Diversity & Inclusion: Listen & Learn During Black History Month

There are three sides to every story: yours, theirs, and the truth. Think about when two kids get in trouble and their parent asks each of them what happened. It’s usually two different stories and neither is the complete truth.

I’ve been in conversations with people recently: “why do we need Black History Month? It’s one History!” But it’s not one History; it’s generally one side of the history. When the textbooks are all written by one side (those in power), the movies from that era are directed and produced by one side (those in power), and the laws are created by one side (those in power).

Now, we are fortunate to celebrate Black History Month. There are books, articles, and movies that offer multiple perspectives and allow people to share their experience. It’s an opportunity for us to be empathetic to someone else’s experience and perspective.

While we may feel like that’s so far in the past, our parents and grandparents lived through it. And our peer’s parents and grandparents lived through it too, and maybe had a much different experience. Even today, you may be surprised to learn about experiences your peers have that don’t even cross your mind.

One thing I spent some extra time learning about recently was Voters’ rights.

For example, the 15th Amendment passed in 1870 which prohibits the federal and state governments from denying a citizen the right to vote based on that citizen’s “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

However, that amendment was poorly enforced and there were consequences for those that did vote (you can hear stories about loss of bank loans, loss of jobs and destruction of property). Then Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to enforce the 15th Amendment. In 1965, when the Act passed, there were no African-American U.S. Senators and only six African-American U.S. Congressmen.

This month, listen and learn something about the Black Experience. Read articles, watch movies, or even better, have a conversation! Listen and learn from someone you know. When you approach a conversation willing to listen and learn, share your intentions and ask if they are willing to share. It may be a very powerful conversation.

Diversity & Inclusion: It’s Different This Time

Diversity & Inclusion is on the minds of top CEOs and companies across the country.  And there have been several movements in our country’s history when this has come up, like The Civil Rights Movement and The Women’s Movement.  Maybe even in your career experience, you’ve seen companies focus on the percentages of minority employees or attended tolerance workshops and trainings.

In 2017, I had a different experience with Diversity & Inclusion.  Something that has seemed so overwhelming, taboo, and out of my hands became real, comfortable, and important.  I read more, I had more dialogues, and I participated.  I knew my intentions were in the right place to understand and that I could better express my intentions in one-on-one conversations and in groups.  People opened up and shared with me more than ever on this topic.  It was enlightening, it was meaningful, and it was real.  We can all be better.  We can treat everyone with respect and understanding.

In 2018, I’m going to blog more about Diversity & Inclusion.  But I’m going to start here.  In 2016, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson gave a speech to the AT&T Employee Resource Groups.  In it, he shared:

“When a parent says ‘I love my son,’ you don’t say ‘but what about your daughter?’
When we run or walk for breast cancer funding and research, we don’t say, ‘What about prostate cancer?’
When the president says ‘God bless America,’ we don’t say, ‘Shouldn’t God bless all countries?’
And when a person struggling with what’s been broadcast on our airwaves says, ‘Black Lives Matters,’ we should not say, “All Lives Matter,’ to justify ignoring the real need for change.”

This topic is incredibly sensitive for all of us.  And I’m not going to share a checklist of things you can do to be an advocate for Diversity & Inclusion.  It’s not a checklist, it’s about you showing up as the best version of you.

For now… Think about what Randall Stephenson said.  Think about how you have responded to people asking for their voice to be heard.  Think about how you can truly listen to what people are saying.  And if you’re up for it, think about what you can do to support them.

Difficult isn’t a barometer you’re on the right path

I used to be motivated by the whole “no pain, no gain” and other strong quotes about how brilliance is on the other side of hard work. I don’t always buy it anymore. It doesn’t have to be difficult. And we shouldn’t use pain or difficulties as a barometer we’re on the right path. I’ve learned something greater – mindset. So let’s look at two ways difficult can be reframed to tell if you’re on the right track.

Do the work. Real work is awesome. When you set a goal, put the effort in, learn amazing skills, ideas, and philosophies along the way and you can find great success. I suppose real or hard work can be difficult but it doesn’t have to be. Don’t discount real work as being difficult or painful. Celebrate real work for what it is – helping you achieve your goals.

Other times our professional lives are difficult. Sometimes we’re in the wrong situation. And we are empowered to do something about it – we can make changes or we can leave. If you are waiting for changes to happen outside of your control, you’ll be sitting in a difficult, painful place indefinitely. Here are some questions to help you identify if you can change the situation.

Environment: Are you in an environment where people like you can be successful?
– Are there people around you that you can look to as a role model, mentor, or advocate? Have you put in the real work to find them and develop a relationship with them?
– Are you at an organization that is helping you develop or master the skills you want to use in your career? Can you articulate what those skills are and an action plan to achieve those skills?
– Are you at an organization that celebrates and leverages your uniqueness to contribute to the success of the organization? Have you had the conversations to validate your answer?

People: Are you in a difficult place because of the toxic people around you?
– Have you built the skills (technical, soft, leadership) that you need to earn a promotion but other people are holding you back? Who are the real decision makers and have you had the conversations with them about your inability to grow?
– Are your managers, peers, or executive team demotivating? If there are specific things happening, have you had the right conversations with the right people to initiate change?
– Are you unnecessarily competing with people when it’s not a competition? How can you change it from competition to collaboration?

It’s Just You: And maybe it’s you. Maybe you aren’t being true to the career life you want. Maybe you’re not on your right path, leveraging your best skills, or building your future skills? Maybe there’s something else out there that aligns with your work priorities. What’s holding you back from pursuing your dream career? Maybe it’s just you.

Take some time to think about if difficult parts of your professional life are:
1 – real work and you need to evoke your mindset.
2 – difficult because you’re not on the right path.

Define what your success looks like

What does success look like for you in your career?  When you retire and look back at your entire career, what will make you proud, what will you have done to make you feel successful?

For some it may be earning a certain job title, pay & benefits package, people managed, accolades.  Others it may be achieving work-life balance and having the time for family, friends, hobbies, or passion projects.  Some may be all about the gig economy or finding additional sources of revenue. Others may want to focus on making a difference as a tenured employee at one company.

The beauty is that this is YOUR career. After you retire, the only person who will determine if you were successful is YOU, with the measurements you value about a career.

Define this for yourself, reevaluate every year, and evolve it as you evolve!

How will you invest in your career development in 2018?

A new year is upon us. You may be starting the year off strong with great momentum or you may be exhausted by 2017 and need a boost. Either way, you should constantly have a career development plan in place. You are solely responsible for your own career development. There are a number of support systems available to you (peers, mentors, managers, your company) but the person solely looking out for you, is you. You should absolutely leverage your support systems. They can be a fantastic support for helping develop your plan and even provide resources for you to execute or commit to your plan.

There are two investment resources that you have: time and money.   Here are some thought starters on how your time and your money can contribute to your career development in 2018.

1 – Get Inspired! There are a number of people/accounts on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter you can follow to keep you thinking about your Career Development. (Resource: Time)

2 – Connect! If networking overwhelms you, reframe networking. Think about it as connecting with people. Learn from others, ask their advice. Find some peers at work and commit to encouraging each other. Get a group of friends together for brunch once/month where you celebrate successes. (Resource: Time)

3 – Learn! If your dream job requires certain degrees or certifications, make a commitment to earn those. How will you get your PMP or MBA? What are the budget and time requirements to earn this degree or certification? Create a Commitment Plan to save, explore options with your current company for tuition reimbursement or discounts, and talk to programs to find out what’s right for you.  Also, look at programs like LinkedIn Learning if you don’t want to commit to a full degree. (Resource: Time & Money)

4 – Hire a Coach! A coach can help you build a Commitment Plan to move your career development forward. Working with a coach will give you an opportunity to have an unbiased cheerleader!  As your coach, I’ll ask questions and guide our conversations to help you gain clarity towards the next steps in your career.  If you are interested in learning more about coaching, fill out the form below to schedule a free 15-minute conversation. (Resource: Time & Money)

Cheers to 2018! I hope it’s full of motivation, inspiration, and action in your career!

Top 5 Moments Of 2017

One of the most powerful motivators for moving forward is taking the time to celebrate those little victories.  Seeing how far you’ve come is great motivation to go even further.

2017 was a big year for me and here are the top 5 moments that moved me forward!

1 – Changing my tax status.  In March, I went from Fulltime to Freelance.  There are amazing things about having a full-time job.  I loved having an office space with a co-worker community.  The benefits and consistent paychecks were great too.  While I kept some of my previous communities and built some new ones, I still have to make a constant effort to connect with people and have a community.

2 – Becoming an entrepreneur.  I launched my coaching business, Be Genuine Stay Determined, in April.  When I talk about it, my face lights up, and when people ask me about coaching, I have a hard time shutting up!  It’s an amazing field and helping people work through their goals is incredibly rewarding.  I love hearing about clients working towards an Ideal Job and moving forward.  There are a few things that have made me a bit nervous about taking the leap but I’m so glad I jumped!

3 – Volunteering with Everwise.  In April, I started as a Mentor at Everwise and have mentored two amazing women through their EverwiseWomen program.  I’ve learned so much from the program and the women.  And am thrilled to be part of such a strong organization bringing women together.

4 – Changing my tax status, again.  I was a June bride this year.  It’s been amazing to have a partner in crime (whom in his vows, promised to take the heat if we were caught).  He’s been a great source of motivation, support, and advice.

5 – Landing the career of one of my favorite clients.  As he commences to a life of retirement, it was incredibly rewarding to be a coach and communication strategist for him.  I felt like Hamilton to Washington in “One Last Time.”  He has really helped form some of my leadership principles and strengthened my confidence helping leader define their brands.  I was incredibly fortunate to have a client who is also a mentor.

As I refine my 2018 SMART Goals and keep moving forward, I’m grateful for all the success I had in 2017 and the amazing people that were a part of it.  Thank you to my family, friends, co-workers, mentors, clients, and role models.

Wishing you all a restful holiday and a successful 2018!

Communicating Decisions: We Fixed the Glitch

Making decisions can be complex, especially when it involves people. As managers, we put so much thought into the decisions we make that by the time the decision is made, our energy for that situation is spent. The decision-making group walks away and tackles the next situation. Leaders, however, know that if you stop there, you missed the most important piece – the people. Your decision will impact people and it’s essential to carefully craft a communication strategy and plan.

Working through this with a client, I was reminded of a great leadership lesson from Office Space. Don’t just fix the glitch, be a leader.  Here’s the clip.

Managers will execute for the business. They made the decision (Milton won’t work here anymore), they fixed the glitch (he won’t receive a paycheck), and they moved on/avoided potential conflict (“these things just work themselves out”).

Leaders balance the needs of the business with the needs of their people. They make the tough decisions (we are letting Milton go) AND have a communication strategy and plan to accompany major decisions.

Here are a few factors to consider when developing a communication strategy and plan.
1 – Who are the audiences? In this case, it may be:
– Directly Impacted: Milton, his manager, the employees taking on his work
– Indirectly Impacted: his peers, coworkers that sit near him, the office manager
– The Follow-Up: your boss, the management team

2 – What do they need to hear? Go audience by audience and consider: the decision, the why, and the plan forward.

3 – Who, how and when do they need to hear? Will it cascade from manager to manager? Will there be a company-wide or team-wide email? Does the plan happen quickly to reduce chatter and gossip?

4 – Execute. Once you have the plan, execute! If you tend to avoid conflict or don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, remember that it’s not about you. It’s about them and they need to know so they can move forward. Rip it off like a band-aid.

5 – Reflect. Look back at how it went. How are people feeling? Is everyone ready to move forward or do they need more? Did you miss a key message?

In the end, common sense always wins. Be a proactive, transparent leader. Empathize with each audience and think what you would want if you were in their shoes. When you continue to have a track record of transparency and warmth, you’ll develop a trusting culture where the team is set up to succeed.

It’s a Career Path, not a Ladder

Where did the idea of a corporate ladder even come from?  Was it realistic that a college graduate could pick one ladder, one path, and keep climbing in one direction, knowing the exact next step?

I’m grateful that corporate ladders don’t exist and that we get to create our own career paths full of twists and turns, detours and flexibility.  You can take time off for personal reasons (family, sabbaticals, continuing education).  You can jump to new industries.  You can have side hustles.  You can even start over and reinvent yourself completely.

The focus in today’s career path is more about developing skills than climbing a ladder of job titles.  When you can reframe your career journey to prioritize professional development over job titles, you may achieve your dream job faster.  Also, there is something you can do every day for your professional development.  Your professional development is something that you own.

Often times, clients want to know what’s next in their career.  They ask their manager what they need to do to get the next position.  And often time they hear, “We don’t have that position open now but we will consider you when it is.”  Or the guidance to focus on your current role. And yes, focus on mastering the skills of your current role but also focus on developing the future skills you will need for the rest of your career path.

As we approach 2018, identify some skills you want to develop or master in 2018.  Get the support of an accountability partner.  And even work with your manager or HR professional to see if there are professional development opportunities that your company provides or if your company can provide financial support.

Three Planners to Achieve Your 2018 Goals

You have big goals in 2018, and sometimes, need a little kick to make them happen. Here are three journals I’ve used over the years to Get Sh*t Done!

Passion Planner: I loved this journal. The exercises to start the year and each month were great reflective exercises. The color coding was fun and kept me balanced.  Three years after I used the Passion Planner, I went back and reviewed my initial goals and achieved most of them!

Commit30: This planner is great because it makes you live intentionally every day – reflecting on what you’ve accomplished and having a plan to move forward. Also…30 days? Anyone can commit to 30 days! The undated planner is great if you’ve fallen off the horse and want to start anytime that isn’t January 1. And I love their mantra SMALL STEPS = BIG RESULTS.

Bullet Journal: I’ve tried carrying around 5 journals with me (one per project) or online note capturing, and then I found Bullet Journaling. You can buy a Bullet Journal or learn the system and start in your journal now. This system helps me quickly jump from meeting to meeting or project to project in one journal. And allows me to easily find notes connected to each project. Referring back to all my notes on a specific project with the index has been life-changing. And adding in specific goals has kept me moving forward.

You are more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. So pick a system that works for you, hold yourself accountable, and achieve those goals!