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!!!

 

2020 Winter Park 10k and a podcast on the side

Podcast March 2020

(Image by Florante Valdez from Pixabay)

“Life is a blank canvas and you need to throw all the paint on it you can”.

(Danny Kaye)

Ventured back down to the Orlando area for the 2020 Winter Park 10k.  This race has been on my running calendar the past two years because it allows me to hang out with great friends and family while running a unique course in Winter Park.

Track Shack promotes this race as a fantastic course to run a 10k personal best (PB) and it does not disappoint.  There were several runners ringing the PB Bell strategically placed in the runner’s village after the race.  Always exciting to see the joy a PB time brings to runners.

Mastering College to Career podcast

Coordinated with an Orlando tree branch to stop on the way down for the race to catch up a bit and record another episode on his Mastering College to Career podcast.

The podcast is Daniel Botero’s way to Walk into the Future and he has added on-line courses, videos and workbooks to go along with the weekly podcast episode.  Very proud of his efforts and the difference he’s making with college students transitioning into the workplace.

Daniel provides me with the topic of discussion prior to the podcast and then we get to work.  I’ve known Daniel since 2011 so we have a great working relationship and energize each other when we are in the same room.  He wanted his students to understand the behind the scenes interactions between on-campus recruiters and career centers.  The goal was to provide students with a better understanding how/why employers recruit on their campuses and the work involved to get them there.  Was very happy to share my career center and employer relations knowledge with Daniel for the podcast and helping his students.

Found out I’m the first person on Daniel’s podcast to return for a third time.  This put a smile on my face, but the smile got bigger because Daniel asked me to cut another podcast episode before I left his recording studio.  So, it turns out I’m the only four-time guest on the podcast now.  The additional podcast episode was to highlight the recruiting calendar employers utilize when deciding which campuses to visit.  What a great way to start my race weekend!  Got a chance to catch up with Daniel and cut two podcast episodes to help his students continue to move forward in life.  (Both episodes should be live in April 2020).

Left Daniel’s recording studio and headed straight to Track Shack to pick up my race packet.  Always exciting to see the Track Shack staff engaging with runners buying new gear.  Love they host a spring sale the entire week of the Winter Park 10k race.  Always can find some new gear and the sale prices are fantastic.  Got a chance to chat with one of the Track Shack owners who I met one morning while running in Tom Brown Park in Tallahassee.  Turns out her daughter lives in Tallahassee and works at FSU—small world!

Carb loading

Headed to my favorite Italian restaurant, Café Panuzzo’s with Jayla to carb load and catch up.  We normally dine at Café Panuzzo’s or Buffalo Wild Wings prior to my races and Italian dining won this round.  Café Panuzzo’s never disappoints when we visit.  I stuck to my normal selection of chicken parmesan with pasta and Jayla got adventurous with the calzone.  Got a double order of bread since my goal was to get as many carbs as possible prior to the 10k.  Most got burned off the next morning, so no harm and their bread is fantastic!

Winter Park 10k

The morning started out cooler than expected but was great once we got started.  Told several tree branches prior my goal was to run fast this year and wanted to record a good time.  Happy to report I ran a 10k PB of 56:41 and felt good during and after the race.

Track Shack does not use the corral format for races so the first mile was crowded with runners of all levels and time expectations.  Decided to patiently work my way through the crowd and then pick up my pace once the runners thinned a bit.  Made up most of my slow start once the course flattened and went about my plan to go faster this year.  Knew my time was going to be good (for me) at the 4-mile mark and got comfortable with my pace and breathing.  Decided to pick up my pace at the 5-mile mark to see how much improvements I’ve made in the past year.  Was able to pass several other runners and get to the finish line with a smile on my face.  Learned to smile crossing the finish line since everyone with a camera is snapping away.

Got my medal, checked my time and rang the PB bell too.  Great race, people and after party! Can’t beat drinking a beer and eating donuts at 9 am in the morning.  Running is the best way to stay in shape and overindulge at the same time.

Will keep this race on my calendar because it’s fun and they will always have beer at the end! 😊

What podcasts do you listen to?  How have the podcasts helped you Walk into the Future?

“Oh, the places you’ll go”.

(Dr. Seuss)

Follow Daniel here:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/thedanielbotero/

Follow Track Shack here:  https://www.trackshack.com/

Run Winter Park

Life is short—spend your ENERGY wisely!

Energy

(Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay)

 “The energy of the mind is the essence of life”.

(Aristotle)

 Dictionary.com defines energy as the strength and vitality required for sustained physical or mental activity.

Have you ever examined how much energy you invest in others?  Are your energy investments being deposited in the correct places?

I ask these questions because I’ve had some interesting conversations with several close tree branches over the past couple weeks.  I view my energy and time invested in others as valuable commodities.  I’m mindful of how and when energy (time, thoughts, actions) will be invested to ensure I have the energy (time, thoughts, actions) for the right people.

Please note, I still envision myself as a People Builder but also understand energy can’t be expended equally to everyone.  Finding the proper balance can be tricky but is necessary to ensure a proper life flow.  This balance also provides the ability to move your energy focus and prioritize how and when you decide to expend energy.

I perform a yearly PURGE to ensure I concentrate my energy investments in the correct places.

So, on December 28, 2019 I went through my phone and LinkedIn contacts to identify contacts without mutual interactions within the past year.  Mutual interactions can be defined as texts, networking requests, phone calls, simple conversations, etc.  I took this action to remove potential clutter and reinforce why I have saved contacts in my phone and LinkedIn.  These are the people who should get the energy investments mentioned earlier.  I’m not on Facebook so no need for a PURGE on that platform.

Removing the miscellaneous (without a better word) contacts allows me to invest energy on the right people moving forward.  Now, I don’t have to scroll through as many people to send out a text or LinkedIn message.  This may seem like a small thing, but it reminds me of the importance of tree branches and why pruning is needed in life.  It seems I always get a random text from someone in the PURGE a couple days after—it never fails.  I don’t automatically add them back—I give them a test phase to see if they add energy to me—if not, they stay purged.

“Become more aware of what’s really worth your energy”.

(Pinterest pin, January 2020)

My example focuses on contacts in my phone and on LinkedIn.  Don’t overlook the importance of the energy you expend on people in real life.  I’m looking for people who display positive energy and are moving forward in life.  Negative energy people can drain the life out of you and should be addressed or removed from your environment.  Life is too short to continue to drag or tolerate negative energy on your Walk into the Future!  Go ahead and have the tough conversations but make sure your time, thoughts and actions are focused on positive outcomes.

Get that #2020 vision you deserve!

How do you ensure your energy is invested in the correct places?  Where can you adjust and ensure your energy is spent wisely?

“It’s a waste of energy to be angry with a man who behaves badly, just as it is to be angry with a car that won’t go”.

(Bertrand Russell)

Please note:  this post was inspired by a conversation I had with one of my mentors who is 80+.  She was able to apply my energy concept to her daily life and move forward in a specific situation where she was spending unnecessary energy.  Life is funny, I’m providing mentorship to my mentors now. 😊  Irie!

Wormhole for Energy

(Image by Genty from Pixabay)

Guest Blogger Friday: Melissa Forges

Guest Blogger Friday Villages

(Image by Magdalena Smolnicka from Pixabay)

Today my guest blogger is Melissa Forges who is one of my closest tree branches.  Melissa will be featured here for Guest Blogger Friday:

Villages:  A success factor

When you think about the factors that have helped you become successful, which one stands out?

For me it’s my villages. My personal villages always come to mind because it’s through the support, resources, and encouragement I continuously receive, that enable me to thrive in the many areas of my life. I strongly believe a community has the power to cheerlead you to persevere and be the candor, the frank wisdom you need to be guided in a specific direction. A group of people, whether you call it a village, or another name can be a success factor in your career and life as you Walk into the Future with others by your side.

As the old proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child”, so if child rearing, a noble yet daunting responsibility requires additional input and involvement, how much so for career, relationships, and other complex areas in our lives as well. The good news is there’s no boundary on what topic a village can be created around, how many villages you can be a part of, how many people in the village or how long it needs to last (it may serve for a specific purpose or time frame). The one ingredient is all must share the core identification of the group.

My villages are casual mom-groups to professional development organizations – and everything in between.

I’m part of a text-chat group with a handful of former coworkers and friends where we send jokes, encouragement, and levity during hectic work weeks. Another village is one that’s online via Facebook with 11,000+ members to provide networking opportunities, idea sharing and a safe space to feel heard and represented in our chosen career field.

Although I treasure all my villages as they are all unique, I appreciate one at work where we meet periodically throughout the day, especially at the end of the day to “check-in”, give feedback and provide advisement for each other’s projects and challenges, like a village think tank. The sincere support and sisterhood help each of us to shine, and I find that uplifting.

As one village makes me shine, another makes me sweat! This group of hard-working women are as diverse as they come but we all meet up three times a week, keep each other accountable and inspire one another to attain our fitness goals. I’ll never forget when we were tasked to plank for three sets of 60 seconds after an intense workout. Seems easy right? Well, not for me at that time! My arms were shaking from fatigue, sweat was dripping, and I was about to throw the towel in – but my village was not about to let that happen. Everyone began shouting my name and for me to not give up. I didn’t realize I needed a boost, but I sure used their energy and felt determined and was able to complete the exercise enthusiastically. The village helped me achieve the plank goal, shaky arms and all. It wasn’t about the planks; it was the group that helped me stay focused to achieve more than I thought I could in the moment.

That’s what villages can do. They call you higher to exist above mediocrity; they provide insight you may need for a decision or help you stay on your toes so to speak. Also, as villages call you higher, they become clusters of family whether they’re in-person or virtual because at the base of a village are the people, you’re building relationships with.

You may be in several villages and didn’t even know it. Think about the groups you periodically interact with and how you mutually serve one another. If you cannot think of one, maybe you can create one and it can even be online. Start with an interest or skill you enjoy or would like to develop. For example, it can be sports, business, or a hobby. You’ll find there are people, village people (pun intended) out there just like you looking to make a connection. Get out there and “raise a child”, metaphorically speaking, and build villages to incorporate into your success factor for life, career, and beyond!

What village(s) are you a part of?  How has your village helped your success?  If you’re not a part of a village, what type of village can you create?

Thank you Melissa for your outstanding insight on villages!

Follow Melissa here:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/mforges/

Where do leaders come from?

Leadership image

(Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay)

“I’m a leader not a follower.  Unless it’s a dark place, then you are going first”.

(Unknown)

Got invited back down to Orlando in October for my recurring speaking role on the Intern Whisperer podcast.

Season 2, Episode 92 featured me discussing all things leadership to include earliest memories of venturing into leadership roles.

The quote above makes me laugh because I know people who perform in their leadership role in a similar manner.  No worries when things are going well but no support, help or empathy when things get tough.  These so-called leaders also seek the spotlight in good times and hide out during the bad.

Back to the podcast and why I’m discussing leadership in this blog post.  The students who produce the Intern Whisperer podcast are extremely sharp and asked great questions from start to finish.  One question that really stood out to me was, “What was your earliest memory of taking on a leadership role and how did it make you feel”?

Seems like a straightforward question but I had to think about it for a bit.  I have always been an athlete and grew up playing multiple sports; football, basketball, baseball and track (high jump).  Never considered being active in sports as leadership, just a way to pass the time and hang out with friends.  Yes, I know leadership and teamwork are integral in a team environment, but I was just having fun during this time frame.  My interviewers seemed to think my sports background would have been where my leadership foundation started.

My earliest memory of taking on an active leadership role and embracing everything involved was when I became a Master Instructor at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi (Biloxi).

I served at multiple Air Force installations as a Personnel Systems Manager (HR Data Analyst) and got an opportunity to train analysts Air Force wide based on my work performance and knowledge.  So, I went for writing computer code for one Air Force base to training every data analyst in my career field—worldwide.  Pretty heady stuff for someone from Jasper, Florida!

This role stands out as my earliest leadership memory because I had to expand my personal and professional goals and understand the importance of ensuring my students got a world class education.  Everything they needed to be successful in the career field came directly from me.  I couldn’t have a bad day in class because my lack of preparation, patience or knowledge would hinder their abilities to perform; in class and when they returned to their respective organizations around the world.

I went from being responsible for myself to leading a group of 25 students on a six-week educational journey.  We routinely graduated 10 classes every fiscal year—I spent 4 years as an Air Force instructor at Keesler Air Force Base before moving back into my career field at Kadena Air Base, Japan (Okinawa).

The Air Force Technical School environment is the incubator that taught me leaders must be able to adjust leadership style, inspirational tactics and provide tough love when needed.  The students needed different things to successfully complete our course.  My ability to lead was needed daily.

It was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done but it laid the foundation for my current leadership and life philosophy:  Make a difference daily!

Leadership article

(Instructor of the Year Presentation)

What are your earliest leadership memories?  How do these memories impact you today? (Respond in the comments section—thanks!) 

Thanks for walking with me!

“Be a LEADER, not a boss”.

(Calvin Williams)

Leverage individual communication styles to enhance team operations

top view photo of people near wooden table
Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

“In teamwork, silence isn’t golden, it’s deadly”.

(Mark Sanborn)

There are no two teams that are exactly alike.  Not the most prophetic thing I’ve ever written in this blog space but worth stating.

Teams have different dynamics and function based on these things and the people who make up the team.  The most successful teams can leverage the talents of each team member into the overall organizational dynamic to ensure successful outcomes.

We’ve discussed team communication strategies in previous posts with an angle to strengthen your team.  Individual communication styles and preferences should be reviewed and discussed when you add someone new to your team.  I’m sure everyone strives to hire the best candidate to fill an opening on their team.  How much thought do you put into understanding how to integrate the new team member’s communication style in with others?

I’m a firm believer that leaders should know direct reports’ communication style and preferred way they want to receive information.  This knowledge allows leaders to seek ways to ensure they communicate in a way to maximize operational needs.  This knowledge has helped me when assigning tasks to team members.

Example #1:  When faced with a project that has an extremely quick turnaround time, I normally assign this project to my ENFJ (MBTI) staff member.  This type project excites the staff member and I know they will get things done quickly with enough time for review before the deadline.

Example #2:  When faced with a project due four months from today, I normally assign this project to my ISTJ (MBTI) staff member.  This type project allows the staff member time to plan, strategize and ask all the questions they need to for a successful outcome.

The examples listed above are two actual scenarios I’ve tackled in the past.  Both had successful outcomes because I knew and understood how to engage staff to maximize their talents.  This in turn produced successful outcomes for the organization.

Knowledge of individual communication styles also provides a blueprint to help build training plans to help staff members grow.  Introverted staff are not exempt from ever getting a task with a quick turnaround.  The leader needs to provide a more detailed set of instructions and understand they may have to follow-up with the staff member.  This process begins to stretch the staff member and helps their professional growth.  This also provides the leader with another staff member who can handle future quick turnaround projects and not wear out the extroverts.  Also, extroverted staff are not exempt from being assigned long term projects—training applies to all staff members.

There are multiple ways to engage staff to understand their individual communication style.  MBTI and CliftonStrengths are two tools used in my work environments.  These tools allowed me to get a better understanding of everyone on my team and integrate this knowledge to help teammates understand each other as well.

What’s the most successful way for me to understand how to communicate with my team?  I sit down with them and ask everyone how they like to receive information.  Simple, huh?  Then I make sure to communicate with everyone in a manner they identify (as much as possible).  Things pop up but I try to remain consistent with the communication process.  Direct reports seem to appreciate this fact and respond in a positive manner.

A final note, leaders need to ensure their team knows how they like to communicate as well.  The team shouldn’t have to guess how to approach a leader.  This creates undo stress and is not productive.

How do you account for individual communication styles in the work environment?  Can this knowledge impact your current organization?  (Please respond in the comments section below—thanks!)

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

(Plato)

blackboard business chalkboard concept
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com