Posts by Emily


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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Endings are Important


Posted By on May 24, 2017

There’s a lot of fear that comes with endings – when it’s time for you to move on, make a change, or show up in a new way. That fear is why we stay put, maybe too long. Or why we leave too soon: “Just get it over with.” Or maybe why we “ghost” – disappearing without really having to end; it’s so scary we avoid it. But endings are important: they prompt helpful questions (“How will I keep the momentum going?” or “How will I keep in touch with these people I’ve grown to care for?”). They mark a pivot point and an opportunity to take stock: of what we’ve learned, what we believe and, perhaps most importantly, what we’re committed to We evaluate who we care about, who is better left “as is” and what we’ll carry forward. After all time is finite, and energy is not. This question of, “How will I keep the momentum going?” comes up a lot as people leave The Collective. It’s not overstating to say the group is transformative. When people leave they are different than when they arrived. It’s no wonder, then, that leaving is a hard decision to make – how do you continue to transform without the support and push the group provides? In your own transition, you could just as easily ask, “How will I keep in touch with people I’m leaving?” or “How will I avoid slipping into ‘bad habits’ I’ve worked so hard to stamp out?” The fear makes sense, but it’s actually not a great motivator. The answer to all the “how?” above has a lot to do with first thinking about what fuels us. In other words, what motivates us. Seth Godin wrote an awesome blogpost this week that offers a list of fuel / motivators – and reminds us that we have the power to choose, whether we’re fueled by “big dreams” or “dissatisfaction,” it’s important to take note. As Seth says: “They [any motivator / fuel] all work. Some of them leave you wrecked, some create an environment of possibility and connection and joy. Up to you.” Endings prompt an awareness that we’re going to have to look inward for our fuel – intrinsic motivation –  as opposed to a group, or a role, or an individual. This is hard especially if we’ve worked in a traditional supervisor / employee setting where we “follow the leader.” But when it’s really up to us – to move on, make the change, show up in a new way – we get to choose to look within. Knowing it’s hard, unnatural and will take...

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Taking the First Step


Posted By on May 9, 2017

Being open to new things is an attractive quality. When we see “openness” in others, we admire it – we praise them for bravery, living in the present. . . being risk takers. For taking the first step. Inherent in that point of view is the tiny voice of Judgment – that we, in comparison, are not open. That we say we’re going to do new things but we never do. “It’s so easy for others, but what’s wrong with me that it’s so hard?” What that Judgment prevents is compassion – and it keeps us stuck, from even the first step of our leadership and career purpose. It prevents us from acknowledging how hard it is, for humans, to grow and do new things. How hard it is to flex, bend and shift in the name of getting into alignment, finding fulfillment and enjoyment in work – in life. We gloss over / ignore / forget that we are innately wired for safety – that our fight / flight instinct is difficult to override – that the discomfort of new a.k.a. weird a.k.a. dangerous is powerful. We talked a lot about this as a community in April while reading 10% Happier – How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works – A True Story. After having a nationally televised panic attack on Good Morning America, the book’s author Dan Harris knew he had to make some changes. Harris eventually landed on meditation as a “new thing” to try, after sifting through his own beliefs, judgments and fear around it. Like, a LOT of judgment. But, hitting his own bottom increased the willingness to surrender to the new, to take the first step, toward something that would eventually do for him what underreported research says meditation has done for CEOs, scientists, and even marines – all of whom are using it for increased calm, focus, and happiness. What the Flank 5 Academy folks loved about his story was the authenticity, skepticism and desperation that spouted from the crippling voice in his head that was committed to him staying stuck, sick and the same. From taking step one. We all have that voice. The voice that keeps us from starting. And this month, we’re exploring the why, and the how, of all that is “the first step.” What does it look like to start the thing you’ve been wanting to do? How does it feel to let go of steps two through 1,000, in the name of knowing it begins with one? How do you get the accountability,...

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Amanda Ryznar is a Flank 5 Academy Collectivist alumna and facilitator. Professionally, she is a digital marketing leader who is committed to the pursuit of conscious leadership for herself and others. You can learn more about her on LinkedIn. I have always expected a reward and I have always been willing to work for one. My theory has been that hard work = reward. My world was initially set up to support this theory. I liked the model and have continued to play it out most of my life. Hard work at school meant good grades. Good grades meant getting into a good college. Getting into a good college meant getting a good job. Getting a good job meant achieving financial stability, satisfaction, etc. You’ve heard this before. You may have done this. You may be doing it now. And, you aren’t wrong for doing it. I only know that it does not serve me, personally, to continue this way of thinking. I joined the Collective because I wanted to know my purpose. I thought that if I spent two hours a week in this group setting, and then more time thinking about it outside these meetings, that I would figure it out. In other words, if I just worked hard enough, the reward would come. The reward in this case was specific purpose with a specific role. That is not the reward that I received. And, I no longer think that the “reward” for my participation needed to be a purpose and an associated specific role. Mark Nepo in the Book of Awakening writes, “The closer we get to all being, the more synonymous the effort and its reward. The reward for uncovering the truth is the experience of an honest being. The reward for understanding is the peace of knowing. The reward for loving is being the carrier of love.” The reward is the experience that you have that is internal and intrinsic to you. It’s not an external acquisition – and viewing it as a set target with a set point in time can be extremely limiting. My rewards for participating in the Collective are many. I evaluated my role at work, my attitude towards work, the type of leader I wanted to be, and the dynamic that I was co-creating with my colleagues. It was not easy, but the reward was a clearer picture of how I wanted to view work and an acceptance that growth comes from the willingness to question and sit with challenges. People who I didn’t know, got to know me, and as a result encouraged me, believed in me, and supported...

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