The value of your audience size

The value of your audience size

We as a society can get caught up in numbers. It’s easy to start attaching our self-worth to the number of likes that we get, the followers we have and comments we receive across social media platforms. I know people who have let the pursuit of numbers fully consume them and miss out on opportunities to connect with others in the real world because they are focused on their next post. 

Two of the most common questions I get from people interested in starting their own podcasts are: How many listeners do you have and how quick can you start getting ad revenue? My answer to both is, I don’t know. Neither is the reason why I started this endeavor. 

An audience of one

Just because I don’t keep track of our weekly podcasts numbers doesn’t mean I don’t have an idea of who our audience is. We announced on our birthday week that we now have Baton Carriers in 101 different countries. Even with the large group that we are blessed to have I still write to you as an individual and you’ll often hear John and I talk about the table for three on the show. John, myself and you. It’s all I’m concerned with. 

I regularly run across people that think they aren’t true leaders until they lead a certain number of people or obtain a certain title. They are looking for a sense of arrival when there is none in leadership. Even if you have zero followers you can lead your peers well by modeling great leadership behaviors. Focus on leading your one very well and you’ll be asked to lead more in the future. Let tomorrow worry about itself. 

Hold on to your why

As your audience grows, there is a strong temptation to change who you are to match the trends of the day. Dale Partridge discusses this cycle in this book People Over Profit. You start out in the Honest Era, being defined by your values. You become successful and start chasing more in the Efficient Era. You begin to compromise yourself in the Deceptive Era and then you try to right the ship in the Apologetic Era.  You can think about any large company are trace how they have gone through this cycle, sometimes multiple times. The same cycle also applies to our personal life in regard to growing an audience and influence. 

Hold on to your Why so you don’t fall into the cycle that Dale talks about. It’s your North Star to keep you focused on staying in the right direction. Check your compass by evaluating yourself, your team and your organization to ensure that your values still hold true and your values on the wall haven’t turned into just another decoration. I typically do this personally and professionally a couple of times a year. 

When you find yourself drifting from your Why, apologize and right yourself as quickly as possible even if it means letting go of some of your audience. 

Just start

After the numbers and equipment questions, future podcasts often reveal how they are overwhelmed with getting great music, a logo, format, and quality sound. That fear and sense of perfection causes many people to never even start their show and once they do, most shows don’t go past number 7. 

I mean, have you listened to PTB Episode 1?

It’s two guys who are huddled around one mic and not knowing a thing about podcasting. We didn’t even know how to record the show! I think it took me 5 hours to write the first intro music for the show. 

……But we did it. 

You can do it too. Just start. Start leading yourself well today. Start working on that project you’ve wanted to today. Start that podcast as a full-on amateur hour basement show.  Don’t worry about being perfect for an audience of 1000 that you don’t have (yet). Do it for yourself or friend or family member. I just want you to start and then figure it out from there. 

Your audience size truly does not matter. What matters is that you are willing to influence others one person at a time. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Create Disney Magic by burning the free fuel w/ Lee Cockerell

Create Disney Magic by burning the free fuel w/ Lee Cockerell

When you spend time with others it shows to them that they matter.
-Lee Cockerell

I’m so excited to have Lee Cockerell as our guest for our 200th episode of Passing the Baton. Lee is the retired Executive Vice President of Disney World and currently travels the world speaking to clients and companies about the power of Creating Disney Magic in their own organizations. Today he shares his thoughts on showing your team care and support.   -ZH

Appreciation, recognition, encouragement: A.R.E. Together they make up a cost-free, fully sustainable fuel, one that builds self-confidence and self-esteem, boosts individual and team performance, and keeps an organization running cleanly and smoothly. 

Spend meaningful time with employees

You’d be surprised how much it means to people when their leader chooses to be with them – not looking over their shoulders but helping them, getting to know them, asking what they think and feel, and simply enjoying their company. Employees know how valuable your time is, so if you spend some of it with them, they figure they must be pretty valuable too. 

When I was at Disney World I spent about half my time out and about, visiting Cast Members. I asked them to walk me through their operations and show me all the good things they were doing for Guests. The message I was sending was simple but profound: ” You matter, and I know it. We couldn’t do it without you.”

When you’re a leader, you’re well served by being visible. I always found that seeing employees with the hair down and meeting their children and spouses added a personal touch to my relationship with them that made working together easier and more pleasant. You give out tremendous amounts of ARE just by showing up. 

Give extra ARE to frontline employees

Pay particular attention to your frontline employees. They often get overlooked when leaders dole out recognition and the are most likely to get heat from the customer. Employees that don’t feel cared for are not committed one. They may give only 50% effort instead of 100%, or worse, they get revenge by gossiping, quitting abruptly, suing the company, or even stealing. 

Make sure to treat frontline employees as respectfully as you treat higher positions, if not more so, even when you have to disciple or fire them. You can be tough, but your frontline employees should always know that you’re on their side and that you appreciate what they bring to your organization. 

Make ARE a natural part of your routine

Great leaders are environmentalists. If you want to attract and keep the best employees, you have to create a wonderful environment for them, and I assure you, ARE is as important to a healthy workplace as clean air and water are to a healthy planet.  

To build the routine in your habits, schedule it. Make it a habit today and don’t hold it off until tomorrow. If you aren’t comfortable expressing your emotions face-to-face yet use notes, pins, certificates, publications and other methods that don’t involve speaking to the person directly. The most important thing no matter how you give it is to give it regularly. People who say that it’s not a good time, are using that as an excuse not to get started. 

I used to write down in my Day-Timer the names of deserving people I wanted to acknowledge, not just employees who did something exceptional, but those that needed a little extra support too. Remember, for some, a workplace with a heart can be a place of refuge. 

Other ways to show ARE to others

  • Recognize them by name.
  • Catch them doing something right.
  • Make it public.
  • Include their families. 
  • Recognize and encourage great ideas. 
  • Watch our company language. 

Remember that ARE is contagious. Each person who receives ARE from you will have more of it to give to his or her co-workers, colleagues, and customers. It’s not only free fuel but the main ingredient for creating a culture of magic. 

Create Disney Magic where you are. 

You can listen to Lee weekly at Creating Disney Magic Podcast. You can also learn more about his books and speaking engagement opportunities at  Today’s topic drew from Creating Magic, a book highly recommended by Zack and Passing the Baton Leadership Resources. 

Commonality across generations

Commonality across generations

We’ve spent time identifying ageism and generational challenges (EP 197) as well as ways to gain an understanding when leading individual generations. (EP 198). Even with all the differences, there are some traits that will always be universal. 

Common things we all share

Everyone desires respect among their peers and co-workers. This is the main reason why I don’t appreciate the phrase “OK Boomer”. I understand that it’s rooted in the frustration that a younger generation feels like they are ignored and being held to outdated ideology.  Answering disrespect with disrespect only proves the other person’s point in their own mind and does nothing to build a meaningful relationship. 

To be heard
Similarly, everyone has a desire to be heard. Take time to listen to others without judgment no matter the age difference. Their point and perspective is just as valid as yours. 

On some level we all desire connection with others.  People, for the most part, enjoy collaborating, mentoring and helping those that they are close to. We enjoy sharing ideas and thoughts when we feel safe and supported to do so. 

Being recognized
Positive feedback, praise, and recognition go along way no matter your age. It strongly affirms and builds confidence in your leaders while showing respect and appreciation for older leaders. You can never give out too much praise. The person who has been around 30 years will love it just as much as the person who has been around 30 days. 

Keep the light on
Every generation hates being left in the dark. Be inclusive of all groups and communicate clearly with a varied approach to match your audience.  When you don’t deliver the narrative and mission people will begin to write their own. 

The benefits

Magical things begin to happen in your organization when different generations work well together. Here are just a few of those benefits:

Innovation increases
Forbes led a study that showed diversity being key to driving innovation in your team. It’s the increase in perspective and experience that is the fuel for talent and ideas here. Each generation can provide insight and knowledge to an innovative thought regardless of stereotypes.

Better serves your customer/client
The increased perspective also gives your team a great advantage of fully understanding your audience. This is one of the reasons why I always coach teams to match the customer that they deal with on a daily basis. 

Future-proofing your workforce

Last year, we had Diana Wu David speak on our show (Ep 182) on future-proofing your success as an individual.  Generations that work well across lines in a company future-proof the success of the organization. Your loss of knowledge drops significantly when older leaders leave and your younger leaders step into those roles.  

We talk about the power of mentorship often, but mentoring in this circumstance can be a two-way street. The older ones can mentor younger leaders on people issues, industry knowledge, and best practices. The younger leader can return value by offering a perspective in changing demographics and technology changes. 

Well rounded skillset

Your organizational and team ability increases as generations work together for a common goal. An example would be utilizing the communication preferences from last week’s lesson in a sales campaign. Your older team members could utilize phone outreach while your mid-tier leveraged email and your younger leaders reached out by apps, text and social media. 

There is beauty when different generations are working together and adding value to one another. Work hard to identify any issues that you may have, understand their perspective and lean into their uniqueness to lead them well. You and those around you will a more fulfilling work experience. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

We will be launching a sister podcast to Passing the Baton called Leaders of Atlanta on Jan 21st! This show will highlight CEOs and senior leaders in different sectors of the city. You’ll get an inside view of their leadership journey and the story of the company or cause that they are tied to. You’ll also walk away with practical tips to grow your own leadership and life walk.
How to connect with different generations

How to connect with different generations

Misconceptions, stereotypes and a lack of respect for other generations have further fueled the need for understanding each other. If we are going to be productive, we must know how to connect with each other.

This was a lesson that I had to learn once I started leading large groups of people. I often found younger leaders would pick up and follow me and older leaders would stubbornly stand their ground no matter how obvious it was that they needed to change. Once I learned what was important to each group, I was much more successful in engaging all of my leaders. 

The chart above helps you with an empathetic view of the other generations you work with on a regular basis. Understanding general communication preferences and values can go along way in eliminating frustration and friction across generational lines. 

Baby Boomers

I am a very driven leader that focuses on problem-solving and implementing change regardless of how things have always been done. My disconnect when leading seasoned baby-boomers for the first time was that I didn’t realize how much value they put on tenure and legacy. Once I learned my lesson, I changed my approach. I acknowledged their tenure, assigned them projects to showcase those skills in front of others, and framed all the changes through the lens of landing a great legacy at the company. Those changes made a world of difference. 

Show them respect, include them in major change initiatives and frame them in a way that matters to them. 

Gen X

Gen X is the first generation to be chasers of work-life balance. I have found them to be very hard working but often missed out on promotions and potential because they were never developed in the right way. They were typically given very general feedback of, “Do better.” “Keep trying.” or nothing at all. I found that this group thrives by giving them practical steps to achieve their success. Don’t just tell them to do better. Tell them how to do better in a tangible way. Providing them with time management training and system efficiencies is very well appreciated. It shows you care for them outside of the workplace. 


Certainly, a lot of material has been written about this group. This group is not nearly as loyal to a brand or company as the previous two generations. To engage with this group it’s essential that they feel a sense of purpose and fulfillment in their role and that the company is serving a larger purpose. 

This group typically enjoys and appreciates being a part of a collaborative team and enjoy flexibility in how and where they work. Trust is key here in allowing non-traditional work practices into the culture if possible. I have yet to interact with an organization that went backwards after allowing flexible schedules when it made sense. Millennials also appreciate the freedom to try new things. 

Gen Z

This group is just now making a significant impact in the workforce and will continue to grow in influence in the coming years. Growing up in a fully digital age has left many of these workers lacking soft skills essential for long term leader success. When I spent times with senior leaders for the Leaders of Atlanta podcast many cited this need as they see the newest generation entering the workforce.  

Provide soft skills training and other opportunities to grow as a person as well. Mentoring groups in and outside the company are a great way to connect them to the older generation. They typically put a very high value on independence and social responsibility, so give them freedom with a safety net and provide them opportunities to give back to the community and the world so they are fulfilled. 

Use some of these practical tips and knowledge to engage individually with people across generations.  Your workforce will be more engaged and unified as you push towards your business goals. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

We will be launching a sister podcast to Passing the Baton called Leaders of Atlanta on Jan 21st! This show will highlight CEOs and senior leaders in different sectors of the city. You’ll get an inside view of their leadership journey and the story of the company or cause that they are tied to. You’ll also walk away with practical tips to grow your own leadership and life walk.
How to identify ageism

How to identify ageism

Our workplace environments are dealing with generational issues more than it ever has before.  There are currently four generations simultaneously in the workforce, (Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millenials, Gen Z).  There also has not been as a profound difference between generations as there is now. This is in large part due to the timing of the third and fourth industrial revolution.  Baby Boomers grew up without using computers for the most part, to Gen Z, who only know life in a smartphone world. 

The lack of understanding and empathy across generations has let the culture killing issue of ageism into many work environments. Typically ageism is associated with older generations, but it actually impacts every generation across our workforce. 

Understanding the signs

You first need to determine if you potentially have this issue in the first place. Some signs of ageism may look like this:

  • Employees cast judgment on one another based solely on age. 
  • Employees dismiss the ideas offered by younger and older co-workers. 
  • Generations compete for recognition, resources, and influence. (Us vs. Them)
  • Multi-generational teams uniquely struggle to accomplish their task or mission. 
  • Sub-conscious bias to hire from one particular generation. 
  • Older workers want to get out or retire early. 
  • Younger workers are disengaged, uninterested and have higher turnover rates. 
  • Employees assume people younger and older are incapable of doing the job as well as them. 

Looking through the list, some of these signs are obvious and some are very subtle. It’s easy to pick on gossip and negative comments but much harder to realize there may be biased promotion procedures.  Take a neutral look and include different generations as you gather your information. 

Reports sometimes say a sign of ageism is when a manager communicates that they need special training to lead different generations. This is not true and is not ageism.  What you are looking at is a leader that has self-awareness in their leadership ability and understanding of generational gaps. It’s beneficial for all employees to understand how to work across different generations. 

Realize that there are deniers out there 

If you do a search for “generational difference in the workplace myth” you’ll pull up a ton of articles from supposed experts and research scientists out there that deny generational differences exist. Don’t fall prey to this thinking. Much like the people that put videos denying work-life balance exists and then go on to explain a variation of the exact thing they are denying; many of the generational articles actually end up acknowledging ageism in a varied way. 

Ways to collaborate across generations

Whether you find yourself and organization needing a turnaround or simply a little improvement, these areas a great place to start.  

1. Keep expectations high.
One of the classic stereotypes is that no generation can complete a task or project as well as the one that you are a part of. As a result, we lower our expectations in dealing with other generations. Keep your expectations high. You get what you expect and inspect. One of the most common self-fulfilling prophecies out there reads, “Low expectations.”

2. Find Commonality. We will cover items that are common across all generations in Ep 199: Commonality across generations. Remember that there is often shared commonality on a personal level just below the surface. You just need to be intentional in finding out what that is. Were you both in scouts or the military? Do you share the same hobbies? Movie or music taste? Are you both foodies? Into sports? There are many avenues to build a bond with someone that has nothing to do with your generation.  Use this to build a relational bond that will help your working relationship. 

3. Connect the talent. Yes, different generations have different communication preferences, personal work values, and challenges, but talent is talent. Everyone is talented in some regard. Understand what each person’s unique talent is and give them a chance to utilize it and show it off to others. It makes the person feel valued and appreciated and it helps to break misconceptions with other generations. 

Next week we will dive into strategies on connecting with different generations and then move on to what we all share as well as the benefits when all generations work well together. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

We will be launching a sister podcast to Passing the Baton called Leaders of Atlanta on Jan 21st! This show will highlight CEOs and senior leaders in different sectors of the city. You’ll get an inside view of their leadership journey and the story of the company or cause that they are tied to. You’ll also walk away with practical tips to grow your own leadership and life walk.
Profiles in Leadership: Jesus

Profiles in Leadership: Jesus

So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.

There is certainly no one in the history of the world that has been talked about and written about more than Jesus. Three of the worlds largest religions acknowledge him in some way. (Christianity, Judaism, Islam)
The records of Jesus’s time is filled with leadership. While not an exhaustive list by any means, we’ll cover a few of the highlights on what Jesus can teach us about leadership. 

He was a servant

Think about if you were the president of the country and there was not a legislative body. Whatever you said or wanted would happen. What would you do with that amount of power? How would you carry yourself? That alone is hard to imagine. Now multiply that to having the power the rule the world and everything in it. 

Jesus had that power but never showed it for personal gain. He never ruled in a political way, never sat on a worldly throne, and often slept outside. He wasn’t caught up in his own power; he was there to serve others. You and I obviously don’t have the same power that Jesus carried, so why should we act as if we do? 

Serve others no matter your role or position. If you ever get to the point where you believe others are there to serve you, then you have lost your way as a leader. 

He was a storyteller

Jesus is well known for his storytelling ability. He used this communication tool often when teaching his disciples and other followers about theological and life lessons. Jesus showed us the power of storytelling and why it is a tool that you should use when communicating with others. 

  • The stories made complex theology mentally accessible to everyone. You didn’t have to spend your life in the temple to understand the concepts. 
  • They were memorable. Think about the speeches and lectures that you hear. The parts that you walk away remembering are likely the stories that were told. 
  • They all followed the same basic outline: A beginning, a challenge or dilemma, and a resolution. They were also typically short and to the point. Your stories don’t have to be long narratives to be effective. 
  • His stories caused people to think. The best stories are the ones where people can project themselves or their circumstances and learn a lesson about themselves. 

He handled interruptions well. 

When reading about Jesus, it’s easy to overlook one thing. He was constantly interrupted. He was interrupted in his sleep, prayers, conversations, and in his travels. In each circumstance, he welcomed it with grace and humility. 

We generally don’t like interruptions. I really dislike interruptions when I’m in a creative mood because an interruption can cause my creativity to come to a screeching halt. Jesus’s example shows us that we likely have an opportunity for growth in how we handle the daily interruptions that we have in work and life. Treat people with respect even when they interrupt you and keep your composure as things happen throughout your day that are unexpected. 

A few interesting facts

  • Our system for counting years was developed in the Medieval Times based on their guess when Jesus was born. They got close but they likely weren’t right. Most scholars put Jesus’s birth between 6-4 B.C. while others put it as late as 7 A.D. That means you most likely are living 4-6 years from now if the calendar was fixed!
  • Speaking of birth, it’s very unlikely that Christmas is Jesus’s actual birthday. The date is never mentioned in the Bible and from historical context, it was likely sometime between summer and fall. 
  • Jesus fulfilled many prophecies that were written in the Old Testament, with over 300 accounts about acts in the New Testament. To understand just how rare that is; the odds are 1 in a trillion raised to the 13th power. 

Lead with a humble heart. Be a servant to others, tell great stories and embrace the interruptions. Lead like Jesus. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

If you are interested in getting to know more about Jesus, I would suggest the book The Case for Christ. It’s a book written by Lee Strobel about his journey as an award-winning journalist to disprove the existence of Jesus. 

Profiles in Leadership: Thurgood Marshall

Profiles in Leadership: Thurgood Marshall

The measure of a country’s greatness is its ability to retain compassion in times of crisis.
-Thurgood Marshall

Thurgood Marshall was the country’s first African American Supreme Court judge. Before landing the historic position, he was known as a leader for equal rights, having argued, and won, hundreds of cases to bring the nation closer to equality. A man that led himself well and stood for a cause much larger than his own, Thurgood Marshall gave us several great examples of leadership. 

Follow your calling instead of what others call you

Thurgood Marshall knew that he wanted to be a lawyer and worked hard through his college career to position himself for law school. After graduating with honors, he was rejected from the Maryland Law School based on his race. The encounter with discrimination stuck with him for the rest of his life. He went on to become a lawyer though another school, worked at the NAACP and began arguing civil rights cases.  Where Dr. Martin Luther King brought people together in the streets, Marshall began righting social injustice laws in the courts. 

When you find your calling, let no one keep you from it. If you run into adversity, find a way around it, through it, under it. Do whatever needs to be done to follow your calling. Had Marshall given up, the civil rights movement may not have been as strong and the progress set back a number of years. 

Use your gifts to help others

Marshall’s drive was to end as much inequality as he could. He won one of the most famous cases of the 20th century; Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. He challenged the notion of separate but equal, and then won a unanimous decision that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” While the change was slow, this was the foundation that ended segregation in schools. 

Use your gifts, just as Marshall did, to help others. It may not be as dramatic, but there are certainly ways that you can utilize your skills and talents to increase the value of others. 

Work toward a vision even if you know you can’t reach it

At Marshall’s retirement press conference, several reports asked him about his legacy. One asked about MLK’s “Free at last” statement to which Marshall replied that he didn’t feel free. Marshall also said that wanted to be remembered as a man that did what he could with what he had. He knew that he wouldn’t see the vision that he and Dr. King had during their lifetimes, but that didn’t stop him from pushing towards the goal. 

Hopefully, you are working towards a vision and purpose for your life and/or work that is so big that you may not make it. That’s what makes it exciting! Don’t be discouraged if at the end of the day you don’t get to realize the vision. Think about the progress that you made from your efforts.

I had a culture vision for an organization that had been around over 100 years. Although I never got to realize it’s full potential, I’m very proud of the progress that was made. Sometimes you are a steward of a vision for a while and then someone else will come along and carry it further. 

A few interesting facts

  • Marshall had a great track record as a lawyer and judge. None of his 100 decisions as a circuit judge were overturned in the Supreme Court. He also won 29 of the 32 cases that he argued in the Supreme Court. 
  • He said that one of his greatest accomplishments in high school was that he could recite the whole constitution from memory. He initially received the assignment from a teacher for misbehaving in class. 
  • The Thurgood Marshall Academy was established in 2001 to honor Marshall’s legacy and drive for equal opportunities. The school is located in D.C.’s historic Anacostia neighborhood in Ward 8. There they prep students for successful college careers and teach the importance of being engaged in their community. 

Use your skills to help others, follow your calling and shoot for a goal so big that you may not hit it in your lifetime. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Profiles in Leadership: Margaret Thatcher

Profiles in Leadership: Margaret Thatcher

Any woman who understands the problems of running a home will be nearer to understanding the problems of running a country.
-Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher became the prime minister of Britain in 1979.  It was a time where you would have to wait in long lines to get gasoline, interest rates were very high and the cold war had started. She was part of a generation that lived through the Great Depression, World War II, and the rise of communism.

In a time when the world needed strong leaders, Margaret Thatcher showed herself worthy.  Here are some things that we can take away from her leadership. 

Follow your convictions

The prime minister was, and still is, a polarizing leader. British citizens both loved and hated her. She once cut a free milk service to children as part of a large scale effort to get Britan out of debt. She was dubbed the “Milk Snatcher” as a result. She once described herself as following conviction, not consensus. Without a doubt, Thatcher led with conviction.  She carried her country through many trials successfully because of the conviction inside of her.

It’s all too common to see people compromise their convictions for the sake of popularity. Don’t be a person that backs down from your convictions for the sake of acceptance. Make the decisions that need to be made…even the difficult ones. 

A shining example of professionalism

Thatcher once said, “Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” This quote is so refreshing in today’s landscape of showmanship and extravagance. She believed in carrying herself as a professional while in public and always wore pearls with her outfits. She felt they were elegant and not flashy like diamonds. She didn’t boast about her status or power, she simply did the job that she set out to do. 

Thatcher’s example reminds us that if we find ourselves saying things like, “I’m the leader,” “Trust me,” and “I know what I’m doing,” then on some level you know that others don’t see you the way that you do. Dress the part, lead like the part, and act like the leader that you aspire to be. 

Be a fixer

Britain was known as “the sick man” of Europe” for its poor economic state when Thatcher became the prime minister. Not only was she a leader with conviction; she was also a fixer with a disposition towards closure. She changed the rules of the London stock market which moved the city to the forefront in world finance. Thatcher simply got things done. 

As a leader, you’ve got to get things done. You’ve got to be action oriented or you aren’t going to be a very effective leader. Don’t leave problems for the next leader or even the next day. Rally your team, define your goals and move there as quickly as possible. There will be plenty of other challenges that will come and require your attention later.

A few interesting facts

  • Before politics, Thatcher was a food scientist and was part of the team that created soft serve ice cream.  Just like the invention of the hamburger, there are several people who claim themselves to be the true inventor.
  • She was the first woman prime minister ever elected in Britain. She said earlier in her life that there would not be a woman prime minister in her lifetime because of prejudice.
  • After retiring in 1992, she was given the honor and title of Baroness Thatcher. This entitled her to sit in the House of the Lords. 

I love Margaret Thatcher’s quote at the opening. It goes so well with our philosophy that leadership is how you carry yourself, develop others and make the right choice. You don’t have to be a behavior expert to lead people. The lessons you learn in the house are the same ones that you can use to run a nation. Follow Margaret Thatcher’s example and make the right choices in a professional way. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Profiles in Leadership: Franklin D. Roosevelt

Profiles in Leadership: Franklin D. Roosevelt

The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
-Franklin D Roosevelt

There are few leaders that faced the number of tough decisions and crossroads in leadership as Franklin D. Roosevelt. He lead the US through the Great Depression and most of the 2nd World War. Many historians consider him one of the greatest, If not the greatest, president of all time.  FDR exhibited many leadership qualities that we can model in our own lives. 

Take advantage of technology to strengthen your communication

FDR was a great communicator and utilized a new technology, radio, to get his message out to the nation’s citizens.  They were informal in nature and were called fireside chats. The messages certainly resonated with people. There was 1 mailperson assigned to the White House prior to the shows. 70 people had to be hired because 500,000 letters of appreciation and questions showed up after the first airing. 

Are you leaning into technology to effectively communicate with others? It seems like every month there is a new tool to use! With technology changing at the pace it is, it’s not smart to get too comfortable and to push all of your communication down one avenue. Remain nimble, stay on top of the newest trends and communicate in a way that your friends, family, and co-workers want. 

A shining example of a continual learner

FDR was a very curious leader who was constantly trying to learn new things and educate himself on issues going on around the world. He sought insight from people both inside and outside of his country.  FDR’s drive for knowledge and growth meant that he could speak on many subjects with authority when he gave his speeches and fireside chats. 

This is a great reminder for us today to continue to grow our own experiences and education. Instead of instantly condemning a side of a debate, take some time to understand the other perspective. Go against today’s society of, “I’m an expert because I say I’m an expert.” and study up on a subject matter before you speak out on it. 

Confident in leadership

The president was already known as a confident leader and his desire for knowledge only made his confidence stronger. Many of his confidants were against the idea of supporting the British during the early part of the war. FDR was well versed on the agenda of the Axis nations, the consequences of his actions and inactions and held to his moral compass. Knowing that siding with the Allied forces was the right thing to do, he announced the United States support. Many consider this one of the defining moments of the war that began to take the momentum away from the opposing side. 

Be confident in yourself and your leadership. Get the facts, hold to your moral standards and make a decision. Try to avoid the wasted energy of second-guessing yourself. If you make a mistake, admit and make the changes that are needed. Not every decision made by the Allied forces in the war was the right one. They learned from their mistakes, adjusted and would go on to win World War II. 

A few interesting facts

  • FRD is the only president in the US to serve 4 terms. The constitution was later amended to limit presidents to 2 terms. 
  • He dealt with a large amount of personal adversity while leading. He contracted polio and was paralyzed from the waist down. 
  • FDR wrote the New Deal. He established the social security system, the FDIC to protect your funds in the bank and the SEC. (Security and Exchange Commission)

Follow the president’s example and be confident, curious, and use all the tools available to you. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Have more fun!

Have more fun!

Work hard, have fun, and make history.
-Jeff Bezos

Have fun! It’s sometimes easier said than done. You can’t force someone to have fun. I remember when my dad would get on to me about something and we would then go out in public. He would stop and tell me to smile in a very unfriendly way. I wasn’t exactly inspired to put on a smiling face. 

Even though you can’t force fun, you can make it more of a habit in your life. Here are some tips to draw out some fun and joy in your life. 

Don’t worry about what others think

We tend to carry a heavy value on what other people think of us when we are in school. You don’t truly escape that want and need to be liked by others as you grow into an adult. A few do, but most are somewhere on the scale of desiring acceptance. 

The desire to be accepted, or fear of being rejected depending on your perspective, holds many people back from having fun. Do your best to let go of that. I don’t mean showing up at work out of the blue in your PJs and a unicorn mask. Take baby steps. become more comfortable with yourself and give yourself the freedom to have fun. 

It’s common for me to come downstairs, have a dance off or training battle with my son, a self-deprecating conversation with my daughter and fun talk with my wife. I believe that it’s important for your kids, spouse, significant other and friends to see you having fun. Your joy gives them joy. 

Make fun out of things you normally do

Look for ways to make some of the things that you do more fun. There are several out of the box options available if you know where to look. When I first started to get into running, I found an app called zombies, run! It has story-based missions where you go on supply runs and build up your base during the apocalypse. I certainly helped me get out and have fun on my runs. It played my music, I got to be a part of a serialized drama and I got my exercise in as well.  If you need help to get some ideas, do a search for “fun things to do ______” The blank is your normal routine. Ex. while at work, on my commute, at home, with the kids, etc. 

Ask people entertaining questions

This has been one that my wife and I have enjoyed this year. We meet weekly with a small group that we do life together with. It’s equal parts accountability, growth, socializing and learning. We started kicking off our get-togethers with fun and entertaining questions. One was, “What is your favorite cereal?” That turned into a half hour long discussion of passion for cereal, remembering great ones that are now gone, funny stories involving cereal and an idea to have a cereal social. Even questions and conversation starters that seem mundane can spark all kinds of fun discussion. If you need help here, do a search for fun topic starters or icebreakers. 

Be yourself and have fun! Try to let go of what other people think of you and enjoy some fun moments throughout the week. Your mind and body will thank you. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

How an accountability partner can help you on your journey

How an accountability partner can help you on your journey

An accountability partner is able to perceive what you can’t see when blind spots and weaknesses block your vision.
 -Charles Stanley 

I have really appreciated the accountability partners that I have had over the years. They were there when I had no one else to talk to, there to listen when I had something really embarrassing to talk through, and they were there to help me formulate my goals. An accountability partnership can be a great two-way road of added value to each party. 

There are all types of accountability partners

An accountability partner can fit into just about any scenario of your life. Here are just a few of the types that you will find out there. 

  • Exercise/health
  • Spiritual
  • Academic
  • Life coach
  • Men/women
  • Business
  • Support groups

They help keep your goals on track

A good partner can certainly help you stay on track with your goals. If they are honest, they will call out areas where you have slacked off or veered away from your intended target. Think of your accountability partner like the bumpers that go up for kids (and some adults!) at the bowling alley. They ensure that no matter what, you hit your target. 

They help take your excuses away

An accountability partner certainly helps keep the excuses away. You might not want to go to the gym at 5 AM, but if you know that Scott is going to be there and waiting for you, you’re more likely to get out of bed. No matter the situation, you are more likely to hit your commitments when you have to meet with someone and/or show your progress. Excuses can dominate our goals when we try to do it alone. 

They give you a different perspective

Although your partner is walking alongside you, they are not in your shoes and they have a unique perspective based on their own life journey. This gives you a different perspective on your hurdles, struggles, and challenges. Maybe you aren’t looking at the problem right. You could totally off base and not even know it.

People have blinders. You have blinders. It’s a common occurrence when I’m pointing opportunities out at a  business and the leader says, “I’ve never seen that,” or “I can’t believe I haven’t noticed that.” Although it makes me look like an eagle-eyed coach, that’s not always the case. The leader has put up blinders because they are there every day. When I go into a new location, I don’t carry those blinders. It’s the same in your life. Your partner doesn’t have the same blinders and can point out the obvious to you. 

They give you someone to celebrate with

What better person to celebrate your personal win with than the person who has been involved in your journey? There is true joy in sharing your victory with someone who truly understands just how challenging it has been and how hard you worked to get to your goal. 

An accountability partner can help you in just about any situation. Connect with the right one and reach your goals in a more efficient and enjoyable way.  

Make a better tomorrow. 

Successfully negotiate the raise

Successfully negotiate the raise

So have been working your tail off and you think that you deserve a raise? Congrats on all your hard work. Now you get the joy of navigating the murky waters of asking for that raise. The good news for everyone is that women are getting closer to men when it comes to successfully securing the raise and the ask rate for the younger generation is nearly equal regardless of gender. 

Now that you got the courage to ask, let’s make sure that you are ready to ask for raise in a successful way.

Build your case and have good info

It’s likely not going to be good enough to simply say., “I’ve been here _(amount of time)_ and deserve a raise.” You need to build a case so that it is clear that you are creating more value than you had been previously.  Think about:

  • The responsibilities that you have that you didn’t have since your last negotiated raise or your hiring. Have you taken on additional roles? Been a team leader on things you weren’t before? Contributing more than others?
  • What has been your impact on the numbers? Did you grow the business or add some new accounts? Share the financials and other metrics that are important to your boss. 
  • What is your impact on others? Have you been mentoring others? Have you helped lower turnover or increased retention?

Have the number

Don’t build your case only to lose your momentum because you don’t know what to ask for. It can be a percentage or an actual number, but you need to have it ready to discuss. If you aren’t sure where to start to do some research. Find out what the national average is for your type of role. Take into consideration the industry, company size, and geographical location. Sites like Glassdoor to a good job of estimations, but don’t take their numbers as fact. I’ve seen them be both really low and really high depending on the role. 

Leave your personal life at the door

I am an advocate that you should be involved and take an interest in co-workers’ lives as much as professionally possible. This, however, will be a time to say that it needs to stay at the door.  You hurt your case when you include a need for a raise because of personal issues or want. You want to base the ask solely on what you have done for your employer instead of inadvertently guilt-tripping them into it.

Grace, patience, persistence

Even though you feel like you are deserving of a raise you may need to wait to build a stronger case for yourself. Have the patience to know when the right time is to ask your employer. 

Be graceful when asking for a raise. You may have worked yourself up emotionally to get to the point where you ask for the raise, but you need to lean into your emotional intelligence to navigate this time successfully. Speak confidently, and clearly with a humble spirit. 

You may nail all of this and still get a no. Take it with grace and realize there may be circumstances outside of their control (Budgets already set, freezes, etc). Ask when you can connect again on the subject and mark it on your calendar. If the issue is more that you need to do more, ask for feedback or steps to take and then set a goal timewise to make those changes. 

Be ready, strong in your emotional intelligence and know what you want. Go in with grace and have the patience and persistence to keep at it if needed. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Gaining experience and moving up (Part 2)

Gaining experience and moving up (Part 2)

Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise. View life as a continuing learning experience. 
-Denis Waitley

A great leader is a continual learner. They never arrive at their final destination and are constantly looking for ways to grow their knowledge and experience. One of the most unfortunate interactions I have as a leader is with people who have been around for a while and think that there is nothing else that they can learn.  Falling into the arrival trap can easily stall out your growth and career.

There are a number of ways to continue to gain the valuable experience needed to grow your career and salary. You only arrive and stop growing if you allow yourself to. 

Gain experience right where you are

We looked at ways last week to grow your experience outside of your organization and regular routines. You can also grow your value experience right where you are as well. 

  • Deepen your current skills: What are the main skills needed for the role that you are in? Are there ways that you can grow those a little deeper? Are there certificates out there that you can get, Linkedin learning sessions that you can take, or perhaps a local or regional conference or workshop that you can attend? Look for opportunities to present at meetings or gatherings that will force you to know your area more and to hone your skills. 
  • Add responsibility: Adding responsibility is a great way to gain experience. Ask for opportunities to fill in for your boss when they are out or to shadow them in their activities when possible to learn their responsibilities. Once you understand those, ask to take on some of those responsibilities that make sense. An increase in responsibility could also look something like helping newer people in their roles, representing the team at meetings, and taking a role in more decision-making opportunities among others. 
  • Special projects: Special projects offer you a chance to gain experience without a long term commitment or permanent change. They also give you exposure to people that you sometimes would not interact with. You are growing your experience, networking, and social skills. Wins all around!

Moving up in your career

  • Own it. Many people live under the misconception that their manager is in charge of their career and development. While they can be a good advocate for you, it is your responsibility for how your career turns out. Set your goals and aspirations and then let your leader know. It will help them in future planning and it should help them in looking out for opportunities for you to grow in experience. 
  • Be intentional in all your interactions. Once you take hold of your career path, be intentional in your interactions and actions what you do. Ask for opportunities to prove yourself. Sit at the table instead of along the wall in a big meeting.  How you present yourself can give you a boost or take you out of the conversation. Do you come across as if you are engaged, willing to contribute and have insight that others should listen to?
  • There is no ladder. The traditional sense of a ladder of responsibility is shifting in the workplace. Executives often move around to other areas in the same type of role to gain a depth of experience in a new area. Be prepared for there not to be a straight line to your dream job. Think of the value of the experience an opportunity may have to help you towards your ultimate goal instead of just a job title and position. 

Continue to push yourself in your knowledge. You’ll find a more rewarding feeling in the job that you are doing. You’ll also be preparing yourself for that next step to move up and you’ll stand out from the crowd. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Gaining experience and moving up (Part 1)

Gaining experience and moving up (Part 1)

The only source of knowledge is experience. 
-Albert Einstein

Knowledge does come from experience and experience is the key to grow your value and worth in your career. If you want to continue to grow your income and land that dream job that you want, you’ll need to continue to hone your skills and build relevant experience. 

Develop fundamental skills

It doesn’t matter what type of job that you have or what industry you land in, there is a set of fundamental skills that successful people need to continue to grow. Companies look to these skills at “get in the door” qualities for higher level positions. 

  • Accountable:  You take responsibility for your success and failures. You don’t make excuses when you fall short or place blame elsewhere. 
  • Beats expectation: You over deliver on your promises and expectations. Bonus points if you are doing this with yourself and through your team. 
  • Prioritization: You simply get things done. You don’t waste lots of time focusing on the wrong things. 
  • Customer focused: No matter what you call the group/person you serve, you do it very well and put them up as the priority.  (PTB episode 10)

Think about any job out there and put these five traits up to it. You are always going to be a top performer if you are doing these things well.  It may be helpful to list these items out and evaluate yourself on how you stand in each area. Once you identify a few areas to work on, look to use your school or work time to grow in that area. Do you need to take up new responsibilities? Do you need to work on a better end product on what you turn in? Do you need to handle yourself better when a problem comes up?

Stand out by developing specialized skills

A specialized skill can help you stand out in your organization or as you think about your next career move. Work on something that adds value to your current position and can help you get to the next thing that you want. A few great places to look and start include:

  • Professional organizations in a field that interest you or one that is around your current job responsibilities.
  • Certification in your field that no one/few people in your organization have. The certification institute will often help you with tools and materials to present to your employer for them to see the value and perhaps help in the costs. 
  • Identify key growth areas for your company. Are there some skills that you can learn to help the organization in that area? It may not require a full certification but perhaps a class or certificate on a specialized skill will help. 

Where to start gaining experience

So where do you start in gaining experience? It can be a challenge no matter your career stage and you may feel stuck. Here are some places to research for opportunities.   

  • School: Do you need to go to (or back to) a school to get a degree or perhaps just take some classes? 
  • Volunteering in the community: There are more chances to volunteer than you likely realize. Do an internet search for volunteer opportunities in your area. (PTB episode 46: What volunteering can teach us)
  • Internships
  • Freelance, contract: Expanding your experiencing in freelancing is a great way to grow. Look at sites like fivver and other sites that cater to freelancers. 
  • Non-profits: Linkedin often shows opportunities in non-profits to help in a professional way. They are often non-paid positions but help tremendously in gaining real experience. 

Remember to keep a written track of all your experience. It’s easy to forget all the things that you have done after a fair amount of time passes. 

Develop your fundamental skills and look for strategic ways to grow your experience. It doesn’t have to all come from the school that you are in or the job that you are at. We’ll continue to look at more ways to grow your experience, and career next week. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

The value of your experience

The value of your experience

Experience is the thing of supreme value.
-Henry Ford

Your experience makes you money. The more experience that you have, the more salary that you can command. Life is not all about money though. Your experience also gives you a chance to build lifelong friendships and have more satisfaction in your life and career. The value of your experience falls into one of three areas. Use these to determine if you have $1s and $5s or $20s and $100s.

How have you delivered?

The first thing that a hiring leader or recruiter is going to look at is your ability to deliver. Do you make things happen? What has been your impact on results, the people you worked with and the company as a whole?
Evaluate the value of your delivery by assessing a few different areas:

  • What you have accomplished: What you really did….not what your responsibilities were. This is why I highly recommend putting accomplishments on your resumes instead of just your job role. People want to see what you were able to do. They want to see the impact of your work. 
  • What you have fixed/made better: Did you leave the last place better than you found it? It’s one of our values here at Passing the Baton. You always want to leave whatever you participate in better than you found it. If you are out camping with cub scouts, leave the campsite better and less disturbed than when you arrived. If you are leaving to become a CEO somewhere, the company should be in a better position than when you arrived.  Think through and write out what you have fixed and made better during your journey. This is one of the key story types from our Be the Storyteller episode. (PTB leadership podcast #124)
  • What problems you solved: We have covered problem-solving extensively at Passing the Baton and I’m sure that we are not done yet. It’s an essential skill that all good leaders must have. It’s good to write these down to catalog so that you don’t forget them. I have a tendency to solve an issue and move on quickly, and as a result, I sometimes forget the mass of problems that I’ve fixed over time. I’ll stop every so often and catalog those in written form so they aren’t lost forever. A better practice would be to capture them weekly. Bosses, recruiters, and organizations love a good problem solver. Everyone’s got problems that need to be fixed. 

What do you have to offer?

What do you bring to the table? Many of your technical and leadership skills will fall into the category above. Hiring leaders are increasingly looking at your potential as they make hiring decisions. I recently worked with an organization that was trying to measure potential in assessments, surveys and feedback forms. If you scored high in potential, then you would get extra development opportunities. If you scored low you did not. Fairness aside, it shows that people care as much about what you can do as they do about what you are doing now.  Here are some areas to consider in strengthening to show the value of your potential. 

  • Emotional intelligence
  • Coachability
  • Continual learner
  • Integrity and values
  • Brand representative

Do you manage your career?

We talked a few months ago about owning your personal development. (PTB Episode #164: How to own your personal development). Leaders value others that have a plan for themselves and don’t simply rely on circumstance, longevity, and luck to get them further in their career. 

Leaders are looking for behaviors as they evaluate your value and experience. Do you exhibit behaviors of continued success, perseverance, and planning? Do you have an intentional journey or one that is more happenstance or accidental? 

Be intentional in gaining the experience needed to get to your next career goal and don’t expect it to just come to you. We’ll cover ways to do that over the next two weeks. 

Evaluate yourself to know the true value of your experience. From there, you can assess your areas to grow and strengthen. Remember that you are growing your earning potential as you grow your experience. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

The power of body language

The power of body language

A strong confident person can rule the room with knowledge, personal style, attitude and great posture.
-Cindy Ann Peterson

I think that we sometimes underappreciate the power of body language. It can tell a much more truthful story than our words at times. I’ve been in meetings where I wrapped up my point quicker or didn’t push an issue not because of what was said, but because the person’s body language said that they weren’t receptive. We can unknowingly show our emotions through our body language and even send mixed signals. Our words say one thing, while the body says another. 

Crossed arms

Crossing your arms is an obvious non-verbal that people give off. It says that you are either angry, detached from the conversation, or not open to dialog. Sometimes we miss communicate in our body language and crossed arms is a commonplace that we do this. Some leaders, myself included, may cross their arms when they are really thinking about something. I’m not angry, upset or detached, but someone may think that by looking at me. 

Grow your self-awareness to realize that you are crossing your arms in your interactions and make sure that they are uncrossed…..unless you really are detached, angry or not open to the dialog. 

Show your hands

Showing your hands is a sign of trust and we sometimes have a tendency to hide them. Keep your hands above the table at meetings and out of your pockets and not behind your back during interactions. When someone can see your palms it says that you have nothing to hide. 

Relaxed hands also show confidence and self-assurance, while fists or clenched hands show stress and anger. Let people see your hands in a nice comfortable position to show others that you are confident and open to dialog. 

As you walk

Body language is just as important in your walk as it is during meetings and interactions. You may have a person in your workplace or class that constantly hunches over when they walk, and/or doesn’t look anyone in the eye. They come across as timid, not wanting to be there, uncomfortable and certainly not confident. This was me during my first year of high school. I was all of those things and even though I felt it, I didn’t realize that I was communicating it to others. I learned a trick from Oprah that went on to help me change into a much more confident person during an awkward time. 

Keep your back straight, shoulders back and thumbs forward when you walk. Stand up and give it a try yourself. It sounds very simple but it does a few key things. First, it helps your posture. By pulling your shoulders back, it makes your body more open to others and shows that you are confident. I thought the thumbs forward trick was the best because it’s subtle and makes a world of difference. It keeps your hands out of your pockets and facing forward in a confident way. Presenting myself in this way was the first step in coming out of my shell and gaining the confidence that I wanted. 

These are just three of the most common body language gestures that are easily fixed. Show your confidence by showing the right body language in meetings, interactions and while you walk to your next destination. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

5 ways to encourage friends and family

5 ways to encourage friends and family

Some of the most valuable assets in your life are your friends and family. 

Encouragement with your friends and family is just as important as encouragement at work. As we get older, this one seems to slip away from us. Think back to your time in high school or college. Encouragement for your friends and family and the value of those relationships were likely very high. As you enter the job market, start a family and you or your friends move away, it becomes more difficult. 

Here are some tips to ensure that you stay connected with those closest to you and how you can continue to encourage them. 

Reach out.

The first rule is that you’ve got to reach out to the person. You’ve got to make the connection. It’s funny how we have more access to each other than we have ever had before, but it seems more difficult than ever to reach out in a meaningful way. In the hunt for likes, comments, and subs, we’ve missed out on some authenticity. 

Listen without judgment

I know that this one can be really hard because we have a tendency to be more blunt and judgemental with those that we are really close to. A way to encourage others is to quiet the voice in your head that wants to jump in and tell the person what obviously is wrong in the situation. It may not even be the other person’s fault, but still, hold back judgment. 

Learn their love language

For those not familiar, Gary Chapman released a book years ago called the 5 Love Languages. He goes on to explain how everyone has at least one language that they love and one that doesn’t mean anything to them. They are words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch.  Do you know someone who loves to hug it out? It’s pretty clear that they appreciate physical touch. 

Understanding a person’s love language makes the encouragement go a lot further when its delivered in the way that matches to the person. 

Don’t try to take over

Have you ever been in a situation where you had something taken over from you or you took something over from someone else? You most often see this in teaching moments where the teacher/mentor/parent gets frustrated to the point that they take over whatever they were trying to teach the other person. 

Don’t try to take over someone’s situation. My wife calls it “fixing”. You don’t have to fix every problem that a person brings to you. If they aren’t asking for help, it’s likely that the person just wants to talk it out with someone. Don’t break their trust by trying to fix their problems for them. 

Be specific and change how you offer help

Have you noticed that when you ask someone a question like “How can I help?” or “Let me know what I can do.” that you don’t typically get a request back? Ask the question in a different way. “Would it be helpful if I……?”, or “I would like to do….”  Asking in this way frames it up better for the person to accept your help and assistance. 

Don’t forget to reach out and check in with your friends and family. Be an encouragement for them by connecting with them in a way that they love, avoiding judgment or trying to fix the problem. Offer specific help when needed and be that encouragement that those close to you need. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

5 ways to encourage others at work

5 ways to encourage others at work

No one has ever said, “Please stop encouraging me in my job.”

It’s always a great idea to encourage other’s in the workplace no matter what your level is in an organization. The ability to encourage others will serve you well throughout your career and can easily be a way for you to stand out against the crowd.

Here are five tips to strengthen how you encourage others at work. 

1. Model the behavior/be happy yourself

You first have to demonstrate the attitude and behaviors that you want others to model before you move through any of the following steps. If you aren’t happy or come across as standoffish or always upset then your team will not be encouraged. Is this an area of struggle for you? You can hear more about it on Passing the Baton Leadership Podcast #13: Leader’s don’t have bad days. 

Showing happiness and joy is a cycle. The more you show and do, the more you will find around you. 

2. Encourage friendships at work

I’ve always found that my teams were the strongest when they had relationships with each other outside of my influence. They would go hang out together after work and became a part of each other’s lives. I know that this topic makes some leaders (particularly those that have been around a while) uneasy. Several generations of leaders were brought up that you didn’t mix business with personal at all and they put up very hard lines between the two. 

Our newer generations of leaders don’t operate the same way. They appreciate it when others have at least some knowledge of their personal lives. I’m not recommending that you get in the drama of everyone’s lives, but at least have an interest in people’s every day lives outside of the workplace. What do they enjoy? What are their hobbies? What are they working on or towards? Any major life events coming up?

3. Help them understand the meaning and value in their work

Encourage others by helping the person see the value and impact of their work. The rise of internet retail has brought many new jobs in that sector, but many of those workers are discouraged and unhappy because they don’t see the value in shipping products from a warehouse alongside robots day in and day out. 

Connect what they do to the bigger picture. Share stories of how their contribution impacted someone’s life. Take them to see the impact if possible.  Being able to see the impact that you have on an organization, the country and world is very encouraging and rewarding. 

4. Make time for your people

Just spending time with someone can be an encouragement as long as you are following tip #1. People know that you are busy and they appreciate you taking some time to spend with them. That could be working on a project together, going to lunch together, or just spending some time together between meetings or classes. Be sure not to skip on the small talk. It will help solidify tip #2 when you show that you care about someones personal life as well. 

5. Show appreciation

When you see great behavior or a job well done, recognize it immediately. Recognizing others on a regular basis does not lessen the value of praise. The opposite is actually true. The more you recognize, the more you build someone’s confidence, enthusiasm and willingness to keep pushing for excellence. If someone does something really over the top, it’s ok to recognize the moment and then come back later with a bigger thanks or reward. Just because you said thank you once, doesn’t mean that you can’t do it again. 

Encourage your fellow workers. They need it no matter how great the culture of your team is. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

It’s our birthday! A look back at our growth (and yours) this year.

It’s our birthday! A look back at our growth (and yours) this year.

Studies have shown that people who have more birthdays live longer.

It’s our birthday week! Thank you so much for supporting us whether you have been us from the beginning or just a couple of weeks. We are honored to be a part of your leadership and life journey.

We grew quite a bit this year. We launched a YouTube Channel. Zack did a speaking mini-tour of Georgia and we started doing guests spots on other shows. We also brought on our first international guest recently. Zack wrapped up the year by being a part of a free online leadership summit that you can still attend.

What resonated with you this year?

You loved the Emotional Intelligence Series. In fact, it was our most popular series ever. You can find those shows and written material here:

Mentoring consistently came up this year. It’s a subject that resonates at nearly all levels of life. We talked to college students about it and it was the most common thing that talent executives asked for at a conference that we recently attended. We did a two-part series on this one.

Our servant leadership series hit home for many people. It’s a term that is becoming more commonplace in companies with a great culture. We spent time explaining what it is and how to apply it in your life.

Overcoming obstacles and adversity was a common thread this year. Zack talks on the show this week about where he gets all the ideas for PTB content creation. Some come from you as you send in questions. Some come from preplanned series and topics that people are currently talking about. He reveals that there are also topics that he writes either about himself or as a reminder to himself as he goes through his own leadership walk. John makes it clear on the show: The PTB team is not above anyone else and we are all on a journey together.

We heard the most feedback from these types of shows as they resonated on a personal level.

Know that if you are going through tough and challenging times that you are not alone. We hope some of these topics help equip you to successfully weather the storm.

What’s next?

We do have more guests planned for this next year. We won’t be changing the format to strictly a guest type show but we will introduce them when it makes sense and we feel like they add value to you.

The potential for more video content is there if it is something that you’d like to see more of. Let us know and we will work on those.

Episode 200 is fast approaching! Zack has written around the show and is looking at what would be a fun celebratory show.

Zack will be continuing to do speaking engagements into 2020. Both Zack and John will continue to offer mentoring and consulting for individuals and companies. Reach out to us and we will cater something specific to your needs.

Finally, Zack has been working on something for what he says is a long time. What that is, we have no clue! He says this is the year, so stay tuned.

Again, thanks for your support. We would love to hear how you have grown this year. You can reach out to us at

Steps to future-proof your success

Steps to future-proof your success

This week we have the pleasure of visiting with Diana Wu David. She is a TEDx speaker and author of the book Future Proof. Her company, Sarana Labs, invests in young people and companies to prepare them for a bright future. Diana shares her thoughts with us on our newest podcast and as a guest on our blog. Enjoy! -ZH

There’s been a lot of discussions lately about what work will look like in an age of globalization and automation. I think we’ll see people coming together, collaborating on joint experiments, and solving important problems.

So what does a future-proof life look like?

A future-proof life is one that has considered how to mitigate the risk of accelerating change and disruption by being prepared mentally, professionally, and financially. It is a life with a broad enough definition of success to honor the experiences, relationships, and opportunities you’ve achieved, not just milestones of achievement externally defined.

It is always adapting and proactively seeking the next learning opportunity aligned with values and focus. Honoring yourself in more varied and creative ways contributes far more to your ultimate success.

Redefining Success

When I think about redefining success, I reflect on a corporate lawyer friend of mine, Jennifer: she didn’t love every aspect of her job but thought a lot about her values and desire to help people. By doing so, she expanded into a role in thought leadership. This helped her win the top employment lawyer award in Asia, which she might not have been able to do without taking a close look at her passions. She followed her curiosity to a natural place where she leveraged her experience into something new, challenging, and exciting.

Likewise, Lale Kesebi launched her strategy lab,, to broaden what she did for one organization to other companies trying to build great businesses for humans.

Both redefined success, beyond just clocking in and out every day, to reach further and be more ambitious about living their own visions of success.

which way to go

An Action Plan for Success

It’s not easy to break from enduring habits, belief systems, and past prestige to explore and find new ways to grow personally and professionally. The greatest resistance we sometimes meet is ourselves. Yet we owe it to ourselves to create alternate opportunities and plunge in bravely past our own resistance to set a new course to new ideas of success and significance.

Success can be broadly defined. A rigid definition exposes you to the risk of not realizing that the winds are shifting, and you might not be ready. The company you work for may no longer be around in the coming years, or the industry might be dramatically disrupted. With self-awareness and courage to act, you can prepare for those kinds of events and capitalize on the lack of structure to create one that best serves you.

Don’t wait for success to come to you and don’t think that once you have it, it’s there forever. Think about where you are today, where your work is heading, and take calculated risks to get where you want to be. Many people reading this article are already in that frame of mind or they’re nervous and not exactly sure how to move forward.

Yet they have a lot of career capital and can become leaders in the new economy. To maximize your potential, it’s vital to think, reflect, and shift your perspective. Many of us are already leaders of some sort, which makes us even more responsible to think and reimagine the future of work for ourselves and others. Get out there and challenge your ideas. Craft your own life and role model the possibilities of the future. It’s time to act.


You can find Diana’s 11 steps to future proof yourself at

For more advice on the future of work, you can find Future Proof on Amazon.

You can read more of Diana’s insights on her LinkedIn and on her blog. You can also listen to her TEDx talk, The Difference Between Running and Running Free, here.