let me know. Seriously] So here goes -- a topic that has come up multiple times in the last few weeks, so perhaps it's coming up for you as well?

Certainly, most (if not all) of us are currently navigating the unknown waters of post-pandemic return. We had some workable routines that emerged during these many months, and it is honestly a little jarring to have to adjust again. Offices are trying to figure out hybrid schedules, some people are timidly re-entering commutes (some for the first time, since they took the position during the pandemic), others are feeling the challenges of back-to-the-office requirements just as school is ending. YIKES.

More than ever, we need help with our calendars as we juggle multiple priorities. As one client told me bluntly today, "we need training on prioritization and time management." This is certainly a longer conversation, and each of us has our own unique circumstances, but I want to share three key elements that I use, and have shared, with many people.

  1. πŸ” THE SUMMIT. This HAS to be your starting point. For the first time you do this, you may need to set aside three hours to really dig in -- but trust me, It. Is. Worth. It. I call this step the "summit" because I am asking you to climb a proverbial hill and get the 30,000' perspective on your life. 

    The best place to start is to select your main five priorities in your life.
    That might be family, health, faith, work, hobbies. Or it could be friends, exercise, community service, career, cooking. You get the picture. Slow down and take the time to really drill down and decide the 5 areas you want and need to spend most of your time on. PS Notice how work or career is only ONE of the five.

    Then I strongly recommend that you start a mind map. Please try doing this digitally, since digital mind maps are easier to edit and refine, and go with you everywhere.  My two favorite sites are mind42.com (free!) and MindMeister ($50-$100/year, but more bells and whistles - ask about the academic discount). Put yourself in the first, main bubble. Then create 5 separate branch bubbles off of your central bubble for your main five priorities. Once that is done, go to town! Start downloading all the hamster wheels spinning in around in your head, creating further bubbles on the mind map. Nothing is too small! Put it ALL there. PRO TIP: sync your computer with your big screen TV or if you have it, a video projector, and cast the whole crazy mess onto a large space so you can see everything. You truly need to get the big picture.


  2. πŸ“‹ PROJECTS. Once you lay everything out on the mind map, start identifying the projects you are responsible for, especially when it comes to work, but for everything else too. For me, I start with each of my clients. Then I break down the various projects I have going with each client. Then I also note the projects in my personal life: my meal plans for the week, home projects, travel, exercise, books I want to read, etc.

    Then this is a crucial step: identify a project management software (PMS) to use. Personally, I use Trello. But there are a BUNCH out there: Asana, Basecamp, MS Projects and Planner, etc. Here's the deal: most of my clients get stuck here. They focus too much on TASKS, and not where they should be, on PROJECTS. We tend to get lost in the weeds when we focus on individual tasks, rather than clustering and organizing tasks together into projects. (The latter step is especially crucial when you're collaborating with others.) If you don't pick up what I'm laying down, read this brief article: it's an ad for ClickUp, another PMS option, but it does a good job 'splaining things.

    I have collected a bunch of resources on how to set up Trello here: I like it because it is visually stimulating (thus keeping my attention better than lots of bullet lists), and it has a GREAT phone app. 

    Take the time to load up your projects onto the project management software, delineating all the tasks you can think of. If you're really feeling it, try to put due dates on those tasks.


  3. ✍🏾 SCHEDULING. NOW is the fun part. Every Sunday afternoon or evening, I take 60-90 minutes and map out my week. I basically hike part way up the Summit and see where things are. I look over my mind map to note any changes or make updates, then I review my projects to figure out what I am doing for that week, and then I put those responsibilities in my calendar. If I am giving a presentation (usually already on my calendar), I set aside two hours to create it. If I am part of book club, I schedule an hour to read the darn book. If I have a review scheduled with someone, I set aside an hour on my calendar to prepare for it. Get the picture?
There you have it. It's a bit of a heavy lift on the front end, but creates a structure that is relatively easy to maintain. I could and perhaps should add a 4th element: I review my work at the end of each day, making sure I completed all the tasks I scheduled myself to do. If not, I find a new place for them on my calendar!

Hope this got your wheels turning and perhaps even motivated to try it. Contact me at kelly.soifer@ksleadershipdevelop.me with your questions, or to set up an appointment to get some assistance. Cheers! πŸ₯‚

Monday, May 31, 2021

June 2021: Time to Reset?

 

I don't even know where to begin. We are in the midst of such strange, disorienting times -- that somehow still feel better than this time did in 2020. I spent some time looking over my journal from a year ago during this Memorial Day Weekend, and was painfully reminded of George Floyd's murder, the protests and controversies that boiled over as a result, the profound fear and conflict bubbling out of COVID, and the... trauma of the presidential election. Wow.

I'm thankful to be vaccinated, and truly grateful for the work I get to do, that has remained surprisingly steady throughout such an unsteady time. Yet I am also aware of so many unknowns hovering over us: will the level of vaccinations in our country effectively stem the tide of infections that we witnessed in this last year? will schools get to open so that parents can truly go back to work? will the vaccines prevent the spread of the variants? will the businesses who have suffered this past year get to recover? will employment levels return to where they were pre-pandemic? how will children do long-term after such an isolating year? [heck, ALL of us?!] do I want to return to the office? These are just some of the questions I hear from clients, friends, podcasts, you name it.

I certainly cannot answer any of these questions, but I want to pass along a few resources and recommendations that I believe can help to sit with these questions and quandaries. Thanks for reading.

πŸ—£ 8 pandemic-related interview questions you should be ready to answer. While this article is designed to prepare a job-seeker for the new frontier of job interviews post-pandemic, I would almost recommend them as journal prompts for your own reflection! My favorite was #6: What do you do differently now? Just to answer that question personally: I find that multiple 1:1 video calls each day, while personally fulfilling in that I love connecting with clients in a productive and genuine way, are cumulatively taxing. I have had to "up my self-care game" in getting more rest, and committing daily to practices at the start of my day that center me

🀷🏽‍♀️ 10 Questions for a Successful Summer. Speaking of journal prompts, this one got my mind spinning in a lot of [productive] directions this past weekend, and I'm still sitting on a couple of them.  While this podcast is very... how do I put it... "female forward" (?) in its presentation, I think the questions apply to anyone, and invited me to really think creatively about what I want to do this summer. The first question is worth your attention: What defines success for you this summer?

πŸ–₯ Digital Tips. I spend an unexpected amount of time with clients assisting them in figuring out issues around productivity: how do I get a handle on emails? how do I remain focused when I'm getting constantly pulled away by hair-on-fire situations? how do I keep track of and manage so many projects? how do I effectively supervise others when I also have so much of my own work to do? While all of that is much longer conversation, here are two recommendations that I used this past month:

  • 32 incredibly useful things you didn’t know Google Sheets could do. Perhaps I'm just a sucker for hacks. But this has some goodies! Current favorite: freezing rows. So helpful.
  • The Case For Inbox InfinityI like this one. Granted, I'm a major naysayer of Inbox Zero, so perhaps I like this because of its confirmation bias. But give it a go and see what you think. My favorite line: "For now, we’re stuck with email. You have to use it. But it does not have to use you." Music to my ears.
πŸ§—πŸ½‍♂️ Life's Work: An Interview with Alex HonnoldIf you saw the film "Free Solo," you will know why I like this article. Rather than read leadership books, I tend to like to read interviews, memoirs, and biographies about the lives of intriguing people to glean leadership insights. This one has some good tidbits about preparation, stewardship, how to remain focused, and how to keep motivated.

😡‍πŸ’« How To Leverage The 7 Types Of Rest To Be Your Happiest, Most Productive Self. I've saved the best for last. This is an EXCELLENT article. Please, please read it. Then forward it to your people. Then print it out and read it in a park with a pen in your hand, or at least away from your desk. It is a REALLY good way to think about rest and self-care. As we move ahead in this post-pandemic landscape, we have to take our self-care to another level. This article provides a good inventory for assessing yourself and what you need. I showed it to a client who is a social worker and he read it, paused, then looked at me and said, This is a really good article. This backs up the latest research. But it is also engaging and readable. 

❝ ❞ Favorite quote these days. This was shared to me by a client. Thanks Deborah! 

“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift.”

 

Thanks again for reading this. Please feel free to pass it along to others. And  please note the resource list I've posted directly to the right of this post for free and handy resources that will make your work life that much easier. And you can email me with questions, feedback or a request to meet for a free half-hour of coaching to assess what you need at kelly.soifer@ksleadershipdevelop.me. Ciao for now.

Friday, April 30, 2021

May 2021: It's a Small World


Once in awhile I take a moment and reflect on how differently work life can unfold these days. For example, yesterday I had to get up a little earlier for a 7am call... I brewed a stiff 3-shot latte, turned on my screen and signed in for a call with people in Boise, Sarajevo and Bangkok! Our worlds spanned 7am for me, 4pm for Sarajevo, and 9pm for Bangkok. 

I finished with them, made some oatmeal, journaled a bit to prepare for the rest of my day, and signed on for a 9am call with someone in Germany. It was a great conversation. Though these international calls have become more typical for me, I still find the novelty of it enjoyable. I also feel challenged to keep learning about effective communication, connection, and collaboration under these conditions, whether someone is in Kuala Lumpur or Chicago.

This enlarged global perspective, fostered by these international clients and relationships, has also been deepened for me in the past year as we have collectively experienced COVID-19. I make it a point to regularly listen to the BBC Global News Podcast to make sure I don't get all my news through the tunnel vision of US politics. So today I am grieved by the worsening numbers of COVID cases in India and Brazil, even as my world here opens up incrementally more, especially after receiving my 2nd vaccine dose.

Bottom line: in a year where divisions have deepened and increased, I pray many of us have somehow grown in compassion in light of the shared trauma the world has gone through. One can hope.

* * * * * * *

Onward and upward to my recommendations for this month!

🌎 Armchair Expert Interview with Erin Meyer on the Culture Map. I have used this interview with all of my international clients. Honestly, I can't recommend it enough. As the world continues to connect globally through technology, we need to advance in our cultural and relational understanding as well. This interview is a hoot but also gives GREAT nuts and bolts about we often misunderstand each other. Don't skip this one.

❤️ Who We Are Now. This is an interactive piece with evocative photos, quotes and brief reflections from a wide swath of Americans. Outstanding, poignant, thought-provoking words on how people are processing what they've learned during the pandemic. I recommend it highly. 

🎧 Bessel van der Kolk: Our Bodies Keep Score (podcast interview). I mentioned here in February 2020 that I was reading Bessel Van der Kolk's powerful book, The Body Keeps the Score. It's a remarkable book, but also a bit of a heavy lift if you have plenty of other things on your plate (um, don't we all?!) So a second-best option would be to listen to this excellent interview of the author, where he applies his insights to what we are experiencing now.

πŸ–₯ What Is Your Organization’s Long-Term Remote Work Strategy? I've done a fair amount of reading on this and I've also taken a certificate course on remote work. I believe this article is a good summary of some of the dynamics at play. Before diving into the weeds of how all of this could and should happen, this article asks some of the bigger questions to reflect on first. I thought this article, Here’s What You Need to Know (and Ask) if Your Company’s Considering a Hybrid Work Setup, also provided a lot of helpful parameters.

πŸ“ What Does It Mean to Be a Manager Today? Many of my conversations with senior leaders revolve around several unknowns: 

  • How flexible do I need to be with the stress of returning to the office? 
  • What do I do about expectations around the vaccine? 
  • How do I plan ahead when we are still entering such uncharted territory? 
This article doesn't solve it all (don't I wish?!) but it does break some things down. 

πŸ“Ί What I am watching... I am more of a reader than a watcher, but a few things caught my attention this month.

  • Hemingway. This is a film documentary by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. As a forever former English major, I was excited to watch this. Plus having enjoyed past Burns and Novick docs on the National Parks, the Roosevelts, Jackie Robinson, the Civil War, etc., my expectations were even higher and it did not disappoint. I binged it in 3 consecutive nights and was left with more questions than answers about the writer himself, his motivations, his mistakes, his genius. I immediately ordered his memoir A Moveable Feast to keep chewing on the questions. PS If you are not a subscriber to PBS, it's only $5/month, people! That's unlimited access to British Baking Show. What else do you need?!
  • Derry Girls. I am late to this party but delighted in it all nonetheless. It didn't hurt that I had some extra time on my hands after my 2nd COVID vax left me on the couch with zero energy. I am now counting the days till Season Three comes out...
  • WeWork: or The Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn. I'm not sure if this is a story about a tech supernova that blew up, or a cult. It's a trip, regardless.

Final Thoughts.
As we each ease out of this pandemic into a different world from a year ago, be gracious with yourself and others. I read this this morning and it touched me deeply.

May you be blessed with good friends.
May you learn to be a good friend to yourself.
May you be able to journey to that place in your soul where
there is great love, warmth, feeling, and forgiveness.
May this change you.
May it transfigure that which is negative, distant, or cold in you.
May you be brought in to the real passion, kinship, and affinity of belonging.
May you treasure your friends.
May you be good to them and may you be there for them;
may they bring you all the blessing, challenges, truth,
and light that you need for your journey.
May you never be isolated.
May you always be in the gentle nest of belonging with your anam Δ‹ara.

-John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Friday, April 2, 2021

APRIL 2021: Develop. Survive. Thrive. Reset.


I've gotten my first Pfizer shot, 2nd one is due soon and I cut 3 inches off my pandemic hair. The times, they are a-changing! I'm excited in some ways as things slowly open up, and concurrently concerned by the premature cancellation of mask-wearing, Spring Break travel busting out all over, and the variants. Eeesh.

As always, I've plowed a bunch of great tools and resources. Here goes!

Leadership Development. This is my favorite topic to talk about... so much so that I got interviewed on a podcast about it! And apparently the response was so strong (most downloads in their season after 1 1/2 days) that they asked me to come back for more. Thank you to those who listened. Upcoming interviews will be on burnout, remote team-building, and the how's and why's of leadership development (intern programs, onboarding, management training, performance reviews and about 15 other things!). Stay tuned.

More resources for leadership development:

  • How to Step In as an Interim Manager. I have used this with a couple of clients and they found it very useful, as a sort of roadmap to get started.
  • What I Learned from Taking Fridays OffI liked this article because it's written by a seasoned leader, not a younger worker who just wants more time to mess around with friends (not that that is bad, but I'm well past that stage!) I've found that my stamina is so different as I've gotten older, and I need more time to decompress and "re-create." This article captures some of the issues around that.
  • Coaching Real Leaders. This is my new favorite podcast (and I love me some podcasts!). I want to be Muriel Wilkins when I grow up.
  • Most Requested Leadership Development Resources. I've done a little spring-cleaning on my website, and if you look to the right of this post --> --> -->, you'll see a boatload of the docs that clients request most from me. There are some gems in there. Have fun! Tell me which ones work for you and why.

Surviving and Thriving.
I do wonder how we will all do as things shift beyond the pandemic. There is certainly no going "back" to the ways things were, but I can't tell what it will be like as we move forward. I think it might be like my experience during every finals week in college, when I pushed really hard with the carrot of knowing that I'd get to have a break... and promptly got sick as soon as I finished! I think once we let our guards down that some stuff might bubble to the surface. Let's be kind to ourselves and others as life unfolds...

  • Beyond Burned OutFrom the HBR "Big Idea" research for March/April 2021. I appreciated having an official definition of burnout, plus a reminder that it's not just an employee problem, but also an organizational one. Additionally, they offer interventions to avoid sustained burnout. A few other tidbits:
    • Millennials have the highest levels of burnout.
    • One of the greatest needs of employees is an empathetic manager.
    • Leaders need to get the right systems in place NOW, before the NEXT crisis happens.
  • CEO Stress, Aging, and Death. I know, I know, not a happy times title, but useful research here.
  • Letters from Esther Perel: Routines and Rituals. Renowned therapist and relationship guru provides great questions for reflecting on the impact of the pandemic over the last year.
  • Which small changes in pandemic habits will stick? Again, "don't waste the pandemic." Use this tumultuous experience to reflect, reset, reboot.

Mental Floss. We all need to take a breather during our days. Rather than mindlessly scroll through social media, try these...

Sunday, February 28, 2021

March 2021: THINK. SEE. HEAR. DO.

OOPS! I blinked and February sped past me. Wow. This month pulled me in several different directions with clients (for which I am incredibly thankful) AND I took a socially-distant RV trip with my best friend to celebrate my 60th (WHAT?!) birthday. We visited Zion, Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon National Parks. I could fill this whole post with photos but... I also have a bunch of resources to share. So here is one photo of so many:


If you are so inclined, I cannot recommend each of these parks enough. This is a shot of Natural Bridge at Bryce Canyon. I was so refreshed by this trip!

And here are my recommendations for this month:

READING. Warning: Perhaps because I was an English major in college and read A LOT OF FICTION, my reading habits for the past several years have all been non-fiction. I am also a perpetual student, so I'm constantly reading about new things that interest me.
  • Beyond Entrepreneurship 2.0. I'm reading this with 2 executive leaders right now and I was entirely won over after the first chapter. This is an update by Jim Collins, renowned author of Good to Great. This podcast interview of Collins in Nov 2020 convinced me that this would be a valuable read, and I was correct. 
  • No Man is an Island. OK, this feeds my philosophical / theological / contemplative side. It's a classic by Thomas Merton. I'm reading this during Lent. Thick and thoughtful.
  • Stop Softening Tough Feedback. This quick article had me at "hello" when it used the phrase "feedback sandwich," because I use that very phrase when coaching managers and executives. 

WATCHING. I cannot BELIEVE how much good, creative stuff is available right now. However, like my reading tastes, I veer more toward documentaries and reality shows (not the trashy stuff). Though I really, really loved Schitt's Creek
  • Nomadland. I had heard raves about this film, and usually those sorts of things don't live up to the hype. But for me, this did not disappoint. Perhaps some of its impact was related to my recent trip all over Utah and Arizona, because this movie really captures much of the beauty of those wide open spaces. But the story, and the director's unique approach that wove together fiction and non-fiction, stayed with me after the film was over. It looks at some hard realities in our country, but it wasn't overwhelming.
  • In and Of Itself. I am reluctant to say much about this film. Just watch it. Very powerful.
  • Stanley Tucci "Searching for Italy." Remember when I said I like reality shows? THIS is what I mean. For context: I love, love, love Italy ~ I've been twice: first to Rome, Florence and Cinque Terre and later another trip to Naples, Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. If you are feeling uber-restless about not being able to travel much, this will scratch your itch. Then follow up with Chef's Table: France.

LISTENING. As I have mentioned multiple times here, I'm a podcast NERD. Here are just a few newbies:
  • In Our Time by the BBC. I'm pretty confident you will either LOVE or HATE this. This podcast almost has me giddy. The combination of chippy British accents, delightful understatement and endless episodes about EVERYTHING under the sun is like Christmas for me.  Check it out.
  • HBR Presents: After Hours. I have found this recently. I probably like the energetic, enthusiastic back-and-forth of the hosts as much as the content. But it covers current business trends in a concise, inviting way.
  • Pivot. I believe I've mentioned this one before, but WOW there are So. Many. Confusing. Things going on right now. If you struggle (like me!) to understand bitcoin, blockchain, GameStop, short selling, SPACs... this is your show. Sure, the language is crass and their humor is a bit much at times, but they are in the game and really seem to get it.

WHAT AM I UP TO?
  • Podcast Club. I've started doing a monthly podcast club for a client and we've done two months so far. I think it's working! I have at least 20 podcast episodes you can choose from, and we use the time to provide professional development, team building and interesting exchange. 
  • Strengths Finder Leadership Domains. If you're familiar with Strengths Finder, they have divided the 34 individual talents into four leadership domains: Executing, Influencing, Relationship-Building, and Strategic Thinking. I'm doing a 4-month series with a client on these domains and they are providing excellent ways to reflect on how to motivate employees and maintain momentum.
  • Favorite new hacks. These are basic but helpful:
    • Chit Chat Cards. Looking for good icebreaker questions for 1:1's and team meetings? Sick of "How's it going?" or "What did you do this weekend?" These are great to get things going in new ways.
    • Four Zoom Chat TricksDid you know you can save a Zoom chat!? I sure didn't. Read on for more helpful tips...
  • Remote Team Building Resources. It's not quite ready for prime time, but I'm in the midst of building a resource list for you to be able to access for ideas on how to creatively build TRUST and CONNECTION on your team as we work in this remote environment.
Please feel free to reach out to set up a time to connect and work together. Be well. 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...