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Spring: A Renewal

It is my favorite season.  Fall used to be, but I really have shifted over the years.  Maybe it's because of spring being more generative, and as I get older, that is an energy I prefer.  Fall used to represent different things to me, probably hardwired from my youth: Football games, bonfires, and let's face it - parties.  And now, spring has that healing, restorative energy.

I have lived in a few cities and I have to say that Maryland/DC metro is the prettiest display of spring.  This year it came about a month early, but we will not complain.  Of course my husband bought a snow blower this year, and it remains unassembled in our garage.  A sure anti-snow strategy: buy a snow blower.

We just had the mulch put down in the beds and it looks just gorgeous.  I stopped this morning and just sttod still.  Taking in the beauty of the flowering dogwoods that will likely shed their blooms in favor of green leaves this week.  The daffodils and tulips are now gone, and the irises are peaking out, and the bleeding hearts splash pink joy throughout the garden.

Spring has so many possibilities.  How can we use this season of rebirth to refresh our own vision for our future?

What is next for you?

What do you wish you could do if there were no limitations?

If you could clone yourself, what else would you be doing?

I am optimistic and energized about what the rest of 2012 has in store.  What blooms are you nurturing in your own life right now?


Part Two: One Piece of Paper Review



The Simple Approach To Powerful, Personal Leadership


By Mike Figliuolo


I received some feedback about my first part of the One Piece of Paper review.  Here are more reasons why if you are in leadership you should add this book to your library.

By the time you finish your book, you will be able to declare your non-negotiable maxims on 'one piece of paper.'



    • “When you focus on leading the thinking you will see new trends, opportunities, and risks before your competitors see them.  You can shape the market rather than having the market shape you.” (p. 83)


    • “Going from being a doer to being a thinker is a big leap.  It requires you to let go of always being the person with the answers and to instead become the person asking the questions.” (p. 85)

Write MY maxims:

1.    What are your expectations regarding your team’s standards of behavior?  Respect differences; there is enough work out there for all of us; we do not have to be experts at everything, that's why we have a team.  
2.    Where are you taking your people? I can't get there alone. Anything can happen if you let it.
3.    How do you want them to interact with you? I am accessible, if you can't find me yell and I will be there. 

Where are You Taking Your People?

“Writing a vision statement requires a great deal of thought and an ability to step outside of your daily grind and into a time beyond the foreseeable future.” (p. 101)

How Will You Foresee The Future - some excellent reflection questions to ask yourself.

1.    What is the most innovative or visionary idea you have ever seen?

2.    What is the best idea you have ever had?


    • “You are a leader.  Management and leadership are not the same thing.  The difference is simple; you manage things; you lead people.” (p. 131)


    • Leadership is people focused. (p. 132)

Write YOUR maxims:

1.   What is your natural style?

2.   How will you remember to treat your team members as individuals?

3.    How will you stay connected to your team’s reality?

4.    How will you commit to your people’s growth?

“Authenticity is a simple concept.  It is defined as being genuine.  Or, in my words, it is a state of being in which what you see is what you get.” (p. 137)

Quote:  Don’t bring me problems. Bring me solutions.

How Will You Remember To Treat Your Team Members As Individuals?

The more time and effort you spend on getting to know your people the better you will relate to them.  This is not a natural state of being for all people. In my own experience, this is a polarizing concept.  Some leaders have specific boundaries they live their lives by.  Work is work, home is home.  Ne'er the twain shall meet.  Well, this may not be the most optimal way to reach your people.  Mike provides this story and my personal favorite.

Example: (p. 151) This is a wonderful example of a junior soldier that he managed when he was a platoon leader.  The soldier was very unruly and they referred to him as a “problem child”.  The one day the platoon leader got sodas for everyone and remembered that this soldier was the only one that drank 7UP.  This affected the soldier so much that the platoon leader would take the time to get to know him that he changed his attitude completely.  He began to follow orders and pay attention to his work better, because he mattered to the platoon leader.


Maxim:  He drinks 7UP.





“To lead a balanced life, you need to put things in perspective.  When you get stressed out, your focus narrows and you can lose sight of the bigger picture.” (p.182)

Write your maxims:

1.    How will you define your boundaries?

2.    How will you keep things in perspective?

3.    What are you passionate about?

“When you take things too seriously, you lose perspective.  Losing perspective creates stress. “(p. 193)

Staying Focused:

PART SIX – MAKING IT REAL (p. 211-217)

Living your maxims on one piece of paper is powerful.  Eventually they will change your behavior and you can take massive strides toward being the leader and the person you want to be.” (p. 213)

We can say all these wonderful things about our intent.  But it really boils down to our impact, what we do, how we 'be' and how we made the situation better for the people we serve.  Mike Figliuolo offers the pragmatic framework to get very clear on what is important to you as a leader.  It requires us to back those maxim's up with stories, the powerful ones people remember, and that allow us to step into our 'powerful, personal leadership.'

To get your own copy click here.



Book Review: One Piece of Paper by Mike Figliuolo Part One



The Simple Approach To Powerful, Personal Leadership


By Mike Figliuolo

It is so exciting for leadership development junkies like me to pick up a new book and instantly know how you can apply it!  That is what happened to me when I bought this book on  I tend to be the type of reader that will jump to the back and see what treasures are in the appendix then when/if I find them, I will read more.  Well that is what happened to me.

Mike is an impressive guy that I connected with through networking in 2008 when I started The Ermi Group.  A West Point honors grad, former professor, consultant and executive, Mike founded thoughtLEADERS, LLC. He lives in Ohio and I was able to meet him face-to-face at that time during a visit to Cincinnati, and he really took me under his wing. He is a generous mentor and has helped me in countless ways.

Mike describes his book by saying,"Imagine explaining your leadership philosophy on one piece of paper – a simple 8.5” x 11” summation of all you are and all you want to be as a leader. How powerful would it be to have a discussion about that single page with the members of your team? But that’s impossible. Or is it? This book will help you do exactly that."

I am a pragmatic leader and I also have an affinity toward efficiency, so when I heard about this concept I just had to get it!

Here is a high level overview of what you will find in this gem, and a couple of my own examples as I reflect on my own leadership maxims.

The Leadership Maxims Approach

“One piece of paper will guide you through a simple approach for creating, articulating, and living your personal philosophy-one that can be shared on a single piece of paper.” Mike's maxims are simple catch phrases, stories, events that happened to him that keep him honest with himself in terms of what is important to him.  And Mike's maxim that moved me the most is "He drinks 7-up."

I tell it all the time to my coaching clients.  It was simple, and powerful.  In short, when Mike was an arms officer in the US Army, one of his junior soldiers was having some performance issues.  A 'problem child." Apathetic, no pride of ownership in his work, sort of disheveled and showed up late, no regard for authority.  One day on a break, they were playing cards and one of his troops went to get some sodas.  Mike gave him a list with the name of the person and the type of soda to get.  "Two Pepsi's, a Dr. Pepper, three Sprites and one 7UP."  When the sodas were distributed the problem child received a 7UP and said, "How do you know I like 7UP?"  Mike responded that he knew a lot of things about him and went about his day.  The next day the problem child showed up on time, completed his work and actually exceeded some duties.  Mike asked him what happened to change his behavior and he responded, "Well, sir, yesterday when you got me a 7UP, I realized I wasn't some random private in a platoon to you.  That's the first time in a long time someone showed me I matter.  Thanks for doing that for me. I figure if you care about me then I should probably care about the work I do for you."  I LOVE THIS STORY!  Just as simple as "He drinks 7UP."

Creating your Maxims

    • Maxims by definition is a principle or rule of conduct. (p. 7)


    • The best type of maxims is the short and direct ones that come from the heart and your own personal experiences.


    • “The maxims approach requires you to share your life experiences with others, which can be very difficult.” (p. 10)

The Benefits Of The Leadership Maxims Approach (p.12)

    1. First, your maxims will help you set aspirational goals to be a better leader and to continue your personal and professional growth.


    1. Second, your maxims will set expectations for your team members for how you want them to behave.


    1. Third, your maxims will help you and your team members make better decisions more rapidly, because you will have an established set of principles for how you want to behave as a leader and how you want them to behave as members of your team.

QUOTE:  “Your team does not follow you and respect you because of your title.  They follow and respect you because of the person you are.” (p.18)


    • Why do you get out of bed every day?  Find your motivation, because most people get out of bed each day for personal growth.


    • Simply write down words, phrases, or images that come to mind as you consider these questions. 
      What are MY leadership maxims:

        1.  Why do you get out of bed each day? To use the gifts God gave me to the best of my ability; provide for my family; be a catalyst for change; have some fun and enjoy waking up!

        1.  How will you shape your future? Get it done! Be curious. Everything happens for a reason.

        1.  What guidelines do you live by? Gotta have faith.

        1. When you fall down, how do you pick yourself up? Daddy. Resilience.

        1. How do you hold yourself accountable? If I tell everyone about it, then I HAVE to do it!

Stay tuned for the rest of the book review in a future post!

Recent comment in this post
Guest — Holly Williams
Cannot believe that I picked up this book from a pile on my desk and started reading it today! You gave me my copy about 3 months... Read More
Monday, 26 March 2012 23:36
  1 Comment

Appreciating the Diversity of Our Nation

I have been doing some traveling recently after a long stretch of local work. I used to travel all the time, but in the last few years it has been sporadically at best.

I have been to Minneapolis, Indianapolis and Raleigh in the last 3 weeks. Not a lot of travel compared to many, but enough for me to realize the distinctions of cultural differences. I grew up mostly in CT and spent many years in the North East. I went to school in Lynchburg, VA, but when you are 18, I am not sure you are really paying attention to the culture or friendliness of people.

After college I went back to CT for about 5 years before leaving there permanently in 1991. Over 20 years ago, I left my state that I did most of my education from, the people I knew and my family and ventured out to upstate NY to a small little town called Norwich situated between the metropolises of Binghamton and Syracuse. I remember being struck by how friendly people were. We became “regulars” at the four or five eating establishments and merchants and business owners were grateful for your patronage. I was the Sales Training Manager for the business and covered the US and Canada. I got to travel and be immersed in all the major US regions, and really got a passion for local foods, dialects, norms and uniquenesses.

A few years after that in 1994, I moved to Cincinnati. Wow, the big city by comparison. I was so excited about the opportunity! I just turned 30 and my career was soaring at Procter & Gamble and my workaholic underpinnings had been formed. I was climbing the corporate ladder, and loved everything about it! Seven years there and what struck me was the charm and humility of the Midwest culture. People were genuinely polite, interested in what you were doing, asked about your day and really wanted an answer more than “fine.” I really thought I could live there forever. I loved my friends who became like family, I traveled around the world, and I had stability and satisfaction in my career. I loved learning about different cultures around the world and not just in the US! My obsession with understanding the backgrounds and style differences of people AND the ability to help bridge the gaps that keep people from working optimally together was born!

In 2001, in order to be with my beautiful step-daughter who lived in Maryland with her mom and step-dad, my husband and I left all the stability of P&G and moved to the DC metro area to be a closer part of her life. Best decision EVER from a personal perspective. But my glorious travel days were put on pause for a couple of years. When you are acclimating to a new region of the country, you miss the things that made you feel comfortable. While I love where I live, the surrounding areas were not as ‘homey’ as what I had become used to. The people, while polite, were not overly friendly. The pace was faster, the edge of working in our Nations' Capital was completely different, and I sort of put my head low, worked like mad, and went into survivor mode. My husband had a stroke at age 38 and left the workforce due to disability.

I worked at several organizations as a change agent and HR executive, and realized the average lifespan of an HR Exec in DC is about 18 months. So my perspective and world view became very DC-centric. I started my own firm in 2008, and was blessed with local gigs, so I was home A LOT! And I have grown to absolutely love where I live. The business opportunity is amazing and I have dear friends and colleagues I would not want to lose for all the tea in China (as my husband likes to say.)

I changed my business strategy in 2012 and now I find myself on the road again. And I love it! While I miss my husband and 5 year old, I know this is where I am supposed to be.

So back to my epiphany…I really love the people of the mid-west. Genuine kindness, a life pace that includes others, and a trustworthiness that I can relate to. And the south has a charm and a history of chivalry. I cannot tell you how many doors were opened for me, luggage carried, elevators held open, all the basics I had learned to forget being a woman executive that wants to play in the boys club.

So much gratitude. So much to think about….

Recent comment in this post
Guest — Barb
You are living in the midst of diversity! Life is exciting when you decide to make it so. Travel gives you a picture of the "big... Read More
Wednesday, 14 March 2012 18:04
  1 Comment

How Are Your New Year's Commitments Coming?

I was asked by my coach today how my commitments to myself (which all seemed valid and perfect) were going.

I had committed to:

1. A monthly 'day of rest.'  Check!

2.  Schedule a massage.  Check!

 3. Start yoga. Well...






I accomplished two of these goals, and one was partially by default.  I had a day of rest in January because I had some sort of virus and I was unable to move.  So does that count?  Then my husband had it, and I had to do his full-time stay-at-home dad job and my job and I have to publicly tell Todd THANK YOU for all he does, because I would not be able to work on running my own business and all he does to run our home and care for Kate.

(I suggest we start a "Stay at Home Parent's Day."  Hallmark ought to LOVE it!  Another day to sell cards and appreciative trinkets.  What month is lacking for these sort of things? Just survived Valentine's Day - and my 14th wedding anniversary.)

I had an amazing massage at Nabacu in Rockville.  Check them out, I love it there.

Last Sunday Kate and I stayed in our jammies all day and did her Valentine's cards for her class, and watched Shirley Temple.  I can now sing all of the words to Good Ship Lollipop.  Love this day of rest idea!

The year is off to a good start, I am developing a couple of new products, closing a couple of new deals, enrolled Kate in Martial Arts class (what a great program for a 5 year old to learn discipline, respect, self-control.)

I signed up for 2 significant professional development courses, one next weekend with The Kevin Eikenberry Group and Stages of Adult Development Workshop that will satisfy my recertification for the International Coach Federation.

It is President's Day already.  All the feds are off, most companies and schools are off and the President's Day sales are abundant.  March coming in like a lion perhaps is around the corner.  The older I get the faster time goes by.  I looked at my sweet five year old sleeping this morning and realized that I could envision her being 8 or 9.  The pre-school look is diminishing, and her independence and excitement about her upcoming belt test in karate, and her love of music flourishes.  It really does go by fast.

How about you?  It's a good time to check in and see your progress. And if you have not completed one of them, hold yourself gently.  It's ok.  And commit to starting it or accomplishing it now.  I will check in with you in April!




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