Posts tagged with: people

My best advice and lesson from 2015: Cull toxic relationships.

2015 has been a wild ride and major pivot point in my life. It was filled with many new adventures, many amazing successes, a massive career shift and the end to two long-term and toxic relationships that have exponentially changed me. If there’s any advice I could give my past (and future) self, it would be to cut ties with toxic and self destructive things. Life is just far too short.

I know people say this a lot because it will just infect you like a cancer and it almost becomes white noise. I tended to ignore it sometimes because I always wanted to hold tight and work through challenges and try to make things better than I’ve found them. My whole career has been focused on improving organizations that are in trouble or lost on digital — and we *have* made things better and achieved a lot, most of the time.

But along with that, you also need to know that some things you just can’t fix and if you don’t let them go, they will pull you into the quicksand with them. I’m still reeling from how much Stockholm Syndrome I had, how much I invested to try and fix an unfixable thing, and how much I wish I had cut ties so much earlier. …But such is life. Now I have a new, much more positive one and am seeking out and surrounding myself with more diverse, positive, high-achievers that will challenge me in good ways and help me become more excellent.

Onward and upward, to 2016!

Quote of the week: “When you say ‘no’ to something, you are saying ‘yes’ to something else.”

This past week I was struck by a quote from Tim Stringer on the Coaching for Leaders podcast:

“When you say ‘no’ to something, you are saying ‘yes’ to something else.”

I’ve heard and believed similar things, but not heard this so succinctly and perfectly. Especially in our society — and doubly so in DC — where it’s a badge of pride to CHOOSE to be ‘constantly busy.’ Most people don’t acknowledge much of what we do is a *choice* to be busy when it comes to work-life balance.

I, and a lot of people, think if we’re not running at 120% capacity, it’s very easy to say yes to things just to fill up your calendar but it’s good to have the bandwidth and space to say ‘yes’ to impromptu or urgent things, rather than having to book and plan out your ‘extra/side project’ schedule months in advance (which I actually just did for the next quarter… I’m glad I’m planning it, but after writing this realize I might need to just book 10% time for new/experimental things).

I’m right now wrestling with some side projects that I might need to wind down or walk away from because the initial commitment I offered has grown exponentially and unfortunately when other leaders in the organization have seen the extra work I’ve put in, they’ve lumped more on me, backed away and/or stepped down. I hoped that seeing someone putting in extra effort would inspire the culture and make the others reinvigorated to pull their fair share and work harder, but for some it’s had the opposite effect. There is one champion who I think is really excellent and working with me to improve the process and culture, and hopefully we can weather this storm and get some allies who will put in the time and effort needed. I’d hate to walk away from her getting re-inspired and her positive energy. Anyway that’s all to say, I’m thinking a lot about commitments, time, impact and how to choose wisely what to say yes and no to a lot lately so this quote struck me pretty hard at the right time.

If you don’t listen to the Coaching for Leaders podcast, you should check it out. It’s been one of my long-time favorites for podcasts on positive, realistic management approaches for all sorts of organizations.


Watch this: Inspirational and transformational management strategies from The Profit

The Profit

I’m not a reality TV junkie by any means, in fact, I avoid almost all of them (and most TV in general). But one show I’ve been hooked on over the past year has been The Profit, a CNBC show about turning around failing businesses with investor and consultant Marcus Lemonis who invests his own money, sweat equity and expertise to right the ship.

What I love about this show:

  1. As someone who’s dedicated his live to trying to fix, improve and impact legacy organizations from media to the government with varying levels of management, process and product issues, I really enjoy seeing Lemonis’ process and how he drops in to any type or size of organization– from Key Lime Pie bakers to car dealerships to a custom furniture family business — and applies a simple formula to fix it. And most of the time, he seems to pull it off.
  2. His simple formula is fantastic. Focus on improving: People. Process. Product.
  3. It’s real. Sometimes the deals don’t always work out or things explode and then end up in litigation after the business backs out of agreements or didn’t disclose debts or other issues. One of the things that drive me nuts about most reality shows is their predictable story arcs that make them seem scripted (and without a doubt, some are). The Profit doesn’t always have a happy ending and I appreciate the realness of that.
  4. Lemonis’ interpersonal skills have been really inspirational to me. The way he drops into these organization, finds allies, champions and diamonds in the rough, then raises them up and helps them rebuild were instrumental in my leadership strategy in the last year at the BBG. Most of the time, the core issue with the business is the people. Process and product are generally easier to fix. People are often the hardest thing to change in failing businesses, especially changing a culture or a hard personality (without just firing away the problem which sometimes you can’t). Often in the show (and in real life at these kind of flailing organizations) issues are caused by people who refuse to give up control, refuse to try a new way or hand over control to the next generation of leaders. So learning his tools and emotional intelligence strategies has been incredibly helpful for me as a manager.

Check it out on CNBC prime time, the web on Hulu (how I watch it).