Food for Thought

Great advice for women, but men could benefit from some of these ideas as well…

It’s worth evaluating what’s working for you–and leaving everything else behind.

There are many theories about how long it takes to form a habit. Some say 21 days. Others argue it’s more like 60, or more. Whatever the case, some aspects of our routine are beneficial to our personal and professional growth, while others just slow us down. For leaders who are tasked with not only meeting their own goals but also guiding others, paying attention to negative patterns is essential. That’s why these women, across industries, stopped apologizing. Or adding a “maybe” to every sentence. Or opted to do things their way–even if it wasn’t the “right” way.

We asked eight impressive female executives to describe the habits they’re glad they gave up:

“I gave up saying ‘I think’”

Right after college, chief content officer at Hearst Magazines, Kate Lewis, landed a coveted gig at Condé Nast. She spent many years moving from editorial to HR before leaving to join Say Media. It was there that she was introduced to the president of Hearst Magazines, and eventually took on her current role, becoming the second person to ever hold the position. She now directs content strategy for more than 25 publications, reaching 150 million people in the U.S. Her leadership has more than tripled monthly unique visitors.

She says it was a shift in wording that fueled her career growth. Specifically she stopped using the phrase “I think,” after realizing she often started emails that way. “I relish conversation, back-and-forth–even dissent–because those things force me to consider my position more carefully,” says Lewis. “But I don’t need to undercut my own point of view to solicit them. [This change] has forced me to evaluate my statements more thoroughly. Without adding a qualifier before them, I must reckon with how much I truly believe them.”

“I gave up feeling bad about ‘me time’”

Heather Marianna, founder of Beauty Kitchen, makes all-natural skincare and cosmetic products. To date, she’s appeared on more than 80 TV segments discussing clean beauty. Marianna stays busy, consistently working 16-hour days, six days a week.

Like many entrepreneurs, she loves what she does, but says she came to realize scheduling time for herself wasn’t lazy. It was necessary. “I used to feel really selfish when I would take an hour to do yoga or go get a facial. I would always feel a sense of guilt and think to myself about all the millions of other productive things I could be doing.” she says. “On the verge of pure exhaustion, I began meditating several months ago and reminding myself that I need to take time for myself.” Now, she feels more centered and focused. “I’m happier, more proactive, and I’m actually getting more done.”

“I gave up accepting the first offer”

Designed for women, by women, Samantha Dong’s company, ALLY Shoes, creates accessible luxury footwear. The company has a 15% repurchase rate within three months, with top customers buying five or more pairs. When Dong looked back at the experiences that led her to create ALLY, she says she realized how little she previously negotiated anything. Even when she knew she deserved more, she wasn’t brazen enough to demand it.

When she left her second job for business school, she spoke with a coworker who said he negotiated a promotion and a raise every six months. “He typically wouldn’t get everything he asked for, but always ended up better than his prior position,” she says.”That was a wake-up call for me and made me realize: You don’t get what you don’t ask for. I decided to break my habit of not negotiating, because I was only short-changing myself.” 

Her ability to negotiate terms with vendors and during fundraising rounds at ALLY has been a saving grace, she says. “I realized negotiation is never about winning or outsmarting the other side, but instead finding common ground and creative solutions that benefit both parties. My business wouldn’t be where it is today without it.”

 

“I’ve given up micromanaging”

When Vanessa Yakobson, the CEO of Blo Blow Dry Bar, joined the company, she left an 11-year stint in the nonprofit sector. Though she loved the work, she was ready to dig in to a promising startup. Alongside her husband, she’s doubled their business, and created a franchising system that’s allowed the company to expand.

The process has been a life-changing one for Yakobson, who says she’s learned how to step aside and allow her team members to do their thing. “I’ve had to curb my enthusiasm to make way for the talented people around me to bring their skills to the table,” she says. “I’ve learned to get out of their way and trust they are more than capable of achieving success. This has allowed me to stay focused on the things that really need my attention.”

“I’ve given up thinking there’s a right way to do things”

Since starting her line of healthy and conscious snacks that utilize entrepreneurial farmers in Uganda, Renee Dunn has had a few learning curves. In just three years, her company, Amazi Foods, has rebranded. It’s also launched on Amazon Prime, and they’re in talks with a nationwide retailer. She says that she has heard all of the advice there is to hear–and is now opting to do things her own way.

“I’ve had the opportunity to connect with so many real, authentic people in the food space,” she says. “There isn’t one path, even if they’re playing the same game. Beyond that, there’s not just one game to play.” 

Even though “industry experts” may mean well, they may not know her company–or her personal values. “I was being swayed in so many ways, losing time and progress as a result,” she says. “[This lesson] has given me the confidence to build the business that I want to build and make decisions that I feel in my gut. . . . Even if it all goes terribly wrong and all the cautionary experts were right, I’d rather fail doing what I believe in.”

“I gave up Facebook”

Sarah Luna, president of Pure Barre, leads the corporate team and the fitness company’s 500 franchises across the country. Her leadership has led to major growth for the company, with 560 studios set to open by the end of 2019 and 680 by 2021. Membership sales have also increased 75% year-over-year, and revenue has increased by 35%. Even with all of these impressive figures, Luna says she developed a bad habit of paying attention to social media trolls, especially on Facebook.

“Oftentimes, my evenings or weekends would be ruined and I found that people’s comments had an intense power over me that was detrimental and unhealthy,” she says. “I became unproductive at work and noticed that I would stop my entire day or project to triage and deal with the social media ‘war’ that was occurring.”

So, a year ago she disabled comments and logged off. The goal was to be more strategic with her time and level of engagement on social media. In return, she’s noticed a dramatic shift in her ability to focus on leading a team and driving a business. “Not worrying about who will be displeased by the decisions made has allowed me to make better decisions, heavily rooted in fact and analysis, not in emotional turmoil.” she says. “My energy lasts longer throughout the day and I am able to stay much more positive and upbeat.”

“I gave up saying ‘I’m sorry’”

Raise your hand if you’ve apologized at work (or in a texting convo) in the last 48 hours. If you’re like many women, your five fingers will be dangling in the air. Apologizing is a habit that many female professionals develop–and one that cofounder and CEO of TRUWOMEN Erica Groussman says she’s kicked.

Her company offers vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, and sugar-free protein bars and powders in the form of desserts like doughnuts or cookie-dough bites. As she was getting her brand up and running, she realized how often she would say “I’m sorry” when asking for something she needed, like an update on a client.

A friend pointed out this habit and she figured out she was trying to subdue her strong and confident work persona. But what she was actually doing was misrepresenting her performance as a leader. She wasn’t sorry; she was doing her job. “Becoming cognizant of how often I say ‘I’m sorry’ has forced me to truly consider my use of words and how people on my team are interpreting my communication,” she says. “Instead of joining a conference call two minutes late and immediately apologizing, I’ve now reframed by verbiage to ‘thank you for waiting.’ These small adjustments have allowed me more opportunity to express gratitude, while also giving other women within the company permission to do the same.”

“I gave up living in my comfort zone”

Melanie Huscroft, cofounder and chief visionary officer of Younique, started the company alongside her brother. Their social media-based business sells a variety of products, with 4,000,000 sales of their signature product, Moodstruck Epic mascaras, in less than two years.

Huscroft says she’s had to get comfortable taking greater risks. “It takes real courage to work through the fear that holds us back, but courage isn’t the lack of fear, it’s the gaining of perspective,” she says. “I learned that you have to do things that no one else is doing, things that frighten you and that make you question how much longer you can hold on.”

Published 05.28.19 by Fast Company

From Dr. Henry Cloud: Making a change means making a change…

To get to the next level, we need to improve. Whether it’s improving your skills, your performance or even your attitude, it can be hard to accept this blunt fact of life.

See, improvement speaks to the closing of a metaphorical gap. Where we are now and where we want to be is separated by ground we have yet to cover. At first, it’s tempting to believe we just need commitment to achieve our goals. 

But there’s a problem. Something’s missing. We haven’t changed in any meaningful way.  We’re still the same person, just with a new sense of discipline.  We inevitably fall into the same traps or hit the same ceilings.

Closing the gap requires a change to the system, opening it up to new things. We need new sources of energy and intelligence to transform how we approach our goals.

Einstein is often credited with defining insanity as doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results. The same applies to the science of improvement. Simply trying harder and willing ourselves to get to the next level always fails. We get tired, discouraged and ultimately demotivated.

The fuel we really need is positive support. The connections we have, our teams and relationships, must fill us with the belief and confidence that we can improve. Intelligence is key. We need to know what we don’t know.  Then we need to fill those holes with new information, intelligence we didn’t have before.

By applying new intelligence to our goals and surrounding ourselves with a strong support team, we equip ourselves with a better arsenal to bridge the gap.  To improve.

Henry

Successful business owners read a lot. I’ve heard on average a book a week. I’m not there, but here are some recommendations from Bill Gates…

I always like to pick out a bunch of books to bring with me whenever I get ready to go on vacation. More often than not, I end up taking more books than I could possibly read on one trip. My philosophy is that I’d rather have too much to read on a trip than too little.

If you’re like me, you’re probably starting to think about what’s on your summer reading list this year—and I can’t recommend the books below highly enough.

None of them are what most people think of as a light read. All but one deal with the idea of disruption, but I don’t mean “disruption” in the way tech people usually mean it. I’ve recently found myself drawn to books about upheaval (that’s even the title of the one of them)—whether it’s the Soviet Union right after the Bolshevik revolution, the United States during times of war, or a global reevaluation of our economic system.

If you’re looking for something that’s more of a typical summer book, I recommend Graeme Simsion’s The Rosie Result. (And if you haven’t read the first two books in the Rosie trilogy, summer vacation is the perfect time to start!) I also can’t resist a plug for Melinda’s new book The Moment of Lift. I know I’m biased, but it’s one of the best books I’ve read so far this year.

Here is my full summer reading list:

Upheaval, by Jared Diamond. I’m a big fan of everything Jared has written, and his latest is no exception. The book explores how societies react during moments of crisis. He uses a series of fascinating case studies to show how nations managed existential challenges like civil war, foreign threats, and general malaise. It sounds a bit depressing, but I finished the book even more optimistic about our ability to solve problems than I started.

Nine Pints, by Rose George. If you get grossed out by blood, this one probably isn’t for you. But if you’re like me and find it fascinating, you’ll enjoy this book by a British journalist with an especially personal connection to the subject. I’m a big fan of books that go deep on one specific topic, so Nine Pints (the title refers to the volume of blood in the average adult) was right up my alley. It’s filled with super-interesting facts that will leave you with a new appreciation for blood.

A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles. It seems like everyone I know has read this book. I finally joined the club after my brother-in-law sent me a copy, and I’m glad I did. Towles’s novel about a count sentenced to life under house arrest in a Moscow hotel is fun, clever, and surprisingly upbeat. Even if you don’t enjoy reading about Russia as much as I do (I’ve read every book by Dostoyevsky), A Gentleman in Moscow is an amazing story that anyone can enjoy.

Presidents of War, by Michael Beschloss. My interest in all aspects of the Vietnam War is the main reason I decided to pick up this book. By the time I finished it, I learned a lot not only about Vietnam but about the eight other major conflicts the U.S. entered between the turn of the 19th century and the 1970s. Beschloss’s broad scope lets you draw important cross-cutting lessons about presidential leadership.

The Future of Capitalism, by Paul Collier. Collier’s latest book is a thought-provoking look at a topic that’s top of mind for a lot of people right now. Although I don’t agree with him about everything—I think his analysis of the problem is better than his proposed solutions—his background as a development economist gives him a smart perspective on where capitalism is headed.

Published May 20th, 2019 in gatesnotes

How to Design an Ethical Organization

by Nicholas Epley and Amit Kumar

From Volkswagen’s emissions fiasco to Wells Fargo’s deceptive sales practices to Uber’s privacy intrusions, corporate wrongdoing is a continuing reality in global business. Unethical behavior takes a significant toll on organizations by damaging reputations, harming employee morale, and increasing regulatory costs—not to mention the wider damage to society’s overall trust in business. Few executives set out to achieve advantage by breaking the rules, and most companies have programs in place to prevent malfeasance at all levels. Yet recurring scandals show that we could do better.

Interventions to encourage ethical behavior are often based on misperceptions of how transgressions occur, and thus are not as effective as they could be. Compliance programs increasingly take a legalistic approach to ethics that focuses on individual accountability. They’re designed to educate employees and then punish wrongdoing among the “bad apples” who misbehave. Yet a large body of behavioral science research suggests that even well-meaning and well-informed people are more ethically malleable than one might guess. When watching a potential emergency unfold, for example, people are much more likely to intervene if they are alone than if other bystanders are around—because they think others will deal with the situation, believe that others are more qualified to help, or fail to recognize an emergency because others don’t look alarmed. Small changes to the context can have a significant effect on a person’s behavior. Yet people in the midst of these situations tend not to recognize the influence of context. In Stanley Milgram’s famous obedience experiments, participants who were told by an authority figure to deliver increasingly powerful electric shocks to another person progressed to a much higher voltage than other people predicted they themselves would deliver. Context is not just powerful, researchers have learned; it is surprisingly powerful.

Pillars of an Ethical Culture

Creating an ethical culture thus requires thinking about ethics not simply as a belief problem but also as a design problem. We have identified four critical features that need to be addressed when designing an ethical culture: explicit values, thoughts during judgment, incentives, and cultural norms.

Explicit values.

Strategies and practices should be anchored to clearly stated principles that can be widely shared within the organization. A well-crafted mission statement can help achieve this, as long as it is used correctly. Leaders can refer to it to guide the creation of any new strategy or initiative and note its connection to the company’s principles when addressing employees, thus reinforcing the broader ethical system. Employees should easily be able to see how ethical principles influence a company’s practices. They’re likely to behave differently if they think the organization is being guided by the ethos of Mr. Rogers, the relentlessly kind PBS show host, versus that of Gordon Gekko, the relentlessly greedy banker in the film Wall Street. Indeed, in one experiment, 70% of participants playing an economic game with a partner cooperated for mutual gain when it was called the Community Game, but only 30% cooperated when it was called the Wall Street Game. This dramatic effect occurred even though the financial incentives were identical.

Even well-meaning people are more ethically malleable than one might guess.

A mission statement should be simple, short, actionable, and emotionally resonant. Most corporate mission statements today are too long to remember, too obvious to need stating, too clearly tailored for regulators, or too distant from day-to-day practices to meaningfully guide employees. A statement can’t be just words on paper; it must undergird not only strategy but policies around hiring, firing, promoting, and operations so that core ethical principles are deeply embedded throughout the organization. Patagonia’s mission statement, for instance, is “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” Its Worn Wear initiative implements its mission by enabling employees to help consumers repair or recycle their products. Patagonia also developed a standardized metric, posted on its website, to evaluate the environmental impact of its entire supply chain. Zappos says its number one core value is to “Deliver WOW through service” to customers, according them respect and dignity. It implements this value by not measuring the average length of customer service calls (the industry standard), so employees can spend as much time with customers as necessary. Mission statements like these help keep an organization’s values crystal clear in employees’ minds.

Thoughts during judgment.

Most people have less difficulty knowing what’s right or wrong than they do keeping ethical considerations top of mind when making decisions. Ethical lapses can therefore be reduced in a culture where ethics are at the center of attention. You might know that it’s wrong to hurt someone else’s chances of being hired but fail to think of the harm you cause to unknown applicants when trying to help a friend, a family member, or a business school classmate land a job. Behavior tends to be guided by what comes to mind immediately before engaging in an action, and those thoughts can be meaningfully affected by context. Should someone remind you that helping a friend necessarily hurts the chances of people you don’t happen to know, you might think twice about whether your advocacy efforts are appropriate.

Incentive programs must provide a variety of rewards to be effective.

Several experiments make this point. In one, people were more likely to tell the truth when an honor code came at the beginning of a form—thereby putting ethics top of mind as they completed the form—than when it was posted at the end. In a large field experiment of approximately 18,000 U.S. government contractors, simply adding a box for filers to check certifying their honesty while reporting yielded $28.6 million more in sales tax revenue than did a condition that omitted the box. And in a simulation that asked MBA students to play the role of financial adviser, having them complete an ethics checklist before recommending potential investment funds significantly decreased the percentage who recommended what turned out to be the Madoff feeder fund. When ethics were top of mind, the students were more alert to the possibility that the fund was too good to be true.

As a counterexample, Enron was notorious for its constant focus on stock price, even posting it in the elevators. Reflecting on his own misdeeds, its former CFO Andy Fastow said, “I knew it was wrong…. But I didn’t think it was illegal…. The question I should have asked is not what is the rule, but what is the principle.” People working in an ethical culture are routinely triggered to think, Is it right? rather than Is it legal?

Incentives.

It is a boring truism that people do what they’re incentivized to do, meaning that aligning rewards with ethical outcomes is an obvious solution to many ethical problems. That may sound simple (just pay people for acting ethically), but money goes only so far, and incentive programs must provide a variety of rewards to be effective.

Along with earning an income, employees care about doing meaningful work, making a positive impact, and being respected or appreciated for their efforts. In one experiment, hospital staff members were more likely to follow correct handwashing procedures when a sign above the sink reminded them of consequences to others (“Hand hygiene prevents patients from catching diseases”) than when it reminded them of personal consequences. Nevertheless, managers may easily overlook the importance of nonfinancial incentives. When asked how important such incentives were to employees, customer service managers at one Fortune 500 firm tended to dramatically underestimate what they meant to their reports.

In addition to aligning financial incentives with desired outcomes, ethical cultures provide explicit opportunities to benefit others and reward people who do so with recognition, praise, and validation. If, for instance, your employees are making people’s lives meaningfully better in some way, pointing that out will encourage future ethical behavior. It may even improve performance, because the reward is aligned with ethical motivation. In one experiment, salespeople for a large pharmaceutical company performed dramatically better after participating in a prosocial bonus system, which encouraged them to spend a small award on their teammates, compared with a typical “proself” bonus system, in which they spent the award on themselves.

This approach to incentives may have ancillary HR benefits. People tend to underestimate both how positive they will feel about connecting with others in a prosocial way and the positive impact their behavior will have on others. In a field experiment with Virgin Atlantic pilots, a bonus system for increasing fuel economy was structured so that the bonus went to a charity of their choosing. The resulting increase in their job satisfaction was similar in magnitude to the effect of moving from poor health to good health. Companies that use prosocial incentives are likely to produce happier, more satisfied, and more loyal employees. An ethical culture not only does good; it also feels good.

Cultural norms.

Most leaders intuitively recognize the importance of “tone at the top” for setting ethical standards in an organization. Easily overlooked is “tone in the middle,” which may actually be a more significant driver of employees’ behavior. Good leaders produce good followers; but if employees in the middle of the organization are surrounded by coworkers who are lying, cheating, or stealing, they will most likely do the same, regardless of what their bosses say. So-called descriptive norms—how peers actually behave—tend to exert the most social influence. In one field experiment conducted by a UK government agency, 13 versions of a letter were sent to delinquent taxpayers, including versions that referenced moral principles, the ease of paying taxes, or financial penalties. The most effective letter compared the recipient’s behavior with that of fellow citizens: “Nine out of ten people in the UK pay their taxes on time. You are currently in the very small minority of people who have not paid us yet.”

People often fail to appreciate the power of social norms. When researchers were interested in determining how best to encourage energy efficiency among a group of Californians, for instance, they first asked a group of nearly 1,000 residents to predict the effectiveness of various approaches, including appeals to environmental protection, personal financial benefits, societal benefits, and social norms (what percentage of neighbors conserved energy by using fans). These residents expected that the environmental appeal would be most persuasive and the social norm appeal least persuasive. But when the researchers sent about 1,000 other residents one of the four appeals, the social norm had by far the biggest effect on reducing energy use.

Leaders can encourage an ethical culture by highlighting the good things employees are doing. Although the natural tendency is to focus on cautionary tales or “ethical black holes,” doing so can make undesirable actions seem more common than they really are, potentially increasing unethical behavior. To create more ethical norms, focus instead on “ethical beacons” in your organization: people who are putting the mission statement into practice or behaving in an exemplary fashion.

Putting Ethical Design into Practice

A leader designing an ethical culture should try to create contexts that keep ethical principles top of mind, reward ethics through formal and informal incentives and opportunities, and weave ethics into day-to-day behavior. Precisely how this is achieved will vary among organizations, but here are a few examples.

Hiring.

First impressions are inordinately powerful. For many employees, an organization’s values were revealed during the hiring process. Although interviews are typically treated as opportunities for identifying the best candidate, they also begin the acculturation process. At one Fortune 100 firm, for instance, interview questions are designed around a core value, such as putting customer needs first. In one interview script, candidates are told of this value and then asked, “Tell me about a time when you uncovered an unmet need of a customer that you were able to address.” We don’t know if this question identified people who are good at treating customers respectfully, but that’s not necessarily the point. Highlighting values in the interview reveals their importance to the organization. It is one piece of a broader system that draws attention to ethics.

Evaluation.

Ethics can also be woven into the design of performance evaluations to highlight their importance to an organization as well as to reward and encourage good behavior. At Johnson & Johnson, for instance, each executive’s 360-degree evaluation is built on the four components of the company’s famous credo, which expresses commitment to customers, employees, communities, and stakeholders. In one version of the evaluation we saw, each executive was rated on items such as “nurtures commitment to our Credo,” “confronts actions that are, or border on, the unethical,” and “establishes an environment in which uncompromising integrity is the norm.”

Compensation.

Aligning financial incentives with ethical outcomes may sound easy in principle, but it is tricky in practice. This is where a mission statement can help. Southwest Airlines has used an executive scorecard to tie compensation to its four core values: every employee matters, every flight matters, every customer matters, and every shareholder matters. Each value is demonstrated by an objective measurement—“every employee matters” by voluntary turnover; “every flight matters” by ontime performance. This scorecard highlights how well core ethical values align with business success, helps keep employees’ attention on them, and suggests the behaviors needed to realize them.

Leaders can reward ethical actions by showing employees the positive impact of their work on others and recognizing their actions in presentations and publications. They can also create opportunities within the organization to behave ethically toward colleagues. In one recent field experiment, managers were randomly assigned to perform five acts of kindness for certain fellow employees over a four-week period. Not only did this increase the number of kind acts observed within the organization, but recipients were more likely than controls to subsequently do kind things for other employees, demonstrating that ethical behavior can be contagious. These acts of kindness improved well-being for those performing them as well as for recipients. Perhaps most important, depressive symptoms dropped dramatically among both groups compared with the control condition, a result that continued for at least three months beyond the initial one-month intervention.

Ethics, by Design

No company will ever be perfect, because no human being is perfect. Indeed, some companies we’ve used as examples have had serious ethical lapses. Real people are not purely good or purely evil but are capable of doing both good and evil. Organizations should aim to design a system that makes being good as easy as possible. That means attending carefully to the contexts people are actually in, making ethical principles foundational in strategies and policies, keeping ethics top of mind, rewarding ethical behavior through a variety of incentives, and encouraging ethical norms in day-to-day practices. Doing so will never turn an organization full of humans into a host of angels, but it can help them be as ethical as they are capable of being.

A version of this article appeared in the May–June 2019 issue (pp.144–150) of Harvard Business Review.

New Mexico Ethics in Business Awards

Nominations for 2020 begin on April 25, 2019 and are due by July 31, 2019. Begin the Nomination Process

I Was the Only Woman in a Group of Male CEOs. Here’s How the Experience Helped My Company

In January of 2018, I reached out to the head of a local CEO group and inquired about joining.

After a one-on-one phone call to learn more about me and my business goals, he invited me to their next session. The group met for a full day each month. Half the day was spent discussing a specific topic, the rest of the time was spent helping each other with individual issues. I quietly observed the morning session. At the lunch break, as we sat around the table together, the group leader asked me to share my story and more about my business so the other members could get to know me better. Then, he asked, “Do you have any questions for us?” I looked at them all, took a deep breath, and said, 

“Can I call out the elephant in the room? I’m the only woman here. You all are clearly very close and this is a private formum where you can be truly honest about what’s going on in your personal and professional lives. So, I have to ask, do you even want me here? Because I would understand if you wouldn’t, given all that’s going on in the world today.”

I realize that was overly direct, but I wanted to see their initial reactions. Some looked down and away, others looked right at me with a blank face, and a few clearly had a twinkle of a smile in their eyes, laughing at the directness of my question. After what seemed like a really long pause (to me!), one said something to the effect of, “Actually, I’d like to have more women in the group. We need your perspective. Both from your HR and recruiting expertise and from the female point of view.” At which point, a few others nodded and agreed. I then asked the follow-up question:

“Why aren’t there any women currently in the group? Have you ever had any?”

This response was a little bit disheartening. They explained there had been two women in the group previously, but both of their businesses had ultimately failed and they had to quit the group. Not the most reassuring response. But, at the same time, entrepreneurship is hard and many businesses do fail. Plus, they were honest and pointed out there had been several male CEOs who had failed and left the group too. Running a company isn’t easy. That’s why you join a CEO group – to help you feel less isolated and to try to reduce the risk of failure by accessing additional persepctives that challenge you to make more informed business decisions. However, it doesn’t guarantee to make you successful.

I went home that night and told my husband I guessed they likely wouldn’t want me and that I could understand why.

And then, something wonderful happened…

I started to get individiual emails from the CEOs in the group. Each one shared why I should join. They were personal and sincere. It made me really happy. Why? I have lots of amazing female colleagues. I’m talking insanely successful professional women who I adore and respect. But, I don’t have many who have bootstrapped their businesses to the size of mine. Which means, they can’t really offer advice or guidance the way other CEOs who are at the same level as me can. The reality is, there are more male CEOs I can relate to at this stage in my business then female ones. I told the group leader this was the one thing I was most drawn to about the group. And for that reason, I joined.

A year later…

Those meetings were instrumental in taking my business to the next level. Company revenues grew by 50 percent. I learned so much. I had smart people to bounce ideas off of. I was introduced to some new resources and key networking contacts. But honestly, the most important thing this group gave me was the confidence to push the business to the next level. These guys made me feel capable. They showed me I wasn’t alone and that I didn’t need to be perfect. This particular group of male CEOs was much more comfortable with competition and failure than I was. Listening to them work through their own business challenges helped me be less emotional and hard on myself. They never treated me like a woman, they treated me like a peer. And for that, I am truly grateful.

So, when I see the statistic that came out this week that says 60 percent of men are avoiding mentoring women due to the #MeToo movement, I am sad.

I want men and women to find a way to work together. This movement wasn’t meant to build a divide between us. It was meant to help us work better together. We have so much to learn from one another. While I wish I had some suggestions to fix it, all I can offer is this story in hopes it inspires men out there to find a way to mentor women who need it. 

Published on: May 22, 2019 by Inc.com

Better to have a GOOD BOSS in a bad company, rather than a BAD BOSS in a good company ! Agree ?

While I was waiting for my INTERVIEW in a reception area, a pizza delivery man, a young guy, dressed in a T-shirt and jeans carried a heavy pack of pizza boxes and water bottles.

 He struggled with the door, I jumped up, but before I could help him, a receptionist let him through.

5 mins later I am sitting in the interview conference room, the pizza delivery man walks in.

He extends his hand for a handshake and says:

“I am Greg Tagaris, Chief Information Officer of DoubleClick. Sorry I am a little late, I was taking food to my guys. They are working without lunch because we have technical problems.

I saw you trying to help me, thanks”.

He offered me a job right at the end of the interview, and I accepted, without negotiation.

Greg was one of many good bosses I had a good fortune to work for.

You can tell a good boss very quickly by how they treat other people.

Greg was a good boss in a good company, but I would work for him in any company.

A bad boss can make your job bad even in a very good company – they will micromanage you, blame you, and make your life miserable.

A good boss will stand up for you, will trust you, will listen to you, will make yours a good job even in a weak company.

Do you agree ?

10 Questions Leaders Must Answer When Making Big Decisions

Interesting insight from Speaker, Author and Fellow Vistage Chair Greg Bustin.

Leaders are in the decision-making business. Some of your decisions are bigger than others, and so to be considered successful on your terms as well as the terms of others means you must make more good decisions than bad decisions when the stakes are highest.

What’s your decision-making process? There are 10 questions leaders must answer—either intentionally or intuitively, either alone or collaboratively—when making big decisions.

At the heart of sound decision-making is being crystal clear about what you stand for. Because no matter how much more complex the world seems to become and no matter how much more quickly we race to outrun others, great leaders operate from a set of principles they use daily as filters for making decisions. Your mettle as a leader is not truly tested until your principles have the potential to cost you something. Money. Power. Position. Lives. Reputation. Your beliefs form the bedrock of your character. And your character drives your decision-making.

You also must know very clearly what you want. It’s hard to be committed—especially to an outcome that may stretch your abilities as well as those of your colleagues—if you’re not clear about what you want. And what you don’t want. Goal clarity helps you minimize distractions and gives you confidence to make the necessary—and sometimes difficult—decisions that will allow you and your team to remain focused on your desired outcomes and remember why those outcomes matter. Clarity equips you to overcome obstacles, endure sacrifice and withstand setbacks as you press on toward realizing your dream.

And so the next time you’re facing a big decision, ask and answer these 10 questions:

1. What are the facts?
2. What is our objective?
3. What—precisely—is the problem or set of problems we must solve to achieve our objective?
4. Who should be involved in helping reach a decision?
5. What are all of the possible solutions?
6. Are the possible solutions aligned with my (our) core values? Eliminate those possible solutions that are not.
7. What are the consequences of each of the remaining solutions?
8. What’s the best possible solution?
9. How must we communicate this solution to our stakeholders?
10. Who will do what by when?

As you think about your personal leadership style and how you’ll apply these decision-making guidelines, recall the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt: “There are many ways of moving forward but only one way of standing still.” So when you postpone a tough decision—when, in effect, you fail to decide—you are actually making a decision to do nothing.

It’s logical when facing a momentous decision to want to gather as many facts as possible, play out as many scenarios as you can devise, test theories, engage in conversations with confidantes and trusted advisors, and spend time alone soul-searching. You owe it to yourself and those you’re leading to be thoughtful about big decisions. But avoid the temptation to postpone a big decision simply because you don’t want to decide. Leadership requires you to make the tough decision and get your team moving.

The word “decide” is derived from Latin decidere, meaning literally “to cut off,” from de- “off” (de-) + caedere “to cut” (-cide). “Decide” shares the same partial origin as the words “homicide,” “pesticide” and “suicide,” which essentially means that to decide is to “cut off” or “kill off” other choices or options in order to choose a course of action. Sometimes you must choose between several bad options. But choose you must.

Failure to act saps time, money and energy. Failure to act can hurt your customers and help your competition. Failure to act confuses and discourages your colleagues. Your colleagues are looking for a commonsense approach where trust, discipline and good old fashioned hard work gets things done. Confident decision-making accompanied by decisive action is a one-two punch that’s important to any leader whose team is eager to contribute to success.

Once you decide, move forward. “Don’t make the same decision twice,” cautions Bill Gates. “Spend time and thought to make a solid decision the first time so that you don’t revisit the issue unnecessarily. If you’re too willing to reopen issues, it interferes not only with your execution but also with your motivation to make a decision in the first place. After all, why bother deciding an issue if it isn’t really decided?” 

What big decisions are on your horizon? What options must you “kill off” in order to make your next big decision?

Thinking about starting a business? Ask these 4 questions first

Some people who launch companies end up being wildly successful, but there’s an unpleasant truth: Many fail. Before you risk it all, here’s a quick guide to gauge whether you should go for it, from serial entrepreneur Scott Galloway.

The traits of successful entrepreneurs haven’t changed much in the digital age: You need more builders than branders, and it’s key to have a technologist as part of — or near — the founding team. As a professor, I study businesses, and as an entrepreneur, I’ve launched several. So, I’ve come up with 4 essential questions that you should ask yourself if you’re seriously considering going out on your own:

Question 1: Can you sign the front, and not the back, of checks?

I know people who have all the skills to build great businesses, but they’ll never do so. Why? Because they could never go to work — after putting in 80-hour weeks — and write their own firm a check instead of receiving a check for their efforts.

Unless you’ve previously built firms and shepherded them through to successful exits or you know you have access to seed capital, you’ll need to pay your own company for the right to work your ass off until you can raise money. And most startups never raise the necessary money. Most people can’t wrap their heads around the notion of working without getting paid — and 99+ percent will never risk their own capital for the sheer pleasure of … working.

Question 2: Are you comfortable with public failure?

Most failures are private: you decide law school isn’t for you (because you bombed the LSAT), you decide to spend more time with your kids (you were fired), or you decide to work on “projects” (you can’t get a job).

However, there’s no hiding your own business failure. It’s you, and if you’re so awesome, your business must succeed … right? Wrong. And when it doesn’t, it will feel like elementary school, where the marketplace is a 6th grader laughing at you because you’ve wet your pants … multiplied by 100.

Question 3: Do you like to sell?

The word “entrepreneur” is a synonym for “salesperson.” Selling people to join your firm, selling them to stay at your firm, selling investors, and, oh yeah, selling customers. It doesn’t matter if you’re running the corner store or Pinterest — you’d better be darn good at selling if you plan to start a business.

Selling is calling people who don’t want to hear from you, pretending to like them, getting treated poorly, and then calling them again. I likely won’t start another business because my ego is getting too big to sell. I, incorrectly, believe our collective genius at my current business, L2, should mean that the product sells itself. Sometimes, it does. Entrepreneurship is a sales job with negative commissions until you raise capital, become profitable, or go out of business — whichever comes first.

The good news: If you like to sell and you’re good at it, you’ll always make more money — relative to how hard you work — than any of your colleagues, and they’ll hate you for it.

Question 4: How risk aggressive are you?

Being successful in a big firm isn’t easy, and it requires a unique skill set. You have to play nice with others, suffer injustices and bulls–t at every turn, and be politically savvy to get noticed by key stakeholders and garner executive-level sponsorship. However, if you’re good at working at a big firm, then, on a risk-adjusted basis, you are better off doing just that — and not struggling against the long odds that small firms face. For me, entrepreneurship was a survival mechanism, as I didn’t have the skills to be successful in the greatest platforms for economic success in history: big US companies.

With the endless and well-publicized stories of billionaire college dropouts, we romanticize entrepreneurship. But before you step into the cage of chaos monkeys, ask yourself and some people you trust  the preceding questions about your personality and skills.

Leadership is about coaching. Here’s how to do it well.

You can start with one simple behavior change that will bring a massive impact.

If you’re a leader or a manager, you probably wear a lot of hats. You’re a project manager, delegator, spokesperson, and most importantly, a coach. But the problem is that no one ever tells you how to be an effective coach, or even what that means. Are you supposed to act like a sports coach? A therapist? Perform some bizarre (and arcane) HR ritual?

The answer is none of the above. In fact, it’s about making one tiny change to your behavior, one that will bring a significant impact. Being a coach is about being more curious, and being slow to give advice and take action.

Now, I’m not saying that that coaching never involves giving advice. At times, your job is to provide an answer. If the building’s burning down–for example–you don’t want to have a conversation about how people are feeling about the smell of smoke.

But the truth is, most of us are advice-giving maniacs. We don’t listen as much as we should. Think about the last time someone talked to you about a complex issue. Did you listen intently? Chances are, after about three sentences, you formed some initial thoughts, and you probably jumped in to voice them.

Start with a simple question

It’s a simple concept to understand, yet it’s difficult to implement. According to a 2015 survey, on average GPs interrupt their patients after 18 seconds. I wouldn’t bet on managers doing much better.

Being curious involves asking questions–and they don’t have to be complicated ones. Start with, “And what else?”

Yes, it’s hardly the probing, introspective coaching question you expect. But it works really well.

It is based on the understanding that the first answer someone gives is never their only answer, and it’s rarely their best. Far too many of us spring into action before we’ve uncovered the truth. We don’t probe a little further to dig beyond their half-baked thought or the first thing that’s come to their minds. “And what else?” allow us to push a little deeper.

This question works so well is that it’s a self-management tool. You know you have an ingrained habit of leaping in with advice, solutions, opinions, and ideas. We all do. “And what else?” is one of the most effective ways of taming your inner advice monster and staying curious a little bit longer.

How to ask the question effectively

This question is powerful because it’s almost always usable. You can generally get more bang for your buck by following up with “And what else?”

Of course, tone matters. You can ask this question from a place of boredom, frustration, disinterest, or disdain, and it’s unlikely to be effective. But when you ask from a place of genuine curiosity, the other person won’t even register that it’s a question. They might not even click that you’ve asked this before.

If you feel like you need to move things forward or end the conversation, ask them, “is there anything else?” This indicates that you’re prepared to end the discussion, but you’re giving room for anything important that they might still want to bring up. It’s an emotionally intelligent way to send a signal that you’re about to close the conversation.

Coaching is an essential leadership behavior. Curiosity is the driving force in being more coach-like. Questions fuel curiosity. If you’re looking for just one question to add right now to your leadership repertoire, “And what else?” might be it. Remember, as a leader or manager, your job is not to have all the answers–but to guide your employees to come up with the right ones.

Suzy Welch: 5 lessons you have to unlearn immediately after college

Many college seniors think they have a good idea of what life after graduation looks like. You have to find a job and wake up early, and you can’t hang out with your friends every night.

But according to bestselling management author and CNBC contributor Suzy Welch, it’s easy to underestimate just how different the “real world” really is, and many of the things you learn in college won’t set you up for success at the office.

“College is fantastic place, don’t get me wrong,” Welch tells CNBC Make It. “You make friends, meet new kinds of people, spend a fun semester abroad, explore your interests, obtain some skills.”

“Those are all fine and good,” she says, “but there’s some things you have to unlearn right away to succeed in the real world.”

Here are five lessons you have to leave behind right after commencement:

1. Assignments are always clearly presented

“In college, you get an assignment with very clear parameters,” Welch says.

But in the world of work, very rarely does that happen. Instead, directions on what you need to do are often ambiguous.

“You’re given a task, and it could be bigger or smaller than people expect,” Welch says.

In order to be successful, you have to get comfortable dealing with unclear objectives, and take the initiative to figure out what you should deliver.

Give yourself more time than you need to complete a task, so you have extra time if the project demands more of your time than you expect. Look for past examples, ask a colleague or follow up with your boss for more directions if you’re unclear on what’s expected of you.

2. Life is filled with second chances

“In college, there’s always next semester, or next summer, to reset your life, wipe the slate clean,” Welch says. “But in real life, there is no reset button.”

Being an adult means that you will have people, assignments and situations you wish you could easily change or avoid. Part of growing up, Welch says, is learning to find healthy ways to deal with them.

For example, if you don’t like your job, remind yourself daily of the skills you’re learning. If you have a , figure out how best to deal with them.

“You have to learn to pace yourself for, and operate within, what is basically a long-term game,” Welch says.

If you do make a mistake at work, don’t panic. Own your error, figure out where you went wrong and prove to your team that you can recover from it.

3. You’ll be rewarded for effort

“In most college classes, hard work is its own reward,” the bestselling author says. “Even if you’re really bad at the subject, if the teacher sees you studying hard enough, doing the extra credit projects, showing up for office hours, getting a tutor, you will be OK.”

In fact, Welch admits that’s how she earned a B+ in calculus. But when it comes to the professional world, effort alone won’t take you as far.

“In real life, hard work is certainly respected, yes,” Welch says, “but at the end of the day, it’s your results that matter.”

If you stayed at work until 10 p.m. and still didn’t file a report on time, or tried to get into work early but still missed an important phone call, your effort doesn’t really matter.

“If you don’t win the client or you don’t meet the deadline,” Welch says, “you’ve failed.”

4. The more words you use, the better

College essays that are required to be 10 pages or exceed a certain number of words often encourage students to be long-winded.

“You’re rewarded for long essays, and penalized for coming in short,” Welch says. “You’re conditioned to fill out your arguments with examples and references.”

But that couldn’t be further from the truth in the professional world.

“In business, writing long-winded things will impress no one, and irritate a lot of people,” she says. “Get to the point as quickly as possible.”

If you have to present your ideas in front of a group of people, jot down notes on important things you want to highlight. , reread it and edit it so that it isn’t more than one or two paragraphs long.

These efforts to be succinct will help you stand out.

5. Success is all about impressing one person

In college, you often answer to one person — your professor.

“At work, your boss has a boss, and that boss has a boss,” she says, “and then in many situations, your boss and you are part of an organization with owners and multiple shareholders.”

All of these people have a say in how quickly you’re able to succeed. That’s why it’s important in every work situation to treat others with respect and meet or exceed expectations.

“All of them have a say in how you are doing,” Welch says, “and what you should be doing.”

Transitioning to the “real world” may be difficult, but by developing your , honing your abilities and , it can be a whole lot easier.

“You are part of a complex ecosystem,” Welch says. “Look around and get to know it.”