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.
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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.

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.

Competition

Competition is a tricky thing. A lot of us are competitive, which I’ve always said is healthy, but likely many things, it’s important to define what that means. Competition is most notoriously known for beating someone else or winning. For me, competition has always been a little different. My definition of competition has always been being the best that I can be. I might not beat my husband at a beach sprint (might be referencing a recent loss), but as long as I know I tried as hard as I freaking could, I will give him a high five for beating me all day long. I actually secretly love it when other people beat me at things. First of all, I’m always really happy for them because I know how amazing it feels to accomplish something you’ve worked hard for. Second, it is usually inspiring to me and sometimes brings my focus to something I want to work harder at.

Since I’m on vacation, I’ll keep this one short and sweet. This quotes made me think of the above perspective:

Gender Gap in the Workplace

 

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Some of you may be surprised I haven’t sent a Thoughtful Thursday out about gender inequality in the workplace. I’ve discussed it with many of you from time to time and it’s something I’m very passionate about.

This past week, disgusting stories have come out about Harvey Weinstein and his deplorable sexual assault acts used against women in an effort for them to get into big roles for their career. It’s the extreme case of what many women know to be true – that women are harassed, assaulted and treated very differently, due to their gender, in the workplace.
I personally have a few “little” stories of sexist comments made to me throughout my career, but they don’t even come close to what I’ve read from other women.  Mary Keene-Dawson, a very well respected digital marketing consultant in London, states in this article that she’s experienced “men pulling their cocks out in meetings in an attempt to intimidate me during a tough negotiation.” This behavior is beyond appalling and Rolling Stone is correlating the insane amount of stories now coming out to the Weinstein scandal, stating that: this is not a personal problem, it’s a systemic problem and the Weinstein scandal may be the final straw that broke the camel’s back to make bigger changes to the system.
I hope they’re right.
Years ago in my Expedia days, Dara made a BHAG (big harry audacious goal) that Expedia would have women in 20% of the leadership roles by 2020 or he wouldn’t get his bonus. Although I have no quantifiable data about the response of employees, I do know anecdotally that many women appreciated the gesture, but felt like that goal fell short. I remember saying “he probably won’t even be around by then anyway,” which ended up being the case.
But now we’re seeing real change, as shown in this article about the CEO of Oath. He wants women in 50% of leadership roles, which makes sense, since women earn almost 60% of undergraduate degrees & 60% of master‘s degrees and they make up 49% of the college-educated workforce. Tim Armstrong, the Oath CEO, references Gloria Steinem as his inspiration for his initiative. Gloria advised him “companies perform better when there’s men and women so don’t think about women-only, think about how to combine that.” Both genders bring value to the table, so having equality of genders in leadership positions is where companies will find the most benefit, as shown in this McKinsey study.
There are two main sociological problems in accomplishing this goal, according to Sheryl Sandberg.
  • One is that “Data show that for men, professional success is correlated with being liked, while successful women are treated with increased disdain.” Think about that. As women grow more successful, people like them less. As men grow more successful, people like them more. No wonder women have a hard time getting into senior leadership teams or running companies.
  • The other problem she states is that “women are seen in a positive light when they advocate for others, but the opposite holds true when they promote themselves.”
So really in order for women to get more successful, they need other people to advocate for them and then when they become more successful, people will like them less. That’s pretty fucked, but thankfully at least one part of that problem is being solved by people like Gloria Steinem, Sheryl Sandberg and Tim Armstrong. Hopefully with the sharing of information, all of us can do our part to be more conscious about our responses to sexist things we observe in the future. And maybe even by sharing information we will start to see real change in the leadership mix of more companies soon.