Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Emotion is a strength

Emotion is critical to decision-making.

A great strength that women often feel more comfortable exploring is emotion. Emotion often implies vulnerability - in  a work context this can mean a willingness to change, to share or to sit back and listen instead of drive. There is a TED Talk on the Power of Vulnerability exploring this. BrenĂ© Brown says “connection is why we are here; it gives purpose and meaning to our lives...”   “ order to allow for connection to happen, we have to allow ourselves to be seen... that's vulnerability...”

Emotion is a strength. Emotion has a place in every corner of our lives. Emotion is not drama - emotion is its own truth. We cannot build a community for ourselves at work or home without emotion.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Roles we play

My mom is coming to visit. This is a great thing - it makes me sort the house, ensure a supply of fresh fruit and think of things to do in the city that I might not do as a regular inhabitant. It also makes me run through the varieties of "me" that hang in my closet.
Julie Michels said once that the minute one hears the opening bars of a familiar song, the body assumes the position for the dance.
We all have a dance with family, another with friends, another with co-workers, with strangers, with those who are strange but familiar on our commutes... Some we like better than others. Some come out at unexpected times. Some are so ingrained, the music is simply hummed unconsciously under our breath.
It is a great skill to be able to relate to a variety of groups and with different styles. It is even better to consciously select the style and "dance" we wish to have.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Network marketing

At a recent presentation, the sales rep touted the virtues of "network marketing." Like what often happens with buzzwords, everyone nodded and then clumped afterwards to ask questions of each other so as not to look dumb during the actual meeting.

You can google many examples of network marketing - also known as "multi-level" marketing or "pyramid" marketing. I've even heard it called "flower" marketing :-) The Wikipedia entry defines it as "a marketing strategy in which the sales force is compensated not only for sales they personally generate, but also for the sales of the other salespeople that they recruit."

Network marketing assumes:
a) you've got a network in place
b) you're willing to move existing relationships towards a transaction (not necessarily a bad thing)

However, if you don't have a network in place, then you're simply "cold calling" or offering a sales pitch to all new folks. You need an existing network to do network marketing. Jumping to a transaction with someone you've just met is not networking - that's straight up selling.

In January 2009, I did a short 4 part blog on networking (part 1 here  part 2  part 3 part 4 - or just search the work on this blog for more). At the Mentoring Conference this past October, networking was a hot topic as many folks were unsure what it was or how to use it as a tool.

If we agree building communities around each other is important, then separate the building from the selling. Once you have a network that trusts you, it's much easier to introduce ideas /products /pitches /requests. In a network, #1- folks need to feel valued for who they are not what they can buy.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Thank Your Mentor Day!

It is “Thank Your Mentor Day” and I wanted to share a lovely piece as written by Rodger Harding. Each of you contribute in your communities – sharing wisdom, guidance and support – whether you formally mentor or not. Without your generosity of spirit, doors might remain closed.

Anybody can mentor or be mentored at any stage in their career evolution. In this context it is gratifying to see volunteer Mentors step forward every year to identify, access, and enable Mentee excellence. This critical contribution has assisted so many women in their quest to achieve… To discover the type of leader they might become!”  Rodger Harding

Thank you for including me in your circle – professional or personal. I am proud to be part of your world.
“I can see them no more as they are, but as they were meant to be, as they would have liked to be if they had a chance...” –Axel Munthe

Monday, January 14, 2013

Good mentor qualities

I'm not sure there's a definitive list; there are many kinds and styles of mentors. Some are tough and hard to get along with (even if they might be generous or have great insight). Some mentors are gentle. Sometimes you have a great mentor but no personal connection.

I think there are some preferred qualities: listening; open mindedness; vulnerability; inclusiveness.... but I've been mentored by someone who had no time for my stories, felt they had all the answers and never showed a weakness. At the time, I wasn't sure the relationship was taking my thinking in any new direction; turns our it was and for the better.

I think if you know why you are approaching a particular individual for mentoring (with a goal in mind that only they can help you examine), then that's the place to start. You might have an ideal style in mind - as a mentor you might aspire to a certain style. But I believe it takes all kinds of folks to walk us through all kinds of approaches and thinking. I'd like to hope that those who mentor offer a kinder/gentler space but part of success is learning to form relationships with all kinds of folks. So have all kinds of folks as mentors then makes sense?

Monday, January 7, 2013

What makes a good mentor?

A good mentoree.

Ok, that's simplistic. But really it doesn't matter how good the message is or how informed, passionate or helpful the mentor is, if the person on the other side of the relationship isn't interested in listening or discussing or trying new things.

An active, passionate, engaged mentoree will make even an average mentor (are any mentors average?) better by the questions asked, the discoveries made and the new territories explored.

We should probably discuss what qualities a good mentor may have... feel free to give me your top 5!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Choice always!

The new year for me will always begin in the fall. Maybe it's the years of schooling, maybe the end of summer and watching the trees go to sleep till the new year... but January 1 seems arbitrary :-) 

However, many things are arbitrary: grammar; spelling; rules; guidelines; salaries; hemlines... It's a fact of life. Limits, boundaries and 'strong suggestions' are everywhere.

I'm not advocating fighting all suggested restrictions, only to think about their legitimacy and usefulness and then make an informed choice while accepting any consequences should you choose to buck the norm.

I'm happy to drink champagne with friends on December 31, obey traffic laws and pay bills to keep the lights and heat going. I will swear at spellcheck, negotiate my job duties and push at the "glass ceiling".

There is always a choice available, no matter how small. If something isn't morally, ethically or physically dangerous, then there better be a great reason for someone to tell us "no" or put a limit on things.

My favourite saying to post in training sessions is: "Every rule here can be challenged, except this one." Live thoughtfully; own your choices.