Who is a Good Dog? YOU are a Good Dog! Yes you Are!

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It’s amazing how little it takes to motivate me.

Here’s my story:

About a month ago I was sitting in staff meeting with all of my peers and my very high performing manager. She is a take no prisoners, get to it and get out kind of leader. She has been an executive for a long time and knows her business inside and out.

In the course of the meeting, there was a review of open projects that took me by surprise. It was on the agenda, but I misunderstood what was listed and as a consequence, wasn’t prepared. When a tracking spreadsheet opened up on the overhead screen, I was shocked to see my project listed first, and doubly shocked to see that the team project manager had listed my project with a red status.

To put it in the terms a bluesman would understand, I was not on the good foot.

Execu-Boss of course took one look at the screen, her eyes snapped to the red status and she whipped on me like a guard dog, then asked me what was going on with my project.

Ill prepared, I wavered into a not very good answer. Now smelling blood, she went in for my jugular. And connected.

Not to cross metaphors (but I’m gonna) on that day I was fitted with a brand new pooping device. Oh yes, I was taken down like a gazelle on the Kalahari.

This, understandably, upset me greatly.

Execu-Boss then wrapped up her slaying by saying, “Clearly you are not ready to discuss this. You’re on the agenda for next week to come back with some answers.”

Through teary eyes I wrote a note in my notebook and I felt really poorly for many days after.

But, I rallied. I stepped back, cleared my head, and over the course of the next week I put together a short PowerPoint slide deck showing a nice road map with milestones achieved, where we had gone off track and the very good reasons why, next steps and recommendations. Then I got feedback from a few peers and made changes.

I had only a short week to prepare, but I was ready. As luck would have it, the next meeting was cancelled.

The following meeting was taken up by a guest speaker so I was pushed out again.

At the meeting the following week, I was nervous as hell and really not ready to give the presentation. I had my slides ready to go but it just didn’t feel right. Luckily, after missing two weeks of meetings, our agenda was full and as we got to the end of our allotted time, I graciously agreed to push out my presentation again.

Then it was Fourth of July last week and we had no meeting.

I mean really, a four week stay of execution? Not bad.

Today I was on the agenda front and center, but there were some other pressing matters. For a while there it looked like I would get pushed again. No, I was ready today. Damnit, it was time.

: cue the Rocky theme song :

And so, it came my turn. I was handed the video cord for the overhead projector, and I plugged it into my laptop and my slides came up.

All in the room sat back and awaited my words, remembering the brutalizing I had received just a month before.

I said my words exactly how I’d practiced. I made clear at the beginning what I wanted from this presentation, I made my points, I asked for the support of the team, I answered questions and I wrapped it all up in less than ten minutes.

When I said “and that’s it” at the last slide, Execu-Boss looked me square in the eye and said, “Nicely done.” I swear to goodness fireworks went off in my head. Elation filled my veins. Jubilation washed over me.

I felt like doing a mic drop and walking out of the room. Karen has left the building. Thankyouverymuch.

That’s all it takes to motivate me. Those two words will keep me going for WEEKS!

Something to remember as I manage my own team.

Gif image found here.

Woke Up This Morning…

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…and put on my cranky pants. The extra heavy-duty pants of crank.

Whoooo doggies am I cranky. And what’s worse, I know I’m cranky and can’t seem to step out of it.

I just blasted a coworker who sent a really inane request over to my team. To be fair, it is a REALLY inane request and something needed to be said. However, saying “this request needs additional definition and will be challenging to deliver in the time frame requested” is different from turning on both fire hoses to full blast.

Yeah. I did that. The full blast thing.

I apologized. Yes, I did. I said “I don’t believe this is an appropriate request but I was wrong to blast you for that.”

Being humble makes me feel bad about myself and my actions. It was the right thing to do, but also makes me a bit more cranky. Over the course of my now twenty year career I have been blasted right and left, and usually without remorse.

Leadership up to the CEOs of large companies have had some harsh words that landed on me. This includes one senior level executive who said to me and a peer as we presented a project we had worked on that needed approval: “You two are f—ed, your analysis is f—ed, now get the f— out of my office!”

Not one of my best days at work.

One might say, well, if you have been blasted by successful leaders who did so without remorse, then why do you feel bad about it?

Because I hated being blasted. I hated being treated like something lower than a piece of crud. I thought it was wrong every time it was done to me. It was inappropriate, and it was demoralizing, so why would I perpetuate this behavior?

Some might say that apologizing is a sign of weakness. Maybe. Or maybe it’s a sign of strength to not act like a temper tantrum throwing toddler, or at least owning it and apologizing when one does. Who knows?

But, some might say, some of the great leaders of our modern times including Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison (among many others) are known for their profound temper tantrums. Sure. You don’t hear the stories of the great leaders who acted with grace. That doesn’t sell newspapers.

At this point I should admit that I don’t know the right answer. I only have to live with myself today, tomorrow, years ahead. I have to lie down at night and decide if the way I treated people was the way I wanted to be treated. I have to own who I am and how I act.

I can’t reconcile venting my cranky pants on someone and not owning that and apologizing. There is a difference in being firm and a bit demanding and being a jerk.

May I always work hard so I know where that line lands.

Image found here.

All The Holiday Cheer

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Oh the weather outside is…

Wow! Really nice. Quite sunny actually. Gotta love California.

And the fire is…

So bloody hot I’m pitting out over here. Would someone open a window?

And since there’s no place to go…

Damn tootin’, traffic out there is an obscenity. I’ll gladly stay home in my yoga pants with the hole in the leg and my battered Louisville Slugger Museum tee shirt. Sipping spiked eggnog (with a Lactaid chaser).

Let it snow, let it snow, let it…

Whoa. If by “snow” you mean cookies and if by “let it” you mean me eating, then yes. Let it cookie all over the place.

Otherwise keep those soggy flakes to yourself.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…

Again with the fire? I am going to have to get a fan out, this is redonkulous. And chestnuts? Ew, no. I saw a package of those things at Trader Joe’s. They look like something I want no part of.

More cookies please.

Jack Frost nipping at your nose…

That is assault and battery. Back off Jack.

Yuletide carols being sung by a choir…

Ok, that might not be so bad. Can I watch them streaming on my iPad so I can pause when I need to head to the little girl’s room after all that nog?

And folks dressed up like Eskimos…

Lord, I hate wearing a coat. Thank goodness I live somewhere that is mostly warm.

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way…

Now you look here…Mommy has had a little too much spiked eggnog and she’s in no mood for your shenanigans. You shake those gall damn bells one more time and I’m going to shove them so far up your [censored] the light from Rudolf’s nose won’t be bright enough to help you find them.

Got it?

Come, they call him pah rumpa pum pum…

You too drummer boy.

Go tell it on the mountain…

Yes. Go. Quickly. Mountain. Far, far away. Move it!

Hark! The herald angels sing…

Did you ever wonder who this Harold Angel guy is and why we sing about him every year? That’s a good gig. You think he gets residuals?

Wait I’m out of eggnog.

Now I have some place to go. Good thing the store is just across the street. Food stained yoga pants and flip flops are acceptable outside attire, right?

You all just be a good little silent night until I back. Keep your joy to the world to your own selves.

And someone get that damn partridge down from the pear tree. He’s scared up there.

Image found all over the place on the net. This one found here.

Ohmmmmmmahgod I Need To Smack A Coworker


So far this week I’ve been locked up in a conference room with a bunch of coworkers (from another organization) as we “frame up the situation and map out resolution.”

What. Ever.

It seems my little ol’ program is getting some attention, and in the long run it’s a good thing.

In the short run I have a bunch of people who understand squaddily poo about what I do now getting into my shorts and being shouty.

My little program has grown from a sideline that nobody cared about, and actively avoided, to a pretty significant strategic team with big spend. Meaning, I fixed a really BIG problem when no one else gave a rip, and now that it’s under control and earning some positive attention, everyone wants to lift it from me.

All the people I’ve spent two years begging to help me as I fought and threw rocks and banged my head on a brick wall are now harassing me about why I didn’t ask them for help sooner.

“I did!” I shout back, “About three times and your team shot me down every time! So I made my own rules.”

Yesterday afternoon we mixed it up pretty good. You may or may not have noticed this about me from the blog but…I’m a bit of a scrapper. You bring me the fight, I’m not going to back up.

My boss, on the other hand, is a self-described “Non-confrontational Swede”.

He was sitting next to me during the meeting and every now and again would lay a hand on my elbow and murmur “Calm down. It’s ok.”

Kind of hard to fight for my program when my boss would prefer I play nice.

So as I went into the meeting this morning, as a concession to my boss, I brought this with me:

I had little expectations that the warm chamomile would actually work, but the tag on the side of my cup was a good reminder. Stay calm. Go to my happy place. Mudra hands. Higher thinking. Be one with the process. Breathe.

What’s funny is that about an hour into today’s meeting as I stepped back from the fighting and just let it unfold, my Boss finally lost his sh*t. He took it as long as he could and then he let loose on those yahoolios.

When you have someone like a “Non-confrontational Swede” who is usually silent, when he shouts, it’s really something to behold.

I wanted to high five him but held back.

Even as my aggressive American ways sometimes cause my boss consternation, I think he also relies on me to be that person willing to stand up and fight.

In a weird way, his quiet ways and my not-so-quiet ways actually compliment each other pretty well.

Maybe Tazo should make “Smack a Coworker” blend?

And That’s All She Had to Say About That


The scene: Tuesday evening in Opelika, Alabama at a delicious little restaurant called the Warehouse Bistro.

The people: Several of my coworkers, a large group of folks from the supplier we were visiting, and me.

The situation: We’d had a day long business meeting. It had been a full marathon session that was mostly good and occasionally heated. We ended the work day on a good note and headed off for drinks and good eats. We’d all started with a few mixed drinks, then beers and wine bottles were ordered, and delicious food was served. Near the end of the night as the servers cleared dessert plates the whole group was feeling quite convivial, there was a lot of good natured ribbing going back and forth.

I got a fair bit of grief for being from California. Things like “you buncha wine sniffing weirdos” and “You damn Californians!” I’m used to it, I get it back home in New Mexico too, so I know how to hold my own.

At the table were three guys who had driven over to Alabama from Daytona, Florida. It’s about a seven hour drive and they had seen the entire span of Georgia along the way. This one ol’ boy from Florida was the one leading the charge on giving people grief. He was dishing it out pretty hard to everyone at the table. Didn’t matter who you were or where you were from, you were gonna get your share. Even the guy from Australia.

So at one point he was talking about the drive over and saying, “geez, what is it with Georgia? All along the road all we saw were adult shops and fireworks stands. I mean all along I-10 that’s all there was. I couldn’t find a damn McDonalds but I could find all that crazy stuff. There’s gotta be something wrong with Georgia.”

Then he got an evil look in his eye.

He turned to the sweetest, quietest girl in the room who was sitting at the end of the table.

“Hey Cathy*, you’re from Georgia. What’s up with that? I mean, I thought this was the Bible Belt!”

She paused, took a sip of sweet tea, then said, very clearly so all could hear….”That’s because here in Georgia, we’re so good, when we’re done having a little fun we don’t smoke a cigarette, we light off a Roman candle.”

The room was quiet for one, two three beats….then came thunderous applause and laughter.

In the vernacular of our times, that ol’ boy from Florida just got served. In the most quiet, gentle and polite Southern way.

Loved it!

Image found at AnimalCapshunz.com

* Not her real name