Women of Influence

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Last year in November, I went to the Women of Influence event, presented by the Puget Sound Business Journal. The women selected for the award are not only professionally successful in their own right, but also contribute significantly to bettering the community around them. Every woman was inspiring and amazing, but there were a few things I thought were definitely worth sharing:
  • Amazon’s head of HR (can you imagine what a big job that would be?) is the only woman on Amazon’s S-team. There are 12 people on the team. Because she heads up HR, she is intimately familiar with the Amazon leadership principles and the one she spoke to the most was failure. She said they adamantly adore people who have failed in a big way and have learned from their mistakes, making them better able to handle professional challenges. You can read more about Beth here. I still find it interesting that at a company as innovative and forward looking as Amazon, there is only one woman in the highest 12 at the company.
  • After 8 or 9 of these women got up on stage and spoke about their inspirations and their successes in life, I turned to my friend Meredith and made a comment that I thought it was interesting that 1) every single one of these women had children, and 2) of the 5-10 minutes they had on stage, they all spoke about their children. I thought it was interesting because it’s not something I would expect to hear from most men when being honored. When Heather Redman got up on stage, she noticed the same thing. Heather talked a lot about leaning in, which to her meant not necessarily including conversations about her family at work. From my perspective, she appeared to be the most outwardly confident of the women. At the end, she spoke of the same observation I had, that all of these amazingly accomplished women spoke about their kids consistently. She said that was something she was going to take away from the night: that bringing that kind of empathy and kindness to the conversation in a professional environment should be embraced and done more frequently, rather than covered up or suppressed.
  • Dr. Rhonda Medows said “the third grade I knew I wanted to be a doctor” in the article here, but in person at the event she also talked about how people often discover their dream later in life and the important thing is to pursue it with balance. Rhonda was particularly memorable to me because she came from a poverty-stricken environment and turned that experience into her drive and passion to pursue medicine. In her article, I really liked this advice:
    • Question: What advice would you give to your 18-year-old self?
    • Answer: My sons are 16, 18, and 26. I would share with my 18-year-old self the same lessons I have learned and now share with my sons:
      • Learn about yourself, your interests, your passions, your strengths and weaknesses.
      • Find your balance. Spend more time on the things that are important to you, view life as a marathon not a sprint, seek a positive work – life mix and the right mix of setting goals and seizing unexpected opportunity.
      • Don’t spend too much time trying to achieve other people’s expectations. Sometimes they are too low. Sometimes they reflect their own issues and not your own potential.
      • Respect people.
      • Put family first.
      • Embrace change and ambiguity, don’t wait for the perfect and miss what’s good. When you learn something new or have different experiences, it’s ok to change or adjust your priorities.
      • Define your own success by achieving what’s important to you after evaluating the options and the work you’ll have to invest.
      • Be true to and never betray your own core principles. You can change a job, change friends and partners but you will always have to live with yourself and your own decisions.
You can see all of the women who were honored here.
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Peaceful Persistance

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When I was a kid, my mom took my brother and I to a predominately African American church in Tacoma on Martin Luther King Day. I will never forget the feeling of being one of the few white people in a room full of people with a different skin color. I automatically thought “now I know what they feel like,” because I had never experienced looking around a room and not seeing very many people that looked like me.

Over the weekend I asked my daughters if they knew who Martin Luther King was, to which Eloise (in Kindergarten) responded “Doctor Martin Luther King Junior (she said so as to correct me) made the world a better place because they used to not let the dark skinned people drink from the water fountains and then he made it so they could. It’s not nice to not let people do things just because of their skin color.”

The world is just so simple in the eyes of a five year old. We tend to make things more difficult as we age for some reason.
A bunch of us were sitting at the team lunch yesterday discussing how racism even came to exist and one of our clients recommended the documentary I Am Not Your Negro. One of our colleagues also recommended 13th.
One of the things I think is interesting about MLK Jr. is that he’s known so well for his peaceful and loving approach to making monumental social changes in this country. At the same time, he persisted and never let up his cause just because he wasn’t met with the same respectful response. Going into a weekend where I know a lot of us were peacefully marching for Women’s rights, I wanted to share some of these quotes from the amazing MLK Jr. that serve as inspiration to me to always continue down the path of working together to make a better world.

Tell Me Lies

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Chapter 1:
Since the New Year started, I’ve been listening a lot more to my favorite band, Fleetwood Mac. I grew up in a household with a record player and my parents had a lot of great records: Steve Miller, the Doobie Brothers, Hall and Oats, and of course Fleetwood Mac.

Chapter 2:
My biological father was not really a super great guy. While his intentions might have been good, he treated the people around him (especially those who loved him most) quite horribly. He threatened my mom and when I was older I discovered tapes of phone calls (yes, they were actual tapes) my mom had recorded as evidence in case anything ever happened.

Chapter 3:
When I was older (I think around 5 or 6) I was fortunate enough to have my step-dad adopt me from my biological father and that is who I refer to as my dad.

Chapter 4:
When I would sit and listen to Fleetwood Mac as a pre-teen on the record player, the song “Tell Me Lies,” always made me think of my biological father. I strongly believe that because of this experience, I have this odd and relatively annoying ability to sniff out people with selfish intentions, toxicity and narcissism. It’s also not great because combined with my other odd and relatively annoying skill of being a truth-teller, it’s not uncommon for me to be disliked by people who fall into this category.

Chapter 5:
What I’ve always been fascinated by, since this experience at a young age, is how everyone has different ranges of what a lie is. On the surface, it seems obvious – a lie is something that isn’t true. But as we know, everyone’s perspective determines what their truth is.

Chapter 6:
I’ve referenced this book before and it’s available in the Streamline library. The Four Agreements has a very specific definition of honesty. Brian (my husband) read this book recently and actually adapted this portion of the book as one of his New Year’s resolutions. The Four Agreements include one agreement, called:

Be Impeccable with Your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

From my perspective, the most important part – and one of the most difficult parts when we’re challenged by those who don’t – is to Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.

I truly believe if every person made the promise to use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love, we would live in a much more harmonious and positive world. If you read the book, you’ll also know that the 4th agreement is to always do your best. The point is that we don’t have to be perfect at being impeccable with our word, but if we’re constantly trying our best to be impeccable with our word, we are succeeding.

New Year’s Resolutions, Goals & Priorities

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I know it’s not Thursday – sorry about that! I thought better late than never, so here goes…

I don’t know if you’ve heard, but it’s a new year! I can personally say that while there was a lot that happened in 2017, I’m quite happy for it to be behind us. I don’t have that feeling every year, but mostly due the macro things happening in the world, I’m happy to welcome in 2018!
As happens every year, people start to make goals and resolutions. I was fortunate to have some time to think about those things back in late November, but sadly I haven’t really touched it since then. Rather than share some of my personal goals, I wanted to share some ideas that I’ve read about coming into the new year and since 2018 began, that I thought were particularly interesting.
The first one comes from my coach, Max. She asked me to write a love letter to my future self. In it, answer the question of “what would make my heart sing?” I know, it’s woo-woo, but I think it’s a great exercise. She said to write in the letter 3-4 things that would make your heart sing this year, put it in an envelope and open it at the end of 2018.
The second is an article I came across on LinkedIn, posted by one of my role models, Arianna Huffington. Many years ago (probably 5 or 6), I went to a conference and Arianna was the keynote speaker. It is for sure one of the most memorable keynotes I’ve heard. She was ahead of her time and was discussing the negative side-effects of a hyper-connected life. She said she hypothesized that people in the future would actually start to disconnect from their screens and phones, as we begin to realize how negatively they can impact our social interactions and relationships. Ever since then, I’ve followed her on LinkedIn and love reading the articles she puts out.
This one in particular caught my eye because there are several tips in here I’ve personally been very conscious about and feel like I’ve done a great job mastering, or at least improving upon, but there are also several I still need to work on. My speculation is that all of us will see a few things in here and think to ourselves “oh, I’m really good at that,” (ahem, #11) and we will see a few things and think to ourselves “oh, I should really do that more.” (ahem, #12)
This article comes full circle to our conversation on Thursday in the team meeting about strengths and weaknesses. While I am a huge advocate of people aligning their work and efforts with their strengths and passions, I also firmly believe that acknowledging our weaknesses and making goals to improve upon them can also be beneficial.
As a Libra, I constantly go back and forth in my mind about this as well. On the one hand, I think “this is who I am, I should embrace it. I don’t need to be perfect.” On the other, I think “what’s the harm in putting a little effort in to improve something if it could make me happier?” Ultimately, it becomes and exercise of contemplation and prioritization. Some things are just who I am, it would take a lot of effort to change them, and I don’t know that the results and positive impact would be worth the effort. But some things are just little things I can be more conscious about, they don’t take much effort and they would have a hugely positive impact on my life and my happiness. So, I decide to focus on the latter and let go of the former.
This natural exercise also reminds me of another article I recently read on LinkedIn about the CEO of AirBNB and how he begins his day. His process is:
• Make a list of everything you want to accomplish that day. Be as exhaustive as possible.
• Group a few similar tasks together.
• Ask yourself for each group: What one action takes care of all of these? “It’s like a game of leverage,” Chesky said.
• Repeat the grouping and refining process until you have just a few big tasks.
I like that process of minimization and prioritization. Sometimes when we have so much on our plates, it’s easy to think we have to get it all done. In reality, there are many things that would have little impact if we didn’t get to them that day and it will greatly improve our sanity if we let them go.
You may be one of those people who always has a New Years resolution or two. You may gravitate more toward goal setting. You may never do anything and not really care. No matter which bucket you fit into (or if you have your own bucket), hopefully these thoughts and ideas give you some inspiration.

Giving Gifts

Brian and I were spending way too much time (as usual) walking through Homegoods last weekend when I saw a canvas with a quote that caught my eye:

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The quote really resonated with me and got my mind going down several different paths. Obviously with the Holidays upon us, gifting is abundant. Personally, I’ve always been big into giving gifts. I am not naturally good at verbally communicating my appreciation for people, so I tend to do so via writing and gifting. I’ve always believed that the definition of a gift is accurate in that there should be no expectation of compensation or reciprocity. I have seen this in so many people all over the world. People dedicate their time to helping those less fortunate, even those they may not really like or love, simply because it’s the right thing to do.

Obviously giving something to other people makes us feel good too, but there have been some challenges to gifting that extend beyond the self-gratitifcation rationale. Some sociologists have argued that there is an inherent expectation of reciprocity when people give gifts (example here). I’ve read though some of these concepts, and while they may be valid for a certain sub-set of people, I don’t believe they are the norm. I have seen way too often people step up to help people without expectation.
Like the woman who held a stranger in her arms for hours after he was shot in Las Vegas. 
Like the homeless man who turned over a backpack with $42k in it to the police. 
Like the single mom who paid the bill for some government employees who weren’t getting paid because of the shutdown.
I’d prefer to focus on the many people in the world doing things for others or giving gifts to others without expectation and use that as my inspiration. We may not all have the artistic talents of Pablo Picasso, but we can all use our blessings and gifts and share them with others. I hope you all enjoy your time with family and friends and enjoy the experience of giving and receiving gifts as gestures of love and appreciation.

The Construct of Time

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As we are in the thick of the holiday season, our clients are busy, we’re busy doing work for them, we’re busy with social events and travel and family functions. Over the next couple of weeks, things will start to slow down and as is natural every year, the New Year will come and it will be a time for reflection and goal setting. I was fortunate to have a 5-6 hour flight to and from Hawaii last week without wifi and one of the things I did during that time was make a list of some of the things I want to accomplish in 2018. Some of them are destinations, some of them are means and slight tweaks to my way of life.

One of the things that always comes up in conversations between Brian and I is being conscious about how much time we have for ourselves together and for ourselves individually. We consciously try to “slow down” and take time to celebrate, have fun and relax.
I was speaking with my business coach yesterday and telling her about this and she asked me how I feel about that in my gut. It’s funny because my brain says “Lacie, you should really slow down. Maybe you shouldn’t have something scheduled at every minute of every day.” Side note, it’s not really THAT bad. But I’m a busy person, sometimes I commit to too much and my general attitude is that life is short and I want to live it to the fullest. All. The. Time.
So, my response to Max was that in my gut, I don’t really want to slow down. I secretly (and not so secretly now) love how busy my life is. I very seldom feel out of control or stressed out by it. I do take time (and I feel like a good amount of it) to be with the ones I love the most. I take time for myself. Brian and I go out quite a bit together. Every once in awhile the world tells me to stop and chill out and I have to listen to that. So mostly, my goal is to prevent the world from getting to that point with me.
This brings me to something I read about awhile ago in The Big Leap, Einstein Time. You can read all the details about Einstein Time in this summary from Hendricks. Essentially, we have a construct in our minds that time is a thing that is given to us, which we must work within and we do not have any control over it. This construct manifests within us as stress, when we feel like we “don’t have enough time” to get things done. We have a social habit of blaming things on time, rather than taking responsibility for time.
The solution to this nagging problem for so many of us is to change our perspective and remove that construct. If we believe we are the creators of time and that we choose how we spend our time, that will free us from the stress of it. Secondly, it’s our responsibility to mentally focus on the event we are presently participating in. Doing so ultimately allows us to feel as if time is slowing down and we become hyper-productive, both in a work setting and in a personal setting. If we can stop thinking about the next thing we have to do and focus on the thing we are currently doing, we begin to control time. One of the most tactical ways Hendrick’s recommends controlling time is to change the way we talk about time. Rather than saying “I don’t have time for,” we can say “I haven’t prioritized this,” or “I haven’t made time for this quite yet.”
It’s a little bit of an abstract theory and I think this video does a nice job explaining it. For further information, refer to his book as well.

Truth Versus Reality

Yesterday I heard a segment on NPR that really got me thinking and I thought it was worth sharing. The main question that was asked and answered that was particularly fascinating to me was, “how is truth different than reality?”

The journalist, Brooke Gladstone, talks about it in her book and her answer is that the truth are facts, things that are proven. Reality, however, incorporates truth, but truth could really only make up 25% of our own reality. We all take our experiences, influences, and perspectives and apply that to facts we digest, which ultimately determines our reality. We all have different realities that we live in and some of ours are closer to some than others.
Brooke Gladstone applies this concept to the current political environment, but it can also be applied to partner marketing quite easily. It’s not uncommon for there to be a difference of reality between us, the partners we work with or our clients. Understanding the whole context of what makes up their reality often helps overcome the disparity, which is also something that Brooke urged listeners to do. Listening to people and understanding what is shaping their reality is crucial to solving problems and differences.
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