Posts made in May 2019

Over a Cliff: Good Leadership equals a strong following

One of my mentees showed me a clip from an old episode of Scandal she watched where the character Abby was irate at the main character Olivia for not being true self and leading their company down the wrong path. Yet, Abby did express her loyalty by saying she would follow Olivia over a cliff.   One could say that it means I will follow you to the bitter end or that any leap of faith you take I am there to fly with you. That got me thinking about creating a strong enough team who will support you and be leaders within their own right to take you to the next level and fly. If your team does not express that they will chase you over a cliff and expect to fly, then you’ve been a boss to them and not a leader.

Learn your followers

When you hire someone it is based off of their skill set and their likability…if you just plan on being their boss. A boss operates like a jockey on a race horse, they drive their employees around the track and they get all the credit. A leader invest in their employees qualities and cultivates their skills and mentality to become experts or leaders within their own right. Not every employee is in a position to lead an entire team. However  every employee can be exceptional at what they do and bring their expertise to the table. By encouraging their growth as employees you become a leader that they can trust. They want to follow you, because you have taken the time to invest in their skills, learn who they are as individuals, and marry the possible life path with the company’s needs. Even if they leave the company there will always be a bond to return or assist like I talked about with former mentees. Don’t do your company the disservice of being a boss of working horses, create leaders and experts that will calmly walk to the edge of a cliff and jump with you to fly.

 

‘If you want to go quicklygo aloneIf you want to go fargo together.’-Unknown

Over a cliff and climb a mountain

Everyone loves a good comeback story. When companies like Apple, IBM, Starbucks, and Marvel were on the precipice of bankruptcy and the CEO’s had to make hard decisions of whether to fight their way from the edge or fall off, the employees were the ones who were their string of hope. The employees were likely fighting for their own positions and income, however that was one leg of the drive to get the respective companies back on their feet. When the CEOs came in and decided this is how we are going to survive they had to rely on their own confidence and the confidence of their sub-leaders (employees) to gain that second leg to get back up the mountain and become one of the top companies in the world of their respective industries. Companies are built by the idea(s) of one or few and nurtured to develop beyond the vision by those who know how to carry the weight.

The Lean-In on Leadership for your staff 

Creating a group of sub-leaders can easily be done by simply regarding them. To regard your employee can guarantee their loyalty to your vision and purpose regardless of the direction that you may be headed. Here are some suggestions that I have lived and observed.

  • Identify weaknesses and use it as a space to improve.
  • Consider all ideas as great ideas and dive deep into them until it shows that it is/is not good for the company.
  • Create a “winner circle” for small and achievements within or outside of the company. You never know how the new skill or development will help you move forward.
  • Encourage the sub-leader to keep moving forward whether that is by example or instruction.
  • If the sub-leader is on the edge of their own cliff, let them know that you will help them fly if they jump.

Technology that will save our lives

Technology has come a long way from the room sized computers and now offer a vast amount of sustainable solutions in the palm of our hands.  We watch our youth be attached to their technology like their life depends on it. However in some cases it does. I came across an article about some of the advancements in technology this year and these are the four things that made be believe things are changing for the better.

Robotic Dexterity, not as frightening as it seems

It may seem like something out of a movie, but robots having dexterity comparable or identical to a humans is an opportunity for job growth. While there are arguments about removing the human element from medicine to fast food there are more possibilities with this type of technology for people to learn new skills in technology maintenance, reduce hazards and risks handling toxic chemicals or environments, and perform procedures in the medical field. Although the materials, coding, and responsiveness is not perfected yet, it is certainly on the way.

 

 

Being prepared for a premature baby 

Unfortunately some babies are born prematurely and it can result in death before the age of five. A bioengineer from Stanford, Stephen Quake, has created a way to test for premature births and create strategies to prevent or hold off an early birth for better chance of survival. The non-invasive blood test will look for a chemical imbalance that would cause premature birth.

 

Gut Probe

According to the MIT Technology review this swallowable capsule is small enough to inspect your digestive tract instead invasive surgery and without anesthesia. This is quite the breakthrough that will provide results without pain or recovery and provide early detection for different diseases. See the description below.

Tearney’s swallowable capsules contain miniature microscopes. They’re attached to a flexible string-like tether that provides power and light while sending images to a briefcase-like console with a monitor. This lets the health-care worker pause the capsule at points of interest and pull it out when finished, allowing it to be sterilized and reused. (Though it sounds gag-­inducing, Tearney’s team has developed a technique that they say doesn’t cause discomfort.) It can also carry technologies that image the entire surface of the digestive tract at the resolution of a single cell or capture three-dimensional cross sections a couple of millimeters deep.

 

 

 

What in the world is an ECG?

An ECG is Electrocardiography or EKG that is used to record heart beats. Now this technology is available in smart watches that will monitor hearts. This is especially important for women overall who suffer different symptoms of heart disease than a man. By wearing these types of devices people can spot any irregularities.  There is also an available option for detecting strokes in mobile technology that would detect the lead up to outward symptoms such as a droopy face and numbness, just by simply checking your ECG app and tool.

Take a Break Mom

For a working mother of any kind, Mother’s Day is a day to be pampered, but also to reflect. Many mothers reflect on how fulfilling their lives have been with their families, the advancement of their careers, but some may be thinking about how little time they’ve had to themselves. Not have a distinguishable time to break away from the duties of being a mother can create a lot of stress and worse depression; unfortunately that is one of the leading causes of heart attacks and heart disease for women. When you become a mother it does not mean that you must relinquish everything that you are and that includes taking some time for yourself.

Ask for help 

One of my friends showed me this article from Scary Mommy, which I thought was a funny and accurate title for a motherhood blog. We talked about how taking time for yourself or asking for help became a ridiculous thought because we needed to be there for our child/children. Then when I read the quote below it summed up how we need to ask for help whether from a partner, relative, or friend, because no one can do this alone.

“Just handle it! You asked for this!” constantly rang in my ears, and I refused — and I mean straight-up refused — to ask for help. Help is for wimps!  Help is for…for moms who don’t love their kids and need those silly “breaks” from them all the time…And then I hit the mother of all mothering walls and collapsed in epic fashion. I was toast. Burnt [sic] toast. And burnt toast can’t raise children.”  (Scary Mommy)

Demand time for yourself. 

 “The more we fill ourselves up, the more we have to give. And as moms, we have to give a lot.” –Kristy S. Rodriguez, a pre- and postnatal wellness expert and advocate stated in a Parents.com article. . 

Loving yourself first is not selfish, especially when you are a mother.  When a woman becomes a mother the thought of putting anyone ahead of their child’s needs is completely out of the question. However if you are unable to distinguish the mother, wife/partner, friend, and individual parts of yourself, they will eventually collide and you will implode. Demanding space, quiet time, time to something you enjoy and more is not hard. Ask for it. Create times for you to be with yourself and enjoy that time. If anyone disrupts it, unless it is an emergency, remind them that they are being disrespectful and ask them to respect your time so that you can be a better person overall.

The important thing to remember is you are not a bad mother if you need some time for yourself. Create in yourself a place of peace that will radiate outward and demand balance within the household. It will take time and adjustment, but it is possible. Take break to show that you know how to love yourself.

Your children are watching. 

Fear the Regret of not Being Bold

Anything that is holding you back from taking that chance to march into a new endeavor, knock it out of the way, and take that leap of faith. Many women, like men, fear change and any disruption in their stability.  I’ve talked about walking away from my private sector job and starting my own business before and it is not an easy choice. I see women on two different ends of the spectrum now, where they are either going for their dream life with gusto or having a ‘someday’ attitude because they have families; both are valid feelings. Outsiders may say that by taking a risk professionally, the respective woman will struggle or worse the family.  However fearing the unknown and absorbing the opinions of others is a recipe for regret. If  you put at least 50% of the energy that is given to your job or family into yourself, everyone will be better for it.

Fearing the unknown is a waste of time. Expecting the unknown troubles, successes, and journeys is far more invigorating! When a challenge arises that forces your humility it is a transformative process. When a woman becomes a mother, everything changes and many unexpected things occur. When a woman starts a business or other types of endeavors, it is the same process. We can prepare, but not always predict if or when something is going to happen. So why allow the fear of the unknown to build up our regret.

No matter what you do, someone will have an opinion for better or worse. And while it is alright to ignore those opinions, listen to them, because they may be holding a piece of advice that needs to be heard masked in worry. For example, if you are starting a small business and have a family of five someone may ask ‘What about your kids? What about your spouse?’ and that will spark an idea on child care, partner coordination, and work time management to be effective in all realms. With other negative opinions in the spirit of ‘Most businesses fail in five years’ or ‘You’re going to do that?‘ use that as fuel to prove to yourself  that these negative people were wrong. I say to prove it to yourself because no matter how incredible you become, they will never lift their outlook on life or opinion of you. You have to prove yourself wrong, by conquering every imagined catastrophe and rejoice in it not coming to pass. After all, the most important opinion we have is the one of ourselves.

Fear is a motivator and the fear of regret has the same power. Use the fear of regret to fuel your ambitions. Yes, mistakes will be made and perhaps one of those imagined catastrophes will come to pass. Learn from it, and be bold in moving forward. I may have regretted some decisions or plans I laid out that did not benefit me. However after almost 30 years of taking that leap of faith, I’ve learned it is better to regret bad decisions that were reshaped into opportunities, than to regret never taking a chance at all.

    There are no mistakes. 

     

    Don’t Be a Bad Student: The Mentor Circle

    We never stop learning. Regardless of your profession, interest, or expertise, we never stop learning. The best thing about being a mentor is that you have an opportunity to guide someone to the answers they are seeking. Along the way, if your guidance is done correctly, the mentee will also educate the mentor.

    My mentor said, ‘Let’s go do it,’ not ‘You go do it.’ How powerful when someone says, ‘Let’s!’” — Jim Rohn

    The important thing to remember is we are in this together.  

    When seeking a mentor, you must find someone who matches who you are collectively. This does not stop at the type of profession that the potential mentor has. For example, I spoke about Lynn before, my mentee who was starting her own business. I am an IT and Telecommunications services business and her business was a creative solutions business. We are in very different fields, but we both had the same goal in mind and that was to build a successful woman owned small business. I was able to guide her in how she conducted herself, management tactics, project management strategies, and relaxing in the growth process. She in turn showed me the importance of social media and how to use it to benefit my business and personally. These were things I had not considered before. So as I was ‘showing her the ropes as a long time business woman’ she was laying out a new path for me to expand my presence. We walked this path together.

     Ego will not serve your education 

    I hope everyone is familiar with the Creed films with Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stalone. Both Creed and Creed II were perfect depictions of mentorship  That was the perfect depiction of how ego between a mentor and mentee can destroy your path forward. In both films Adonis Creed was being mentored by Rocky to be one of the best heavy weight champion boxers and Adonis fought him, proverbially speaking, all the way. Adonis realized that he needed Rocky when he faced defeat and Rocky realized that Adonis gave him purpose and a reason to fight against his illness. If neither had released their ego and what they believed would be the best tactic for the desired solution then Adonis would not have won either of his fights. It takes humility from both the mentor and mentee to understand that they have their own strengths that rely on each other to be successful moving forward.

    I’ve got your back.

    Our  parents teach us how to be a properly functioning adult and in turn the “new adults” take care of the parents, while the parents still provide some guidance. It is the same thing with mentors and mentees. There is a bond formed that is an endless cycle of support that provides comfort as well as guidance when things are not going well. Because a seed of hope has been sewn by the knowledge and graciousness of the mentor, the mentee can grow into something beyond what the mentor has taught. And both can rest assured in a cycle of continuous gratitude and growth because they never stop learning from each other.

    Your Network is your Net worth

    A major component to my success thus far has been: Your business will not survive if you do not realize the value of your network, because who you have in your network determines your net worth. This concept is applied to business and your personal life. In financial terms your net worth is the value of assets, minus the total of all liabilities. In both business and your personal life it is important to see who is a viable connection so that it does not devalue your own worth as while your advancement is in progress. This may sound exclusive, however if you are trying to elevate your business or your life, you must choose where people belong to maintain the balance and growth you aspire for.

    Your Assets

    In business an asset is something that supports or assists in the evolution of your company. The key to acquiring said assets is to be open to “diversifying your portfolio”. When building up your stock portfolio, the first thing any broker will say is to diversify your portfolio to obtain maximum results. It is the same in business where the variety of people within your network bring value to your growth plan; whether that is from a chance meeting, connecting on LinkedIn, or meeting at an event.

    Asset Building Values:

    • Actual Value: The person/people you connect with that have a skill, service, or network they want to introduce you to that will affect your business in a positive way almost immediately. These are people that you seek to build a relationship with for an intentional purpose that has potential growth in the future.
    • Potential Value:  The person/people you connect with that may be in a different industry or career level than you are that will be useful in the near or distant future. While these types of connections are not an absolute guarantee of partnership or using the service, these connections can serve as great referrals that someone else may come to you for; thus making you a reliable resource for information.
    • Penny Stock Value: In the stock market a penny stock is a small or big business that trades publicly for $5.00 or lower, but can yield a small return with little risk. Penny Stock connections are ‘back pocket’ connections you can call upon for a quick service or connection. They may not serve a need for growth, but they are quick, reliable, outstanding resources for an immediate job, referral, or service that can be rendered for a small cost. They are not invaluable, but if they are not used it will not be to the detriment of your company.
    • Educational Value:  These are people who are potential mentors, connections to valuable information, and further education for your staff or yourself. This type of connection is always a good resource to have especially in rapidly changing industries like technology.

    Running a business or operating a life is not easy and you need people in your corner that will pour into you emotionally, mentally, and spiritually while supporting you no matter what. Not everyone is a business connection, however that does not devalue them.  Everyone is a part of your personal growth in big and little ways. While they may not fit in every part of your life a good friend is needed in every component of your life. When creating or evolving your “friend circle” make sure that they hold the following components that will not derail your personal growth:

    • Can provide advice on life’s issues or be a listening ear when you need to vent. Having someone to talk to is wonderful, having someone to listen is priceless. Odds are you know the answer already, you just need someone to help you lay out your options even if it is just by listening.
    • Offer assistance or refer you to someone who can. No one has all of the answers, and sometimes things like therapy or groups can offer more of a solution. Be around someone who will not shame you for not having it all together, but assist you in sorting out your issues.
    • They are your defense system. Whether you are successful or not, people will talk about you, especially to your friends. A good friend will always speak against the negativity and protect your honor so that the opposing energy does not disrupt your personal growth. They will not gossip about you, they will hold your personal standard of success higher than you do, and they will keep you lifted; regardless if you feel defeated.

    Your Liabilities

    There are a few things to avoid when it comes to business and personal net worth. While they may serve a quick purpose, they are not viable resources of growth for the long term.

    • Poachers: People who pretend to be seeking a relationship for growth, but they are solely in it for their own interest. Not every friendship is a business relationship or vice versa. However if people are continuously asking for you to “do them a favor” or reach beyond your capacities without a return they are damaging your worth. They will use your friendship or services to better themselves without a thank you or equal distribution of favors which can damage your reputation as being desperate and willing.
    •  Copycats: People who lightly compliment then copy your style almost identically because they can not create their own style, relationships, or business concepts on their own. These people usually envy something that you have and instead of developing their own or asking for advice they copy you and expect to be glorified for it. When they are not given the same attention as the person they are copying they start to shame and belittle that person so that they appear superior.
    • Faux Olive Branches: People who pretend to be helpful in a time of need, but in reality are setting you up to be a ‘poacher victim’ or gather information to use against you when you do not give them what they desire. In business there are times of crisis in which a call to the network would be needed, however if someone may need something from you they will use this crisis as an opportunity to grow themselves instead of being a helping hand. In friendships, these are people who will drink with you, dance with you, yet in a time of crisis are no where to be found until they need something from you. Some surefire signs of this are: publicly offering support to be seen, subtly demanding thanks and praise for their rescue, and gossiping to you about other people’s issues to encourage you to talk more about your own.

     

    Your Net worth 

     It is a process to weed out  assets and liabilities. If someone who you thought was an Actual Value asset turns out to be a Faux Olive Branch, it’s alright because everyone makes mistakes. By continuously going through the process of identifying your assets and liabilities your growth whether personal or professional will occur. All I can truly suggest before starting that process is to first identify your self worth and how you contribute to your own success, your network, and removing your own unknown liability habits.

     

     

    Give Yourself A Chance

    I was reflecting today on a conversation with a young woman I was mentoring about building her business, I’ll call her Lynn. She was so focused on going through a “life reset” post a recent turbulent transition that she would not give herself a chance to grow as a person and a professional.  One day I said to her ‘You walk around with this chip on your shoulder saying you survived, but what does that mean for your business?’ Since our conversation Lynn has grown in her business and appreciated the process. However it made me think about how much we press the “dress for the job you want” mentality instead of enjoying the process. When my mentee was telling me about what she wanted to accomplish, the plan was rushed, not thought out and she wanted to be the best instead of one of the best, which would’ve allowed the flexibility for growth. Instead of cultivating knowledge learned from mentors, mistakes, and risks she wanted to work tirelessly for the glory now. Which she did. It wore her out and she did not achieve the goal she was seeking. At this point she had given up because she wasn’t making six figures by a certain age.

    It was initially hard to understand why she was giving up. But then the realization hit me that she was not giving up, she was upset that she had to start over again. She had worked, stressed, and dressed for the job she wanted without enough substance behind her experience that would have propelled her into the roll she wanted. Lynn needed time to give herself a chance and not sulk about on her lack of desired accomplishments.  In one of my mentoring sessions I suggested that Lynn read The Alchemist. I love this book because it is a look at the wisdom behind taking a chance and going through a process for your “treasure”.  And just like the boy mentioned in the book, Lynn had many stopping points that forced her to grow mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and in skill to achieve her ultimate goal.

    We get these ideas in our heads that we will be exceptional, and we respectively will. The distraction is in the anxiety of it not happening fast enough. When your mind is not lined up with how a process will work to achieve your goal, there will be missteps that force you to start over or reevaluate. This is not a bad thing, because we need to learn from mistakes.  However it can cause you to be disheartened on an emotional and spiritual level and that distraction in addition to the initial distraction of rushing, will derail you completely. Lynn had to, as the church folk may say, have a conversation with herself and say “Self! What do you want?”. When she finally had that conversation and chose what she wanted in general for her career,  for her wealth, and for her family all of the little steps that lead to bigger steps have been moving her forward in her business. She had to give herself a chance to get balanced so that she could walk the path to her desired glory.

    Do not do yourself the disservice of not allowing the different components (mind, soul, and skill) of who you are to align with each other and lose your “treasure”.  Give yourself a chance to develop and be humble enough to know that you will make mistakes and learn from them. The process is long, it is rough, and your “components” will collide. Take care of each of them and watch how they will intertwine together to conspire in helping you to achieve what you want.  Lynn is still building and giving herself a chance to get it right, you can do it too.

    STEM is Risky, Go For It.

    “I go after problems that excite me. When I started this project, I didn’t know anything about black holes and honestly, it was a risky project. But my heart was in this project. I love this project, and I think that that’s what makes it a success. When you get really smart people together, who are super motivated by the problem that they’re working on, I think people will figure out the answers.”

    – Katie Bowman 

    Katie Bowman is one of the 200 scientists that collaborated to capture an image of light in a Black Hole. Seeing inside a black hole was an impossible feat until now and it was an international risk.  Despite the risk and not having previous knowledge of how black holes worked when she started on the project six years ago,  it was her algorithm that allowed scientists to capture the image that stunned the world.

    I was overwhelmed with excitement and surprise when the image was finally revealed and upon learning of Katie’s contribution it took me down this rabbit hole of ideas circling around, what is next for women in STEM?  The STEM field is comprised of roughly 28% women and that needs to grow. Everyday a new IT firm or incredible invention, or  discovery such as this one occurs and the number of women doing it is slowly rising. The next generation is preparing for the overwhelming jobs that will be available in the STEM or STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts Mathematics)  fields, but for now we need to push for retraining and education for women interested in this field.

    In 2017, the International Visitor Leadership Program  also known as Hidden No More, brought together 48 women from around the world with “hidden talents” in STEM to go through workshops and networking opportunities to nurture their skills and create ideas that they could bring back to their respective countries. This idea came after the movie Hidden Figures premiered and sparked an interest in who else was “hidden” that could change the course of the STEM field.  We need to continue to do programs like this on the Federal, State, and Local levels to encourage the interest which will cultivate opportunities and provide growth for the country. If it is possible to create such an opportunity for 48 women, why not 100? Why not 1000?

    Katie had an opportunity to put her skills to the test, challenge herself, and achieve what was once impossible at the age of 29. She joined the project without knowing anything about it and created an opportunity for herself to overcome a barrier as a woman, engineer, and scientist; ultimately, all she had was hope to rely on. That hope, while deeply rooted in extensive education, is what took us quite literally across the universe. Her algorithm was a risk, her speaking up was a risk, her attempt to make something happen without having all the information was a huge risk. But the risk gave us the reward and as women in IT and Science we have to risk it all if we’re going to make the next giant step for (wo)man kind.