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Are you a chicken or a duck?

In this time of anxiety and adversity, we need leaders who build trust, are authentic and calm during the storm.

We are all feeling the pressure, angst and frustration.
I see two types of leaders at this moment.
The Chicken
  • They ride the emotional roller coaster and show it on their face
  • They are squawking at everyone and let them know they are feeling the pressure
  • They waste a lot of emotional energy
  • They have trouble attracting people to work for them
The Duck
  • They paddle hard under the water on solving problems and are calm on top of the water
  • They ask good questions and provide a safe space for brainstorming challenges
  • They focus on what they can control and waste less energy
  • They are a talent magnet
We’ve all had the moment where we are the chicken. It takes focus and practice to operate with grace.
Defeating Average.

The Moment Before You React


“When we’re growing up there are all sorts of people telling us what to do when really what we need is space to work out who to be.”
-Ellen Page


I heard someone recently say, the space between when something happens to you and when you react to it is your opportunity to choose and grow.  It may be a millisecond, it may be a few seconds, but being present and aware of who you are and who you want to be in that moment is the compass to guide you there.
Defeating Average.


Trust you can connect your dots

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

– Steve Jobs 

I have always believed in paying it forward. Early in my career, I met two mentors who showed me the way. They shared with me, “give before you get and you will get more than you could ever imagine.”

This is one of my rules that continues to serve me well.

I can connect my dots back to decisions I made to follow their guidance and honor the advice they instilled in me.  I may not have known it then but I was seeding a lot of people who wanted me to be successful.

I have had many occasions in the last two years where people I have helped 10-15 years ago for no other reason than paying it forward, have come back and offer to support me in a meaningful way.

When you plant those seedlings, the roots form, and over many years, one tree turns into two, and as you continue to water ten. At some point, a forest that bathes with the nurturing and support you need to achieve your dreams may appear.

Defeating Average.


Can you make a difference to just one?

One day, an old man was walking along a beach that was littered with thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore by the high tide. As he walked he came upon a young boy who was eagerly throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one.

Puzzled, the man looked at the boy and asked what he was doing. Without looking up from his task, the boy simply replied, “I’m saving these starfish, Sir”.

The old man chuckled aloud, “Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?”

The boy picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water, and turning to the man, said, “I made a difference to that one.”

What can we learn from the Starfish Parable?

We all have a difference at this moment we can make.

What is your starfish?

Defeating Average.


Are you bargaining? 

I find myself each morning noting two things that will improve the quality of my day. Working on intaking only 20 minutes of social media in the evening and being in bed by 930pm to get a full night’s sleep. 


More than 20 min of social media reading gets me wrapped around the axle in this divisive environment and drives angst prior to sleep. I don’t sleep as well. 

Similar to bedtime. I need more sleep these days. I learned a few years ago to focus on managing my energy and not my time. 

Less energy = less quality of work and life enjoyment. 

Here the problem. I bargain with myself. 

Just 10 more minutes of either I say. 10 min turns into 20 or 30 minutes and affects my frame of mind. 

What’s the solution?

A seedling does not turn into a towering tree overnight. The roots need to grow down before it can rise up out of the earth. For each intention, I note setbacks and success and the impact it has on a daily mindset, and how it supports growing the rings of the tree.

I’m still experimenting and still learning and making progress. 

Defeating average. 


Trust builds better outcomes

I had the pleasure of spending some time last week with an old colleague, David Droogleever on his podcast Softer but Stronger.
We shone sunlight through the magnifying glass and put the spotlight on Trust.
We discussed:
  • Leading from your values
  • Being a trust detective
  • Dissolving reticence to team building and mitigating trust leakage
  • How trust build better outcomes
  • What an example of a north star is and how to find it.
We had a good conversation and recommend taking in his podcast.
Defeating Average.


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Why making your bed first thing in the morning may be the one thing you are missing

My friend interviewed Admiral Bill McRaven recently. He was the 4-star seal commander in charge of the Bin Laden raid. They discussed a speech he did at a graduation ceremony at the University of Texas at Austin so I went back to listen to it.

It 16 minutes and highly recommend it. You can click on the link above. 

Here are his 10 recommendations on living a great life. 

1. Make your bed. Doing one thing right first thing in the morning leads to doing more small things right. One success leads to more success. Life is about doing the small things right. 

2. Find people to help you paddle.  Seals had to row for hours to storm the beach during one test. Only the teams rowing at the same cadence and speed would make it. You can’t accomplish anything alone. 

3. Respect everyone. They had seals from all different backgrounds and diversity which made everyone better. Each person has unique skills that contribute. Respect all people. 

4. Life is not fair, move forward. Upon inspection of uniforms each day, someone would always fail and have to do extra laps in the ocean. It would happen to everyone over their time at BUDS (Seal Training). It was by design. Accept the obstacles and move forward. 

5. Don’t be afraid to fail often. Learn from failure and let it raise the bar for you every time you compete. Play the long game. 

6. Take risks. Everyone climbed down a 200-foot rope until one day a new recruit slid down it face first and broke the course record. 

7. Swim with Sharks. To complete their training each seal had to complete an overnight swim through shark-infested waters. Be brave, don’t back down from sharks/bullies, and punch them in the nose when encountered. 

8. Step up at the toughest times. On a training mission, each seal needs to swim under the dark keel of the ship where they can’t see their hand in front of their face. They need to be calm and trust themselves. 

9. One person can spark hope. When seals were surviving in a cold sandpit training exercise overnight they were losing motivation. One seal started singing to keep the spirits up. They sang all night and passed as a team. 

10. Never ring the bell. There was a bell in the middle of the compound. To pull out of Seal training and all the misery, all you had to do was ring the bell. With a group of people supporting you, face adversity and don’t ever give up and ring the bell. 

There are lessons to be learned from warriors that push themselves to the brink and beyond. 

Defeating Average.


This is the moment for action

As Tony Prophet, our Chief Equality Officer at Salesforce, recently shared, “There is no perfect way to reach out to the black and brown community. I had a friend who called me recently and said, ‘I don’t know what to say, Tony, I just want to let you know I am thinking about you and support you.’ That was very meaningful to me.”

Tony has made a huge contribution to our company and community. He also gave all of us space and permission not to overthink the perception of our support, but to lean into action and just do it. 

In the last week, I’ve reached out to my black and POC friends to let them know that I’m thinking about them and their families and that I am here to support them. Each time wasn’t graceful but it was authentic. 

I’ve always been a proponent that the only way to grow is through getting comfortable being uncomfortable. Talking about the systemic racism that has plagued the US (and my own country of Canada) can be awkward. Talking and understanding our roles during this monumental moment in civil and human rights is hard, but necessary.

This is a moment for all of us: 

  • It’s time for change 
  • Silence is no longer an option 
  • We have people in our community who are anxious and reeling with the events of the last few weeks (probably even longer).  We need to reach out and support them. 

What can we be asking ourselves?

  • We all need to look at ourselves in the mirror and ask how can we do better? 
  • How can we lean into action? 
  • How can we defeat the status quo?
  • How can we make this country better for our children’s generation?

This is a moment of crisis that is an opportunity to change this country for the better. Let’s all come around the same table and move forward together. 

If you want to see a good dialogue, watch Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff in conversation with Mellody Hobson (Co-President Ariel Investments), Ebony Beckwith (Chief Philanthropy Officer, Salesforce), and LL Cool J.

Watch Here


Can you operate in chaos?

There are moments in time when we have the opportunity to rise like a phoenix from the ashes.  Stronger, smarter, and more powerful.

We have never been to a more anxious moment in most of our lifetimes. It could feel like your effort and ideas don’t matter, things won’t change, and we can’t connect with the people we love. 

But remember this:

A community organizer, lawyer, and junior senator from south Chicago lead us through the 2008 economic crisis and is viewed as one of the most popular Presidents in history.

Many of the innovative companies in the world were created in recessions including Netflix, Air BnB, Trader Joe’s, Microsoft, Disney, IBM, HP. 

13 Massive Companies That Started During a Recession

Special mention to Salesforce which was started the year before the bubble burst. 

There is always opportunity in crisis. 

  • Look for gaps in the market. 
  • Partner with positive people and get around the same table to create change. 
  • Believe in yourself and the examples of inspiring leaders past and present. 

Know this:

Like a Phoenix, you are getting stronger, smarter, and more resilient every day in 2020. Be present and look forward to who you will be in 2021. 


The Unknown Superpower

Be where your feet are. 

I heard a professional athlete said this recently. It reminded me about what Michael Jordan’s teammates said about him in the blockbuster documentary “Last Dance.”

Roughly they said, “most people think Jordan’s superpower was his drive, commitment, and competitive nature. All true. However, his true difference-maker was his ability to be present, in the moment, in the biggest moments, when things really mattered.” He was cool, calm, and collected in practice and all day for game day. 

Especially in these times, being present is crucial. Not anxious about the future (although challenging I admit) and not living in the past. 

Can you feel the sunlight on your shoulder?

Can you hear the wind rustle the leaves?

Can you taste each morsel of food?

How can you be where your feet are?