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Stop Selling Vanilla Ice Cream: New Book on Strategy and Talent

When I first saw the cover of this book I knew I had to have it in my library.  Unlike the rest of the people in my house, I love vanilla ice cream.  I am a vanilla girl.  So when I saw the title Stop Selling Vanilla Ice Cream by Steve Van Remortel, I had to check it out.  The sub title is "The Scoop on Increasing Profit by Differentiating Your Company Through Strategy and Talent."

Steve has crafted a process for organizations to build highly successful teams with very distinct strategies.  I am also an assessment junkie and the book comes with the code to participate in a behavioral styles assessment (DiSC); and a Workplace Motivators.  It is full of tips, action plans and templates to analyze the talent pool based on the strategic differentiators.  The Talent Tracker tool is very useful. It's a talent management dashboard that highlights a team members' DiSC profile, strengths/value to the team, communication do's and don'ts, actions to increase value to the team and enhance development, and the internal and external workplace motivators.    There are several strategic planning tools and processes as well.

Building successful teams in any organization is always an important first step.  This book will walk you step-by-step through exercises that will identify strength and weaknesses of each individual.  Once you have built a successful team, then you can begin the strategy planning phase.

“You must differentiate yourself from competitors.  Like Baskin-Robbins, you had better be selling something more interesting, more valuable, and enticing-something that sets you apart.  Otherwise, you’ll find limited success in your market.”

I was very impressed with the detailed strategic planning phase of this book. I will surely recommend it for my clients looking to get more organized around being strategic about their talent.

Steve Van Remortel has written a new book, based on his Stop Selling Vanilla Ice Cream process, to help business leaders create a differentiated strategy that is executed by a high performance team. Starting October 16th, it will be available at bookstores nationwide and at Amazon.


The More We Know About Generations

I was just listening to WTOP, the news radio station in the DC metro area, and one of the reports talked about the declining salaries since 1999 for the "Sandwich Generation."  Apparently those aged 45-54 are making on average 17% less than they did 13 years ago.  I fall smack dab in the middle of this group, and while I am exceedingly more satisfied with my career as an entrepreneur and Woman Owned Small Business, I am not making that corporate salary with bonus and perks I once enjoyed either.  Carol Abaya coined this concept and indeed having older parents to worry about, and young kids - and adult kids, makes life very interesting.  I personally wouldn't have it any other way, but that Generation Jones curse of the "Keeping up with the Jones's"  and "Jonsing for more, reinventing ourselves" as Jonathan Pontell describes, is a dynamic the early Boomers and late Gen Xer's are immersed in. (Remember Gen Jones is a subset of the Boomers "sandwiched" between older Boomers and Gen X.)

So as we think about how to apply the lens of generational differences, I think one of the things to keep in mind for the emerging Millennial leader is some of your staff are feeling a lot of outside pressures that you cannot appreciate at this point in your life.  I recently spoke to several new leaders in the 29-32 age range, and they are now managing 40-50+ year olds and struggling a bit.  They shared with me that they feel they cannot connect with them, and the Boomers are shutting them out.

Generational preferences

Baby Boomers Generation Jones Generation X
Woodstock Live Aid Lollapalooza
Sputnik Apollo Challenger
Peace Symbol Necklace Mood Ring Nose Ring
Drive-ins Drive-thrus Drive-bys
Viet Nam War "Star Wars" Persian Gulf War
Rolling Stone George Details
Anti-War Protests No Nukes Campaign "Boxers or Briefs?"
IBM Apple Microsoft
"All You Need is Love" "Born to Run" "Smells Like Teen Spirit"
"The Graduate" "St. Elmo’s Fire" "Reality Bites"
Tom Hayden Tom Hanks Tom Green
Drink OJ OJ Runs OJ Walks
San Francisco Austin Seattle
The Cleavers "The Brady Bunch" "The Simpsons"
Oliver Stone Quentin Tarantino Kevin Smith
JFK Jimmy Carter Jesse Ventura
LSD Grass Ecstasy
Coke New Coke Classic Coke
Source: Jonathan Pontell,

I spoke to several Boomers being led by Millennials and they report their managers are defensive, not open to any input, and act like they need to have all the answers.  So they shut down, and just 'show up' to do their jobs, and nothing more.

It all comes down to mutual respect. Millennials bring a lot to the table as we know and read about every day.  And experienced Boomers and Xer's do too.  If we tried to remain open and curious to what we all offer, and put ego to the side and be authentic with each other, it might improve morale.  Millennials are in the midst of constructing their egos, who they are, becoming experts at something.  Boomers and Xers, if we are lucky, have BTDT (been there done that), and are deconstructing our egos.  Downsizing and simplifying our lives.

I suspect a new Millennial manager has consternation's just as I did when I had my first management role.  I took a humble approach. Wanting to learn from the senior members of the team.  Engaging them early on as to not appear bigger than I was.  Back then, that approach worked well.  I hear my friends who have late 20 something bosses complain that they are treated like has-beens, not as intelligent and almost feel insulted. That strategy is not going to serve the new manager well.  And I recognize they are still growing into their leadership, we all make some blunders in the beginning.

A helpful leadership strategy I subscribe to comes from Tom Rath's Strengths Finder work.  
"Win Them Over."



Our Nation Was Changed

Everyone has their 9/11 stories.  A dear friend was working across the street from the Towers when it happened and can't get the images out of her mind.  A college mate lost many friends, as her husband is a member of the NYFD.  The thing we all have in common if we are citizens of this country is for the first time in our lifetime, we experienced a horrific attack on our nation's soil.  No matter what your political affiliation, on that day and the days and months to follow, we were one nation.  We came together, flags waving on nearly every car that drove by until the wind and weather shredded them.  To be an American on 9/11/01 was an honor.

I want to believe there was less crime that day.  That even the most mischievous took pause and prayed in some way.

My husband was on the tarmac at Newark airport at 9:40 pm on 9/10/01.  He called from his cell to say his flight was being delayed due to the weather.  He wasn't sure if it would take off that night.  He traveled all the time back then, and with the ease and convenience of cell phones, I stopped paying attention to where he was off to next.  So I wasn't sure if he made his destination, and we did not speak after that.

At approximately 8:50 am, with the rest of the nation, I heard about the attack and watched, glued to the streaming video at work, as we gasped in horror.  One of those flights left from Newark.  I was pretty sure Todd was not bound for CA, but was not sure.  If you recall, phone lines and cell towers were overloaded and no one could get through.  I prayed, had faith that whatever the outcome, God was in charge.  Finally at 11:30 that night he got through.  He was in Minneapolis with a colleague, had a car rented, and would be driving back to MD the next day as all flights were cancelled indefinitely.

We had not been a church attending family during that season of our life and had just moved from Cincinnati the month before.  That Sunday, I opened the yellow pages and found Damascus Road Community Church in the town we were building our house.  I told the family to get up and dressed, we were going to church to pray for the families that lost loved ones, and to be grateful to be safe and American.

For all the families, friends and colleagues that lost someone, to the children that never met their parents, the brave fire fighters and police and other volunteers that risked their lives to help save another...THANK YOU.  This event motivated me to volunteer to the less fortunate.  To give back, get involved, and step out of my comfort zone.

I believe that is what life is about.  Service to others, and stretching to grow. feels good.

Recent Comments
Guest — Donna Pearring
What a beautiful tribute to the 9/11 anniversary! I, too, remember where I was... I was in a management meeting in Reston when the... Read More
Wednesday, 12 September 2012 00:09
Guest — Asuncion Abruzzese
We are only just now beginning to appreciate the depth of Jung's contribution to the modern human condition. It should be mandator... Read More
Tuesday, 13 November 2012 01:55

Happy Anniversary to Me! Celebrating Milestones!


Happy One Year Anniversary! Of what you ask?  I posted my first blog one year ago.  After mentors like Mike Figlioulo, Kevin Eikenberry and Becky Robinson encouraged me to start, I am quite happy that I am still doing it one year later.  Like many of my predecessors, and countless peers in my profession have uttered to me, I thought that no one would find what I have to say of interest.  What value could I possibly add?  No one has time to read my blogs.  And with coaching and encouragement, I decided to give it a whirl.  While my readership does not even compete with the aforementioned, I received some wonderful feedback last week from a Millennial I met recently in a training class that read one of my posts and is now taking action to address something she has been putting off for a very long time, and that, is why I do this.

If ONE person can find joy, laugh, or ponder something that pours from these fingers, then why not!


Becky Robinson has an amazing website called 12 Minute Media and really, that is about all the time I put into a post.  More time with graphics and aesthetics than I should, but it is actually fun!  Most of my mentors blog at least weekly if not more, and I try to keep up with top blogs like Business Insider and Mashable.  And I have decided I will blog when I have the energy and the passion to write about something.

My blog covers themes like Millennials, family, leadership development, and holidays it seems.  Blogging is actually a great way to 'journal' about what you are thinking about, topics that grab your interest, or experiences that played a significant role in your life.

Why not take a moment, no matter the forum, and write about what is meaningful in your life.  I suggest journaling to my coaching clients all the time, some do it, most do not.  And when they do, I often hear them thanking me for the suggestion as it always inspires something that would not have occurred other wise.  There is something powerful to writing it down. It makes a thought become closer to a commitment.

What is worth celebrating for YOU today!?

What can you write down as a commitment to yourself that gets you closer to action?

Enjoy the little wins.  They add up.

Recent Comments
Guest — Barb
Today I would celebrate, and want to write about, the shining moment when I met you. You are a remarkable young woman and you wer... Read More
Wednesday, 05 September 2012 21:41
Guest — ermigrp
I love you Barb and all the wonderful people at KEG! What an awesome day meeting you was indeed!
Wednesday, 05 September 2012 22:13

Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: A MUST Read for Developing Your People


Bev Kaye, of Love 'Em or Lose 'Em fame is back with her latest development book, and this time she partners with Julie Winkle Giulioni. Collectively they bring 50+ years of experience in leadership development, employee engagement, and the performance management space to get the most out of people.  Right up my alley!

Career development and helping your employees grow is one of the most important things a manager can do.  In their book, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go, Bev and Julie provide real life examples of how to achieve successful career development for their employees. Plus I just love the quotes and graphics!


What if you could more easily and frequently engage in career development work that employees crave without sacrificing everything else that must get done?

“Genuine career development is not about forms, choreographing new assignments, or orchestrating promotions.  It’s about the quality of the conversations between a manager and an employee, conversations that are designed to:

    • Facilitate insights and awareness


    • Explore possibilities and opportunities


    • Inspire responses that drive employee-owned action"

A manager doesn’t need to have all the answers, but they need to ask the right questions to help guide the employee’s career development.  “You can enable career-advancing self-awareness by helping employees take stock of where they’ve been, what they’ve done, and who they are.”

 It’s important to have a realistic picture of the employees strengths, weaknesses and interests to make sure the next step is a perfect step.  This is nothing new, and we keep saying it: feedback is key.  And the feedback can come from many different sources like peers, employees, customers, friends and the manager. Whoever said the manager is alone in all this needs to think about it differently.

This book is filled with wonderful information and steps for any manager looking to help their employee with career development.  Career development makes a difference!  Millennials are going to LOVE it!


This book will teach you how to achieve this successfully and the most important point is you don’t have to do it all by yourself.



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