What is your word for 2018?

If your list of New Year resolutions are already a bit wobbly please don’t set yourself up for failure. My advice, don’t make resolutions pick a word.

I begin the New Year by carefully choosing a word and “living into it” every day. I start and end each day noting that my word has been expressed or realized.  My word for 2017 was expansive. I ask myself:  What can I do that I will expand my personal and professional boundaries? Last year was filled with a sweeping array of unexpected experiences, professional breakthroughs and (of course) adventures.  Here are a few highlights.

  • MOS♀NYC Behind-the-scenes tours of the MET, the Natural History Museum, the Whitney, the Studio Museum of Harlem, then all sorts of extraordinary gastronomic treats. My fellow Museum of Science board members and overseers stayed at the legendary Carlyle Hotel; I stood on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera before the performance of Carmen!
  • Mayor Walsh appointed me a Trustee of the Boston Public Library, one of our most treasured institutions. In my quest to learn as much as possible about the BPL the staff is ushering me through its historical footpath.
  • I joined the alumni chapter of the New England Patriot Cheerleaders, then performed with my “225 cheer sisters” during the August 31 reunion in Foxboro where we performed at the pre-game show for Patriots v. Giants.
  • Visited the Nixon Library with my White House Fellows Alumni colleagues. Broadened my perspective immensely about this brilliant thinker and flawed human being.
  • Chair of the “Women Who Make A Difference” committee for the International Women’s Forum We selected sculptor Carole Feuerman; Ilya Marotta, EVP & President of Engineering for the Panama Canal; and Lia Grimanis, founder “Up With Women.”  All inspiring.   I was then asked to announce the awardees and facilitate a panel discussion at the IWF Houston Conference 1000 international women in attendance. 
  • Passed my scuba refresher course with flying colors at dive resort in Taveuni, Fiji so that I could explore Rainbow Reef—one of the most amazing dive sites in the world. The corals were magnificent especially the “cabbage patch”
  • I stepped out of my box and took on a fundraising role at the request of the Museum of African American History Board Chair Cathy Stone and Executive Director Marita Rivero. Why? I believe that activism is called for now more than ever. So, with my co-chair Colette Phillips we lead the successful fundraising efforts for the 50th Anniversary of Gala where we honored “Living Legends” Dr. Tony Coles and Dr.  Sara Lawrence Lightfoot.  A great time was had by all.

I have to pinch myself when I look back at the year. Picking a word really works! I have been expanded by these transformative experiences of which I‘ve shared only a few.  Now it is your turn, begin each day with your word—for example, if your word is gratitude consider the following:

  • How will I express my gratitude and appreciation in meetings, social situations, and theother places I find myself?
  • Am I aware of the quality of my life?  Am I grateful?
  • Am I responding with grace and gratitude in difficult situations?
  • What are the ways that I am demonstrating my gratitude to clients, colleagues, and friends and my family?

My word for 2018 is ease!  I wonder where it will take me, and who I will be by year-end.  What word will you choose? 

I look forward to hearing from you.

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Happy New Year

Be bold. Be brave. Be strong. Be kind. Be happy.

Be free. Be silly. Be curious. Be original.

Be YOU! 

 

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Extend your holiday joy

Dear Readers,

Thank you so much for following my blog.   I especially appreciate your feedback.  Thank you.  It is affirming to know that you have expanded your perspective and now have more range and capacity as a leader and as a person.   

 I wish you and your dearest ones all the joys of the Holiday Season.  Remember “tis the season” and do all that you can to be mindful, compassionate, curious  and gracious. 

Peace be with you, 

Love, 

Priscilla 

 

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Do you know what happened today?

Resignations sparked by sexual harassment claims, reports of collusions and rallies for a man banned from shopping malls all of these events overshadowed one of our most important dates to honor and remember: December 7. 

December 7, 1941. “A date,” President Franklin D. Roosevelt told the nation, “which will live in infamy.” The surprise attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor began at 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time under a clear sky — perfect conditions for the swarms of Japanese fighter pilots to drop their bombs.

The images from that day are apocalyptic. Battleships obliterated, planes destroyed. Smoke. Flames. The next day, as the images of the carnage that killed 2,403 American men, women and children spread throughout the world, Roosevelt declared war on Japan. Not long after that, Italy and Germany declared war on the U.S.

Knowing our place in history is critical to appreciating who we are.  We can learn from past events.   Being aware of the events that have happened on this day in history can help us place ourselves in an historical context.  I recommend that you follow my lead and explore the events that are our history.  Here is what  happened today:

  • 2008 Bernard Madoff arrested
Popularly known as Bernie Madoff, the founder and chairman of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, was arrested and subsequently convicted of fraud. The Ponzi scheme he was involved in was the biggest such fraud in the history of the United States.
  • 1997 Kyoto Protocol adopted
The Protocol is a part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, an international treaty that calls for the restriction of greenhouse gasses by the signatories. The United States signed the treaty but did not ratify it.
  • 1946 UNICEF established
The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, a U.N. affiliate organization that works for the welfare of children around the world, was founded on this day.
  • 1941S. declares war on Germany and Italy 
The U.S. responded to Italy and Germany’s declaration of war, by declaring war on the two countries.
  • 1936 King Edward VIII abdicates from the British throne
King Edward VIII abdicated from the British throne to marry American Wallis Warfield Simpson.

“If we don’t care about our past, we cannot hope for the future” Jackie Kennedy

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Are you the victim of your own success?

By Priscilla Douglas

Are you the victim of your own success? You’ve heard the proverb, “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.” You are probably one of the best “hammerers” in your organization, or management wouldn’t have selected you for promotion. But when conditions change, what had been a strength becomes a liability. And because it’s something you value and that has served you well in the past, that’s the last place you’ll look for the source of your trouble. But you are pitching fastballs in the bowling match.

A brilliant engineer, Tom had risen quickly in the organization. His technical acumen and his problem-solving ability were legendary; his name was on dozens of patents. Now he was ready—or thought he was ready—to move from engineering to the corporate side of the business. But he had a big problem: he considered himself the smartest person in every room.

Most of the people I work with now aren’t engineers—in fact, none of them are. So I spend countless hours—I waste my time—explaining why we can’t do things. Why should I listen to them, when I already know what they are going to say?

His manager had a different take:

Sure, he’s the best engineer in the company—maybe in the history of the company—but he won’t go any farther until he learns to listen and work with people.

The very thing that got Tom there—his technical expertise—was impeding his progress because it was interfering with developing the skills that were essential to the next level: listening and collaboration.

Truth be told, Tom was never a good listener, but until now he never had to be! His blind spot wasn’t a problem until he wanted to move into a role where collaborative skills were essential to success. Tom had to “wake up” and recognize that his old habits blocked his success.

Take a look– are you using the same old tools even when they are obsolete?  If yes, time to “up” your tool kit.  

From Chapter 10:  How Do I Lead

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Why haven’t they called me back?

Q:  I had a positive interview and the company told me that they were going to make an offer last week, but the head hunter hasn’t got back to me.  What is going on?

A:  Waiting for the telephone to ring can be dreadful.  If you are like most of my clients, you are replaying in your head what they said and how you replied and, in the process, your actions descend from “I nailed it” to “Maybe I blew it.”  Ugh.  Don’t get lost and start making stuff up about your behavior. Remember that most organizations are deeply involved in year-end human resources activities—succession planning, promotions—and hiring decisions can get sidetracked. 

Be patient, stay grounded and stick to the reality—you interviewed and you had an expectation and maybe a promise that they would contact you last week and they did not. Your recruiter should have their finger on the pulse of the organization and be able to help you sort through the following questions:

  • Did the person who said “you have the job” have the authority to make the job offer?
  • Working with a head hunter, what was the process to secure an offer? What is the
    formal process?

And, most important:

  • Did you discuss a specific date or was it “we will get back to you”?

Typically, in the excitement of a positive interview and on the brink of an offer, it is easy to assume that a decision has been made —“I got this,” and that the process is moving swiftly.  The reality is that there are more moving parts in the hiring process, especially when you go through a head hunter.  The communications chain can be more complex and as a result more time consuming:  The hiring manager or hiring team will need to get back to human resources, and HR will have to talk to the head hunter. The head hunter has his or her own chain of command to inform before contacting you.  

A final question:  Do you have a good relationship with your search firm and have your communications up to now have been frequent and instructive? The answer should be an overwhelming yes. If not, start communicating now!


Good luck.  Let me know the outcome.

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Are you expressing your gratitude?

There is so much to love about Thanksgiving—getting together with family and friends and enjoying a lavish array of comfort foods.  The anticipation, the planning and the celebration all make Thanksgiving a special gathering.  And, as I have shared what I love about the day, I hope that you can tell that I am grateful. 

You may not know that neuroscience has documented the benefits of expressing your gratitude.  “The research is amazing,” Harvard researcher and author Shawn Achor has told Inc.com. Other studies show gratitude increases willpower, helps keep you calm, and can even boost employee morale.

I coach my clients to be generous and appreciative.  Together we explore opportunities to acknowledge others for the contributions they make to enhance our careers and support our personal well-being.  The art of saying thank-you—acknowledgment—is best learned through experience.  To that end, I model how to express gratitude by acknowledging my client. This simple action has a profound impact. 

My client is moved because I have said something way beyond “you are great” and acknowledged them by stating, “I am so happy that we met. I am inspired by your energy, intellect and by your example of what it means to excel in your field”. Remember that the word acknowledge means to state the truth or existence of a quality that the person has.  And above all, remember that expressing your gratitude is lightyears away from providing feedback!    

It is powerful to express your gratitude.

As we prepare for Thanksgiving, think about the people that you want to acknowledge for contributing to your life. The benefits accrue to you while inspiring another.  Who will you acknowledge? 

 

See below for an abundance of inspirational quotations: 

 

“Give thanks not just on Thanksgiving Day, but every day of your life. Appreciate and never take for granted all that you have.” Catherine Pulsifer

“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.” Eckhart Tolle

“Silent gratitude isn’t very much to anyone.” Gertrude Stein

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” Willie Nelson

“This a wonderful day. I’ve never seen this one before.” Maya Angelou

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Veterans: don’t be silent

Q: Proud to be veteran and to now be a relationship sales manager on Wall Street.  Here is the problem:  My colleagues are saying things like “Drop ‘America strong,’ drop the bomb.”  Senseless war mongering—they have no clue about what it means to be on the battlefield. I keep my head down and mouth shut —talk is cheap, isn’t it?

A:  First, thank you—and your family—for your service to our nation.  Second, talk is not cheap.  It can be cheapened by hypocrisy, lies, hate and bravado.  Please don’t be silenced by “cheap” speech—don’t give up your power by not speaking.  Don’t sit on the sidelines listening to what amounts to a bunch of BS when you know the reality because you have been on the field.

I know that “go along to get along” is the default behavior when you assume a new role.  As a veteran, you might find this more challenging because your military experience may convey minority status:  You may be one of a few, or the only one, with a recent military background. Your unique status is important to consider because, as a newbie, keeping your head down and mouth shut is a very effective acculturation strategy while you find your way and identity on Wall Street.

However, there is always a tipping point.  When you reach the point where the “cheap talk” smacks up against your personal integrity and your values, you will speak.  Before you do,
consider the following: 

  • Are your emotions in check? Are you angry? 
  • Is there one person who rubs you the wrong way? Do their comments seem to be directed at you personally? If yes, don’t speak and don’t make it personal.  Wait—and sort it out:  What are they really saying?  What is the real issue? 
  • Note: Are the comments “hazing”? If yes, ignore the content and deal with the boundary issues and relationships. 

Now, once you have sorted the emotional intelligence issues above, you can craft a response and have a conversation by determining:

  • Are you comfortable talking about yourself or are the details of your military experience a black hole for your colleagues? Note: If it’s a black hole, your colleagues may be saying what they say in order to draw you out.
  • Are their comments just bravado to attain status or attention? If yes, ignore them.  If not, are your colleagues truly concerned about the likelihood of war?  Are you concerned?
  • What is the relationship that you want to have with your new colleagues? What do you want to share with them about your military experience that will make them want to “watch your back”?

There’s no need to keep silent.  You can bring a unique point of view to these conversations if you approach them with care.

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VOTE!

I am shocked into disarray when people tell me that they aren’t voting.  Why, I ask?  They answer: “My vote makes no difference” and I respond with urgency–    “yes, your vote counts—people died for the right to vote”.  And, I don’t stop there, I deliver a message similar to the one below: 

Vote because every election matters. Vote because the choices you will make matter. Vote because elections aren’t simply about your representatives in Washington or who is president. Who you choose this November to lead your local and state governments — whether as your governor, mayor, city council member, or your state senator — will have a serious impact on the life of your community. When we vote for our state and local officials, we make choices that will have very direct and concrete effects on our daily lives. 

Voting matters. When voters don’t turn out to choose their local and state governments, they receive a government that doesn’t represent them.

I press on with my argument only to be stopped by the two  most powerless slang phrases in American history:  “I am not voting– it is what it iswhatever”.   I could scream. 

Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

Every  day we have a choice:  we can be the author of our life or choose to sit on the sidelines and be a pawn or patsy for others. When you choose the latter, you forfeit your right to whine, complain or blame others.  Now more than ever, get in the game:   Join me and  cast your vote on Tuesday, November 7!   Make certain that your friends vote, too. 

Remember the words of Mary Wright Edelman:  

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What scares you?

By Priscilla H. Douglas 

A:  I am overwhelmed by the endless stream of disasters—hurricanes, fires, shootings, bombings and hateful and disturbing rhetoric.   I worry what will happen next.  It is really scary. Any advice?

Q:  Yes, it seems that we have one distressful or disgraceful event every day—some of them natural and others man-made. And given that it is Halloween, we can’t escape to the movies—for once, what we see on the screen is even worse! Here in “real life,” watching the after effects of disasters rocks and shocks our emotions.  And, if you have an empathetic nature, you may be more emotionally vulnerable:  Their pain can become your pain. Your boundaries collapse into one constant stream of events and the emotions can spike and drop.  It’s almost impossible to disengage.

You probably have the same experience that I do: My cell buzzes and beeps with newsfeeds and tweets and, even though I say “Don’t look,” I do look and I find myself in the middle of a really scary scenario.  Yes, it is that bad.  Why? Social media amplifies our experiences and taps into our emotions.  I think the situation is made even worse for millennials and younger people who are so emotionally intelligent, caring and connected to the world.

The way to disengage and disconnect is easy:  Simply wake up, a lesson we can learn from the dream demon Freddy Krueger in Nightmare on Elm Street.  To stay awake, consider the following:     

  • Are you willing to silence your devices at a designated time of day? Night? [I especially recommend that you don’t answer emails, Tweet, check FB, or post to Instagram etc. after 9:0O PM.]
  • Are you able to be in the present moment? Mindful? Note:  Enjoy being with friends and family without using a device.
  • Do you have a favorite charity? Volunteer activity?  If yes, make a connection and give back.
  • Do you have meaningful conversations –with no complaining, whining, or gossiping?

Here a few actions you can take to stop the overwhelm:

  • Don’t interrupt a conversation to Google or Tweet
  • Delete some of the news feeds
  • Make a pact with friends to not talk politics and establish a “fine” to help you stick to your word

Finally, the best way to avoid scary situations and feeling overwhelmed is to stay awake
and what ever you do:  DON’T GO DOWN INTO THE CELLAR

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