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!

Solving the Communication Gap: Supply Chain

The conversations that we’ve had with supply chain leaders this year remind me of conversations we had five years ago with CISOs and last year with CHROs. It’s when communication shifts from updates on major initiatives to being the major initiative that dominates every update. And as the lead communicator, you feel as if you’ve shifted from the expert to the fall guy. Because there are more questions than answers, and more uncertainty than resolution. It feels like you’re always sitting in the hot seat!

One supply chain leader described it well last week: “I leave one update only to start preparing for the next one. And I never seem to be able to instill confidence about where we are and what we’re doing. It’s more playing defense on why things have occurred and what might happen next. I don’t feel like I’m bringing clarity to communication.”

Another supply chain leader said: “I feel like supply chain has shifted from a playbook to a chess game. We deliver results with a proven playbook. And we have contingency plans for road bumps along the way. But the current environment is like watching a chessboard and wondering what the next move will be.”

And it’s no wonder that they feel like they’re sitting in the hot seat. Last month, McKinsey reported that global container shipping rates have quadrupled in three years, and schedule delays have tripled in the same timeframe. Whether it’s demand or limited capacity, all companies are feeling the slug as they try to keep their own goods and services moving.

The supply chain pressure is felt all through the company as sales leaders want to know what to tell customers, product leaders want to know how to schedule releases and purchasing teams are trying to track materials. And the supply chain leader has been pushed forward to communicate all of it…with very little information to go on.

By instinct, most supply chain leaders are problem solvers. They’re really good at thinking through end-to-end process and keeping many steps moving forward. They can solve bottlenecks and delays with a different route or a different raw material. But they can’t solve a problem that isn’t clear in their view. And they’re finding that they can’t communicate that murkiness effectively to senior teams.

So, if you’re in the hot seat, here are three concepts that we’ve shared with other supply chain leaders to bring clarity to unresolved challenges and consistency to on-going communication.

Establish a plan to communicate up and down the supply chain.

The supply chain leader hasn’t been a constant in senior team meetings until now. They showed up occasionally with updates on transformative initiatives, and they never brought information forward until they were ready to give an update. The shift in when you communicate has blind-sided them.

They can no longer wait until they have the answer. There isn’t an answer for most of the challenges they’re facing. Communication is no longer driven by their timing; it’s set by leadership needs and an urgency to manage risks. And they’re learning to be proactive about a communication plan and process. They’re learning that when they don’t communicate, someone else does. And the biggest problem they’re managing is misinformation. So very quickly, we’ve helped these leaders put process in place for communication itself. It takes a cross-functional team and a process for looping in sales to keep customers informed, purchasing to bring insights from suppliers and logistics to bring insights from carriers and freight.

Define a three-dimensional view.

For problem solvers, the message is always “here’s the problem, and here’s what we’re doing about it.” But that approach to communication can make a supply chain leader seem very reactive. And in today’s environment, it can seem as if you’re only reacting to what’s happening versus trying to anticipate and manage around what’s ahead.

The three-dimensional view helps a leader set a storyline that includes:

• the macro-view of insights in the marketplace…what’s happening around us
• the current view of what we’re dealing with today and the impact we expect from it
• and the future view of what’s ahead and options we’re considering.

In all instances, we’re finding that leadership teams need some help understanding the big elements of supply chain and the levers that a leader can adjust or manage to minimize the impact. Most supply chain leaders didn’t have a strong storyline in place when the crisis hit, so they’re playing catch-up to simplify the supply chain view in conjunction with explaining where the risks are greatest and what they can do about it. And it’s making communication too complex.

Set the broader picture so that you can come back to it consistently. This helps everyone get on the same page and begin to listen for the same components.

Close the loop with follow-up answers.

Back to the hot seat. Most supply chain leaders would like to slide out of it. And we’re pushing them to lean forward in it. Here’s why. Because there’s so much visibility for supply chain, there’s also a lot of internal misinformation. And that can feel like a game of “whack-a-mole” as leaders try to deliver the accurate message and diffuse the wrong ones. It helps to add a follow-up loop to all communication so that the right messages take hold and shut down some of the noise.

Think of it as a press secretary who can capture what was said and asked and keep the right messages in circulation. Some supply chain leaders have designated a person to manage this. Others have done it themselves by sending out a short note after senior meetings to reinforce the information shared. You have to reset the expert seat and keep your perspective and your response front and center.

And if you’re not a supply chain leader? Take note of what they’re dealing with and be proactive in learning how to lead communication of a long-term challenge with a senior team. Because if security leaders have managed it, HR leaders have managed it, and now supply chain leaders are navigating it, it’s only a matter of time before every function area will feel a little heat in the hot seat.

We’re here 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

The Complexity of Hybrid Engagement

The concept of a hybrid work model gained momentum about 18 months ago.

And as companies began to explore it, the buzz from HR teams was this is going to get complicated. And they were right. At this point, very few managers have “mastered” it, and many employees are saying it’s clunky and not resetting the culture the way leaders hoped it would. And it’s still one of the top Google searches this year.

There’s a clear delineation between why one model was easy and the other is more difficult. The virtual model solved for individuals. There wasn’t a choice about the virtual setting as a way of working. Everyone was in it, and everyone adjusted to it. Interestingly, most companies said it worked. They gained efficiencies and felt that they were able to leverage individuals effectively. What most managers now say is that the team aspect suffered in a virtual setting. It was just harder, and in some cases not feasible, to keep employees connected to each other and leveraging the skills of each other. So, high productivity from individuals but much less collaboration across teams.

And that’s the shift with the hybrid model. Companies want to bring back the collaboration that helps processes evolve and improve as they moved forward. The complexity is that when companies opened their doors, few acknowledged the objective and the shift from individual focus to team focus. And companies didn’t give managers a lot of guidance on how to build team contracts. And managers need it. They learned so much in the last two years about managing to individual needs, and now they aren’t sure how to balance individual needs against team priorities. In order for hybrid models to work, the priorities of the team have to come first.

In our workshops, we talk about the difference in engagement of the work and engagement of individuals. Both are a part of setting the hybrid model, but the approach may differ between the work and the people.

To reset the engagement of teamwork, we coach managers to define the work of the team first. Build a visual representation of what the team does and the connection points that the team needs to integrate the work and deliver outcomes. The manager defines the connection points and the vehicle used to collaborate on work. Over the last two years, managers have jumped back into details to keep processes going. While managers had good connection to most employees, the employees didn’t have consistent and essential connection to each other. It’s time to pull out and let team members own the processes.

The manager sets the date, the time, the cadence and the process of teamwork. The employees drive the connection that comes from it. It’s the engagement of teamwork that allows us to learn from each other, build trust with each other and ultimately, leverage each other toward better outcomes.

Managers have to be unapologetic about putting the team first in the hybrid model and having new norms that are requirements for being on a team. If the team needs to meet in person on Mondays, then the team has to meet in person on Mondays. Interestingly, as we’ve worked with managers on defining the “team contract,” they aren’t getting the resistance that they thought they would. That’s because we don’t need to reset to how we worked two years ago, and most people welcome the connection back to the team. Employees are adjusting to new expectations, and many admit that the shift to hybrid wasn’t as dramatic as they feared.

But will the culture reset if different teams have different contracts? How can managers continue to drive personal connection with employees that they don’t see regularly? The connection part is proving to be the toughest part of the hybrid model. It was the toughest part of the virtual model, and it remains amongst groups that don’t get together regularly.

Managers sure tried. From virtual games, to wine tastings, competitions and hobby huddles, they did it all. It’s just hard to accept that looking at a screen can deliver the same energy and engagement as sitting across from someone. It worked for a while when life was virtual, and the screen connection was the only connection we had. But life has reset. People are out in restaurants, seeing friends and family in person. Ironically, for many employees, the work group is the only one they don’t see regularly. Managers who try to set virtual connection points are competing with the in-person connections that have returned to all other parts of life.

To reset engagement with people, we need to acknowledge that virtual connection isn’t as good. We get energy from being with people, and while different people like different doses of that energy, a virtual connection doesn’t deliver the same thing. Managers have to find ways to build connection into a team contract.

In-person connection fits easily in a local teamwork model because people are in the same location and getting meals together or planning events together comes easily. Many companies are returning to in-person meetings which creates an opportunity for those who aren’t in the same location to plan for touchpoints throughout the year. It’s an essential part of strengthening a culture, and if your team doesn’t have the opportunity to get together, you need to create it. Even global teams that are very far apart are finding ways to bring employees who live in the same country together so that everyone has the opportunity to reset, re-energize or begin relationships.

As managers and leaders ask for guidance on retaining employees, I often say that people leave companies as individuals. If their work environment and setting is always individual, the culture doesn’t have much of an impact on them. But they tend to stay with companies when they belong to a team or have friendships where they work. The company culture comes through in the people they know and the leaders they like to work with. We talked about this on a recent podcast, Resetting & Reducing Social Distance.

The hybrid model has more complexity, and to work well, it has to focus on the work of the team and the connection of individuals to each other.

If you’re interested in improving your team’s model, we can help through our group workshops or 1:1 coaching to build a tailored plan for your team.

We’re here 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

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!

Does Presence Even Matter Anymore?

To answer that question, you have to consider one in return. How do you define presence?

Do you think about it merely in terms of how someone looks and how well they package that look in a business setting? Then, in a hybrid world, presence may matter more the day you’re in the office versus the day you’re on Zoom.

Or do you define presence in terms of someone’s confidence and the concept of “owning the room” or commanding the meeting? In those terms, presence may be evident in some meetings and totally lacking in others. When the workspace and the setting were redefined, presence didn’t translate easily. That’s why people are asking the question.

But if you think of presence more in terms of engagement and the ability to impact or influence others, then presence may matter more than it ever has. And that’s because business context has been blurred and the rules of engagement are looser. So, it leaves managers wondering whether they should address it and coach people, and it leaves individuals wondering whether they should listen to the coaching.

And to both groups, our answer is yes. Presence isn’t a mandate or a set of rules that should be force fit on someone. Presence is about awareness, influence and the ability to collaborate, connect and move others forward. As a manager, you can reset the definition and the guidelines so that presence has a fresh feel to your team, and your team can improve their overall effectiveness by thinking more about influence with a peer group or a customer group.

Here’s how we’ve reset presence in our workshops and helped our clients think about how to coach it within their organizations.

It starts with a clear definition.

All of the elements listed in the questions above are a part of presence. And that can make it sound like it’s solely visual, all about dominating, or even just about listening. When presence is described by the first two elements, it feels rigid, or personality driven. That’s because these are ways that presence shows up, but not really what it is.

Presence is the culmination of impressions. It’s not something you give yourself, but a way that others define you in terms of how they see you, hear you and feel influenced by you. It’s based on someone else’s experiences, and the expectations of presence are best described by how others need to feel about you to follow your guidance or line up to your ideas.

We define presence as the three C’s: Confidence, Commitment and Connection. They represent attributes built on impressions from others. And those impressions and expectations have stayed very consistent even with all of the shifts in our business setting. But because we shifted so much about where we work and how we work together, the power of impressions and the intention behind owning them should be reset to match those changes.

Here’s how we talk about it.

HOW YOU’RE SEEN: Visual impressions will always be the first way we focus on someone. It may be a quick impression or a lingering one. And it’s shaped by what you wear and choices you make with hair, nails, makeup, tattoos, facial hair, shoes, and everything else that we can visually see. And managers are beginning to ask: Do I need to set some guidelines around how they show up?

Yes, you should set expectations because without them, you can’t guide choices. But tread lightly in terms of setting do’s and don’ts and focus instead on owning impressions. Organizations are working hard on making all things inclusive, and someone’s visual expression of style is a part of that.

In our work, we’ve shifted from coaching someone on poor choices to helping them see that bold choices speak loudly. That means what I see may distract me enough that I never get to what you wanted me to hear. When you own your impression, you think about those reactions and learn to work with them so that you are heard. Consider a discussion where your team sets the norms or talks through what intention looks like for different groups.

HOW YOU’RE HEARD: Most groups have broken rules of effective meetings in a virtual setting, and they’re struggling to put order back into discussions in an in-person setting. And if you’re running some meetings with people in-person and others remote, then you’re right back to the “invisible audience” on the virtual platform.

We’re coaching people to make sure they’ve found a way to be active, involved and seen in meetings. The majority of impressions formed around someone’s brand and influence come out of day-to-day meetings. The outspoken team members often need to be coached to wait before they jump in. While they’ve gotten kudos for being involved and outspoken, their energy can stifle others. Peers will be less interested in working with them if they seem to always have the answer. Those who are quiet or more tentative in a group setting need some tools to bridge ideas or create space for questions and deeper thought. From both perspectives, it’s intentional choices that drive impressions of someone who is active in meetings and a valued part of getting to resolution.

As a manager, you can support the meeting setting by adding a little structure to discussions and giving advance notice about the topics up for discussion. Too often, managers approach their team meetings from their own perspective. They wing it or pull the agenda together a few hours ahead of time. Unintentionally, the manager is running a meeting that works well for the outspoken and provides no support to those who build confidence through preparation.

HOW YOU INFLUENCE: When we focus on connection, we shift someone’s perspective off of how they’re doing and toward how they make others feel. It’s a true differentiator of presence, and it’s gotten a little lost in the virtual world.

If you think about what influences you, it’s usually driven by an idea you like and your willingness or interest in aligning with the person who shared the idea. When we hear an idea from someone we don’t align with, we’re less likely to hear it as good and we’ll rebuke the idea to avoid the person.

Across the attributes of presence, connection is the concept that has suffered the most in a virtual world. And it may be the hardest to achieve as we shift to hybrid. There are a lot of bad habits that have taken hold as many people are pushing information out and not focused on drawing people in.

Influence is more about others and less about you. Active listening is the skill we coach and the ability to draw response from others. It’s harder to read and get response virtually, and it’s why we coach people to rethink the virtual connection and add ways that confirm response and impose participation.

As a manager, active listening is a great skill to coach. When you debrief on meetings, bring two perspectives to the conversation. Ask an employee how others responded to their idea and when they share what they think, ask them how they know. This forces discussion of response and the awareness of the communicator. It also creates an opportunity to consider ways to get that reaction or response from a group.

So YES, presence still matters. Maybe more than it ever has before because business context has been blurred and the rules of engagement are looser. And when there’s change and a little confusion, there’s always opportunity. We already see it as people share the impact of coaching. Those who pay attention to impressions are getting noticed and pulled into bigger opportunities.

If you think your team could use a reset on presence we’d love to help.

We’re here 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

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

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

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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

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: Chapter 19 – “Corporate Priorities – Insights from Talent Acquisition”

Hear more about the Talent Acquisition Perspective on our podcast!Click here to order Disrupted!

Read Chapter 1 – Disrupted!

Read Chapter 3 – Corporate Disruption – Insights from Talent Development

Talent acquisition is often a team whose responsibilities are a little vague to most employees. Once you join a company, you may not pay much attention to what they’re doing. After all, they’re in charge of hiring people and you’ve already been hired. But there’s a little more to their function. Talent acquisition supports a company’s strategy by ensuring they have the right people in the right roles at the right time. And this means that the fast-paced shifts within a company put an acquisition or recruitment team under pressure to find the talent they need.

Here’s how they define their focus:

  • Acquiring high-quality candidates who offer skills needed for current roles
  • Building a diverse talent pool to meet current and future business needs
  • Assessing current in-house skills to determine future skills and roles needed
  • Identifying talented employees within the company to groom for promotion

So, talent acquisition has a view of both external and internal talent. And they have the most comprehensive view of the two groups to compare.

When we shared talent-development insights in Chapter 3, you heard urgency in how the development leaders think about developing internal talent. And that urgency only increases for talent-acquisition teams. The talent-acquisition survey participants define top challenges as competition for top talent and a shortage of qualified talent. Both perspectives illustrate the rapid pace of change and the choices companies are making in order to deliver on it.

As we mentioned with talent development, it takes time to teach employees new skills and, in a competitive marketplace with product rushes and aggressive deadlines, it’s not always a viable solution to retrain an entire function of a business or invest in an internal candidate.

That’s why the top reason for selecting external candidates rather than internal ones is the need for a new skill or expertise (65%). And it just makes you wonder, was the skill truly missing within the company or was the skill just not promoted as part of an internal brand? Sometimes, there’s no question that a new skill or expertise is being added. But there are many times that skills were just not recognized. And here’s how we know.

When we asked talent acquisition what most people can’t do well in an interview, they say it’s the ability to illustrate accomplishments.

“Some of the best candidates we interview in terms of relative experience, education, and skill set are not always the best at being able to tell their story. And this can be a real impediment when you’re trying to convince me to hire you! The one skill that I recommend candidates develop to help them land a job or launch a career is to become an exceptional storyteller. Specifically, a teller of your own story.”

We couldn’t ask for a better proof point for the importance of a career story! Your accomplishments and experiences are like a doorjamb for a job position. They are what will get you the first-round interview, but no matter how much of a rock star your resume says you are, the way you communicate your accomplishments and tell your story is what gets you to the next round.

And if you agree with the trends and insights that we’re sharing, then disruption will continue whether you put it into play or your company does. You’re going to be a candidate multiple times. You’ll go through more interviews – and meet more talent-acquisition people – than you ever thought you would.

And that’s why we hope our latest book, Disrupted!, will help you understand the current career landscape and prepare to shift your disruption to a reset opportunity.  Your first step is to order a copy and see how we solve for the talent insights we’ve shared over the last two weeks. Or better yet, join in the conversation by signing up for April’s book club and LinkedIn conversation about the resets ahead and how to succeed in all of them.

Call us when you need us.


Read an excerpt from Chapter 1 here.

Read an excerpt from Chapter 3 here.

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