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1. What was the impetus for Good Deeds Day?
I initiated Good Deeds Day out of the simple idea that every person can do a good deed, be it large or small, for the benefit of others and the planet. I believe that we each have a part to play in bringing about positive change, and every person can give of themselves according to their unique skill and talent, to make a difference in the world. I always say that even a smile that brightens someone else's day is a good deed, because this is the energy that spreads.
The simple idea that inspired me to initiate Good Deeds Day has brought together people from all cultures and backgrounds to actively engage in doing good. Good Deeds Day has grown way beyond me, it is now a global tradition taking place in 50 countries across the globe. Just imagine the impact! I always wanted to be a catalyst for positive change, and this is a dream come true.
2. How has it grown?
Starting in Israel in 2007 with 7,000 participants, Good Deeds Day spread beyond geographical and cultural borders worldwide. This year, on its eighth year, there are more than half a million participants in 50 countries across the globe extending together more than two million hours of volunteering. The circles are expanding and growing more and more each year.
The idea of creating a critical mass of goodness in the world is translated in practical terms on Good Deeds Day, so that individuals, businesses, and organizations can take part with concrete action items, such as feeding the homeless, renovating houses, caring for the elderly, helping the disabled, working with children, cleaning parks and beaches, and so much more. There are many people and organizations doing incredible things, and putting our efforts together on Good Deeds Day amplifies all the good that's being done already.
ABC Network partnered with us this second year in a row to showcase Good Deeds Day in its media outlets and in a grand kickoff event in Times Square, collaborating with leading volunteering organizations, and with thousands of projects taking place across the US and all over the world. In 2012 MTV International campaigned Good Deeds Day for six weeks on its online and TV platforms, exposing the message to millions of viewers and encouraging them to share their deeds on a dedicated website. From 1,000 projects in 2010 in Israel alone, Good Deeds Day 2014 runs over 8,000 projects, with two million hours of volunteering extended together on the day. That makes a huge difference in our world. Moreover, Good Deeds Day is a springboard for long-term projects, and people continue to volunteer throughout the year.
3. How do you see it expanding in the next few years?
The circles continue to expand as more people become enthused by the simple idea of doing a good deed to improve the lives of others and positively impacting the planet. More partnerships are created around Good Deeds Day, bringing the message of good to additional sectors and offering more opportunities for people to do good, as their heart desires. The goal is to create a critical mass of good together that reaches the tipping point, bringing about lasting positive change in the world.
Today is International Women’s Day! It was first observed in 1908 and is a celebration of respect and appreciation that recognizes the social, economic and political achievements of women.
Each year, the United Nations declares a theme for International Women’s Day. This year, it’s “Equality for women is progress for all.”
In his statement marking the day, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said, “Countries with more gender equality have better economic growth. Companies with more women leaders perform better. Peace agreements that include women are more durable. Parliaments with more women enact more legislation on key social issues such as health, education, anti-discrimination and child support.”
Take a moment to acknowledge the women in your life today and all that they do—and that includes yourself!
Tomorrow is International Women's Day, so we wanted to share this popular video feauturing powerful insights from some notable women. Take a look!
Most of us have seen company mission statements when we have researched employers and industries. Typically corporate mission statements encompass the values of a company; their goals and their future plans for growth.
Not many of us have seen or created a “Personal Mission Statement”, however--but we all should. How helpful to have a short paragraph to guide us in our careers; keep us moving forward and on track. A mission statement not only states your goals, but also lays out the steps needed to reach those goals.
A personal mission statement should be brief, about three to five sentences. Tack it up on your computer; save it on your iphone, stick on your refrigerator. Your mission statement is meant to guide you in your day-to-day activities and help you stay on track to meet your short-term and long-term goals. It is as useful for job seekers as it is for those who are happily employed. Some tips to keep in mind when creating one:
Sample Mission Statement
“To have a successful career at a software engineering company which will utilize my technology skills, leadership abilities and provide a platform for my continued career growth. I will do this by continuing my education in technology; attending conferences in my field to network; and by obtaining a research position at my university within the next year.”
A personal mission statement is not meant to be stagnant. It is meant to change and grow as you do. Once goals are met and milestones are reached, your mission statement should be revised to included new goals. Your statement should help propel you forward in your job search or career.
To see some additional samples and templates for personal mission statements, check out www.quintcareers.com or www.timethoughts.com.
—Pamela Weinberg, Career Coach
When preparing for an interview, remember, different Industries have different rules--however there is a “holy grail” that works for most.
Understand that most workplaces are made up of people from diverse cultural, political, generational, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. What may be normal and acceptable for you can possibly be perceived as offensive and distasteful to another. The point is to keep this in mind when you get dressed each day and err on the side of classic, middle-of-the-road clothing if you are NOT sure if it’s too much for the office. In the workplace, you’re trying to get people to notice your professional skills, and so you do not want your appearance to be an unwanted or unintentional distraction. You want to be perceived as a stylish professional, and you want others to focus on your capabilities and talents.
Most offices have an official dress code policy. Feel free to ask during your interview exactly what theirs is or if they can point you to the dress code policy so that you can read it and become familiar with what is expected of you in the workplace. That will impress the boss, guaranteed!
Some “Do’s” when getting dressed for an interview:
Some “Don’ts” when getting dressed for an interview:
Pamela Watson, celebrity stylist who currently works as the trend expert for Builders of Style, where she prepares A-list clients for red carpet events, music videos, concerts and award shows.
I recently attended a screening of an inspirational documentary entitled “Geraldine Ferraro: Paving the Way”. A refresher on Geraldine Ferraro: she earned her place in history as the first woman vice- presidential candidate on a national party ticket as Walter Mondale’s running mate in the 1984 election.
Geraldine Ferraro did what no other woman had done before, and she did it her way. One of the most notable qualities about Ms. Ferraro was that she knew and lived her “brand” in an absolutely authentic way. She never tried to be anything except a hard-working, sassy girl from Queens raised by a single-mother who worked beading wedding gowns to put her through Catholic school, college and law school.
Despite the pressures of being a woman in Congress (one of a handful at that time) Ms. Ferraro was a model of balance. Her family was her priority—even if that meant flying back and forth from DC to Queens twice in four days to be home for family dinner. She was a role model of the modern career woman.
History books show Ms. Ferraro as a trailblazer and role model to women. There was not a dry eye in the convention hall watching Ms. Ferraro being nominated at the Democratic National Convention in 1984.
So what are some of the lessons that all women in the workplace can learn from Geraldine Ferraro?
Be prepared. Nobody worked harder than Ms. Ferraro did to understand the issues of her constituents and to find solutions. She was well versed in local politics, and when it was her turn to be on the national stage she worked around the clock to ensure that she mastered the important issues facing the country.
Develop a strong peer group. She had many friends “across the aisle” in congress. She had wonderful relationships with the other female congresswomen, both democrats and republicans. She was able to capitalize on these relationships to get business done in Washington.
Believe in yourself. No matter how much adversity crossed her path or how often she was derailed, she continued to fight for the causes that she believed in. When she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma she took her fight to congress and was able to pass a bill to raise funds and awareness for blood cancer research.
—Pamela Weinberg, Career Coach
Worrying keeps you stuck. Do you find yourself projecting negative outcomes? Do you obsess over the future?
If the answer is yes to anyone of these questions, you are probably spinning your wheels more than you'd like, and depleting your energy on things that you have no control over.
Here are some insights to get help you let go of worrying.
Worrying has no positive effect. Reflect on a time when a worry attack came on. What was happening? Who was the central focus? What were you telling yourself? After some time had elapsed, did what you fear, happen? Did your worrying about it make a difference? The answer most likely is No.
Worry distorts the truth. On the verge of hysteria, which worrying can often lead to, what you perceive as true, probably isn't. You are looking at a situation in a distorted way, and your judgement is clouded.
Worry can be a cover up. Worrying keeps us away from dealing with the real issues. Is there something in your life that you need to attend to but aren't? Why is this? Are you afraid of losing something you have, or not getting something you want?
Worrying saps our energy. Here's an analogy. Let's say your body is made up of sugar cubes. Each cube represents a unit of energy. When you worry, a large number of cubes are used up that could have been put to better use.
When you spot yourself worrying, nip it in the bud. Just ask yourself these questions:
Is what I'm "telling" myself true?
Am I seeing the situation clearly?
What am I avoiding by getting myself churned up?
Then turn your attention to something more productive.
I am a Career Coach and Personal Branding Strategist working with a multitude of populations ranging from students and alumni; to professional organizations and corporations; to women in transition. Helping clients build their personal brands to become the stand out candidate or professional in their chosen field is what I do best. I provide a wide range of services for clients including: resume and Linkedin profile development; social media training; interview preparation and job search techniques.
I have developed a niche in personal branding and frequently present on the topic to corporations, professional organizations and non-profits. My presentations include tips on developing a personal mission statement; doing your own personal public relations and utilizing social media for branding. I also speak frequently at corporations and non-profits including: Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, Faith Popcorn’s BrainReserve, and UJA and work in conjunction with clients to lead Career Development Groups at institutions to provide professional development and branding support for key employees. One of my specialties is helping women transition back to the workplace after a career break, which I do through Mind Your Own Business Moms, the company I co-founded with Barri Waltcher.
A frequent speaker on college campuses, I run workshops and webinars for students and alumni at universities such as New York University, Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, The Ohio State University and more. Popular presentation topics include: “Personal Branding for Job Search” and “Redefining your Professional Identity after Raising a Family”.
In addition, I am an adjunct instructor of Career Management at New York University-SCPS and teach classes geared toward women returning to the workplace after a career break.
Prior to my becoming a career coach, I co-wrote the best-selling New York City parent’s resource guide City Baby. The book has also been published in Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Chicago and DC. Always an advocate for moms, I spoke frequently to mothers groups on parenting-related topics and was frequently quoted in the media on New York City family life.
—Pamela Weinberg, Career Coach
For much of my life, I would have described strong women as akin to live-action superfigures like Rosa Parks, Gloria Steinem, and those who prevailed under the most adverse conditions. Climbing Mount Everest in bone-chilling temperatures, enrolling as the first female cadet at West Point, or raising four children as a single mother in Watts all qualified.
Under this definition, I wasn’t even in the running for strong womanhood.
But an extraordinary thing happened upon turning forty: I stopped measuring strength in black-and-white absolutes. Until then, one was either strong or a wimp, brilliant or stupid, obsessively driven or lazy. However, life became much too full for such a limited perspective.
I started measuring myself and others by a more humane standard. And the next time I took stock of myself, instead of the usual litany of “should haves” and “could haves,” I was finally able to take pride in my own accomplishments. This realization gave me the confidence to take the tremendous life risk of acting exactly like myself.
And that’s what being a strong woman is really all about.
Peggy Klaus, Communications and Leadership Coach,
President, Klaus & Associates
Excerpted from What Makes a Strong Woman by Helene Lerner. Andrews McMeel Publishing.
It’s no secret that employee engagement has been on a downward trend for the last several years. There is however, a bit of good news--you can begin to improve your work happiness beginning today and here are three tips to get started:
Mastery: In my last blog post, we talked about developing your skills and I suggested that you think like the CEO of your company. When you see a CEO, he or she arrived at that position because they grew into it. If you want to be happier at work, focus on your growth and development--think in terms of becoming a master at your work. If you stay at the level of expertise you are at now, your passion will begin to dwindle. However, when you craft a plan to learn, grow and develop yourself and you take consistent action on your plan, you will find that your passion for what you do will increase.
Invest in relationships: It’s been said that people don’t quit their company, they quit their boss. When it comes to strengthening and growing your relationships at work, start with your boss. Make a list today of how you can communicate better with him or her and how you can deliver more value to this important relationship. Then, think of how you can become more visible to management above your boss. How can you get on their radar and connect with them? Is it possible that someone higher up would be happy to be your mentor or sponsor? Next, think of your team members; what can you do to be a better communicator and team member?
Know where you want to go: The most passionate employees are those who have a vision for where they want to be in the near future and beyond. How much thought have you given to where you want to go in your career and how you plan to get there? Few managers help their team members craft what is commonly called an Individual Development Plan. Instead of wishing your boss would help you with that, think like a CEO and write you own. It will be your guide to keep you on track on to motivate you when things aren’t going as well as you would like.
If you commit to mastering what you do, invest in your relationships at work and if you know where you want to go, you will be able to say, “I love my work.”
Alan Allard, Executive Coach and Speaker
My wife teaches piano and I am often amazed at what her younger students have to say about themselves--and life in general. Yesterday, a nine-year-old was telling her that his school began at 7:20 a.m. She was sure it didn’t begin that early and after a few questions from her to clarify things, this young man proudly declared, “I understand now, I start learning a little after 8:00 a.m. when my school starts!”
Of course, we know what he meant. At the same time, I hope he realizes somewhere along the way that learning doesn’t start and stop at any certain time. I hope he comes to understand that true professionals are always in school. What about you? Are you in charge of your own learning and development, or have you left that mainly to your company? If your boss asked you to document what you have learned over the past twelve months, and how you have applied it, would your answer impress her?
It is easier than ever to continue your “education” and it is the only way for you to stand out in the crowd. Far too many employees do little or nothing to develop their knowledge and skill set beyond what their company offers. That kind of thinking, however, puts your job and career in jeopardy. You need to think like a “free agent” who isn’t dependent upon his or her company for their ongoing development. Here’s why:
All jobs are temporary in today’s marketplace and job security is nothing but an illusion—a compelling one, but still an illusion. The only security you have is in what you can do for your boss and your company. But don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s about what you did last month or last year—it’s not. When your boss is deciding whom to promote or to keep, they are looking into the near future and asking, “What can they do for me tomorrow and beyond?”
What new skills, certifications or knowledge do you need to master to be indispensable to your boss? Begin today to think like the CEO of your company. Do you know what your company’s strategy is? Do you know what your company’s biggest challenges are? Do you know what opportunities your boss wants to capitalize on next? Most employees don’t. If you don’t, that’s not a problem. You can learn all these things. Just remember, school is never out for the true professional.
Alan Allard, Executive Coach and Speaker
I was thrilled to interview Alanis recently. I was impressed by her knowledge of what's needed in the world and the power we all have to bring it about.
Helene: Who early on saw something in you that you hadn’t seen in yourself?
Alanis: The irony of having two teachers as parents is that I didn’t really have any sense of my intelligence. I would watch people and process quietly. But it was only as I got older that people like my grandmother, and different authors--my mentors through the years--started mirroring my talents, intelligence, and capacity for empathy. All of these subtle aspects hadn’t been reflected.
Helene: So what was your grandmother like?
Alanis: Well both of my grandmothers were very intense women. My paternal grandmother was highly sensitive and would pick up on every subtlety. I used to see magazines with my face on them hidden underneath books in her room. She was quiet and powerful. She passed away when I was on tour for Jagged Little Pill. And then my mom’s mom, who passed away a few years ago. She had incredible fortitude. My mom’s family, including my grandmother, escaped from Hungary during the revolution in 1956. They have this survival, powerful, soldier on through difficulty characteristic, that I have adopted.
Helene: So what was it like having a twin brother?
Alanis: There was a lot of humor, a lot of us finishing each other’s sentences, a lot of telepathy.
Helene: Still today? It’s the same?
Helene: What’s his name?
Alanis: His name is Wade.
Helene: And do you see him often?
Alanis: Yes--we’re building a home right near him.
Helene: He’s a musician as well, right?
Alanis: He is, he’s a kirtan musician. He’s actually recording a children’s album. He’s also a yoga teacher and trainer. He’s incredible.
Helene: Can you talk about the power of overcoming obstacles?
Alanis: Yes, tough circumstances catapult us into this higher level of resilience.
Helene: Exactly. And it’s never fun when it happens. How would you answer the question, what makes a strong woman?
Alanis: I would say the capacity, willingness and courage to feel all feelings, all the way through. I think the idea of us holding the bucket for each other to the point where we can process some of the anger and all of the emotions that we’re often told not to feel--I feel like that moves us to our next place.
Helene: After high school, you were very courageous. How were you able to go after your career?
Alanis: Anything that I was terrified of, I had been trained from a young age, to move into it.
Helene: What would you tell your younger self that you know now?
Alanis: I would dive into the conversation about work addiction and how it affects our relationships and our bodies--that it’s an addiction like any other. Unfortunately it’s just a respectable addiction according to our culture. You tell someone you worked till 4:00 in the morning and they pat you on the back, rather than asking, ‘Are you okay?’ So I would take away the normalization of overwork for that young person. In my family and in the culture I grew up in, the message was that overworking was a good idea.
Helene: I deal with career women all over the world—we all need to step up but it’s not about stepping up, like you said, in an insane way.
Alanis: It’s not stepping up in order to adhere to the patriarchal or masculine agenda, it’s stepping up to our essential, authentic selves.
Helene: You’re so versatile, a singer, producer, actor--what are the things that you haven’t done that you really want to do?
Alanis: I’m writing a book right now, becoming an author. Hopefully, finishing by June. After that, I’m starting a record--I have about seven songs in my back pocket ready to go. As far as other goals, definitely blossoming my family god willing, over the next few years. And I think achieving some kind of structure that includes fun, of course, leaving a little room for flexibility.
Helene: We take ourselves so seriously--what fun things would you like to do more of?
Alanis: More dancing, more sun, more nature. And more silence, which is a tough thing to achieve with a three-year-old.
Helene: Can you get away Alanis? You know every once in a while just take a day for yourself?
Alanis: Yep, I can escape to a hotel, or even just escape with a blanket to the beach. Do I do that as often as I would like? Not yet, but I’m on my way
Helene: And how has you son changed your life?
Alanis: Many, many ways. I think one of the most healing experiences as his parent is bringing empathy to all his feeling so that he doesn’t have conflicted relationships with frustration, anger, joy, bliss--you know, whatever is moving through him at the moment. When I leave space for that, regardless of the anxiety it may bring up in myself and my husband, I notice that much of the time he moves through it.
Helene: What did your eating disorder teach you and how were you able to deal with it?
Alanis: To be honest, the recovery from the eating disorder has been an ongoing one, and the most current breakthrough for me has been around dancing again. It’s lifted my depression, I’m back in my body.
Helene: Favorite movie?
Helene: Favorite singer?
Alanis: Carole King and Etta James together like if they had a baby.
Recently, we interviewed Sarah Jakes, daughter of the renowned pastor T.D. Jakes. We were impressed by her authenticity and warmth. She revealed some of her "dark nights of the soul." As a teenage mother, Sarah was challenged by tough times. In her book, Lost and Found: Finding Hope in the Detours of Life being released shortly, she describes the steps of her transformation, and how her faith empowered her to be the woman she is today.
Be inspired by this wonderful woman.
Video Editor--Alexa Payesko
From doctor to entrepreneur
We spoke with Dr. Ayala Laufer-Cahana. Helene recently tried her herbal waters and now she's a convert.
When you were growing up, was there one person who saw something you didn’t see in yourself? What was that and how has that helped you to move forward in your career?
My parents believed in me, and instilled the idea that everything’s possible – provided I’m willing to really put my heart and hard work into it.
Here’s another observation for those of you who feel self-doubt. I know many successful, high achieving women, and I know this to be true of them:
All women struggle with insecurity – they still have the teenager inside them, looking into the mirror, completely uncertain about the image reflected back. Knowing we’re all a bit like that can help women realize that confidence is hard to feel consistently, that we all have to fake it to feel it sometimes, and that this doubt can be made into a force of good, pushing us to improve ourselves and the world.
You are an established physician. What made you decide to take the risk of starting a business? What were some of the obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?
I was always advising parents to stay away from sugary drinks, because they have so many empty calories and so much junk, and they are very habit forming.
And since I try very hard to practice what I preach, and I truly believe that anything you put in your mouth should taste good, and not just be good for you, I started exploring calorie-free beverages for my family and for my guests.
I grow an organic herb garden, and have an abundance of herbs in the warm months. Culinary herbs are the natural way to flavor anything. Herbs are also, to me one of the most sensual foods, and really connect you to nature and memories. I would make herbal beverages to pair with meals, and offer our guests as an alternative to water or wine. They came to expect it, and asked for it whenever they came.
Their enthusiasm led my husband and me to believe that this beverage answers a need in the market, and should be made commercially available.
As a mother of three, a physician and now an entrepreneur you have a lot on your plate. How do you do it all? Any tips for other women?
We all have a lot on our plate, don’t we? Our work is never done.
Passion for what I do really gives me lots of energy, and I do enjoy hard work.
I actually think that having kids helps me be more productive—I’m forced to find balance, prioritize, and always behave like a grown up.
When I feel overwhelmed, I reconnect with nature. I go out and work in my garden, go for a walk, or paint. I’ll usually come back realizing that my worries are mundane and petty, and the world is big and interesting and full of wonder, and I’m ready to take it on!
What was the biggest adjustment you faced in making a major career change?
I had to learn a whole new field – it’s challenging, with potential for lots of personal growth, but of course quite scary, and since we created a whole new beverage category, there really was no clear path on how to do this.
So I went from a profession that I trained for, over many years, and was rather good at, in which I had teachers, mentors, people I admired and wanted to emulate, to something I knew little about and had to find my own way.
Not coming in with a beverage background ended up being a plus, as I naturally think out of the box. When it comes to the mission of the company, I think like a physician and a mom: I want to change the food landscape, and to help educate people, especially kids, about how food habits affect obesity and chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.
Where do you see your business going in five years? 10 years?
As people are becoming more aware of the consequences of sugary drinks, the demand for healthy, calorie free drinks is growing steadily. I see Herbal Water going into mainstream grocery stores, demand growing not only among those already doing something to for their well-being, but everywhere.
What advice would you give your younger self about building a successful career and becoming a leader?
Don’t be shy. Don’t be afraid. Dare to be different.
What was the most significant roadblock you have encountered in your career? How did you rise above it and what did it teach you?
I was pretty conflicted when I was about 37 – I had three young kids who were growing fast, I was out of home many hours and missed them, and I felt that a big part of what I liked about myself was disappearing. My husband encouraged me to take a year off – that was a very hard decision to make, but the first day in which I didn’t have a job to go to was like a revelation. I realized I am myself even without a title and patients needing me. I realized you could have new chapters in you life.
A few years later, when I started Herbal Water I knew that somehow, my worlds are converging, and in Herbal Water I’m able to integrate my passion for healthy living and nutrition education, be a voice for prevention, and lead the creative, passionate life I want.
As someone who is passionate about science and nutrition, why do you feel it is important young girls take an interest in these kind of careers? How can we get them excited?
When looking at career and study options, look for the intersection of what interests you and what you can be good at, but also at what will be in demand.
The natural world and the sciences are awesomely interesting; I really can’t imagine anyone who cannot be fascinated – if they give it a chance. Too many people are afraid of the science, math and engineering fields, and improving access to these fields is critical, because the jobs of tomorrow are likely to require a lot of minds trained in these areas.
Talk to us about your painting. What are your other hobbies ? Favorite movies? Favorite books? Are you engaged in any philanthropic activities?
I paint in oils, I love color, and my paintings are abstract admirations of the natural world.
I love reading. I’m in two book clubs, a mother-daughter book club with my 15-year-old, and the other with a wonderful group of women, who inspire me greatly.
It’s impossible to pick favorite books, but here are a few I loved:
State of Wonder, Ann Patchet
Life of Pi, Yann Martel
The Emperor of All Maladies, Siddhartha Mukherjee
The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert
My husband and I go out to a movie almost every week – we see movies almost exclusively on the big screen.
One lucky person will receive a gift basket of Ayala's herbal beverages. To enter our drawing, join our website network by 5pm eastern, Thursday, February 27. (This drawing only applies to U.S. residents.)
The gift basket, a $100 value, will include:
2 mixed flavor cases of Still Herbal Water,
1 case mixed flavors Ayala's Herbal Tea
1 case mixed flavors Sparkling Herbal Water
We all know someone who would benefit from changing a behavior that’s really holding them back in some way. We might look at them and think, “Doesn’t he see that his arrogance is costing him the promotion he wants?” or we might think, “She’s been talking about taking more risks for a year; why doesn’t she just do it?”
Of course, it’s always easier to look at other people and how they need to change. But there are likely changes we would benefit from ourselves but haven’t bade yet. Perhaps you’ve thought about being more assertive or learning to be more empathetic with others. Whatever it might be, here are two things you need to know to bring about change, growth and development in your life or your organization:
Change Is Often Harder Than We Think. This week I received a marketing piece promoting a two-day workshop on developing communication and influence skills. I read it with great interest because the person presenting the workshop is someone I respect. However, in the marketing piece, he said, “I spent a lifetime learning these skills and you will master them in two days.”
Seriously? I don’t think so. The promise in the brochure only sets the reader up for disappointment and makes it more difficult for them to learn and make the changes they want to make from their investment of time and money in the workshop. “Mastery” is a change process that takes a great deal more time than two days.
What’s my point? Simply that oftentimes we fail in our efforts to change as individuals or companies because we underestimate the time, energy and effort that is required. Failing to take that into account will make the process harder than it has to be.
Change Is Often Easier Than We Think. Does that contradict my first point? No. Because while we sometimes have a tendency to underestimate the difficulty of change, at other times, we overestimate. You can probably think of times in your life when you’ve made a change and it was easier than you anticipated. What about when you first learned to ride a bike? When the training wheels came off, you thought you would never be able to do it—but you did, and it was easier than you predicted.
What makes change easier versus harder? Being honest with ourselves about whether we really want to make the change is the starting point. Having a realistic plan turns what could be really difficult into something that is comparatively easy. Getting support makes all the difference in the world when it comes to making change easier. Celebrating your progress makes change not only easier, but more enjoyable.
Alan Allard, Executive Coach and Speaker
Christina Weiss Lurie, co-owner of the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles, is no stranger to change. Growing up, her family moved from Mexico to England and she had to adjust to a very different environment.
“My family was adventurous, so I never felt limited by my circumstances. Trying new things didn’t scare me. It felt more like an opportunity.”
She has had a diverse career in film, philanthropy and the NFL. Heed her advice on using your ideas to make a real impact.
Ditch the “big idea.” It’s not about trying to come up with the next big thing. Even smaller ideas can have a significant impact if they’re implemented effectively. A few years ago, we wanted to raise awareness about breast cancer. Our “big idea” was to light up Lincoln Financial Field pink – but that was cost prohibitive. Instead, we sold pink caps during October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It was a smaller idea, but to date we’ve raised over $1 million for the cause and helped to open the Jefferson Breast Care Center at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
Call in the reinforcements. Get input from experts. When we were planning Huddle Up for Autism, we partnered with Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. They worked with us so we could meet the logistical needs of the kids and the families who are affected by autism.
Stretch your resources. Knowing how to make the most of what you have is critical. I’ve worked on independent films with very small budgets and I was always looking for people who had the skills to make a great product with limited financial resources. I was the executive producer of Game 6, which starred Michael Keaton and Robert Downey Jr. – big stars who were used to Hollywood budgets. But they were incredibly generous and understood the limitations of a smaller film. They made the adjustment and gave fantastic performances.
Make it a “win-win.” When we launched Go Green, our goal was to divert 99% of the stadium’s waste away from landfills and we needed our vendors on board. We worked with Aramark to find the right environmentally friendly products and, when it worked with us, it motivated them to use those products in their other venues. They came through and started using compostable cups made of corn and napkins made of recycled materials.
Play to your strengths. Always be curious about finding new ways to put your strengths and experiences to use. When I first got involved with the Eagles, I wanted to discover how I could apply my interests in the arts and philanthropy to my work with the team. Early on, Jermane Mayberry, one of our players, told me he was legally blind in one eye and wanted to promote vision health. I was able to use my background in philanthropy to help create the Eagles Eye Mobile, which gives glasses to 2,500 children every year, enabling them to read, learn and improve their lives.
In my last blog post, we looked at three tips to help you become a better communicator. Ironically enough, the very next day, I was reminded again that knowing how to communicate like a pro isn’t enough—we have to actually use what we know. I was reminded of this yesterday when a colleague called me to discuss something important to her—and before we finished our conversation, I made these three common communication mistakes:
Lack of focus and mindfulness: When my colleague called me, I wanted to talk with her because she is almost always available to me when I need to get her input. Despite the fact that I was running behind and had a lot on my mind when she called, I told her I would be happy to talk then. You already know what happened; I was distracted and not able to fully listen to her for the short time we had to talk. That was my first mistake.
Not scheduling enough time: My colleague wanted to talk about something related to her work—and I knew we had strongly different opinions about the subject matter. I “should” have known that it was unrealistic for us to tackle the subject matter in the time we had. I could have scheduled a better time for us to talk—but I didn’t. That was my second mistake.
Ignoring the warning signs: It’s not that our discussion was going poorly. It’s that we weren’t connecting like we usually do. I also realized I was preoccupied with the time because I had another task begging for my attention. Given that, it’s not surprising that I found myself feeling frustrated. The warning signs were all around me—but I wasn’t paying close enough attention to them. That was my third mistake.
I make my living by communicating. But the fact is, it doesn’t matter how good we are in the communication department, school is never out for the professional. And if we ever think it is, the next lesson is just around the corner—and that’s a good thing. That’s how we learn and make fewer mistakes.
Alan Allard, Executive Coach and Speaker
Yesterday, a middle-level manager called me to talk about his upcoming performance review with his new boss. Although he has had quite a few remarkable achievements during the past twelve months, he was feeling a little nervous about the review because of a seemingly casual statement his new boss had made: “Write down your view of your performance the past year and then I’ll write down what I think.” What does that mean? My client interpreted it as, “Write down what you think of your performance, then, I’ll let you know how you really did.”
What’s the point of this true story? It’s that just because we think we excel in communication doesn’t mean we do. The problem is that most of us would rate ourselves fairly high in the communication department. However, communication is rarely as easy as we think it is. Here are two tips to help you be a better communicator:
Allow others to be the judge: Whether at work, at home or among your friends—you don’t get to grade yourself in the communication department. That job belongs to the ones you interact and communicate with—they’re the ones who get to pass out the grades. Why is that? Because we can’t depend upon our ability to be objective when it comes to our communication. Studies show that we tend to rate ourselves higher than average in just about everything—from our driving to our communication.
Get feedback often: If you want to be a better communicator, you have to get feedback. When is the last time you asked for feedback on your ability to communicate clearly and effectively? One of the biggest mistakes managers and leaders make is talking too much and listening too little. Ask your family, especially your significant other, if you have one, what you can focus on to become a better communicator.
When it comes to our communication skills, there is never a time to get complacent. If it’s not on our radar, we will find ourselves slipping into poor communication habits without realize it. Decide today that you will be more aware of your communication, that you will focus on improving them, and that you will periodically ask for feedback. You will be glad you did—and those around you will be too.
Alan Allard, Executive Coach and Speaker
Suzie Mills’ love of business began at a young age. Her mother and step-father owned a pub, where she began helping out at age eight to earn pocket money.
Now, Suzie is the General Manager of Trump International Hotel and Tower. Here are her tips for leading with influence:
Do your fair share. As a leader, it’s not beneath you to roll up your sleeves and pitch in when needed. Not long ago, we had a terrible flood and my phone rang at 3:00 in the morning. So I got up and went to the hotel to help out. I was on my hands and knees, mopping up the water. It’s important to show your team that, in good times and bad, you’re there for them and you’ll do your part.
Celebrate everyday victories. Acknowledging the hard work your team members are doing is crucial, especially when they go above and beyond. Once, a guest was staying with us for several days in a room that had a fish tank. She noticed the fish looked sick and asked us to do something. One of our employees got a solution from the local pet store, and administered it. The fish improved quickly and everyone was happy. I made sure to congratulate the associate for a job well-done.
Encourage others to step up. One of the elements of our culture that I am most proud of is grooming associates who are looking for that next step in their careers. I benefited from that early on, and I have made a commitment to continuing this trend. When you see a fellow co-worker promoted, who has worked side by side with you on holidays, overnights, through difficult and also through exciting times, you take pride in their advancement. We have grown a group of loyal and strong performers.
Keep the lines open. It’s important to communicate honestly with your team on a daily basis. Here at the hotel, we have what we call “Trump Talks,” our daily meetings where we review our goals and challenges. And on a monthly basis, we have our Direct Line Meetings, which give our associates a chance to share with me about any obstacles they’re facing. More than once, these conversations have helped put out potential fires.
Walk in their shoes. Be knowledgeable about the roles performed by all of the people you’re working with and the stresses associated with those jobs, whether it’s the person sorting the linen, or the one checking in the guests. At the end of the day, it’s about providing an excellent customer experience. If I understand and support my team – offer training and create a positive work environment – that will be apparent to the guests.
Let’s talk about your “Inner Critic” for a moment. You know, that “voice” inside your head that is judgmental and always ready to chime in, whether you’ve asked it to or not. You might be like most of my clients, who tell me they hate their “Inner Critic” and wish they could get rid of it.
But they can’t, so they try to shut it down, they try to ignore it and they try to overpower it. Guess who wins? With most of us, it’s our “Inner Critic,” hands down. But that’s not true for everyone. Especially those who have learned to quit fighting with their inner critic and to start coaching it instead.
If this idea appeals to you, here are three ways to coach your “Inner Critic” and make it your ally.
Recognize the positive intent of your ”Inner Critic.” It isn’t trying to hurt you in some way or to make you feel small or stupid. It’s trying to help you do better, to warn you of something, or perhaps it’s trying to “motivate” you. Realize that while what it’s doing isn’t helpful, its intent is golden. This might sound crazy, but coaching has to be done from a place of unconditional positive regard—and that’s what you have to give your “Inner Critic.”
Build a rapport with your “Inner Critic.” If you don’t learn how to connect with it, you’ll be fighting with it forever. Tell your “Inner Critic” you want to get along and that you are open to its ideas and viewpoints. Remember Covey’s principle of “Seek First to Understand”? You already know what happens when you try to argue with or dismiss your “Inner Critic” for being your enemy. Why not get in rapport with your “Inner Critic” so you can be in a position to coach it?
Have a conversation with your “Inner Critic.” Coaching takes place in conversations. The coach is there to support the client in reaching his or her goals. If you're going to coach it, you have to find out what it wants and what it’s trying to do. How can you do that? By asking good questions. I know, this is a little crazy, but humor me. Ask your "Inner Critic" sincere questions. Then listen without judgment. Ask some more questions. Then, when you have a strong enough rapport with your “Inner Critic,” you will be is a position to influence it. Here’s an example of having an effective conversation with your “Inner Critic”:
You: Hello there. I appreciate you taking the time to speak up and voice your opinion. You just said that I’m a failure and I should quit trying to get what I want. Can you tell me why you say that? I think you’re here to help me and I know you have a good reason for saying what you did.
Inner Critic: Really? If that’s true, why couldn’t you have said that ten years ago. All you’ve been doing is fighting me and trying to beat me down.
You: Wait just a minute! Who do you think you are? Let me tell you something…okay, let me compose myself and try again. I’m sorry—and things will be different from now on. I’m going to listen to you and do my best to understand where you’re coming from. I know you’re really smart and I want to have you on my side. So, would you be willing to tell me why you think I’m a failure and that I should quit trying to get what I want?
Inner Critic: I told you that because I’ve been with you the hundreds of times you got excited about reaching a goal and you put your heart into it. What happens when you do that? You fail, that’s what. Then you’re left with all that disappointment. I don’t want to see you hurt again, that’s all. That’s why I said what I did.
You: I can understand that—and I appreciate you trying to look after me. But may I ask you a question?
Inner Critic: Of course. Just don’t ask a dumb one.
You: (After you take a breath and calm down) Would you be willing to work with me on finding a way to reach my goals—and to deal with the disappointments the times I fail? After all, you’re good at seeing potential mistakes I might make. I want you to warn me about them, but would you be willing to do that in a way that might be more constructive?
You get the idea. Befriend your inner critic and coach it. I’ve worked with hundreds of clients who have tried this and I use this approach myself. I can tell you it works—if you will give it a fair shot. It will be well worth your time and energy to learn how to coach your “Inner Critic.” In fact, one day soon, it will be thanking you.
Alan Allard, Executive Coach and Speaker