The Difference Between Meh or Magnificent
“Some of us get dipped in flat, some in satin, some in gloss… But every once in a while, you find someone who’s iridescent, and when you do, nothing will ever compare.”
― Wendelin Van Draanen, Flipped
There is an employee engagement survey question “do you have a best friend at work?” Most of my former coworkers would agree we were family. Our employer filed chapter 7 this year and I miss people the most.
Have you ever walked into a room and suddenly noticed someone who is the center of the room? Similarly, a person walks into the room and the entire place brightens up? This describes who I miss the most. A great business partner with infectious energy. I’ve found it is impossible to not change your state when she is present. The root is simple. She is passionate about what she does and; above all, she believes in her purpose. Her passion and belief fill her with energy which transfers to everyone in the room.
Enthusiasm is Key
For successful people, enthusiasm is a key driver of passion and achievement. It comes from within. Enthusiasm for a goal will produce energy driving you to do your best. The motivation generated will see the goal through to success.
As a leader, how can you expect your team to be excited about anything if you are not? Your enthusiasm towards the goal will inspire your team’s enthusiasm. Leadership is a transfer of beliefs witnessed through the leader’s actions.
“Every memorable act in the history of the world is a triumph of enthusiasm. Nothing great was ever achieved without it because it gives any challenge or any occupation, no matter how frightening or difficult, a new meaning. Without enthusiasm you are doomed to a life of mediocrity but with it you can accomplish miracles. “ Og Mandino
Job Seekers Must Bring It
For job seekers out there, this is very important too.
My 16-year-old has been applying for his first job and the only advice I have given him is bring energy. (more…)
“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” Harry S. Truman
“Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned.” Mark Twain
Leaders are Learners
One thing I know for certain, that probably launched me further in my career than any other thing, is that leaders are learners. They possess the discipline of self-improvement. You see, if you want things to be better: you want to be a better leader, you want better results, you want a better career, you want better movement up the up the ladder to bigger and better roles, you want to be the better candidate for the job, you want better relationships. The only way to get better things is to be better yourself.
There is never a point where our need to grow stops. No matter what level of success we reach we can never stop learning and feeding our minds with new thoughts and ideas. Many times, it doesn’t even need to be new thoughts. Reminding ourselves of what we already know can send us off refreshed and inspired.
Successful people will tell you the same thing: you need to make an investment in yourself, you need to read, you need to continuously be learning. We have all heard it. Probably none of us have ever heard anyone dispute it; leaders are learners. Yet, few will make the time to do it. (more…)
How to land your dream job.
“Do the best you can, with what you can, while you can, and success is inevitable.” Steve Maraboli
With the current pandemic and unemployment as high as it is it I know many of you are looking for the next move. Your next career. Many days you may be thinking why is my inbox empty? Why didn’t the recruiter call me or select me?
This week we are going to talk about some steps to take to help you land your dream job.
The company I worked for went out of business as the pandemic hit. Thousands of people were suddenly left jobless. Out of panic and fear many of them grabbed the first job they could without putting much thought into it. Today they are miserable. This morning they woke up dreading going to that job they hate. Or maybe, not even hate, just find it so-so and they feel themselves sliding down the spiral of being more and more complacent each day.
This is lesson 1 for the job seekers. Define your career search.
What type of company do you want to work for? (more…)
There are five things you can do to lead your team through challenge.
“Little minds are tamed and subdued by misfortune; but great minds rise above them.” Washington Irving
I had a major setback that occurred about 3 weeks ago. I’m optimistically planning on running the Chicago marathon for the 3rd consecutive year and this was to be week 4 of official training. I had been logging some decent miles, but now it’s time to get serious and get to the grind.
I have two amazing dogs that I run with Moose and Belle. They are German Shorthaired Pointers and if you know the breed you know they are highly energetic dogs. These two are no exception. From the moment we wake up they demand attention just like a toddler. GSP’s are also very smart dogs. They know work clothes from running clothes. The minute they see the running shoes they get the zoomies.
It is hilarious to watch
But you know that saying it’s all fun until someone gets hurt. Bam! Moose zoomied right into my kneecap.
We still hit the pavement for 6 miles that day and with all certainty that made it worse. The knee is down and out and now the thing he wanted to do most we can’t do. Three weeks later its still not healed enough to put training miles on it.
Which road to take?
Decision time! There are two possible roads to take. Quit. Many would say this race is going to get canceled due to COVID anyway and now you can’t even train. You have an out. In fact, you have two outs. Or modify and adjust the plan to stick to this goal.
Many times, in business and life things aren’t going to go exactly as planned. In my experience, I’ve seen too many quit on a goal or a project because some of the initial milestones did not go as planned. This major mistake of giving up instead of retooling is what is getting in their way of unleashing their true potential. It’s why so many leaders plateau instead of rising to new levels of success. Anything worth doing is worth the struggle. Average is easy. It doesn’t take much effort to be an average leader. Greatness? Greatness doesn’t come easy. If it did, we would all be great. Greatness comes by pushing through adversity, rising through challenges, being true to your purpose and overcoming any and all obstacles that come your way.
“Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.” Nelson Mandela
“Don’t let the negatives of life control you. Rise above them. Use them as your steppingstones to go higher than you ever dreamed possible.” Mary Kay Ash
Here are some things that will lead your team through challenge (more…)
“Do one thing every day that scares you” Eleanor Roosevelt
For Father’s Day this year my daughter had a great idea to make dad a gift. She is 21 so hand made gifts have not happened at the Thompson household in quite a while and since she is beyond the years of drawing faces on golf balls and such, she thought it would be awesome to make him a grill prep table. She was right. It would be awesome. He never has enough workspace when he’s out there grilling and he always must run in and out balancing way to much in his hands.
But, how do you make a table? I’ve been in the furniture industry for 27 years, but I sell the stuff I don’t make it. No clue on how to make a table. You would think we could find the perfect table on YouTube. There were a lot of good tables. They just weren’t great. We were going to have to do this on our own or just skip it and think of something else. We’ve never built anything before. Zero experience.
Here’s How We Did It
Several trips to hardware stores
– so much math it made our heads hurt
– we came home with the supplies
– and then we went back for more
– and then maybe there was a third trip.
The table is built. The table is not good. It is not great. It is fricken’ awesome. This table rocks – and I know tables. We crushed it! There were a lot of high fives along the way as we couldn’t believe what we just accomplished. None was as great as when the entire box came together to form the table. We were so worried that we could get 2 or 3 sides together, but our dowels wouldn’t line up and that the last piece wouldn’t go in. It did, and did I mention that its fricken’ awesome?
Whether you win or you lose find the lesson. We were lucky and won this time. The lesson you must try new things. You can do the same things and have an ordinary life, or you can stretch yourself to try new things and have an extraordinary life. How do you know what you are capable of if you do not try? Sure, we could have bought dad another tie and he would have loved that it came from us, but this table . . .wow!
“Just try new things. Don’t be afraid. Step out of your comfort zones and soar, all right?” –Michelle Obama
“Life is worthwhile if you try. It doesn’t mean you can do everything, but there are a lot of things you can do, if you just try.” –Jim Rohn
“The hallmark of successful people is that they are always stretching themselves to learn new things.” –Carol S. Dweck
We are on Week 2 Day 2 of eating meatless on weekdays and today we made our own eggplant meatball recipe.
Since the Stay at Home order we have been eating well at the Thompson house. Too well. Although I’ve received a lot of flack over it, my husband actually came up with the idea to attempt going meatless on weekdays. Last week was the first week and we crushed it! There were no cheat days!
One difficulty has been finding recipes that don’t replace meat with another bad thing like frying in oil, a cup of soy sauce, or a pound of cheese. Today’s creation does have some cheese, but is very healthy.
Try our eggplant meatball recipe (even our 16 year old son ate them).
Note – the “Prepare the Eggplant” portion of the recipe can be done a day ahead. When I made this I prepared 2 eggplants. One for this recipe and one I cooked 15 minutes longer for baba ganoush.
These vegetarian meatballs are so amazing, even our 16 year old son ate them!
- 1 large eggplant
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1/8 tsp white pepper
- 1 dash cayenne pepper
- 1/3 cup grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
- 3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs, beaten
While the eggplant is cooling
Heat olive oil in frying pan on medium heat and cook onion until almost soft (3-5 minutes)
Add garlic and cook 1-2 more minutes
Remove from heat and let cool
Mix cheese into eggs and add salt, pepper, white pepper, cayenne, basil, and parsley. Mix together
Scoop flesh from eggplant and add to egg and cheese mixture. Discard the skin.
Add breadcrumbs and mix together
Form into 1 1/2 inch balls and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper (makes 24)
Refrigerate 20 minutes
Place baking sheet in oven (still 400°) and cook for 30 minutes, carefully flipping once after the first 15 minutes.
Serve with a spicy marinara alone or on noodles, or zoodles (zucchini noodles)
“There are heroes among us. Not to make us feel smaller, but to remind us of what makes us great.” Lois Lane Justice League
There’s a lesson everywhere there is a learner.
I was reminded of a great leadership lesson, how to lead your team to achieve that large goal, last night. We did some binge-watching and one of the movies we watched was Justice League.
There’s a scene in this movie that many leaders can relate to. Batman assembled Wonder Woman, Barry Allen AKA Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg to form the Justice League. It’s the first action scene for the newly created team and Barry Allen panics. He gets overwhelmed with fear of the thought of going into battle for the first time and his inexperience and the size of the conflict paralyze him. He’s a mess. Batman who has been leading the group up until this point tells him “save one.” Repeating this “save one” he calms Flash down to a point where he can focus. Flash then asks, “and then?” to which Batman responds, “then you’ll know.”
Spoiler alert, if you haven’t seen the movie skip the rest of this paragraph. Flash then goes in and rescues one person. Realizing what he had just accomplished and that the task wasn’t so daunting he immediately goes in and saves another, and then another and another until he has rescued all the hostages.
Make the Impossible Possible
There is a great leadership lesson in this for all of us. There will be times when you must lead your team to achieve large goals. Just the thought of not knowing where to start will paralyze them with fear. You may or soon may be facing these types of situations now with COVID and stay at home forcing you to do business differently.
“The world has grown dark, and while we have reasons to fear we have the strength not to. There are heroes among us, to remind us that only from fear, comes courage. That only from the darkness, can we truly feel the light.” Lois Lane, Justice League
Leadership is taking the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) and presenting it in an attainable way to the team. Making the impossible possible. (more…)
Leftover Roast Chicken Jambalaya.
Our eyes were bigger than our stomachs when we decided to roast 2 whole chickens for dinner. There was a lot leftover and I already have several types of chicken based soup ready to eat in the freezer. We’ve also made a lot of Mexican dishes with all of the cooking we’ve been doing with the stay at home orders.
That’s when it hit me – let’s make jambalaya. I searched for a recipe and couldn’t find one for leftover roast chicken jambalaya so I adapted one from allrecipes.
The great thing about Jambalaya is that it doesn’t need to be exact. If you have more or less protein the recipe will still be fantastic. If you don’t eat pork, no problem. Andouille sausage is available in pork or chicken. Just be sure that it is smoked or you will need to cook it longer to cook through.
If it was just Chris and I we would have made this with shrimp, but our son is violently allergic to shellfish. Although he has no problem with shrimp, the association to shellfish just turns him off to it.
We sure hope you enjoy it.
Great use for your leftover roast chicken
- 1 lb leftover roasted chicken, cubed Since you are using leftovers, measurements for chicken just need to be close. You can be between 3/4 - 1 1/4 pounds without changing the recipe.
- 4 links smoked andouille sausage, sliced I recommend aidells Cajun style andouille. The links are individually wrapped so if you cut this recipe in half it is easy to use 2 links.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
- 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 1/4 cups white rice, uncooked
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 2 sliced green onions
Heat olive oil in large dutch oven.
Season the sausage with Cajun seasoning and saute in oil until brown.
Add chicken pieces and stir to coat. Once chicken is incorporated with the sausage and seasoning remove the meat from the pan and set aside.
In the same dutch oven saute the onion, green pepper, celery and garlic until soft.
Sprinkle with flour and toss.
Stir in the crushed tomatoes and all of the seasonings including Tabasco and Worcestershire sauces.
Cook for 10 minutes
Stir in the rice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until rice is cooked.
Serve garnished with green onions.
This recipe was adapted from allrecipes.
If you want to add shrimp add pealed and deveined shrimp to dutch oven 5 minutes before cooking time is over.
Great Leaders Connect Their Teams
This week I was reminded that great leaders connect their teams. The company I worked for hit Chapter 7. It will be on the list if you Google COVID Chapter 7 casualties. Really, it was a private equity casualty exacerbated by COVID 19. I always knew that it wouldn’t last forever, but I never thought in my wildest dreams that PE could take out a $1.3B company in such short order.
A realtor needed access to our downtown Chicago location this week and I must tell you it was apocalyptic. As I approached the store, I would normally see the hustle and bustle of commuters walking and riding bikes. This trip all I saw was plywood protecting the local businesses. The Target here was still closed. Already in a funk having to visit this once great store; a two-story beauty with a spectacular view of the skyline, my mood sank even further.
Human Connection The Prescription for Happiness, Well Being and Successful Teams
Always early for meetings I was surprised to see an entourage waiting outside the store when I arrived. (more…)
“The first duty of love is to listen.” Paul Tillich
This last week has been a very hard week. I almost didn’t post. This is a painful time for us. The events going on around all of us are heartbreaking.
Like so many of you, I am sad, angry, and devastated by recent events in our country. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and too many others are senseless, inexcusable and reflect the deeply ingrained racial prejudice and injustice that still exists in our communities today.
As a mom, a wife, a leader it is stirring many emotions and questions. How can this happen? What can I do? I think back to my own experiences and wonder if I could have done more. I remember an employee sharing with me how often he was needlessly pulled over on the way to work because of the color of his skin. It seems minor compared to today’s devastation but is it? Where does it start and how does it end? We must believe we are all made better by diversity and center on the notion of creating a world where everyone respected, appreciated and able to be themselves.
We need change. It begins not only by speaking out, but by listening. Listen to those around you as they share what it’s like to be a person of color in our country today or LGBTQ or Middle Eastern. We need to open our ears and then our hearts. Listen more and talk less. We don’t need to respond we just need to care. We don’t have those experiences and can’t even imagine them, but we can care and love.
“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new.” Dalai Lama