Category Archives: Productivity

How to jump-start a project.

Transition to Transformation: Tip for Navigating Change

 

shutterstock_303007733 (2)

The world is moving at a very fast pace. What are you doing to keep in step?
Every day we hear of corporate mergers, downsizing and restructures. What actions are you taking to rewrite your script to ensure you do not wind up on the cutting room floor?

Did you choose to stay home devoting your energy to the betterment of your family and now face a looming empty nest? What will you do with the next chapter of your life?

It does not matter where you turn; work and life are moving at a dizzying pace. People, vocations and emerging technologies are in a constant state of evolution and reinvention. We face a daily backdrop of high alert and digital connection. No wonder Transition and Change Management have become the adopted vernacular to describe daily existence.

How can one cope with a state of uncertainty and a general sense of unrest?
I cannot overstate the importance of creating a strong contingency plan. Why wait till life is on a downward spiral to pick up the pieces and turn life around? Having a strong backup plan is not only practical but can give you the confidence required to leverage and improve your current circumstances.
Would you go on a road trip without a destination, map, gas, and provisions? Would you go back to school without properly researching the program? Do you step into the ocean with your eyes closed and let the first wave knock you over and spin you around? Then why would you do this in life and your career?

Why show up without the proper skills and a well thought-out strategy? What actions and steps can you set in motion immediately to ensure you are ready to face any and all unlikely events or circumstances?

I recently led a round table discussion group at a Leadership Conference on the topic of sharing our most valuable secrets and tips for success. I introduced the concept of having a Plan B regardless of your current work status. There was a member of our table who was incredibly quiet the entire discussion. I assumed they were unmoved by the discussion. I received an email shortly after the discussion sharing how powerful this concept is. They assumed “that if they showed up each day and did a good job the powers that be would give you a promotion and raise”. It never dawned on them that not anyone else is responsible for your development plan and ultimate destiny.

We can all learn from this lesson. Don’t wait for the fork in the road to form a new path. Lay down a purposeful track and let life adapt to your path. Vow to be the best in class and embellish your current role and life. We all deserve to be happy and on purpose. Don’t wait for necessity or catastrophe. Start building today for the future of your dreams.

Here are my Tips for Building a Strategic Plan B

1. Get real!
Take a fearless and honest look at your current circumstances. Are you showing up as the best possible version of yourselves? Is your position and company secured? If your company took a downturn would you be the first to go? Are you doing what it takes to ensure your relevancy?
2. Keep up with the Jones’s!
How current are your skills sets? Are you keeping up with the current technology? Are you raising your hand for stretch assignments? If not get started yesterday.
3. Ready Set Learn!
Knowledge has never been easier to acquire. If you don’t know something, Google it. Want an up to the minute definition, try Wikipedia. There are webinars, audiobooks, podcasts and multiple books on every topic all downloadable to your smartphone. Today you can get an MBA without leaving the comfort of your home! No excuse, stay relevant!
4. Expand your circle.
Network, Network, Network, and just when you think you can’t stand it one more minute, Network some more.
5. Acquire a Personal Board
Times of change are difficult. Your Personal Board will be your Life Line back. They will keep you on track, honest and moving in the right direction. They will become your biggest critics and your strongest advocates all wrapped up in one!
6. Volunteer: Give and Learn
Volunteering is a great way to keep up your spirit while going through turbulent times. Why not volunteer your services in a way that will require you to learn different skill sets? These skills can be leveraged in your current role or added to your resume for future positions.
7. Take a break
I cannot overstate the importance of self-care during times of change. Change is exhausting. You are in a constant state of uncertainty, learning, stepping out of your comfort zone, and all while showing up at your personal best. Eat Well, Sleep, Nap, Take Breaks, Laugh, See Friends, Exercise (preferably outside), Schedule Fun.
8. Take risks
Change is risky business. Going back to school is scary. Learning new technology is overwhelming. Constantly showing up for networking events can be daunting. Creating an on line presence makes one vulnerable to the masses. You know the old adage, no risk no reward.
9. Step Out
Stepping out of your comfort zone is also not easy. I suggest a change of mindset. Think of trying new things as an adventure. You will not like everything, but you never know what will resonate. I think of how empty my life would be if I did not meet all of my great friends through Networking. What if I never took the risk that first Sunday and walked into NYU for my Coaching Certificate? Trust me I was terrified!
10. Get comfortable with discomfort
My biggest life lesson during my transition from running a Sales and Marketing department to heading up Human Resources and starting my business as an executive coach is that anything is possible. I mean anything! We all have the potential to be, do and have anything we want; we just need to be willing to put in the work. I now welcome uncertainty as it is what gives me grit. It is what gives me the gumption each day to show up as the best possible version of myself and never, never, never give up. One can never truly know what lurks around the corner, but I do know I welcome the challenge. I am ready willing and able to do whatever it takes to reach my full potential. I recommend you do the same.

 

Dessert Diva ……. “Recipes for Success”

The recipe for building a strong organization

Ingredients

Add:
1. Strong new team members that bring new skills and ideas to the organization.
a. Remember to make sure they are a good corporate cultural fit!
2. A comprehensive on-boarding process to fully engage new employees to the corporate philosophies and culture.
3. Prepare them for success with a fully revamped training program.

Maria Training
Maria Inetti, Director of FSQA

Introduce:

1. New associates to key members of the organization.
2. Arrange meetings with each department head to describe the team function and clarify how the groups will interact.

IMG_0184

Left to Right (Christina Morgan, R & D Compliance and Regulatory Coordinator, Jennifer Valentino, Customer Service/Logistics Coordinator)

Mix:
1. Create an opportunity for cross departmental interaction and introductions:
a. Invite new associates to weekly departmental meetings.
• Include formal introductions and job functions.
• Lighten it up with an ice-breaker.
Stir it up:
2. Schedule time for informal socialization.
a. Set up a casual lunch.
b. Plan a mixer after work.
Point all ingredients in the right direction:
1. Share the company vision and strategic plan.
2. Encourage new members to communicate new ideas for growth.

Ingredients will settle, and then expand over time. Add new ingredients, stir and repeat.

Make it a “delicious” day!
Tune in for more “Recipes for Success” and “Brownie Points”

Respect your Fallow Periods; they are an opportunity in disguise.

I recently came across a great saying, “Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest without planting seeds.”

Planting seeds 2

I like to think of my fallow periods as a time to plant powerful seeds. Like gardening, you reap what you sow.

As many of you know, I love to garden. In the winter I rest up and with the first hint of spring I am off to the nursery to start my masterpiece. Different than other facets of my life, while gardening I plant without discipline, rhyme or reason. I plant from the heart. I grab from the many rows of beautiful colors, shapes, and sizes and I place them haphazardly into the first pot I see. I then pray for the best.

Sappling

That is where my uncharacteristic behavior starts and ends, and then discipline comes in.

This winter was one for the books in regards to the weather. As my mother always reminds me in challenging times, “This might be a good time to take stock in your life”. Well I am sure like me you have had your fair share of reflection time during Mother Nature’s imposed fallow period.

Now spring is finally here, the fallow period has lifted, what’s next?

planting-seeds

First, like in gardening you must clear the field. We have all had plenty of time to do our spring cleaning this winter. When I talk about cleaning our closets, I refer to this both physically and spiritually. When removing the cobwebs from our closets, it is also good to remove the dust-bunnies from our heads. What have you been putting off? Who or what have you been avoiding? What important action have you not taken?

Next you must decide what seeds to plant and how many. I embrace my fallow periods as times to learn. I am an avid reader, life learner, and a self-proclaimed audio book junkie. Spring is a great time to enroll in a course or even go back to school. This winter I enrolled in a certificate program to become a life coach, and I am loving it! The more seeds of knowledge you plant the more successful you will be!

Planting seeds of knowledge

Surround yourself with Sunshine! I use sunshine as an analogy for happy positive people and situations. You are the company you keep.

People like plants need oxygen to grow, so take a deep breath. Meditate if you can, or just breathe in deeply in times of stress.

Lastly, plants need plenty of water and nutrients. Eating healthy gives us the energy we need to think and be productive. I go to work every week with tons of raw vegetables, hummus and other healthy snacks. Pre-planning always helps us avoid unhealthy eating pitfalls.

Watering plants 2

Happy Spring! I hope your fallow period reaps a beautiful harvest, and that you continue to plant new seeds for future success.

Fields of flowers- 2

“Roll with It” – Tips for Embracing Life’s Ups and Downs

   At the risk of sounding cliché, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans”

 I used to spend a lot of time and energy trying to reach equilibrium in life and chasing the status quo.  I have now learned to live in a world of uncertainty and embrace “peaceful connected moments” as they arise.

 What is a “peaceful connected moment” you ask?

 When I first got remarried my husband did not understand what I was talking about when I kept referring to “peaceful connected moments“.  That was before he moved in with my teenagers and we both entered the world of management.

Peaceful connected moments at work are the days you actually finish a project instead putting out fires. You catch up on your e-mails, instead of running from meeting to meeting, or you actually stop to eat lunch, instead of running down the hall while sipping soup out of a mug!

running with soup

 Peaceful connected moments at home are weeks in between college and job interviews for your young adults. Nights you go home after work instead of running to sports events, back to school nights or concerts.  Months where you are not moving into or out of dorm rooms or apartments, your kids come home at a decent hour, and no one smashes the car!  

 They also consist of weekends when you have no scheduled plans and you can just lie on the couch in your pajamas reading and catch up on your favorite programs.

 Let’s face it, if you are anything like me these “peaceful connected moments” described above are few and far between, and I only just brushed the surface! 

 So how can one cope with the frantic pace of a busy live?  I suggest you “roll with it.”

 Here are some of my favorite tips for coping with life’s crazy pace:

 1. Embrace it – Life goes by so quickly; what I would not do now to go after work to watch my son run track or go to my daughters art show!

 2. Learn something– often when work is  most challenging  I learn the most.  Maybe you will need to take a stretch assignment, a new system will need to be created and put into place, or an important lesson needs to be learned for the future.

 3.  Reach Out– Find someone who has walked this path before and contact them. We all like to believe we are terminally unique, but chances are if you are feeling stressed out or overwhelmed others are feeling the same way.  I always keep my personal network close at hand during these times to give me personal or professional advice, or talk me off the ledge if necessary!

 4. Take a breath– I am a hugely into meditating.  Now I know that this is not for everyone, but surely you can close your eyes and take a couple of breaths to re-center.  Keep in mind that if you practice traditional meditation in a public setting or at the office people may think you are strange.  (Take it from me and just breathe till you get home.)

Yoga at work

 5.  Look your best   My Aunt Phyllis always used to say, “If you can’t play tennis, then get a great outfit and learn how to jump over the net.”  Put your best self on display.  Only you need to know that you feel overwhelmed.  My sister in law always used to say to me, “You look great, what’s wrong?”

woman jumping over the net

 6.  Exercise- this is the best method for keeping stress at bay. My assistant always takes a walk around the block at lunch before we start a new project.

 7.  Eat well   Although chocolate and potato chips (in that order) offer the perfect diet solution for most of what ails us, you will then be dealing with two issues. Better to eat well and look and feel your best, (see # 5).   I highly recommend the running with soup diet. (See #6)

 Woman running with soup

 8.  Read a book– I was raised to believe that this is the solution for everything; in this case it offers a great diversion.  Audiobooks work too if you are too stressed to concentrate.

 10. Sleep   nothing helps you cope better with stress than getting a good night’s sleep.  Naps are also a great way to regroup and gather the energy you needed to go on. (Do not do this at work, it will be seen as counterproductive)

woman sleeping at her desk

 11.  Have Fun– we never laugh harder at work than when we are stressed out! At home I always make sure to have something fun planned on the weekend, especially at the end of a particularly hard week.

 12.  Have Faith– this too shall pass, IT ALWAYS DOES!

   So the next time work and life have got you stressed, grab this list and “Roll with it”!   Whether you decide to take a breath, exercise, call a friend or read a book, it won’t be long before you are creating your own “peaceful connected moments“.

 This to shall pass

 

If you were a superhero who would you be, and why?

Superheroes

These are the questions I posed to my team in preparation for our recent annual planning meeting.

Why superheroes you ask?

When we think about superheroes we think of their strengthens; however, superheroes are so much more multifaceted. Each superhero has a special power or strength as well as a major flaw or weakness. Isn’t it the same for you and me? 

 As we develop throughout our career it is important to continually assess our skills.  What are our core competencies? Where do we excel? What makes each of us stand out from the crowd? 

 On the flip side we must remember to evaluate our weaknesses. What do we still need to learn? What is our Achilles heel? What is standing in the way of getting that next great job or promotion?

 Superheroes spend much of their days developing their skills. They gather new tools for their tool belts, create force fields to fight off the competition and stand up to opposing points of view. Above all,   they create coping mechanisms to combat their weaknesses.  Couldn’t we all learn a thing or two from them?

superhero

 When superheroes first discover they have superpowers they are always shocked, amazed and have no idea what to do. In each case they find a guide (or mentor) to help them understand and develop their skills, manage the pitfalls, and grow into the best they can be.  Behavior I would recommend to anyone wanting to excel.

 Superheroes main purpose in life is to fight off villains, save the world and build a better tomorrow. Well that sounds a lot like what we do on a daily basis. We fight off the competition, put out fires, and build a better organization for ourselves and the people who will come after us.

 Show me a great superhero and I will show you a great sidekick.  Where would Batman be without Robin? We are all as good as the people we surround ourselves with.  I for one would want my Sales Support Manager Lisa at my side if I was stuck in a burning building.  Or I would turn to our Marketing Director, JoAnn if I wanted to figure out how to fight off our latest opponent. 

 Superheroes can teach us a lot about team building.  Look at the Avengers!  I always tell my team that they are better together then they are apart. Each of them is superstars and has skills and strengths that they share with each other.  We may have our weakness, but as a team we are unstoppable!

 Superheroes also teach us about focus.  They know why they are here, what needs to get done, and they go for it, no questions asked.

 In the end, they always wind up showing their vulnerability. That is what makes them believable, why we follow them, and ultimately trust them with our fate. They almost always fall in love and often have to make difficult work life balance choices.  Look at Spider-Man; he had to choose between the woman he loved and saving the world.

 In retrospect, the superheroes theme was the perfect choice.  After all as I demonstrated, they are a lot like you and I. We have all learned a thing or two from examining their work ethic. 

 So again I ask, if you were a superhero who would you be?   Reply and let me know.

superhero

 

“Memoir of a Weekend Runway”

Women hard at work

If your life is anything like mine November is a busy month both personally and professionally.

It is trade show season, budget planning, and time to tally up the 3rd Quarter results.  It is do or die time in the world of sales and manufacturing.  Maybe it is like that in your world too.  You are left questioning everything.  Are you on track to make budget?  Will you complete your goals? What still needs to be done?

Summer is also officially over.  If you have not cleaned out your garage or switched out your summer clothes for winter, what are you waiting for?!!

 It can all be quite overwhelming.

Last weekend when panicking over how I would get everything done, I made a bold choice.  I decided to drop everything and grab my last bits of fun before getting down to business.  My husband and I decided to run away from home!

 My daughter looked at us in such shock as we packed our bags, loaded the trunk and got ready to drive away.  “Where are you going ?” she asked in surprise. We are going to check into the Marriott”, I beamed.  (I must confess this is not exotic and is only 5 minutes from my home.) Being a platinum level member, or as we like to joke at work, “The abandon your family level”, we get plenty of free hotel nights.  Why not take advantage?

 Although I am not one to procrastinate, I have to say, I highly recommend this behavior.  Once we settled into our room we had cocktails, swam in the pool, and went out for a great dinner.  I woke up in the morning and read my book, that’s it! No e-mail, no laundry, no food shopping, no drawers to clean!  We then went out to brunch, walked around a quaint town, and returned home relaxed, refreshed and ready to face the week and month ahead.

I have been pondering this topic a lot lately.  As work/life balance becomes more difficult scheduling fun into your calendar should become a must!  Now I am not suggesting you should drop everything and check into a hotel every weekend, but surely you can make time for some fun activities.

I have now added scheduling something fun each weekend to my “can do” list.  (See last week’s blog: https://dessertdivachronicles.com/turn-your-to-do-list-into-a-can-do-list/ ). This gives me something to look forward to as the week’s responsibilities build.  It can be as simple as a movie, a great new restaurant, a walk around a new town, discounted theater tickets, or a local festival.  Fall is a great time for pumpkin picking and wine tasting.  (There is actually no bad season for wine tasting).  Even a walk on the beach or on my favorite trail with my buddies gives me the leverage I need to get through the week.

Add scheduling some fun into your “can do” list.  I promise you will love how you feel each Monday.  As they say,  “in life sometimes you need to take a step back to take a step forward.”  In the world of work/life balance, sometimes you need to let loose in order to get focused and get down working.

So enjoy your weekend, grab some excitement and by all means HAVE FUN!!!!!

 Fun 4

 

 

 

 

 

Why I Love Planes

I love planes because of both the serenity and the opportunity they provide for being productive.

Although these adjectives are diametrically opposed, they are both totally necessary for survival on the road.

Planes are the one place where I can be totally unplugged. I do not believe in in-flight Internet; like at 5 am (my other favorite unplugged time), I can send an e-mail and not get an immediate response! I can clean out my inbox, catch up on old e-mails, and always save a project or two which require total silence and focus for long trips.

Planes are also great to decompress. Sometimes I do not work at all.  I read my book, and catch up on old magazines and newspaper articles. I download re-runs of TV shows, and catch up on my favorite series. On occasions, I just listen to great music. I am also not ashamed to admit that I pick up copies of People magazine at the airport and devour them! (I know, but it is my guilty pleasure)

When I land I am always running to a meeting, meeting a teammate and in most instances, will not have any downtime till the way home.

The good news is, whichever path I choose, Serenity or Productivity, I reach my destination re-charged and ready to face the challenge ahead.

Repeat on the way home …………

peace_plane_tan-thumb

Start Somewhere

For me starting a project is always the hardest part.  My blog is a great example.

I have been thinking about starting my blog for at least three years, and have been talking about it truly seriously for a year.  Nevertheless, I have not put pen to paper until today (or took my first key stroke).

It is like this for me and many others for many things.  We often find ourselves saying we want to take a course in cooking, social media or any similar topic, but never do the research to get started.  We say we are going to clean out the garage or closet getting rid of the old roller blades or those size six pants that we know we will never, I repeat never, use or fit into again. Yet we never seem to get around to it.  Even more paramount, we have a big project which is mission critical for our company, or want to put our name in the hat for the next big promotion.  Yet we don’t bother to take the steps or acquire the skill sets necessary to get this accomplished.

In these situations the best thing to do is start somewhere! It is often that one little step toward your goal that is all you need to put the ball in motion.

Last week I found myself sitting in a hotel room in Chicago once again saying to myself, I really want to start my blog, so I started somewhere.  I bought the URL, “Dessert Diva Chronicles”.  I had absolutely no idea what to do with this URL once I bought it, but I knew I would figure it out.

I encourage you all today to take one small step toward whatever goal or task you have been thinking about or avoiding.  This small step is often all you need to get the ball rolling to accomplish your dream.

1215607-all-ideas-start-somewhere-710x377