Thursday 29 August 2013

How are you making a difference in this universe?

Have you ever attended an event that you can't stop thinking about? This happened to me last week at a networking session. 

It was an invitation only, two-hour get-together hosted by Kevin O'Leary at Optimum Talent, a prominent HR consulting firm.

Twelve people from different industries were asked three questions:
  • How are you making a difference in this universe? (starting with the easy one!)
  • What is your passion?
  • What is your personal formula for success?

Each participant told their story and each one was fascinating. Industries included software development, social media, marketing, nutrition, leadership, robotics, sustainability, security, big data, government and public affairs, media and change management. 

Most people told both professional and personal stories. All had deep experience that they were using (or planning to use) in new ways. Most had made a conscious decision to change what they did or where they did it to improved the quality of their lives. Most had started their own businesses.

I was third up, which gave me a few minutes to think about my answers. My story included both Barb's and my careers (we are a team). I talked about how working with leaders around the world had shaped Change  with Confidence. How I observed that many could not answer change-related questions based on their operational experience. That my goal was to help change leaders build their confidence and skills by understanding the questions they must answer and the information they need to make the best decisions. 

I said that I make a difference by filling the gap between what leaders know and need to know about change to lead confidently and well. In my notes I had jotted down that confidence is built by moving people from fear to belief. 

Since our conversation, I have made many positive connections. Most attendees are part of my LinkedIn community and I have exchanged emails with five others. I will be introducing one person to someone in my network and someone has offered to introduce me to someone in theirs. I also had coffee with another person Monday. 

After the session, I thought of how this powerful experience had been created by one person who saw the benefit of helping others. During my story, I forgot to say that my personal success comes from "giving first". That might be Kevin's too. Thanks Kevin.


Friday 23 August 2013

Five Minutes a Week Can Help Two Friends for Life

My blog post was delayed today because I was waiting for permission to include someone's name and company. I didn't anticipate that this would take hours and therefore found myself in a self-created dilemma: should I continue to wait or write a new blog post. Posting on Fridays is a personal commitment so here I go.

A week ago, I received an email from someone who had just bought Change with Confidence. Reading his note gave me an immediate energy boost. His taking the time to reach out to me meant a lot. 

In his note he said he was looking for change help from someone with experience in his specific industry. Since I didn't have it I started looking for someone who did. Fortunately, I identified two people who had excellent experience and skills that could meet his needs. Excitedly I wrote him to share the good news. 

My final step in professional matchmaking was to make introductions. LinkedIn seemed the best medium given its excellent personal profiles and ability to make connections. My first exploration into the help site was unsuccessful. All I could find was instructions on how to request an introduction to someone in a connection's network. Not what I was looking for.

My next attempt directed me to a chat stream about introductions. Margaret A. Ost provided the solution. Uncannily, the person who posted the question wanted to know how to request an introduction to someone in a connection's network. I could have helped.

Courtesy of Margaret, here are the steps to introducing two connections that could benefit from knowing each other:

  • Search for one of the connection's profiles from the top of your home page
  • From results, click their name
  • Click the share icon from the profile overview section
  • Enter each recipient's name
  • Modify the message to explain how they could benefit from knowing each other
  • Click send message

A new relationship can help each person gain perspectives, information, opportunities, money and ongoing support they need to be successful. Can you imagine the good you could do by connecting two of your friends each week? I have decided to invest five minutes each week to connect two people in my network. 

My friends are worth it and the energy boosts will be great too.


Friday 16 August 2013

How would you teach the world to sing?

A primary motivation for writing Change with Confidence was to build people's skills and confidence to successfully lead change. The more people the better. This goal has shaped my approach to marketing. Every opportunity to promote my thinking and my book is a good one.

I was thrilled when Soundview approached me to partner on a new product offering with the tag line "Reach More. Teach More." SoundviewPro is an online open-enrollment academy where courses are available to everyone including its half million subscribers around the world. I am excited by the prospect of many people in different countries watching my course at the same time.

This teaching delivery format is called Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and is being offered by more and more universities and private learning organizations. It has sparked debate in education communities and attracted the attention of the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Forbes.

My change management course will include strategies, stories, observations, approaches and tactics. It will also offer interactive elements such as questions, quizzes and and follow-on exercises. Each module will be ten to fifteen minutes totaling three hours of content. 

I will be filming Change with Confidence U in Philadelphia in mid-November. I am looking forward to once again work with Ursula and Andrew from Soundview. Also it will be exciting and challenging to design learning in a new medium. This is a personal growth opportunity. 

Soundview's aspiration for SoundviewPro is "to permanently change how people and organizations grow their skills to succeed." That's music to my ears and I am eager to write my new song.


Friday 9 August 2013

The Art and Science of Creating Something New

Our first Change with Confidence newsletter launched this week after six weeks of development.

This initiative is part art project and part science experiment. The selection of the articles that Mel, Tim and I made is the art; our commentary explaining why we selected them is the science. 

The most interesting part of creating the first issue was its design. Kro, my website developer, designed the template from rough drawings made in Powerpoint. He also added layout and design elements. Mel, Tim and I made revisions the same way we do on our consulting assignments - quickly, building on each other's thoughts.

We selected MailChimp as the vehicle to create, send and track our newsletter. It was Kro's program of choice. Also, I remember Michael Hyatt, an excellent business blogger, recommending it. 
MailChimp's website boasts 6,000 new users a day and we decided to become one of them.

MailChimp is powerful, flexible and easy to use, at least when you use it correctly. I had neglected to fill in the first and last name fields in the distribution database which resulted in blank salutations during our test run. It was an easy fix that required two hours of typing. It didn't feel easy at the time.

I really appreciate the feedback we received. Most of the notes were sent the day of distribution. There were many thanks, good ideas for future issues and offers to forward it to friends and colleagues. Some people even noted the articles they read.

Like all ongoing, repeatable projects, I am intrigued by how it will evolve. Will we make any immediate design changes, what articles will we select next time, will the tones of our commentary change? I know that each issue will be shaped by our interests, experiences and learnings, like all art and science.


Thursday 1 August 2013

How would you measure up against yourself 5 years ago?

Last week I did something I haven't done in years. I created a mix CD of songs. This used to be a hobby of mine in the days of cassettes and early CDs. 

All good mixed tapes have a theme and this one was songs I had heard with our son Sam while driving to and from his job at McDonald's. We listen to CFNY, an alternative rock station, and critique the songs based on melody, lyrics, etc. It's fun and often we have the same views.

When I shared my project with Sam, I said it was an activity from a different era. He said, "Like the dinosaur era?" Ouch. Undaunted, I started collecting the songs we liked. I was searching for a song by Metric on Youtube and noticed there were multiple live clips of it that people had posted.  

Metric, Dead Disco (2008 Coachella Festival) - Click Title 
What caught my eye was that Dead Disco had been performed at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in 2008 and 2013. Watching the clips, the location, size of crowd and weather were the same, just five years apart. I wondered how the band's performance had changed. 

Metric, Dead Disco (2013 Coachella Festival) - Click Title
Watching them back to back, the earlier performance is more raw and energetic. The later one is more stylized, better played with less but more focused energy. The later one is my favourite.

I wonder how our organizations, teams and ourselves would measure up with five year old versions. How have they changed? Would we be more stylized, better skilled and more focused?

My business notebook said that five years ago today,July 31st, I was in London leading Global Commercial Human Resources for Cadbury. I had five meetings and fifteen actions listed for the day. I had used a highlighter to mark the highest priorities and there are multiple "must," "need to" and "urgent priority" references. It's hard to say whether today I am more stylized, better skilled and more focused, but it feels that way and this version is definitely my favourite. How about you?