Make your next conference EPIC (what every participant needs to do)

You probably attend conferences all the time.  You take great notes, network during the coffee breaks and ask challenging questions to the speakers. You feel fired up and momentum from a full day of sessions and knowledge. Then you go back to work and have a day’s worth of emails to catch up on and reality hits you like a martini in the face.  All those well-intended hand written notes get shoved into a drawer never to be seen again. Wisdom gets filed away for rainy day. We are all guilty of it. But it seriously impacts our motivation, momentum and desire for change. So, here are 5 ways you can stop LIFE from getting in the way of you taking action after a conference:   1. Set objectives: As soon as you buy the conference ticket, write down 3 objectives of what you want to get out of this experience. By setting your intentions early, you not only build anticipation for the big day but you are preparing your brain and essentially setting the stage for learning and growth. You are giving your brain a subtle head’s up that new information is coming and here’s why its important. You also remind yourself of the significance of you making the investment of time, energy and money in attending the conference. With so much to gain, there’s no room for guilt of missing a day at the office.   2. Showcase your growth mindset:  You have to set that annoying out of office assistant before you leave for the conference. Why not leverage the chance to do some personal branding?...

Taking steps towards an awesome culture

* This is a guest post from Shar Banerjee, Sales Lead at HiMama and Business Development Director at Tania DeSa International   Mentorship is the ugly step-sister to Sponsorship, aka, Cinderella. While a mentor is an individual who advises and assists junior employees by answering questions and giving advice when needed, a sponsor is a powerfully positioned champion who has a) witnessed an employee’s greatness and b) is willing to use their influence to back the employee to unchartered heights. While the mentor-mentee relationship is one directional, the sponsor-protege relationship is bi-directional. Sponsors use their own workplace capital to influence other decision makers, while expecting their protege’s best work and constant growth. This is different from a mentor-mentee’s relationship which is more loosely structured. If sponsorship is Cinderella, then the sponsors of organizations are the fairy godmothers that make the tale of Cinderella a reality. The effectiveness of their workplace, then, is the pumpkin carriage that is the imperative link to getting Cinderella to the ball. So, what would you say makes an effective organization? A meaningful vision, well-defined roles and responsibilities, rewards, recognition or strong leadership? Richard Hackman and his team of Harvard psychologists found that the single strongest predictor of effectiveness is how much help employees provide for one another. In other words, how willing and able are employees to help grow and develop one another? Adam Grant, professor of organizational psychology at Wharton, further argues that there are 3 interaction styles in the workplace; people operate as: givers, takers, or, matchers. In giver cultures, employees operate at high effectiveness levels – they contribute, help, share and make connections without any...

No One Cares its National Mentorship Month

January is National Mentorship Month in the USA. So, let’s salute all the mentors and mentees out there. But we may find there are less business duos that we think. If mentorship is a proven career accelerator, why do so few women have mentors? A LinkedIN poll of over 1000 US women confirmed that 82% found mentorship to be critical to career success.  Despite this belief,  1 in 5 women have NEVER had a mentor.  And it’s having an impact on the number of women in boardrooms. In fact, fewer women run big companies than men named John. So what’s holding women back from developing mentorship relationships?   The Challenge for Mentors: Time.  Often women who feel they are in a senior role to mentor others are also trying to balance their careers and family life. The lack of time to meet in person monthly or offer consistent feedback to emails and calls leads them to de-prioritize mentoring. The Solution: Give yourself permission to design the mentoring relationship so that it compliments your life. Strict mentoring structures can be old-school and in desperate need of an update to accommodate for modern life and the advancement of technology.  In the first meeting with any potential mentee, test the fit. Chemistry is key for a mentorship relationship having longevity. Next, talk openly about what you each want the communication- frequency and methods- to look like. Perhaps you meet in person quarterly for lunch and have monthly calls at 8am on the drive to work. Perhaps you Skype every two months and allow for email communication in between. Set expectations together, thereby...

Resilience: The art of bouncing back

You can’t predict where life will take you or where your career journey will lead you. But you do have control over how you respond and bounce back when life throws you a curve ball. In fact, positive psychologists have a term for this “bouncing back”, they call it resilience.   Psychological resilience is defined as an individual’s ability to properly adapt to stress and adversity. Stress and adversity can come in the shape of family or relationship problems, health problems, or workplace and financial worries, among others.  Resilience is not a rare ability; in reality, it is found in the average individual and it can be learned and developed by virtually anyone. Resilience should be considered a process, rather than a trait to be had. (Wikipedia)   In this Leadership Lounge episode, we meet Andrew Soren, Leadership coach & Senior Advisor of Leadership Development at BMO. He shares critical information on how we can all become more resilient at work and in life ( with some practical tips we can take action on today):     There are moments in life when things go wrong. Horribly wrong. I remember when I put a $25 million launch at risk and I’ll never forget the feeling of fear + dread+ shame+ anger when I was called into the General Manager’s office to explain the situation. It was a feeling I’d rather not feel again. Ever. But resilience grew in me a little more that day when I realized we all make mistakes and the big question is what we do about them  (Resilience Factor of emotional awareness + self-regulation).  Looking back on that situation, I’m proud of the failure...

What circus arts and business have in common

Have you ever seen someone leaping off a 25 foot platform, swinging by their legs then somersaulting into the air? Or even better, have you tried it yourself?  Two weeks ago, I did (let the photo above be exhibit A).  It was terrifying, exhilarating and amazingly fun at the same time.  Let’s face it, that mix of feelings is more common in life than most of us think. Whether you’re giving a big presentation to executives at your firm, interviewing for a promotion or asking for VC funding for your growing startup, there’s a mix of fear and hope rushing through you.   “Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark, professionals built the Titanic.” – Unknown   So, similar to the circus performing trapeze artists, how can you harness the fear AND hope to drive business performance?  Here are 4 principles to keep in mind: 1. Focus on the outcome:  its easier to visualize yourself grabbing the bar and swinging into a perfect somersault when you are standing at the top of the trapeze platform. Sometimes,  its the vantage point that helps you more distinctly define the end goal. Clearly deciding and articulating the outcome you are looking for in any situation will help your mind focus on the real reason you are doing this crazy, fearful activity. It immediately reminds you of the positive result you are seeking and helps you break down the process into little steps that lead to success. By clearly visualizing the end result, a little bit of fear transforms into excitement. It may be just enough to propel...

Does your company grow you?

When we think of the mandate of most companies, we mostly think profitability and creating value for shareholders & the community at large. Yet, for developmental organizations, one of the primary goals is to make their employees better human beings.  Who wouldn’t want to work for a company who is completely invested in growing you as a person?   Imagine going into a team meeting where your colleagues and manager know your goal is to overcome your fear of public speaking so they create a safe space to encourage you to step up during the meeting and offer you feedback not only on your business content but on how well you faced your fear and what it means.  These companies actually exist!  They bridge the tug-of-war between work life balance by acknowledging that by working on yourself, you will be adding even more value to the business. Its a simple idea with the focus being on everyday execution.   If your company isn’t a developmental organization YET, but you want to work on yourself at work, the first step is an analysis of what you are doing well, how its adding value and noting areas you want to improve in the future. So, here is a simple formula to help you identify all this in under 5 min ( hint:perfect to do before your next performance review so you know where to focus your development training)         Now that you know how to pinpoint your strengths and link them to business outcomes and impact, what are other areas you want to grow in? How can your strengths...

What 7 experts taught me about success

  Yesterday wasn’t the average Wednesday at the office.  I joined 5000 professionals in a convention centre to soak up knowledge from 7 global experts all around the theme of Success. It was a jam packed day of insightful wisdom, game changing ideas and high energy. In the spirit of sharing and offering actionable tactics to create change in your life, I’d love to share my key learnings with you.  (Full disclosure, I’m also using you as accountability buddies to ensure I go through my messy notes and translate them into inspired action for myself!)  As Les Brown shared how his drive to offer his mother a better life motivated him to succeed even when self-doubt was slamming down the door. One particular phrase resonated deeply with me: Someone’s opinion of you doesn’t have to be your reality @LesBrown @Passionigniter Click To Tweet Les brought to light the fact that we are not defined by how others define us. We have control and autonomy to label ourselves as we wish ( and as big as we can dream). Les also spoke about the benefits of living full and dying empty. Citing that the wealthiest place is in fact, the cemetery. It is  the largest deposit of unrealized dreams, wealth and achievements. This truth instantly touched me as I lost a friend and mentor earlier this week. Scott Dinsmore  was a great example of someone who lived fully, although he tragically left us too soon and with so much left in him to give. The only woman to take the stage at the event was also the one to receive a...

The most forgotten leadership skill

As an ambitious professional, I’m guessing that you’ve taken some fascinating and insightful leadership courses in your life— perhaps a workshop on public speaking or how to have courageous conversations. Maybe you’ve completed a self assessment on your personality type at some point.   But, have you ever been for “Appreciation Training”?   Probably not. Appreciation awareness and training is often left off the development checklist. In fact, appreciation is such a forgotten leadership skill that it can be considered the root cause of many horrifying employee engagement statistics.  In a study by Kelton Research , they found that 56% of employed Americans  say that apart from compensation and benefits, being appreciated would motivate them to stay in their current position – even more so than an opportunity to advance their career (46 percent).   Feeling appreciated for the work you are doing matters. It grows pride in your abilities and project outcomes. A little appreciation goes a long way in the currencies of empowerment and motivation.   Many organizations have solid recognition systems but lack simple appreciation reminders. We explore the differences between recognition and appreciation in this episode of the Leadership Lounge ( and also give you a simple 3 step proven process to master the art of appreciation!) Remember, Be generous in your praise and you’ll notice you’re on the path to greatness.@passionigniter Click To Tweet Here’s where you can kick it into action: Think of 1 person you can appreciate TODAY then use the SIP method to declare your appreciation. It can be at work or at home ( there are probably opportunities for more appreciation all around you).  Let...

Giving back in a time crunched world

    “Not everything that counts can be counted. And not everything that can be counted, counts.” – Albert Einstein   Giving back to the community is on your to-do list. You have every intention of giving back, volunteering and making more of an impact. Yet, it feels impossible to fit another thing into your hectic week so how do you address that gut feeling of wanting to give back?   Wouldn’t it be great if your employer supported you in giving back to the community- with time, recognition and even financial support? It’s not just a distant fantasy.  Julie, an employee at a major telecommunications firm, has found the key to balancing volunteering with corporate and personal life. Check out this month’s episode of the Leadership Lounge where we meet Julie and hear tips for how giving back can be easier than you think:     As an employer, there are benefits to encouraging employees to participate in community activities. They become brand ambassadors of the company vision and values ( like Julie). You offer them skill building opportunities outside the cubicle. You encourage them to find areas they are passionate about thereby increasing their exposure to new people and projects which can help identify new customer gaps or solutions. You offer them diverse experience which they will bring back into the workplace and share with others, thereby sparking new conversations, ideas and solutions. You contribute to the community in which your company belongs, strengthening the links between profits and purpose.   If you are pumped and excited to jump on the volunteer band-wagon, here are some ways you can...

The journey IS the outcome?

I love long train rides and 8 hour plane trips. Not just for the fact that food and wine gets served automatically or that I can catch up on  blockbuster movies or the bestseller in my bag. Its because there is excitement in just the journey itself.   Sometimes, the journey IS the outcome. It matters more how you get there than you actually getting there. There are classics that narrate the story so eloquently, Paul Coelho’s The Alchemist, The Princess Bride to name a few. Let’s take this concept a little deeper…. Say you desire something big. The dream job. The soul mate. The big promotion. The baby. You can picture it in your mind’s eye and feel the longing for it yet your intense concentration always seems to wander to the blatant fact that you don’t have it.NOW. It is absent from your life. That is a fact. And that realization makes you feel empty- like there is this huge gap that you (and everyone else) can see living in this space that is specifically meant to be your desire in real-life. What if the gap is suppose to exist if only to remind you to focus on the journey to fill it rather than the gap’s very existence. What if…..the journey was actually the outcome instead of just the desire? Take the analogy of a vacation. There are 2 ways to experience the weeks leading up to a vacation.   Option 1: You freak out because you are physically NOT there. You complain about not being on vacation yet. The longing takes over your consciousness and all you can focus on is the unbearable time you are waiting...

For leadership tools, personal branding tips and wisdom to help you step up and stand out, join the community.

Subscribe