Personal values.

I believe reflection builds traction and both require routine. That said, I got into the habit – the routine – of a Sunday morning reflection of the week gone by to get traction on the week ahead.

This past week I had the pleasure of spending in-person together time with my Code42 friends and colleagues at the Disney Institute. We collaborated on everything from our company values and brand promise to our personal values and promises and how they intersect in ways that can delight our customers. I left reflecting on my personal values and promise. I have my 3 words (Positive, Present, Passionate), but have I ever written down my personal values & promise?

That was my epiphany. At Code42 we talk about our values almost everyday. We see them on our screens, hear them in presentations, talk about them in meetings and do our best to live them every day. Why don’t we do the same for our personal values? Why don’t we write them down, have them on our screen, talk about them, share them. We should. So, after much reflection, I thought I would start my week with traction – reminding myself what is most important to me. When it comes to delighting customers, teammates, peers –

I value making their voice, their time and their value matter more than mine. I believe everything is personal and that true leaders do the heavy lifting to make our customers, teammates and peers the hero.

So the year ahead is about getting traction on delighting my customers, teammates, peers by asking myself – is what I am doing making their voice, time and value matter? If not, stop.

What are your personal values? Write them down. Keep them in front of you. Share them and never compromise.

My read write render epiphany – it’s always personal [growth]

In my last post, which feels like forever ago, I made the personal commitment to start a new routine: read, write, render.  Admittedly, that has been easier said than done, or so I thought.

One thing that is routine for me is the read part. I read everyday.  Just an hour of reading or listening (Podcast) in the morning starts my day.  From random articles coming across my social feeds, to subscribed research pushed to my inbox, to the recommended content from family, friends, peers and coworkers, I’m never short of reading material (probably why I love the Pocket app so much).

Making time for reading is not the issue. It’s the making time to write then render (visually) that I thought was my achilles heel. Take for instance how I started this post, “In my last post, which feels like forever ago…”  – those words alone imply I’m holding myself to some standard on the volume of writing and rendering I push out via this blog or other channels.  That’s not the point of the routine. Read write render is not about unselfish acts of sharing some insight or thoughts with the masses x number of times a week, month or quarter.  My read write render – at its core – is personal.

It’s Always Personal [Growth]

I read everyday to be a better father, husband, friend, coach, mentor, marketer. I write every morning to remind myself of what’s important. I render everyday to challenge myself to think outside the box and always approach things with creative thinking.

Writing is not about turning some new found knowledge into a blog post.  Rendering is not about turning every idea into pictures and pushing it out via social media.  For me, writing and rendering is not supposed to be work. It’s supposed to be routine and in hindsight, I’ve been sticking to a routine fairly well.

From my Focus Planner to my Field Notes to my Idea Reel in PowerPoint, I’ve been reading, writing and rendering constantly. It’s become routine for me. I haven’t felt the need to throw everything that I read, write and render at you.  Instead, focus on the times when what I read, write and render is worth sharing, perhaps worth your time.

Compelled to share

Take for instance this morning.  Combing through Pocket, I read five articles. Two were related to remote work routines. Two centered on strategic focus and one was about scheduling time for creative thinking.  What felt like random topics when I started began to blend and gel into an epiphany, so naturally, following my routine, read turned into write and write turned into render.   This is what I wrote in my Focus Planner for today 08.08.20 under Myndfuel:

  1. Write everything down (Ironic, I know)
  2. Focus on the 30 percent (Steve Jobs rule)
  3. Schedule the work  (Full Focus Planner)

Sales kickoff season – the perfect time for everyone to find focus, find balance.

It’ that time of year where we start mapping business goals to marketing objectives and key results (OKRs).  It’s therapeutic because it feels like a fresh start, like clicking the reset button on a new year.
It’s our job as leaders to find the focus and help our teams prioritize time, energy and attention to the stuff that matters. I  committed to this in my previous post – finding the balance from working all the time to timing all the work.  This is easier said than done.  I refer back to a post titled “How Agile Marketing Combats Burnout.”  Ironically, it was posted exactly one year ago today, so it must be that time of year.  The post talks about “The Plague of Context Switching” and that research shows the more stuff we add to our plate, the more distracted, frustrated and stressed-out we get, and the more time we waste. We lose our focus.
Lose focus. Lose Balance.
The same post cites  the 2019 Marketing Happiness Report from MarketingProfs that found a shocking 73% of marketers fail at completing work because we keep getting interrupted by more work.  The work comes from leaders, marketing peers, or  others throughout the organization who may have their own goals, objectives and thus priorities.  What our teams end up with is massive  backlogs of tasks, and if we look closely, many may not even align to the goals and objectives we set as marketing leaders.  The end result – we miss the very results we are driving our teams to accomplish.
“We’re psychologically hard-wired to finish things, so if we leave a task undone our brains can’t let it go. Our focus will remain split until we’re able to check that item off our to-do list.”
Find Focus. Find Balance.
As marketing leaders, we need to agree on our core objectives / priorities / focus areas – our OKRs.  We all need to be on the same page in how we message our OKRs to the greater marketing team and cross-functional partners. The leaders of our cross-functional teams need to understand our OKRs and identify how our may (or may not) align to their own.  Most importantly, we need to empower our marketing team members to say “NO” to the things that don’t align. MarketingProfs highlighted that we are failing miserably at this.  When they asked marketers how often they say “NO” to projects that come across their desk:
  • 12% never say no
  • 41% say no a few times per year
  • 14% say no a few times per month
  • 4% say no a few times per week
  • 3% say no every day
  • 26% I don’t have the autonomy/authority to say no

More than half of marketers (53%) either never say no, or say no only a few times a year, and 26% believe they do NOT have the autonomy or authority to say no?! No wonder our teams have massive backlogs. No wonder we are forced to divide our time among tasks, thus giving the more critical work less of our mental energy and focus. What we end up being is a bunch of context-switching, multitasking,  task mastering tacticians.

Finding focus starts by cutting our backlog.  Research shows that if we cut our backlogs in half,  the time to complete projects is cut in half.   It’s a perfect time to do so. It’s a new year with fresh goals, objectives and desired results.  Imagine if we could take any project or task on our plate that fails to ladder up to our goals or objectives and de-prioritize, or better yet, decommission.  We should all take a good long look at what’s on our plate and make that call.  I am going through this very exercise with my own backlog and that of my team’s.

Last week was our 2020 Global Kickoff. We learned our corporate goals and objectives for the year.  We know what we need to do. Now, as leaders, it’s up to us to prioritize and empower ourselves and our teams to focus. We find the focus, we find the balance. And in the process, have a lot of fun delivering results.

How my journey back to the big picture took full focus

If you’re anything like me, you’re probably driven by the need for accomplishment on a daily basis. If I can’t check something off “the list” then the day feels wasted.  What I slowly learned is the fact that “I got a lot done today” was actually moving me further away from my big picture goals. My day-to-day “little wins” weren’t adding up.

Enter Michael Hyatt’s The Full Focus Planner and my journey back to the big picture.

I received my first planner as a gift from my manager in late 2017.  She was either sending me a message, or knew me more than I knew myself.  I was finding myself wrapped up in the day-to-day. I had big picture goals. I had a big picture strategy and plan. I knew exactly what I wanted, needed.  I didn’t have the focus.  I gave it a try starting one year ago this week and learned a lot about how I am wired and quite frankly what needed rewiring.

  • Balance – from working on work to working on me.
  • Meetings – from meetings taking time to making time for meetings.
  • Rituals – from letting things happen to making things happen.
  • Leadership – from wanting perfect strategy to executing imperfect plans.
  • Teamwork – from prescribing their path to trusting their journey.
  • Growth – from adding up little wins to little wins that add up.

One year later, let’s just say I’m more focused than ever. I will share a bit more about my journey in an upcoming post.

Creative introverts hold all the cards

Are you a quiet, analytical, unshakable, loner that thrives on coming up with creative solutions to problems?

I like to think of myself as creative, and I’ve learned I am more of an introvert (INFJ) and an advocate – of course, I kind of knew that going in.

After reading the summaries, I have to be honest, I thought that where I am professionally and personally, I have peaked. I am where I am, and there’s nothing I can do about it.  It was almost reassuring, yet discouraging at the same time.  Then I thought, why would we allow a test to totally define who we are? Our whole lives we’re told we have control over who we are, who we become, and nothing stands in our way except for our own apprehension, insecurity, or doubt.

Then, almost serendipitously, a couple articles came across my desk.  One, “Are the people in your organization too smart to be creative” and “Introverted employees make the best leaders“.

The first cites an IBM global survey of more than 1,500 CEOs, who identified”creativity as the most important leadership competency for the successful enterprise of the future“.

Good news for those of us that are seen as creative. But wait, in the same article, a study in the US and India found that “organizations may face a bias against selecting the most creative individuals as leaders in favor of selecting leaders who preserve the status quo by sticking with feasible but relatively unoriginal solutions.” The article talks about how creatives can be very vocal and rock the boat, battle the status quo. Sounds kind of extroverted.  So…

Creative = Good.
Extroverted = Not always good.

Then the second article came through. “Introverted employees make the best leaders” by Jennifer B. Kahnweiler where 4 out of 10 execs consider themselves introverts – almost half – and include names like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and President Obama. According to the article,  introverts make better leaders due to characteristics like thinking before speaking, seeking depth of understanding, being calm,  writing over speaking, and embracing solitude.

That’s me in a nutshell…a quiet, analytical, unshakable, loner that thrives on coming up with creative solutions to problems. So…

Introvert = Good.

The way I see it, if you are a creative introvert, you just might be what companies need in terms of leadership qualities and characteristics. Just remember, opportunities to lead just don’t fall in your lap. You have to first, want them, and second, earn them, so don’t fall victim to the apprehension, insecurity, or doubt that may hold you back.

How do you lead?