strength in solidarity

Strength in Solidarity

When life give us lemons, not only should we make lemon drop martinis, but we should find strength in solidarity.  Alan had his Wolf Pack in the Hangover.  These boys were his ride and die crew.   Subsequently, we too should have our own wolf pack at work and at home.  Unfortunately, my work life isn’t quite as exciting as the Wolf Pack’s night in Vegas or their escapade in Thailand.  Nevertheless, I quite enjoy what I do and work with some truly amazing people.

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At the end of the day, people support those who are professional, who treat them well and are genuine.  People memorize how you treat them.  While they may not remember anything else about you, but they will remember how you treated them.  Specifically,  no matter what you say or what you do, if you treat people poorly that is what they will remember.

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Unfortunately, things don’t go always go in the linear fashion that you want.   The goal post seemingly keeps moving.  Where it seemed it was 4th and inches one day.  The next day you find yourself in a 4th and 26 situation seemingly all alone.  Sadly, it starts to feel that crossing the goal line is not achievable. Unequivocally, it is a very lonely place to be. All of the sudden, you’re not alone.  As a consequence of a great team, your wolf pack, standing behind you 4th and 26 situation is no longer impossible.  It is a game changer. 

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In actuality, these are times you see people’s true colors.  Unequivocally, these are the times that you are amazed by the overwhelming support, leadership, fellowship and friendship that surrounds you.  These beautiful people become the rainbow to your cloud.  Undoubtedly, they become the reminder of why you love your job.  To all my rainbows, and there are many, I cannot thank you enough.  In the words of esteemed poet Maya Angelou, “nothing can dim the light which shines from within.”  2847-Maya-Angelou-Quote-Nothing-can-dim-the-light-which-shines-from

 

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Mr. Kite

Mr. Kite

“For the benefit of Mr. Kite
There will be a show tonight on trampoline”
– John Lennon and Paul McCartney

Admittedly, I’m enamored with the boys from Liverpool.  I couldn’t resist the Mr. Kite reference especially given the amazing Churchill quote I’m using tonight.  Last night I wrote about how my previous experiences with an awful boss informed how I lead my teams.  Tonight, I want to expand upon last night’s post.

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First, the Thunder Thief  is by far the most damaging and insidious type of horrible boss one can come across.  Equally important is the consideration that the thunder thief’s actions are not always deliberate.  As a leader, we must ensure we empower our people to tackle projects, accomplish goals with our support, but with autonomy.  It is equally important that the accomplishments of our direct reports are shared with our leaders.

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 There is nothing more demotivating than realizing that all of your hard work has been attributed to somebody else.  For women in the workplace, this is exponentially complex. According to HBR, women must promote their accomplishments in order to be recognized.  Ironically, self-promotion is consider unladylike and women who negotiate on their own our penalized.  Sheryl Sandberg also wrote about this phenomena in her best-selling book Lean In.

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One of the buzz words your see thrown out  way too often lately  in politics or the workplace is optics.  Here’s the thing about optics, they’re far more important than we realize.  Optics are all about how people perceive and action or event.  At the end of the day, perception is reality.  For example, let’s say you strive to have a diverse team, but your senior leadership team is only male or only white.  Consequently, you have create the perception that there is no commitment to diversity.

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Finally, do not forget that things come out in the wash.   Maybe today wasn’t your day, but ultimately the creme will rise to the top.  As Churchill so eloquently said, “Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.”  The road to success will not always be free of bumps or free of jerks, but perseverance, hard work, honesty and quality of work will ultimately prevail.

Double, double toil and trouble

Double, Double Toil and Trouble

“Double, double toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble” – William Shakespeare from MacBeth

Earlier in my career, I worked for the most god awful boss.  You had probably already guessed that based on the Shakespeare quote at the top. She preached mediocrity and begged for us to keep her off the radar.  She wanted us to stay near the middle of  the pack.   Specifically, she preached for us to never be at the top, nor near the bottom. Therefore, working for her was truly pure hell on earth.  She was a manager, not a leader.  Unquestionably, she was product of an horrible work environment that couldn’t retain talent at any level.

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When I moved on, I swore I would never go back into leadership again. I was not going to subject myself to the horrors I had experienced working for her.  Some how I forgot my plan.  Consequently, here I am in a leadership role again.  Fortunately, I have a team of amazing leaders working for me, whose talents blow me away.  In addition, I have the privilege of leading two very high caliber teams.  My employees are amazing.

Each and every day, I remember how bad it was working for her.  I hold on to this because I never ever want to treat my employees as poorly as she treated me and my counterparts.  This was the lesson she taught me.  I will always treat my employees right even when I’m treated poorly.

With this purpose in mind, here are ten of my leadership guidelines:

  1. If you’re shooting for mediocrity, you shouldn’t be leading people.
  2. Every employee comes to you with a blank slate and an opportunity to shine or fail.  The key is they own their opportunity.
  3.  Do not surround yourself with yes men.  If this is you, you’re not a leader; you’re a coward afraid to challenge convention.  Yes, I’m talking to you.
  4. Surround yourself with people that can do the job better than you.  You cannot succession plan if your bench strength is below par.
  5. Don’t ever be a thunder thief.   If you’re the type of douche canoe that rides your employees’ work to the top by taking credit for their work (a.k.a. a thunder thief,) you’ll quickly lose quality employees.  You won’t be able to maintain the charade once they’re gone, since it was their work that got you promoted.  Consequently, this is a surefire path to failure.
  6. Celebrate your employees victories and milestones.  My old manager could have cared less about me, my counterparts or our employees, she was always just checking the box.  Be invested in your employees.
  7. Be Genuine – no explanation needed here.
  8. Right Person= Right role:  Consequently, just because an employee isn’t successful in their current role doesn’t mean they should be terminated.  It costs a lot of money to train employees.  It behooves us as leaders to look within our organization to see if there are roles that may be a better fit for struggling employees.  If you don’t do this, you could unintentionally let good talent walk out the door.
  9. Know your business:  This should come as no surprise, but to be an effective leader you need to know your business inside and out.  To be clear, this doesn’t mean just knowing your numbers.  As a leader, you need to know the operations, the regulations, the personnel, and the technology better than anyone else.  If you don know them, you’re in the wrong role or your organization isn’t being well served.
  10. The Carly Simon Principle – If you think this post is about you, it probably is.  You’ve heard the song “You’re So Vain” right?  Simon write “You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you.”

This list isn’t exhaustive and quite frankly its mostly common sense.  These are things I remind myself of everyday.  To be a good leader, you need to be a decent human being, expert in your field, have a thick skin and love working with people.  Being a leader isn’t about a paycheck.  If it is, your motivation is wrong.  Rather, it is about bringing the best out of yourself and your employees each and everyday.

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble is a rhyme extracted from Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

celebrating hubby

Celebrating Hubby

Tonight we should be celebrating hubby and his 35th birthday. Alas, he’s finally oldest enough to be President!  Unfortunately, we both spent our days toiling away at work.  I don’t know whose boss is worse his or mine…..  The problem of course is that after a day of work we had hockey practice.  Consequently,  we’re exhausted.

While he’s at hockey practice, the Mayor and I are making a nice hearty dish of Vodka sauce pasta for him to enjoy.  Jake had previously picked up a Menchi’s cake for us to share after dinner.  Afterwards we’ll give him his well deserved present and cards.

One of the things I love most about my hubby is that he’s a good man.  He’s undeniably honorable, smart,  honest, patient, loving, an amazing father, coach, craftsmen, etc.  Honestly, I could go on for days.  He’s truly a fantastic husband, partner and father. I couldn’t ask for more.  Happy Birthday Hubby!

A birthday rhyme:

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Manic Monday

Manic Monday

There are days I miss Norway more than others and today was one of them.  Another manic Monday on the roads of South Florida was enough to drive me batty.  I don’t know what it is about S. Florida that people here think the rules and laws apply to everyone but them.  Sometimes I feel like the Transporter as I mentally prepare to drive in South Florida.

While waiting to make a right hand turn on McNab today (always a logjam) I watched someone drive down the right, grassy shoulder to move through traffic more quickly.  This illustrious person, who shouldn’t be allowed to drive, felt their time was more important than the people’s property they drove over.  They were a total douche canoe.

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Twenty minutes later, I watched in disbelief as another driver drove up the shoulder on the turnpike lest they wait in traffic.  This poor woman may have been late for her bridge game had she waited with the rest of us peons.   I truly do not understand what it is about South Florida that makes it so magnetic to the world’s worst drivers.  According to SmartAsset.com, Florida’s drivers are the worst in the nation.  They’re not wrong.

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So what does this have to do with Norway?  Not one Norwegian honked at us during our trip.  Even when we mistakenly drove down a pedestrian area (whoops) or were driving a little slow to find a stride, nobody honked at us.   Norwegians drove as if the law applied to everyone.  Imagine that!  Nobody drove like they were above the law.  That and the fact Norwegians keep their country very clean.  They pick up after themselves and even public bathrooms on top of mountains are clean.

A Wild Saturday Night

Oh it was a wild Saturday night here for our household.  I even got a tattoo before heading to the gastropub Saturday night to watch the Mayweather-McGregor fight.  Okay, never mind that the tattoo is temporary and I got it from an 8 year old.  It’s still pretty awesome.

As we waited for the Kennedy’s sitters to show up, a.k.a. Jake and the Mayor, my BFF gave me a tattoo and tried on my shoes.  My BFF threw on her sisters fashion forward back pack and struck a pose.  She’s cute as a button.  The sitters got there and us amazing adults headed to the pub to watch the fight.

Our reservations said 5:00 pm on Eventbrite, but the fine print said seating could begin at 8:00 pm, but no later than 9:30 pm.  What?  We got there at 8:00 pm obviously not having read the fine print.   Fortunately, not having a table didn’t preclude us from enjoying an adult beverage.  We were not seated until 9:30, but instead of a high top table with no chairs they gave us a nice booth.  #winning

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Batch Gastropub is the latest edition to Delray Marketplace and was having a big bash for the fight. The place was crowded, but as soon as we were seated it didn’t matter.  Our server was amazing.  The food and drinks were on point.  I will never complain when my next round arrives right before I finish my drink.  For dinner, I had a chicken sandwich with Brussels sprouts, while Luke enjoyed the chicken and waffles.  Since I’m keeping my carb intake low and last night’s carbs were reserved for vodka, I opted for Brussels sprouts instead of fries.   In addition, I ate the sandwich off of the bread, but ate no bread.  Its all about priorities and last night Tito’s beat out the bread.

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As for the fight, I was impressed with McGregor.  I don’t know much about boxing or fighting only that it is one of the toughest sports in the world.  While I’m not a Mayweather fan, I also acknowledge he’s the best boxer in the world.   McGregor lasting ten rounds around the world’s best having never been in the ring before?  It was pretty damn impressive.  Both Mayweather and McGregor are amazing athletes and it showed last night.  I’d be curious to see what would happen if it were the MMA ring and not the boxing ring, but I doubt that will happen.

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I was glad that neither fighter felt compelled to pay homage to Tyson by biting someone’s ear off.  The Holyfield-Tyson fight is the last boxing match I had watched until last night.  At the end of the night, our group of friends had a great time enjoying each other’s company and the fight.  Lastly, the best part of the fight?  Unequivocally, the memes leading up to and following the fight.  I leave with you with a few of my favorites.

dignify

Dignify

Today’s daily prompt was dignify, which was brilliant because it speaks to what’s been on my mind.  Too often, we look up to people because their position, rank or station in life assuming those that hold them dignify them.   Unfortunately, all too often, that simply isn’t the case.

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The title doesn’t make the man nor the women.  The women or men makes the title.   If the man or woman has little dignity, than so too will the position they hold.   Perhaps they assume as they move up in position, the will become more dignified, but that simply isn’t the case.

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If one is a selfish, undignified ground level leader, odds are those tendencies will follow them throughout their career.  However, If one is a dignified person from day one, they will bring dignity and honor to whatever rank they hold.    If they’re a person searching for dignity or compensating for something else in their rank,  I’m sorry to say they won’t find it.  Moreover, their shortcomings are glaringly obvious for most to see.

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When looking to build a strong principled team be sure to look for people who dignify the rank.    What characteristics do these people have?  First and foremost, these people are not sycophants.  They will tell you no when you need to hear it most.  Secondly, they lead selflessly.  These are leaders that wouldn’t ask their employees to do something their unwilling to do.  Lastly, they’re opened to change even if it means deviating from their ideas.  Leaders must be able to pivot when results show their ideas are not successful.  This list is hardly exhaustive, but if I didn’t cap myself we’d be here all day.

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Here’s another list of things I will not dignify today:

  1. Asurion warranties:  They’re a waste in the time.  If you lose a drone in a tree or to the wind, they expect you to get it out of the tree and mail it back.
  2. My knee pain: It’s not that I’m old, it just that I added too many miles too quickly.. honestly….
  3. Laundry: no explanation needed here
  4. Rude people in the checkout line at Target: only in S. Florida would an elderly woman feel it is okay to run over a 5 year old girl to be first in line at the checkout.  I get it, you had 15 things and her family had like 20.  And truly it really wasn’t much of a wait for her family considering the two screaming toddlers they had in strollers.
  5. Meanwhile, to the old lady that walked in front of me in line: I’m not mad at you.  I would have let you gone first anyway.  You didn’t have that many things and I had about one million, but you’re still obtuse or maybe I’m just upset because my normal Target run is getting considerably more expensive!?!?!

Dignify

Exploring Undredal

Exploring Undredal

By far one of my favorite excursions in Norway was the day we spent exploring Undredal.   Undredal is a famous city on the Aurlandsfjord.  It is famous for having more goat inhabitants than human inhabitants.  It is also famous for having the world’s smallest wooden stave church. 

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Our adventure to Undredal started with a bus ride from Flam to Gudvangen.  At Gudvangen we got on the ferry to cruise the world famous, and UNESCO protected Naeroyfjord.  The Naeroyfjord is the narrowest arm of the Sognefjord.  It is rated as the number one natural heritage site in the world by National Geographic Magazine.  The cruise on this narrow fjord did not disappoint.

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The water of the Naeroyfjord is a beautiful and pristine blue green color.  Dramatic mountains rise out the fjord matched only by equally waterfalls.  The sides of the mountains are covered by grass and trees, which are perfect for the goats and sheeps that inhabit them.  Unquestionably, there isn’t an adequate superlative to describe the beauty of the Naeroyfjord.   Consider the fact that this Florida girl and her son Jake spent the entirety of the Naeroyfjord cruise on the top of the ferry, so we wouldn’t miss a minute of the scenery.  We were utterly transfixed even as we were pelted in the face by ice pellets and the blistering cold wind.

We soon turned into the Aurlandsfjord and headed towards our destination of Undredal.  The town looked absolutely magical as we made our approach to the small dock.  Undredal has the appearance of a quintessential Norwegian Fjord town. The buildings of Undredal are colorful, well kept and inviting.

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When we disembarked, we met our guide who would lead us on our walking tour of the tiny town.   As we gathered with the rest of our group near the pier.  A short teenage boy/girl approached as we waited. It took a moment, but we realized that Mark was a guy and our guide.  He had to be younger than Jake most likely a high school student in town.   Mark was absolutely wonderful.  As a tour guide he was perfect, he was knowledge, engaging, funny and entertaining.

There is not a ton to see in tiny Undredal, but it is absolutely worth the visit!  Our guide took us to the raging river showed us the old school, and where we’d go for our cheese tasty.  The piece de resistance for our tour, however, was the smallest stave church in the world.   At its inception 1147, it was even smaller than its current iteration.   In the 18th century, they added own to the church.  Even in its larger iteration, it is only 39 ft x 13 ft with 40 seats.

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Most noteworthy in spite of its small size, the church’s interior packs quite the punch.  The sides of the church and ceiling are home to very interesting religious murals and paintings.  Norwegian churches, unlike most European churches from the Middle Ages, incorporate both Christian and pagan themes.  In addition, this is the only church where you will find a painting of Satan on the ceiling.  According to local legends, the townspeople of Undredal felt by putting Satan in their church they could keep a better eye on him.  I guess its that whole “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” thing.

If you sit in the benches, you can see where a board parishioner had carved a drawing into the wall.  The artists painted the ceilings with stars, biblical figures, angels and as noted above satan. Lighting in the church is provided by candles and a very unique deer antler chandelier that was a gift from the Germans.  In contrast, the alter area is simple and beautiful.  I can’t imagine going to church or holding a wedding in such a small church.

Despite its size, the Undredal and its small wooden stave church pack quite the punch and are well worth the journey.  If you are jumping off from Flam, it is pretty easy to get to Undredal and you have several options.  Moreover, I highly recommend taking the Naeroyfjord cruise option as cruising the Naeroyfjord is truly spectacular.    The particular excursion we chose included a bus to Gudvangen, the ferry to Undredal and a van back Flam.  In addition, it included a walking tour and a goat cheese tasting in Undredal, both of which were amazing.   This was the perfect excursion for families.  We were travelling with family members from 7 to 87 and each and everyone of us enjoyed the day trip.  

You can find all of the photos from this trip here: Photo Album

time to sync

Time to Sync the Calendars

This time of year is the craziest!  We are, at once, back to the crazy break neck pace of school and hockey season. It is time to sync the calendars.  If we kept all of our calendars separate, there is no way we’d ever show up to the right place at the right time.

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Thank god for Team Snap and the ease with which you can synchronize the team’s schedule to your iCalendar.  The downfall, of course, is the constant reminder that we have absolutely no free time until next March.  Without the easily synced calendars for the boys activities, we’d be lost.

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There is a limit to all of this calendar mayhem. I refuse to integrate my work calendar into my iCalendar.   If I did sync it to my phone, I  think I would lose my mind!  It is all about finding balance in life and that’s where I draw the line.  My work calendar has no hockey on it and my personal calendar has no work.  I have to keep them separate in order to maintain a healthy work life balance.

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Let it Go

Let it Go, Let it go

Inevitably when anyone says the phrase, “let it go,” I immediately start singing the song Let it Go in my head.  I can’t help myself.  Today I had to remind myself that there comes a time to let our kids go and spread their wings.   My eldest Jake started college today.  A start reminder of how quickly the time comes to let them fly.

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As our kids get older, it isn’t easy to give them the independence they need to be successful.  We have a visceral reaction as parents to hold them tight and make sure they don’t stumble.  If we always catch them when they fall, how will they learn to pick themselves up?

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There was a great article circulating on facebook this week.  The article titled “Stop doing these 8 things for your teenager this school year” by Amy Carney is genius and spot on.  I won’t regurgitate the whole article here, but will share some real life examples and why they’re important.

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One of the eight items she lists is making their failure to plan your emergency.  Another is to not bring them their forgotten items.  This morning, we experienced a mix of both of these.   Goalielocks needed to print something for his science class and bring it to school.  Unfortunately, Goalielocks forgot about it until right before he had to catch the bus.  The boys’ bus has been coming between 7:15-7:30, so they have to be their early in case the bus is early.  Hubby didn’t think there was enough time to print it out and make the bus.

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Oh the fireworks, the world was ending in Boynton this morning.  Although Goalielocks is in 8th grade, the majority of his classes are for high school credit this year.   He simply cannot afford to throw away the easy points.  Nevertheless, my Hubby didn’t give in and he was right.  If they missed the bus, my hubby would have to drive them to school.  This would be at least a 30 minute drive each way.  Goalielocks left the house in a huff angry that he would miss these points.   It was easy to remind him, however, that he had plenty of time the previous evening to print it up.

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Since we didn’t relent and he went to school without the form, he had to accept responsibility for his failure to plan.   He’s an industrious kid and had to solve his conundrum on his own.  Guess what?  He did!  Goalielocks texted his friend, who was able to print up a form and bring it to school for him.  We didn’t rescue him this morning, so he had to figure out how to solve his issue.

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If we solve every problem for our kids, they will never learn how to solve their own problems.  We won’t always be there to help them or guide them, so it is key that they learn to problem solve independent of us.  Our boys also do chores, they can cook themselves a meal and the older two do their own laundry.  The Mayor, who just started middle school this year, will learn how to do his own laundry.   When they leave our house as an adult, they’ll leave as independent men that can run a household and make their own decisions.