Commitments: Take Time to Think

image

Over the last month, and in particular the past two weeks, we have been in the midst of fall planning.  I tend to love this time of year, despite the fact it makes us really busy, because it causes us to step back from our day to day and assess how things are going and where we should go from here.  These reflection and assessment times are key elements to helping us propel our organization and our business to the next level.

After a tiring and inspiring two weeks, where I stepped away from my daily whirlwind for a full five days, whether it be for our executive retreat or my team’s leadership planning summit, I wonder out-loud (if that is what writing a blog is?) why I don’t do this more often? There is something ceremonious about the fall planning retreat, but truthfully I felt like we moved the needle on our organization more in the last few weeks that I may have all year.  So, why not do this more?  Why do we as business leaders see stepping away from the whirlwind as a luxury, or a bi-annual event, versus thinking of stepping back as more of the norm?

To be clear, I am not talking about having more “retreats” or big, off-site events, but instead I am advocating for creating more brain space in our schedules as leaders.  Time more regularly to think and reflect, to innovate and be creative.  This year, I have been working to create 90 minutes of unscheduled time on my calendar every single day.  This is really hard.  I have more than 100 people who want regular one-to-one meetings with me, as well as being a part of business reviews and accountability sessions with my team and others in the organization.  I am a part of at least two teams (mine and our executive team) whose team meetings alone take 10-12 hours a month out of my schedule, not to mention the working teams that break out of these groups to help to move key initiatives and projects forward.  How, amongst all of these pulls on my time, can I create more unscheduled time in my calendar?  And, since I am not used to having it, how will I prevent myself from losing it to distraction if it arrives?

With this pursuit, I have definitely improved my time dedication to assessment and reflection, but not near to where I would like it to be.  Here are a few things that I have learned that may help in this journey, or at least remind me in the future, as I am sure I will have times I forget.

  1. Have a plan or a goal.  I (and likely many business professionals) work better with a plan or a goal.  Whether it be 90 minutes a day of unscheduled time, or simply a bike ride a week, this helped me focus my energy and time effectively.
  2. Tell people about your goal.  Accountability is an amazing thing.  The more you socialize what you are doing, the more I have felt accountable to not just myself for this improvement exercise.
  3. Don’t be down on yourself.  Change is hard.  I failed more days this year than I have succeeded, but if I get down on myself for this, it defeats the purpose.  Being kind and forgivining to myself is hard, in fact, sometimes almost impossible.  The more accepting at my own misses, the better I am at improving.
  4. Get creative on solutions.  For me, unscheduled calendar time isn’t the only way to create time for reflection (despite the original goal).  Ensuring that I have time dedicated to other activities like riding my bike, working out, outside learning time, reading, community events has helped this journey.  During these times, although my mind is far from quiet, I think and reflect.  In fact, my best organizational structure idea in the last two years came while on my mountain bike riding “Flying Dog” trail in Park City, Utah.

I guess it would be fitting to close this blog post with a commitment.  In a life with a lot of things pulling at me – my adorable children, a desire to have quality time with Jon, my job, business travel on both sides of our family and a desire to stay healthy – it is easy to not keep up with this.  My commitment today is that I will keep trying, and not be frustrated with my progress or failures.

Girls Weekend: The First of Many (Let’s Hope)

I am one lucky momma.  This weekend I had the luxury of taking Katharine (my now 5 3/4 year old – that 3/4 is very important to her) for her first girls weekend.  I was coming off a very busy week at work (fall budgeting, executive retreat in Southern Utah).  The prompting of the girls weekend location (Seattle) was because I had a business committment there on Friday morning.  A few weeks ago, as we were planning for this busy week, I was lamenting being gone out of town from Jon and the kids for 4 of the 5 weeknights.  So, we decided it was a great time for the first of what will hopefully be many girls weekends (and boys weekends with Matthew and Jon) so Katharine joined me on my business trip.  Given the Seattle destination (Hilary – my sister – and her family live there), it also gave us a great excuse to see them and let our three girls play together.

As the week progressed, and I arrived home from my first business trip to the Executive Retreat at 8pm on Wednesday night having worked about 40-45 hours in three days, I was lamenting leaving again on Thursday even though it was both a work and fun trip.  I was just tired.  I unpacked and repacked that evening, snuggled Matthew and crashed, trying to keep the faith that I could do it.

So, Thursday at work, Jon brought Katharine down to drop her off and we headed to the airport.  My energy had picked up, and seeing her excitement helped me over the hump to leave again.  The smile on her face when she come running into my office and how tightly she held my hand as we walked through the airport will be two memories that I will never forget.

image

After I got through my work commitment on Friday morning, I met Hilary and Katharine for a lunch date and we took on the town.  Katharine had three things on her list:  1)  Put her gum on the gum wall in Seattle; 2) See the fish fly at Pike’s Place Market; and 3) Get her nails done.  Despite only an afternoon, we did it. On my list:  A nap.  I didn’t get to mine, but the excitement of seeing Katharine take in the sites, sounds and smells of the city for the first time made it worth it.

image

image

As we bombed around Seattle, I got lots of “I love you” squeezes on my hand and heard a lot of singing out of Katharine (she sings when she is happy).  And, I forgot that I was tired.  Life is busy, and often times the whirwind makes me not live in each moment.  On what was my most tiring work weeks in awhile, I am so happy that I didn’t allow being tired to take away from this priceless time with my little one.  Cheers to many more girls weekends little K.

Starting My 40th Year

444a69e6c678f6e894a84482fad4e2bc

Yesterday, I turned 39.  Today, people asked me what it is like to begin my 40th year.  In all honesty, today felt a lot like yesterday with a little less fanfare, and for certain less cake.  As I begin to think about what this 40th year will be like, it has made me reflect on how far I have come in a decade.   Today, I am a confident (at least half of the time), humble (most all of the time), professional, mother and wife.  I like to believe that I have helped more people in my 30’s than I have hurt, unlike my 20’s, and that I will help even more in the next decade.

One of the most vivid memories I have of turning 30 was celebrating that I could say “I am in my 30’s” at work.  For some reason, I felt like being 30 would instantly give me the respect that I craved at work, and it would help my coworkers (mostly men, 15 – 20 years my senior) to respect me.  At 30, I had been working in a corporate setting for almost ten years.  I came out of college young into an amazing job, and continued taking on progressively more responsibility from Procter and Gamble to Pepsi.  In 2006, I was working as a Marketing Director for Mrs. Fields Cookies in Salt Lake City.

I was enjoying the work.  It was challenging, both intellectually and organizationally.  I continued to work hard and stay committed to success.  Despite my positive performance feedback, and my commitment to the company, and me asking for them, my bosses and co-workers wouldn’t give me larger assignments or the nod to lead stretch projects.  I truly believed that they didn’t respect all that I could deliver.

So, in my immature mind, turning 30 was the answer!  I somehow convinced myself that this milestone would bring me confidence and help them to recognize that I wasn’t a “little girl who just graduated from college.”  Wow – was I wrong.  Sure, for several months, I found a new confidence based on this belief, but I quickly realized that nothing changed around me.  I was still the same person the day after I turned 30 that I was the day before.  My work relationships were still the same work relationships.  My feeling of “lack of respect” still existed.  I felt like I didn’t get taken seriously for what I had to offer.  I decided to just put my head down and work harder than anyone around me.  My last ditch effort to earn the respect I felt that I deserved.

As I reflect now, I can see how foolish this all seemed.  What was my problem?  Why did I worry about what now seems so trivial?  I know today that this feeling of self-doubt had nothing to do with how my bosses and co-workers were treating me, but had everything to do with my own self confidence.  Instead of believing in myself, I looked outward for affirmation.

Almost a decade later, I believe that living through this challenge in my life shaped how I live today.  So, I am not celebrating the start of my 40th year nor lamenting it.  Today, I am a professional, a leader, an athlete, a wife and a mother.  I still struggle at times with a feeling of “lack of respect”, but I try hard to celebrate what I have accomplished myself versus looking for someone to affirm my contributions.  I try act with respect for myself and for others, and to be humble about what I know and what I don’t.  I work everyday to value each person on my team and in my life, knowing that each person brings a unique value.  As I lead people, I listen and try help people find their inner confidence and encourage them to respect themselves.

So with 39 in the rear view mirror, and 40 around the corner, I don’t start this 40th year with any grand hopes that being “in my forties” will change much.  What I am celebrating is that I have learned a lot in the last decade and hope to learn as much as I head toward the next one.

Commitments: Drive (Live) at a Safe and Healthy Speed

Life moves at a constant 80 mph in my world.  Occasionally, I ramp to 110 mph for a two to three day period (like the last week).  Sometimes, if I am lucky, there is a deceleration to 65, but it is for certain a temporary slowing just to get around an obstacle.  As soon as I clear the obstacle, back on the accelerator to get up to driving 80 in a 65 mph speed limit zone.

images

I am always keeping tabs on just how much faster I can go than the speed limit before I get a speeding ticket.  In my almost 39 years of life, and 23 years of driving it seems like 10 mph over the limit is an easy “no ticket”, I think of it as a safe 75 mph.  When I drive by a sitting police officer on the highway at 80 mph, I am wondering, “will he pull out and ticket me” or “did I make it through this time.”

As I sit here today, after running at about 90-110 mph all week with work and life both on overdrive, I think of the irony of this analogy.  Maybe instead of worrying about whether I am going to get a speeding ticket, I should be thinking about what speed to drive (live) and not as much about whether “I made it through this time.”

Deep thoughts always lead to a commitment post.  Today, I am committing to choosing a more healthy speed for my life and not just letting life keep pushing the accelerator down for me.

Being Grateful: The Beauty of Fall

The crisp air of the fall has set in on us in Park City.  I love all things that come with fall.  

  
 Yellow leaves.

Sweatshirts.

Wearing boots.

Football.

All things pumpkin.

Dark mornings.

Mountain biking on top of the leaves.

Soccer with our kids.

The first fire in the fireplace.

The first frost on the mountain lawn.

Red wine returns. 

Transition.

School routines begin.

The first snow in Park City.   

What I love most is that I live in a place where we not only experience it, but where it is majestic. Where the beauty of the season turning helps you to recognize the passing of time, and be thankful for what you have lived.  I am grateful.  

What Advice Would I Give My 24-Year Old Self?

Today I was doing an interview with someone about being a female leader in marketing and in the staffing industry and was asked an interesting question….what advice today would you give your 24-year old self?

Oh my.  Lot’s of advice, much of which is not mentionable on a blog titled “Marketing Meets Motherhood.”  As I reflected for a moment on this, I thought a lot about Joe Haynes.  Joe was my first boss at Procter & Gamble.  He was a Finance Manager when I was a Cost Analyst.  Joe taught me a lot, and in reflection was a very influential person in my own journey as a leader.

So, what was the advice I would give 24-year old self?  It was one of the lessons that Joe taught me – to be authentic and inquisitive.  Joe lived a life of authenticity.  From the day that I met him, he was who he was with no apologies.  He told me early on to be comfortable in what I know, ask questions about what I don’t, and always be good with either.  I wish at many points in my early career that I would have listened to him more.  When I finally learned that I should and I could do this, I became more comfortable in my own skin.

images

It is a lesson that I wish that learned earlier, and often one that I need to remind myself of today.  Each time I either succeed or fail at being an authentic leader, and trust me there are both, I think of Joe.  We are rarely in touch today, but I imagine Joe, retired from P&G, living a life of authenticity.  He may not ever know how influential this was for me, or even that he said it.  Joe, I hope that our paths cross again.

10 Years of Memories – Leaving our First House

We are in major transition as a family.  About 14 months ago we started building a new home, and we are in the final steps of the construction project.  In preparation to  move to the new place, we put our current house on the market and it sold, and quickly.  So today, we moved all of our stuff out of the old home and moved into temporary living until our new house is done.  It is crazy…this home is the first that Jon and I have ever owned.  I love that both Jon and I, and our kids, have grown up here.

Ten years!  It is hard to believe.  What an amazing ten years it has been.  I thought I would share just a few of my favorite moments.

  • The day we found the house.  We had just moved back to Utah and were driving around the Park City neighborhoods.  We drove by our house, and new it was a winner.  Later that day, after our realtor took us inside, we confirmed it was the one…bad decor and all.

IMG_1002

  • The projects!  Over the first few years, it was a never ending projects.  From the little ones, like adding cabinet hardware, to the full house painting project, we did it all ourselves.  It was hard work, but a fun set of memories, including painting the monster green wall!
  • Buying our first furniture together.  These were huge decisions often taking months of research.  Seems funny today, as it would be luxury to have months to research a couch.  But, the research served us well.  As we leave the house, we are selling/giving away a lot of our original furniture, well worn and full of memories.
  • Snow!  Love it or hate it, Blacksmith Road has gotten some doozies of winter storms over the years.  We love it.  I am sure that our new place will be just as much of a winter wonderland (assuming global warming doesn’t make the snow go away).

DSC_0002 (2)

  • Dinner parties.  Jon and I love the dinner party.  Our deck and our dining room had many a fun party over the last ten years.  Some of the most memorable were our east-coast ski visitors flying in lobsters or crab cakes to bring a little of the east coast our way.  Or the endless burger-press grill outs, including many a Cutthroat.
  • Leaving the house for Phoenix in 2008, and putting it on the market.  What a great time to put your house on the market, huh?!?  So lucky that it never sold.   I remember vividly driving away from Park City for the first time.  Some bittersweet memories.
  • Coming home, finally.  When Katharine was three weeks old, we moved back to Park City from Phoenix.  I remember when I brought Katharine into the house for the first time.  Jon was driving up from Phoenix, and I had made the journey, bravely, with our three week old on an airplane alone.  The peace I felt as I walked into the house was refreshing after the two year crazy-land we lived in in Arizona.

IMG_6668

  • Bringing Matthew home from Park City hospital as a newborn.  Katharine trying to help carry Matthew into the house as the strong-willed little two year old.

IMG_1177

  • The moments with our kids.  From Katharine’s first steps, to her first bike rides without training wheels, to sibling love and fighting, to Matthew’s recent crazy dance moves, our kids started their lives in this house and I will never forget how we all grew up together.

IMG_2713

  • Moments with our friends and family.  The beauty of living in a ski town is that people come to visit.  We have had so many visitors over ten years stay with us, ski with us and laugh with us.  I hope that continues in our new place.  There is more fun to be had!
  • Jon.  My life is better because of him.  Ten of our thirteen married years were in this house, and I love him and our life more today than I did the day we crossed our fingers and signed the papers to buy this place hoping that we weren’t in over our heads.

IMG_2744

What a wonderful ten years of memories.  I am sad to leave, but happy for the next step.  I can’t wait to great 10+ more at the new place!

Saturday Morning TV – Good Parenting?

I now understand why there is Saturday morning television (okay – now it is Netflix versus Saturday morning cartoons when I was a kid).  Our kids come bounding into to our room this morning at 6:40am, letting us know that it was time to get up.  They crawl into bed next us and we hope for a snuggle.  They have other ideas in mind including playing games that involved burrowing down under our sheets and jumping on each other and us.  Where.did.sleeping.in.go?  The solution so I could wake up slowly, have a lazy morning and enjoy my coffee-put them in front of Netflix for some Saturday morning television.  

Why do I sit here, in bed, drinking my coffee with parental guilt?  I should be relaxing, sippping my coffee and enjoying the few moments of peace and quiet before our crazy day filled with soccer games, bike riding, and house-packing commences.  Instead, guilt.  I should be out there, playing with my kids, reading them books, coming up with art projects.  Instead, I am allowing the television to act as my babysitter.  Good parenting, right?

I remember Saturday morning cartoons as a kid fondly though.  After a long week of school, playing with my friends and homework, waking up to watch some Saturday cartoons was something to look forward to.  Did it scar me?  No.  I recognize it is all about perspective.  Today, “screen time” is so prolific for our kids.  We try desprately to adhere to the no more than two hours a day, but in the land where we look at our iPhones and iPads for news, texting, reading a book, blogging and Facebook it is really hard to enforce.  Often times, what they do on our screens are play cool, educational games.  Is that bad?  or rationalization?

What is the balance?  The downside of it all is that television whether it be on Saturday or not, too much screen time makes our kids crazy.  At some point, they become whiny and demanding, wanting more.  We hold the line, and it becomes a battle that neither one of us want.  Jon and I look at each other and say, we have crossed the line. 

Anyone out there have the silver bullet?  If so, please share.  For now, I am laying in bed listening to the Octonauts in the background, blogging and drinking coffee. 

Back to the Blog – The 5 Things That I Love About Blogging

Summer is officially over.  Kids are back at school finishing the end of their 3rd week. Time to get back writing the blog.  I have missed it, but with the busy schedules of the summer it was a nice break.  One of my goals this summer was to be outside as much as possible, and taking a break from the chains of my laptop was a big help in making that happen.

I am refreshed after three months.  I have overcome my lack of ideas which was plaguing me in June.  I have created a mental list of “breakthrough” content and I can’t wait to pour it onto the screen.  Oh wait, when I open the WordPress template this morning, and try to figure out where to start, nothing.  Nothing at all.  How can this be?  Where did all of those late night ideas go, or the ones I had while on the mountain bike trail this summer.  Lost in the land of writers block.  Nothing.

So, the only place for me to start is by reminding myself why I do this.  Here are my top five reasons why I blog.  Let’s hope that this helps me remember that I do love it.

  1. It makes me grateful for what I have in my life.  When writing, I often step back and think about all of the good things around me.  When I am going at 100mph daily, it is so easy to overlook the all of the good around me.
  2. It allows me a vehicle for creative expression.  I have an amazing team at work, and because they are so great, I don’t get to play in the work as much.  Good problem to have, but the blog becomes necessary.
  3. It is something that I do for me.  Given my job, my kids, my husband my family and my friends filling up the time in my life, I rarely do things just for me.  I am realizing this may be a little ironic assuming that someone out there is probably reading this.
  4. It allows me to think further out than just about today.  Often in reflecting about what to write, I take a longer view of life than normal.  When writing, I am not worried about today or tomorrows schedule but instead focusing on something in the future.
  5. It helps me to open up.  I was reading an article today about 5 Habits That Are Destroying Your Ability To Lead.  The first one of these is about “Isolating Yourself.”  Isolation as a leader can take many forms – from physical to mental to emotional.  I never intend to isolate myself from my team, but sometimes schedule makes it happen.  I find that when I write, it helps me become ready to be open with my team and takes some of my personal walls down.

So, it is worth it.  It is worth the writers block and the frustration associated with ideas not flowing.  It is worth directing my small amount of personal time this direction.  At least, that is my conclusion for now.  Stay tuned as I am sure that over the next few weeks as I get back in the swing of things, you may find me writing a blog titled the “5 things I Hate About Blogging”.  But, for now, my commitment is to stick with it!

Summer Vacation

So for those of you who have noticed, I am on summer vacation from the blog.  I figured one of the best things to help me sustain writing this in the future was a little break.  Interestingly enough, I find myself missing writing.  Good sign I guess!

Four more weeks left of summer vacation.  We will see if I can hold out.

#everybodyneedsabreak