“Put me in Coach! Put me in!”

Those were the words I said to my basketball coach years ago.  I loved basketball, being part of a team and playing competitively.  I got pretty good and felt confident but I wanted to get better, so I started playing ball with the boys.  I certainly wasn’t a tom boy, far from it, in fact I’ve always been a girly girl.  Playing with the boys was hard, they were quicker and stronger than me and more aggressive and skilled than me.  I never did get as good as the boys, but I became a better player because of that experience.  Their skills were so much better than me that I had to raise up my game just to be able to stay on the court and play. Everyone once in a while I surprised them with a three point shot or a quick steal and drive to the basket, those were good times!

I learned a lot of lessons from that experience:
  • When you play with someone that is better than you, your skills improve.
  • If you are in an environment that challenges you, you become stronger.
  • When someone is quicker than you, your focus improves.
  • Playing with someone smarter than you causes you to get mentally tough.
  • When you are challenged you work harder than you do in a complacent environment.
As they say, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going!”

So the next time you are in a challenging environment or are working for a boss with high expectations, just remember how much you are growing and how strong your skills are becoming.  You’ll likely look back and thank that boss for all that he or she did to help you move your career forward!

Having conflict with a co-worker?

Often the biggest problem is the person looking back at you in the mirror!

An effective way to mitigate the conflict is to ask to meet with the co-worker to discuss how to communicate more effectively.

The next step may be even harder than the first and is absolutely vital for a successful outcome. You must alter your attitude and perceptions toward the other person. If you do not, you’ll bring negative energy and baggage into the meeting. Instead of creating an opportunity to re-build trust, you’ll actually take a step backwards because your verbal messages don’t align with your attitude and body language.  What will come across is an insincere plea.

Begin the conversation by stating something along the lines of:  “There seems to be tension between the two of us, as well as differences. Even though there are differences, there is also commonality. We both want to be successful, valued and respected. Let's talk about how to create a more harmonious work relationship where we can both reach our desired goals and be successful.”

Once you are in a healthy mental and emotional state you’ll be ready to listen for understanding, instead of listening to defend or reply with a rebuttal. Focus on the future and what you can both do to create a professional, healthy and productive relationship.

Wake Up Everybody!

While I was going through security at the airport, I couldn't help but notice one TSA agent that really stood out.  Her eyes were glazed over and she was robotic in her verbal and non-verbal messaging.  As I stood in line, I continued to observe her to see if she would choose to break her routine, let her guard down, drop the wall she had put up to shield her and show her humanness to those standing right in front of her.  When I was an arms length away from her I did my best to make eye contact with her and offer a smile, nothing registered, she was completely closed off.  She had chosen to "check out" and just go through the motions, repeating the same message over and over again. 

It caused me to wonder how often we "check out" while we're working.  Choosing to only focus on our area, completely disinterested  in engaging with those who come across our path.  When we make this choice, we miss out on the opportunity to communicate, connect and engage with others.  Let's all "Wake Up" and be aware of the world around us!

"No more backward thinking, time for thinking ahead."


Striving or Embracing?

I love the energy of the New Year and the positive messaging that is flooding my LinkedIn and Facebook feeds.  Isn’t it interesting that at the New Year we wish one another a Happy New Year?  What if we had that same sentiment of well wishes throughout the year?  What if we had the same positive, non-stoppable attitude and self-discipline as we do at the first of the year?  Things would be vastly differently in all of our lives if these attitudes prevailed for 365 days instead of 30 days or less.  How do we hang onto the positive energy?

I’ve learned that more often than not resolutions don’t stick and that goal setting plans gets dusty.  For years I’ve gone through days of goal setting, creating deadlines and planning that would make some weary just talking about it.  Although goal setting can be beneficial, for me it had become more of a chore instead of an exciting activity to look forward to each year.  That is, until I added an element that had been missing from the process…Feelings!  Isn’t it bazaar that most of us create goals without any thought to how we want to feel when we obtain that goal?

One of the most strategic, creative, freeing and utterly brilliant questions I’ve asked myself is, “How do you want to feel?” Once I turned my focus toward how I wanted to feel and understood what I needed to do to feel the way I truly desired to feel, the idea of goal setting became exciting again.  I had new energy.  The process became completely different than it had in the past.  Instead of creating a long page of text and measurements, which often made me feel heavy with responsibility and guilty if I didn’t measure up to my long list of goals, it became much more emotionally based and freeing. 

This new process is about embracing the possibilities instead of striving and pushing.  When I’m pushing and striving and striving and pushing I grow weary.  The goals seem too hard, too big, too much!  When I’m focused on having the types of feelings I want to have in my life, it’s about embracing the moments, the possibilities and the success of living a life you want instead of a life about measurement.

Here’s what I did and you can too:
1.  Determine your values.  Here’s a link to worksheet to help you with this process.
2.  Identify how you truly want to feel.
  • Ask, “How do I want to feel?”  Repeat the question 5 times to uncover your true desired feelings.
  • Ask, “When have a felt this way before?”  “What do I do now that creates those feelings?”
3.  Create Vision Board. 
Now that you have clarity about your values and feelings, you are ready to create your vision board to guide your activities, choices and all that you desire.   

You will need:
  • A large stack of magazines.
  • An 8x10 or larger sheet of card stock
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • The understanding that there are no limits, no right or wrong choices; the only guide is your passion, values and feelings.  Use these to steer you towards what your heart and mind desires.
Begin your vision board by tearing out the images and words in the magazines that speak to you.  The images should evoke a feeling of excitement, tug at your emotions, cause your heartbeat to increase, prompt you to say, “WOW!”  The images only need to speak to you; no approval is needed from anyone but you.  The images may represent something to you that is entirely different than what the picture conveys to others.  What is important is that the image conveys how you want to feel and expresses what you want to achieve in your life.
Assemble your images on your sheet of card stock in a way that makes your heart sing with possibilities.

Your vision board is now ready to post in a place that you will see daily.  Your vision board is a work in progress and can be updated as often as you like. 

I encourage you to explore this new process.  Find out your answers to the question, “How do I want to feel?” and “What do I want/need to do to experience my desired feelings?”  Discover or re-discover your values.  Get creative.  Let go of boundaries and measurements. 

Let’s resolve the feelings of guilt and needing to stop doing something and instead 
embrace the possibilities for 2015!
Peggy's Vision Board
I’d love to hear from you and learn about your thoughts and possibilities.  Leave me a comment below to start the conversation.

Thank you to all Veterans!

Ten years ago, my son Matthew joined the Marines. I remember feeling proud and overwhelmed with fear about his decision. I remember the two hour drive to the signing in process and wishing with all my heart that he would change his mind before we arrived. As my husband and I drove away, we knew that our son’s decision had forever changed his life.

Another vivid memory was when we attended his boot camp graduation in San Diego. When we drove through the entrance we saw a large group of young men running as part of their daily physical drills, each one was dressed exactly the same and had the same haircut, yet we could still pick out our son!  We were so happy to see him, even if it was at a distance. 

There was a bit of a wait before the graduation ceremony began and we were sitting in the stands with the other families, feeling nervous and proud all at the same time.  There were hundreds that graduated that day.  As we sat in the stands our hearts were overwhelmed with pride towards these young adults for what they had accomplished and the commitment they were making to be a Marine.  As our son’s name was called, our family respectfully rose to our feet and tears streamed down our cheeks as we honored our son.

The most vivid memory was also the one I had feared the most – the day when he received his orders to be deployed to war. The only thing besides faith that got our family through those uncertain times was the support and love we received and knowing he was also receiving strong support from our friends and family.  I am blessed and thankful to say he served our country proudly and returned home safely. 

Yesterday was the 239th birthday of the United States Marine Corps, as a proud mom of a Marine, I would like to say, Thank you to all of our Marines! And today is Veteran's day, what a perfect time to thank all of our family and friends that have served or who are still serving our great country. Regardless of our views on warfare, we cannot deny the commitment and sacrifices of our military. Let's remember and respect the great sacrifices made by our veteran's. Let's show compassion to the military families. Let's honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives while serving our country. 

"Thank you" to all who have served our great country.  We appreciate you and respect you for all you’ve done to protect us and our freedom!

Entertainment or Inspiration?

A few weeks ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to attend an incredible Cirque Du Soleil show featuring talented dancers.  We were excited for an evening of entertained and to enjoy celebrating some recent achievements.  What we received was much more than expected.   We were not only thoroughly entertained - we were inspired.   The dancers performed with grace and strength in movement and art.  It was completely captivating and beautiful.  We couldn't help but notice how   sculpted their bodies were, which gave us a glimpse into the hours spent behind the scenes.  My husband and I were dancers many years ago and we know that having the strength to move with such grace and precision doesn't just happen, it takes hours of dedication and commitment to make the moves look effortless and magical.  It takes teamwork and harmony to work with the other dancers to make sure each movement is in perfect timing with each other.   It takes trust and dependability to know your team will be there to catch you when you leap in thin air waiting for another dancer to catch you.  It takes respect for each other knowing that each dancer is critical to a successful performance.   And last, but not least, putting yourself out there on a stage for everyone to see takes strength, courage, passion and confidence.

It's the same for each of us in our art, our craft, and our profession.  We all need to put ourselves out there and perform at our optimal levels.  We all need to be dedicated and committed to what we've chosen to do in life.  We all need to have teamwork and harmony with those on our team.  We all need to be trustworthy and dependable to our team.  We all need to respect those on our team and ourselves. 
What a difference it would make if we treated our art, our craft, our profession the same way as a Cirque Du Soleil dancer!

Your Image and You

To be a successful administrative assistant you need to be the entire package. Having strength in only one area doesn't equal success.  Sure you need to have strong technical, organizational and interpersonal skills and a host of other key competencies.   Another key area that you may not have considered, is your image.

Image is much more than the clothes on your back or how you look. It is your essence, it's everything you exude. It's your attitude and your energy. It's the words you choose to use and the messages you communicate. It's your uniqueness and your style.  It's what people remember about you when you're gone.  It's how people describe you. 

Your image is your brand. 
Embracing your image begins with embracing the mirror!
Your image is the person who looks back at you when you look in the mirror.

Collaboration in Action

I had the opportunity to attend and speak at the Office Dynamics Conference last week at the Red Rock Resort. The theme for the event was "Connect, Create and Collaborate." I've spoken at this conference in the past as well as been an attendee. However this year was truly an event of distinction. The attendees were absolutely amazing; they were engaged and hungry for growth. Each speaker was remarkable in their own right providing valuable information to stretch and challenge the attendees and to inspire positive change for the attendees an individual and for their career as an administrative professional. Another fascinating dynamic about this event was the collaboration between the speakers. Each speaker encouraged and cheered on one another. We believed in each other, had respect for one another and genuinely wanted the best for one another. Some could say we are all competitors however if you were an observer, you would have seen a group of friends laughing, connecting and collaborating. Perhaps it was the conference theme that caused our behavior . . . perhaps it's because we are all motivated by the same positive intent ~ to facilitate the success of the attendees. No matter what caused this dynamic, it created an incredible conference experience and one that I will cherish for a lifetime!

Increase your "Stick-to-it-ness"

What happens when we decide to make a change? Most of the time we get really excited about the possibilities, we're filled with enthusiasm for the results we're going to reach.

Our belief is high and we know, that this time, this time for sure things are going to be different. We're going to accomplish our goals. . . and then a few more days go by and what happens?

Our enthusiasm is but a small hope, instead of a firm belief. Our focus gets blurry and we start to fall into the same-oh, same-oh routine.

I encourage you to increase your "stick-to-it-ness" - You can make the changes your want, you just need to stick it out day by day and follow through with your plan.

You got this!

Get Sticky!

Want to know how to increase your chance for success by 33%?

1. Write down your goals,
2. Share them with a friend
3. Send weekly updates to that friend

For more insight and encouragement check out TriRiverU Facebook page where you can meet new friends to share your dreams and increase your chance for success!

Who said you aren't creative?

The desire to create is one of our deepest yearnings and yet most of us suppress that desire. I believe we are all born creative. It takes vulnerability to create and courage to share our work. Our mind asks, “What if it’s not accepted, appreciated or understood?”

Believe in your power and your giftedness! You have something in you that you are meant to create and share with the world. So draw, write, speak, dance, sing, invent, orchestrate, and create your own individual art. And when your mind starts to weave in doubt, consider modeling your engagement after a child who has just been given a box of crayons. Let your imagination and vulnerability soar!

What’s your vision for 2013?

Have you made a New Year’s resolution? Have you let your creativity soar and created a vision board? Or, are you sitting in the land of good intentions waiting for your life to change by wishing it so? However you answered those questions, I have good news for you! You can make 2013 a year to remember. It all starts with a vision. It’s the vision that will make all the difference.

“Vision is the art of seeing the invisible.” Jonathan Swift

Most of us know what we want deep down inside of us; we just lack the belief that our dream could become a reality. Think back to when you were a child, what did you want to be? I challenge you to consider the possibilities for your life. Just for a moment remove all the barriers that rise up in your mind. Push away the negative voices, silence the self-doubt that tells you that you aren’t good enough, smart enough or talented enough. Imagine a vision for your life based on your dreams and desires. Imagine your vision with vivid detail, passion and belief. Then imagine it as if it is now a reality. This is the essence where visions are made and dreams are realized. Once a vision is cast firmly in your mind, once you can see it, feel it, touch it, and describe it, the possibility of it becoming a reality is only a matter of time.

I had the opportunity to lead a visioning exercise with a group of outstanding administrative professionals from Microsoft. Their assignment was to create a vision statement for their administrative professional community. Here’s a few of the vision statements they created:

“Provide excellent support to our managers and the team by mastering the internal tools, efficiently responding to and anticipating needs, and leveraging each admin's strengths.”

“Be pillars of the organization by enhancing the productivity of all employees and the ability to meet or exceed organizational goals through continuous support, bolstering morale, and cross-group collaboration.”

“Providing extraordinary customer service through teamwork and positive influence.”

“Leveraging our strengths to achieve operational excellence.
• Collaboration and Teamwork
• Respect and Communication and Transparency
• Subject Matter Expert and Sharing Best Practices”

"Create an environment rich in - trust, feedback / communication, respect, and development."

"Be innovative. Be impactful while providing seamless administrative support. GSD/CYA. (get shit done, cover your ass). :)"

"We have proactively to committed exceptional results and maintaining high integrity in our day to day roles."

"We will live our values of being highly trusted, accountable, consistent, dependable and knowledgeable through our support and guidance. We will build, cultivate and mature successful relationships with internal and external partners and serve as the central hub of the organization...creating a fun and positive environment."

"Delivering superior service to the team by being proactive and resourceful with a "can-do" attitude this furthering success and goals of Microsoft."

"We kick butt so you can to by providing seamless services for superb results."

"Delivering quality support to the organization by partnering and executing on our excellent services."

"We exhibit open communication, foster a cohesive team with a high level of trust and are proactive with the teams' needs, wants and goals."

I challenge you to put this exercise to work for you and create your own personal vision statement. It really is the vision for your life that will make all the difference.

“We are limited, not by our abilities, but by our vision.”

Is Opportunity Knocking?

Things have been incredibly busy lately. There is so much going on, so many events with looming deadlines and so many tasks to complete. When we are in this hurry- hurry, rush-rush mode we feel the pressure building and our stress levels rising. It’s also during these times that our real self shines through. Are we still communicating effectively, or snapping at the first person that interrupts our work flow? In the midst of all the chaos and challenges let’s remember – our worst moments can be our best opportunities! It’s these stressful situations where we have the opportunity to show our true character and to create a moment we want others to remember.

Thank You to Administrative Professionals

As a member of the administrative professional community, I’d like to say “Thank you”! Whether you are supporting a manager, a group, a project or a combination of all three, you are key to the success and impact of your company. Your contributions can be directly attributed to the support you provide day in and day out.

Can you imagine business today without administrative staff? If you’re feeling a bit skeptical today, just remember the last time you took vacation and what welcomed you upon your return!

I would like to say “Thank You” for all that you do on a daily basis to help staff, managers and their respective projects succeed. Thank you for going above and beyond when you were tired and overwhelmed and didn’t feel you had any more to give. Thank you for all the sacrifices you’ve made to assure that staff and projects had the information they needed. Thank you for tracking the timeliness and accuracy of project and client deliverables. Thank you for answering the never ending questions about policies and procedures. Thank you for being the point of contact and subject matter expert for the software, forms and approvals needed to accomplish a given task. Thank you for handling all the details and logistics for important meetings and travel arrangements. Thank you for carefully reviewing communication, contracts, spreadsheets and presentations. And on behalf of the managers out there, thank you for finding solutions to many challenges before they ever had a chance to reach their to do list.

I appreciate you, and am grateful for the mentoring so many administrative professionals have provided to me! Thank you again, and happy Administrative Professionals week!

Happy Administrative Professionals Day to the Best Admin I Ever Had!

by Darlene Mahon and Peggy Vasquez

“The best admin I ever had.” That’s a phrase that most of us have heard at some point, and one that all admins would like to hear. But what does it mean? What sets the great admin apart from the average admin? Although there are a host of skills needed to be a successful administrative assistant, what separates a great admin apart from a good admin is their ability to create a powerful partnership with their manager and others on their team.

Some of the elements of a positive partnership are:

1. More productivity and less relationship management

When you study and learn the attributes of your manager’s style you’ll find you spend less time managing the relationship and you’ll have more time to be productive. Your knowledge of their style will enable you to communicate effectively and efficiently. You’ll find the partnership is working and the stress level for you both has diminished.

2. Trust and Respect

Trust and respect are the foundation for a successful partnership. Open communication is the result of mutual trust. The universal law that what we give out we get back becomes apparent. Give your manager trust and respect and you’ll get it back. Be the initiator and don’t expect to earn trust and respect over night, like great architecture, building a firm foundation takes time. Do what you say you’ll do, even the small things. It’s consistency, reliability and follow through that will make all the difference.

3. Shared Values and Common Goals

When you and your manager have shared values and goals you are aligned and able to act on their behalf. Identify their goals and understand their priorities by observing their actions. Ask strategic questions like:
• Who do they make time for?
• What deliverables do they ask you to track?
• What are their nonnegotiables?
• What are they rewarded for delivering?

With the answers to these questions you’ll become a united team. You’ll have the information needed to manage their time and priorities to ensure their success.

4. Empowerment

Because you have a rock solid foundation built on the above principles, your performance can now be propelled to a new level. You have the freedom to make decisions, act independently, and put your strengths to work. You are empowered to be the best admin your manager has ever had!

“As administrative professionals we experience the challenges and rewards that are common for us all. Our first priority is to provide support to either a person or a project. Success starts with us.”

Have you walked on the wild side lately?

When was the last time that you did something that scared you and forced you to grow? For me that occurred last week. I had a TV interview and although it as only 2 1/2 minutes it couldn't end soon enough!

“You gain strength, courage, and
confidence by every experience in which
you really stop to look fear in the face . . .

Do the thing you think you cannot do.”

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

My colleagues and I were putting on a local speaking event focused on New Year’s Resolutions and one of our news stations was interested in getting the word out to our community.

In one hand was a great opportunity and in the other hand was an overwhelming feeling of fear. If I wanted to realize the opportunity, I had to say yes to something that scared me.

As you can imagine, I thought about making an excuse, (otherwise known as a reason), as to why I wasn't available. I knew this wasn't the right approach; however the temptation was still there. Have you ever noticed how easy it is to justify our actions when we're afraid? The more I thought about it, I realized there was only one right choice and that choice would require me to face my fear and show up.

That doesn't mean the fear went away, it was still alive and well. It meant that I was making the decision to move through the fear. It wasn't easy. It was risky. I even wondered - what if I fail. To overcome the desire to bail, I focused on what I wanted to achieve and went to work. When our dreams and desires are greater than our fear it provides us the courage to take action and face our fears.

I began preparing for the event by getting my thoughts in order and creating my talking points. I reviewed my notes. Then I focused on the reason for the opportunity, which was to help others. So I focused on helping others, I took a deep breath and got through the interview. And guess what? It wasn't as bad as I had feared after all!

So the next time you’ve got an opportunity in front of you, don’t let fear get in the way of walking through the door – even if it’s the door to the TV studio!

Veteran's Day Thank You Message

Six years ago, my son Matthew joined the Marines. I remember feeling proud and overwhelmed with fear about his decision. Looking back, I remember taking him to Spokane for the signing in process. As my husband and I drove away, we knew that our son’s decision had forever changed his life. I remember the day we attended his boot camp graduation in San Diego. Our family respectfully rose to our feet and tears were shed as we honored our son. Then, the day I feared came, he received his orders to be deployed to war. The only thing besides faith that got me through those uncertain times was the support and love from our friends and family. I am blessed to say he returned home safely and is currently serving in Nevada with his wife, Wilikinia.

Today is the 235th birthday of the United States Marine Corps, as a proud mom of a Marine, "Ooo-rah" to all of our Marines! And tomorrow is Veteran's day, what a perfect time to thank all of our family and friends that have served or who are still serving our great country. Regardless of our views on warfare, we cannot deny the commitment and sacrifices of our military.

Let's remember and respect the great sacrifices made by our veteran's. Let's show compassion to the military families. Let's show honor for those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives while serving our country. In closing, "Thank you" to all of you who have served our great country.

I came across this video and wanted to pass it along to all of you. http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=KTb6qdPu8JE - may it inspire you to thank a veteran.

Zombies and Vampires, Oh My!

It's the season for frightful creatures and some of these creatures are in the workplace. Perhaps you've seen the dreaded Zombie and Vampire in your office and wanted to know how to survive with these dreadful creatures lurking around.

Zombies are the living dead that are walking among us. We've all seen them in the old monster movies. I define the Zombie as the co-worker who has worked for your company for the past several years. They come to work faithfully day after day, but no one knows why they are there or what they're contributing. They hide away in a corner and only come out when they are hungry, or to complain that something isn't fair.

Vampires are a bit harder to detect. They try to mix in with the rest of us, but when you look carefully you can spot them. They are the co-workers that literally suck the life right out of you. After interacting with them you are emotionally and physically drained. They are the takers, the ones that will take your ideas and sell them off as their own. The ones that always ask for a favor and give nothing in return.

Both of these creatures want us to conform and be like them. They do their best to hold us back from being successful. They ask you, "Why do you need to be the show off and make the rest of us look bad?" "Why do you need to make changes, things are just fine the way they are." Or my least favorite, "Just keep your head down and you won't get hurt."

If you have people in your life that are robbing you of your success or draining your energy, chances are you have a Zombie or a Vampire for a co-worker. The truth is that some situations you encounter with these creatures can be fatal. So let me share a secret serum with you. After using this tried and true serum, you'll be able to sleep at night knowing you've got the vaccine to fight off their dreadful nature.

Understand the problem behavior won't go away on its own, in fact it will get worse if untreated. Just remember, "SBI" - this is the secret serum that works incredible well for controlling dreadfully contagious behavior viruses. Its best to catch these behaviors early before they are permeating throughout your organization.

Ask to meet with your co-worker and cover the following:
1. Situation - Describe the situation in detail. Talk about the facts only, don't share your emotions or how you felt. Help them recall the specific situation where this behavior occurred. Talk about what happened and what was the event.
2. Behavior - Describe their behavior that occurred during that particular situation. Again, don't share emotion or past behavior, just share the facts of this current situation and their behavior. What did they do, or say.
3. Impact - Describe how the behavior during that situation impacted you. Describe how you felt.

After discussing these three items let your co-worker know what you would like to see happen in the future. Negotiate for a win/win so that both of you can walk away with a clear path forward and with respect for one another.

My last piece of advice, if after repeatedly using this serum and there isn't a change, then scream loudly, "Run for your life!" and run away just as you would from a monster! Seriously, ask yourself what price you are willing to pay to work with Zombies and Vampires, but before you answer that question, remember these viruses can be extremely contagious.

In Need of Some Advice

I was recently asked for advice regarding how to address an issue with a boss. The boss had given her responsibility for their department’s budget. She was responsible and ready to take on this assignment. The dilemma was the boss was making commitments above the allotted budget and wasn’t communicating his actions with her. She was finding out about these commitments from other staff members. The budget was now off track due to her boss’s actions. She asked, how can I be expected to just “find the money” and how can I get him to understand this is not helping our budget? How do you suggest I discuss this with him?

I told her to schedule a meeting with her boss to provide an update on the budget. First prepare for the meeting by doing your homework. Make sure your facts are correct. Find out if anything could have changed without your knowledge. Consider the consequences of the meeting and look for an opportunity for a win/win versus telling your boss that he made a mistake. Secondly prepare for the meeting with your boss’s style in mind. Here are a few questions to help you determine your boss’s style:

1. Is he someone that wants to talk about new ideas? Is he spontaneous and has a lot of enthusiasm?
2. Is he someone that likes control and responsibility? Doe he talk in bullets and at a fast pace? Does he want the bottom line versus a story?
3. Is he someone that wants to talk about getting a consensus from others? Does he consider how his actions impact the team?
4. Is he someone that likes a lot of information and time to study and process the information? Does he like to work alone?

Thirdly, determine your approach with your boss’s style in mind. Here are a few approaches:

1. If he is someone that likes control and wants bullets and a quick summary. Or if he’s someone that has a lot of energy, is very creative and likes to talk about new ideas, don’t review an in depth budget and spreadsheet and cover each expense item with him.

Instead provide him a summary of the budget that he can quickly see the bottom line and see the budget is off track. Provide him with 3-5 reasons why (expenses approved without referring to the budget, commitments made that aren’t approved budget items, process for approval not followed, lack of communication regarding expenditures, etc.) Talk about the process instead of “you approved these expenses and you didn’t follow the process.” If he wants more details, he will ask you. Then you can mention the exact cost item and he will know he was the one that approved it and how it has affected the bottom line. Ask him for his advice to correct the budget issue. Then be quiet and wait for his direction.

2. If he is someone that likes a lot of information, likes to work alone spending time doing research and gathering more information to solidify and cement his point of view, then take the time to review an in depth budget and cover each expense item with him on the spreadsheet. Be prepared to discuss each item at length. Know the history and details. Once you have completed this review he will probably want time to process the information. He’ll want to crunch his own numbers and gather more information to verify accuracy. Follow up in a day or two. During the second meeting he will know without a doubt what needs to be done and why things are in the state they are in. Ask him what needs to be done to resolve the budget overage.

3. If he is someone that wants to connect with his direct reports and understands how he impacts the team. Make it easy for him to be straightforward. Show interest in him as an individual. Begin the conversation on a casual topic. Then go into the business conversation. Tell him you want to talk about the goal he assigned you regarding managing the budget and that you have some concerns. Let him know that you take this goal seriously and that you want to do a good job for him and the company. Be caring and sensitive. Let him know what actions have taken place causing the budget to be off track. Then ask him for advice and be quiet. Wait for him to think and process the issue. Sit in the silence and wait for his queue. He will see what needs to be corrected to keep the budget on track.

Here’s her response:

Hi Peggy,

This was very helpful. Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to send this. Our discussion went well and he even apologized for not keeping me in the loop.

Thanks again!

Do you have your ducks all in a row?

Do you find yourself saying no to an opportunity because you aren’t perfect? Let me ask you another question, who do you know that is perfect? Some of the most successful people I know didn’t have their ducks all in a row before saying yes to an opportunity. What do you do when you don’t have all your ducks in a row? Do you cut yourself short and decline the opportunity to contribute? Or do you step out of your comfort zone and risk moving forward?

It’s natural to have doubts in your ability to tackle a new challenge for the first time. Often we want more time to continue preparing and perfecting. We don’t feel we are ready and we resist because we don’t want to fail. We don’t want to make a mistake. This was exactly the case for my colleague and me as we experienced our first speaking engagement. We’d completed our research and collaborated to create our presentations. We studied, did dry run’s and asked for feedback. We wrote and re-wrote and did more dry run’s. We were so focused that we begun to rehearse our presentations in our sleep. And even so, we still wished we had more time to prepare and perfect our presentations.

We finally told ourselves that it was time to deliver. We reassured ourselves that we had done all we could to deliver with professionalism and style. And you know what? That’s exactly what we did. We stopped thinking about ourselves and our needs. Instead we focused on the reason we wanted to speak in the first place, to help others.

“When I dare to be powerful to use my strengths
in the service of my mission (vision) then it becomes less
and less important whether I am afraid.”
~ Audre Lorde

And here’s the best part. Because we were willing to step out of our comfort zone and risk the chance of failing, we grew in our confidence and helped others as well. The presentations went really well. There were parts of the presentation that were right on and parts where there’s room for improvement. It wasn’t perfect, however, it was good enough to really inspire some people. People laughed and some even cried. We were overjoyed with the response we received. Many people thanked us, often with tears in their eyes and some even asked us to be their mentor. Was it easy? No. But it sure was worth the reward!

Are You a Leader?

I remember sitting in an auditorium and hearing the speaker ask, “How many of you are leaders?” Surprisingly, very few hands went up. What holds us back from thinking of ourselves as a leader? Perhaps it’s the fear of failure or being accountable to ourselves and others. Or is it that if we are the leader we have to know all the answers? Whatever the answer, the reality is we are leaders. The purest definition of a leader is someone who influences others.

When you are a leader you become a role model and will undoubtedly be observed by others. Just because you are the leader doesn’t mean you will have all the answers or make all the right decisions. As a leader you will find yourself in new territory. Situations will arise that you haven’t experienced before. Decisions will need to be made, you’ll need to think on your feet and make the best decision possible with the limited information at hand. And you’ll need to take responsibility for your actions and decisions.

When you are criticized for a decision or questioned about why a requested action didn’t become a priority, you’ll need to take the high road and avoid reacting defensively. One of the best ways to know if you are on the right track as a leader is to ask yourself, “Am I demonstrating the behaviors I want our team to emulate?”

Recently I had a conversation with a colleague and she asked, “Do you really have to always take the high road? Can’t you sometimes fall short and give the person back just a small dose of the negativity they are throwing your way?” Even though these reactive behaviors are tempting and sometimes make us feel good for the moment, the reality is that by choosing any other option is destructive to you and to your team.

The next time someone let’s you know that you’ve fallen short, they disagreed with your decision or you offended them – take the high road. Instead of allowing them to get your emotions spinning, listen and respond by saying, “Thank you for letting me know. I appreciate you sharing that information with me. I’ll take your thoughts into consideration.”

It’s amazing how this technique diffuses the situation and encourages more openness among the team. This is exactly what great leaders do and with practice we can do it too!

Acting When Prompted

The phone rings, you pick it up and say, "I've been meaning to call you, I've been thinking about you all day." What stops us from acting when we are prompted? I'm talking about the voice you hear that tells you to reach out to someone by stopping by their office or picking up the phone. To send a card of encouragement to someone that you know is going through a difficult time. Chances are most of us don't naturally act when we feel the prompting. We allow other thoughts and tasks to take over and we choose to ignore the prompting.

After a meeting, a friend and I had a short discussion about a challenge she was facing regarding becoming a leader. A few days later I heard the prompting and felt compelled to act. I knew I had more information and experiences to help her reach her leadership goals and realize they were within her grasp. I also wanted to let her know that I believed in her.

I was amazed, stunned really, when she told me that my message was exactly what she had been needing to hear. She told me that she had been doing some soul searching to determine what choices she should make in her career and the information that I gave her helped her get "unstuck" and move forward. She had a breakthrough!

What a blessing to learn that because I acted on the prompting, she received what she needed to move forward in her leadership journey.

So the next time you hear the prompting to a
ct, don't hesitate or dismiss it, instead take action!

One for All and All for One

Last month I had the good fortune of learning that I would be a contributing author for the book, “Life Choices – Putting the Pieces Together” which will be released this fall. This is my first book and I was ecstatic to hear that my story had been accepted by the publisher!

As I was riding on that wave of excitement, one of my colleagues shared her enthusiasm for this accomplishment and stated, “I can’t help but think that when this happens to you, it’s a victory for all of us!” What a tremendous acknowledgement of what it means to be part of a team! Her attitude was spot on and one that we can all learn from. It’s so easy and natural to let our egos get in the way, or to have feelings of jealously when someone else succeeds.

What a difference it would make if we all followed my friends example and truly supported our colleagues. With this attitude we all share in one another's victories and we all experience the win!

Paddle Your Own Canoe

Last weekend my husband, Rene’ and I spent a few days in Montana with some of our closest friends. It was a week of adventure, including hiking and canoeing. For those of you who know me, you are probably wondering if you are reading someone else’s blog by now, as hiking and canoeing are not my strong suits or how I typically spend my time. However, good friends can make almost anything enjoyable.

As the group boarded our canoes we noticed how difficult it was to get from one end of the canoe to the other without feeling the canoe tilt and sway from side to side. Needless to say this caused feelings of insecurity, at least on my part. It turned out the guide wasn't a guide at all, but just someone we rented the canoes from. As soon as we started getting into the canoes he wished us well and was out of sight. The stream seemed pretty calm but we quickly learned currents and weeds can cause a canoe to turn over in the blink of an eye. Before we knew it one of our friends canoe had turned over and the rest of us were watching with complete bewilderment of what had happened and what to do next. Fortunately, it wasn't long before our friends were safe and we were all on our journey together.

I was certainly out of my comfort zone and it got me thinking. First and foremost the importantance of life jackets and secondly the art of paddling. How many times are we “waiting” until things get better before taking action on something? How many times do we let life happen to us instead of taking action to determine our future? When we sit back and allow others to make decisions for us we experience ourselves saying “well they decided . . . this that and the other” and move into reaction mode to whatever “they” decided. Although we are not in complete control of our future, we sure have a lot more control by acting versus reacting.

“As one goes through life one learns that if you don’t paddle your own canoe, you don’t move.” Katherine Hepburn

Let’s start paddling our own canoe instead of waiting for the next current to come along and carry us into the weeds! Let’s decide where we want to go and then take action to move us towards our desired destination.

Happy paddling!

Managing the Email Monster

One of the most common challenges in today’s business is managing our emails. If I told you that you could get back 20 minutes in your day, would that give you enough incentive to change your email habits?

I challenge you to adopt this one best practice for 30 days; title your email subject line with one of the following:

• Action (example: Action: Marketing Plan Completion - due by COB 6/15/10)
• Info (example: Info; Updated Marketing Plan)
• Calendar (example: Calendar; Marketing Plan Symposium) – and if it pertains to a calendar invite that you previously sent, consider adding the information to the calendar invite and sending an update.
• Response Requested (example: Response Requested; Modifications to Marketing Plan)

The subject line of all e-mails should clearly state the subject and intent of the email, thereby summarizing the message. Action emails should include the due date. The “To” recipients are the owners of the action. Consider who should be cc’d and address appropriately.

Can you imagine how efficiently you could manage your email if everyone adopted this best practice? At a quick glance you could review your emails and know exactly what the purpose of each email was and when you needed to respond. Together we can begin to change our email culture.

Let’s talk again on July 12 and see if this best practice added more time back in your day.

Stepping Out to Step Up

I know you've heard it before, if you want to grow you need to step out of your comfort zone. But just because you've heard it before doesn't make it anymore less relevant. The thing is, when was the last time that you actually did step out of your comfort zone? Can you remember the last time you pushed yourself to do something new or completely unfamiliar? If its hard to remember when you last experienced this feeling - its time to step out of your comfort zone. Sure its uncomfortable and awkward, but so is learning to walk! And just like when you learned to walk, you'll probably fall down a few times, and you may even get a bruise or two, but every time you pick yourself back up you'll be stronger to face the next challenge. Soon falling down will be more like a bump in the road. You'll be able to quickly rebound and get back on your road to growth again. When you take the risk of stepping out of your comfort zone, you are actually giving yourself the opportunity to step it up!

Thank You to Administrative Assistants!

As a member of the administrative professional community, I’d like to say “Thank you”! Whether you are supporting a manager, a group, a project or a combination of all three, you are key to the success and impact of your company. Your contributions can be directly attributed to the support you provide day in and day out.

Can you imagine business today without administrative staff? If you’re feeling a bit skeptical today, just remember the last time you took vacation and what welcomed you upon your return!

I would like to say “Thank You” for all that you do on a daily basis to help staff, managers and their respective projects succeed. Thank you for going above and beyond when you were tired and overwhelmed and didn’t feel you had any more to give. Thank you for all the sacrifices you’ve made to assure that staff and projects had the information they needed. Thank you for tracking the timeliness and accuracy of project and client deliverables. Thank you for answering the never ending questions about policies and procedures. Thank you for being the point of contact and subject matter expert for the software, forms and approvals needed to accomplish a given task. Thank you for handling all the details and logistics for important meetings and travel arrangements. Thank you for carefully reviewing communication, contracts, spreadsheets and presentations. And on behalf of the managers out there, thank you for finding solutions to many challenges before they ever had a chance to reach their to do list.

I appreciate you, and am grateful for the mentoring you’ve provided to me! Thank you again, and happy Administrative Professionals week!

Feel Like Giving Up?

How many of you are feeling alone while pursuing your dreams? Are you in need of someone to champion your goals? Do you need someone to come along and tell you, not to give up? I have certainly experienced this sensation and was recently reminded just how overwhelming this can be.
I was reminded that when you are focused, determined and working toward achieving a dream there will be times when you will feel alone. We think that if only we had a champion to support us, our dream would become a reality. We question ourselves, our value, our worthiness, our abilities and our intentions. We wonder why we felt a "call to action" only to find that we are alone and in the midst of feeling defeated. Why did we go out on this limb anyway?
However, there is another experience we can have as we move towards our goals - the incredible blessing of a mentor. Someone that believes in us and shores us up when we face adversity. Someone that believes in our dream, our value, our ability and our intentions. This is one of the most powerful experiences we can have. In fact many of us can remember a "coach" that believed in us more than we believed in ourselves. Because of that coach and their encouragement, we achieved more than we thought possible. This experience of success created a stronger belief and increased confidence in ourselves and gave us the strength to work towards pursuing more success.
Just recently, I was blessed with hearing these encouraging and powerful words, "Keep going." "Don't stop." "Don't give up." These words rang through to my heart and was the validation I needed to renew my spirit and keep going. I was reassured that I was the right person and had a goal worth achieving. I was also reminded that it wouldn't be easy . . . but then again, nothing worthwhile is!

Teamwork The Magic in Your Game

The spirit of the Superbowl reminds me of the magic that a team can have when there is teamwork involved. A team that truly functions as a team has the winning edge and enjoys the game. Its beautiful when you see a team player assisting another team member with the play of the season, or offering a helping hand to pull them back into the game or giving them the pat on the back and the high five to celebrate their accomplishment. Winning teams know that together they are more successful than they will ever be alone. The strength that comes from a group of people working toward the same goal is a powerful force and is almost impossible to detour. Its an honor to have the experience of teamwork and a privilege to be called a team mate.
I've had the incredible experience of working with such a team and am so thankful to each one of them for all they have taught me and continue to teach me. We are quite diverse and yet our experiences, goals and passions tie us together. Our diversity and uniqueness make us stronger and create a richer outcome.
We all have many teams in our lives. We have teams at work, at home and in our community. Each one of us can be the team member that we are looking for in others. We can be the one that lifts others up when they need a bolt of support. We can be the one to celebrate another team member and know that there is room for all of us to succeed. We can be the one to empower others by sharing our knowledge and opportunities. We can be the one to bridge the gap and find the solution so another team member can meet their goals, assigned tasks and obligations. We can be the one to assist our team to a new level of success. Imagine how much more you would enjoy spending time with your team if we all contributed to our team in this way . . . all it takes is one person to change the game.

How is 2010 going to be different than 2009?

Only you can answer that question and the question is what are you going to do that is different? You are the only one that is in charge of your future, not your parents, not your manager and not your company. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Yet this is exactly what many of us do each year. We gear up on January 1 with New Years resolutions. We dream of how we are going to be the change in the world that we all want to see -right? But now that its the last week of January how many of us still have the same focus and fire that we did the first week of the month? The truth is that unless we have a plan and work that plan - nothing will be different in our lives than it was last year. But let's think about the possiblities of what could be. What if this was the year that every new years resolution we ever dreamed did become our reality. What if we woke up one morning and we were living the life we always wanted? What would you be willing to give up to make that dream a reality? Once we answer that question, we have the answer to what will be different in 2010 than what existed in 2009.