Milestones: Approaching Life with Grace and Glory

I sit here in my little respite in Ogunquit, Maine on the day after my 50th birthday. I have spent many birthdays here, starting with 1983 when I turned 20. I worked at a great place called Valerie's which has since been closed and the building transformed into nothing like the piano bar/ Greek 690397inspired memory owned by the infamous Mrs. G (Tiggy) who called you 'doll' and everyone loved. Mrs. G passed a few years back, and Valerie's is just postcard in my mind now, but those summers in college working there and beaching here were extremely formative. Everyone is welcome here, which is another thing I love about this little gem, "a beautiful place by the sea." My soul is happy when I breathe the air in Ogunquit, and this year my family decided to celebrate 4 big milestones here. We have rented the same comfy home off of Berwick Road the last 6 years. It is truly our home away from home and the owners have become like family to us. The first couple of years we stayed for a week; then 10 days; then 2 weeks. This year we treated ourselves to 4 weeks in probably my favorite place on earth. We are celebrating:

  • The Ermi Group is five years old!
  • Todd and I were married 15 years on February 14
  • I turned 50 yesterday
  • Todd is 50 in August

It seemed like a pretty big year, so here we are. I couldn't wait to get here. The weeks leading to our departure were hot, busy and taxing. God's way of making you feel like you earned this!

A benefit of my job is I can coach clients on the phone, so The Ermi Group keeps churning! It doesn't even feel like work when I know I will end up on the beach in a couple of hours.

Turning 50 is not the same as it was when my parents turned 50 I don't think. Four days after my dad turned 50 my mom died suddenly in her sleep. I was 16, and I had no capacity to even realize what impact it had on him. I am so lucky to have him as my dad.

I am actually happier and more content with the life God graciously allows me to experience than I ever have before. I worry far less about what anyone thinks of me (a couple of exceptions of course – baggage from long ago I guess.) But I have learned to acknowledge and notice when I am feeling anxious or judged, and with some self-talk, breathing exercises and positive imagery I learned from my coach, I return to equilibrium in no time!

Gratitude consumes me these days. I have let go of the negative energy I carried around with me when it finally hit me that my husband had a stroke in 2002 and he would not be returning to the workforce. Todd is doing better than ever, and he approaches life with joy and peace. Every birthday is a blessing in his world, and I love that about him.

Friendship is another gift, and I truly do experience a life of abundance in this area. I got almost 200 Facebook well-wishes, multiple texts, calls and emails. Some people do not like that part of social media, but it put a big smile on my face!

Here is to looking life in the face with hope, optimism and humor!


Recent comment in this post
Guest — Paul E. Brogan
I loved your story about Ogunquit and could not agree more. I knew "Mrs. G" very well and worked there washing dishes for a summer... Read More
Monday, 12 August 2013 15:08
  1 Comment

Did Millennials Fail the “Hero Trial?” A Perspective from a Millennial Rising

The Ermi Group is passionate about Millennials.  In fact we have 2 on our staff, and one has agreed to write a blog post on the subject from a Millennial’s point of view.  She also happens to be my daughter!

Welcome to my guest blogger Lexie Ermi!

I am a Millennial. I have heard the ups and downs, pros and cons, of Millennial in the workforce, in the family, in society, for years. I don’t like all the labels that are placed on my generation, but some of it gives me hope for the future. After all, we are the over-protected, the over-diagnosed, the over child-proofed, the children around whom the parents’ world revolves—but we are also the children who think it is cool to be smart, who strive to achieve our goals, who respect authority, who set their own boundaries, and, according to Neil Howe and William Strauss in Millennials Rising, are the next “Hero generation.”

downloadHowe and Strauss promote a theory based on the concept of the “hero generation.” They claim that roughly every eighty to one hundred years, the United States has entered a period of crisis (re: Great Depression and WWII, Civil War, American Revolution, and the Glorious Revolution of 1689).[1]Each crisis is propagated by some spark of history, and the hero generation must rise up, correct the excesses of its parent and grandparent generations, and essentially set the country back on its proper track. Howe and Strauss refer to this as a “hero trial.” A generation seen in a special way, protected from harm, pushed to achievement, pressured to behave, responds to a crisis situation and creates a new order from it—and that is a hero generation.[2] The last hero generation was the G.I. Generation, who are now being compared to Millenials in many ways.

The Millennial generation began with high optimism and promise, as Boomers began having their babies and giving them everything they thought their parents hadn’t given them. The first Millenials were born into a world where the economy was stable, the U.S. was secure, children were prized and cherished, and the future seemed bright. We have been told since we were born that we are special, that we can do whatever we set our minds to, that we can change the world. Teamwork, community, and honor have become core values of Millenials, again tying us to the G.I. Generation. Howe and Strauss comment on this, suggesting that perhaps Millennial will be the first generation with heroic capacities that are completely stunted as things just continue to get better, negating their ability to respond to a crisis as none exists!

Howe and Strauss’s book, was written in 2000. Just a year later, the U.S. was rocked by the 9/11 terrorist attack, arguably creating what they refer to as a hero trial. It is an eerie coincidence. A civic minded generation was needed. But did one arise?

In the line-up of Millenials, I am nearer to the end than the beginning. I am twenty years old right now, and I cannot remember a time when there were no metal detectors in airports (or security at public schools, for that matter), when national security was not a common phrase and terrorism not a constant threat. I cannot remember a time when the U.S. military was not mocked and derided for their attempts to correct the situation in Iraq and Afghanistan. Did we fail our hero test?

Howe and Strauss exalt the capabilities of Millennial to revolutionize society and create a new modern order. Imagine what could be achieved by such a generation, they say, so different from Boomers or Xers.[3]

generation-word-cloudYet there is also a dark side to Millennial: we are the kind of generation with the technological advances and potential hubris to create an Orwellian society, controlled and monitored. Howe and Strauss leave it open for history to decide the answer to the question. What will Millennial do for society? What have they done? Have they risen up and created a new order in response to the world crisis they were finally

facced with? Have they destroyed society? People such as Dr. Kermit and issues such as euthanasia may lead some to conclude the dark side of Millennial has conquered. Or have we merely lacked the capabilities of the G.I. Generation? Have we simply failed to do what our parents always told us we could do? Are we merely a lackluster, commonplace generation?

I am hopeful that we aren’t done yet. I think Millennial could pull through and revolutionize society, bringing good things. We’ve gotten lazy since 9/11, complacent in our situation, and we have forgotten the urgency it once created. Perhaps what we really need is a new trial. Scary thought—and only time will tell the answer.

[1] Pg. 353

[2] Pg. 326

[3] Pg. 354


Make Room For Her: Why Companies Need An Integrated Leadership Model To Achieve Extraordinary Results

Make-Room-for-Her-Book-Cover-Shambaugh-202x300This spring I was honored to be chosen as a breakout speaker at The Women’s Center 27th Annual Leadership Conference and while sitting at the speaker’s table during the opening session I scanned the impressive company and saw Rebecca Shambaugh a couple of chairs over.  I had the privilege to meet Becky when she launched her It’s Not a Glass Ceiling it’s a Sticky Floor back in 2007 and I instantly admired her strength, compassion and style.  I have recommended that book to countless clients, and it always resonates with them.  It really shifted the way I look at my own self-limiting beliefs of what I can accomplish in a ‘man’s’ world of business, and I am a more effective leader as a result.

Becky was a moderator for a fascinating panel discussion and also introduced us to her latest book "Make Room For Her: Why Companies Need An Integrated Leadership Model To Achieve Extraordinary Results". The concept of integrating all types of leaders into an organization, women, minorities, and generations for instance is interesting.  I immediately referenced it in my break out session on Leading Millennials as I saw the correlation pertinent.

In the book, Make Room For Her, the author provides valuable data proving that successful businesses must have a more balanced team of men and women working together.  This book features interviews with more than 50 top executives and case studies based on her extensive work coaching hundreds of women and men leaders.

“Successful Organizations of the future will be led by fully engaged, balanced teams of men and women working together synergistically to produce extraordinary results.  I call this integrated Leadership.  Leaders who create high-performing organizations and get lasting results are those who value and leverage the broad spectrum of gender intelligence-an intentional balance that enables an organization to deal with the complexities in today’s marketplace.  A balanced, Integrated Leadership team is the new competitive advantage.”

Businesses need to have a more Integrated Leadership for their companies to succeed.  Consider the following statistics:

  • Women make over 80 percent of all consumer purchases
  • Women make up more than 50 percent of the U.S. workforce.  By 2010, the number of women in the U.S. labor force had increased by almost 10 million, a growth rate almost one-third higher than that of men.
  • Women are graduating at twice the rate of men across all disciplines at the graduate and undergraduate levels.
  • Women own more than 50 percent of nearly half the 10.6 million privately held companies in the United States.  Between 1997 and 2004, the estimated growth rate in the number of women-owned businesses was nearly twice the rate of all firms.

She goes into great detail about the Gender-Based Brain Differences and how this will play out in a Leadership role.  We coaches love the brain and neuroscience, and she does an excellent job giving us more ammunition to the criticality of enlightening ourselves about how we are hardwired.

We will all benefit from a more balanced work atmosphere and she provides solutions that will work for both men and women.  There is also valuable information from a man’s perspective on what women need to know to succeed.  This is a must read for anyone wanting to lead their company to greatness.  I plan to recommend this to my leaders, and it is always exciting to see a fellow coach and DC metro leader thrive and share their insights with us!

Rebecca Shambaugh is an internationally recognized leadership expert, author, and keynote speaker. Rebecca is President of SHAMBAUGH, a global leadership development organization and Founder of Women In Leadership and Learning (WILL), one of the first executive leadership development programs in the country, dedicated to the research, advancement, and retention of women leaders and executives. Rebecca has coached and advised over a hundred leaders and executives and has enhanced their overall level of excellence in such areas as communications, strategic thinking, gender intelligence, visionary leadership, employee engagement, executive presence, and culture transformation. Prior to starting her own company, she worked for such premier organizations as General Motors, Fairchild Industries, and Amax Inc. as a senior executive in the leadership and human resources arena.

Rebecca is a sought out speaker and has presented within organizations, major conferences, and executive forums regarding the 21st Century Leadership Model and her company’s research and best practices on leadership and organizational transformation. Rebecca has been showcased on TED Talks, Fox News (New York), NPR, Washington Business, ABC, and numerous syndicated radio talk shows. She has been featured in publications such as: Leader to Leader, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Huffington Post, Time Magazine, USA Today, Fortune Magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Pink Magazine, and Entrepreneur Magazine.

Rebecca is a known thought leader in the industry and is the author of two best seller books titled, “It’s Not A Glass Ceiling, It’s A Sticky Floor” and “Leadership Secrets of Hillary Clinton,” and her new book, “Make Room For Her: Why Companies Need an Integrated Leadership Model To Achieve Extraordinary Results,” all published by McGraw-Hill. Her books illustrate her unconventional and results-focused approach to creating great leaders.


Leaders Open Doors: A Radically Simple Approach to Lift People, Profits, and Performance

Be a leader who talks about what gets you up in the morning, instead of what keeps you up at night.

When I picked up this little treasure of a book by Bill Treasurer, I was interested, but still wondering what this would offer that countless other impactful leadership reads out there don't.  I was pleasantly surprised on a number of fronts, and found Bill's next book after his internationally best selling book Courage Goes to Work, my new gift to my coaching clients.

I am a woman on the go!  Balancing a growing business, volunteering regularly, raising a 6 year old, supporting a college rising-senior and other family demands, I do not take a lot of time to read many books cover to cover.  I love books, use references and gain knowledge through the nuggets they provide.  However, I am not what one would call a voracious reader.  So Bill's simple and pragmatic approach resonated with me immediately, and I love it!  Like me, Bill is 'experienced' and has young children, so I related to him immediately.  The title of his book is credited to his preschooler who came home one day after being selected 'leader of the day.'  When Bill asked his son what he got to do as the class leader, his son replied, "I got to open doors for people!"  Bill says that in a matter of 15 seconds, with seven simple words, his son clarified what's most import about leadership.  I was hooked!

Bill tells us he is rather a brainiac after a successful career that included an executive position with Accenture.  He admits to having been a member of and subsequent resignation from the LLC: Legion of Leadership Complexifiers. That made me laugh.  You know, all that leadership-speak that makes us sound worthy of hanging out with the muckety mucks and hossermawickets.  I have been guilty of pledging for membership in that club too.  It's wat you do when you are climbing that corporate ladder.

It's not about open door policies or keeping your door open.  Not even close!

So many quotes I have already shared with my leadership coaching clients, and powerful questions and distinctions have paved the way to make a difference for them in this book.  "Leaders would be better served to talk about what gets them up in the morning than what keeps them awake at night."  A small nuance, with a powerful shift in energy and how one tackles their world.  It's generative, not laden in worry.

If you want workers to act like adults, leaders much lead like adults.In my work educating leaders on generational differences and Leading Millennials, I hear some tell me. "They're just kids.  They don't know anything."

Well that is not a mindset that will win you loyalty and it is not going to inspire or motivate.  One of the managers in a recent training actually said to the class, "When those Millennials ask me why I want them to do something, I just tell them if I wanted them to know why, I would tell them.  Just do it!"  He said it with a badge of honor.

He was unaware how debilitating that was and what that was creating on his team.  After all that is how he was raised in the working world.  (He has since seen the light and his people are wondering what has happened! Grateful!) Bill reinforces what I have already learned in my own research that when we all act like adults, treat each other like adults, much more is possible.

This hands-on, pragmatic guide will open your eyes to new ways to open doors as leaders.  Bill talks about these critical opportunities:

  • The Proving-Ground Door - "Put me in coach! I'm ready to play!"
  • The Thought-Shifting Door - "...small language changes. There's a big difference between 'not bad' and 'pretty good."
  • The Door to Second Chance - ...when honest and legal.
  • Opening Doors for Others - Not just those who look, act and sound like us.
  • The Door to Personal Transformation - Inspiring one's own personal transformation is a start!
  • The Door to Your Open Heart - Answering 'yes' to the 'do you care about me question.'

I am thinking about giving this book to all my new coaching clients. These are foundational principles packaged in a way that can create sustainable behavior change.  A coaches door.

Bill Treasurer, Chief Encouragement Officer at Giant Leap Consulting and former U.S. High Diver, wants leaders to be a part of opening doors of opportunities for others to thrive, achieve, and lead. The proceeds of his new book, Leaders Open Doors, are being donated to charities that serve children with special needs. Available on Amazon.



Where is your energy coming from?

I recently have had a series of coaching sessions with clients that are on the verge of burnout.  The sequestration and furloughs have my federal clients challenged, and my private sector clients are burning the candle at both ends.  I am the chair of the trustees of my church and our attendance has grown significantly since opening the doors of our amazing new facility, our staff is cheerfully pushing the envelope as new seekers come and stay (a great problem to have we say with gratitude.)  I am also a member of my alma mater's Alumni Association, and we are in the midst of a capital campaign for a beautiful new student center.  I ran across a blog today entitled The Antidote to Burnout is Progress post by Tomasz Tunguz that really resonated. He writes:
"Andrew Dumont wrote about his grueling schedule at a startup and the lessons on “Avoiding Burnout” which spurred a torrent of comments on HackerNews. For me, the most interesting comment is this one by Daniel Ribeir:

'Burnout is caused when you repeatedly make large amounts of sacrifice and or effort into high-risk problems that fail…You effectively condition your brain to associate work with failure… The best way to prevent burnout is to follow up a serious failure with doing small things that you know are going to work.'"

So there is progress all around me at the moment, and I can really tell the difference in how I am expending my energy.  My stress level is healthy and I am motivated.  When there is not progress being made, then burnout is a by product.

Where do you get your energy to go on?

I get mine in these ways:

    • My family responsibilities.  They need me and I need them so I won't let them down. 
    • I love what I do.  Coaching leaders is the best career for me!  I am grateful that I can provide and connect with such interesting and intelligent people on a daily basis to help them reach their potential. 
    • Have some fun.  I went about a week one time when I had not laughed.  I realized that was not going to work for me any more, and I make sure I have 'fun' planned into the work of my day.  And I have an active social life with friends and family.  Nothing like sleep overs with my 6 year old's BFF to keep things light! 
    • Annual traditions like July in Ogunquit, ME.  The great thing about my job is I can coach anywhere as long as I have a phone and an internet connection.  My family goes to Maine where I can breathe in the sea air, feast on the delicacies of the area, and live in the comfort of a wonderful small home we have been renting for several years. 
    • Simplicity - when things get crazy, I find the simplicity in whatever I can to get centered and find balance. 
    • Faith - God has me covered.  Not all my business leaders have a faith system to rely on, but most of them do.  It is a wonderful thing to be able to integrate spiritual connections to the stress of daily living.  This bullet should really go first, but I will save the best for last!




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