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Random notes on FEAR and CHANGE

  1. What is fear? What causes it? Is it in our DNA? Is there anything we can do to stop it?
  2. Why do we let fear control our lives? For most of us, I think it’s habit. But you can eliminate bad habits, and form new ones!
  3. It might also be a feeling of powerlessness…that we simply do not have the ability to live any other way.
  4. How pervasive is fear in our business life? I don’t know, why don’t we ask management? Usually, they create a culture of top-down (fear-based) leadership that intimidates and rules through fear.
  5. Can you be fearless? No. But you can hone your courage, which is simply being afraid, and moving forward anyway. It’s ok to be afraid. Everyone is. I love the story of the accomplished actor Henry Fonda, that even into his final years, he vomited before going on stage, due to fear. But he went on stage anyway…
  6. How do you develop the skills to not be deterred by fear?
  7. How do we deal with the “easier said than done” problem with fear? Meaning, yeah, easy for you to say that you have to dive straight into that scary thing. Well, for one thing, dealing with this is the difference between success and mediocrity.
  8. What can management do about this? Empower their people, don’t making your response to mistake be a punitive one (for the right things, anyway). Top down managers are why employees feel fear in the work place anyway.
  9. “Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” James Joyce
  10. How does fear prevent us from going after dreams?
  11. How does fear inhibit innovation, creativity, making art, etc…?
  12. Is this a one-time fix? Or is this something that requires ongoing work, focus, and effort?
  13. For me, when I’m hung up on something because of fear, often the best antidote is just to start. It’s amazing to me how the fear melts away when you are just in it, working the problem. Despite knowing this, I still sometimes procrastinate. Can we learn to do better at this? Is this a muscle we can strengthen?
  14. How do we deal with the fear of rejection…this idea that people will respond negatively to our work? Is it as simple as not caring what people think? In that usually people’s reaction is a reflection of their own insecurities? Or jealousy that you shipped your work, and not them?
  15. Are people lazy? Or just afraid? Meaning, are they spending all their free time watching Netflix because they are bums? Or just because they are afraid of failure, and watching TV is safe?
  16. Why do people fear change? We don’t like the first day of school, or a new job, because it is unfamiliar, but the second day is SO much easier, because we know what to expect. Is that all fear is? A lack of familiarity?
  17. “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” Woodrow Wilson
  18. “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” Albert Einstein
  19. Isn’t it good for the soul to frequently make a decision that “feels like the first day of school?”
  20. You know how when you rearrange a room, and then when you next walk into it, there is that feeling of excitement about the new set-up? It’s that feeling one is trying to generate when you incorporate change into one’s life. Not all change results in fear, it can (and should) lead to excitement.
  21. “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” Stephen Hawking
  22. Isn’t there something to be said to the old maxim, “Do something each day that scares the hell out of you…” Honestly, this is the simplest, easiest trick to employ when learning how to combat your fear. You should force yourself to do just this.
  23. Obviously, the more you try spooky stuff, the further you develop the muscle that makes it easier to tackle intimidating projects/things going forward. This is WHY you should do something scary every day…
  24. “You are an animal of nature, fully endowed with hearing, sight, intellect, and dangerous defenses. You are not easy prey, so don’t act like you are.” Gavin de Becker
  25. I sometimes wonder if we are afraid of success. As in, what is the cost to us if this new idea, new product, new movement actually succeeds? Does that change things? Do we fear that change? Are we frightened of the heightened expectations? Or are we retreating to the safety of the status quo?
  26. “Sometimes what you’re most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free.”
  27. “True security lies in the unrestrained embrace of insecurity – in the recognition that we never really stand on solid ground, and never can.” Oliver Burkeman
  28. “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” FDR
  29. People don’t fear change. People fear sudden change. People fear revolutions. People don’t fear evolutions.” Simon Sinek
  30. “I think there’s so much aversion to risk-taking, I don’t think that’s the right direction we should be going. You have to take risks if you want to learn anything about yourself.” (Video, Lhotse)

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Random notes about awareness

  • The big question is WHY are so many people unaware of the world around them?
  • Awareness is a superpower.
  • Because if you are aware, you are way ahead of many around you.
  • This is one of those things that does require near-constant attention and focus. Being aware takes work.
  • Aware (definition): a·ware / əˈwer / adjective: having knowledge or perception of a situation or fact. “Most people are aware of the dangers of sunbathing.” Also: concerned and well-informed about a particular situation or development.
  • Self-awareness (definition): self-a·ware·ness / self əˈwernəs / noun: conscious knowledge of one’s own character, feelings, motives, and desires. “The process can be painful but it leads to greater self-awareness.”
  • “You cannot vent and self-reflect at the same time.” Cy Wakeman
  • Just the other day, my elevator stopped on a floor, the door opened, and some young gun professional was standing there, looking at his iPhone. He was completely unaware that a car, with me impatiently waiting in it, was waiting for him. Naturally, as the door started to close, he noticed and jumped in, getting awkwardly squeezed by the closing doors, making for an embarrassing ruckus. He was unaware of the world around him. Don’t be this guy.
  • It’s being aware that when you walk out of a door, there might be someone in front of it.
  • If you are walking down a sidewalk, and you stop suddenly, not noticing someone is walking right behind you.
  • Or the person who pushes out his chair at a restaurant, not even realizing someone is standing right behind him. Just a quick glance please.
  • Are you aware of the critical trends affecting your world?
  • Are you aware of the history? It does repeat itself. Everyday. If you want a crystal ball, just read some history.
  • Are you aware of the news? Now, I don’t want you to spend hours consuming news, but Lord, be aware of what’s happening in the world.
  • (My trick with the news is to glance at trusted source headlines…)
  • Conversation is so much more interesting when you are aware of the world around you, and can add real commentary, insight, and perspective.
  • There is a fine line between consciously unplugging from the world (which is encouraged from time to time), to being ignorant and clueless to what is happening around you.
  • LISTENING is obviously a key to awareness, and I love this bit from Farnam Street’s Shane Parrish: “Listening is difficult because it involves suppressing your ego long enough to consider what is being said before you respond. In a world where few people listen, good listeners stand out. So what is it so hard? When someone starts talking, our minds listen for: 1. Reasonably guess what they are going to say. (E.g., “I know what you are going to say.”) 2. Identify a pattern. (E.g., “I know where you are going with this.”) 3. Something we disagree with (E.g., “That’s wrong.”) When one of those things happens, we stop listening and our mind starts preparing our response. At the moment, the conversation becomes about us. When the other person does the same, gold becomes lead. Instead of making the conversation about you, work to understand the other person’s perspective as well as they do. You don’t have to agree. You do have an obligation to understand. A conversation is not a race to make a point, but rather an exploration of someone’s mind.”

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What a slice of pumpkin pie taught me about the importance of mastering your craft; by William Childs

Inspiration is everywhere if you are open to it. Sometimes, it may visit you when you least expect it. It happened to me recently at a lunch meeting at a restaurant in King of Prussia, PA called J. Alexanders. I was meeting with Mr. Ed Harris, the Chief Marketing Officer of The Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau, and an adjunct professor, of marketing strategy at Saint Joseph’s University. After we finished eating, Ed remarked to me that I might want to try the pumpkin pie.

Not wanting to disappoint Ed, I agreed. Before the pie arrived, Ed warned me that it would be the best pumpkin pie I would ever eat. A bold statement, to be sure. I mean, I trusted his judgment, but the best ever? Well, I found out how correct that statement was after I took the first bite. I realized immediately this was no ordinary pumpkin pie.

I gently put the fork down while attempting to maintain my composure. Ed looked over at me with a satisfied look, and asked, “Well, what do you think?” I had to admit, that was indeed the best pumpkin pie I have ever tasted, and I only needed one bite to realize it. Now, I believe that most people, given the proper ingredients could probably make a decent pumpkin pie. I’m just not sure everyone could make a life-changing one. Or at least one that could make me contemplate the meaning of mastery and craft and how some of us function at levels of greatness that few ever reach. 

Whoever made the pumpkin pie that day was no ordinary baker. They created something remarkable and so delicious that I couldn’t stop thinking about it for months afterward. It made me think about what separates the ordinary from the extraordinary? What are the essential ingredients of success? I found a compelling answer in poet Reyna Biddy, who said this, “Trust in your craft enough to admire it, study it, perfect it, breathe it. Never stop getting better at whatever it is that you love to do.”

I don’t think it matters if you’re flipping burgers, writing screenplays, conducting orchestras, teaching high school science, roasting coffee or painting houses. We all should be following Biddy’s advice. Far too many of us are content with the status quo, and I find that unfortunate. Mastery does not reside anywhere near mediocrity. Yes, you can earn a good living being average. But why would you want to? Seriously. Nobody should ever be content with average. While I can appreciate that not everyone is prepared to do whatever it takes to master their craft, I believe that mastery is attainable for those who work hard at it. 

There are a myriad of factors that are involved in an individual’s journey to mastery, but there is one essential that is the fuel you’ll need to get you to the Promised Land. Passion. Without it, you won’t be able to sustain the energy and drive required for the road ahead. The ability to find your passion is really about finding your authentic self. You will also have to add in some resolve, a heaping amount of determination, equal parts optimism, and top it off with some love and bake it for 30 years.

Harris knows how mastery plays a role in both education and marketing. “As educators, we should never stop learning. In fact, the power of knowledge will continue to be a key ingredient for success. Students need to remember that learning doesn’t end when you receive a diploma. Whether you’re marketing experiences, apparel, or even food, the best companies understand that consumers seek value and quality. When you have quality products that are unique in some way compared to the competition, it makes our job as marketers easier to craft a memorable story that connects with an audience.”

I will always be grateful to those who consistently show up every day willing to put the time in, who are always looking for ways to improve their skills, and who are profoundly invested in the outcome of the service they provide or product they make. Those who take the status quo and turn it into status whoa! They never settle for good enough, and they are always looking for ways to improve both themselves and the people they work around. If it weren’t for them, the world would be a pretty average place. In that world, I would never have had the opportunity to experience how amazing a slice of pumpkin pie could taste when it’s baked with mastery.


THE AUTHOR: WILLIAM CHILDS | Creative Director | Brand Storyteller | Columnist | Optimist
Bill is an accomplished creative leader with a history of delivering award-winning campaigns for a variety of businesses. Relentlessly dedicated to the skillful and creative translation of strategic business objectives, he’s known as a collaborative mentor and champion of fearless creativity. With a career spanning three decades, Childs knows how to take an acceptable idea and turn it into an exceptional one. His reputation of setting high creative standards while helping to create a culture of genuine collaboration and engagement is one of things he’s most proud of across his career. Recognizing and mentoring talent, and building high-performing, cohesive teams is one of his passions. Email. Website. Twitter. LinkedIn.
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Fear and the Problem of Doing Nothing; An essay from Katie Rasoul

I have come to truly appreciate the importance of surrounding yourself with people who motivate and inspire you. Through cultivating a vibrant network and saying yes to most opportunities, I often find myself in the room with people who are badass changemakers. Although I am not suggesting comparison, it often does compel you to examine where we do and do not take action in our lives.

When you are surrounded by people who are not just talking about it, but DOING it, it makes you question any moment of your existence that you were wasting on meaningless work. This is often the lesson of the old or dying; regrets about spending our time in a way that was for someone else or on something unimportant (e.g. e-mail). We long to live a life without regret. A life that we spent being true to ourselves, supporting the ideals we believe in, with the people we hold most dear, on the work that is part of something bigger than ourselves. Yet, why do so many of us go about our daily lives not willing to ignite change?

What holds people back from making change? 

It’s simple. Fear.

We stay somewhere we aren’t entirely happy in our own lives because we are afraid of the unknown, the risk. We stay in jobs that drain our spirit because we fear what a step “back” might mean about us. We post on Facebook with “outrage” about a social justice topic, but do nothing to change the daily systemic atrocities that got us there. We do nothing because we are afraid that rocking the boat means we will have less.

The detriment from our inaction is the erosion of our own happiness and fulfilment, and the wearing away of our trust in each other to work and live together for better lives in the future. Like anything that requires maintenance and attention, if we allow fear to cause us to do nothing our relationship with ourselves and others will go from “fixer-upper” to downright uninhabitable.

Now is the Time

We are in a time now where taking action must have its spotlight. Here is how I can tell that the tide is turning towards action right now:

  • This Burger King PSA (yes, you read that right) about bullying went viral. The fact that they made this is amazing, but the statistic of how many people did something when they saw bullying is, well, not.
  • Alleged harassers like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey are being called out, fired, and dropped. People are speaking up and taking action.
  • A record number of women took office in congress in the 2018 election. Emily’s List shows over 49,000 women expressing interest and readiness to run for public office.

We are in a terribly divisive time in our political context right now, but what that does mean is that there is motivation for more people to participate in the conversation instead of sleeping through it. What an opportunity this can be!

A “Do Something” Starter List

Looking for some inspiration to start doing something where you were silent or stuck before? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Respectfully speak an opposing viewpoint at holiday family dinner this season
  • Visit websites, donate, or give time to areas of social change rather than just “like” or repost about them
  • Have open discussions with other changemakers in your community, like On The Table
  • When you see bullying, misogyny, racism, or harassment, say something in that moment
  • Ask for what you deserve at work (Time with your boss? That promotion? Flexibility?)
  • Take a step, however small, towards something that sets your soul on fire and repeat weekly

So often, we feel compelled to try and solve the WHOLE problem and then freeze because we are overwhelmed. We can’t do everything, so we do nothing. Instead of knowing all of the right actions to take, just know the next small step that can lead towards the intended result. 

I am not perfect, but in every small choice to take action, I attempt to make the choice to make an impact. The small actions matter, and add up (big actions are welcome too). The problem of doing nothing is that it means we have finished what we’ve set out to do. If your life ended today, would you feel like you did all the things?

All is not lost, friends. Take heart, and take action.

About the author:

Katie Rasoul is a leadership coach, keynote speaker, and Chief Awesome Officer for Team Awesome, a leadership coaching and culture consulting firm. She is a TEDx speaker alumna, author of the best-selling book, Hidden Brilliance: A High-Achieving Introvert’s Guide to Self-Discovery, Leadership and Playing Big, and co-host of The Life and Leadership Podcast.

Find out more by visiting www.teamawesomecoaching.com or www.katierasoul.com

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Condition your mind for innovation and the ideas will come; An essay from William Childs

Global speaker and serial entrepreneur Jeff Hoffman (Priceline.com, uBid.com, ColorJar) has a unique daily activity he uses to help him condition his mind for innovation.

I once attended a talk where Hoffman spoke about an exercise that he does every morning he called “info-sponging.” It’s the process by which he will spend up to twenty minutes a day reading. It could be from a newspaper, a book, a website, or a magazine article. It’s the one time of day where he focuses on soaking up as much new information as he possibly can. The trick to this daily ritual is that the topics he chooses are not always directly related to anything in which he’s currently working. The whole point of the exercise is that he reads material or subjects designed to open his mind to new thoughts.

Hoffman believes that the best way to stay sharp is to have a broad information funnel. He also stressed that curiosity in all aspects is a key factor in discovering new ideas. 

I’m grateful to people like Jeff Hoffman, who push past boundaries, who will eagerly sail into the unknown in his quest for new knowledge. Where would we be as a civilization if we didn’t have people who were insatiably curious, or who consistently rejected established norms to challenge societal dogma?  

The other exciting item that captivated me that he spoke about was how to look outside your industry for new ideas. Anyone looking to disrupt the industry they work in may find it daunting to do it from the inside. In other words, if you work in health care, you must look outside your industry for innovation. Hoffman explained it like this, “If you work in health care, what do you work on all day long? Health care. What problems do you solve all day? Health care problems. If I asked you, ‘Hey, I’m going to conference on banking, do you want to go?’ You might say, ‘No, I don’t work in banking, why would I do that? I work in health care.”  Hoffman would urge you to take a leap of faith and go to the banking conference.

Take for example, the drive-up window. The first recorded use of a drive-up window, was the Grand National Bank of St. Louis, Missouri, in 1930. Until then, you had to go physically into the bank to transact all your business. The first drive-thru window for food was opened in 1947 by Red’s Giant Hamburg on Route 66 in Springfield, Missouri. Is it possible that perhaps the banking industry inspired the drive-thru window for food service? I don’t believe it would be a stretch for anyone to assume that connection. It is rather interesting that both innovations got their start in Missouri. 

Innovation takes many forms and sometimes it’s difficult to measure what its true impact will be. The ride hailing company Uber was never going to be created by a taxi company. Just as Airbnb was never going to be coaxed into existence by a hotel chain. But yet, those companies have completely disrupted their respective industries.

History has shown us examples of this theory in action. Archimedes, in the original “eureka” moment, discovered a method for measuring the volume of an irregularly shaped object in relation to the gold in the king’s crown while he took a bath. Gutenberg is credited with combining the idea of block printing with a screw press that was mainly used for olive oil and wine production. His idea brought print to the masses with his Gutenberg Bible. 

So what issues or business challenges could you be solving by looking outside your industry for answers? It again comes down to getting out of your way and being willing to expand your comfort zone. 

Consider adding info-sponging to your daily ritual. Remember, you don’t have to have all the answers; you just need to be ready to take action when your “eureka” moment arrives.


THE AUTHOR: WILLIAM CHILDS | Creative Director | Brand Storyteller | Columnist | Optimist
Bill is an accomplished creative leader with a history of delivering award-winning campaigns for a variety of businesses. Relentlessly dedicated to the skillful and creative translation of strategic business objectives, he’s known as a collaborative mentor and champion of fearless creativity. With a career spanning three decades, Childs knows how to take an acceptable idea and turn it into an exceptional one. His reputation of setting high creative standards while helping to create a culture of genuine collaboration and engagement is one of things he’s most proud of across his career. Recognizing and mentoring talent, and building high-performing, cohesive teams is one of his passions. Email. Website. Twitter. LinkedIn.

Image from Shutterstock (Wachiraphorn Thongya)


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Four Conversations to Change Regarding Millennials; An essay from Katie Rasoul

I read a lot of articles and commentary regarding generations and the workplace because, well, that is a big part of my work. I have long been a proponent of changing the narrative around generations, particularly on how we describe Millennials, because what I read and hear is incongruous from what I see in the real workforce and the world at large. As part of changing how we view and discuss nearly 80 million people, I have noticed a few key trends that are underrepresented in the ether.

From one Millennial to the world, here are four things to consider viewing differently if we want to foster a world full of belonging, progress, and leadership.

Stop Claiming Millennials are “Killing” Things

I am going to have to adjust my Google Alerts because I receive a daily Millennial alert that lists endless articles about Millennials killing things. Enough with the click-bait that a whole generation of young people have systematically murdered retail, restaurants, banking, wine, real estate, napkins or straws. You name it – we ruined it. Perhaps there are other factors we should consider, such as 30 years of doing business the same way being a reasonable lifecycle that ends in change. For every study that Millennials don’t want to buy homes, there is another one saying they do. Let’s give a little latitude here and call it what it is: human preferences changing over time due to economic and societal changes, and being driven by the speed of technology and innovation. By the time with get to Gen Z with this old argument, I am concerned we will be blaming them for actual murders. An alternative way of viewing this could be seeing the huge opportunity to innovate looking forward.

Interested in reading more? Check out What Will Millennials Kill This Year?, by S.J. Velasquez via BBC.com.

Replace the Word “Millennials” with Humans

Like the old “kids these days” adage, we love to throw around the word Millennial for just about anything. What if, and hear me out, we replaced the word Millennials with the word humans? How would the headlines read? Often not reported is that at the macro level, what the Millennial generation wants is the same for humans of all ages. Gen X and Boomers benefit from finding meaning in their work, that is not just a crazy idea for the youth. While the “how” and the “why” may vary over time, the time to remove the word Millennial from quests of basic human needs and enlightenment has come. We can just say humans.

On the flip side of this, because of the overuse, there is a sort of negative connotation attached with the term “Millennials.” Try this litmus test – if you say something about the Millennial generation, and then replaced it with another group of humanity (e.g., Gen X, Baby Boomers, people of color, LGBTQ) would you still feel okay saying it? If someone said “Old people are so entitled, they want everything handed to them,” how would that make you feel? I just inserted the phrase “old people” in where I often hear “young people” or Millennials. Just writing it makes me feel like a jerk, so this is a great example of how it can be harmful to lump any group of people together, even Millennials, to make a negative claim.

Millennials Probably Don’t Read Headlines about Millennials

Because we are feeling a bit battered and bruised from reminders that were killing everything and that we are the worst generation to ever walk the planet, many Millennials don’t even associate themselves with the word. In fact, a 2015 poll showed that two-thirds of Millennials don’t actually identify with that word. As I see headline after headline discussing Millennials, I often feel like everyone is talking about me rather than to me, and they are often written without input from an actual Millennial. I love seeing more younger voices reporting viewpoints, but they are often labeled as the “Millennial” contributor, as if their input couldn’t stand on its own. We rarely label a 60-year-old male writer’s work as the “Baby Boomer” perspective, it just is what it is.

Read more about the power of connotation: Millennials: The generation that 66 percent of millennials would rather not associate with, by Hunter Schwarz, via The Washington Post.

Are Millennials Ready to be Leaders?

Sometimes we are so busy shaming Millennials that we forget that the whole generation is getting older. Older Millennials (depending on how you define the years they were born) could now be up to 37 years old. As a 36-year-old Millennial myself, I have been a home owner for over eight years, I have children, and have been in leadership roles for well over a decade. I think we are underestimating the capabilities and accomplishments of a generation by questioning if we are just now arriving at leadership competency.

This Forbes article caught my eye recently because of a visceral reaction that I had reading the title. To be fair, the author lays out averages – such as the average age of first time managers being 30 years old. But for high-performing older Millennials, this feels like old hat. Many in their thirties are leading in executive level roles, starting their own businesses, or running companies. If we just now think they are ready, that means we promoted them already without any support or training, or we have totally underestimated them and possibly failed to get them ready for their succession planning. There is value in providing emerging leaders with the resources and coaching they need, as well as the latitude and understanding that yes, they are going to do it their own way.

Read the article here: Millennials Are Ready To Be Leaders: Here’s How They’re Doing It, by Larry Alton, via Forbes.com.

I don’t intend to be the rebellious voice of a generation, but these gaps I see are pervasive in the conversation around Millennials. The world I see has young leaders ready to disrupt and innovate to meet the disruptions. I see young leaders who are willing to be the voice of what they believe in (not because they wanted to be, but because they were the there). I see young leaders desperately seeking to make a difference, not just autopilot their life a way. I observe closely because I feel as if I can learn so much from my peers and the generation coming up behind us.

I know that we can do better, and offer open arms to a group that represents 80 million people and the largest percentage of the workforce. We have to do better, with stakes that high. Everyone’s future depends on it.

About the author:

Katie Rasoul is the Chief Awesome Officer for Team Awesome, a leadership coaching and culture consulting firm. She is a TEDx speaker alumna, author of the best-selling book, Hidden Brilliance: A High-Achieving Introvert’s Guide to Self-Discovery, Leadership and Playing Big, and co-host of The Life and Leadership Podcast.

Find out more by visiting www.teamawesomecoaching.com or join the Team Awesome Community for awesomeness coming straight to your inbox. Follow Team Awesome on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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You won’t find inspiration on a spreadsheet; An essay from William Childs

Today’s risk-averse business environments do not really support creative thought and ideation the way it should. Most are great at tracking production costs, profitability, taxes, payroll, and many other essential systems that go into running a successful business. But, where does creativity fit in the overall business scheme?

Adobe released a survey where they looked into creativity and how it affects employees around the world. Its ‘State of Create’ global benchmark study surveyed business people in the US, the UK, Germany, France, and Japan. The results were shocking.

80% of those surveyed felt that unlocking creativity is critical to economic growth.  Another critical stat showed that 75% of employees said they are always under pressure to be more creative at work.  That’s a huge issue. If you’re feeling pressure to be more creative at work, more than likely you won’t be.  Creativity doesn’t operate like that. It works in an environment where it feels welcome.  If the situation is a pressure cooker or toxic, creativity will not grow, no matter what you try to do. 

The most shocking stat to me was the one showing that only 39% consider themselves creative.  There is a disconnect between the need for creativity in the workplace and employees not being permitted to do anything to change the company culture.   Creativity isn’t something that can be mandated.  You can’t order employees to be more creative, then criticize them if results don’t show up on your balance sheet. Spreadsheets have always been a window to the past, while creativity is the doorway to the future. 

Leadership guru, Simon Sinek, believes this, “If you hire people just because they can do a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood and sweat and tears.” This is not to say that you hire lemmings, but rather people who have a desire to make an impact through their work.

A company that embraces, fosters, and nurtures their employee’s creative well-being is going to have to be one that’s willing to walk into the unknown. There’s just no other way to do it.  Our society has done a terrible disservice conditioning all of us to believe that risk is wrong and must be avoided.  Especially when it comes to untested ideas. 

Best-selling author Hugh Macleod offers this blunt, yet accurate assessment. “If you’re creative, if you can think independently, if you can articulate passion, if you can override the fear of being wrong, then your company needs you now more than it ever did.  And now your company can no longer afford to pretend that isn’t the case.”

Which is why leaders struggle with bringing creativity into their business.  They are not comfortable with the unpredictable nature that it inspires. Any untested idea or solution is going to require a leap of faith and involve risk before it can emerge into a product or new service that will drive revenue. 

Albert Einstein, considered one of the 20th century’s greatest minds said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.  For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Businesses that can tap into that power stand a much better chance of creating a vibrant culture, unlocking emerging markets, and creating new revenue streams.  Focus on creating an environment for employees to grow and develop creatively and support their efforts by allowing them to take risks. And whatever you do, do not stigmatize mistakes. Ever.  

If the Adobe research showed me anything, it’s that creativity is recognized as critical for economic growth, but it still has a long way to go before its universally accepted as a tool to drive change. 

The good news is the future only comes one day at a time.  The bad news is that if you’re unwilling to bring creativity into your business in a real and tangible way, you won’t have much of a future to worry about anyway.


THE AUTHOR: WILLIAM CHILDS | Creative Director | Brand Storyteller | Columnist | Optimist
Bill is an accomplished creative leader with a history of delivering award-winning campaigns for a variety of businesses. Relentlessly dedicated to the skillful and creative translation of strategic business objectives, he’s known as a collaborative mentor and champion of fearless creativity. With a career spanning three decades, Childs knows how to take an acceptable idea and turn it into an exceptional one. His reputation of setting high creative standards while helping to create a culture of genuine collaboration and engagement is one of things he’s most proud of across his career. Recognizing and mentoring talent, and building high-performing, cohesive teams is one of his passions. Email. Website. Twitter. LinkedIn.

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The Triple-Threat Challenge: Owning your time, energy, and money; An essay from Katie Rasoul

There are three buckets of resources that we have the opportunity to manage that make all the difference in our experience here in this now life; time, energy, and money. At different seasons of our lives, we may have more or less of each of these categories, or place a higher premium on one over another. For a period of my life when I had less time and more money, it made sense for me to pay for services that gave me time back in my day, like landscaping or cleaning my home. All three of these categories work together and inevitably impact each other. For example, if I enjoyed cleaning and it gave me energy, it might be worth it to me to complete that task myself. It doesn’t, so I don’t. To each their own. 

In my observations, it seems as if one of these buckets never has a surplus because we are really good about spending more than we have in that category. For me, that has always been energy. I have a knack for spending energy in ways that don’t suit me because I think that I “should” or I made a commitment. For the first time in my life, I have begun to counteract this by repeatedly slashing my “To-Do” lists and time commitments and cutting anything that wasn’t a “Hell Yes.” It’s not to say that things don’t slip back in or preferences don’t change, so this process is repeated frequently. What a gift it was to realize that I am in control of managing my own energy, and then take the responsibility to do so. For others, that drained bucket might always seem to be money, or time.

I know, you may be thinking that some of us don’t always have a choice and have to do things we don’t want to do. Yes, of course. But I would contest your thinking on this and invite you to view it from the lens that nearly everything is a choice. Sometimes they are shitty ones but they are, in fact, choices. And when you recognize that the crap you don’t want to do is in fact a choice you are consciously making to do anyways, it doesn’t seem like such martyrdom anymore.

I am issuing a challenge for all of us. Find ways to make conscious decisions about how you will spend your time, energy and money. This may mean planning and budgeting, or perhaps even just pausing to make a conscious decision before automatically committing yes to anything in the moment. If you reserved two hours for doing this mental cleanup, what would be the payoff be energy and joy? I am willing to bet, WORTH IT.

Ways to Get Started

If you need some help getting started cleaning up how you spend your time, energy, and money through the end of the year, here are some ideas:

Make a list of things to stop doing. I mean clubs, organizations, or other recurring commitments that you just keep doing even though they no longer bring you joy. Make room for something you love. Even if you love watching The Big Lebowski (again) on the couch. No judgement here.

Identify three things that you would normally trudge through, and make your plan to kindly decline them this year. Usually go to five holiday parties? Pick three. Feel the need to pack the weekends with activities? Plan for down time and don’t give it away for anything.

Spend even as little as one hour planning how you will spend your money. How much will you donate? How much will you spend on stuff versus experiences? If you only have $100 to donate, pick your organizations and how much, and cross it off your list of things to think about or spend on for the rest of the year.

Look for things that are a good total value to you. This means that you might spend time, but get money AND energy in return. Or you donate money which means you can decline volunteering and save time, and it brings you energy because you love the organization you are supporting.

Write down three things that give you energy, and three things that drain your energy. Plan more of the good stuff, and less of the soul-sucking things. The awareness alone will be a fascinating discovery.

Bonus! Keep track of the changes you made to how you spend your time, energy, and money, and review it afterward. How did it feel to you? Who else noticed? How do you want to spend your resources going forward?

The permission to take control of how you spend your time, energy, and money this year might be the best gift you’ve given yourself for a long time. If you had a choice (and you do), how would you rebalance your three buckets?

About the author:

Katie Rasoul is the Chief Awesome Officer for Team Awesome, a leadership coaching and culture consulting firm. Find out more by visiting www.teamawesomecoaching.com  or www.katierasoul.com. Find Katie on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

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Robert Greene: The Intrepid Interview


Show notes and discussion guide:

  1. A discussion around social intelligence became the initial inspiration for this latest book…you have to learn how to understand people.
  2. Although it has always been important, it is more important than ever to understand human nature. “We’ve all become much more self-absorbed (largely as a result of technology)…”
  3. The levels of self-absorption and narcissism are increasing as a result of technology. We don’t spend enough time interacting with actual humans…and thus we lose the necessary skills to deal.
  4. Tribalism and envy are envy are increasingly prevalent, fed by social media.
  5. And while better understanding human nature is important, you MUST do the work to better understand yourself.
  6. To understand people, you need a degree of humility, so that you are not constantly judging people.
  7. You have to acknowledge your own dark side, your shadow. Yes, you have one, and understanding that about oneself, enables you to see it in others. Your shadow gains power as a result of your lack of awareness and acknowledgement of it.
  8. A discussion on how to use this book; there is so much knowledge here, it is almost impossible to implement every strategy at once.
  9. For starters, read the book cover to cover first, getting a basic sense of this new way of thinking around human nature, making key notes about elements worth exploring further down the road.
  10. “This book is meant to help you reflect upon yourself, make you look hard at yourself in the mirror.”
  11. We discuss Robert’s process in telling stories about historical figures (truly my favorite parts of his books) and the lessons we draw from their story, and how he brings these historical characters to life.
  12. “You (the reader) are history.”
  13. Can we, as a human being, actually change? (The key part of the answer is self-awareness). “You have to look deeply at your own demons.”
  14. How the “Theory of Mind” can be harnessed as a major strength, one you are likely NOT using because of your self-absorption.
  15. What are some tools and strategies that we can do TODAY to start better understanding, and leveraging, human nature? (Empathy, listening, etc…)
  16. In the book, virtually every chapter highlights a common, negative human trait, and demonstrates how we can turn them into a positive.
  17. “I do not like that man. I must get to know him better,” a quote from Abraham Lincoln. This is a key lesson in teaching us to identify opportunity in what we perceive as bad relationships with people. We are too quick to judge people…and thus, we are not doing the work to actually understand people.
  18. The importance of emotion, there is no such possible thing as “taking emotion out of it.”
  19. How narcissism can be a good thing…
  20. A final discussion that will finally help you completely understand who Donald Trump is (fascinating!).

ROBERT GREENE is an American author known for his books on strategy, power, and seduction. He has written six international bestsellers: The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, The 33 Strategies of War, The 50th Law, Mastery, and The Laws of Human Nature. Wikipedia




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A Manifesto On Community; An essay from Katie Rasoul

I had the distinct privilege to spend most of 48 solid hours in a room with some crazy smart and heart-centered people a few years ago with the purpose of discussing and clarifying the idea of “Community.” The group included entrepreneurs, HR practitioners, consultants who make the world a better place to work, a futurist, and experts on inclusion. It was a life-changing discussion that knocked something loose inside of me. Ever since this conversation, I have been obsessed with the idea of belonging. It is something I have been studying, trying to define and understand ever since.

On the topic of community, here were some of the key questions that we collectively tried to answer, or at least, consider:

  • How do we define community?
  • What unique characteristics show up in community?
  • How does a community differ from a group or organization?
  • What is needed to create community, and what destroys it?

Often, we first think of community as a physical place like the city where you live, the church you attend, or some other physical representation. But I would challenge you to look beyond the physical, beyond the obvious. I am certain you have been in plenty of places and spaces that did not feel like a community.

After careful consideration, here is how I see community.

It is not a place, but a feeling. You feel a sense of community when the key defining factors come together and elevate a group of people from simply a group experience to being in community with one another. There are factors that create the sense of community, and any one of them on their own might be used to describe a group, or family, or organization. However, when combined together and elevated to a higher level, the synergy that is created becomes a sense of community and something deeper than just a collection of people in the same place, at the same time, with something in common.

Some of the factors that might be a part of the community equation are:

  • A feeling of belonging
  • A feeling of trust
  • Human caring
  • Commonality of some sort between participants
  • Crucible, shared experiences
  • Self-awareness and social awareness
  • Commitment to the community from members

When we can elevate these factors and create synergy, a sense of community is possible. 

I see it as a type of ecosystem. Communities are dynamic, meaning they always adjust when people come and go, and as things in the community shift it can stay intact. It supports the needs of the individual and maintains equilibrium for the community simultaneously.

This does not mean we should only be with people who are “like us.” It does not mean that we don’t listen to, and consider varying points of view. It does not mean that we dig our heels deeper into our side of the argument. By doing these things, we are closing ourselves off to the open-mindedness and possibility that we must bring to the table in order to find and receive a sense of community. Without this trust and willingness, you may think you are searching for community, but will wonder why you can’t quite find it.

What erodes a sense of community?

Although the ecosystem of a community is flexible to change, it is not invincible to breaking down. So, what causes a sense of community to erode, or fall apart?

  • A lack of trust: When those in community no longer feel as if others have their back.
  • Members lose their sense of belonging or commitment: When commonality or individual needs change so drastically that they no longer resonate with the community.
  • Balance of power does not support the community as a whole: When the interests of one supersede the interests of the community due to power, the system loses balance.

In a time when we are searching for belonging and understanding more than ever, it can be valuable for us to dig deep and truly understand where our own sense of community comes from. This can help each of us find what we are looking for to live a life of shared purpose and fulfillment that comes from community; elevated beyond simply groups or organizations.

Belonging and Community at Work

After looking at community from all angles, I became obsessed with the element of belonging. It has led me to study groups that often feel cast on the outside. I have discovered so many fresh perspectives on the topic that have informed my work, but haven’t yet solved the puzzle. I have deliberated over what belonging feels like exactly, and how we recreate that feeling particularly in the place we spend the most time – at work.

How do we bring this sense of community to the workplace? This is a place where we spend a significant portion of our time, and when we describe our most engaged employees we can often see the factors of community coming to light. If we could create more of that, people would feel belonging at work, be committed, and want to stay. Yet in so many of our organizations, we are missing the mark.

I encourage you to view your own workplace and review what factors might be missing to creating a sense of community. Inclusion and engagement are insufficient; people look to experience belonging and love. What would need to change to achieve that elevated state? And what would that even feel like to create a true sense of community at work? I venture to say it would feel like practical magic.


About the author:

Katie Rasoul is the Chief Awesome Officer for Team Awesome, a leadership coaching and culture consulting firm. Find out more by visiting www.teamawesomecoaching.com  or www.katierasoul.com. Find Katie on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


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