On The Blink

The other day my car light started blinking, letting me know that I was running out of gas or, to be more precise, that I was at 25% tank capacity.  So, of course, my attention started to focus on finding a gas station soon so that I could fuel up.  I didn’t rush to a gas station right away though. It usually takes a few days of me seeing the blinking light before I do anything about it…but it kept reminding me that I needed to fill up before the car stopped.

Switch to a different view: 2022 for me was a difficult year – filled with lots of overwork, family events/complications to be sorted out, and new business responsibilities all competing for my attention.  By May, I was already running ragged and in need of re-charging. I knew I was tired, my friends and family told me to slow down, my body started giving signs. 

Nevertheless, I kept going. 

As a result, in the last 4 months of last year I was unwell and kept getting sick all the time – I had 3 rounds of antibiotics afters years of not having to take any. I had to take cortico-steroids. I had prolonged periods of sheer exhaustion and brain fog.

And still, I didn’t stop.

Until I just could not function anymore.  I physically could not go on and get things done, not even daily “living” tasks. 

At that point, I was forced to literally cancel everything, and take myself to a two-week retreat – sun, yoga, meditation and NO WIFI, calls, or internet . I started to sleep 7 hours straight at night, I started walking, “day dreaming” and reconnecting with myself… 

And the world didn’t end: My family was fine. My clients were fine.  

As I go back to work, at a slower pace, I am surrounded by friends, colleagues, clients who are tired, overworked and under-nourished (energy wise).  And I ask myself: what can we do to get a better warning system – one that we will pay attention to, since we are not so great at listening to the ones we already have?  What will cause the “blinking” light to make our own well-being and health the priority of our radars and help us move from simple intent
to actual action? For me, it’s pre-programming breaks into my schedule, where I take time to spend in nature and travel.  I am also scheduling in reading time and time for idle coffees with friends.  I am putting limits on my email time and screen time.

I am not sure what will work best for me yet, it’ll take some trial and error.  But the point is we need to find ways notice and then pay attention to the ways our bodies and minds tell us we need a break.  

What are your early warning signals? As always, I would love to hear from you.

All the best,

The 2022 That Was

Everyone I know seems to be scurrying around – trying to get all the work done before holiday closings.  Before you know it, it will be a tumult of holidaying – however and whatever you do to celebrate – and then Boom!  2023 is upon us!
I find the practice of pausing and reflecting on the past year gives me a great sense of closure and grounding. Allowing my brain to slow down and sort through all the experiences, feelings and learnings of this past year, gives some interpretation, some meaning to them and allows me to see patterns – which I can choose to continue or not in the new year.
For me, using questions to prompt my thinking is what helps the most.  I use my art/creative journal to write these down – which is useful when you can see the changes year over year.
Let me share some of my favourite questions with you:How would you describe this year in 3 – 5 words?What was the best thing(s) that happened this year?What thing(s) are you most proud of this year?What surprised you this year?What did you achieve that you didn’t plan to?What things (and perhaps people) did you let go of?What did you think this year was going to be about and what was it actually about?Who had the biggest impact on your life this year?Who had your back this year?Who was there for you – that you hadn’t expected?What did you do to give back or support others this year?What did you do to invest in yourself this year?What are you going to leave behind this year?How did you grow this year?  What did you learn?What is the best decision you made this year?What gave you energy this year?What drained your energy this year?What have you left unfinished this year that you want to work on in 2023?What advice would you give your 2022 self?And of course, while we’re at it, based on the above:What will 2023 focus on?What are your relationship goals? – who/what will you focus on?What are your career goals – who/what will you focus on?What will be your larger purpose?How will you help/support others? 
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts – this list could go on and on!  What would you add to it?
In the meanwhile, I wish you and your loved ones a peaceful finish to 2022 and an energizing start to 2023.
Warmest Wishes,

Tackling the (Human) Energy Crisis

We are in the midst of an energy crisis. In the world, and within ourselves.  Anxiety, uncertainty, war, political tensions are all leading to collective burnout, depletion, and a sense of physical and emotional exhaustion.  The worst part is that there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight – particularly as we are going into a chaotic holiday season.

So, what can we do?  At every level of the problem, the only real choice we have is to work on the every-day habits that WE control.  And that essentially means work on ourselves.  I know I am not the only one that is having to devote more time and concentrate on saving, focusing, and creating energy, and I thought I would share some of my key practices with you:

Use my energy wisely – I am trying to be more discerning of where I spend my time and energy.  Sometimes I don’t have an option, but when I do, I am trying to (gently) let go of/minimise people and things that sap my energy.  I have found that this makes a huge difference for me, and not necessarily apparent for them (which in itself is a lesson!).  For example, I cannot (and don’t want to) give up working, but I have tried to focus my work more on the type of projects that energise me, and say no to those that don’t.  I have learned to say no to “getting together for coffee” with large groups where there is little connection, but “yes – more please” to small groups of people who nurture me and care about me.  

Double down on experiences that energise me – what are the things that you do that give you more energy?  I love keynote speaking and the work I’m doing at European Women on Boards – I’m trying to do more of that.  I also have dedicated early Monday mornings to offering a dance class for friends and family who want to “dance for joy” – sure, I get to work a little later that day, but whoo! With great energy. 

Find alternative sources of energy – I am trying to be creative and explore other ways of finding sources of energy and recharging.  For example, I have gone back to art – I dug up my old art supplies and have put on my schedule a weekly evening art session where I do nothing but paint, draw or just doodle.  

Conserve my energy, and recharge – frankly, I have rediscovered the joys of pyjama days or no-tech days on weekends, I have set up timing limits on most of my social media apps, am trying to get to bed half an hour earlier every day – and on work-from-home days, I try and take a 30 minute nap. JOY.

None of these are earth shattering or new.  But I am finding that having the discipline to make these things a priority helps me stay energised.

So, what gives you energy?  What do you do to stay energised?
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.

All the best,

Top Three Insights

It’s been a while!

I hope the summer has been great for everyone.  It was hectic, emotional, and productive for me….and for those of you who don’t know – I did a TedX talk in Italian!   It was crazy – 38 degrees, they changed the venue, we had a big audience crowded in an attic meeting room of the commune – with no air-conditioning! 

My talk, Leader conosci te stesso I shared the top three insights that working with leaders all these years has taught me.  I believe all of us who are leaders in our communities, families and workplaces can benefit from their experiences.  Please take a minute (12 to be exact 😊) to listen if you haven’t already. 

For those of you who don’t speak Italian – here is a quick translation of the introduction —

“At 47, I was at the peak of my career.  I had just sold the company I had co-founded, and where I had worked as COO.  Life was fantastic – I did everything I dreamt I would do if I ever had free time: I taught dance, took art classes, went on long walks…I enjoyed life to the fullest for many months…….and then.  What next?  What would I do when I grew up?
I felt the need to figure out at a deeper level what would turn me on and what would give greater meaning to my life at that point. It took me more than a year and a half to reflect. I had to resist all distractions, including job offers, which would have been so easy to pursue.  But it was worth it. In that space I reconnected with myself and what I loved and what my greater purpose in life was.
But today we live in a world where communication is reduced to 280 characters, spaces included. Sound bites.  Bullet points.  15-second videos on Tik Tok.  An email longer than a paragraph, risks having as a reply a 4-letter acronym: “TLDR”, “Too Long Didn’t Read”.  We have short attention spans.  
Why? In a frantically changing world, our mental, emotional and physical state is also altered, and we take shortcuts and immediately go into “automatic” mode, into “auto-pilot.”
But, auto-pilot is only good for airplanes. We, humans today, need anything but auto-pilot.  In turbulent times, we need to “buckle up”- pay attention to how to evolve and grow consciously, how to discard preconceptions and old patterns that no longer apply.
Smart phones do an update several times a year, what about us?”

I hope the message in the video resonated for you, I’m trying to spread the word and I would love your help in sharing it with people you think may be interested. 
As always, I would also love to hear your thoughts.

All the best,

What Nadal teaches us about Leadership

I love watching sports – the players are always so in-the-moment, they are future focused (i.e. where the ball is going not where it was, where the game is going, not where it was). In many ways, athletes and leaders have quite a bit in common in terms of discipline and focus. 

Two days ago, Ana Botin of Banco Santander, offered Rafael Nadal a job with the company when he retires on a video call in front of her employees.  What she wrote about Rafa about what he can teach us resonated with me, and I thought I would share it with you. The bullets are her words, not mine.

  • If you overthink the last point, you won’t be prepared for the next one.
  • Learn to forgive yourself, accept and control frustration, and keep working to improve.
  • Step-by-step, try to find a solution in every moment.
  • Don’t rush to success. Achieving your goals requires hard work, patience, and a long-term commitment.
  • Even with a winning strategy, you will not win every match. Accept it.
  • To be the best, you don’t have to have all the answers. Lean on your team, and let them speak up.
  • And a piece of sage advice from his father: observe everything and everyone around you carefully, take the good things and discard the bad ones.

Words to keep with us!  What do you think?

If you would like to see her post (source of this article) and watch the video, click here

All the best,

Trends for 2022

Happy New Year! I hope you are settling into 2022 despite the upheaval and chaos that, by now, is part of our world.  These days, one of the biggest questions that I have been pondering – both at work as well as when I look at the world around me – is how we can create more fairness and opportunity for all.

And lo and behold, Harvard Business Review just published a great article 11-trends-that-will-shape-work-in-2022-and-beyond!

And the first trend they cite that will “be the defining issue for organizations” is a focus on Fairness and Equity.  They say it better, so let me quote directly from them:

“Debates that have fairness at the core, whether it’s around race, climate change, or Covid vaccine distribution, have become flashpoints in society.

According to our analysis of S&P 500 earnings calls, the frequency with which CEOs talk about issues of equity, fairness and inclusion on these calls has increased by 658% since 2018.

And questions of fairness and equity are emerging in new ways:

  • Who has access to flexible work? We’ve seen organizations where some managers allow their employees flexibility while other managers don’t.
  • What happens when employees move to locations with a lower cost of living? Should employers lower their compensation even though the impact of their work hasn’t changed?
  • In today’s labor market, companies are paying 20% compensation premiums to hire new employees. Is it fair to pay new employees so much more than established employees?
  • Companies are offering new, targeted investments for specific segments of their workforce (e.g., additional financial resources to support employees with children). While these investments are critical to help those employees do their job, employees without children have asked “Why are employees who are parents getting something and I’m not?”

In 2022, executives will need to address how they are managing fairness and equity across the increasingly varied employee experience. In fact, this will be the number one priority for HR executives next year

Read the full article here, and I always enjoy hearing from you and your perspectives – I would also be thrilled to hear about what you and/or your organizations are doing to move concretely on some of these issues. 

All the best,