Author: MJ Romeo

Are you open to learning?

How resilient are you?

A funny thing happened to me the other day. I was in a class to dig deeper into the fifteen skills that make up emotional intelligence and the EQ-i, and I was paired up with “Virginia”, a really cool woman who worked for the FAA.

We talked briefly about our careers and I mentioned that I was a former national sales manager for almost 20 years, and a happy IC before that (individual contributor). She said “wow, you must be really resilient”, and shared her respect for sales people. In her experience, sales professionals are fairly optimistic people and yes, resilient. Virginia went on to confess that she is not a very resilient person.

I never thought of myself as especially resilient but digging into the skills that impact emotional and social functioning of the EQ-i, optimism is defined as “an attitude and an outlook on life. It involves remaining hopeful and resilient, despite occasional setbacks”.

How resilient are you?

“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”
— Maya Angelou
Worth The Share

In this article, written by Kendra Cherry, MSEd, the author does a good job of providing an overview of resilience – the types of resilience such as mental or physical, the causes of personality traits that help us remain “unflappable in the face of challenge”, the impact of having resilience and how to become more resilient.

She also shared that people who are resilient have a set of characteristics that include:

  • A survivor mentality – knowing you can make it through tough situations
  • Effective emotional regulation – the ability to manage emotions in the face of stress
  • Feeling in control – feeling that our actions play a part in determining outcomes
  • Problem solving skills – looking rationally at a situation and coming up with options
  • Self-compassion – the ability to treat yourself with kindness, especially when it is difficult
  • Social support – having a solid network and being able to ask for help

Read: How Resilience Helps You Cope With Life’s Challenges including the tips on how to bounce back from hardship, they are also quite useful. My favorite technique is “reframing”, something I talk about often with my coaching clients.

And Finally...

Building on the importance of social support when it comes to resilience, The Secret of Building Resilience from HBR stresses the importance of social networks.

In June 2023, the Roots of Loneliness project, with their own research and pulling data from a variety of other sources, reports that 52% of adults in America feel lonely. Social networks   are critical – whether it is a group at work, a special interest group for your profession, a service group like Rotary, a networking group like BNI or a church group. My various social groups are very important to my personal growth and feeling of connectedness.

According to the article, our networks can help us learn to make sense of the world, see the path forward, advocate for ourselves, show empathy, laugh more, remind us of our “why” and broaden our perspective. As we all go “back to school” this September, what can you do to strengthen your resilience? What social group can you join?

Happy a great week,
Mary Jo

To learn more about my 1:1 executive, communication or business growth coaching, custom virtual workshops, the Career Transition program or just to connect, you can reach me at

Are you open to learning?

Are you open to learning?

One of my favorite things to talk about is management versus leadership. On Monday, a
client was sharing his framework of how he handles things when they unravel. Stress is
a part of our lives, and for this client who is in a highly visible sales management role,
stress is constant. That is both a challenge and opportunity.

Obviously, being in “stress mode” as I like to call it, makes many of us behave badly. We stop listening, are difficult to be around, are unable to support others and make
decisions reactively, and often poorly. To my client’s credit, his framework to handle
situations that are unraveling is fairly solid, and it seems to work for him. The problem is
that it works for him as a manager and not as a leader.

After talking about it for a while, he shared an insight that as a leader he should “seek
first to understand, rather than be understood” from the book, The Seven Habits of
Highly Successful People. Another way to think about it is to slow down, ask questions
and listen to what others are saying before jumping in with both feet to solve the
problem. Better yet, think about how to inspire others to step up and solve the problem.
When in stressful situations, pause and think about how you might address the situation
as a leader, and not simply as a manager. Ask yourself the question: What would a
leader do?


You manage things, you lead people. We went overboard on management and forgot about leadership. It might help if we ran the MBAs out of Washington.

Grace Hopper, Computer Scientist, Mathematician, US Navy Rear Admiral
Worth The Share

In this article from Chief Executive, the author, former CEO Jay Sidhu, addresses the subject of leadership versus management. In Essential Lessons for Leadership, he said that “leaders must:

  1. have a clear vision, mission, goals and strategic plan to achieve those goals with alignment throughout the organization;
  2. master their internal environment through authentic self-assessment of strengths and areas for improvement;
  3. master their external environment, i.e., how are the economy, competition, and customer needs, etc., changing and impacting performance; and
  4. be passionate about continual improvement.”

The fourth bullet point really struct home with me as an executive coach. Beyond building a personal board of directors that he met with frequently, and taking leadership development programs, it sounds like he remained intentional about his own personal and professional development throughout his career. He also spoke about “understanding your strengths and weaknesses”, learning more about himself and being open to change. Read the full article for more insights.

And Finally...

Summer is winding down and the busy Fall season is already ramping up. As you look ahead to the next few months, what are you focused on? Better question, what is one area in yourself that you want to develop to become a better leader?

Attending to your personal and professional development is your responsibility. It is
never to late to learn something new. Learning, even later in life, has tremendous benefits including an increase in self-esteem, cognition, memory, and a sense of accomplishment. Plus, learning is critical for your brain health.

Maybe take an online course, read a book, try an improv class, take up the guitar or
work with someone who will challenge you, like an executive or life coach. But before
you do that, enjoy these last days of summer.

Happy Labor Day,
Mary Jo

To learn more about my 1:1 executive, communication or business growth coaching, custom virtual workshops, the Career Transition program or just to connect, you can reach me at

How open are you to change?

How open are you to change?

Change is hard. I partner with many professionals who are aware of the things they want to change in themselves. Of course, some of us are more open and aware than others.

One tool that I use to bring clarity to skill level and how we show up is the EQ-i 2.0 and EQ360, one of the world’s most widely used emotional intelligence tests. With 25+ years of research behind it, the EQ-i 2.0 offers clients clarity around various emotional intelligence skills that are critical to how they see themselves and the world, how they resolve conflict, build teams, lead effectively, build relationships and resilience.

What is most helpful to clients is that the EQ-i 2.0 provides a powerful assessment of their areas of strength and potential areas for development. The EQ360 incorporates feedback from their manager, peers, direct reports, other colleagues, and family members, so it provides an even more comprehensive picture and is very useful in a business setting. How open are you to change?


It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.

Leonardo da Vinci
Worth The Share

Personal change is tough. Convincing others to change can feel impossible. I am thrilled to welcome back Deb Graham, who shares with us how to uncover and mitigate resistance in the workplace. Here is her article, Unmasking Resistance: Unlocking the Secrets to Successful Change…

Have you ever experienced that frustrating moment when you’re ready to embark

on an exciting journey, only to find your partner dragging their feet? Well, it’s not just a personal phenomenon – resistance can rear its head in various aspects of our lives, including the workplace. You’ve likely seen one or more of these subtle forms of resistance. What makes them so challenging to identify is that they can be easily explained away.

The Deceptive Smile and Nod:
Picture this: you present your groundbreaking idea, and your colleagues nod along, seemingly agreeing with you. However, these nods might not necessarily translate into genuine agreement. More often than not, they simply indicate that your message has been heard, while the actual buy-in is still lacking.

The Elusive Follow-Through:
You’ve managed to secure apparent agreement from your team, but progress remains stagnant. They constantly find excuses for not taking action, claiming they’re too busy or promising to do it later. But you wonder, are they legit busy or simply waiting you out?

The Absent Attendees:
Frequently missing or cancelling meetings about the change may be a sign of resistance. When individuals fail to show up it may be an indication that they are intentionally avoiding participation. If your boss frequently reschedules, she may be signaling that it’s not really a priority.

The Vocal Complainers and Confronters:
Sometimes, resistance takes a more overt form, with individuals openly complaining or confronting the proposed changes. While these expressions of discontent can be challenging, they provide valuable insight into the reasons behind the resistance. By engaging in open dialogue and active listening, it becomes possible to understand the concerns and discuss options that everyone can get behind.

Perhaps the most treacherous aspect of resistance is its ability to remain concealed. Just because no one is explicitly talking about it doesn’t mean everyone is committed to the change. Unaddressed resistance festers and becomes deeply entrenched, posing a significant obstacle to successful change implementation. Instead of persistently pushing forward, taking a step back and engaging in meaningful dialogue can work wonders. By asking questions, actively listening, and genuinely understanding the perspectives of others, we can diminish emotional resistance and identify logical hurdles that require course correction.

And Finally...

Deb’s advice, at the end of the above article is music to my ears… “asking questions and actively listening” is something I frequently advocate when coaching clients or facilitating workshops. Here is another technique to consider. Be curious!

When we open up our minds rather then close them off to the possibility, when we are really

curious and interested in “genuinely understanding the perspectives of others”, the magic truly happens.

The next time you are in a conversation with someone, approach it with a sense of curiosity… you may be surprised by what you learn.

Happy summer,
Mary Jo

To learn more about my 1:1 executive, communication or business growth coaching, custom virtual workshops, the Career Transition program or just to connect, you can reach me at

What is the best for you?

What is the best for you?

I am curious about the struggles between back to work versus the continued push by many team members to work remotely. The other day a client was communicating how much he wanted his entire team back in the office five days a week (while his CEO is fine with their hybrid schedule). Apparently, he is not alone. The WSJ just published this article: Mondays are the new office fight.

Here are some stats*:

  • On the Monday before Memorial Day, the office occupancy rate was at 45% of pre-pandemic levels,
  • On the same Monday in 2022, the rate was 41% rate for those in the office
  • On the Tuesday before Memorial Day this year, 58% went to their offices that day

We are still a long way from going back to pre-Covid levels. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays are the biggest days in the office for hybrid offices, as evidenced by traffic patterns in many cities. Apparently there is also a movement afoot on social media, calling for “bare-minimum Mondays”… an easing in of the work week rather than jumping back to work after the weekend.

A company I work with is losing a really strong senior leader for the opposite reason. This leader wants to be around people all the time, just like in 2019, so he decided to leave this company with a hybrid work schedule and go back to the office five days a week. Another former client is fully remote and while she likes her co-workers, she said she is not engaged in the company and does not see staying there long. Could that be because she is fully remote?

What is the best situation for you and your company?

*According to according to Kastle Systems, which tracks security badge swipes into buildings across major U.S. cities.


The real competitive advantage in any business is one word only, which is “people”.

Kamil Toume, Writer and thought leader
Worth The Share

Digging a bit deeper into the remote work world, as it exists today, I found two competing lists of the best remote companies to work for.

Forbes published the Top 30 Rankings from Flexjobs, and only included jobs that are fully remote, with no restrictions of city, state or region. They also talked about the growth of remote jobs in finance and marketing.

I confess, I am unfamiliar with many of these companies, including their top picks Wikemedia FoundationProtocol Labs and Kraken. Check out their full list HERE.

Indeed, the online search firm, published a very different list called 20 of the Best Remote Work Companies in 2023. On this list you’ll find several tech and blue-chip companies including Microsoft, Intuit, Meta, Johnson&Johnson, and SAP. Each company’s listing includes a Work Happiness Score and a Flexibility Score. If you are in the job market, and want to be fully remote, check them out.

And Finally...

If people really are our competitive advantage, and we are living in a world that is dealing with fully remote, hybrid and only in-office options, how do you reconcile that with yourself, your leadership team and your employees?

What about the manufacturing company where the plants are open 24/7 or the retailer who has stores that need to be staffed nights and weekends? What do those corporate offices do?

Leadership is about being calm and consistent, establishing a plan and inspiring others with your vision for the company. This yo-yo that many companies and teams are facing about remote work is a big challenge. Shall we go back full time? Shall we stay hybrid? Can we convince our teams to come back into the office on Mondays? Can I get that employee back in the office when I hired her to be fully remote?

IMHO, Put a stake in the ground and stick with it. “In any team sport, the best teams have consistency and chemistry” said Roger Staubach. Be consistent…and then build chemistry.

Have a fabulous July 4th Holiday,
Mary Jo

To learn more about my 1:1 executive, communication or business growth coaching, custom virtual workshops, the Career Transition program or just to connect, you can reach me at

You Never Know

You Never Know

Speaking with a former client the other day, I was so inspired by her story that I asked her permission to share it.

Can you imagine, successfully changing careers twice because you did your job? Michelle was working in retail when she made some calls for a customer who was looking for a specific product. The next day, his human resources executive called Michelle at work. Apparently, her customer was the CEO of a real-estate developer and wanted Michelle to interview for a role selling townhomes in his new development. He was impressed by her and her level of customer service. She got the job.

While in her new role selling real-estate, Michelle sold a townhome to a woman who required an extreme amount of patience. This woman went to contract three different times on three different townhomes before finally closing on the third townhome. She then asked Michelle if she would be interested in working for her insurance company, where she was the Chief People Officer. She was impressed by Michelle’s patience and calm demeanor, as she changed her mind time and time again.

Fast forward, while in her new role as an insurance broker (yes, she got that job too), Michelle found a sponsor in the insurance industry who has been instrumental in Michelle’s career. Three companies and many promotions later, Michelle is a now a high ranking executive at a major insurance company.

When I asked Michelle about her key to success, she said it was her ability to “get to know the person, focus on what matters to them and be real”. IMHO, being fully present in every interaction matters, as does truly connecting with others. You never know!


This is one of my all time favorite quotes.

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

Maya Angelou

Worth The Share

Do you have a sponsor or two? We often talk about mentors, and many of us have business or executive coaches, but do you have a sponsor? It continually surprises me that most of my clients are unfamiliar with the concept of having a sponsor.

While a mentor shares experiences, offers moral support, listens and might share advice, a sponsor is an advocate, someone who intentionally brings up your name when you are not in the room. Someone who says, “what about Michelle” for a stretch assignment or when talking about a bigger job or promotion is a sponsor.

In this article, What Great Sponsors Do Differently, the authors talk about the relationship from the perspective of the sponsor and share six tips which I have included below. What strikes me about this list is that it is the ideal scenario. In a fast paced business world, the most important role of the sponsor is that the sponsor acts on behalf of the sponsee (#3) by promoting them to other high level executives. Sometimes we have sponsors, and are not even aware that they are advocating for us and our work.

If you are a sponsor, and have a formal structure to your sponsor/sponsee relationship, here are some tips to maximize it. Great sponsors:

  1. Show up – they attend regularly scheduled meeting and respect the time of their sponsee.
  2. Are patient and without judgement – and invest in really understanding their sponsee.
  3. Act outside the one-on-one meetings with their sponsees – and advocate for their professional growth with assignments and promotions.
  4. Seek out relevant information transparently – to better know and understand their sponsee.
    Offer feedback and provide psychological safety – and are candid while providing a welcoming space to talk, listen and learn.
  5. Talk to each other about sponsorship – and the impact sponsoring has on the organization as a whole.

Check out What Great Sponsors Do Differently to learn more.

And Finally...

As we think about unexpected opportunities like what Michelle experienced twice in her career, or sponsors who actively advocate for us, I have to ask: How are you paying it forward? Who are you mentoring or sponsoring?

A few months ago, a dear friend sent me a book that resonated with me. Give and Take, by Adam Grant, sheds light on the powerful

impact of helping others. He talks about Givers, Matchers and Takers. One of my favorite quotes from the book: “It’s the givers, by virtue of their interest in getting to know us, who ask us the questions that enable us to experience the joy of learning from ourselves”. Check out Give and Take for some true inspiration.

Not surprisingly, Michelle currently makes time to pay it forward by sponsoring colleagues, mentoring a new manager and leading an internal coaching circle of eight women from around the country.

Are you sponsoring, mentoring or coaching others at your company or in your professional sphere? If not, no matter what stage you are at in your career, now is the perfect time to start!

Have a great week.
Mary Jo

To learn more about my 1:1 executive, communication or business growth coaching, custom virtual workshops, the Career Transition program or just to connect, you can reach me at

Is this shift affecting you?

Is this shift affecting you?

The other day, I heard from a former client of a large tech company that I coached for six-months. Dave, a senior sales leader in his organization, reached out because he was recently job eliminated. In fact, all of the sales leaders in the organization were eliminated regardless of performance. That was especially hard to take since he is a high-performer.

Of course, being laid off today is not surprising since there have been over 144,540 layoffs in tech as of May 19,2023 in addition to more than 93,000 tech layoffs in 2022 according to Crunchbase News. And that’s just tech! When we spoke, Dave remained optimistic, while also being practical about the current realities. All of a sudden, after years where companies were frantically hiring, they have put the brakes on. An article in the WSJ over the weekend entitled 9 Rounds of Interviews and No Call Back and podcast, The Disappearing White-Collar Job, share personal stories and the reasons for the dramatic shift. Companies are being cautious, taking more time to hire and being more selective. Technology is having a big impact, with AI eliminating jobs. And companies are also being being squeezed for profits with higher interest rates, so they are looking to cut costs.

What does this mean if you are out of work and need to get a job? Be aggressive in your search, use your network and stay positive. Reach out to a career coach if you need support. You may also not want to be too picky if in fact you need to get out of the rain.


Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

Thomas A. Edison

My former partner at a communications company we launched in NYC was a theatre director. Ellie Heyman often spoke about “business speak” and how it gets in the way of communication. I agree.

On the lighter side of all the job-elimination news out there, this refreshing opinion piece

from Fast Company breaks down some of the prevalent business speak we hear today – in job descriptions and in-person communication.

Written by Whitney Posterick, it shines a light on the absurdity of it all. Her point is that jargon filled job descriptions turn off potential employees. She focuses on stakeholder, cross-functional and multi-level marketing in her piece. I would add to that, the acronyms that companies use ad nauseam such as KPI, SEM, POC, TOFU, MOFU and BOFU.

Take a minute a check out Want to hire someone creative? Don’t do any of these things, and please, take the author’s advice to heart.

And Finally...

We just got back from a very relaxing two-week vacation. I was able to send my last email while away thanks to Cheryl at Virtually All. Thank you Cheryl!

Two things I did differently this year were so obvious, it is surprising that I have not tried them in the past, especially since they made a huge difference.

  1. I totally detached. Putting my out of office on, and letting go of the day to day was so healthy. I confess, I did scan emails a couple of times, but overall I honored my time away. What a difference it made in my ability to relax.
  2. I was fully present. In the past, while relaxing with my husband on vacation, I often asked the question “Where shall we go next?”. How dumb is that? Being in a beautiful place, learning new things, and meeting new people is such a joy for me, why did I try to minimize it and focus on the future rather than the present? Vacation season is upon us. Whether you take a day or a week, have a staycation or go someplace fabulous, I hope you detach and take the opportunity to be fully present.

Have a great week.
Mary Jo

To learn more about my 1:1 executive, communication or business growth coaching, custom virtual workshops, the Career Transition program or just to connect, you can reach me at

What is getting in the way?

What is getting in the way?

Recently, I have been doing a lot of work around presentation and communication skills with very senior executives who want to elevate or polish their skills, to professionals who are really challenged with how they communicate and present, especially when presenting to upper management.

Effective communication is especially important for those in leadership and management roles, but it is also critical for our ability to advance within any organization. Yet, it is very rarely “taught”. One of my new clients, who is investing in someone on his team with a series of twelve executive coaching sessions, said he tried to teach his direct report how to improve, but found himself ill-equipped to make an impact.

There are dozens of tools and techniques to become a more effective communicator. One of my favorites is to be more of yourself, more authentic. Develop your own unique communication style and start to become hyper aware of your own communication ticks or bad habits. When in doubt, tape record and/or video tape yourself. What needs improvement? What is getting in the way of becoming a more effective communicator?


Your ability to communicate is an important tool in your pursuit of your goals, whether it is with your family, your co-workers or your clients and customers.

Les Brown, Author

The other day, there was an essay in the Wall Street Journal entitled: Our Hesitations in Speech Are Much More Than Filler. Written by Dr. Fridland who is a professor of Linguistics at the University of Nevada, Reno, she studied when people use um and uh in speech, referring to them as filled pauses.

What she learned is that people use um or uh when they are deciding between competing

word options, formulating what they want to say, signaling that your brain is processing what to say and giving them time to think. She also mentioned other research from the 90s on um and uh that shows the two “words” are used in different contexts, um to signal a longer pause and uh for a shorter pause.

But here’s the thing: so what? All of Dr. Fridland’s research and conclusions are rooted in the study of linguistics, which is all quite interesting, BUT when talking about effective communication, um and uh are a big challenge for the listener. Using them is a habit, and with effort, you can eliminate the use of um, uh, like, so or any other filler word.

In fact, pausing is far better than hearing filler words that add no value. When you do not know what word to choose or want to give the listener time to process what you are saying, PAUSE. It will make you sound infinitely more polished and professional. Filler words are distracting, they dilute the message and make the audience work harder to hear what the speaker is actually trying to say.

And Finally...

I was working with one of my clients who is under a lot of pressure with a new manager. His speech was articulate and thoughtful until he started talking about his new boss, then his speech was peppered with um. His stress was showing up in his word choice and all of a sudden he no longer sounded confident and polished.

Outside the world of linguistics, I strongly believe that we should work to eliminate filler words from our speech to be a more effective communicator. What is the filler word you use all the time? If you don’t know, record yourself. Increase your awareness about what you are saying, then every time you use a filler word, take a drink or snap a rubber band on your wrist. Be intentional about breaking the habit. Your listeners will thank you.

Have a great week.
Mary Jo

To learn more about my 1:1 executive, communication or business growth coaching, custom virtual workshops, the Career Transition program or just to connect, you can reach me at

How much do you have today?

How much do you have today?

Building on the topic of change from two weeks ago, it strikes me how constant change is and yet, many things never change.

On April 17th, the Wall Street Journal did a “Journal Report on C-Suite Strategies”. The topic? “Thanks. Why it’s important to show gratitude at work – what’s the best way to do it” (tiered subscription)

Really? No matter how things change, gratitude never goes out of style. Is this topic worthy of big section in one of the nation’s leading news outlets? Apparently. One stat: there is a 15% increase in the time spent helping someone when they are appreciated, according to the author Sara Algoe.

Sara goes on to share research that showing “gratitude before a task, showed improved cardiovascular response”. When giving thanks, be specific and genuine, expressing your care and concern. Giving thanks correlates with helping colleagues feel valued, which brings me to the SCARF framework.


You don’t lead by hitting people over the head, that’s assault, not leadership.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

As promised, from my last newsletter, here is Part 2 of How to WIN at Leading Change by Deb Graham. SCARF is such a GREAT framework, worth considering and implementing whether you are leading a change initiative or not. Read on:

Expecting pushback on an upcoming change? It’s normal to face resistance, as people naturally want to protect the status quo.

This reaction is not planned, but rather an emotional response to perceived threats. It’s important to understand how people might react to change, as it varies depending on the individual. One useful framework is the SCARF model, developed by Dr. David Rock and the Neuroleadership Institute, which identifies five common triggers:

Status: I am valuable
People want to feel valued and important. If Status is their trigger, they want to stand out from the crowd. Changes that negatively impact their title, office size, involvement in decisions, or perception of expertise can threaten their status.

Certainty: I know where I stand or what will happen to me
People want to know what’s going on and what to expect. Uncertainty around roles,
responsibilities, and the outcome of decisions can create anxiety. Change inevitably brings lots of uncertainty. Providing information such as the date the changes will be announced and what isn’t changing, can provide some stability and certainty.

Autonomy: I have a choice
People want to have control over their work. Micromanaging can threaten autonomy, while providing space and trust can increase it. Changes that limit autonomy may be met with resistance. If Autonomy is their dominant trigger, they will want to know whether the new way of doing things will give them more autonomy or less. Involving them will be critical to finding solutions that work for all involved.

Relatedness: I belong
People want to feel they belong and have supportive relationships. Changes that affect team composition or dynamics can create discomfort and resistance. Opportunities to get to know each other can help build trust. Also, leaders can use language such as “we” and “us” instead of “you,” “me,” and “they,” which signals a clear boundary between groups.

Fairness: I am treated fairly and others are treated fairly
People want to be treated fairly and perceive impartiality. Changes that seem unfair can trigger resistance. Lack of transparency implies you have something to hide, thus triggering the sense that things may not be fair.

Understanding these triggers and addressing them proactively can help reduce resistance. Providing clear communication, involving employees in decision-making, and promoting a sense of fairness can help create a smoother transition.

And Finally...

Earlier this week, I coached a sales leader who is going through a tremendous amount of change at her company. We talked about the SCARF framework, and it really resonated with her. She felt both Status and Relatedness were fine but needed work on Certainty, Autonomy and Fairness.

For Certainty, she felt she could ask better questions, be more proactive and add dates. For Autonomy, she said she needed more clarity about what matters to her new managers. She thinks she knows… but realized during our session that she is following her instincts and is not really sure. Fairness was an issue too for a similar reason. She is managing her team based on what she thinks, she “knows better”.

What is the insight? When you are facing change in your organization (and we all know that change is constant), maybe try the SCARF framework to see if you are on track and managing your teams to sync up with the company’s new direction.

If you would like to learn more about how Deb and I can help your team leaders more effectively manage change, reach out.

Have a great week.
Mary Jo

To learn more about my 1:1 executive, communication or business growth coaching, custom virtual workshops, the Career Transition program or just to connect, you can reach me at

What is your plan?

What is your plan?

Last week, a client spoke passionately about their personal development, especially since they were in a new role. Taking time to intentionally think about what you are doing to grow professionally, and then consistently acting on it, matters.

Often, we focus on the day-to-day work in front of us and lose sight of areas where we can develop. Maybe take an improv class if you have a fear of public speaking, or take a university course or one on Coursera. You could also join a mastermind group or (shameless plug) work with an executive coach.

Each year, I try to do one or two big things to elevate my skills or expand my learning beyond reading books or listening to podcasts. This year, I am excited to announce that I am expanding my business by partnering with Deb Graham, who is very experienced in organizational change.


You don’t lead by hitting people over the head, that’s assault, not leadership.

John Maxwell

I am thrilled to share an article, written by Deb Graham called: How to WIN at Leading Change, to get you into the topic of the work we will be doing together:

Have you ever wondered why people resist change? According to Gartner, 45% of HR leaders say their employees are fatigued from

so much change.* Yes, it’s possible that people are tired. It’s also likely that our approach to change isn’t working. In our hurry to implement another new program, policy, or strategy shift, we lean on telling people what to do and assume they will do it. That may work for a bit but as soon as we move on to the next priority, people revert to the old way of doing things. Instead of telling people what to do, WIN.

Why – Do I know why this change matters and how it fits in with the other changes that are happening? When the process, system, or who I need to work with is different than the norm, it takes extra time. I already have a lot to do so why is this important? Also, what’s in it for me? Is my job going to get easier? Will I learn a skill that makes me more marketable? Or will there be job eliminations? The answer to how change will impact me can motivate or demotivate.

Involve – If you’re changing a process or system I’ve been using for years, it’s likely I have some ideas to make it better. Ask my opinion. Involve me in the discussion. Let me know you hear my concerns. People like to influence change but they resist having change done to them. If you can’t involve people in ‘what’ is changing, involve them in the ‘how’. Be clear what can be influenced and what can not.

Needs – My response may be a reaction to how the change will affect me. Our brains react defensively when we feel threatened. In contrast, our brains receive a blast of dopamine when we feel rewarded. The Neuroleadership Institute describes five domains of social threat and reward that trigger our behaviors. Our sensitivity to these five SCARF domains varies from person to person, they are: Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Restriction and Fairness. Autonomy may be a big trigger for me but Certainty might be more important to you. When you understand and meet an individual’s specific SCARF need, their threat response is calmed. We’ll dig deeper into SCARF in How to Win, Part 2.

You may be thinking ‘this takes time’. And you’re right, it does. When it comes to organizational change, going fast may feel good, but it’s rarely sustainable. Taking the time to engage people and meet their needs ensures a sustainable WIN.

*Gartner: Top 5 Priorities for HR Leaders in 2023

To learn more about our work in business transformation click here, or to learn more about Deb, click here.

And Finally...

The type of environment where someone wants to work will matter differently to different people. One of my clients recently shared that he felt the company was too over the top focused on making sure everyone is “happy and engaged”. He said: “I just want to do the work but nobody seems to really focus on it. We are having far too many meetings on things other than the actual work.”

Another client was lamenting about the CEO and his strategy, realizing that she is not aligned with how he runs the company, which has created (in her opinion) a culture of stressed out, beaten down sellers. How can she move forward?

This all syncs up with How To Win at Leading Change, as Deb wrote up. Stay tuned for more on the SCARF model in the next edition.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, comments or thoughts, reach out anytime.

Have a great week.
Mary Jo

To learn more about my 1:1 executive, communication or business growth coaching, custom virtual workshops, the Career Transition program or just to connect, you can reach me at

Are you guilty of busyness?

Are you guilty of busyness?

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting a new client who joined our call in a whirlwind of frenzy. She said she might preform better if she could do more with less time, and referred to her “run on the bullet train”. Can you relate?

Busyness has hit crisis levels. Busyness, as defined by Merriam-Webster is “the state of having or being involved in many activities”. The example they give is: As with “routine work and exercise, busyness as an end in itself”.

During Covid we slowed down, now things have sped up again. Working in the office most of the time is back to pre-pandemic levels, work travel is in full swing and many of us are trying to catch up on those lost vacations, parties and weddings that did not happen during the pandemic. Even traffic is back. For me, at least, it feels more crazy now than before the pandemic. Busyness is back!


The greatest enemy of good thinking is busyness.

John Maxwell

Worth the Share

In this month’s issue of Harvard Business Review, they featured an article “Beware of the Culture of Busyness”.

Since busyness is not celebrated in other countries like Italy for example, this quote sums up the challenge that busyness creates in our culture: “Busyness has become a status symbol.

People also consider those who exert high effort to be “morally admirable,” regardless of their output.”

To solve for this chronic problem with busyness, the author Adam Waltz suggests five things:

  • Reward output not just activity: while this can be tricky, it is worth determining how you can adjust goals so that team members are compensated for what they actually deliver.
  • Assess whether your organization is generating deep work and eliminating low value work: one of my clients is focused on this at his company. It was a real shift in their culture that is paying dividends.
  • Force people off the clock: time-off is critical to living a full, healthy life. Detaching can be difficult for some but learning to take time off is good for your mental and physical health.
  • Model the right behavior: a client, who was the executive director of a non-profit, took a three-week trip to Africa last year. After the initial shock, her team warmed to the idea of running the show while she was gone. She modeled the behavior and had the trip of a lifetime.
  • Build slack into the system: this is a bold idea that sounds expensive for companies but when you invest, it can be a game changer. Seth Godin said: “systems with slack are more resilient”.

For much more detail on why we are addicted to busyness and what to do about it, read on.

And Finally...

What can you do with this information about busyness? If you have been reading my blog for a while you will know that one of my favorite words is “intentional”. How are you spending your time? What do you want more of? What do you want less of? What can you cut out?

Perhaps you will do a busyness audit on your time, and determine how to add more slack into your days. Maybe you can take time to truly disconnect from technology and take a nice long vacation or two!

Have a great week.

Mary Jo

To learn more about my 1:1 executive, communication or business growth coaching, custom virtual workshops, the Career Transition program or just to connect, you can reach me at