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Creating Successful Leaders

Incorrect seated posture

You might want to be sitting down for this news…then again, that’s the point! You should NOT spend so much time sitting, according to several new studies that have been released over the past few years. In an article I read last month, Doctor J.A. Levine, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic, stated that, “prolonged sitting is associated with 34 chronic diseases and conditions, including obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, back pain, and depression.”

Wow, that’s a lot of maladies from something that seems harmless! But it all boils down to this: Humans aren’t meant to sit around all day. We aren’t designed to remain stationary for hours upon end. According to the same article I read, after just a few hours in a chair, “changes occur in your cells, slowing your metabolism, stiffening arteries, and increasing insulin resistance.”

And the worst part? Your hour-long workout at the end of the day won’t make up for all the sitting you’ve been doing prior to working out. It’s a cumulative effect and you can’t shake it off with a single bout of exercise.

This all seems like terrible news, right? Fortunately, there are some easy solutions to combat prolonged sitting. Here are a few tips I discovered when I looked into this topic:

  • Take a stroll (This may seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget to move around if you’re busy with work. Make an effort to get up and about every 90 minutes or so)
  • Sit on an exercise ball (This practice is good for your core and helps your muscles move and tense throughout the day, without you hardly noticing. It may take a little getting used to, though!)
  • Drink lots of water (at least 8 glasses a day. This can prevent muscle fatigue and cramping)
  • Take the stairs
  • Use an activity monitor to help you track your motion throughout the day
  • Walk down the hall to visit your co-workers instead of communicating with them via email
  • Ask for a standing desk (many companies are now purchasing standing desks for their employees. Either they will move up and down electrically, so you can sit and stand as you please, OR they are stationary tall desks that come with a tall drafting chair in case you’re inclined to sit).

It is incredibly important to look out for your personal well-being at work. Human beings are breakable machines and we can only be pushed so far. The trick is to NOT get to that breaking point in the first place. With a little effort every day, you can avoid the problems associated with prolonged sitting. Invest in yourself! You’re worth it.

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Is your team having trouble clicking? Are you struggling with moving forward on projects? Or, are you finding it difficult to come up with new, creative ideas?

One of the solutions for team disparity is the Insights® Discovery model for teams. (If you’re new to Insights, more information can be found HERE.) Insights uses a scientifically-based model to identify individual strengths, “blind spots,” communication styles, etc. The information is put into easy-to-understand, actionable language and is associated with a specific color on the four-color grid. With this information, individuals can see how they fit within their team and begin to understand others methods of communication or ways of thinking, as well as their own.

This program can be used to:

  • Elevate team performance
  • Improve group communication
  • Develop understanding between co-workers
  • Promote team engagement
  • Create an action plan for team development
  • …and more. The possibilities for your team are limitless.

Below, is a short video dedicated to Insights for team effectiveness. You can also learn more about the program HERE or Contact Me for more information on Insights Discovery.
Insights Discovery for Teams

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social media brandingLast week, we talked a little bit about social media marketing in general; this week (to continue social media month), I’m going to address social media and your personal brand. Your personal brand is synonymous with your reputation–it has to do with how you show yourself to the world AND how the world sees you. Creating a positive personal brand doesn’t happen over night. We build our brands every day, little by little, through our actions and words. So how does this tie to social media?
A big part of your personal presence is now online. The way you communicate with others, what you post on your social media platforms, and your interactions with both people and groups says a lot about who you are. On the other hand, lacking a social presence says something too. Others might wonder if you are slow to adopt new technologies/practices or if you’re trying to blend into the shadows. Here are some tips for creating a great personal brand through social media:

1. Have a consistently positive presence

Even if you’ve had a rotten day, Facebook is no place to gripe about it. Next time you feel like posting about your troubles at home (or, heaven forbid, the workplace!), think about how you can frame your message in a positive light. Try posting something like, “Lots of challenges were thrown my way today, but I overcame all of them!” or “I made lemonade today out of my lemons.”

Turning negative occurrences into positive statements shows that you’re able to rise above challenges and aren’t bogged down by the minutia in life. And believe me, people take notice of your overall “mood” on social media. Think about how you want to “show up” every day.

2. Choose your friends wisely

Anne Pryor, LinkedIn expert and founder of Meaningful Connections, once told me that it is unwise to accept every invitation to connect. Just as in “real life,” you are judged by the company you keep on social media. Don’t associate yourself with people who are negative, disreputable, or who post things in poor taste. Anyone can view your connections, and it’s best to be proud of your list of friends and followers than embarrassed.

3. Let your brand shine!

Sure, you should be cautious on social media, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun. Post interesting articles, photographs, quotes, and videos. Engage your audience by asking questions or asking for their opinion. Feel free to tell (clean!) jokes, celebrate your favorite actors’ birthdays, or post photographs from the baseball game you’re attending. Just make sure it’s you. Social media is a great way to let your best side shine, and showcase your areas of expertise. Your audience is looking for a healthy balance of fun, engagement, and industry knowledge.

Happy socializing!

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overwhelming social mediaHappy social media month! If that phrase makes you roll your eyes or shudder, you’re reading the right blog post. Many small business owners cringe when they think about social media marketing. They don’t know where to begin; they’re not sure why it’s valuable; they don’t know which platforms to choose. I cover all of this in greater depth in my May newsletter, but for now, let me lay out a few basics for the reluctant social media user:

1. Choose the platforms that are right for you.

There are dozens of social media platforms in existence today–everything from Instagram to Tumblr, Facebook to Ello, Flickr to Pinterest. What’s right for you? If you truly don’t know where to begin, hire a social media strategist to help get you on the right track. Or, if you don’t mind doing your own research, hop online and look up companies that are similar to yours. Find out what social media networks they’re the most active in, what kind of things they post, and how often they post. Or, you could always ask your teenage son/daughter for some help!

2. Create a sustainable plan

Once you’ve determined which social media platforms you’d like to use, figure out a posting strategy. Typically, you’ll want to post something at least a couple times each week (more for Twitter or Pinterest), and a social media strategist (or online research) can help you determine the best course of action. HOWEVER, do not commit to a schedule that isn’t going to be sustainable for YOU. Even though it may be optimal to post to Twitter 8 times per day, do you really think you’ll be able to keep up that pace? Figure out what works for you. Maybe you’ll choose to post a relevant photograph twice a week; maybe you’ll post a business tip once a week. Create a schedule, stick with it, and adjust the schedule as needed down the road.

3. Foster community

Remember, social media is not about YOU (as counter-intuitive as that may sound). It’s about your network, your community. If you’d like to engage and energize your network, be sure to make them feel included. Ask them questions (i.e. if you sell apparel, ask your audience what their favorite travel outfit is. OR, if you sell flowers, post a few pictures of different floral arrangements and ask your audience to vote on their favorite). Also, give your audience bits of relevant, useful information they can use. I often post career tips and tricks, or links to my latest blog posts. Don’t forget to visit others’ profiles and “Like” or re-post their content. This demonstrates that you are active in the community and excited about what others are doing (and not just focused on yourself or your own business). Besides, there’s a lot of great information out there. It’s fun to see what others are sharing.

Good luck with fitting social media into your marketing strategy. It’s a valuable way to connect with your audience and reach a wide range of people at a low cost. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming or intimidating if you stick with the three main guidelines I laid out. Relax, have fun, and socialize!

If you’d like any additional guidance, please feel free to reach out and contact me.



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best career advicePeople can be full of advice. “Do this,” “do that,” “this worked for me,” “this didn’t work for me.” Sometimes it’s difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. For the most part, you simply have to forge ahead and use your best judgment. But sometimes, others will give you truly valuable gems that you should take to heart.

One of the best pieces of career advice I ever received was ask good questions. Try to ask three questions at every important meeting: one that shows support, one to gain clarity on the subject, and one to demonstrate inclusionary behavior (helping to involve others in the room in the discussion). Asking good questions not only helps to gather information, it also demonstrates that you are an active, interested, and inclusionary employee. Additionally, you’ll be seen as a fair leader–someone who wants others voices to be heard, as well as their own.

Another great piece of advice I’ve received? Stay relevant. Know what’s important to the organization, the market, the customers. Study and stay abreast of industry happenings and innovations, strategies, issues and concerns…then look for solutions and speak up! Show that you’re interested in your job and are striving to be the best you can be by constantly learning and seeking new, salient information.

What are some of the best pieces of career advice you’ve received? Has anything really stuck with you and helped you either advance in your career or guided you through career challenges? I’m interested to hear from you! Leave a comment below and let’s start a friendly, valuable discussion.

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don't be a yes man

It’s easy to say yes. We naturally aim to please our co-workers and supervisors; we want to look good in the eyes of the company and get that raise or earn that promotion. But saying yes can be dangerous. If you say yes to everything—every assignment, every request, every invitation—you’ll end up stretching yourself too thin and you’ll possibly end up taking on work that isn’t in your sweet spot or doing things that go against your code of ethics. Here are three scenarios where you should say NO (accompanied by three strategies to pull it off):

  1. You have too much on your plate.

If you feel your workload growing out of control and you can tell the quality of your work is sharply declining, it’s time to say no. How to do it? The next time your project leader tries to assign you something new, do not immediately say yes. Arrange to meet one-on-one (it is much easier to reason with someone one-on-one than in a group) and lay out your reasons for not wanting to take on the project.

Be prepared. Make a spreadsheet that clearly displays what projects you are currently tackling and how much time you spend each day on each project. Also, come into the meeting with a counter-proposal in mind. If you know of someone else who might have the capacity (and desire) to take on the project, suggest that person to your project leader or, alternatively, suggest a future date that you might be able to start the project (i.e. “I’m busy from now until the end of the May, but I could start tackling this project in June.”)

  1. You are being given work that is not in your “sweet spot.”

This is a tough one, but ultimately, if you are constantly handed work that does not align with your areas of expertise, you are doing both your company and yourself a disservice. Your company won’t receive the best work it could receive and you’ll be straying from your career goals. So, how to say no? Again, a one-on-one meeting with your supervisor is helpful in this situation. Explain to her what your ultimate goals are and what kind of projects you prefer. One of the best things you can do in this situation is approach it with confidence and decisiveness. Know where you’d like to be heading and explain, confidently, how you’d like to get there.

Ultimately, if your company is not supportive of your career goals (or if you find that the type of work you do constantly does not align with your sweet spot), it is time to start searching for something new, either inside or outside your current company.

  1. Saying yes compromises your values.

There are times when it just does not feel good to say yes. Perhaps you agree to attend a late-night strategy session, knowing that your daughter has a piano recital that night. Or perhaps a co-worker dumps several assignments on your lap that are really her responsibility, not yours. Or maybe you’ve had to sacrifice your health or nightly down-time because of all the projects you’ve agreed to do. Whatever the case, sometimes saying yes is simply not the right decision. How to say no? First of all, know your priorities. Does your family come first? Your health? Your mental wellbeing? When one of the things that’s important in your life becomes compromised, it’s time to say no. Keep an open line of communication with your boss and let him know when you feel like work is tipping the scales of your work-life balance. And another thing: think before you say yes. Always take a moment to pause, assess the situation, and make a deliberate decision. If that means waiting a day or two to mull over the pros and cons, so be it. Ultimately, you need to feel good about agreeing to do something before you say “yes.”

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Have you ever experienced this kind of situation: You arrive at work, full of motivation and positivity; you’re ready to tackle your projects and get lots of quality work done today. Then, a negative co-worker drops by, begins griping about the office, your boss, the break room, his/her personal life, the weather…and all of a sudden you’re deflated. Your positive attitude has flown out the window and you’re left feeling drained and lethargic. Sound familiar?

Unfortunately, you’ll most likely encounter your fair share of negative people throughout your professional career. But how do you deal with them? How do you prevent them from sucking away your energy and motivation?

Here are five techniques:

  1. Offer solutions:

Many negative Neds and Nancys just like to complain…and they expect you to just listen. Take the wind from their sails by offering a potential solution to their troubles. If they reject your help, end the conversation by saying, “Sorry. I guess I’m not sure how to help you, then.”

  1. Set a time limit:

If the negative people in your life like to ramble on and on about their problems, privately set a time limit for how much you can take. After, say, three minutes, jump into their ramblings and say, “I’m sorry things are going so poorly right now, Tracy, but I really need to get back to work. Good luck with everything.”

  1. Ask questions:

If your negative co-worker tends to exaggerate his problems, set him on the straight and narrow by asking clarifying questions. For example: “Oh, wow, it sounds like you’ve been dealing with a lot of extra work lately. How late did you end up staying in the office on Tuesday? And how many projects did the boss send you at the last minute?” Your clarifying questions will likely discourage your co-worker from seeking you out as a passive, sympathetic ear.

  1. Seek positive people:

You might not always be able to avoid negative people in the office, but you can seek out those with positive attitudes and healthy motivation.

  1. Take a step back:

If you find yourself being dragged down by negative attitudes, distance yourself from the situation. Find a quiet place in the office and take a few minutes to think about your latest encounter with negativity and why it had such a powerful effect on you. Recognize that you do have the power to separate yourself from negative thinking and continue down your own track. If you discover that others’ negative attitudes are having a profound effect on your work, don’t be afraid to talk over the situation with a trusted supervisor.

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