leadership

Episode 74: Analogies to Create a Visual Representation of an Emotional Experience

"Sometimes I feel like I'm in my car on the highway, stuck behind a big truck. I look up at the end car on the car carrier and pray it doesn't fall off the trailer onto my head."

Those words are the gift she gave me.

It took a few days, but then I realized how her analogy applied to my situation: For months I had been driving my car along the highway, stuck behind a big truck. Because I have a tendency toward being impulsive (don't laugh), I had been driving very close to the back of the truck. I had been so incredibly frustrated being stuck there, so I kept swerving out to check for an opportunity to pass the truck, only to find a blind curve or a line of vehicles coming toward me, so I had to swerve back behind the truck, more and more angry and impatient.

Episode 65: Our Internal Disconnect and the Damage of a Perception Gap

When I have an opportunity to share my thoughts on this topic as a keynote speaker or workshop facilitator, the first step I take is to describe what I lovingly call the Perception Gap.

That’s the gap between how you THINK you’re being perceived, and how people are ACTUALLY experiencing you.

True Leaders Know They Always Have Something to Learn

Stories of Learning and Growth as a Leader

Just like many bosses before him, Rich Gassen was offered a management position without having ever been a manager, and without any training. Fortunate for his employees, he knew what he didn’t know, and took it upon himself to find the resources he needed to learn to do his job and do it well.

In my experience, the worst managers are the ones who think they have nothing to learn, and who don’t see themselves as their employees see them. Many take on the management style of someone they worked for, even if they disliked that manager, and complained often about their poor management and the disconnect with their staff.

But not Rich. Not only did he take advantage of the training opportunities and other resources available to him from his organization, he joined a group of managers that met regularly to share what they knew - and to complain. The dynamic changed in that group when they realized there were many other managers there who didn’t know what resources were available to them, and they decided to open up their informal group to create a more formal, active agency to help all managers improve.

Rich Gassen, bottom left, an unplanned, unexpected rock star.

Rich Gassen, bottom left, an unplanned, unexpected rock star.

In our conversation, we had a chance to talk about music, one of my favorite topics, of course. Here’s the link Rich promised to share, a song recorded in his time as a vocalist in a rock band called Madcity.

Connect with Rich on LinkedIn, and check out the website he created and manages for the Campus Supervisors Network at UW-Madison.

Disruption Through Distraction: Adventures in Fighting Boredom

When Disruption Takes the Form of Self-Sabotage

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Tara Bradford had everything going for her business, and the majority of her clients came directly from the video marketing she had been doing for a year. Suddenly, she decided to stop doing the videos. She was bored. And instead of finding ways to change her videos, and exploring other options in addition to the successful video activity, she. Just. Stopped.

This is just one example we spoke about in terms of the choices we’ve made out of boredom and being too comfortable, that ended up taking us in completely different directions - and not always in a good way.

Some of us just don’t recognize when we’re bored early enough to change direction with intention, rather than as impulse. Eventually, though, with enough self-reflection, we can start to see the symptoms before they become overwhelming. That’s the first step. The next step must be to consider our own roles in the scenario. And then? We must make the decision to take small steps toward digging us out of the situation, rather than rushing off into something we’re not really sure will take us where we want to go. Tara’s brilliant strategy was to put herself into situations that a) made her uncomfortable, and b) had her interacting with people and industries she would never have otherwise experienced.

How many times have you made a rash decision because you were dissatisfied, bored, or simply in maintenance mode in your life and/or business? What lessons did you learn from those experiences, and how do you choose to tell the stories so you’re learning from them, rather than being a victim of circumstances?


Tara Bradford helps individuals gain clarity on their goals and objectives, communicate confidently about themselves and their businesses, feel more understood in their professional relationships, and reach a global audience with their message so they can become Best Selling Authors, TEDx Speakers and, if we dream even bigger, Nobel Peace Price recipients.

Visit her website to learn more about what she can do to help you move forward - without those lateral distractions! And connect with her on LinkedIn to keep up with her extraordinary contributions to our global community.

Government is Beautiful? It Can Be.

Personal Stories to Challenge Our Perspectives

For a serial entrepreneur to develop a love for government seems counter-intuitive and a ridiculous contradiction, but Jonathon Ende did exactly that.

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After a few years of focusing his online forms product development and sales on small businesses, he had an enlightening conversation with a government employee who was as enthusiastic as Jonathon was about the potential use of the product.

It was the conversation with this public sector employee that clarified the direction SeamlessDocs would take, shifting its focus entirely from small business to government agencies. All the right things and people came together to confirm his lightning bolt moment of insight about the need and desire for improving interactions among agencies and between agencies and their constituents, and Jonathon was propelled by a new vision and mission.

The motto, Government is Beautiful, is rarely an easy sell to anyone who has ever had an interaction with government, whether that’s at the department of motor vehicles, the post office, or trying to get a permit for a parade or event in a city. And yet, after speaking with anyone at SeamlessDocs, or any of the government employees who have had the opportunity to work with that team and their product, people have a completely different view of their jobs and their governments; some parts of government absolutely CAN be beautiful.

The beauty of government can be found in those public employees who make it their mission to improve relationships with their residents, the ones you don’t see working behind the scenes to make sure your water is safe to drink, the ones who work to meet the complex restrictions on wastewater release into the environment, and the ones who care deeply for their community and demonstrate that every day in whatever role they play in your local government.

Learn more about Jonathon and SeamlessDocs by connecting with him on LinkedIn, and visiting the website. You can read about my early experience with the product in my blog post here.