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What is your word?

What is your word?

2023 is here, whether you are ready or not. One of the most valuable things I have been doing at the beginning of the year is to come up with my word for the year. Last year, my word was “impact”. It helped to center me when I was going in too many different directions.

Over the past week, here are two of the words for the year that I heard: Hope from a single mom who is thinking about a career change; Growth is the word of the year for a small business owner who focused on personal, spiritual and financial growth. My word for 2023 is Connect, and to connect in a deeper, more meaningful way.

#WiseWords

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.

Mother Teresa

Worth the Share

What better way to start a new year than to think about how our thoughts and emotions impact our health? This article from the University of Minnesota has dozens of terrific insights. Some you know (and possibly ignore) and some may be new to you. Here are a few of my favorites.

  • Since we are wired for negativity bias, we “prioritize bad over good”
  • Chronic stress damages the immune system and can actually decrease our life span
  • Positive feelings, such as being connected to others, has a direct impact on health and well-being
  • Positivity can lead to fewer colds, better sleep, and faster recovery from cardiovascular stress
  • A practice of forgiveness is linked to better immune function and a longer life span

Take a minute to read the entire article and take the positivity self-test. I scored a 3.33. What’s your score and what does it mean?

And Finally...

Have you taken a few minutes to reflect on 2022? Have you written down personal and professional goals for 2023? A dear friend of mine who is a professional development coach, shared with me his PowerPoint presentation for his 2023 plan. Wow, was it impressive.

While I have not created a full-blown presentation, I have a format I use each year where I REFLECT on the previous year, DREAM about the future, set specific and measurable GOALS for the new year and SCHEDULE time to be and do things beyond coaching and facilitating workshops.

Wishing you and yours a very Happy New Year filled with joy, gratitude, growth, time for reflection, and lots of laughter.

And hopefully, the time to fully connect.

Enjoy,

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 info@mjrcac.com

Do you take time to reflect?

Do you take time to reflect?

Throughout the month of December, I have been partnering with various clients on end-of-year actives. Workshops to develop the sales team and off-sites to discuss tools to navigate our crazy, busy culture. For another client, we explored his end of year reflections of his leadership team.

It is a gift to be able to take time to reflect on 2022. What was the highlight of your year? What was your low point and why? What did you learn about your business? About yourself? What might you change as you begin a new year?

#WiseWords

Without reflection, we go blindly on our way.

Margaret J. Wheatley

Worth the Share

I searched for an article that would be worth sharing, and I found something from 2017. With the pandemic et al, I wasn’t sure if the content would still be relevant but was pleasantly surprised. The authors of How to Regain the Lost Art of Reflection, provide multiple ideas that are worth thinking about:

  • Schedule unstructured thinking time – many of my clients do this weekly, while the article quotes a CEO who blocks out a full day each week.
  • Get a coach – “The Socratic Method remains the most effective way to stimulate reflective thinking”. Personally, as a coach I firmly believe in the power of coaching, enough said.
  • Cultivate a list of questions which prompt reflective thought – the authors have a list of several including: “What do I not know about the industry and the company? What unique value can I add in my role as CEO?  What imprint do I wish to create as a leader on employees and other stakeholders?”
  • Protect yourself and your company from information overload – a great point, the authors wrote “the primary challenge is to ensure that excessive communication does not undermine productivity and prevent reflective thinking.” Do we sometimes over communicate unnecessarily?
  • Reimagine yourself as a meta-problem solver – this is a good point, IMHO. Using reflective thought to solve the problem, while not leaning into the tried and true. Why wasn’t the problem solved before it got to you?
  • Be a role-model for your employees – reflective time “should not be the privilege of the enlightened CEO” but should trickle down throughout the organization. Try it. Set aside some time this week and every week in Q1 2023 for reflective thinking and see how it works for you.


Read on to learn more.

And Finally...

Based on partnering with dozens of coaching clients, it seems that December has been an especially busy month, busier and more frantic than in previous years. In spite of the fact that the flu is racing through the country and COVID is still out there, we are not slowing down at all. It feels like we are moving at a fever pitch.

What can you do, between now and December 31 to give yourself some time to reflect on 2022? What do you choose to do to make a shift? Reach out anytime, if you would like to have a conversation.

In the meantime, I wish you and yours a very reflective and joyful holiday season.

Merry Christmas and all the best for a healthy, happy 2023. See you in January.

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 info@mjrcac.com

What is going on?

What is going on?

In two weeks, I am doing a workshop for a local manufacturing company. Over the last three years, I have created and facilitated several workshops for them, having worked with their leadership team, sales teams and middle managers. What took me aback is the subject of this next workshop: dealing with difficult clients and colleagues. Apparently the team is worn out, some feel demoralized by their customer’s bad behavior including being yelled at.

Then on Monday, the subject of one of the daily emails I read regularly was about rudeness, sharing tactics to address colleagues and clients who are rude. And last Friday, a client shared with me a video she took during a team meeting where half her staff was on the phone clicking away and the other half looked completely disengaged.

What is going on?
#WiseWords

Don’t ever forget that you’re a citizen of this world, and there are things you can do to lift the human spirit, things that are easy, things that are free, things that you can do every day: civility, respect, kindness, character.

Aaron Sorkin, playwright

Worth the Share

While it has always existed in some way, rudeness and bad behavior is so prevalent in our society today that it is being addressed in companies across the country and around the globe. In our personal lives, we have all seen when people behave badly in a public space. We may be aware of how we treat others when we are stressed out and behaved badly ourselves.

It seems to be at such a fever pitch that Harvard Business Review just released a complete series of seven articles entitled Incivility on the Front Lines of Business.

One article from the series is Frontline Work When Everyone Is Angry, which is written by a researcher who studies incivility at work. The author, Christine Porath, did a survey of 2000 workers in 25 industries around the globe and found that 76% have experienced incivility at least once a month, and 78% believe that bad behavior from customers toward employees is more common than it was five years ago. She cites causes which include increased stress, negative emotions, weakened ties to others and technology. The article contains a lot more research.

Another article in the series, How to Respond to a Rude Comment at Work provides solid tactics that are useful, including that you check your emotions first. Why did that rude comment strike a cord in you? Think about the risks of speaking up about the bad behavior, or not. What is your best path forward in that specific situation? Asking questions, showing empathy and forming alliances with colleagues to support each other when rudeness happens are all tactics to try.

Read on to learn more.

And Finally...

On November 5, 1963, President John F. Kennedy stated, “Over three centuries ago, our forefathers in Virginia and in Massachusetts, far from home in a lonely wilderness, set aside a time of thanksgiving. On the appointed day, they gave reverent thanks for their safety, for the health of their children, for the fertility of their fields, for the love which bound them together, and for the faith which united them with their God.”*

As we celebrate Thanksgiving in 2022, maybe think about what we can each do to make our world a kinder, gentler place, working to limit our stress and use of technology while building deeper connections with other people. I like to say “lead with love”.

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving,

Mary Jo

*Proclamation 3560, in Wikipedia
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 info@mjrcac.com

What questions are you asking yourself?

What questions are you asking yourself?

About two weeks ago, I had a coaching call with a people manager at a fast growing tech company. She started the call with “200 people got laid off today, including my boss. No warning.”

This is by no means an isolated incident. Dozens of other companies are laying off people right now, not twelve months after companies were desperate to hire talent. The speed of this shift is shocking, and this may be just the beginning.

Back in 2008, I ran a large team at a tech company and when everything fell apart, I was very focused on my team. What I learned is that was not enough.

What questions should you be asking yourself right now? Here are some ideas:

  • How can I focus on my team and what they are experiencing?
  • What do they need from me?
  • What can I do to drive the business forward in this environment of uncertainty? How can I stay focused?
  • Where is the business opportunity?
  • How can I add value to the company?
#WiseWords

THE LEADER IS ONE WHO, OUT OF THE CLUTTER, BRINGS SIMPLICITY… OUT OF DISCORD, HARMONY… AND OUT OF DIFFICULTY, OPPORTUNITY

Albert Einstein

Worth the Share

Have you heard the term VUCA? It stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. It was popular even before Covid and right now, in our semi-post Covid world, I would argue it continues to be relevant. The impending recession, ongoing war, job uncertainty, and the speed of change all contribute to the VUCA world we now live in. This article from Center for Creative Leadership provides an outline of how to lead in a VUCA world. Taken from the book: Leaders Make the Future, here are Bob Johansen’s ten future leadership skills.

  1. Maker instinct: your desire to make things happen
  2. Clarity: see what can be and communicate it
  3. Dilemma flipping: turning a “negative” into an opportunity
  4. Immersive learning ability: learn, get out of your comfort zone
  5. Bio-empathy: learn from nature to inform leadership
  6. Constructive depolarizing: calmly get disparate people to work together
  7. Quiet transparency: be open and authentic
  8. Rapid prototyping: fail early, often, cheaply and iterate
  9. Smart mob organizing: use various types of media effectively
  10. Commons creating: nurturing competition and cooperation simultaneously
  11. Build relationships through work: Whether you are in person or fully remote, be intentional about building real relationships with others. Don’t go it alone.

Here is the article from CCL if you would like to dig deeper into these concepts, or get the book.

And Finally...

What are some of the answers to the questions I asked above? How are you setting yourself, your team and your company up for success during these VUCA days?

Who is your thought partner or partners to work through it? Accept that the times we are living in are not “business as usual”. Be intentional as you navigate the end of Q4 and finalize plans for 2023. Reach out if I can support you in any way.

Kind regards,

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 info@mjrcac.com

Do you regularly experience joy?

Do you regularly experience joy?

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak to about 60 women at a Charleston Chamber of Commerce luncheon. This highly interactive session had these women asking questions, trying new things, and learning dozens of communication tools and techniques.

One of the points I made when talking about executive presence, is to be aware of negative thought patterns since negativity influences our language, how we say what we say and how we show up in our bodies. Positivity, humor, mindfulness, happiness and joy can all be antidotes to negativity.

As I was researching the topic, I stumbled upon Ingrid Fetell Lee, a designer and author, who delves into the psychology and neuroscience behind joy. She believes that the use of color, rounded shapes and nature have a positive affect on our ability to feel joy. Check out her TED talk if you want to learn more.

One of the questions she asks: “When was the last time you felt a true, unfettered moment of joy?”.

#WiseWords

The healthiest response to life is joy.

Mark Twain

Worth the Share

Can you find joy at work? The last couple of years have been very challenging and many of us are still struggling to connect and find joy. I see it with clients every day when we talk about how they are navigating being fully remote, problems with team members who are struggling or personally feeling disconnected from their colleagues.

This article, Rediscover Joy at Work by Rebecca Newton, talks about ways to do just that. You can find more joy through these four steps:

  1. Build your strengths into your day: What are your strengths? If you are not sure, take the Clifton Strengths assessment then weave them into your day. My top strength is connectedness, I feel drained when I don’t connect with others.
  2. Focus on your professional growth: Learning something new can be invigorating and bring you joy. If your job doesn’t offer you the opportunity to learn something new, what can you learn outside of work?
  3. Share with a trusted colleague: The important thing is to have someone you totally trust at work, someone with whom you can be your true, authentic self.
  4. Build relationships through work: Whether you are in person or fully remote, be intentional about building real relationships with others. Don’t go it alone.

You can also read the full article to learn more.

And Finally...

When working with clients, self-care often comes up. To live our best lives, we need to take really good care of ourselves; our body, mind and spirit.

Fall is such a beautiful time of year to engage in activities that could bring you joy. Go for walk and admire the changing color of leaves, maybe go apple picking or bake some Pumpkin Honey Beer bread. Take time to find more joy!

Have a great week and a Happy Halloween,

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 info@mjrcac.com

Have you ever thought about…

Have you ever thought about...

Have you ever thought about your personal brand? What does your brand say about you? How do you want to be seen by others at work?

When coaching clients, these questions come up a lot because they help us to be more intentional about ourselves and how we show up. One of my clients, “Casey”, is struggling with a volatile boss who is quite challenging to work with.

While Casey said she wants her brand to be seen as smart, decisive and effective, the language she uses when talking with this challenging boss is anything but clear and direct. Understanding what she wants her brand to be and how she wants to be seen helped her have clarity around what she needed to shift to align with her brand vision. How we speak, how we dress, how we show up on video or in person all tell others about our brand. Be intentional about your brand.

#WiseWords

A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.

Seth Godin

Worth the Share

Speaking about brands, what does the color of your company logo say about your company?

For example:
  • Which color makes babies cry?
  • Which color is preferred by men?
  • Which color alleviates depression?

This article from Fast Company is fun to read and will shed some light on your company’s brand color. My first company color was green because it represented growth, the color of money and the NY Jets (don’t ask!). My current company, MJR Coaching+Consulting, is orange because it reflects energy, enthusiasm and warmth, all traits that I bring to my work.

Read on to learn more about colors and what they tell us, based on the work of Neuroscientist Bevil Conway.

And Finally...

Your personal brand will have several components. When it comes to talking
about yourself, which is your brand, talk about what you do, why you do it, and why it matters in a brand statement.

Here is my brand statement, for example, : “I am passionate about partnering with high-performing professionals to elevate their career success.” I want to be seen as smart, energizing, thoughtful, kind and direct.

This article from indeed.com has several examples of brand statements. Perhaps write you own brand statement to bring further clarity to what you do, then write  down a few words to describe how you want to be seen.

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 info@mjrcac.com

Why this is so important?

Why this is so important?

When coaching a senior leader recently, I challenged him to think about his colleagues on the leadership team at his mid-sized company. They have been in business for over a decade, and by most business measures, are very successful.

When he rated himself and his fellow leaders on a one to ten scale for leadership, management and success in each of their current roles, he only gave out only eight. Every other score was considerably lower, with most in the three to five range. Keep in mind, this is a successful organization. How could he rate them so low?

My client suffers from having a huge negativity bias. He looks at things through such a negative lens that he is dragging down himself and his colleagues.

One of the principles of Emotional Intelligence is positivity. Being positive, especially as a leader, has an out-sized impact on your organization.

#WiseWords

The POSITIVE THINKER sees the INVISIBLE, feels the INTANGIBLE, and achieves the IMPOSSIBLE.

Winston Churchill

Worth the Share

After that meeting, I wanted to better understand the power of positivity in leadership and was grateful to find this article, The Best Leaders Have a Contagious Positive Energy  It brings to life the importance of positivity, stating that it is a key determinant for success in leaders, beating out things like charisma, innovative genius and power.

Authors Emma Seppälä and Kim Cameron state: “The one thing that supersedes all these factors is positive relational energy: the energy exchanged between people that helps uplift, enthuse, and renew them.”

With authentic, values-based leadership, these leaders uplift themselves and their organizations. Positive energizers are themselves high performers and positively impact others.

When it comes to their companies, the positive energizer as a leader also generates greater innovation, teamwork, financial performance and workplace cohesion, according to the authors. How can we argue with that?

Take a moment and read this article or pick up their book, Positively Energizing Leadership.

And Finally...

I want to build on what I talked about last time, Quiet Quitting. In this article from Gallup, they say that about 50% of the workforce today falls into the “quiet quitting” category. People who are disengaged at work and doing the bare minimum to get by. This is especially true for younger workers.

How can we combat quiet quitting? Gallup suggests to re-skill your managers to manage a hybrid or remote work force, actively have managers manage their teams, make sure managers have a minimum of one 1:1 meaningful conversation with each team member each week, create accountability metrics for team members, help them understand the “why” of their work, and their organization’s greater purpose.

I would add to that: lead with positivity and a healthy dose of empathy.

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 info@mjrcac.com

Work trends you should know.

Work trends you should know.

There are some new business concepts floating around that are worth exploring:

One concept is called quiet quitting, which has been in the news a lot lately. Apparently it started as a social media trend, but it speaks to a fundamental shift that has happened since the pandemic. What I have read is that it amounts to people doing the bare minimum at their job with the hope that they can achieve some sort of work/life balance. Employees are often stressed out, burned out and looking for their next gig. Here is an article from Korn Ferry if you would like to learn more.

The other is concept is allyship, defined as actively supporting other colleagues in the organization who are often not heard. I have coached this technique quite a bit in my group coaching engagements. Beneficiaries of allyship are often women and those from underrepresented groups. Making sure that everyone in your organization is heard is everyone’s responsibility, especially the responsibility of leadership. What are you doing to make sure that allyship is promoted internally?

#WiseWords

We rise by lifting others.

Robert Ingersoll, author

Worth the Share

What I value about allyship is the practicality of it all. It is a very important communication tool that helps to build healthy cultures. Women can be allies for other women and other underrepresented groups. Men can and should be allies too. I would argue that ALL voices should be heard, and to do that, we all need to be allies for each other.

This article, Male Allyship is About Paying Attention, provides a few of those practical tools, including:

• Self educate
• Attend to non-verbals
• Notice sexist words and phrases
• Focus on the intersections
• Pay attention to who is included
• Ask women (and others) about their experiences

Read on to learn more

And Finally...

How are you doing as an ally of others at work? This TED Talk by Melinda Briana Epler brings to life the challenges that many of us face in the work place and what we can do to make a positive impact on the culture. I love what she said “Change happens one person at a time, one act at a time, one word at a time.”

When it comes to quiet quitting, a client of mine (who graduated in 2009 during the height of the recession), talked about it as being disrespectful of other team members. She said that “I respect and understand the need to have boundaries but you need to do your work or find something else.”

What are some of the ways that you can engage and connect with employees to ensure that they are doing their work? Make time for your team members; connect, engage, listen and maybe even have a difficult conversation.

Happy Labor Day weekend,

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 info@mjrcac.com

How are you at managing your time?

How are you at managing your time?

Two weeks ago, I hit a wall. There was just too much going on, I felt like I had no time and was feeling drained and overwhelmed. So, I turned to an Executive Coach for coaching. Imagine that! An Executive Coach asking to be coached.

From that coaching partnership, I learned a powerful insight about myself and how I work. That insight gave me clarity on several levels and also brought me a measure of acceptance and peace. I also learned that I needed to calendar block more effectively and to slow down a bit.

Summer is coming to an end.  Here in Charleston, kids are already back in school, Q3 is kicking into high gear and we are getting ready for Q4. What are you doing for yourself to better manage your time? How can you enter September truly energized and ready to operate at full speed?

#WiseWords

Afternoons are the Bermuda Triangles of our days.

Daniel Pink, author

Worth the Share

When coaching clients, I often ask them “What time of day are you most productive?”. Knowing your most productive time of day helps you to operate more efficiently. You can tackle your most difficult work when you do it at your best time of day.

This article, by renowned author Daniel Pink, takes that exact approach. He calls those who work best in the morning “larks” or in the evening, “owls”.

Here are his seven tips for maximizing peak performance:

  1. Determine your chronotype which is based on your sleep patterns
  2. Find your peak, for example most larks work best midmorning
  3. Know when your “slump” is coming, for many of us it is right after lunch (no surprise there!)
  4. Recover, this is when you rebound and have another spurt of productivity later in the day
  5. Set goals, for example, start something big on a Monday or at the beginning of the quarter
  6. Get energized, Pink recommends recognizing the mid-point as a motivator
  7. Keep the end in sight, once you can see the end, it is easier to push through

To read more detail, go to this link from Masterclass.

And Finally...

What is your best time-management tip?

From calendar blocking, to saying “no”, to creating to-do lists, or using Calendly for scheduling, there are many options.

If you really want to take time management to the next level, check out this list of the 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools from LifeHack. There are some perennial favorites on the list like Evernote and several new apps too.

Have a good couple of weeks,

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 info@mjrcac.com

Do you live with intention?

Do you live with intention?

Yesterday, a sales leader that I coach wanted to talk about how to manage the “fire alarms that are going off constantly”. “Dave” said that there is so much going on at work, everyone is running around like crazy and nothing is getting done. It sounded like mice running in a wheel.

We talked about Dave being more intentional with his communications so that his leadership understands the implications of their fire drills, allowing his team to get more focused and move the business forward. With all that is happening in the economy, things will get even rockier. How can we prepare for that?

Be intentional. One big area for Dave to work on is to be more intentional with his time. What about you? Do you take time to reflect, to strategize, to focus? Stop being a mice on a wheel.

#WiseWords

Intention is more than wishful thinking—it’s willful direction. It is a philosophy of the heart put into practice, a consistency of conscious patterns of thought, energy, and action. Through intention, we see more and create with more clarity, passion, and authenticity.

 Jennifer Williamson, author

Worth the Share

For many years, I have been reading Seth Godin’s daily blog. He often shares powerful insights and helps me to think of things differently. This blog really hit home. It’s a fresh way of thinking about knowledge work and how video conferencing, technology and the pandemic have forever changed what it means to work remotely or in the office.

So many companies want people to come back to the office because C-Suite executives think we must go back to the way it was. They miss the “water cooler conversations.” Seth argues that those hallway meetings were a happy accident of being in the office but making people come back to the office to assuage the CEO is a false reason. Be intentional about how to build culture in this new era. As a leader, what can you do to intentionally build a healthy culture in this remote/hybrid world?

Read Management with Intent to learn more.

And Finally...

Speaking of intention, it is really useful to be intentional with our words. In my July 20th blog post, I used the word “expert” when referring to client’s level of expertise as director of engineering. The word “expert” works for me but it may not work for him. When you think of your work, how would you describe your level of competence?

Are you skilled, adroit, adept or qualified? Maybe you prefer experienced, proficient or able?

When talking about ourselves, it is important to use language that is intentional and authentic.

Be intentional when establishing your remote work policy, in the language you use, in how you spend your time and throughout your life.

Enjoy these last weeks of 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 info@mjrcac.com