Amazing Art

Last night, I had the opportunity to view some amazing art at an art gallery opening in Wilton Manors.  The gallery, Negril Art Gallery, was holding its grand opening complete with wine, hor d’oeuvres, music and great company.  This event was made even more special as my employee was one of the night’s featured artists.  It was an awesome opportunity to enjoy some art while supporting a colleague.

Honestly, I had an inkling that his work would be great, but I had no idea just how amazing they would be.   Consequently, I was completely awestruck by his work.  His portraits were sublime.  If you asked me which one was my favorite, I wouldn’t be able to pick just one.  They were that good!

I really enjoyed the gallery opening.  First of all, it was the first time in a long time that the Hubby and I were attending something that wasn’t hockey related.  Secondly, the art was utterly sublime.  Lastly, it was amazing to see our team there to support their colleague.  Truly, it was incredible seeing all the people form work that went to support Kwame.   It was a great event!

Afterwards, several us went to Padrino’s for some Cuban food and more drinks.  Oh yes, the vodka and long islands were free flowing as we waited for the others.  I enjoyed Arroz Con Pollo, while the hubby had lechon asada.  Fortunately, both of our decisions were pure perfection.  Both the chicken and the pork were cooked perfectly and were full of flavor.  We will definitely be back!  Moreover, our bill was only $200, which for 8 adults that are all drinking is pretty darn cheap.

After Padrino’s, we headed over to Cafe Vico for some more drinks and live music.  Unfortunately, the band had finished playing by the time we got there.  They had music playing, but the song choices were not fantastic.  Fortunately, the DJ/Chef/Owner let us start playing the music from his iPad. We had a fabulous time and shut the place down.  We ended our night by committing to go to Reykavik or Zurich for a girls weekend.   All in all , we had an amazing night out on the town.

Tonight’s song performed by Prince is “When Doves Cry.”

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Dr. Pangloss

No Dr. Pangloss here

I’m an optimist, most of the times, who see the glass as being half full, but this girl is no Dr. Pangloss.   You may remember Dr. Pangloss from Voltaire’s glorious work of satire Candide.  In this novel, Dr. Pangloss clings to a view of unreasonable optimism even when his life experiences constantly contradict his philosophy.

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Sadly, Dr. Pangloss  never makes the mental leap that their outlook on life is dead wrong.  Rather he continues to adhere to a ridiculous philosophy that has caused much pain.  Keep in mind this is a man riddled with syphilis, nearly hung and almost dissected, but he never abandoned his dead headed philosophy.

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In many ways, Dr. Pangloss was the anti-Voltaire espousing and championing ideals that Voltaire shunned.   As Voltaire so eloquently said, “it is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere.”  Pangloss was not willing to drop the chains of his broken ideals.

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Admittedly, there is no coincidence in my writing about Voltaire’s Candide.  In many ways, we face similar difficulties as Pangloss.  Sometimes we don’t want to accept reality as reality.  Instead we tend to explain circumstances away, make excuses for people that mistreat us all while hanging on to our beliefs.  As a consequence, we stay in relationships, we stay in jobs, or we stay in friendships that are no longer healthy.

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Sometimes, as hard as it may be, we have to accept reality, reset our mindset and move on.  In the immortal words of Ace of Base, “I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes.  I saw the sign.  Life is demanding without understanding. ”  If you are unwilling to pivot when life calls for it, you may find yourself in a Candide like misadventure.  Let me be clear here that what I’m advocating is being realistic and not blindly optimistic.

 

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.

 

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.

Creative and Inspired

To be creative and inspired, one must be prepared to invest time in the cultivation of ideas.  There is no better way to cultivate one’s creativity than through reading. Norman Cousins, famed American political journalist once said; “A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas – a place where history comes to life.”

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If you were to look at the habits of America’s most successful leaders, one commonality would be their passion for reading.  Reading  can help leaders improve their vocabulary, emotional intelligence, become a more adept communicator and inspire creativity. By and large their reading isn’t necessarily confined to business topics, but rather all types of literature.

I recently took over a new team in my corporate life. Therefore, one topic I have been reading a lot about is change management.  Change management done well results in great business outcomes from a KPI and employee engagement perspective.  Change management done poorly can undermine an entire business.

Here are some of my favorite reads on change management:

  1.  HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Change Management
  2.  Leading Change, by John Kotter
  3.  Change Friendly Leadership, by Roger Dean Duncan
  4.  Changemaking: Tactics and Resources for Managing Organizational Change, By Richard Bevan
  5.  The Theory and Practice of Change Management: Third Edition, By John Hayes

Reading novels is crucial to unleashing your creativity and inspiration.  Here are some of my favorites.

  1.  Les Miserables, Victor Hugo
  2.  The Alchemist, Pablo Coelho
  3.  The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
  4.   The Decameron,  Giovanni Boccacio
  5.  A Separate Peace, John Knowles
  6.  To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  7.  Don Quixote, Miguel De Cervantes
  8.  1984, George Orwell
  9.  Animal Farm, George Orwell
  10.   Revolutionary Road, Richard Yates

What are some of your favorite novels?  I’m always looking for something new to read, so please share your favorites in the comments.

 

 

 

House of Cards

Uber had been a darling of the business world for the past couple of years.  When my youngest son and I along with his best friend and his mom found ourselves stranded with a couple of strangers at a seedy motel in Union City, GA at 2:00 am.   The hotel shuttle dropped us off assuring us we could use our vouchers there.  Upon dropping us of at the hotel, the driver collected his kickback and promptly departed.  No sooner had the driver left, when the hotel clerk informed us that they did not accept Southwest’s travel vouchers.  As the others in the party argued with the hotel clerk, we sat off in the corner with the kids watching as several pimps and their hoes walked in and out of the hotel.   There was no way in hell that we were going to stay out of the hotel, but getting a taxi outside of the city was difficult.  A businesswomen from Milwaukee, called us two Ubers and booked us hotel rooms as a hotel closer to the airport.  Thank god for her and for Uber.

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The past couple of months for Uber, much like that night for us, have been nothing but an unmitigated disaster culminating yesterday with the departure of Uber’s CEO.  I was reading an article in the paper the other day about the state of Uber and how one blog post has brought the once might company to its knees.  In her blog post, Susan Fowler described her very strange year as an employee of Uber.  This blog post recounted a number of issues at the company including explicit sexual harassment, career sabotage and gender discrimination to name a few.  This blog post by a former engineer ended up going viral setting off a number of earth shaking events at the company.

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The lesson for bloggers is that your words matter and your voices can be heard, so use the platform wisely and judiciously.   For corporate leaders, consider how your run your teams and your organizations.  If your employees were to write a blog post on your leadership, what would they say?  Would they recount stories similar to Susan Fowler’s?  Leadership is rarely glamorous and often thankless, but when people are treated with respect and made to feel value their opinions of their leaders and organizations will reflect it.  Build an organization on respect, valued employees and principled leadership and you won’t find yourself leading an organization built on a house of cards.

 

For further reading on the Uber debacle:

https://www.inc.com/justin-bariso/how-a-single-courageous-voice-led-ubers-ceo-to-resign.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/22/technology/uber-workplace-culture.html

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jun/22/uber-cto-thuan-pham-susan-fowler-travis-kalanick

 

Stormy morning

I woke up this morning to rolling thunder as my alarm went off.  There’s nothing like lying in bed enjoying the sounds of the rain and thunder and relaxing.  Unfortunately, on a Wednesday morning this beautiful combination of rest and relaxation is not possible as my office beckons.  Instead, rolling thunder with my alarms on a Wednesday commute means a protracted commute.

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I rushed out of bed to get ready knowing that the commute would be hellacious and that I needed to stop and get gas before getting on the turnpike.  As I left my neighborhood, my tire pressure came one.  The only thing worse than pumping gas in a South Florida thunderstorm is putting air in a tire during a South Florida thunderstorm.  Unfortunately, it appears that I have a puncture in my right rear tire.  Thank goodness for my knight in shining armor, who met me at the gas station and fixed my tire.

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The rest of my commute was slow, scary and laden in rain. While the puncture in my tire could have been a poor omen for the rest of my day, it was not.  Building positive relationships and analyzing the business is always invigorating.  Plus, any work day that ends with a dinner at Blue Moon Seafood Company is a winner.  Sometimes even a day with the roughest start can end up being one of our brightest day.

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