Strong Teams are Comprised of Courageous Leaders

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

Courage. It’s a word I love, because the root “cor” is Latin for “heart.” As Brene Brown said in her famous TedTalk on Vulnerability, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.”

Last week I witnessed the intersection of this idea while facilitating an executive leadership retreat. And while I’ve led dozens of these, this one was different.

Here’s what happened.

True to form (and brand) I built the day to feel like we were headed out on road trip together. It was designed to take this team of ‘travelers’ on a journey of self-discovery, crucial conversations and team building. We set out with a set of exercises to establish common ground. Then we picked up speed by building on the team’s distinct strengths and core values.

By mid-day our travelers pulled out their roadmaps to look ahead and identify any crucial road blocks that might...

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When Life Gets in the Way of Reinvention...

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

If you think about my career as a road map, you might imagine a cross country trip on Route 66. I have a plan. I have a destination. But I also have an insatiable curiosity. That curiosity has allowed me to take in the sights, read the billboards along the way and make a few unexpected stops. Life’s an adventure and I’ve enjoyed the ride.

So…why is it so hard to reinvent yourself? Why can’t we all just click our heels three times and be done with it?  Well, life. Life gets in the way.

That said, it’s possible. I know it is because I’ve reinvented myself multiple times. And I’m quite sure I’ll do it again. With that in mind, let’s talk about the roadblocks I know are out there, and how to maneuver around them instead of slamming into them head on.

Reinvention Roadblock #1: Maybe, you don’t really want to travel this new route.

If you feel like there’s always something...

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Stop Doing. Just Be.

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

Stop doing. Just be…even if it's just for a minute.

So often, we feel driven to produce. Do more. Contribute more. Be better.

Even when we’re doing something that feels relatively mindless, like scrolling through social media, we’re drawn to things that subconsciously make us feel like we’re not enough. Diet hacks? Plumper skin tips? Summer swim ads? Dream destination pics? The message whispered in your ear is, “You would be happier if you looked more like her or were sipping wine in Paris with him…“
Basically, the message is “Hey girl…”

“Whatever your present is, it isn’t good enough.”

“Why aren’t you doing anything to improve yourself, your life, your kids, your home, your job?

And that’s just social media. <Rolling my eyes.> We’re not even addressing the real pressures we all face and the real demands we tackle at work.  Throw the...

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Bosses face perfect storm of worker frustration, exhaustion & burnout. What to do?

Warning: I’m about to say a thing that might hit you wrong…or step on some toes. And in the age of cancel culture, I’m asking that you hang in there with me. It’ll make sense in the end. We good? Okay, let’s go.

So…I asked a client how she was doing last week, and she said, “Honestly Jes, I’m fine. I’m rolling. I know you’re writing about burnout these days, but I’m not burned out. And in full transparency, I think many of my ‘burned out’ colleagues…might not be used to working full days anymore.”

I was struck by her candor. But then she elaborated. “I think some people worked less during COVID, not more. Now that they’re back in the office routine, they’re trying to catch up. Meanwhile, their well-meaning coworkers are filling in the gaps. Those are the folks that are burned out while others…just haven’t regained their footing yet.”

I took a day to sit...

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Refresh yourself, people: Here’s a hot summer bucket list

summer bucket list Jul 28, 2022

Summer is flying by…Geesh!! So this week, I wanted to offer a few (okay, 10) things to enjoy and savor before this gorgeous season takes a bow.

Summer Bucket List

  1. Find some water! Take a walk on the beach, pack a picnic lunch, or see if somebody will take you out on a boat for a relaxing kickback on the water.

  2. Catch a baseball game! Ya’ll know I’m partial to the Durham Bulls but wherever you are…support your local team!

  3. Find an inspiring arboretum or summer flower display. (In Raleigh, we love the Dorothea Dix Sunflower Field or Lavender Oaks Farm in Chapel Hill.

  4. Indulge in a pool day. Bring a novel, sunblock, playlist and jazzy beverages. You’ve probably forgotten how relaxing a good day at the pool can be. *Try making some whimsical jello shots. Check out the ones our staff are crazy about below.

  5. Go on a hot girl walk! Dress up, walk with your best swagger, and enjoy being your powerful beautiful self.

  6. Make homemade...

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Leadership lessons from golf: The game is a beast but …

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

Okay, here’s the deal. My friend and Oh, Lords! co-author, Terresa Zimmerman is a force! She’s the founder and CEO of a men’s underwear company called Wood (it’s okay to laugh) and co-founder of Sayhii a company that activates people in the workplace with purpose. She’s also a helluva golfer.

Recently, she invited me to be her ‘guest’ at a two-day, member-guest tournament held over the weekend. When she asked, I said, “Girl, you know I only look the part, right? I have the clubs, the golf shoes and the cute skirts, but my golf game is garbage.” She assured me I’d be fine and we’d have a good time.

Listen, I’m no dummy. I know golf is a beast. It’s a game that can tear you down and build you up in one stroke. If I was going to make it out alive, I would have to focus on three things: my attitude, my coachability and the beverage cart.

Result: not only did I survive, we had...

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People, Passion, Playing: 3 Things I Learned from Girls on the Run International

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

Seems like everybody’s on summer break so we decided to keep it light for the month of July. Today is the first of four light-hearted ‘lists of the things’ that keep us smiling over here. Enjoy!

To kick off this light summer series, I want to share with you three things I learned from the 2022 Girls on the Run International (GOTR) Summit, held last week in beautiful Minneapolis.

1. Finding your Passion is not cliché… it might actually solve a lot of the world’s problems right now.

The 400 women (and a few good men) I met at the Girls on the Run Summit are full of passion!  WOW!  They weren’t talking about how tired they were, or complaining that they have no time. No… these beautiful humans were vibrantly exploring ways to pour even more into their passion of inspiring girls to be joyful, healthy and confident!

Most of the women I met aren’t paid for the 15-20 hours a week they...

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Work Weary? Try the 90-Second Refresh

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

Last Friday I was having dinner at Rosewater with a team member when something cool happened. We had just ordered drinks and were happily catching up when Graciela, our server, popped back by. Her electric smile, genuine connection and sincere optimism took all of our energy up 10 notches in about 90 seconds. It was as if her energy was on magical currents.

Our evening went from nice to amazing in a blink of an eye. And that’s when it hit us: sometimes all you need is a 90-second refresh.

THE SCIENCE BEHIND 90 SECONDS

Now before you think I’m getting all woo-woo on you, I decided to see what was out there on “90 seconds” and guess what? Science supports it.

According to Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, Harvard neuroanatomist (also known as “brain scientist”) and author of the book “My Stroke of Insight,” ninety seconds is all it takes to let go of a negative emotion.

For example, let’s say you’re...

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From Amish Farm to Entrepreneur...

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

I’m taking a hard left this week to address something that I get asked about regularly.

Many of you know that during the pandemic I left a role I really enjoyed to start my own company. And now, when I’m out and about, I’m often asked: “Girl, how did you do it?”

Sounds straightforward enough. But this isn’t really what folks want to know. The question behind the question is, “Weren’t you scared?” or “How did you know you could make it work?”

So this week I thought we might rewind and level set. Last Thursday, I invited you to think about the power of reinvention. I used the analogy of surfers getting up on their board and asked you to notice the waves of opportunity in your own life.

As a reminder, reinvention is the action or process by which something is changed so much that it appears entirely new. So, if that’s the measure, I’m an expert in...

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Great Resignation or Great Reinvention?

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

It’s summertime and I’m coming in with beach energy and little umbrellas on my mind.

I’m also completely inspired by surfers! First, because they casually enter the “home” of sharks and jellyfish like it’s just another day at the office. And second because they paddle, paddle, paddle, and then, just as a wave swells, they artfully stand up on their longboard and — if timed right — swoop along the shoreline with grace.

If you’ve been following us here on TechWire, you know we compare burnout to a marathon with a finish line that is woefully out of sight. If we move this analogy to the ocean, the equivalent is a surfer who paddles indefinitely in search of a wave — but can’t catch it.

But savvy surfers know a secret. They can sense the shift in the water, and at just the right moment, they confidently stand up and harness the energy of the wave instead of relying on their own strength....

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