Monthly Archives: May 2013

“Am I the only one that thinks like this…?”

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If you’ve ever asked yourself this question…congrats! You’re human…and maybe a leader.

A person who leads with innovative thinking, fervent courage, and determination is bound to feel lonely sometimes. It’s tough and we all go through it at points.

What is there to do?

1. If you have a mentor, seek their counsel and advice.

2. Talk to a trusted friend outside of work or the environment you lead.

3. Go for a walk. Seriously. Everyone needs to breathe sometimes and breaks are priceless.

4. Brainstorm a list of all of the positive things at your job. Celebrating the bright spots does wonders for changing mood and perception of a situation.

What else have you done in these scenarios? Please share your thoughts and experiences!

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Filed under change management, communication, leadership, motivation

5 Questions With Victor Rios

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Every week, we ask 5 questions to a different person. The questions remain the same but the people change. Some people are leaders, some are followers, but all have valuable input. This week we meet Drew Carr, a mental health professional.

Name: Victor Rios

Position: Associate Professor Ph.D. UC Berkeley, Curriculum Vitae Research Interests

Place: Santa Barbara, CA
(Professor Rios’ 2011 book, Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys (NYU Press), analyzes how juvenile crime policies and criminalization affect the everyday lives of urban youth. He has published on juvenile justice, masculinity, and race and crime in scholarly journals such as The Annals of the Academy of Political and Social Sciences, Latino Studies, and Critical Criminology. In 2011 Professor Rios received the Harold J. Plous award at UCSB and In 2010 he received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research. Each award is given to only one member of the entire UCSB faculty per academic year. 
-From UCSB Faculty Profile)

1. Think back to when you were extremely motivated by a boss, leader, or teammate. What did they say or do that motivated you so much and why did it work?

“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” “Take it or leave it. Do or don’t do. Either or.” When you hear this you know what side you need to step to.

2. When have you been very unmotivated by a boss, leader, or teammate? Why did it create a feeling of un-motivation to do your job better?

Depressive personality that takes out his personal stress out on his employees/colleagues. Leaders need to me motivators, Period.

3. What is one characteristic you look for in an effective leader?

Passion. Facilitation skills.

4. When have you motivated another person to better themselves or to be more productive in their job?

When I have learned about their very essence, who they are, what drives them, what makes them feel fulfilled, and used that knowledge to help them realize that what they are doing fits that internal wiring.

5. What is one piece of advice you’d give towards aspiring leaders?

Don’t be afraid to shine because when you do a new path emerges for others in the midst of the darkness they encounter.

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Why Innovators Are Fundamentally and Developmentally Different

Brilliant 11 minute video on why innovators are different. Give this a watch – I promise it will not disappoint.

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Filed under business, change management, leadership, motivation, observation, videos

5 Ways To Help You Become Perfect

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Improvement is important, especially to those of us who genuinely care about what we do for our occupation. If you’re anything like me, you may feel restless or uncomfortable when you are unsure of how to improve in your current role. Here are some suggestions:

1. Practice does not make perfect…but perfect practice does  Anders Ericsson, a Swedish psychologist, has spent much of his research time around the idea of improvement and practice. At one point, Ericsson looked at figure skaters and found that – even though a group of figure skaters were all on the ice for the same amount of time – the skaters who obsessed over getting better were the ones who distinguished themselves. Malcolm Gladwell also has conducted a fair amount of research in this area, asserting in his book “Outliers” that people can reach a level of mastery in a skill once they have spent 10,000 hours of focused time on a certain topic. In other words… don’t just practice… but pratice focused.

2. Spent time around others better than you  Do you think Michael Jordan learned much practicing wih the third-string bench-players? Absolutely not. As the old proverb states, “iron sharpens iron.” It is absolutely necessary to be around people who push to become a better person.

3. Find a mentor  Everyone needs a coach, a mentor, and a wise soul to help them along. Michael Jordan grew from having Phil Jackson next to him. Plato, one of the most brilliant minds the world has ever seen, was mentored by Socrates, an equally brilliant person. You get the picture. It helps enormously to have someone alongside you who has been through your experience in some way and who can provide guidance.

4. Raise the bar  “Ok” is ok for a lot of people. However, if you really want to be truly special and extraordinary, ok must no longer be ok. Your new standard needs to be one that is unrelenting, uncompromising, and never easily satisfied. When we settle, we lower our own bar. Stay strong, expect the extraordinary of yourself, and set out to be the example for everyone else to follow! In the words of Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights: If you’re not first, you’re last!

5. Be confident  After all is said and done, confidence is an essential element to a person that kicks butt. Peggy Klaus’ book “Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It” is a great starting point and an easy read. If you’ve got it going on, stand tall and proud, letting others see that you’re the real deal. Own your future success now and let people know that you are strong – without being obnoxious or isolating.

What else ya got?

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Filed under business, leadership, motivation

4 Cool Examples of Leadership in the Movies

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More lists!

Here are 4 recent movies that featured leaders with some noteworthy characteristics (in no particular order):

1. The Dark Knight Rises  Bruce Wayne/Batman is a hero but not the bubbliest of of heroes. In fact, in spite of Batman’s awesome abilities, I definitely would not let a batman-type ever babysit my kid. However, Bruce Wayne typifies a character of integrity. His passion to right any wrongs and to do what is good is indicative of a characteristic all of us should aspire to.

2. 42  Jackie Robinson had some courage to take on the color barrier and racial injustice in the way that he did. Jackie lead from the front, by example, and demonstrated what persistance and vision looks like. Leaders need to be persistant towards what matters.

3. Zero Dark Thirty  Maya, an analyst in Zero Dark Thirty, is so bent on finding Osama Bin Laden that her life is planned around her efforts. Leaders are borderline obsessed with success and achieving their goal. How do you define success and how are you working to acheive it? If your version of success does not invigorate you with passion and fervor,  it’s time to reassess what you’re doing.

4. Argo  Argo is the story of how the government snuck out several U.S. citizens from Iran during the a crisis in 1980. Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) came up with a bizarre scheme to create a fake sci-fi movie in order to trick the Iranian government into allowing said citizens free unknowingly. Bottom line: Great leaders use ingenuinity, creativity, and think outside of the box to accomplish goals that many would deem impossible. Great leaders figure out a way to make it work.

What other movies have inspired you?

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6 Ways For Leaders to Recharge Their Batteries

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If you’re reading this website, you’re most likely a leader, a person who wants to be a leader, or lost. Let’s hope it’s the former rather than the latter 🙂  Leaders expend a lot of energy and effort… but that can also render a leader tired. Here are 6 ways that a leader can recharge their batteries.

1. Laugh  The best leaders laugh at situations and themselves, as President Obama aptly did here. Laughing lightens the mood and can de-escalate many situations. Learn to laugh.

2. Take a siesta  Every week I try to go for at least one long hike, bike ride, or other exhilirating outdoor adventure. I always go with close, drama-free friends or by myself. After every trip, I come back feeling detoxed and ready to conquer the world again. Rest is essential to a leader.

3. Boundaries  A siesta is one thing. There is also something to be said for punching the “off” button on the timeclock, however. When your shift is over at work, let it be over. This does not make you a bad employee or non-committed; instead, it means that you will maintain a healthy work-life balance and you will be that much more of a superstar when you are on the clock!

4. Find happy vices  I love foot massages. They’re not overly expensive if you go to the right places. However, that’s my stress-relieving vice. Maybe watching a series on Netflix or Hulu is your vice. Maybe eating some sweet Chicago-style pizza is your vice. Whatever. Know your healthy vice and reward yourself with it sometimes.

5. Sleep  Sleep is incredibly important and yet, as a busy Western culture, it is our first thing that we compromise. Get your 8 or 9 hours of sleep a night to recharge yourself. Do not compromise this! It is essential to continued success and wellness!

6. Proactively recharge  The best leaders never run out of battery power. Think of a car battery: It puts out a lot of power but it has an alternator to simultaneously recharge. Leaders need an alternator! Find the things that intrinsically motivate you – growth opportunities, little successes, rewards, whatever – and hold onto those things! Enjoy what you do and it’ll be that much harder to run out of batteries!

So…what say you? What is missing from this list? What else helps you recharge?

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4 Ways To Lead Change

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There are many ways to bring about change in an organization, team, company, or other group. Here are 4!

1. Highlight the bright spots! It is easy for a leader to feel like they have to reinvent the wheel when major change is the goal. However, usually there are some employees or people already performing the desired behavior, at least to some degree. Highlight this, focus on this, reward this, validate this! Focus on why this is happening in some people and what intrinsic motivation is perpetuating this behavior.

2. Shrink the change! If I asked you to eat a whole pie right now, it would seem intimidating. However, if we divided a pie up into slices, the pie would be easier to consume. Chip and Dan Heath bring this into a context in their book “Switch,” where small victories perpetuate more small victories… instead of just focusing on one huge victory.

3. Choose your tasks wisely! In Kerry Patterson’s book “Influencer,” she urges her readers to focus on changing a maximum of 3 or 4 things. Think of the image of a person spinning a bunch of plates at a time, something that you may have seen on Letterman or in a circus. As the person spins 3 or 4 plates, the task seems relatively easy. However, as more plates are spun simultaneously, the first plates start to wobble. As more and more plates are added, more plates wobble, some may fall, and the plate spinner sweats like crazy trying to make them all spin at once. When you set out to change, spin a few plates and spin them well!

4. Lead from the front! It is one thing to talk about change and another to demonstrate change. Today, my wife and I went to the beach and read for a couple of hours. While at the beach, we saw a bunch of dolphins jumping 30 feet off the shoreline. It is one thing to tell you about this or to even show you a picture, but it’d be a bit more impactful for me to bring you along to the beach so you could see it with your own eyes. Being alongside people to experience change – or to model the behavior to your cohorts around you – shows that you walk the talk that you bring. People follow leaders who lead from the front and experience change alongside their teams. Oh yeah – by the way – leading from the front is a lot more fun than watching from the sidelines!

This list can easily go on to include multiple other things. What do you think? What else would you add? What has worked for you?

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