How do you navigate?

Musings from the top of the bottom of the world

Let me just start by saying that my life can sometimes be a little different. How different? Well, what was expected to be a very low-key, traditional New Years ended up with 30 something hours of travel to Ushuaia, Argentina. I lugged my suitcase full of boat parts on a bit of a rescue mission for my husband Randall Reeves and his project the Figure 8 Voyage.

Ever one to turn a terrible situation into a good one, I found myself hiking in the Tierra del Fuego National Park on New Year’s day. I spent a good twenty minutes amusing myself for coming up with the sentence “We’re hiking to the top of the bottom of the world!”

Watch my video to view just one of the stunning panorama we found. (Ignore the huffing and puffing as we’d been hiking up and up and up …)

All joking and epic vista’s aside, hiking out in nature is where I spend my time thinking. Thinking up ideas to help you all navigate this ever-changing career landscape. Thinking that if you share who you are, who you really are, you’ll find that collaboration and communication become much clearer and simpler to manifest.

Bright yellow painted sticks inspired my latest idea. Tierra del Fuego National Park is enormous – 243.2 square miles (that’s just over 155 thousand acres) of open parkland. Along with the map from the park ranger, simple yellow markers (known as blazes) popped up in my field of vision just as the best direction seemed uncertain. The blazes appeared to call out “this way” and “over here” in a way that allowed for exploration without fear of getting utterly lost.

The whole experience had me wondering: What is my trail navigation leadership style and does it matter?

  • Map Maker – a leader both the bigger picture (the park) and the trail (the path to follow). Highly efficient and very predictable results. However, creativity and experimentation might get you lost.
  • Blaze Guide – a leader who directs the team from yellow stick to yellow stick (general check-ins to say you’re heading in the right direction). This maximizes creativity and independent thinking. However, a leader might not know when a yellow stick is needed and it could lead to disaster.
  • Trail Maker – a leader who, brandishing a sharp machete, cuts the trail. Sometimes heading the wrong way and having to double back (thus wasting time and energy) but knowing that the “destination” is somewhere in a general direction. This leader is full of enthusiasm and vision and in completing you’ve found your own path, but you might end up hiking all night.

Randall laughed at me when I shared my thoughts. He tagged me absolutely as a Trail Maker. I argued with him on this point because I’m always in charge of picking and navigating all our hikes. He is constantly lost and has no sense of direction which is shocking considering his current endeavor. Upon further reflection, I realized he was probably right. Somewhere between Trail Maker and a Blaze Guide, I’ve lead teams unabashedly through the forest sometimes forgetting that I need to pull up and show everyone the park and the trail we’re creating. Randall also pointed out that when building leadership teams, I was prone to surround myself with Map Makers who would, once I’d blazed a trail, go back and make it work more beautiful, more efficiently and make for a better overall experience for the hiker. Once in a while, he said, I’m accompanied by another yellow stick leader who can jam a yellow stick in front of me when I’m clearly heading down the wrong path.

I realized on the trail at the top of the bottom of the world that I had a new framework categorizing leadership styles – both the good and the bad. This framework allows me to understand what kind of people I need to surround myself with to traverse this enormous forest called life.

The bottom line is we’re all hiking our own path. However you tackle that path, as a map maker, a blaze creator, or a machete wielder like me, we all have a role.

It’s in understanding each of our functions that we can all bring our best selves together to create something new.

Which type of leader are you? Have you told your team which you are?

Are you showing your work?

Do you remember that statement from school: “Show your work”? Let’s unpack that for a second now we’re not in 5th grade and navigating the school halls of life. Why do you think the teacher was asking the question? The teacher wanted to see that you understood the thought process and not just the right answer. New math, old math, it doesn’t matter; your teachers wanted to make sure you understood how to solve the fundamental problem so you’d always know how to find the solution.

This whole idea made wonder how old you are when teachers stop asking you to show your work?

In the workplace we are not asked to “show our work,” we’re expected just to complete it. At least that’s the expectation set when you’re in the early years of your career. I can almost hear the supervisor’s instructions:

  1. Here’s what we’d like you to do.
  2. Follow the process, and x result will manifest.
  3. We want lots of x.

Sure, I have simplified this a little, but if you took your work today and simplified it, would it break down into those three simple steps? Probably so.

This becomes a problem, however, the more senior you are in an organization. While your ability to make lots of “x” – better known as executing a plan or goal doesn’t go away – there is an expectation for you to be more strategic. Continue reading “Are you showing your work?”

Just call me your fairy godmother

I want a wand.

I had the delightful experience of getting to speak to three different audiences recently. While we weren’t always talking about the human value proposition, the consistent message was about the need to be bold in our thinking to push us to new places. What I’ve found when I’m leading both groups and individuals, along with the “what could be” path, many are often stymied by one of the following:

  1. Fear – someone in the room might judge me.
  2. Fear – what if I fail.

I make it a point in each session to try and take the fear out of the room. I frequently use the statement: “Ok, I want you to pretend I’m your fairy godmother. Poof! I can now make ALL your dreams and wishes come true. There are no boundaries in the world you want to build. What do you see?”

I really want a wand when I do that. I think it might help the effect. Back to you and your wishes.  Continue reading “Just call me your fairy godmother”

Staying to Protect the Team

I have a question for all the people managers out there. Have you stayed in a job because of the people? A job you know you need to leave, but you just can’t quit the amazing people.

“My boss is a tool but my people are fabulous. I can’t leave them.” I’ve heard this sentence or something like it more times than I can count.

Have you endured a lousy boss because you want to protect or can’t leave the people on your team?

I know I have.

This topic came up while talking with my ladybadass friends recently. Several of them recounted the same scenario:

Atrocious boss + extraordinary people → Difficulty leaving

It got me wondering. Is this a pattern with women leaders or is just a sign of someone who’s a cool person? Continue reading “Staying to Protect the Team”

Are you one in 12.5 billion?

Photo by davide ragusa on Unsplash

I’m on a rant about resumes again. If my little ode to a musical didn’t convince you, I thought I’d share the math to convince you.

My lesson starts with a shocking number: 12.5 billion.

There are 12.5 billion resumes submitted every year in the US.

While it is a significant number, 12.5 billion doesn’t seem that enormous when you look at some of the other numbers I dug up for you over the weekend. According to my trusty friend Google and sources like the US government, currently, there are 154 million jobs available in the US.

Let me do some math here. If we assume even distribution of jobs and resumes (which we know is just not true), then there are a little over 80 resumes submitted for every position. Yes, I understand the math isn’t reality, and there are a ton of other data points you should know, but it makes a bit of a point and is a startling number.

You know another startling number? 7

That’s the number of minutes, if you’re lucky, someone is spending reading your resume. And that only happens if your resume or LinkedIn profile is dotted with the keywords that match the recruiter’s search.

What annoys me more are the endless new companies popping up each day to crawl through the “data of you” and match you to a job.

You are not a data set.

I’ve had the delight of hiring hundreds of people over my career. I can emphatically state that I never made a single offer due to his data set.

So this is my plea to the hiring companies; It’s my plea to LinkedIn, my plea to all the tech companies creating AI-driven algorithms: You’re reinventing the wrong thing.

Don’t reinvent the way to find the resume in the 12.5 billion. Reinvent the resume.

We are not robots.

Who am I anyway? Am I my resume?

Who am I anyway?
Am I my resume?
That is a picture of a person I don’t know.

What does he want from me?
What should I try to be?
So many faces all around, and here we go.
I need this job, oh God, I need this show.

When I work, I am prone to listen to old musicals as my background noise. I’m not talking about just the soundtrack; I play the movie on a separate tab of my browser semi-listening to the dialog and songs. Musicals are my happy place.

An idea has been rattling around in my head for a while to write an article about the musical Gypsy, about how it’s just a story of self-realization. I mean, “Everything’s coming up Rose!” is basically a song about a woman who’s been the power behind the scenes wanting, for just one moment, to be the star. LOVE IT.

This past week, however, I was listening to A Chorus Line. Similar to Gypsy, it’s a back-to-back tap dancing extravaganza of “please like me!” songs. I was plugging away on some spreadsheet or another, and a remarkable tenor voice rang out:

Who am I anyway? Am I my resume?
What does he want from me? Continue reading “Who am I anyway? Am I my resume?”