Adding Value Every Day

If you would ever thank one of my favorite Creative Directors for his contributions, he would always reply, “Just adding value.” And it was true. Every big idea or quick insight was adding incredible value to the project and our clients. He certainly taught me the concept of adding value at every opportunity. That quip seemed like an off-handed casual comment, but it was one of the best lessons I learned.

I challenge you to think about every project or team you are on. Take a minute to write down all the ways you add value to that team. Celebrate those!!

Now, take another minute to write down what the team needs to perform at a higher level. Are some of those ideas you can take on?

Here are some ways to add value to teams/projects:
– Share your notes from team meetings. Call out the highlights and decisions at the top and the action items at the bottom. (Organization)
– Thank someone for their specific contributions. (Gratitude)
– Share an article or podcast that has relevant information your project or a challenge the team is facing. (Inspiration)
Refocus the conversation around the decision at hand. (Efficiency)

Five People You Need in Your Network

There are five types of people you should have in your network.  These are people who will teach, connect, and support you.  Take a look at your current network and see if you have at least three people of each type in your network.  If not, be intentional to round out your network. Also, remember strong networking is about both giving and benefiting (read this blog for more on that).

1 – Buyer/Client/Future Boss.  Whether you’re a freelancer, entrepreneur, or full-time employee.  Who are people that will contribute to your future income?  Is there someone rising the ranks at your current company – meet up with them, gain advice, add value to their current/future roles (through your network, experience, or skills).  Hitch your wagon to that star.  If you’re a freelancer, who is the hiring manager/freelance resource manager that is building out project teams at your dream agency? 

2 – Connectors.  Some people are magnets for awesome people.  Every time you talk to them, they say, “Do you know XXXX?  They are doing something that you would be interested in.”  These connectors know the growing businesses, the hiring managers, and thought leaders to follow.  Listen to them closely because their recommendations for a book, blog, or connection can be a catalyst in your career.  They are also great people to email and share an awesome project you just completed or share your goals for what’s next for you. 

3 – Mentors & Mentees.  Hopefully you have met some great people in your career that are a few steps ahead of you.  Be a sponge around these people: learn from their mistakes, understand the risks they have taken, and get inspired to push yourself.  The best mentors love helping those who are coming up behind them and reliving their professional journey.  Which means, you should also be mentoring those coming up behind you.  Do you have mentees that you are sharing your experiences and sage advice with?

4 – High-Five/SOS Tribe.  This tribe gets you.  You may be in the same or similar roles, work for the same company.  These are people that you can call and say, “This crazy specific huge accomplishment just happened!” and it will feel like they have jumped through the phone to give you a high five.  They get what it means to get an SOW fully executed or have a crucial conversation with a client, and they are there to support you in a big way.  These may also be people that you call for advice on a problem or a new way of doing something.  “This client just called and ask for a project-based quote vs. an hourly quote.  Have you done that before?  How do you respond?”  This tribe is a great source of advice and knowledge.

5 – Diverse Thinkers.  Is everyone in your network like you or do you have some people that are completely different from you?  Currently, I’m working on a project with someone who is so far on the opposite spectrum of leadership theories.  We talked for 45 minutes yesterday about theories I’ve never seen in practice.  Sometimes it feels like we’re on different planets, but I always take something away from our conversations and know that those nuggets will make me a better leadership coach. 

High-five if you have a well rounded network.  Keep growing.  Keep learning.  And keep paying it forward.

Three Career Lessons From My Mom

In celebration of Mother’s Day, I have to tell you my mom is awesome.  As much as she’s helped me personally; I owe my professional success to her.  Here are the top three lessons my mom taught me. 

1 – Always be hustling.  My mom always had a full-time job and a few side hustles.  When I was younger, I would help my mom set up her display table at the MaryKay parties she would host at our house.  She is still a MaryKay Consultant today and her inventory has taken over the closet in my childhood room. 

2 – Find a great partner.  My parents have been married for 42 years!  They have taken on the world together and have even owned a few businesses together.  They are a great team; each having strengths and complimenting each other’s weaknesses. 

3 – Be involved in your community.  I’m never going to top my mom on this one.  She is the queen of knowing the community.  From PTA President to running into someone she knows wherever she goes; my mom is well-connected.  She is always looking to help others with an introduction or opportunity.  And she also knows the right person to call to solve any problem. 

I still have so much more to learn from my mom and Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to pause and be grateful.  Thank you, Mom!  For these important lessons and so much more!

Align your Actions with your Leadership Aspirations

Who is that leader you emulate? What does your leadership style look like when you are at your best? Which adjectives would you use to express the leader you want to be? How would you want others to describe your leadership? Think big: Sheryl Sandberg, MLK Jr., Bill & Melinda Gates, your parents, a mentor, your best boss ever.

Now think about all the work they invested in becoming that leader. They all successfully aligned their actions to their aspirations in authentic ways. They learned to walk the walk.

I’ve worked with leaders who shared in 1:1s that they care about their people but then on stage at an employee meeting, they felt they had to talk about themselves and almost justify why they have their job. We collaborated to figure out their aspirations and priorities, then aligned their actions and messages to push them to be the best leader they can be. It’s incredibly important and rewarding working. I love doing it.

What are your leadership aspirations? What is your action plan to get you there? Let’s connect to brainstorm actions that align with your aspiration and develop a robust action plan you can start with today.

Common Sense Always Wins

There are so many ways to say it…
K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid)
Control Your Controllable
Focus

It all goes back to… common sense always wins.  When we can keep it simple and focus, we have a direction to move in.  When we focus on what makes sense, the challenges seem easier to tackle, and the opportunities seem more attainable.

Often times we overcomplicate things that are happening to or around us.  We try to look at every possible outcome or factor, take in all the advice people are given us and all the emotions we have.  We get stuck, we can’t make a decision, we can’t move forward.

Think about a challenge or problem you currently have.  Take yourself out of the situation and imagine a stranger is there instead.  What would common sense tell you about this situation? What advice would you give to the stranger?  What relevant insight or information would you share?  What information would you omit (no need to overshare)?  How can you simplify this situation?  If it helps, write it out on a piece of paper.  Think about a few realistic outcomes and make a decision to move forward.

If it’s the right decision, you’re one step closer.  If the outcome was less than desirable, you have the opportunity to change directions and can review and edit the document you already created.

How will you pay it forward for someone else’s career?

Who do you wish you had in your career – a mentor, an influencer, a teacher, a networker, a challenger? Be that person for someone else!

Consider a few points in your career where some gave you advice or took a risk on you. Who were they? What did the do for you? Are there people you see in your professional circles that could benefit from something similar?

Professional Women: This is a particular call out to you. How are you going to help another professional woman break the glass ceiling or get off the sticky floor?