All posts filed under: Leadership

10 Letters a Day

Staying connected to those on the ground as you hit higher altitude is critical to make sure you don’t lose sight of the people you serve. I’ve been reading former President Barack Obama’s new book “A Promised Land”. One of the things he instituted on day 2 of his presidency was to read 10 letters a day from a diverse set of Americans. He would respond in writing on an official note card. It helped bust the filter he was getting from those at a high level in government, making sure he was connected to the ground. Lots of good nuggets and historical learnings no matter which side of the aisle you are on. Similar to what I got from reading Reagan, George HW, or George W, historians will say the present day often rhymes with the past. A lot can be learned from comparing how you thought in the past and what you think you know about the people you serve. If you are on the ground giving feedback an honest accounting in both …

Take the time to prioritize your day 

“To be like the rock that the waves crash over and eventually the ocean falls still around.” – Marcus Aurelius We are all getting whipsawed in the storm. Challenges with family, covid, homeschooling, lack of connection. It’s really hard!    We spend 14-16 hours awake and often spend less than 10-15 minutes addressing how we will approach the day.    Many top performers I talk to advise:   Win the morning Put your oxygen mask on first before helping others  Front-load the day Be intentional on what you are committed to  Be equally clear on what you are not    If you don’t plan the day, the day will run you…all over the place.   I am off on PTO the rest of the week, recharging with the family!   Stay safe, wear a mask.    Defeating average in crisis.    Colin

Sleep is the new status symbol

In these times sleep has never been more important! We are all worn down, looking into screens or strained, each on our own personal journey. Quoted from a great NY Times article “studies upon studies have shown how bad sleep weakens the immune system, impairs learning and memory, contributes to depression and other mood and mental disorders, as well as obesity, diabetes, cancer and an early death.” “Sleep is the single most effective thing you can do to reset your brain and body,” Dr. Walker of U.C. Berkeley said. “We have a saying in medicine: What gets measured, gets managed.” “I can see sleep being another weapon in competitive parenting and career-building,” Ms. Salzman said. Some top reminders from a recent podcast appearance of Dr. Walker. Reduce Blue light from all devices. Leave them out of the room or put in a drawer Wear an eye mask to blackout light or use blackout blinds for your room Wind down an hour before bed and turn off the TV Read a book before bed If you …

Action does not always mean traction

One of our senior leaders shared this week. In an action-oriented world, sometimes we ride the emotional roller coaster or expend more energy than we need.  Sometimes we need too: Be curious: listen more than speak Reflect: on why you may be getting push back  Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes: Ask, what it’s like to be them? 2 percent rule: Where is he or she 2 percent right? It’s never been more important to understand both sides.  Defeating Average. Colin

Character, Empathy, Decency

There is a sea change upon us. It’s time to get back to civility and what’s possible instead of division and angst. Kamala Harris breaking barriers as the first woman and woman of color in the White house! Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes. Understanding that everyone is on their own journey with their own struggles. A large part of this country doesn’t feel like they have a voice or they are getting left behind. Character Matters What do you stand for and what are your values? How do you want to look back on 2020 and how you showed up? Empathy Deep listening and seeking to understand. Are you open to other points of view? Decency Integrity, honor, and respect for others. Joe may not be everyone’s choice. Joe may not be perfect, but he’s perfect for this moment. Defeating Average. Colin

Be Brave, Bold, and Courageous

“Be Brave, Bold, and Courageous. Change cannot wait for some other person.” – John Lewis, Civil Rights Icon I was listening to a great episode of Fareed Zakaria – Global Public Square on “How to Lead” from some of the world’s best leaders past and present.  This was a great way to think about leadership as we head into a tumultuous week ahead.   Doris Kearns Goodwin on past Presidents. On Roosevelt: “He had an empathy that people loved him for and he was really able to communicate and bring people together.” “The Rock of democracy would founder when people begin seeing each other from different regions or races and religions as the other rather than as common American citizens.” On Lincoln: “He wrote hot (angry and emotional letters) and would set them aside for a couple of days and many times not send them. He knew he needed to be objective and when anger and emotions did not serve.” General Stanley McChrystal “Leadership is now about you. It’s a relationship with people. Not a title or …

How you start the day impacts how you finish

I read recently someone said, “like a church sermon lasting the whole day long, so does your intentions last the entire day.” When you make your intentions clear in the morning, like hearing a great sermon or speech, words touch you on the shoulder later in the day. They remind you of the main point of a speech, like Ronald Reagan’s Farewell, Shining City on a Hill, or Barack Obama’s speech on Grace in Charleston. For fans of historical speeches, a great new podcast by Presidential historian Jon Meachum, It Was Said, that features both. I challenge each one of you to name your intentions each morning for 30 days and journal against how you progress towards a life of grace. Defeating Average. Colin

Question of the Decade

Saying 2020 has been a strange year is an understatement. When you are looking back from the eve of 2030, how do you want to look back on how you showed up in 2020? I will take it one step further for those who have kids. When your son or daughter while studying this strange year in school asks you, what did you do to secure my future in 2020, what will you say? It’s never been a more important time to think ahead into the future while standing firmly with both feet planted in the present moment. Wishing you a great week ahead. Defeating Average. Colin

What Tess taught me about persuasion

My 28-month-old daughter Tess taught me a beautiful lesson about life recently. It reminded me of a fable I learned when I was a young boy. The North Wind and the Sun had a quarrel about which of them was the stronger. While they were disputing with much heat and bluster, a Traveler passed along the road wrapped in a cloak. “Let us agree,” said the Sun, “that he is the stronger who can strip that Traveler of his cloak.” “Very well,” growled the North Wind, and at once sent a cold, howling blast against the Traveler. With the first gust of wind, the ends of the cloak whipped about the Traveler’s body. But he immediately wrapped it closely around him, and the harder the Wind blew, the tighter he held it to him. The North Wind tore angrily at the cloak, but all his efforts were in vain. Then the Sun began to shine. At first, his beams were gentle, and in the pleasant warmth after the bitter cold of the North Wind, the …

How to build trust in meetings

Don’t waste people’s time. You will lose trust and it impacts your brand.  In the last month, I have been talking to a number of leaders on how to run productive meetings. One thing they all agreed on was it’s never been more important to use people’s time well.  People are stressed. They have less time. They need to focus on family and mental health.  What is the criteria for good meeting management: Set clear meeting agendas  Be clear on why you are holding the meeting and why people are there (include in the meeting invite) Tell people what you will talk about ahead of time and what the outcome of the meeting should be  Run the meeting on time and have a call to action in the last 5 minutes  Respect people’s time and do not run over. If you make people late for their next meeting they will blame you. 🙂 Defeating Average in meetings.  Colin