Tag Archives: engauge

Leadership’s Dirty Little Secret

15th May 2013

There’s a dirty little secret I’m learning about leadership: you’re likely already a leader, whether you like it or not.

Whether you are leading to inspire, leading to drive action, or leading to drive people crazy, well, that’s the part you control.

Chick-fil-A’s annual leadership conference, Leadercast is hands down one of my favorite annual events. As I wasn’t able to attend this year, I found myself eagerly following along via Twitter. The Tweets alone shared a powerful message: Simply Lead. Simply Lead was the theme for this year’s event, and the funny thing is, each time I read the tagline, I found myself reading it as “Lead Simply,” a small tweak, but one that I couldn’t help but stop to think about a little further.

I tweeted my little conundrum and received this in reply from a colleague.

Screen Shot 2013-05-15 at 9.28.05 AM

I think he hit the nail on the head and lead to even more thoughts rolling around in my head.

 Simply Lead.

A recent conversation with another colleague of mine lead to a conversation around leadership, roles and the growth for the future. As we discussed paths, she shared with me sentiments that I’m not sure I’d ever really, truly accepted: you are leading right now. There will always be someone watching, a conversation somewhere taking place and an opportunity unfolding, it is how you define yourself in those small moments that build leadership skills. In a nutshell, if you want to hold the keys to becoming a leader in your organization: simply lead.

 Lead Simply. 

To simply lead is only part of the equation. If taking the reigns and helping to calm the chaos is the starting line, defining the route to the finish must be the next 26.2 miles. Leadership is, for a lack of a better word, leading me to two things: humility and patience. Humility is the action required to take a step back and serve those around us.  If we expect to better ourselves, we must first tend to the needs of others. As for patience, success and triumph aren’t a matter of winning the lottery, they are the result of dedication, hard work and the flexibility to alter as we go. If we expect to lead simply, we cannot expect the journey to follow the straight line of a guidebook or some pre-determined path up the corporate ladder. Becoming a leader is a team effort in order for each of us to become successful. In other words, it’s going to take a village.

It’s quite funny how a day long leadership conference can be boiled down into two words and leave such a stunning impact. I think those guys are on to something.

*Disclaimer: While Chick-fil-A is a client of mine, all thoughts and opinions in this post are my own. However, I am just as flattered and enamored by those chicken guys outside of the office each and every day.

1,095 Days In

10th May 2013

Yesterday I watched (via Twitter) as a new class of Grady students was welcomed into the Grady Grad family.  It has been three years since I said adieu to Athens and graduated from the University of Georgia and while I’ve loved every second of my last three years in the “real world,” I would go back in a heart beat.

UGA Graduation

The last three years have taken me on a journey to learn to balance, given me more opportunities to step up to the plate at work than I could have ever imagined and have quickly proven that as I may have thought on that day three years ago, life does not end after graduation. While three years isn’t quite a life changing milestone, major life event or whatnot, I’m simply going to stick to the pattern I’ve made out of the last few years (you can read more on that here and here), and share what’s changed in the last 1,095 days.

Here are a few tid-bits I’ve picked up in my ageless 24-year old wisdom:

 1. Own technology, don’t let it own you.

How crazy is it to think that just three years ago most of us didn’t even own a smartphone? I myself didn’t make that leap until summer after I graduated college. It’s difficult to even imagine that during my four years in school I not only didn’t have a tiny little computer in my pocket, but I also didn’t even take one in my backpack. I left my laptop at home and took notebooks full of scratch. To think, I would go a WHOLE DAY without checking email, Facebook or Twitter and that was completely normal? Don’t even get me started on what it would be like in college pre-computer days though, that might just blow my mind.

The class of 2017 (yes, that’s a thing now) doesn’t know a world without smartphones. So here’s my challenge to you: control it. Yes, be sure to Instagram the leaves as they change on North Campus come October, but be sure to sit down under an actual Oak tree and enjoy them as well.

 2. Own a blazer

And other nice things. I’m the queen of bargain hunting when it comes to clothes. It wasn’t until my 24th birthday that I spent more than $50 on a single piece of clothing (and I still cringed). But if there is one thing my mother (and work) has taught me, it is that you can’t have too many great staple items in your closet. This might seem trivial, but the old adage of “dress the part” does ring true.

Working at a relatively laid back agency, there is no official “dress code,” but don’t let that fool you. I can assure you, your boss isn’t wearing mini skirts better fit for a night downtown. My rule: if you would have been called out for wearing it in high school, or wouldn’t be seen wearing it in church, it goes back in the closet.

 3. Put effort into defining your own path

Yes, you are in your twenties. No you will not have the next five years figured out, but if you don’t at least start to think about them, don’t count on someone else to do it for you. I’m a big believer in doing what makes you happy, but it’s also important to realize there may be some bumps in getting there. Simple hand written to-do lists are my thing (everyone has their own method), keep the day-to-day tasks listed, but also to make sure at least a portion of that is going to something larger than a deliverable.

Have you explored new ways to display that powerpoint slide you’ve created six times (slideshare is my BFF)? Have you taken a look at what your client’s competitors are up to this week? Have you asked someone who doesn’t work on your business day-to-day to take a look at your work lately? Seek opportunities to grow and improve, don’t expect them to land on your desk with a pretty ribbon wrapped around them.

1,095 days in, the real world isn’t nearly as daunting as it seemed just a short time ago. I’ve now had the opportunity to see friends start jobs, leave jobs, get married, start having little ones and the most exciting part of all? We’re not alone. It’s a big world out there, but an incredibly exhilarating one. Embrace each and every moment, it only gets better from here.

Becoming a Hill Seeker

9th May 2013

A few weeks ago, I completed Nike’s inaugural DC half marathon (you can read more on that adventure here). The city, the atmosphere and the course were a dream: 50s, plenty of eye-catching sights (running past the Lincoln Memorial, yes please), zero humidity and no hills.

I repeat, not a single stinking hill. And boy, was I looking forward to it. Living in Atlanta, I’m not certain in the entirety of my short time as a runner have I ever experienced such a thing for more than a mile or two.

At the starting line I was all smiles.

By mile five I turned to my new running buddy I made at the starting lane to describe just how great this was. I mean, I could breathe!

By mile 10, I hit a wall.

Thanks to the amazing support of my pace group, I didn’t miss much of a beat, but boy did those last three miles kick my butt…and it was flat, and cool, and the air was clear, how could this be happening?

It wasn’t until I ventured out a run once I got home that the common thread hit me.

Those hills? The ones I whined about and said good riddance to? I just might have a love affair with ’em. In fact, I’m sure I do.

But why? Because on a muggy afternoon run through Atlanta, it hit me, life happens on the hills.

I’m a stronger runner because I can conquer the hills. And those same hills that drag me to my core as I’m fighting up them? They carry me graciously back down to earth once I’ve reached the top.

Progress isn’t possible without a little pressure. Good might come from complacency, but in my limited experience, great most certainly does not.

During my first few weeks at Engauge (and in a “real” job period), we were getting ready to pitch a big new client. As I was new to the team and without a ton of client commitments, I jumped in to help with the simple stuff: research, note taking, I was all for any and all of it. On the night before the pitch, we celebrated moving to a new office space with a company party.

As I got ready to head out for the evening around 10pm, I checked in with my boss to see if there was anything left to do. His request, “by the way, be sure to wear something nice tomorrow, you’re going to come with us to pitch.”

Excuse me? Here I was, 22, serving as the note taker and you wanted me to do what? Big hill.

I don’t think I have ever been so nervous to walk into a room in my life.

The best part about the hill is that there is no true preparation. Sure, you can run drills, practice speeches, or put on a really fancy pair of sneakers (or pencil skirt), but when you take a look from the bottom, there it is, ready or not.

I think I ended up presenting one slide that day. It was the first of many “big kid” meetings I’ve had the opportunity to dive into here at Engauge, but still one of my favorites.

It was an opportunity to dive in head first with confidence none my own, but forced to embrace the trust and fervor of everyone around me. And just as those hills will always kick my butt on the way up, they most definitely send me smiling on the way back down and leave me eager to climb my way back to the start.