E-Notes: On Swiveling Your Chair, Magic and Miracles, and Memorable Connections

On Sunday, I finished listening to the audiobook version of The Promises of Giants by John Amaechi OBE. It is so fantastic I ordered the hardcover when I was only halfway through the audiobook. I want to re-read every sentence, dogear all of the pages, and send copies to all of my friends. I have so many thoughts to share with you from this book that by the end of the summer, you’ll be well-versed in John’s advice and wisdom. That is, if you haven’t already joined me and ordered the book yourself. (Do it! You won’t regret it!*) It is certain to be my favorite book of 2022 and I have quite the list of tough competitors still to read.

The Promises of Giants is engaging, smart, wise, and chock full of things I need to start doing, keep doing, and do more often. In today’s tapestry, I’ve woven together four people’s thoughts on connecting with others. Kudos to those of you who already engage in these habits. Good on the rest of us for trying to be better. If this post seems quote heavy it’s because I need to hear the words as much as the rest of you.

*affiliate link

Swiveling Your Chair

“Mindfulness is more than a quirky spiritual trend. It is essentially about an intentional focus and attention to what you are doing while you are doing it….Without mindfulness, it is too easy to be consumed and overwhelmed by the myriad of thoughts and to dos competing for attention in our brains. The danger here is two-fold. First, and most obviously, a cluttered and distracted mind will cause you to miss important nuances and details about people, about events, and about your workplace. But equally, if not more damaging, is the effect it will have on those around you. What does it tell people about themselves when you can’t conduct a conversation with them without glancing at your phone or your computer screen? What does it say when they need you and you can’t be bothered to physically turn away from what you’re doing for even just a moment? It tells them they’re unimportant and an imposition. What they have to say is less important and less interesting than what’s happening, or may happen, in a digital box. It says they are not worth the energy it takes to swivel a chair in their direction.” (transcribed from the audiobook so any grammatical or spacing errors are mine)

John Amaechi OBE, in his amazing book The Promises of Giants

John goes on to share several techniques to give someone your focus which I plan to share in another post. Until then, we can all practice swiveling our chairs fully toward the person, closing our email, and stowing our phone out of sight as we give them our undivided attention.

Magic and Miracles from Delighting the Other

I am years behind on listening to “The Tim Ferriss Show” but Tim deserves credit for introducing me or having a guest who introduced me to almost everyone I now learn from and follow. He definitely is the Kevin Bacon of my mind map. Tim first introduced me to Adam Robinson, investor, co-founder of The Princeton Review, bestie of Warren Buffett, US Chess Federation life master, and mentee of Bobby Fischer, in 2016 and again in 2018.

I actually remember exactly where I was at the moment I listened to this quote and I think about this idea all of the time. Describing to Tim what he had learned in the past year, Adam said,

“that magic is unleashed in the world…only when a circuit is opened when you’re connecting with someone else, and that’s where the magic and the miracles occur.”

Adam Robinson on “The Tim Ferriss Show” episode #219: Lessons from Warren Buffett, Bobby Fischer, and Other Outliers

Adam went on to explain how he focuses all of his energy and enthusiasm on connecting with everyone he encounters. He leans into every interaction and has found that when he is entirely other-focused, attempting to delight the other person, then he gets “magic and miracles.”

A image of a plugged in, white light up sign with a star and the words Magic Time in black, centered on the sign.
Photo by Monstera on Pexels.com

“And what it does is it gives you infinite power because you want nothing, and you’re offering everything….So I’m playing a game I can’t lose, and I’m in total control. And I don’t want anything. That’s such a revelation for me, and I wish I’d known that earlier.”

Adam Robinson

Memorable Connections

Speaking of giving so much of yourself to others, this article “How to Become Insanely Well-Connected” by super-connector Chris Fralic is a must read. I’ve pulled out a couple highlights but there’s more gold where this came from, including Fralic’s 7 Rules for Making Memorable Connections and Build Long-Thriving (Not Just Lasting) Relationships — The Do’s and Don’ts. The full article is a treasure trove of tips and is worth a few focused minutes of your time.

Here are three strategies that I loved from Chris’s advice:

  1. Make mini-dossiers on the people you’re about to talk to on a call or meet in person. He recommends the following guiding questions:
    • What are the key milestones in their career?
    • What expertise do they seemingly love to provide? (from any articles that quote them or talks they’ve given in the past)
    • Are there any recent news stories or announcements about them?
    • What do you want to ask them or get out of the interaction if you get the chance?
  2. After a meeting, send along a few short bullets capturing the most important points discussed, along with a list of primary action items and who is responsible for them.
  3. Every appointment on his daily agenda includes a link to a person’s LinkedIn, plus a few sentences on who made the introduction and the purpose of the meeting. On busy days, he’ll list out key questions and takeaways for each meeting.

“After a meeting, I’ll quickly save a one-minute audio note with takeaways and next steps. I then set aside an hour every Friday to go through these notes and write corresponding follow-ups if I haven’t already.”

Chris Fralic

Building on today’s theme, here are some questions to ponder along the same lines of being present, creating magic, and forming memorable connections from Brian Solis, digital anthropologist, futurist, author, speaker, and Global Innovation Evangelist at Salesforce:

What do you do very well or better than anyone else? Build that into an entire ecosystem of how you present you, how you follow up after you’ve delivered something, all of these are opportunities to create magic. What do you want people to feel after they are done with you?

Brian Solis on CreativeLive 30 Days of Genius

May you have a delightful Wednesday! Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to pass these messages along to others who you think would benefit too!

E-Notes: On Unboxing People, Genuinely Loving Them, and Enhancing Love for Yourself and Others

I was thrilled to hear from a few readers that last week’s post really resonated. Before shifting away from the topic of daily lists, I have one more to share with you.

In his talk, “Why Wonder Now,” Jeffrey Davis asks his audience members to raise their hands if they can think of a situation where they felt alive and free to be themselves. He describes this as an example of their genius becoming activated and showing who they are at their core. Then he has everyone go back to a childhood memory when they felt alive and free “without worrying about reward and recognition” and to write down three adjectives to describe themselves in that moment of genius as a child.

Every morning, he imagines his young genius and writes down some version of his 3 adjectives. Then he looks at his planner for the day and considers how his genius will show up as he goes through his day at work.

Unboxing People

The next portion of Jeffrey’s talk is about unboxing other people. He describes how our minds box in things to make sense of our surroundings and we do this to people too. He shares an amazing technique for unboxing other people.

How to unbox other people

Think of someone you’ve unfairly judged recently, acknowledge your judgment, then imagine you’re going to meet with them and have a conversation in the coming week. Try these three strategies to challenge your brain to see and hear the person and their ideas without judgment:

  1. Open up instead of size up
    • Make room for wonder and curiosity, not judgment and comparison
  2. Listen with your feet
    • Listen to them with your whole body instead of thinking about what you’ll say next
  3. One meeting, one encounter
    • Remember this moment will never be repeated again. Let wonder in.

Genuinely Loving People

Roger Martin is the former Dean and Institute Director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. According to The Knowledge Project “Forward Thinking” episode page, he was 2017’s number one management thinker in the world and after listening to this episode several times, I can see why. For my readers from higher education, his budget story as a Dean will blow your socks off. (What if?! Think of all that could be accomplished.)

Today I’m focusing on a specific quote but his discussion of integrative thinking in this episode will surely be featured in the future.

I don’t know any great, great leaders who don’t love other people. If you think people are annoying and you have to put up with them and put up with their foibles, rather than you genuinely love them, then I think you can only be so good of a leader.

Roger Martin, “Forward Thinking” episode, The Knowledge Project podcast
Image of six hands of various skin tones forming the shape of a heart with all of their fingers and hands together.
Photo by ATC Comm Photo on Pexels.com

Enhancing Love for Yourself and Others

Last but not least, I want to share a touching podcast episode – Tara Brach “Wisdom for Anxious Times” on The Good Life Project. I highly recommend listening to the entire episode. The title is so fitting. Tara has a calm, soothing voice that’s full of love and vulnerability. She and host Jonathan Fields talk about a wide array of topics:

  • Vulnerability Training and Compassion
  • Trance of Unworthiness
  • Training Your Mind and Changing Your Emotional State
  • RAIN Acronym and How It Can Save Your Life
  • The Biggest Challenge: Pausing
  • Meditation and Not Believing Your Thoughts
  • The Fabric of Humanity and Compassion at Scale
  • “Where Does It Hurt?”
  • Waking Up from “Bad Othering”

Here’s one particularly noteworthy quote:

If you feel a sense of love for someone and then you say it out loud, it activates the motor cortex, which actually enhances the experience of loving. So if you just, if you’re just thinking about somebody you care about, and you mentally just think of them and then you whisper their name, and whisper ‘I love you!’ there will be an upwell in your body of loving.

Tara Brach, The Good Life Project podcast

Thank you for reading! If you haven’t subscribed, scroll a little further down and enter your email address (or if viewing on the app click the title at the top to open in a browser and you’ll see the subscribe box at the bottom.) Also, don’t be shy about sharing this blog with friends, family, and colleagues who you think will find value in what we’re learning. Until next week!

E-Notes: On Healthy Choices, Daily Lists, and Simplifying Your Life

Have any of you heard of “75 Hard” or perhaps even completed the program yourself? It was created by a guy named Andy Frisella. (I try to keep things positive on this blog but I cannot stand his website so I refuse to link to it.) Regardless of his website, it is a creative idea and he gets credit for that.

75 Hard has gained tons of attention on TikTok. I’m not cool enough to use TikTok but I’ve noticed several friends have mentioned it on Facebook too. I heard about it the old fashioned way, while talking with a friend back in December (Hi, Laurie!), who said she was going to try it starting January 1st. I was intrigued by the idea and love having an accountabili-buddy any chance I can get one.

(Important: Before attempting any health changes consult your doctor, not TikTok, and keep in mind nothing I am saying is medical advice. I am only sharing my experience. You can definitely make healthy changes without silly TikTok challenges and in consultation with trained professionals.)

The 75 Hard Rules:

For 75 days, you do the following every single day. If you miss anything, you start over at Day 1.

  1. 2 workouts per day (45 minutes outside and 45 minutes anywhere)
  2. Drink a gallon of water
  3. Follow a diet of your choice, no cheats and no alcohol
  4. Read 10 pages of nonfiction
  5. Take a daily progress picture

My friend Laurie did the 75 Hard in its entirety and knocked it out of the park reliably and accurately! I’m incredibly proud of her and so impressed by her effort. I was also far more emotional when she finished her challenge than I was about my own attempt.

But I was no slouch either…I just didn’t officially complete the 75 Hard. Instead I changed my life for the better and that was good enough for me.

When considering my own 75 Hard, I didn’t want to start on January 1st (resolutions, bleh!). I decided to do a trial run for 10 days to test out some of my plans to eat healthy, test my resolve for not drinking, and practice fitting two 45-minute workouts into every day. We had a vacation scheduled after the 10-day trial so I set my start date as January 18th. The trial run went great except for one thing…drinking a gallon of water per day was WAY too much for me.

This is why it is REALLY important to know your body and know if something isn’t right. I was already working out twice a day several days a week so I didn’t feel adding some walks and yoga was going to exhaust me. The water was a significant increase for me and the #1 thing I was worried about. As an ultrarunner, you learn about hypo and hyper-natremia because you need to recognize the symptoms when training and especially racing. Hyponatremia is what I experienced when I drank so much water. Essentially my kidneys couldn’t keep up with the deluge of water and the saltiness of my blood diluted too much. My brain didn’t like it and started showing signs of mild hyponatremia. I backed off the water and aimed for a half gallon instead. I felt better within a day and a half gallon was still a stretch goal for me.

What I Ended Up Doing:

  1. 2 workouts per day (45 minutes outside and 45 minutes anywhere…for 68 days. By then Laurie had finished her challenge and I was no longer accountable to others so I fit both in when I could.
  2. Drink a gallon of water Drink a half gallon of water
  3. Follow a diet of your choice, no cheats and no alcohol – I did a gluten free, no fried foods, no sweets, primal, whole-food focused diet plus egg rolls on special occasions. 75 days is a long time and we had numerous birthday meals at restaurants AND I had a 50k race planned. Egg rolls on those rare special occasions made skipping all the homemade bread, rosemary dipping oil, fries, wings, martinis, wine, brownie sundaes, and post-race beers easier. Technically this wasn’t even “cheating” since the rule is a diet of your choice. The change I most wanted to make was the one I stuck to. I didn’t have any alcohol. And once egg rolls were on the plan, I made it 68 days…and then 6 more days with one slipup on Day 69. The one exception was for a very special slice of birthday cake that I could not refuse and I have zero regrets about eating.
  4. Read 10 pages of nonfiction
  5. Take a daily progress picture I did a before and after picture
  6. I also gave myself bonus points for doing Duolingo lessons, getting 8-10 hours of sleep, and taking my vitamins.

Healthy Choices

So what’s the point? Why am I sharing my unsuccessful, yet still decent attempt to complete the 75 Hard? Because it doesn’t matter that I missed the mark of a made up TikTok challenge. What matters is it helped me adopt new healthy behaviors. I needed extra oomph to get me started which the 75 Hard provided.

I wanted to add more walks in my life, learn yoga, drink more water, drink less alcohol, and eat healthier. I wanted to lose the pandemic pounds that I had put on. I wanted to watch less TV, get more sleep, do my Duolingo, and take my vitamins. From no longer drinking, I gained even more benefits like clearer memories, sleeping better, feeling my emotions without numbing them as Brené Brown calls it, faster recovery and running speed, and increased productivity.

Daily Lists

Take a look at the ideas below from James Altucher, Chase Jarvis, and little ol’ me. What is on your daily list or what would you put on your daily list? You don’t have to try to stick to a 75-day challenge — try something daily for 30 days! Yes, you may break the streak but you can pick right back up the next meal/workout/day.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

On Creative Live’s 30 Days of Genius, James Altucher shared this advice that he gives himself to stay focused on what’s important. Each day, he hopes to check off the following items:

  • Am I doing something for my physical health?
  • Am I doing something for my personal relationships with people?
  • Am I doing something creative?
  • Am I practicing some gratitude?

Then host Chase Jarvis shares that he has a 10 item daily list. He even gets his phone so he can read the full list. He uses the app Habit List to track the following:

  1. 8 hours in bed (with no devices)
  2. Meditate in the morning
  3. Meditate in the evening
  4. Eat clean
  5. Strength train twice a week
  6. Practice visualization and gratitude
  7. Play actively or make something with intention
  8. Move my body
  9. Drink 64 oz of water
  10. Drink 0 to 1 glasses of red wine

Chase added that when he does all of these things each day, he has more good days. Plus when bad things do happen, he’s better able to process and work through the difficulty with significantly easier effort.

I am loving the benefits that I have been experiencing since January 18th. Once my challenge officially ended at 11:59 p.m. on April 2nd, I spent two weeks enjoying whatever I wanted to eat with moderation. I even tried two sips of my husband’s beers. I’m good with not drinking any time soon. I also couldn’t be happier with the NA options available from Athletic Brewing Co and Grüvi (check out my Favorite Things page for info).

I decided to start another 75 days of my own this time. It will run from Easter Sunday to July 1st. Thanks to Chase Jarvis, I looked into custom habit tracker apps for Android and found Loop Habit Tracker. Here’s my new list for each day:

  • Get out of bed earlier
  • 30 sec or longer plank
  • Drink 64 oz of water
  • Follow my training plan
  • Eat clean, no alcohol (and no egg roll exception this time)
  • Read 10 pages (nonfiction ideally)
  • Do my Duolingo
  • Try to be in bed by 9:30 p.m. but definitely on the nights before swim practice
  • 3 cheat passes – one per month with no rollover and only for one item…not whole meals or cheat days

Simplifying Your Life

Today was WAY too much about me. Thank you for your readership and for viewing all of the ideas on this blog with curiosity and wonder with a sprinkling of skepticism.

I’d love to hear what habits you are trying to adopt or improve and I’m happy to be your accountabili-buddy! Send me any ideas, questions, or concerns you might have about your own healthy changes or the blog in general.

Ok, I’m done complicating your life for today. I have one final list to share with you though. In the words of Jon Stewart, “and now your moment of Zen”…

5 Ways to Simplify Your Life by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits

E-Notes: On Authenticity and Inclusion at Work

The leaders who take the time to consider how to create an office environment and organizational culture where everyone feels welcome and safe will be cultivating the most effective workforces at the same time.

Not everyone wants to return to working in a specific office, or even if they are already back in the office, they are feeling very raw and uncomfortable in that space. In the Dare to Lead podcast episode “The Great Awkward” that I shared last week, Brené Brown and her sister and chief of staff, Barrett Guillen, discuss feeling raw and the fact that everyone is not okay right now.

It’s important to remember that many people never felt comfortable in the office in the “before times” either. The daily effort to get ready a certain way, get there, and present a version of yourself that is “acceptable” can be exhausting when it mismatches with your authentic self. And that’s before experiencing microaggressions on top of everything else.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

“Authenticity is defined as when your external expression is aligned with your internal experience. People actually feel better about themselves when they are authentic. There are all kinds of implications for your wellbeing, work engagement, productivity.”

Dr. Tina Opie, expert in strategic management and organizational behavior

Every task, meeting, conversation, lunch, email, office space, and project idea has to be tempered with the right amount of who you’re supposed to be, how you’re supposed to appear, act, and sound, what you’re supposed to say and eat, and when you’re supposed to speak or have an idea.

Over lunch this week, treat yourself to the podcast episode, “What’s Changed About How We Show Up at Work?” In under 28 minutes, Dr. Tina Opie and the hosts of the “Women at Work” podcast have an honest conversation about authenticity at work and why many people are not wanting to return to an office. Here are a few more quotes from the episode to whet your appetite:

“I would say for me personally, going back into the workplace, I am a little bit worried about being authentic because I feel like I’m in a more raw place than before. So right now, when everybody wants authenticity, I am shying away from it because if I were to have that external expression be equivalent to my internal expression, it would be a damn mess.”

Emily Caulfield, Women at Work podcast co-host

“There are multiple domains in all of our lives and I have learned work is not therapy….I view work as a place where I want to be able to be emotionally authentic, but that’s not the place to work out my emotions…”

Dr. Tina Opie

 “This is a great opportunity for organizations. Organizations that will end up with competitive advantages will be those organizations who say, OK, authenticity is important to employees. We’ve talked about why wellbeing, productivity, work engagement. So let’s start looking at how our organization supports authentic expression in the workplace.”

Dr. Tina Opie

As a leader, slow down enough to be intentional and considerate of what your employees are experiencing. With a little bit of creativity and forethought a lot of compassion and diligent effort, employers can make changes that allow all employees the freedom to be comfortable, to feel included, and to improve their performance. They can also do more to facilitate an inclusive office return for multiple groups of individuals as described in this LeadDev article, “Making the Return to Office More Inclusive for Your Team” by Humayra Hanif.

E-Notes: On Engaging Others, Having Conversations, and Transforming How We Work

If you want to see me get squinchy-faced utter the words, “It’s time to return to work,” instead of “It’s time to return to the office.” Grrr! Since March 2020, we’ve all been working…in one way or another…working to do our job well, keep a job, find a new job, or juggle multiple jobs…with or without thanks or recognition of our efforts…regardless of where we have been working from…or what we were wearing while we did the work. Work does not only occur in an office.

Some of us are still fully remote and some of us have been in the office/in person every single day throughout the entire pandemic. Some of us had a choice in the matter and some of us did not. Wherever you are along the work spectrum, please join me in trying to increase support for each other and to improve engagement and communication at work.

Engaging Others

Here are a few ideas to try:

  • My husband has to send a report to a large email list every day. He now starts that message with a bit of humor, a fun fact, or what’s special about that day of the year.
  • At Brené Brown Education and Research Group, they do a two-word check-in with their employees. By asking employees to share two words that describe how they are doing at the start of a meeting, you can identify with others who feel similarly and as a supervisor, you can follow up with that person for more details later or be aware of their two word trend over time.
  • I implemented the Rose, Rose, Thorn, Bud game as part of director meetings. I heard about it on the “Awesomeology” episode with Neil Pasricha on Alie Ward’s Ologies podcast. Neil plays the game with his wife and kids at dinner but it worked great for my team too. (Neil has several more ideas for incorporating gratitude research into your lives if you want to check out the full episode.)
    • Each person takes turns saying the following without being interrupted:
      • Rose = One thing you are grateful for (be specific)
      • Rose = Another thing you are grateful for
      • Thorn = Something that did not go well
      • Bud = One thing you will focus on
Three red roses with lots of stems and leaves from the rose bush included.
Photo by Vishnu Mk on Pexels.com

Having Conversations

Below is an except from Seth Godin’s short manifesto The Conversation on effective online engagement in the only meetings that should remain. He advocates for shifting meetings where information is transferred to memos, and where information is transformed to a conversation.

A conversation involves listening and talking. A conversation involves a perception of openness and access and humanity on both sides.

People hate meetings but they don’t hate conversations.

People might dislike education, but everyone likes learning.

If you’re trapped in a room of fifty people and the organizer says, “let’s go around the room and have everyone introduce themselves,” you know you’re in for an hour of unhappiness. That’s because no one is listening and everyone is nervously waiting for their turn to talk.

But if you’re in a conversation, you have to listen to the other person. Because if you don’t, you won’t know what to say when it’s your turn to talk.

Conversations reset the power and compliance dynamic, because conversations enable us to be heard.

Conversations generate their own interest, because after you speak your piece, you’re probably very focused on what someone is going to say in response.

You don’t have to have a conversation, but if you choose to have one, go all in and actually have one.

Seth Godin, “The Conversation” on Seth’s Blog

Seth wrote this on March 17, 2020, and the full post includes several strategies to engage others in virtual meetings. Compare notes with Joshua Kim’s post “11 Ways Pandemic Zoom Changed Campus Meeting Culture” in Monday’s Inside Higher Ed newsletter.

Transforming How We Work

I’ve been following remote work strategies for years. In fact, I downloaded “How to Embrace Remote Work” as a .pdf guide from Trello back in January 2018. I’ve also followed Matt Mullenweg’s Distributed podcast since he started it.

In the “before times”, I drove 500 miles per week (over 8 hours of driving) to physically work in six different locations in rotation. Even though I technically had an office, spending every day in it was not what was needed to be most effective with employees distributed in so many places. In my attempt to be everywhere at once, short of warp speed, I had to learn to work from a laptop, attend meetings virtually, remotely access printers and internet, automate calendar appointment setting, with all of my files in the Cloud long before the rest of the world had to do the same.

As discussed in the Trello guide, if any of your employees do not work in the same place, you should be meeting remotely. Or you can pay for all of your employees to come together in the same physical space periodically as Matt Mullenweg’s company Automattic does. As soon as you have a meeting with one or more people Zooming into a room full of co-located people sitting around a table, you’ve created an unequal experience. The remote person feels like a fly on the wall or a talking head, often does not feel included or that they may speak freely, cannot see everyone when someone sits or stands off camera/with their back to the camera, cannot hear mumbles or side comments that occur as the main speaker is talking, is not given handouts that are passed out in person, and no, they cannot read the piece of paper being held up to the webcam. (Guilty of this? All the tips you need are in the links above. Let’s change starting today!)

In “The Great Awkward”, Brené Brown and her sister, Barrett Guillen, talk about their company’s return to the office and the lessons they have learned. I appreciated that they learned the importance of this too,

One of the things that we learned…we are not going to do our big important all-hands meeting anymore, except remote when everyone’s working remote, so that that feels more equitable for people and it forces us to be more creative, to your point, around the check-ins and funny things and using rooms and coming back out and challenges.

Brené Brown, “The Great Awkward” episode, Dare to Lead podcast

Yes, it takes rethinking some details and getting creative but it is an essential part of valuing employees. Next week, I’ll share some more considerations when it comes to inclusion, authenticity, and sharing spaces with coworkers again.

Until then, I’ll send you off with this,

The pandemic has given us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform how we work. By creating new rituals of connection, we can create a more human workplace, no matter where we are located.

Arianna Huffington, On My Mind newsletter

I’m curious for my readers who are not fully retired, did your job ever go remote during the pandemic? What date(s) did you return? Whether remote or back in the office is your employer (or another one you’re familiar with) doing anything that you really appreciate and think is worth sharing with the group? Let me know in the comments below.

E-Notes: On Wonder, Deserving to Succeed, and Scaling Kindness

The other night I was working on this week’s E-Notes and I felt like a DJ. That’s how it feels to bring ideas together. It’s like pulling up songs from new and old albums, mixing them together, connecting a beat or certain melody from one song and blending it into the next. It is as energizing and uplifting as I imagine it is to creatively weave beats together in your own artistic style. 

That’s what I hope to accomplish with E-Notes. The things I share are sometimes several years old but the ideas are still relevant…in some cases even more so now. Other items will be less than a week old. If I do my job right, you should be able to find threads or beats that bind the pieces while also appreciating the newly created collective.


After listening to his interview on The Good Life Project, I am looking forward to reading Tracking Wonder: Reclaiming a Life of Meaning and Possibility in a World Obsessed with Productivity by Jeffrey Davis. Below are some highlights (and timestamp links) worth sharing from the episode “A Wonder-Full Life”.

“Wonder physiologically doesn’t draw us toward the stimulus nor does it repel us. Love will draw us toward the stimulus. Fear will repel us away. Wonder pauses that response and just holds us in this beautiful receptivity and sometimes we can take stock of what’s really real and what’s really important.”

Jeffrey Davis, The Good Life Project
A picture of yellow fall leaves both on the trees and the ground so the entire photo is yellow.
This spot on our local trails is one of the places where I experience wonder. In this case, specifically when the leaves have turned in October with the sunshine filtering through, surrounding you in a yellow glow, with leaves fluttering in the breeze overhead, gently raining down on you, and rustling softly underfoot. I could spend all day here. (Photo Credit: Erin Shaw)

In his book, Jeffrey Davis shares the 6 Facets of Wonder that emerged from his research. The facets are discussed as pairs. I found Jeffrey’s conversation with Jonathan Fields very interesting as they delved into each pairing.

Jeffrey’s definition of Admiration:

“A surprising love we experience for someone’s excellence in character or craft and when we witness somebody being full force in who they are, or doing something virtuous, or just being so skilled at what they do and how they do it, we can feel this sort of love and it awakens, I think, something in us, perhaps to be just a little better at what we do and how we do it or who we are.”

Jeffrey Davis, “A Wonder-Full Life” episode on The Good Life Project

Wonder as a Possible Evolutionary Advantage and the “Hard Work” Bias Against Wonder

Finally, host Jonathan Fields shares Jeffrey’s DOSE acronym as an incredibly powerful lens that anyone can bring to everything they do:

Detect default pattern or downer reactions

Open up (pause, feel)

Seek out wonder

Extend the wonder (reflect, make meaning, let it linger, let it grow)

In what ways do you bring Wonder into your life? If you feel like you are constantly rushing around to get everything done between work, family, school, life, etc., what steps could you take this week to create a space for wonder? Even if it is only the briefest pause.

Until next Wednesday, I challenge you to slow down enough to notice the glint of sunshine on the windowsill, the delicateness of a flower emerging from the ground, the heady, earthy aroma of the spring thaw, a warm breeze on your face, or the calm, steady breath of the pet or child snuggling against you. Allow in the curiosity and openness, explore the bewilderment and hope, and feel the connection and admiration.

Deserving to Succeed

If you find any interview with Randall Stutman, make the time to listen to it. His interview on “The Essence of Leadership” on The Knowledge Project, and the focus of today’s post, on “Becoming a Life-long Student of Leadership” on the Daily Stoic podcast are some of the only podcast episodes that I have listened to numerous times.

As you can see from the notes and quotes I’ve shared below, he has worthwhile things to say. Although he’d be the first person to tell you not to place him or any other leader on a pedestal. Instead he’d say to focus on the actions and behaviors of great leaders, not the fallible person.

Check out his company Admired Leadership too. You can sign up for daily “Field Notes” and if you complete the free sign up for more information about Admired Leadership, you get access to five free videos.

Notes and quotes from Randall Stutman’s interview on the Daily Stoic podcast:

“Leadership is about other people…It’s about how you engage other people. It’s not about you.”

“No surgeon can operate on themselves. No leader can really assess themselves and understand everything that’s going on without some help.”

“The very nature of feedback is a direction and it comes from a place of power….The very nature of using the word feedback suggests this is a directive action that I’m doing, hopefully, with good intentions to improve your performance….I’m telling you directively, this is something you need to do. And it’s coming from a place of my experience and expertise but it’s also coming from a place of power….How you couch what you say is either going to create more resistance or more acceptance just in the very descriptor of the words.”

Strategies for Giving Effective Feedback:

  • Couch your thoughts in terms that will create more acceptance
    • Ex: Can I give offer you a suggestion or advice instead of feedback?
  • Ask for help as the leader
    • Share the following with the employee – “I’m trying to build a team where everyone does xyz, I need your help to get this done. Can you help me by doing xyz? What gets us there? How can you encourage the other members of the team?” (Insert suggestion for how they could improve their performance.) Give up some power and admit as the leader you are probably guilty of the behavior too. Ask if the employee would be willing to work on that behavior and help in that way.
  • Use Data
    • Maybe the employee isn’t remedying the behavior or listening to your feedback because of you. Ask the person to gather input of their team members’ thoughts on xyz. Or share what others have told you so that it is more than only your opinion but do so in a way that doesn’t feel like everyone is ganging up on this person.
  • Make It About You
    • You’ve asked the employee to do xyz but they are continuing to not improve. Put it on you as the leader. What haven’t you been clear about? What resource/explanation/help does the employee need? Focus on being effective, not on being right.
  • Walk in My Shoes
    • The employee’s behavior is still not improving after repeated conversations. Ask them to pretend they are the leader, “What would you do if you were in my shoes?” Or say “I have another employee who isn’t receiving feedback and acting on it. What would you say to them? What would you say to somebody else?”

Goal: Trying to open the dialogue and create a relational, supportive way by which we can explore what’s going on.

“You have to give up power to keep power. You have to give up power to maintain power….if you hold it too closely, you actually have less of it.”

“The best leaders, the people that are wise, realize this isn’t about me in control or me directing things. This is about me making it your idea and creating a context for a relationship where we trust each other, we respect each other, and you’ll do this for me because you know I would do it for you. And that changes everything.”

Idea of “Fanness” – the foundation of motivation and inspiration. (FYI, you get a nine-page guide on the concept of Fanness if you sign up for Admired Leadership’s Field Notes)

Host Ryan Holiday asked this question, “What do you do when you are a fan of someone, you do want them to be successful, you are rooting for them, but they seem to be stuck in some sort of trap of self-doubt or fear or laziness or entitlement…How do you get people to rise to their level of potential or excellence?”

Randall’s answer, “You shake ’em up but shaking them up isn’t necessarily a negative, right? There’s lots of ways of shaking people up. Like sometimes it’s about putting them in the right context so they are able to succeed at a higher level.”

After sharing this story about one of his employees he said, “At the end of the day, you gotta shake people up because you can’t let them stay in this place where they are underperforming based on what they’re capable of, because they simply lack a view, or a perspective, or a context by which they can assess themselves more objectively.”

One of Randall’s thoughts on what life’s about, “This idea of instead of trying to succeed, working really hard to deserve to succeed. When you deserve to succeed, trust me it’ll happen. The score will take care of itself, the victories will come, whatever the success is will happen. But most of us don’t work hard enough on us to deserve to succeed. Do you really deserve it? And that’s all about you, it’s all about your character, it’s about your behaviors, it’s about the choices you make, do you deserve to succeed?”

Randall said it best, folks. Wow! Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Scaling Kindness

Kindness Scales

It scales better than competitiveness, frustration, pettiness, regret, revenge, merit (whatever that means) or apathy.

Kindness ratchets up. It leads to more kindness. It can create trust and openness and truth and enthusiasm and patience and possibility.

Kindness, in one word, is a business model, an approach to strangers and a platform for growth.

It might take more effort than you were hoping it would, but it’s worth it.

Seth Godin, Seth’s Blog

Thank you for taking time to read this week’s post. It means so much! You’ve got some homework…pause long enough in the hustle of the next week to let Wonder into your life. And if you want to scale some kindness, drop a comment below. We’d all love to hear your thoughts.

E-Notes: On Taking Responsibility, Change and Possibility, and Resilience+

Leadership is taking responsibility…

If you’ve peeked at the Influences and Favorite Things page, you’ll notice that Brené Brown’s Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead podcasts were my #1 game changers for 2020-2021. She almost single-handedly narrated my weekly 7 hour commute (each way!) to Kansas and back from January to July 2021. I’d arrive at work each week with a treasure trove of ideas and insights to share with colleagues. When I wasn’t listening to her podcast episodes, I was listening to the audiobooks written by her guests. It was a fantastic experience and the only thing I miss about no longer commuting.

In this particular episode on Developing an Infinite Mindset, Brené interviewed Simon Sinek about his newest book, The Infinite Game. I haven’t read this book yet but I’m sure I will soon. I did enjoy his book Start with Why, and I’ve used that framework professionally for presentations on transfer student services and when leading a team in building a comprehensive assessment plan from the ground up.

In this episode, Brené asks, “What would you say to someone who doesn’t consider themselves a leader?” I loved Simon’s answer.

Every single one of us has the capacity to be the leader we wish we had. And the first criterion to be a leader is you have to want to be one. So if you want to be one, you are one. Now go practice, now go learn. I’ve never met anyone who’s a “great leader,” who’s an expert at leadership. We’re all students. Some more advanced, some less advanced. And you don’t have to be in a position of leadership to be a leader. Leadership is simply taking responsibility for the success of those around us. And so it has nothing to do with rank or seniority.

Simon Sinek, Dare to Lead podcast

You don’t have to be in charge of something or have direct reports to be a leader. You can lead from your current position by modeling reliability, empathy, integrity, and accountability to your coworkers. You can also practice leadership in any of your roles in life – at home as a spouse or parent, at work, school, church, sports, or elsewhere in your community. What are some ways that you will lead this week? Let me know in the comments below.

Change and Possibility

In The Knowledge Project episode, “Failing on Our Way to Mastery,” Seth Godin outlined these three pillars of change:

  1. The change you seek to make
  2. What possibility do you see
  3. How much emotional labor are you able and willing to expend to accomplish the thing you set out to do

When you explore the possibilities for the change you seek to make, do you have an idea and then hear a little voice in your head telling you why it won’t work or why you can’t do it? That’s “the resistance” and it tries to tell you to stay in your box, avoid change, don’t raise your hand. You have to work against it…every day…to create, to explore, to grow, and to ship great work into the world.

“The resistance” was introduced in The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (which is still on my list to read). In his excellent book, Linchpin, Seth Godin talks about “the Lizard brain” and “the resistance” in detail. Building upon Pressfield’s description Seth gave the following advice,

“Whichever way the wind of resistance is coming from, that’s the way to head. Directly into the resistance. And the closer you get to achieving the breakthrough your genius has in mind, the stronger the wind will blow and the harder the resistance will fight to stop you.”

Seth Godin, Linchpin

I am currently working through the Decision by Design course by Shane Parrish, host of The Knowledge Project podcast. As part of an exercise in the first lesson, I had to make a list of all of the decisions swirling around in my head. It was easy to write down things like “What should I cook for dinner tonight?” or “How can I fit yoga into my schedule?” Bigger decisions, like the changes Seth describes above, were much harder to put to paper. What are some of the decisions you’re pondering that wake up “the resistance” and make it push against your intentions and best efforts? What possibilities do you see for the changes you want to make in your life/office/the world?


Picture of a dirt trail going between tall redwood trees in northern California
Taken around mile 15 of my first 50k in the redwoods of Northern California.
Redwoods are one of my favorite reminders of resilience in the natural world. They’ve lived through so much in their lifetimes.
Photo Credit: Erin Shaw

Above Seth talked about the amount of emotional labor you are able to contribute to a change you want to make. Many people are struggling with the ability to keep going and to keep fighting for a better day in the future with such horrible things happening around us. Arianna Huffington looks to resilience to help us move forward.

Resilience is not, as so many of us thought in the early days of the pandemic, an end state we can reach. It’s a constant process of becoming. In the presence of endless uncertainty, apocalyptic weather events, political instability and new variants that upend the best-laid plans, Resilience+ is the on-demand quality we cannot do without – a constant process rather than a final destination. Not a marker to reach, but a mindset.

Arianna Huffington

In her December 22, 2021 On My Mind Newsletter, she announced Resilience+ (like Disney+) as her word of the year for 2022. She said, “Resilience+ is about refueling and replenishing so we can meet whatever challenges 2022 holds with less stress, more joy and endlessly renewable stores of resilience.”

How are you renewing and replenishing your stores of resilience? What are some ways you are taking time for yourself? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Be sure to check out the latest on The Repository. The newest items are always at the top. Do you have feedback about the blog in general? Get in touch!

E-Notes: On Discovering Your Purpose, What If People Don’t Like You, and Being Purple

Setting up this blog, I have come to realize how vulnerable it is to share content that you like. I am not typically one to post things on social media and until now only shared things with close friends. There’s a moment of “What if no one else likes this as much as I do?” The bloggers and podcasters I follow have been putting themselves out there on a weekly basis for 5 to 10 years, some for much longer. I’m thrilled to give their work more exposure and I thank them for their contribution to improving my life and my knowledge.

So here I go! (lets out deep breath) Each week, E-notes will include two to three curated items that complement each other and are worth your time. Head over to The Repository for a frequently updated list of shareworthy items that, while also great, didn’t make the E-Notes cut.

Discovering Your Purpose

As many of us are re-evaluating our lives and careers, I appreciated this diagram posted by author Dan Pink. The Japanese term ikigai has been compared to the French raison d’etre, the Greek eudaimonia, and even Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s idea of flow. Dan cited a recent article in his post but ikigai even appeared in the comments of Pinkcast 1.20: Discover your purpose (in one minute) with the Napkin Test (another useful tool to determine your reason for getting out of bed each day created by executive coach Richard Leider).

If People Don’t Like You

My husband and I are fans of Airbnb and have stayed at them all over the world. Even if you’ve never stayed at an Airbnb, take a listen to this episode or read the transcript. Brian has lots of unconventional ideas – I don’t think Airbnb would exist otherwise.

“Why the Future of Work is the Future of Travel, with Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky” on the podcast Decoder with Nilay Patel (transcript) (Spotify)

In addition to the title topic, Brian also covers:

Being Purple

Gary Vaynerchuk, aka GaryVee, is an intense, prolific creator of _________ (fill in the blank and he has probably done it). I’ve only listened to a few podcast interviews with him but every time I learn something and end up thinking about something differently. This time he’s on The Daily Stoic podcast to talk about his new book Twelve and a Half: Leveraging the Emotional Ingredients Necessary for Business Success (affiliate) and a thousand other things.

Gary talks so fast and is so eager to share the rapid fire thoughts in his head…he brings his whole self! Buckle up, brace yourself, and hold on as Gary takes you on a ride seeing the world through his eyes.

A few of the topics Gary talks about: [explicit warning]

So What Did You Think?

Have you identified your ikigai? What do you do when people don’t like you? Do you fall into the “You’ve Got Time” camp with Gary or the “Life is Short” crowd? Let me know in the comments below.

Did you poke around the site a bit and see anything you liked? Do you have feedback about the blog in general? Get in touch!


Photo by Ivan Bertolazzi from Pexels

I’m so glad that you’ve found your way across the interwebs to the small space I’ve carved out. I hope you’ll find value in the content shared here. Until now, I have spent loads of time sharing interesting articles, videos, news, stats, quotes, and ideas to individuals who I think might be the most interested in a particular item.

About a month ago, I realized that many of my friends share the same intersecting interests as I do. I’m reading topics far and wide but only sharing something specific with each of them. Maybe they want to read far and wide too, as long as someone they trust has vetted the material to say, “Hey, I think this is actually worth your time.”

I have toyed with the idea of a blog for over a decade and even started a different one for a short while. This time, I want to create a repository of ideas for people to pop in and check out without any FOMO or urgency. I think this is finally a niche that I can fill.

This post by Morgan Housel finally pushed me to say to myself…and my husband…and a couple friends, “I’ve been learning from all different fields in order to be a well-rounded leader in higher education. We could all become better thinkers and leaders by doing this, so why don’t I start sharing what I come across?”

The quote that gave me the swift kick: Housel said, “A couple ordinary things you don’t notice on their own create something spectacular when they mix together at the right time.”

I hope you’ll soon agree that the right time is now and we can make the world spectacular together.