How to Create the Culture on your Remote Team (and the family members in your household)

I want to acknowledge and thank you today.  
You’ve been putting out so much energy and caring to take care of the people around you – your team, your family, and people who might be suffering more than you in this time.  That’s the kind of person you are, and I want you to appreciate yourself for it. 
After spending the week talking to my individual clients and leaders at companies who have brought me in to train their teams on Success under Stress, I’ve heard some themes over and over.   
A common one was: how to ‘get’ your team members to be productive while still being supportive. And a variation on that was how to ‘get’ your children to accomplish what they need to? 
The answer is that WFH is a new way of interacting with your team and family, so its an opportunity to do a reset.  What you want is to be intentional about creating that culture.  
First, Be Intentional about who YOU show up as. 
Think about the outcome you want for your team or family. Then ask yourself,  Who do I need to show up as in order to create that culture? 
You have an opportunity to re-define what is needed of you as a leader and as a parent. You might think first about how can you ‘get others’ to act a certain way, but the prerequisite for that is ‘how do YOU need to show up’ to create conditions for them to act that way.  I call this idea your Horizon Point.   You have probably been busy reacting to other people, but instead Ask yourself: who do I want to show up as?  That is your purpose, that you CAN control!
Second, Be Intentional about the culture you create 
You can lead a team discussion about what is the culture we want to have on your team.  I call this the Ideal Day discussion.  “What would an Ideal Day look like now?” How would we communicate together; what is the most important work, and what’s less;  how can we maintain a sense of feeling connected and have ‘virtual hallway chats’, etc When you lead this discussion, you are starting to create a collective positive future vision that bonds everyone.  Your ongoing conversations will be about how to reverse engineer your interactions to create that day.  
You can also do this with your family too – they and your pets are your new co-workers!   Ask your loved ones “what is the experience we want to have as we go through this time together?”  Go around the dinner table and get everyone’s input.  Maybe each person gets to plan an evening activity. Maybe do a dance break or take an afternoon walk together (or maybe you need space to do this on your own). The idea is: How do each of us need to act in order to have that experience? 
When you crowdsource input to your Ideal Day from everyone involved, then all your team or family members feel they have ‘skin in the game’. They are bought-in, and want to do their part.  Tapping their own motivation is 100x stronger than you trying to ‘get them’ to be productive.  
Third, Be Intentional about your Schedule 
Structure sets up success.  You want to impose a structure on your day.  Think about Steven Covey’s concept of the ‘big rocks’ where you populate your schedule with the MOST important activities first, then build all your meetings and interactions around them.    Are you building your day around your most important activities?  (e.g., a morning routine of exercise, meditation, time for writing own your 3 big things for the day) that sets your head up to in the right place?  And are you creating a structure for your children?  They will benefit from routine and predictability.  Make it a part of your Ideal Day discussion to ask about what activities they want to do so you can balance them with the activities that you want them to do. 
Here’s to your Success under Stress, 

How to Shift From Fear to Focus

With the gyrations of the stock market, apocalyptic visions of health, and an uncertain future,  many of us are feeling either a low grade ‘back of the mind’ anxiety, or more full blown fear to the point that its hard to concentrate or make decisions.  I noticed myself totally distracted with checking my news outlets every 10 minutes. 

There have been moments I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of fear. What if I lose my business? What if my parents get sick?  What if we run out of food supplies? What if the world as we know it no longer exists?

Here are 3 questions I ask myself to pull myself up from the downward spiral of anxiety. Hope they help you shift from Fear to Focus.

I ask myself: 

1. What are the mental movies I’m playing that are setting me up to feel this way? 
Even though I haven’t seen the movie Contagion, I’ve already ‘seen’ that movie playing for a fleeting moment in my own mind. Not to mention the scenarios of all the money being sucked out of the economy, having all business come to a grinding halt, and no one is working.  At that point, I realize it’s time to use the remote control to change the channel!
Then I can ‘remember who I am’ and ‘what I’m here for’. I can reconnect with the abundance in the world. I look out at the water view outside my window. I look out at the trees in the natural world, continuing to grow unphased by the human scenario. I appreciate all the people I am in constant connection with and feel their prayers and love. Then the world feels full of possibilities again, and I can get back to problem-solving.   

2. What part of my body can help me access a positive and focused state? 
When I notice that I am spinning with negative movies inside my head, I seek ways to get out of my head. The best remedies are going for a run/exercise (or a walk in nature), or put on a song that reflects the mood  I want to be in and do a dance break (Yes, why not do a dance break with all the people you are sheltered in with!)
If you find that your thoughts are racing and it’s hard to concentrate, you may simply need to get back to a state of calm. The fastest and simplest way to do that is through your breath.

The exhale part of your breath is the part that gives you the most relaxing effect. Any time you breathe OUT for a longer count than when you breathe IN, you will start to experience more calm. There are many variations on this theme, but an easy one to remember is to breathe in through your nose for 4 counts, breathe out for 8 counts – within 2-3 minutes you should start to feel a greater sense of calm.
If it is frustration you need to release, you may to do something that helps you “let it out.” ‘ My go to is the punching bag. After a few minutes of taking it out on the bag, I can think clearly and have more sense of possibility for the future. If you don’t have access to equipment right now, try doing the “karate chop”. Place your hands, palms facing each other, in front of your torso. Vigorously move your arms up and down as if you are doing a karate chop. If you do this as vigorously as you can for 1-2 minutes, you’ll dissolve a lot of the pent up negative energy. (Those of you who have been in my Resilience trainings may remember this, its one of the things I hear you practice the most 😉

3. How might this be happening FOR me, not TO me
We may not be taking this situation personally, it does feel like these changes are happening “to us” (and at too rapid a pace). When I think that there is nothing I can do to prevent this tsunami of events from occurring, I feel helpless. Even if I do everything possible to protect myself and my loved ones, will I be able to keep them from getting sick, or losing their jobs, or even from losing my business? Then I’m in a mental swirl of fear.

So, I’ve been asking myself the question: How might this be happening FOR me, not TO me. What relationships will this give you more bandwidth to develop (including with yourself?) What skills can you develop that will set you up for your next level? What realizations will this force you to have that you’ve been hiding under the rug? 

This question empowers me, and I hope it enables you to see how to turn crisis into opportunity as well.

I now have talked to a lot of people who are bonding with spouses or family members in ways they hadn’t had the time for (or had been unconsciously avoiding through long hours at work). Others are using this collective restriction to ‘catch their breath’ and learn new skills or pay attention to projects long dropped due to lack of time. 

Personally, it’s requiring me to take what I’ve been doing mostly offline and bring it online for many more people, and take this video-friendly but social media shy gal to grow into sharing herself and her strategies daily! I’ve needed that ‘kick in the butt’ for a while, and I am turning this crisis into an opportunity.  

So, journal about or share with your family tonight your answer to the question: How might this be happening FOR you, not TO you? 

Do you want to make others feel they belong?

I was already a foot shorter and I shrunk further in their presence.

Yup, that’s how I felt in my college years.  The culture seemed to be dominated by tall men who went to prep school. They played basketball or rowed crew.

Their discussions seemed to take place literally above my head.

I felt I didn’t belong.  At social gatherings and parties, I felt like I didn’t have anything to add. I felt those parties were not for me. Sometimes I would just slink home from the party, by myself

We all have a story (more likely MANY stories) of times we felt we didn’t belong.

As my colleague Denice Torres (former C-suite leader and President of multiple divisions at Johnson and Johnson) says:

Flex time, free lunches, and modest raises won’t fix the problem of a tight labor market and 20% of millenials changing jobs each year. We’ve “been there, done that.” The revolution required by leaders and their organization begins in the heart. Through genuine caring about our people and working to ensure every individual feels like they are heard, appreciated, rewarded for their work, and celebrated for their differences we can dramatically improve our financial performance and employee engagement.

Does this sound good but maybe naïve or pie in the sky?

Actually, we’ve got numbers on our side on this one.

According to Gallup, companies who created this sense of Belonging posted sizable gains through the last recession, compared with a significant decline at those who didn’t.

Recent research even found that a sense of Belonging is as good a retention strategy as good pay and benefits  

When we are happy and feel connected we are more productive.

Are you creating a sense of belonging on your team?  In your organization?  In your family and community?

Here are five things you can start doing today to create a sense of Belonging around you:

1. Check in – A recent study by EY found that people feel the greatest sense of belonging when their colleagues check in with them, both personally and professionally.  Yes it can be that simple, Just Ask.  And Listen!

2. Give Personal Recognition –  Recognize people for their contributions. This is the #1 thing that makes them feel they belong.For example, in my virtual coaching program that gets women next level roles, I start each coaching call asking for ‘wins/accomplishments.’ When a participant shares,  I reflect back to her the qualities that enabled her to create that win. Then I require her to “own it.”  From this watering of her soil, you can feel each woman blossom and take chances she wouldn’t before.

3. Pay personal attention Everyone around you is going to have some differences on dimensions of diversity, whether that is gender, race, age, cognitive styles.   Elicit their input and opinions, value their ideas (especially from those that don’t speak up as much). Care about their concerns.

4. Inspire – Create a vision that is so inspiring it raises everyone’s sense of possibility.  Make it a burning platform. Striving toward a stretch goal with a compelling purpose bonds your team members to one another and to the organization.

5. Create a No B.S. Zone around you.  Be real, talk like a human! Move out from behind the shield of corporate speak.  Be appropriately vulnerable.

Do you want to create a sense of belonging in order to increase loyalty, retention, engagement, and productivity?

Denice and I are training leaders in companies how to create a sense of belonging.  Email me to learn more about what we’re doing to help companies create this in their culture.

Thank you for making your world a better place,


P.S.   When I was asked to speak at two of my ‘big number’ College reunions,  some of those ‘tall guys’ I never spoke to came up and talked with me. We immediately connected and talked ‘real’ with one another.   That greatly increased my sense of belonging and now I/we all crave to be together.

How to Remove Last Year’s problems and Make a Fresh Start in 2019

One moment the water is calm and the next moment I am swept away faster practically faster than I could react. 

That’s what it was like for hours when I was surfing in Panama over the holiday.

The wave comes with a force that is beyond one’s control.  It surrounds you and sweeps you into its current.  You must deal with it.

It’s the same when you are in a situation that is acutely stressful (like my new client who’s business partner started to push her out of the business).

Or a situation which is chronically frustrating (like a boss who won’t support your promotion or a relationship mate who is always ‘all about them’ and makes you feel bad about yourself).

In these situations, you feel like your life is being affected by the force of someone else’s ‘stuff’. You feel thwarted, you spin and obsess about it… but you are still subject to their forces.

On a surfboard, as in life, when a wave surrounds you,  you have choices.

You can be overcome and hold on in fear. That will keep your head looking down at the board and hands gripping the sides in hope.  What happens next?  That’s right, you’ll nose dive into the wave!

You’ll get tossed around, and lose your sense of who you are and where you’re going. You’ll end up with an outcome you didn’t want AND suffer in the process.

Or you can maximize what you can control: lift your chest up, redistribute your weight, and ride the wave with a thrill.

That’s what it means to be ‘in your power’.

Most of the situations that created stress and drained your energy in 2018 were perpetuated because you were not ‘in your power’.

A lot of people are going to have a 2019 . . . that’s 2018 all over again.

So the most important question to ask yourself starting now is:

“What am I going to do differently in 2019 to make THIS year the year I live up to my potential and break through to my exciting next level?”

Because the truth is, the only path that’s going to get you to that highly paid position where you have significant impact is YOU knowing how to be IN YOUR POWER.

You want to make it a practice to find your power.  You can do a simple Power Analysis: “Where’s my power in this situation?”

You are in your power when you can take actions that get you the outcome you want. If you have been passed over for a promotion or aren’t getting the support you need to advance you are not in your power.

For example, a new client felt burned by a boss who wasn’t advocating for her and conflicted between loving her job but not getting what she feels she deserves.    She hired me to help her get her desired promotion and raise.

Within our first session, we identified where she could be ‘in her power’ and this seemingly stuck situation suddenly had many solutions.   One solution came from creating a stakeholder map and looking beyond relationships with her frustrating bosses. We realized there is a very senior woman in her group who could serve as advocate and Sponsor for her. We put in place an initiative to connect and involve this senior woman.  Within 2 weeks, they are in ongoing conversation and my client has new visibility over her situation (and a Sponsor on the way). If I were a betting gal, I’d give it 3 months until she has her promotion and raise!

Similarly if you are in a business partnership or a personal relationship where you lack the confidence to feel good about yourself inside, you are not in your power.

For example,  my (high achieving) client had a boyfriend who was ‘all about him’ and put her down. When she came to me, she didn’t have a voice and she couldn’t seem to get out of it.

Where was her power? Yes, she could set boundaries,  Boundaries are being in your power because they are not meant to change others’ behavior, they are meant to protect you.

But he was so relentless it was hard to enforce them.

So where was her ULTIMATE POWER?  She was staying in the relationship because she believed SHE needed HIS validation in order to feel beautiful.  She gave away her power, thinking that it was what he said to her that determined her beauty.

Once we did my Magic Bullet Exercise she got unblocked and connected to a newfound love for herself.  With this deep knowing of her own worth, she no longer looked to him in order to feel loveable.  Then she didn’t need to stay in the hurtful dynamic in the hopes she could get him to love her.  She was free of suffering and is playing bigger in the world.

Do you want to find where your power is in a situation where you are stuck, and spinning, and playing small?

If so, I’m opening my schedule for 5 people to have a ‘Power Analysis’ Strategy Session.  We will help you get unstuck and find your power so you can influence others and have the confidence to increase income and impact.  Simply click here to make an appointment for our consultation.

Make 2019 the year you stop spinning, you stop playing small, and you finally step into your power.  Then, and only then, will you make 2019 the year you reach your exciting next level.

Happy New Year!


P.S.  Thanks for asking, yes surfing was a blast until I got stung by a stingray

How to Have a Strong Personality without Coming on Too Strong

Do you have a strong personality and been told you come on too strong? If so, I bet you are someone who gets results and goes the extra mile. The Problem? You get to the answer much quicker than other people. Other people frustrate you. And then you have a frustrated tone. You get controlling.

You’ve probably been given feedback about it. (And if you are a woman, you feel in a struggle around how to come across as “confident”, but NOT “arrogant” or “strident”.)

Do you ever wish you knew: “how do I make other people accountable and WANT to do better work? And how do I stay calm instead of reacting to them?”

Here are two strategies to get you started…

1. Shift from “doing tasks” to “doing people”

In every communication there are two levels: the level of the “Content” (the information, your request) and the level of the “Process” (how the person feels in the relationship with you).

Which level do you pay the most attention to? Probably the “Content”, the point you want to make.

Which level do most people pay attention to first? How they feel in the relationship with you.

People ONLY listen to your information and requests once they feel comfortable and respected in the relationship with you. Feeling dismissed causes stress and constricts listening. Say things with an intent to preserve other’s self-esteem and people will be motivated to do what you ask.

Whenever possible, try to ‘make people right’ instead of making them wrong. Build on their ideas instead of tear them down.

(I know you: I’m not asking you to do this to be “nice”! Do it because it increases their follow through. Just like our stomachs absorb aspirin better when it has enteric coating around it.)

2. Shift from controlling to collaborative and get better results

Your judgment about people who don’t have your standard of excellence sets up your tone. See if you relate to my client’s situation: “The compliance people in my company said they couldn’t give me the waiver I needed to grow the business. I got frustrated and told them they needed to find a solution.” (Then my manager told me I needed to deal with the situation better!)

Here are a few excerpts from our coaching session about it…

Me: When the lawyers said they couldn’t give you the waiver you needed to grow the business, what was your explanation of why they did that?

Client: They are lazy….

Me: And what does that mean about you?

Client: About me?? Well…they were setting me up to do a bad job.

Bingo! That’s why you get frustrated. A confidence concern gets activated. Your dedication to doing things right feels threatened. You think failure will be YOUR fault. So you try to regain some control.

Here’s how she worked it out by the end of our session. Notice she changed her “story”:

Client: “I now see that maybe it’s not that they are stupid, it’s just that they didn’t know how to do the ‘out of the box’ waiver I asked for.”

“Instead of controlling, I want to show up like a “pilot” who is in calm and in control of herself – then guide people through the stormy part of the skies…”

Next time she gets frustrated because she sees people as ‘lazy’, she will instead ask structuring questions that help them tap their problem solving and bring others along to catch up to her thinking.

What are your best ways of having a strong personality without coming on too strong?