Tag Archives: business

The Energy Bus: Don’t let negative people get you down

(Weigh-In Wednesday will be back next week!)

Hello! I’m baaaaaaaaaaack!  Did you miss me? I took a week off to focus on work and some other life things (ok, mostly work but I had every intention to focus on other life things too). I found out a few weeks ago that I’m getting promoted. Whoop, whoop! I was already a little behind on work so I wanted to tie up some loose ends before the changes to my role were announced. So, that is what I’ve been doing (and eating way too much German chocolate cake + making homemade lasagna with Matt). Now, I’m in Louisville for the rest of the week to announce the changes and dig into my new responsibilities.

Another thing I accomplished this past week was reading The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon. I’ve been reading for 20-30 minutes before I go to bed. I read somewhere (Prevention magazine, maybe?) that reading before bed helps you sleep better and I’m a terrible sleeper. So the reading thing is really just killing two birds with one stone. So far, it has helped… but I was also very exhausted last week so I don’t know if I can declare the bedtime reading a success yet. I heard eliminating coffee helps too, but I’m not crazy enough ready to go down that road yet.

I thought The Energy Bus was corny, but very effective in delivering a clear message.  The author uses a fictional story to describe the Ten Rules for the Ride of Your Life.  The main character is George, a guy who is having serious marriage troubles, is on the verge of losing his job, and (to top it all off!) his car just broke down for two weeks.  I liked the book and suggest it to anyone looking for a quick read and reminder that mindset can really shape our lives. 

TEN RULES FOR THE RIDE OF YOUR LIFE

  1. You’re the driver of your bus.
  2. Desire, vision, and focus move your bus in the right direction.
  3. Fuel your ride with positive energy.
  4. Invite people on your bus and share your vision for the road ahead.
  5. Don’t waste your energy on those who don’t get on your bus.
  6. Post a sign that says NO ENERGY VAMPIRES ALLOWED on your bus.
  7. Enthusiasm attracts more passengers and energizes them during the ride.
  8. Love your passengers.
  9. Drive with purpose.
  10. Have fun and enjoy the ride.   

I think this book applies to all aspects of your life.  I identified with the importance of maintaining your own positive outlook, but also with not letting other people bring you down.  The author calls these people “Energy Vampires”.  We all know people like this, or maybe are or have been people like this.  These are the people who focus on the negative side of life.  My personal opinion is these people can be grouped into a few categories:

  • The trash talkers.  We all have days or periods where other people seriously bug us  and need to vent.  But, these are the people who spend 75% of their time talking about other people, or let specific people really get to them.
  • The people who cut everyone else down.  I think this comes in two forms: cutting people down and being unsupportive.  The unsupportive people can’t be happy for their friends or family because they take other people’s triumphs personally (that is my nice way of saying they are probably jealous, even if it really has nothing to do with them). 
  • The victims of life.  These are the people who feel like they’ve just been dealt so many more challenges than everyone else, and the rest of us are living in a land of rainbows and unicorns.  I’m sure we could find a couple of these people by scrolling through our facebook News Feed.  Sure, it’s OK to feel bad for yourself occasionally (because sometimes there is such a thing as bad luck) but we all have challenges.  Some are very visible and some are very private.  Don’t compare your challenges because you don’t know what people are going through now, have been through, or will go through at some point in their life. 

I’ve known more than a few people like this in my life, as I’m sure we all have.  I find these people to be extremely draining.  The book suggests telling people flat out that you won’t allow negativity on your bus.  I think the idea of saying “on my bus” is corny, but the overall message is good — don’t let these people play a major role in your life.  Their negativity will be draining on you over time.

Sometimes it isn’t possible to cut out coworkers or family that are “Energy Vampires”.  In this case, I strive not to contribute to the negativity (sometimes I’m successful and sometimes I’m not).  If someone is constantly talking poorly about someone else or complaining, I give them a few minutes to vent and then try to change the subject or offer a positive comment.  If that doesn’t work, I usually leave the conversation by physically leaving the room or distracting myself with something else. 

 Obviously this book brought out some very strong opinions in me.  It was a nice reminder to focus my energy on what produces good things in my life.  Sometimes that can be very hard, but I’d say I am a positive person about 85% of the time.  There will always be people in life who try to bring us down.  The key is to recognize that and don’t let it drain your energy. 

How do you keep yourself focused on the positive things in life?  Have you ever burrowed yourself away for a week to get caught up on life?

(Weigh-In Wednesday will be back next week)

HBR Article Review & Women in Corporate Leadership

Happy Friday!

Today, I read a good article and attended a Women in Corporate Leadership lunch.  I’d like to share my thoughts on the article and the Women in Leadership lunch.  I know this isn’t the perfect topic for a Friday when we want to take a break from work, but it is what is on my mind so it is what I’m going to write about 🙂

The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time – Tony Schwartz – Harvard Business Review.

This article talks about how multi-tasking uses up our energy reserves faster and takes us, on average, 25% longer to complete tasks (and the quality is probably much lower than if you focused exclusively on the task).  This is exactly how I’ve felt the past few weeks.  I’ve been double-booked and in meetings from 7am-4pm a lot of days so I’ve been trying to keep up on email, get performance reviews written, and move my tasks along while I’m on conference calls so I don’t fall (further) behind.  

At the end of the day, I’ve been so exhausted I can barely form an intelligent thought, yet I still haven’t felt like I made progress on the important things at work.  I struggle with this in my personal life too, where I am on my phone while watching tv so I’m not fully enjoying my downtime or my mind drifts to what I need to get done at home when I’m having a conversation so I’m not fully present.   

My solution?  Lately, I’ve been making more conscious decisions to keep my phone in the other room when I’m at home or leave my laptop in my office when I head to meetings at work.  It is something I will need to work on a daily (sometimes hourly) basis, but I think it will make me a much more engaged and productive worker and a better friend… while also making sure I leave the office with a little more energy.

Women in Corporate Leadership lunch

The host of this event was Dale Kurschner, Editor-in-Chief of Twin Cities Business.  The format was a presentation of the recent study on women in leadership and board positions and then a panel discussion.  It was interesting to see the facts behind women in leadership:

  • Women represent 40% of the workforce
  • 51% of middle management roles are held by women (which was surprising since that is a higher percentage than the general population of women in business)
  • The average percent of women on boards is 14.2%
  • Less than 3% of Fortune 1000 companies have a female CEO

In all honesty, I don’t really like the whole “women need equal representation” talk.  It implies that women are promoted because they are women, not because they are qualified.  I’ve worked too hard in my career to have my qualifications be dismissed as a gender thing.  I think that is the attitude of the typical Milennial or Gen X female.  I also think that attitude is proof that Baby Boomer women were successful in forging the way for women to be seen as equals in the workplace.  I don’t feel like I have to prove myself as a woman, I feel like I have to prove myself as an employee.  The Baby Boomers shattered the ceiling, changed the perception, and gave me the confidence to have that attitude. 

Now, I will step off my soapbox.  Obviously, women are under-represented in top-level corporate roles.  The largest factor is probably that most people who lead Fortune 1000 companies are typically in the generation where women have been under-represented.   When women were in leadership roles, it was often in HR or Communications; whereas, a CEO usually has a strong financial, operations or sales background.  I am not defending the low percent, but I think it is a stretch to say it means we don’t have equal opportunity.  What I think it means is there was once an imbalance, which led to a very small pipeline of women leaders with the right experience to become CEO.  It takes a long time to build a pipeline of good leaders.  As the current generation of CEO’s retire, it will make way for the next generation that has a strong pipeline of women leaders to take over.  I will be very surprised if we don’t see the number of female CEO’s drastically increase over the next 5-10 years. 

I found the data to be interesting (and not surprising) and the panel to just be “meh”.  They weren’t very energetic and the topics were the same you’d hear at any other luncheon.  The gist of it was:

  • The Milennials want more flexibility in their work – how, where and what they work on.  All of these companies recognized that they will need to provide this flexibility if they want to retain talent.
  • You can have it all, but usually not at the same time.  At some point, you need to make trade-offs.  The group that came up a lot in this discussion was young mothers and fathers.  The law firm Fredrikson & Byron lets their Associates work part-time so they can stay on track to reach partner and spend more time with their kids.  (obviously the partner track is longer in this case)
  • Having a diverse board and Executive team leads to more diversity in thought, which leads to better decision-making. 
  • Be yourself.  People can connect better with people who are genuine.  This is something I’ve found to be the most helpful in my career.  I am honest and straightforward, so I can usually build up trust pretty quickly that I’m here to work hard and make the right decisions. 

Have you read any good articles lately?  What are your thoughts on my thoughts about women in leadership?