Think like a man — or not!

Woman at board table with men

I recently attended a women’s leadership conference called The Wisdom of Women. Throughout the day, we had the opportunity to hear from many women who have excelled in their fields and moved up the leadership ranks.

Each of them had a different philosophy about what worked for them. Some I wholeheartedly agreed with, other, not so much. But that’s the great thing about programs like this, you take from it what speaks to you and fits you.

One thing everyone agreed upon was that leaders need to learn to manage stress. The best way to do that is finding ways to integrate time during the day to rest your mind.

Latha Ravi, owner of the Flying Locksmiths and a Certified Yoga Instructor, said “Time is the biggest challenge for everyone. But if you can just find a minute here or there you’ll build up an emergency reserve so you can handle what ever comes up.”

I think everyone agreed being your authentic self is vital. You really can’t give a hoot if everyone likes you or thinks like you. Let go of the stereotypes and believe in yourself. It’s up to you not to let someone else’s opinion of you impact you and what you achieve. That’s why we should all take the opportunity to build each other up.

Our day included a panel discussion featuring women who were “Breaking Traditions.” Here we heard from women who were in professions normally associated with our male counterparts. Their jobs ranged from automotive to IT to HVAC. I can relate after working over 20 years in the utility industry.

While there are still barriers and misconceptions in the workforce, I feel blessed to live in a time where women are only limited by their personal desire to excel. It’s true there are still times we need to push the barrier and make sure our voices are heard, it’s how you do that, that seems to be the question.

One panelist suggested women needed to be tough about things and not present their female side at work. I personally disagree. I think women offer a different approach to a lot of problems and opportunities. We think differently than men do in some situations, especially when it comes to teams and people. There are a lot of ways to make yourself stand out that don’t involve you becoming “one of the boys.”

I do think, as women, we need to make sure we control our emotions in the workplace. If we practice a “respond not react” approach, you can maintain your feminine side without looking like an emotional basket case. When you think ahead and plan how you will handle situations, you can present a clear plan of action when the time comes. You look in control and capable of handling whatever is thrown your way.

Everyone agreed it was important to learn the most you can learn about the industry you are in. That’s how you prove to people you belong. If you know the product and the business, it doesn’t matter if you show up in a skirt or trousers.

One panelist suggested you needed to find out how do you get on the golf course so you could listen to what the men say and learn what’s really going on. Her thought was you have to go where the boys are or else the information isn’t being shared otherwise. While I feel there’s some truth in that concept, if you don’t enjoy the activity, don’t go. That will come across and people will pick up on it. It won’t seem authentic.

If it’s not the golf course, you do need to find times where you can have those relevant conversations. Maybe schedule lunches or just pop into an office and have a conversation. Be willing to listen and learn. You do that enough, you’ll become someone people share information with.

It’s important you realize you are there because you like what you do and you are good at it. Don’t let someone set the expectation for you. It’s up to you to show them what you can do for them and that you can fix their problems. If you can go in with an understanding of what they need and show them you can get it done, everyone will respect the results.

The one thought which generated a lot of conversation at our table was the thought that women had to work 10x’s harder than their male counterparts. While I won’t argue with the person who said this because each persons situation is different, our table was of the mindset that women who reach these points in their career are really hard workers anyway. Most of us have a strong work ethic which has been instilled in us from a very young age. We take pride in a job well done and generally don’t half ass our way through something. So maybe it appears to an outsider we are working harder – and I hope smarter – than others in our industries.

What we don’t do is talk about our part in accomplishments. Men claim their wins. Women tend to sit back and hope someone notices. Then when they do, they dismiss their work as “it was nothing.” I think we do ourselves a disservice with this practice. It doesn’t have to be done in a boastful way, but if someone recognizes your efforts, don’t downplay your part in the success.

No matter which side you fall out on the ideas and advice in this article, I think everyone would agree there’s still a long way to go for women in the workplace. There’s still disparity in pay. There’s still misconceptions which need to be removed. It’s about both sides respecting the contributions of each.

So what are the best takeaways?

1. Do your homework.

2. Be educated about your industry.

3. Show up and be a problem solver.

4. When you get the seat at the table, don’t be afraid to speak.

5. Remain authentic to yourself and ideas.

Slow Death by PowerPoint

Death by PowerPoint

You’ve been there. Sitting in a presentation that you wished had ended 30 minutes earlier. The speaker is reading their slides to you. They all look the same. You quit paying attention about five minutes in. Congrats, you’ve experienced “Death by PowerPoint.”

According to Kari Knutson (www.knutsonspeaks.com) most of us are guilty of boring our audiences to death.

“You are the show, not the PowerPoint,” Knutson said. “This is not an eye of judgement. I want you to think of it as a learning environment.”

Great presenters know it’s about the human connection. Your slides should be visual reinforcement.

“Great presenters engage with audience, not the slides, Knutson said. “Your content is the show. PowerPoint is the backup.”

Let your words be assisted by the visual. Don’t let the slides take away from your information. Make your words matter. Make it a story worth telling. Make it worth listening to.

Knutson shared 10 presentation do’s and don’ts.

  1. Beginnings and endings – don’t waste sides by saying welcome or the end.
  2. Don’t put an about me slide. They came for the content. You can work the rest into your presentation.
  3. Don’t put a thank you slide. Just say it.
  4. Don’t put up a slide that says “Questions?”
  5. Don’t repeats headers, footers, templates, and logos. It keeps your audience from seeing each slide with new eyes. There’s no anticipation. No I wonder what’s next. They already know and want it to end. You’ve done nothing to visually stimulate the audience.
  6. Reading the slide isn’t good presenting. Knutson calls it Powerpoint Karaoke — if you need the screen in front of you to say what you’re going to say, you are doing PowerPoint karaoke.
  7. They can’t read your slide and pay attention to you at the same time. Don’t fill it so full of information your audience is busy reading it and not paying attention to you. Instead, use a whole slide for a term or phrase or concept you want someone to remember.
  8. Do use a slide with your info showing how they can connect with you later.
  9. Leave them with a summary or idea at the end. Use a quote or a picture to end on. You make sure you deliver the summary. Never make a questions slide for your last slide. You want them to remember your content, not what someone else has to say. If you take questions, do it before you put up your last slide. Close out with your summary.
  10. BONUS TIP for communicators who make presentations for others to give: If your boss thinks the slides must has have your brand, go easy on the use of template and branding on every slide. Use the notes option to give your speaker the information to deliver the content, don’t put it all on the slides. Encourage others to use their expertise and really engage with the audience.

From prosecutor to popsicle peddler

What turns a prosecutor into a popsicle peddler? According to Nick Carse (@ncarse), Co-Founder of King of Pops, it’s rum and a summer trip with his anthropologist brother.

As the three brothers traveled through Central America, they watched as locals used left over fruit from the markets before they ruined. These Mexican frozen treats were called paletas. When the recession of 2009 hit, the brothers turned their rum inspired dream into a reality.

“My brother Steven was laid off when the recession hit,” Nick said. “Initially we thought maybe it’d pay for a summer full of burritos. That was in 2010. Neither of us have any culinary background. We didn’t have a business plan. We didn’t have funding. What we did have was folks with a couch in the basement. We knew if it failed they’d let us sleep there.”

Nick hung up his suit, left the Gwinnett County courtroom and joined his brother just a few months later.

“I was in a profession that wasn’t very uplifting,” he said. “Don’t get me wrong. It’s something that’s needed and it can be rewarding. My dad wrote me a letter about all the reasons I needed to reconsider, but it was too late, I’d already quit. It’s funny because it’s truly a family operation now. My dad is our marketing guy and our mom makes sure our AR is okay. She’s a mean bitch…I mean a nice bitch, but she makes sure her boys get paid.”

Nick Crase, Co-founder of King of Pops, shared how he, and his brother, have created a business centered around UMoHs.

What they did have was the same thing we all have, a desire and a dream.

“We say the good ole day is today,” Nick said. “Every day is an opportunity to do something and make a change.”

They’ve created a culture centered around Unexpected Moments of Happiness-or UMoHs.

From their hiring philosophy to giving back to the community, King of Pops isn’t focused on gaining customers, rather creating fans. It’s not about doing something fancy, it’s about doing something special.

“It’s about the experience,” Nick said. “When we hire someone, we look for someone who will laugh and share a joke and make the interaction with our guest a great guest experience.”

So how did these brothers make their dream a reality?

Nick shared their flavorful roadmap to success:

First, set a date. It’s important to give yourself a set time in life when you are going to do something. The brothers launched their business on April 1, yes, April Fools Day, with a freezer cart they bought off Craig’s List. Most people thought it was a joke. Even the rest of the family thought they were bananas. Now the brothers have carts in over 300 locations across the Southeast.

Secondly, embrace the unknown. Nick says most people (aka everybody) don’t know what they are doing either.

Third, you’ve got to rely on people. It’s okay not to know everything. Just find folks who know what you don’t.

Keep growing. Nick said “if you aren’t growing, you’re dying.”

The brothers have taken this to heart. They’ve branched out to King of Pups (all natural dog treats), Tree Elves (a Christmas tree company that allows them to keep their employees on over the winter months), and King of Crops (a farm where they are growing a lot of the ingredients that go in their pops).

Fifth, create a culture uniquely yours. Don’t just exist. Know who we are and create a vision that gets you where you want to be.

“We spent a lot of time recently mapping out our vision,” Nick said. “We’ve been asked to come other places, but we are committed to staying in the south. We’re passionate about supporting the community and of course we have our Unexpected Moments of Happiness. And we do it all while having fun.”

The UMoHs has led to the creation of many events and moments, like yoga on the beltline. It’s about moments with community, family and friends.It’s about getting people to engage with each other.

Whether you love Pops or not, you can’t knock their philosophy and the success they are having building a brand based on happiness, love and community.

P.S. I had my first King of Pops today. I’m gonna need more salted chocolate in my life!