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Archive for the ‘Reflections on Leadership’ Category

Achievement, Accomplishment, Work Ethic and Success

Posted by KakieF on November 21, 2014

December of 2012 I published a successful academic paper called; “Best Buy Corporation Strategic Management Analysis” which I co-wrote with some exceptionally talented people in my cohort. During that time, the company was experiencing revolutionary change, juggling reputation management issues and more. The CEO had resigned, the company founder, Dick Schulze, had written a letter to the board with intention to buy the company back and run it. The competitive market was rapidly changing, they pulled out of markets in China and the UK and had brought in new CEO, Huber Joly.

Recently, our paper reached 29,000 views in less than two years and we are proud of that. It is quite aBest Buy Corporation Strategic Management Analysis Kakie Fitzsimmons 2 years, 29000 viewsn accomplishment and for me, professionally, it highlights the kind of work I am capable of. The in-depth research of this globally expanding company, evaluation of their internal environment and external market conditions was a great learning experience.

The recommendations we made? Some were implemented. I invite you to take an in-depth look and if there is anyone you think should see it, please pass it along. It has been quite an achievement, which leads to the topic of this post.

272 steps to forgivenessThis second photo in this post was taken by me at a place called “Batu Caves” in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, March of 2012, while traveling with my cohort for a global business systems course as part of the Executive MBA program at The University of St. Thomas. That was eight months before writing the Best Buy paper.

Batu Caves is said to be the most respected Hindu Shrine outside of India. 276 steps lead to a large temple cave at the very top and it is said that each step taken, is a sin forgiven.

This week’s photo challenge: “show us a photo that says ‘achievement‘ to you: people meeting a long-worked-for goal. Something tangible you have created. A view from a journey you have completed, or the stating point of a journey yet made or a project you hope to finish.”

The reason I selected this photo is because achievement, for me, is different from success and is more than an accomplishment. Achievement doesn’t come easy for everyone, it is a learning process which takes effort and grit. Throughout that process of acquiring new knowledge, we must anticipate we will encounter roadblocks that will challenge us. As leaders, that means giving ourselves permission to learn, unlearn, rethink, innovate and survive.

Achievement is a drill that requires work ethic, optimism and backbone. We run through the practice and process of achievement again and again, ingesting new information, then applying more elbow grease towards the end goal. It builds character and involves conditioning ourselves into a thought process that says “I can do this, I believe in myself.”

Achievement is taking an internal, personal vow to practice resilience, again, until it feels normal. And we do it because we know we will be better for the process. Our experience has given us the gift and wisdom of knowing that deferred gratification really works. And that achievement, lies in the process of getting there. It’s the climb.

Please leave a comment below and thanks for visiting my blog.

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Refracting Light Life | Kakie’s Corner

Posted by KakieF on October 21, 2014

These pictures were taken one of our first “free” nights in South East Asia, for the Global Business Systems course in the Executive MBA program. This evening four of us opted for dinner on the rooftop in Little India. I heard a calming sound of flapping water, came around the corner and this beautiful scenery was what I encountered.

Executive MBA Global Systems Course - Singapore

Executive MBA Global Studies Course, Singapore

This week’s photo challenge asks that we show what “refraction” means to us. Refraction occurs when a ray of light is indirectly deflected by a wave of energy that passes from one medium to another, which causes the illumination to bend and become distorted. For example: water to light, air to glass etc.

I interpret “Refraction” as a metaphor for life.

For different reasons we head down paths in pursuit of something more. It could be a better life, happiness, knowledge, material things, family, respect, acceptance, relationships, recognition, inner peace, personal growth, etc. Regardless of the motivation, what is important is that we have been compelled to take action. While it is exciting to know we are on the way to discovering possibilities, life can and will present a series of unexpected patterns to emerge. Sometimes these schemes can cause peoples light to bend, resulting in feelings of disarray.

Research has shown us that it is a natural process for individuals to resist change and as leaders, whether reservations are from us or those around us, it is our role to look at capabilities and value of this change, model new behavior and create repetitive messaging that points people in the proper direction because it is the right thing to do [1].

Bending light is beauty and most of the time we can see it instantaneously. The metaphor for refraction that occurs in our lives sometimes takes a little more time to be revealed, but when it shines, it is stunning because it radiates and people around us feel it. Contentment and enlightenment await.

Thanks for visiting my blog, please leave a reply below.

[1]  Beer, M., and Nohria, N. (2000). Cracking the code of change. Harvard Business Review, 78(3): 133-141.

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Through Eyes of “Endurance”

Posted by KakieF on September 27, 2014

The Meaning of Endurance

Embracing uncertainty knowing there is no “around, over or under.”

Having the audacity to do something unconventional, telling ourselves;

“I can, I will, I am, I believe, I trust it is time for something new and it is necessary. I will practice this until it feels normal.

Walking into the unknown with persistent fearlessness and a resilient spirit.

Forging ahead with integrity, courage, bravery, wholeheartedness and guts.

Past those who cast stones of judgement, unkind words and misunderstanding.

They will not define us.

For we know the only way out, is through, and that something better is in store.

Our self-assuredness will take us there,

because it always has.

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This post was inspired by The Weekly Photo Challenge: “Endurance. Show us what endurance means to you.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Innovation: The Truth About Creativity

Posted by KakieF on April 9, 2014

Creativity Pre Orchestra Lecture

 

I’ve been taking part two of a course based on a book called; “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brené Brown. Brown has spent the past 10-15 years researching topics like courage, vulnerability and authenticity. One of our first assignments was to think about the gifts that come to us as the result of our own creativity.

The book presents fascinating findings about creativity. Brown refers to vulnerability as the birthplace of innovation. She also makes the point that there is no such thing as people who are not creative. Instead, there are resourceful people who know how to tap into their ingenuity, while others don’t. Read the rest of this entry »

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Courage is a HEART Word

Posted by KakieF on February 14, 2014

Courage is a heart wordA few months back I took a six-week online class with Brené Brown based on her book; “The Gifts of Imperfection.” Early in the process we explored the meaning of courage and had a journal activity as seen in the picture. I wanted to share what Brené says about courage because I think it is profound;

“Courage, the original definition of courage when it first came into the English language - it’s from the Latin word cor, meaning heart – and the original definition was to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart…

This is what I have found: to let ourselves be seen, deeply seen, vulnerably seen; to love with our whole hearts, even though there’s no guarantee — and that’s really hard, and I can tell you as a parent, that’s excruciatingly difficult — to practice gratitude and joy in those moments of terror, when we’re wondering, ‘Can I love you this much? Can I believe in this passionately? Can I be this fierce about this?’ just to be able to stop and, instead of catastrophizing what might happen, to say, ‘I’m just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.’”

-Quote by Brené Brown, speaking about The Power of Vulnerability at TED

How often do we ask ourselves the question of what it means to live wholeheartedly? It starts with having enough self-compassion to explore our stories about shame and vulnerability without judgement. Brené says that shame can not survive being spoken, so after we have explored our fears and insecurities, it is important to find “your people” – those who have earned the right to hear your story. They are the individuals you know will just listen without judgement. They are the people who will not throw it back in your face at a later time. Next, say it out loud to them. That is a step towards healing and growth.

That my friends, takes courage, and is a demonstration of living with intention. Thoughts feelings and actions in alignment with our values principles and goals. I’d like to think of it as a form of servant leadership that we give as a gift to ourselves. Genuine authenticity feels good.

If there is anything you would like to share about this please feel free to comment below.

Thanks for visiting my blog and have a Happy Valentines Day!

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Out in the Cold, But No Thin Ice Here – Twinkle Lights

Posted by KakieF on February 7, 2014

Out in the cold, but not on thin ice - Twinkle LightsI took this picture in Rice Park at the 2014 St. Paul Winter Carnival on January 31st and the temperature was well below zero. There was a live band outside that evening complete with an ice bar and ice sculptures. We didn’t stay long, but we did get some great pictures.

The lights are so beautiful and remind me of a quote by Brené Brown from her book called “The Gifts of Imperfection.” A while back I posted one of her TED Talks videos that went viral about the power of vulnerability. In the book; The Gifts of Imperfection; Brené writes;

I think the beauty of twinkle lights is a perfect metaphor for joy. Read the rest of this entry »

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Educating Our Kids to be Responsible Digital Citizens

Posted by KakieF on January 31, 2014

Generations kids parents social media technologySometimes it seems hard to remember a world without digital anything. It has changed business models, communication paradigms and how we need to think about what it means to be a digital and global citizen. Technology has shifted the way we shop, pay bills, save money, consume media, get cash, travel, advertise, manage workflows, store information and even how we want to be remembered.

According to the Ad Age Mobile Fact Pack 2013, the average adult in the United States spends an average of 141 minutes per day using mobile devices. Despite that, the good news is that the changes are teaching us how to stay connected to our families. According to Pew Internet, since 1965, fathers have tripled the amount of time spent with their kids. Even mothers spend more time now with their children than they did in 1960Despite loads of information at our fingertips, we still don’t have all of the answers, and perhaps there is some redemption in that.

In presentations when I speak to people about what it means to remain relevant in a digital world that continues to expand, there are still so many people who feel overwhelmed.  There are arguments on all sides about topics like transparency, being politically correct, when to take calls, check email and how to behave in public when talking on mobile devices, etc. Read the rest of this entry »

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6 Successful Ways to Influence and Lead Change

Posted by KakieF on January 27, 2014

6 simple ways to get buy in and influence othersMaking meaningful connections is important in leadership. We easily get caught up in “do-and-move-forward” mode which gets in the way of slowing down to value the relationships we have built and continue to grow. It helps to remember that people rally around causes and values that resonate with them, especially when leading through times of change. We have been trained to continuously scan internal and external environments and there is no question it takes time to figure out how to bring others with us through the journey that is change. Our role is to anticipate resistance, lead with confidence and have empathy for and redirect individuals who may get emotional. Modeling the behavior is a given and we can’t over communicate the key messaging that is required. Below are 6 simple things we can do to lead and influence people and organizations in times of transition. Read the rest of this entry »

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A Random Act of Kindness for Wordless Wednesday

Posted by KakieF on January 22, 2014

When was the last time someone reached out to you and performed a random act of kindness? I was pleasantly surprised when a complete stranger recently did something thoughtful for me just when I needed it most. As a result of her good-hearted deed, I plan to honor her by paying it forward.

WholeHeartedThankYou

As thought leaders, we sometimes forget the view, taking a moment to acknowledge the people around us via random acts of kindness can go a long way. We get so caught up in our calendars, goals and tasks and only see the road ahead. But when we slow down a little to enjoy, pleasant surprises seem to come out of the woodwork.

The Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, this past Monday, has been deemed a day to encourage making a difference in communities. As I wrote in a previous post called: Servant Leadership: Facts about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. King was a strong proponent of servant leadership, so whether or not you took action this week, I would like to propose a challenge.

What can you do to make a difference for someone this week? Please make the effort, then come back here and share your story below. I’d like to hear what you did, the response you got and how it made you feel. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Thought Leadership on Community

Posted by KakieF on October 18, 2013

DSC00299Imagine this: Your entire community — however you define that; your hometown, neighborhood, family, colleagues — are guaranteed to read your blog tomorrow. Write the post you’d like them all to see.

If you are reading this post, that means you are part of my community. I have long held a belief that somehow, I am supposed to make differences that ripples out, affecting a lot of people, in positive ways. So hopefully something in this will resonate for you.

In Latin, the word Communitatum was a noun that meant “fellowship” and the word Unitatum meant “oneness, sameness or agreement.”  From that, the word Community is derived; Fellowship in agreement, which means different things to different people.

In life we have a choice to go down many roads two of which could include judgement or compassion.  Read the rest of this entry »

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How Will you Exceed Expectations Today?

Posted by KakieF on September 1, 2013

Thought Leaders Exceeding Expectations

We recently experienced a hot spell here in Minnesota. It was the kind where the temperature creates a visual mirage of heat that radiates off of the roads. The humidity that accompanied it left many of us feeling weak and listless.

On this day, it was too hot to cook. So we dropped into a local restaurant and told the waitress we were extremely thirsty. Next, she brought us a pitcher of water with a straw in it and we all had a good laugh. Her gesture said a lot about her leadership style because she paid attention, heard what was said, empathized and delivered beyond expectations. The photo captured to commemorate the occasion says it all.

How often do we need to be reminded that we have the power to make a difference for one or many? Sometimes, what seems like the smallest gesture, can go a long way. Successful thought leaders understand that although it may not have come easy in the beginning, hard work and practicing these deeds are how they make it look so natural.

Has anyone gone out of their way recently, exceeding your expectations? How did it affect you?

More importantly, what gesture can you put forth on this day that will make a difference for someone?

Please comment below, I’d like to hear from you!

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South East Asia and Global Systems: Far From Home

Posted by KakieF on July 16, 2013

The furthest I have ever traveled from home was in 2012 when I went to South East Asia as part of my MBA studies. What I found intriguing is how the educational, Far From Home - A Buddhist temple in Chinatown, Singaporereligious, leadership and social structures in Asia are made up of variables that we haven’t known in the past. These factors are still growing and creating new ways of thinking.

Much of the region is importing intellectual capital talent from the United States. I wonder what implications will come from blending Eastern educational structure and the social analytical thinking it breeds, along with existing western business in our global economy.

Cal Oltrogge is Senior Vice President of PDI, Ninth House, a Korn/Ferry company. The company is the world’s premier global leadership solutions company. Mr Oltrogge shared with us the biggest challenges faced in Asia include figuring out the key to unlocking leadership development, retaining and acquiring talent along with succession planning. Global systems are evolving and companies need to be flexible, engage in dialogue about languages, show respect for alternative ideas no matter what, and demonstrate openness about possibilities.

What I took from it was that there are a lot of unknowns and we will have to let some of it play out. Part of that process will involve failure and it will be interesting to see how the Asian culture’s fear of failure will play into that.

Please share your thoughts below. I would love to hear from you!

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This post was inspired by The Daily Prompt: Tell us about the farthest you’ve ever traveled from home. Photographers, artists, poets: Show us DISTANCE

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Extraordinary Singular Sensation | The Daily Prompt

Posted by KakieF on July 13, 2013

If one experience or life change results from you writing your blog,what would you like it to be?GraduationPostblog

Connection that sparks meaningful conversation and reaches the masses. Dialogue that results in personal, professional and spiritual growth, paradigm shifts, reflection, healing, laughter, joy and friendships.

Relevant discussions about alternative perspectives that are rich, thought-provoking and insightful.

I have served as a speaker and presenter about different topics. I have been writing for years in a number of formats. I believe at my core, that there is something in my experiences that is supposed to move and touch the lives of many people. It just hasn’t revealed itself yet. But I have faith that something greater is in store because we all have a story to tell. So what is yours? Please comment below!

This post was inspired by The Daily Prompt

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Being Rooted and Branching Out #TreeTuesday

Posted by KakieF on June 25, 2013

About being rooted and branching out in leadershipWhen I was a little girl, we had a huge willow tree in our back yard that we would climb. It was so big that sometimes there were as many as 6 kids in it at once!

At #TreeTuesday over on Google Plus there is a community I sometimes participate in, where people share photos they have taken of trees. I love being in the outdoors, and today I selected this picture as part of #TreeTuesday. I took it in 2012 while traveling to SouthEast Asia for a Global Systems Class as we walked from our hotel to the National Museum of Singapore.

The picture and the idea of #TreeTuesday made me think about being rooted in something bigger than ourselves, which for many people is a component of personal growth and faith. A few years back in some coaching sessions I had with Doug Lennick, (he was the coach), he discussed fallibility and that we often carry 2 mindsets with us. One is our ideal self, (who we want to be), and our real self (who we are).

Doug’s consistent message was always that when we ensure our morals, values, principles and beliefs, are in alignment with our thoughts feelings and actions, it makes us better people, which brings us closer to our ideal authentic selves. This has become an invaluable tool in my personal life and career for building relationships and credibility as a thought leader. Studies have indicated that the four most important characteristics for gaining credibility in leadership include:

  • Honesty
  • Being forward-looking
  • Inspirational
  • Competent

(Kouzes and Posner, 2010).

Alignment encompasses each of those in different ways. We all bring our experiences to the table, so how about you? Are there other traits in addition to the ones above you feel are just as important? Please share below and thanks for stopping by!

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You’ve Got the Power | My Law Starts Here

Posted by KakieF on June 12, 2013

If I could enact a single law, it might read something like this:

Holding Hand

Compassion over judgement - Act thoughtfully and approach every human being, including yourself, with loving kindness. Acknowledge your own bias and seek to understand before jumping to conclusions. Everyone has a story to tell and asking someone about theirs may be really insightful.

Love your family in word and action - Family consists of those we choose to involve in our lives. Life is short, time slips away quickly and living with regret is daunting. The good news is every person has the gift of this very moment, so step forward, make a choice and seize the day!

Let go of the anger  In every life situation, have the courage to take a step back and ask;

  • What is really going on here?
  • How am I feeling right now?
  • What is my role in this situation?
  • Who or what do I need to forgive?

Practice Gratitude each day and sprinkle in a little fun.

Be kind to yourself - Cliche I know, – treat others the way you want to be treated. But how about this:

Treat yourself  the way you want to be treated.

What would that look like and if you had the power to enact a single law, what would it be? Please comment below.

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This post was inspired by The Daily Prompt: You have the power to enact a single law. What would it be? Photographers, artists, poets: show us RULES.

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