Strong tree branches keep me moving forward

two brown trees
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“If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together”.

(African Proverb)

My collective tree branches continue to amaze me daily!

I enjoy watching the great things they are doing in their respective areas of higher education, mentoring, volunteering, speaking, podcasting, recruiting, leadership development and fitness to name a ‘few’ areas these outstanding folks are making a difference.

The one area that stands out to me today as I write this is the teamwork they constantly display.  My Walk into the Future has led me away from a physical office space—as noted, I primarily work out of coffee shops with Lucky Goat being first choice.  My previous work life allowed me to be surrounded by direct reports and colleagues every day.  There was always someone available to me whenever I had a question, concern or marketing idea I needed to hash out.

“If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself”.

(Henry Ford)

My current walk provides me unlimited freedoms to decide what I work on and when.  The one limiting factor is I don’t have ‘my’ team right down the hallway to bounce things off.

A great aspect of having so many tree branches is they are only a text message, email or phone call away when I need help.  Today was a perfect example of how great my tree branches are.  Needed some help generating a Presentation Value Proposition for a conference proposal I was working on.

I had no trouble describing my proposed presentation, highlighting learning outcomes and generating an overall summary.  Couldn’t generate the Value Proposition for the presentation for some odd reason—just couldn’t make it pop or even sound interesting.

Reached out to two of my most creative tree branches and described my dilemma.  Provided them with what I needed to do and my attempt to generate the Value Proposition.  They both jumped into teammate mode and sent me back appealing options for the Value Proposition that made the presentation sound exciting.  The point being is even without us being in the same cities, my team still has my back and we make each other better daily.

The ability to stress the importance of teamwork is something I’m proud to bring to every organization I’ve worked with.  It’s great to see my tree branches continue to embrace team concepts and help others grow.  Well done tree branches—keep up the great things you do daily!  Very proud of your efforts!

Thanks to my tree branches who return my texts, emails, phone calls and LinkedIn shout outs!  You’re fueling this journey one step at a time—Irie!

What are the most important team concepts you display daily?  How can you enhance the team experience in your work environment?  Thanks!

Respect Melissa and V’Rhaniku!

ER 2016

(2016 team bowling outing)

“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else”.

(Booker T. Washington)

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Running, rocking out, and enjoying Philadelphia

Philly LOVE sign

“To travel is to live”.

(Hans Christian Andersen)

My Walk into the Future continues to expand my running tourist experiences.  Made a trek to the 2019 Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon in September.  This was race #5 for my 2019 running goals.

The training and additional miles logged over the summer were evident during my race.  I was able to post another personal record (PR) time of 2:07:55 (official time) but was happier with how I felt mentally and physically during the race.  Past races my legs started to hurt at the 8-mile marker and really screamed at me miles 10 through 13.  Fighting the pain and the urge to stop running was always there in previous races but my new training program allowed me to enjoy every mile of the race.  Helped the Philly course was mostly flat until the end.  I never frown at a PR but will evaluate my training process to see where I can find additional speed to get me closer to my goal time of under 2 hours.

Note:  The 2-hour goal does not stop me from enjoying these races.  It’s my way to push myself to improve daily.

“The point is whether or not I improved over yesterday”.

(Haruki Murakami)

(After race and Rocky statue)

Philadelphia

Selected this race because I’ve never been to Philadelphia.  Also, I have a tree branch (Lauren Apgar) in Philly, and it gave us a chance to catch up.  Again, I take the concept of running tourist seriously so let me know if I should visit your city for a run. 😊

We left the airport and headed straight to the Philadelphia Convention Center for the Rock N Roll EXPO.  Seeing the thousands of running tourists who trek to a Rock N Roll destination to run the city and enjoy the culture is always a highlight of race weekend.

The positive energy in the EXPO hall always provides extra inspiration to run my best race.  People from all over the world converging on a location with the same goal in mind to run their best race ever.

The Philly EXPO was smaller than previous EXPOs (New Orleans and Nashville) because there was not a full marathon scheduled.  The Philly races were the half marathon, a 7.6k and a 5k.

This was Lauren’s first Rock N Roll EXPO, so it was great introducing her to the process (check-in, bib pickup, bag pickup, etc.) and attending the EXPO with vendors and products.  We got as many freebies as we could and tested out products on display.  This is a great way to get a free massage before the race since vendors want to test their products on runners.  I’m always down for the free massage!  Got a lot of cool photo ops while at the EXPO:

Food, food and more food

We left the convention center and made our way to Iron Hill Brewery (Center City) for lunch to help with my carb loading process.  Great location with a huge menu and beer options.  I don’t experiment with food prior to a race so ordered the grilled chicken sandwich, fries and the Iron Hill Light Lager.  Lots of great food on the menu if you get a chance to dine at one of their locations:

What’s a trip to Philly without visiting the Reading Terminal Market?  It’s labeled as “one of America’s largest and oldest public markets” and lived up to the reputation.  Row after row of unique foods, fare and products.  Several vendors had wrap around lines waiting to explore new tastes.  We didn’t eat at Reading Terminal Market, but it will be a regular stop when I’m back in Philly:

Dinner carb loading was done at Pietro’s Coal Oven Pizzeria.  Stuck with the tried and true chicken parmesan because it came with a huge plate of spaghetti and sauce.  Portions were so large at Pietro’s I almost couldn’t finish it all but since I had 13.1 miles to run the next morning, I powered through.

Pietros Pizza

We ventured further out after the race to get cheese steaks.  Lauren introduced me to the Philly subway system and the proper way to get around the city.  We got an impromptu dance show from a family entertaining everyone on the subway.  Great seeing people smile and enjoy themselves as they traveled to their respective destinations.  Full disclosure, I assumed Philly was going to be all hustle and bustle like New York.  Pleasantly surprised how slow the pace was in Philly and how people interacted with each other.

Cheese steaks on every corner

We decided to take part in the great Philly cheese steak debate:  Geno’s or Pat’s.  Agreed we would do a taste test to decide which cheese steak was better.

Started at Geno’s and dived right into a large cheese steak.  Very good flavor, texture and presentation.  Made our way across the street to try Pat’s cheese steak next.  Again, very good flavor, texture and presentation.  The onions on the Pat’s cheese steak were sautéed more and the steak had more moisture than Geno’s.  We agreed both were worth a visit if you’re in Philly—can’t go wrong with either selection.

Seating is limited at Geno’s and Pat’s, so we grabbed seats at Garage Philly and enjoyed the cheese steaks, beer and people watching.  They have a DJ playing on the sidewalk, so it was a block party and a great place to relax with good food:

History

Made our way over to Independence Hall to experience some American history. Got a chance to explore multiple buildings on the property to include Congress Hall and Senate Chambers.  The Liberty Bell was another historical site we were able to experience.  Great being in a place with this much historical contexts—recommend visiting if you’re in the Philadelphia area.

Trekked over to Penn’s Landing to see the waterway and the Ben Franklin Bridge.  Great place to people watch and get photos of New Jersey across the river.  Lots of boats in the water and people enjoying the great September weather.

Philadelphia is a great place—recommend you get there for a visit if you haven’t been.  Also, recommend experiencing the great food, history and culture available.

FYI—enjoyed it so much I’ve already signed up for the 2020 Philadelphia Rock N Roll Half Marathon!  Will get a chance to test out the Pat’s and Geno’s cheese steak debate again.  Can’t wait!

What city have you always wanted to visit?  When are you going?

 “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all”.

(Helen Keller)

Thanks Lauren for being a great host and tour guide—well done! 😊

Committed to the blog – Blogging about blogging

Blog notepad

“You are not obligated to win.  You are obligated to keep trying to do the best you can every day”.

(Marian Wright Edelman)

My laptop has been the tool I’ve used over the past year to research, write, edit and publish articles for the Walk into the Future blog.  It’s a rare day to find me anywhere without my laptop close by to record a new idea or thought to turn into an article for the blog.

Well, I experienced a slight glitch to my productivity in late June when my laptop decided not to boot up.  Tried multiple diagnostic programs to see if I could fix the issue on my own but finally had to give in and put my laptop in the shop.  Figured I would lose a couple days of writing production so focused more time in the gym and on my Philly Rock n Roll half marathon training program while the laptop was out for service.

Quickly discovered the time dedicated to creating content for the blog was an actual part of my lifestyle and I felt weird not working on the next article.  The commitment to write and produce weekly content for myself, followers and other readers was still present even without my laptop.  Felt like I was cheating myself by taking days off from research and writing—this fact makes me laugh considering I normally have 8 weeks of articles already written prior to publishing on the blog.  This gives me time to go back and edit/add content as needed before you read it.

I was talking with a friend about my laptop dilemma and my inability to record my thoughts as usual.  My friend offered I could always write my ideas by hand if needed after laughing at me and my made-up problem!  I’ve documented how bad my handwriting is, so it never crossed my mind I could still be a productive writer by simply writing down my thoughts/ideas and then transcribe them later—what a concept, huh?  LOL.  We joked I should call the article ‘Blogging about blogging’ since I had to be convinced blogging doesn’t stop because I’m not on a laptop.  Sounds almost like an old Seinfeld episode—blogging about blogging.

The image above is my notepad while sitting at Lucky Goat generating content for future blog articles.  Generated two ideas with my handwritten content and later transferred into Microsoft Word once I got my laptop back.  This process was not as difficult as I made it out to be—I’m still learning, adjusting and growing with the blog.

My commitment to this blog is real and hopefully the articles you read here provide a place to laugh, learn and enjoy the process of my journey!

What are you committed to daily?  How do you ensure it has priority on your schedule?

 

“Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.  Accordingly, a genius is often merely a talented person who has done all of his or her homework”.

(Thomas Edison)

blog icon information internet
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The Voice of a Leader

orange and and brown chess pieces

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“True leadership stems from individuality that is honestly and sometimes imperfectly expressed—Leaders should strive for authenticity over perfection”.

(Sheryl Sandberg)

Had a great lunch meeting and chat with one of my Orlando tree branches at the end of May.  We were able to catch up before my scheduled guest speaking role on the Intern Pursuit podcast.  Always love catching up with my tree branches in-person and jumped at the chance to hear the great things she was doing in Orlando with her small business marketing firm.

We were able to share professional and life updates during this visit and got into the concept of leadership in the workplace.  Just general stuff but I’m a big believer in leadership development and the impact ‘good’ leadership can have on the work environment.

Most people have heard numerous leadership styles mentioned:  transactional, transformational, authoritative, authentic, etc.  I recommend new leaders have a good understanding of multiple leadership styles and then work to find their inner voice within the work environment.

What’s your inner voice?  This concept can be used to determine your true leadership style and then put things into place to ensure your work environment and people can grow.  I tell anyone who listens I’m a huge believer in the authentic leadership style.  Guess what, authentic leadership takes some of the best aspects of other leadership styles and packages them into a concise, four variable approach to leadership.  The variables of self-awareness, relational transparency, internalized moral perspective and balanced processing are used by authentic leaders to develop their inner leadership voice.  An authentic leader needs to ensure these variables are on display and utilized daily to truly be an authentic leader.

Please note, all leadership styles have variables of some level.  Transformational leaders are called ‘quiet leaders’ because they are described as leading by example.  Transactional leaders can be viewed as reactive and ‘may’ be more beneficial within large corporation settings.

So, as you can see, there are a lot of leadership styles available to new and experienced leaders.

“It can be done.  Leaders make things happen.  If one approach doesn’t work, find another”.

(Colin Powell)

The key to finding your leadership inner voice is assessment of your work environment and flexibility.  I can say I practice authentic leadership, but this style may not be practical for every direct report.  A direct report who is not performing to standards may need daily transactional interactions whereas the rest of the staff thrive with the authentic leadership environment created.  Knowing the needs of your staff is something that comes with experience, lots of reading and training.  The ability to adapt to changing work situations and needs of direct reports allows a leader to impact the work environment in a positive manner.

It’s okay to take a personal interest in direct reports and things they are interested in.  You may be able to adjust work assignments to keep them engaged based on strengths and interests.  It’s also okay if you can’t accommodate everything your staff would like to do in the work environment.  Example:  staff may want to work from home but if that model does not fit the mission then it’s up to the leader to say so.  Saying no in this situation is not a personal attack, it’s just the way the organization must operate.

A lot goes into being a leader.  Understanding leadership styles, your strengths and weaknesses as well as continual learning will help as you develop your inner leadership voice.

“Outstanding leaders go out of the way to boost the self-esteem of their staff.  If people believe in themselves, it’s amazing what they can accomplish”.

(Sam Walton)

blank paper with pen and coffee cup on wood table
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