Lessons from Gaga

As a singer, I am fascinated by the artists that are catching the public’s eyes and opening their pocketbooks.  And I personally am particularly drawn to those voices that are true vocal artists – not just studio produced – but people who actually have the pipes and the true artistic gift.  Stefanie Joanne Angelina Germanotta is a brilliant singer.  But not only can she sing, she has shown herself to be a truly gifted leader and marketer.

No matter what you may think of Lady Gaga’s music and persona, there is no denying that she has managed in just a few short years to position herself as an international icon.  With more Twitter followers than anyone on the planet and the world’s most successful Facebook page, she has established an extraordinarily successful branding second to none in her industry.  How did she do this so quickly?  It wasn’t luck – it was talent combined with bottom line business savvy. So, what lessons can we learn from this amazing women?  She has been touted as one of the most influential leaders of our day.  In the book, “What You Can Learn from Lady Gaga”, here are some lessons to consider.

Lesson One:  Find a mentor.  It was only after Gaga found a mentor that she was able to launch her career.  Mentors not only inspire but are links to worlds that you have yet to find and see and will open up all kinds of new possibilities.  Surround yourself with talent and give credit whenever possible.

Lesson Two:  Find your “fans”.  Knowing how difficult it was for new artists to get air time, Gaga courted the gay community and marketed to their fan base.  It was this single act that has created her greatest and most loyal fan base and was a tipping point in her career.  Lady Gaga has created a core following and courted them.  Define, charm and cultivate your niche and core customers.

Lesson Three:  Mess with your success. Although Gaga was selling out her shows, she was continually revising them until they were up to her standards.  Don’t be afraid to review your processes and change them to keep them fresh and on track.

Lesson Four:  Be open to inspiration.  Inspiration keeps you fresh, feeds ideas and energizes you.

Lesson Five:  Take risks.  Leadership is about being bold and breaking the mold.  Take a look at your organization or career and see where it may be stagnating and what actions are necessary to revive it.

Lesson Six:  Form an emotional bond with your customers.  Lady Gaga has a profound connection with her fans dubbing them her “little monsters”.  She has made them a part of her family and investing them in her career and success.  At her concerts she extols them to believe in themselves and reach for their goals and dreams.

Lesson Seven:  Know what you want.  Lady Gaga was possessed with becoming famous and every action supported that goal.  It may seem obvious to us but too often we slip into a reactive and passive mode.  Remind yourself daily of why you are in this career and business and do whatever it takes to make it happen.

Lessons from the Sandbox

This past weekend was Family Time with my children and their families. I love the dynamics of family and watching the interactions – especially among the little ones. Kids are so REAL and for someone like me who loves relationship dynamics, this was a mecca of opportunity for reflection.

What is most interesting is that many of the same skills we use to develop our children into thriving adults (or we learned as children) are the same ones we should use to LEAD in the workplace.

Here are 5 KEY LESSONS we can take from the Sandbox:

1) People model BEHAVIOR. The words you share are important but behavior will always trump them if they are inconsistent. How we act will always send the strongest message and it will be the one that is remembered.
Question to ASK: Are you modeling the behavior you want to see in others?
2) WORDS have impact. “Oh, be careful little mouth what you say.” People forget what you say but they will never forget how they were treated or how you made them feel. Being mindful of our impact with our words can either make or break.
Question to ASK: Are you choosing language that is meant to encourage, inform or empower?
3) Count to 10. Or 20 if necessary. And if you need to walk away to clear your head, do so. Reacting too quickly to a stressful situation can have devastating results. Stop and breathe and if possible take some time to respond to a contentious situation to allow the emotions to subside.
Question to ASK: How do I respond to a stressful situation with my co-workers?
4) Be HAPPY. OK, this sounds trite but the reality is positive attitudes breed positive results. Happy people handle stress more effectively and are more engaged in the workplace. The environment you create affects their innovation and willingness to perform. Become the most positive person you know and watch the results soar.
Question to ASK: How would your colleagues describe you to others?
5) Allow opportunity for LEARNING. Children learn best by doing and that may mean allowing them time to do things on their own – even if it means a lesser outcome or struggle. If you allow your team autonomy and offer input as needed, it can create an environment of engaged, empowered and innovative employees.
Question to ASK: Do I allow my team autonomy and offer encouragement when needed?

Most of life’s lessons have been taught in the sandbox. We may simply need to be reminded of them. After all, we’re really just Big Kids All Grown Up!

DO THE SIMPLE THINGS

Jim Rohn once said, “What’s simple enough to do, is simple enough not to do.”  Actually scheduling time for growth is a very easy thing to do…..just put it on the calendar.  The challenge, it’s also easy not to do. Life gets really busy, there’s so many important things that need your time.  It’s so easy to say, “I’ll do it later.”  It’s SO EASY not to do the things that could really help you get to the next level.

If you knew that simply taking 10 minutes a day to DO THE SIMPLE THINGS would get you to your goal, would you do it?

Simple doesn’t mean easy it just means simple.  It takes time and a focused energy to enact change.  And if it was simple, everyone would do it.  That’s what separates the champions from the “wanna-be’s”.  Champions do what others won’t.

Luck is often described as a time when opportunity meets preparation.  I have typically found that the luckiest people are the ones who are diligently preparing for success. Everything you want is within your reach when you make a choice to go for it.

What are the simple things that will help you perform better?  Make a list.  Schedule time.

DO THE SIMPLE THINGS.

Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy

happy new yearWhile attending a recent church service on the topic “Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy” I was reminded of the importance of choosing to be grateful. So here is my Top 10 list for why I have decided to count my blessing and Be Happy:

10. The snow melted – ok it is really minor but I appreciate snow when it is in spurts and followed by 50 degree (or more) days and had to get this out of the way.

9. My birthday was in December and I have received many well wishes and and I am reminded that I have great family and friends.

8. I love Christmas. I don’t know if it is because my parents always made it a big deal but I have always loved this Holiday. During this time people just seem to be a bit kinder and thoughtful and appreciative.

7. On that note, my house is decorated for Christmas and I get to turn on all the lights and enjoy! Did I mention I love Christmas?!

6. I am rich. No, not in the terms of things or money, but in a life that is by most standards fairly amazing. I am blessed to live my life on my own terms doing what I enjoy and surrounded by people I care about and who love me.

5. I have enough food to eat, a great house to live in, and enough left over to share.

4. Francine lives here. Paul visits often.

3. I am HEALTHY and that makes me HAPPY and very grateful.

2. My family is HEALTHY and safe and thriving and that makes me HAPPY beyond compare.

And the #1 Reason I am HAPPY? Many names including Paul, Shawn, Alysia, Gretchan, Will, Mychael, Constance, Malcolm, Joe, Caleb, Jay, Claire, and Ryan and all the extended family members and friends too numerous to count. Sometimes I need reminding that my life is amazing and I have much to be grateful for and much to be HAPPY about. THANK YOU FOR BEING A PART of my HAPPY.

Want to BE HAPPY?

quartet singing

Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do!

Pharrell Williams may just know one of the best kept secrets to HAPPINESS – SINGING!! Did you know that singing Boosts the Immune System?

  • Takes your mind off the stresses of the day,
  • Releases pain-relieving endorphins.
  • Oxygenates the cells and boosts the body’s immune system to ward off minor infections.

~Graham Welch, director for advanced music education at London’s Roehampton Institute Did you know that singing burns A WHOLE LOT of calories? Singing: Releases endorphins into your system and makes you feel energized. Gives the lungs a workout. Tones abdominal muscles and the diaphragm and stimulates circulation. Requires us to breathe more deeply than many forms of strenuous exercise, so we take in more oxygen, improve aerobic capacity, and release muscle tension. ~Graham Welch, director for advanced music education at London’s Roehampton Institute For Seated Singing: A 150-pound person will burn approximately 100 calories singing for an hour and a 200-pound individual will burn about 140 calories. Standing Up to Sing:  A 150-pound person burns 140 calories and a 200-pound person burns 180.  At Great Lake Sound Chorus, we practice for about 2-2.5 hours a week, so you can burn around 300 calories just by coming to practice!   Wanna be healthy AND happy?  – SING!!

A Gentle Man

The following is a part of the recent obituary for my soon to be son-in-laws’s father:

“Born on July 21, 1921 in Atlanta, GA to William A. Anderson, Sr. and Mary Avery, Dr. Anderson graduated from Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta, GA in 1938 and completed his baccalaureate degree at the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, AL in 1942. After finishing college, he served in the United States Army during World War II. He subsequently graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, MI as a member of the Class of 1950.

Upon completing his residency in Dermatology in New York, he practiced in Orange and East Orange, NJ for over forty years until his retirement in 2005. Over the course of his career, he received multiple awards recognizing his professional excellence and was a valued member of the Dermatology faculty at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical College, where he trained and mentored numerous resident physicians.

Dr. Anderson enjoyed many activities, including tennis, cycling, travel, spending quality time with family and friends and watching his beloved Michigan Wolverines football team on Saturdays. He was a valued member of the local community for over 50 years, and avidly supported the mission of his church, St, Matthew A.M.E. Church in Orange, NJ. He was widely admired and loved by friends, family, patients and colleagues alike.”

While this information is a bit remarkable what was even more profound as I attended his wake, was an outpouring of community support and genuine love for a man who had connected with his colleagues, patients and nearly everyone whose life he touched. He was often referred to as a Gentleman. More so he was a “gentle man” who treated all with kindness and consideration.

Even more amazing was this was a black Dr. who grew up in a racially charged South and who was often denied privileges of his white colleagues. Raised by a single mother, he rose above the obstacles to get his medical degree and throughout it all he never lost his ability to be a truly kind and caring gentleman.

I wish I had met him. RIP Dr. William (Bill) Anderson, Jr. a “Gentle Man”.

Big Kids All Grown Up

This past weekend was Family Time with my children and their families.  I love the dynamics of family and watching interactions – especially among the little ones.  Kids are so REAL and for someone like me who loves relationship dynamics, this was a mecca of opportunity for reflection.

IMG_20140803_121109_403

I thought back to the time in my college era when I was taking a parenting class.  We were piloting a program called Parents as Teachers or PAT for short.  PAT was designed to be an outreach community program to assist parents in developing healthy parenting skills.  What I have observed  is that many of the same  skills we use to develop children into thriving adults are the same ones we use to LEAD and engage healthy employees in the workplace.

Here are 5 KEY LESSONS we can take from PAT:

1)       People model BEHAVIOR.  The words you share are important but behavior will always trump them if they are inconsistent.  How we act will always send the strongest message and it will be the one that is modeled.

Question to ASK:  Are you modeling the behavior you want to see in others?

2)      WORDS have impact. “Oh, be careful little mouth what you say.” Choose wisely as what you say is as  important as how you say it.  People will seldom forget how they were treated or how you made them feel.  Be mindful of  your words and their impact as they can make or break a relationship and a heart.

Question to ASK:  Are you choosing language that is meant to encourage, inform or empower?

3)      Count to 10.  Or 20 if necessary.  And if you need to walk away to clear your head, do so. Reacting too quickly to a stressful situation can have devastating results.  Stop and breathe and if possible take some time to respond to a contentious situation to allow the emotions to subside.

Question to ASK:  How do I respond to a stressful situation with my co-workers?

4)      Be HAPPY. OK, this sounds trite but the reality is positive attitudes breed positive results.  Happy people handle stress more effectively and are more engaged in the workplace.  The environment you create affects their innovation and willingness to perform.  Become the most positive person you know and watch the results soar.

Question to ASK:  How would your colleagues describe you to others? 

5)      Allow opportunity for LEARNING.  Children learn best by doing and that may mean allowing them time to do things on their own – even if it means a lesser outcome or struggle.   If you allow your team autonomy and offer input as needed, it can create an environment of engaged, empowered and innovative employees.

Question to ASK:  Do I allow my team autonomy and offer encouragement when needed?

Most of life’s lessons have been taught in the sandbox.  We simply need reminding of them as life happens and can obscure the clarity.   Just as you imprint your children’s future you also have the same opportunity to positively impact your colleagues.  Remember: “We’re really just Big Kids All Grown Up!”

Feedback or Micromanaging Gen X and Gen Y

4GenerationsYou have a diverse workforce of multiple generations with lots of Gen-Xrs and lots of Gen-Yrs. In fact, these 2 groups will make up close to 75% of your workforce by 2015.  Both want feedback but at slightly different pacing.  Gen X wants quick feedback that is positive and when they ask for it and Gen Y wants feedback fairly consistently and fairly constantly.

How do you provide feedback that is positive, consistent with their needs and isn’t interpreted as micromanaging?

First thing you need to do is provide good coaching skills training to your managers and supervisors. Coaching skills can be learned or they can be improved. We sometimes overlook this training for our managers and supervisors, and it’s really important. Don’t make that mistake. Make sure your managers and supervisors have that skill, and help them improve it.

Also, set clear goals for your employees. That helps frame the conversations, it makes sure that everyone has a purpose, and knows the expectations and is moving the same direction. It ensures that the feedback you’re giving has a context. It makes it much easier to keep it positive and keep it going the right direction.

Secondly, the feedback you’re giving needs to be framed in the positive. When employees make mistakes we can make this a teachable moment. By framing it in the positive, we are able to mitigate the fear that is often associated with making mistakes.  Oftentimes  when we  provide coaching about something negative that’s happened, people get defensive and it  becomes a difficult conversation. While we can’t avoid these crucial conversations, we can focus our coaching/feedback on past success and frame the conversation in ways that our mistakes can springboard us into a future win. By examining what went well along with what didn’t, it allows the employee a chance to determine how to best proceed to keep from making this same mistake and focuses on opportunity for victory.  They learn from the error instead of feeling criticized ultimately creating an environment that celebrates critical thinking and action – even with the occasional mistakes

Offer feedback that leverages strengths and respects efforts,  creates a feeling of autonomy – a critical element of engagement – for our employees and still provides needed information as we coach them to success.  Our employees will feel more engaged and more motivated and you will be creating a culture that is strengthening positive relationships.

By providing coaching skills training, teaching managers and supervisors to set clear goals, and encouraging  feedback to be framed in a positive way, you can avoid the perception of micromanaging and make feedback a win/win for all.

We’re All in Sales

SALEIn his recent book, “To Sell is Human”, Daniel Pink commented that we are all in sales. For me,  that is a phrase I have been using for years.

Mention the word SALES and all kinds of images come to mind – most of them negative.

Stop for a moment and think what this means to you. If you are like most people you immediately get a mental picture of some salesman in a poor fitting leisure suit using schlocky language and techniques to try to win you over in his quest to make the sale.  Or you may think of the come-on sales people who inundate the airwaves with their high-pitched voices making claim after claim to get you to buy something that you neither need nor want.

If that is the mental image you just got, then you are probably like most typical people. You are certainly like me. Mention sales and these negative images immediately appear in your mind.

Ever successfully convinced your kids to clean their rooms?  Or had a co-worker agree to assist you with a task?  Or persuade your colleagues to try a new restaurant?

You just made a SALE!

Sales is the ability to communicate effectively and connect or persuade others so that we can form both healthy and meaningful relationships. Our ability to communicate effectively is vital to our success in any relationship and in every area of our lives.

So how do we overcome that “sales” barrier that often disrupts relationships?  Here are 4 areas to consider:

1.  Follow the first rule of relationships (sales) – People relate with people they Like and Trust.  If you can’t get to first base, you will have no chance of hitting a home run – no matter how great the idea or product.

2.  Focus on others.  Too often we forget to focus our attention on the people sitting across from us.  Follow the Platinum Rule:  “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them.”

3.  Perception is reality.  What’s real to you is, well, real to you.  We relate to others based on our own personal experiences, biases and reality.   Be careful to guard against jumping to conclusion based on your own values.

4.  Know your audience.  I use an assessment tool, Ntrinsx, when working with clients that assists us in forging healthy relationships by showing  respect for diversity and valuing individual strengths.  Understanding how others like to interact, engage and connect is vital to a lasting relationship.

Sales is not a 4 letter word (or 5).  It’s a natural part of everything we do.  We’re ALL in sales.

Successful Communication is Successful Selling.

To your success~