Posts by Emily


We talk a lot about how reflection is key to becoming an authentic leader, and a fulfilled human being. Without a baseline, how do we know if we’re getting warmer or cooler on the journey? And wouldn’t it feel better to make a decision from a place of confidence? That you did the work – the reflection – to know it’s a good fit? (This is why we chose our next book chat book!) In this episode of the F5 Point of View, we outline ways to get started with reflection – prompts and practices – share stories of clients finding value and making bold moves as a result, and dive deeper into “the why” of it all. 👾🐶👾🐶 (We also get buzzed by a “drone” and Toby, the house dog, makes an appearance.) 👾🐶👾🐶...

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Kate Hadley Toftness is a Flank 5 Academy Collectivist alumna. Professionally, she is a lover of the arts, a writer, and a leader in grants and partnerships for art institutions. You can learn more about her on LinkedIn. When I was reflecting on my time with The Collective, in preparation for my final meeting and sharing any thoughts with the other members, I came up with three “themes” that summed up what I personally took away from the experience as strategies for being honest with yourself and moving forward with your goals: 1) Patience 2) Generosity  3) Intuition To elaborate on this a bit, I would say that each one of themes has an important caveat: 1) Patience (with Risk-taking) – Understand and accept that things take time. Enjoy slowing down to take things as they come without worrying so much about the future. Enjoy the present and actively cultivate attention to the present (that’s the yogi in me). That being said, you have to be willing to take risks in the midst of that patience! Be active, take steps, rock the boat, wake up! And then be patient with the results.   2) Generosity (with Honesty) – Imagine that all the energy you put into your work and your relationships with others (and to your own own growth), will all come back to you ten fold. Just try it out as if it were true. Depending on the results, maybe this will prove true. Encompass this spirit of generosity and recognize your own limits. Less so your limits of ability, more so your limits of time. Respect yourself to give yourself and loved ones the time you and they deserve. Respect others enough to commit to the things that you can do with excellence. Or let them know you what’s possible. Be honest.   3) Intuition (with Strategy) – Do you have a hunch about something you should be doing? Could be doing? Do you just know that you’re on the right track but can’t say why? Do you just know that something specific in your life needs to change? Pay attention to the things that, it turns out, you actually know. Yep, that thing that you know but haven’t done anything about. Or the thing you know but maybe don’t yet have the words to explain. Now that you know it, and you know that you know it, make a plan about how you will address that intuition now and when it creeps up from time to...

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F5 Book Chat: Finding Your Tribe


Posted By on Aug 28, 2017

Throughout the month of August, we’ve been reading Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, by Sebastian Junger. Here we talk about why – looking at the military veteran experience to start – and what it means for organizations, careerists and our overall fulfillment. Punchline: our lack of interdependence; our reliance on extrinsic motivation. . . it’s all counter-culture, and making us miserable. . . but there’s hope. And it begins with tribe. (Of course, we also had some laughs worthy of an outtakes reel...

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You Don’t Know Your Brand


Posted By on Jul 18, 2017

Powerful brands make the world go ‘round – and what we think of as a powerful begins with how we define “power.” Is it the brand with the strongest social mission? The largest revenue? The most employee retention? It gets personal. Quick. This idea of powerful brands residing outside of the brand itself is an important part of the conversation we have when working with clients who are evaluating “the next thing” – and maybe the stuff of nightmares for marketers. A core belief of ours – one that we share with many – is that you CANNOT create your brand. That’s right – you can’t “make it happen” or “seize the day.” This time you can snooze and win.   In a way. After all, it is through a) consistency and b) others’ experience of you – that the truth of your brand is revealed, not just what you think it is or should be or used to be or could be. Just the truth. That’s a great place to start. We offered this dichotomy at a recent Crain’s Summer School session, part of the Crain’s Academy suite of leadership and career development offerings. And we asked the question, “What are you known for (consistently)?” It prompted some introspection – and some uncertainty. Is what I’m known for a good thing? Is what I’m known for accurate? Is what I’m known for what I want to be known for? And then what? Running an experiment on the brand called you is actually an easy lift; but it takes some guts. Our prescription: ask three or four people the simple question, “What am I known for (consistently)?” Remember to always consider the source – these are people that should have a sense of how you’ve shown up, over a period of time. You can even ask anonymously, or use one of “Start with Why” guru Simon Sinek’s templates. And, of course, now that you have the data – a.k.a. what you’re known for a.k.a. the role you are master of – you’re only halfway there. You’ve got to tell the story of your brand, and this part you can control. Sort of. Consider, then, sharing a branding Mad Libs with your chosen folk and pushing the conversation a little further to ask, “How do you see what I’m known for?” It could be sentence completion something like: “YOU are really good if I ever need ______ and the reason I know that is because _______.” OR “If I ever need ______ solved or have a question about _____, I call _______, and the reason I would is _________.” Make...

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Committing to Change


Posted By on Jul 18, 2017

One of the hardest parts of making a change is commitment. (Duh; you know this.) The ideation is awesome – “Oh, the possibilities!” – but then one of many pings is heard and you’re back into email and any variety of easier / safer things. “No matter! I’ve always got tomorrow.” Which is totally true – but when tomorrow arrives, you don’t feel very well. And we’re really interested in you feeling great. Particularly about yourself; particularly about the possibilities. Know this, though: Humans are inherently wired to prefer short-term versus long-term; to prefer flight versus fight; prefer safety versus risk. It’s all good. That’s why The Collective exists – to help you keep “the long-range” in focus and get there, sometimes via unexpected routes –  because you matter and it matters. It’s worth committing to. We got to thinking, talking and taking action on this, as a bigger Flank 5 Academy community, while reading How Will You Measure Your Life? – a super-provocative title offered by Harvard Business School professor and author Clayton Christensen. While meeting to discuss it recently, we talked about how we define “the person I want to become” – and holding that vision close as we traverse challenges (e.g. discrimination), and get “off course” (e.g. those pings I mentioned) and find ourselves stuck in a pattern we want to get out of (e.g. taking the job because it pays more; not because it motivates us). Because with purpose front and center, and with a strategy effectively applied, you’ll wake up feeling good. You’ll have your very own yardstick by which to measure your life....

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