Looking at the whole and not just the role

Welcome back to part three of the “Balance Series.”
Read Part I: How can you be courageous so you can be brave? and Part II: Do you practice organizational empathy?

I’m not sure if my first exposure to the concept of talent balanced teams was an accident or if it was just the first time I was mature enough to notice what was going on. Either way, it totally changed the way I thought about building leadership teams.

Back in the early 2000’s while I was at CNET Networks (soon to become CBS Interactive), I was part of the team that supported the sizable and complex sales organization. I was partnered with the Client Services lead Stacey DeLarios and the Ad Technology lead Adrian D’Souza.

If you ask me how life is today, I generally say “crazy, but good crazy.” However, that period with Stacey and Adrian was genuinely bizarre. It was the beginning of the tech bubble explosion and we were just as impacted as our friends. What it meant for us, however, was this weird combination of almost annual (and terribly painful) layoff rounds, accompanied with this continued acquisition of new brands and companies into the portfolio.

During this period Stacey, Adrian and I leaned on each other in a way that I’d never experienced before. It wasn’t planned or even discussed, but we had this immediate and mutual respect for our individual talents. Not only that, but we sought each other out to work through problems that weren’t necessarily in our “lane” of responsibilities but were in our “lane” of unique talents.

We were in the thick of it at the time and didn’t recognize how this mix of gender, personality, talent, culture, skills, style (I could go on) actually worked better for us as a team. It was when Adrian left several years later, Stacey and I noticed the hole. It was never quite the same again. Continue reading “Looking at the whole and not just the role”

Do you practice Organizational Empathy?

I was reminded the other day about the first time I was hired to speak professionally. I was driving with my husband Randall to the Berkeley Yacht Club. We passed a tall shiny high-rise tucked between the Bay Bridge and the freeway. I mentioned casually, “That building is where I did my first professional speaking gig. Up on one of the highest floors is a stunning view of the San Francisco Bay.” The event seemed like a lifetime ago and made me think about that first presentation. All the rhetoric of “you are the product” and “personal value proposition statements” and my favorite “every decision made about you and your opportunities is made in a room that you’re not in” had not been developed. They were glimmers of ideas.

What did I talk about? What did I share with a room of women looking to get some practical advice and a little inspiration along the way?

I addressed the idea of “Organizational Empathy.” I shared that when I disagree or get frustrated with someone, I pause for a second to consider: What if I walked in his shoes? Would I react to this situation differently?

My argument with that group of women, up in the high rise, long ago was the idea that we all should look at things from all perspectives. And if you’re empathetic to someone else’s view of the situation, someone else’s perception, then maybe you can find that bridge to collaboration and mutual success. Continue reading “Do you practice Organizational Empathy?”

You Are The Product

How to present yourself in a powerful & impelling way.

There’s not a week that goes by where I don’t read some article explaining successful people’s morning routines. I’ve stopped reading them as I generally end up feeling like I’m still not doing enough. Feeling bad about yourself is not a great way to start the day. That said, my morning routine includes reading articles that have collected in my digital feed from the previous day. I’m a big fan of using Feedly to make this easy. I scan through roughly 300 articles a day. One might say it’s a bit of a problem.

However, this prolific reading is a great source of inspiration and ideas for the work I’m doing. Which brings me to this week’s newsletter and a conversation inspired by one of those articles: Andrew Medal’s 5 Investment Firms Reveal What They Look For In Startups.

You should read it yourself, but the five pieces of advice were:

  1. Fix a problem others ignore.
  2. When you pitch, focus on the big picture.
  3. Create products that have a glimpse into the future.
  4. Reach out to VCs physically near you.
  5. Have a balanced founder team.

Continue reading “You Are The Product”