My recipe for building a team:

  1.  Have a vision of what you’re trying to achieve, broken down into measureable goals that teammates understand how their actions impact the achievement of that goal and, eventually, the vision.
  2. Treat teammates with respect.  Remember the different intelligences and personality types and strengths and as long as someone is trustworthy, both character and competence, figure out a way to unleash their talents.
  3. Be someone trustworthy and consciously focus on the behaviors that build trust in the team.
  4. Celebrate success publicly.
  5. Address poor performance immediately.  It is totally de-motivating to be giving it your all for a goal while the person in the next cube plans her wedding.

I think it is nice to go to dinner occasionally, maybe do a training exercise for 15 minutes to remind yourself of a point (“make these shapes into four squares, no one can talk, only the person in possession of the shapes can . . .”)–do something retreat-like.  It builds relationships.  And relationships are just as  important as results if you want to be able to get those results more than one time.  But the most critical element to team building is working together on a common goal.  Achieving something cool with people you respect.

  1. People who are willing to be themselves are inspiring.  I’m lookin’ at you, proprietor of the Angermeyer Inn in the Galapagos.
  2. The office will get by without my brilliance if I go somewhere for a week without e-mail access and very little cell phone coverage.
  3. Blue footed boobies (The birds, people!  Geesh!) dive in packs of four in complete synchronicity.
  4. Never marry someone who likes a hard mattress and air conditioning if you like a soft mattress and the windows open.  It will lead to 15 years (and counting) of summer bickering.  Particularly when you don’t travel as much for work anymore. OK, still marry them if they’re really handsome.  I did.
  5. It is very important to wear the right shoes.  I’m no Carrie Bradford (actually, have very little tolerance for the Carrie Bradford’s of the world) but whether in 6 inches of mud or to a Board meeting . . .shoes matter.
  6. No matter how much you exercise, you won’t lose weight unless you eat better.
  7. It is more fun to hear your kids tell other people about your vacation than it is to tell about it yourself.  They sound like kids.  You sound like gloating.
  8. A great travel mate/co-worker/friend shares his/her snacks.
  9. A great leader knows when to take input, when to make a decision, and when to step back and follow.
  10. Take a vacation.  Work will be there in all its glory when you get back.

I’ve tried to be a good mother for the last 19 years. Of course, I, like all reflective adults responsible for parenting people aged 13-20, question myself.  In my opinion, teenagers are harder work than “work.” But I’m truly doing my best.

What doesn’t help the questioning is that mothering has become a spectator sport. It
is difficult to find a coach; instead you find a lot of fair-weather fans yelling what an idiot you are from the sidelines. Everyone has an opinion on mothering. And then add working outside of the home? Prepare to get hit with some peanuts from the gallery.

Most books on working mothers are downright depressing. According to these manifestos,
either it is a moral imperative to work outside of the home (”you owe it to the
women who came before you and created your right to options”) OR mothers who stay home with their children are morally elevated and celebrated and working mothers, either by choice or necessity, are denigrated.

Today is an interesting day for me to share my thoughts on determining for yourself
how you might embody great motherhood, as my oldest is struggling a bit with the transition to adulthood.  So, of course, I question myself and what I might have done differently or start to do differently.  Regardless, below are the principles by which I live.

1. If you have a child, you are responsible for the physical, mental, and spiritual care-taking of that child until they are at least 18 years old. It would be great if you had help . . . a village even . . .but don’t count on it.  Especially in the United States. (Yes, that is a political statement).  And while you are not technically responsible past 18, and should even be letting go, you will most likely think about and try to positively influence the physical, mental, and spiritual health of that individual for the rest of your life.

2. It is worth your time to define what you mean by “physical, mental, and spiritual
care-taking.” There are baseline levels established by law and common sense, but other than that, people define them differently. “Physical” can range from well-balanced meals and a warm place to sleep to driving little Kyle around the country thousands of miles a year as he plays competitive soccer.  “Mental” may mean a decent school and some discussions around the dinner table regarding how to resolve conflict with your siblings and the mean kids at school.  To others it might means private schools, tutors, therapists, and personal meditation guidance.  “Spiritual”can be actively connecting your family to something greater than themselves as individuals through civic and global involvement to participation in a religious tradition that guides all choice and action.

You get my point.  You have to create your definition of greatness and judge yourself against that.

3. What you decide to take on in the workplace and in your community should
depend heavily on your definition of caretaking in question #2.   And who else you’ve got in your life that agrees with the definition and is willing to play a part. FACT:  If you work, you’ll need help delivering on your vision of parenting.  FACT:  There is no such thing as total work/life balance.  If you work, you’ll miss some things at home.

I suggest you truly reflect on your definition of great motherhood.  Even write it down.  And then review what you are doing today to align your actions with your definition.


My #1 piece of career advice:  Be a realistic optimist.  Be able to say to yourself, “OK self, this is what just happened.  What can I do based on the givens of the situation?”  Another way to state it: always be willing to move to Plan B.  Or C or D.  This advice fits any career (or life) situation . . .some examples:

  1. Your organization is merging with another one and the facility at which you currently work is closing.
  2. You thought you had put in your time and done the work to be next in line for the big promotion.  Your organization hires someone from the outside.
  3. You’ve gone to a leadership course requiring 360 degree feedback.  The majority of the respondents find you abrasive, ego-driven, and wouldn’t follow you if given a choice.

Notice, my advice is REALISTIC optimist . . .ACTION-ORIENTED optimist, not “zippidy-do-da-day” things will be fine and I don’t need to figure out what to do.  People with great careers do something when things don’t work as planned.  So allow yourself shock, anger, disbelief for a short amount of time.  Go through the phases of transition.  Then follow the advice of WWII posters in Britain:  Keep Calm and Carry on.


I am changing employers for the first time in 15 years.  FranklinCovey has been amazing to me–lots of career opportunity, fun travel, colleagues who treat me with respect.  We’ll continue to work together around my book and I may have the opportunity to serve on an advisory board.  People have been writing me really nice notes, throwing goodbye parties, and giving me presents–I’m leaving on great terms.

I’m also incredibly excited about my new work in the Wisdom group at DaVita.  All my synapsis are firing as I learn about a new industry, a new organization, new challenges.  I love it!

Sound great!  But here is my little secret:  I’m also anxious.  And impatient for the transition to be over.  And resistant to change in strange ways (do I really need to switch to a Blackberry?  where will I park?  New Year’s Eve–my birthday– isn’t at least a 1/2 day company holiday?).  And worried about the unknown.

I should have known what to expect as I’ve been leading change in organizations–which means the people in organizations–for 20 years.  So I know that changing jobs is in the top 10 of life’s most stressful events.  I know it is only natural to feel excited and scared at the same time.  And I’m changing jobs because I WANTED to feel this way.  But for some reason, I thought the phases of personal transition wouldn’t apply to me.  I was wrong.  But I have developed some coping strategies in the month of finishing in one place and moving to another.

Here are my personal “managing transition” hints, in no particular order:

  • Exercise every day.
  • Allocate 15 minutes to write down the things you’re worried about and an hour every day to address a few of them.  Then stop worrying.
  • Connect with your support system.  Now is the time for lunch with a friend, a phone call, happy hour, a Saturday morning run, or a games night with family.
  • Think about other people who are dealing with your transition.  In my case, my previous employer has people assuming my old responsibilities and my new employer wants to help me hit the ground running.  Make it easier for them–your focus on others leaves less time to worry about yourself.
  • If you have any available blocks of time, do things you never take the time for–regular Dr. appts., getting the broken window screens fixed, taking the car for maintenance, scheduling next year’s Girl Scout meetings.  And after you’ve been really productive, you can watch General Hospital without guilt.

Engagement is impact achieved because you are a trusted member of a team working toward a meaningful organizational goal. So what part do leaders/managers play in engaging those who work with them? Leaders are responsible for creating the conditions for engagement to take place. It starts with mindset: as a leader, do you view your people as easily replaceable cogs in the machine? Or do you view them as whole people: body, mind, heart, and spirit? Whole people want to know the goal, what they can do to contribute, and be held accountable (body). They are more engaged if the goal taps into their talents and capabilities (heart) and requires intelligence and creativity (mind). Finally, people are more engaged if they understand the meaning of their contribution (spirit). To create those conditions requires a continuous focus on skill-set:

1. Clarifying purpose in a way that links to organizational strategy and demonstrates an understanding of the organization’s business/resource model. (Strategic thinking, business acumen, communication, team building)

2. Aligning systems, most importantly the execution system including scoreboards and accountability. Also, internal and external customer systems, core process alignment, and talent management. (Decision making, functional expertise, performance management, coaching, measurement).

3. Unleashing talent: How to talk to people about engagement, clear the path, and resolve conflict.

4. Inspire trust by acting in a way that honors the relationships as well as the results and demonstrates self-awareness and personal productivity.

For a great example of a leader creating the conditions for engagement, watch this video of Emma Brandon, the UK’s best leader.

FranklinCovey Leadership Video Preview: Emma Brandon


Engaging Your Workforce: Leadership and Individual Accountability


Jennifer Colosimo talks about building a Great Career with elearning TV


Here is a link to an interview with Jennifer Colosimo on BlogTalkRadio discussing the topic “How to Create Your Ultimate Job”.  Check it out!


"I urge you to read this remarkable book! It offers the push you need to transform yourself, prosper, and get the career satisfaction you crave."
~ Robin Ryan, author of 60 Seconds & You're Hired!