You’ve hit your goal. Now what?

You’ve hit your goal. Now what?

I love this time of year. Not only is it my birthday week, but it’s also the beginning of a run of several holidays here in the US. It’s also a time of year when my teams and I are taking stock of the accomplishments of the year and starting to solidify what our goals are going to be in a way in the next year. 

Hopefully, you’ve hit some (or all) of your goals for the year at this point. Today we’ll dive into the topic of “What do I do now?” 


First things first, you’ve got to celebrate your wins! Take some time to celebrate yourself and your team as you hit your goals. 

  • Be specific in who you recognize as you celebrate. Call out those individual achievements and contributions that were made in order to reach a shared goal. Sure it’s fine to recognize the team, but people really appreciate it when you recognize their hard work and dedication. 

  • Be timely when you celebrate. A good celebration definitely has an expiration at which point it loses its impact. Book it on the calendar and make it happen. 

  • Switch up how you celebrate to keep things fresh and memorable. If it’s just for you, perhaps it’s a special trip or getting something off your wish list. If it’s a team celebration, maybe it’s a different experience or location that others will enjoy and don’t frequent.

Remember both the personal and professional

It’s tempting at times to let one set of your goals fall off during the year. Sometimes I focus too hard on one side or the other and neglect the other side in the process. If you’ve hit your personal or professional goal(s) for the year. Look at your other set of goals for the year. How are they faring? Perhaps there is some room to give them some extra attention in the time that is left to make as much progress as possible between now and the new year.  

Reassess what’s left

Not all goals reach the finish line at the same time, and honestly, not all goals even reach the finish line. As you celebrate the goals that you’ve hit, look at what’s left on your proverbial goal checklist. How are things going? Here are a few things to think about:

  • What goals need to be adjusted? Perhaps the goal was a bit too lofty or you didn’t fully account for the amount of work that it would take to reach the level that you initially wanted to. Regardless of the why of the gap, can the goal be adjusted to achieve some level of victory? 

  • What goals need to be deferred? Life happens. What goals need to go ahead and be booked for the next year? It doesn’t mean you are giving up on the goal. Instead, use the time between and the next year to reflect on what you can do differently to engage in a way that ensures success. 

  • What goals need to be removed? Sometimes things change so dramatically over the year that the goal longer makes sense in the new world or circumstances. This could be due to things like a new job, a company reorganization, or a major life change. Don’t feel guilty to take off those goals that just don’t make sense anymore. 

Gear up for another round

The new year is right around the corner! Begin putting some thought into what those next rounds of goals should look like. 

  • Are your goals part of a multiyear commitment? What does the next layer look like?
  • What deferred goals if any need to be pulled over to the next year?
  • Did you conquer an area or topic that you had been working on? What’s next and new that you can turn your efforts towards? 

Now is a great time to lean into your curiosity and imagination as you think about what those next goals can be. Remember to keep them to a realistic number and begin thinking of what your plan would be to achieve those goals. 

Take some time to rest a moment and celebrate with yourself and those involved in the wins. Step back and look at your progress in other areas and begin gearing up for another successful year. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Guiding your team through uncertain times

Guiding your team through uncertain times

These days, it seems like we are always living in uncertain times. The biggest one in recent memory is obviously COVID, but ever since its peak, there have been constant shake-ups in the business world and in life in general. It doesn’t help that the uncertainty has been coming at up in extreme swings: Some of the lowest unemployment rates pre-COVID, to unprecedented layoffs in COVID, massive hiring after COVID’s peak, to now very large layoffs in certain sectors while others continue to boom. 

And that’s just the big picture. Think about all the change and uncertainty that happens in the org or team that you are a part of. People hate uncertainty so much that they would rather know that bad news is coming than be uncertain if it will occur or not. 

Don’t wait for (or count on) further guidance and training

During times of uncertainty, there is a greater need for good communication that connects with the team in a way that matters to them. The problem is that most companies don’t provide leaders with enough training. Studies show that the majority of managers wish they had more training when they first became people leaders and in general want more ongoing training. Strangely enough, many leaders can become resistant to new training programs, because they feel their experience in a role is enough. 

Don’t wait for training, because it may not come.  Be proactive instead. Look at the things that you do own, control, or influence and act on them today. Communicate more, anchor into the Why or purpose of the work, and celebrate the team. Pull in closer to your people with more frequent and less formal check-ins. If you know an impending time of uncertainty is ahead (company acquisition, re-org of the team, etc) get ahead by reading up on and studying the topic of change.  Two books that we recommend on the topic are Leading Change and You’re It: Crisis, Change, and How to Lead When it Matters Most. 

Be aware of and acknowledge people’s emotions

There is a near certainty in uncertain times and that’s that your team is likely going to respond to the situation differently. As a leader, begin slowing down and listening to your team as they share their feelings, concerns, and any frustrations that they may have. The team will be more likely to trust in your direction during these difficult times if they feel validated and understood in their emotions and feelings. 

It’s also good to be aware of how your own emotions translate over into your communications. Does your tone or delivery change as you get stressed out? Do you pass on that stressed-out feeling to your team? Having a good level of self-awareness is key in achieving balance here – You want to know yourself well enough to filter your communication when it gets challenging for you, but at the same time vulnerable enough to share your own concerns with the team as well. Putting those two things together makes you a stronger leader that others will see as more reliable. 

Check the energy of the team

You can feel a good culture in a room. There is a certain element of positivity, interaction, and care & respect. Take a proverbial step back and assess the energy of the team. Do things feel like they normally do or is it more gloomy or solemn than usual? Seeing and understanding this dynamic change will help you see that you have more work ahead of you in helping the team navigate the uncertainty or if you are doing a good job. 

Remember that is often very difficult to over-communicate during these times. In normal times, people will likely complain about being overcommunicated with, but these are not normal times. Even numerous change updates will help the team feel like they are looped in and aware. 

Even if your organization has done a fantastic job in communicating information during uncertain times, these core principles will still serve you well and you reinforce and lead your team. Take the time to strengthen your own change management skills to keep people engaged well through the transition.

Make a better tomorrow. 

Create authentic professional presence

Create authentic professional presence

I’ve completed thousands of talent calibrations and talent reviews in my years as a talent leader for organizations. One common theme that comes up year after year regardless of leveling in the organization is the idea of having a good professional or executive presence. 

Leaders are right, having an authentic professional presence can help you stand out, build a stronger network, accelerate projects, and accelerate career growth. Here are some tips to help you dial in your executive presence in the work that you do. 

Be yourself

I think that this is the most important thing to remember for yourself as you work to strengthen this skill in your own leadership toolkit or as you are coaching others through this topic.  Just because you have room for growth here doesn’t mean that you need to become someone you are not. 

If you try to push your professional presence outside of your identity – coming into a room or conversation that doesn’t match your personality, it will fall flat with others. They’ll see your efforts as fake or inauthentic. 

Authenticity doesn’t mean that you need to change how you speak and present yourself. It’s adapting to the level of the room, position, or need while being true to who is in the process. 

You can find a deeper dive into the importance of being authentic at our previous show Be Yourself (Show 127)

Be consistent

Consistency means being reliable and dependable across all channels of communication. It also means delivering on your promises and following through on your commitments. Related to authenticity; are you one as one way while “on stage” and totally different when you interact with others? Inconsistency can also show up in how you communicate. Are you a great presenter or coach, but your emails are off-putting? Do you come across as confident and an expert in written communication, but unsure of yourself in difficult conversations? 

Inconsistency can come from any number of areas and forms of communication and interactions. Check with your leaders, peers, and those on your team to get feedback on how consistent you are. 

Hold their engagement

One of the secrets to good executive presence is the ability to grab, and keep someone’s attention and engagement. It means having something valuable and relevant to say or offer. You need to be able to communicate your message clearly and persuasively. It’s very important that you know your audience, your purpose, and your value proposition.

You can also hold someone’s engagement by leveraging data-driven storytelling and using different channels, mediums, and illustrations to reach your audience. Break up how you communicate to keep things fresh for the audience. Also remember where your audience is coming from and their perspective and knowledge, that will help you cater your message in a way that connects with them. 

Areas to consider as you adjust to dial in your professional presence

  • Language: What words are you using as you communicate with others? Are there colloquials that you should avoid or industry speak that you need to stay away from or gravitate towards?

  • Your physical appearance: Do you look the part? In live settings, do you match what the expected audience is or are you over or under-dressed? For virtual environments is your lighting good and background complimentary?

  • Reading the temperature of the room: Having a good read on the room is vastly important as you strengthen your professional presence. Is the group lively or serious? How heavy of a topic or message are you trying to convey? 

Be open to feedback as you continue to strengthen your professional presence. You’ll be a more effective leader and communicator as you interact with others.

Make a better tomorrow. 

Embrace differences in those that you develop

Embrace differences in those that you develop

In sports, a good coach knows that each member of their team needs different focuses and development in order for them to play at their best. We often forget that in the business world as we launch general leadership or on-the-job training and expect the same results across the board.  Today, we’ll dive into tips and reminders and why and how you should be developing your teams as individuals. 

Don’t treat them equally

We are champions and supporters of equality and inclusion, but to be a champion and ally you’ve got to avoid treating your people equally. 

Think about creating a space where everyone has an equal shot at a promotion, or even just to be successful in the that they are currently in. Let’s look at a team of people in similar roles, for our example. You may find a person who has trouble stepping up to difficult conversations, another who is not great at selecting talent, and a third who is rigid in how they communicate. They are all people leaders so your company puts them through some hiring skills training. They all got equal training, but only one has had a chance to fill in their leadership gap. 

Think of your team as a set of amazing engines that have the capability to run at the same speed. Your development opportunities, connections, experiences, and other offerings are your toolkit. Each engine needs a little something different to get it completely tuned up. Back to our team dynamic, that may mean the one that struggles in difficult conversations, needs to take some coaching training, have time to do role play with you, and needs extra support as those moments come up. For the communication example, maybe you buy them some books and send them to an emotional intelligence workshop and then follow through with additional verbal communication and executive presence training. 

Treat your team members differently so that they are all tuned up and running at their most efficient. 

Take feedback and opportunities deeper

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in feedback sessions where a leader will make a statement like, “They need to work on their communication skills,” or “They need to step up.” Only for the leader to come back in 6 months to a year and question why the person isn’t a better communicator or has elevated their performance. Besides they told them exactly what to do right?

Open and broad feedback actually holds very little true value, outside a broad, over-arching area of focus. Make the feedback valuable by digging in and understanding what the person really means. For the communication example, Is it written communication, how they give feedback, or executive presence or presentation skills? Those all legitimately fall under “They need to work on their communication skills”, but they are all vastly different in focus and support. 

Being intentional as you dig into feedback and opportunities will help ensure that you are providing an individual and impactful plan for someone who makes good use of their time and yours. 

Your teams are runners in a race

Sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking that throwing training at something (or someone) fixes the problem. We should know better by now! Just as you think about everyone’s development journey as an individual also remember that their arrival is going to be different as well. Just like runners running in a race, you have people at all kinds of different paces out there at the same time. Do they all get to the end? Hopefully, that reminder should help you not to become too frustrated when everyone doesn’t make it across the proverbial finish line at the same time. 

Some are going to need you to go out on the course and give them some encouragement. Others will need even more resources to give them the fuel to push through. Set proper expectations with your team and yourself as you think about your individual development plans for your team. 

To be a successful people leader remember that you’ve got to treat your people differently in how you think about their development, dig into feedback for actionable takeaways, and set proper expectations and follow-up as they start their journey.  Putting these three habits together will accelerate your team’s growth and make you a more impactful leader in the process. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Habits to improve your EQ

Habits to improve your EQ

Emotional intelligence is one of those universally needed skills that transcend industries, leadership levels, and educational backgrounds. Everyone benefits from having stronger EQ skills as they navigate relationships with others as well as how they manage much needed self-care. 

Today, we’ll cover some tips to help you dial in and strengthen your EQ skills in your day-to-day interactions with others. 

Learn to rehearse what you’ll say

We all have unique quirks that we are not aware of, especially when it comes to how we verbally communicate. Emotionally intelligent people have a good understanding of this and are mindful to understand what their quirks are and are intentionally building in new phrases as a habit to connect with and inspire emotions. 

A common phrase that people use as others share hardships or challenges that they are going through is “I know how you feel.” There may be positive intent in the statement, but the phrase doesn’t convey understanding like you may think that it does; it communicates completion. “I’ve heard and acknowledged you. Now let’s move on.”

To take the response to the next level you may say something like, “I hear you and I think what you are saying is …..” This shows that you are actively engaged with the person and gives them a chance to correct your understanding or continue the conversation. 

Positive intent is great, but without putting thought into how you communicate, you may never reach your goal of having a meaningful connection.

Learn to leverage the 5 whys technique on yourself

Self-awareness blind spots don’t conform to levels of leadership or personality profiles. Everyone has them in some form or another. Going back to your childhood, when you were wide-eyed and full of curiosity about the world around you, ask yourself the question “Why?” as you reflect on your motives, desires, needs, and actions. 

Sure, you could answer the first “Why?” fairly superficially, but that’s why you leverage the power of the 5 Whys Technique which says basically that you can get to the root of any problem or concern by asking the question “Why?” as a response to quickly get to the root of the matter. 

  1. Why do I want that new role?
  2. I want the title, extra benefits and pay that go with the role. (Ok, why is that?)
  3. The pay would help relieve the pressure at home and I really want to be a director. (Why is that?)
  4. It validates my hard work and who I am to others. (Why is that important?)
  5. I have a high desire for affirmation and recognition.

And there it is. In 5 whys we got down to the root of the personal situation and a view into our own self-awareness. If you use this technique on yourself and you can’t articulate a compelling answer then it is likely a sign you are misaligned with what you are trying to accomplish or it’s an unexplored area of self-awareness that you may need to take more time to reflect on. 

Stay mindful of your pace

As leaders, we are often action-oriented. Do the thing and do it now! I’m often the same way. I’d rather knock something out than need to go back later and follow up on additional items. While that action-orientated stance can be very beneficial in eliminating additional meetings as well as freeing up time for your future self, it often serves you well to pause and not immediately respond to external stimuli. 

Those that pause before responding to those external stimuli, think email, messages, complaints, or even good things like opportunities, will often come out with the upper hand. Emotionally intelligent leaders appreciate that slower reaction times give them space to be more strategic in their thoughts and protect them from emotional knee-jerk reactions. 

End connections with gratitude

The feeling and demeanor that you leave a conversation with is often what others hold on to. Leaders with strong emotional intelligence know this and often go out of their way to find something they can express gratitude for, toward the end of every conversation. Some examples may include:

Easy examples:
“I really enjoyed our time together today.”  “Thank you for taking the time to talk.” “I really appreciate your feedback and will use it to help influence how we move forward.”

Tough examples
: “Thanks for listening and understanding.” “Thank you for coming around to my way of thinking.” “I appreciate the compromise here.” These all build a bridge halfway to the other person but aren’t necessarily a feel-good moment that someone wants to build the other half back with you.

Take it to the next level: Learn to express thanks for something you know the other side will agree with, rather than something that might trigger an undesired emotional reaction. In tough conversations it may look like, “I know this wasn’t comfortable to talk about, but I really appreciate the opportunity for us to come together here. I’m going to take your feedback and get you the resources that you need by ( agreed upon date).”

If this isn’t a regular practice for you, be mindful to insert this sentiment as you close out the conversation. Those virtual meetings with a flurry of goodbyes at the end are a great place to begin to step into this behavior. Are you going to stand out with your gratitude as everyone else goodbye? Probably not, but you are putting it into practice, and that helps build repetition and behavior change. 

Growing your emotional intelligence is a process that is a journey as opposed to a course that you become certified in once you complete the training. Continue to work on practical ways to grow your EQ to make you a more impactful leader to those around you. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Three ways to influence impact

Three ways to influence impact

We all have different motivations when it comes to our work. Some are driven by titles and prestige, while others value money, flexibility, or a zen-like balance of work and life. No matter what your motivations are, most people want to have an impact in what they do and contribute to meaningful work. 

Today we’ll cover three tips to influence your impact at work. 

Look past the storms of the day

The Swirl. That’s what we call the chaos, situations, and circumstances that derail your plans and ambitions for the day. We often talk about The Swirl in terms of how outward items influence your ability to get things done and we emphasize building strong time management skills and systems in place in order for you to manage your day instead of your day managing you. 

There is also an internal swirl as well. This kind of swirl happens when we focus too much attention on our own fear, pride, and insecurities. When we do this, we allow our internal swirl to influence our decision-making ability. Think about that influence on your impact. If you focus inwardly on your pride fear and insecurities, then your decisions become self-serving. It also leads us to become preoccupied with what we want and think that we need to advance our own agendas and aspirations. 

Release that inner swirl and storm and focus outwardly instead. Seek diverse opinions and take time to step back to look at the larger context of those things that are feeding your inner swirl. I find when I get in this place to pause and take stock of things that I am thankful for and perhaps have been taking for granted as a help to reframe my train of thought. 

Own transparency

If trust is a house that we build for our team to live in, then transparency is the door that everyone enters from. It’s hard to have an impact without trust and it’s hard to have trust without transparency. 

Be honest with yourself: You first have to be open to yourself before you can be open with others. That means raising your self-awareness to a healthy level. It also means having an understanding of what your understanding of what you hold close to the vest and why you do that. Continue to challenge yourself and those limitations that you may be putting on yourself and your leadership walk. 

Open yourself to others: Often when people think about transparency, they think about a person’s willingness, or lack of, to share with others. It’s not always black or white either. Maybe a leader shares about the business well enough, but they are intentionally closed off when it comes to anything personal. Being transparent doesn’t mean you have to share everything, it just means you are free and open to sharing the right things personally and being vulnerable to sharing appropriate personal information. 

When you are transparent in these two ways it allows others to help you with personal biases, experiences, and objectivity. 

Be flexible and adaptive

Another way to influence impact at work is to be flexible and adaptable to different situations and people. Influence is not a one-size-fits-all approach; it requires adjusting your style, tone, language, and tactics according to the context and audience. For example, some people may prefer direct communication, while others may prefer indirect communication; some people may respond well to logic and facts, while others may respond well to emotions and stories; some people may be motivated by rewards, while others may be motivated by recognition. To be flexible and adaptable, you need to understand the needs, preferences, expectations, and goals of different people and situations.

Adaptability not only strengthens your influence and impact, but it can also give you better satisfaction in your role. I coached and mentored several leaders because they were hired for X and the work turned into Y. The lack of adaptability certainly impacted their most effective self, but it also had a deeper personal impact by eroding engagement and a sense of accomplishment and belonging in the role they held. Having a mindset of adaptability, moving, and changing to the circumstances around you gets you engaged and always relevant to the team that you serve. 

Influence and impact are essential for achieving success and satisfaction at work. They enable us to make a positive difference, achieve our goals, and advance our careers.  Combine these tips with a strong passion and purpose for your work and your team and you’ll have a compelling value to offer to others. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Finding Leadership in the Matrix

Finding Leadership in the Matrix

Bullet time. Red pill, blue pill. Simulation vs. reality. The Matrix series was a cultural phenomenon in the late ’90s and early ’00s. It’s the story of Neo, a hacker who discovers that the world around him is a simulation created by machines to enslave humanity. With the help of others, Neo frees his mind and leads a fight against the system. The movies are full of metaphors and lessons about society as well as lessons on leadership. 

It’s time to plug into the system and pull out some leadership lessons!

Seek alternate realities

One of the main themes of the film is the contrast between the false reality of the Matrix and the harsh truth of the real world. Morpheus challenges Neo to question his assumptions and beliefs and offers him a choice: to take the blue pill and remain ignorant or to take the red pill and see the truth. is the truth any less true for those still trapped in the matrix?

You may ask yourself, “How can these people believe what they believe when the truth is so obvious?” Perception is reality. A person that is all in on misinformed data, and solidifies the perception by isolating themselves to only include others who share the same view, doesn’t view themselves as wrong. 

As a leader, you need to be willing to seek and accept alternative views of reality or the situation at hand, even if they are painful or uncomfortable. Be curious, open-minded, and courageous to explore different perspectives and possibilities. A well-rounded leader challenges their own perception (reality) at times to check themselves, “Is this the right take, or am I missing something that would make me more informed?”

There is no spoon

When Neo visits the Oracle, he encounters a young boy who appears to have the telekinetic ability to bend spoons with his mind. The boy tells him: “Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth… There is no spoon… Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.”

The kid is going deep on Neo!

This is a metaphor for how Neo can overcome the limitations of the Matrix by changing his perception and mindset. Too often, leaders hear the phrases, “That’s impossible,” or “This is not going to work.” Very few things are impossible to accomplish in leadership if we don’t look at challenges as strictly black or white or right and wrong. 

As a leader work to become flexible, adaptable, and creative in facing challenges and opportunities. Look for small wins instead of big wins if needed, “Well if we can’t do this, then what can we do to move forward?”

Overcome imposter syndrome

Throughout the film, Neo is presented with the idea that he is “The One”, a prophesied savior who can end the war between humans and machines. However, he struggles with self-doubt and skepticism; he doesn’t feel special. It’s not until he finally accepts his role that he is able to release his full potential.

Imposter syndrome can feel like you are stuck in your version of the matrix with no hope of getting out of it. It’s the deep-rooted feeling that you are not good enough, not qualified enough, or not worthy of leading or owning a particular thing.  Not only are there 5 types of imposter syndrome (PTB 224) but the environment that you are in and the connections that you make also heavily influence this area. 

Just like Neo, you can break free and reach your fullest potential as well. Here are some tips to begin working through imposter syndrome. 

  • Talk it out with someone. Imposter Syndrome loves to live in isolation inside yourself. Talk out your feelings and thoughts with a trusted friend, advisor, or mentor. 

  • Be kind to yourself. I have seen some of the kindest people beat themselves up for their perceived shortcomings. Give yourself the same forgiveness that you give others and be kind to yourself. Let someone besides yourself be your worst critic. 

  • Understand that your thoughts and situation are not unique. Remember when you run into a bout of doubt that others are likely going through the same. Know that it’s not just you and that it’s temporary then step up and do well.

  • Learn from failure. To our Baton Carriers that are perfectionists; It’s okay to fail. You need to fail to keep learning and growing. Use failure as a learning opportunity and move on. Don’t dwell on failure for failure’s sake. 

  • Go small. Focus on the smaller tasks and the accomplishments that come along with them instead of focusing on the larger issue. It can help you stay focused in a positive direction. 

Challenge yourself. Take another look at how you perceive a particular topic, a body of work, or even other people. Adapt and be nimble as you make things that make the impossible, actually quite possible. Never forget, you are not an imposter. You were put into your role for a reason, and you are worthy and capable of stepping up to the challenge. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Finding Leadership in Seinfeld

Finding Leadership in Seinfeld

Seinfeld is a great comedy show from the 90s that is known for its observational humor and the absurd situations that the group of four friends find themselves in. The show was hugely popular when it first aired and today finds itself in a new renaissance thanks to the popularity of streaming. 

What leadership lessons can be learned from a show that claims itself to be a show about nothing and includes amazing leadership quotes like, “It’s not a lie if you (yourself) believe it.”

Be confident and own who you are

Jerry Seinfeld, the main character and stand-up comedian, is often seen as the voice of reason and sanity among his friends. He is there to be a listening ear and they bust through his apartment door unannounced. He’s also confident and authentic in his style and personality; he’s not pretending to be someone he is not.

Jerry reminds us that we need to be comfortable in our own skin. Avoid the trap of trying to change who you are to gain the affection and attention of others. It’s a facade that is not easy to keep up and you’ll only find yourself less happy and fulfilled as a result. Being confident in yourself also gives you the space to express your opinions and insight, which Jerry was certainly an expert at. 

Learn from the mistakes that you make

George Costanza, Jerry’s best friend is…… a loser. Some of the most memorable moments of the show center around George and how disastrous he is in life and the ability to make the right choice. George is insecure, dishonest, lazy, and selfish, and sabotages himself more than anyone he encounters. If there is something positive to be said about George, it’s that he is resilient. He is willing to try new things, experiment with different strategies, and learn from his mistakes and failures. (Sometimes just to turn around and make another new mistake.)  

Everybody makes mistakes, hopefully, a little less than George, but it’s a part of our regular path to personal and professional growth. Be open to feedback, criticism, and change, and use them as opportunities for your own growth and improvement.  Mistakes hold value too if you are willing to take the lessons that they teach. As you reflect on a recent mistake, what is the lesson learned and how could you be resourceful to come to a different conclusion the next time the situation presents itself?

Keep things in perspective and enjoy the funny things in life

Elaine Benes, Jerry’s ex-girlfriend, and friend, is a smart, independent, and successful woman. She is also incredibly witty, sarcastic, and humorous, often making fun of herself and others. She doesn’t take herself or life too seriously and knows how to have fun and enjoy the moment. Perhaps the most memorable example of this is the famous Elanie Dance where she dances so horribly that George describes it as a “full body dry heave set to music.”

Having the right perspective, and understanding of the larger context is important in both leadership and life, so you don’t overreact or underreact to everyday challenges. Be willing to laugh at yourself and the situation that you might find yourself in.  For more information on this pairing, check out Humor (PTB 44) and Finding Perspective (PTB 111). 

Sometimes you have to deal with the weirdos

Cosmos Kramer. What a name and character. He always came bursting through Jerry’s door like an out-of-control washing machine shaking and bouncing from an uneven load of laundry. Kramer was full-on weird, but often stole the scenes that he was in and somehow became a friend in Jerry’s small inner circle. Jerry didn’t have much of a choice but to deal with and interact with Kramer. Even if he kept the apartment locked at all times, Kramer lived across the hall, so no doubt he would still have run-ins and interactions with him. 

It is guaranteed that you are going to have people that you would consider weird and out there come across your path, both at work and in your personal life. Regardless of the situation, treat them with the respect and friendliness that you give to others. Even though Jerry could have been dismissive and rude to Kramer, he chose to listen to him and go along with his crazy line of thoughts. In the real world, you may be making a mighty impact on the other person, because there is a chance that you are the only one that shows them any respect and attention at all. 

Jerry’s circle of friends is an unlikely group that found themselves together. Be true to yourself, embrace and own your mistakes, keep it in perspective, and care for the weirdos in your life. You’ll be a better leader and friend as a result. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Passing the Baton’s 8th Anniversary Show!

Passing the Baton’s 8th Anniversary Show!

Thank you so much for supporting the show over the years! We love to receive and answer your questions and hear how you are passing the baton to others in your own leadership journey. Whether you are a first-year Baton Carrier or have been listening to us since the beginning, we are honored to be a part of your leadership growth.


High Altitude Leadership with Don Schmincke

High Altitude Leadership with Don Schmincke

It’s a joy to have Don Schimincke join us for today’s show! Don’s book High-Altitude Leadership has sat on my leadership bookshelf for quite a while. During our conversation today, you’ll hear Don share lessons from the book, what’s next for him and his team, and a discussion about one of his latest books that he wrote with AI.

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Don Schmincke is the author of the Best-Selling book The Code of Executive and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today. He is an Award-Winning Speaker, Researcher, Founder of the SAGA Leadership Institute and delivered over 1,700 speeches.

How friendship helps your leadership

How friendship helps your leadership

I can look back on my life and see where there was always a group of friends that were there for me to support me as I grew older and tried to figure out life. No matter your life stage, your circle of friends can impact your leadership skills in a positive way. 

5 ways friendships help your leadership

1. Encouragement

Your friends are the ones that should be believing in you and rooting for your success in the good times as well as the bad. Thanks to the internet and specialized social media accounts, it’s easy to go out and get a little motivation each day. While there is nothing wrong with those outlets; they actually do have some encouraging thoughts from time to time, encouragement from a friend hits differently. Encouragement means more from those that you respect and know on a personal level. Check out 5 ways to encourage friends at work and at home for tips on how you can be an encouragement to others. 

2. Friendships boost our self-confidence

Friends are certainly good for your self-esteem. They help you feel secure and give you a sense of belonging. They are your cheerleaders and inject confidence into the decisions and moves that you make. Think about a good friend that is or was that person for you. How are using that example with those that you lead? Would you consider yourself a great cheerleader and coach or is there a chance to improve?

3. Friendships expand our perspectives

A healthy circle of friends exposes us to different views, opinions, experiences, and cultures. They also stimulate our creativity, curiosity, and innovation. Having that larger worldview and context is essential in order to be the best leader that you can be for your team and in leading yourself well. Be open to listening to others as they share their perspectives and grow keenly aware as your biases put up a defense around what others share and think. 

4. Friendships build trust and loyalty

Sometimes it can be hard to share about your personal life with others that you lead. There are a number of root causes of that hesitation; maybe you’ve been burned in the past, taught early on to keep personal discussions to a minimum or you worked somewhere that did not promote transparency in their organization. A good friend can help you grow through this by giving you opportunities to be vulnerable and transparent with them, sharing things that you may not be comfortable sharing with teammates yet. 

5. Friendships cultivate compassion and empathy

It’s important to know the difference between empathy, sympathy, and pity. While it’s likely that you’ll run through all of those emotional responses during the life of a friendship, friends can teach us a great deal about empathy. In order to have empathy with someone, you’ve got to be able to put yourself in their proverbial shoes. That can be a challenging muscle to strengthen, but it can be trained with your friends. They are the ones that you know the most; you likely have a good amount of relationship equity built up and you have a better understanding of the larger context of what’s going for the other person. Leverage your friendships to grow your empathy with your team and be thankful for the times that your friends show empathy and compassion to you. 

Friendships can help us become better leaders by boosting our self-confidence, expanding our perspectives, fostering trust and loyalty, and cultivating compassion and empathy. By caring for and learning from your friendships, you can become a more inspiring leader for others to follow. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

How check-ins keep your people around longer

How check-ins keep your people around longer

A number of studies show that as an employee feels disconnected and unengaged with their work and their leadership, their likelihood of leaving the organization rises significantly. Check-ins, or formal times to sit down together and look at the larger picture, are key in order to keep people around for longer. Here are some ways check-ins positively impact your team, and the work they do.

Check-ins keep accountability in place

You’ve likely heard the term, “inspect what you expect.” It’s a phrase that’s used as a reminder to leaders that they shouldn’t lay out an objective and expect it magically come to a successful reality on its own. If it’s something that is important to you and the business, you need to check in on occasion to see how the progress is going. 

Check-ins are great for shared accountability, and that’s a good thing. Some people think of the term accountable as only negative, like someone is being reprimanded. That’s not the case at all. The accountability in check-ins is to see that we’ve made our agreed-upon progress in the finalized timeline. It’s a chance to celebrate or course correct as needed as well. 

Associates want that level of accountability and clarity as well. Imagine giving your best effort into a project only to realize that you are off the mark because the requirements changed as you neared the deadline. Check-ins are also a great time to hold their leader accountable for the resources and promises that were made during the last touchpoint. 

Check-ins keep things from hitting critical mass

It’s fairly common to look at big HR cases and draw a line back to a much smaller set of circumstances that snowballed into a massive breakdown for the associate and the business. 

Check-ins are a wonderful opportunity to discover those issues and course-correct them before they turn into monsters that you have to deal with later. During your check-in be sure to ask some things about the larger team and how relationships and dynamics are working (or not working). Understanding these situations early and having the willingness and managerial courage to step up to potentially difficult conversations will help prevent future escalations and flare-ups. You can literally save someone’s career by leveraging your relationship management skills during your check-ins. 

Check-ins are a compass for career growth

One of the most common themes that employees give about their leader and organizations is that no one has a career aspirations conversation with them. No one has asked them what they want to be or do at the company! Now, some of that could be that the leader is afraid to ask because they don’t want to know the answer. It could also be generational. Noone asked ever asked the leader, so the leader doesn’t put much thought into it for their own team. Regardless of the reason for the disconnect, regular check-ins provide an easy avenue to have some career-focused discussions. Discover their aspirations and help them make connections and acquired needed skills between check-ins. 

Check-ins show you care

Above all, check-ins show that you care about the other person. Your team knows that you have a busy schedule, so they appreciate and recognize the time that you take to sit down and have regular check-in conversations with them. It’s another great opportunity to build and strengthen a relational bond with the other person as well. 

If you don’t currently have a regular cadence for check-ins, I’d encourage you to do so with your team. Block the time for the next year on both calendars to prevent the time and tasks from getting the best of your positive intent. Your people deserve a regular time when they can get clarity on the role, share personal and professional progress, and feel like they have a clear line of sight for the next step in their career. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

A reminder of what you can’t control

A reminder of what you can’t control

Have you ever warned yourself out mentally thinking about a person, situation, or change that you ultimately have no control over? Maybe a better way to phrase the question is not how, but how often! Growing through and letting go of those things that you can’t control can be challenging and cause you anxiety, and stress, and can ultimately derail your day, month, year, or life if you let it take too much of a hold on you. 

Today we’ll dive into a few reminders of those things that you can not control in order to let them go and move forward in a healthy way. 

The past

As obvious as it sounds, you can’t control the past. Nevertheless, others and perhaps yourself will shackle the past to a person or relationship that can become an unbearable burden. Sometimes that may be justified; think of abusive relationships or all-around toxic relationships (Show 205). Other times, you need to move past the past so you can have a better future. 

For those that hold the past against you: The other person will always have the choice and power to hold on to your past or let it go. The best that you can do is continue to show how you’ve grown and matured. Be sure to check out our recommended steps for turning around a bad reputation. (Show 174)

If you hold on to the past yourself: Freeing yourself from the past can be extremely challenging depending on the situation. I’ve talked to and coached people who have been recovering addicts, close combat veterans, people who have contemplated and survived suicidal thoughts, and others who have had a really rough path to travel. If you carry a heavy burden, get help through a professional counselor, psychiatrist, or other trusted and certified avenues to help you get back on track. Remember to give yourself some grace and don’t try too hard (Show 136)

Sometimes when we think about the past we focus on what we could have done differently. That’s good to a point. Use that reflection to grow towards the future, but to get stuck at that moment in the past is not beneficial for you or anyone else. 

Other people’s actions and choices

I’ll say that this one got me for a good portion of my early leadership days. I struggled with people who I had invested in and given all the tools to be successful, but only throw those tools away and set themselves back through poor choices in both the leadership and life walk. 

Giving the person the support and tools to be successful is in your control. How a person uses (or doesn’t) use the tools is totally up to them and fully out of your control. Know that you did your best and remind yourself of the work that you put in to reassure yourself when others make poor choices. 

If you still have interaction with a person that falls into this scenario, be respectful and cordial in the conversation. Share your concerns if you have a level of trust with the other person, but don’t carry an expectation on yourself that you have to redeem or restore that person. 

What others think or feel… especially about us. 

We typically put a high value on what others think of us, even those that we have no relationship with at all. We can hyper-focus on what a person thinks of us or how they feel based on our own insecurities and need to be validated. If you find yourself consumed with thoughts about the other person, ask yourself a few questions:

  • How much control do I have over the other person liking me?
  • How helpful is the time spent thinking about this person?
  • Does all this time and mental effort thinking about the other person add any value back to me?

If you answer no, then think about the things that you can control. What can you do to keep refining to make a better version of yourself?


People love their comfort and safety! There are few things guaranteed in life, but change is certainly one of them. Change is easy to see. Think about the you from a year ago and no doubt you can see change both good and bad that has occurred since then. 

You cannot stop change, no matter how much we may want to at times. What we can control, however, is how we deal with change. Check out our tips on navigating change and conflict. (Show 295) steps to futureproof your success (Show 182)

Lean into those areas that you can control as you navigate relationships with others and as you continue to build a better you for the future. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

A reminder of what you can control

A reminder of what you can control

Sometimes it just feels like you are just being tossed about during your day or week. Maybe you feel like you are crawling to the proverbial shore at the end of the day as your ship (plan) was wrecked and sunk again.

It’s not difficult to fall into a cycle of despair and even hopelessness as circumstances around you influence your life and well-being.  To help you re-establish or reinforce your control over the day, here are some reminders of the things that you do have control over both in your personal and professional life. 

What you consume

When people think of the word “consume” they may naturally think of something like eating or food. While it’s true that you have control over what you consume from a nutritional perspective, broaden that thought to other things that you consume on a regular basis. Your regular consumption includes

  • The news you read and where you get it from
  • Social media and self-image outlets
  • Entertainment
  • Knowledge (podcasts, books, videos, courses, classes, etc)
  • Interactions with your friends, family, and co-workers

Reflect on the past week. What has been a negative influence or perhaps overly influential on your thoughts and actions? Perhaps the weight of the news is dragging you down or there has been drama at the workplace that has taken up a lot of your headspace. Here are some tips to take back control of the things that you consume:

  • Find different news outlets to get your information from. Counselors will often suggest outlets outside of your country if you get too worked up by the news. They are more neutral and have no agenda to drive you toward one conclusion or another. 
  • Take social media breaks and see how it impacts your outlook on yourself and your day. 
  • Put limits on the amount of entertainment you consume to allow space for other productive things. 
  • Check your knowledge outlets for alignments with your goals and ambitions. 
  • Evaluate those that you interact with regularly. Are they adding value to you or are they toxic and need to be managed? (Show 205)

Your mental and physical fitness 

Physical and mental fitness is just good for you. There are countless studies and stories online of the benefits of physical activities including ones from the Mayo Clinic and The World Health Organization. We’ve talked at length over the years about the benefits as well including Finding Leadership in Running (PTB 170) Life Lessons from running at DisneyWhat running 37.5 miles taught me (PTB 128). 

Some tips to control your mental and physical fitness:

  • Studies share that you need 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigours exercise a week and strength training for all major muscle groups two times a week. Forget that! Do what you can. You can control going out for a 10-minute stroll. Don’t let studies that highlight how you may be coming up short hold you back. Take control of those small moments to give yourself the break and conditioning you need. 

  • Read a book or engage in some mentally stimulating activity. At my current stage, it’s mostly working on art with a little bit of reading. Neither one, do I spend a large block of time on except perhaps the weekend. Take control of small segments here as well.  What does that look like for you?

  • Find reading or fitness apps to help get you started and stay motivated. You can find an endless amount of fitness apps out there. I use Caliber for strength training; it’s free and includes plans and videos based on what you have available at your house. I use Apple Fitness for my aerobic, core, and additional strength work. 

Find things that you have an interest in and carve out time to take of both your mind and body. 

Your work ethic

No matter what others do, or don’t do, no one has control over your work ethic except for you. For better or worse, the choices you make in how you do your work are yours alone. Need resources to help drive a strong work ethic? Check out: 

Your work ethics are your calling card. More than anything, it’s how people know and think of you. 

How you approach and deal with people

How do you show up for people that you interact with? Even in those tough circumstances that may rock our day, we still ultimately own and have the power over how we interact with others and come across in conversations.  How well do you control your approach with others? Are you a reflection of your day; nice on a good day and distraught during the bad days? 

Be mindful to be consistent in how you interact with others. Most times it should be effortless; it’s your authentic self where you (hopefully) want to add value to others. At other times, you’ll need to make the choice to be super intentional to keep steady in all the negative noise of the day. Don’t let your day influence who you are. Let yourself influence how your day is going to be. 

If you look more online at the types of things that you can control, you’ll find a myriad of opinions out there ranging from a list of 100 down to an article saying that you can only control one thing. Evaluate your day. What do you have influence over that you perhaps don’t give yourself enough credit or power over right now? Get a solid grasp on those things you can control as you get ready to let go of the things that you can’t control. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Time Management: Successful leaders delegate

Time Management: Successful leaders delegate

One of the most common opportunities for newly promoted leaders is the skill of delegation. It comes in part from being the expert in the areas of their previous role and still retaining those responsibilities and partly from passion areas that the person just loves to do. We teach that holding on to both of these types of tasks restrains your effectiveness in a new role and it’s not until you can successfully delegate those tasks away, that you can realize your full potential. 

Whether you are a new leader or not, good delegation skills take your time management skills to the next level. 

Assess your routine and schedule

Think back to our exercise in Prioritizing your time (Show 380), what are those things that you found yourself spending time on that are low or important in priority? Those two categories will likely be full of activities and tasks that can be delegated out in your work life. 

Assess your schedule and do some self-reflection as it compares to your current role. Are you doing things that you did in a previous role? 

In your personal life, think about the things that you routinely spend time on thought out the year.  Corilate that time with a monetary value. What is your time worth during your personal time? It’s ok, and perhaps likely, that the dollar amount changes depending on what it is. Now put a value on the things that you really need or want to do. If the want and need are valued higher, you may benefit from delegating (or paying) someone to do it. 

“Find things for other people to do,” seems easy enough, but we sometimes put blinders on or overestimate our own commitment to items that are taking time better used elsewhere

Compliment delegation to others’ development

By now you should have a list of things in your work routine that you can delegate away. Leverage those items as development opportunities for those on your team. Who could best learn and grow by taking on the task or responsibility?

Delegation is a great way for someone to get a glimpse of what your day-to-day world entails as well as help provide them with a low-risk look into the world that you live in. It’s a great way for the person to get a feel for your role to help them understand if they may aspire to become you one day.

Follow-up on your delegated items

Delegation certainly has its perks for the leader as well. You’ll find yourself having some room in your schedule (and your mind) to do things that are important that you’ve been putting off. Your success in delegation will also help you to be a more future-focused leader instead of being caught up in the swirl of the day. 

The benefits are great, but leaders sometimes put delegated tasks in the “set it and forget it” category. Delegation without a follow-up plan is a recipe for disaster for you and the person taking on the new task. 

  • Before the task is delegated: Ensure that there is alignment on expectations and agreement from both parties around the specific ask of the person you are delegating the item to. They need to have support, empowerment, and any resources necessary to be successful. 

  • Set a check-in cadence to see how things are going and to get feedback on any ways that you can adjust to support the person better. Keep the cadence tight at first and then build in some space as time, trust and results build. 

Delegate it all away?

It’s been said before to delegate it all away. While it’s great to delegate projects, tasks, and responsibilities to others, it’s important to your people for them to see you still a part of the work. Delegation is a powerful tool, but if your people feel like they are simply just doing your job while you collect a paycheck, engagement will surely fall quickly and people will begin to leave. 

As you have your team meetings and huddles, be sure to share the things that you are working on and have accomplished since the meeting. This will help in two ways: It will help them feel more informed of the larger picture and it will show them that you are just as involved in the overall success of the strategy as they are. 

Strike the right balance between delegation and tasks that you need to lead yourself. 

Layer in all the aspects of time management; Prioritize your time, set up your system, eliminate time stealers, and delegate for success to take control of your time management skills. It can truly be a life-changing habit and helps you stay focused, accelerate your performance and enjoy life more along the way. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Time Management Series: Eliminate time stealers

Time Management Series: Eliminate time stealers

Positive intent. I love that phrase and use it quite often in communication and coaching. It sums up so many shortfalls in a real way. A person had all the positive intent in the world, but maybe how they went about getting to a solution wasn’t quite right. You’ll often find positive intent in your personal life. Maybe, it’s the positive intent to take better care of yourself or get a better hold of your time. 

Time stealers love to eat with positive intent. They are the little distractions in your day and week that add up to a total derailment of what you intended to do and work on at that time. 

Identify where time stealers come from

Time stealers can from anywhere and can range from those very small distractions that pile up, or something that starts off small but ends up eating up large blocks of time.  Some common areas for time stealers include:

Your mobile device: For all the great things that our mobile devices have introduced into our lives, it is also the most common place to be a time stealer! Notifications, social media apps, texts, games….the list can go on and on. There are many ways to handle your device from muting your device for blocks of time, to physically moving it out of reach. Assess the impact that your device is having on pulling you away from what needs to be done throughout the day and take steps to dampen its influence and temptation. 

Work informal communication channels: Pick your poison: teams, slack, discord, or other similar programs. These can turn into major time stealers, especially in group or team chats.  When one of these gets out of hand in while you’ve got things to do, mute the chat or notification until you can come back to it. 

Open-ended hobbies and projects: I love a good video game, but many are set up in a “one more thing” format to entice you to keep playing longer than you perhaps had intended. It’s easy for 30 min to turn into a couple of hours or more.  Open-ended hobbies are the same way; they offer a healthy escape from the stress of the day, but they can also pull too much time away from things that you need to be doing throughout your day. Put these in your time management system to help you stay accountable here. 

Other time stealers

  • Multi-tasking
  • Perfectionism
  • Doing work outside your role/other people’s jobs
  • Unnecessary meetings
  • Emails; both unnecessary ones and a feeling to immediately reply

Leverage your system to purposely use discretionary time

Your time management system can do a lot here in terms of helping you stay accountable and on track with what needs to be done today and this week. 

My daily view keeps track of my scheduled meetings and activities, but I also write things down that need to get done that day…at some point. When I’m out of a meeting or have a block of time, I start working on that list until it’s complete. In fact, this session is written exactly that way! I need to get it done today, but not at a specific time

The types of items that fall on this section of your to-do list are often important or urgent in nature and are typically maintenance focused. Some examples from this week’s list for me include Call dr office, update travel profile at work, enter in my vacation days, practicing music, calling someone back, etc. None of that is life-changing but all things that need to get done.  

Are you capturing those items in your time management system? What things do you need to write down or capture to make sure that time stealers aren’t taking the opportunity to get these things done?

Other Considerations

Making good choices with discretionary time.

Be intentional in this time as well or it will fill with junk. It’s ok to put fun or “vege out” moments in there. Just protect yourself from distractions where you can lose large amounts of time that can eat into other planned productive times.

Planning time

Make sure to include margin time for planning. It’s typically best at the beginning or end of the week.

Dealing with procrastination

If you deal with procrastination, you will want to be more thorough in calendar planning and the use of the erase board/daily planner. This will help you overcome the habit of waiting until the last moment.

Homework: Goal setting

Choose a long-term goal (6 months to over a year out) Set a date and work backward to build out a plan in the time management system to meet the goal. Focus on daily behaviors and timely checkups to stay on track to meet the goal.

Self-reflection to determine the impact of time management

·       How did you do in implementing the habits of time management?

·       Have you seen a decrease in stress and a better ability to do things (personally and professionally)?

·       Have you improved on meeting deadlines?

·       On a scale of one to ten, how do you feel you are with your time management skills?

·       What do you feel like you need to work on to raise that number?

Keep to the positive habits around time management, and make changes to your time management system if it’s not working for you. As you combine those efforts with eliminating time stealers, you’ll really start making progress toward a very productive and less stress-filled day.  Next time, we’ll talk about leveraging the power of delegation to take your time management skills to the next level. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Time Management Series: Build your time system

Time Management Series: Build your time system

Lee Cockerell retired EVP of Disney World, walks around with a pocket calendar and day planner in his pocket and has been for years. You could find him in corporate meetings jotting down notes and then later in the day out in the parks referencing what was up next and cataloging reminders on items to follow up on. His work ethic has obviously paid off for him and his habit is a shining example of old-school systems continuing to meet the need in a technology-focused world. 

When I took our very own Mike Floyd through our time management class, he was the exact opposite of Lee; fully focused on leveraging the latest apps and technology out there to help him conquer his time. Guess what? He did it too. 

As for me, I use a bit of both, leveraging technology for my calendar and on-the-go notes, while using old-school methods to track my daily to-dos and longer-term goals for the year. 

No matter your preference, one of the most important aspects of time management, is a good system in place that works for you. 

Decide your path: Paper or electronic (or both)

As you think about your system you need to decide what vehicle you are using to help you get into the right habits. 

Paper/physical: Day planners and calendars and calendar books are your resources here. You can find many versions of these online, at office supply stores, and even at your local bookstore and art stores. Some are open-ended, meaning you fill in the months and days, while others have that information already filled in in increments of 6 – 18 months. They also vary on the amount of extra paper and notes sections that are included. 

The good thing about paper & physical products is that they are highly likely to fit your need, no matter how specific it is. 

Electronic: The other route to consider is electronic. This leverages a combination of apps and online calendars. Do a search for online note-taking and calendars and you’ll pull up a number of options on the main platforms that people use. 

The plus side of electronic options is can always be with you and takes up no additional space. They also often transfer your data across devices and can easily set up reminders and alarms that accompany your tasks. 

The calendar

Regardless of your choice of physical or electronic, you’ll want to leverage a calendar to keep track of things.  I keep track of my work, personal, church, and volunteer life on my calendar. Items that have a deadline are listed by time and items that just need to be done that day at some point are at the top of the day.

Tips for a successful calendar:

  • Add dates as soon as you become aware of tasks and events. This helps you not worry about remembering to add it at a later date. 
  • Put everything on the calendar. Family, church, work, and personal. If you are using an electronic calendar and are worried about others seeing your full life, you can manage access.
  • Sync your calendar to your phone and get notifications if going that route. 
  • You can also customize the calendar with colors. Different events can be different colors to make them stand out. Ex. Red for family, blue for work, and green for other activities. (This is an optional piece, but helps quickly see what you’ve got going on)

If you need more help staying accountable, put more detail in there. It’s best to start with more detail and work off of that to a good balance, than starting very generic and vague.

This approach is exactly the same one that is used in the weekly/monthly section of a day planner.

Think of your calendar as your vital (and sometimes urgent) items.

The dry-erase board/notes function

In addition to your calendar system, you’ll also want something to keep your lists and to-dos for the day and even big-picture goals for the year. I use a combination of a dry-erase board and a notepad. My dry-erase board tracks big-ticket items as well as my few goals for the year. It keeps those things front of mind for me on a daily basis so I don’t lose sight of them.

I use a notepad to track my to-dos for the day and week. Think of this as your Urgent and Important list. The day portion of the day planner works in this same concept as the notepad.

If you use the dry-erase board in an office environment, be sure to include your leadership team to actively use the board as well. 

  1. They will learn to pick things off the board to take a load off of you.
  2. They will identify things that need to be added to the board
  3. It will give them a larger sense of ownership in execution.
  4. The board is flexible to add things for specific people as needed.

The dry-erase board/notes function

  • What kind of things would you add to your board?
  • What are some things that you need to put on your calendar that you are not?
  • How can you leverage your calendar to build in new habits that you’ve been meaning to get started?

Homework before the next segment

  • Work on picking out your time management system.
  • Begin adding dates, to-dos, and commitments to your calendar for the next 6-12 months. 
  • Begin using daily to-do lists using the method of your choosing. 

Now that you’ve got a good understanding of what you need to prioritize, and de-prioritize, leverage your new time management system to boost your success and get things done. Next time, we’ll discuss time stealers and other considerations. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Time Management Series: Prioritize your time

Time Management Series: Prioritize your time

One of the challenges of time management is that many people don’t think of time in terms of a commodity that consistently depletes. 

A great illustration that drives this point home, was a conversation between two people around the concept. The interviewer asked a man in his forties if his parents were still alive.

Man: Yes

Interviewer: How often do you see them?

Man: About twice a year, we live far away, but try to see them when we can. 

Interviewer: How old would you say your parents are?

Man: Mid 70’s probably. 

Interviewer: So if you look at the average life span, let’s say they have 5 years left. 5 years may seem like a long time, but if you only see them twice a year, that means you only have 10 more in-person interactions with them before they are gone. How does that impact how you think of that time with them?

The man went on to say how it would make him prioritize his time in order to see them more. 

The point of the story is not to guilt you into changing how often you visit your parents (although you may want to give them a call more often), it’s to help you see that in order to maximize your time and how you spend it, you might need to think of time in different terms than you normally do.

Think of time management as a habit and skill that you develop

What you are about to do is start a habit in your life and it will likely require that you give other habits up. Stick with it and remember that phrase”progress over perfection.”  Think of something at work or in life that was difficult for you to pick up, but now comes easy for you. Time management may be an adjustment, but it will become much easier as you do it.

Prioritizing your time

When you think about the activities and things that you accomplish on a daily, tasks will nearly fall into 3 Types of priorities

  • Urgent
  • Vital
  • Important

Urgent would be an item that is directed as such from corporate, your employees, customers, or yourself as an immediate action or an item that seriously impacts the team or guests and require immediate action.

Vital would be an item that has to be executed for the success of your business.

Important would be items that need to be completed in a timely manner and can often (and should) be delegated to your team. 

There are also low-priority items. All of these items should be delegated out to your team and not done yourself.

It’s very important to plan these times to your calendar and set aside time for planning itself. Some people would see this as losing their freedom to be flexible. They are partially correct. It does take away your freedom…. freedom to waste time. You can schedule time off or free time as well.

Self-Reflection question: What do immediately think of when you think of urgent and vital items? Do those tasks change in priority based on circumstances?

Time Management Activity: Gain control of your email

Your email inbox is a reflection of your time management and your ability to stay organized (which is also tied to time management.) If you have hundreds of emails in your inbox then you likely have an opportunity to better manage your resources here. 

I also consider my inbox as a to-do list. If I have more than 10 emails after a 48 hr period, then my email management is moving up my priority list. That means I have to go through and clean out the clutter (archive or delete) before I read what really needs to be read.

Things to consider:

-Organizing your email if you are concerned you will lose something. Create folders and archive important messaging into there. I have folders for projects/reviews/the show/races etc. 

-Delete or archive any other unneeded emails and begin leveraging the search function to find previous emails as needed. 

-Make sure you respond timely to an email from your leader and clients. It shows that you have control of your resources and are dependable.

-Unsubscribe from lists and promotions that you are no longer interested in to drop the level of noise in your inbox. 

How many emails are in your inboxes right now? How many are unread?  Think of your inbox as your house. Sometimes it gets messy, but it always feels good and is less stressful when it’s clean. We’ve gotten that same kind of feedback consistently over the years that we have taught Time Management to others. They didn’t appreciate how much their email was subtly increasing their stress levels. 

Homework before the next segment

  • Work on getting your personal and professional email inboxes organized, sorted, and filed before our next segment. 
  • Reflect on how you prioritize your time. Take notes of what is urgent, vital, important, and not important. 

Today is the beginning of creating (or reinforcing) great time management behaviors that will impact your life in ways you likely haven’t fully realized yet. Next time, we’ll talk through systems that you can use to get a hold of and ahead on time planning. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Ask great questions

Ask great questions

If you want to know a simple move to come across to others as more likable, engaging, and enjoyable to be around, you need to understand one fact; most people love to talk about themselves. That’s not a negative about the other person, most people find personal value in sharing with others. 

I’ve leveraged this knowledge several times in the past by going all in on asking a lot of great questions during my first few interactions with the person. It helps build rapport, fast-tracks relationships, and helps accelerate your career.  Today we’ll look at how great questions can serve your relationship-building skills and help you discover problems before they escalate to become larger issues. 

Ask great questions by listening

You’ll always want to start off with questions that get the person to open up and begin sharing information with you. Some good starting points include:

  • Open-ended questions around a shared purpose. This could be around the reason for the meeting or gathering. (What has been your favorite session at the conference so far? What are your thoughts on the CEO’s announcement last week? How do you think the recruiting season is going?)

  • Inquisitive in thier personal endevors. Questions that center on a person’s interests, hobbies, or passions are great starts to open a number of doors to further the conversation.  (What gives you energy, What are you working on outside of the job that gets you excited?) 

  • Listen to their reply for opportunities to dig further in or highlight a topic. (You said _______, tell me more about that.) This will continue a line of discussion until you have exhausted your questions or the topic naturally wraps itself up. 

The secret to a great facilitator is their ability to navigate a conversation by listening to what is said and then asking follow-up questions. It may almost seem effortless as they guide the group through self-discovery or the right path forward. That should be your goal as well. Listen for the right points to send the conversation deeper while doing it in a way that seems natural. It shouldn’t feel forced, inauthentic, or clumsy. 

Simplify your questions

There are going to be times when you have all sorts of thought-provoking questions in your head or you may really excited to hear more or receive additional details. As a result, you may bundle your questions without even realizing this. 

I was recently at a conference where a local well-known entrepreneur gave the morning keynote address and had a Q&A at the end. There was no shortage of questions from the audience! One attendee asked something along the lines of, ” What made you want to do this, what continues to inspire you and what are your goals for the future?” Those are all great questions, but the speaker had to pause and took a moment to process the bundled questions, ultimately missing one of the questions altogether. 

When you find your mind trying to bundle a bunch of questions, sort through them and pick up the most important 1 or 2. Ask one, and then the other as a follow-up if it’s still appropriate. You’ll keep your person engaged and get higher-quality answers as a result. 

Shoot for the deep but be satisfied with the surface

Mining the depths of a person’s thoughts, motivations and insights can be invaluable to getting a better understanding of the person and the topic at hand. Remember that not all conversations will go into the inner crevices of your mind and soul. Think of those deep conversations as cave diving. The surface-level conversations that you have are the safety gear and support systems so that you can safely travel down below. 

In conversations with some of my closest friends, we’ve discussed some very deep and personal topics. We’ll also talk about video games or running beforehand or afterward. Don’t be disappointed if a conversation doesn’t go as deep as you had hoped. Surface-level conversations carry value as well and provide a sense of trust and safety to go deeper into another conversation. 

Don’t be afraid to ask a question

Be brave and ask those questions that may make you look naive. It is better to approach it on the front end and learn valuable information as opposed to playing along and being left in the dark in directions or walking away with the wrong information. 

If the idea of putting yourself out there makes you nervous, address that as well to help you get through the conversation. I’ll often say something along the lines of, “Forgive my ignorance here, but can you tell me what _______ means?” or “This may be a naive question, but can you help me understand _____?”

Typically the other party is going to affirm that your question is in fact not dumb, and will be happy to help give more clarity. There is also a chance that someone else has the same question, but is too afraid to ask themselves. 

Keep those questions coming! Great, thought-provoking questions, help you and those around you grow in knowledge and trust. 

Make a better tomorrow. 

Tips to strengthen your active listening skills

Tips to strengthen your active listening skills

We all want to be heard, valued, and appreciated.  Part of being heard and valued is actually letting other people fulfill that want and need. In order to effectively work with customers, co-workers, and even friends and family, you’ll need to leverage active listening skills in order to receive the whole message accurately and build trust with others.

Here are some tips to help you grow in your active listening efforts.

Clear the distractions

Think about all the distractions that you have going on around you on a daily basis. Your computer is pinging you with emails and instant messages, your phone is constantly nudging you and smart watches are pulling at you for a quick look. On top of all the technology barriers, are the real-life issues that you go through; maybe it’s a tough conversation that you need to have at work, relationship challenges in your personal life, or health issues that you going through.  Distractions everywhere!

All of those distractions are barriers when it comes to actively listening to clients, co-workers and friends, and family. Here are some tips to eliminate the distractions around you:

  • Lose the electronics: Put away all of your electronics so they won’t be a distraction for you. That means taking the phone off the table, closing the laptop or tablet, or setting your CPU to sleep mode. When I traveled a lot in operations, I would enter my visit on the laptop while having my wrap-up conversations with the leader. I thought it was a great use of my time in being to log the visit while still giving the person the time to share what they wanted to. What I learned is that I wasn’t getting the true vulnerable information that I needed to hear, because they felt like I was distracted. I still entered in my visits before I left, but I made sure I listened to the important stuff before opening up my laptop to do work.

  • Use your eyes to help your ears. If you are easily distracted or prone to be a very detailed focus person, your eyes can work against you while trying to actively listen to someone else and most random things that catch your attention will draw it away from the person sharing information with you. Try to focus your eyes on the person while they share. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but it will get easier with time. If locking eye contact is far out of your comfort zone, try it in small segments and then focus on something else close by.

Utilize your skills for active listening

Active listening is all about listening with the intent to learn. Here are five areas to consider in order to be a better listener to others.

  1. Be attentive and lose the distractions!
  2. Ask Questions: Ask open-ended questions to show your level of engagement and probing questions to dig further into the topic being discussed.
  3. Reflect back: Paraphrase what you are hearing to confirm your understanding and reflect back on the feeling and tenor of emotion being communicated to you.
  4. Get clarity: Don’t be afraid to ask for further clarification as needed.
  5. Summarize: Summarize the conversation so the person feels good about their message being received and you have confidence in taking away the right message.

The benefits of active listening

Although all of your effort is going towards the other person, there are benefits that you will both receive as you strengthen your active listening skills.  

  • It opens the road to building trust. Actively listening to someone shows that you genuinely care about them, their thoughts, and their opinions.
  • Increases your approachability with others. When people see and know that you are truly listening, it makes you more approachable as a person and as a leader.
  • Saves you time (and money). Having great listening skills helps ensure that you get the information right the first time. It also cuts down on needed follow-up and clarification later.
  • Helps cut off problems early. Taking the time to really listen to someone helps you pick on the small but important aspects of the conversation. You’ll have a better opportunity to dig into what is being said, and what is not being said and pick up on subtle clues from the person’s non-verbal communication.

Active listening doesn’t have to be hard once you’ve rid yourself of the distraction and are making an intent to be involved in the conversation. Show others you care by taking the time to listen.

Make a better tomorrow.