Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Visionary or Dreamer?

I'd like to say my leadership style is visionary.  However, if I really think about it, I'm a dreamer.

What's the difference?  Not sure if there is one.  Is a visionary more grounded in reality?  Doubt it.  Media always label great leaders as visionary because they think outside the box and then make things happen despite the odds.   Maybe that's the clue.  Visionaries take action?  No. Wait.  They take the right action steps.  Movement is action and not achievement.  The right action is calculated and done with the end in sight.

If think back to myself in high school and I apply the reasoning above, then I remember myself as a dreamer. Although dreams are important, wrong action or the lack of action has lead me to where I am today - and it's no where near the dreams I had as a kid.  If am to reflect on why I didn't achieve my dreams and why I did or did not take action towards those dreams, I'd say the largest impact was the people and distractions I've been surrounded by over the years. (Facebook being the most recent!)

No judgement.  It just is. 

As I take a quick self-assessment.  I dream of the future but my actions are rooted in the present.  With three kids, a husband and full time job, it's hard to not to be in the present.  This, however, is my example of influence.  I make decisions base on them - not just myself and my dreams.  The day to day, can be a dream killer.  Doesn't mean I have a bad life, it just means that I'm not doing what I can do to achieve all of my life goals.

If I really want to achieve.  I need to get clear on what my dreams really where all about when I was in high school and create new ones that are based in the past, today and the future.  Then I need to take action and surround myself with those that will get me there.  No excuses.  Plan some steps, even if they are small and then take action.  Limit distractions.

Dreamer or visionary...time for me to be visionary.

What do you think?  Do you struggle with achieving dreams?  What do you think holds you back?  What do you think of my differences between dreamer and visionary? 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fagiddaboudit! Have we already forgotten 9/11?

I find it sad that we only think about 9/11 and how precious all of our lives are one day a year.  On 9/11/2001 our world changed but, only for a brief moment.  In that moment we became kind and caring.  We stopped honking horns and yelling at people to get out of the way.  We took life a little slower. Everyone was polite.  The motto “Never Forget” had become the rally cry.   

I’m sad and not just for those who lost their lives and the family members but, for those who forget 9/11 the other 364 days a year…myself included. 

  • When the US still has a population the size of Canada that lives in poverty – we forget
  • When there are children in the US that go to school hungry because they have no food in their house – we forget
  • When an American man in a turban gets extra attention at the airport – we forget
  • When Wall Street bankrupts America – we forget
  • When a young black man coming home with his straight A’s from school gets “stopped and frisked” – we forget
  • When a mom is asked to not breast feed in public – we forget
  • When we spend more money on war than on education – we forget
  • When Americans say “I’m not paying for my neighbor’s healthcare” – we forget
  • When people pay more attention to a woman dancing on a stage and it gets more press than important world news – we forget
  • When some people stand in line for hours to get the latest iPhone while others have to stand in line just to get food – we forget
  • When there is no equality in marriage - we forget
  • When people seethe with anger over petty things – we forget
  • When an American citizen can’t vote because they don’t have to have a state ID – we forget
  • When we allow our civil liberties to be violated in the name of security - we forget

Not to exclude myself – I forget, too

  • When I blast drivers who cut in long lines of traffic – maybe they are late for a life changing event – I forget
  • When I criticize helicopter parents – I forget
  • When I roll my eyes and huff-n-puff over the person with a million questions as I wait behind them in line – I forget
  • When I make a list of complaints about my life instead of counting my blessings– I forget

A zero-sum-game full of self-serving greed and hatred is still alive and well in our country.  For myself, I worry too much about what I want instead of focusing on what I have in my life.    

I’m sorry victims of 9/11 but I still don’t think we’ve learned a thing.

Feeling a little pessimistic today - perhaps, I need to go read Anne Frank, she found beauty in a sad time.  I'll find the beauty again and will remember to live life and give life - everyday.  If I forget...remind me!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

My 9/11 Experience Remembered

I woke up with a phone call that day.  I was off, in between film gigs.   My friend Kristin called me to turn on the news as a plane had hit one of the World Trade Center Towers.  I said, “Really?  What kind of plane?”  She wasn’t sure but that I should turn on the news.  I saw the video on the news and because of scale thought it was a small plane.  Like a four or ten person plane.  She and I got off the phone and I started watching the news.  

At that time AOL instant messaging was the hot tech social network of the time and I started IM’ing with my friend Heidi.  We sat there typing and watching on live news the horrible events unfurl.  (I printed the text and still have it.)

That afternoon I met with friends at a local restaurant.  Everyone was walking home from work.   People were walking by stunned, tired and covered in dust.  Looking back they had walked at least 5 miles to the Upper East Side after running for their lives from falling buildings.  Everyone was out and about because the need for community was strong.

The next day, Heidi called me and said, “Let’s go volunteer.”  She and I headed to Chelsea Piers.  The weather disconnected you from the mayhem that was going on downtown.  Thousands of were dying or dead, yet it was beach weather.  It made reality confusing.  It should have been a gray dreary day.
When we arrived they said they had enough people they just needed supplies.  People were walking up handing over bags of stuff from clothing to Band-Aids.  So she and I headed to a Duane Reade and bought all kinds of first aid.

After that I felt empty and we went home.  In my need to process grief, I had to do something.  I couldn’t just sit in my apartment and watch the same horrific video over and over again.  The next day we heard they wanted people and to register at Javits Conference Center.  There was a line that felt a mile long.  I thought, “This is crazy.”  I waited and waited finally putting in my name and phone number.  “We’ll call you if we need you,” said the woman at the table.  I was devastated. I needed to do something, anything. Years later, I still wonder who those people were and what they ever did with my information.

That night, I headed to Chelsea on the rumor that they needed help at night.  Lo and behold, I arrived and they said they could use counselors.  I said that I wasn’t a therapist but was a trained and certified life coach.  He asked me to come on in.  My ID badge was a two pieces of yellow duct tape.  One said Lorin K the other “Counselor.”  

The first thing I was asked to do was go get some food! How? Ask restaurants.  I ran around to several restaurants and asked if they would cook and deliver food…for free.  They all said yes.  I arrived back and told them food was on the way.  Next thing I know, pizzas, Mexican plates and sandwiches were showing up!

After that I some of the folks from Ground Zero started coming up. Police vans would drive them up so they could get food, a change of clothes and a cot to sleep on.  I would meet them at the detox area.  We had them change, take showers, put their dust covered clothes in garbage bags, and got them food.  While they ate I would talk with them.  Some just couldn’t sleep.  They needed to talk about the body parts they were finding and putting into buckets.  I’m sure those images are still there after all these years.

The next evening, I came back with my “ID” and they welcomed me back.  I walked a 20 year old guy back from Javits that was so sleep derived from digging at Ground Zero that he seemed drunk.  He still didn’t want to sleep.  He kept saying, “What if I was in that rubble? I wouldn’t want people to give up.”  No matter what I said about the fact that there were hundreds of others helping, he still thought that sleeping was selfish and unacceptable.  I made him lay down on a cot in a small room and turned off the light. I assured him that regular police vans were coming up to pick people up and that he could go back down if he wanted.  About an hour and a half later I checked in on him and he was gone.  

I stood outside Chelsea to get a breather and watch truck after truck head up the West Side Highway full of WTC debris not realizing at the time what it really meant.  A police van pulled up and asked me if there were volunteers that were ready and able to come down. I asked if they needed any counselors and he said it would be great.  So, ran inside Chelsea and grabbed some people.  As we rode down, I’ll never forget the images, the smells and the feeling.  After years on film sets, it looked just like one.  All lit up like a huge Spielberg action movie. All of this just had to be made up!

South of 14th Street there was no electricity and no lights.  The only thing lit up was Ground Zero.  Once downtown, I’ll never forget the Winter Garden with no glass roof, the fire hoses that I almost tripped over a million times in the dark, the wet paper pulp, wet cement dust that covered everything, the personal items scattered around, the half inch water on the marble floor of the World Financial Center and the open doors to offices.  Mostly, I’ll never forget the image standing on West Street and Liberty…looking squarely at the rubble with smoke coming out and huge lights…it looked like a movie set.

I hung out with First Responders, as they are now called, in St. Josephs Chapel helping to organize clothes, rope, knives, gloves and face masks that no one wore – there was even dog food.  I spent time on the Spirit Cruise ships that docked to provide food to the volunteers.  I would spend time with them, hearing their stories.  I’m sad that I don’t remember their names but I do remember many of the faces.  

A couple days later we were all kicked out of Ground Zero and Chelsea Piers.  New York City’s Office of Emergency Management was taking over the grass root operation.  One guy admitted to me that they won’t be nearly as efficient.  My roommate Kellie was happy for me to be home.   We talked for hours…days.  

A week later, New York Texas Exes, the New York alumni chapter of the University of Texas was to hold our annual dinner cruise around New York Harbor.  I was the President at the time and we decided to try and still do it.  We contacted the company and they were on board, letting us know that we wouldn’t be able to go south of 14th street.  We understood.   

The night of the cruise, we all climbed aboard and instead of a celebration it became a gathering to grieve.  It was our tradition to invite the NY Aggies to make it a “Texas” get together.  But that night we all admitted that we were New Yorkers forever – as the NY police allowed us to drive all the way down by the site to the Statue of Liberty.   

We turned off the music and silently rode by staring at the lights, the scene, with the smoke rising through the air.  Not a dry eye to be found.  We stood together in the moment.  Arm and arm we all prayed in our own way.  Many of us making resolutions. (For me, a new career!)

Here we were, eating food, drinking beer, dancing and moving on with our lives while others were stunned and grieving for lost ones hoping and praying for a miracle rescue that never came. 

As I write this, twelve years later, I can still see the images and they are beginning to fade but the feelings, they remain.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Shakespearean Job Descriptions and Six Other Failures of Recruiting

I recently went through the job hunting process. It started in February and ended about a month ago with a job offer. (Yea for me!)  So, for five months, I sent resumes, connected with my network and interviewed...a lot!  During this adventure I got to really examine the recruiting practices of about 40-50 companies.  (I lost count - I added up 46 but I'm sure I'm forgetting some random head hunters that contacted me! Some of them were not very memorable.)

During this time, I took note as to what went well and what didn't go well, so that as an internal consultant at my new company, I can give some good recommendations.  Luckily, the new recruiter at my new job is of the reasons I accepted the job.

Much as receptionists are the first people your customers come in contact with, recruiters are usually the first person your potential talent comes in contact with and they will judge your company based upon their experience.

Listed below are only a few of the things that really irked me during the process and I'm not talking personal.  I was sad to see so many companies failing in the recruiting process.  If they were failing with me, how many other better people did they miss out on because they aren't paying close enough attention?

1. "Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy." 
Job Descriptions That Sound like Shakespeare
~I'd say about 80% of the job descriptions I read were really a bunch of crap.  Most all of the job descriptions were way too long and way too detailed.  Plus, whoever wrote them thinks that writing fancy long sentences with big words makes them sound sophisticated and smart!  Most times I couldn't understand what what written and I have a Masters degree!  Keep it simple.  There is no reason to write like Shakespeare.

In addition, there were a few times where the job description didn't match the interview at all!

The job I ended up accepting had one paragraph when I applied.  The summary was enough to know it was the job for me!  No more than six bullet points with a summary is needed.

Another great job description had the job broken down into percentages of time spent in certain areas.  Such as 30% heading up such and such, 20% on developing new programs, etc.  Really gave a great indication of priorities for the organization.

2. "Tell me a time when you had to perform brain surgery while baking brownies."
~Hiring managers who are WAAAAAY to picky.  I spoke to an external head hunter for one position after I he had recommended me for an interview.  After I met with the hiring manager, I called him back to say that I didn't think it was going to work out and I could tell he was at his wits end with the client.  I've seen the same job posted for the last five months and a different recruiter called me for the same position.  I told them good luck.

Listen, I know it's expensive to recruit and hire folks.  However, hiring managers are spending way too much of their energy on finding someone that has every tiny experience listed on the job description, instead of thinking to themselves: "Hey this person has a Masters so she's probably not stupid and can learn what I need her to know.  More important, would I want to have lunch every day with this person?"

Look for people who are teachable and that you like...a lot.

3. Water Tower Torture is More Enjoyable than Your On-Line Job Description Application
~Stop making professionals with an CV fill out an on-line job description that takes 45 MINUTES! I wasted so much time filling out very tedious on-line applications.  Since you aren't going to check work history until you've made an offer or about to make an offer - wait until after the interviewing process.

 There were several times I quit filling out applications for companies because the process was slower than watching paint dry.  I'd rather have my finger nails pulled out with pliers.  Companies who have these horrible processes loose out on more talent than just me.  I've spoken to several high-end great professionals who tell me that they never apply to companies if they have to do more than just upload a CV in the on-line application.

I didn't have to fill out an on-line application for the job I soon start.  So super happy about that.  Resume via email, interviews, job offer - tedious paperwork after.  YES!!!  Felt very professional.

Forget the water torture tower of Sing Sing...tedious on-line applications are much worse.  STOP!

4. "Hi, I'm Carol from X Company.  Thanks for applying to the position.  What is your expected / current salary?" 
~Yep, that's right!  Salary was the second thing talked about during the first phone interview!  If they gave me the range and asked if I was still interested in interviewing, then fine!  But asking my expectation right up front is just super unprofessional.  I found I lacked confidence in the company if they are asking right up front.  I feel like the organization doesn't have buy-in to the position and isn't willing to pay what it's worth.

Just pony up and give the salary range.  Companies who were open, honest and didn't play the salary game gave me a good indication that the organization might have good transparency and high trust internally.  Low-trust companies play games.  Have confidence that you work at a great company and are offering a great opportunity.  The right person is coming for that and not just for salary.

5.  "No key or lid, yet golden treasure inside is hid. What is it?" Questions designed (or not) to confuse!
~ Technical interviewing is very important for some jobs.  You want to see how people think on their feet.  However, purposely trying to trick people into failing is just plain mean.

Let me tell you a little something about the brain.  When people feel threatened they are less likely to think to their fullest capacity.  Try to find the best of the candidate.  If you think all candidates are trying to "pull one over on you," then you probably don't trust.  I'm not going to a company where the hiring manager can't even trust me in an interview.

Lack of interview structure is another biggie.  If you are going to do behavioral, technical and personal all in the same interview, create a structure and let the candidate know the plan.  Bouncing around is unsophisticated and for kids on trampolines.

6.  "Ms. Mask? Here's your blind fold for the interview."
~I was blindsided in more than one interview.  One example, is a phone interview with an out-of-town company.  The internal recruiter sent me the name of the person I was going to talk with over the phone.  She failed to supply me with a phone number in case I had phone/technical issues, which I experienced.  Worse, however, was that when I finally was on the call, there where five other people in a conference room with a speaker phone.  Slam.  Not only was I stressed out with technical issues but then I had a whole room full of people for which I was not mentally prepared.

I was rarely prepped very well - that was only one example.

Prep your candidate.   You conducted the first interview, it went well and you've now gone out on the limb to recommend them to the hiring manager...set them up for success.  Otherwise, the hiring manager may think you don't know what you are doing and neither will the candidate.  They'll think this is indicative of the organizational culture.  Recruiters are not above the company culture - they are a representative of it.

7.   "Ms. Mask?  This way to the interrogation room."
~Wrong.  80% of the people I met with did a significantly below average job during the interview.  Most asked very bad questions.  Many made it feel like an interrogation. The best made it a conversation - much like you would do on the job. 

Talk to them about the opportunity, let them know about the culture.  Get the candidates to share experiences.  Encourage them to tell a story.

Be consistent.  Pick two or three question you might ask all candidate, have a little structure but make time for free form, much like you would do when working together.

Out of the 46 or so experiences, I can count on one hand the good recruiters, hiring managers and companies I would work for based on those experiences.  I've only given you seven of the many missteps I encountered.

As an OD person, I'm appalled at the mediocrity and wonder how much better those companies would be if they spent a little time reviewing their recruiting and hiring processes.  It's simple to figure out, too.  Ask the candidates, that you offer positions, to give feedback.  Hire a talent management consultant go through a "dummy" job, interview and hiring.  They'll be happy to give feedback for improvement.

The future of your organization relies on finding the right talent...make sure they are not turned off by your recruiting and hiring team.  AND for goodness sake, offer your candidate some water!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Routines, Success and Vacation

Ahhhhh, this feels good.  I haven't been able to write in a while and I am surprised at how much I missed it!

I never ever thought of myself as a writer.  Mostly, because I don't feel it's my strength.  However, I had been writing consistently with my Daily Affirmation for Mindful Leadership blog since March.  I was very consistent until I went on vacation, during which, I had no time to write.  It was spent with my family and doing many many activities and when we weren't doing something we were visiting.

Now don't get me wrong, vacation is great and necessary for many reasons.  In our family, travel is very essential.  It is educational and time together without the pull of everyday chores.  However, vacation gets you out of routine and can take you away from things that are important.  Vacation is good for the brain.  Getting out of routine can give you insight and a fresh perspective on your life, work and family success.  It's like how an artist will step back from their work to see how it is coming together.

It usually takes time for me to get back into routine.  I've been home since Wednesday and I've only been able to sit down and write for the first time today...Friday.  I found that I even got a little stressed about it.  I find that funny.  Like I said, I never found myself to be a writer, nor did I think of myself as habitual, but, I think I did go through some withdrawal.  I'm finding that as an extrovert, downtime to think is becoming more important for me to communicate better.

The good thing about that is I'm motivated so, perhaps my usual long windup to get back into the groove of things will be shorter than in the past.   The lesson here is that I need to be better prepared for vacation by finding time to pre-write for blog posts and make sure that I carve out time for writing while on vacation.  Lessons for everyone is to figure out what routines you might miss or need and incorporate them into your vacations!  Happy Summer.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Staring Over

Since 2008, I have been on an interesting journey of self-discovery.  As a woman in my 40s, I've learned that I can always start over and that it's OK to reinvent yourself until you are comfortable.

I've had many identities since becoming an adult and I know that I will change again.  At this point, however, I feel I am a bit more settled.  I'm sure that comes with age but for me it was finding my career path,  excepting my limitations, using my strengths and also, in introducing meditation.  There has been a lot going on my my life since 2002.  In the last nine years, I met my husband, changed careers and had three children.  My career change has been bumpy with two lay-offs.  The first lay off lasted a while and I didn't make some of the smartest moves.  I did, however, learn a lot!
 During my first lay off I tried many paths and all of them at the same time:
  1. My own consultancy in organizational development, learning and coaching
  2. A coaching company called Legal Appeal, in which, I used a program called "Unlock the Golden Handcuffs" to help lawyers leave law and find a new career
  3. Life Challenges Coaching: A membership type company that provided quality low cost coaching
  4. Entrepreneur and Professional Moms Association, a non-profit group of mompreneurs
  5. Job hunting
I did all of this in two years! (Including birth my third child!)  I was looking for instant success and when I didn't get it, I added another layer. I had lots of self-doubt.  Plus, when you are married with children the need to provide will make you grasp at anything.  This strategy did not work. Luckily, I got back to work.

Starting Over

During my last job as the Director of Organizational Development and Learning and current lay off, I've gained some clarity.  First, I didn't start another company.  I just focused on finding another job. (Luckily, I will soon be starting a new one as the Director of Learning and Development.)  I've discovered that I could merge personal beliefs and work.  I learned about how we are making new discoveries about the brain.  Leadership development, neuroscience and mediation are in my sights.  This is my road.   Leaderships development is my sweet spot and my new posts will begin to show my current interests.

I realized that I needed to clean up my presence on the world wide web and this blog was one of them.  On this blog I have twelve random posts, the last one from 2009, from previous incarnations as I searched for my niche.  I thought about deleting them, so I could start "fresh."  But, I decided to leave them as a reminder of my life path.

I'm not sure how long I will remain on this journey but I feel it will be for a long time.  You see, this is a culmination of purpose, passion and education -  and it's all coming together!

Thank you for taking the time to read this - I hope you enjoy the new direction.