Monday, May 28, 2007

Coach and Be "Coachable"

Following are tips for your business “survival backpack” from Jamie B. Telegadis of JTA. Jamie led a recent Coaching Skills seminar I attended at New York University, where I’m an adjunct instructor. Warm and approachable with a “flair for fair feedback,” Jamie is an excellent presenter! Her easy-to-implement suggestions sharpened my ability to be firm, fair and direct when approaching challenging students or human resource and management situations in my consulting practice. When coaching, Jamie suggests:

> Begin Supportively

> Discuss Performance

> Assess Impact (of actions, discussion, decisions)

> Commit to a Plan

> Follow up Now and Later

And, remember to watch your tone and manner, leave emotion out of the equation, avoid being too nice and don’t accept excuses for poor performance. Another key point: there’s a difference between an excuse and a valid reason. If you reach the end of your rope, recommend a time for action and discuss disciplinary action. Of course, remember to follow-up face-to-face meetings with written summaries, if required by your organization.

I find most colleagues, business partners and students want to excel. As a leader/coach, you must work hard to motivate your team to do well. I’m currently reading Dare to Lead: Proven Principles of Effective Leadership by Byrd Baggett. Byrd says, “Leadership is a feeling. How do people feel after they leave your presence; after that phone call; after that email? Focus on the pursuit of excellence, not perfection.” Heed his advice!

When someone approaches me for counsel as their PDA (professional development advisor), I suggest “standards for achievement,” and help boost confidence in their own abilities to reach short and long-term goals. Together, we develop “internal motivators” to stimulate ongoing growth and development on the job … in the classroom … and in life! Whether it’s business writing, corporate/marketing communications or media relations/publicity (my core teaching and practice areas), the goal is to efficiently tackle assignments and communicate key themes with clarity and impact.

This approach is part of Millynneum Business Acumen :: MBA – my firm’s coaching model. We’ll kick off our 10th Anniversary with a PDA Series at the 2nd Annual Barbers International Conference: “How to Market Your Barbershop,”
August 4-6, Westin O’Hare Hotel, followed by “YOU INC.” a Job Development Skills Forum for undergrads at the National Black Public Relations Society Conference, September 20-23, Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza.

Thanks to my NYU Coaching Skills team Brian D’Cruz and Linda Katz who provided excellent “challenge resolution” tips, with spillover advice useful for my work in the for impact/non-profit arena. BTW, I’d like to thank all of my friends and colleagues at NYU, particularly the Office of Learning and Development and School of Continuing and Professional Studies, Dean Robert Lapiner, Terry Shtob, Carl Lebowitz, Renee Harris, Deborah Williams, Afua Preston, Veronica Morgan and countless others who diligently work to provide innovative professional development programs that help us compete, contribute and excel in the global academic and business market space.

>> MI

Thursday, May 17, 2007

“C” LIFE (A Consultant’s Life)

Today was simply the PERFECT Manhattan day! As a marketing consultant, I have the good fortune of making my own hours. It may sound grand, but those of you in this game know that can also mean long hours, limited time with loved ones when account work and teaching deadlines are looming.

As we all should know, balance is key. So today, I took time to combine work and play--and encourage you to do the same if you can. As an Experati, a professional with 20+ years' experience, I'm learning to make or take time for myself.

Following a meeting with my long-time client and Howard alum, Marsha Butler DDS of Colgate-Palmolive and creator of the Bright Smiles, Bright Futures™ oral health education program for youth, I proudly continued healthy habits by walking 30 blocks north on Park Avenue in the glorious spring sunshine.

My destination: the Kips Bay Show House, the nation’s premier interior design showcase benefiting the Boys & Girls Club of the South Bronx. I really love this fundraising concept because 35 years ago, the moneyed board members took a risk and created something NEW, creating an industry institution, building visibility and good will—all benefiting an important institution for young people. What a great mix! After that, I continued my trek and:

> Purchased delicately crafted sketch of Washington Square Park (one of my favorite places, especially at night when the famous arch is brilliantly lit) from Asian artist displaying near the Metropolitan Museum of Art

> Listened in on CP art class for young girls from a private elementary school; the teacher was explaining the intricate details and designs of pathway arch; students intently listened, each had their drawing pads and were instructed to follow the contours and draw the details of the arch (to be filled in with watercolors later); indeed, this is how art history majors are groomed (think “Charlotte” of Sex in the City)

> Literally inhaled the beauty, greenery and gracious nature of Central Park, including a jazz saxophonist, the Loeb Boat House and Sheep Meadow (once you get to know CP, all others just don’t measure up)

> Stopped on a bench and read my New York Times and Village Voice

Exiting the park near Tavern on the Green at Central Park West, I noticed how many in the CPW crowd delegate everythingleaving them “free” to make more money! For example, as a doorman hailed a cab for a woman in front of her apartment building, she attentively tracked her Blackberry messages. Think about it … over a lifetime … days of hailing cabs could be shaved from your schedule! While we all may not be in the same tax bracket, don’t miss the lesson: instead of "doing" focus on what you can "delegate;" it’s worth the surcharge for services so you can spend time doing what you do best.

Thank goodness my clients heed this rule! Consultants survive using their creativity, talent and expertise to professionally handle delegated tasks, freeing clients to do what they do best! After this epiphany, I visited my favorite Columbus Circle culinary treasure trove, Whole Foods Market Time Warner Center, for some grilled veggie lasagna (a woman has to remember to eat right).

As you can see, I’m still basking in a great “C” LIFE day! In sum, I consider myself really fortunate and blessed to get a son out of college, have a great husband, family and friends. And, I give thanks for having the fortitude for going for my dreams, surviving in NYC for 23 years, owning my own business, being disciplined, managing my own time, making a living, giving back and starting a new teaching career!

Now, in true “C” LIFE fashion, I'll settle in for about 10 hours of work here at the home office. I’m now "brilliantly balanced" and the creative juices are flowing. Wouldn’t trade my “C” LIFE for anything!

>> MI

Set Goals, Achieve & Succeed!

As my husband Roland and I congratulate our son Clinton on successfully "quarterbacking" his education at Hampton University, we take tremendous pride in our son’s achievement. And, we give thanks that we’ve been able to provide our son with the basic educational tools to succeed (read: tuition payments) as an African American man in today’s competitive global economy.

Many friends and family are highly complimentary of Clinton’s ability to maintain his focus and get the job done. I am not surprised. Thought of by family and friends as “hard core” (a compliment, in my book), I have a very direct approach to life; and, our family has very high standards.

My advice to my son over the years: handle your business; work hard and take risks; treat people right; be someone folks can count on; create your own “dream life”—no one will do this for you; everyone won’t like your choices (so what?); and finally, folks are dying in Iraq for you to have the RIGHT to attend college … so make the most of this exquisite opportunity to make the most of yourself and give back to your community, your country and the world!

Clinton has a bachelor of arts in broadcast journalism from Hampton’s Scripps Howard School of Communications, with Honors, 3.0 GPA. He shares the following words of advice for students who wish to “ace” their undergraduate game in four years or less:

> Set goals

> Don’t make things harder than they really are

> If you glance at a book you should come out of a class with a "C"

> Have faith and confidence that that the best will happen

> Surround yourself with people who want to succeed and are succeeding

“Why stress when nothing in my life is really wrong,” advises Clinton. “Look for positives and fine tune those things in order to cancel out negatives.”

When I asked Clinton for a few bullets as I developed this blog post, he said,

“Don't forget to include yourself. If I’m not mistaken, you did graduate from Howard University in the same amount of time.” Ah, from the mouths of babes!

As parents, it’s important to set good examples. I’ve had the good fortune to have a husband that has shown my son how to be a man and kept him in check over the years. One of Roland’s favorite quotes: “Everyone needs supervision—including adults.” Roland and I have loving parents and grandparents who continue to set fine examples—and, by the way, worked very hard to pay for our college educations. That said, we were inspired to do the same for our son; it’s our responsibility! We know everyone isn’t as fortunate and understand we are part of W.E.B. DuBois’ “Talented Tenth.”

Periodically, you’ll hear more from Clinton and Roland as we continue to coach each other throughout the game of life! And, it’s very cool to share important info with an international community via Millynneum Insight!

>> MI