Getting Down to Business with Kim Wilson of Lucy’s Market

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Small businesses have gotten a lot of visibility over the last two years.

As the world slowed down and dealt with a pandemic, we were more aware of the businesses on the corner that weren’t focused on five-year plans but were focused on next months’ payroll to survive. It brought front and center a look at how small businesses work and interestingly, as the world reset, it seemed to inspire a whole new culture of entrepreneurs and people who’d like to be their own boss.

But running a small business isn’t for the faint of heart. As the last two years have proven, the safety net looks very different for a small business than it does for a big company. And as we move beyond worries and reset with opportunities, we thought it would be fun to talk to a small business about success, resets and lessons learned.

If you’re in Atlanta, it won’t surprise you that we went straight to Lucy’s Market to talk to Kim Wilson. But if you’re listening from another city, here’s what you should know.

Lucy’s Market is the special place in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta where you go for fresh vegetables and leave with the makings of a party. Or you dash in for a bottle of wine and a favorite cheese and leave with the serving pieces that make it look like you worked harder than you did to create a setting. It’s a local spot with warmth, charm, a little spunk… and an expanded list of offerings that seem to have evolved effortlessly over the years.

In this episode, Sally talks with Kim Wilson, the founder of Lucy’s Market. Kim shares her story and more about what it took to build Lucy’s Market.

More about Kim Wilson

Kim Wilson has always had a passion for fresh produce and florals, spending a number of years growing an extensive vegetable garden in her backyard. However, she never considered evolving that passion into a career until she was ready for a change after working in advertising sales for over 25 years. At the same time, a gas station was abandoned on Roswell Road in the heart of Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood. Kim took over the space in 2009 and turned it into a farmer’s market, establishing Lucy’s Market. The market’s growth ultimately led Kim to move it inside the gas station before expanding and moving to another location. In 2017, Kim relocated to where the market stands today. Named after Kim’s love for her grandmother and daughter, Lucy’s Market still carries the same deep roots and many of the same customers since the early days. Over the past 12 years, Lucy’s has ripened into not only an admired farmer’s market but a specialty store, gift shop, and floral boutique.

Show Notes

  • Who is Lucy?
    • Kim Wilson’s grandmother was named Lucille, and she named her daughter after her grandmother.
  • Was Lucy’s Market a grand vision, or did it evolve?
    • The market began very small with Kim’s love for veggies grown in her backyard. Lucy’s started as a place to get fresh veggies Monday-Saturday, and then the business spread word of mouth. Kim had over 30 years of sales experience before starting Lucy’s Market started.
  • Movement
    • The business moved around a bit and evolved, and the concept followed. Location and parking are the most important things when moving. She seeks wide-open locations with lots of space. Her experience in real estate has helped her understand the value of location.
  • How did she grow this?
    • Using her sales experience, she got to know each customer by name and worked to understand what they liked and what they were looking to purchase.
  • The Business Today:
    • Currently, 7000 sqft retail space, 8000 feet of office and storage to hold seasonal inventory.
    • 30 employees, many are part-time with a core full-time team.
    • Seasonal employees are hired in addition to the 30 consistent year-round employees.
    • Market is open Mon-Sat
    • They sell fresh produce, locally prepared food, wine, flower arrangements, gifts, and gift baskets.
  • How do you decide what to offer?
    • Decisions are made based on customer desire.
    • 85% of the business are women.
  • What has surprised you most in terms of what people come in to buy?
  • Lucy’s Market is about creating memories.
  • Was the pandemic rough for Lucys?
    • The hours were changed, but they could stay open through the pandemic because they sold food – curbside and delivery. They made it easy for the customers to purchase, and Lucy’s Market grew. Prior to the pandemic, they had a solid customer base. They swiftly shifted the method but didn’t need to build the base.
    • They started doing a weekly video that became extremely popular and helped build an audience in Atlanta and nationally. In January of 2020, they took products online. Now they are completely online as well and open in-person. They promote things daily, and the users will go online and purchase.
    • Between 5 and 10% of sales online are predicted for next year.
  • Mistakes that Lucy’s Market has learned from?
    • She’s made mistakes but continues to listen to customers.
    • When introducing new products, you have to train your customers to pick up products from Lucy’s.
  • How do you know when the time is right?
  • When have you learned about risk?
    • Many things work out. When it comes to risk, make sure you have something lined up and things to back it up.
  • What is next?
    • Another location, being open and accepting new opportunities
  • Kim Wilson’s BackgroundNo background in retail but 30 years in sales.
    • She knows what she likes, knows how to get it.
    • Pay people well to keep good workers. Because of great workers, they’ve been able to grow.
    • Kim understands marketing and learning to manage her team, putting the right people in the right place.
  • Advice?
    • Marketing is essential – understand social media and utilize your online platforms. People get their information online, so you need to be online.
    • Lucy’s Market posts something every day, and they do weekly videos.
  • Referrals and Hiring
    • Lucy’s Market used to employ friends and family but now referrals come to Kim through friends of friends – currently, no family working for them.
  • 2-3 Golden Rules For A Small Business Owner
    • 1. Customer service is key – be nice to everybody
    • 2. Create an experience for your customer
    • 3. Always be positive – being positive is a key to life.
  • “I’ve made something, and I think it’s going to be around for a while.” – Kim Wilson

Like what you hear? Hear more episodes like this on the What’s Your Story podcast page!

Resetting & Reducing Social Distance with Karen Riddell

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Social distancing is a term that took hold during the pandemic as a descriptive way of creating boundaries from each other. But after two years of distancing and now going back to offices and social settings with colleagues and friends, social distance may take on new meaning.

At a minimum, the re-engagement in groups feels awkward at first. We’ve forgotten some of the social norms and feel a little rusty at small talk. In a corporate setting, we realize that Zoom calls didn’t allow for much of a relationship with colleagues. So, we aren’t quickly at ease as a member of the team. Virtual events just aren’t the same as taking time for lunch or going on a walk with a colleague or friend.

And now, we’re somewhere between anxious about reconnection, stressed about being left out or lonely because many of our friends have moved on. Our social life and world didn’t just relaunch or reset to where it may have been two years ago. We continue to hear from managers and leaders who are trying to accelerate connection and strengthen relationships across new work settings. And I think we’re all looking for some confidence in connection and some new ways of getting there.

In this episode, Sally talks with Karen Riddell, Sally’s long-time friend and Positive Psychology Life Coach who has taken a special interest in social connections.

More about Karen Riddell
Karen Riddell is a Positive Psychology Life Coach, who started her business after her interest in friendship led her to become certified in applied positive psychology and life coaching.

In her coaching practice, she works with groups and individuals to find the sweet spot where their strengths, purpose and passions align. Karen partners with clients to clearly conceptualize their goals, envision the possibilities, and map out a concrete action plan for thriving. Karen’s practice centers on positivity, engagement, connection, purpose and vitality.

In December 2020, Karen published Friendship Matters, a book extolling the miraculous power of friendship to transform your life. The how-to book details specific, simple ways to find, make, and build new friendships as well as ways to enrich, deepen, and strengthen existing relationships. It also contains an easy-to-use workbook that allows the reader to create their own personal path to joy through friendship.

Prior to this, Karen received two degrees from The University of North Carolina, moved to Atlanta with her husband, where they had three daughters, and Karen became a prominent community volunteer. She is now writing her second book for mothers-of-the-brides sharing tips on how to navigate the complex process of wedding planning, and doing it with joy.

Show Notes

  • Karen Riddell – Positive Psychology Life Coach
  • After social distancing, people now feel awkward with re-engagement and out of the practice of social norms. They are anxious about reconnecting, stressed about being out, and lonely. Social distance is more than just physical space.
  • For managers and leaders:
    • What are some of the most significant challenges with the limited socialization over the last few years?
      • The impact of social distancing is underestimated.
      • We are experiencing a double pandemic – Covid is threatening our physical health and social distancing is threatening our mental health.
      • Work is a structured social setting that fell through.
  • Social connection strengthens us in all the vital facets in our lives. It brings us physical and mental health, stronger families and relationships, and success in the workplace. Social disconnections weaken us in all those areas.
  • What about social anxiety?
    • Pre-pandemic – FOMO (Fear of missing out)
    • People now feel FOBI (Fear of being included)
    • Social anxiety can feel different:
      • embarrassed
      • awkward
      • uncomfortable in crowds.
    • Social anxiety can be felt physically:
      • heart racing
      • sweating
      • panic attacks
    • Negative emotions cause us to want to avoid social settings, so we are reluctant to jump back in.
  • People who live alone or had smaller social circles to start have struggled the most with social distancing—singles or anybody residing with an immunocompromised individual have as well. People with larger social circles or a family did not struggle as much.
  • What can most individuals do to reacclimate to social connection?
    • Start by taking a strategic approach to social interactions:
      • Before an event or activity, think of simple ways to ease its pressure.
      • Limit the time at the event.
      • Plan to go with someone else.
      • Think about who you will see and what you will talk about.
      • Plan how to recharge batteries after.
      • Plan at your own pace – start with people you know well.
    • Be compassionate and patient with yourself. If you start to have negative thoughts, try to reframe the thoughts.
  • New ideas on how to bring socialization into a virtual workgroup?
    • Most success comes from communication, not how but what you communicate about—balance work-related materials with social interactions.
      • Internally and strategically interact virtually – using programs like slack
      • Collaborate and create with virtual programs in real-time
      • Grouping people in subsets and prompting group ice breakers
      • Host contests and challenges
      • Send humorous videos
      • Host a lunch and learn
      • Play up holidays
      • Talk about families and hobbies
    • Work to replace something spontaneous with something structured.
  • What piqued Karen Riddells’ interest in this work?
      • All the things she had done were not activities and jobs that she was particularly interested in, but she did them because of the people she enjoyed being around. This realization got her interested in the power of friendship.
      • Friendships are vital to health and happiness and are the key to physical and mental health.
  • People with a strong network:
      • have a better sleep experience
      • less chance of getting a cold/flu
      • teeth and skin are healthier
      • less likely to have stress
      • heal faster
      • better cardiovascular health
      • stronger immune system
      • more likely to take preventative health manners
      • stronger working memory
      • less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression
    • People with a solid social network will have up to a four times greater chance of survival. The hills and hurdles in life are easier to manage with friends by your side.
  • How can you get a strong social circle?
    • Start by getting a friendship/positive mindset – you need to be ready to get in the right space.
    • Put your passions and interest in play.
  • Introverted leaders- What if you don’t have time to develop strong friendships?
      • Any leader in a business environment needs to make it a priority to develop friendships – Streamline your efforts to what will be the most successful.
  • The formula of great friendships
    • 1. mutual respect and reciprocity
    • 2. trust and vulnerability
    • 3. devotion and commitment
  • Companies struggling with employee retention – is friendship a retention tool?
    • Gallup organization research shows:
      • An employee with a friend at work is 7 times more likely to be engaged in their job. No friends, your chance of being engaged plummets to 1 in 12.
      • Work friends reduce stress and burnout – friendships at work increase job satisfaction by nearly 50%.
      • People with 3 or more friends at work are 96% more likely to be satisfied with their lives overall.
      • Create the moments and allow people to use them in a way that works for them.

*Please note the following story does contain sensitive material. If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Call 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)

  • Karen shares a story of being a new mother and getting out of a funk by getting active and developing a community. She then shares a similar story of her mother, who needed a community as she struggled with loneliness. She was suffering from postpartum depression in a new town.

Even just one friend has the power to make a difference.

Like what you hear? Hear more episodes like this on the What’s Your Story podcast page!

The Mastery of Skills with Olympian Kenny Selmon

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Every day, we talk to people about practice. And we explain that to become effective at communication, you have to work at becoming good at it. And we define mastery of a skill as those who become so good at a skill that you can count on their performance and outcome consistently.

And once you begin to talk about performance and outcomes, it’s easy to draw a parallel between mastery of a skill like communication and mastery of sports like the Olympics. And that’s what we’re going to do for you on this podcast:  connect the concepts of practice, mastery and outcomes. And accentuate the value of practice and the ultimate results of effort.

Because that’s what today’s guest has achieved.

Tune in to see what Kenny Selmon shares with guest host Hurst Williamson about the Mastery of Skills.

More about Kenny Selmon

Recently back from the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, Kenny Selmon represented the U.S. in the 400-meter hurdles. He began his track and field career just down the road at Pace Academy in Atlanta (where my claim to fame is that I overlapped in high school with him for one year!) and where he won the National Championship in the 400-meteres in 2014. Then he continued on to run hurdles at UNC, where he places 2nd in the NCCAA Division 1 National Championships in 2018 and set UNC’s record for the 400-metres.

After graduating from UNC, he won the 2018 USAF Outdoor Championships and the Athletics World Cup in London. And in 2021, he qualified for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team.

Show Notes

  • Mastery of a skill is an individual that becomes so good at a skill that you can count on their performance and outcome consistently. The podcast today will cover the practice, mastery, and outcome. Accentuate the value of practice and the ultimate results of the effort.
  • Kenny Selmon, Olympic Athlete, USA
  • What were some of the most difficult hurdles to overcome on the journey of being an Olympic Athlete?
    • Covid Impact
      • Lost sponsorship
      • No access to tracks to train
      • Unknow future of the Olympics
  • What is the difference between intention and repetition behind the practice? How do you keep that intention when training?
    • Know your ‘why”, understanding why you are doing it. Your “why” gives you the full vision and picture
      • Know what you want even if you are struggling to find your “why”
      • When you understand what you want it makes the steps to get there easier and will lead you to your “why”
  • What is it like to consistently practice even when you’ve mastered the sport? How do you keep going?
    • Every day you must perform at the highest level, even in practice.
    • You don’t know if it’s going to work, all you have is faith and knowledge that your work will pay off.
    • Have a coach that knows how to get you there
    • Prepare for disrupters (rain, heat)
    • Must always be ready to perform, there are no second chances
  • What role does resilience play for the brand of an athlete?
  • The importance of personal brand
    • Book referenced at 14:56, Disrupted! How to Reset Your Brand & Your Career
    • Genuine care to supporters – responding to text messages, listening, and understanding they are on the journey with you.
    • Everybody is competing with the brand and the personality next to you, how to stand out?
      • Understand that athletes are all people that have been given a gift. Always be a person first. It’s not about standing out, it’s understanding who the person is and being genuine. Be yourself.
  • Is there a brand that stands out to you? (Kenny)
    • “Brand” is connected to success
    • Allyson Felix for her brand to work so must continue to do well, compete, and win.
      • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allyson_Felix
  • Companies look for candidates that can show discipline and focus behind their experience. What are the parallels for an Olympic athlete?
    • Faith- What you can not see
    • Knowledge – You know knows what it will take, they’ve been through it
    • Delayed gratitude – Bad/hard days will be stacked up for one day of celebration
    • All of those experiences connect
  • Stoke – a free platform where people connect to chat about Live TV
    • www.stokeapp.live
    • Mission: Our mission is to virtually connect the existing communities that watch Live Sports, TV Shows, and more. We strive to create a fun and active social communication channel for Live TV that streamlines all the different conversations surrounding it.
  • Viewers pulled into the stories of Olympic Athletes. How has working alongside other Olympic athletes changed your perspective of storytelling and personal narratives?
    • They are all people and they have problems and lives, but their work is at a very high level. Understand they are all people at the end of the day.
  • Favorite story from the Olympics
    • Watching his coach live his dream
    • Knowing all structures were built specifically for that event
    • Organization and technological aspects of the event

Like what you hear? Hear more episodes like this on the What’s Your Story podcast page!

Accelerated Leadership & Unexpected Risks

One behind-the-scenes consequence of the pandemic was the number of seasoned leaders who left the corporate world. Whether they were surprised by it with layoffs, guided toward it with early retirement or chose it of their own volition, the departure of seasoned leaders created a wide gap and broad opportunities for new leaders to step up.

It has brought new energy and fresh ideas to the leadership table…as well as some unexpected risks. In most companies, it was an intentional choice and an understood risk to pull forward less experienced leaders. And what we’re now seeing that companies didn’t consider was that the lack of experience could lead to a lack of confidence, which is paralyzing to a leader.

Here’s an example of the conversation that we’ve had with hundreds of these new leaders:

“In the last year, I moved up two levels and now run a region for our company. It has been an incredible opportunity for me and one that I didn’t expect to get for another five years. I’ve settled in with the five teams that now report to me, and we have begun to build a new way of working together. It was going smoothly until I dealt with a manufacturing delay. It happened a week before our senior leadership meeting where I planned to talk about the delay and ask for ideas for solving it. And that was a rookie mistake!

In less than five minutes, it was clear this was not the place to talk through “my” issue. The manufacturing delay, while not my fault, was my responsibility and no one in that room wanted to solve it with me. I felt foolish for bringing it up and embarrassed that I didn’t know how to resolve it.

And that’s when I realized the difference between me and the peers in the room was experience. I lost my confidence in that first meeting, and I’ve been trying to get it back ever since.”

For many leaders, confidence comes with experience. Every situation isn’t the same, but years of experience builds a repertoire of managing conflicts and bringing enough gravitas to discussions to drive toward a resolution. That isn’t easy if your repertoire is a few specific experiences vs. years of on-the-job training.

And it’s magnified by two other dynamics:

First, many corporate cultures feel “training” ends when someone reaches a director level. So, new leaders aren’t likely to feel comfortable seeking traditional training to strengthen their skills. And in many companies, it doesn’t even exist at the right level with the right focus.

Second, when these leaders were managers, they talked openly about uncertainty with their teams. They got kudos for being open and authentic. That has risks for a leader. It’s one thing for employees to know a  manager isn’t sure; it’s a very different feeling for employees when they know a leader is unsure.

And that’s why new leaders, and the leadership development teams who support them, are looking for new ways to strengthen personal confidence and expand executive learning.

There is an accelerated way to build confidence, but it requires a new leader to have good resources and make good choices in five key areas.

Here’s how we guide a new leader through the choices:

Reset Your Own Expectations – It may seem contrite, but many new leaders think about their roles as the next step beyond a seasoned manager.  It’s not. It’s a big leap.  When we engage with a leader, a common question is “Why does communication matter so much now? I’ve always had pretty good success influencing groups to date.” Well, expectations go up overnight. “Pretty good “ on a manager is “not good enough” on a leader.

Brand Your Superpower – While you may not have the experience of your peers, you do bring new thinking to a leadership team. Make sure this shows up quickly among your new peer group. Leaders are rarely subject matter experts. Instead, they bring a superpower that most companies are counting on to accelerate results and find new opportunities.

Build a Feedback Loop – As a new leader, you need to know your blind spots, and you need real-time insight on where you aren’t having impact.  No one is going to tell you. It’s risky to give a leader feedback, and even if you get honest input from a few, you’re relying on them to represent the perspective of a large group. Add a feedback loop into the communication process you put in place. Make it easy and safe for employees to provide feedback and reaction.

Know Your Skill Gaps – As I mentioned, you may not “learn” what you need to know in the traditional training format. That’s OK; you can find other ways and resources to continue to build out your skill set. But recognize that you need to continue to build it out. We help new leaders build a development plan that includes a blend of training for specific tools and 1:1 coaching for personal guidance.

Create a Support System – While it gets harder to ask for “help” internally, you can find a lot of support among peers in similar functions outside your company. Whether you get to a peer group through an industry cohort or you build your own cohort less formally, there are peers who are also settling into accelerated careers. A good sounding board and shared experiences builds trust and support quickly.

The concept of accelerating leaders has brought some unexpected gaps within organizations. But the gaps don’t have to widen. In fact, the steps above can narrow the gap quickly. There is unlimited opportunity for today’s new leaders; they just need a little help jumping in with momentum. Today’s leaders will gain experience in new and different ways, and it’s a topic we’re passionate about.

If you’re a new leader or you’re trying to help a group of new leaders build confidence, we’d like to share more about our approach.

Call us when you need us!

Want a free 15-minute consultation with us to see how we can help you or your leaders? Book a call now!

Sally Williamson & Associates

“Said the CISO to the Board…”

Information security is a standard agenda item for most corporate Boards, and an area of focus that continues to get their attention. As it should. Fraudulent activity and security incidents are up more than 20% as workforce settings expanded and new work models took shape.

It’s not just a change in how employees work. It’s also a major shift in criminal activity. Security teams have gone from tracking bad characters to monitoring criminal enterprises, and from blocking breaches to managing every dimension of risks. There is no greater threat to the livelihood of a company than a breach in data security. Breaks in security efforts can put a business “out of business” overnight. And every Board member is well aware that’s a lot of liability and risks to manage.

That’s why they often say: “We want to hear from the CISO.”

They ask for an overview of the security strategy, a view of risks and indicators, and a brief on security governance. And every CISO will tell you there’s nothing brief about it.

The world of a CISO today looks a lot like a NASA command center with dashboards, indicators and a small army of resources deep in the trenches of multiple things on any given day. It’s monitoring, assessing, measuring, building, reviewing, testing, and reporting – all in a day’s work.

And it’s one of the toughest communication challenges in companies today.

Because if you’re the CISO, you have to figure out: What do they need to know?

Every CISO has presented to the Board this year. Some more successfully than others. And all CISOs are finding it’s becoming a significant part of their role. So, understanding how to communicate complexity in a clear and concise manner is an essential skill.

And that’s why we’ve helped hundreds of CISOs find the right approach and altitude with Boards.

The focus varies from one company to another, but we use these general guidelines to help CISOs cut through complexity and develop effective Board presentations.

Know your Board – The starting point is to gauge the current perspective of your Board members.  A review of backgrounds and involvement tells you where current inputs on security may be coming from. Do they sit on other Boards or are they currently leading a company with high risks? Most CISOs face a mix of perspectives with some Board members having a decent amount of insight and others having very little. Your content will need to focus on those who know the least as you can’t dismiss the perspective of anyone in the room. But you can leverage the insights and experiences of the more informed if you know their perspective in advance. This gives you a few supporters during the presentation and can identify the more informed questions that will come your way.

Understanding vs Knowledge –  Most CISOs approach their content with a desire to educate a group. And that leads to confusion, a boatload of details and information overload. Unintentionally, the CISO causes this by trying too hard to impart knowledge on a group. Boards don’t seek knowledge; they seek a high level of understanding. And there’s a difference. They want to understand enough about your priorities and strategies to trust that you have the knowledge to run a complex enterprise. But they aren’t seeking to become experts on security topics. So, tell them less about what you know and illustrate more about what you’re doing with that knowledge.

Outside-In View – The Board perspective will be influenced by the latest event or report that has hit the newsstand, other Boards or their colleagues. Leverage external events and security topics to align quickly to how a Board may be thinking and what they’re hearing as current priorities or shifts in the corporate environment. Relate those topics to your internal perspective. This helps them easily contrast the two and consider what may or may not be relevant as they engage with you.

Define What & Why – The hardest discipline to learn is staying away from HOW you deliver on things. They asked for overviews, but they really mean a broad view of what you’re doing and why you’re focused on those areas. They want very little of HOW your team literally does it. That’s too much detail. And it’s when their eyes glaze over. Boards don’t think confusion comes from their lack of understanding. They view it as your inability to be clear. Avoid talking over their heads because the response could knock you off your feet.

Illustrate with Examples – The only place for a little detail is in examples of programs or initiatives. These should be shared as stories or illustrations of a specific program that yielded impact or outcome. Think about these as stories and examples that a Board member might remember and repeat. The detail comes in the set-up and context, not the detail of how the solution was implemented.

Repetition and Structure – These presentations aren’t going away. Just ask the finance group! They’ve got the most experience keeping Boards informed. And they’ve learned to do so with a repeatable structure and high-level enterprise view. CISOs need to find a repeatable structure that allows them to present information in a consistent way. That’s the fastest way to engage and build trust with a Board.

It’s also where we can help. We’ve developed a format and a storyline structure that has helped hundreds of CISOs define the right overview for their organization. And I bet we can help you!

We’re here when you need us.

 

Want a free 15-minute consultation with Sally to see how she can help you or your team prepare for these conversations? Book a call with her now!

Sally Williamson & Associates

Should I Get a Coach?

The timing has never been better for self-reflection, professional development and a little guidance through the uncharted times still ahead.

The last eighteen months were a test for all leaders, and many pulled it off well. But as companies reset and introduce hybrid work models, few leaders have the toolkit or the skill set to manage this way. And very few realize that the expectations of their leadership have reset as well.

Through company surveys and individual assessments, we’re seeing the trends and gaps emerge from the pandemic work styles. Efficiency came through, but so did a drop in impact and alignment with culture and overall inspiration from leaders. Many leaders are surprised to see that employees aren’t as attached to their teams or as aligned to their strategies. Many got too focused on the day-to-day detail and lost some momentum and focus on connecting the bigger picture for their teams.

The shortage of talent doesn’t help because while you may not talk to every employee every day, someone does. Through LinkedIn, social media and online ads, there are constant offers and opportunities put in front of employees to entice them to look around.

A recent survey by Pew Foundation showed that while 65% of employees were happy in their roles, up to 80% said they would consider another opportunity. It’s testing the waters. And it’s all a part of the reset we’re in now and will continue to be in for months to come. Most leaders are trying to juggle all of it.

So yes, the timing has never been better to engage with a coach.

Finding the right coach is an important part of the decision to hire one. As coaching has increased by more than 20% in the last year, there is some confusion about who to hire for what. When we start an engagement, we always ask if the leader had prior experience with a coach. And when they have worked with another coach, we ask them to rate the experience. The collective response is average, and that’s disappointing. It’s a signal that the leader didn’t get what they needed or didn’t take the time to leverage the engagement. A coaching experience should be one of the most valuable tools a leader gets, and that’s why it’s important to understand what you’re asking the coach to deliver.

The term “executive coach” has become a generic one and covers a lot of coaches who do very different things.  Some executive coaches are generalists, and they combine their experience with coaching certification that gives them a process for covering a broad range of topics.  The best ones have tailored their approach and can tell you how they plan to lead you through an engagement. Many coaches are aligned to companies, and they work with teams of leaders in support of business strategy more so than individual skills.

There are coaches who support sales, marketing, technology, finance and just about any function within a company. All are leveraging their experience to help you accelerate yours.

Communication coaching is distinctly different. Working on someone’s brand and influence within a company takes more than experience. An executive coach who has had experience leading a company and galvanizing employees can’t give you that skill. They can only give you that advice. And that may be what leads to disappointing results from an engagement.

To improve communication impact, you need someone who has experience AND expertise. You need more than advice. You need skills coaching and support to develop new habits and intentional choices that change the way you approach communication. It takes true expertise to work on body, voice and connection. And it takes proven tools to help you simplify your approach.

So, choose a coach wisely and determine if you’re looking for advice or skill development. Ask about both the experience of the coach and the deeper expertise in the area that you want to improve. Once you’ve found a coach with the right expertise and chemistry for you, you can get much more than an average experience.

In the year ahead, coaching can help you:

  • Consider your brand and how well you’re gaining visibility amidst company momentum and endless opportunity.
  • Evaluate your impact as a communicator and support your adjustment to a different way of leading a hybrid team.
  • Leverage the lifespan of a project by adding a compelling storyline and key soundbites that make the direction memorable and sustainable over a period of time.
  • Lead a young team to a high-performing team with expanded responsibilities and broader scope.

This year, it will be the difference in leaders who can shift from competent communicators to compelling ones.

It’s already an unprecedented year, and the expectations of leaders will continue to reset. You should take advantage of every opportunity offered to step up and speak out. And we’d like to help you succeed at it.

Call us when you need us!

Sally Williamson & Associates

The Art of Coaching – How to Choose the Right Coach with Francie Schulwolf

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In the last year, millions of workers took early retirement, which created a band of less-experienced managers and leaders in most companies. It’s a great career opportunity and accelerated promotions for several managers. But it also pushes a less-experienced leader to learn how to drive while the car is moving, and it can create risks within a company when someone is leading who doesn’t have a bank of experiences to draw on.

That’s why coaching is a hot commodity.

A Coach becomes a trusted advisor to a new leader. A good Coach becomes a sounding board… and a confidante. A good Coach can broaden your thinking and help you solidify your options. And the best Coaches will help you expand your skills and your tools so that you can leverage the learnings even after the coaching relationship wraps up.

So, how do you find the right coach?

On this episode of What’s Your Story, Sally talks with her colleague and SW&A Executive Coach, Francie Shulwolf, about how they work together to identify the right direction and guidance for coaching clients. Francie has also been a recipient of coaching services from her previous leadership role in a large hospitality company. Over the years, she often says: “What we do here at SW&A is different. It’s so much richer in terms of takeaways.” So today’s podcast shares insights from both sides of the table.

More about Francie Schulwolf

Francie is an Executive Coach and Business Development Director at SW&A, and a former Communications Leader for a global hospitality company. Her focus is on developing strong, confident communicators. With close to twenty-five years of global, corporate experience in advertising, marketing and communications, she is intimately familiar with the demands executives face. This understanding, along with her honest and warm style, create a safe and comfortable environment for individuals to learn and grow.

Show Notes

  • In the last year, millions of workers took early retirement which resulted in a shift in the workforce, creating a group of less experienced managers and leaders.
    • A good coach can broaden your thinking and help you expand your tools.
      • How do you find the right coach?
    • Role of the manager has shifted
      • Managers are taking on a more significant role.
      • Distractions are gone, people are home.
      • There is more pressure to get things done.
      • People were being more intentional/more empathetic.
    • Do you need a coach if you have a mentor in your company?
      • Mentor sees you daily and helps you navigate the waters of your company.
      • A Coach provides you the valuable tools to enhance your leadership style and is a third party outside source that is focused on the individual’s leadership outside of the company.
      • A coach is results driven.
    • How to start
      • Decide what you need a coach for.
      • Coaches have the skillset to build leaders’ communication and leadership style.
      • Chemistry is important with the coach – Trusted relationships
    • Should you get a coach?
      • There is a difference between somebody who has experience vs expertise.
      • Coaches help you combine the two and become a compelling communicator and leader.
    • Tell your potential coach about what you are looking for
      • Most business decisions are not new decisions – a good coach has experience.
      • The coach brings insight.
      • Impressions are someone else’s perspective – insights shift to improvement.
    • Videotaping
      • Going through the before and after on the video – raise awareness of habits.
      • When you get out of your head and into the room, it shows.
    • Distinguish experience from expertise
      • The reason to go to a coach is the expertise in the final assessment.
    • The 4 things that help somebody align with a coach
      • Chasing chemistry – must have chemistry to get to a place of trust with a coach.
      • Insights vs improvement – get the feedback, doing something with it, have great awareness.
      • Balance experience vs expertise – What do you need to do to be better?
      • Inside coach vs outside coach – get a third party involved.

 

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The Big Pitch with Rachel Spasser

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This episode’s topic is The Big Pitch. And it’s a discussion of one of the most important presentations you may ever give. It has a definitive and measurable impact. It’s rarely shared with a large audience. And while the audience may be small, they are a critical one. Because their interest and reaction to the presentation may change the future of a company. And in fact, that’s actually the point. Today, we’re going to talk about “pitch” presentations. Those opportunities when a start-up, mid-size or even a large corporation wants to be acquired.

The Big Pitch is a different kind of storyline with huge expectations and potential disappointments. And when you’re the communicator, it’s a crash course in how to position your company in a story that will resonate and attract a buyer.

Today’s guest, Rachel Spasser, will share her insight into The Big Pitch as well as expectation and best practices.

More about Rachel Spasser

Rachel Spasser is a Managing Director and Chief Marketing Officer at Accel-KKR Consulting Group. Rachel provides strategic guidance as well as sales and marketing leadership across Accel-KKR’s portfolio. Prior to joining Accel-KKR’s Consulting Group, Rachel was the Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Ariba, Inc., an SAP Company. With over 25 years of experience in marketing, business development and general management, Ms. Spasser has spent the past 20 years focused on the business-to-business technology space and speaks frequently on topics such as marketing strategy, demand generation and management and customer adoption marketing.

Show Notes

  • What are Pitch Presentations?
  • Rachel Spasser
    • Managing Director and Chief Marketing Officer at Accel-KKR
  • What is the market like today after an unprecedented year?
    • Q2 of last year was quiet.
      • Companies that were going into investment during Q2 pulled back to wait and see what the market was going to be like going forward.
    • Q3 through the end of the year was very busy.
        • A lot of capital in the market and investment firms need to deepen that capital.
  • Acquisition has become an essential part of the growth strategy.
  • Listeners and the buyers are financial backers and sponsors.
    • Listeners are the deal teams
  • Strategic side
    • Development department and functional leaders interested in acquiring that business.
  • Make sure you understand who the listeners are going to be prior to the pitch.
  • What are people listening for?
    • Expertise
    • Metrics of their business
    • Leadership and the team dynamics
  • Common mistakes in storytelling.
    • People fall short on the presentation itself by rambling or going deeper than the listener can comprehend and not reading signals well.
    • Data is important and should support the story you’re telling.
    • Telling the rearview mirror story rather than the forward story.
      • Backstory is great color and great context but there has to be context of what the future looks like.
  • Seller can make the story real with good examples and buyer can have a vision for tomorrow.
  • The deal makers and the bankers – most knowledgeable about the situation.
    • What role do they play?
    • The best bankers are the ones that can coach and bring the team along and develop a compelling way to bring the story along.
  • Communicator – or the seller.
  • Typically not a normal sales process.
  • Pitch is high pressure environment.
  • Salespeople are the most prepared for pitches.
  • The pitch team should consist of:
    • Key functional leaders CEO and CFO and senior leadership team
    • CTO
    • Head of Marketing
    • Chief Customer Officer
  • What do you do when your Chief Operating person or Executive is not comfortable in this space?
    • Don’t bring them into the room.
    • Hire a coach to help them feel comfortable presenting even a small part.
    • Investor is looking at the team asking “can these people get me to where I want to go?” and sometimes the CEO doesn’t want to go there.
    • Team showing up and showing well is important.
  • If the numbers don’t add up, it doesn’t matter how great the story or the pitch is and the numbers alone aren’t enough, you need both.
  • Having a good presentation where the investors can believe that the team can take the investment to where they want to go.
  • Investors are partners – It’s challenging to create this partnership virtually.
    • Have informal interactions, virtual drink online, relationship building
    • Third parties are important, references, customer calls, and we’ve adapted to Zoom and become better at it.
    • Video is important if you’re going to make it through.
  • Make sure to have assigned parts in a Zoom presentation to avoid speaking over each other.
  • The big pitch, does it make or break a deal?
    • Red flags will make the deal more difficult.
  • Use stories to bring your product to life – help the buyer understand why customers want to continue to work with your company. Data can support those stories but without those stories data is easy to forget. How do you make the story stick in a way that makes you and your company memorable?

 

Like what you hear? Hear more episodes like this on the What’s Your Story podcast page!

Disrupted! A Talent Acquisition Perspective

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Disruption happens every day across the corporate world. As employees, we experience reorgs, layoffs and acquisitions, and as disrupters ourselves we move cross country, chase ideas and challenge norms. But amidst all the disruption we all experience, some of us seem to thrive in times of turmoil.

These are the communicators who have mastered the two secret arts hidden within corporate disruption: learning how to establish a compelling brand and build an intriguing career narrative. They are skills that take time to perfect, but they’re the differentiator factors between those who are cast adrift from disruption and those who prosper from it.

We believe in this strongly…and it’s why we wrote our latest book: Disrupted! How to Reset Your Brand & Your Career.

But don’t just take our word for it. On this episode, Hurst Williamson is joined by 2 Talent Acquisition specialists to share their perspectives on the trends they see every day and what makes a job candidate successful…or forgettable.

More About the Guests

Elisa Abner-Taschwer is the Talent Acquisition Manager at FORUM Credit Union in Fishers, Indiana. She has over 30 years of HR experience, primarily in Talent Acquisition. Elisa lives with her husband of 27 years and their Mini Golden Doodle, Max.

Lauren Baksh, M.Ed. is the Senior Manager of Talent Acquisition at Graphic Packaging International. She has over ten years of talent management experience in the manufacturing industry and currently supports her team with the design and execution of holistic recruiting experiences for US salaried positions. Lauren lives in Atlanta with her husband, two daughters, and two fur babies.

Show Notes

  • Careers are no longer on a straight and narrow path.
    • People will change their job/career 7-10 times throughout their career.
    • Interview determines if there will be a next change in a person’s career.
  • What does it take to make a job a candidate memorable or forgettable?
  • What percentage of people are good at interviewing?
    • Less than 5%
    • Not as many people are good at interviewing that think they are good at interviewing.
    • Those that think they are good at interviewing usually lack authenticity.
  • What goes wrong in an interview?
    • Lack of prep – didn’t know much about the company or the interviewer.
    • Lacked confidence – unaware of body language.
    • Lacked impact – didn’t understand their experiences well.
    • Prospective employee must be interviewing the company as well as being interviewed by the company.
    • Preparation will help a candidate seal the deal.
    • Good story tellers have better impact in an interview.
  • Virtual vs. In-Person Interviews
    • Same challenges exist in a virtual interview as an in person interview.
    • Candidates see virtual as more informal and have a low awareness of their setting and background.
    • Fewer people ghost virtual interviews.
  • When prepping for a virtual interview, consider it the same as if you are going to meet with someone – dress professionally
  • Potential employers encourage prospective employees to ask questions about the attire and the platform being used to the interview
  • How many resumes for a potential position are reviewed?
    • Far too many
    • 20-30+ resumes for an open position
    • 30-50 resumes
  • What really makes a candidate stand out?
    • Individuals who understand the organization and the culture
    • Candidates with confidence in themselves and the ability to have a good vision as to what they want in their new position
    • Candidates must be a good cultural fit
    • Candidates must ask questions in the interview and understand the opportunity
  • The most critical skills for a top candidate:
    • Problem solving and thinking
    • Collaboration and cooperation
    • Communication and influence
  • Advice to stand-out in interviews:
    • Translate the experience you had with the job you want to do. Think about things that you’ve done that have given you that experience
    • Update your resume annually and add accomplishments from the previous years.
    • Highlight how you work on a team
  • Candidates approach an interview very reactively
    • Understand the resume is a list – make sure to drive the interview and conversation
    • Have a reactive and proactive interview
    • Be prepared to  highlight your key aspects
    • Be able to shape your narrative and asked questions about the company while staying authentic
    • Come with questions to make it a conversation.
  • Employers are looking for people that want to work for the company not the job
  • Is there a war for talent? It’s a very favorable market for talent right now
  • Companies are trying to be the company that people want to join and understand that not all candidates are going to have 100% of the skills that are being looked for in a candidate.
  • Candidates must show up as their authentic self.
  • Employees own their development and the company and their manager are there to support the individual. Take a risk and it might change!

 

Order Disrupted! How to Reset Your Brand & Your Career today here or on Amazon.

 

Like what you hear? Hear more episodes like this on the What’s Your Story podcast page!

Disrupted! A Talent Development Perspective

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Listen to the Stories Behind a Purpose with CeCe Morken - Sally Williamson & Associates on Apple Podcasts Listen to the Stories Behind a Purpose with CeCe Morken - Sally Williamson & Associates on Spotify Listen to the Stories Behind a Purpose with CeCe Morken - Sally Williamson & Associates on iHeartRadio

Disruption happens every day across the corporate world. As employees, we experience reorgs, layoffs and acquisitions, and as disrupters ourselves we move cross country, chase ideas and challenge norms. But amidst all the disruption we all experience, some of us seem to thrive in times of turmoil.

These are the communicators who have mastered the two secret arts hidden within corporate disruption: learning how to establish a compelling brand and build an intriguing career narrative. They are skills that take time to perfect, but they’re the differentiator factors between those who are cast adrift from disruption and those who prosper from it.

We believe in this strongly…and it’s why we wrote our latest book: Disrupted! How to Reset Your Brand & Your Career.

But don’t just take our word for it. On this episode, Hurst Williamson is joined by 3 Talent Development specialists to share their perspectives on what makes an employee a high-potential candidate and what traits they look for in tomorrow’s leaders.

More About the Guests

Alexandra Daily-Diamond is the Northwest Regional Talent Development Manager at Gensler, a design and architecture firm. In her role, she identifies people-focused solutions to HR challenges. She focuses on organizational and employee development and engagement, talent management, coaching, and HR strategies that promote wellbeing.

Hilda Curry is the Enterprise Learning Management Systems Administrator for Methodist Health System, a non-profit healthcare organization located in Dallas, Texas. Hilda has over 25 years of experience in corporate & healthcare learning and talent development, and has held a series of progressive positions in the training and development field.

Megan Breiseth is the Senior Director of Learning and Development at InsideTrack. Megan has worked in employee development since 2006. At InsideTrack, she coached online adult learners and eventually moved into Learning and Development leadership. During her career, Megan has built and managed learning programs that unlock the potential in coaches, managers, and support staff.

Show Notes

    • Disruption is happening across the board in companies and for employees. Employees no longer have a mapped-out career path.
    • Seek opportunities to expand your skills and repackage your potential.
    • What do companies think about talent development?
    • What percentage of the workforce has needed to do some kind of rest in 2020?
      • 100% of the team had a reset in priorities, personal goals, and how they do the work.
      • All training was converted to virtual learning, 10% of corporate employees shifted to work from home.
      • 100% of people’s jobs changed and circumstances changed. Staff neededg to focus on what is most essential for students and institutions to meet their basic needs. Prioritize safety, wellness, and how to set up systems to support employees so they could show up.
    • Pandemic aside – What other things would be examples of organization disruptions?
      • Integrating separate systems into one
      • Transition from for profit to nonprofit business
      • Change roles to be more scalable and sustainable
      • More efficiency changes in the workplace
      • Pandemic heightened changes that would have happened otherwise but pandemic made it more urgent.
      • Economy is a general factor in disruption. – Global company and global economic impact.
      • Companies are shifting to have a clear focus to elevate the human experience.
    • What is the organization’s responsibility in an employee’s development and what is the employee’s responsibility in that?
      • Company being intentional to listen and empower.
      • Employees seek out feedback on what the individual could do better.
      • Ask the questions that are going to get employees thinking deeply.
      • Empower employees to own their career and see themselves.
      • Have a specific program for leaders.
      • Offer employees training or tuition reimbursement.
      • Encourage them to play a visible role in committees.
      • Offer the opportunity to get input from coworkers and managers.
    • What happens when an individual hits a wall where they don’t have the skills they didn’t know they needed to advance but were still good at their current job?
      • Push employees to get the skill – many companies will work with employees to get them to develop the skills they need to continue.
      • Encourage employees to have a conversation with managers to get the skills they need.
      • Library of competency to get measured on.
      • The goal is to look within the company but they will be open to hire outside the company if a specific skill is needed quickly.
      • In times like this, a person would lose the job for somebody who has that skill if the employee has not done anything to grow.
    • When a person is having their potential assessed, being great at what they can do isn’t always a great indicator that they can stretch when a skill is needed.
    • Examples of employees that were hired from other industries to do a new job:
      • Head chef- great head of customer service
      • DJ as a sales person
      • Zookeeper as a head of operations
    • 3 key attributes that talent development looks for in any position
      1. Ability to communicate and influence others
      2. Agility during changes or times of uncertainty
      3. Problem solving and critical thinking
    • Debunking of the rumor of “There’s never enough “top talent”
    • Personal brand and feedback
    • The book goes over the importance of hitting the reset to create your brand you must make yourself visible.
      • Participate in programs.
      • Volunteer for outside organizations.
      • Champion specific projects.
      • Use talent and skills on a broad perspective.
    • Personal brand is how people think about and talk about you when you aren’t around.
      • Asking for feedback removes the barrier and opens it up for an honest conversation.
      • If you dread feedback, work on your mindset around feedback, your mindset will share your reality. We can’t grow unless we get negative feedback. Seek feedback and control the narrative.
      • Participate in a performance review for yourself and from your manager. Feedback should be given on a day-to-day basis.
      • Not all feedback is useful but it’s important to put yourself out there. Seek feedback from individuals that make you nervous.
    • You can’t grow without stress or change – everyone deserves to love what they do. Always seek to grow and chase meaning and purpose.

 

Order Disrupted! How to Reset Your Brand & Your Career today here or on Amazon.

 

Like what you hear? Hear more episodes like this on the What’s Your Story podcast page!

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