The Wolf of Networking

Wolf of Networking

(Image by InspiredImages from Pixabay)

“Networking is an enrichment program, not an entitlement program”.

(Susan RoAne)

My Walk into the Future continues to provide me with opportunities to make a difference daily.  It helps that I have opened my eyes and mind to all possibilities and the opportunities keep presenting themselves to me.  The journey moves forward!

The title of this blog article references the Wolf of Networking.  I have identified myself as a People Builder, running tourist and Inspiration Man in multiple posts.  Well, say hello to my next moniker, Wolf of Networking! 😊

I selected this new moniker to have fun with a project that has been years in the making.  My past roles in university career services allowed me to build and maintain a network with recruiters who primarily hire recent college graduates.  I was responsible to find, network and recruit these recruiters to come on-campus to hire students.  My unit put on career fairs, networking events, professional development workshops and scheduled on-campus interviews to connect students and recruiters.  So, this put me in a prime position to learn inside information on how different organizations created their on-campus recruiting programs.

The Wolf of Networking had to compete with other schools for recruiters’ attention and resources to ensure our students got opportunities.  Happy to say we won more battles than we lost and maintained a robust on-campus recruiting program at multiple schools (UCF and FSU).  Shared tricks of the trade with other wolf packs (UF, USF, FAU, FIU) to help them become more successful getting employers on their campuses.  Found it was easier to keep employers in Florida if other schools were viewed as attractive options—I am competitive but also practical.

I leveraged the Wolf of Networking status to build my handpicked wolf pack and I am happy to see the great things they are doing around the country at prestigious institutions.  We stay in contact to ensure the pack continues to grow.

Went back to my wolf pack mentality recently to help a tree branch network with recruiters for future employment.  This tree branch had heard about my contacts but did not fully understand how connected I still am in the college recruiting world.  Happy to say they get it now! 😊

I was presented with a list of 9 organizations of interest for future employment.  I had professional contacts with 8 of the 9 organizations on the list.  Some of these contacts are also personal friends so it was a bit easier to get them to respond to my requests.  My tree branch now had people inside the organizations they wanted to work for looking out for them.  Nothing was promised but my network was looking out for my tree branch just as I would.

I tell people I work with you are always networking even when you do not know it.  Look for ways to benefit others and then when you need a helping hand people will respond to you.  Think my tree branch will look at the Wolf of Networking from a different perspective now.  The wolf makes positive things happen! 😊

Who can you help reach their goals?  What action steps are needed for a successful outcome?

 “Success isn’t about how much money you make; it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives”.

(Michelle Obama)

 Network Tree

(Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay)

2020 Wolf pack:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/lauren-apgar-m-s-38ab4035/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/laurenkume/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/mforges/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/vrhanikuhaynes/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sean-a-collins/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jadevite/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/pagetisdale/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jaylabriwilliams/

Daily flowers—send them now!

Purple Rose

(Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay)

“Don’t wait for people to die to send them flowers”.

(Reverend Simmons, New Bethel AME Church)

It is amazing the things we retain from our childhood.  I attended weekly Sunday school and church services at New Bethel AME church while growing up in Jasper, FL.  I am sure Reverend Simmons said some other amazing things but the quote above always stuck with me.  Never understood it as a kid so maybe that is why it stuck with me all these years.

Thought it was a weird saying until I fully understood his meaning.  It can be interpreted multiple ways, but he was reminding us to cherish/celebrate the people in our lives while we have them.  Waiting for a tragic incident is a bit late to let people know what you think about them.

I decided to write this post 3 days after Kobe Bryant, his daughter and friends died in a helicopter crash in Los Angeles.  I am not much of an NBA fan but watched Kobe during his Hall of Fame NBA career and more intently after he retired.  He ventured into business, screen writing, venture capital investments and his sports academy as part of his life after basketball.  He became successful in these endeavors because he displayed a thirst for knowledge and sought out mentors to learn new things.  He continued to look for ways to get better and make a difference in the world.  Believe he was on the verge of expanding his portfolio in the entertainment world but never got a chance to complete this portion of his legacy.

I will not dive much further into Kobe’s life, but his unexpected passing brought me back to what Reverend Simmons reminded us EVERY Sunday—Do not wait for people to die to send them flowers. 

I use a lot of quotes in my daily Walk into the Future, but I am sure my tree branches have never heard me use this quote with them.  May seem weird to share so much with them but not this one aspect of my background.  Allow me to provide a bit of clarity and how I leverage the quote in all my interactions.

I take my role as a tree seriously and believe I should model positive things for my tree branches.  I also want to continue to make a difference daily.  So, I provide theoretical flowers every day to my people!

I make a point to text, call, email, LinkedIn, visit or carrier pigeon (LOL) someone daily to provide them their flowers.  May look like:

  • Happy Monday!
  • Happy Friday!
  • Go (insert name)!
  • How are you?
  • How are your students doing?
  • How’s the family?

I could add more to the list but believe you get the message.  It may be small things but once I understood what Reverend Simmons was telling us I discovered a ton of ways to provide flowers daily.  Some of you may prefer real flowers but I cannot afford the daily costs so guess you will have to be happy with my texts, calls, emails, LinkedIn, visits and hopefully those dang pigeons arrive soon! 😊

So, do me a favor, look around and identify who you need to send flowers to and get busy!  Thank you!

“It’s the one thing you can control.  You are responsible for how people remember you—or don’t.  So, don’t take it lightly”.

(Kobe Bryant)

“Live for yourself and you live in vain; live for others and you will live again”.

(Bob Marley)

 Happy Mother’s Day!!!

 

Transition towards the future!

Transition

(Image by Volker Sachse from Pixabay)

“Light precedes every transition.  Whether at the end of a tunnel, through a crack in the door or the flash of an idea, it is always there, heralding a new beginning”.

(Teresa Tsalaky)

I spend a large amount of time generating lists in my daily Walk into the Future.  This is not a new phenomenon because I find my lists help keep me focused and moving forward in multiple areas.  I track everything:  daily activities, weekly to-do lists, yearly goals, every gym workout, every mile I run and how fast I ran them.  Small correction, I do not track what I eat—may need to add this process since I have decided to eat better in 2020—we will see!  Guess a grocery list would help with this, huh? 😊

Decided to discuss my list making process because a tree branch wanted me to write an article about what the transition from my previous work life to my current Walk into the Future journey looks like.  His interest was more in understanding the transition because a lot of people talk about making a change but never really discuss what happens during the transition.

Of course, my transition started with a list.  I sat on a beach on 4/14/18 and created a PRO/CON list to give me a visual of why/if I wanted to Walk into the Future.  Did a complete assessment and put items under the PRO (stay) or CON (walk) column to give me something measurable.  The list was heavily populated on the CON side so my decision to Walk into the Future was easy to make and backed by data.  I will not dive into what was on the list but wanted to share there was a process involved to help with this decision.

“Transitions in life can offer opportunities for discovery”.

(Robbie Shell)

Throwback article on moving forward:

I am sure there are books and additional articles written by others who have transitioned from one work environment to another.  This process is unique to everyone who decides to Walk into the Future—I will share things unique to me and my current Walk into the Future.

Humility

Being humble signals a willingness to learn and continue to grow.  I have never professed I know everything, so I continue to be a lifelong learner.  I read, network and ask questions when I do not understand something.  Humility can speed up the transition process by seeking others to help along the way.  Therefore, I never turn down meetings, speaking engagements or random conversations—I am learning as I go, and everyone can be a good source of information for me.  I have maintained relationships with mentors and expanded my mentor pool to ensure I’m continuing to learn and grow.

Patience

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time!  This is an old leadership axiom to get people to focus on the process and not get overwhelmed with the perceived end results.  Most things in life are a process and can be overcome with a patient approach.  I have had to display a high level of patience during my Walk into the Future because not everyone I encounter is trying to get to the exact place I am.  They may not even know how to help me get where I am headed and may need to refer me to someone else.  I have learned the art of the follow-up call/email very well during this period! 😊  Remember, one bite at a time.

Sense of Humor

Laughter is a great way to release endorphins and makes you feel good.  Laughter is also needed in this process because I do not take everything so seriously.  Life is stressful enough without us adding more to it.  I make a point to laugh, tell jokes and enjoy life to the max.  I smile when I pitch a proposal to organizations for speaking engagements and I smile when organizations so no thank you.  I generate a big old grin when I book a gig—it feels good!  The key I believe is not to get too high or low during this process—laughing daily helps with this.  I make a point to smile, laugh and enjoy myself when presenting to others—believe people relate to others who smile.

Confidence

Spend any amount of time with me and you will understand I do not lack confidence.  This really helped when making the decision to Walk into the Future.  It also leads to the ability to keep moving forward even when things do not go my way.  I have heard the word NO more times than YES during this process but cannot let that distract me from my mission to make a difference daily.  My lists mentioned earlier help as well because they allow me to check things off—never discount the importance of checking things off a list—it shows progress!  I view life as a journey and confidence helps every step of the way.  Positive self-talk is an outstanding way to get and maintain your confidence levels.

Mental and Physical outlets

My blog articles cover a lot of topics as I continue my Walk into the Future.  I purposely seek out activities to enhance my mental and physical well being daily.  My daily workouts, running program and yoga practice are designed to boost my physical fitness and allow me to generate endorphins.  Never discount the impact physical activity provides to daily life.

I am an avid reader, so bookstore and library visits are a regular part of my program.  I gravitate to blogs, online articles and LinkedIn to ensure I continue to learn new things.  My book topics range from self-help, psychology, poetry and autobiographies.  I do not venture into fiction much—John Sanford is the only fiction author I read on a regular basis.  Discovered him by accident over 20 years ago while stationed on Okinawa, Japan.  Been reading his work ever since.

I maintain a journal which helps me process my thoughts and aspirations.  This is a weekly process for me or anytime I am at the beach.  Lastly, the Walk into the Future blog provides an outstanding mental outlet vehicle for me.  Get to write and test out ideas here right in front of YOU! 😊

So, there you have it.  This is still an active transition for me as I explore new ideas, topics, interests and partnerships.  This journey will continue, and I am sure there will be pivots needed but the smile on my face will not go away.

Enjoy your transition as you walk with me!

How can you make the transitions needed for your journey?  Who can you partner with to enhance the transition period?  Thanks!

 “Life is a transition”.

(Lailah Gifty Akita)

The mirror can lie! Blaze your own trail

round leaning mirror with white frame
Photo by Emre Can on Pexels.com

“If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.”

(Audre Lorde)

Really love the words presented by Audre Lorde.  The concept of creating your own definition of self is vitality important to truly progress in life.  There are people who look in the mirror and automatically see bad examples staring back at them.  Please know, the mirror can lie and the bad examples from the past do not have to hinder the present and/or future.

Bad examples can manifest in multiple locations.  I will focus on two specific areas to help highlight how bad examples can and should be used to fuel a positive Walk into the Future.  The two areas I focus on are leadership and personal development. I’m sure everyone has a story on bad examples in these areas as well.  My attempt will be to show how these bad experiences can be leveraged for a positive tomorrow.

Leadership

Would like to say everyone I’ve worked for has been an outstanding leader but that would not be true.  It may not even be realistic to expect EVERY leader to possess the capability to be outstanding.  Turns out the leaders who were not the best provided me with enough tough lessons to sharpen my leadership skills.  Please note, I’ve had some great leaders/mentors in my life who I lean on even today.  Their lessons are with me daily, but the few bad leaders impact my leadership style and methods as well.

I gravitated towards the Authentic Leadership style because I’ve seen organizations destroyed because the so-called leader wasn’t authentic.  They profess being a genuine and transparent leader but then their true self comes out and it is the opposite of authentic.  Seeing these type leaders in action reinforces why the concepts of authenticity, self-awareness, having a moral compass and relational transparency are so important in my leadership style.

I’ve seen leaders who walk by their direct reports’ multiple times in a day and never say hello.  Seems like a small thing but how can you say you care about your people and can’t acknowledge them?  Not saying a leader must stop and talk every time they see someone but it’s a lot easier leading people when you are relatable and engaged. Also, only talking with direct reports when something is needed or due signals the leader only cares about the bottom line.  Staff will do more within a positive and nurturing work environment.

These are two leadership examples I leverage to help build my authentic leadership platform.  I proactively do the opposite of these leadership examples because I’ve seen them in action and how they deflate staff and organizational morale.

That’s my approach, things I don’t like or disagree with from a bad leader, I simply don’t repeat—not rocket science but it works.  No need to subject others to these habits—create positive energy and blaze your leadership trail to enhance the work environment.

Personal development

There are instances where environment can hinder personal development but many more where great outcomes occur almost against all odds.  Life is impacted by choices (good or bad) and we have the capability to choose not to mirror bad examples but learn from them.

I love working with college students from South Florida.  They routinely tell me they’re the first person in their family to attend college and they want a different outcome for themselves.  They don’t want to forget the struggles from home but use them to continue to grow.  They also strive not to repeat some of the bad neighborhood examples others succumbed to.

They tell me of proactive actions they took to avoid running with the wrong neighborhood friends.  These people may have been well intentioned but set bad examples of how to truly progress in life.  They experienced family and community situations that potentially could hinder growth, but they didn’t let these things stop them.  These things were used as inspiration to overcome obstacles.

Environment is an important element in personal development but can be overcome—I’ve seen it done.  Mentors and positive examples can help with personal development.  Self-awareness and learning from bad examples can increase the ability to blaze a personal development trail.

“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be”.

(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

How do you define yourself for you?  What does your personal or professional mirror reflect? How can you leverage bad examples to enhance your Walk into the Future?

Stop limiting your progress—remove personal roadblocks

Road Block image

(Image by Manfred Antranias Zimmer from Pixabay)

“Love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort and keep on learning”.

(Carol Dweck)

What is holding you back from accomplishing what you want out of life?

This question and subsequent answers can be applied to your personal and professional life.  I’m a huge advocate for positive energy helping us meet or exceed our life goals so, begin the process to remove anything that would limit your progress today!

Dictionary.com defines progress as forward or onward movement toward a destination.

Let your daily thoughts, actions and words lead you toward the progress your desire in all areas of your life.

I’m a firm believer we can talk ourselves into or out of anything in life.  I’ve started answering the question how’s your day? with the response fantastic.  I use this response to trigger the destination I’m seeking and ensure my thoughts match the destination.  I know this is a simple explanation but how many people have you heard say the following:

  • I’m not a morning person…
  • I want to work out but don’t have time…
  • Working on this project is going to suck…

They have just created a negative thought pattern for the highlighted activities.  Not saying simply putting a positive spin would make everything work better BUT it can’t hurt.  Why create these roadblocks for yourself?  Positive self-talk can be used here to get better outcomes.  It takes time to adjust your mindset but should be worth the attempt.

“There is no elevator to success.  You must take the stairs”.

(Unknown)

Next, put the necessary actions in place to match your positive thoughts.  Identify the things needed to reverse the identified roadblocks.  Using the same thoughts listed above can help highlight how actions can help with your thoughts:

  • I’m not a morning person…
    • (Action: establish an earlier and consistent bedtime)
  • I want to work out but don’t have time…
    • (Action: start small, walk during lunch or after dinner; work out at home)
  • Working on this project is going to suck…
    • (Action: research the project, look for ways to influence positive outcomes)

Finally, put the appropriate words in place to ensure your thoughts and actions move you towards the progress you seek.  I leverage reggae and specifically Bob Marley songs to get me in an Irie state of mind prior to speaking engagements.  This may seem like a small factor, but I’ve found sustained success when I do this.  Playing reggae also enhances the mood and mindset of my audience.

I routinely write the following words in my notes prior to speaking:  eye contact, speak clearly, move the crowd and have fun.

These words are consistent with the outcomes I want from every presentation.  I mentioned in an earlier post I still get nervous prior to speaking even with my experience level.  Writing these words prior to an engagement give me the focus needed to ensure a successful presentation.  My words in this example influence my thoughts and lead to positive actions.  Simple, huh?

This is not an overnight process!  It takes time and self-awareness to fully understand how your thoughts, words and actions impact your daily interactions.

What roadblocks have you created that limit your progress?  What thoughts, actions and words can you leverage to remove these roadblocks? Thanks!

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t—you’re right”.

(Henry Ford)

Open Road

(Image by Rohan S from Pixabay)

We all win with diverse work environments!

brand trademark cobblestones community denim pants
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“Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without”.

(William Sloan Coffee, Jr.)

Merriam-Webster defines diversity as the condition of having or being composed of differing elements.  Clear as mud, right?

Organizations with diversity initiatives need to ensure they fully understand what diversity means.  Simply making a statement does not ensure diversity in the work environment will happen.  Diversity must be examined in order to identify how it can be fully implemented and embraced in the work environment.

Some organizations define diversity on very short-sighted components i.e., men, women, race.  These components are all intertwined when discussing diversity but there should be more components included in a truly diverse work environment.

Leveraging background dynamics, educational and life experiences as well as demographic components will help generate a new level of diversity for organizations who truly seek this in the work environment.  There are some organizations who say they want diversity but continue to hire clones of the staff currently working there.  This is the opposite of the Merriam-Webster’s diversity definition.

“We need diversity of thought in the world to face the new challenges”.

(Tim Berners-Lee)

Diverse work environments value different perspectives. This includes skills, experiences, backgrounds and education.  This concept brings a variety of ways to get things done.  Bringing diversity into the work environment allows the organization to grow and avoid the groupthink mentally that stifles new thoughts.

New thoughts in the work environment leads to increased creativity when facing a problem, change or new procedure.  True diversity brings together people who will see the same problem from different perspectives and sharpens everyone because of this exposure.  The creative impact on the organization increases because staff hear, see, feel, think differently and exposes others to different ways to get things done.  This creativity process may also impact innovation within the organization.

Decision making and problem solving are other areas a diverse work environment can enhance.  Again, a diverse work force brings new thoughts, ideas and ways to get things done to the workplace.  Leadership receives diverse solutions to organizational problems and has multiple options to select from.  This leads to faster problem solving and allows the organization to tackle new challenges.

A caution, leadership must be willing to accept the diverse solutions and not revert to business as usual.  The worse thing that can happen is for leadership to say “we always do it this way OR that will not change as long as I’m here”—the quickest way to deflate staff and eliminate their voice in the work environment.

A diverse work environment can also help retain staff members.  A diverse and empowered work environment helps staff members feel accepted and valued.  This creates a happier work force and may lead to staff staying with the organization longer.

So, let’s examine the Merriam-Webster diversity definition again:

  • The condition of having or being composed of differing elements.

A few elements to consider for workplace diversity:

  • Race
  • Gender / Identity
  • Education / Educational Institutions
  • Geographic region
  • Age
  • Experience

A final thought on diversity is it impacts your clients as well.  A more diverse work force can enhance an organization’s ability to attract diverse clients.  Example:  an office with diverse staff will be able to attract diverse clients because they see someone similar.  Don’t overlook the importance of how diversity impacts your clients.

What does your organization do to ensure a diverse work environment?  How can diversity be improved?

“Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance”.

(Verna Myers)

Thanks for walking with me!

neon signage
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Mentors provide valuable lessons for us to share

man and woman discussing and sharing ideas
Photo by The Coach Space on Pexels.com

“Our chief want in life is somebody who will make us do what we can”.

 (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

We all need someone to mentor and guide us on our journey.  I have had some great people step into my life and provide guidance needed for successful outcomes.  I reach out and thank them as much as possible because their lessons walk with me every day.

I purposefully relay those same messages to my tree branches when needed.  So, the tree started with my mentors, and my goal is to keep it growing with new branches who will grow additional branches.

Had an interesting conversation with one of my closest branches.  She mentioned she met with former students at their request and realized these students were branches from her tree.  I hope to continue to hear about additional tree branches sprouting in other areas.  How many branches have you added to the tree?

Greatest lesson learned

The greatest lesson I learned from my mentor is patience with others.  The pace of the world continues to accelerate but patient leaders provide direct reports the space to learn, make mistakes and grow.  Leaders who display patience in the work environment provide a space for reflection and active coaching when needed.  The exact lesson my mentor gifted me I call:  3 check-ins.  Sounds like a weird game for the work environment but I’ve seen it work and leverage it to this day.

So, how does 3 check-ins work?  Great question!

Example:

You assign a work project to one of your direct reports with a specific due date.  Instructions are provided but you allow the direct report freedom to get the project completed prior to the due date.  The assigned project will have 3 check-in points built in where the leader comes back to the direct report to:

  • Make sure the assignment was understood (reflection)
  • Answer outstanding questions (learn)
  • Offer support/guidance if needed (coaching)
  • Adjust goals (as needed)

The 3 check-ins are spaced out to allow for adjustments to the project if needed but keeps the direct report focused on positive outcomes.  Creating organized check points for the project shows the leader is a willing partner and seeks growth for team members.  This also eliminates the direct report from feeling like they are alone on the project.  We want them to take initiative but not feel they have no support.

The 3 check-ins approach is not designed as a fancy way to micromanage a team.  It provides a support system to enhance professional growth and ensure successful outcomes for the entire team.  Also, the approach allows the leader to serve their team and maximize individual talents.

How do you provide support when assigning projects to your team?  How can the 3 check-in approach enhance your operation?  (Please respond in the comments section below—thanks!)

“The best teachers are those who tell you where to look—but don’t tell you what to see”.

 (Alexander K. Trenfor) 

silver bitcoin
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“Play chess not checkers in the work environment.”

(Calvin Williams)

Thanks for walking with me!