Calibrating Leadership

Out on my hike today with my two-year-old Labrador retriever, Sierra, I was thinking about how quickly my business is growing and how my team is expanding to support that growth. I was ruminating on how my role is evolving by necessity into one of a leader and coach rather than the sole sales representative and income producer. I want to lead them well and I was thinking about ways to do that better.

I was pulled out of my internal musings into the present as I watch Sierra run up ahead of me on the trail. She knows the route well because we take it several times a week. It’s my favorite hike right out the back door and up about a thousand-foot incline to the top of Becker Peak with its gorgeous view of lower Echo Lake and South Lake Tahoe in the distance.

Sierra is joyful to be out and off leash in the mountains and I know that she hopes-against-hope that this hike will end, as it sometimes does, down at the lake where she will launch herself off of the dock like a rock which is shot out of a slingshot to swim in the cold water.

As she runs ahead of me on the well-worn path, she often takes off on her own side journeys, guided mostly by her nose and ears, pulled by the sounds and smells of other animals who inhabit the pristine forest. But she always comes back to the path and turns around to listen and look for my footsteps coming up the path… just checking in with me to be sure we are still headed to Becker and potentially down to the lake for a swim. I communicate the message that we are indeed still headed up to Becker with a nod, a smile, and a “Let’s go!”… and she’s off and running again, strong and steady up the trail.

I realize this is what my LionSpeak team members do as well. We are all headed in the same direction on a path toward my vision of a world-class communication coaching company. They know where we are going. They often run up ahead of me and occasionally off on side journeys of their own. But they always come back to listen and look for my footsteps to make sure we are still, ultimately, headed to our pre-planned destination or to see if I have decided to make a turn toward a slightly different one. Lest they get too far off track, they need reassurance that we are still headed to “Becker Peak” and not down to the lake or off to blaze an entirely new trail altogether. As long as they get a clear message back from me that we are indeed still headed toward our original destination and goal, they are off and running again, strong and steady up the trail.

At LionSpeak, we do this every year with several mechanisms, the first of which is an annual, off-site Vision Calibration Retreat. We’ve just put LionSpeak’s 2020 retreat on the calendar for mid-February at the ranch. This commitment carves out time to re-clarify and solidify the long-term vision, short-term mission, goals and benchmarks, and strategic plan for the company. It also allows me to check in on the goals and desires of my team as well as leverage their creative suggestions and ideas. We shore up our systems, renew our commitments, and celebrate our successes. Maybe even more importantly, the retreat bonds us together as a cohesive group, to one another and to the values and ideals of LionSpeak and, as our coach puts it, to “the good work we are called to do.”

This annual retreat is then easily leveraged throughout the coming year with individual growth conferences, quarterly strategy sessions, monthly team meetings, and weekly check-ins to make sure we are staying on track.

Is your team looking back down the trail at you, waiting for reassurance or a clear new direction? Are you looking back at your owners and managers for a clear signal as to which path you should be on and what your role will be going forward? If so… you’re right on track. This is what good leaders and great teams do… they check in for clarity.

You can decide today to make 2020 your year of progress toward a vision you love creating and in which you love to play a significant role. You can make it one which feels joyful and fulfilling and right in line with that which you value and those you respect.

At LionSpeak, one of the things we love most to do is to help business owners and managers facilitate amazing Vision Calibration Retreats. Though we can do them any time of year, we have about a dozen dates available between December and March. These dates will be gone quickly so, if you’re thinking about it, don’t wait. Reserve your date now.

You can make 2020 your best year yet. The view from top of that business peak is truly amazing! And, the swim in the lake at the end of the trail is just one big bonus for a job well-done.

“People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.”
~~ John Maxwell

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Good Judgement, Bad Judgement

There are several definitions of the word, judgement:

  1. A decision of a court or judge.
  2. A misfortune viewed as a divine punishment.
  3. The ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.
  4. An opinion or conclusion often about a person or circumstance.

I showed terrifically good judgement when I read the fine print on a timeshare contract and discovered that the annual maintenance fees were sky high and could be increased with little notice… and I backed out of the deal.

I showed tremendously bad judgement when I lifted a piece of furniture and knew immediately it was heavier than I should lift myself, but because the holidays were approaching and I was in a hurry, I did it anyway … and spent most of that Christmas vacation on the couch with spasms in my lower back.

Good judgement is important when making decisions and “coming to sensible conclusions.” But making judgements and coming to “opinions or conclusions” about other people based on small amounts of information (especially second- or even third-hand information) can stunt our learning, limit our options and opportunities and often rob us of potentially rich relationships and experiences.

This year I’ve had the good fortune to spend time on six different occasions with people who I thought I knew fairly well, at least professionally. Five of them are well known in the dental consulting industry and one was a cousin whom I had not spent any significant time with since we were kids. In each case, Tom and I were invited to spend a day or two in their homes where we experienced life on their terms and through their lens.

We woke up to their coffee and their style of breakfast. At dinner, we broke bread in their way… eating outside on paper plates, or on a deck with incredible sunset views, or at a table set with china and crystal. Sometimes they said grace, sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes we sat around a fancy fireplace or a rustic firepit or a homemade bonfire. We shared fine wines, drank aged whiskey, and sipped hot tea. Sometimes we helped with the dishes and sometimes we were shooed off to bed.

We enjoyed guided tours of their hometowns complete with personal narrations of historical treasures, funny mishaps, and special memories. Inside their homes, we learned about their lives through photos of family and friends. We delighted in the variety of personal expression in their choices of art, furniture, and memorabilia.

But most importantly, we learned their stories: Where they were from, what and who they value, their spiritual, political, and professional viewpoints, what shaped them, what they fear, what they dreamed of and what they regretted. And through it all, I learned a very important lesson about judgement.

I had entered every single one of these six visits with my own story about who these folks were. I had formed a judgement about them based on some limited previous interactions, social media posts, and what others had told me about them and/or their experiences with them, and too often through third-hand information about what they had heard others say about them.

Maybe because I had six of these “home visits” this year, I found it impossible to ignore how distorted or completely wrong my judgements had been. I repeatedly learned this year that when you know someone’s story, understand their journey, step into their private world and peel back the layers to see life through their lens… you experience them in a profoundly different way. And when relationships deepen, you move into a whole new level of friendship.

Mister Rogers once said that his favorite quote was this one by Andrew Stanton: “Frankly, there isn’t anyone you couldn’t learn to love once you’ve heard their story.” I think it might become one of my favorites too.

This week consider the judgements and opinions you’ve come to hold about others. What if you spent a couple of days in their home, getting to know them, hearing their stories, and looking at life through their unique lens? Would you understand them better? Would you feel differently about them? Would you come to a better educated and perhaps more accurate conclusion? What if they spent time with you in your environment and got to know your story better? Would it improve your relationship or at least smooth out the rough edges?

This week consider this quote from the book The 9 Cardinal Building Blocks by Assegid Habtewold, “When we generalize and judge people quickly without taking ample time, we’ve chosen a shortcut. It’s superficial of us, and a lack of wisdom.”

Let’s not choose the shortcut. Instead, as Walt Whitman asks, let us “Be curious, not judgmental.”

Here’s some other helpful quotes on judgement:

“The self-righteous scream judgements against others to hide
the noise of skeletons dancing in their own closets.”
~John Mark Green

“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
~Mother Theresa

“If we had no faults of our own, we should not take
so much pleasure in noticing those in others and judging
their lives as either black and white, good or bad.
We all live our lives in shades of gray.”
~Shannon L. Alder

“Never judge anyone shortly because every saint
has a past, and every sinner has a future.”
~Oscar Wilde

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Music Monday: How Bad Do You Want It?

It’s Labor Day Monday so… most of you are reading this on Tuesday!  And it’s good that you are.  Labor Day celebrates all Americans who work to support themselves, their families, their communities, and pay their taxes thereby supporting their nation.  It’s the one day of the year we set aside to celebrate the working man and woman and give them an extra day of rest. 

So, for this Music Monday (the first Monday of each month), I’ve chosen Tim McGraw’s song, “How Bad Do You Want It?”  It’s on my cycling playlist but it’s been on my exercise list for years.  Even my boys listened to it years ago when gearing up to compete in a national motocross event back in their heyday.  It’s an anthem about what it takes to see a dream through to fruition.  It’s a tribute to those who say they want something and have the guts and fortitude to do what it takes, the stuff others won’t or don’t do, to make it happen.

Every time someone asks me what it takes to make it in my business, my response is similar to Tim’s lyrics:

“Are you hungry?  Are you thirsty?  Is it a fire that burns you up inside?  How bad do you want it?  How bad do you need it?  Are you eating, sleeping, dreaming with that one thing on your mind?  Cause if you want it all, you’ve got to lay it all out on the line.”

Tim has it right.  If you want to be a huge success and you want to do what you love and get paid well for it, you’ve got to want it bad enough to put in the work, see it through, find the answers, keep showing up, and find ways to do what others will not do.

On this holiday which celebrates hard work, if you want something different or better or just want to keep moving your marker of success forward… the question is never:  Can you do it?  The real question is always, “How bad do you want it?”

Tim McGraw: How Bad Do You Want It?

“When I’m here on this highway
Breathing diesel smoke
Driving hard for hours
Trying to make that Memphis show
People always ask me
“Son what does it take
To reach out and touch your dreams?”
To them I always say

Are you hungry?
Are you thirsty?
Is it a fire that burns you up inside?
How bad do you want it?
How bad do you need it?
Are you eating, sleeping, dreaming
With that one thing on your mind?
How bad do you want it?
How bad do you need it?
Cause if you want it all
You’ve got to lay it all out on the line

I get to make my living
Doing what I love
Every night I give my heart and soul
Sometimes that ain’t enough
But brother, if you’re like me
Looking down that road
Be careful of that wild wind, son
Sometimes it don’t let go

Can you feel it?
Can you taste it?
Can you hear it knocking at your door?
How bad do you want it?
How bad do you need it?
Are you eating, sleeping, dreaming
With that one thing on your mind?
How bad do you want it?
How bad do you need it?
Cause if you want it all
You’ve got to lay it all out on the line

There’s always a price you pay no matter what you do
If you’re gonna climb that mountain to the top
It always comes down to

How bad do you want it?
How bad do you need it?
Are you eating, sleeping, dreaming
With that one thing on your mind?
How bad do you want it?
How bad do you need it?
Cause if you want it all
You’ve got to lay it all out on the line

“There are three types of people in this world:  those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened.”
~ Mary Kay Ash

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When Love is the Answer

Yesterday, Tom and I toured the historic Celio Ranch in Christmas Valley, just a few miles from the cabin. The Celio family came to America as Swiss Italian immigrants who homesteaded in the El Dorado area just outside of Sacramento, California. They built a lumber mill, dairy, and cattle business for which they procured summer grazing lands high up in the Sierras. This mountain ranch has been in their family since the 1840’s where two homes, several barns, a slaughterhouse, an outhouse, and horse stables are still standing, in good condition, and filled with amazing turn-of-the-century treasures.

The last leg of our tour yesterday was conducted by Tom Celio, the great, great grandson of the family patriarch, Carlo Guiseppi Celio. Tom and his wife, Chris, recently retired and inherited the ranch, though much of it had fallen into disrepair. They were faced with the prospect of selling it or spending their whole retirement restoring and caring for this gorgeous property with its deep family roots and historical significance… but also with a long list of expensive repairs and constant upkeep. They chose to keep and care for their family ranch and are grooming their children and grandchildren to step in behind them when the time comes.

So with all that passion, pride, blood, sweat, and tears as well as the money invested in their historic mountain ranch, you can imagine their horror when they discovered one day that neighborhood kids had broken off the boards to the back of one of their old ranch buildings, stolen some antique farm implements and damaged others. When Tom Celio retold this story, I was expecting to hear how this weathered, old cowboy had rounded them all up and taught them a lesson or two about messing with his family’s cherished property. But Tom surprised me.

Instead of pushing back against the cowardly crime, Tom embraced the situation and met the dastardly deeds head-on… with love, education, and relationship-building. He decided to pay a personal visit to all the neighbors who he knew had adolescent and teenage kids and offered them a private tour of his ranch along with an invitation to enjoy some Celio family hospitality with only one stipulation… they must bring along their children. Almost all of them accepted.

Some weeks after this gathering, Tom spotted a few pre-teen boys rambling around in a pasture near one of the old ranch buildings and he rode out to meet them. No doubt he must have proved an intimidating, if not menacing, figure as he pulled up beside them and spoke to them from high atop his horse. While the boys stammered around trying to find excuses as to why they were trespassing and what they were up to… Tom just smiled at them and offered a personal tour of the nearby building which just so happened to be the old slaughterhouse, along with the aging but functional cattle scale on which he could collectively weigh the entire group of young rascals. Inside, there were cattle shoots, skinning knifes, meat hooks, and deep vats where butchered hogs were scalded along with metal troughs were the blood from the animals was drained straight into the Truckee River.

As you would expect, these young, mischievous boys (who were likely up to no good that day) were mesmerized by the gruesome details of the slaughterhouse operation. Between their questions and Tom’s vivid storytelling, they were there for hours. By the end of the afternoon, Tom and the boys were friends and, more importantly, partners in the safekeeping of the precious ranch heritage. Tom said that since that day, they have not had a single trespasser and the boys are still friends of the ranch with much of the missing equipment returned.

This story reminds me of how often people’s bad behavior can come from feelings of disenfranchisement, disconnection, lack of understanding, and low self-esteem. When we respond to bad behavior with a concerted effort to rebuild connection, understanding, and relationship, we rebuild bridges instead of fortresses. We rebuild friends and advocates instead of enemies. We rebuild peace instead of more war.

I’ve seen many examples of bad behavior exhibited in business settings by clients, patients, team members, and bosses. Many were met with harsh consequences, or at least harsh words, in return. Tom’s example is a good one for us to recall when we are faced with actions and words we don’t like or of which we don’t approve. He did not condone or ignore the reality or severity of the situation but instead of meeting the conflict with more conflict, he chose to meet it (at least at first) with love, understanding, connection, and relationship. Tom knew that it would be harder for these youngsters to continue to steal and vandalize his property if they were in a relationship with him, liked him, and knew he liked them.

This week give some thought to the reaction and response you give to those who act out and those with whom you are in conflict. Is there a way to understand each other better? Is there value in building a stronger relationship that may serve to develop better solutions? Is there a way to forgive and love into the conflict just a little bit more?

“Anger begets more anger. And love and forgiveness beget more love and forgiveness.”

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Saturday, I turned 60 years old. And, it’s happening. All of it. I’m a little “stiffer” in the morning when I roll out of bed. I have some recurring aches and pains. And what’s with the random gaps of memory!? (Where are my car keys, anyway?) My bedtime is getting earlier and earlier and afternoon naps frequently sound delicious. And, I haven’t been “carded” in years when I’m buying a bottle of wine.

Last week, when two of Tom’s “grand delights” were visiting the cabin, 6-year-old Selah pulled a heavy, black rotary-dial telephone into her lap that Tom had brought up as a souvenir from his childhood home and days gone by. She stopped me and asked, “What do you do with this? Do you know how to work it?” When I showed her, it struck me that it really did look like an antique relic. She was fascinated by the plastic rotary dial and the heavy handpiece. She could not understand how we possibly got this telephone into our purse and she struggled to grasp the concept of an “operator.” We pretended to call Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy in turn. As she hung up the receiver, she said, “This is really, really old, huh?” I wasn’t sure if she was speaking about me or the phone.

It’s funny to me that I was anxious to turn 30, welcomed turning 40, and totally embraced turning 50. But I’ve had a different reaction altogether to this particular milestone in my life. I don’t necessarily feel old, but I definitely feel the speed of the clock.

Let’s be clear… I am incredibly blessed, and this is, in no way, me complaining or whining about my age. It’s more of a recognition and observation.

I’m incredibly happy. I have an amazing partnership and marriage, true and enriching friendships, meaningful and productive work, and I’m strong and healthy as are all of our children and grandchildren in our sweet, blended family.
I am also, more than ever, keenly aware of time. The time I have left with my Dad. The time I have left to contribute to a body of work for which I have a deep passion. The time I have left to experience the wonders of the world and the simple pleasures of life. And I want to spend it wisely.

So, I made one commitment to myself on Saturday: Not to wait. Because there is no more time to wait. No more waiting to forgive myself, take care of myself, trust myself. No more hesitating to give the compliment, speak the encouragement, or make sure that those I love most, know it beyond any doubt. No waiting to stare at the harvest moon or find the constellations. Or eat peach ice cream, if I want to. No more time to worry what other people think about my choices.
As I turn the corner of 60, I’m drinking the old bottle of wine in the cellar. I’m booking the trip to Africa. And, I’m reaching out today to tell each and every one of you that, because our paths have crossed somehow, I’m better for the community we’ve created and the platform you’ve given me to express my ideas, thoughts, and musings. I appreciate you more than you know.

So, this week… help me celebrate 60 with your own commitment not to wait. Pull the trigger on what you want, what matters to you, and what you’ve been dreaming of. Stop waiting. Do it now.

“Aging is an extraordinary process whereby
you become the person you always should have been.”

~David Bowie

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You Can Fly!

Mary Kay Ash once said, “Aerodynamically, the bumblebee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn’t know it, so it goes on flying anyway.”

Rules in life and business are necessary and important. They maintain order and protect and support us in many ways. But sometimes as a coach, I’m struck by how often we assume that the way it’s always been done, or the way others do it is somehow “the rule.”

For example, many business and practice owners whom I have coached have inherited a format for writing their company vision that they stick with even though it never really felt authentic or had any significant impact on their team or their business. They never really just talk with their team about their dreams, desires, and aspirations on a regular and ongoing basis.

Similarly, I’ve coached lots of managers and business leaders who have adopted a way of delivering employee reviews or running meetings that leaves them and their team members frustrated and stagnated. They are stuck in a rut of “how it’s supposed to be done” and never take a hard look at what their people really need or want to know.
Likewise, I’ve supported a number of aspiring speakers who for some reason feel that they cannot give a good speech without a huge PowerPoint slide deck or a traditional presentation structure. They’ve read or heard along the way some well-intentioned advice such as don’t ever speak when entering the stage or when you’re moving. Use a laser pointer to draw the audience’s attention and keep them focused. Wear a suit and tie or high heeled shoes. Start with a story. Start with building credibility. Start with a well-told joke. And then they blindly do it… even when these things feel completely awkward, unnatural, and inauthentic.

I got this lesson loud and clear a few years back. I was one of several speakers at a very prestigious event. I had worked on my presentation for months, practiced a lot, and even gotten some coaching. But minutes before, to my dismay, the stage I inherited from another speaker was cramped and cluttered with his equipment, my PowerPoint failed to load, and my time had been cut in half by a string of prior unforeseen events. I had no time to rework my speech or think too hard about how to flex it. I was faced with a sudden choice: Hold on to the old or embrace something new, creative, and completely my own.
I took a deep breath and stepped onto the stage and delivered a hyper-targeted message from my authentic voice. I was 100 percent present in that moment and 100 percent myself. I leaned on all that I had learned from many great speaking coaches over the years but in that moment, all their advice was pushed through the filter of what I wanted to say and what I wanted my audience to know and feel and believe.

I surprised even myself with my courage that day. I used the entire, albeit limited, stage space by creatively incorporating the stairs, the center aisle, and an empty chair to drive home my points. I put my whole body and my whole being into my message. I pointedly challenged the audience to think differently about how they communicated with each other as team and to my surprise they leaned into my message in a way they had never done before. And the more they did, the more embolden I became.

I found humor and wit I didn’t even know I had. I let the emotion in my stories flow freely. Surprisingly perfect analogies and metaphors came to me on the spot. My presentation, by necessity, broke all the rules you’ve ever read about in terms of what’s required and expected in the giving of a professional speech. I’ll never forget that day because it brought down the house… and taught me a valuable lesson in the process.

Similarly, the best vision I’ve ever delivered to my team was when I broke free from the confines of what all the books say it has to look like. We sat on the grass at my Ranch and I spoke from my heart about what I wanted to try to create at LionSpeak and why I thought it really mattered to our industry and to the world.

My team members have thrived recently as I have let go of what I thought a “boss” was supposed to be, do, or say and we’ve engaged in real conversations about their hopes and dreams, strengths and talents, and found the best ways to connect those to the vision of my company.

I share this with you not because I think you should stop learning from others or that everything others do is somehow wrong. I share this because I teach communication, adult learning, speaking, and coaching frameworks as a coach but all of those are meant to free up creative thinking, intuitive wisdom, and my clients’ personal best… not to constrain them and turn them into a duplicate of someone else.

I believe we should concern ourselves much less with what everyone else is doing. We can and should be inquisitive and learn from those who have succeeded however I’m suggesting that we use those methods to glean ideas that resonate with us, spark our own creativity, and release our own voice into the world.

Anything you want is possible. Whatever you love passionately is worth doing. You have everything you need to thrive. Invite that idea into your life and business today. Learn from others, certainly. But don’t do anything just to conform. Don’t be lazy and simply copy what others have done. Own your truth and make your message 100% authentic and real.
Share your vision. Give your speech. Deliver your ideas. Build your business. Create your life.

You can fly, bumblebee. I promise.

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Music Monday: I Like You

We’re home this week from our 6-week slice of summer heaven at our Silver Firs Cabin in the Sierra Mountains.  Settling back now into the work and life we love with all its familiarity and surprises, perfection and imperfection.

This summer, I left the cabin twice for business opportunities I didn’t want to miss:  A chance to help improve the effectiveness of Cerec Training with Patterson Dental and Sirona as well as providing a motivational keynote at the annual corporate meeting for a very unique, brand new (15 months!) women and girls clothing company called LuLaRoe.   I cannot describe to you how much I enjoyed both adventures but it did require the switching of a major gear:  makeup and heels.

Katherine welcomes Ellie and Gabriel to the cabin

Katherine welcomes Ellie and Gabriel to the cabin

At the cabin, it’s almost sacrilegious to fuss with your hair, put on makeup, wear anything white or any shoes other than hikers or flip-flops.  With no TV, alarm clocks, or schedules, the whole idea is to fall in step with the rhythm of nature… to appreciate the untouched, un-doctored, perfect imperfection of the natural world.  Spiders that co-exist with butterflies, hot days followed by cold nights, dead trees surrounded by healthy ones, full-moon nights with no stars and new-moon nights with stars so magnificent they defy description.  In this world, with sun on my skin, daily exercise, plenty of sleep, and healthy foods, I feel more glowing and beautiful without makeup and perfect hair than with it.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I love a good dress-up day (or night!)  I adore having pedicured toes and that lift in my step as I leave the salon with the grey magically gone and the “natural” blonde properly restored.  And I’m not gonna lie… I do love me a good pair of Jimmy Choo’s.  But the cabin experience reminds me that all of this is not the real beauty of me.  The real beauty of me is something that all these things simply rest upon and hopefully enhance.

On my trip to the Patterson event in Orlando, I sat next to a 72-year-old woman on the plane… Emma.  She was wrinkled and slightly stooped.  Her hair was so thin you could see her scalp and, being a dental person, I noticed her dentures were old and worn.  But she was beautiful.  So beautiful in fact that I couldn’t get enough of her.  Emma was intelligent and well-traveled, happy and funny, interesting, and interested in me.  She was so full of life and stories and happiness that by the end of the flight we had a full-on, juicy, rousing conversation going with everyone in our row and the rows in front and behind us!  It was a kick and the flight just flew by (pardon the pun!)

The reverse also happened to me when I arrived in Orlando.  As I stood in the line at Starbucks, I noticed one of the most physically beautiful woman I think I’ve ever seen walk up to the counter and become one of the ugliest within a matter of seconds.

A gorgeous face with flowing hair on a shapely body dressed to the nines might turn some heads initially, but what makes people decide whether or not they want to stay engaged, know more, do business with or fall in love is what is (or is not) underneath all of that.  Tom once told me when the Martina McBride song, “Happy Girl”, came on the radio that no truer words had ever been written:  “The sweetest thing you’ll ever see in the whole wide world is a happy girl.”   On days when I’ve not felt my prettiest or thinnest or most fashionable, I’ve tried to remember that.  And it’s worked almost every time.  When I lift my face to those around me with a beaming smile and a happy countenance, and I demonstrate unconditional love to them and to myself… no matter what I’m wearing, how wrinkled my face, or how many layers of “turkey neck” I just noticed in the bathroom mirror … magic happens.  People seem to look right past and through the imperfections straight to the perfection of happiness.  It’s a magnetic energy that even the most hardened among us simply cannot resist.  And it starts and ends with us.

On this Music Monday (always the first Monday of every month) I’ve chosen a new song, just added to my playlist, by Colbie Caillat called, “Try”.  In her YouTube video, I commend her brave choice to strip away all of the Hollywood glamour and reveal her natural beauty to the masses.  If you’re like me, as you watch it, you’ll notice how drawn you are to the real women as they unmask themselves.  As I really looked at their naked faces, unadorned eyes, and uncurled hair, I wanted increasingly to just sit down with them over a hot cup of tea and hear their stories.  This is the power of real.

This week, wear your makeup, curl your hair, and show up for work at your best… but never, ever confuse it with your real beauty.  The latest fashion and hairdo’s will never cover up a lack of inner joy, zest for life, compassion, and a sense of wholeness.  Like Colbie says:  “Take a breath.  You don’t have to try so hard.  You just have to get up and show up… and like you.”

And the real you… the real us… is pretty darn hard not to like.

Colbie Caillat:  Try

“Put your make-up on
Get your nails done
Curl your hair
Run the extra mile
Keep it slim so they like you, do they like you?

Get your sexy on
Don’t be shy, girl
Take it off
This is what you want, to belong, so they like you
Do you like you?

You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to, give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing

You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try
Yooou don’t have to try

Get your shopping on, at the mall, max your credit cards
You don’t have to choose, buy it all, so they like you
Do they like you?

Wait a second,
Why, should you care, what they think of you
When you’re all alone, by yourself, do you like you?
Do you like you?

You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to, give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing

You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to bend until you break
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing

You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try

You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try
Yooou don’t have to try

You don’t have to try so hard
You don’t have to, give it all away
You just have to get up, get up, get up, get up
You don’t have to change a single thing

You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try, try, try, try
You don’t have to try
You don’t have to try

Take your make-up off
Let your hair down
Take a breath
Look into the mirror, at yourself
Don’t you like you?
Cause I like you”

This week we we are recycling a favorite MMS. Our new subscribers will enjoy
Katherine’s story and the lessons she took from the experience. And to all of our
MMS readers who have been loyal subscribers from the beginning… you’ll remember
why we love seeing the world of business and life through the eyes of The Lioness.

“True beauty is when someone radiates that they like themselves.”
~~ Aimee Mullins

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Don’t Wait to Start

You don’t have to wait until January 1st to get in shape. You can get a few more minutes of movement into your daily routine right now.

You don’t have to wait until after the vacation to start eating healthier. You can eat smaller quantities by splitting your favorite meal with your spouse right there in Hawaii.

You don’t have to write the perfect speech first to get some speaker’s coaching. You can kickstart your presentation skills as well as your creativity and storytelling ability by talking through your speech idea with a presentation coach.

You don’t have be a good leader first to benefit greatly from a leadership coach who’s in your corner and can help you become more effective immediately.

I often have people express interest in obtaining coaching for improving their client service, leadership and team communication, or their presentation skills, by prefacing their request with a statement such as this:

“Katherine, I’d loved to get some coaching, but I need to write my speech first.”

“I’d love to hire LionSpeak to help improve our team culture, but I need to get the right people on board.”

Here’s my strong advice… Don’t wait. Don’t wait for perfect conditions to get help with what you want to improve. Most of the time, a good coach will give you guidance that will not only change your results but, at first, even change the way you go about getting those results. There have been numerous times when someone reached out for coaching after having slaved over a new speech for months or spent sleepless nights crafting a tough conversation only to have me tell them that I think we might need to take an entirely different approach. How much better would it be if they had reached out early in the process and had some helpful guidance when they first had the seed of the idea?

If you are in need of improving any skill and think coaching or any kind of education or training might help… don’t wait. Find a coach or program now that you feel you can trust… someone who shares your values and understands your unique situation. Get advice early in the process. It will guide your steps and help you to make improved decisions and create a better solution quicker.

Don’t wait. Call now! At LionSpeak, we are standing by… ready to help.

“You can. You should. And, if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”
~~Steven King

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It Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

Sometimes we make things way too hard.  When it comes right down to it, there are four basic questions to answer if you want a high-functioning, drama-free team:

  • What does my team need from me as a leader?
  • What does my leader and team need from me as a team member?
  • How will we handle conflict and broken agreements when they arise?
  • What is my current growth strategy?

If the people on your team and in your organization can answer these questions with clarity and precision, you already know the result.  If you or your people can’t, don’t panic.  That’s actually more often the case, so you’re in good company.  And, it might not be as hard as you think.

Understanding culture is really pretty simple.  It’s direct, dynamic, and relational.

Direct:  Every organization has a culture.  It was, and continues to be, developed as the business grows and matures.  The real question is whether you have a positive, proactive, and intentional culture versus a negative, reactive, or accidental one.  A positive and mature culture rests on a foundation of a compelling vision from the top and a set of clear expectations and agreements with everyone who works there.

Dynamic:  When you become intentional about creating the culture you want and the structures to support it, you quickly realize it’s not a one-and-done process.  Once set, an organization’s culture is always in an ongoing process of development and refinement.  The good news is that it becomes easier over time to evolve a good culture into a truly great one.

Relational:  Culture is defined by a set of shared values and by the way people behave and interact with one another.  In other words, it’s about how we relate, the strength of our relationships and our ability to manage our interactions in success and failure, ease and stress, predictability and chaos.

Most people do not have much, if any, experience working with healthy, mature teams and, assuming they didn’t learn it in school or at home, most don’t even know what it really means… let alone know how to create it or contribute to it.  If they’ve never been held to a higher standard or called to a higher level of performance, that doesn’t mean they can’t learn.  The cost of a drama-laden, emotionally immature, and low functioning team culture is high, and it isn’t just the direct loss of productivity.  It’s also the loss of innovation, creativity, reputation, turnover, and job satisfaction at all levels.  A negative culture can suck the energy levels down to zero, consume meetings, negate forward progress, and monopolize the brain power of your leaders, managers, and frontline people.  In a positive culture, you will all have more mental, emotional, and intellectual capacity to solve challenges, drive business, and enjoy work again.

This week, my challenge to you is to answer these questions as a team and watch what starts to unfold.  If you’d like a little help, schedule a call by emailing us at, and let’s explore how LionSpeak can help you create and elevate your team culture to a place where it operates on automatic at a very high level.

You can do this.  It doesn’t have to be hard.

“Life is hard.  Until it’s not.” 
~~Dr. Sue Morter

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Leadership and Learning

John F. Kennedy once said, “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” That’s because leaders are not born but rather developed. So, they are constantly trying new approaches, analyzing the results, and adjusting their strategies along with way.

In the healthcare, dental, and veterinary fields, we are experiencing a seismic shift in our industries with an increase in consolidation and growth of group practices. This has created a huge and almost instant need for managers and team leaders who not only understand the industry but also how to lead, inspire and train their people. Most often, managers and trainers are promoted or hired into these positions because they were good at their jobs and have mastered the technical skills needed. The trouble is that these skills are only part of the job. The far greater part is the ability to think, problem solve, communicate, and inspire like a true leader. If no one has ever modeled how to do this well or they’ve not learned from another highly-developed leader, new managers tend to stumble trying to gain traction with their team or at the very least their progress is slowed because they don’t know how to quickly adjust their strategies to move a team forward.

Even if you are a private or solo practitioner, you must exemplify extraordinary leadership now more than ever. The smaller the team, the more critical the need for every player to master self-leadership.

Whether you want your management team to grow their people and push them to their fullest capabilities or you simply want strong leaders in every position on your team, you have to invest in the training necessary to teach them how to think, speak, and act like great leaders. Consider starting a leadership “Book Club” and selecting a book as a team that you’ll read and discuss at your team meeting. I’ve listed a few of my favorite below. Another option is to attend together or send your managers and team leaders to a leadership workshop or program with the agreement that they will make a full report on the things they learned and plan to implement.

Growing self-leaders as well as leaders who know how to build strong teams is a requirement if you’re going to be competitive in today’s marketplace. The side benefit is that the world becomes a better place too.


Great leadership reads from Katherine’s bookshelf: 

  • The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell 
  • You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader by Mark Sanborn
  • Upside Down Leadership by Bob Spiel

This week, we recycled one of our most popular MMS’s  from several years ago.
new subscribers will enjoy  Katherine’s story and the lessons she took from
the experience.  And to all of our MMS readers who have been loyal subscribers
from the beginning…you’ll remember why we love seeing the world of
business and life through the eyes of The Lioness.

“The task of the leader is to get their people from
where they are to where they have not been.”
~~ Henry Kissinger


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