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Posts tagged ‘leadership’

Discovering the Positvie Impact of Groups: Lifestyle Business Insider

I don’t do groups. In fact, as a child my mother decided one day that I should go to group counseling because my father was an alcoholic. Before anyone gets any ideas about this presumed tragedy, my parents divorced when I was three-years-old, I lived with my mother who had sole custody and was a working trust fund baby, plus I had an older brother who lived with us and lots of family friends creating a rich support system. It wasn’t a difficult life. As for my dad, he was very much around, involved in my life, and my parents remained good friends. Sure, he was absolutely an alcoholic, but the effect that had on my  life was practically nonexistent. He was a jovial drunk and no one had any illusion that he was a responsible adult, including me, whether he was sober or not. So, expectations were always quite low as far as “parenting,” but he was a fun playmate! He worked, too. He was a prolific professional artist, a muralist mostly, and revered well enough in all the right circles for most of my life. There really wasn’t much to complain about, honestly. So, picture me in group with a bunch of kids who were literally going through hell with their alcoholic parent(s)–many suffering abuse, financial hardships, neglect, embarrassment and shame… whereas my dad would drink way too much scotch and get up and sing with the band at the Yacht Club, and everyone thought he was the life of the party. He never tried to drive drunk with me, so safety wasn’t an issue. He might have a slight hangover in the morning that would delay our planned trip to the beach that day, but that was really the extent of my suffering.

Needless to say, I didn’t really participate in group. I just sat there quietly. It was all rather uncomfortable hearing the other kids’ stories–I felt like a fraud. I hated “group.”

That was my first experience with groups: negative, misfit, outsider, and self-conscious are words that come to mind. “Groups” meant other things to me later in life: group projects in school, where I tended to do most of the work; group assignments at work, which tended to follow the same patterns as school; team-building group exercises, team breakout sessions, and shared accountability management systems–please shoot me, it’s so awful!! My friends, colleagues and employers all would joke that “Daphne doesn’t play well with others.” Instead, they’d just give me impossible problems to solve and incredibly challenging tasks to figure out, and I’d hide away in a closed room eventually emerging with the impossible solved. Then, we’d all gather teams together to execute the strategies.

Then, one day I’d met my match. A woman far smarter than me! She was an absolute lunatic–impossible for most people to work with, mean, temperamental, petty and hands down BRILLIANT! She became my best friend and mentor for about 11 years. While everything I said about her is absolutely true, it’s also true that she was the most encouraging, generous and supportive mentor and teammate imaginable who gave me every opportunity to grow and learn and implement anything I wanted to do. Most importantly, she believed in me more than even I did, and I’m pretty cocky! She pushed me in every area of my professional life until I exceeded a standard I didn’t even realize I was capable of achieving. I can’t say that she taught me everything I know–instead she kept challenging me and held tireless faith in me until I learned and applied every professional skill I currently hold. Many of these skills she doesn’t have herself. For her, it wasn’t about her trying to turn me into a clone; it was about pushing me to become my best me. After more than a decade, I began achieving consistently at very high levels, and we both knew that I was now soaring on my own. What started as a brutal form of mentoring and coaching eventually shifted to just brutality, however. The pain crescendoed, and there came a time when there was nothing left to learn in that space, and the abuse was no longer followed by a reward. It was just painful and empty. It was time for me to move on–we agreed. And so it ended. And every day I’m grateful for the full experience. Was there an easier path to take to get me where I am today? Nope. I’d have been too hard-headed to come this far without all of that.

Yet, I still never learned to work well in groups, exactly, but I learned how to lead many groups of people and project manage like a champ! Mostly, I learned how to work exceptionally well with an equal or better-skilled partner. This was a huge breakthrough for this loner!

After a couple more years, I stumbled into the life and work of yet another extraordinary person–just as dynamic and brilliant as the one before, but minus the mean streak and abusiveness and who was also far more successful. Up until now, I’ve always had a mentor in my life, and this other extraordinary person normally would have become my next–wickedly smart, extremely successful businesswoman and entrepreneur… She’s everything I’d want to learn from next! But, we never allowed a mentoring relationship to form. Instead, we entered into our relationship as a partnership of equals, each bringing different skills and expertise to the game, and every challenge, frustration or dispute we’d have within our working process was always approached with this incredible level of mutual respect and love. Occasionally, we’d even openly discuss this wonderful phenomenon. Four years we worked together, almost inseparable though she travels often, without one real argument. There was one enormous problem, however. After four years of creating exceptional work, only two out of 10 large projects were fully completed and launched (though many smaller ones were wildly successful). Everything else was abandoned for one reason or another after getting 60% or even 75% complete. I always blamed her for either stalling projects (sometimes due to legitimate conflicts of interest that would arise) or just never scheduling ample dedicated time to sit down and finalize them with me. I could only get so far on my own–using her ideas and vision–because this is her brand and life. I actually need her to help me polish and complete. I’d voice concerns from time to time, even get a little annoyed and frustrated. She always avoided discussing it… So, I of course assumed she understood and agreed with my point of view, hence the avoidance. Right? Wrong! It appears she’d been blaming me for these unfinished projects this whole time, and two huge arguments erupted as a result. We’re working through this, I’m very relieved to report, but not without some difficulty and a few hard blows along the way.

Believe me, I no longer blame my partner solely for these unfinished projects. What I am doing is gathering up all I know about her and infusing it in the works on my own to reach a finalized stage. That’s not to say that she won’t join with me to polish it pre-release, but I’m going rogue to get to the finish line, because I’ve learned that this is what these projects actually needed all along. I needed to be bold enough, and have enough faith in all I know about this person, to dive in and create the final works. That takes a big set of brass ones to do–to make grand assumptions about someone’s life and opinions, but the bolder I am about doing this, and the more committed I become to this vanguard process, the more confident I become in knowing that this was the missing link all along. This was absolutely the role I was meant to take, but was too timid to shoulder up the responsibility previously. And, yes, I have her blessing. We never had an issue with trust–she knows I know her stories, her heart and intentions–we just struggled furiously with each other until I chose to take a wildly ambitious path. As unusual as this is, it’s gorgeous how it’s all working out!

Still, without launching any of these large projects I’d created, my cash flow is not what I had originally anticipated, to say the least. So, I picked up other freelance clients and maintained others I had planned to phase out, helping me get by as I still work towards finalizing then launching all of this work I’d started. I’ve been frustrated, lost, overwhelmed, feeling isolated and abandoned, and even a little despondent at times, but I never gave up–I knew not to do that. And, here enters the theme of the “group” once more…

Stephanie Frank, an esteemed business coach whom I became acquainted when I first decided to work on my freelance career full time about 5 years ago, started a Facebook group called “Lifestyle Business Insider.” Look, I’m a big fan of Facebook–I socialize on it, debate on it, spread ideas there, tell stories there… instead of being a substitution for real-life, it’s been a brilliant extension of real life for me, and has had a wonderful positive impact on my business. I am also a member of several “professional groups.” Most are fine, but the one Stephanie developed is extraordinary! While I continue to grit my teeth and plow through the completion of these projects, most importantly a specific book project with two additional co-authors, I have been able to share some of my professional struggles, successes, stories and goals with other pros. There’s an eclectic mix of people from varied backgrounds, expertise and levels of achievement on their journey, and though this group is rather new, the feedback, support, sharing and resources presented have been incredibly beneficial! I think I’ve fund a “group” where I actually fit in–I’m not the smartest person in the room here (and I never want to be), instead there’s a beautiful, equitable level of give and take that I believe is creating a synergy far greater than the sum of its parts.

I’m still holding my beloved beast (this big book project) dear to my heart and nearing the end, finalizing the first complete draft of the manuscript next month. Though it’s been an incredibly difficult time, there’s never been a doubt that it’s an absolutely worthwhile journey with an astoundingly worthwhile colleague, partner and dear friend.  And this group, just being able to share with the group, ask questions and give feedback and process in this space has helped me to plow through some really tough barriers. I’m so grateful for each member, and of course Stephanie.

I’ve gone from being a complete misfit in awkward Ala-teen groups and bulldozing my fellow students throughout high school and college group projects, to finally being able to lead teams and work with a partner… and now I’m fully embracing a group of dedicated peers and professionals who join together in a virtual space to support one another, share resources and experience growth. I’m blessed, and I think I’m starting to like this whole “group” concept!

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Eat What You Kill

I’ve been working for others about as long as I have been self-employed, and I’ve learned only one thing throughout all this time: value = delivery. I began the bulk of my professional career as a grant writer, and as a grant writer you are charged with paying for yourself, plus. Usually you are required to bring in three times your salary to justify your job. Seeing as how I was never a highly-Screen-Shot-2012-06-13-at-10.40.13-AM1paid grant writer, but I did win many 6-7 figure awards, this wasn’t difficult to accomplish. My jobs have always been secure…

Now that I am a freelancer, however, I’ve noticed that my personal expectations of what I deliver to clients changed a bit. I expected pay for work–competitive pay–pay commensurate with my skills and experience. What’s wrong with that? Work is a deliverable, right? You need writing services: a blog, a book, web copy, a press release, business proposal, a grant, flier, etc. I should get paid for the work I do based on my experience, talent and quality and the value of what I deliver. Right? Not so fast.

“Eat what you kill.” I have been in the land of commissioned sales, of percentages on projects with little cash laid up front but with lots to gain on the back end, based on the overall success of my deliverables. Some people cower at the thought while others thrive with the sense of empowerment to create their own revenue. I am the latter. I like knowing that the cash in my hand is a direct result of the work I have done. In other words, “eat what you kill.” If I bring money in the door, I get more money. In this strategy, my value is directly correlated with the money I generate.

As a writer, that may sound like a strange principal, and arguably it’s not the right strategy for everyone. It’s not the right strategy for every project, either, or for every client. But, over the past few weeks, it has become increasingly clear that this is exactly how I work best. Pay me most not just when I produce, but when what I produce turns a profit or is deemed measurably valuable to you in some meaningful way.

I’ve watched so many employees walk into businesses with a sense of entitlement that made my eyes water from the stench. They had no sense of hustle, no desire to bring efficiencies or ingenuity to the game, and felt no responsibility to add to the immediate bottom line of their workplace. Yet, they felt completely entitled to continue receiving a salary for breathing, whining and taking up space.

I’m not saying that all staff or contract positions need to conform to this philosophy, but I am saying that if you want to be deemed truly valuable, take on an “eat what you kill” mentality. Take risks that force you to deliver in big ways for you to see real pay-offs. Justify your salary by developing systems that save your company money, eliminate waste and redundancies, produce innovative products and services, commit to constantly increasing your performance and the quality of your work, or better yet bring hard cash through the door in the form of contracts, or developing a new customer base. Eat what you kill.

For the love of St. Petersburg

I spent a few hours at the Manhattan Casino Saturday morning with a few creative minds and community leaders, and if you ask me, they are one in the same. Here we had an opportunity to come together and explore what loving St. Petersburg is all about with For the Love of Cities author Peter Kageyama.

Mayor Bill Foster said of the event that he has big hopes for this concept. He wants people to become more engaged in the City of St. Petersburg, and he wants “love missionaries.” Foster said, “It’s about the little things—the things that make St. Petersburg not just a destination and home. Not just a place where people work and live but a place where people work to feed their habit—the habit of St. Petersburg.”

But what does it take for a community to fall in love with its city? Kageyama talked about “love notes.” Love notes are little things that make your community unique, light you up, make you smile and have you coming back for more. He mentioned Studio 620 and Free Fall Theatre as notable “acts of love” in St. Petersburg.

Other aspects that create a lovable city are bicycle-friendly and dog-friendly cities, and St. Petersburg is both of these, mostly. Kageyama also asked Saturday’s participants to write down and come up to the mic and share what they love about the city.

Mostly, there was a common theme of parks and the waterfront. The arts, museums, the people, small businesses and the history of St. Petersburg also made the list. From here, the interactivity of the participants picked-up, including working in teams to come up with themed t-shirt designs.

From cradle to retiring—what matters in St. Pete?

What do certain demographics think of St. Petersburg—a 15-year-old, a retired person, a married couple with children, a young professional, a college student and a business owner? The teams that worked on t-shirt designs were asked to work together again to explore what was valuable to specific demographics.

There were some common themes such as crime and safety being top concerns spanning all demographics. This does not imply that people consider St. Petersburg to be very dangerous, but crime and safety remain top concerns for all demographics.

Top things that certain demographics within the city like are the beaches and entertainment and ease of access to community, business and government leadership. Also, things that many demographics agree are needs for the city include higher-paying career opportunities in fields such as technology and green energy.

Specific demographics did identify specific needs for their station in life such as more daytime activities for retired persons and more arts education available for youth, especially as programs are being cut within Pinellas County Schools.

 It’s $500 of love

If you had $500 to create a “love” project for St. Petersburg—what would it be? Participants worked in teams to develop projects that would have a $500 budget. Some great ideas were developed such a Family Friendly First Friday in North Straub Park—an idea that can be incorporated into an existing city event and expanded upon for $500.

Once these ideas were developed and presented to all, everyone voted on which idea they liked the most. Family Friendly First Friday not only won the vote but also received an anonymous donor who has agreed to provide the $500 to make it happen. Here are some of the other ideas:

“I am a native of St. Petersburg, and ‘for the love of St. Petersburg means a lot to me,” said Clarence Scott in closing remarks of this summit. He encouraged all of us to not only spread the word about the great work done today and all the great ideas developed but also to spread the word about the great city St. Petersburg is saying, “ Word of mouth is the best form of advertising.”

Peter Kageyama ended the day with a book signing opportunity, having books, t-shirts and lively discussion all available for those interested in For the Love of Cities.

Peter Kageyama

Also posted HERE on SaintPetersBlog, published 2/20/2012

What’s up Commish? My conversation with Pinellas County Commissioner Kenneth Welch

Link to the full article is here: “A conversation with Pinellas County Commissioner Kenneth Welch” : http://saintpetersblog.com/2012/01/weekend-read-a-conversation-with-pinellas-county-commissioner-ken-welch/

Kenneth T. Welch – Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners

Ever wonder what’s on the mind of a county commissioner? I had an in-depth conversation with Pinellas County Commissioner Kenneth Welch on some hot topics important to Pinellas County. He talked about the County’s activities, his involvement and perspective on these issues and a little bit about what the community can expect in the near future.

These hot topics include homelessness, The St. Petersburg Pier, transportation–bussing and light rail and his campaign for re-election, representing District 7 in Pinellas County.

Here you can learn a little about Commissioner Welch, too:

Commissioner Kenneth Welch recently launched his campaign for re-election on the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners, representing District 7. He has been elected to the County Commission from District 7 in 2000, 2004 and 2008 consecutively.

In addition to serving on the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners, Commissioner Welch also serves on the Board of Directors of the Florida Association of Counties, Pinellas County Business Technology Services Board, Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority, Pinellas Metropolitan Planning Organization, Pinellas Health & Human Services Coordinating Council, Pinellas Homeless Leadership Network (Chair), Florida DCF Substance Abuse & Mental Health Advisory Council, and other local, state and national organizations.

Yet, with all of his accomplishments, Commissioner Welch is not without opposition. At least two individuals are slated to run against him in the District 7 election, and so Welch’s campaign is moving forward in full-force.

Welch also believes strongly in access–that his community can reach him and that they have easy access to meet with him. To this end, Welch organizes monthly “Community Office Hours” that are in his district so that the people don’t have to travel all the way to the county building to speak with him.

Through these meetings with the public, Welch has learned much and acted on many issues to strengthen the community, including increasing basic services such as access to fire hydrants, park and recreation enhancements, transportation concerns, housing and homeless issues and economic and community development.

St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster provides Access, but transparency is still under development

Link to full article here: http://saintpetersblog.com/2012/01/bill-fosters-mayors-night-out-offer-access-but-not-much-transparency/

The most recent Mayor’s Night Out, hosted January 12, 2012 at the J.W. Cate Center provided unparalleled access to many departments represented by City Hall. Mayor Bill Fosterpromotes these events as an effort to improve access and transparency regarding city government. Indeed, bringing leadership representing many city departments out to the community provides extraordinary access, but I’m not so sure transparency is increased much. Not yet.

There are certain political buzz words that provide a sense of comfort among citizens. One of these is “transparency.” It’s a great word. It gives a sense of accountability—of a government laying all of its cards on the table for all to see everything exactly as they are. There would be no airbrushing and nothing hidden in a corner. Everything would be wide open for all to see. And with the Mayor’s Night Out events, that isn’t something I experienced there.

What these events do provide is fabulous access to Mayor Foster, to City Council, and many city departments were represented including Billing and Collections; Engineering, Water Resources and Capital Improvements; Housing and Community Development; School Programs; Police; Fire Rescue; Sanitation, Storm Water, Pavement and Traffic Operations; Zoning and Permitting; Transportation and Parking; Codes Compliance; Neighborhood Partnership, Libraries, Parks and Recreation; and Codes Compliance.

My View: If the citizens of St. Petersburg truly want transparency, they must participate in it. The access is most certainly there in a fashion that cannot be criticized. What is needed for true transparency to be realized is for citizens to go to these events and demand answers to tough questions. Require follow-up and reporting on issues that are of the greatest concern to citizens from the city. The citizens of St. Petersburg must take an active leadership role as both a partner and critic of their local government for transparency to be a reality. Mayor Foster, the City Council and city departments have certainly put themselves out there—It’s up to us to make transparency happen.

Innovative leadership needed in the era of the Creative Class (AKA: What’s a Master Class?)

To be a great leader or manager it requires you to learn how to lead and coach. And things have changed–or have they?

Coming from a performance background, master classes are unique events, which publicly illustrate the best in coaching, when done well. In a master class, a master artist works with performers on their instrument in front of an audience of their peers. Several participants/attendees have an oppotunity to work one-on-one with a master performer, and likewise all attendees watch this master teacher work one-on-one with certain performers. It is a remarkable learning experience, charged with energy, opportunity and countless ah-ha! moments.

Unfortunately, it’s unique to the performing arts. But, can we take the concept outside of the arts and apply it to traditional business? It’s far more than role-playing or lecturing or even workshopping. It’s a then-and-there charged experience of performance, exploration and discovery of your craft alongside a master mentor with peers looking on and learning from your experience.

Violinist Maxim Vengerov shows the best in coaching in this video. What can you learn from his style? http://bit.ly/2fp…hgG 

Great leadership requires extraordinary communication coaching and identifying and tapping into unique teaching opportunities.  Regardless of your craft, talent or business, we have a responsibility to continue to explore new ways of connecting with, coaching and mentoring new leaders: artists, thought leaders, the creative class. 

What can we learn from the arts and the concept of a master class? How can a similar experience be duplicated to help cultivate and nurture thought leaders and emerging thought leaders in our culture? Regardless of your particular brand of art, the best is always the best. Only model the best.

The Rise of the Creative Class: leading talent often means getting out of the way

 

 

Itay Talgam at TED 2009

The greatest conductors on leadership & managment. Cultivate the BEST talent, then let them do their job. How to lead, direct, correct… Different styles:

http://www.ted.com/talks/itay_talgam_lead_like_the_great_conductors.html

Itay Talgem is one of the world’s most esteemed conductors, and in this TED Talk, he breaks apart leadership skills of other world-renowned conductors. It’s fascinating in and of itself, but it’s more enlightening when thought of in terms of business and project leadership and management. Also, community and cause leadership–it is critical to cultivate and nurture the creative class in a style that helps them bring the best they have every time. Conductors have been doing this well for centuries. Let’s take a lesson from the best.

Archaic management styles of blind obedience and linear hierarchies reap the worst in productivity and progress within your workforce. It’s time for every business and leader to change from this mindset or risk becoming miserably irrelevant. The most valuable thing a leader has to give is to empower others to lead, but if you’re stuck in the ineffective beliefs of traditional role delineation where insecurities and power-mongering run amok within leadership, you essentially create an oppressive regime. Here, creativity and buy-in become stifled amongst your team, and this directly erodes productivity and progress. You create an army of mindless drones instead of a team of empowered, creative problem-solvers and critical thought leaders.

One of two things will happen if you put too many restrictions on creative professionals: 1) they will flee from you or 2) they will produce drab uninspired work. If you want them to create the masterpieces you hired them to create, step back a bit. Let them tinker and make mistakes (as long as the mistakes aren’t too costly), and they will produce masterpeices over and over again for you and your company.

What leadership style speaks best to you? Are there any lessons you’re taking away from viewing this presentation? Has it changed your thinking in any way?

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