All “A” Leader – Awareness, Aptitude, Attitude

I dig the “Back to School” vibe. A crisp page, a sharp pencil and fresh inspiration. (I also fancy a new lunchbox and a sweet pair of saddle shoes. I like to kick it old-school.)

Last week I was part of a fantastic FISH! for Schools event, where we dove deep into the Guided Journey for educators. It was a real “AH HA!” for me, realizing how relevant the content is beyond the schoolyard.

Always looking for fresh perspective on culture and leadership development, I decided to crack the FISH! for Schools books and interpret material therein for consideration in the corporate setting.

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Four Ways to Find Your Happy with the FISH! Philosophy

I heard them before I saw them; the gales of happy laughter made me pause. Eavesdropping was irresistible; I sat nearby and listened to their enthusiastic plans.

“Yay!” I thought, “I’m surrounded by happy people!”

I dove into the din of delight.

“Okay ladies, it’s obvious you love what you do…so what do you do?”

I learned it was a group of Origami Owl Designers on their way to National Convention, which – as the kids say these days – gave me all the happy! Because I was on my way to the same place. We introduced ourselves and complimented each other and exchanged stories and contact information, making commitments to collaborate. We took a group photo with a selfie stick. All in few happy minutes.

Origami Owl Besties

Want to know how to “find your happy”?
Ask these Origami Owl besties!

They got me thinking about bringing happiness to work, so I took another look at the “Who Are You Being?” module from FISH! for Leaders, which outlines four ways to find your happy:

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FISH! Philosophy Master Class – Call Center Week 2015

The hue and cry of the 16th Annual Call Center Week was even hotter than “Vegas, Baby!”; it was a celebration of winning customer service methodologies, a meeting of the minds.

Our FISH! Philosophy Master Class on Monday was off-the-charts awesome; packed with engaged leaders sharing their inspiration and best practices.  Honored to be there, I also had the opportunity for an interview with Hannah Hager about Pike Place Fish, and the lessons we can leverage from their engaged way of being.


Q: What is the FISH! Philosophy? Would you explain for us the looks, sounds — and smells – of the Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle and how the fishmongers are an example for us all on how to provide excellent customer service? Read more →

Leadership – Find Your Tire

“Well, we’re not out here flippin’ tires to be better tire flippers. We’re doing it to be better period. Better leaders. Better parents. Better, stronger, more determined humans.”
~ Reebok Be More Human Campaign

I don’t own a television set. Unplugged it in 1997, dragged it to the curb, and next time I looked – “poof!” – it was gone. I let it go so I could have more time to be more engaged with the humans around me.

Last night, giddy after an exhausting Spartan Workout, I was happy to rely on the humans around me to keep me apprised of the best ads during the Super Bowl. Without contest, this is my favorite:

The narration reads:

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Leadership – The Pros & Cons of “Mystique”

I had a look, back in the day. Black suit. Hair slicked into a bun. Severe. Serious. You might think I meant business. Truly, I just didn’t have time for much more in the morning than quick rinse and a dash out the door. I had to get my hustle on, get to the office, plunk down in my maroon cube, and gear up to climb the Corporate America ladder.

Eventually, I got my big break. My big boss got the flu, and I got to sit in for her at a leadership roundtable. I bought a new black suit. I bought a plane ticket. I bought a fresh notebook, sat in the middle seat and spent two hours at 30,000 feet imagining what the big picture of leadership might look like.

The event was hosted at the headquarters of the Top Team. They put on a show, pulled out all the stops. We got fruit baskets. At the outset, I felt like an insider.

I had traveled quite a distance with the express assignment of sharing best practices, being enthusiastic and collaborative, listening, learning, and bringing back the revealed secrets of success. While Top Team Leader was taking us on a tour of her trophies, I asked, specifically, “What is the secret of your success?”

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Every Day is Your Big Audition

“Next!” I remember my worst audition.

I flew all the way to the Big Apple for it. I borrowed a way-better-than-my-best outfit for it. I gave my all for it. The critics gave me 15 seconds.

“Next!” A disenchanted shout from the dark. I was devastated.

That abrupt rejection caught me enough off guard to shift my perspective. I realized I was treating the audition as a rarefied moment, rather than a way of being. I was bringing my best, but only in small bursts. I decided if I cared enough to fly across the country and get rebuffed, I cared enough to go back home and get it right.
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Sneak Peek Book Look! #47LearningsForLeaders

“Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”
~ from William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night

#47LearningsForLeaders – A Quick-Start Guide for Greatness Thrust Upon Us 

Coming soon!  Here’s a sneak peek:

1. We have to do it before we know how to do it.
2. Please. Please please please. Shut up.
3. Now that we have your attention… Listen.
4. Notice people.
5. Discover before you decide.
6. Everyone has a superhero skill. Suss it out.
7. Our greatest strength is often also our greatest weakness.
9. Talk to people, rather than about them.
10. Watch for wacky ideas from the new kid. Try the tried and tested from old faithful.
11. Free the “Za!”

Za! A particularly potent example of personal panache:
Jane the Phoole

Zest. Verve. Panache. Awesomesauce. Call it what you want, it’s all personal style. The flair folks have for their own way of doing things brings personality and differentiates. Create an unfettered environment where people feel free to invest their uncensored selves, and you’ll be wholly delighted with the results.

12. The corporate curmudgeon may be your best cheerleader.
13. Speak in positives.
14. Give credit where credit is due.
15. Every day is your big audition.
16. Be visible and transparent.
17. Get uncomfortable.
18. Today is a good day to be smarter than you were yesterday.
19. Ask yourself… Can you really squeeze anyone through a knothole?
20. You can start (or stop) anything. Right now.
21. Laugh at yourself.
22. Buy a disco ball.
23. Learn to ride the mechanical bull.
24. Hey cowboy, hand over the reins.
25. Start training your replacement NOW.
26. Make a list. Check it twice.
27. Say what you are going to do and do what you say.
28. Tell the truth.
29. Own up.
30. Skip the freakout.
31. Know your options and choose your battles.
32. Measure twice. Cut once.

33. Encourage self-select.
34. Take seriously what others take seriously.
35. Vacation. (From the way you usually do it.)
36. Forget secrets.
37. Title entitlement is tedious.
38. If you want a different answer, ask a different question.
39. Be the first to bust a move, and boogie ’til the end.
40. Inspiration happens.
41. Timing is everything.
42. Ditch the armor.
43. Bring your gift.
44. You can do it alone, but you don’t have to.
45. Macromanage.
46. Three little words. Please come back.
47. You get it. You got it. Go get ’em!

Driving FOREWORD: #47LearningsForLeaders

Today I am pedal-to-the-metal word-sprinting. Going the distance between the flag drop and the finish line. Instead of spending fuel, I’m filling the tank with text of my second book:
#47LearningsForLeaders – A Quick-Start Guide for Greatness Thrust Upon Us

Leadership Road Trip

Feel like revving your engine a bit? Read the first-draft foreword:

I grew up in the 70s, a time we think of as progressive, poignant, and perched on the edge of idyllic freedom. Flowers in the hair, cross-country road trips, and Neil Diamond on the 8-track. I was princess of the back seat, sprawled out and surrounded with Little Golden Books, homemade oatmeal raisin cookies, and a handmade doll my mom fashioned for me out of a pink fabric Handi Wipe. My dad drove and my mom held the map. Her job was to navigate, but he didn’t always listen. He was the boss. Sometimes we got lost, bobbing along pothole-riddled back roads, not entirely certain that the shortcut our leader had chosen was a sure thing.

Leadership is like that. We wake up one day and find ourselves in the driver’s seat, the road unfurled before us and the car already rocketing a little dangerously above the posted speed limit. We hesitate to pause or take our eyes away from the road long enough to peek at the map. We neglect to ask for help or directions. We get frustrated, clench our teeth, sink in our heels. We guess and end up rattling down the wrong track.

The further we went down that dead-end road, the more my dad fumed. Even at five, I could see how scary it must be to be the boss. No wonder he was grumpy. No wonder my mom was silent and still. I wondered over it for a while, chewing on a cookie, looking for a solution.

Then I looked at the pink blankie on my lap; my symbol of comfort and safety. I thought about how reassuring it is to hide underneath the pink blankie, how nothing scary can penetrate the safety of the pink blankie, how everyone could feel better cozied up to the pink blankie.

I put down my cookie, picked up the pink blankie, scooted forward on my perch in the back seat, and popped the pink blankie over my dad’s head.

He stopped.
We reset.
We consulted our compass and set out fresh.

Sometimes we need a break from the breakneck speed of leadership to reconsider our trajectory. A leadership role is often popped upon us unexpectedly, providing little time to prepare or plot a course. Of course, others have blazed the trail of leadership before us. I’ve set my compass by the examples of some of the best, and mapped my 47 favorites.

First day on the job (aka school) wielding my lunchbox