Life is a marathon-share with friends

qualifyingToday is the 121st  running of the Boston Marathon and (as usual) I will be on the sidelines watching and cheering the runners.  Why?  I am inspired by their dedication, focus and the
courage that prepared them for today and propel them to the finish line.  Each year the runners demonstrate the best qualities of being human and being alive.

I am posting my 2013 experience the same way that I did last year.   Read below–to appreciate the serendipitous call that saved me from being in my usual place at the finish line the year of the bombing.  And, remember to to share your interest and passion with your friends and family.  Let them into your life. OK?

Question:  Do your friends really know you?  Do they listen to you?

Answer:  We have all heard the blah, blah, blah that 500+ people in your social network doesn’t translate to the real world and that it is critical to cultivate a handful of real friends who really know you.  At 3:02PM EST, April 15, 2013, I was surprised.

I was conducting a coaching call that began at 3:00 when call waiting appeared not once but several times within three minutes, all with different telephone numbers.  Not wanting to interrupt the client, I glanced at the telephone numbers and recognized them all:  Katye from Indianapolis, Kathleen from Las Vegas and then Joyce from Newport Beach all calling within seconds of each other. Finally, I placed my client on hold, answered, and was met by a rush of words:  “You are safe—I was so worried. I thought that you were at the finish line.” “What are you talking about?” I asked. “Don’t you know?” No, I didn’t know. And, I didn’t know that my friends across the country knew me so well.

For over 25 years I have been at the Boston Marathon Finish Line.  I wait until the male Me at 2014 Marathonand female winners cross the finish line, then I cycle from Heartbreak Hill.  When I arrive on Boylston Street, the prime spectator seating has thinned and the real Marathon fans replace the dignitaries in the previously reserved and now free area.  By around 3:00PM I have claimed a free seat in the bleachers—close to the street so that I can watch my bicycle

The first bomb exploded at 2:50 EST.

Why am I telling you this story?  I was surprised that although I had never talked in detail about the Boston Marathon, my friends had been listening.  How well do your friends know and listen to you?  Consider:

  • When you are not with your friends, do they know about the activities and interests you enjoy that differ from their interests?
  • What are the “blind spots” in your relationship?
  • When issues/concerns arise in your conversation with friends what do you do?  Change the subject? Ask questions?
  • Are you comfortable disclosing information about your personal life?

Given my love of the Marathon, why did I schedule a coaching call at 3PM? By doing so, I was breaking my “don’t work on holidays” rule.  I had a “gut” feeling and broke my no Finish Linework rule.  Beyond that I don’t have an answer and now I no longer wonder why I made that decision.  Today, I am thankful –and my friends are, too—that I did. Boston Strong.

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The answer isn’t no. It’s not yet

Not yetQ: I set goals but it seems that something always comes up. I wanted to have my master’s completed by now but all I see is broken plans. Help.

A: Please don’t despair and abandon your goal of completing your master’s degree. When people ask me the status of a goal that I haven’t achieved, I say “Not yet.” Why? Because saying “not yet” is more accurate: My goal is to complete my master’s and I haven’t achieved my goal yet. However, before you answer “not yet,” consider the following:

  • Given where I am now, what is my professional goal? Personal goals? Note: Ensure that your goals are relevant and that you have the passion and drive to achieve them.
  • Is there a pattern or root cause to the “things that come up in my life”? Note: Be aware and don’t get sidetracked if the “thing” is a reoccurring set of events, circumstances or responsibilities, etc.
  • How will I incorporate my “life” into my plans?  Note:  Be honest and be kind to yourself when you plan.

Remember that you defined the goal and you made the plan. That’s the good news, because you can always adjust your timeframe and plans to mirror the circumstances of Not yetyour life.

Now I hope that you are ready to look at your goals and say: “Thanks for asking, not yet. I am excited about achieving my goal.”


Originally published 2/22/16

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Access? Use it Or Lose It!

Use if ot loseHaving access and using access may be miles apart, and if you don’t take advantage of your access it does you no good. You may have access to a host of people, but are you taking advantage of that access? Why not? The answers I often hear are:


1 “I don’t need anything from them right now.”

2 “I don’t want to waste their time.”

3 “They are busy people.”

4 “I am going to wait until I learn more about the job or have a big win.”

5 “I already know that person.”

6 “I don’t have time.”

Remember that access comes with your role; if you don’t use that access; you will not be viewed as operating at the proper level. Said bluntly—use it or lose it. You will miss out on the opportunity to fully embody your new role or take on the mantle of leadership that comes with the  role.

For example, when I was new to my role as quality systems manager, the general manager extended an open invitation because he viewed my role as key to the division’s manufacturing performance. I thanked him and immediately dove into my work, making Our of loopfriends with colleagues but not leveraging the air  cover the general manager could provide to accelerate the implementation of statistical quality control. When I finally reached out, I discovered that my general manager had resorted to (and now relied on) feedback from others.

My warning to you: if you are  absence others will use their access and fill in the gap. Don’t let that happen. Now is the time to break from your routine and activate your access.  OK?

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Would you lie for your boss?

Q:  I had a boss who asked me to bend the truth. I refused and eventually quit.  How the heck can Sean Spicer say the things he says at the White House briefings?  I don’t get it.

A: Kudos to you for leaving a situation instead of compromising your integrity. My mother often warned me that one lie begets another. In other words, once you tell a lie, you will have to fabricate another to cover the first.   Not only is it is a slippery downhill slope, but the lies will come back and bite you in the butt.

The really bad news is that lying can be contagious and infect the culture of an organization, indeed a government or a country.  Noted author and columnist Tom Friedman provides an important example of how lying can taint leadership:

I had several young Arabs from around the region tell me that when America lets its own leader get away with lying, hiding information and smearing the press or a political opponent, it is taken as a license by all Middle Eastern leaders, or the leaders of Turkey or Russia, to do the exact same thing and say: “See, the American president does it, why shouldn’t we?”

And he provides further proof:

the percentage of Germans who think the U.S. is a “trustworthy ally” dropped from 59 percent in November to 22 percent last month.

Uber’s current situation is a good example of how lying and deceptive practices play out in business. After they developed “Greyball” and deployed it against their competitors, Uber used it to create an electronic geofence to evade law enforcement.  And here is how Leaders_lyingdeception became an underpinning and destructive element of Uber’s culture:

At least 50 people inside Uber knew about Greyball, and some had qualms about whether it was ethical or legal. Greyball was approved by Uber’s legal team, led by Salle Yoo, the company’s general counsel.

The leaders of Uber often acted outside the bounds as evidenced not only by the practice of “greyballing” but also by the allegations of sexual harassment that characterized their “anything goes” culture.

Members of the group, called the A-Team and composed of executives who were personally close to Mr. Kalanick, were shielded from much accountability over their

So, again your decision to leave your job instead of “bending the truth” is probably serving you well now and will continue to do so into the future. And, you are in really good company: Jeff Jones stepped down as Uber’s President, citing these reasons:

“It is now clear, however, that the beliefs and approach to leadership that have guided my career are inconsistent with what I saw and experienced at Uber, and I can no longer continue as president of the ride sharing business.”

Finally, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that there is no such thing as “the truth.”  Check your moral compass and basic beliefs and you may discover that you do not have a  “grey” area when it comes to lying.  How do you answer the following yes or no questions? Unknown

  • Am I a liar? Yes/no?
  • Will I tell a lie to keep my job? Yes/no?
  • Is it OK for my colleagues to lie? Yes/no?
  • Have I asked someone to lie?  Yes/no?
  • Will I ignore the lies that my manager, colleagues or organization perpetuate? Yes/no?
  • Would I lie for my boss? Yes/no?
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Agility is now an imperative for success

AgilityToday, unprecedented situations are coming at us at firehose speed:  change is necessary but no longer sufficient to stay on your feet.

You may be familiar with the “Change” model often seen in leadership texts. But that “awareness/motivation/action” approach is insufficient for today’s dynamic organizations. This book emphasizes agility, the ability to move and change direction and position quickly and effectively without losing control. The word calls  to mind the gracefulness of a quick and nimble dancer or athlete; it connotes balance,  speed, coordination. But beyond its physical manifestations, agility represents  the ability to think and draw conclusions quickly or acutely. When we speak of agile leaders, we mean leaders who:

  •  Are alert and mindful, recognizing that conditions change and noticing when they do; gtst-book_logo-5_2016
  • Adjust, adapting their thinking to meet the new conditions;
  •  Align, synching themselves, their attitudes and behaviors to the reality of their environment
  •  Act, making their move appropriately.

Like the best athletes, agile executives are alert and recognize what is going on, they adjust their thinking, they align themselves with the situation, then they act. With this attitude, you can explore and discover the actions and behavior that are uniquely appropriate for you to be more effective as a leader: to be a leader that produces the “right” results in the “right” way. Success goes to the agile!

From the Introduction:  Getting There & Staying There

And, as a cyclist I love the example below: Demonstrate_agility


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Guilty: I didn’t vote

Didn't VoteQ: I feel guilty. I didn’t vote. I didn’t think my vote would make a difference. Now when my friends debate I keep quiet and they are starting to notice. What can I do?

A:   Fifty five percent of Americans voted in 2016. If you didn’t vote you may be keeping company with the following group:

About half the number of eligible voters between the ages of 18 and 29 (whom we’ll refer to as “millennials,” although millennials also include people in their early-to-mid-30s) cast ballots in this election. That rate falls well below the estimated general voter turnout.

Feeling guilty is not useful; the guilt will keep you stuck in the mud. You may have forfeited your right to vote not realizing that the United States of America functions as a representational democracy: Your vote has meaning. Instead of feeling guilty and checking Vote want make differenceout, focus on being present and engaged now by asking:

  • What insight do I now have about the importance and value of voting?
  • How will I be involved in the democratic process going forward?
  • What are the opportunities to exercise my right to vote? Note: Be aware of the dates and plan to vote in your local elections, town halls, etc.
  • How do opportunities for corporate citizenship and/or volunteer days allow me to express my opinion and contribute to the discussion?

Regarding your friends and colleagues:

  • Why are you keeping a “secret” from your friends/colleagues? Note: Good friends Not Votingalmost always know the reason for your silence. Make your life easier and speak up.

Finally, I have a question for you: I wonder, should the United States join the 22 countries that have mandatory voting starting at age 18 or 21? What do you think?

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No friends at work

no friends If you are in a place where you don’t have friends, I hope that you are looking for a new job because you are in a toxic, stressful environment. Bottom line, you wouldn’t be reading this chapter if you had no friends at work! A more relevant question is, “What is a real friend at work?” The answer can be found in Chapter 3. Your colleagues offer you remarkable breadth and depth of experience. Individually, they are your “go-to people” for organizational information and know-how.

Your current circle is likely to be one person removed from the resources or information gtst-book_logo-5_2016that you need. As a result of this proximity, you will have access; you will be able to use your influence to get things done. Once mobilized, these connections will accelerate your ability to get your arms around the scope of any task. Because your trusted friends and allies have your back, you can step out of your comfort zone with confidence.

Just remember to differentiate between true friends and business acquaintances and, as always, use your common sense when discussing tough or personal issues if your work colleagues don’t spill over into other areas of your life. If you have drawn the boundary around some conversations, you have probably made a decision about trust—bottom line: they aren’t real friends. Stick to a more formal and less open relationship.

Managers know the following:


FROM CHAPTER 13:  Am I Networking Effectively?

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Sucked into news vortex!

Sucked inQ: I can’t tear myself away from the constant stream of news alerts. Frankly, it’s throwing me off my game. How do I cope?

A: You are not alone! The whole country—indeed the world—is on the receiving end of the torrent of news that is being characterized as unprecedented, unpredictable and unavoidably disruptive. And, note that the aforementioned adjectives are not a complete description of what seems to be a new reality—a dystopian world that we have to make sense of each day.

“Tweeting” has added more velocity to the news and the content of the tweets causes us to zig and zag. Our internal clocks, social rhythm and capacity to make sense of the news cycle are out of sync. And as a result, many of us are, like you, thrown off our game. How do you cope? The answer is simple—take a break from the news instead of being jerked around by news alerts.

Also, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why are you watching and listening to the news? Note: Don’t be fooled by this simple question. When you answer the question you may discover how you can “disrupt” or “leverage” the current narrative.
  • Are you emotionally intelligent? Are you able to listen and not be “triggered”? If the answer is “no,” recognize that you are giving away your power by allowing yourself to be carried along in emotional currents.
  • What steps and actions will you take to expand your emotional intelligence?


  • I wonder if you are effectively applying your attention to your work? Are you using the “news” as a pacifier for a career that is not challenging or a life that is uninspiring?Pay attention

Remember: How you spend your time, where you place your attention is up to you. And, how you react or respond to the swirl of news and events around you is up to you. You can get sucked into a vortex of ineffectiveness or you can navigate through the storm; it’s always your choice.

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Now is the time to ask questions

Ask questionsWhen you are ready to take your organization to the next level, begin by asking two kinds of questions. “What” questions help to clarify the vision and mission; “how” questions elicit processes, actions, and/or solutions. Note the difference between: “What is next?” and “How can we reach the next step?” Know which questions to ask to move the process along to the next step in its growth.

The same basic rule applies to asking these questions as any other productive question: avoid yes/no or closed-end questions. Ask questions that open new ground. Here are three ideas:

  •  Ask a compelling question or set an ambitious goal. For example Elon Musk challenged his team to design something truly revolutionary— light years ahead of anything else.
  •  Ask the “elephant in the room” question. For example, “How can we improve cycle time without adding cost?” Or, “How can we improve communications with our London office without stepping on corporate toes?”
  •  Ask a question that expands or provokes people to think differently. For me, it was “How do we help women transition from lives of violence?” that changed how people thought and created opportunity for innovative solution

Asking a compelling question underlies the format of this book; as you have considered the questions, I trust that you have gained new insights and broadened your perspective and, as a result, sharpened your ability to act. Asking questions is a skill that all leaders have, but it often gets pushed aside by the temptation to provide answers. No one has all gtst-book_logo-5_2016the answers. Asking a provocative question inspires people to think, to find new solutions and blaze new trails. To succeed, step back from your day-to-day, reflect and list the questions that if they are addressed (no: when they are addressed) will open onto new terrain—products, processes, and clients—for your organization.

Above all, always act with integrity: do not ask a question if you already know the answer or ignite a conversation in an area you are not going to fix.

From Chapter 16:  How Can I Take My Organization to the Next Level

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Need help? Push forward not back

Brady Tackled

Q: Everyone knows that we have an impossible deadline to meet. It will take a “Hail Mary pass” to get this project completed in the week remaining. Should I push back?

A: Instead of pushing back, why not push forward? That’s what I saw the New England Patriots do to win their fifth Super Bowl. I learned a lot about time by watching the Patriots, under pressure, with the score only 3 points to the Falcons’ 21 within the first nineteen minutes of play. And it only got worse: Down by 25 points in the first half, the crawl statistics reported that no team had ever come back more than 21 points and no team had ever won the Super Bowl if down by 10 points at any point in the game.

Then there was Bill Belichick, who assured his players that 21 points wasn’t going to be enough to beat them.

“He cast a wizard spell over us that changed everything,… He said that we have to keep doing what we’re doing, play like we know how to play and not think about what happened. They have to score a lot more points to keep us down. We knew we could score enough points to win.”

They knew they could score and the die-hard Patriots fans never stopped believing they would win. But I was watching the clock and could not imagine how a win was possible with the third quarter score 21-3 and only 2:12 minutes remaining:

but the Patriots finally scored their first touchdown pass, a five-yard pass from Tom Brady to James White…


With 3:30 remaining [in the fourth quarter], Brady has the ball and is down by 8 points

With only a few minutes on the clock:

At the end of an incredible 91-yard drive, that included a circus catch by Julian Edelman, James White ran for a 1-yard touchdown, and Tom Brady found Danny Amendola for a successful 2-point conversion, tying the game at 28-28 with under Tom Bradya minute remaining in the game.

Simply put, Belichick and the team didn’t see the game as half over. They viewed it as learning as they go, making adjustments and moving the ball down the field. Belichick and the team didn’t see time running out the way that I did, they saw opportunities to make first one play, and then the next play and the next one. And, as you approach your project you can gain more time by focusing on completing actions that move you forward.

Here are a few tips from the Patriots that may be helpful:

  • Do your job, and do it better.
  • Just go out and just keep playing one play at a time.

Remember that:

Good luck. Push forward not back.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady kisses one of the team's five Vince Lombardi trophies during their victory parade through the streets of Boston after winning Super Bowl LI, in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. February 7, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady kisses one of the team’s five Vince Lombardi trophies during their victory parade through the streets of Boston after winning Super Bowl LI, in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. February 7, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

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