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Important leadership skills

Kim Bowers, C.E.O. of CST Brands, a gas-station and convenience-store retailer, doesn’t trust managers who manage up really well but not down. In other words, it’s fundamentally important that your team will go to bat for you what she refers to as “walking over hot coals for you.” Creating that loyalty and bonding with your people is an indispensable leadership skill!

Ms. Bowers’ perspective on career management is very interesting as well. She says, “Throw it out the window. It’s not going to happen that way. If you work really hard, opportunities will come along, and success will follow.” I agree that working hard is important, staying open, and looking for ways to expand your skill sets and abilities is fantastic. However, some people might want to cultivate mentoring and guidance because they don’t always see the opportunities when they come or have the courage to take the risk. Also, I find that a fair amount of younger people today aren’t patient enough to work hard and pay their dues. On the other hand, when I guide someone who finds them-self in an environment where hard work leads to frustration, change might be necessary sooner no matter what it looks like from the outside.

I teach fluidity which means cultivating awareness of the circumstances and creating the courage to take action to change unhappy situations. Fluid people are less attached in general to certain outcomes which is another way of saying what Ms. bowers is suggesting that ultimately you can’t really control your career. But what you can do is work hard, stay open, and seize opportunities as they come!

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The value of Communication

Adam Bryant interviews Jeff Lawson, the C.E.O of Twilio, a cloud communications company based in San Francisco in this week’s Corner Office section of the Sunday New York Times business section. An entrepreneur since age 12 when he started a video production business, Mr. Lawson discusses the value of communication and resolving conflict something his crew rarely did in his next enterprise, a dot.com company.

As both a psychologist and business coach , I teach communication at a very high level. My argument to business people is that whatever you learn and practice in your business life can be applied to your personal life and vice versa. Becoming proactive and engaged and learning to address issues head on instead of avoid them is absolutely important in every area of your life and will eventually help you become a much better parent too!

Communication skills, much like many other things in life, improve with patience, practice, and perseverance. If you want to become a better communicator, practice bringing things up. Over time, you will become more discerning and tactful. Remember: the more you practice, the better you get!

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Let go of your past so you can concentrate on your future!

Sheila Talton, C.E.O. of Grey Matter Analytics, a consulting firm, an anti-Vietnam war activist in her youth failed out of college because she focused to much on organizing and protesting. Working as a secretary at a fork lift company a white male salesmen noticed her initiative and then got behind her and pushed her to go back to college offering to help her with her coursework. I shared this part of her interview because I just got off the phone with a minor league baseball player that I’ve been coaching for seven months. He is heading into spring training this year with a clear head, zero drama, and much greater focus! He thanked me for all my assistance and told me that he is now behind his girlfriend much like I got behind him. She too is thriving!

Ms. Talton also shared that she will offer up a member of her team for promotion or another opportunity if it is right because it shows how invested she is in other people’s careers not just her own. Instead of holding on or hoarding good people she prefers the good will generated from letting them go. I love this enlightened approach to business management and leadership. I imagine that she is successful in her personal life too. I often teach people, including athletes and entrepreneurs, to be more fluid and flexible by holding on less and letting go sooner. Often, it is simply the best way to live, create, and be!

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Excluding the Takers from Your Life

Each week I do a quick little blurb on Adam Bryant’s interviews in the New York Times Sunday Business section. This week he interviewed Jody Greenstone Miller, the co-founder and chief executive of the Business Talent Group, a provider of project based talent. I enjoyed her open and honest style but what stood out for me most was her desire to hire optimistic people who are problem solvers not just problem spotters.

I often say that anyone can criticize and judge but it takes strength of character to be understanding. In a similar vein, anyone can point out a problem but it takes strength of character to resolve the problem. Ms. Miller also prefers hiring people who “give you energy, and not take energy from you.” I believe this is very important when it comes to success in life and business. It’s what I refer to as eliminating the takers from your life, minimizing the neutrals, and inviting the givers!

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Successful Women in Male Dominated Careers

This New York Times Sports Sunday article on female sports agents in the N.F.L. is very interesting. To break into a male dominated profession like engineering is challenging but pro football is a whole other realm! I really respect the women who are up for the challenge and actually succeeding. I often talk about passion, commitment, and perseverance as fundamental aspects of success in life and business. In a profession such as this, Kristen Kuliga, Kelli Masters and others must have all that and more! Good stuff!!

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Innovative Leadership Approach

Each week I write about business managers and leaders featured in Adam Bryant’s Corner Office section of the Sunday Business section of The New York Times. Mr. Girish, the C.E.O of eClinicalWorks, a privately operated provider of IT healthcare solutions, says that he hires primarily on “heart” because the rest can be taught. He is seeking passion, commitment, and desire for excellence above all else! Instead of firing people, he tells the employee that it’s not working out and to take three months off to seek something else. If after three months, they want to come back they must change. I love his innovative approach to employee challenges! He also spurns job titles instead creative teams and team leaders! Good stuff Mr. Navani!!

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Trusting Your Instincts

Adam Bryant of the Corner Office section of the Sunday Business section interviews a business leader who likes to hire by using his gut! I am a huge supporter of assisting others to develop and trust their intuition. In my life, going outside myself for answers has cost me plenty in terms of pain and suffering. As a result, I often ask my clients the following question: what does your gut say? I suggest they use this question with their children as well. Teaching others, including employees to develop and follow their instincts is a great step along the way to build an intelligent, effective team!

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Becoming a Better Listener

I enjoy the Corner Office section of the Sunday Business section of The New York Times. This week Mr. Bryant interviews Penny Pritzker, the U.S. Commerce Secretary and successful businesswoman. Her family built the Hyatt Hotel chain. She learned the value of passion, commitment, energy, and desire to learn from her father who valued those traits above all. She also regards Integrity to be paramount in the hiring process. Ms. Pritzker discusses the importance of becoming a better listener too, especially as it pertains to management and decision making.

I often coach people to become better listeners. I’ve found that many people listen more to the thoughts in their own heads than they do to others. Great listening skills adds value at every level in business and at home. I challenge you to become a better listener today!

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Bitcoin Mining

The Sunday Business section cover article in this week’s New York Times is fascinating. Entrepreneurs are investing in virtual mining operations across the world to mine for Bitcoin, a virtual currency that can be used for real business transactions and traded on several exchanges for real currency. Other articles have pointed to nefarious purposes for Bitcoin such as a means to fund drug dealing and hit man operations. The currency is unregulated and created anonymously. It has a finite amount of coins (21 million) that will eventually be released as powerful computers compete to mine for coins that are available on the open source market every ten minutes. About half the total are currently in use and the price per coin continues to rise from $20 in 2009 to over $1000 today. Volatility is high as threats to the network exist from governments like China. Nevertheless, the network is currently thriving and mining operations are attracting real capital.

Is Bitcoin a good thing or just another form of speculation and greed? I’m still suspending judgment!

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Branding Benefits

Cyndi Lauper has sold an impressive 50 million albums worldwide since her emergence on the music scene in 1985. I noticed her on the cover of UNITE Business, a new publication created for LGBT business owners by a LGBT business owner. My girlfriend is a subscriber.

I have learned a lot over the past four years about brand awareness. In my thirties, I simply provided a Bang-Up service. Today, I am aware of branding as well which has not only helped my own business but many others whom I am coaching! If you are a professional, branding is very important. There are people who can assist but as always choose your coaches and guides wisely!