leadership dot #3121: reflect

So many people were anxious to be “rid of 2020” and to turn the page onto a new year – as if there is a magical moment that will occur and when we wake up tomorrow anything will be different.

There will be some legal and financial demarcations that occur, but for the vast majority of our lives, unless we have a calendar, we won’t even notice a change. Nonetheless, we have the opportunity to create one – in our heads. No matter what the calendar says, we have control of our mindset and outlook. We can choose to focus on the negative aspect of things – and, as with every year, 2021 will have its share of that – or, we can focus on the positive and show gratitude for what we do have.

I hope you take a few moments today to reflect on all the good that came your way this year. Yes, there was a litany of things that we hope to never experience again, but I guarantee that there were silver linings, unexpected blessings and lessons learned. Don’t let the clock strike midnight without taking time to embrace them.

leadership dot #3120: sensitivity

Few decisions are more sensitive and cause greater emotion than how to do a memorial. It is a delicate topic on a personal level but when you’re planning a public memorial the scope and scale escalate every decision.

People in Las Vegas are experiencing this first-hand as they try to finalize plans for a memorial for lives lost at the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in 2017. One of the key decisions is where to locate the tribute. While it may seem obvious that the memorial is at the site of the shooting, others feel that returning to that location would be too traumatic for the survivors. Another key point of debate is what names to inscribed in the remembrance: should it be the 58 who lost their lives there or should the two who died afterward be included as well? There are hundreds of stakeholders and an equal amount of passions and opinions to navigate.

While you may not be responsible for a project of this nature, it is likely that you will be involved in some type of tribute to those who have passed. It may be recognizing a colleague who died, a community member who suddenly or tragically lost their life, or even publishing a list of those who were lost this year. Keep in mind that each of the people you are memorializing leaves behind loved ones who are very much alive – and very attuned to each nuance of every decision you make. Remember to allow others to help shape how you remember others.

leadership dot #3119: codger

Yesterday I wrote (dot #3118) about business jargon that should be deleted from your vocabulary. It may seem like an impossible task as some of the words are engrained in our communication and naturally flow into our conversations without a thought.

But a recent post from @adgrayvisions reminds us that common words do in fact fade out of usage. You may have heard some of these gems spoken by your parents or grandparents, but have you heard any of these doozies lately:

  • Britches
  • Rigmarole
  • Hoodwink
  • Fiddle-faddle
  • Lollygag
  • Skedaddle
  • Fiddlesticks
  • Poppycock
  • Bamboozled
  • Bejeebers

Chances are that you have not spoken these words but they were all part of the natural conversations in days past. Words, just as with fads or trends, come in and out of favor. Make sure your vocabulary doesn’t make you sound like an old codger who is flummoxed by nincompoops when they speak a more contemporary language.





leadership dot #3118: low-hanging fruit

As you’re ideating about how to create synergy to be able to curate into your goals for the new year, you may be tempted to dialogue with some colleagues, touch base with a mentor, or reach out to your network to drill down on your choices.

Are you ready to stop reading yet?

As cliché-filled as the opening sentence was, too many people use some or all of those words when talking in the office environment. CNBC has outlined the 11 most annoying business jargon words and the first sentence features half of them. Yikes!

It becomes a vicious circle – the more popular words become, the more we instinctively use them because we hear them so often. It seems right to say “touch base” or “circle back” instead of simply saying we’ll discuss something later because that’s what everyone else is saying. But filling our communication with jargon can easily go too far and dilute the message we are trying to convey.

Take a moment to review the list and see if you can find some low-hanging fruit to delete even one of the phrases from your vocabulary!

Thanks, Brian!

leadership dot #3117: dumpster fire

We often use greeting cards to convey sentiments that we feel but can’t quite put into words, and our thoughts about the pandemic are no exception. In a sign of the times, Hallmark features a fun line of virus-related cards designed to share our thoughts during COVID.

Some examples:

  • You’re like Netflix during a pandemic – I couldn’t live without you
  • Fire is red, dumpsters are gritty. I’m sorry right now – isn’t great
  • Look at the bright side of a virtual birthday party! – No need to share your cake. No need to wear pants.

You can take a cue from Hallmark and share sentiments that acknowledge reality, even if that is a dumpster fire right now. Don’t hold back from letting others know you’re thinking about them just because you don’t have a litany of rosy thoughts to share. Your communication always needs to be real, but not always cheery.


leadership dot #3116: evergreen

Hope is a beautiful thing – except when it crosses over into an unrealistic expectation. Such is the case at Home Depot that hopes to sell its evergreen inventory for “up to 50% off” – the day after Christmas. I am not sure who they think will make such a purchase.

The delusional pricing is an example of not being attuned to reality – either to the buying patterns of your audience or even to the calendar. While the greenery may last for several more weeks and still both look and smell wonderful, it no longer has the value that it did a mere 24 hours before.

As the new year approaches, people are filled with anticipation about what could lie ahead. Anchor those expectations in reality to keep your hope evergreen.

leadership dot #3115: I’ll be home

The song “I’ll be home for Christmas” will take on new meaning for many this year as families are unable to gather in person as they have in the past. If you’re sharing the holiday with your loved ones via phone or a computer screen, take heart in the adage that home is where the heart is. You don’t have to be physically present to be there in spirit, although it sure is a whole lot nicer!

May you feel the love this holiday – whether over the airwaves or in person – and may this Christmas without the hugs make you more appreciative of the little things when we are able to gather in person again.

Happy Christmas!

leadership dot #3114: aspect

During the holiday season, many different aspects of our lives merge – we may actively focus on being an aunt or a son when those roles are otherwise dormant or we may be become the young kid again instead of the in-charge CEO. We may reunite with old friends or neighbors who know more about our youth than our present or we may shine as the family organizer even though we are more laid-back in our later years. It can be hard to reconcile how people see us with how we see ourselves.

Remember that you only know a portion of the story of all those you meet. Uncle Joe may make you crazy, but you haven’t seen the joy he spreads to his war buddies. Your sister may be quiet at the holiday table but share her voice when advocating for a cause. You may be the only one on the Zoom call who knows the silly side of your cousin or the persistence of your nephew.

Everyone knows a different aspect of you. Whether in-person or remotely, let those with whom you share your holidays see a bit of your joy.

leadership dot #3113: ho ho ho

With no social events this holiday season, I’ve found myself watching more Christmas movies than I usually do and what I’ve noticed is that the genre has moved almost exclusively from comedy to romantic comedy. If you watch older movies, they are full of silly, almost slapstick humor: Christmas Vacation, Elf, The Santa Clause, Home Alone, etc. But today’s features are Hallmark variety: A Country Christmas, The Princess Switch, The Christmas Inheritance – well, you get the idea.

I wonder when and why the category evolved. It’s not that the funny ones weren’t successful. In fact, Home Alone is the highest-grossing comedy in movie history ($477 million in 1990). Many of the other titles spun off sequels or even a Broadway play. But now we are relegated to multiple variations of the same plot: guy and girl meet, don’t like each other at first, but fall in love by Christmas.

While it may be tempting to binge-watch a series of modern holiday films, make some time in your schedule to appreciate the classics and to share them with younger generations. Romance is wonderful but everyone could use a good ho-ho-ho belly laugh, especially this year.

leadership dot #3112: delay

If you ever questioned the ability of television to influence people, you need to look no further than The Queen’s Gambit.  Not only has the show has become Netflix’s biggest limited series ever, but it has inspired an interest in chess for a whole new group of people. Google reports a stunning rise in inquiries about how to play chess and sales of chess sets have increased by nearly 200% online.

But what fascinates me about the impact of the show is that it is based on a book – that was published 37 years ago. At the time, Walter Tevis’ novel remained in the background. It did not win awards and was just one of the thousands of books published in 1983. The story even had several failed attempts at screen adaptation but now that it finally reached the screen, the book has become a New York Times bestseller and inspired this new-found interest in chess.

It’s sad that Mr. Tevis died before he could see the impact of his work or receive the acclaim that was due for his imaginative storytelling but let this delay serve as inspiration for you. Who knows what kind of influence your work will have. It may be through the lessons you teach someone else or through the product you produce yourself but we never know when the seeds we planted will fully take root and bloom. Keep playing your game.