Tag Archives: management

Better Eating = Better Brain = Better Management Ability

Eating differently made me a better interviewer and manager. Actually, before getting into that, let me rewind a little bit.

Growth and development is a major focus in my development as a manager. My focus isn’t just on getting that illustrious promotion that many dream of – but growing in my current role and my overall effectiveness as an employee of a company I love. A few months ago I hit a roadblock.

Mock interviews are a regular part of development for me as a manager. I’m not the most amazing interviewer ever but I’m also far from bad. I’d completed a few mocks with success (while also receiving constructive input on goals to work on) but one day I ran up against a new challenge – I mentally froze.

The interviewer I was working with brought a different style to the table and I felt my brain lock. I stumbled, I bumbled, and I was overall bad. That is absolutely not good enough for what I expect of myself. From that, I set out to improve through practice, practice, and practice. I came to the table again a couple months later and had a similar response my from my brain – the flight response was in overdrive. I continued to practice and saw some improvement but I needed something more.

My psychology background came in handy here. I looked at my brain and figured out that my amygdala was hijacking my interviews for one reason or another with the fight/flight instinct and a massive influx of cortisol (distress hormone). The exact reason for this still is unknown but it was clear I needed to fix it. Some supplements like Gingko Biloba, DHEA, and GABA seemed to help a little but there was still room for improvement. Enter the cyclic ketosis diet (ckd).


The human brain typically runs on glucose (sugar). If a person limits eating carbs (below 25-50g per day), the body switches its primary fuel source from carbohydrates/glycogen to ketones, which the liver produces. Here’s the cool thing: Ketones deliver quite a bit more energy to the brain than more typical glucose. In other words, the brain has more fuel to run better and more effectively – and to keep the amygdala in check.

Within a couple weeks of switching over to this diet, life felt easier. It was hard to stress me out. My stuttering and mental freezes pretty much went away. I felt much more in control of my attitude, speech patterns, emotions, and overall ability to lead others at work and to speak to my efficacy. My ability to interview increased dramatically.

Give this diet a shot. Or at least consider the biological/neurological health of your brain. I know brain health probably is something far from what you might read in “Business for Dummies” but if you think about it, the health of your brain is paramount to fulfilling potential. It’s probably not for everybody but the effect ckd has had on my cognition so far has been nothing short of awesome. Oh – and there’s evidence that it may also lessen the threat of cancer, epilepsy, and other diseases.

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Learning to love my management role

IMG_0757I was in college when I had my first management opportunity. Every Thursday night, our entire campus would crowd our 800 capacity chapel to sing/play music for an hour. The music was led by a band, which I became an active part of. First, I got into the band based on my bass-playing abilities (and because EVERYONE always needs a bassist 🙂 ). After a bit of time, however, I found myself playing guitar and singing a bit – assuming more responsibility. Before I knew it, I was one of the band leaders, planning, singing, playing, and coordinating a very large weekly gathering in one of the most coveted roles on campus. The role was loaded with responsibility, a need for attention to detail, and a need for being motivational to the people I was working with…but I could succeed largely upon my strong talent in this area.

I was in my first management job.

Everyone has ups in downs in their first management role. Heck, every management job has that – period. If someone tells you that’s not true, they’re not true. I had moments of forgetting song lyrics, missing a pitch, or breaking one (or a few 🙂 ) strings during a session…but I did well enough and I learned that, even though I loved playing music and being a part of that gathering, I moreso loved being in the driver’s seat, taking responsibility, and managing the people around me to do an amazing job at accomplishing a task… and collectively celebrating how awesome my team did in accomplishing our goal.

A year later, I fell into an awesome position, where I helped manage and run an online printing business. This company is a smallish one (15 employees give or take) and every person there has to wear multiple hats. However, as a manager at this job, I had to wear all hats at some point – well enough to teach any of those jobs. I was now in a position where I couldn’t rely entirely on my talents and abilities; I had to rely on the people around me. I learned to communicate with others, to be a leader but to be humble and to ask for help. I earned people’s respect, not by how great of a musician I was but by winning others over on a daily basis through respect, humility, and partnership.

My most recent leadership position began just over 2 years ago. I now work in a retail management capacity, functioning as a important cog on a management team of 4 people – running a high sales volume store with more than 50 employees. Like my other two previous roles, I’ve had my great moments and my “other” moments – but I’ve learned to be optimistic, consistent, balanced, dependable, bold, and decisive. I’m now being relied upon more than ever and I have no option to not succeed or to pass the buck to someone else. I have to be responsible because 50 people are relying on me to make the right decisions… and my success is now dependant upon what I do with those 50 people.

The bottom line is this: managing people is awesome but it is also not always for everyone. Each role has taught me something – the need to rely on abilities, the importance of being supported by and supporting a team, and how to view success – not just through myself – but through the collective. However, throughout all of this has been a thread of learning – and learning through a constant and borderline-obsessive desire to succeed in my role at almost any cost.

I’ve learned how necessary it is to have an inner, independent fire to succeed and an ability to adapt to and grow in any surroundings. I love the pressure, the responsibility, the challenge to succeed, and the people around me. And this is why I love being a manager.

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Stop Complaining and Go Make Something Of Yourself


A month ago, a friend of mine (we’ll call her “Fran”) mentioned how she “has not been given an opportunity to grow” in her current role. Fran has been working in a small company role in sales for awhile and has seen other people chosen over her for the next role up. Fran confessed to me that she has “waited and waited and waited” for a superior to pluck her from obscurity and to commend her on being a “steady contributor” to her company. Fran is still in her role and isn’t going to leave that company just yet – but she feels frustrated.

Fran made me feel frustrated.

The world does not promote people who are “good.” How many baseball teams win world championships with players that are “good?” Likewise, how many AAA (minor league) ball players complain they’ve never been given a chance? Trust me…if someone is hits 50 homeruns for a minor league team in one year, it will be awfully hard for a team in the big leagues to not love the idea of having them on their team.

Don’t wait for your “opportunity” or for someone to “give you a chance.” It just doesn’t happen that often.

Instead, you determine your destiny. You are in charge of where you go in life, be it with a job, sports, social situations, whatever. If you are a leader, LEAD! Take control of your situation and earn your reward. Make yourself an unstoppable and amazing force that a higher-up in a company cannot help but lavish further responsility upon. Don’t aspire to be “good enough” – aspire to be the most amazing whatever in the world.

Our biggest blockade in growing or being successful is apprehension towards harnessing our potential.

If you want something, go get it. Don’t you dare give up until you’ve made it…. and when you get whatever you’re working towards, remember what happened and how amazing you proved yourself to be during that process…and how much more amazing you will continue to be as you grow.


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Stop! Look! Listen!


I recently switched departments at work. This is a common thing in our company and facilitates personal and professional development for leaders, as well as simply changing up the leadership voice for each department.

Receiving a new assignment as a leader comes with a responsibility to NOT act. As leaders, we are wired to act, act, act, and create change around us constantly. We want to develop and evolve our tasks at hand. However, we need to also remember to stop, look, and listen to those around us. If I were to come into this new challenge and change stuff up immediately – even if it made perfect sense – I would absolutely isolate my employees and miss out on their valuable input and insights.

As leaders, we need to slow down sometimes.

We need to earn the respect our employees, followers, and peers.

By stopping, looking, and listening, we will achieve success.

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5 Questions With Mark Keating



Mark Keating

Mark Keating

Singer Songwriter (TMG)

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?

The sense of motivation came through a couple different ways. There was the opportunity aspect and the prospect of a challenge. The best example of this that I can think would be a situation with a band I used to play with. I started acting with them when I was 17 and the more opportunity I was given to do different songs the more I rose to the challenge and grew as a musician.

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?

The circumstance in which there was a lack of motivation came from a different boss, one that I also no longer work for. The obvious displays of favoritism and being passed on for opportunities for advancement played a key role in that. Self-motivation can only get you so far when a manager creates an environment without incentive. You don’t motivate the worker who is being treated less favorably because their efforts reap no fruit and it spoils the others into not striving for anything.

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

I look for honesty in a leader. If a manager or boss can’t look honestly at a situation and make the best decision based on facts instead of opinion or favorable feelings then the company or group will suffer. This includes being able to honestly discern the employees’ skills and capabilities.

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

I go into any sort of leadership position, however big or small, with the same attitude. Treat an employee or a student with a sense of respect. Actually expect something of them but give them the tools and opportunities to do succeed. I have done that with music lessons with my students by having shows in which they can demonstrate what they’ve learned and feel proud of it. I’ve done in more normal job settings by training people then letting them do it. I don’t constantly hover over them waiting for a mistake. If a mistake is made I offer help but allow them to try and remedy the situation themselves.

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

My piece of advice would have to be warning against the destruction of micro managing. No employee exceeds expectation while being micromanaged. No employee grows as a leader themselves if they are not delegated some responsibility. You end up with a team of well-trained yes men and that does not for a good company make.

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5 Questions with David Hunt




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, to change things up a little bit, we’re looking at one of my direct employees as our featured personality.

Name: David Hunt

Location: Santa Barbara, CA

Position/Job: Retail Sales Specialist at REI Santa Barbara

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?

Honestly all of my managers at REI have been amazing in their own way. Matt is terrific at recognizing people who are doing exceptional work and finding ways to increase productivity in less motivated workers. Lindsay puts everyone around her in a better mood by balancing her warm and sincere personality with a work-ethic that everyone respects. Wil is a master at bringing workers together for outside events, and making sure sales and membership goals are emphasized. I could go on and on about my experience with leadership at REI to talk about Dave, Piper, Mitch, Payton, etc (and I am still leaving a lot of people out), who are all stylistically different and yet are unquestioned leaders of their respective departments. They have all taught me to play to my strengths and embrace the leadership qualities I have while building on areas that I am less experienced in with their help.

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?

At RCC I was involved with a “leadership” group where the executive board was made up of six friends who decided to start a local chapter of an east coast organization. They had big ideas, and exceptional communication skills but never executed any of their goals that they spoke about in their first meeting which hosted over three-hundred students. The three hundred students quickly dwindled when they found out that they would not really be participating in any kind of reputable seminars, and the focus was more on generating profits to pay back the east coast operation. The experience made me realize that it doesn’t matter how excited you are, or how many people you can bring together for a meeting if you don’t deliver a product, or experience people that validates you as a leader. In other words, “Talk is cheap”

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

To me the quality that makes a truly good leader is someone who wants to listen to the concerns of those around them. It’s easy to tell someone what to do, and even to show them how it should be done in your own terms. To create an environment where not only do people feel productive, but also validated with their ideas and contributions is a skill that true leaders always need to master.

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

I am currently developing a peer recognition program at REI where employees will be able to support each other for the work that we do every day. We experience unexpected challenges on a daily basis and a lot of times recognition for the way we handle those experiences goes unnoticed. When I see someone do a particularly good job, handling a tough customer, or cleaning up after somebody who didn’t do their job correctly etc, I make sure that I praise the effort to ensure they know their actions are appreciated. This helps motivate workers who otherwise might feel that someone else can handle the problem and/or default to calling a manager.

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

I will refer back to question 3. Leaders have to be perceptive to what is going on around them and be able to respond with plans and goals that benefit their respective communities/organizations as a whole. If you are a leader people will look to you to help solve their problems and you can’t do that with incomplete information. An isolated leadership style will only allow you to work with the information you already have, but branching out and gathering knowledge from those around you will always help distinguish a true leader from someone in a position of power.

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Anchoring Change Management…Anchors…


Last Sunday we talked about change management. I’m going to go about this article hoping that y’all have read that one (as I ask in a 4th grade teacher’s voice “has everyone done their homework???”).

In order to consistently run with change management and to be, both, proactive and reactive, it is important for a person or business’s DNA to contain a fulcrum for change management. An organization or person must remain elastic and dynamic in a changing environment and flexibility must be built into the overall schematic.

For instance, let’s pretend we run a footwear company called Renikesics. We’ve got all sorts of shoes that have remained winners throughout the years (Air Scotties?) but it is imperative that we are also trying out new things to expand the future of the company. Therefore, our product line is composed of the foundational products we’ve carried for a long time and a small segment of R & D/experimental products that may bomb or may explode (in a good way) and build our future.

This model is also important in, well, all aspects of a business or organization. An Australian software company  called Atlassian has embraced this concept. Atlassian has “ShipIt” days four times a year, where every employee is given 24 hours to work on their own crazy idea. After creating and refining this idea in a frantic, energetic, and fast time-span, the employee can pitch their idea to the company’s leadership. Out of over 550 ideas pitched, 47 have been utilized in Atlassian’s products and have brought back over $2 million dollars in revenue.

So… for a relatively minute payroll allocation, Atlassian opens up their reins to change management, progress, and originality. If you think about this more critically, you will find that ShipIt days increase buy-in tremendously among the staff and promote an overall culture of progress. Atlassian is an awesome example of what more companies should be doing…

Every company needs a ShipIt day… or an R&D section of the company for having a little adventure. This needs to be a fundamental part of a company’s DNA in order to usher in the future sooner than later.

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