serving others

Serving Others

Today was all about serving others – literally.  As a thank you to our staff and business partners, we threw a BBQ for our entire South Florida team.   While this wasn’t our first rodeo, it was our third, our last two BBQs have been for a team of 40-50.  Comparatively, today’s BBQ was for a paltry 450 people! For the majority of the team, leadership included, this was their first offsite BBQ.

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Our day started early with a trip to Sam’s to pick up the food we had pre-ordered.  While MK and I got the food, the rest of our crew headed to the park to start the grills.  In order to serve by noon, we started grilling at 10.  Our chefs, as always, were fantastic. When I finally got a chance to eat a burger, it was incredible.  By the time our teams showed up to eat, we were more than ready to go.

For the next three hours, my team and I served our employees burgers, hot dogs and veggie burgers.  It was an amazing opportunity for us to interact with our teams and build new relationships on our expanded team.  We spent the entirety of our day preparing for the BBQ, executing and cleaning up the park.  Unquestionably, it is hard for us to be away from the laptops for extended periods of time, but it is worth it to serve our teams.

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Some leaders fall into the trap of getting caught up in titles and even self -importance.  True leadership, however, is about serving those that report to you.  I privileged to be part of a team that espouses the servant leadership philosophy.  After I left the insurance industry years ago, I never wanted to be in a leadership position again.  Surprisingly, here I am in a leadership position again.  What drew me back into the leadership role was the commitment to servant leadership.

Today was an exhausting, but rewarding day.  The opportunity to meet and celebrate the people that make an organization successful was amazing.  I look forward to our next event celebrating the team’s success and our employees.  In the interim, I remain grateful for the opportunity to serve my team as a servant leader.

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Lastly, I’ve been handling my iPhone X gingerly, so as to not drop it.  I’m acclimated slowly to the major changes on the phone.  Truly, the facial recognition piece is amazing. Once I’ve gotten accustom to it, I will post my review here.  

Tonight’s song: “Mr. Jones”  I’m totally on a 90s music kick this week.  Can you tell?  What’s your favorite 90s tune?

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My Thursday

My Thursday

My Thursday started with a longer than normal commute down the turnpike courtesy of a wreck and some rain.  It is a proven fact that rain will jack up your commute.  Oh and it did! It jacked up my commute both coming and going today.   The sad, sorry fact is that it isn’t even snow bird season yet, so traffic is only going to get worse!  By the time I got to work, I was feeling beat up.  Obviously, it was a namaste in bed kind of day and I got the memo too late.

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Nevertheless, I grabbed my Dunkin’ and headed to work.  Thank God for coffee and the many hilarious memes popping in on a fantastic group chat.  These definitely brightened my Thursday.   I can’t say that every meeting was awesome sauce today, but I had a few their complete gems.  I’ve been a director for quite awhile, but seeing people develop and come into their own never gets old.  I freaking love it.  I can’t even express how happy it makes me feel.

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Over the lunch hour, we threw an impromptu birthday party in a team meeting for one of our very tenured employees.  When I first started in my current department, this person took me and my colleagues under his wings.  He made sure we understood the process and helped us in anyway he could.  Today we celebrated him and he was blown away.  Afterwards, you could see how much he appreciated the gesture.  Above all, it was a poignant reminder of how important it is to make sure your employees feel that they are important to you and appreciated.

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One of my last meetings of the day was invigoratingUn.  I love finding ways to make organizations better through collaboration and teamwork across departments.  Who needs silos anyway? Am I right?  At any rate, I look forward to seeing how the fruits of our labors can make a difference.

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On the home front, my brother sent a picture to the group text of the Mayorworking on the car at my folk’s house in Minny.  I can’t believe how young he looks in the picture and how old he is now! Unquestionably, I’m not ready for the boys to grow up.   The fact that my youngest is in middle school in mind blowing.   Undeniably, I would really appreciate if someone could figure out how to slow down time.  It is going far too fast for me.  Moreover, I know I’m not alone here.

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I’m a mere 8 years from kids being out of the house.  I know it sounds like a long time, but I also thought 18 years was an eternity.  Turns out it’s not.  Jake is now 18 years old and the hubby and I still can’t figure out where the time went.  It’s seriously profane how quickly the time has gone.  It seems like it was just yesterday, I was a kid watching Madonna on MTV and choreographing awesome routines to her songs.  Now she’s oldest to carry an AARP card and I’m old enough to have a kid in college.    #mindblown  In honor of today’s daily prompt, enjoy Madonna’s Express Yourself music video.

 

boy mom

Boy Mom Life

Being a boy mom is not for the tentative or faint of heart.  Unequivocally, it takes a tough gut, a tough mind, a strong will and the flexibility of a yoga master.   My oldest son was and is a saint.  He was easy going as a baby,  a child and remains easy going as an adult.  He was definitely God’s way of tricking us into having more kids.  Its not that he didn’t have the requisite trips to the urgent care or ER that come with raising kids, but they were in frequent.  If we were at the doctor with Jake, it was because he picked up something at daycare.

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My younger two are strong willed as Jake is easy going.  Oh boy….  The thing about strong-willed children is that they can drive you absolutely mad.  Strong-willed children can absolutely change the world, however, if you don’t try and tame their spirit as is often the case.  It is tempting because it can be maddening.  While Jake spent no time in the urgent care due to accidents or sport injuries, Goalielocks and the Mayor are on a first name basis with the local Urgent Care staff.  You know you’re a hockey mom, when the Urgent Care practitioner knows you, your child and their hockey position.  They even remember to ask how they did at their last tournament.  The urgent care really should have a frequent flier program.   I’m hoping now that the boys are older, our visits to the urgent care center decrease.  Wish me luck on that one!  

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As a child, Goalielocks used to ask us deep philosophical questions while we drove.  These were not easy questions either.  No, Goalielocks wasn’t asking questions about Barnie and Friends.  He was all about the meaning of life as a toddler.  What’s worse is that he would call us out if our answers were inconsistent or changed.     Who expects to be called out on the meaning of life and the origins of the universe by their preschooler?

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Women,  well at least I can speak for myself, tend not think in a linear fashion.  Men tend to think more linearly.  I try to think more globally.   As a young mom, I assumed that my boys thought in a similar fashion.  Oh boy, was I wrong.  I didn’t realize that their thinking was quite singular and linear.  For example, when I told my kids to take a shower, I didn’t realize I would have to specifically tell them to also shampoo their hair and wash their body.  Lesson learned.

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A more recent, and perfect example of this, occurred during Irmageddon.  For some unknown reason, my hubby had brought in a work light from the garage.  The light was unbalanced as it’s legs hadn’t been fully extended..  Goalielocks accidentally knocked into the light knocking it over sending glass shards everywhere.  My hubby and I did our best to vacuum up all of the glass shards, but we clearly missed some of them.  As I swept and vacuumed this weekend, I found more shards of glass.

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I walked into my bathroom noting droplets of blood across the bathroom floor and into our hallway.  As it happens, Goalielocks stepped on a shard of glass cutting his foot.  He had tended to the cut by removing the class, cleaning the wound and covering it.  I asked that he clean up the blood stains he had left in my bathroom. Goalielocks cleaned up the blood stains in the bathroom.

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I took the picture above last night of a blood stain Goalielocks left the day he sliced his foot.  It is important to know that the stain is in our master bedroom hallway about an inch outside of the master bathroom.  As I was taking the pictured, annoyed that the stain was still there,  I asked Goalielocks why he didn’t clean this stain up.  After all, he had cleaned all of the others.  His answer was simple.  “Mom, you asked me to clean up the stains in the bathroom.  This one isn’t in the bathroom.”   I was incensed at myself and him all at once, myself because I should have known better and him because he should have known better.

I brought this picture out at work today.   As it is truly a perfect example of how people that think differently perceive different situations.   When you know that someone is a linear thinker, like my kids, you know you need to be very specific in your communication. In contrast, with a global thinker you wouldn’t have to be as specific.  If you tell me to clean up the blood stains, I’m going to clean up the blood stains even those outside of the bathroom.  On the other hand, a  linear thinker speaking to a global thinker may want to be very specific in their communication leaving no room for misinterpretation or broadening of scope.  

I love how this interaction with my teen turned into a lesson on interacting with different types of thinkers.  Life has a funny way of teaching us when we least expect it.  At first, I thought it was about a male and female brain, but it is not that simple.  Not all women thinking globally and not all men think linearly.  The important take away is that people think differently and we need to communicate accordingly.

James Joyce

The Genius of James Joyce

When life is perfectly imperfect, literature like the genius of James Joyce provides the perfect remedy and wisdom for the moment.  Life will always throw curve balls at us no matter how much we plan or how hard we work.  We will fall, we will make mistakes, but we must pick ourselves up and recreate life out of life.

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It certainly isn’t easy.  How can one expect someone, who is continuously marginalized to stay in their current role?  I love the quote from Joyce above about people trampling flowers to go embrace a cactus.  Too often people are enticed by the cactus or the sheep in wolf’s clothing over the flower.  It doesn’t make sense, but there is something in human nature that draws us to people who may hurt or disloyal to us versus those that our loyal.  Failing to recognize the people that have made an organization effective, while recognizing others is a death nail to a team.  Unfortunately, this could leave to the demise of an organization.

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At the end of the day, words are meaningless.  It is actions that speak volumes.  People have made numerous promises to me over my career, but promises mean nothing without action.   Once, after six years, someone made good on the promise they had made.   When giving me the good news, however, they lied.   They flat out lied.  Again words are meaningless.   When I speak to my employees about their futures,  I’m honest in my timelines and in setting expectations.  It isn’t always what they want to hear, but at least they know my word is good.

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Falling is optional, but rising back up is not.  So rise we must!  We have an obligation to ourselves to give our best each and everyday regardless of our circumstances.  If you’re in a situation where your continuously marginalized, then it is time to move on.

 

Fabulous Friday

Fabulous Friday

TGIF!  Today is fabulous Friday!  This week has felt incredibly long despite being a short week due to the hurricane.  Irmageddon put a lot of strain on all of us with the planning and preparing we had to do for our families and for work.  Perhaps this is why we all felt so utterly exhausted today.

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I’ve been quite productive this week even though it  has been a short an painful week.  Each and every day we have a choice how we respond to our circumstances..  I choose to say F*#C you to those who seek to marginalize others.  As beaten up as I felt physically, the choice has become clear.  Leaders have an obligation, through good and especially through bad, to find the light at the end of the tunnel.  Leaders have the obligation to be both the beacon of hope and the agent of change.  Bound together by a common passion and drive to be the best we can, the group of leaders I have surrounded myself with is amazing.  We will change the world for the better, so you best be ready.

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The downside in all of this productivity is that I completely missed lunch.  A complete and total travesty since I had actually remembered to pack my yummy, vegan protein shake.  No, its not an oxymoron. Its actually quite flavorful, low calorie and does not contain soy or other allergens.  I love my Zumba Shake Shake Shake (Lorbach10 is my affiliate code if you’re interested.)  By the time I realized I had missed lunch, it was 5:00 pm.  I headed home and grabbed some provolone cheese to fuel my run.

 

FullSizeR (11)Piggie and I ran 3 miles, which felt fantastic.  Nothing clears your head better than a nice run with your bestie.  The sky was amazing tonight with nary a cloud in the sky and a big, full setting sun.  Florida’s skies are thing of beauty.   Its been a rough week getting back into running outdoors.  The heat makes it tough to run, but it feels remarkable to be back on the trail outside.  There’s nothing better than running with my puppys’, to remove the stress of the work day.  Since I had such an amazing lunch, I’m treating myself to some Sushi Yama tonight.  Talk about flavorful!

Lean In

Time to Lean In

It is time to lean in ladies.  I’ve been reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In along with Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.  Can you tell?  As a leader in corporate America that happens to be female, I love the book.   Its amazing to me that in 2017, the struggles for women in business remain.   Misogyny in the workplace is a thorny, unpleasant issue, but we need to talk about it.

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When I first took on a leadership role,  my boss asked if I was willing to sacrifice time away from family and kids.  First of all, the question was a bit inappropriate.  My work speaks for itself and is never left unfinished.  Secondly, this questions was never asked to my my male counterparts.   In fact, they found it quite odd that I was.  This leads me to question if the fact that I’m a mom, a hockey mom at that, is an impediment to my career.  Is this something that those above me consider when succession planning?

I would argue that the question is inappropriate regardless of the gender of the person being asked.  A person’s work product and work ethic speak to their commitment to the company.  The worker’s life outside of the company is not germane to the conversation.

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There are number of stereotypes that inhibit women from closing the leadership gap in this country.  If a man gets emotional in a meeting, he is dubbed passionate.  In contrast If a women gets emotional in meeting, she is dubbed a train wreck.   If a man is aggressive, he is applauded.  Whereas If a women is aggressive, she is told to back off and stopped being so aggressive.

About a year ago, two male co-workers interrupted a conversation between me and my colleague a friend and I.  These leaders insisted my friend was not nearly as aggressive she needed to be to get things done.  On the other hand, they felt I was too aggressive.  I shut them down immediately.    They can’t have it both ways.

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What is my ideal workplace? It is an environment where I can work with my incredible team and have my contributions and my team’s contributions noted and appreciated.  In my ideal workplace, the thunder thief does not exist.   What do women want?  They want a seat at the table.  They want the ability to contribute to the organization in a meaningful way with a clear path to success.  In addition, women notice the way other women are treated in the organization. With each women whose contributions are minimized, with each women who is passed over; the women of the organization notice and see their path diminished.

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Finally, ladies this one is for you.  Mean girls belong in middle school, not in corporate America.  Name calling, manipulation and other middle school games have no place.   When we treat each other poorly, it opens the door to more mistreatment. Treat your fellow women with respect and support each other or go back to middle school.

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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

 

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.

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