Transitions: My First Week As An Entrepreneur

As my regulars know, I’ve recently left my job as a Verizon Wireless executive to pursue my entrepreneurial dream. I promise that my blog will continue to be about ways to support you.

With that said, I’ve received so many wonderful notes and lots of questions about what’s next as an entrepreneur, that I figured there were others who were curious, but not asking. I imagine my own angst can be helpful to others in the midst of such transitions. I would love to hear your stories.

Q&A On Early Transitions

Question: What’s your biggest surprise one week in?
Answer: My new boss is a handful.

Her heart’s in the right place, but she’s hard to keep up with. Her passion is contagious, but sometimes it just wears me out. I think sometimes she forgets we’re just a small team. I’ve tried to explain, but she’s got this new entrepreneurial spirit thing going. Not sure she’s listening. You see, the tricky part is, my new boss is me. I’ve become the boss I wish I had, and I’m swimming in imperfection.

I suddenly have a new realization of what it must have been like to work on my teams all these years. I’m having flashbacks to what one of my leaders said after working with me in a new gig for a few weeks. Yikes, we’ve been running so hard, my watch is spinning around on my wrist from all the weight I’ve lost.

Back then, I took it as a joke and a compliment. We were having fun and had great momentum. But maybe, this sweet Southern gentleman was also kindly trying to tell me to slow down, that I was creating a cloud dust of deliverables that were hard to keep up with.

A week in to being my own boss, I’m experiencing what my own teams have felt from me passion, impatience, extreme focus on results, and lots of work.

It’s a humbling exercise to be the visionary and the one who must execute. I’ve got more to-dos than I can possibly do.

Question: Did you leave Verizon because you hit a glass ceiling?
Answer: No.

Verizon leadership goes out of their way to develop and promote women. I have been surrounded by amazing women and men mentors and examples over the years, and continue to have these supportive people in my life. I left from the right box on the grid.

If I hit a ceiling, it can better be described as an authenticity ceiling of my own making. I have very strong leadership values which I stick to. It became more important for me to lead in the way that I felt most compelled to lead than to organize my leadership around what would best position me for the next level.

Question: Aren’t you scared?
Answer: Of course.

Entrepreneurship is highly personal. There’s no one to blame but me. Every swing and a miss, makes me sad. But the base hits are worth it. But besides all that, it came to a point that I was more frightened of the consequences of not doing what I felt most called to do.

I don’t want to leave this world contributing less than I should. I resonate with Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk on innovation. It’s starting to feel that I’m supposed to be responding to things happening through me. That’s hard to ignore.

Question: What are your first steps?
Answer: Head clearing, strategic planning, website/video development, building on partnerships, and book launching.

Honestly, I need some unwinding. I’m mixing in some yoga and kickboxing with the strategic planning and other work. I am resisting the urge to do too much doing until my priorities and strategy are solid. With that said, I’ve been overwhelmed by the generosity of the leadership media crowd in support of my book launch.

I’m spending a lot of time in interviews, podcasts, and other media responses. That’s been a BLAST. P.S. If you’ve enjoyed the book, I would love to have you write a short review on Amazon with all the media commotion, we could use some help in the basics.

I’m also delighted to be collaborating with a highly talented group of management consultants in a group called Agamie, each of us bringing different areas of expertise. We have some exciting possibilities brewing.

Question: What’s the focus of your new company?
Answer: Helping companies achieve transformational results by building rock-solid front-line leadership teams.

The new website coming in early May will share the whole story stay tuned.

Question: Do you have other books in the works?
Answer: Yes.

Overcoming An Imperfect Boss is tapas. It will be an exciting 2 years.

Question: Will Let’s Grow Leaders stay the same interactive community?
Answer: You bet!

Only stronger. We have many new subscribers, and more people joining the conversation. Amen. If you’ve never shared a comment, join the fun. It’s much more exciting to be involved.

Portrait of Charisma: Something About Larry

As we have been working through our “Charisma Project,” I have been on the look out for signs of great charisma in every day life, and realized it’s time for me to talk about Larry.

Larry Owensel is a professional dancer and personal trainer, and teaches the interval kickboxing class I have been taking each week for the last 4 years. It’s a great workout for sure, but mostly I go to experience Larry in action. Larry, a great grandfather in his mid fifties, has charisma. He transforms attitudes and bodies by motivating his loyal following to believe in the possibilities and always stretch for more.

Perhaps his leadership comes from his humble beginnings, or his inspiring mother who constantly encouraged him to not settle for “good” when he could be “great.” Or maybe the secret is his training in the martial arts (he holds a 6th degree blackbelt in Shotoko Karate and a 3rd degree blackbelt in Tae Kwon Do), or his time spent as a marine corps drill instructor. I am sure all this has helped him to hone his style, but after talking to him, I am convinced it’s his passion for his calling and his deeply spiritual approach to leadership.

Passion

His eyes light up, “I am in LOVE, LOVE, LOVE with dance nothing else makes me feel the way dance does.” It shows in his every move. It shows when he stops the action to get all our clumsy bob and weaves moving in the right direction. It showed on the morning the sound system broke and he taught the entire class through non verbal motion and just sounding out the beat “tat tat tat.”

Spirituality

The passion is clear, but so is the spirituality. “It’s about getting everyone’s energy flowing together, all those hearts and minds. I don’t want us to think about it, I just want us to flow.”

I asked him about how he works so differently with each person in the room (there are usually over 70 of us and various levels and personalities), and he tracks with each athlete in a different way (he calls us “athletes”, we like that). Today in class, I got the intense “you are stronger than that” speech, while others he treated to his encouraging grin.

“I just step in their aura, and look in their eyes. I see what they need deep inside, not what they think they want. It gives me a good sense of what to ask right in that moment, and I take my best shot, he said humbly.” And the grinned, “I am usually right.”

Deliberate Approach

We learned in Olivia Fox Cabane’s work that deliberate choices on every move make a difference. I asked Larry about that. “Oh, It’s all very deliberate.” He doesn’t move or lead by chance.

I notice his deliberate and careful approach to not up the intensity of what he refers to as “an extreme cardio class for athletes.” He just works on the basics and gets them to feel mastery over one thing, so that they can move to the next thing the next time.

I was struck by our conversation on humility, also a very prominent theme in the Cabane book. “When people come back to me and say they dropped 2 dress sizes, and try to give me the credit, even if I know I had an impact, I bow (he shares his namaste gesture), and say “thank you.” It is important to Larry to acknowledge the spirit that is moving through him, and treating that power with sincere humility.

We often think of charisma as something vital for business or politics. Charisma can have awesome power to transform in all professions. I am grateful for my weekly dose of inspiration and role modeling.

Namaste.

 

 

 

 

Saturday Salutation: Energy without Power

Saturday Salutation: Energy without Power

This week has been real challenge for so many in the Northeast. Like many of my neighbors, and millions in the DC area, our power was out for several days. We were among the lucky ones that had a fairly quick recovery. As we were driving yesterday we saw a brigade of Gas and Electric trucks parading to their next mission. Work is still underway a week later. It is over 100 degrees.

What struck me most throughout this outage was how people everywhere were connecting with so much energy. Scenes where normally people would be just doing, they were doing and talking about it. At the Starbucks, long lines of un-showered, decaffeinated strangers were all talking about their situations and their scenes, “yeah, we all slept in the basement too”, “it’s great to see my kids reading books” “where are you on the grid?” “I have an elderly mom I am worried about.” “Do you need anything?”

Now, I have been to that Starbucks many times. Usually people are waiting silently in the line, looking straight ahead waiting for their name to be sharpied on to a plastic cup. It is only people who already know one another taking time to connect over coffee.

It was also all the people with their laptops plugged in to the walls lining my gym again all talking about what they were working on and how it needed to get out today. This brought up deeper conversations about what they did for a living and how that connected to the fires in Colorado, the school they were applying to, or the blog they were writing.

I wonder why it is so much harder to see the possibility for connection with the lights on?

Namaste.

“For those just connecting with my blog, on Saturdays I write a lighter post reflecting on life’s moments and observations that inspire my leadership, and then the week looks at leadership from many angles.
Thanks to all who became email subscribers this week. I look forward to connecting with you regularly. I migrated my site to a self-hosted version to provide a richer experience. Email following will be the most reliable way to find me for now.
Next week’s theme will be energy in leadership. I hope you will join the conversation.”

Saturday Salutation: A Trail of Blessings

There is a man who walks slowly down the trolley path near my home each morning. I often see him on my morning run. He ritualistically tips his cane to everyone as he passes, and says, “God Bless You.” When he is not there, the crickets seem to sing more loudly. Perhaps they are filling in the void left by his absence.

Namaste.

Saturday Salutation: Joyful Movement at the TSA

I was clearing security this week at the Denver airport, particularly annoyed since the TSA agent had just dumped the entire contents of my purse out and then walked away. Turns out “too many pennies,” can leave you racing for your gate. When I looked up to see an attractive, poised, and confident woman walking proudly through the sensors.

I thought, “Who get’s that happy at TSA there must be something fantastic going on in her life.”

She must have seen me looking at her, so she told me, “It turns out that there is a real advantage to being old.”

If you are born before 1937, you can now keep your shoes and jacket on.

Talk about appreciating the small stuff.

She had joy.

I bet it’s that approach that keeps her looking that good.

Coming Next Week:

All about mentors. Each day will take on a different perspective. I hope you will join the conversation.

Namaste.