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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Mindsets, Management and Meetings

Three recent articles have gotten my attention this month and I want to share them with you. Try to carve out a few minutes to check out each one... WARNING: the titles don't capture the full value and I encourage you to give each one a chance. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised and maybe even learn something.

Are You Living in a Scarcity Mindset? I first learned of this concept from Stephen Covey's classic (which was P.S. a game-changer for me), 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. His description says it all: People with the scarcity mentality "see life as only having so much, as though there was only one pie out there. And if someone were only to get one piece of the pie, it would mean less for everybody else. The Scarcity Mentality is the zero-sum paradigm of life." The blog post I'm recommending here does a great job punching up the concept with some pertinent, real-life examples that really make sense in 2018. It also includes some thought-provoking questions for reflection. Don't skip it. (And for fun, watch the clip it includes from The Office. Can't lose!)

Teaching Students to Manage Their Time (applies to grown-ups too!) WOW this one surprised me. Check this opening paragraph: "Many adults don’t know how to manage their time adequately. The endless self-help books about time management, procrastination and work-life balance all point to challenges with organizing a daily routine that includes the assorted obligations of work and relationships." Yup! Guilty as charged. Take a few minutes to read this and see how the author breaks down time management in the most basic way possible and helps anyone think through how to get everything done. Bookmark this one.

Five Ways to Improve Your 1:1 Meetings. One of the reasons I enjoy my work is that no two days are the same, and I get to meet and work with a wide variety of people. However, one constant, regardless of whether I'm talking to people in Chicago, DC, Boise or Bangkok, is that the bulk of my appointments are 1:1. While I think I do best 1:1 rather than in group meetings, I am regularly reminded that I cannot hide behind boring agendas or a blabbermouth co-worker when it's just me and another person looking at each other. How do I keep these meetings fresh? Put your brain on the rinse cycle and see if this article gives some good reminders and tactics.

As we marked the autumnal equinox recently, I will pass along these deep thoughts:

I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and 
have it all to myself, than be
crowded on a velvet cushion.

Henry David Thoreau

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Strengths Finder Resource Page - All the Cheats!

Hey friends, I have met many, if not most, of my consulting clients through the Strengths Finder presentations that I give. As I keep coaching people individually, they invariably ask, "Remind me again where I find that podcast??" etc. So here is a one-stop shop with all the various resources that I have come to rely on. I may need to keep updating this as new stuff comes out. Here goes!

Clifton Strengths Finder main site This is home base, where you can eventually find almost everything you are looking for. I like going here mostly to track how many millions of people have taken Strengths Finder. However, I do not find this website always that easy to navigate. So here are a few of the key pages that I go to time and again:

  • Strengths Finders assessments in other languages I currently have clients not only all over the United States, but also in Bosnia, Thailand, and the Philippines. Here is the link to help access assessments in the languages of over 20 countries.
  • Buy all 34 of your Strengths, in order Once you understand the foundational aspects of Strengths Finder, I have found that it is most helpful to actually know where all 34 of the strengths fall for you and your profile. Here's the link for accessing all of your Strengths in order. First of all log into your account, then you go to the store and buy all 34 strengths. I really, really recommend that people not only know their Top Five, but actually their Top 10, which can really be active in your work if you are intentional about it. It is also super helpful to know your bottom five, which I would define not as weaknesses, but as your blind spots. It's always good to know where you definitely need to partner with someone else.
  • Strengths Finder 2.0 book In my last two large presentations, people tried to order Strengths Finder 2.0 books from Amazon, which is what I have recommended for the last few years. Unfortunately two different people purchased the books, only to receive them without the code for taking the online assessments. In other words, some shady people are selling their used books online fraudulently. The only real way to avoid that is to purchase your books directly from Gallup.
  • Strengths Finder Theme Insight Cards If I have coached with you for a while and you are now supervising others using Strengths Finder, I have found these cards helpful in individualized coaching. They are not that expensive (AKA cheap!) and concisely provide a lot of info in one place.

Additionally, here are a few other go-to links that are packed with resources:

  • "Called to Coach" Facebook group for Strengths Finder "enthusiasts" Admittedly, this page is for the full-on nerds who want to understand as much of Strengths Finder as possible. I guess they have Input and/or Learner in their top five :-).......[Strengths Finder humor]
  • Lead Through Strengths Resources This is a new page I am just getting connected with but I am especially impressed with the short but super helpful podcasts that are produced here.
  • Theme Thursdays Webcasts & Podcasts I am ending this post with my very favorite page of all. This is where I think everyone learns the most about Strengths Finder and their profile once they have learned the basocs. I really recommend Seasons 1 & 2 of the podcast or the webcast as you get started, and then lean into Season 3 if you are involved in leadership, and the current Season 4 is great for understanding how to maximize your strengths in your work life and personal life. Sometimes the two hosts are a little bit too chipper for my taste, but ultimately, the content is super helpful.
In August and September I've given presentations in Washington DC, Pasadena and Ventura CA, coached five managers in Sarajevo, and given three online presentations that were dispersed throughout the West. I am kicking myself that I didn't start tracking at the start how many people I've met nor how many presentations I've given, but I am surprised (and thankful) to say it never gets old. After one of the online presentations last week, an instructor for the class emailed me and said, "I loved seeing the students happy and empowered last night." I was so happy to hear that.

Let me know if you need a refresher or an introduction, at

Monday, September 3, 2018

How to Go to College: Now and in the Future

Today I find myself thinking about college students. My dear niece is crossing the country in a week to start college, and I just had lunch with a former student of mine who graduated in May. Both of them are excited, but also anxious and unsure about the changes ahead. 

It is so good to talk to them because it keeps me from using the lens of my own experience from a few decades ago. Sure, there are some things that never change about college: newfound independence, new friends, the excitement of thinking you are thinking original thoughts... but let me tell you, as someone who has worked with students for over 30 years, and dips her toe into adjunct instruction about once a year, that SO MANY things are so different now. I'm passing along three helpful resources to help you tune in (and wake up!) to what is going on for college students in 2018 and beyond. Take a few minutes to read them over. I think some things will take your breath away.

Medical Students Aren't Going to Class. The headline for this article says it all. If you aren't convinced to read further, check this out: "According to 2017 data from the Association of American Medical Colleges, about one-fourth of medical students reported that they 'almost never' went to class during their first two years of medical school. Instead of attending lectures, students are turning to online learning tools such as SketchyMedical, a company that produces online visual memory tools to help students memorize and retain minutiae and vocabulary." All I can say is... "SketchyMedical"?? God save us all.

Cost of College in 2036. I had dinner with two friends who have an ADORABLE nine-month old baby boy. I will not be showing them this article....

Perhaps it doesn't need to be said, but my total costs for my freshman year in 1979 was $4,000. Yep - dorm, food, tuition, books. Granted, that was a public university, but to read that it will cost today’s newborns a whopping $302,700 ($75,675/year) to attend a four-year private college in 2036 is just flabbergasting! Parents are advised to set aside $980/month for the next 18 years in a 529 for their children to be able to pay for college. Gulp.

‘A New U: Faster + Cheaper Alternatives to College’. Just when you want to go off the grid to live off the land rather than keep up with the insanity, rest assured that this article is good news. And while you're at it, read this one as well: 6 trends shaping the near and far future of higher edI'm not gonna lie, get ready to Google some (OK, many) terms as you read these articles, because there are some terms in here I sure had to look up ("OER"?? "nanodegrees"? "digital badges"?!), but it is worth the work to get up to speed on many of the disruptive trends happening in higher education right now. Word to the wise: do not be intimidated; rather, dive in to the deep end of the pool and start paddling.

EXTRA GOODIE! "How I Got Into College" on This American Life. Your brain (and your wallet?) might feel a little worn out after a couple of these posts, so here is something that will help you laugh a little bit and lean into a good story. Set aside some time to listen to this one.

Let me know if you have any feedback or questions. I'm here to help! Thanks for reading.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Want to be an Entrepreneur? Use These Resources to Get Started

A recurring conversation in my life is with fresh college grads who are trying to figure out career trajectory, grad school, finding a plain old JOB, etc. Often they say with earnest enthusiasm, "I just want to do what you do!"

I do my best to smile supportively, and ask them why. They answer with some variation of "it-seems-so-interesting-and-I-don't-want-to-get-stuck-in-a-dead-end-job" and I try to gently remind them that it is helpful to actually have EXPERIENCE before trying to be a consultant...

But then when old friends want to find out how I got started in this new direction, I have a different conversation. It's a longer story but it's definitely a one-thing-led-to-another sort of thing. I was certainly LOOKING with intentionality (and no small amount of prayer) as to what I could be doing when I decided to embark on a major mid-life career change at the age of 47. I reached out to people who were working in fields I was interested in, and a one-thing-led-to-another-thing kicked in.

Nevertheless, in hindsight I could have really done a better job preparing myself. I now try to help clients do that.So if you have some ideas and yearnings and restlessness percolating, I would say these resources really speak to my own experience, and will get you started. Perhaps the best first step is to make sure you know how to spell entrepenooer enterpernuer entrepreneur!

How to Get Your Side Hustle Off the Ground. I am not fond of the term "side hustle," but there ya have it. Apart from that, this article has some solid bits of advice. The first point the author makes is absolute gold:
Aspiring side hustlers will often fret that they don’t have the money to design a fancy logo or website, or get hung up on whether to incorporate as an S-Corporation or an LLC. In the early stages of your business, those are the wrong things to be worrying about. While it’s true that successful businesses do eventually need to have nice websites and proper legal structures, those are complex and expensive steps that can bog you down initially. You first need to determine whether you even have a business — meaning, do customers want what you’re offering?
I respond with a resounding YES and a fist-pump to this. The branding and social media can evolve later, even though they can be fun daydreaming distractions. Instead, focus on the blueprint itself, not the paint and carpet. As for the rest of the article, I especially want to underscore the third one as well: Diminishing commitment. Don't get started if you're aren't able and willing to chip away doggedly. I started the process in Winter 2009, had viable (read, "I wasn't starving") income by Fall 2009, but wasn't really financially and professionally established till December 2012. That's right -- THREE years. Buckle up!

Can You Afford to Change Your Career? An equally crucial piece of the puzzle. I had saved about four months of lost income when I launched out. I wish I'd had at least six months' worth saved; it would have saved me some big-time worrying.

This article gets realistic in all the right ways. To practice living on the new income is great advice. It suggests where to cut expenses, and I couldn't agree more. I took on a "Year of Simplicity," where I ended magazine subscriptions, bought no gifts or new clothes, and did not eat out. It was an important discipline and I grew a great deal personally through it.

I have the financial advantage of being single, so no one else had to suffer the consequences of my decisions (other than some friends who didn't receive gifts from me that year!) Again, this article walks through some important scenarios. Take the time to talk it all through with your significant others - sheer adrenaline does not last as long as we'd like it to.

Entrepreneurship Myths: Why You Likely Won’t Be Rich and Famous I think I like this podcast most because the woman being interviewed had such a great story! First of all, she's written a book with a really great title: Hiding in the Bathroom: An Introvert’s Roadmap to Getting Out There (When You’d Rather Stay Home) that examines some of the myths around entrepreneurship.

She's also coined an attention-getting term: "entrepreneurship porn." This is how she explains it:
“I think that the media and business schools have created this very glossy sense that life as an entrepreneur is somehow better. This is why I call it porn.”
The podcast, though only 20 minutes long, spends some time talking through extroversion vs introversion and work flow in terms of how you might make it work as an entrepreneur.. Personally, I have found that StrengthsFinder is a tremendous tool for assessing such things, coupled with some work around emotional intelligence. This is what I spent a lot of time working on with my clients now, and the core fundamentals were learned as I walked through my own experience.

The podcast also provides some harsh realities regarding the financial implications of pursuing entrepreneurship. I have to admit, this would have been really hard for me to hear at the time I was going through it because I didn't really have the option of taking the leap or not. Plain and simple, it was time to make a change.

There are certainly a zillion and one stories on the interwebs about side hustles, the gig economy, "makerspaces" and "hacklabs." WHATEVER. Speaking from experience, the three resources listed here get down to the core basics of what it really takes to get started at the most fundamental level. I will be curious to hear from you if you are feeling the itch to go for it. Good luck and Godspeed!


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...