Monday, September 30, 2019

Crisis Management, Career Change and Counseling Needs in the Workplace: Oct 2019

Greetings! It feels like September blew by in the wink of an eye. I find myself in conversations with clients about year-end planning and I am slowly setting some 2020 dates in my calendar.  Yikes.

Before I get ahead of myself, I want to share some recent resources that stirred the pot for me and some clients.


Crisis Management 101. I shared last month that sometimes it feels like when I am not talking about how to develop leadership in employees, I am talking to clients about interpersonal conflict in their office. Often I am invited to assist my clients when there is a "crisis." More than anything, I try to remain a non-anxious presence to remind them that no one is bleeding and that "hair on fire" panicked leadership only worsens the anxiety in the system. This article builds on that in some ways, and provides a good baseline of reminders.

4 Ways to Manage a Needy Employee.  I loved the opening paragraph of this article:
These days, there’s lots of discussion about the importance of leaders being more vulnerable and creating psychologically safe work environments in which people can share their feelings. But what happens when someone takes that too far?
I am encountering this issue more and more with clients. Perhaps it is because some people do not have work/life balance, because work IS life? Also possibly, because I find that many younger adults are more free to share about their personal lives in the workplace. Regardless of the reasons, this article has some excellent reminders about how to manage that team member that over-shares and brings their stuff to the office. I found another brief (but good) article related to this issue as it pertains to maintaining professional distance.

6 Fears You'll Have as an Older Career Changer (and How to Overcome Them). I made a major career change at age 47. I discovered MANY things in that process. First of all, "mid-life crisis" is a thing! Secondly, technology is causing the workplace to change at an exponential pace. I had to learn new skills (video conferencing, 1099 income, "branding"?? to name a few...) and have walked friends through these changes as well. This article gets REAL about the many fears one faces in such a transition. Read it and pass it along to others.

Managing Distributed Teams. OK, so this one doesn't fit into the "C" words in this month's post, but it's really valuable if you work with others around the country and around the world, like many of my clients. It's only half an hour ~ set aside work for a brief bit and take notes.

Recipe of the Month: Traybake Chicken. This is for sure my favorite go-to meal in a pinch. Almost every vegetable possible can work.  I made it last night with squash, zucchini, onion, mushrooms, cauliflower and broccoli. The best part of that that all is that you only have the sheet pan to clean.

Final thoughts ~ on leadership.
“The leader is the guardian of unity. He or she must thirst for unity and work for it day and night. For this, the leader must not fear conflict, but rather accept it and strive to be an instrument of reconciliation: the leader must be in contact with all the different elements in the community, and particularly with those who are in pain or who are angry with the community.”
–Jean Vanier, “Leadership,” Called to Community
Please feel free to forward this to others, and contact me with questions or feedback at kelly.soifer@ksleadershipdevelop.me. Thanks for reading!

Monday, September 2, 2019

Setting Up for September 2019: Reading, Race, and Rallying the Troops

As I write this I will admit I have one eye peeking at US Open Tennis. Though I was never any good, I played on my high school team for three years, even being the captain my senior year. Tennis is one of those perfect sports to watch on TV because you can really take in the whole court. I am so amazed and encouraged by some of the young players rising up, along with some of the long-term champions #queenserena #teamcoco #osakarocks

I had an interesting August: half of it I was out of town either at a conference are on vacation, and half of it I was deep in the weeds with clients. In the midst of it all I was able to read  quite a bit and find some good resources. Here goes.

Reading.  It is hard to know where to begin! One of my goals on my vacations, apart from being outside as much as possible in the sheer beauty of nature (see a photo from my time in Maine), is to read A LOT. I love to catch up on past issues of the New Yorker magazine and read at least three books. All of these goals, I am happy to say were accomplished! Here are some good options for you:

  • 13 books from high school worth rereading as an adultGranted, I went to high school a really long time ago, but I have only read five of these 13 books. Looks like I need to add some books to my wish list. How about you?
  • New Fall Books on Behavioral Science, Leadership, and LifeThis list comes from Adam Grant, whom I find to be a trusted resource on the topic of leadership and the workplace. Check these out.
  • This is WaterIn terms of everything I list on today's post, if you only have to pick one thing, make it this. It is only about eight pages. It is a commencement speech by David Foster Wallace, an extraordinary writer. It is truly a game changer. It is something that should be read at least once a year, if not once a month. It is epic, and really kicks my butt. Do not miss it.
  • The 1619 ProjectI have barely dipped my toe into this, and I'm already finding it to be humbling, mortifying, and spectacular. There is also a companion podcast that goes with it. Bookmark this and chip away at it. Related to this, I'm about halfway through How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram Kendi. Very thought-provoking and provocative at the same time. The New Yorker also did a fascinating article about it as well.
  • Beloit College Mindset List. This is something produced every year that I got hooked onto a few years ago. It gives some fascinating nuggets from history and trivia related to what shapes the newest Freshman Class entering college this fall. To give you a taste, here  are   the first three: 1) They are the first class born in the new millennium, escaping the dreaded label of “Millennial,” though their new designation—iGen, GenZ, etc. — has not yet been agreed upon by them; 2) Outer space has never been without human habitation; 3) They have always been able to refer to Wikipedia.
Workplace Woes and Workarounds. OK Wow, buckle up. What follows is a lot of good stuff. Pay close attention to each one!
  • Walk Toward the Barking Dog (addressing conflict before it happens). Sometimes it feels like when I am not talking about how to develop leadership in employees, I am talking to clients about interpersonal conflict in their office. This one gives some good insights.
  • Leadership Development & Nudge Theory. I know I know, what the heck is Nudge Theory? And while we're at it, what is behavioral economics? All these terms are flying around now and they are a bit confusing. This link won't sum all of that up, but it will give you some good tools in terms of how to use strengthsfinder iin leadership development in light of some of the new research coming out around what motivates people.
  • Dealing with anxiety in high-performance contexts. Two names in this interview caught my attention:  DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love from the NBAIt's incredible. Every single minute. Raw and honest conversation about vulnerability, counseling, support, asking for help, you name it. While you're at it, listen to this one next with Meb Keflezighi, long distance runner.
  • Workplace Woes Q&AThis is a regular podcast for me, and I found this episode especially useful. It's a speed round of commonplace issues: how to best manage an intern; how to advance one's careers through corporate & non-profit board involvement; how to deal with an annoying co-worker; and last but not least, how to find a job when pregnant. Listen up!
  • 8 office icebreakers that won’t make you cringe. Several of my clients want to kick off the fall with a longer staff meeting or breakaway retreat. One of the main goals of these times is to build connection and community among employees. Yet we can all think of a time where we had to do a mixer that we absolutely hated. I thought these provided some good ideas that were more than bearable. If you need even more ideas, go to my resource folder at http://bit.ly/KSLDresources.
Favorite Recipe o' the Month: Winter Squash and Chicken Stew with Indian SpicesEasing into fall means that there is more squash to be had! As a grown up, I have absolutely fallen in love with all types of gourds. Here is a great recipe and the use of the word "winter" in the title is a little deceptive. You can make it now. Enjoy.

Final thoughts.


“All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability
 to sit quietly in a room alone.”
— Blaise Pascal

As always, feel free to forward this blog to your friends ~ contact me with feedback or comments at kelly.soifer@ksleadershipdevelop.me. Happy fall!

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Approved for August 2019: Writing, Refugees, Resumes & Retreats

I am sort of enjoying and dreading August at the same time. I have a vacation planned in Maine for the end of the month (cannot wait!) but August also signals end of summer and I feel like I barely started enjoying it (boohoo!) Nevertheless, the great resources for leadership development keep coming my way and I want to share them with you.

These 5 free apps make it easy to improve your writing. I finished teaching a class in June at Westmont College and was reminded once again that the many people do not know how to write coherent sentences!  (Yes, I'm a snobby former-and-eternal English major.) Being a good writer is a commitment, and there are some great resources available in this link. Should you want even MORE resources, I highly recommend my friend Nancy's blog.

Want to understand the current migration crisis, economic trade concerns, and recent Central American history? Given how divisive and complex these issues are, I often want to run and hide. But these two podcasts fed my brain big-time. So I recommend:

  • Dr. Margaret Peters on Trading Barriers. This woman is a scholar at UCLA, trained at Stanford, and previously taught at Yale. I found this interview riveting and enlightening.
  • The Controversial History of United Fruit. This comes from Harvard Business Review and  helps to explain the massive instability now existing in Central America, giving some of the reasons for the current migrant crisis south of our border. It is crucial that we understand and educate others about the context around these huge and difficult issues.

Our 5 Favorite Google Docs Resume Templates (and How to Make Them Work for You). And now from the sublime (migration crisis) to the mundane... I am frequently asked by clients for assistance in transitioning careers or positions. Yet rules for job-searching have really changed in the last 10 years due to the ever-expanding power of technology, the changes in the economy that have emerged since the financial downturn of 2009, and the shifting values of Millennials. I liked this article because it provides templates for some really good-looking resumes. Take a look; at minimum, you should keep your resume up-to-date and these templates might give a tremendous facelift to yours.

6 Tips for Running Offsites That Aren’t a Waste of TimeI am helping to guide at least two retreats at the end of this summer and in early fall with different clients and this article was a good brief checklist of reminders in terms of planning an effective offsite for your staff. I would suggest it highly.

Tried-and-True Recipes. In my last post I committed to sharing one of my favorite recipes each month. This month's candidate is SWISS CHARD AND KALE POTATO FRITTATA. I have chard and kale growing in my little condo side yard and this is a great recipe for them. The photo in the link is rather ho-hum but trust me it's a keeper and very adaptable to whatever vegetables you have on hand. Enjoy.



R A P I D F I R E!
Here are some current faves that I will share in quick succession with minimal explanation. Nevertheless... LOVE THEM!

Food for Thought.
A client stated this recently. We all know the Golden Rule, but do you know the Platinum Rule? 
Treat others as they want to be treated.

Thanks for reading...  please feel free to share with others and send me feedback at kelly.soifer@ksleadershipdevelop.me. Happy, happy August ~ get out there and have some adventures!

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Efficiency, Eating, Epitaphs, Education, plus an Extra: July 2019

2019 is halfway down and I've had a good year so far. I just finished teaching a great group of 22 law students from Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law in Strengths-Finders in order to equip them in soft skills and emotional intelligence. It was a great time and I continue to learn from every group I'm with. I love my work!

I've got an eclectic (sticking with the E theme in the title, get it?!) assortment of resources for this month. ENJOY!

10 Famous Epitaphs: The Good, the Bad, and the Weird. This weekend as I taught I shared at one point from the classic book, Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I continue to benefit from Habit #2, which is "Begin with the end in mind." Every time I refer to this habit, I always remind people, "What do you want to have said on your tombstone?" In other words, how do you want to be remembered? So I found this collection of funny and poignant epitaphs and encourage you to use them as a prompt to reflect: How do you want to be remembered?

Time Blocking: Improve Your Focus And Get More Meaningful Work Done. Efficiency and time management continues to be favorite topic with clients. Here's another good idea if you need some help. Personally, I diligently follow this method described by Cal Newport, as quoted in this article:
“I take time blocking seriously, dedicating ten to twenty minutes every evening to building my schedule for the next day. During this planning process I consult my task lists and calendars, as well as my weekly and quarterly planning notes. My goal is to make sure progress is being made on the right things at the right pace for the relevant deadlines.”
African Leadership University.  I found this article in Fast Company magazine. It was super inspiring to me not only for what this leader is doing in Africa but for his ideas about the future of higher education. UH-MAZING. Don't skip it.

I love to COOK and EAT! I have decided to add one of my favorite recipes each month to my posts because that is a big part of my life that I want to share with you. Feel free to share your recipes with me as well. This recipe, Gallo Pinto (known elsewhere as Arroz Negrito), is a winner and can be used for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I like to add some shredded chicken in it if I'm eating it for dinner, and it just gets better as leftovers. It is also a home run with eggs as well. KEY INGREDIENT: chicken broth instead of water!

EXTRA Resource: "It's OK to be a Late Bloomer." Many of my conversations with clients rotate around the tension between pursuing a career and finding your purpose, between burnout and stress management, between when to persist and when to pivot. This interview is a great encouragement to parents of high school or college students, but also those who feel like they are either stalled in their career or having a hard time even getting started. I highly recommend it.

Final thought for the month:
All great spirituality is about what we do with our pain. If we do not transform our pain, we will transmit it to those around us. (Richard Rohr)
Thanks for reading. Feel free to share with a friend, colleague or boss. Reach out to me at kelly.soifer@ksleadershipdevelop.me. Happy July!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

June 2019: Trust, To-Do's and To-Don'ts

My work life was 100% with students for almost 30 years. Summer was often a bittersweet time for me then because they would be SO excited to have time off and assume the same for me. So when they would ask me what my plans were for the summer, I would have to fight hard to not just slump my shoulders and say, "more work!"

So as we approach summer, let's commit to ending work on time as much as possible in order to live into that summertime spirit.  Look for special festivals and events in your community, schedule a walk with a family member or friend after dinner and do your best to eat dinner occasionally outside in the (hopefully) cooling air.

In the meantime, here are my best recommendations for June 2019!

TRUST. I have two very different resources that both speak to the utterly crucial issue of trust:
  1. How Leaders Around the World Build Trust Across Cultures. Harvard Business Review does it yet again with this excellent article. Currently I have one client with offices in four different countries (let's just imagine what it's like to schedule online meetings across time zones that are in total 14 hours apart!), another trying to harmonize leaders from multiple ethnicities and cultures, and yet another with clients around the globe as they seek to promote sustainable practices. ALL of us are working across cultures both locally and globally and simply put, "Many managerial positions require frequent communication with employees from around the world, but building trust across cultures can be difficult. Still, it is vitally important; when individuals trust one another, they can work together effectively regardless of cultural differences.A huge portion of my work involves teaching and training others to learn the soft skills of listening, dealing with conflict, and building teams of very different people. This article does a good job of laying down some key principles. Use it in an executive staff meeting to start a conversation around this important topic.
  2. John Green: Chronic Not Curable. John Green is the author of The Fault in Our Stars. This is a podcast interview from Kate Bowler. I binge-listened to the first season of this podcast on a long hike in Grand Teton National Park last year. I cannot recommend it enough.  If you are not familiar with Kate, here is a description from her website: In 2015, I was unexpectedly diagnosed with Stage IV cancer at age 35. In a New York Times op-ed, I wrote about the irony of being an expert in health, wealth and happiness while being ill. One of the most crucial ways to build trust with someone is to commit to learning how to walk carefully and slowly and persistently with them as they face hardship. Sadly, I have had the privilege of doing this many times through my life and I am most definitely a better person because of it. This podcast does a good job of teaching about how to build trust with someone over the long haul, especially when they are dealing with mental illness.
TO-DO's. 
One of the best things about me is that I am very productive. One of the worst things about me is that I am very productive. Yes, those two work in constant tension. If you ask me to do something, there is a very, very good chance that I will follow through without needing to be reminded. However, I also am essentially compulsive about needing to measure every day's value (work day, weekend, holiday, it doesn't matter) according to how much I am able to accomplish. 

One of the ways this shows itself is  in my constant hunt for the best productivity app. I am always looking for new ways to quantify all the things I need to do, and to maintain the various checklists I am endlessly creating. If you are like me, I HAVE A GREAT APP FOR YOU. It is called Daylio. It is clean and simple and the best part of all is that it is entirely customizable. I'm using it to track some daily habits I want to maintain in terms of health, exercise, and self-care. Let me know if you end up using it. I have already converted my friend Nance to it. Let's start a club!

TO-DON'Ts
This is my new favorite phrase! I am not sure who coined it first but it is tremendous. As much as I enjoy my to-do lists (see above), I have also learned over the years which things I will not and cannot do. These are two excellent articles, one geared for self-management and the other for leaders, to understand how to focus.
  1. Is your to-do list making you nuts? Start a to-don’t list instead — with inspiration from author Adam GrantThis is a highly practical and convincing article. I am especially enamoured of point number two. Recently I realized I was using social media to just zone out more than once during my day. I have now decided to only check social media once a day and actually put a timer on for 5 minutes while I do it. See what stands out to you in this article. 
  2. The Work You Must Stop Doing. This blog is barebones, but I like it. This post starts with this: "You're a leader running a business unit, a function, or an entire organization. You know that your job is to put the right people in the right roles, and then create the environment that allows them to do their best work. In this capacity you have plenty of work to do yourself: setting strategy, hiring and firing, coaching and development, obtaining necessary resources, making certain decisions while delegating others, and embodying the culture you wish to foster. But as a leader there is also work you must not do, and if you're like many of my clients, it can be very difficult to stop doing it." Yes. Yes. Yes. 
Final thought.
“Do all the other things, the ambitious things—travel, get rich, get famous, innovate, lead, fall in love, make and lose fortunes...but as you do, to the extent that you can, err in the direction of kindness.”
George Saunders, author 

Thanks for reading. Feel free to share with a friend or colleague. Contact me with feedback or questions at kelly.soifer@ksleadershipdevelop.me. Meanwhile, get outside and enjoy some sunlight!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Maps, Mindset, Multi-Tasking and Milestones: May 2019

I am fresh from an incredible week of vacation in the Pacific Northwest so I am feeling GOOD! Not only did it not rain, the weather hovered between 70-80 degrees all week. Bizarre for May in the PNW, but I can't deny I enjoyed it. Three nights on Lake Crescent in Olympic National Park and great hospitality from dear friends made it quite lovely. I am including a shot from the private little beach I enjoyed at our cabin on Lake Crescent. I spent time walking or hiking each day and reading to my heart's content. Does it get any better??

Despite the rest I have still accumulated a pile of resources I want to pass along. Give them all a spin ~ I loved each one of them.

MAPS! For some reason the universe conspired to drop incredibly cool and nerdy maps into my field of vision these past few weeks. PLEASE take some time to tour each one of them...
7 maps that tell the incredible story of aging in America. This one is a feast of fascination. It makes my head spin to think about the implications of this data. Make sure you hit the "exclusive map series" link to get the goods. And when you tour each map, keep zooming in on specific counties to see the stats. From health care to advertising to higher ed to church life, the ramifications of this info seem endless. Check it out. 
40 maps that explain the world. Where do I begin? To quote Donald Rumsfeld, "There are things we don't know we don't know." This link exposed me to a bunch of stuff that caused me to dig even further to learn more. My faves (i.e., those that grabbed my attention most) were maps #4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 24, 28, 32, 40. Which ones stood out to you? 
Bored Panda eagle map. No profound purpose to this one, but SO INTERESTING!

The Future of Leadership Development: A Global Mindset. Given that all things related to #leadershipdevelopment wake me up in the morning, it's no surprise that I loved this one. This quote got my attention:
The future will belong to millennial leaders -- who tend to be increasingly globally oriented and eager to explore the world -- and millennials' inclination to identify themselves as global citizens will further the push for a global viewpoint. 
But here's the kicker:
But few businesses are offering emerging leaders the scope of experience they'll soon need. 
Amen to that. In the past month I've worked with young leaders from the US, Bosnia, Thailand and Philippines. All are hungry to learn, but also know very little about cultural differences and dynamics. Equally significant is the impact of racism and how much that slows progress. So much work to do! My goal is to keep listening to and learning from non-white voices and to read steadily on all the issues around these topics.

What might be most intriguing (and challenging?) of all is reconciling these future trends around globalization and multiculturalism with the aging of America. THAT makes my head hurt.

Multitasking is usually a bad idea, but here are 5 times when it’s okay. This title had me at "hello" because I am a notorious multi-tasker. According to Strengths Finder (Arranger is #6 for me), it actually gives me energy to do so. Even better, this article came up with things I actually do! For example,
I love when my office is neat. But I find the actual process of organization pretty boring. Opening mail, filing papers, sorting through piles, or dusting just don’t engage my brain enough to make them feel like a worthwhile use of time on their own.
That’s why for simple organizational tasks, multitasking actually works. When I do these activities, I’ll talk with a friend or listen to a podcast. 
Let me know whether multi-tasking ever works to your benefit.

OK.... one more BONUS recommendation! How is it possible that 2019 is already almost halfway over!!? With that milestone approaching, I wanted to invite you to do a brief self-check and see if you've followed through on any New Year's Resolutions... No guilt ~ only love! (Here's what I wrote about resolutions earlier this year...)

Depending on how you've done so far, I recommend this brief article titled Three Tips to Change Behavior. Before you slump your shoulders in despair, keep this simple sentence in mind:
If you want to change your life, it requires intentionality. 
Don't give up! And if you either didn't establish any resolutions or want to change the ones you made, go for it. I picked a new one on this recent vacation and have pursued it consistently for the past ten days. It feels good.

Feel free to send me feedback or questions to kelly.soifer@ksleadershipdevelop.me. And feel freer to pass this along to friends and colleagues. Thanks for reading. Ciao!


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Executives, Empathy, and Experts: April 2019 resources

A very wet winter and April showers treated us well here in my world... for the first time in seven years, we are not living under a drought declaration. This is good news indeed. So I will let my favorite resources flow for this month's post. (Forgive the bad pun.....)

Eric Schmidt — Lessons from a Trillion-Dollar Coach. I will start with my favorite one first. While I find Tim Ferriss a tiny bit annoying (is it the affected way that he speaks? or how he manages to casually drop that he went to Princeton in every interview? hard to say...), but I cannot deny that he often attracts some great guests for interviews. This is not a short one (it clocks in at 1 hour and 44 minutes) but I will say that it is a master class in leadership. Schmidt shares ideas big and small, from how to manage a multi-billion dollar company quadrupling in size each year to how to run a weekly staff meeting. Do not run this podcast in the background... come ready to take notes, maybe even listen to it more than once. It'll be well worth your time.

Cultivating Empathy in the Workplace. I got this from the Kellogg Insight newsletter and recommend subscribing to it. I love this statement from the article: “As anyone who’s had to manage a lot of people can tell you, human beings are extremely sensitive to fairness and where they stand in the social order." YESSSS! While leadership no doubt wants everyone in the company to maintain laser focus on the task at hand, we all need to recognize that work is derailed daily by silly (but ever-present) office drama. We ignore it at our peril! Certainly, this topic won't be solved with a simple 5-point article, but it does get the conversation started.

I also recommend this brief (3 minutes) YouTube video on Empathy vs Sympathy by Brene Brown. I am not exaggerating when I say that a big chunk of my work, which ostensibly focuses on leadership development, is often spent assisting leadership in managing interpersonal conflict on their teams. It's a thing, people! Keep this in mind (again quoting the article): "Empathy is a fundamental skill in the workplace—but that doesn’t mean everyone experiences it the same way." Remain committed to cultivating the human piece of the workplace.

EXPERTS ON EXPERT: Michael Gervais. You may sense a theme here but I will say it anyway: I LOVED this interview, but I cannot deny that at times the host Dax Shepherd is a tool. And the last half hour of the podcast, where he and his cohost do this thing they call the "fact check" is totally missable... That being said, the interview itself is GREAT because Michael Gervais is one very smart and interesting dude. This is how the interview is described: "Michael sits down with the Armchair Expert to discuss working on the RedBull Stratos project, the nuisance of overcoming mental obstacles and his work with Microsoft employees to maximize work performance. The two talk about the mindfulness revolution, optimal coaching techniques and steps to train your mind." Fascinating, right?!

Rapid-Fire Resources. I'll spare you the extended commentary, but these are my must-listen podcasts this month:

  • Voices of the Movement. TREMENDOUS half-hour accounts of the history of the civil rights movement.
  • Going Through It. Really gripping interviews of key leaders sharing about the pivotal moments in their lives, careers, and relationships when they had to decide whether to quit or whether to keep going. 
  • The Daily. Oh my lands. I can't start my day without this one. (OK, maybe the tiniest bit of commentary there...) Followed by Post Reports.
  • Guardian Long Reads. This one was recommended to me by an Uber driver in Chicago. Go figure. But WOW is it good. 
One last goodie: if you like Strengths Finder, check out this amazing resource... the distribution of Top Five Strengths across 113 countries! Super nerdy, I know.

What are you reading? What are you listening to? 

I'll close with this:


Most men today cannot conceive of a freedom that does not involve somebody's slavery.

W.E.B. DuBois

Contact me with questions and feedback at kelly.soifer@ksleadershipdevelop.me. Thanks for reading.

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...