Are You Ready to Say Hello to New Growth?

For many of us, spring is just popping up, and old crabby winter has moved along. Spring is my favorite season. I continued to be enthralled by how life slowly unfolds and reaches up to the cloudless sky praising the sun. Small creatures start to rumble about and the insect's twirl by with ease and zest. There are so many fresh smells, and nothing beats hearing birds tweet just as the sun is rising. I am always mesmerized by the sound of croaking frogs in our woods even though our neighbors behind must beg for headphones to drown out the constant chatter.

I have a great friend that recently shared his video with me (above). Greg Heeres is a leadership aficionado and rascal with a passion for bringing out the best in others and sharing leadership lessons. He shares short snippets of video lasting only seconds but sharing what takes most several minutes to offer advice. Greg is a proponent for growth and walks the talk. His video connected with me because spring is such a season of newness, freshness, and growth. Spring is a better time to set new goals, make a change, and renew your life than New Years. What better time to grow and fertilize those around you than a time when you see and smell new growth every day.

As a gardener, I feel alive and ready to get outside planting, fertilizing, growing, and pruning. As Greg shared, it's a time to reflect on what kind of growth that we want to experience. It's looking at what tools we need to grow and what impacts others. Just like our plants, spring is also about fertilizing those around us according to their needs and what motivates them to grow. You just can't plant a cactus in the shade and expect growth when it craves the sunshine.

Moreover, pruning can be a painful process because we become accustomed to what we are comfortable with and like around us. The initial pruning is stark or painful, and we don't always know if our efforts are worth it. Isn't life like this? That to which we hold close to us is the hardest to let go. This includes behaviors, thoughts, and habits. 

I encourage you to make spring about you. Here are some ideas for bringing on some "newness" this season that will set you up for long-term growth and enable those around you to flourish.

·         What negative habits or thoughts are dragging you down? They are like diseases in the garden, and you need to address them to ensure your growth.

·         What needs pruning from your life right now? Maybe personal time is non-existent, and you are slowly sinking into the ground. Set your priorities and make a list of what you can minimize at work to maximize your personal life.

·         Who are you mentoring or coaching? You have the power to "fertilize" others, and it's amazing how you feel when you see someone grow in front of you.

·         Become more diverse. Beautiful gardens take time, planning, and patience. You need to bring in a variety of plants and have enough diversity in your yard for beauty and for the health of your plants. Are you engaging with diverse groups of people? Are you lifting others up and making efforts to expand your world? It takes time, and a concerted effort but the rewards are incredible.

·         How does it smell around you? Spring is a time for freshness. Are your ideas still fresh? Do you take the time to lighten up with those around you? Do you make a concerted effort to maintain a positive aura around you or lend positive words throughout your day?

·         Plan for future growth. Before you can plant a new garden, you need to prepare the soil. The same goes for growing new leaders. Are you purposeful in building others up so they can jump into your role some day? Are you purposefully looking to bring out the strengths in others?

·         Be the sunshine in someone's life every day. Smile, and you will light up those around you. Likewise, work the soil so that people have a strong foundation from which to sprout.

Breathe spring in and not only grow yourself this season but plant, fertilize, grow, and prune all around you!

Given Out Any Treats Lately?

Photo courtesy of aopsan via freedigitalphotos.net

Earlier this week I dropped by the store for a few things and as I was checking out, I hesitated. I had grabbed some cans of cat food and 3 bags of cat treats. This has been a weekly habit for a while and I had to laugh at myself. Our entire family is allergic to cats and somehow we have collected 3 cats over the past few years thanks to the kids. We have acreage so the cats can endlessly roam and explore. They are also spoiled with a cat door into the garage, a soft bed and heat lamp, and of course, canned cat food and treats. Fortunately, they have hearts of gold and keep the critters at bay.

I’m not alone in spoiling our pets and rewarding them with treats. There are more that 70-80 million dogs and 74-90 million pet cats in the United States according to the ASPCA.  That means that 62% of us have at least 1 pet. I’m sure that you know someone (or are one!) that goes a bit overboard on pets by buying them luxury beds, fancy toys, and clothes. According to NBC News this adds up to Americans spending over $60 billion on pets every year. I imagine a large chunk of that is on toys and treats alone.

People have a variety of reasons for spending money on their pets. Rewarding them, showering them with love, training them, or thinking that they are tiny humans. I ‘m a sucker for cat treats because I love the glow in the kitty eyes when I shake the treat bag. Plus, it’s the only way that I can get them to do what I want. Don’t we use similar tactics with our kids or even spouses? We do it because it works.

Pets aren’t so different than people. As a manager, I have enjoyed discovering the gifts in my people and bringing them to the surface. It requires patience and a sincere interest in getting to really know your team. More so, I have been on a journey to see how to reward those around me. Guess what? It doesn’t have to cost a penny. You don’t always need to shell out treats or trinkets with the company logo on them. Most people crave recognition for their work or their skills. They want their gifts to rise to the surface to be utilized and yes, even recognized.

I have a sister that believes her poodle is human – complete with sets of clothing and hair bows to match. When you think about what we spend on rewards for pets it’s astounding. Most of us don’t think enough about how to recognize or reward the people around us. Buying a bag of cat treats is easy, remembering to treat those that we work with, not so much.  Obviously companies shell out billions of dollars a year in rewarding employees however, a large chunk of that expenditure is rewarding years of service, not every day recognition of what are folks doing. What are you doing personally to recognize those around you?

Giving “treats” to those that we have contact with every day is fun, easy, empowering, and yes, inexpensive. If you don’t believe me, think about what you do for your pet every day. A far
flung analogy but it’s true. Think about what you can personally do every day to have an impact on someone that you work with. You don’t need to be a manager to reward, be a person. Let’s get into the habit of treating and rewarding each other.

Ideas on how to recognize those around you

  • How about a good old “thank you” face to face or better yet, in front of everyone else?
  • Drop off an old fashioned thank you card on their desk or mail it to their home
  • Bring in a treat just for a special person
  • Recognize someone on LinkedIn or on an internal social media account
  • Jump in and assist a coworker with a project or task that no one else wants
  • Introduce them to someone that can help them in their career or with their goals. Proudly brag them up
  • Ask a team member to be on a high profile project or team
  • Surprise them with a unique desk gadget
  • Buy them lunch
  • Cover their desk with some scratch off lotto tickets
  • Everyone has a special hobby or passion. Bring them a gift related to their passion
  • Offer more smiles and words of encouragement

Let’s get back to being human. Let’s spend more time and thought thanking others, recognizing coworkers, and offering treats for others. Rewarding doesn’t need to cost anything but your time or attention.  Hey, if you have pets, next time you buy treats for them remember that there are other ways to treat and thank your human friends!

Do You Have a Leadership Voice Yet?

One of the best leadership books that I have read this year is a new book by Paul N. Larsen. Find Your Voice as a Leader is a no nonsense leadership guide that speaks directly to the reader, not to the academics. Paul's book offers real life leadership scenarios and offers us guides that offer up thought provoking questions and plans that you can put into place every day. Although I already read this book, I am reading it again and employing Paul's advice in setting some personal leadership goals. 

I am an avid reader and champion of leading and empowering people. I want more in a book than just ideas. I want advice and guidance on how to strengthen my own leadership and put me on the path to having an impact on others in my own way.

I encourage you to pick up Paul's book and begin your own journey to stronger leadership. Leadership should be steady and influential. Leadership is not having the loudest voice in the room but building relationships and finding other ways to flex your leadership muscle. Below is a guest post from Paul Larsen to jump start your journey to using your voice to be a stable and flexible leader.

Best Practices To Be Influential And Not Invisible

Cultivate an extensive and respected network. Networking may be a catch phrase from the 1980s, but the concept is as relevant today as it was 30 years ago. No one person has all the answers or all the ideas, no matter how intelligent they are. Sharing ideas and goals with others is key to being an effective and influential leader.

Sell ideas and enroll support. Even the best ideas will languish if you’re the only one who supports them. An influential leader needs to also be a good salesperson—to garner support from management, investors, team members, and the community. If you sell your ideas persuasively, others will get on board with your vision.

Identify and remove obstacles to the team’s success. Lead as a facilitator. Another essential part of being an influential leader is clearing away any potential obstacles to success before they can get in the way of your team’s efforts and the successful realization of your vision. These obstacles might be funding issues, personality conflicts, or logistic problems. Removing these roadblocks early means your team can sail right through the project without losing momentum over unrelated issues. Entrepreneur magazine refers to breaking down barriers between team members and leaders as being crucial to leadership success.

Be flexible in your leadership style. The best—and most successful—leaders know how to adjust their style to fit the needs of diverse individuals and teams. One of the most influential leaders I’ve ever met was an airline pilot. As captain of a modern jetliner (and father to this author), he possessed the “position and title of a leader.” But he didn’t lead using his “rank” or his ego. He would treat all his airline colleagues as one cohesive team whose purpose was to fly the passengers to their destination as safely and as comfortably as possible. He regarded all the team members with respect and trusted they would be accountable for carrying out their specific job responsibilities. He believed each individual knew best how to perform his/ her unique role, and collectively they comprised a team that was focused and committed. He would listen to their insights and feedback with a genuine spirit of collaboration before any important decision was made concerning the operation of the aircraft and the carrying of its passengers. Thus, he was viewed as a trusted and respected leader, in the air and on the ground and was missed greatly when he retired after 30 years of flying. Adjusting your leadership style to fit all situations and personalities is essential to influencing your team members to produce successful results. And then watch them fly!

As a successful leader you need to be more than just knowledgeable. You need to be able to influence team members, management, and those in the community—to accomplish your vision. Improve your influence by networking well, establishing trusting relationships, clearing obstacles, and being adaptable to your environment.
Paul N. Larsen, MA, CPPC, is a Certified Professional Performance Coach and an experienced leadership consultant and speaker. He has over 30 years’ business experience with executive and senior-level responsibilities within small and large companies, including being the Chief Human Resources Officer for a $3 billion organization. Paul partners with industry-wide leaders and teams from Fortune 100, start-up, and high-tech environments to find their unique leadership “VOICE” and create compelling and purposeful outcomes for their organizations. He has a proven track record with organizations such as SAP, Electronic Arts Twitter, and Walmart.  Read more about Paul and his latest book, Finding Your VOICE as a Leader at  www.paulnlarsen.com.

Millennials Are Like Young Transplants

As a gardener,  one of the biggest mistakes people make when they plant a new shrub or plant is to either flood it or forget about it. Over time, the plant slowly withers and then dies. Plants are like people. Before we even buy a new gem for the garden we need to learn more about it to make sure that it can thrive under our care and in our yard conditions. You need to know it's mature size, sun or shade requirements, and how much moisture it needs. You can't plop a cactus in the shade and water it generously. You know what will happen!

Leaders need to take the same approach with our young and upcoming leaders. Finding the right talent doesn't end once you hire them and throw them into orientation expecting them to thrive. Today's millennials need guidance, open dialog, and crave your leadership.

If millennials still remain a mystery and you are truly committed to mentoring and empowering tomorrrows leaders, you should pick up a copy of Chasing Relevance by Dan Negroni. Dan will lead you through a journey that explains how our younger people crave our leadership and guidance and really do want to make a difference.

I'm please to share a guest post from Dan Negroni that will help you navigate the path to growing our leaders of tomorrow. 

Don’t Chase Relevance – Find It!

I am stoked about the debut of Chasing Relevance. It took two years of writing, research, content development, speaking, coaching, and training more than 5,000 amazing people by me and my colleagues at launchbox. But our systems, curriculum, and book are ready – ready to bridge the gap between non-millennial and millennial generations in the workplace and marketplace to help your business achieve real, BOLD results.

Here is what we learned: Houston, we have a HUGE problem.

  • Thirty percent of organizations lose 15% or more of their millennial workforce annually.
  • It costs companies $15,000 to $25,000 to replace each millennial.
  • 71% percent of organizations report that the loss of millennial employees increased the workload and stress of current employees.
  • Workload and stress combine with disconnection to breed disengagement: Seven of ten employees report being “disengaged” or “actively disengaged” at work.
  • The estimated cost of this disengagement is $450 billion.

Yes, millennials are a HUGE problem. They have taken over as the largest generation, and they don’t just want the power – they are the power.

 They will decide what businesses succeed and which ones will be left behind. Those that want any chance of succeeding need to figure out how to win with millennials.

Yet only 22.9% of organizations have a plan in place to engage millennials and future generations.

REAL PROBLEM? Oh yes. But it isn’t a problem that needs to be solved. It’s a problem that needs to be embraced. Yes, I said it… we need to be bold and generous and embrace millennials. Because the way most managers are dealing with it now – mainly complaining – is not working.

What I find most curious is how put-off and deeply frustrated many leaders from previous generations are by millennials. They paint a completely negative picture of “them,” as if millennials are a monolithic group of apathetic, disrespectful, unmanageable brats. They whine that millennials are spoiled, entitled, lazy, disloyal—all they want is power and all they think about is themselves.

Of course, complaining about the next generation is nothing new. But the way this millennial generation grew up? That is new. They had helicopter parents, got trophies for showing up, had days filled with activities, were encouraged to question, had a seat at the table for making decisions, were told they could be anything they wanted to be, and are used to being connected to everyone, everywhere, every minute of the day. 

And the world is different too.  Think of where we’ve been and the changes that have occurred in the last 30 years. We’ve gone from information in encyclopedias and microfiche to a crazy ass digital world where we can get any information, whenever and wherever we want. Millennials grew up “wired” and “wireless” and have never known a world in which technology did not impact, consistently change, and
repeatedly shorten timelines of obsolescence. They know no other way.

Millennials came out of the #womb. And when they did, they disrupted all of the traditional timelines.


We follow the patterns of previous generations and complain or throw up our hands in frustration and do nothing. As a result, all we do is chase relevance with them, often never finding it.

My book and our business have a better way and our solutions will change your life, their lives, and your businesses.  Guaranteed.

And here is how you start:


Stop doing what you are doing and realize that the place where youth and experience meet is the best place on earth. 

The combination of raw, unbridled enthusiasm, curiosity, questioning and unlimited perspective is pure MAGIC when combined the right way with knowledge, time served, learned failure, and history. 

Chasing Relevance answers the question we get asked all the time:  You really think we can connect with the next generation with the huge differences? ABSOLUTELY.

We all need to shift our mindset and trust ourselves.  When we shift our focus to connecting and delivering value to others, we win with our clients, employees, spouses, partners, kids ... we become guides and mentors of the next generation and ourselves. 

We have a choice: Embrace the opportunity millennials offer by pushing ourselves to be better leaders and coaches, or continue to ignore and dismiss the generational divide. The answer is clear: embrace opportunity.

That’s what our book, our business, and this blog will help you do.  


"Need help understanding, engaging, and retaining your millennial workforce?  Dan Negroni, Author, Speaker, Attorney, Kick butt business consultant, coach, and proud Dad of a few Millennials delivers actionable solutions.  Different from all other millennial experts, Dan's empowering business approach at launchbox, creates quick value and seamless connections with millennials and management each on their own terms.   Using unique content and delivery methods that audiences respond to immediately he leverages results from the inside out.   Allow millennials to be your secret weapon and maximize your commitment to them to innovate, create a culture of engagement and grow your businesses today.    To start click here to grab your copy of Chasing Relevance: 6 Steps to Understand, Engage and Maximize Next Generation Leaders in the Workplace or call them at 858.314.9687 for a free Coaching Assessment"