Category

Motivate Others

Five Years of FRESH!

By | Be Genuine, Have Fun, Motivate Others

Gangsters, gamblers, and mob wives. Oh my!

Why have a typical work party when you can throw a mob-themed Casino party? SoapBoxSample celebrated it’s 5-year anniversary this year, so we went a little crazy. Especially me. I don’t typically wear a bright green poker suit to company events…or do I?

I learned a lot about my staff. Turns out, Michelle Henik (Senior Project Manager) is actually a card shark, Allison Flowers (Senior Research Director) does a great New Jersey accent and Elinor Gaida (VP, Research & Analytics) leads a double life as a speakeasy flapper girl. Mike Halberstam (ISA Chairman) loves to have his picture taken (like nonstop) and Mike Chavarria (VP of Business Development) and Aaron Cole (Director of Systems and Programming) may have a future Texas Hold Em’ rivalry to settle. The rest may be too scandalous to include in print…

As a side note to SoapBoxers. I felt it best to tell you in a public forum. All those pics you took at the selfie station you thought you were only texting or emailing to yourself? Yea, well I got a full download. A FULL download, I have them ALL. #truestory

Check out some of my favorite photos from the event.

What is All Over Your Hands?

By | Create Value, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others, Take Risks

A Salty Story of Entrepreneurship

Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. For like two years, they were the bane of my existence. I had to listen to relentless begging from my kid. All my friends eat them. They aren’t bad for you. I swear I didn’t eat them (despite the distinct hand swipe stain on her uniform pants). Listen. I don’t personally have anything against Hot Cheetos. My kid just happens to be allergic to cow’s milk, so these are super no bueno for her. And that cheezy stuff gets all over your hands which is sort of annoying.

Why am I even talking about Flamin’ Hot Cheetos? Shouldn’t I be talking about Christmas (sorry, Holiday) Carols or seasonal baked goods? Well I re-read the story of Richard Montanez twice in the past week and wanted to share. Many of you may already know it, but too bad. You should hear it again – it is good.

Spoiler alert summary – Richard Montanez, a high school dropout, invented one of the most iconic American snack foods of all time, for Frito-Lay, while he was employed there as a janitor. Montanez called up the CEO with his idea. Yup, the janitor called up the CEO – and was put through! Today Montanez is the Vice President of Multicultural sales for PepsiCo America, and he teaches MBA classes at a college near his home in Rancho Cucamonga, CA.

The story has been told before, but my favorite version is from The Hustle, my favorite newsletter. (I plan to keep giving them shout outs until they agree to let me guest blog, or send me a cease and desist letter — whichever comes first.)

Recently, a student asked him how he was teaching without a Ph.D.

“I do have a Ph.D.,” he responded. “I’ve been poor, hungry and determined.”

In case you missed the two hyperlinks to the article posted on The Hustle, you can click here to read it.

What I love about this story is the idea that every employee can make a huge impact on their company no matter their role. I also love finding and hiring people that exhibit traits of GRIT — guts, resilience, initiative and tenacity. And Richard Montanez is a prime example of this. Mental grit is what powers a person through personal tragedy, and IMHO, will get you farther than anything else. (Further reading — The Power of Mental Grit.)

A Micro Dose of Motivation

By | Be Honest, Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Motivate Others

What Motivates You?

As a startup leader, a HUGE part of my job centers around motivation. Convincing a group of super smart (and highly likeable) individuals to come join a startup, isn’t always easy. And once I convince them to join, I have to make sure they want to stay.

Motivate Others is one our Telltale Ten and SoapBox was founded on those ten principles. Motivation is key. But what does that mean? Where does motivation come from? What gets people motivated, what keeps people motivated, and how can we use motivation to accomplish our goals?

I have learned over the years, that motivation is not a one-size-fits-all. It is different for everyone. I feel like I get to know people pretty well, but you don’t know what you don’t know. After a recent TedTalk Tuesday lead by our Director of Systems and Programming, Aaron Cole, I got super excited to learn more about what motivates the staff. He talked about his motivation to complete his goal of running a marathon on all seven continents and shared his experience about running his most recent marathon in the Outback. I was inspired to learn more about what motivates others on my team. Instead of relying on my perceptions, instead I went with the direct approach and I asked my staff to tell me what motivates them. Sometimes the simplest (and most obvious) approach is the best.

What surprised me was that it wasn’t only big things (like feeling accomplished or helping the community) that motivated people, but small things like walking a dog, or hazelnut coffee. For me, I get really excited by an accomplishment as small as using up the last bit of a tube of chap stick (like seriously, do you ever get to the end of a chap stick before you lose it or it melts or your kid or your dog eats it – no right?).

The point I’m trying to make is that motivation can come in big and small packages. Maybe one of the items on this list will be a micro dose of motivation for you this week. Now the next challenge begins for me as a leader. How do I help make sure the staff is experiencing those things that make them happy and motivated?

Aaron Cole
Director of Systems

Food
Run clubs
Competition
Destination Runs

Adriana Hemans
Director of Marketing

Personal growth
Creative expression
Financial independence
Travel

Allison Flowers
Research Director

Making my kids proud
Making others feel good about themselves
Having a can-do mentality 

Andrea Sipos
Project Manager

My family
Animals
Nature

Angela Pack
Senior Account Executive

My child’s happiness
A clean & organized house
Helping in my community

Dan Parcon
VP, Operations

My faith
My child
Making a difference in the world

Elinor Gaida
VP, Research & Analytics

Coffee
Music
Walking a dog
Meeting with friends and family

Jacqueline Rosales
Chief of Operations

Connecting with close friends
Doing something nice for others
Organizing/Cleaning
Laughing

Kevin Moran
Support Specialist

Humor
Keeping promises
Food
Exercise (occasionally)

Michaela Petersen
Project Manager

Bettering myself
Broadening my intelligence
Contributing to the team

Paul Janowitz
CEO, icanmakeitbetter

Family & Travel
Improving the community
Hard work

Sam Ashburner
Project Manager

My new house
Exceeding my own expectations
Hazelnut Coffee

Sandeep Babu
Operations Manager

Travel
Culture
The little things
Finding fullfillment from helping others

Savanna Ayala
Bids & Feasibility Associate

Wine
Laughing
Food
Books
Alone time

Trina Martell
Project Manager

Expanding my knowledge base
Creativity of any kind
Music
Sharing knowledge
Kindness

Take a step back and ask yourself what motivates you. Write it down. Post it where you can see it and when you are feeling a little unmotivated, try one of things on your list to get you out of your funk.

Yay! My Kid is Not a Jerk.

By | Create Value, Inspire Ideas, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

So back in April, I wrote a BLOG called “Lessons From a Ten Year Old” about my seemingly unreasonable happiness over my daughter Antonella’s journey of turning a No into a Yes. Through hard work, pure determination, and relentless desire she earned a spot on the Hyht Gymnastics Pre-Team. In case you didn’t read it (you should), here’s the recap. Her coach gave her the good news that she finally made pre-team, but in the same breath she also told her, “I only want kids who work hard. If you stop working hard, you will be removed from the pre-team. If you keep working hard, you may actually make it from pre-team to team. Your work is just starting.”

Your work is just starting. Super powerful words. How a ten year old will act on those words is a total crap shoot. Ella had worked her a$$ off to get to her goal and it was just the beginning. Her commitment up until that point simply prepared her for the next phase of hard work. It was just one obstacle of many. In my last BLOG on this topic, I wrote about how happy I was that she didn’t make the pre-team on the first go around. And I meant it. I still mean it. Once she made the pre-team I was CERTAIN she was not going to like it. It meant more practice, which meant more drills, more working out and worst of all (for Ella) running sprints.

Well I was wrong. She embraced the challenge. Not without complaint, but she kept at it. She got her Dad to build her a beam and taught herself the Level 3 Team USA Gymnastics Beam routine from YouTube – she wasn’t even on the team. She had a list of skills she had to learn, and slowly kept knocking them off the list. The worst one was the back handspring. That damn back handspring. She practiced for months and months and just couldn’t get over the fear. She couldn’t, correction, wouldn’t do it. We endured months of “Will you spot me?” day after day. Her Dad and I were sure she would never get it. Some days I wanted to say, “No, I will not spot you again – just give it up. You won’t get it. Let’s just go inside.” You probably think I am a total douche, but seriously, try doing the same thing, day after day, watching a kid just flail around. It is not fun. And God bless her nanny. I bet she spotted that kid 1000 times – at minimum. But she kept at it.

She saved up her money sold stuff on Etsy and Poshmark and finally earned enough money to buy a tumbling trampoline. Yes, she is a working actor earning a nice paycheck. But she doesn’t get to spend that money – sorry kid. You will thank me some day when we didn’t let you blow all the dough. She even talked her Nana into having a yard sale in the dead of the summer in the heat. It was 110 degrees that day. But she had some money to make! She is a very persuasive young lady. And guess what? It took several months, but she finally earned the $500 to buy the trampoline.
She practices on that thing until it gets dark. “Wait, just one more. Can you watch?” Armed with her mat, her homemade beam, and her tumbling trampoline, she has just kept on keeping on. And guess what? She got that back handspring, and a dozen or so other skills. One by one. She would come home after practice each day and tell me if she earned gym bucks for a new skill. Some days she would bust through the door screaming “I got my back hip circle today” or whatever it was and other times she would say she had more work to do.

Yesterday she turned eleven years old. Today she went to practice despite being convinced she has a broken toe (she is the one convinced not us or we would actually take her to a doctor – we aren’t total a$$hole parents). Her coach pulled her aside before class started and told her she made the team. Ella had NO idea she was going to get that news. No idea at all. She was just showing up, with her broken toe, to practice.

As her parent, my belly gets all squirmy with excitement thinking how it must have felt in her little heart when she got that news. How proud she must have felt, and how badly she wanted to run home and tell us. As a business leader, I find this type of unrelenting focus, unceasing drive and bullish tenacity to overcome something outside of your comfort zone, is what it takes to be great. And look at that, I may have just defined greatness (Why Tony the Tiger is My Idol).

Live a Strong Sideline Game

By | Be Honest, Have Fun, Motivate Others

This past weekend, my husband Marco road in the Tehachapi GranFondo event. The event is ranked as the #1 GranFondo in California and #13 in the nation. For those of you who don’t know what a GranFondo is, it’s a long-distance road cycling event. The courses at this particular one range from 18 to 104 miles. In short, it’s an event for road biking maniacs.

After suffering injuries from a car accident that prevented me from continuing to run road and obstacle course races, my husband and I took up road biking. It is an addictive, expensive and super uncomfortable sport – not for those who aren’t willing to suffer a little discomfort “down there”.

After years of chasing me around the country, waking up at the crack of dawn to see me start a race, and then standing around waiting for me to finish, Marco and I embarked on this new journey together. He instantly fell in love. Like he loves it. For me, it was something I could pull off with my injuries and still be competitive, still get the high from tackling a long distance, and still get pumped up about at an event.

The very best thing about it (and Marco may have a very different opinion on this since he is way better than me and I am pretty sure I hold him back) is that it is something we were finally doing together. Training together, riding together, racing together. Now, only Ella, my daughter, was stuck getting up at the crack of dawn and waiting around for hours (I mean hours) for us to finish. And I am ok with that as she is a preteen and pretty bratty on occasion, so it is like secret parent payback mixed in with a little inspiration – good parenting if you ask me.

Anyway, let me get to the point. Tehachapi is our favorite event of the year. It is seriously awesome. It is well organized, there are pro riders there, the course is amazing and crossing the finish line is a true experience thanks to the announcer and cheerleaders. And this year, I couldn’t do it. I just was not physically well enough to pull it off. I wasn’t even able to do the “fun” ride which is 18 miles. I was out – sidelines for me this year.

Despite being sad, resentful and at times totally pissed off that I was not able to do it, my job was to be encouraging, supportive and my husband’s #1 fan. No. Matter. How. I. Felt. This was now about being the best cheerleader I could be. Not about me – all about him. It meant:

  • Making sure he had all his gear and nutrition for the ride
  • Waking up suuuppper early and not being an asshole about it
  • Hauling my butt to the start line with Ella – it was 45 degrees and partly dark
  • Watching the hundreds of cyclists gather and keeping a smile despite feeling total bummed
  • Taking 6 zillion photos of his journey and updating every stage on social media
  • Driving to the rest stop to see him pull in after the 20 mile mark to help him reset
  • Waiting for FIVE hours for him to finish (OMG – I have been doing this shit for years and it is NOT fun. I can’t believe how many times Marco waited for me – granted, running is usually way shorter but still….)
  • Ensuring he had an easy way to get showered and fed within an hour of finishing
  • Not making it about me and being an ass (did I mention not being an ass?)

So here’s the deal. Sometimes you need to be on the sidelines supporting others. Whether it is in your job, your relationship or friendship, just do it. Go out and help someone, support someone. Make someone else feel good. At the finish line, I didn’t have to work at all to be soooo pumped up and excited for him. I genuinely was! I felt so much excitement and inner happiness for his accomplishment. It is amazing how turning your attention outwards to someone else is a surefire way to get off your own pity pot and be useful. And the admission price? Your time and a positive attitude. That’s it.

The Road Show Rolls On

By | Have Fun, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

This week at SoapBoxSample we held an all-hands meeting where we talked about the things that keep us motivated — through the stress, through the long hours, and through the demanding projects. One of my biggest motivators has always been working out. Almost any type of physical activity helps me focus, centers me, and just makes me feel good. But why should I have all the fun? I like to encourage (some would say force) my staff to get outdoors and do the same. This week Matt Thurston, the COO of icanmakeitbetter (our insight community platform) flew in from Austin to spend some time with the Van Nuys office. I encouraged (it was optional I swear) Matt and our Senior Account Executive Anthony Bean to head up to Runyon Canyon at the end of the day to check out the best view that Los Angeles has to offer. Seeing them conquer that hill make me think it was time to revisit one of my favorite blog posts — Work Out Road Show. Yes, it is possible to stay in shape when you travel for work. And sometimes the best way to see the sights is while you’re sweaty and out of breath and being harassed by a small blonde drill sergeant who looks like Amy Poehler.

Digging Deep – Success Happens Outside the Comfort Zone

By | Be Genuine, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

What do a former roller derby player, a French-trained Sabreur, the President of SoCal Toastmasters and an international marathon runner all have in common? That would be Aaron. To be more specific, it would be SoapBoxSample’s Director of Systems and Programming, Aaron Cole.

The first employee of SoapBox, Aaron is a fashion extraordinaire (who refuses to buy his clothes in America), a recovered hair-dyeing addict, a current tattoo addict, a vegetarian, an artist, a Spartan and a world traveler.

Come to think of it, he may have way too many hobbies to actually be doing any work. Hmmm….

He also has somehow managed to buy the exact right gift for my daughter every single year, from talking storybook dogs, to fuzzy slippers and phone cases, he has an uncanny knack for buying her just the right Christmas gift each and every year. If I didn’t know him so well, I’d think it was creepy. But he likely does all kinds of research as that is just the way he is.

Oh – and he trained his dog, Charlie, to run races with him. They also have been known to wear matching costumes for Halloween.

Aaron is also this week’s guest blogger! Check out Aaron’s guide to digging deep and pushing beyond your limits.

A Guide to Completing a Marathon in the Outback …Without Getting Yourself Killed

Guest Post by Aaron Cole

I was all alone in the middle of the Australian Outback, running up a sand dune. Dehydration and exhaustion threatened to overtake me. This was Mile 19. I still had 7 more miles to go. How did I complete my mission? By following the simple, but difficult, steps outlined below.

I’m happy to say that I not only survived the Australian Outback, but that I also finished in 4th place overall, was the first American to cross the finish line, and beat my own personal best time by over 15 minutes with a final finish time of 3hrs 23min 25sec.

When I first decided that I wanted to complete a marathon on all seven continents, I immediately began looking for the most unique, exciting, and memorable races I could find. For my third continent I settled on the Australian Outback Marathon; 26.2 miles of grueling masochism through one of the world’s harshest environments. (I also raised nearly $1,000 to support The Wilderness Society to help protect Australia’s many endangered and at-risk species.)

Curious how this went from an idea to a reality? Here’s how I did it.

  1. Have a Vision and Purpose: Running a marathon wasn’t enough for me, I also wanted to raise funds and awareness for The Wilderness Society. Whether for your own benefit or the benefit of others, having a vision and purpose is essential as it serves as the foundation for your motivation and drive.
  2. Set Goals (and Follow Through): In the 16 weeks leading up to the Outback Marathon I averaged 50+ miles of running per week. It. Was. Not. Easy. Some days I didn’t feel like putting in the work, but I had a vision and I knew that if I didn’t accomplish the goals I set for myself, it would jeopardize my ability to accomplish my mission.
  3. Just Do It: Like the slogan goes, you’ve got to get it done. When I felt tired, weary, or my schedule was jam-packed, it created obstacles for my training plan. It’s not easy to run 50+ miles when you’re working Monday through Friday and then lose your weekend to other responsibilities, but if you want to accomplish something great, you’ve got to put in a greater amount of effort. This involved many late night runs, running while on the go, re-organizing my schedule, and a whole lot of commitment.
  4. Prepare for the Specifics: If your goals aren’t targeted and purposeful, you won’t be successful in your mission. In order to prepare myself, both physically and mentally, I ran a lot of hills, long distances of up to 22 miles, and sandy beach runs. This gave my legs the experience, built the resistance, and helped to get my head in the right mind frame for the challenges I would face in the desert of the Outback.
  5. Support and Accountability: Putting in this much time and effort can be draining, and it can be easy to slip, so having a support network is essential to keeping you on track! Family, friends, business associates, or anyone else that can lend positivity and support are all crucial to your success. I joined several running groups, finding camaraderie with my running mates and even gaining new tricks and tips to improve my skills. I also found greater consistency in my training, helping me to accomplish my 50+ miles per week goal with significantly greater ease!
  6. Have Fun Along the Way: As I mentioned, the time and effort you put in to accomplish your mission can be draining at times, so you need to find ways to re-fuel your energy. This will vary from person to person, it’s really what’s works for you. For me, however, I used food, travel, and other races to keep me motivated. Rewarding yourself with a giant cinnamon roll with blueberries, almonds and cream cheese after a long and hilly 22-mile run is pretty much the best thing ever!
  7. Take Care of Yourself: It can be easy to overlook your own personal well-being when you become so engrossed in accomplishing your goals, but the impact of an injury can be far greater than the moments you spend to rest and recover. Even in a more professional setting, it can be easy to burn out if you don’t have a way to vent the stresses and take care of your mind and body. I had to nurse some injuries, ease back on training, and allow myself the time to recoup, which in the end resulting in even greater improvement, allowing me to far exceed my performance expectations!
  8. Dig Deep: All the motivation, support, and sense of purpose you carry may feel irrelevant when you’re faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle. But I’m here to tell you that nothing is impossible, and any obstacle can be overcome. This is when you need to dig deep and draw from within. For the last 10 miles of the Australian Outback Marathon, I was running in complete isolation; not another runner for over a mile in either direction. I was combating dehydration from the desert’s dry heat, and come Mile 19, the final sand dune drained the last of my strength. The remaining 7 miles I had nothing left. I was running on fumes. But I never stopped running, I never lost sight of my mission, and I dug really, really, REALLY deep.
  9. Celebrate and Recover: Victory! With your mission complete, it’s time to bask in the glory of your accomplishment. Savor this success and know that you’ve earned it! But don’t be too quick to jump into your next mission, give yourself time to recover so that you can tackle the next one with the same energy and enthusiasm.

After all this I’ll bet you’re feeling ready to tackle a marathon of your own, right?? Maybe not. But that’s okay, because these strategies apply to more than just running marathons, you can apply this to any dream or goal you wish to accomplish. Whether your passion is to open your own restaurant, grow your business by 50% in the next 12 months, or even something as simple as learning how to roller skate, if you follow these steps, I can guarantee your success.

However, if you don’t find success with these steps, please direct any complaints and refund requests to Jacqueline Rosales c/o Telltale Ten!

Competition – The Great Motivator (and Wannabe Distractor)

By | Create Value, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

This may come as a shock to some of you, but I can be competitive. Like, super competitive. I recently made it a competition with our VP of Operations to see who could get to my boss’s office the fastest. Not kidding. Competitive people tend to gravitate toward other competitive people.

My friend Ashley Seeger (who was featured in one of the first Telltale Ten BLOGs, My Friends Are Cooler Than Yours) embodies that trait like no other. After a crazy ACL injury and a few other life events, Ashley made the decision to focus on her business full-time. She leveraged her growing boot camp and class groupies, and recently opened up her own gym and training facility called Becoming Badass. As a startup leader, I can tell you that being competitive can help you succeed. (Being a little bit crazy is helpful too.) Ashley is learning to take her race mentality, and apply it to growing her business. Oh, and she decided to take on a bikini competition, a 24-hour endurance race in Australia, and compete in World’s Toughest Mudder (among some Spartan and Ragnar races) all during her first year of business. Ashley shares a few key tips on competition in this week’s Telltale Ten.

Competition – The Great Motivator (and Wannabe Distractor)

By Ashley Seeger

If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, you know that there is competition on every corner. The stressors that come with opening a new business can be intense. Keeping up with your competition can be one that eats at you. For me, competition comes in a lot of different forms — competition with myself, competition with things in my life that are vying for my attention and competition from other businesses. Competition motivates us to do more, do better and grow as a business. If we were the only one doing the “thing” why would we need to improve? Instead, competition forces us to do our best. It can also derail us and cause us to lose focus if we don’t channel it correctly. Here is how I use competition to motivate me instead of distract me.

1. Master your trade. What are you good at? What is your passion?

Keep your focus on what YOU are good at. What do you love the most? What is your unique value proposition? What is special about you or your business that others cannot easily replicate? When looking at your competition you may be tempted to veer from your lane into what they are doing. But ask yourself – what are you a master at? Do you find your passion or expansion opportunities in competitive offerings? If not, then stay in your lane. Instead of trying to be a jack-of-ALL-trades, how can you improve what YOU do?

2. Don’t waste time or energy worrying about the others.

In other words, mind your own business. Literally and figuratively. Instead of worrying that others are going to do more, be better etc., use that energy for your own business. Once you have identified what is working for you, set a plan to improve what you already do. How can you be the BEST at what YOU do? Figure it out and then DO IT! Have integrity and take pride in what you do. You cannot control what your competition is doing. You also can’t be blind to it. This is a balancing act. Be mindful of the landscape, industry, trends, direct and indirect competition. But don’t be obsessed with it – and definitely don’t try to just copy it. Be aware of your surroundings and competition, continuously try to improve what you do and don’t let the competition be a threat, let the competition motivate you to be the best.

3. Leverage what you know, but don’t rely on today’s skills to get you through tomorrow.

Entrepreneurs need to always be learning, seeking more info, and getting out of their comfort zone. Just like on the race course, you have to know your competition’s strengths and weaknesses. You also have to train and be coachable. If you are not willing to learn new things, or accept advice from others who know things you don’t, you will likely fail. I am an athlete. I have always been an athlete. I am a coach. I am a good coach. Running a business is TOTALLY new to me. If I don’t embrace what I don’t know, and seek it, my competition may prevail regardless of how good of an athlete or coach I am. I have to find and recognize my weakness and then go after it!

If you want to check out all the badass things Ashley does, check out her website at www.becomingbadass.me. For someone new to business, she sure has mastered marketing and branding. It rocks. Truthfully I am jealous. You can follow her Badass adventures on social media at [Insta: @_ashleyseeger, YouTube: Ashley Seeger, Facebook: Ashley Seeger]. Oh, and to the tune of getting out of her comfort zone and delving more into the “business side” of running a business, she just joined LinkedIn! You can connect with her here where she will be posting her BLOG, news, making connections and learning new stuff.

There is a sign hanging in her facility that reads “Do Only Difficult Things” – that pretty much sums up entrepreneurship.

SoapBoxSample Telltale Ten

Who’s in Your Front Row?

By | Be Genuine, Create Value, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

As we move through the different chapters of our lives, we inevitably change. The people, places and things around us impact our mindset, mood, behavior and happiness. While it can be painful at times to leave some things behind, it can be equally exciting to experience the new things. When I find myself in a period of discontent, I know I have work to do. It is not anyone else’s fault. I choose to take responsibility over my happiness.

You cannot change the people around you, but you can change the people you are around. You may not be able to control certain things that happen to you, but you can control how you react. You may not be able to change other people, but you can change yourself.

A special woman gave me this many years ago. I searched the internet to find the author and found varying versions of it, but not this exact one. I attributed it to a “wise, beautiful lady”.  This was the perfect thing for me to find today. I needed this reminder…

Life is a Theater

Life is a theater. Invite your audience carefully. Not everyone is healthy enough to have a front row seat in our lives.

There are some people in your life that need to be loved from a distance. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you let go, or at least minimize, your time with draining, negative, incompatible, not going-anywhere relationships or friendships.

Observe the relationships around you. Pay attention. Which ones lift and which ones lean? Which ones encourage and which ones discourage? Which ones are on a path of growth uphill and which ones are going downhill? When you leave certain people, do you feel better or do you feel worse? Which ones always have drama, or don’t really understand, know, or appreciate you? The more you seek quality, respect, growth, peace of mind, love and truth around you, the easier it will become for you to decide who gets to sit in the front row and who should be moved to the balcony of your life. You cannot change the people around you, but you can change the people you are around.

In short, you don’t have to tolerate shitty people.

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No More Pity Parties

By | Be Genuine, Be Honest, Motivate Others, Take Risks

My daughter Ella’s response to her Instagram troll

Flip the Script on Negative Feedback

Even though I am often mistaken for Amy Poehler, and have been asked literally more than one thousand times, “Do you know who you look like?” I am pretty sure I could never actually BE a celebrity. The “online digital” age we live in is a breeding ground for meanness. Generally, cowardly meanness of those who hide their keyboard and throw insults (often anonymously) any and every chance they get.

We sometimes forget people on the other end of screen are humans. Yet cyber bullying of businesses, peers, and celebrities is rampant in our society. My ten year old is a working actor in LA and I am not sure I will be able to handle it if she ever actually “makes it big”. My daughter was recently the victim of an online troll who spent hours (it must have taken all night) to post negative comments on about a year’s worth of Instagram posts. Things like “You are so ugly how are you a model?” or “I don’t even know you, you are irrelevant as an actor”. My daughter was a total champion and handled it like a pro. She actually said “Mom, for someone who hates me that much, they sure spent a lot of time going through all my pictures and on my account.”

If you are a regular reader of Telltale Ten, or know me in a business capacity, it is no secret that culture and employee satisfaction is really what motivates me. I’ve said it before (and at the risk of pissing someone else of), will say it again, I don’t care that much about Market Research. What I do care about is creating an amazing work environment where people are fulfilled personally and professionally and love to come to work every day.

Recently, I visited Glassdoor to see how we were doing. We only have a handful of reviews on there and they are mostly positive. Like 80%+ are great. But it seemed like I could only see the negative ones.

“Stakeholders should hire someone who actually knows something.”

Or how about this one:

Pros

“There are no pros because this company is awful.”

Cons

“Everyone hates their jobs, but the COO and most upper managers are never there to see it.”

Advice to Management

“Bring in a CEO who knows what they are doing.”

Can you say OUCH?? Now you may be thinking to yourself, “Why the heck is Jacqueline writing a BLOG exposing bad things people say about her and SoapBox?” Good question (give yourself a round of applause – I was also referred to as condescending and disruptive. Up to you to judge that one). When I read these, my heart dropped. My feelings were hurt. I wanted to fix it. I totally get that there will always be a couple of disgruntled employees in the wake of a super-fast growing start up. And I am not everyone’s cup of tea. But I am human, so it bothered me personally, but also made me hyper aware that maybe not everyone is happy and we need to do better. After reading the negative feedback I was faced with the following options:

A. I could have stayed butt hurt and thrown a pity party, feeling sorry for myself and wondering why the work doesn’t love me

B. I could have just got self-righteous and pissed off and dismissed the negative reviews as “irrelevant” people

C. Or use the feedback (albeit unsolicited) as an opportunity to self-reflect and then take action to improve

I choose C.

I went from being sad, to wanting to take an honest look at what improvements I can make as a leader, and what improvements we can make as a company. I called a meeting and those involved were quick to dismiss it as pissed off people who were terminated for not doing their job. I get it. That is probably true. But maybe, there are a few things we can tweak to make things better too.

So we have set out on a mission built around a WRITTEN plan for improving culture led by our Marketing Team. We identified potential areas of dissatisfaction, ways to gauge an ongoing pulse of satisfaction, put pen to paper and came out with a plan that we will be rolling out starting this month. I am SUPER excited about it.

As you move through your days, I urge you to

  • Be kind – in person and online
  • Remember that people (including celebrities, bosses and politicians – ok maybe not the last one) are humans with feelings
  • When ill words are said, don’t dwell, be strong and also look for the lesson