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Fire Starters... Why They Are Essential to Your Team

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

Today, I want to take you on a journey. A little time travel.

Now, sit back for a minute and think about a time you really enjoyed a campfire.

Sink into that memory.

Smell the smoke. Feel the warmth. Hear the crackling fire.

For me, I immediately think about summer camp at Camp Palmer. After a hot day packed with activities, we’d all find our way back from the far corners of camp to talk, laugh, and roast marshmallows around a welcoming fire. We’d sing songs and watch our counselors perform skits while recovering from the day’s adventures. It was a time to connect and reflect as friends and it was my favorite part of the camp experience – food for my young soul.

Now… take a minute to think about the person that built the campfire you have in your mind. How did that amazing setting come to life? We know it didn’t just spontaneously combust into existence, right? Who made it happen?

The fire starter.

People who...

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Meaningful Milestones—And Why They Matter

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

Last week we talked about micro-connections, those tiny-yet-potent ways we can connect with the people around us, increasing our sense of belonging and our sense of fulfillment—even on days we interact only with strangers!

Today I’m here to talk about something that takes more effort, but is worth every bit of energy expenditure. Why? Because this is one of the most powerful ways you can deepen your connection with the people around you.

What am I talking about?

The recognition of meaningful milestones.

If you were tempted to stop reading the second you saw that this was about milestones, you’re exactly the person who needs to read this. Because really, before you can leverage this powerful tool, you have to recognize the fact that milestones matter.

Here’s an example: we just had our three-year business anniversary. You might say, so what? Three years? Well, small business owners put their hearts and souls into their...

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Micro-Connections (Tiny But Oh-So Powerful!)

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

Beautiful connections. These last seven days have been chalked full of sweet and subtle connections. From hosting out-of-town friends to raising a glass with our Road Trip Alum in celebration of three years in business, it’s been both precious and FUN!  This is especially notable because I’ve been on a plane every week since the end of May. And while I love racking up those SkyMiles, I don’t want to sacrifice my need to meaningfully connect with people along the way.

And I’m here to remind you that connecting doesn’t have to be hard, and it doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Small sparks—found in everyday micro-connections—can provide an instant boost to your mood and sense of belonging.

Don’t believe me? Give these a whirl:

  • Smile – Did you know that the simple act of smiling triggers the release of dopamine, endorphins and serotonin? Even a forced smile will flood...
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It's Summer! Time to Live a Little Lighter

Uncategorized Jul 07, 2023

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

With longer days come shorter column posts… which leads me to my next question… What are you doing reading this column instead of enjoying this gorgeous summer?

As you know, I’m all about whatever makes life better, and that includes both professional and personal life enjoyment. So today I’m sharing with you a list of ideas for living a little lighter this summer. After all, finding enjoyment is one of the key ways to both recover from burnout and prevent it in the first place.

Give these a try:

  1. Finish this article (haha). Then grab an actual book with a binding (not an audiobook), and set yourself up under an umbrella by the pool or a lake and lose yourself in a good story. (Need a recommendation? Lessons in Chemistry will make you laugh out loud. You’re welcome.)
  2. Reach into your memory bank and list out your favorite childhood summer foods. Maybe you loved bomb pops, or corn on the cob, or watermelon....
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More Than Lip Service

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

Here at Reinvention Road Trip, we’re coming up on an exciting milestone: our three-year anniversary. And we’re psyched, y’all!

Today I want to share one of the core truths we’ve realized over the course of the past three years. You ready? It’s this: we need each other, friends.

What am I talking about? Community gets a lot of lip service, but I’m stepping up here to tell you that talk is cheap but real connections in a supportive community—it’s *chef’s kiss*.

And the converse is true, too. As I’ve led workshops, coached individuals and facilitated cohorts, I’ve repeatedly witnessed what happens when people isolate themselves or feel disconnected. Bottom line: they struggle.

Why? When we live life in isolation, problems grow—not in actuality, but in our minds. Challenges get bigger, badder and more intimating. They grow so huge that we lose faith in our ability to...

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Why Builders are Prone to Burnout... and How To Prevent It From Happening

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

Any of the Fab 4 can burn out when forced into a role that doesn’t suit them, but builders are especially vulnerable to this. Why? Because… of the four contributors, builders are the ones most likely to find themselves sliding into a role that doesn’t really energize them. You might think of the builder as having the greasiest wheels of the bunch; they slip-slide into the other three roles and often don’t realize it until too late.


You see, the builder is in the mix. They’re executing on the creator’s ideas… and as they do, they can’t help but to realize that maybe—just maybe—this other idea might be better… and presto! They get thrust into the spotlight as a creator. Soon other team members are looking to them for inspiration, and the trusty builder tries to step up and fill the void.

Likewise, the builder knows the details of the project because...

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The Shadow Sides of the Fab 4 (Watch out!)

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

I’m not a Pollyanna… I’d say I’m more like a bright and hopeful realist. That means I like to think about the positive aspects of working with each of the Fab 4. I like to think of creators as brilliant, builders as reliable, sustainers as diligent, and disruptors as intuitive. And they all are! But they also have shadow sides… you know the whole “too-much-of-a-good-thing” thing.  So, it’s good to know what these are—and how to mitigate the challenges that accompany them when they show up in the workplace.


Known for: Waking up at 3am with epiphanies.

The creator on your team may strike you as overflowing with energy. Their ideas may even have resulted in the products, services or methodology that serves as your company’s bread-and-butter.

The creator’s shadow side: They can be distracting.

The shadow side of the creator becomes a challenge when their bright new...

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Finding Meaning

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

As you know, burnout prevention and recovery is my thing. Over the past few months, I’ve conducted burnout recovery workshops with several clients—Cisco, Amazon, Kroger, Palo Alto, just to name a few—and I have to say, my understanding of burnout grows each time. What causes it. What cures it. What we can do to prevent it from roaring back to life.

Just recently, as I was conducting a workshop with a global-facing organization, I hit upon something that really got my attention: the power of finding meaning.

Meaning restores our soul.

Meaning lights the fire in the belly.

Meaning is what helps us catch the energizing wave (my Living Beyond Burnout folks know what I’m referring to).


Not sure where to start? If you’re saying, “Jes, you’re crazy. I work my job so I can afford to do things that bring meaning to my life. Finding meaning at work is...

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The Disruptor's Mantra: Be the Game

disruptors run-d.m.c. Jun 01, 2023

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

As I’ve been introducing this new Fab 4 framework — creators, builders, sustainers, disruptors – I’m not at all surprised at the level of interest shown for our good friend ‘the Disruptor.’ Love ‘em or hate ‘em, it seems that everybody’s got an opinion on this player.

Some people value them more than gold. Others can’t stand them and run in the other direction when they see them coming. And then others (who are disruptors themselves) feel relieved to finally be seen and understood. Oh, ‘the Disruptor’… how I love thee.


As our company grows, I’ve been thinking about the type of leadership it’s going to take to level up.  What does my team need from me right now? And while we have someone who naturally serves as the disruptor on our team, I also realize that as CEO, I need to be able to wear that hat during critical times. So it’s...

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The Fab 4... When Wires Get Crossed

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

Enter the Fab 4. And while I love a good Beatle’s reference, I’m not talking about them or the tribute band. I’m harkening back to a week ago when we introduced the four fabulous (and essential) contributors of high performing teams: creators, builders, sustainers and disruptors. Highly effective teams have a natural blend of all four role players, so this week I want to dig into the problems can arise when they don’t understand themselves or their teammates.


These nuanced roles have predilections, to put it simply. They see the world a certain way, and enjoy making contributions in some ways more than others.

Take creators, for example. Creators, the most innovative of the team, often have love-hate relationships with the builders, sustainers and disruptors. Afterall, they’re onto the next bright idea before the builders have finished crafting the last...

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