Curious?

Until a few weeks ago I hadn’t been on Facebook for almost 5 years.  Until the most recent election, I really didn’t pay much attention to the news.   As I wake up today and turn on both I feel like I had created a wonderful imaginary place in my heart, head, and daily life that may not actually exist anymore.

There is a woman’s march which I think had more than a million people participate in it across the US, and world, and the two lasting focal points, it appears from the national news sources that covered it and on my twitter feed, are men.  Michael Moore and Van Jones.  I say I think there were a million because I have no source for any news that seems to be reliable or consistent.  I was at the gym yesterday and saw CNN and Fox news right next to each other and CNN is covering hundreds of thousands of woman marching in dozens of cities and FoxNews is conducting panels to discuss the previous day’s inauguration with no mention of those people flooding the streets.   I remember being taught by a reporter about PR and what news folks deem as news.  The main criteria was that it was new.  The other criteria was that reporters and news programs covered things their viewers would want to see or think was relevant.

I am going to have to assume then, because I doubt I can get an answer from the news director at the national headquarters of Fox News (because, of course, who the hell am I to question things like this with someone in his position), is that the woman’s march, until about 7pm, when they did run a story on it, was not relevant to their viewers.  There are other explanations for it, like perhaps they didn’t have reporters on staff to cover it.  That can happen.  Saturday is usually a slow news day so stations have fewer people on staff.  When they did cover it the reporter did not have a professional photographer with him, I don’t think, because the feed coming in was pixelated and seemed to be shot from a mobile phone, maybe.

I watched the first press conference out of the White House for the new administration and witnessed a press secretary that doesn’t seem to tell the truth about things that are easily verifiable.  I am confused by this.  There are photographs, there are verifiable ways like subway rider numbers, that can disprove what he is saying and yet, he simply tries to create a new truth.  I am curious about why this seems to be the main point of a press conference from the White House.  It seems strange to me that when you have the world’s attention that the size of crowds is how you use your platform when clearly the point of the event you are referring to had more significance than being about the number of people that showed up.

I read in a Facebook post yesterday, and I think this is my favorite perplexing moment of the day, and remember that I have been in a self-imposed cave for 5 years, that Obama’s children were not at the inauguration, or these folks hadn’t seen any pictures of them there, because for the last 8 years they were rented.  Yes, according to a post I read, a string of people can believe that Barack and Michelle Obama’s 2 children weren’t really theirs.  They rented them for the last 8 years in order to play a hoax on the American people.

What is happening?  I am just so confused.

I have friends that I deeply love that are Republicans.  I have family members and friends that are life-long Democrats.  I have friends that are gay.  I love men.  My husband, deeply, and I really dig men in general.  I love my girlfriends that stay home with their children and those that rock it hard at work.  I have friends that go to church several times a week and others that don’t belong to one.  I’m a Gen Xer and find the most excitement, fun, and success from working with Millennials.  I have never owned a gun and yet one of my dearest and closed friends on the planet published the first coloring book filled with them.  I find the perspective and ability that African American woman have to laugh and love extraordinary and seek the company of my friends that are like that frequently.

Five years ago, before I went into my virtual cave, I felt comfortable loving and supporting all of the people in my life.  As I wake up today, though, it is becoming very clear that there are deep lines between people that I dare not step on.  I dare not be curious about.

I am beginning to have this fear that if I even question things that appear to be obvious that I will loose friends, clients, and relationships with loved ones.  That fear is rooted in the knowing that I am innately curious.  I am motivated by a lust to learn and build businesses. I now seem to be torn between finding a place I can trust to get reliable information and how to interact with business associates that are not motivated by the same things I am.

Have people inherently changed that much in 5 years?  Is what they want completely different than it used to be?  Has what I have been believing about people inaccurate – that most of us, when we meet together over coffee and share our deepest desires for ourselves and our loved ones, are similar?  Is it no longer possible to discover the common ground that connects us rather than divides us?

In all of what I am witnessing it appears that curiosity is fading fast.  Mentioning that the speeches from a couple of men were the memorable focal points of a woman’s march, and, of course, the pure size of the crowds, to some would create an angry response about how the media sucks.  Bringing up that numbers are numbers and that the inauguration didn’t pull the same crowds as previous ones may spark a conversation about how the media sucks and that they are not covering the real issues.

Maybe both sides are right and the media does suck and that’s what everyone thinks.  Well, that puts me in an interesting situation since I am a commentator on the local news a couple of times a week.  Do I suck?  Well, I’ve been wondering about that myself.

I am just so damn curious about all of this.  I have to be.  I have to remain in that state of mind.  I need to try and figure out where I can bring value in this brave new world I have suddenly emerged into.  I want to find out where I fit.  Who I fit with if I am going to stay engaged on-line.

It’s highly possible, though, that coming up to the surface and peaking around for a moment may be just that.  I guess it will depend on the price I am willing to pay for my curiosity.

A Full Range of Motherly Emotion

Melody McNutt marries Thomas KapplerOur only daughter, Melody McNutt (Peanut to us) got married Friday night to a wonderful and heroic soldier, Thomas Kappler.  It was truly a magical experience to watch someone you deeply adore begin a life within someone you trust to keep her safe and joyfully moving forward. (Which of course can only mean one thing to me…grandchildren one day!)  It was a very small affair.  She is a high “C” (Calculator for those of you familiar with the DISC profile) so the thought of a hundred people to have to interact with for 5 hours truly terrified her.  She agreed that 50 would be the best number with most being in her age group.

Allen gave a speech I am posting here because it was one of the highlights of the evening.  It is rare that a father is able to articulate his feelings as clearly, authentically, and lovingly as he did that evening to our daughter.  If you are raising a daughter, and are her stepdad, you may be inspired by his tale as he tells it.

Coupled with the joy and almost frantic pace a wedding brings the week before it, was the worry about our wedding planner, Caroline Hammond’s daughter, Sarabeth missing last Wednesday night.  When I found out on Thursday I hurried to alert my friends in TV and radio to see if they had been able to broadcast it yet.  We went into the rehearsal dinner sure that she would turn up by morning.  She didn’t.  We started the wedding day checking Facebook, which I hadn’t done in more than 5 years, to see if there was any news.  Nothing.

We focused on the wedding.  Praying.  Finding joy in the customary moments that joining together as girls brings and being present for a very special day.  It all unfolded as we had planned with Caroline.  She had been with us the whole time to be sure that the experience Melody wanted for her day would occur.  Perfectly orchestrated.

Caroline is the one that planned Allen and I’s marriage more than 17 years ago.  She was pregnant with Sarabeth at the time, sitting in a red dress in the front row, smiling widely, beautifully, at the amazing day she had planned for us.Allen Foster; Lynda McNutt FosterWe went to bed late, after Melody and Thomas’ wedding.  Basking in the wonderment of having a new son and being so proud of a daughter who acted with such grace through the twist and turns that are inevitable in everyone’s wedding day.

The next day was a late start.  Sniffles from a cold.  Tired bones.  Saying goodbye to loved ones that had come into town.  Checking my text messages to be sure that all was well with Melody and Thomas as they left for Snowshoe.  They were fine.  Then the text message from the owner of where the wedding took place, The Kyle House, who sent me a note.  “I am sure you heard about Sarabeth.”  “No,” I replied.

Sarabeth HammondThe unthinkable. The unimaginable.  Tears.  Painful tears.  Sarabeth found dead?  How is that possible?  How can a mother cope with loosing her daughter?  How does a mother breathe when she hears that news after 4 days of searching?  A car accident over Bent Mountain?  What?  It’s not computing.  Tears.  Sorrow.  Reaching out to issue condolences.  Sharing news with friends.  Tears.  Sorrow.

My friend Samantha Steidle sends me a note.  “Maybe Sarabeth was watching over us last night.”  Maybe so.  Maybe the energy and beautiful person that she was while she walked this earth immediately became an ever-present spirit that was shining her light on anyone who was open and accepting of it.  That could make sense, right?

Gratitude.  Tears of gratitude.  For every single moment, I have had with my daughter.  For being spared the complete devastation that Caroline will be experiencing over the loss of Sarabeth.  Appreciation for the loving and kind spirit that Caroline put into every aspect of making Melody feel special and the direction she gave her staff so that our time would not be effected by what was happening that none of us could control…or we would have.

I wish I could take a piece of the pain.  I know every mother that has heard about Sarabeth wishes she could disperse Caroline’s pain among us all to relieve her of what has to feel emotionally torturous.  I wish I had known Sarabeth in the way so many did.  This person whose spirit has been a part of such important moments in our family’s life I have only known of and heard about.  I missed out on really knowing her.  Her courageous battle with lyme disease.  Her adventurous spirit.

So many of you have experienced profound loss and intense joy with loved ones.  I have shared both with you in our time together.  In 2017, may we continue to live through both in a way that will inspire others to spread joy and find ways to comfort those who have or are experiencing loss.  May God find use in both.

Dan Smith announced on Saturday that the Writer’s Scholarship Fund founded by the Roanoke Regional Conference will be renamed the Sarabeth Hammond Memorial Scholarship Fund.  Many have asked how they can donate.  Here’s how.

Thank you for being a part of my life in 2016.  You helped enrich my experience in ways I am truly grateful for.  I appreciate your support and wish you and your family, at home and work, a very happy new year.

5 habits that will sabotage your work week©

It seems like the majority of what we read or listen to, as executives, focuses on the habits we need to have in order to create the success we desire to achieve.  Which habits, though, are the most disruptive to our journey onward and upward at work?

Here are 5 habits that may be sabotaging your mental strength, at work, and that of your team:

  1. ENVY.  Not helpful.  Envy is defined as:  a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.  There aren’t even words in the definition of envy that are going to move you towards your richest outcomes.  Discontented.  Replace that with gratitude for what you have been able to accomplish up to this point.  Resentful. Give changing the image of the person or situation a shot.  If you resent someone for something they did, try reframing the situation in a way that allows you to see the person to be as human as you are.  Luck.  Not a word of a winner.  Everyone knows that the harder your work the luckier you will appear to be.  Waiting on or counting on luck will be a serious miscalculation towards successful outcomes.
  1. SHOULDING ON YOURSELF AND OTHERS.  Your should library, as I like to call it, those things which you say to yourself and others that aren’t based in the reality of a situation, but instead are statements of judgement, probably aren’t serving to move you forward and create more meaningful and productive relationships.  Thinking someone “should” or “shouldn’t” talk to you in a certain way;  that they “shouldn’t” use that tone;  that they “should” move faster… or move more slowly and thoughtfully, will not make it so.  Having a habit of constantly persecuting yourself because you “should” manage your time “better”, be more “effective”, or “better” at presenting your idea will not make those things become so.  What will make those things happen is focusing on them and building the skills to create better outcomes in those areas.  The majority of what you want can be obtained through focus on an outcome you have thoroughly thought through, passion to achieve it, and building the skills necessary to accomplish it.
  1. IT’s ONLY HAPPENING TO ME syndrome. There’s a disease known as “ain’t it awful”.  We all love to complain, rant, take time to simply wallow in our own miserable circumstances.  It feels good and is a relief to do that for a short period of time when we are hit with a situation that we didn’t plan for and never would have if it were up to us.  The habit of constantly finding things that are “awful”, staying in that state of mind, and worse, vomiting that dread all over others with our words and sentiments, is destructive.  Besides, almost anything that is happening to you has probably happened to someone else.  They got through it and if you are open to mentoring, coaching, and are curious about ideas on how to manage the situation, by someone you can trust, you will as well.
  1. USING COUNTER PRODUCTIVE WORDS.    I had a good friend who used to say, “I’m stressed for success”.  Most of us can be heard saying, “That person makes me crazy!”  My favorite in this category is “they threw me under the bus”.  Really?  That just seems really violent to me.  Stop a minute and think about that one.  If it were true, the result would involve law enforcement.  Our words create our worlds.  The habit of unintentionally speaking words that you have given little consideration to can sabotage your forward progress, keep you stuck in a situation you do not desire to be in, and completely derail your team members.

 

  1. TAKING RESPONSIBILITY for THINGS YOU DO NOT HAVE AUTHORITY FOR. This was probably the biggest lesson I had to learn to get to the next level.  I’m ambitious.  Big strength AND, it can be, when misapplied, a huge weakness.  I used to rush into situations and take responsibility for things right away.  I was the first to raise my hand and say, “Yes!” I will take that project on.  “Yes!” I will make sure that gets done.  “Yes!” I will lead that initiative or project for you. I had a habit of taking responsibility but not negotiating the terms of authority I would have in the situation.  It’s hard to lead a team of people when none of them are told that you have any authority to ask for things you will need from them.   The challenges are insurmountable when you are accountable for results, yet have no authority to choose your team, make even the most minor decisions in creating processes or execution.  Creating a habit of negotiating your authority, in each professional situation, can make things much easier when you go to execute tasks towards the outcome that was envisioned.

 

Any of these 5 habits can waste needed time and your energy.  More importantly, when they involve other people on your team they be wasting theirs as well.   Mental strength requires emotional discipline.  Building skills in these areas take focus and practice.

EXERCISE FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM THIS WEEK:

At your upcoming team meeting, take 15-20 minutes to discuss which habits are sabotaging each member and the ones that are effecting the forward progress of the team as a whole.

Do a round at the beginning of the meeting wherein each member shares for about a minute regarding one sabotaging habit they would like to replace with one that they can envision would lead to better outcomes.

If someone chooses the habit of ENVY.  Maybe that member can make a weekly gratitude list of the about what they appreciate in their peers, their boss or organization, and themselves.

If they choose SHOULDING ON YOURSELF AND OTHERS, maybe replace that habit with asking one more question, based on pure curiosity about someone else’s perspective each day.

The habit of IT’s ONLY HAPPENING TO ME can be replaced with making a habit of finding someone who has been through what they’re going through and being open to that person’s input on ways to manage through the situation.

The habit of USING COUNTER PRODUCTIVE WORDS can be modified by instead being curious about the words you and others are using and how they are effecting outcomes.  Simply having a raised awareness of the words you use can quickly help change them to ones that trigger your higher level thinking, rather than being in the “auto pilot” mode of thinking.

Finally, modifying the habit of TAKING RESPONSIBILITY for THINGS YOU DO NOT HAVE AUTHORITY FOR is a matter of having getting in the habit of asking about your boundaries of authority at the BEGINNING of a process or project, instead of halfway through it.

You might find this 15-min YouTube video on building mental strength helpful:  The Secret of Becoming Mentally Strong/Amy Morin.  Other articles that can assist you in thinking through patterns and habits that sabotage your success are:

6 Bad Habits that will Sabotage Your Success

Overcoming Self-Sabotage

WFXR, Virginia First, launches Virginia@Work featuring Lynda McNutt Foster

WFXR

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT WFXR – Virginia@Work:  I am very excited and honored about becoming a regular commentator on the Fox 21/27 WFXR, Virginia First news!  My first appearance is TONIGHT, Sunday, May 1, 2016 at 10p and I will appear live at 7:30a tomorrow for the launch of Virginia@Work.  I appreciate being chosen by Becky Freemal who was intrigued by how we might work together to help her viewers learn more about ways they can be more effective in the workplace.  I’ll be on with January Keaton and Kyle Benjamin most Monday mornings at 7:30am.  The above picture is in the studio during the recording for tonight’s short appearance.  Tomorrow morning will be LIVE where we’ll focus on my ebook’s topic of Time Mastery:  7 Simple Steps to Richer Outcomes in a longer format.

5 Ways to Work Well with Millennials©

 

MillennnialsThe first hint I can give you is this – DON’T CALL THEM MILLENNIALS!  The majority of them really don’t like it.  They often think that term has bad connotations and it boxes them into a stereotype. And its true- it does. But so does “Baby Boomer.” Millennials, however, were raised to feel like each person is an individual with special talents.  Putting them all into one category can seem offensive and near sighted– especially the one’s that don’t fit any of the stereotypes. So let’s just keep “Millennials” as our secret term and move on.

Here’s the 5 tips for working with Millennials:

  1. Take an interest in their professional development: Millennials need to pay for college. They want to pay for it as quickly as possible.  They are also a young and inexperienced. Millennials seek out opportunities for growth and greatly value employers who take an interest in their professional development. They want to KNOW what they don’t know. They want to know it immediately and they want to know it better than you do. Is that to say that after 3 months on the job they need to be promoted or they will quit?    All it means is that if you take an active interest in their goals and vision, and help them create a realistic path to achieve that vision, they will be far more loyal to you and your organization. They recognize they’re not at your level yet. They want your help to get there. Just be sure to make them understand their timeline may be from a science fiction movie. You can’t build Rome in a day- even with Javascript and HTML coding experience.
  1. Nothing “goes without saying”: Millennials are accustomed to challenging the social and corporate norms.  This may derive from the fast pace of technological and societal change they have experienced in their short lifetime.  What it means for management is that nothing “goes without saying.”  You will need to establish clear boundaries and structure if you don’t want them to create their own. It’s the idea of “if they didn’t say I couldn’t- I can!”. To them, this may be thinking outside of the box and ambitious. To you, this will likely be a human resources and management two-month headache. Just tell them the rules, honestly.
  1. Understand their need for information/feedback: They grew up with instantaneous information. It’s not surprising that they expect a similar flow of information from their coworkers and supervisors.  They are used to the instant feedback of social media. They have adapted to expect that from everyday interactions.  Be prepared for this and schedule time for them to receive feedback on their progress and development. This goes back to our previous point- if you don’t they will likely assume what you think. This could be a problem.
  1. Be transparent in your culture and expectations: Millennials are very aware of the different types of corporate cultures and what their peers are experiencing at different companies.  This can cause them to come to a position or organization with preconceived notions of what “work” will or should be like.  Be explicitly clear up front about what your culture is (and is not) and the expectations of their position. They consider this training and professional development. It will be appreciated.   
  1. Understand the new financial burdens they are facing: Millennials are without a doubt the most financially handicapped generation to enter the workforce.  With 50% of them leaving college with twice the amount of student debt as the previous generation, they are having an incredibly difficult time establishing a strong foothold on adulthood and independence.  Understand that they may exhibit some erratic reactionary behavior due to their financial stress.  Take time to understand the situation each Millennial that works with you is in and help them develop a realistic plan to achieve their career vision.

I have worked with many reliable, hardworking, and dedicated to high performance Millennials.  People like our newst Executive Coach, Courtland James, Samantha Steidle, Aerial Lev with the CoLab, JD Sutphin, Scott Duvall, Joseph Carleno, and others in our community.  There are too many standouts to name them all here.  Millennials are people. They have strengths and weaknesses.  They have preferences- some stereotypical, some personal. Sometimes they are difficult to understand and communicate with.  Sometimes they let us down.  Sometimes they do really stupid things. I think that pretty much describes any one of us. I think we can all relate to that.

A BIG THANKS to Courtland James for his major contributions to the creation of this article.

Family Services Fox appearance

 

 

This picture is from this morning when I was with Ruth Cassell, Chief Development Officer of Family Services of Roanoke Valley live on Fox 21/27 discussing their Celebrity Tip Off fund raiser.

5 Ways to Finally Stop the Email Madness©

Lynda’s High 5 for Leaders:  5 Ways to Finally Stop the Email Madness©
By:  Lynda McNutt Foster

(Be sure to check below to see if you are the winner of March’s High 5 prize)

Courtland & Lynda April 2016It’s madness. The amount of emails executives are processing a day is nuts!  I was with one last month that gets about 300 a day.  Email is not the best place for conversations.  It’s really a medium to transfer information and it’s not really ideal for that if there is a pattern to the information and an app could organize it more effectively.

I can not count the amount of coaching sessions I have had where a manager or supervisor had spent the last day or two trying to interpret an email they got from their boss or a peer.  Maybe they hadn’t heard anything back from their boss on a request for a decision they sent via email.  Sometimes they received a response back but aren’t really sure what their boss meant by it.

Research taken from the book Conversational Intelligence by Judith Glaser notes that conversations are interpreted by us in this way:  7% by words, 38% by tone, 55% by non-verbal or body language.  In email, 93% of the interpretation is LOST.  If you do not have a relationship with someone, or worse, if you have a bad one, the way you interpret their tone is probably how you will label their intention and therefore the meaning of the email.

An email as simple as:

“Thank you.  What exactly do you mean by that?”

Depending on the relationship of that person with you, the positional power that person has over you, the culture of your department or company, could set you off on a quest for tone that could send the gerbil wheel off in your head for a day or more.   (Try reading it putting the emphasis on a different word each time, like, WHAT exactly do you mean… or what EXACTLY do you mean…or what exactly do you mean by THAT)

Email is costing most companies and organizations hundreds of thousands a dollars a year in lost productivity.    As I have been collecting data by taking surveys in our leadership classes for the last year, the average time that leaders say they are spending, during working hours, sorting and managing email threads is at least 2 hours a day.  If the cost of that leader with all of their benefits added in is only $50 an hour, that cost is $100 a day, $500 a week, and if they have 2 weeks vacation, that’s $25,000 a year… managing email.  Many of my client’s time is worth well above that hourly amount.  Some as much as $500 or much more an hour.  What’s interesting to me is that executives are believing they are being efficient by not having an assistant and handling all correspondence themselves.  The cost to the leader’s productivity and increased stress level of managing upwards of 100+ emails a day is hard to calculate in exact numbers.  It would appear to be very high, though.

So how do we work together to stop the madness?  Here’s 5 things to do this week to reduce stress, increase productivity, and manage your time more effectively when it comes to email:

  1. Create, if you have the power to, and if you don’t, suggest it to the powers that be, that you determine a list of “Rules of Engagement” for email with your department or organization as a whole.  Determine when email is required to be responded to, the boundaries around what should and should not be put in an email, who should be copied and who shouldn’t.  This is a big one.  If you send an email out that takes 2 minutes to read to 10 people that is 20 minutes of productivity time that has been eaten up not to mention the time it takes to understand whether or not each of the people is supposed to respond to it.  Some of the most successfully run companies in the world now have Rules of Engagement for email which they strictly adhere to.
  2. Stop, thinking you know the person’s tone or intention in sending the email. If you need interpretation, pick up the phone… yes, that dusty thing you only get texts and emails on now, and call the person for clarity.  It will actually save you time so you can work on the task being requested rather than trying to interpret what they mean.
  3. Start, creating a task list or better yet, put tasks on your calendar so you can start tracking how long they take. Don’t use your email inbox as a to-do list past a few days.
  4. Set times to check your email. Responses to people don’t have to be perfect.  Waiting days and days to get back to someone can delay processing of important projects and tasks.  If you don’t know and need to get back to them, say that and put it on your calendar to respond to them.
  5. Turn off the bells and noises that alert you that a text or email has come in. The sound is triggering your lowest level thinking in your brain stem/amygdala.  Not good.  Those bings and dings are actually lowering your IQ by 10-15 points during the day according to the research shown in Your Brain at Work by David Rock.

There is probably little chance you have not heard some of these before.  Why aren’t you doing it?  Why is everyone still so distracted by email?  You may not have the power to create the change you want to see.  I understand.  Perhaps passing this on to the folks that do could go a long way in starting a new wave of focus in your department or organization.

Suggested Team Exercise for this week:

Get serious about creating a list of “Rules of Engagement” for email within your department.  This may take a few shots at it to get it in alignment with your culture and it will certainly take quite a bit of follow up and policing to ensure compliance.  I can assure you that the effort will be worth it when you see the productivity increase and stress levels go down.

 

Courtland James, Executive CoachCourtland James, an Executive Coach with Cortex Leadership, did a fantastic job facilitating an open forum discussion with a panel on the Generational Divide event at the CoLab last Wednesday night.  Thank you, to each of you that attended.  There wasn’t a seat left!  Courtland was also interviewed on Fox21/27 in regard to the event. Thank you, Becky Freemal, for the great story.

Courtland also got married recently and the picture you see at the top of article is from his reception at the Colonnade Club at the University of Virginia on Sunday afternoon.  Congratulations, Courtland, you rock!

 

5 Ways to Prime Your Mind for Success©

Lynda’s High 5 for Leaders

5 Ways to Prime Your Mind for Success Tomorrow Morning©
by:  Lynda McNutt Foster

Lynda McNutt Foster

Lynda

Each morning I pick a different video to crawl on the elliptical with.  It’s got to be something interesting or there’s no way I’m pumping for 20 minutes on that thing.  I give videos about one minute to see if they have something that will add to my library of knowledge and have the ability to keep me from checking every 30 seconds about how far I have left to go.

This morning I was priming my mind with material to assist Courtland, one of our executive coaches, prepare for tomorrow night’s forum, The Generational Divide, at the Grandin CoLab in Roanoke.  It starts at 5:15p if you want to attend.  Let me know and I’ll save you a seat.  Anyway, I was watching this video.  It’s real.  It’s raw.  It’s a TEDx Talk by a Millennial who educates Generation Xers and Baby Boomers, like me, about how to best work with that group.  Man, she really made a good case about anything, good or bad, we’re experiencing we created in them.  She’s probably right.

The average American watches about 4 hours of TV a day.  “Watches” is the key word I think as so many people are doing other things while the TV is in the background.  Years ago, now, I used to wake up flipping through Facebook.  I’m off that addiction now, all together, as I realized that it simply primed my mind for drama and there’s plenty of drama in the world without having to scroll through FB looking for it.

So what are you priming your mind with in the morning?  Are you intentionally focused, each morning, on what will create the best you to show up in the world?  Do you have a routine that awakens your prefrontal cortex (that’s the CEO of your brain) and gets your blood pumping through your veins in a way that is not just caffeine induced?

Here’s 5 ways to seriously prime your mind for a focused, productive, and satisfying day ahead:

  1. Watch any of these:  channels on Youtube.  You can seriously feel like you’ve read a book a day in less than like 15 minutes with Brian Johnson channel.  One of my favorites was Your Brain at Work by David Rock OR Evan Carmichael. Believe.  Stuffed full of “Top 10 rules for success” he edits together the best highlights from famous folks to bring you a quick guide to get your day focused on the type of behaviors that lead to their success.  One of my favorites is Will Smith’s Top 10 Rules for Success OR Fightmediocrity is another great channel for condensing books into their biggest themes.  If you haven’t read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People here it is in under 8 minutes.
  1. Listen to any of these:  Audiobooks are great primers.  If you haven’t listened to How Google Works there is a massive amount of useful information for any leader in that book.  It could be worth it to spend some time listening to Carol Dweck’s book,  Mindset. It’s one of the best sellers in leadership circles in the world right now.  And, well, if you want to learn quickly how to design your time for richer outcomes (WARNING:  shameless plug ahead) in less than 111 minutes you can listen to my book on Audible, Time Mastery:  7 Simple Steps to Richer Outcomes.
  1. Do any of these:  Exercise for 12 minutes (the amount of time Dr. Medina wrote about in Brain Rules) to get the blood flowing to all parts of your brain OR  Do stretching exercises for a few minutes to loosen up and prepare your body for the day OR Do a 7-minute gratitude meditation OR Eat a smoothie with spinach and blueberries (big time brain food).
  1. Ritual of appreciation.  Priming your mind, each morning, with appreciation is like setting off fireworks in your brain.  It activates all different parts of your brain and creates the best possible environment for higher level thinking and being for the day.
  1. Be this.   There’s no rewind button on life.  Yesterday is gone.  Today is not here yet.  You’ve got today and even more importantly, right now.  This very moment.  Embrace it.  Be alive in it.

I am asked by clients and participants in my classes what the best books to read are, videos to watch, etc., so I thought it might be helpful if I started sending out what I am reading or listening to each morning on Twitter.  You can start following that feed at @lfosterva.

TEAM EXERCISE

How does your team prime their minds in the morning?  Try some of these practices that can help prepare your team for higher levels of thinking and success each day.

  1. Greet one another pleasantly in the morning.  Nothing throws off people’s day more than when the boss or a co-worker walks right by them without as much as a word.
  2. Review your co-worker to do list. Is there anything you need to respond to a co-worker about that would allow them to have a more productive day?  Is there a task or decision you need to get complete for them so they can finish one of their to-dos that has been pending?
  3. Start with what went right. If you have morning meetings, begin each one with a quick round or announcement of what has gone right.  This type of asset based thinking builds trust and primes your team’s mind for looking for strengths in themselves and others.

 

5 Ways to Optimize the Calculators on Your Team©

Lynda’s High 5 for Leaders

5 Ways to Optimize the Calculators on Your Team©
By:  Lynda McNutt Foster

Melody and AllenI am a big fan of people who love to analyze data and thoroughly think through things.  My behavioral type as a high Driver/Influencer requires that if I am going to be successful, long term, I need Calculators.  It’s taken me quite a long time to learn the best ways to communicate with them.  I’ve had a big incentive though, my two favorite people on the planet, my husband, Allen and daughter, Melody are both screaming high C’s.

Calculators (the final letter in the DISC behavioral type we’ve been discussing for the last 3 articles in the series) tend to move at a slower pace.  They can be highly analytical.  Their strength on a team is that they ask good questions and normally are wonderful “theme masters”.  Ask them what the themes of a meeting they were just in were and they can usually boil it down to a sentence or two, no matter how long it was.  They are all about what is just and fair.  Their body language tends to be reserved and their tone, if challenged in an area that they feel educated and certain in, can be argumentative and direct like a Driver’s would be.  They will focus on your words, rather than your body language or tone during a conversation.

A Calculator type will frequently ask for more time to process information.  Their question tends to be “why”.  When given tasks to complete they would wonder why they are being assigned to them, why those tasks need to be completed by the deadline, and if there is a change, why the change is occurring.  They are perfectionists, so they will be hesitant to accept tasks unless they feel they are being given enough time and resources to get them done well.  Their motto is, “measure twice, cut once.”

  1. JUST THE FACTS:  Calculator behavioral types like data…raw, unfiltered data.  C’s like to let the data tell them what is true and what is not true.  When getting feedback from a Calculator, give them as many objective facts as possible.  They certainly are OK with reasonable opinions, but tend to start to tune people out who are giving them wild exaggerations or jumping to what they would consider unfounded conclusions.
  1. KEEP ITEMS RELATED:  Calculators tend to want to give a lot of thought to what you are saying.  That’s a good thing, but the side effect of that is that Calculators tend to have a harder time when you throw multiple unrelated items at them in a hurry.  You might be on item 3 and they’re still giving serious thought to number 2!  For getting the best results of a C’s logical thinking, give them a chance to think about one thing at a time, if possible.
  1. DON’T LET YOUR HANDS DO THE TALKING:  Calculators are not generally known for being outspoken and gregarious.  Think Mr. Spock from Star Trek.  They tend to be very good listeners, but if you are talking very fast or quickly moving to different topics, it doesn’t give them a chance to think about what you are saying (which they like to do).  Also, if you make a lot of gestures with your hands or are being demonstrative, it can be distracting to a Calculator who is trying to listen to what you are saying.
  1. BE PREPARED FOR THEIR FAMOUS “RESTING FACE”:  As stated earlier, C’s are fairly good listeners, and they like to think about what you are saying.  Unfortunately, the high C may listen so intently that they get what we call “the resting face”  This is the face that you get when you are focused on the conversation.  While a High “I” may have a smile on their face while they are listening, a High “C” might give you the furrowed brow or have their arms folded.  Also, remember that some C’s do not make eye contact as much when you are talking.  Often, this isn’t personally  directed at you, they are just trying to not be distracted, as they listen.  Try not to be offended or take the body language of the High C to personally.  They actually may be listening.
  1. KEEP A SAFE ZONE: Many Calculators may not like to be touched.  That is certainly not universal and if a C is very comfortable with you, it may be OK, but as a general rule, C’s will not appreciate someone putting their hand on their shoulder or hugging as a greeting.  They may not like it if you stand directly behind them and hover.   Also, for you Seinfeld fans, Calculators would not be appreciative of the “Close Talker”!

Possible reasons for conflicts with a Calculator:

Influencers are usually good with people, like to use their hands when they talk and many enjoy constant conversation. They have energy and enthusiasm which makes them exaggerate some times.  They also take cues of acceptance or rejection from other people’s body language.  This can come in direct conflict with a Calculator type who has a “resting face” that seems to indicate disinterest in what the Influencer is saying.  The Influencer type can feel like the C is not listening and is aloof.  That may not be the case, but the I may feel like it is.  The Calculator, on the other hand, can think that an Influencer type jumps around when giving information, is distracting with their high energy body language, and may come across to the C as emotional.  The C may literally look away, during a conversation, in order to filter out just the facts that are being conveyed.

TEAM EXERCISE:

Utilizing your smart Calculator types to create appropriate and relevant agendas for a meeting, keeping the meeting on time and on task, along with reporting out themes are strengths of a Calculator in these types of settings.

 

5 things Supporters would ask from you this week, if they weren’t so nice©

5 things Supporters would ask from you – if they weren’t so nice©
by:  Lynda McNutt Foster

(Read below to find out who winner was for the High 5 Monti prize.)

Lynda McNutt Foster Sheila Umberger

Lynda Foster/Sheila Umberger

We all know the type of people that are just plain nice.  They are the one’s that are always asking how they can help. As leaders, Supporters are the type that consider how procedures and policy changes will effect everyone on the team.  Supporters tend to be pretty hard on themselves if they don’t get a task done properly that you were counting on them for.  They are kind.  Thoughtful. On a team, they tend to be the most loyal members.  They have a good tone when speaking to others.  There’s no sense in telling them you have an open door policy because they would never want to bother you.  Supporters, as described in the DISC behavioral model, are the true Superman and Superwomen of the workplace.  They tend to be behind the scenes of a lot of success stories.  They are more than capable of leading.  They may just be waiting to be asked.

They tend to move a little slower than the Drivers or Influencers that we discussed in the last couple of articles.  When being assigned tasks they tend to like to gather as much information, first, and then be allowed to asked questions, later, to be sure they have everything they will need to complete it properly.  There question is “how?” meaning, “How can I help?”  “How would you like to have that done?”

If you aren’t familiar with DISC, it’s a behavioral assessment that measures HOW you behave and your ability to interact effectively with others in work and life, as well as how you respond to challenges like problems, influencing others, the pace of the environment you are in, rules and procedures.  You can find out more here.  

Here are 5 ways to help support your Supporter this week:

  1. HAVE A PERSONAL CONVERSATION:  A Supporter will really appreciate it when co-workers take an interest in them on a personal level and get to know them.  Supporters aren’t as gregarious as the Influencers.  They tend to form fewer bonds with people, but have really strong bonds with the few people that they do interact with.  They like to go a little deeper in interpersonal relationships.  This also can make a Supporter more at ease at work and it feeds their sense of loyalty.
  1. TAKE TIME TO ANSWER QUESTIONS: Supporters REALLY want to do a good job for you and if they feel like they are not sure how to best do that, it can cause a lot of anxiety.  Supporters tend to ask a lot of questions about how you want things done.  This can frustrate a Driver or Influencer because it’s “slowing down the process”, but realize it is normally coming from a place that really wants to do the project well.
  1. ASK FOR THEIR OPINION: Supporters are notorious for being the “quiet one” in the room.  They tend to be very polite and do not want to “bother” you with their opinion.  This does NOT mean that they do not have opinions!  Often, since Supporters tend to be the best listeners and observers, their feedback is incredibly insightful, as they may see things others do not.  If you make a Supporter feel safe and comfortable (see “have a personal conversation above), they may offer insights that others have not seen.
  1. LET THEM TALK: We just established that Supporters can be quiet and polite.  For this reason, in a meeting it can be very easy to “bulldoze” over them.  When you are talking to a Supporter this week, make an effort not to interrupt them.  They often allow interruptions because they tend to be more passive, but slow down and listen for great results.
  1. CLARIFY ROLES: Supporters LOVE to have a sense of stability.  Having clarity on what their role is and what successes they are having at their job feels very good to an S.  Remember, they like to know how they can help, so if their role is clear and they have a good understanding of HOW to do their job well, they will feel a great sense of security and safety.

APPRECIATE A SUPPORTER ON YOUR TEAM THIS WEEK:  Supporters will not ask for appreciation and in fact, they may shy away when you express it to them.  IGNORE how they react and be sure to amply appreciate them!  It’s food for their soul.

TEAM EXERCISE:

Be sure to use “rounding” in an upcoming meeting this week to be sure that all are heard.  The Supporters on your team may not speak up unless you use this method.  Rounding is a technique wherein each person, in a meeting, is given at least 30 seconds to express their thoughts or opinions on a topic or agenda item.   Many times, only the Drivers or Influencers are heard because they are more likely to speak up… this does not mean that everyone else doesn’t have an opinion.  It simply means that they may need to be asked to share in order to feel safe and comfortable to state what’s on their mind.  Their insights might just surprise you.

WINNER of MONTI for February:

Ryan Brooks of Excel Truck Group is the winner of a $25 Amazon gift card.  Ryan, you should have it waiting in your inbox!

(Each month we will be awarding one winner from the top tier most engaged participants of goMonti.)

A HUGE HIGH 5 goes out to the amazing team at the City of Roanoke Library system!  They just opened their newly renovated Raleigh Court location.  It’s a must see.  Their training room, that you can rent, is gorgeous and even has a small kitchen area along with small, 2-seater glass rooms for quick sessions or breakouts.  Congratulations to Diane McGuire, the Branch Manager, and her team along with the fantastic Sheila Umberger, Director of  Libraries, who is truly a Wonder Woman for her talents and abilities that are transforming the library system in Roanoke.  (The picture is Sheila and me at the grand opening last Monday (that’s Ken Cronin in the back!)…yeah, that spray tan I got is always way to intense on the first day or two!)

You can reach me at (540) 815-1300, directly, the Cortex Leadership Consulting office at (540) 776-9219, at www.cortexleadership.com or find previous articles at www.lyndamcnuttfoster.com.

5 Things Influencers would love for you to do this week©

Lynda’s High 5 for Leaders:  Do you know 5 Things Influencers would love for you to do this week?©

By:  Lynda McNutt Foster, CEO
Cortex Leadership Consulting

Lynda McNutt Foster

Lynda McNutt Foster appears at CoLab

It’s easier to treat people the way they want to be treated if you have some idea of what they want.  DISC helps with that. DISC is a behavioral assessment that can be used to help predict how you will act in certain situations, how you may respond to others’ interactions with you, and can also be used to discover people’s strengths when it comes to workplace challenges.  The I in DISC stands for Influencer.

An Influencer is someone who tends to be friendly, smile frequently, move at a faster pace, likes to interact with people, connect with them and build relationships.  They like to have fun and enjoy work environments where people laugh and get along with each other.  They tend to avoid conflict if they feel like to will create discord in a relationship that they deem is important to them.  They are often people who talk with their hands and jump from topic to topic, in a conversation or meeting, with ease.

If you are not familiar with DISC, click here for more information.  Last week’s article, 5 ways to get what you want from a Driver, provided some helpful hints on how to best communicate with the D part of DISC.

Here are 5 things Influencers you work with would love for you to do this week:

  1. HAVE FUN. Influencers love to have fun!  Just saying the word fun in a sentence can make them smile.  The mere discussion of a party or a way to get together that could lead to people laughing and enjoying time together will endear them to you.
  1. EMBRACE CHANGE. Influencers love change.  Doing the same thing over and over again in exactly the same way doesn’t seem like much fun to them.  Variety and doing something that is new and exciting will motivate them towards doing even the most difficult of tasks or assignments.  They like to be challenged, it just needs to be towards something that will lead to something they will enjoy.  They tend to have lots of new ideas they want to share and have others consider.  They are okay if you don’t want to take all their ideas for changes, they just like to feel heard.
  1. LISTEN TO THEM. Influencers love to talk to people who listen to them and talk back.  They want to know you like them and enjoy their company.  They can get uncomfortable if you stare at them with a blank gaze for too long.  They need to know you like them and enjoy their company….I mentioned that already, right?  Yeah, it’s because they disconnect quickly when they feel like that is not happening with you.
  1. SAY GOOD MORNING. As simple as this sounds, an Influencer can take it quite personally if you walk right past them with no smile, “hello”, “good morning”, or acknowledgement of any kind.  They find it rude and unfriendly.
  1. SEND THEM ON A TRIP. The vast majority of Influencers we’ve studied love to travel.  They love to see new places, meet new people, try new things, experience new surroundings.  They are the first ones, normally, to raise their hands to go to conferences, and usually have just come back from someplace fun or are planning their next adventure.

Quick leadership tip to engage and motivate an Influencer on your team: 

Assign them something that requires positive interaction with people.

THIS WEEK’S EXERCISE FOR YOUR TEAM:

Consider doing something this week that will connect and energize your team.  Get ideas for what that activity would be from one of your Influencers.  Ask them what they think that people on the team would like to do together.  Have them poll the group and see which type of activity people would be open to and get excited about (although tell them that the C’s  – Calculators, won’t really get too “excited” but it’s a win if they simply agree to do it with the team).  Give them a budget and an amount of time the activity can take.  They usually have lots of ideas so you’ll need to make time to hear them and help them decide on the best one.

Influencers love team building activities because it gives them a chance to connect and get to know everyone better.  Remember, they just want everyone to get along and have fun!

BIG HIGH 5’s go out to the following professionals and organizations they serve this week:

Ariel and Fe at the CoLab.  They are two, big ole I’s, who love to have fun and are doing a bang up job leading new initiatives that serve the business community, in our region, in important ways.  We had a blast facilitating a discussion at their (X)po Wednesday event last week about self publishing and appreciate them inviting our team.  We were able to explain how Joseph Carleno, all things digital for Cortex Consulting created the digital version of the Time Mastery book and Sean Eddy of Eddy Communications coached, recorded and edited the audiobook version.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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