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Perspectives on the World We Work In

Meet 10 Ex-Special Forces Operators Ready for Hire at Your Company

“Please let me know if you would have an interest in dropping into a room of Navy SEALs and coaching them.” That was the message I received on July 21, 2016, from someone named Philip Dana through a LinkedIn request to connect.

“Hi Phil,” I replied, “You certainly know how to get my attention. Let’s meet for coffee.” That was the beginning of my journey this year into the world of The Honor Foundation. THF is a non-profit organization headquartered in San Diego that helps former Navy SEALs and other elite U.S. Special Operations Forces transition out of military service and into the corporate world.

THF is a world-class, 120-hour program started by CEO Joe Musselman out of a combination of desperation and drive to serve others. In 2012, Joe was faced with the most difficult transition of his life. He had enlisted in the Navy with a dream to become a Navy SEAL. While in training one day, Joe sustained a serious injury. By nightfall, he was medically discharged. The next 12 months led Joe through rehabilitation and the discovery of dozens of other members of the SEAL community who were in serious need of help to transition out of military service and into the civilian world.

As he dug further into the issue, Joe found that just 13% of SEALs had job offers when they got out of the service. He compared this to the 98% of Wharton MBA graduates who received 2-3 job offers upon graduation. Even those SEALs who did find employment often moved from job to job in the first five years after transitioning. That was the injustice that Joe set out to correct in 2013.

Last week, THF graduated its 9th group of Special Operations Forces in a ceremony at San Diego’s Qualcomm Stadium. 32 men and 1 woman who have served our country with honor now have the tools they need to confidently enter the workforce with pride and a sure-footing. They are prepared to take the leap of faith that the civilian world will honor their service, embrace their elite training, and place them in positions worthy of their talents.

It is my honor to introduce you to ten members of the Group 9 graduating class, and to invite you to learn more about how you can employ, mentor, coach or donate to this amazing organization.

 

1. Phil Gilreath, “Seeking new challenges in the San Diego area.”

philgilreathAreas of Interest: Operations Management, Project Management, Leadership, Strategic Planning

Experience: From leading small units to leading an operations department and the strategic long term planning for an organization of over 750 people, I have had the opportunity to work with amazingly talented performers at multiple organizational levels.

Education: Bachelor’s Degree, History

Availability: Phil transitions from the Marine Corps in December of 2016

 

2. Bob Howell, “I want to create a better environment for my kids through environmental overhaul.”

bobAreas of interest: To provide ethical leadership to organizations that have a responsibility to improve the environment.

Experience: Responsible for task management and primary assignments of a 3500-person work force with direct oversight of 8 global subordinate units. Chairman of the “Issue Resolution Board” to establish priority and tracking of operations initiatives. Negotiated or approved contracts with suppliers, distributors, federal and state agencies. Approved all out of budget and discretionary funding.

Education: The Honor Foundation

Availability: Bob transitions from the Navy in January of 2017

 

3. Anthony Alessi, “Thrives in competitive environments with high stakes.”

anthonyAreas of Interest: Technology as a solution to environmental change. Renewable energy, emerging technologies, automation in vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles, wireless charging, and a people-centric corporate culture.

Experience: Collaborated effectively to integrate tactics within a team in order to maximize unit cohesion, standardize operating procedures and expand capabilities.

Education: Bachelor’s Degree, Economics

Availability: Anthony transitions from the Navy in March 2017

 

4. Blake Campbell, “I love to win, but love winning with my teammates even more.”

blakecambellAreas of interest: A small business with good values, fun, and down to earth culture.

Experience: Unsurpassed focus and motivation. Ability to lead, mentor, and continuously learn. Proven management of million dollar + assets with zero discrepancies.

Education: Bachelor’s degree, Business Strategies (2017)

Availability: Blake transitions from the Navy in March of 2017

 

 

5. Louis Godeaux, “Cross-Functional Team Leader, Senior Program Manager”

louisAreas of Interest: Seeking a leadership position in a visionary organization that values cutting-edge designs and solutions.

Experience: Senior technical program leader responsible for integration management across multiple cross-functional teams. Analytical activator with demonstrated ability to solve complex problems in high-stakes environments.

Education: Bachelor’s Degree, Information Technology-Security

Availability: Louis transitions from the Navy in March of 2017

 

6. Nate Lampert, “Proven operational leader, who motivates, empowers, and develops teams to achieve in difficult environments.”

natelampertAreas of Interest: To work for a dynamic company where people first, innovation, and environmental stewardship are essential ethos of the organizational culture, preferably in the Pacific Northwest.

Experience: Senior operational advisor to executive leadership in formulation of plans, personnel requirements, and procedural guidance covering a personnel network over 12 Pacific nations from Sri Lanka to Indonesia. Managed security and human resource operations for a 100-man unit; established training plans and directed the operational activities for information gathering and employment of new technologies.

Education: Bachelor’s Degree, Intelligence Studies

Availability: Nate transitions from the Marines in the summer of 2017

 

7. Kelsy Holle, “Determined to create positive changes in the educational opportunities of students with autism.”

kelsyAreas of Interest: Non-profit, education and training

Experience: As a strategist I have synthesized data to create tangible, actionable information and increase operational capabilities. As a personnel manager I identified each person’s strengths to allow each member of the team to perform at their highest level.

Education: Bachelor’s Degree, Psychology

Availability: Kelsy transitions from the Navy in October of 2017

 

8. Floyd McClendon, Jr., “Experienced, inspirational public speaker with a purpose to positively affect peoples’ lives. Passionate about initiatives that will develop those who are struggling socially, mentally, and/or physically.”

floydjrAreas of Interest: Currently seeking a position in the public service sector with the long-term aspiration of holding a seat in the legislative and/or executive branch.

Experience: Director of Operations responsible to plan, coordinate, command, control, and conduct operations in support of operations, strategic initiatives, and contingencies.

Education: Bachelor’s Degree, Liberal Arts

Availability: Floyd transitions from the Navy in the fall of 2017

 

9. Mark Mason, “A proven leader who loves to network and inspire teams toward shared goals. Excited about the opportunity of solving enterprise-wide problems. High-performance organizational experience building a mastery of a diverse range of technical, tactical, and strategic skills, which transfer seamlessly to private sector needs.”

markmasonAreas of Interest: To pursue a career that allows him to continue to build, train, and lead high performance teams, preferably in the San Diego area.

Experience: 26 years of Team Building, Organizational Leadership, Servant Leadership, Public Speaking, Curriculum Design, Conflict Resolution, Leadership Development, Risk Management, Operational Management, and Data Analysis

Education: Master’s Degree, Organizational Leadership

Availability: Mark plans to transition from the Navy in December of 2017

 

10. Ray Jobi, “I am a passionate learner who adds the extra to ordinary.”

rayjobiAreas of Interest: Project Management, Commercial Real Estate

Experience: Repeated success guiding sizeable, cross-functional teams in the design and development of critical projects in a dynamic environment. The ability to forge solid relationships with strategic partners and build consensus across multiple organizational levels.

Education: Bachelor’s Degree, Organizational Leadership (2017)

Availability: Ray transitions from the Navy in October of 2018

 

If you feel inspired to employ, mentor, or coach a member of this elite group, or be a THF sponsor, please fill out this online form directly on their website. Someone will be in touch with you soon. Thank you for your support!

 


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Doing Well by Doing Good: 12 Companies That Got it Right in 2016

The strongest organizations in the world achieve sustainable success largely because they understand the value of culture as a competitive advantage. Whether you nurture it or not, you have a culture. It may be empowering or toxic. Either way, the results are showing up on your bottom line.

Here are the 12 companies we featured in our monthly CEE News this year that show how doing well and doing good are not mutually exclusive.

1. Clifton’s Cafeteria, Los Angeles, CA, “The cafeteria of the golden rule”

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Walk into Clifton’s Cafeteria in downtown Los Angeles, and you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into Throwback Thursday and ordered a side of nostalgia. Opened in 1935, Clifton’s was billed as the world’s largest cafeteria. At the height of the Depression it became famous as “The Cafeteria of the Golden Rule.” Clifford Clinton, its proprietor, had a policy to never turn anyone away, whether they could pay for their hot meal or not. He wanted to give back to the community and feed the soul. [Read more]

 

2. Radio Flyer, Chicago, IL, “Well-structured onboarding program impacts culture”

Amy Bastuga’s first day at Radio Flyer started with a simple task – to onboard a new employee. That task evolved into a program that forever changed the culture of the 99-year-old iconic toy company. Nine years later, Bastuga, now Vice President of Human Resources, leads the company’s “New Flyer Orientation & Assimilation.” Since its inception, the program has had a direct impact on performance. Turnover dropped from 21% to 6%, and employee satisfaction scores reached 100% in 2015. [Read more]

 

3. Taylor Guitars, El Cajon, CA, “Passion for sustainability”

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What do Neil Young, Taylor Swift, and Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi have in common? They are all fans of Taylor Guitars. With Andy Powers helping with the day-to-day business, Bob Taylor is free to follow his passion for sustainability. With worldwide forest acreage dwindling, Taylor is committed to harvest wood in an environmentally friendly manner, while improving the quality of life for forest-dependent communities. [Read more]

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4. Hunter Industries, San Marcos, CA, “People first”

When you think of manufacturing companies in America, visions of machines spitting out smoke among sooty-faced laborers may come to mind. That image dominated U.S. manufacturing companies for much of the 20th century. But, if you walk into Hunter Industries today, you might mistake it for a fitness club. Best known for its irrigation products, San Marcos, California-based, Hunter’s 1,500+ employees also create and distribute landscape lighting and custom manufacturing products in 125 countries around the world. The company prides itself on taking care of its people first. In turn, Hunter employees give back through loyalty, innovation, and community service. [Read more]

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5. Warby Parker, New York, NY, “No company is an island”

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You’re probably already familiar with TOMS Shoes One for One® program. For ever pair of shoes purchased, TOMS gives away a pair to a child in need. You may not be as familiar with Warby Parker, a hip eyewear company founded in 2009 by four Wharton Business School friends. Warby Parker was started with two goals in mind: 1) to disrupt the $65 billion eyewear industry by taking out the middle man and making eyeglasses affordable, and 2) to create a for-profit business that could have a massive positive impact on the world. [Read more]

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6. Patagonia, Ventura, CA, “A new style of responsible business”

California-based Patagonia has corporate social responsibility (CSR) hardwired into its business model. This outdoor clothing and gear company has caring for the planet embedded in its mission statement: “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” As Yvon Chouinard, the company’s founder wrote in his book Let My People Go Surfing, “Patagonia exists to challenge conventional wisdom and present a new style of responsible business.” [Read more]

 

7. Whirlpool’s “Real Whirled” program, Stevensville, MI “Giving employees a sense of camaraderie”

What would happen if we chose a diverse group of eight people in their late 20’s and early 30’s to live together in a condo for two months? That’s the question that launched MTV’s ‘The Real World’ series in 1992. It’s similar to the question that Jim Gilmore, author of The Experience Economy asked in 1998 when Whirlpool tasked him for help with flagging recruitment and high turnover in their sales department. While the approach may be unconventional, the results are impressive. [Read more]

 

8. McKinney Advisory Group, San Diego, CA “Servant leadership culture”

mckinney-alliance-logo-png-01To instill a passion for purpose, the best leaders in the world focus on aligning mission, culture, and brand to empower high performance and maximize employee engagement. One such leader is Damian McKinney, Founder and CEO of the San Diego-based corporate real estate firm, McKinney Advisory Group. Over the past five years, McKinney has dedicated himself to creating a culture of servant leadership in the firm. [Read more]

 

9. The Container Store, Coppell, TX, “The 1 = 3 rule”

The $35,000 gamble that founder and CEO Kip Tindell made in The Container Store in 1978 has really paid off – for him and for his employees. Today, the business has grown to an impressive 67 locations in the U.S. and reports annual sales of nearly $800 million. Equally impressive is the fact that Tindell has accomplished all this while paying his retail employees nearly twice the industry average. [Read more]

 

10. Broetje Orchards Prescott, WA, “Community based business model”

Ralph Broetje grew up on a small farm in Yakima, Washington, tending chickens and caring for the family orchard. When he was 15, he heard a missionary from India speak about the suffering of children in his country. Something sparked in Ralph that day — a dream to have his own orchard and help children in India. Like many teenage dreams, it faded. But after lying dormant for over 20 years, it began to take root. [Read more]

 

11. SC Johnson Racine, WI, “Goodwill of the people”

scjohnson_logoPledge, Windex, Raid, Drano, and even Ziplock Bags are just a few of the dozens of products that come from a single company in Racine — SC Johnson. Since 1886, SC Johnson has grown from a small parquet flooring company to a thriving global enterprise with products in virtually every country around the world. This year marks the company’s 100th anniversary. Not only can the Johnson family take pride in that, but also in 12 decades of employee-centric leadership practices. [Read more]

 

12. Bain & Company Boston, MA, “A Bainie never lets another Bainie fail”

“Best People, Best Culture, Best Training.” That’s what many employees say about Bain & Company, the Boston-based management consulting firm, founded in 1973. With consistent top national rankings on websites like Glassdoor and Vault we were curious to learn more about what employees loved about Bain & Company’s culture. Here are three employee responses from a 2015 internal survey on culture. [Read more]

 

Interested in getting more content like this? Subscribe to CEE News!

CEE News is designed to help you with the challenges you face every day by sharing infographics, white papers, best practices, and spotlighting businesses that are getting it right. I hope you’ll subscribe to CEE News and it becomes a resource that continually adds value to your walk as a leader. If I can be of assistance in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

 

 

10 Leadership Books for Your Christmas Wish List

Don’t get stumped when someone asks you what you want for Christmas this year. If you need some titles to add to your wish list, we’ve gathered our top picks.

From memoirs to case studies to historical dramas, you’ll find inspiring accounts to satisfy your need to read. Here’s a list of books that we think are well worth the turn of the page:

 

grittogreat1. Grit to Great: How Perseverance, Passion, and Pluck Take You from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Linda Kaplan Thaler and Robin Koval

What it’s about: You don’t have to be brilliant or incredibly talented to become successful. In fact, those qualities may work against you when you face resistance. To push past barriers, it’s far better to have Guts, Resilience, Initiative and Tenacity.

Why pick it up: It’s a quick read (143 pages) and packed with both case studies and research. Plus, you’ll find ‘Grit Builders’ at the end of each chapter.

 


leadership-essential-writings-by-our-greatest-think-1235601-8daa1584783e110feb752.
 Leadership: Essential Writings by Our Greatest Thinkers by Elizabeth D. Samet

What it’s about: Elizabeth D. Samet, West Point English Professor, brings her experiences as a teacher of soldiers, her ear for excellent writing, and her belief in the vital role of the humanities in cultivating leaders.

Why pick it up: For the perspective of great writers and thinkers about the essence of leadership. Machiavelli, Macbeth, and Ghandi are just a sampling of the 102 writers and works included that you’ll find both ancient and crucially current.

 

therightkindofcrazy3.  The Right Kind of Crazy: A True Story of Teamwork, Leadership, and High-Stakes Innovation by Adam Steltzner and William Patrick

What it’s about: The unbridled elation at NASA when the Curiosity rover successfully landed on Mars in 2012 – and the inside account of the ten years of hard work, zero margin for error, and seven minutes of terror that led up to that moment.

Why pick it up: It’s a story about the triumph of human ingenuity over staggering odds. Share it with your team to inspire them to break down seemingly impossible problems into smaller, more manageable ones.

 

originals-book4.  Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant

What it’s about: From Martin Luther King, Jr. to the founder behind uBeam, it’s an inspiring account how successful non-conformists bust myths, speak truth to power, and avoid groupthink without getting sidelined.

Why pick it up: Fresh research, counter-intuitive insights, status quo busting, lively writing, and practical calls to action.

 

 

 

theboysintheboat

5. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

What it’s about: The 1936 U.S. Olympic rowing crew team. It’s a story of how team commitment, determination, and optimism can create history. Spoiler alert: they win the gold.

Why pick it up: To help your team replicate the “swing of the boat” – to work in such perfect unison that no single action by any one is out of synch with those of all the others.

 

 

turnaroundtheship6. Turn the Ship Around: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders by L. David Marquet

What it’s about: A ship’s transformation through personal accounts and moments in which U.S. Navy Captain Marquet realized his own failures and successes.

Why pick it up: It’s “The Hunt for Red October” meets Harvard Business Review.

 

 

 

thewrightbrothers7. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

What it’s about: The dramatic story of two courageous brothers who launched the Age of Flight despite overwhelming odds. To quote Wilbur Wright: “No bird soars in the calm. If you want to take off, you have to take off into the wind. You need the wind. The wind will make you.”

Why pick it up: It’s written by a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and blends the best of history with an inspiring story of how to meet resistance head on to achieve your goals.

 

 

shoedog8. Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight

What it’s about: A candid and riveting account from the man behind the swoosh about the company’s early days and its evolution from a garage business into one of the world’s most iconic, game-changing brands.

Why pick it up: It’s a straight-from-the-source account about the early years of Nike, and the ragtag group of misfits who harnessed the power of a shared mission and deep belief in the spirit of sport.

 

 

thepowerparadox9. The Power Paradox by U.C. Berkeley Professor Dacher Keltner

What it’s about: Two decades of research and breakthroughs in neuroscience confirms that power actually re-wires the brain and suppresses our ability to empathize. The paradox: it is the ability to empathize and do good for others that puts us in the power seat to begin with.

Why pick it up: To learn how brain chemistry is altered when we gain power, and how to re-wire the brain and beat the power paradox.

 

 

superbosses10. Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent by Sidney Finkelstein

What it’s about: A revealing study about how some people are able to propel not only their companies – but also their protégés – to great heights.

Why pick it up: A good boss hits his goals and leads his team. A superboss blows away her goals by building an army of new leaders. Which would you rather be?

 

Some of the principles shared in these books you may already know but need reminding of. Others will give you the latest research and insight you help you tackle your greatest challenges of 2017.

Question: What books would you recommend to others that have helped you along your leadership journey?

 

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Looking for one more gift idea to add to your wish list?
Reserve your seat for the Re:Imagine Leadership Summit – a one-day immersion in transformative leadership crafted to inspire and engage you. We’re offering $100 the regular rate now through January 1, 2017!

How to Give Thanks Like a Boss

We’ve all come across them. Those leaders who people naturally gravitate toward. Though it seems counterintuitive, the magnetic effect these leaders have on people is not because of how people feel about the leader. It’s because of how the leader makes people feel about themselves.

These leaders have mastered two basic facts about people. Fact 1: Every person matters. Fact 2: Every person wants to feel valued.

As Thanksgiving approaches, this is an excellent time to review the skills necessary to express meaningful gratitude to your team. Here are three skills that will yield the highest return:

1. Write a Note. Do not. I repeat. Do not mistake a thank you email for the real thing. Handwritten thank you notes are about relationships. Emails are about transactions. When you take a little extra time to write a personal message to team members to acknowledge your gratitude, you are also acknowledging that they are more than just a tool. They are human beings who matter and are valued. If your note writing skills are rusty, here’s a quick primer to get you started.

2. Make It a Habit. When it comes to business, we can fall into the trap of not seeing people who come in, get the job done, and don’t require constant attention. We take these employees for granted and just assume they don’t need a show of gratitude. To turn your attention to those who don’t ask for it, take a few minutes each morning to make a list of three team members you appreciate and why. Over time, you’ll begin to cultivate of habit of putting yourself in a gratitude mindset.

3. Give People Sincere Appreciation. People who don’t feel appreciated are often the first to burn out or jump ship. It only takes a minute to recognize a team member for making a positive contribution. But, doing it right requires more than the occasional “Attagirl!” Give timely and specific praise to show your team members how you value their contribution. Here’s a quick demo to show you how.

One final secret to mastering leadership gratitude – you can’t fake it. Leaders who genuinely care about their team members will invest the time to help each one feel valued. Make it a habit to sincerely recognize their efforts. Every day is an opportunity to help people see the best in themselves and feel like a valued contributor to the team.

Question: Have you had a leader who gave you a handwritten note of thanks? What did you learn from that experience?

Leadership rolls downhill. What standards do you model daily? Join me and Dr. Tony Baron at our next Re:Imagine Leadership Summit April 27 in San Diego! 

Success doesn’t happen by luck. It’s intentional. Without a leadership roadmap, your team will wander aimlessly through shifting priorities leaving them confused about the purpose of their jobs. Come to a one-day immersion in transformative leadership crafted to inspire and engage you. Have questions? Email me directly at snasim@executiveexcellence.com.

Being Misunderstood: 4 Ways to Respond Instead of React, by Dr. Tony Baron

Over the past 10 years, I have been honored to explore and debate the essence of power with Dr. Tony Baron. Specifically, how power impacts leadership, how leadership impacts culture, and, ultimately, how culture impacts performance. 

With a double doctorate in psychology and theology and decades of executive coaching experience with Fortune 100 companies, you can imagine the depth and breadth that Tony adds to the subject. We are currently co-authoring a book that combines Tony’s scholarship and my straight talk about the challenges faced by today’s leaders. Meanwhile, I will be sharing guest posts by Tony over the next several months to give you a taste of what it’s like to have an amazing colleague and friend like Tony Baron. – Sheri Nasim


Nobody likes to be labeled. And nobody likes to be misunderstood. Given the context of our national dialogue recently, this may be a good time to talk about how to respond, instead of react, when we are misunderstood.

I am not talking about times when there is a lack of clarity in communication. I am talking about when others judge you based on misinformation they have received (or conceived) that results in them questioning your character.

The injustice hurts deeply. But, as leaders, our ultimate responsibility is to not to react, but to respond by modeling the behavior we would like to see in others. It is a true test of how we use power. Will we use our position to force others to bend to our will? Or, will we use our position to be practice the discipline of transformative leadership?

Here are four ways that you can practice transformative leadership and respond, rather than react, when others attack your character:

1.   Practice the Discipline of Not Having the Last Word

A transformative leader influences others by modeling appropriate behavior not only in positive situations but also in periods of criticism. When people attack your character, they often want to engage you in a verbal volley. Don’t do it. Transformative leaders have the discipline to not have the last word.

2. Practice the Discipline of Humility

An attack on your character may immediately send you into defense mode. If you have power, you may be tempted to use that power to punish the person who is attacking you. However, a transformative leader must refrain from presuming you can silence another person, and refrain from letting others know how wronged you feel. Humility comes from the word “grounded.” A grounded person reflects deeply to see what truth may be in the midst of falsehoods, what path may be used for reconciliation, and what direction you need to follow.

3. Practice the Discipline of Civility   

A transformative leader understands that people who attack their character often betray their own fears and anxieties in the process. When people spew words at you in anger, recognize the pain or anxiety behind their words. Pause to reflect before you engage, then practice the discipline of civility. In Reclaiming Civility in the Public Square, civility is defined as “claiming and caring for one’s identity, needs, and beliefs without degrading someone else’s in the process.”

4. Practice the Discipline of Wisdom

Knowledge is a compilation of things true, maybe true, and definitely not true. Knowledge can lead to pride and a sense of superiority over others. Wisdom, on the other hand, is insight into reality. Reality is the only thing a transformative leader can count on. People of wisdom seek reality – not illusions, innuendos, or ill feelings.

So, to those who feel you have been misunderstood, take courage in the midst of adversity. Seek reconciliation. Practice the discipline of not having the last word, humility, civility and wisdom.

Have you felt misunderstood recently? Which of these practices might help you respond instead of react?

 

Dr. Tony Baron is Distinguished Scholar-In-Residence at Center for Executive Excellence and an internationally recognized speaker, writer, corporate consultant, professor and the San Diego Director of Azusa Pacific University Graduate School of Theology.

Dr. Baron is the author of six books, including The Art of Servant Leadershipand a workbook manual co-written with noted author and business leader Ken Blanchard.  Throughout his career, he has worked with hundreds of companies including Ford Motor Company, Coca Cola Company, Warner Brothers Studios, and Boeing, among many others.

Driven by the premise that excellence is the result of aligning people, purpose and performance, Center for Executive Excellence facilitates training in leading self, leading teams and leading organizations. To learn more, visit us today at www.executiveexcellence.com or subscribe to receive CEE News!

 

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Learn more about how you can build a roadmap for transformative leadership at our next Re:Imagine Leadership Summit April 27 in San Diego! Success doesn’t happen by luck. It’s intentional. Without a leadership roadmap, your team will wander aimlessly through shifting priorities leaving them confused about the purpose of their jobs. Come to a one-day immersion in transformative leadership crafted to inspire and engage you.

 

3 Things to Help You Lead Your Team Through Today’s Election

According to a recent article in The Atlantic, today marks the 597th day of the U.S. presidential election. A Pew Research study published in July found that 60% of Americans were exhausted by the barrage of election news. And that was four months ago.

Since then, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton accepted their parties’ nominations, the DNC Chair resigned, the candidates went head-to-head in blistering debates, a tape was leaked of Trump talking about groping women, Clinton walked a legal tightrope over her email scandal, the North Carolina GOP office was firebombed, and Trump is keeping the world in suspense about whether he will accept the election results.

Your team is not immune to the stress reported by 52% of Americans over the presidential election. Regardless of the election results at the end of today, regardless of the fallout that will take place over the next weeks, some members of your organization (possibly even you) will be very unhappy with the results.

During times of uncertainty, it is the leader’s role to bring order to chaos, calm nerves, and manifest a non-anxious presence.  Here are three things you can do today to keep yourself and your team focused:

1. Do a walkabout. Leadership builds confidence. Leaders routinely have to make important decisions, often under conditions of uncertainty, that affect many people over a long period of time. Operating under those circumstances helps leaders navigate the peaks and valleys that come with the job. But, your team members may not have a built-in compass. The stress of deciding who to vote for, or of deciding not to vote, can weigh heavily on them today.

Make sure that you build time into your day to do a walkabout. Letting your team see you in the halls will serve as an instant stress relief. You’ll remind them that they are not alone, and you will get through this together.

2. Picture a monkey, an ice cream cone, and an Italian graduate student. In the late 1990’s neuroscientists in Parma, Italy, were studying cells in a monkey’s brain that fired only when the monkey raised its arm. One day, a research student walked into the lab with an ice cream cone. When he absentmindedly raised the cone to his mouth, the monkey’s brain cells for raising its own arm were triggered. Researchers have since found that the brain is filled with neurons that mirror not only the actions, but also the emotions, of those around us. These mirror neurons operate as antennae, allowing us to pick up signals in our social world. When we detect the emotions of another person through their actions, our mirror neurons replicate those emotions.

As you go about your day today, your team will be picking up on your signals. Remember that both your verbal and non-verbal patterns are being imitated and reflected by your team members.

3. Talk about the Johnson Wax Company. In 1886, Samuel Curtis Johnson was a parquet floor salesman in Racine, Wisconsin. One day, he realized that there were more floors than there were products to keep them clean. He mixed his first batch of Johnson’s Wax in his bathtub, abandoned the flooring business and started selling wax as fast as he could make it. Since then, five generations of Johnsons have led the now $10 billion company, making it one of the oldest family-owned businesses in America. This year marks SC Johnson’s 100th anniversary. The company has weathered the Great Depression, World War I, World War II, the Civil Rights Era, 9/11, and 23 presidential administrations.

Whatever happens today, life will go on. Let your team know that this is a season, not a catastrophe.

Question: Are your team members feeling anxious today? What are you doing to help them through it?

 

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CEE News is designed to help you with the challenges you face every day by sharing infographics, white papers, best practices, and spotlighting businesses that are getting it right. I hope you’ll subscribe to CEE News and it becomes a resource that continually adds value to your walk as a leader. If I can be of assistance in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Simon Sinek Explains the Trust Gap in Your Organization

In the third most popular TED Talk of all time, Simon Sinek inspired leaders to reconnect with their organizational why. In just 18 minutes and with a rough sketch of concentric circles on a flip chart, Sinek shared what he said was “probably the world’s simplest idea.” Most organizations focus on what they do and how they do it. But only the most inspired organizations have leaders who start with why they do it first. And for companies like Apple, and people like Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Wright Brothers, starting with why was the fundamental difference between success and obscurity.

The Trust GapIn a less popular but equally profound TED Talk, Sinek turned again to the flip chart. In “First why and then trust,” Sinek illustrates why organizations must clarify and codify their why. Imagine a simple x, y graph. At the (0,0) coordinates, where x and y meet, is the genesis of an organization. At (0,0), x equals what and y equals, well, why. At that genesis, the what and the why are perfectly aligned. When a company launches, the founders are inspired by a big idea. They put some money together, and off they go.

At first, it’s easy for the founders to share their vision with their handful of employees. Customers are soon attracted and life is good. The what and the why lines grow in parallel on the chart. But, as Sinek explains, “the single biggest challenge that an organization will ever face is its own success.” Here’s why. The more successful an organization becomes, the more people it has to hire based on what they do. The company’s what keeps growing. “The problem is,” Sinek explains, “why they do it starts to go fuzzy.” And as the what and why lines separate, a trust gap occurs.

Consider this example that Sinek gives about trust in America since World War II:

The country rallied together to fight in a war in which they were united and unified behind a common cause. After the war, veterans took advantage of the GI Bill to get low-interest loans or cover tuition to attend college or trade schools. When they entered the job market, they applied the same sense of loyalty to their companies as they had to their country. “The problem is,” says Sinek, “as we started to become more affluent, and the wealth of country started to grow, that sense of purpose — that sense of trust — didn’t grow with it.”

publictrust
Sinek goes on to describe how trust continued to fall through the 1960’s (the hippie movement), the 1970’s (the Me generation), the 1980’s (think greed is good), and the 1990’s (the dot.com bubble). Over the decades, the country became more and more affluent, but lost touch with its sense of purpose.

Here’s the key takeaway for your organization: the answer to why your organization exists can no longer be simply, “to make a profit.” If you don’t codify, clarify and deploy your why, you’ll have an unsustainable business model and no competitive advantage.

Question: Do you know your organization’s “why”?

 

Do you know how to codify, clarify, and deploy your organizational purpose? Get 15% off our 2-hour workshop on What’s Your ROP? (Return on Purpose) between now and January 31, 2017. Get a list of available dates and learn more about the program by emailing me directly at snasim@executiveexcellence.com. [Read more about our Purpose Alignment services.]

 

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is designed to help you with the challenges you face every day by sharing infographics, white papers, best practices, and spotlighting businesses that are getting it right. I hope you’ll subscribe to CEE News and it becomes a resource that continually adds value to your walk as a leader. 

3 Lessons on Diversity from President Lincoln

If you ask a third grader what she knows about President Lincoln, she might draw you a picture of a tall, lanky, bearded man wearing a black suit and a stove top hat. If you ask a ninth grader the same question, he’ll likely recall that Lincoln was America’s president during the Civil War. When pressed, he may add that the Civil War was fought between the north and the south over the issue of slavery.

But, if you turn back the pages of American history, you’ll find that President Lincoln saw the Civil War in a much larger context. Not only was America wrestling with the question of slavery, Lincoln felt the Civil War was nothing short of a test of whether a country was capable of governing itself. The world was watching and waiting for the experiment to crumble. The republic set forth by the founding fathers was on the brink of failure – an asterisk in history – an 80-plus year rebellion that would inevitably revert to rule by monarchy.

Lincoln knew that preserving the union could only happen by tapping into the power of diversity. Here are three lessons in diversity that today’s leaders can take from Lincoln’s playbook:

1. Assemble a Team of Rivals.  In her book, Team of Rivals, author Doris Kearns Goodwin describes how Lincoln brilliantly assembled a cabinet from his Republican opponents to preserve the Union and win the Civil War. None of these men had high regard for Lincoln. But, Lincoln did not want a group of “yes” men to agree with his every decision. He wanted a cabinet of passionate advisors who could shed light on the complex issues facing the country, were free to question his authority, and who were unafraid to argue with him.

The Lesson. Surround yourself with smart people and encourage them to challenge your ideas. Relying on people who think just like you can lead to group think and rubber stamp leadership. Neither you nor your organization will benefit.

2. Allow Your Ideas to Evolve.  Lincoln was unsure what to do if slavery ended. For most of his career, he saw slaves as a group of people who had been uprooted from their own society and unjustly brought to America. He saw no way for freed slaves to live peaceably among white Americans. Instead, Lincoln advocated for colonization – sending a majority of the African-American population to settle in Africa or Central America. In the last two years of his life though, he began to see the possibility of diversity. Freed slaves were joining the Union Army and serving in the Navy by the thousands. Black leaders argued that African-American were as much natives of the country as whites. By the time the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863, all mention of colonization was eliminated.

The Lesson. When you take a leadership position, you become privy to information that you did not have before. Don’t let your bias keep you from holding onto outdated opinions when presented with new facts from diverse sources.

3. Listen Intently, Then Be Decisive.  Lincoln’s cabinet often debated slavery late into the night. Finally, he made up his mind. He brought the cabinet together and told them he no longer needed their thoughts on the main issue, but he would listen to their suggestions about how best to implement his decision and its timing. Some members still did not support Lincoln’s decision, but they felt they’d been heard.

The Lesson. If you wait to make a decision until you have perfect information, it’s no longer a decision, it’s a foregone conclusion.

The most successful leaders know how to leverage the power of diversity. They seek out diverse perspectives, evolve their opinions as they get new information, and know when to stop collecting input and be decisive.

Question: Which of these lessons in diversity can improve your leadership journey? 

 

Join us at our next Re:Imagine Leadership Summit April 27 in San Diego! Success doesn’t happen by luck. It’s intentional. Without a leadership roadmap, your team will wander aimlessly through shifting priorities leaving them confused about the purpose of their jobs. Come to a one-day immersion in transformative leadership crafted to inspire and engage you.

 

Interested in getting more content like this? Subscribe to CEE News!

CEE News is designed to help you with the challenges you face every day by sharing infographics, white papers, best practices, and spotlighting businesses that are getting it right. I hope you’ll subscribe to CEE News and it becomes a resource that continually adds value to your walk as a leader. If I can be of assistance in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

6 Things Successful Change Leaders Know

Can you feel it in the air? For the past few weeks, everything around us has been changing. Temperatures are falling and the sun is setting earlier. Leaves are changing in color to vibrant reds and deep yellows. There’s no denying that fall is here and winter is just around the corner. As humans, we are hard wired to accept the inevitability of seasonal changes. Though we can manage extreme weather changes of four seasons a year, why are we so resistant to organizational changes?

If you’re engaged in the effort to set a new direction, orchestrate innovation, or mold a culture, here are six universal truths that can guide you along the way.

1. People don’t resist change. They resist being changed. As management guru Peter Senge suggests, resistance is greatest when change is inflicted on people. If you can give people a chance to offer their input, change is more likely to be met with enthusiasm and commitment.

2. A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Big goals can seem overwhelming and cause us to freeze. This simple truth, attributed to Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, is a reminder to get moving. Take the first step, however small it may seem, and the journey is underway.

3. If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. Many change efforts fall short because of confusion over the end goal. In the Lewis Carroll classic, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice asks the Cheshire cat which road she should take. The cat’s response reminds us to focus on the destination first, then choose the best path.

4. Change is a process, not a decision. It happens all too often. Senior executives make pronouncements about change, and then launch programs that lose steam. Lasting change requires an ongoing commitment to the process reinforced by constant communication, tools, and rewards.

5. Do not declare victory prematurely. In his book, The Heart of Change Field Guide, author Dan Cohen suggests that short-term wins do not necessarily equal long-term success. Cohen writes, “keep urgency up and a feeling of false pride down.”

6. Be the change you wish to see in the world. These famous words attributed to Gandhi reminds us all — executives with associates, political leaders with followers, or parents with children — that one of our most important tasks is to exemplify the best of what the change is all about.

Any form of change requires an adjustment period, and some are easier than others. While seasonal changes are predictable and tend to go over smoothly, organizational changes cause more chaos. Leaders trying to implement changes in the workplace can take heart in these truisms, settle in and enjoy the journey.

 

Question: Chances are, you’re going through a change effort now. Which of these truths can you apply today to help achieve success?

Breaking Bad: How Gaining Power Can Make You Lose Your Soul, By Dr. Tony Baron

Over the past 10 years, I have been honored to explore and debate the essence of power with Dr. Tony Baron. Specifically, how power impacts leadership, how leadership impacts culture, and, ultimately, how culture impacts performance. 

With a double doctorate in psychology and theology and decades of executive coaching experience with Fortune 100 companies, you can imagine the depth and breadth that Tony adds to the subject. We are currently co-authoring a book that combines Tony’s scholarship and my straight talk about the challenges faced by today’s leaders. Meanwhile, I will be sharing guest posts by Tony over the next several months to give you a taste of what it’s like to have an amazing colleague and friend like Tony Baron. – Sheri Nasim


Breaking Bad, is a universally acclaimed award-winning drama built on chemistry, cancer, and crime. It’s also the story of the erosion of a man’s soul as he gains power. As the protagonist, Walter White (played masterfully by four-time Emmy Award winner Bryan Cranston) is a mild mannered high school chemistry teacher who is struggling financially.

In the first episode of Season 1, White is stunned to learn he has inoperable lung cancer. Soon thereafter, his wife tells him she is pregnant. Desperate to make sure his family will not be financially insolvent after he is gone, White turns his chemistry skills into what will catapult him into becoming a meth lab king. A series of criminal circumstances rapidly moves White from valuing family above all to an earthquake-like destruction of his values as he gains more and more power.

Scott Meslow, The Atlantic writer, believes that “Walter White was always a bad guy.” Whether or not you agree with Meslow, you would likely agree that power has a psychological, emotional, and spiritual impact on all humans.

As someone with over 40 years of experience coaching leaders, including 75 of America’s Fortune 100 companies, the impact of power on the soul is a subject that I am forever dealing with. Here are five critical factors that I have identified that can propel people in power to lose their soul. Each one is progressively damaging and damning.

1.    Transferring Status Affirmation

Power creates status. Status can lead to a sense of superiority. When the affirmation by employees is no longer enough, some leaders seek to transfer and expand their status affirmation to the public. They join elite clubs, they make showy donations to non-profits, they get write-ups in the media. The soul’s appetite for affirmation can be insatiable.

2.    Increasing Social Disconnectedness

The research is definitive. Employees tend to withhold information from leaders out of fear. They fear their comments will be taken personally. They fear they’ll seem disrespectful. They fear they’ll lose their job. When people take leadership positions, they can become disconnected from their employees and, ironically, from the very group they are put in a position to serve. The soul is no longer nurtured by the truth.

3.    Empathy Deprivation

U.C. Berkeley Professor Dacher Keltner documents how leaders can become deprived of empathy in his new book, The Power Paradox. Keltner’s research confirms the axiom that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” The reason for this corruption lies in neuroscience. Under absolute power, the frontal cortex is suppressed by the neural transmitters that produce empathy. When we lose the ability to empathize, we treat people like tools or overhead instead of fellow human beings. We disconnect with them as people with dignity, families, and their own personal dreams. The soul is deprived of empathy.

4.    Downplaying Personal Responsibility

Leaders with a growing appetite for power maximize the mistakes of others and minimize their own impact on performance. They launch activities for others without considering the resources needed to accomplish their ideas. They procrastinate then switch priorities in mid-project. When they learn about delays in progress, these leaders blame others and question the loyalty of their team members. The soul is separated from response-ability.

5.    Reality Distortion

As the soul dies and nurturing relationships erode, the power-hungry leader begins to change the narrative to justify his actions. I have seen leaders fire highly qualified, loyal employees and accuse them of being incompetent rather than listen to their counsel to face reality. I have seen leaders constantly shuffle key players like a shell game to hide the reality that the person who needs to go or change significantly is himself. The soul loses touch with its why.

 

You don’t have a soul, you are a soul. Don’t let the need for power remove you from the critical care your soul needs.

Question: Is your soul dying a little bit each day?

 

Dr. Tony Baron is Distinguished Scholar-In-Residence at Center for Executive Excellence and an internationally recognized speaker, writer, corporate consultant, professor and the San Diego Director of Azusa Pacific University Graduate School of Theology.

Dr. Baron is the author of six books, including The Art of Servant Leadershipand a workbook manual co-written with noted author and business leader Ken Blanchard.  Throughout his career, he has worked with hundreds of companies including Ford Motor Company, Coca Cola Company, Warner Brothers Studios, and Boeing, among many others.

Driven by the premise that excellence is the result of aligning people, purpose and performance, Center for Executive Excellence facilitates training in leading self, leading teams and leading organizations. To learn more, visit us today at www.executiveexcellence.com or subscribe to receive CEE News!

 

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Join me and Sheri Nasim at our next Re:Imagine Leadership Summit April 27 in San Diego!
Success doesn’t happen by luck. It’s intentional. Without a leadership roadmap, your team will wander aimlessly through shifting priorities leaving them confused about the purpose of their jobs. Come to a one-day immersion in transformative leadership crafted to inspire and engage you.

 

6 Women Who Put the Leadership Question to Bed

I’m taking some time off writing new blogs this month to enjoy Women’s Leadership Month. In honor of the theme, I’m reposting some of my favorite blogs to celebrate women in leadership. Today’s post is to recognize women who have served as strong leadership role models. Their insights can motivate both women and men to set aside their fears and become better versions of themselves. I hope that they will inspire you too.

“It’s sometimes surprising to discover the cumulative progress women have made in recent times. Just think. What field has not been enriched by females – in art, theatre, finance, politics, law, entrepreneurship, science? The list is as impressive as it is enlightening. To realize that we are no longer pioneers. The startling exception. The first to fly, or swim, or sail prodigious distances in bad weather. No longer the first to be elected, the first to discover cures in medicine, or the first to untangle problems in science, math or physics. No. We are multitudes, and society is clearly the better for our peaceful invasion. There is no modernity and no justice without the talent, passion, and the steely intelligence of women.” – Toni Morrison

No matter what your political views are, the question of women in power was brought to the international stage during last year’s election season in the U.S. Below are insights from six women driven by their inner strength, passion, and drive to make a difference. Their examples can serve to motivate both women and men to set aside their fears and become better versions of themselves.

 

alicia_keys1. Alicia Keyes, 15-time Grammy award winner

Her experience: Strong women like my mother showed me that you can claim what you want out of your life. I loved the concept of rebel – of challenging the mainstay.

Her advice: When you erase fear from your vocabulary, you can’t fail.

 

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aimeemullins2. Aimee Mullins, Record-breaker at the Paralympic Games in 1996 and fashion model

Her experience: I am a double amputee, but whether or not I am disabled is a subjective opinion. I determine what I am capable of doing.

Her advice: Adversity isn’t an obstacle that we need to get around in order to resume living our life. It’s part of our life.

 

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LOS ANGELES - JULY 3: Attorney Gloria Allred during a portrait session for attorney Gloria Allred and daughter television anchor Lisa Bloom on July 3, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

3. Gloria Allred, Discrimination attorney and feminist lawyer

Her experience: In civil rights, we are not politicians, but attorneys. What we seek is often not popular at the moment, but later it is. I have a duty to help victims win change.

Her advice:  If people call you names, see that as a victory, because you know they don’t have a good argument on the merits.

 

.

 

"I've always been an introverted person," Shonda Rhimes says, and she found the fame that came with her television successes to be "daunting."

4. Shonda Rhimes, Producer of 3 Emmy-nominated shows and author of The Year of Yes

Her experience: I was dictating stories into a tape recorder when I was 3 years old. After college, I moved into my sister’s basement and tried to figure out what I wanted to do. There was no plan. It was both breathtaking and terrifying.

Her advice: Dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.

 

.

 

sarablakely5. Sarah Blakely, American businesswoman and founder of Spanx.

Her experience: I had $5,000 in savings, an idea, and some cellulite. The moment you have an idea, that is when it’s very vulnerable. It’s also the moment that we want to turn to a friend, a co-worker, a husband or wife, and share it. And out of love and concern, million dollar ideas get squashed.

Her advice: Be willing to make mistakes. The worst thing that can happen is that you become memorable.

 

 

 

madeleine-albright6. Madeleine Albright, Former U.S. Secretary of State

Her experience: When I became Secretary of State, the challenge was not so much how foreign leaders would regard me. They knew that I represented the United States (and I arrived in a big plane). In some ways, I had more problems with the men in our own government.

Her advice: It’s a wonderful time of opportunity, but don’t forget how hard it’s been for women. We need to respect each other, and we need to help each other.

 

Question: What women have inspired you to become a better version of yourself?

 

 

Interested in getting more content like this? Subscribe to CEE News!

CEE News is designed to help you with the challenges you face every day by sharing infographics, white papers, best practices, and spotlighting businesses that are getting it right. I hope you’ll subscribe to CEE News and it becomes a resource that continually adds value to your walk as a leader. If I can be of assistance in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

6 Women Who Put the Leadership Question to Bed

“It’s sometimes surprising to discover the cumulative progress women have made in recent times. Just think. What field has not been enriched by females – in art, theatre, finance, politics, law, entrepreneurship, science? The list is as impressive as it is enlightening. To realize that we are no longer pioneers. The startling exception. The first to fly, or swim, or sail prodigious distances in bad weather. No longer the first to be elected, the first to discover cures in medicine, or the first to untangle problems in science, math or physics. No. We are multitudes, and society is clearly the better for our peaceful invasion. There is no modernity and no justice without the talent, passion, and the steely intelligence of women.” – Toni Morrison

No matter what your political views are, the question of women in power has been brought to the international stage during this election season in the U.S. Below are insights from six women driven by their inner strength, passion, and drive to make a difference. Their examples can serve to motivate both women and men to set aside their fears and become better versions of themselves.

 

alicia_keys1. Alicia Keyes, 15-time Grammy award winner

Her experience: Strong women like my mother showed me that you can claim what you want out of your life. I loved the concept of rebel – of challenging the mainstay.

Her advice: When you erase fear from your vocabulary, you can’t fail.

 

.

 

 

aimeemullins2. Aimee Mullins, Record-breaker at the Paralympic Games in 1996 and fashion model

Her experience: I am a double amputee, but whether or not I am disabled is a subjective opinion. I determine what I am capable of doing.

Her advice: Adversity isn’t an obstacle that we need to get around in order to resume living our life. It’s part of our life.

 

.

 

LOS ANGELES - JULY 3: Attorney Gloria Allred during a portrait session for attorney Gloria Allred and daughter television anchor Lisa Bloom on July 3, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

3. Gloria Allred, Discrimination attorney and feminist lawyer

Her experience: In civil rights, we are not politicians, but attorneys. What we seek is often not popular at the moment, but later it is. I have a duty to help victims win change.

Her advice:  If people call you names, see that as a victory, because you know they don’t have a good argument on the merits.

 

.

 

"I've always been an introverted person," Shonda Rhimes says, and she found the fame that came with her television successes to be "daunting."

4. Shonda Rhimes, Producer of 3 Emmy-nominated shows and author of The Year of Yes

Her experience: I was dictating stories into a tape recorder when I was 3 years old. After college, I moved into my sister’s basement and tried to figure out what I wanted to do. There was no plan. It was both breathtaking and terrifying.

Her advice: Dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.

 

.

 

sarablakely5. Sarah Blakely, American businesswoman and founder of Spanx.

Her experience: I had $5,000 in savings, an idea, and some cellulite. The moment you have an idea, that is when it’s very vulnerable. It’s also the moment that we want to turn to a friend, a co-worker, a husband or wife, and share it. And out of love and concern, million dollar ideas get squashed.

Her advice: Be willing to make mistakes. The worst thing that can happen is that you become memorable.

 

 

 

madeleine-albright6. Madeleine Albright, Former U.S. Secretary of State

Her experience: When I became Secretary of State, the challenge was not so much how foreign leaders would regard me. They knew that I represented the United States (and I arrived in a big plane). In some ways, I had more problems with the men in our own government.

Her advice: It’s a wonderful time of opportunity, but don’t forget how hard it’s been for women. We need to respect each other, and we need to help each other.

 

Question: What women have inspired you to become a better version of yourself?

 

 

Interested in getting more content like this? Subscribe to CEE News!

CEE News is designed to help you with the challenges you face every day by sharing infographics, white papers, best practices, and spotlighting businesses that are getting it right. I hope you’ll subscribe to CEE News and it becomes a resource that continually adds value to your walk as a leader. If I can be of assistance in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out!