Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Prompt: Alivest

Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. If we follow the truth, it will bring us out safe at last. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

When did you feel most alive recently? Where were you? What did you smell? What sights and sounds did you experience? Capture that moment on paper and recall that feeling. Then, when it’s time to create something, read your own words to reclaim a sense of being to motivate you to complete a task at hand.

I feel most alive when in nature. Sounds simple. It isn't just on a farm or in the woods or at the beach etc. It's when I take the time to be outside and breathe. It's when I take the time to think while outside about the miracle of life itself in the blade of grass, the bird eating my blueberries, the smell of ozone after a rainshower and most definitely when I am with my son stopping to experience all of those things.
Knowing I'm going to be home to experience that again is key to me!

Prompt: Call to Arms

Call to Arms

The secret of fortune is joy in our hands. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

What if today, right now, no jokes at all, you were actually in charge, the boss, the Head Honcho. Write the “call to arms” note you’re sending to everyone (staff, customers, suppliers, Board) charting the path ahead for the next 12 months and the next 5 years. Now take this manifesto, print it out somewhere you can see, preferably in big letters you can read from your chair. You’re just written your own job description. You know what you have to do. Go! (bonus: send it to the CEO with the title “The things we absolutely have to get right – nothing else matters.”)

Hi it's Eli!
So this one is so timely. I was given the "temporary head honcho" role on 6/30/11 to last for two weeks. It didn't give me a big head and it didn't give me a ton of anxiety after 24 hours. Granted I've been having dreams about each of my teammates for the past week which is weird but for the most part I think working on a team and working with this team we are all prepared for the day in which we take the reins for awhile.We are all very lucky to have a great mentor in our boss and the opportunity to grow. This does not mean I can do the intricate parts of my teammates jobs by any means but it does mean that I can not do my job completely without their support.
I am not sure I would write a call to arms memo sending it to everyone on the team rather I would call a lunch meeting and then talk about the changes and send the memo later as a follow up. I would also meet with everyone on a one to one basis to understand what they want to do and how we can meet those needs. I look to lead with a team in place and as a team.
My plans for the team in the next 12 months would fall into three categories:
1. Fiscal-I want to stem the flow of funds out of our budget in the early part of the year to other teams in the organization to cover their seeming lack of planning. We need to be prepared for these cuts in our planning and make sure that we have our budget in travel, research services, and external support teams set up properly and contracted so we do not lose those resources. I want to be very firm on stemming the tide of funds flowing out of our budget. It is demoralizing to our team to continually be told our projects are not important and then be told to scramble and get the work done at the least price and with the least amount of time. It does not show that we are truly appreciated and it tends to show that we are undervalued.

2. Employee Training- Each year as a team we pick our conferences as ones we want to attend without really thinking about what we get out of the programs at the conference on a personal, team and corporate level. We tend to send folks to one or two of the same conferences each year and come back with similar thoughts. I want to rethink our conferences and turn it on it's head to sending each of us to a course or a seminar or training program. In 2009 and 2010 Chris and I participated in a certificate program it taught us more than just the material in the book and online. It taught us project and time management. It taught us collaboration beyond what we were doing already. In 2011 Chiko attended a multivariate analysis course recently bringing back knowledge of how to review and revisit our presentation and analysis of research. He also shared this knowledge with our extended Evaluserve team expanding their capabilities and thus expanding our offerings and capabilities within Laureate.  The training doesn't have to be specific to market research in some cases as we expand into new verticals and new countries it might be the following:
A. Learning a new language for example having Elaine take a  Spanish immersion course at a local community college or online as she works with NHU
B.Learning about the new verticle Charles to Kendall College or to a culinary/hospitality conference to learn more about the difficulties facing the potential student.
C. Participating in one of our current universities online offerings as a credit earning student.
Training in market research is much more than attending a research conference and making new contacts. It is continuing to learn.

3.Corporate Focus--We usually tend to be Walden and online focused when it comes to budget and project planning which does not always work for our team. We need to move away from this and start planning our projects as global projects. What would gather information for our universities and help us learn more about our students, about our true 5 to 10 year plans for education (not just financial growth plans), and the changing work/education/life environment.
We need to start making a fundamental shift in our internal clients focus of short term focus to long term focus. We all struggle with this both from a client management/relationship and from a client planning point of view. How do we HELP our clients plan for their future with regard to the needs of their college?

What I would really like to know from my team mates is what they would do if they were the boss? How would they change? Where do we agree? Where do we disagree? How do we NOT find middle ground but find a way to make fundamental and positive movement toward being one of the best? How do we generate or prove financial independence? My goal to be able to have our team operate as a completely separate entity within the company.

So that is my "Call to Arms."

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Prompt: Most Ordinary

Most Ordinary

Good and bad are but names very readily transferable to that or this; the only right is what is after my constitution, the only wrong what is against it. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We are our most potent at our most ordinary. And yet most of us discount our “ordinary” because it is, well, ordinary. Or so we believe. But my ordinary is not yours. Three things block us from putting down our clever and picking up our ordinary: false comparisons with others (I’m not as good a writer as _____), false expectations of ourselves (I should be on the NYTimes best seller list or not write at all), and false investments in a story (it’s all been written before, I shouldn’t bother).
1. What are your false comparisons?
2. What are your false expectations?
3. What are your false investments in a story?
 List them. Each keep you from that internal knowing about which Emerson writes. Each keeps you from making your strong offer to the world. Put down your clever, and pick up your ordinary.

1. My false comparisons are the ones that are common among women and common among competitors. I am continually looking at my body harshly and everyone is prettier, more youthful, and more graceful, or more slimmer. When I was a runner I wasn't fast enough, when I was a dancer I only every ranked third never first, when I became a mother rather than accepting my permanent body changes I was judging myself.
Oddly I try my hardest not to judge others on their appearance but I am harsh or as my husband puts it "I know to keep my mouth shut 95% of the time while my brain is doing all sorts of craziness." I think the one saving grace to the false comparison is that I do not do the "keeping up with the Joneses" thing. My comparisons are for me alone not my family, not my husband, not my child. They are perfect as they are.

2. My false expectations are that one day I will wake up and be able to do it all and if I don't I am a failure of the largest percentage. That all will see only the failure not the other parts. IT takes very special friends of mine to point out the areas where I am a success. A false expectation that I do have is that I will wake up and not be obsessive about food, worry about my body and ultimately not have the ingrained issues around a food disorder that I have had my entire life.

3. I don't think I have a false story or investment in a story. I believe my husband does. Me, I am ordinary but have extraordinary days that are to be shared and enjoyed. I am evolving slowly. I try things and sometimes succeed and sometimes fail. I try to bring what might be ordinary to me into the realm of extra ordinary or even magical to others by sharing. I've said it before but living with a 4.5 year old is amazing as simple and ordinary is more than that!