What’s the Difference Between Ignorance & Apathy?

June 10, 2019

What’s the Difference Between Ignorance & Apathy? I was recently at my son’s New Student Orientation day at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, and one administrator was telling the parents about how she works with new students to shift their mindsets from high school to college. One way to do this, she said, was to ask the students what the difference was between ignorance and apathy.  She said she got an interesting response from a student one time that went like this, “I don’t know and I don’t care!” First off, what a priceless answer, but after the room of parents composed itself, I really started to think about that question and what came to life for me when I reflected on the answer and its mindset. For me, as I thought about the question, answer, and subsequent mindset, I began to think about the word complacency! I can’t afford to be complacent in my work as I build my practice or the value I strive to deliver to those in my life.  In order for me to create, evolve, and make an impact, I cannot be complacent.  I cannot sit back and be satisfied, nor can I just sit and wait for opportunities to just show up. Years ago, that mindset would have scared me because it meant that I was always on and couldn’t celebrate or be happy.  And, for a long period in my own life, I was that person.  I feared that if I showed any sign of happiness or contentment for my work that I would fall behind. I learned that is not a healthy way to live or work towards my goals (not for myself or the people around me!). I’ve learned that I can chill, that I can celebrate wins, and be happy – and, most importantly, that I won’t lose my edge to be competitive, to create value, and drive forward! But, getting back to complacency … I’ve written that word on an index card as a visual anchor to keep me focused on making that call … sending that email … creating that piece of content in order to keep moving towards my goals – and, yes, still celebrating along the way! I’d love to know what word pops into your head when you think about this! Please share it in the post and let’s continue to motivate each other … if you’d like to see this video message, please click here and enjoy! Cheers to you!

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Shed Your Skin of Survival!

May 19, 2019

Shed Your Skin of Survival! We are living in an amazing time of greater awakening and personal awareness to “what could be?” Many are waking up to question that little voice in their heads telling them all the fear-based reasons they aren’t enough … Many more are harnessing the courage, strength, and vision to drive themselves towards greater opportunities – a greater life!   A greater life is purely defined by the individual, but I can tell you that it is definitely not a life of survival! It’s not a life of sleep walking!   New habits will create a new life.   Can you catch a glimpse of a vision that you can run towards? Can you put a name to the habits that no longer serve you in this new season?   Remember, habits are also the thoughts that we give credibility, acknowledgment, and belief to … habits are also our self-talk! The way that we speak to ourselves when thinking through choices of either staying in survival mode or breaking out to thrive in new ways.   So, what are you saying to yourself?   We can’t underestimate the power of that little voice in our heads … but here’s something to remember – the more we think about and move towards breaking out of our comfort zones to do more or be more, the louder that little voice will become … know why? Because that voice is rooted in survival! It’s fearful … it knows that if you listen to another voice – the one in your heart – that you will no longer need it … and, the truth is, you don’t!   Cheers to you shedding the skin of survival!

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Get Outside of Your Jar!

May 7, 2019

I recently spoke at a business owner summit and asked the audience how often they checked the finances of their company.  The answers ranged from quarterly and monthly to weekly and daily. Then I asked them why they check their finances? Their answers included “to get a baseline”, “to properly forecast spending” and “to see if there are any problems that could be coming and prepare.” All very responsible answers, I told them! Then, I asked “when was the last time you did a check on your reputation?” The room fell silent! You see, the finances are an external measure while our reputations hit us personally.  And, that usually freaks people out because it makes us vulnerable. However, within vulnerability comes immense strength – if you have the courage to step into it in order to grow, evolve, and make an impact. “It’s hard to read the label when you are inside the jar!” While a Reputation Audit can be done for an organization, I’ll focus this on you, the individual! Here are Four Key Steps to performing your personal Reputation Audit: Identify Your Core Group – Choose a small group of people that you trust will tell you what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear. Trust is critical for this exercise because when we know the intentions are for your growth, then we know the feedback is honest and for our greatest good! Ensure that these people represent different aspects of your life – work, social, faith, community, family. Communicate Your Goal & Ask Questions – These are individual conversations, so let them know that you want to check in on your reputation, that you want to ensure it’s strong or whatever your goal in this may be. Then have some questions ready to go, for example: “Do you know my values by the way we interact?” “Do my actions align with my values?” “Do I live into my commitments?” “Am I responsive?” “What is my reputation?” Since you will be getting answers from people in different areas of your life, you may begin to see trends where people are having/seeing similar experiences with you.  Listen. Don’t Talk! – Stephen Covey once said that people often listen with the intent to reply, not with the intent to understand. Don’t try to “explain” your behavior when people are giving you feedback. Just listen and take notes. Again, this is where those behavior trends may start to emerge and you may see gaps and opportunities appear.  Perhaps you realize that the decisions you rationalized as “not a big deal”, were in fact a big deal to those around you! You won’t know until you ask and listen. Make A Plan & Act – Now, gather the information and target one or two areas that you can begin to work on.  Start with small steps to ensure that your actions and decisions are aligning with your values.  By doing this, with consistency and over time, you can make an impact and then move on to other areas.  Continue to think ‘long game’ on this! There is no […]

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Jussie Smollett – Empire Crumbling Around Trust & Reputation

February 24, 2019

As more explosive news reports roll out about actor Jussie Smollett’s alleged fabrication of his racial and homophobic attack in Chicago, people are left with questions such as, “Where is the truth?” “What is the truth?” “Why did he possibly do this?” Questions that are now in the hands of the Chicago court system. I’ve been asked lately how I would go about rehabbing Jussie’s reputation as this epic story of trust and reputation unfolds.  My answer is simple, “Nothing.  This is not the time to be focusing on rehabbing his reputation.” Jussie is in the crucible right now.  This is the period of time when his actions and words are vital.  How he acts, what he says, how he reacts during the court hearings will determine how he emerges and how rehabbing his reputation could be managed. As many are quick to judge and the court of public opinion sways, we should focus on one of the key issues here – trust.   If what the police allege is true, that Smollett orchestrated this attack to increase his public awareness in an effort to negotiate a raise, then this will become an epic story of betrayal of trust! “There are three things you can’t hide from – the sun, the moon, and the truth.” – Confucius We are living in an age where only 30% of Americans believe that people are trustworthy. So, while the lawyers in Chicago build their cases, let’s look closer to home and reflect on how we are building or busting trust in our daily interactions! We are all responsible for trust in every interaction we have. Here are three actionable ways that we, as leaders or individuals, can build and strengthen trust today. 1. Pursue Understanding, Not Responding – How often do we listen to others and focus on what we are going to say instead of truly listening to understand their perspective and how you got to the current state? Asking more questions will allow you to better understand the situation and collaborate on action-oriented solutions. 2. Own Your Mistakes – As leaders we set the tone and expectations for our teams. It’s too easy for us to say that we are “running fast” and “have a full plate” and therefore rationalize our mistakes to others.  What example does that set for those you are leading? Remember, what they see is what they expect and, ultimately, what you get.  3. Keep Your Commitments – Following through on your commitments is critical.  Commitments are promises and whether you keep them or break them, they become an underpinning component of trust. If you find that you can’t keep your commitments, then you need stop saying, “yes” so much! Perhaps you need to delegate more? Perhaps you need to better manage your time? Keeping your commitments will always build trust! Yes, we are human and make mistakes.  So, these are also great strategies for rebuilding trust! Only you can change your situation! I’ll keep sharing reputation management insights and strategies as the Jussie Smollett case unfolds.  In the meantime, put these three strategies into play and see […]

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Doing the Right Thing!

February 4, 2019

Doing the right thing! Often easier said than done. We have the choice, or maybe better positioned as opportunity, to do this each day but what choice do we make? Does it depend on the stakes? Does it depend on who is impacted? Does it depend on what it would take to fix the situation versus just sweeping it under the rug? I experienced this recently with my son – and it was a great life lesson (for us both). On a late Sunday evening, a moving truck drove down our street and completely ‘pancaked’ the driver’s side of the car.  Literally every inch of the car, from front bumper to rear bumper and both front and rear wheels, were dented, gouged or cut down.  The picture doesn’t do justice to the damage, but the entire left side of my son’s car needed to be replaced! But, I noticed a note under the windshield wiper.  The person whose moving truck had ‘pancaked’ our car came back and left their contact info. What? This person actually took responsibility? Here’s the kicker – when I spoke with the person, I asked where they had moved into our neighborhood.  The response? “I didn’t. I was moving from Maryland to Alabama and we stopped in Huntersville for the night. We got lost and ended up in your neighborhood.” This person had so many reasons to become vapor. Really, they could have just drove off and went about their business. I had to ask why they decided to come back … the answer, “I was taught to do the right thing no matter how big or small the situation.” Who are the people in your life doing the right thing? How are you modeling this to yourself, your family, your organization, or your team?

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Was Anyone Spotting for John Skipper?

March 24, 2018

I feel for John Skipper, former ESPN chief.  It’s hard not to, in some capacity, when you see someone’s life work unplugged and unravelled.  But here is where my mind goes after reading his fall-from-grace story – he was not alone. I grew up watching ESPN and I know a lot of what I came to love about the ESPN brand and sports was a direct result of John’s efforts and passion. As a professional, I also had the privilege of working with ESPN on numerous occasions with NASCAR, NHRA, B.A.S.S., and other sports properties.  I can tell you that the people who worked there reflected John’s attitude and vision – they were first-class people. Now, I also believe that we make and must stand by our choices.  And, like John, we are not alone. In racing, we have spotters.  These people have an elevated perspective of the race track and tell drivers what is happening in their blind spots and how to navigate through wrecks happening ahead of or around them.  There is a remarkably high level of trust between drivers and their spotters to ensure their safety and ultimately their success – as a team. I don’t know who John’s spotters were in his years of cocaine addiction, or if they tried to help and he ignored them.  But I can’t believe he was alone. Can we learn from this? Yes. Who are your spotters? Who are the small group of people in your life that are looking out for you?  The ones to tell you what you need to hear and not what you want to hear.  We may not like what they have to say, but if they are trusted, then we know from where their words are coming – and we need to listen. So, who are they? Can you rattle off their names right now?  Do they even know that you consider them your spotters? Who are you a spotter for in your life? We are all in this journey together and need each other to have our backs when we are operating in our blind spots. Career stage does not matter.  Life stage does not matter either.  We all need spotters and they need to know that we need them to shoot straight with us and that we will listen! John, I have no doubt you will rebound from this and be stronger than before!

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2 Critical Components to Rebuild a Reputation

February 4, 2018

I am often asked if a person or company can recover from a reputation crisis.  The simple answer is, “yes”, but the effort and discipline it takes to do so is not that simple and is solely up to the individual or the leadership of an organization to act upon two vital elements – consistency and time. While reputations are fragile, and once cracked can never quite be put exactly back together, recovery can be achieved if there is genuine and transparent acknowledgement of what was done, if there is clear and consistent behavior to make amends, and this is done (again) consistently over time. Robert Downey Jr., comes to mind when I think of a person who rose to prominence, fell, and then repaired his reputation to find success (and work in Hollywood) again.  Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol brand is another example of a brand that lost confidence among consumers, but through diligent and consistent efforts, earned that trust back to regain its place as a global category leader, and a product welcomed back in people’s homes. Consistency – the key here is to recognize what actions or behaviors led to the reputation issue, make the proper amends, and then outline the ways in which you or your company will move forward in an authentic way to demonstrate your intent to regain trust and reputation – day in and day out! Downey Jr., took time to rehab his body from the addiction to drugs while also nurturing his mind and spirit to focus on what would be meaningful in his life and surrounding himself with like-minded people.  People soon saw that he was consistently working to make amends and move forward in a positive manner.  I’m not saying that the Iron Man franchise would not have happened without him, but there’s no question that his involvement and talent made it a blockbuster! Time – people can be skeptical as well as forgiving, so the critical element here is consistent behavior over time.  Commitment to a vision of regaining reputation is what will drive the consistent behavior over time.  Repetition (not only in how I ended the last two sentences) is the key to turning skeptics into supporters and from supporters to potential advocates.  Tylenol’s emergence from the cyanide tampering in the 1980s is an example of not only acting quickly (another form of time – see this story for the power of time), but also how leadership focused on creating a tamper-proof solution that would continue to demonstrate trust and reliability over time. If you or your company have been caught in a reputation crisis, it does not signal the end!  However, it will take deliberate planning to outline what must be done differently, clear communication to your family, friends, colleagues, customers or other key constituents as to what will be done differently moving forward, and then ‘walking the walk‘ each and every day!  Easier said than done, but your future and your reputation are more than worth the work! Don’t you think?

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Crisis of Values

December 24, 2017

We have a problem.  That’s right, we have a problem.  It’s not someone else’s problem – it’s our problem as leaders. The floodgates have burst opened through traditional and social media channels on the subject of people in power abusing their positions by taking advantage of those further down the organizational chart.  The storylines read of sexual misconduct, harassment, and greed, to name a few behavioral trends. Have these stories been told because people are fed up and are ready to name names? Is it because there are more news outlets willing to cover these stories? Perhaps it just took one brave person to step up and tell their story for others to find the courage to do the same?  I believe it’s a combination of all of those and more.  However, what I also know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that these stories shine a spotlight on the crisis of values that we see in leadership. The word values is one that we grew up hearing about and were told to reflect upon, think about, and use in our daily activities to guide us through the maze of life.  What we are seeing is a significant disregard of values by people in positions of leadership and power.  This chasm between values and behavior is what I’ve seen time and time again when deconstructing crisis situations over my 25-year career. Media reports make us first-hand witnesses to the void in the individual’s value in themselves, their relationships, their intentions, and their legacies.  Ultimately their actions, not just from a year or two ago, but some accusations spanning decades, are all being judged in the court of public opinion delivering career-shattering verdicts. These power plays have been happening for thousands of years and are not isolated to people on the public stage.  And, these behaviors are not gender based either as I think about inappropriate male student/female teacher relationships that are just as much about position and power as a senior-level executive or influential TV talking head.  But in today’s world of instant information sharing and online lynch-mob trolling, the stakes are at an all-time high. In many cases, careers have been ended, families have been split, decades of work have been unravelled, and legacies forever tarnished. And this isn’t just an issue for those in the public eye.  I can think of a person in my life who was a very close friend and was fired from his job of 10 years for embezzlement, which ended with jail time and a divorce.  Can you think of a scenario in your life that has hit close like this? What could have stopped these missteps from occurring? Some cases may have required professional counseling, however, at the foundation of this is a lack of values – plain and simple. Our values should be at the core of who we are … or, at least they should be! Our values are not negotiable … or, at least they shouldn’t be! Our values are what make us stand up for what we believe even when not popular … or at least they […]

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“Signs, Signs, Everywhere There’s Signs!”

October 28, 2017

“Why didn’t I see that coming?” “How’d that happen?” “Why didn’t anyone tell me about this?” I was driving the other day and while stopped at a red light I looked over at the car next to me and saw a mother in the driver’s seat showing flash cards to her teenage son. As the mom continued to show him the flash cards, he continued to stare out the passenger seat window at the sky.  She began to shake them at him.  Fed up and visibly frustrated, she threw the cards in the back of the car by the time the light turned green!  Clearly this had been going on for a while and clearly she was angry that the boy was ignoring what she was trying to show him. What struck me about this scene was that this happens to us every day.  People try to show us something, tell us something, make us aware of something – and how often do we not listen? The reality is that we more than often hear what we want to hear, or worse yet, aren’t present when the person tells us something that might just help us avert disaster – whether that is to our career, our finances, a relationship or our reputations. I’m not suggesting we take every bit of advice from every person with whom we encounter.  However, I do suggest that we identify the core people in our lives whose insight and feedback matter to us.  These are the people who will risk telling us what we need to hear, not what we want to hear because they truly care about us. These are the people who will show us the flash cards while we are, perhaps, looking out the passenger seat window.  They may even shake them to get our attention. Ok, so here’s your sign … will you be that teenager and eventually have the flash cards thrown to the back of the car? Or, will you stop, be present and see and listen to what signs are being shown to you? As with most things in life, the choice is yours! For some additional thoughts on the power of being present, click here to read one of my favorite stories about my experience with Lenny Kravitz!      

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