Embrace the Moment

I like to embrace the moment, breathe and clear my head. On Sunday, I grabbed my camera and drove off to photograph nature in one of my favorite Seattle neighborhoods; Fremont, the center of the Universe. This neighborhood has a reputation for being quirky and colorful.

My walk began at the canal, observing the afternoon activity along the trail and through the Fremont Market. The Fremont Market is a great venue for people watching, noshing and discovering treasures from vendors. My camera captured the colorful stroll along the canal, the reflections from the water and people sailing. A typical day for this neighborhood and a beautiful afternoon for wandering.

Autumnal Equinox: The First Day of Fall

Wikipedia states, an equinox is commonly regarded as the instant of time when the plane (extended indefinitely in all directions) of Earth’s equator passes through the center of the Sun.

Autumn is my favorite season. The air changes, it is cooler, the leaves change from green to yellow, orange , red and brown. Autumn is the signal that starts a new school year. As a kid that meant I picked a new pair of shoes for the school year. Seasonal events encompassed high school football games, Halloween and Thanksgiving holidays.

Living in the Pacific Northwest, means I am close to the water, mountains and dessert and all four seasons. Drizzling rain and wind blowing in my face is a a treasure to me. I savor breathing the salty air from the beach and the pine cone fragrance from the trees.

My autumn ritual is appreciating this change in seasons by photographing nature and life from my walks, hikes and autumn events.

Code for America

National Day of Civic Hacking

This morning, I was excited to see a diverse crowd at Microsoft Building #20, specifically noting the percentage of women was visibly above the usual less than 20 percent female/male ratio at a hackathon event. This was my first Democracy Lab hackathon.

This hackathon followed a general format, of an opening, guest speaker, non-profits pitching their projects, followed by teams forming , a flurry of project planning and teams sprinting to the finish line. I joined the Caerusly project team; Caerusly uses data science and AI to help small businesses win government contracts. We did have a Scrum Master named Jackie assigned to our team to keep the five of us on track. Not an easy task.

Our Statement of Work for the day was to determine the project’s essential tech list items and focus on key tasks: design and structure a database to receive data in different formats and file types and convert them into a consistent format. Plus, determine storage needs and define required data inputs from APIs. This project cannot be completed in a day, it will progress in stages. Creating a design for a MVP presentation to investors; testing all elements of the design, including the branding, design, functionality, and usability was a challenge.

The current government contracting process is antiquated, fragmented, and labor intensive. The government agencies are receiving fewer bids which translates to higher costs to the public. At the end of the day, our team of five accomplished these tasks and provided input for a vendor survey for a government bidding process. There is still work ahead for Caerusly. The owners are closer to their next goal, pitching Caerusly to investors next week, on a solid platform.

At the end of the day, all the teams showcased their accomplishments. Goodwill was created, ideas generated and technical tools were created. A day of community in the civic area, developing professional connections and the sun was shining. This event was successful due to people working together, teaching others and sharing resources. Thank you to the sponsors: Microsoft, Reactor, Textio and Bellwether.

Improve Performance Through Relationships and Feedback

This is the feedback I received from the audience from my speech “Objectivity is an Illusion”, and what should also be included when offering people feedback. It was a room field with positive energy and people eager to learn how to improve performance.

We need to develop relationships between the giver and receiver through trust, confidentiality and clarity on expectations. Feedback should be timely and specific to improve performance. We need to acknowledge our own learning styles to comprehend what we are hearing when receiving feedback. Feedback is pertinent to our development and learning process; it is meant to improve performance. We need to have crucial conversations consistently to develop healthy relationships at work, home and in everyday life.

This research project has been educational. I became more aware of my own communication style and how to improve my leadership skills. Plus, teach others how to be improve their communication styles.

Objectivity is an Illusion

Enclosed is the handout I prepared for my presentation tomorrow for Totem Toastmasters Leadership Workshop. The last Leadership Workshop for the year. I will follow up after the workshop with feedback from the group discussion on this presentation.

Objectivity is an Illusion

Research shows that positive and negative reinforcement do not improve performance.  In reality, people are relying on emotion rather than logic, which leads them to making better decisions.

The human brain is constantly changing, triggering synapses throughout our brains.  Synapses die off and are replaced by new ones, altering, rewiring and responding to physical changes. These changes impact our moods and thoughts.

People learn through storytelling. The transformational leader creates a story about the kind of change necessary to align the needs of employees with those of the organization.

Everyone has blind spots when it involves feedback. How to move the barriers? Discuss where the feedback is derived: data and interpretations, advice, consequences, or expectations.

What is different? How are we deciphering the data, evaluating our interpretation and applying any rules?

What is right? Seek what is legitimate and address any concerns you have in common with the receiver.

Apply GAP Modeling My Thoughts / My Intentions / My Behavior / My Impact on Them / Their Story About Me / Their Feedback to Me

Feedback is relationship based, not metric based. Improve Feedback between people through crucial conversations. Teach people how to become better receivers of feedback. Develop trust, communication and credibility within the organization. There are no perfect Feedback systems in any organization.

Bibliography

Stone, Douglas, and Sheila Heen. Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well (even When It Is Off Base, Unfair, Poorly Delivered, and Frankly, You’re Not in the Mood), 2015.

Jacobs, Charles S. Management Rewired: Why Feedback Doesn’t Work and Other Surprising Lessons from the Latest Brain Science. 2019.

 

Educational Moment for Teaching Leadership

Leadership is a dynamic skill, the world changes rapidly; we adapt to changes in our global environment. As leaders, we should be continuously learning from our own life experiences, from coaching and mentoring others, and by receiving via feedback from our peers.

Recently, the leader in my workplace visited our field operation. This organization certifies airplanes before they can fly in this country. The Director was requesting assistance from the group to improve morale, safety and to rebuild our reputation, which has been sputtering. The Director was sitting at the head of the table, with many open seats available next to him. He invited people to sit in the open seats. Two of us accepted the offer, both of us are women who lead from the front. Neither one of us are elite management members; we are interested in improving the work environment. I also heard my former boss’s voice to take the seat being offered to me. I sat at the table.

At the table, your rank and title should not matter. Ideas are generated and shared between people as equals to promote understanding and commitment to change to improve the organization. Any organization requires information from upper management, middle management, and from the people performing the work. Feedback should be evaluated from more than one perspective. Organizations need input from diverse sources to reach out to their employees and their customers before they can make improvements.

Change requires active involvement from the organization throughout the ranks. We learn throughout the process how to listen, observe and ask questions. Following blindly rarely works. People involved in the transformation will make a difference in your life and the organization. Grab a seat at the table to add your influence.

Practicing Vulnerability

First book club meeting with friends, selected audio book TedTalk by Brene Brown, “The Power of Vulnerability”. It was an intimate evening between friends new and old. We shared our stories of shame, blame, anger, and fear, a candid evening of learning about ourselves and moving forward.

Several of us are in the middle of career changes. Two career women have decided to stay home, Two of us, including me are changing jobs that do not fulfill us. We know our job titles do not define us. We are much more than a job description. We are powerful women using our voices. We are not bad girls, maybe we are some days, no reason to feel ashamed. We need to work together to create acceptance of each other and not judge.

I rather be authentic, vulnerable and empathetic then feel numb inside. I am pivoting outside of my comfort zone, to explore viable options for a healthier lifestyle. I feel supported by my circle of friends and they have my support. Vulnerability makes us stronger not weaker.

Growth

Handout for Public Relations Role for a Toastmaster Club

This is the handout I used for the Role of Vice President for Public Relations. the makeup training for District 2, Division G was held at Amazon on June 26, 2019.

What is Public Relations (PR)

The practice of creating, promoting and maintaining a professional Toastmaster image.

Why PR is Important

Public relations build credibility.  Public relations are about sending the right messages to the right places and people, and to enhance your brand reputation.

What is Branding

A brand is an exclusive and desirable idea embodied in products, places, services, people and experiences. Four words that describe the Toastmasters brand personality are leader, dedicated, helpful and empowering.

Traditional PR Techniques

  1. Press releases
  2. Newsletters
  3. Flyers
  4. One-to-One communication
  5. Emailing
  6. Brochures

New PR Tools & Techniques

  1. Websites, Meetup, FreeToast
  2. Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Reddit
  3. Creating graphics, livestreaming videos, and digital content

Resources from Toastmasters International 

Club Officer Roles

Club Officer Tools

Toastmasters International Branding Site

Toastmaster Visual Brand Guidelines

Pay Inequality on the Soccer Field

The Women’s World Cup Soccer being played on the green fields of France in 2019. Prize money for this year’s women’s World Cup is $30 million across all 24 teams, double the $15 million it was in 2015, still only 7.5% of the $400 million in prize money for the 2018 men’s World Cup in Russia.

Women play soccer by the same rules as the men. They tie their soccer cleats the same way, train, kick and throw the soccer ball on the field with finesse and skill. These women are also mothers, partners, sisters and take on many other roles in life, just like men. It is time to show women respect for their work on the field.

Toastmaster for First Leadership Workshop, at Totem #41 Toastmasters Club

Lead

First Leadership Workshop for the 2019 last Tuesday, June 4th. The room was filled with energy, members working on last minute details to create a learning environment for current and new members. This year the focus is to train Toastmasters on the role of an Area Director. The topics can be applied to any leadership role. This is an eight week series focused on leadership.

The Toastmaster for the meeting orchestrates all the players, introduces the speakers, follows the agenda, and closes the meeting . The Toastmaster sets the tone for the meeting. My goal was to be enthusiastic, showcase my leadership skills, and interact with everyone throughout the evening. The workshop theme was “Lead” .

We had two speakers, Vic Bloomfield’s speech was, “The Role of the Area Director, ” and Dr. Alfonso Monterro’s speech was, “Global Leadership”. Both speeches were informative and well received by the members and guests. Vic provided tips on how to be successful as an Area Director: network, visit your clubs to provide feedback, attend officer training and volunteer to assist other Area Directors at contests.

Dr. Mongerro shared his global experience which included: learn the customs and language of the people. Understand the people by attending their cultural, educational or sporting events. Mingling with the locals, learning their customs and language, you will earn their respect.

At Totem, we have facilitated discussions covering the two speeches. Everyone can participate during the discussion, offer feedback, ask the speakers questions, or share their insight on the topic. The group discussions encourage learning and communication between members and guests. We had a great discussion.

From my viewpoint, the meeting was a success, people were laughing, asking questions, sharing ideas and learning how to lead. Next meeting is on “Servant Leadership,” on June 18th.

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