A Busy Summer: Taking Things Up a Notch


This summer has been packed with new opportunities to speak and teach about leadership. Here's a little bit of what I've been doing. And stay tuned: There's another big announcement ahead! 'Finding Balance' Interview on CBS11

PepsiCo CEO Indra K. Nooyi sparked a lot of discussion with her remarks during the Aspen Ideas Festival."I don’t think women can have it all; I just don’t think so," Nooyi said. "We pretend we have it all.”

CBS11 here in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex invited me to give my own take on this topic. During a live studio interview, I said women can "have it all" but we have to look at it from a long-term perspective. At any given moment in your life, some things will take higher priority than others. Keep the bigger picture in mind, and what success looks like for you regardless of what others think. Everyone has an opinion about what makes a good mom, a good wife, a good leader. When you have clarity about your own definition of success, you can make choices in sync with it.

Fox News Radio Interview on Narcissism

Recently, I was asked to give my perspective on another topic in the news with Fox News WILS 1320 radio in Lansing, Mich. I was interviewed about a story in the Wall Street Journal that shared recent research on narcissism and other "bad" behaviors that can sometimes help people rise as leaders. I talked about the detriments and benefits of narcissism, and that we all have a bit of it. When taken to the extreme, narcissism can certainly cause disruption.

To work with someone prone to narcissism, look for ways to find alignment between what you want to achieve and what's important to him or her. And remember not to take a narcissist's behavior personally or let it push your buttons.

Multicultural Women's National Conference

On July 16-17, I took part in Working Mother's 2014 Multicultural Women's National Conference.

At my session, I shared strategies to help attendees avoid burnout, stay engaged and be more fulfilled. In a lively discussion, we talked about how to maintain energy and focus when we're pulled in so many directions and we have high expectations for ourselves.

One of the major points I stressed was being mindful of your physical energy, especially when it comes to getting enough rest. However busy you are, it's important to take breaks, even if it's just to get away from your desk for a moment or to do a breathing exercise.

I'll share more about my own takeaways from the conference in a future post.

Liberty and Leadership at Bush Institute

I've written before about how much I love working with the George W. Bush Institute’s programs to develop and empower leaders. In July, I was honored to teach at a new program, the Liberty and Leadership Forum. The forum's first class is made up of young leaders from Burma. The program focuses on helping these democracy advocates, many of whom had been political prisoners, learn the skills they need to bring about change in their home country.

In my first session with them, I coached them on how to clearly and concisely articulate the value they offer. This excerpt from an article written by the Dallas Morning News reporter who sat in my session captures the experience.

“On one of the last afternoons of training, the young Burmese tittered as they took turns with their one-sentence speeches.

It helped that the 18 participants had grown close over three weeks. When one of them said he would someday run the country, the rest of the group teased him, calling him “Mr. President.” But they also eagerly gave one another feedback.

When Kyi Min Han’s turn arrived, his passion was unmistakable. Words tumbled out as he tried to explain his efforts to improve the skills of government workers. That, in turn, would strengthen government institutions and ultimately make the country more stable.

But he couldn’t distill it down to one concise sentence — key for focusing goals and capturing others’ attention. Try after try got him closer, as his peers urged him on. And then on what must have been his 10th attempt, he nailed it.

The room burst into applause.”

As I continue to do this type of work, it reinforces the fact that no matter where you are in the world, whatever your work is, it's critical to help others understand the value you bring in simple terms. Only then can they can connect you to people who can benefit from what you offer.

We ended the day by taking this concept one step further – discussing how to build and leverage their networks. Given their circumstances, many of the participants wanted more access to people with power and influence who could help them effect change. But equally important was their need for relationships that would give them critical support and encouragement to keep forging ahead.

I left that afternoon truly humbled to work with people who are fighting so hard for the privileges we often take for granted in the United States.

Coming Soon

In the next few days, look for an announcement about some exciting new offerings aimed at helping you fit leadership development into your busy schedule.