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)

Pizza night

2nd Street Bistro

“Every pizza is a personal pizza if you try hard and believe in yourself”.

(Bill Murray)

Raise your hand if you do not like pizza!  Doubt there are many hands up right now since everyone loves pizza. 😊

I admit I enjoy pizza probably more than anyone I know and have decided this is my go-to cheat meal.  I have never been one to count calories and my running program allows me to indulge without having to worry much about gaining weight.  Not saying this as a brag point but just a daily fact for me.

The Treasure Coast provides me with multiple dining options to include fresh seafood and great ocean views while out for a meal.  I take advantage of these options, but my designated pizza night is one I look forward to weekly.

I was introduced to 2nd Street Bistro as a great place to catch a ballgame while enjoying a beer at the bar.  Seemed like a typical place to get wings, drink a beer, and watch Florida Gator football on Saturdays.  Happy to report 2nd Street Bistro provides all these things but it turns out they have a fantastic menu with rotating daily specials.  It is not your typical dive bar but a place to get a great meal for really good prices.  Note:  they provide a substantial military discount on all menu items, so I am hooked since I love saving money. 😊

I made my first weekday journey into 2nd Street Bistro on a random Wednesday after work because I wanted to get a beer and see what was on the menu.  I did not venture out a lot in 2020 due to COVID but kept hearing about this place and the food.  Made my way downtown Fort Pierce once I felt comfortable being around people again and grabbed a high-top table to enjoy a meal.

Turns out Wednesday is half price Bistro Burger night and there are a lot of fans of the burger.  There is always a good crowd of folks in the restaurant to take advantage of the special and get their burgers.  The menu has a lot of variety and everyone in there has a favorite menu item.

I did not have a specific food item in mind when I stopped in on the first Wednesday night so I asked the waitress what she recommended.  She rattled off that everything on the menu is great, so I was on my own selecting what I wanted for dinner.

Gravitated to the pizza selections and the waitress said they were all good—she’s tried them all.  Decided to go with my tried-and-true Pepperoni pizza with extra Pepperoni.  Never imagined a place like 2nd Street Bistro would have pizza this good but I am hooked. 

The personal pizzas are made once ordered so it takes a bit for it to make it to the table.  Trust me, it is well worth the wait.  The ingredients are fresh, and the pizza comes out of the oven smoking hot.  Learned that lesson the hard way the first time I got a pizza.  😊

I have been hooked on the Pepperoni pizza from day one and Wednesdays have become my official pizza night.  Everyone who knows me can track my location after work on Wednesdays to 2nd Street Bistro.  I am such a regular there the hostess takes me directly to a high-top table and the waitress does not bring me a menu.  She puts in my Bud Light draft and a personal Pepperoni pizza with extra Pepperoni.  I told her one day I am going to change my order up to mess with her but one day has not happened yet. 

I have tried other items on the menu but not on Wednesdays—that is my designated pizza night since I run on Tuesdays and Thursdays after work.  Figure I earned a cheat day and 2nd Street Bistro helps me cheat like a champ! 😊

Can’t wait for my next pizza night!

What is your favorite place to get a cheat meal?  What is the meal?  Thanks!

https://2ndstreetbistro.com/

“I’d rather have leftover pizza than leftover feelings”.

(Sarah Burgess)

Two Americas—Right before your eyes!

USA

(Image by Mediamodifier from Pixabay

“The worst form of justice in pretended justice”.

(Plato)

Dictionary.com defines white privilege as inherent advantages possessed by a white person based on their race in a society characterized by racial inequality and injustice.

Merriam-Webster defines bias as a tendency to believe that some people, ideas, etc., are better than others that usually results in treating some people unfairly.

So, where am I heading with these definitions? I will get to the point but need to ask you a few questions.

Who is Gabby Petito?  Who is Brian Laudrie?

I am sure you did not need to run a Google search to provide an answer to either of those questions.  We have learned more about both individuals on the morning, afternoon, nightly and cable news shows almost daily since September. 

We know she was a travel influencer and they traveled out west to hike and camp while documenting the trip.  We also know there was an incident during the trip and police were called in to investigate and/or deescalate the situation between the couple.  No arrests were made, and the couple continued the journey without a warning from the police. 

I will not dive much deeper into the situation because it has been covered extensively by the news media.  We know where they were before Gabby went missing and Brian decided to return to his parent’s home in Florida.  The media set up outside the homes of both families and conducted interviews with them.  The media spoke with local law enforcement, FBI agents and experts on finding missing people. 

The media coverage for this ONE case was 24/7!  We got in-depth and breaking news coverage to let us know every time something new was identified in the case.  Bravo to the news media for being so aggressive providing us with these vital updates.

Next question.  Who is Jelani Day? I am going to wait so you can go Google his name.

He disappeared the month PRIOR to Gabby but no round the clock coverage to inform us of updates in the investigation.  We did not get updates on a person of interest, circumstances surrounding his disappearance or background information about him.

I found an article on USA Today in the News category—it was not listed as Breaking News or a Top Headline.  I am happy his story was listed at all but why the disparity in how both cases were covered by the media?  Another question I must ask is how many other people went missing during the same time frame, but we heard nothing about them on the national news either.  This is what media bias looks like!

People of color are missing right now but there appears to be only one story the media is interested in covering.  I am fine with the media covering this case but why do they completely ignore everyone else?  It is hard to not see the media bias in the coverage, but the sad thing is multiple networks/outlets are all doing the same thing.

Would we know more about Jelani Day’s investigation IF the media put as much interest in his case as the one we all have been hearing about since September?  Don’t answer that—I know the answer!

Jelani Day and all missing people should be afforded the same coverage and investigation we have seen for the disappearance of Gabby Petito—nothing more or less!

I wrote about The Two Americas last summer—this is another example.  You be the judge.

Research:

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/09/23/jelani-day-illinois-state-university-missing-body-river/5837256001/

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/09/23/gabby-petito-mourned-search-continues-brian-laudrie/5825006001/

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/fbi-releases-video-of-10-rioters-who-allegedly-committed-most-brutal-assaults-on-police-officers/ar-BB1eJ4Dl?li=BBnb7Kz

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/grim-list-of-deaths-at-police-hands-grows-even-after-verdict/ar-BB1fUUsL?li=BBnb7Kz

https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2021/10/26/kyle-rittenhouse-victims-shooting-trial-judge-ruling-travesty/8560336002/

“Freedom is a road seldom traveled by the multitudes”.

(Public Enemy)

Poetic Flow

Poetic Rose

(Image by congerdesign from Pixabay)

“The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth”.

(Jean Cocteau)

The Humble Approach

Humility brings life reassessment

Which path to choose?

Can it really work as planned?

A humble nature provides the path

Seek the truth by living the truth

The rewards you seek will come

Strive to find the path that fits

And happiness will be your reward

Who are you? Self-awareness

Make Things Happen

“Self-awareness is the golden key to making life changing decisions and sticking to them”.

(Dr. Prem Jagyasi)

Dictionary.com defines self-awareness as conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires.

Sounds simple enough but I like to explore self-awareness more when I conduct teambuilding exercises. Self-awareness is needed within the work environment and impacts how well the team functions.  We all bring different things into the work environment daily and need to understand how and what these things are.  I routinely ask the following question when I start the teambuilding process:

Who are you?

Take 2 minutes and ask yourself the question Who are you? multiple times.  Record each of your responses.  My examples to this exercise are:

  • Who are you?  Black man
  • Who are you?  Blogger
  • Who are you?  Leader
  • Who are you?  Running tourist
  • Who are you?  Son
  • Who are you?  Uncle
  • Who are you?  Mentor
  • Who are you?  Friend

Now it is your turn—answer the question and record your responses—I will wait! 😊

How many responses did you list to the question?

The answers may surprise people you work with and maybe yourself.  There is not a right or wrong way to supply responses to the question.  The major point is everything you listed enters the work environment with you daily.

This is an important point as we build teams and help staff members get to know others on the team.  I have used this teambuilding exercise multiple times to enhance the work environment and help with team growth. 

The point of this process is to allow team members to fully understand what they bring to work. It also shows a new level of self-awareness and how we interact with others.  This exercise enhances team awareness and shows everyone they have more in common than they thought.

True leaders can use this data to ensure they treat staff members as individuals and not let their self-awareness impact how they treat others. 

Example:  I do not have kids–this should not impact how I deal with a parent who needs to leave work early because of a sick child.  Some people in leadership positions make decisions based on their worldview only.  This is a horrible way to lead a team.

Authentic leaders understand how they are viewed and the impact this has on the team.  Self-aware leaders create more self-aware leaders. 

So, I ask again—who are you?  How does this level of self-awareness impact your daily interactions?

“What is necessary to change a person is to change his awareness of himself”.

(Abraham Maslow)

The grateful 5 (5 things I’m grateful for)

Grateful

“A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles”

(Pinterest)

Dictionary.com defines grateful as feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness; thankful.

Pretty simple concept and one to dig into a bit more.  I do a lot of reading and came across a blog article titled the Top 5 Things I am Grateful For.  The article and title are straight forward so I decided to try my writing chops to explore this from my perspective.

Family

Spend any amount of time with me and I will tell you about my family.  My family on my mom’s side consists of 5 uncles and 4 aunts.  The last time we counted I had 32 first cousins and 69 second cousins.  I know that last number has gone up, but we have not counted them in a long time.

This large extended family unit allowed me to grow up in an environment where most of my early friends were family members.   We did not add nonfamily friends until we started school because there were enough of us around to field our own teams in most sports.

I am grateful for having so many family members who go out of their way to look out for each other.  Seems like a simple thing but we spent most Thanksgivings with this large unit and enjoyed our time together.  COVID-19 put a halt on our large family get togethers last year but hopefully we can find a way to get the crew together this year—safely!

Friends

My Walk into the Future journey has allowed me to make some truly great friends.  Please note, I do not let a lot of people into my inner circle, so my friends are special people to me.  I have friends who are not cousins and I have known them my entire life.  We stay connected and get back together whenever possible and continue to grow our friendship.

I have friends I met while in the Air Force and we have become our own family unit.  I look forward to getting together and catching up whenever possible.  COVID-19 has put a halt to our running tourist trips, but I am sure we will get back on track in the future.  New Orleans is calling!

I met my best friend in the gym one morning as she bullied me to help her with the weights she was lifting—true story! 😊  Seriously, a simple gym conversation launched a great friendship, and we chat and catch up on life as much as possible.  See you on Park Avenue!

My tree branches are all friends I look forward to catching up with.  Could be a simple email, text, or phone call but love hearing how well my folks are doing in this world.  I enjoy seeing them exploring life via Instagram stories and pictures they share.  I live through them daily and enjoy seeing the growth of my tree. WE ARE!  Go Bucks! Go Noles! Go Gators!

Running

I found running later in life but cannot imagine a world without me putting in my miles.  The concept of running a half marathon was foreign to me in 2013 but now I run 6 to 8 half marathons yearly (pre-COVID).  I had no intention to run another half marathon after my first attempt because it took me three full weeks to recover.  Of course, I had no idea how to train, hydrate or recover properly—lessons learned the hard way! LOL.

My stated goal for 2022 is to explore my first full marathon.  I am hoping COVID does not come back like 2020 and eliminates all future running events.  I am always looking for motivation when I run so training for a full marathon should keep me putting in the miles for years to come.  Trying to convince several friends to come race with me. Let’s go Laurens! 😊

“Running helps me maintain my ‘never killed anyone’ streak”.

(Pinterest)

Health

Happy to report I can eat and drink whatever I want.  My running and weight training programs help with this, but I am blessed with good health.  Running has not caused undue aches or pains and helps me maintain a healthy weight without counting calories.  My weight training provides strong muscle structure to keep me moving forward.  My annual physicals produce good numbers, and the doctor does not have to get onto me to eliminate anything from my diet.  Grateful to continue to age well! 😊

My Blog

Started the Walk into the Future blog without a clear understanding how it would impact me.  I thought I would just write a few things down and see if anyone wanted to read my words.  Turns out the blog has become an extension of me and gives me a platform to share thoughts, ideas, and adventures.  My writing process has slowed down as my work obligations expand but I am still able to keep 4 to 5 weeks of blog articles in my production library.  I would like to get back up to 8 to 10 weeks of articles in reserve in case I need to revise or update them before publishing.  Not sure how long I will continue to publish the blog but still have a ton of material to explore so hope you stay with me on this journey! 😊

Bonus:  My readers

Grateful for everyone who takes the time to read my blog.  Your positive affirmations always put a smile on my face and inspire me to work to produce better content weekly.  Thank you for following the Walk into the Future blog!  Well done!

What are YOU grateful for?  I welcome your thoughts!

“The struggles ends when the gratitude begins”.

(Neale Donald Walsh)

Heavy is the head that wears the crown!

crown

(Image by Radfotosonn from Pixabay

“Woe unto you when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets”.

(Luke 6:26)

My Walk into the Future in 2020 was an interesting journey!

I am sure everyone who just read that last sentence can highlight how 2020 was a unique year to remember—good or bad.  We all had to adjust in 2020 due to COVID-19 and these adjustments impacted our daily lives.

One area I needed to adjust was how I lead an organization with COVID-19 work protocols–working from home, virtual meetings and having staff with preexisting conditions.  None of these things were on our radar when 2020 started but quickly became necessary talking points in early March 2020 for most of us.

My gravitation to the Luke 6:26 verse came about because even when I am doing great work, I continue to look for an angle to motivate myself to do more.  I am not a person to rest on my laurels but look for ways to motivate myself and team to do more.  Luke 6:26 stands out to me today because I am happy to report not all men speak well of me on my current Walk into the Future.

I do not make that claim lightly but have found a level of motivation, enjoyment, and humor in this fact.  Turns out the people who do not speak well of me are the people who are slackers in their daily work endeavors.  It is obvious I take a lot of pride in getting positive things done, correctly and on-time.  I have discovered people who do not take pride in their work, who are satisfied with the status quo or who are plain lazy are not fans of people like me. 

I enter new organizations with the mission to make a difference daily—amazingly simple concept but one I do not take lightly.  I have discovered in my new work environment there WERE several people who were not held accountable for their daily actions.  You cannot make a difference daily without being accountable, so these people hear from me they are not meeting my expectations. 

Please note, these folks work or worked in multiple departments, so it was not isolated to just one area. 

“Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes the wicked incur abuse.”

(Proverbs 9:7)

A funny thing happened when I identified we all need to be accountable in the work environment.  Some did not speak well of me!  Not saying that to be nonchalant or play it down but I heard someone say they could not thrive in a work environment with expectations.  True statement!

I wish I were making this up, but it is true.  Imagine being in a work environment and a staff member has an issue with being accountable to the team and overall mission.  I have been on this professional journey for 30+ years now and find this a terribly sad state of mind for anyone. 

Turns out the previous leadership did not value accountability as much as they should have.  It is amazing how much energy is needed within an organization to correct these type thoughts and actions.  There have been times new leadership has been questioned but The Energy Bus continues to move forward.  Great things are happening and staff who did not have a voice are now able to fully contribute.  The new energy is contagious!

I hope there are other folks who do not speak well of me!  My work speaks for itself.  I was promoted to Administrative Director of Advising and Career Services on July 1, 2021.  Must be doing something right, huh? 😊

We will continue to Walk into the Future and do great things!  Irie!

Believe Shakespeare perfectly sums up this episode below!

“Heavy is the head that wears the crown”.

(Shakespeare)

Waxing Poetic!

Jetty

Really?

Black Lives Matter you say

Is that real or just a cliché?

Cannot believe we have to scream this everyday

Just to be heard, seen, and protected

From the brutal society trying to stamp us out

The daily body counts continue to rise

With no end in sight, we fall

Does not matter if it is a southern thing

Northern thing or western thing

Black lives continue to be extinguished

With no end in sight

So, I ask again, do Black Lives Matter?

When will you step up to make this true?

Simply saying it with no action makes it a hollow cliché

Something woke to say?

Time for action, some type of display

Marching is fine but there cannot be additional delay

Let us put more meaning to Black Lives Matter

Do it today!

Inspiration Man strikes again—Central Florida Economic Council

CFEC1

“Surround yourself with people who are only going to lift you higher”.

(UK Wired)

Dictionary.com defines inspiration as a divine influence directly or immediately exerted upon the mind or soul.

I have multiple Walk into the Future blog posts discussing superpowers and why they are important in our daily walk.  Here is one of my favorites where I introduce my readers to Inspiration Man. 😊

My move to Fort Pierce has allowed me to make a difference but it is more of an organizational difference so far.  We have adjusted work product and flow in my first 14 months.  It almost feels like a complete overhaul of the organization based on how we revamped our services, products, and delivery methods.  I did not expect this level of adjustment when I arrived, but we have made steady progress on modernizing our services and delivery.

The concept of Inspiration Man came up to highlight how I make an impact in the daily lives of others.  Inspiration Man has been doormat, but this all changed when I received an email from a colleague in Orlando who works with the Central Florida Economic Council (CFEC) and Christian HELP. 

Both organizations work to help people in Central Florida get back on their feet—job search, housing, food, etc.  My friend is the Division Director for these organizations and asked me to speak at their May 2021 Job Fair.  I did something similar 10 years ago and she remembered my positive impact on job seekers and wanted me to share my knowledge again.  She does not know about my alter ego, Inspiration Man but she was about to unleash the superhero on the Orlando area. 😊

I quickly accepted the opportunity to move the crowd and share information with job seekers.  The topic given:  Job Searching in 2021—How to Adapt. 

This was not a topic I had in my speaking library, but the challenge was to find a way to cover this information and engage with the audience.  They provided an article with a ton of useful information, so this was the foundation of the presentation.

I never miss an opportunity to help, and this process was exciting; research, building and then presenting information to people who needed to hear from me.

I made my way to Winter Garden on the day of the event.  Decided to drive over and then change at the venue prior to show time.  My friend greeted me at the door, and we took a little time to catch up on life.  She remembered the book I published in 2010 and thought I had another one ready to present to the group.  FYI—I have been working on producing an eBook on Authentic Leadership, but it is not ready for public consumption.  It should be coming later in 2021—get ready!

Inspiration Man made a quick dash into the dressing room to change into my superhero outfit for the day.  Trying to be funny with that—it was a grey suit with a power blue tie.

Headed off to do a quick microphone check and make a quick adjustment to my slide deck.  The event was held at Mosaic Church in Winter Garden, Florida and they have a fantastic audiovisual team.  Sound checks allow me to gauge the acoustic of the venue to understand how loud I need to speak into the microphone.  All systems go!

https://thisismosaic.org/

I took the stage after the host took care of some announcements and introduced me as the featured speaker of the day.  It is always weird to me when I hear someone introducing me at an event—I want to look around to see who they are talking about, and it is ME. 

I like to start my presentations by building rapport with the audience.  One member spoke with me before the presentation and shared she was having a hard time finding employment.  She mentioned a few things she tried but was having troubles.  This quick conversation allowed me to bring a real-world situation into my presentation and highlight I was there to help.  I speak with slides, but this does not drive how I present.  Slides to me provide a foundation but I am not limited to the words on my slide show.

I am a huge fan of Jocko and introduced this video to set the tone for the day: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdTMDpizis8

Diving into the presentation I covered:

  • Trends
  • Search parameters
  • Personal messages
  • Competition
  • Presentation (Elevator pitch)

Each topic came directly from the article they provided, and I leveraged this data to highlight how the current trends favored the job seekers.  We jumped into new job search parameters and ways to gain and keep an employer’s attention.  The personal messages centered on building a WHY statement.  Of course, I shared my WHY with the group to show how it can impact a positive mindset. 

The competition on the job search is really internal—preparing well enhances the client’s ability to connect with employers.  The presentation centered on creating an elevator pitch to helps a client standout in a positive manner.

The audience responded well to each topic and had a lot of questions for me during my hour with them on stage.  This was the most fun I have had in a long time.  Working with motivated people who want to learn and get better brings out the best in me.  I was intent on moving the crowd during this event and happy to report mission accomplished.

Several folks waited to speak with me after and tell me their unique stories.  I listened and shared my contact information so they can reach out to me when ready.  I am happy to help them continue to grow.

Hoping to get additional invitation to help with CFEC/Christian HELP events again soon.  May be time for Inspiration Man to make another appearance! 😊

“Do not let yesterday take up too much of today”.

(Will Rogers)

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)

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