Four years ago a friend gave me the book Younger Next Year for my birthday. The title grabbed me, because I am always trying to motivate myself and look a bit younger. The book stresses the importance of exercise, so I bought the audio version and started listening and walking.
The premise of the book is simple–you’re either growing/building your body or you’re rotting. Rotting is a powerful word with strong visual imagery! I didn’t want to rot. Very soon I became obsessed with this book … listening to some of the chapters over and over. The book is based on 7 principles, or “Harry’s Rules”
Exercise 6 days a week for the rest of your life.
Do serious aerobic exercise 4 days a week for the rest of your life.
Do serious strength training, with weights, 2 days a week for the rest of your life.
Spend less than you make.
Quit eating crap!
Take Care of yourself.
Connect and commit.
Now I am not saying that this is the greatest book on fitness ever written and you may not like it, but it changed the way I think and act about exercise, aging and my overall health.
Walking is and is a great way to exercise but I needed to get my heart rate up so I took action and joined the Y. I started off with a Zumba dance class thinking, “great cardio” and as a bonus I would have some fun. Now here’s where the truth about exercise, at least for me begins: The music was great, but my body was hurting and my heart was pounding. I was not is shape and half way through the class I was looking at the clock as the minutes slowly ticked by. I was struggling and the next day it was easier not to go… but I went.
“You have to work through the discomfort and the negativity when you start out. It does get better!”
It’s 4 years later and I am addicted to exercise – Zumba, body pump, cardio combo, body flow, yoga, and soon cycling. So what moved me from dread to joy?
Here are some of the tricks I have learned to keep me motivated, and exercising every day.
Think of working out as part of your career success. Look at it as part of your job and you have to show up every day. The pay is amazing but not half as good as the benefits.
Group classes worked! I am an extrovert and the group classes worked best. I need a team around me. Hint- Make friends with the regulars who stand near or during the workout. It helps.
Make friends with the instructors. That will keep you motivated and obligated to show up for them!!!
My first Zumba instructor,Shannon
Buy cool looking workout clothes and if you are lucky enough to work from a home office like me, put them on in the morning. And don’t be stingy. But several of everything so you don’t have the excuse that nothing is clean.
Write down how you feel after every workout. It is a great way to journal your journey and you’ll motivate yourself with your own feelings and words.
Do not look at the clock. Listen to the music, and stay in the moment. I have created a great playlist of songs I would never have heard if it weren’t for Eliot, my favorite instructor. He keeps me young and fun.
My personal motivator Eliot Perez – Heights Y
Before you decide not to go, ask yourself, “Will I regret skipping today?” Guilt is the Killer App.
Go for a walk, invite your dog and listen to audiobooks! You will find that you walk longer.
9. Make exercise your favorite thing to do.
10. Pat yourself on the back because you are getting stronger!
Is this your year? Is this your year to write that book, lose 20 pounds, change jobs, get the big promotion, take the family to Disney, or _______________________? If you are serious about making a positive change in your life read on.
If you find yourself questioning your current career path, are wanting to take your business/career to the next level, are exploring your options, looking for a breakthrough, or thinking of starting a business, consider attending our 2-Day Workshop – Friday and Saturday June 10 -11, 2016 in the Houston’s Heights area. If you are coming from out of the area the Downtown Doubletree Hotel has great weekend rates.
This might be the perfect time in your life to step back, review, regroup and strategically look at the next steps. You know what we are suppose to do, but, knowing what you are suppose to do is not always enough. You may have a dream, a goal, even a vision of your future, and you realize you need help pushing yourself to move forward.
I have partnered with my good friend and personal success coach, Cecilia Rose and together will give you the PUSH…moving you forward when you are uncertain, not ready, or simply don’t feel like it! These moments are where the magic happens:
It’s the space between knowing what to do and actually doing it.
Cecilia and I have been working together and we designed a two-day business expanding, life-changing, interactive workshop that promises to inspire change, challenge thinking and accelerate personal and professional growth.
Cecilia will tackle your doubts, fears and hesitations to what may be holding you back as she builds on your strengths, defying limited thinking. I will give you the necessary personal branding tools/social/stories, with a touch of executive presence, positioning you to move into action and stand out from the competition.
Here is the way the two days will play out:
The Brand Called You – an understanding of personal branding
Reframing Your Mindset
Tapping into Signature Strengths, Values, Shared Values
Getting Clear on What You Want
How Long Will You Live
Doing the Work
The Tuning Point
The Final Push
If you know us you know that our style is engaging, fun, honest and direct. Together we will be sharing research and tools with interactive exercises, peer-to-peer coaching, actionable advice, personal strategies to stay focused and be productive, ideas for your plan, and some memorable stories.
It’s one thing to talk behavior changes to accomplish your dreams, and… together will make it happen.
Don’t Miss Out – Register Today
Friday and Saturday June 10 -11, 2016
The Council (free parking)
303 Jackson Hill – Houston, TX 77007
9:30am – 4:00pm
or email me at Karen@karenmccullough.com and I will bill you closer to the date but you have reserved your place.
Cecilia Rose is a Keynote Speaker, Executive Coach, and Career Strategist. She is known for changing people’s lives! She is recognized as an authority in coaching professionals who are stuck in their careers, at an impasse, or are ready to open the door to new opportunities. Cecilia is a PCC Credentialed Executive Career Coach with the International Coach Federation and has 20+ years experience serving as a trusted advisor to executives. She has a proven track record of coaching executives and professionals on how to navigate, accelerate or recreate their careers. Her style is people-centric with the unique combination of business acumen, intuition, analytical skills and career expertise that spans a wide range of functions, disciplines and industries. She is recognized as an authority in coaching professionals who are stuck in their careers, at an impasse, or are ready to open the door to new opportunities.
Karen is a master of reinvention – She has evolved from teacher, to business owner to a nationally sought after keynote speaker. Before owning and operating her own retail stores, Karen spent years working with brands such as Ralph Lauren and The Limited. Later, as a retail CEO, she gained hands-on experience in marketing, brand building, driving sales, leadership development, and customer loyalty. She works with corporations, businesses, universities, associations, opening minds, and ready to make positive changes. Some of her clients include: Sigma Solutions, VMware, Procter & Gamble, Comerica, Symantec, McGraw-Hill, BP, Oxy, Shell, Exxon, Chevron, The World Bank, The U.S. Department of Justice, Humana, HP Enterprise, HCDE, Spring ISD, United Way, American Heart Association, and Methodist, MD Anderson, and Memorial Herman
“Cecilia Rose…Helps others “see” what they can be…
Recognizes human potential and “magnifies” the positives…
Has the “vision” to pursue excellence…
Has a “wide field of view” about opportunity
Is great at focusing on what is important
Helps others remove the “lens” of their limitations ” Ken Olsen
“Cecilia did a fantastic job of helping my transition from a large Oil and Gas company to my current position – and a change of country of residence into the bargain! She acted as advisor, coach and challenger. Her advice on taking the time to review my career options, to set a clear direction for the future and to network as widely as possible was essential and vital. In particular guidance on self-marketing and demonstrating confidence (based on my track record, of course…) were invaluable. Cecilia chairs a forum of great individuals in similar transition that is inspiring and fun. Her energy and sense of humour is unique! In summary, what could have been very stressful was liberating and revitalizing.” Mike Dyson
“I can’t say enough about Karen. She is simply phenomenal. She is an amazing speaker, coach, and thought leader. She inspires and educates everyone she comes in contact with. I highly recommend her to anyone trying to change their mindset. She sees things in a way that others don’t. My experience with her has been life changing.” John Osterman
“Karen was the one that helped me transition from consulting to full time speaking and she has catapulted my speaking career. In less than a year she helped me create a business system, tweak my presentation style, and up my fee considerably. The end results are my being picked up and booked by multiple speaker bureaus as well as multiplying my annual speaking income to the point that I’ve been able to completely rely on speaking and only do consulting only when I see a fun project come along.” Crystal Washington
Because I speak on Generations in the Workplace and I focus on Millennials, I decided to start using Uber – as a research project- interviewing the drivers.
My first trip was in DC visiting my daughter, Meredith. She got me on the app and boom in a few minutes a driver was there. I used Uber throughout my visit. It was so much easier that walking to the metro or waiting forever for a cam.
When I got back home to Houston, I decided to use Uber more and drive my car less. At first, I only used it to get to and from the airport, but soon I was Ubering it to events all over town. I loved it! In addition to providing me with transportation, Uber has been a great way for me to conduct research. Since I speak on “Generations in the Workplace” and most of my Uber drivers are Millennials, I was getting pages of research.
These interviews have allowed me to expand my insights and bust some myths about Millennials.
Millennials are not lazy. They just look at work differently than their Boomer parents did. They do want to work and they are hard workers, but their biggest difference is that they want independence. Most of my drivers have been part-timers who like the freedom that Uber provides. The can pick their own schedules as to when they want to work, and I have learned that they are ambitious. Over and over, I hear how Uber fills a financial need. I have garnered this info from college students, business majors, and graduate students working on master degrees. I have encountered a web designer, a programmer who works from home and drives just two hours a day (mid-day while taking a break), a high school teacher who only drives on weekends, and a guy that not only drives for Uber but
rents out his apartment on a regular basis through Airbnb.
It’s been said many times that Millennials do not know how to do face-to-face communications. I have found just the opposite to be true. Actually I have enjoyed great conversations in almost every ride. One of my drivers was getting her master’s in social work, and she confessed to me that before driving for Uber she was very quiet and introverted. Her professors suggested that she work on her face-to-face communications because talking and drawing things out of her clients was going to be a big part of her work after graduation. She said that she decided to practice talking to her Uber customers. At first she admitted that she was nervous, but she kept at it. It was a surprise to hear that she struggled with conversation because we talked all the way home.
We have heard that Millennials are not loyal to their employers. To the contrary without exception, every driver I have interviewed from Albuquerque to DC has said that they love the entrepreneurial spirit of the company. Drivers have taken me through the vetting process on how they became one. They proudly show me the badges they wear around their neck, the pick stickers on the right front window, stating that they are a certified driver. And every driver has mentioned the five-star rating system. The passenger gets to rate the driver—and get this—the driver gets to also rate the passenger for real-time accountability. Several of the drivers have shared with me that they strive to get as many five-star ratings as possible because if your rating goes below a certain number you are put on probation. I am impressed not only with Uber but with the drivers who want to succeed and who care about my experience in their car.
Here’s a new one… Millennials are fun, bold, and creative and they made a ride home an experience … in a good way! The last driver I had was really into Adele, I mean really into her. I head Hello as I entered the car. We sang Adele songs together all the way home ( he must have seen this on youtube) . It was an experience.
Today, I am a Millennial and Uber evangelist. I have discovered that the Millennials I am meeting are ambitious, respectful, hardworking, and loyal to their employer. They care about the quality of their work, are accountable, and are terrific conversationalists.Thanks Uber! and if your are reading this TIP your driver!
In 2000 Ileft the fashion industry behind and I began my new career as aprofessional speaker.Coming from a Ralph Laureninspiredfashion industry my first presentations were focused around professionalismand dress. I soon found those subject very limiting and changed my area of expertise toChange, Workplace Trends and Generations in the Workplace, and I put the professional presence presentations on the shelf.
Executive presence has a lot to do with the way you carry and convey yourself, including confidence, gravitas, decisiveness, authenticity and the ability to communicate in a clear and articulate manner. I realize this may seem a bit shallow or “old school” – thinking that people might judge you as not being “executive material” just because you look, act or sound a certain way, but people do make judgments on an unconscious level all the time. If you look and act the part, people will give you the benefit of the doubt. On the other hand, not having executive presence can be a deal breaker.
In today’s competitive business environment, executive presence can make or break your ability to lead and influence others. Executive presence encourages people to seek you out and opens doors.Yet, with the acceptance of a more casual and laid-back workplace many peoplemistakenly underestimate its importance.
Leadership potential isn’t enough to launch men and women into the executive suite. Leadership roles are given to those who also look and act the part.
I recent read a great bookEP by Sylvia Ann Hewlett. In it she states that today as in the past, professionals are still judged on their presence (how they act, speak, and look) as well as their performance.
The good news is you don’t have to born with executive presence . If you have a bit of self-confidence and a willingness to be open to feedback and change the executive presence skills are learnable. If you practice you can transform your ability to connect, engage, and inspire others.
Here are several tips on expanding your own executive presence.
1. Appearance and dress do matter. Looking the part is the first step in getting your foot into the leadership door. Executive Presence Guru, Sylvia Ann Hewlett says this about appearance, “We found that leadership roles are given to those who look and act the part.“ Notice the “uniform” of your organization and make sure you are dressing to fit the look the part of one who leads rather that one who follows. Focus on being well groomed, hair and nails count – Simple stylish clothes and accessories trump bold and flashy. Don’t wear wrinkled, soiled, or seams coming open clothing. Take time and invest in a career wardrobe that fits your body, your style, and your business environment.
2. Focus on building your character. The one word that continues to show up on every definition of executive presence is GRAVITAS-, which is the ability to project gravitas–confidence, poise under pressure, decisiveness, integrity, build your reputation, and show compassion.
3. Communication matters. Notice your communication style. Do you have empathy? Can you walk in another’s shoes and see their point of view?Are you open and a good listener?Are you clear in what you say? Do you communicate in a concise, compelling manor? Is your voice strong? And what about the non-verbal communication? How are people reading your body language and do you have the ability to read other?
4Are you inclusive?The other day I was waiting for a client in the lobby and I noticed a diverse group of people standing in a circle headed by an attractive man who appeared to be the group’s leader. He was commanding, energetic, and had many of the qualities mentioned above. I felt his executive presence, but I noticed that he was talking to only one other man in the group, ignoring the other six. Several were trying to listen and a few even tried to add something to the conversation, but the leader ignored their efforts. He needed a lesson on inclusion. People who have executive presence are approachable and engaging, whether they’re talking with a new hire, receptionist, or the CEO. They are inclusive, they exude warmth and they show a genuine interest in those around them..
5. Here’s my favorite- Become a master of presentation skills – face to face, teleconferences, virtual meetings, and webinars – Never underestimate the value of a great theater! Practice, get a coach, and practice some more- Learn how to connect with your audience, tell stories (I teach my students make them “Right and Tight”) and let your authenticity and personality shine through – Yes, you need to video yourself (If you need help in this area email me.)
6. Lastly you have to be open to receive feedback. Those who are oversensitive to feedback will not make the grade-We are talking “product development” here and YOU are the product. There will be moments where improvement is necessary.
There is a very thin line between authenticity and conformity. As you explore your executive presence and your ability to connect and lead, more of who you are will shine through. The first step is getting you in the leadership line.
One of the perks of being a professional speaker is that I get to hang out with really smart people, which means I often I get to pick their brains.
Take for instance last Sunday night when I had dinner with one of the top executive coaches in Houston, Cecilia Rose. Cecilia works Houston’s top tier leaders helping them successfully navigate through career transitions.
I asked her what was the #1 top quality of successful leaders, and before I could finish the question, she responded with “keen self-awareness.” Expecting to hear words more like vision, charisma, and strategic thinking, I was thrilled to hear that answer because self-awareness is one of the key qualities I emphasize in all my presentations ( Unwritten Rules of Success)
“Your IQ will get you the job but your EQ (Emotional Intelligence – Self Awareness) will get you the promotion” Cecilia Rose
To define the term, self-awareness is the conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires. It is the essential building block in effective leadership. Having an “awareness” of yourself and the people around you will help you effectively lead and inspire all you come in contact with.
So, the underlying question is: How do you develop self-awareness? Here are some steps to follow to bring you to this level of moving more assuredly in the world.
1.Take and Take-in your Personality Assessment – If you digest what it says about yourself, your Self-Awareness will grow. I was in my 20s when I took the Myers Briggs personality test—and I scored an ENFP, which means that I am a passion-driven “idea” person. ENFPs gain energy from interacting with others, and become quickly excited over new possibilities and ideas … and don’t always finish what they have started. ENFPs dislike routine work and want a variety of tasks and challenges. They prefer to set their own schedule and chafe when saddled with excessive regulations or mundane details,
Throughout the years I have taken a lot of personality tests, such as DISC, the Birkman,The Enneagram,True Colors, and just last month I took the Insights Discovery Assessment. It took me an hour to complete because every question came down to a split decision, and I really tried to be honest in my answers. The eagerly anticipated report arrived from it: “Karen may generate more ideas, possibilities, and plans in one day than others might manage in a month! Her life will tend to be a series of initiated, but unfinished projects. She should take care to include the practical details in her projects and continually try to look at situations from an objective viewpoint rather than just her own perception. Her energy comes from a variety of new projects and interests.”
“If one person calls you a horse’s ass, be curious. If two call you one, be reflective… if three call you a horse’s ass buy a saddle.” Anonymous
If you are interested in developing your self-awareness, you may want to revisit the assessments you have taken and “take-in” what has been written about you.
2.Participate in a 360 assessment. There can be a world of difference between what you think you project and what others think of you. I worked with a coach several years ago, and she had me ask my clients the four questions below as we developed my personal brand. In finding people to help you get answers, branch out and include bosses, peers, and subordinates. You can even include neighbors, friends, and if you are brave—family members. But they can be the most brutal, so give them the questions in writing and let them have time to think about their answers.
Please give a one-word or one-phrase answer to the following questions
1. What one word describes my personality?
2. What value or principle do you most closely associate with me?
3. What skill, ability, or talent comes to mind when you think of me?
4. How would you describe me to others who have never met me?
3. Take the StrenghtsFinder: To help people uncover their talents, Gallup introduced the first version of its online assessment in 2001, StrengthsFinder ignited a global conversation and helped millions to discover their top five talents. In its latest national bestseller, StrengthsFinder 2.0, Gallup unveils the new and improved version of its popular assessment. Take time and discover your top five strengths.
4. Listen … to yourself. Start listening to your own voice and observe how others react to your tone and your words. Begin to set aside time in the morning before work and replay some of the scenarios of the previous day. How did your voice and maybe even your body language affect others.
5.Cultivate your ability to focus. “Focus is the hidden driver of excellence,” according to Daniel Goleman. If you can block out the noise and silence your inner distracters, you will begin to see situations more clearly and how you fit into the picture. Because I am an ENFP, focus has always been a challenge for me. Three years ago, I started a yoga class, and I noticed that I spent more time watching others, comparing myself to them. I decided that if I was going to grow and enjoy the classes, I had to close my eyes and focus on my own practice. The outcome was that yoga has helped me attain focus.What are you doing to grow your focus?
Please share your thoughts on self- awareness and add to the list any thoughts or strategies you have tried or are thinking about trying.
I have been speaking on “Generations in the Workplace” for nearly 10 years. And a few short years ago, there were just a handful of Millennials in my audiences.
Today my audiences are filled with people 35 and under as the number of Millennials in the workplace continues to swell. Recently, Pew Research released the news that more than one-in-three American workers today are Millennials (i.e., adults aged 18 to 34 in 2015), and furthermore this year they surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce.
By 2017, half the U.S. workforce will be Millennials and they are shaking things up as they change the world of work. We are discovering that Millennials seek a multi-dimensional lifestyle that satisfies both their work and personal lives. They are a bit impatient and want to proceed along their career path more rapidly than Boomers and even Gen Xers ever did.
So,I decided to write a post helping Millennials as well as Boomers and Gen Xers speed up their career advancement
Reality bites … and the reality is that today there are still powerful Unwritten Rules in every organization that stand in the way of your success. These are the Unwritten Rules that must be addressed for career advancement. My goal in this post is to help not only Millennials but all generations understand advancement strategies and recognize opportunities to make key decisions about their career options.
Here are my suggestions for conquering the Unwritten Rules:
Be Observant: Begin a new job or new department or team by closing your mouth and opening your eyes and ears. Observe—how things get done. Your workplace success requires a deep understanding of how the organization or new team functions and how decisions are made. Be fully aware of the politics and notice where the political landmines exist. Political know-how (the unwritten rule) is important—and those who fail to develop such skills are often the ones who get left behind.
“You can observe a lot by watching.” —Yogi Berra
Discover: Now that you understand your organization find out where you fit into the big picture. Every organization has a culture that sets the tone for the types of people who are hired. You need to know why you were hired, where you fit into the organization, and how your superior sees your career path in the organization.
Share your Goals: Speak up and effectively communicate your career goals, your ideas, desired assignments, and when the time is right, ask to be considered for promotion.
Build your Relationshipsand Grow your Circle of Influencers: Start your list of 25 people you admire, people you can learn from, leaders, gatekeepers, and people in your organization who have enthusiasm and ideas. Then join your organizations, formal and informal networking groups, and, as Keith Ferazzi once said, “Never eat alone.” Make it a point of having lunch with members of your team and those in your circle of influence.
“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
Be a Giver: Figure out how to cultivate your list of 25 and grow the relationship BEFORE you ask for advice or a favor. Share your talents (perhaps in technology) and be open to teaching others.
Increase your visibility: Volunteer to give a presentation! Did that scare you? Do your homework—practice, practice, practice, and make it a great one. Become known and get involved.
Take pride in how you show up. Although we are seeing a more flexible work trend—dress still matters! How you dress for work is even more complicated today than years past. The casual dress trend combined with today’s increased focus on “snug-fitting” clothes makes it clear that deciding how to dress for work takes some thought and preparation. Every business has a culture and every culture has a costume. Make sure your day-to-day outfits fit your company’s look and feel … and are “company appropriate. Some professional cultures still require suits while others, such as the tech cultures, are more relaxed and you may even get by with a grey hoodie … if you are Mark Zuckerberg. Be mindful of the image you want to project at work with clients and peers, and choose outfits based on cues from those you admire around you.
“Remember, whatever you do at work, no matter how small it is, has your signature on it! Make it clear,bold, & easy to read!” Karen McCullough
What unwritten rule have you discovered? Can you share examples where you have turned your discovery into opportunity? Please share your thoughts below
In this video episode of Karen McCullough’s Lessons from the Road Karen explores the difference between a fad and a trend.
A Fad is something new that people are doing while a Trend is a new way of doing things.
Trends rise slowly, whereas fads spike—and die out— quickly. Take Twitter – Twitter has been called the pulse of the planet — Twitter is best friends with Katy Perry, Ashton Kusher, LeBron, the Arab Spring, journalists, freaks, geeks and even the Pope. But it didn’t start off with a bang when is was created by Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Noah Glass and launched by July 2006. It was a really slow go until January 2009 when a man named Janus Krums was on a ferry when US Airway flight 1549 had engine failure and landed in the Hudson. He snapped a photeo and posted it on Twitter sending it out to his 170 followers…and it spread and spread across the world. Krums along with Twitter scooped the media.
It has beed said that this one incident made Twitter the #1 the source of how many get their news each day. Is Twitter a Fad or a Trend?
Recently I watched the Academy Award nominated movie “The Theory of Everything.” I love it and I became fascinated by the way Stephen Hawking thinks. I began to dig a little deeper and found this quote:
“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” ~ —Stephen Hawking
Wow! … what a gutsy statement. It implies inversely, that those who are not willing to change are not intelligent. I know that is not true., but think about it.
We are in a time of tremendous change and there are some people in leadership roles not responding well.
Change happens anyway.
Between customer empowerment, expectations of the Millennial generation and technology, NOTHING is staying the same. The constantly shifting marketplace is screaming, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.” Companies and the teams within the company cannot afford to be complacent about change unless they are planning on going the way of the dinosaur. Complacency is a silent killer of a team and its organization as well as a career. One way to fight complacency is by challenging one’s self t hear new ways of thinking and ideas. Today’s leaders must be open to collaboration and inclusion to truly understand what each team member brings to the table.
The Fear Factor
Many organizations are in full-blown transformation mode right now. Some members of the team might not be comfortable with the shifting sands beneath them. Many see change as a way of moving them out and that is a paralyzing and frightening thought. People are looking for help from leaders who will need to tackle the changes head-on and those leaders need to reassure each person that they are a valued member of the team. Here are a few things we all need in a changing environment:
1. Clarity – When left to their own way of viewing changes, the employee may be frozen into inaction. When their leader is able to help them understand the objectives and assure them of how all “what-if” situations will be handled, it helps everyone identify a path toward resolving issues as they come up during the change. 2. Collaboration – Each employee wants to feel empowered to bring their own strengths to the task and feel confident that other team members will “have their back” in areas where they feel a vulnerability or weakness. 3. Constructive Disruption – Unexpected things are going to happen. Seeing opportunity in everything allows the team to anticipate the unexpected and work toward the clear goals identified by the leadership. 4. Adaptability -– In a rapidly changing marketplace, work teams benefit from knowing “What’s next.”. They must change the lens from looking internally for direction and purpose to looking outwardly. A solid, adaptable ecosystem can challenge the old ways of doing things and develop a real competitive advantage.
Leadership’s Role in Change
Let’s get down to the essence of how a strong leader facilitates change. It’s much more than getting out in front of the your people and telling them changes are going to take place and to get on board the “change train.”
Opportunities are everywhere, and strong leaders can see them. Not only can strong change leaders see current opportunities, they recognize that great opportunities will continue and only a team prepared for those changes will be able to maximize those opportunities. Strong change leaders will build effective teams with different points of view. They will reach out to all generations and all cultures. When given free expression, diversity of thought converges into giving rise to unbeatable companies. It unleashes a passionate pursuit of excellence with each team member., and will allows each member of the team to feel part of creating a legacy together.
Diversity of thought fuels discovery and collaboration leads to fresh, new ideas to keep the spirit of change alive and well in the workplace. It builds entire ecosystems within the company to provide the flexibility needed to grasp new opportunities as they are recognized.Strong change leaders will anticipate constructive disruption and never forget the customer along the way. With a clear vision of the desired outcome, the team will combine diverse talents into a powerful, adaptive ecosystem in the midst of drastic change.
It’s Not Too Late
Complacency will become a silent killer to any organization. You must wake up each morning eager to discover what your customers want from you and how you are going to deliver it. As a change agent, you must also know how to sell change to employees and get them engaged. You want them to be excited about it to the point that they bring fresh insight into the process of transformation.
Become a change leader for your organization, its employees, and your industry at large. Encourage everyone to think differently in the face of a rapidly changing marketplace.
Diversity training can be uncomfortable for many of us because we have a fear of either being judged or seen as judging others. Even popular and forward thinking television shows reveal our discomfort with the subject. Although it’s hysterically funny and a bit over the top, this episode of The Office, shows how totally off track perceptions of diversity and the experiences of others appear.
Both Saturday Night Live and Jerry Seinfield TV shows have been called out for their lack of diversity. SNL’s absence of a black female cast member on the show since Maya Rudolph left, and Jerry uses the defense “Funny is the world I live in…I have no interest in gender or race…Are you making us laugh or not?”
The diversity challenge goes way beyond your company’s legal obligations to comply with legislation for equal opportunity and non-discrimination. A diverse workforce has lower turnover, better employee morale, higher sales and increased profits.
When it comes to living out diversity, the truth is, we find it much easier to simply keep ourselves surrounded by people like us even though, the benefits of a diverse workforce are HUGE!
Truth One – Where there is Diversity there is profit!
Study after study proves diversity adds to the bottom line. In fact, way back in 2009, a study was published in the “American Sociological Review”. When the researchers compared the workplaces with the most diversity to those with lowest levels of racial diversity, the workforces with a mix of races had 15 times more sales. That’s impressive…and we are only talking about racial diversity in this study.
True diversity is not that simple. It is much more than a mixture of races and genders. It encompasses ethnic groups, age, personality type, cognitive style, ability, tenure, education, lifestyle, organizational function and a whole host of other things.
“Strength lies in differences, not in similarities”
~ Stephen Covey
Neil Lenane is Business Leader Talent Management with Progressive Insurance. He is quoted as saying, “If you do not intentionally include, you unintentionally exclude.” He says the company does not see diversity as a program. Instead it is a cultural movement with measurable results. The team is able to overcome inhibitions and apprehensions to become more innovative. With innovation comes the ability to better understand customer needs.
As a bonus, he believes this core principle allows the company to cast a wider net to reach the best talent too. This is a claim you will often hear from companies who have successfully implemented diversity into the company culture.
Diversity brings profits in the television industry too. Although many see the entertainment industry to be liberal and progressive, true diversity in this industry is in its infancy. Data from ratings shows the highest-rated dramas and comedies were shows with 41 to 50 percent Black/Latino/Asian casts and had a median household rating of 5.84. Shows casting the least diverse mix had a median household rating of 3.79. So, this season we can look for shows like Blackish, Christela, The Goldbergs, and the newest featuring an Asian-American family, Fresh Off the Boat to prosper.
Truth Two: Diversity can be Messy
With all this data supporting the fact diversity is a profitable undertaking, why do we still need to talk about it? The bottom line truth of bringing diversity into the workplace is uncomfortable and it’s challenging.
Newer companies begin the hiring process with an intentional focus on incorporating diversity into the company culture. It is one reason why many new start ups are making higher profits. When your company is large and well established, diversity is a bigger challenge. Here is why:
Communication Barriers: When the workforce is made up of people with different perceptions, cultures and native languages it can often spiral into ineffective communication. Team members may be confused, have trouble working as a team and eventually lead to low morale.
Resistance to Change: In every established company you will have employees who refuse to accept change. The mentality of “we’ve always done it this way” destroys any new ideas and stops progress in its tracks.
Leadership Weaknesses: Having a workshop about diversity does not prepare the leadership for managing a diverse workforce. Although they may be armed with assessment data of employees, creating an implementation plan for their particular team is no small task.
Sad to say, exclusion is a human instinct. People tend to cluster in tightly knit groups because they want to be with others who think like them. Gender diversity often falls prey to this bias. Men, who dominate the upper management positions, tend to spend time together casually. They may all go to lunch together for example. Asking the upwardly mobile female to join them may feel uncomfortable to everyone involved. Yet, relationships are deepened, business is discussed and decisions are made in these informal encounters.
Formal mentoring can be an effective way to address the subtle prejudices that sabotage diversity efforts. Mentors provide advice, feedback and career coaching , and almost no one is blatant about their discriminatory attitudes. It shows up in subtle habits that are harder to diagnose and very hard to cure.
The next step after mentoring is sponsorship. Sponsors are advocates in positions of authority who use their influence intentionally to help others advance. Both are important to advancement as employees navigate the workplace and earn opportunities for growth.
Truth Three: Your Brain is to Blame
Even when a change of habits is life or death, humans are resistant to making drastic changes. Studies show that about one out of nine patients who undergo coronary bypass surgery actually changed their habits. Although the number of studies to support lifestyle changes is abundant, these patients settle back into their familiar lifestyle and took their chances.
If people won’t change their behavior to save their own lives, how can we expect them to change their work habits just because it will make them happier, more innovative and provide massive profits to the company where they work?
Here is the scientific answer: the interplay between working memory and focused attention are at odds with each other. Working memory, the holding area where new information can be used, engages the prefrontal cortex. It is the brain’s area for rational thinking. It is energy-intensive and fatigues easily.
The brain is wired to recognize perceived differences between an expected outcome and actual outcomes. When it perceives differences, it fires off neurons connected to fear. With the fear circuitry engaged, it quickly morphs into anger and counterproductive behaviors.
Humans love to do what is easiest and the brain supports the easy way of perceiving. When you are doing known tasks, the basal ganglia, located deep in the brains core, is in performance. These behaviors take less energy than what is needed by the prefrontal cortex. No real conscious thought is required, so diverse ideas are quickly and easily rejected.
Without the ability to intentionally overcome our brain’s reaction to outside perceptions, it becomes really hard to collaborate with people who think differently. Understanding how the brain is wired will help empower your actions toward diversity goals.
Truth Four: The World is Getting Smaller
As the world of business becomes more globalized, the need for diversity increases. Technology has allowed business to be conducted across borders easily. Expanding into foreign markets is absolutely essential for success in world-class companies. Otherwise, smaller companies from across the world who were “born global” will drain away market share.
Decisions made during the process of globalization walk a thin line between efficiency, with consistent processes, and adapting to the markets of different cultures. Having a diverse workforce gives these companies a competitive advantage. When employees come from diverse backgrounds it gives the company a wider perspective. A diverse customer base pushes innovation to develop new products and services to meet the needs of a diverse marketplace.
Truth Five: Trust the Process
The inherent discomfort of diversity can be overcome when it is part of a company’s everyday process. Four primary processes can be remembered with 4C’s – Commitment, Collaboration, Communication and Competence. When these 4C’s are applied to the goal of diversity in the workplace, trust is developed.
“Diversity and independence are important because the best collective decisions are a product of disagreement and contest, not consensus or compromise.” ~ James Surowiecki
Trust is critical to the success of a diverse team because they will be constantly interacting to reach company goals. In a blog article, Emergenetics explains how they have developed a process called the WE approach to collaboration. Their methods show how high-level teams tap into the different brains of individuals to establish trust.
Credible resources are used to support facts and conclusions which open up the analytical pathways in the brain.
Procedures are established for everyone to follow with a process to create realistic timelines and expectations. The processes and procedures protect the brain from feelings of fear.
Social consideration is given to how certain behaviors may impact other people and validate their feelings and emotions.
Exploring new concepts opens the conceptual pathways in the brain to allow each member to communicate their vision of the future.
The article goes on to say, “The combining of thoughts and behaviors in a way that expresses respect and understanding to those around us enables us to build and maintain trust over time.”
In an article in Inc magazine, Geil Browning, brain researcher and founder of Emergenetics shares her lessons in diversity.
Communicate openly about cognitive diversity.
Deliberately hire all thinking and behavior types.
Put your diversity to work.
Make cognitive diversity a core part of your culture.
As more and more companies are uncovering the benefits of a diverse workforce and creating an inclusive environment in which each member of the team is valued, respected, and is able to fully contribute their talents, the conversations will become easier.
When we reach the point we can see diversity and inclusion as a normal ways to build successful companies, our world will be better for it.
In the words of Commander Spock in Star Trek: “Infinite diversity in infinite combinations…symbolizing the elements that create truth and beauty.”
A few years back I decided to make short, informative, and fun videos sharing a lesson that I (a professional speaker) learned while on the road. Partnering with videographer Mike Svat we strive to create stories that will put a smile on your face,information in your head,and a little motivation in your belly!
Here they are: The Top 5 Lessons from the Road Videos that had the most views:
#1. Gen X always a winner: Lessons from the Road #11 – Gen X Is the Bridge between Boomers and Millennials
#2. Turn a Negative into a Positive- Dealing with rejections
#3.Stress Relief – I need a to-do list
#4. Push Yourself to the Edge
#5. She Left Just before LeBron Came Back (My sister Patty made the list!)