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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.

Tuesday, July 12, 2022

July 2022: Time to Course Correct?


As I noted in my May post two months ago, I have spent this "Summer of Slow" recovering from my broken ankle. During the 4th of July weekend I had some extra time to take stock of how I was doing mentally as this process kept unwinding and had to face the fact that I was somewhere between "struggling" and "surviving." I recognized that I need to rally and somehow find the resolve to move into thriving if I was going to recover adequately. Obviously, this is easier said than done, but through a concerted pursuit of journaling, reading, reflecting, talking with trusted friends, and some prayer, I feel the clouds starting to part. 

These resources below are resonant with this pivot -- how can each of us regroup and find new strength and direction in the midst of so many personal and global challenges? I hope you find them encouraging and stimulating.

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Thoughtful description of how life has felt since March 2020. The majority of my client conversations revolve around how much life has changed since the pandemic, both personally and professionally. With those changes, not all of which have been bad, there have been some deep losses. This newsletter post captures some of the sorrow that accompanies those losses, and how to work through your sadness productively so that you can move forward.

Let’s Redefine the Role of Manager. I’m assisting in management training with two different companies, plus 1:1 with some individual clients. I believe this brief podcast captures how much the role of manager has changed due to several factors: the pandemic (obviously), generational changes in how people view work, advances in technology, to name a few. The deeper dive on this question is found in this article, written by the same person interviewed in this podcast: Managers Can’t Do It All. I strongly suggest you review these two resources if you are an executive, so you can get a very clear sense of what your managers are dealing with... and if you're a manager, I hope you'll appreciate how these capture your reality.

Tracking my stress at work actually helped my productivityI liked this article because it not only proposes an idea, but walks the reader through the steps to apply it. I would be interested to hear if you apply it and find it helpful.

Understanding anxiety —and its surprising upside. Coupled with the article above, this interview helps us to reorient and try to move, as I stated above, from surviving to thriving. (PS I recommend this podcast overall -- the host consistently interviews fascinating people and touches on some truly thought-provoking topics). This article, It’s time to reframe our thoughts around anxiety. Here’s how to use it productively, is a good companion to the podcast in that it interviews the same neuroscientist, so the content gets reinforced and outlined.

The Big Winners and Losers From the Remote Work Revolution. This is a pretty darn interesting discussion and very different from other conversations I’ve listened to on remote work.  The core question they talk about: what is the “job” of the office?

"The average American has only been to 5 of these places, how about you?" This one is purely for fun. Though I am happy to say that I've been to twenty of these places. But then again, I have no idea why these particular sites are on the list.


Thanks for reading -- share it with a friend or co-worker. And please feel free to send questions and feedback to kelly.soifer@ksleadershipdevelop.me. Onward and upward.

Thursday, June 2, 2022

June 2022: Summer Suggestions


If you read my previous post, you know that I have a little more time in my schedule these days to read and reflect (at least theoretically!). So just two weeks later, I already have a bundle of recommendations for you. 

Since the pandemic began, my clients have needed a steady stream of resources related to stress management and the many ways that COVID and world events have turned our worlds upside down. Despite the ongoing stream of bad news that seems to bubble up every other day, I do have a list of links that pertain primarily to a favorite topic of mine: #leadershipdevelopment. Please let me know if you find any of these useful!

⏱ How to Help an Employee Who Struggles with Time Management. This is very good - a much more holistic approach that doesn’t reduce the problem to just finding a new #productivity app. I especially like the way it challenges the manager to recognize how much their own communication and delegation matters. 

⏳ Best Time-Saving Google Assistant Tricks. I have a significant number of clients who are neurodivergent, meaning that they are on the autism spectrum, ADHD, dyslexia or a few other neurological diagnoses. Sometimes, these folks struggle with staying on task or losing track of time. I have shared this link with several of them and they have told me it has been helpful. Note that these tricks are also useful if you are someone who often engages in deep work or really gets into flow, yet still needs to keep track of commitments at times. Last but not least, here's a useful link on time blindness, which is something often experienced by those with ADHD. Even if you do not struggle with this, you might manage someone who does and it could be a great opportunity to dialogue about how to work within the constraints created by that.

🀷🏽‍♀️ Best Practices for Hiring Gen Z. Given the roller coaster ride we are currently on, I cannot tell if we are still in the Great Resignation or a recession or what!? Nevertheless, talent managers and leaders are experiencing new challenges almost daily as they try to figure out how to recruit new hires, manage expectations around remote and hybrid work, and retain valuable employees. I thought this article did a good job describing what it's like to recruit and hire new graduates. We really do need to become students of who they are and what they want, because they bring some very new expectations to the workplace.

⁉️ Creative Questions. These could be used in a variety of contexts. For example, I am often asked by clients for help with coming up with creative questions to open meetings that are fun but also build trust and connection on teams, but they are useful in job interviews too. And honestly, they would be fun around the dinner table with friends too! 

πŸ—£ Ask a Manager. Where has THIS been all my life? You can also follow them on Twitter. I also recommend "Ask a Boss." Obviously, I recommend proactive professional development for managers and leaders and not reactive "hair-on-fire" crisis management, but this could be a good site to bookmark as a reliable reference for problems in a pinch.

Final Thoughts. As I s-l-o-w-l-y recover from my broken ankle, I am doing as best I can to live day by day and cultivate patience. In recent reading, I came across this quote from Simone Weil, a 20th century French philosopher and mystic:
We do not obtain the most precious gifts by going in search of them but by waiting for them.

May we each do our best to patiently persist through the highs and lows of these days. Thanks for reading. Please reach out with questions or feedback at kelly.soifer@ksleadershipdevelop.me 

Sunday, May 22, 2022

May 2022: Know Your Limits

 

I wish I could say that I found this photo on the internet in preparation for some lofty thoughts on self-discipline... but alas, it is a photo of my own left ankle the day after I had surgery to repair it due to an unfortunate lapse in judgment on my part. I wiped out on my motor scooter (first accident in 15 years of scooter ownership) on May 8 and broke my left ankle. Super dumb mistake... I was pulling into a parking garage and went around the gate thing because scooters park for free but I miscalculated and the gate came down and knocked me off my bike. The scooter basically landed on my foot and turned it 90 degrees. Not pretty. Surgery was on May 11 to reattach cartilage, insert plate and screws. I’ll have a second one in mid-August to remove the screws.

So I am essentially house-bound all summer... still able to work, read a bit, stream a show or three, and visit with kind friends who drop off a meal or send me funny texts. I initially decided this was going to be the Summer of No, but I have since regrouped and copying a friend who is getting treatment for cancer, I'm calling it now the Summer of Slow.

I was reading some writing this morning from a man slated for execution on death row, who wrote,

As I sit here in this execution watch cell on Texas death row, with a camera surveilling my every move, I’m thinking about acceptance, and I’m thinking about survival. Years ago, I came to understand and exercise this power: “Change what you can. Accept the rest.” Now that last part doesn’t mean that you give up. But by accepting things as they are, you in turn are able to gain a certain amount of control over said situation. You feel me?

I am currently in the thick of contemplating that. I have come to the realization that even at my age, I still need to learn a great deal about which are the things I can change and which are the limits I need to accept. I am someone who perseveres, who pushes, who fights back. For those who are familiar with the Enneagram, I'm an Enneagram 8.

All that to say, I am reflecting on what expectations look like from here, on what it means to be productive, on what is important. While I have posted more than once here on those topics before, they certainly have new meaning these days for me. What follows are a few resources that are somewhat in that vein. Thanks for reading.

6 Powerful Questions to Steer Life & Work. It is so easy to get swept up in the day-to-day demands of work, and it never hurts to STEP BACK and reflect on where you are headed. As Stephen Covey says, "If the ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step we take just gets us to the wrong place faster.” There are certainly a ton of ways to pull back to get the big picture, from SWOT analyses to retreats to strategic planning sessions... but here's a spin on all those that might prove helpful. Check it out.

5 subtle signs you’re headed for burnout. I regret to say that this is one of the top three things I have been talking about with clients for the last several months. And it does not seem to be changing as we head into some choppy waters regarding the economy. Take a few moments to read through this one - it can't hurt.

COVID memorialA poignant reminder (covering just a sliver) of HOW MUCH we lost in these last two years. We have all been so desperate for the pandemic to end, yet I do not want to blow by the profound losses either.  (And let's be honest, I was unfamiliar with the majority of these remarkable people.) So far, the main lesson I have gleaned from my accident is that I have to keep working on tangible ways to slow down. Let us not blow by the significance of what has happened in the last 2 1/2 years... This website gives you a chance to reflect.

CliftonStrengths podcasts on Wellbeing. Anyone who has worked with me in the last 10 years or so knows that I often start the conversation with StrengthsFinder. I continue to find it a useful, objective way of engaging in work around leadership development, motivation, team-building, and self-awareness. The good people at Gallup have started a new podcast series, called oddly enough, The CliftonStrengths Podcast. This season they are discussing how to understand and leverage our strengths around issues of wellbeing. I am taking notes as they work through all 34 Strengths, and you can find the transcripts in my initial link for this recommendation.

What am I watching and listening to in my Summer of Slow? I am just getting started, but here are a few of my favorites.

  • Survivor 42 (yes, I'm a sucker for this show)
  • Love on the Spectrum (Netflix), US edition. Just started it this week. I've absolutely loved previous seasons.
  • Grace & Frankie. It has been on for seven seasons and I have not watched any, but heard a strong recommendation and I'm enjoying it so far.
  • Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy (CNN). Season 2 is here! If I can't travel, at least I can go to Italy vicariously.
  • Building Off the Grid (Discovery, but I'm watching archived episodes on Sling). I'm not entirely sure why I like this show so much, but I do.
  • BBC Sounds. This is the BBC's own podcast platform.  DO NOT MISS "Soul Music" or "In Our Time."
I'm a genuine podcast-a-holic, so I'll leave it there because I love too many to list. I'm sure I'll share some in another post as the summer unfolds. Again, thanks for reading! Please reach out to me with questions or feedback at kelly.soifer@ksleadershipdevelop.me.



Monday, April 4, 2022

April 2022: Endurance


Last month I noted that the intense nature of these last two years feel more like ten years on most days. Watching this horrific war unfold in Ukraine has only intensified the weight of the challenges we are seeing and experiencing. 

In multiple conversations with clients last week, I used the remarkable events at this year's Oscars (which already has its own Wikipedia page!) as a metaphor for what it feels like is going on everywhere: difficulties and conflicts seem to escalate to 11 immediately, which tells me that we are each fraying at the seams. We are exhausted emotionally, and now have little bandwidth for anything unwanted or unexpected. Given the content of what I am talking about with clients these days, I am certainly seeing that. My last recommendation for this month's post speaks to what we need to seek after as we press on.

With all of that in mind, I found these resources most helpful. I hope you enjoy them too.

🧭 Redefining Your Purpose in the Wake of the PandemicIn conversations with many clients from all over the world in these past two years, I have found that one "upside" of the pandemic has been that many, if not most, people have gone through some sort of existential crisis, taking some time to reflect on the meaning, direction and purpose of their lives. This is obviously a bigger topic than this article can cover, but it does provide a starting point. 

πŸ“ The Imperfectionist: The reverse golden rule. Admittedly, after reading Oliver Burkeman's book, 4000 Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, I've become a bit of a groupie for everything he writes... This is a brief and worthwhile tidbit from his newsletter.

❤️‍🩹 Ann Patchett: Behold, These Precious DaysPerfectly delightful conversation about writing and what it means to be friends through suffering. Take the time to listen to it. 

πŸ’° Are you middle class? Use this cost-of-living calculator and map to find out. Admittedly, these sort of things are too fun. Take a spin with Family Budget Calculator and the Family Budget Map. Make sure you zoom in on the Family Budget Map to do some comparisons. WOW. Scary as it might be, it certainly is worthwhile to get a gauge of how you are situated economically. And while you're at it, read this random U.S.A. fact of the day regarding the change in population in America's ten largest cities between 1950 and 2020. 

⚓️ Endurance: Shackleton's lost ship is found in Antarctic. I have been a huge fan of the Shackleton expedition for years. The story of the entire experience is utterly spellbinding (this is my favorite account of it) and a remarkable study of #leadership. And now the wreckage has been found, 100 years to the day of Shackleton's funeral. Make sure you watch the short video of the wreckage on this link. The story is one we may need to be reminded of as we persevere through seemingly endless challenges....

Thanks for reading. Feel free to pass it along to someone you know. And send me feedback or questions at kelly.soifer@ksleadershipdevelop.me.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

March 2022: Are We There Yet?

 George Takei (Sulu from Star Trek) posted this on Twitter today:


These past two years have been the longest decade ever.


I could not agree more. Just when we thought Omicron was winding down and COVID-19 was moving from pandemic to endemic stage... we are here, with the first ground war in Europe since WW2. I include this photo simply because it made me smile in the midst of so much sad news. This is the author Margaret Atwood at a protest in Toronto. Between her cat beanie, the Ukraine flag and her impish smile, I was encouraged.

I share this month's links and recommendations with the hope that you will find them motivating, useful, and enlightening:

🌎 The Culture Map. I've recommended this book before... it is currently on sale for cheap on #Kindle (don't delay -- it probably won't last long). I have a small number of tools I use with clients to assist with #leadershipdevelopment and #managementconsulting. This one is in the top three for me. I recommend it HIGHLY.

⏳ We Need Time to Rehabilitate from the Trauma of the PandemicAnecdotally, my conversations with several clients verify the recommendations in this article as they start returning to the office, or even just meet together for a 2-3 day meet-up to reconnect. We need to ease back in carefully and intentionally. Also, this one: 6 red flags your body is breaking down from overwork. It is crucial to be mindful of how we are doing. Take a peek at the six red flags and see if any of them apply to you. Why not?

πŸ—£ Interview questions you should be asking if the job is remoteGood questions for both interviewers and interviewees. I have sent this to some clients who are in the job hunt and think they want to find a remote position; I encourage them to really think through their responses. All of the questions are spot on, but questions 6, 7, and 8 are especially insightful. If you are having to shift your team to remote status for the foreseeable future, I recommend using all these questions to set up clear expectations for your collaboration moving forward.

😱 At what age does mental speed slow? OK, maybe I noticed this one because I turned 61 last month... according to this article, it doesn't look so good for my team! 😳 However, I got this one from a client and thankfully it is a bit more optimistic: When Working Harder Doesn’t Work, Time to Reinvent Your Career. This one is a thoughtful spin on the midlife crisis. Make sure to read it.

❤️‍🩹 It's Your Friends Who Break Your Heart. This is a long read, but a worthy subject. So many good insights that were so helpful to read. It gave me hope that I'm not crazy when I think about some of my failed friendships. It also explains why our relationships have suffered during the pandemic.

πŸ™ˆ And now for something utterly random... From Gretchen Rubin: "One group of product researchers argue that, when it comes to texture preferences, people fall into four groups: chewers, crunchers, suckers, and smooshers. Check out table 4 to find out your texture preference. Apparently, I’m a “smoosher.” I love that word, and I love soft, spreading food textures—Greek yogurt is one of my favorite foods." Personally, I am also a smoosher. Chocolate pudding and cool whip are favorites of mine. Use this article at your next team meeting for a unique (and hilarious?) icebreaker.

❝ ❞Final thoughts. I read this recently from Ryan Holiday:

Don’t work for the external rewards. Because they will not come. Or worse, what does come will not be a reward at all. Instead, do your work because it’s right. Because it’s who you are. Because the alternative is even more unthinkable.

Thanks for reading. Please feel free to forward this to friends and colleagues. Send ideas, questions and feedback to me at 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...