My 2022 reading progress

Reading list

(Books I’m reading now)

“A book is a gift you can open again and again”.

(Garrison Keillor)

I start each year with a measured set of goals.  Reading and writing are two areas I focus on for my goals.

These are the areas where I find a ton of joy daily along with my running program.  My 2022 reading and writing goals are below:

  • Read bible daily / Proverbs, Matthew, and other areas for better understanding
    • Read 2 books monthly
  • Write daily (poems, journal, BLOG articles, LinkedIn posts monthly)
    • Publish Authentic Leadership eBook (April 2022)

So, this is where I update you on my progress. 

I discovered the book The Richest Man Who Ever Lived by Steven K. Scott 15 years ago and adopted an aspect from the book into my daily life.  The book highlights the benefits of Proverbs and how King Solomon identified secrets to success, wealth, and happiness.  I originally read the book thinking it would TELL me how to become rich financially which did not happen.

I read the book and did not understand the lessons the author was trying to relay to the readers.  I dismissed it as an attempt to get people to read the book because of the catchy title.  Luckily for me I decided to go back and read the book multiple times and followed the directions provided to see where they would lead. 

I adopted the practice of reading Proverbs daily because of the wisdom (secrets to success, wealth, and happiness) this book provides to readers.  I have been a daily Proverbs reader for over 15 years now and continue to discover new wisdom insights.  Decided to add other books in the bible to my daily reading program in 2022.  This is the reading goal I continue to meet and/or exceed so far this year.

Now, let’s talk about my goal to read 2 books each month.  I started the year off with a bang and was able to handle my book goal in January and February.  I started to go downhill with my reading program in March.  I added more racing and training to my routine to get prepared for multiple half marathons but that’s not the real reason my reading has been slacking. 

I have not done a great job of identifying book topics/titles that keep my attention.  I big part of reading for me is an interest in the topic/title and the author.  I started grabbing books off Amazon based on recommendations but some of the books did not have a true flow and caused me to become a slower reader than normal.  No excuses but it is taking me longer to digest and get through the books I have selected.  I’m averaging a book a month but need to increase my pace or make the time to read these books.  There is still a lot of 2022 left to get more books read but I may not average 2 books each month.

My writing program remains strong, and I am happy with my progress in 2022.  The blog articles keep me searching for new adventures and ideas, but I am happy with my ability to create content.  It helps that a lot of my life revolves around traveling, running and the beach.  I am sure I will continue to have content to turn into another Walk into the Future blog article. 😊

I have published multiple articles and posts on LinkedIn so that is another goal win.  I continue to look for ways to network and connect with a larger audience.  LinkedIn has allowed me to attract readers to my blog and share my adventures and leadership thoughts.  I will use LinkedIn to build my leadership audience so I can get back to conducting Authentic Leadership workshops for organizations looking to improve/grow.

I have rolled my publishing a leadership eBook into 2022.  I have the content for the eBook but need to get busy with cover art and putting the content into publication.  I will use the summer months to finalize the content and work to get cover art so I can get the eBook to market.  It’s coming—I promise! 😊

Still got work to do but I am making progress towards my 2022 reading and writing goals.

How are you doing with your 2022 goals!  I welcome your thoughts—thanks!

Irie!

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body”.

(Joseph Addison)

Busy or productive?

Busy or Productive

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life”.

(Socrates)

Dictionary.com defines busy as having a great deal to do.

Conversely, Dictionary.com defines productive as producing or able to produce large amounts of goods, crops, or other commodities.

So, which of these definitions describes your daily endeavors in the workplace?

People use the terms in a similar fashion, but I am quick to tell folks my goal is to be productive daily

Busy can quickly become a mindset that leads to staff becoming overwhelmed with the tasks they must handle in the work environment.  I ask staff members how they are doing throughout the day and when I hear someone say they are busy I simply ask:  are you busy or productive?

This makes folks pause for a bit and then they want to know the difference.  Again, I refer to the two distinct definitions.  Someone who exclaims they are busy is identifying they have a lot of things to do, and they are thinking about that workload.  Some will just come out and say I have a lot on my plate and need to get things done.  Sounds reasonable but it can also cause a mental drain on the staff member and anyone else who hears a constant “I am busy” drumbeat in the work environment.  Yes, there may be a lot to do but saying ‘busy’ does not move the needle to get things done. 

Flip the script!

My goal is to be productive daily, and this starts with the concept of coming to work to get things done.  The old saying talk is cheap would apply here.  Talking about being busy does nothing to get task accomplished.  A productive mindset allows staff members to come in with focus and take an active role in getting things done.  Tools I use to increase productivity:

  • To Do Lists (daily, weekly, monthly)
  • Outlook calendar (meeting reminders, team time off, out of office reminders)
  • Face to face conversations
  • Email
  • Large Post It Notes on my office walls
  • Staff meetings (group, 1:1, virtual)

I have used To Do Lists for most of my professional life and these lists help me plan/organize my day to keep me focused on deadlines and work products I need to complete.  I begin each morning before going into the office with a list of action items I want to accomplish for the day.  I sync this list up with any items I did not complete the previous day once I arrive in the office. 

FYI, I am also the first person in the building most days so I can have 45 minutes to consolidate my lists and build a game plan for the day.  Yes, I put this much thought into my operation to ensure I have a productive day.  I am trying to maximize my opportunities to be productive and leverage all the tools available to help me with this.  A secondary benefit of my lists is they allow me to pick up where I left off when I must help staff members with a task or problem.  I can come back and pick up where I left off without wasting time trying to remember what I need to get done.  Please note, staff and clients take priority, so I get a lot of practice coming back to my daily lists.

Face to face conversations are a great way to keep the productivity flowing.  I find simply getting up from my desk and going to have a conversation is more productive than emailing back and forth.  We can talk things through, come to a consensus and eliminate potential misunderstandings.  Of course, this only works if the person is available to have a conversation. 😊

Busy or productive office

The large Post It Notes on my office walls is something I started while working in the Florida State University’s Career Center.  The concept was for me to put big projects on Post It Notes so staff could come into the office and add updates to each project.  I began to allow staff to build their own projects and put them on my office walls so we could work them together.  I got the Post It Note idea because my white board was not large enough to highlight multiple projects.  I purchase the Post It Notes from Staples and they stick to the wall.  These notes provide a great visual to highlight how productive we are on any given day.  One of my current staff members said coming into my office and seeing the notes is like being ‘in my mind’.  I quickly told her to get out of there because there is a lot going on up there. 😊

There are other ways to become productive in the work environment, but these are a few that I leverage daily to help move me and the organization forward.

So, I ask you, are you busy or productive?  What tools are you using to help your productivity?  I welcome your thoughts—thanks!

“Focus on being productive instead of busy”.

(Tim Ferris)

Inspiration Man—Florida Association of Colleges and Employers (FloridaACE) Keynote

Keynote

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity.  The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”.

(Winston Churchill)

To keynote or not? 

This was a question I faced back in October 2021 when one of my friends asked me to consider being the keynote speaker for a virtual Drive-In conference.

The Florida Association of Colleges and Employers (FloridaACE) members come from college/university Career Services and employers who maintain active on-campus recruiting programs.

I have been a member of FloridaACE for over 10 years and have made some great contacts throughout the state of Florida. 

Fun fact, I was selected as the keynote for the inaugural Drive-In Conference back in 2016.  I gave my keynote address at the University of Central Florida in the building I used to work in prior to moving to FSU.  Who says you can’t come home again? 😊

The Drive-In Conference is designed to be shorter than a regular conference—a day and a half instead of a full week.  The concept of the Drive-in Conference is to make it accessible to a large population of attendees who can physically drive to the location and not need hotel accommodations.

COVID-19 made the concept of virtual conferences come to life and this Drive-In Conference was switched to a virtual format.

I love to spread the Inspiration Man message to any group that will sit and listen.  I hesitated to accept this request because it was via Zoom, and I did not know how my message would translate on a virtual platform.  I love in-person audiences and feed off the crowd when I present.  A virtual keynote was a challenge to me but one I am happy I accepted—things went well from start to finish.

The 2021 FloridaACE Virtual Drive-In Conference was titled: Gulf-to-Coast Connections.

I reached out to my friend to get a better understanding of the conference title and how significant it was to attendees.  Turns out the term gulf was picked so people in western Florida would not feel left out.  I decided to focus on the conference in terms of how people on both coasts (Gulf and Atlantic) could connect to build Authentic Connections.  Yes, I put authentic in most things I do these days. 😊

Happy to report I accepted the Keynote invitation and was able to move the crowd on a virtual platform.

I researched the term Authentic Connections to build my knowledge base as I worked to create a presentation to inspire others.  There is a ton of research available, and my new task was to filter this data in a way to build the presentation.

The key to any form of connection is RELATIONSHIPS.  My goal during the keynote was to highlight to the attendees how technology (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, LinkedIn, etc.) allow us to reach a larger audience than before.  There was always a mindset to catch-up with colleagues during the annual in-person conference or workshop.  This was an effective way to connect back in the day, but COVID created new options/ways to connect.

We can reach out to potential mentors and colleagues by utilizing the technology we have.  My keynote centered on how FloridaACE members could leverage technology and build authentic connections.

Authentic Connections should be genuine, direct, and focused.  My point for the group was to highlight relationships can be built virtually, in-person or a combination of both platforms.  You must want to make a connection for it to happen.  Networking with an intentional mindset helps build connections too.

I would have been remiss if I did not talk about some of the challenges we face when attempting to make new connections:

  • COVID-19
  • No in-person events
  • Zoom fatigue
  • Multiple platform (Zoom, Microsoft Teams, LinkedIn, etc.)

Simply figuring out how and when to connect with others has been a challenge even for me. 

Some folks prefer a phone call, others are all about Zoom and then you have a set who want in-person connections because they want to feel normal again.  I shared with my audience it is okay to identify a preferred platform and stick with that.  I prefer Microsoft Teams now when connecting with anyone not on-campus with me.  The key to this I have found is to state the preference up-front and then provide a Microsoft Teams calendar invite to eliminate confusion on how/when we will connect. 

The concept of recalibrate was addressed to ensure attendees understand they must adjust thought processes in today’s world.  We are not going back to pre-COVID networking so finding authentic connections should be prioritized for them to happen.  Following up after making a request is an outstanding way to continue to build the connections needed to make a difference in the world.

Being a keynote speaker during a virtual conference was a new experience for me but I was able to make several authentic connections during and after the event.  Will see how many attendees follow-up with me and leverage the wisdom I dropped on them.

How do you make/ensure authentic connections in your world?  Thanks!

“Speakers who talk about what life has taught them never fail to keep the attention of their listeners”.

(Dale Carnegie)

Walking with a positive work environment (Repost)

(Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

“Positive work environments outperform negative work environments”.

(Daniel Goleman)

Positive people make positive things happen is one of my favorite sayings to inspire people in my world.  I created this as a mantra when I enter a work environment to help my team understand the mindset, we need to get positive results.

I was introduced to Positive Psychology during my course work and it remains with me daily.  One premise of Positive Psychology is people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives.  This could be on a personal or professional level.  I like leveraging Positive Psychology within the work environment to show direct reports how our mindset influences work outcomes.

I mentioned in an earlier post, my daily response to how I am doing is to say fantastic.  This is not a way to hide my true thoughts or feelings but a way to energize myself.  I found by saying I am doing fantastic provides a new level of energy for myself and it can inspire others around me to join in on the fun.  The word fantastic is not used very often in daily life so it makes people take notice and encourages them to get on The Energy Bus.

Now imagine if you had a leader who was always negative and never had anything nice to say.  How would this person impact the work environment?  I am sure this negative mindset would translate to everyone in the work environment and would not be a pleasant place to work. 

Leaders must be cognizant how their energy (positive or negative) impacts the work environment.  This knowledge will go a long way to build a positive work environment culture to ensure positive things get done daily.  Sounds simple, huh?

It takes a while for this positive process to take hold within a new work environment.  The speed of this process can be enhanced when everyone is ready to engage.  One negative teammate can slow or aggravate the process, but this can be mitigated by the rest of the team pulling in the same direction.  A new initiative for me is to follow Rule #6 from The Energy Bus—I have a sign posted that reads No Energy Vampires Allowed in my office in a prominent location.  I will point to the sign when the tone of a conversation starts to become negative.  I welcome different views and opinions but look to negate negative tone, language, or interactions.  It takes time to eliminate the negative, but the goal is to move forward in a positive manner.  I struggle sometimes because I want everything to head in a positive direction but also know things take time. 

A positive work environment is a place where everyone can thrive, grow, and provide input.  We spend a large amount of our lives in the work environment and I strive to create a space where we can work hard, laugh, and enjoy the process.  Leaders who understand work does not have to be stressful create a space where productivity can be displayed daily.  I have worked in places where people dreaded coming to work and I made a vow to never duplicate these types of environments when I reached the big seat.  Well, I have been in the big seat for a while now and smile whenever one of my tree branches reach out and say they want to work with me again.

I am sure not everyone feels this way, but I have enough of these folks to form my own wolf pack.  😊 Still learning and growing but will continue to promote positive work environments because they are productive and fun.  Imagine that, fun in the workplace!  Guess Google, Microsoft and Apple understand what people want in the work environment.  I do not have ping pong tables, yet, but play a lot of reggae in my office.  Irie!

What do you see as the benefits of a positive work environment?  How do you contribute to ensure your work environment remains positive?

 “Positive anything is better than negative nothing”.

(Elbert Hubbard)

Authentic Leadership continues to grow

Chess

(Image by Devanath from Pixabay

“Authentic leadership is revealed in the alignment of what you think, what you say, and what you do”.

(Michael Holland)

Authentic Leadership continues to be a driving force in my daily interactions.  Amazing how I stumbled across this leadership style during my dissertation process back in 2013 but it is something I genuinely believe makes a difference in the work environment.

I am also amazed by the number of folks who only know about this leadership style after talking with me or sitting in one of my presentations.  Looks like I need to do a better job of spreading the benefits of Authentic Leadership. 😊

I was asked back in January if I would be willing to be the guest speaker for the local Association of Florida Colleges (AFC) monthly professional development program.  Inspiration Man was quick to say yes, and the topic they requested was Authentic Leadership.  I had to dust off my files but thought this was an excellent opportunity to share Authentic Leadership with colleagues at my new school.

This was one of the first time I was able to stand in front of a group of people since early 2020 due to COVID-19.  I was excited to be in front of live folks again in my efforts to move the crowd. 

I started the presentation with a brief introduction to Authentic Leadership and the benefits it brings to the work environment. 

Authentic Leadership is rooted in positive psychology and allows leaders to improve their self-awareness and regulated behaviors.  The importance of self-awareness becomes more evident daily as I interact with others. 

All Authentic Leadership variables are important but none of the others come into play if a leader is not self-aware.  This was a major feature of my presentation to my AFC colleagues.  There were several head nods when I made this point and a couple folks asked if they could expand on how self-awareness helps them daily.

The four variables were shared:  self-awareness, relational transparency, internalized moral perspective and balanced processing.  The variables were highlighted together as a quick overview and then I did a complete breakdown to show how each enhances the work environment.

  • Self-awareness—the leader displays a full understanding of strengths, weaknesses and how others view their leadership
  • Relational Transparency—the leader presents their authentic self to build trust. This includes consistent words, thoughts, and actions.
  • Internalized moral perspective—the leader integrates personal morals with self-perspective.  Self-awareness enhances the leader’s ability to understand how their morals influence decision making.
  • Balanced processing—the leader can view multiple sides of an issue (positive and negative) before deciding on the issue.  This variable encourages direct reports to provide input because the leader wants their feedback.  This improves job satisfaction for direct reports.

I spent extra time on balanced processing because I want to train new leaders to understand how important this is in the work environment.  Staff will speak up with new ideas IF they believe input is wanted and will be acted on (as applicable).  Leaders who want input from staff need to let them know they are willing to listen but there are times when something truly cannot be done.  Nothing wrong with this because it enhances relational transparency in the work environment. 

The AFC members had a lot of questions about Authentic Leadership and how they can improve their self-awareness.  I am happy with the dialogue we started during the AFC event and look forward to sharing Authentic Leadership with other organizations soon.  Got a couple requests to bring my presentation into departmental meetings and I will say YES when the invites come in.  😊

How has your Authentic Leadership knowledge grown?

“The power for authentic leadership is found not in external arrangements, but in the human heart”.

(Parker J. Palmer)

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kevinkruse/2013/05/12/what-is-authentic-leadership/?sh=6f7ed67fdef7

Why I continue to blog

Blog

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

“Blogging is like work, but without coworkers thwarting you at every turn”.

(Scott Adams)

I never imagined three years ago I would still be blogging about my life, thoughts, and adventures. 

The need for me to document things via the Walk into the Future blog continues to grow as my views and voice get stronger daily.  COVID-19 slowed down the adventures, but I still write to share my ideas with my followers and the occasional new reader around the world.  I also write as a form of therapy for me to release energy into the world—sounds poetic, huh?

It still amazes me when I see a reader from France, India or Spain checking out one of my articles.  Never thought my idea for this blog would travel so well but travel it does. 

I make a point to write about things that speak directly to me and adventures I have decided to tackle.  Some of my best content comes from friends and family who send me topics they would like to read about.  This process is exciting to me because I get to conduct research to bring the topic to my followers.  It is a bit more complicated than just hearing a topic and then I sit down and write.  There are times when the words just flow for me but other times, I must come back to a potential topics multiple times just to get it production ready.  I do not think I have ever experienced writer’s block but there are days where writing just does not flow for me.  I find I just need to clear my mind and let my fingers do the walking—that is an old telephone book reference! 😊

I have had a few articles I wrote but never published on the Walk into the Future blog.  Never thought I would have canned articles but not share them on the blog.  This does not happen too often but the articles I hold back do not fit what I want the blog to represent.  Yes, this is my blog, but it is also open access and I owe it to myself and my readers to put my best work forward daily. 

2020 saw so much turmoil in America and the way black people are treated caused a lot of frustration for me.  My ability to channel these frustrations provided some of my best work (my opinion) but needed to ensure my words match the intended purpose.  I revisit the articles I put on ice to see if I can salvage them, but they remain on ice—I am sure I will share directly with my tree branches but some of these will never be blog worthy (Seinfeld reference).

I find joy in putting words down to see if I can develop into something others would want to read.  The challenge to keep generating articles is with me daily.  I find inspiration to write in multiple settings but me sitting down on my laptop and just hammering out content is the norm for me now.  COVID-19 took away my coffee shop vibes, so I sit at my dining room table with my laptop, beer, and Bob Marley music as I lay down these tracks.

Plan to keep writing as long as it is fun to me and people continue to read what I am laying down. 

My hope is to get back to a certain level of travel again so I can write about my exploits in exotic locales.  Negril, Jamaica is my first stop once it is safe to head back down.

So, I have listed some reasons why I continue to blog.  Why do YOU continue to read?  I welcome your thoughts! 

Irie!

“The currency of blogging is authenticity and trust”.

(Jason Calacanis)

Positive people make positive things happen!

Positive

“Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results”.

(Willie Nelson)

Positive people make positive things happen is one of my favorite quotes to live by!  This quote has been with me for years—I do not even remember when or where I started using it but incorporate this quote in life daily.

The quote is straight forward and simple but has the power to transform.  Think of the negative people you know and their impact within the work environment.  I mention the work environment but negative people impact us whenever they are around.  I would love to say you can avoid negative people but there are times when you will come in contact with them.  Do not let this time linger as these folks can drain you.  Nothing is ever good enough or there is always a reason why something cannot be done.

Let’s get back to the positives in this article! 😊

Positive anything is better than the negative counterpart.  Think of the positive people in your life and how they make YOU feel.  These folks are always seeking a way to make things around them better.  It could be how they greet you in the morning or the ever present smile on their face even when things are not going their way.  It would be easy for them to complain but they do not.  They seek the positives in the situation and how to make things better.  They strive to get things done and not worry about the circumstances.

This ability to seek the positives directly translates to making positive things happen.  This is not a coincidence—focusing on positives allows these folks to generate positive outcomes.  They use their time and energy to find solutions to make a difference on projects they work on. 

These are the folks I gravitate towards because they are solution focused—not looking for excuses why things cannot get done.  I pride myself as a positive person and wake up daily to make a difference in the world.  This mindset has helped guide me towards successful outcomes in whatever venture I seek to conquer. Please note, there are days when negative thoughts creep in but I quickly shake them off so I can continue to move forward.

That negative friend, coworker or family member drains energy by identifying why something cannot be done.  These negative folks spend more time taking away from finding a solution—there are times where I see this negative mindset attract like minded folks and they feed off each other.  Do not fall into this trap—avoid these people at all costs.  Better yet, be so positive they want to avoid you or at least want to emulate the positivity you put on display daily.  I find joy frustrating negative people by not allowing their issues to come into my world. 

My goal is for them to join in on the positive things happening. 

What do you do to ensure a positive mindset?  How do you avoid the negative noise from others?

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another

(Proverbs 27:17)

Walking into 2021!

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

“Celebrate endings—for they proceed new beginnings”.

(Jonathan Lockwood Huie)

Happy New Year from the Walk into the Future blog!

Grateful to continue to write blog articles to express my thoughts and document life adventures.  This blog started as a way for me to share with my friends and has evolved into a space for me to highlight a bit of creativity.  This blog also provides a place to advocate for social change in the world—did not have this in mind when I launched the blog but there is no turning back now.  My walk continues to expand so I am excited to see what new angles I can tackle in 2021.

2021 promises to bring new opportunities for us all.  2020 was a monster on multiple levels but there were opportunities for growth as well.

Happy to report I was able to meet all my 2020 goals except the number of half marathons I ran.  Of course, COVID-19 was the reason the race season did not happen, so I am not upset I did not meet this goal.

I am in the process of generating my 2021 goals and look forward to working towards them daily. 

My reading program increased in 2020 and I enjoyed exploring new topics and authors.  I see this as an area I can expand in 2021.  I fancy myself as a lifelong learner and reading keeps me engaged in learning new things and hopefully sharing these things with my tree branches.  Please note, I am always open to your suggestions for books so send me a few—thanks!

The Rock N Roll marathon series has 6 races projected for in-person competition in 2021.  My favorite race, the Nashville Rock N Roll half marathon is scheduled for April 25, 2021.  My 2020 registration automatically rolled over so I can run in the race this year if I would like.  I am not committed to running this or any race at this point especially if it means I must get on a plane to get to the race city.  Will wait and see how the vaccination process impacts the spread of COVID-19 before deciding on this race.  Would hate to miss Nashville two years in a row but this is the world we live in. The Savannah race is scheduled for November 7, 2021 and this may be a better option—we will see.

I will look at some smaller, local races to get my competitive fix.  I am sure Track Shack in Orlando will have some races I want to run—the OUC half may be on my race calendar again this year based on location and safety measures.

I began the process of creating an Authentic Leadership eBook in 2020.  Will look to put the finishing touches on this project in 2021.  Wanted to share a few leadership principles in a different format to see if others would be interested in this project.  It has been fun working on a new outlet for my thoughts and plan to expand the authentic leadership platform in 2021.

My leadership consulting is another area I want to expand in 2021.  My work in 2019 had me positioned for a huge consulting year in 2020 but we all know the impact of COVID-19 on all industries.  Will look to create an outreach program to reengage with organizations I have worked with in the past and generate new leads.  Virtual programming and meetings became common in 2020 and see this continuing in 2021.  This can lead to new ways to reach organizations and provide a consulting rebirth for me and others.  Fingers crossed!

I am sure there will be other goals to add to my list, but these are a few I will work towards in 2021.

What goals do you have for the new year?  How successful were you meeting your 2020 goals?  Thanks!

“Every moment is a fresh beginning”.

(T.S. Elliot)

Leading from a distance

(Image by FelixMittermeier from Pixabay

“Leading remotely makes the complex role of leading even more complex”.

(Kevin Eikenberry)

The year 2020 started with a bang for us all and the promise of a fantastic year. 

The term 2020 Vision was used to highlight the promise this was going to be the year where vision became reality and positive things were coming.

2020 has been a lot tougher than most of us would like but there have been positive things to be thankful for.  We must remember tough times now can lead to positive outcomes in the future.

One area of my Walk into the Future where I really needed 2020 Vision was after accepting my role in Fort Pierce and discovering my entire team was working remotely.  Imagine moving to a new city during a pandemic, taking over a work environment and meeting your entire team on your laptop.  Strange times but quickly discovered all my leadership training, speaking, and consulting experience were needed for me to make positive things happen.

I have read a lot of leadership books and written multiple articles on authentic leadership.  There is not a manual on how to come in on day one and begin to lead a remote team.  Trust me, I searched for that book for days! 

You always want to make a great first impression, but it is tough to gauge your direct reports via a laptop screen.  Things are progressing but I continue to learn new tools and techniques daily.  2020 Vision has morphed into a new mantra to remain focused and control the controllable.

Teambuilding

A first step to build a great team is to ensure teambuilding is a central focus to get everyone on the same page and moving in the correct direction.  I have written about several teambuilding exercises we have completed (MBTI, The Energy Bus) and the need to help each team member grow professionally.  We completed these activities in a complete physical distancing environment where staff members engaged each other via computers from separate offices.  Let’s repeat that…we were together via a Zoom like application (Blackboard Collaborate), in different locations, and working on our teambuilding activities.  Not ideal but it can be done.

Never imagined this was possible but got the 2020 Vision to try this and tweak as needed.  We have been able to enhance team dynamics and maintain our physical distance from each other.  I continue to look for interactive ways to engage the team using computer technology and ensure we have fun with the process. 

Work schedules

2020 Vision allows me to understand the traditional concept of work schedules went out the window earlier this year.  Not saying people do not have to work but the COVID-19 pandemic created a huge work from home dynamic.  Jobs traditionally done within the office environment were rapidly transformed to work from home.  This was a major change for everyone, and work schedules had to change as well.  Gone were the typical 8 am – 5 pm work schedules since people had to juggle work, childcare, home schooling and a myriad of other tasks daily. 

I learned quickly when staff needed time to take care of their home life.  Also learned the work from home mindset is not the same for everyone.  Some folks are just as motivated working from home as they were in the office.  I came to understand that some are not as motivated working from home—human nature kicks in for these folks.

My role has evolved to ensure everyone can use the technology we have available to complete work assignments.  We needed to create communication channels to check in without being overly connected daily.  I am still learning and evolving in this area, but we are getting things done.

Mental well-being

My initial thoughts for this section was to write about helping my staff with their mental well-being.  We do that daily but one aspect I continue to focus on is my mental well-being.  My workouts and running program are great escapes for me from the daily grind of leading a team from a distance.  This new world of work seems to always have someone trying to schedule a Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Blackboard Collaborate meeting—they never stop! ☹😊

Finally had to tell some coworkers to ask before just jamming a virtual meeting on my calendar.  This is a constant reminder the world of work has changed—mostly for the good but there can be a bad side to always being connected.  I work to connect with my staff daily to make sure they are doing well.  I do not email, call, or text them after work hours to model behavior that honors a true work and life balance.  Small steps!

I am still learning how to operate in this new world of work. 

What techniques do you use to not be connected all the time?  How has your 2020 vision changed from earlier in the year?

 “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something”.

(Plato)

Walking and the importance of networking

“It’s not who you know but who knows YOU”.

(Anonymous)

Dictionary.com defines networking as the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts. 

This definition provides a clean view of networking but does not limit how it can be done.  I have written in the past about several podcast episodes I have been a part of.  Each episode was done to share a specific message to the audience and help their professional growth.  I engaged in multiple in-person networking events (Orlando, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tallahassee) prior to the COVID-19 pandemic with designs to meet people who could help me grow my consulting and speaking roles.  So, as you can see, networking takes on many forms with the objective of connecting with others.

I got invited to speak on a local radio program last week to engage and speak with Fort Pierce community members about my new workplace and the work we do.  Turns out the radio host is an Indian River State College (IRSC) colleague who happens to work on a different campus.  We had not met prior to the event but knew of each other through work interactions.

I make a point to never turn down opportunities to speak about the great work we do for our students and alumni populations.  The radio spot was a fantastic way for me to network with students, parents and employers interested in attending or coming back to IRSC.

The host for this networking opportunity works directly with underrepresented students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.  She is always looking for new ways to engage students and members of the community on the benefits of higher education and wanted me to discuss how my office helps our students become career ready.  Love being able to showcase the improved operations and services we are building.  These new operational tweaks allow staff to reach more students and add value to the overall college experience.

I especially enjoyed participating in the radio program since I could speak directly to employers in the local Fort Pierce area who did not know they could recruit talent on our campuses.  We are not hosting in-person events in the fall, but employers are able to post their openings for free with our office.  We are in the process of finalizing our Virtual Career Fair platform and wanted to let employers know they have multiple access points to recruit on-campus.  The radio program reaches our four-county service area and should enhance our reach to help employers understand how we can help them moving forward.

A secondary aspect of participating on the radio show was to let the community know enrollment for the fall semester is open and we are still recruiting new students.  COVID-19 has had a major impact on college and university enrollments across the country and we are no different.  Going on the radio allows us to let folks know we are here for them and want to share ways we can help with their success.  Two-year colleges are very affordable and can be an excellent way to launch into a four-year degree if that is a goal. 

The new term for me in this environment is UpSkill.  We talk with prospective students and employers on the benefit of in-demand certificate programs to UpSkill their careers or improve staff outputs.  This process is still new to me since I came from the four-year university model but UpSkill is a great way to impact local economies by training students to meet local career demands.

I am scheduled to speak on another radio program later this month hosted by the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and will look to continue to network to help the Treasure Coast grow.  Excited to see the impact of these networking opportunities! 😊

What networking opportunities are you working on?  How can networking help your organization continue to grow?

 “Networking is the #1 unwritten rule of success in business”.

(Sallie Krawcheck)

Listen to the show here—I speak around the 5 minute markhttp://wjfp.com/ondemand-wjfp/player.php?wrspot=72816

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