Working for the Weekend? Working for Now.

yes - notepad & penThis phrase flitted through my mind the other day and for the first time since I heard it, I stopped and thought about it.  Working for the weekend.  What it implies is that the only time in your week that you actually enjoy, or want to actively participate in, is the weekend.

I know way too many people who unconsciously live this way.  Their workdays are a series of to-do lists, “must-do’s” and “just get through it’s”.   They take their first real breath of the week as they walk into their home on Friday, and then Monday comes and you hear the response to “how was your weekend?” – “way too short”.

What if every moment of your life was worth “working for”?  What if you were working for NOW?  Many of the clients I work with are dealing with overwhelm, frustration and overall exhaustion.  Even if they WERE able have a moment, take a breath and enjoy any of the spoils that came with all their hard work, they are too worried about everything that hasn’t been done or what they should be doing or are so exhausted that they miss the weekends too!

I know that there are things that have to be done that none of us particularly enjoy.  It takes bravery to pause, look up, and ask yourself if you can do better – if you can create a life where you enjoy the now? 

Why wait for the weekend?  

What Do You Want? FeMBA Highlights

“What do you want?”

This was the first question posed at the 3-day program called FeMBA (a mini-MBA for women entrepreneurs) I attended with Seth Godin at the beginning of last month. I was stumped. He was asking it in the context of my business, but I cannot address that question one-dimensionally. Like most working women I know, my whole life is intertwined in who I am and what I do. I want a career. I want to have an impact. I want to accomplish something significant. I want to be independent. I want to love and be loved. I want to be there for my children when they are sick/need cupcakes/want to be read to. I want to be a role model for my daughter. I want to be my son’s best friend. I want to work hard with amazing people. I want to go on vacation with my husband. I want to make lots of money. I want to do yoga. I want to connect amazing people. I want a lot. So to ask me that question…to ask how I might create a business that can enable all my dreams and desires is difficult and scary – I am having a hard time wrapping my head around a job that will enable all of it. But I am not one to avoid the scary path. The real question for me is what do I want to do first? And then next? And then have faith that the how will follow.  And I do.

So first up:  I want to connect all of you to each other.  You with me?

Thank you, Seth, for the gift of you, your questions, your ideas, and for connecting me with my new posse of FeMBA Phenoms.

FYI – for highlights of the FeMBA program, go here.

My Way Is Best…and So Is Yours

The other day I had two dear friends over for a play date and lunch. I met them both when we all lived in Chicago; we were single, working, and playing flag football on the weekends. We all grew up in the Midwest and went to Big Ten universities. One worked for a large cable network, one a well-known marketing firm, and I was working for Andersen Consulting. We were the epitome of our generation of women, forging through choices presented to us of potential mates, potential careers and all that goes with it.

16 years later, all of us are married, all of us with kids…but…
…one is a stay at home mom who loves the suburbs. Her trip to the city marked the first for her 16 month old daughter.
…the other, also now a stay at home mom, lives in Palo Alto and finds herself in San Francisco often meeting her husband for dinner after work, or to meet up with friends.
…and then there’s me. I still live in the city (NYC now). I own my own business and I live in a two bedroom apartment. My kids ride the subway with us on a daily basis and think back yards are public parks for anyone to play in.

From an outsider’s perspective, we could be perceived as very different. We could be analyzed, even…how did three women with similar upbringings have such different outcomes with regards to career and family? Who’s happiest? Who took advantage of the opportunities presented to them and who fell prey to social and cultural pressures?

I see similarity more than difference. We were all brought up to follow our hearts and do what makes us happy. And that has lead us each to where we are now. And only by being true to ourselves and our needs could we so confidently be happy with our lives and still be dear friends. I know that my two friends think I’m crazy for doing what I do, but they are happy for me. And they know that I could never live the life they do, but I am 100% supportive of the choices they’ve made.

Because we made the choices that align with our values, not with what the world wants us to be, we have ended up all exactly where we should be: happy. So here’s to the best way – which is any way that’s value-based and makes you happy.

Future Shape of the Winner: Week 3

This post is a continuation in a series of weekly posts about my thoughts and learnings with regards to Tom Peter’s “The Future Shape of the Winner” Model and the “Excellence Audit” .  I am in week 3 of a distance learning course to become an accredited user of the Excellence Audit.  Please feel free to comment and/or add to my thoughts below.

This week’s assignment is about the Excellence Audit – what it looks like, how it works, and how the data is evaluated.  I completed the audit as one of my clients, or rather, as the Office Administrator of the New York branch of a Global Law Firm.  Some thoughts/challenges/questions:

  1. I continue to enjoy the model’s simplicity, and see the model coming clearly through the audit itself.  It does not take much to understand how the model is being translated into the actual audit, and how leaders can quickly assess their organization against a desired future set of elements.
  2. I, like Robert, did not follow the rules and completed the “now” and “future” simultaneously.  A quick discussion on the value of doing all the “nows” first and then circling back to do the “future” would be helpful for me.
  3. I, like Matt, had a hard time writing something other than a “5″ in all areas, but I remembered my own advice when talking to clients about future state:  it cannot all be accomplished at once, so when you put the time frame in of 3-5 years (or as Matt says, maybe even 1 year?) it made it easier to think about what needed to be prioritized.
  4. My “customer” in my example was the attorneys in the NY office, and the Firm itself.  I think that for some clients or divisions who are not directly customer-facing, the questions around the customer will be confusing.  They need to define who their direct customer is, and then who the end customer is, and how they have an impact on each of theses audiences.  Makes those questions a bit more difficult.
  5. Speaking of customer, Kris mentioned that we could have the customers take the audit?  Has this been done?  How was that data taken in with the rest of the leadership and accounted for or was it kept separate as a separate viewpoint?
  6. Speaking of separate viewpoints, I noticed in the participants guide a mention of being able to identify sub-groups, but I didn’t see where that was possible.  How do you identify opinions for sub-groups and show their results separately?
  7. Is there a minimum recommended number of participants to get decent data?  The materials talk about choosing our participants carefully, but maybe we need to have some guidelines around that (“Who should take this”)
  8. Finally, I know we’ve talked a little about the type of organization that could use this, but I’m wondering how granular can we get?  I felt, when answering on behalf of my Office Administrator, a little at a loss – that my ability to actually influence the “future” was small.  Maybe this group was not an appropriate group for the audit?  Like Hans, when I was rating my “Nows” low, I found myself wanting to explain WHY, but the WHYs were very targeted at other leaders in the organization, vs. what I had/had not done.
  9. One last note – I agree with Matt on the terminology re: audit – it does seem a little technical/negative but I could get over it.  I like diagnostic, but I will probably just use that word when describing it.

Sorry for the last minute-ness!  I am glad I got to get through it and read all of your lovely comments.

For those of you who are not in my class with me but are intrigued and want more information on this amazing tool, send me an email and I’ll send you out the white paper!

May Behavior Change Challenge: Daily Writing

Okay, people, moving on!  One behavior change down (work out consistently!) and many to go!  For those of you who are new here, I have embarked on my own public change journey regarding behavior change.  I made a list off singular behaviors that I would like to change about myself and am tackling them one by one.

Here’s what’s left from my original list:

  • Drink more water
  • Go to bed earlier
  • Cut out sugar
  • Meditate daily
  • Go on weekly “Artist Dates”
  • Write daily
  • Be on time
  • Be more organized
  • Put myself first once daily

So, in doing this exercise, I need to go with what I know:  the thing that I most fear is probably the thing most worth doing.  When I look at this list, “write daily” scares the bejeezus out of me.  Not because it’s necessarily hard to do, in and of itself, but because I know it takes a commitment to myself and my own development that I have not done in a very long time.

If you said that “writing every day” meant ANY kind of writing, I would not fret.  I write a LOT – I am posting, blogging, emailing, developing, etc. But THIS writing is different.  This is reflection.  This is journaling.  This has no audience.  This is only for me.  And that’s what scares me.

So something just for ME?  Working out has set the tone – taking care of me is  important in this equation of what I can give to the world.  But working out still had an “external” flare to it – going to the gym, being part of a group…felt like we were all in it together.

For this one I am on my own.  So what do I need to do to make it happen?  Again, knowing what I know about myself:

  • Set a concrete, stretch but realistic goal:  I will write in my journal at least 5x/week
  • Go public:  I will let you all know if I did my writing – how shall I do that without being annoying?  Who wants to know?
  • Plan for it:  I will write between 6:30-7:00 each day, whether or not the kids are up.
  • Get support:  Does anyone want to have a writing date with me?  That might help me with #2 – going public
  • Ship it out!  I will start tomorrow!!!

Okay guys – looks like i need to find a new journal to fill.  Any thoughts from all of you as to how to support my goal of writing daily is much appreciated!

Fitness Behavior Change? Victory!

I know it’s been a while since my last post about my effort to change my fitness focus.  Y’all gave up on me, didn’t you?  Especially after that last post! The goal was to change my behavior around prioritizing fitness in my life, and ensure that I was being physically active/working out 3-5 times a week.

Well….I’m there!   I did it!  Three weeks in a row I’ve worked out from 3-5 times.  I’m living proof that it can be done.

Some of you may be saying that it’s too early to call a victory – images of a premature “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED” banner are filling your brain.  But I know — know because my attitude, and my behaviors have actually changed.  Evidence:

  • When someone asks to schedule a meeting on a week where I don’t have my workouts scheduled, I wait to reveal availability until I’ve blocked out the times when I’m working out.
  • I like that one or another part(s) of my body hurts on any given day.
  • I’ve made gym friends who expect to see me there, and ask about me when I’m not.
  • I bought a new gym bag because suddenly the bag that I only had to bring out every once in a while wasn’t good enough when I was using it almost daily.
  • I’m known by some people as “the girl from the gym” – awesome!
  • I am past the point of “returning back to yoga” and can actually do the poses, and the instructors know my name!
  • I don’t ever want to experience the pain of that first day with my trainer again, and I am doing strength training ON MY OWN.

I know I will have “dips” like I did when I was on vacation, but I now know I can come back from them, no problem.  No “baby with the bathwater” here!  And also, on a not so small note – it feels REALLY GOOD to prioritize myself.  I’m getting used to saying no so that I can put ME first every once in a while.

So, I need to choose a new behavior to change in the upcoming months.  Any votes?  My original list:

  • Drink more water
  • Go to bed earlier
  • Cut out sugar
  • Work out consistently
  • Meditate daily
  • Go on weekly “Artist Dates”
  • Write daily
  • Be on time
  • Be more organized
  • Put myself first once daily

Tune in tomorrow for the kickoff!

Future Shape of the Winner: Week 2

This post is a continuation in a series of weekly posts about my thoughts and learnings with regards to Tom Peter’s “The Future Shape of the Winner” Model and the “Excellence Audit” .  I am in week 2 of a distance learning course to become an accredited user of the Excellence Audit.  Please feel free to comment and/or add to my thoughts below.

Please note, these comments are based on what I have read before, the conversations I have had with Madeleine at Tom Peters Company, and of course from our first session.  I may have some different thoughts after I read the materials tonight!

Future Shape of the Winner Model:  What it is?

The Future Shape of the Winner is…

  • A way to describe an organization that revolves around it’s people, understanding that they are nothing without them, and that if we stop moving and changing and moving forward in order to support our people, we will topple over and fail.
  • Based around Tom Peter’s work over 20+ years, built around his professional services model.
  • A way for organizations to put words around the challenges they are facing today.

How can it fit into my practice?

  • This is something Madeleine and I talked about months ago.  Measurement is paramount in my practice.  I want to not only be able to show results, but also be able to confidently identify and prioritize areas the organization should target as areas for improvement.
  • Although I always conduct some time of assessment when working with a client, this will be the first time I use a tool as thorough and as credible as I believe the FSW Model and Excellence Audit to be.
  • Helping an organization conduct an Excellence Audit will not only help me better assist the executives in creating their change agenda, but it will provide a baseline for any other work I do from that point on, as well as provide me with the breadth and depth of context I need about the organization in order to do my work well.
  • It’s just a darn good tool to have in my toolbox.

The Kinds of Situations Where it Might Add Value to My Clients…

  • Performance Issues, low morale, and/or culture issues with no real diagnosis
  • Lots of perceived “problem areas” with no way to prioritize
  • Lack of baseline information and feedback from employees about the state of the organization
  • Organization who wants to think ahead strategically, for the long term, vs. just putting out fires
  • Organization tight on budget who wants to target their dollars for development in the most efficient way

Future Shape of the Winner: Week 1

Starting today, I am participating in the Future Shape of the Winner Distance Learning Programme with Tom Peters Company to learn about the Future Shape of the Winner Model™ and be certified in the use of their Excellence Audit™.  I am starting a thread here to document some of the discussion and learning we will be having throughout the course (over the next 4 weeks) so that I can share and dialogue with my classmates from around the world and anyone else who would like to participate in the discussion!  Each week we will have topics to reflect on and I will document my thoughts here.

Topic 1:  In the first discussion, we want to find out what has attracted your interest in Future Shape of the Winner and the Excellence Audit and how you see this approach helping your business. How do you envisage it providing you with extra impetus in your and/or your clients’ organisations?

First and foremost, I have been a fan of Tom Peter’s work from Day 1 as a Change Management Consultant at Andersen Consulting in the early 90′s.  I have used his work as a guide my entire career.

When I started my own practice 3 years ago, I focused on the individual (life) coaching aspect of my work, and merely maintained my relationships with corporate clients I had been working with over the years.  This year, as my practice grew, I wanted to revive my corporate work by building a bridge between the work I was doing with individuals and the work I can do with (the individuals within an) organization.

When I came across this model, I read the core philosophies and felt like I was reading my own personal change manifesto.  The talent-centric model, based on learnings from professional service organizations, is focused on building that bridge between the individual and the corporation that I desire to do in my work: “The leader’s #1 job is to conduct the business such that people (employees, partners and associates) see fulfilling the ambitions of the business as being consistent with realizing their personal ambitions.”

Additionally, having a model that can assist me in the needs assessment process, providing quantifiable data that can help executives develop thier organization’s change priorities, or change agenda, is a gift.  The first step in my process is to conduct an assessment, and I’ve used different tools over the years to do so, but often it is done from scratch and developed based on the organization’s needs.  I’m excited to have a model/tool that I can offer my clients that is backed by years of research from a leader in the field.

In the second discussion, we want to explore the world in which clients are operating.  Think about your work in recent years as an organisation development/HR professional supporting others in their work. What have been the major influences that have challenged your clients to adapt and change? How easy or hard have these changes been for them to make? How would you summarise those challenges which continue to be on your clients’ agendas? Write a short description (up to 500 words) of your thoughts about the forces at work in your clients’ world.

As noted above, I’ve not been as active in the organizational consulting world in the past few years as I plan to be this year and beyond.  However, working with individuals outside of the corporation and recent discussions has helped me form some conclusions about the current challenges:

1) The organization model is changing.  In Seth Godin’s book, Linchpin, he talks about how the old system is broken.  We have created a “race to the bottom” where everyone is trying to make the “thing” faster and cheaper than the next company, adding no extra value and the only differentiator is price.  This creates a culture of sameness, both in product and employees, that encourages a “cog in the wheel” mentality which is not only uninspiring but ultimately, unsuccessful.  The challenge is to create an environment in which individual creativity can thrive on every level and value becomes the differentiator to lead to success in an organization and engagement in the individual.

2)  Budget: When budgets are tight, and it’s hard to measure “people-focused” programs, those programs tend to be left on the budget-cut floor.  The key is to find quantifiable reasons to focus on talent that will enable leadership to prioritize those things that will engage, inspire and enable their workforce to add their highest value.

3)  A Changing Workforce:  our workforce today has varying and sometimes conflicting priorities.  Whether they are taking care of an aging parent, their own children, or believe that they don’t want a lifetime behind a desk, today’s workforce is desiring more from their employers.  Organizations that can develop a culture that honors the individual’s life as a whole will win at developing an engaged and loyal workforce.  This is difficult in practice because it means challenging the way we have traditionally done work, and potentially redefining what it means to be a “good employee”.

4) Fatigue:  This work is hard.  Years of “surviving” through a recession and operating by boot-straps can create a culture of fatigue.  To introduce a change, especially one as large as changing the culture by which we do work, can be met with a resistance from both executives and employees alike, that is impossible to overcome.  Often an organization will quit before it begins to make a change that just seems to big to take on at this time.  The challenge is to understand the organization’s capacity for change, and develop a change agenda that’s not only correct in need, but is sensitive to the ability of the employees to actually participate in a change effort.

I’ve been bad

The last week was filled with some working out, and some good intention, but mostly it was filled with lots of good wine and good company.  As mentioned in my last post, I was out with friends from college in Boston for a long weekend, which ended in lots of late night shenanigans, then I was home for a couple days, then out to the Bay Area for work and to see friends again.

So I was a little good in between the badness…I worked out both days I was home.  And I braved seeing my dear Ken-doll trainer, Ryan (seriously…could play Ken in the movie, if there was one). And I worked HARD!  I took care of myself by eating my (good) carbs before working out and I made it through with no shakes and no drama.  I packed my bags with the intention of fitting in a least a walk along the bay or maybe a yoga class with a friend.

But my dear friend Wine was invited to the party each of the nights I was there.  And I couldn’t turn her down.  She’s so lovely and smooth and she slips in so easily you almost don’t notice her.  But the next day you remember she was there.  She left an impression.

I only had one real opportunity to work out, but that idea went out as fast as it blew in.  So here I am, a week later from my last session with Ryan, with no progress or activity to report.

Am I bad?  Or did I just take a week off?  I’m going with the latter because I’ve already scheduled in all my workouts for the coming week and I know I’m going to hit them.  But it’s very hard to shake off the guilt, and I feel like a bit of a fraud.  Stick with me folks – I swear I’m in it for the long run.

Discipline: Fighting the Resistance

I am reading The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield.  I think maybe everyone in the world who wants to do anything with their life should read this book.  It’s a no-BS, wake up call to just get it done.  Call the excuses what they are (or actually, he calls them “The Resistance”) and get on with it.

All of us have it – that thing/voice/block/weather/excuse/husband/wife/kids/job/country/REASON why we cannot finish, execute or sometimes even start what we know we are meant to be doing.  So know it, and get over it.  “Go Pro” as Steven says.  Do what you need to do to do the work no matter what.  A professional athlete doesn’t wake up one day and say, “hmmm, I don’t really feel like doing my training today…maybe tomorrow”.  When you Go Pro, you stop finding excuses for not doing the work, and you Just Do It.

I am on my way home from an amazing weekend in Boston with my best friends from college.  One of them just completed the Boston Marathon with an amazing, mind-boggling time (to me) – 3hrs and 12 minutes.  On Saturday afternoon, many of them decided to go for a run.  They went Pro.  I came up with about 10 reasons why I couldn’t:  I wanted to spend time with my friends talking.  I was tired.  I was still a bit sore from my PT workout (yes, still).  I didn’t want to shower again.  I’d rather drink.  I am so far from going Pro when it comes to my fitness routine that it only took a feather to knock me off course.

So here I am, looking at my week ahead, knowing I only have 2 days in which to actually work out…the Resistance is Strong.  It wants me to do other things during that hour and a half.  But thankfully, I’ve already blocked the time out.  Sacred.  Scared? Sacred.  Not movable.  I will not let the resistance win – not this week.