Victoria Trabosh Executive Coach http://www.jtechbah.com Leadership Build on Wisdom Tue, 09 Mar 2021 20:06:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.7 https://i1.wp.com/www.jtechbah.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/cropped-training-victoria-trabosh-logo.png?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 Victoria Trabosh Executive Coach http://www.jtechbah.com 32 32 185151374 Feedback 101 http://www.jtechbah.com/feedback-101/ http://www.jtechbah.com/feedback-101/#respond Tue, 09 Mar 2021 01:14:44 +0000 http://www.jtechbah.com/?p=1685 Written By Victoria Trabosh, CEC Situation: “I was recently hired to deliver feedback?from a leadership 360 online assessment. The client ‘freaked out’ and refused to hear the feedback. What should?I have done and how could I have handled the situation better?” This is not uncommon, but without the context of the situation, I have more... Read more.

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Written By Victoria Trabosh, CEC

Situation:

“I was recently hired to deliver feedback?from a leadership 360 online assessment. The client ‘freaked out’ and refused to hear the feedback. What should?I have done and how could I have handled the situation better?”

This is not uncommon, but without the context of the situation, I have more questions than answers. I’ll eventually be sharing a concept with you that is the acronym LALA. (Teaser, that’s all I’m saying right now!)

Here are my questions:

Beyond delivering feedback, did you administer the 360? How were participants prepared before they received the assess- ment? What were your client’s expectations of the 360? How have 360s been delivered in the past at this company? What is the credibility of this tool to create awareness, change, and empower the person being assessed? While this is not an uncommon occurrence, did you feel as if the 360 was full of bad news? Is coaching a tool used throughout the company or only with employees facing problems?

As an executive coach for 18 years, assessments of all kinds become labels, not tools. A wide range of companies offers the 360 evaluation, and frankly, the results are as good as the prework done to prepare the assessors, conversations with the one being evaluated, and participation and acceptance and usefulness of this tool at the highest levels of the company. What often (too often) happens is that this tool, in particular, is used to anonymously ‘confirm’ bad news to the receiver. I have never met an executive who took this who wasn’t nervous about receiving the feedback and spent more time focusing on the bad news than the good. Often, strong leaders minimize what they believe to be fair and maximize surprising or written bad news. I’ve heard it 100 times: “I know who said that!” when receiving sharp or direct negative feedback. Whether they are right or wrong, there is a problem. The coach must bring them back to the table to discuss the comment, not the accused assessor.

If you can, try and engage the client once more using the concept of LALA. “Look, Ask, Listen, Acknowledge.” Developed by Jill Syle, author of Reinvesting in Your Rhetoric and my Harvard Professor who teaches advanced communication skills, it’s the process of slowing down before we react. Help your client learn LALA. I ask you to try it with them.

The 360 is done. Don’t let it create unease in your client. Try again, knowing this work is vital for their success.

Read the whole article HERE

Published in, and reproduced with permission from, choice, the magazine? of professional coaching??www.choice-online.com

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Is it racial injustice, or is it personal? http://www.jtechbah.com/is-it-racial-injustice-or-is-it-personal/ http://www.jtechbah.com/is-it-racial-injustice-or-is-it-personal/#respond Tue, 08 Dec 2020 20:38:45 +0000 http://www.jtechbah.com/?p=1667 An excerpt from my recent Sticky Situation article in Choice Magazine.   “I’ve been hired to coach an executive who is African American and in a crucial position in a large tech firm. His female director is white. She sees the tension in his department and attributes it to a lack of leadership. He says... Read more.

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An excerpt from my recent Sticky Situation article in Choice Magazine.

 

“I’ve been hired to coach an executive who is African American and in a crucial position in a large tech firm. His female director is white. She sees the tension in his department and attributes it to a lack of leadership. He says it’s because he deals with bias and racism, resulting in a lack of respect and commitment to performance. The director isn’t buying it. How do I navigate this sensitive and important issue given what’s currently happening in societies around the world. “

response by Victoria Trabosh

We live in a world many people continue to interpret through their own personal, biased, and limited lens. In this case, the director’s narrow view may be through her white, female lens. She may be dismissing his assertions because she has no idea what to do about them.

Your client’s beliefs of why he is unable to be effective must not be minimized or ignored. Bias and racism have become buzz words, yet recognized as real and limiting factors in a person of color’s growth in many organizations. Does that speak to all the reasons for his lack of success? The an- swer to that question is unknown. But steps need to be taken at the company’s highest levels to have the race conversation, which will make people uncomfortable.

Clear policies must exist which address bias and racism. If people of color are not at the highest leadership levels, and if micro-aggressions have been mentioned before but ignored, this is additional evidence that it is time for a difficult conversation.

Coaching is needed now more than ever to facilitate these conversations. Your client cannot educate his director nor his staff about bias and race by himself. But he should be a part of the more meaningful conversation within the company. People who are affected by an issue need a seat at the table.

Action for your client may include en- couraging the highest levels of leadership (not just the HR department) of the com- pany to have the race conversation, not to accuse, but to inform and educate. None of us can understand what it means to be ‘the?other,’ whether that ‘other’ label is based on race, gender, sexual orientation, culture, or creed. We must seek to understand rather than be understood.

If I were his coach, I would hold the space and allow him to speak his truth and not argue it. Then, I would work with him to prepare a presentation for the leadership team to outline the racism and bias issues and have him offer to begin a collaborative discussion within the company. If the com- pany is not willing to take this on now, they will be left behind by those who know the time is now, and he will find a new place to take his leadership.

As a coach, look beyond what is presented and seek to solve the underlying issue.

View original article here

Published in, and reproduced with permission from, choice, the magazine of professional coaching www.choice-online.com

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From Founder to Leader: The Secret to Succeeding in Business Leadership http://www.jtechbah.com/from-founder-to-leader-the-secret-to-succeeding-in-business-leadership/ http://www.jtechbah.com/from-founder-to-leader-the-secret-to-succeeding-in-business-leadership/#respond Wed, 28 Oct 2020 13:00:23 +0000 https://www.www.jtechbah.com/?p=1659 written by Cherie Mclaughlin The scariest part of hiring your first employees isn’t the costs or the risk of a bad hire. It’s wondering if you’re the right person to lead your business to success. Managing employees is a lot different than founding a company, and entrepreneurs that make great founders don’t always excel as... Read more.

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written by Cherie Mclaughlin

The scariest part of hiring your first employees isn’t the costs or the risk of a bad hire. It’s wondering if you’re the right person to lead your business to success. Managing employees is a lot different than founding a company, and entrepreneurs that make great founders don’t always excel as CEOs.

The Difference Between Founders and Leaders

Founders are visionaries. In exchange for their creativity and passion, the character flaws of founders tend to go overlooked. However, when a founder transitions to a leadership position, those flaws are magnified, The Telegraph explains. In some cases, they become a source of toxicity that infects the company from the top-down.

One way that founders struggle is letting go. While micromanagement can be an asset in the startup phase, controlling bosses erode company morale. As a leader, you have to be willing to step back and put faith in your employees. Remember: Your job as a leader isn’t to run the company’s day-to-day affairs, but to enable and empower the people who do.

4 Qualities You Need to Be an Effective Leader

Being an effective leader means cultivating the qualities that make people want to follow you. While creativity and inspiration are important, they’re not enough to lead a team. You also need:

Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is at the core of effective leadership. As a leader, you have to understand your employees’ goals so you can communicate and motivate them in a way that resonates. And since your team likely includes people from a variety of backgrounds, you need to have the cultural competency to adapt to your audience.

Communication skills

Emotional intelligence and communication skills go hand-in-hand. Whether you’re leading a team meeting, giving feedback, or negotiating compensation, effective communication requires understanding what’s relevant and important to your employees. Good communication is also important for efficiency. When you’re leading a big team, you can’t afford for things to get lost in translation.

Humility

An ego is an asset when you’re pitching a startup, but once you’re moving forward, founders need to leave ego at the door. That’s because the best leaders are ones who value their team’s input and give credit where credit is due, whereas managers who put winning over the good of the team erode employee morale and team cohesion.

Curiosity

One thing that leaders absolutely can’t be? Inflexible. Transitioning from founder to leader is a learning process. And as educator Marshall Goldsmith put it, “What got you here won’t get you there.” In order to succeed, founders need to be open to continued learning (which you can do easily these days by taking courses online) and personal growth. While you might not be the perfect leader from the get-go, you can get there with an open mind and a willingness to learn.

Is Becoming a Leader Worth It?

If these traits don’t come naturally to you, you may be thinking it’s easier to hand off the leadership role to a hired CEO. While this is an option for startup founders, it doesn’t get you off the hook for learning leadership skills.

The traits that make a great leader also contribute to a business’s success in other ways. Leadership skills:

  • Keep your company aimed toward its vision.
  • Improve your processes and systems.
  • Drive sales, investments, and partnerships.
  • Strengthen your brand.
  • Drive revenue.

How to Become a Better Leader

Do you want to hone your leadership skills? These are some tips you can use to be a more effective leader:

  • Invest in professional development. Leadership programs, free online courses, and organizational management degrees could be the answer to closing your skills gap.
  • Hire people smarter than you. Look for employees that complement you, not ones you can control.
  • Know how to act decisively, but don’t be afraid to express doubts and solicit input.
  • Accept that you’ll be wrong sometimes. It’s better to make the occasional mistake than to be paralyzed by uncertainty.
  • Understand what motivates employees. They may not be as invested in the growth of the company, but happy employees will work hard for your business.

Expecting to jump seamlessly from founder to leader is a recipe for disaster. While some founders make the transition to CEO successfully, it’s not without introspection and personal development. By making an effort to develop the skills you need to not just start a company, but lead it, you can watch your business grow from a fledgling startup to a respected organization.

Image via Unsplash

Cherie Mclaughlin has been creating and growing couch-based businesses since her couch was in a dorm room. Through both success and failure, she knows that all it takes to be successful is a willingness to go into it with the understanding that it’s a learn as you go process, and the boldness to step out of your comfort zone and give it a shot.
Learn more about Cherie at couchbasedbiz.com
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From Triage to Recovery, coaching through COVID-19 http://www.jtechbah.com/from-triage-to-recovery-coaching-through-covid-19/ http://www.jtechbah.com/from-triage-to-recovery-coaching-through-covid-19/#respond Thu, 01 Oct 2020 13:00:13 +0000 https://www.www.jtechbah.com/?p=1645 written by Victoria Trabosh COVID-19 will define a time in the world when no one had control; when no one was sure what to do next. We look to leaders in times of crisis, not remembering or knowing they are experiencing the same feelings and emotions that those who look for answers are feel- ing.... Read more.

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written by Victoria Trabosh

COVID-19 will define a time in the world when no one had control; when no one was sure what to do next. We look to leaders in times of crisis, not remembering or knowing they are experiencing the same feelings and emotions that those who look for answers are feel- ing. In a coach’s work with a leader, there?is a significant opportunity to assist the leader in becoming aware of their emotions to such an extent that they can harness their awareness to lead others through COVID-19. In their awareness may not lie the answers for others, but a roadmap for helping others within their organization to find their way, apart yet together.?

There has never been a time in business when communication is more critical. My grandson, Matt, who is a first responder, was talking to me about ‘compassion fatigue.’ The idea that first responders must be aware they can begin to feel indifferent about suffering due to the frequency of, or the number of appeals, for help. Communicating remotely with so many unknowns ahead, is taking its toll on?all. Help your client realize they are no different in their fatigue, or the fatigue of those around them, which is why their ability to be consistently empathetic and understanding may ebb and flow.?

Leadership is not about being perfect. It’s about finding the next flow after the last ebb. Leading well requires extreme self-care now more than ever. How well is your client taking care of themselves? You cannot give away what you do not have. Ensure that in your conversations with your client, they are getting clear on their own needs first, and their empathy will be available for others.?

Ask your client to meet more frequently and purposefully with those they lead and solve the future worries and issues together. Because no one has done this before, collaboration within companies will allow for some of the most lasting success going for- ward. Many great ideas from companies are coming from the ‘rank and file’; those who are doing the work and finding new ways to pivot their skills and talents.?

Finally, remind your client there is an overwhelming sense of loss for what we all thought the immediate and long-range future would bring. We have been through devastating times in the past. Each failure leads to success when we take the lesson from the loss.?

Keep talking with your client; stay connected and know that, apart yet together, we will come through these most troubling of times.?

View original article Here

Published in, and reproduced with permission from, choice, the magazine of professional coaching www.choice-online.com

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How to Elevate, not Exploit, the Black Voices Saving Your Company from Itself http://www.jtechbah.com/how-to-elevate-not-exploit-the-black-voices-saving-your-company-from-itself/ http://www.jtechbah.com/how-to-elevate-not-exploit-the-black-voices-saving-your-company-from-itself/#respond Tue, 29 Sep 2020 13:00:54 +0000 https://www.www.jtechbah.com/?p=1617 written by Kamala Avila-Salmon “We joined the ERG because we needed help, but we became the help,” she said. LET THAT READ SINK INTO YOUR SOUL AND MAKE YOU SQUIRM. This quote is from an excellent Washington post story about how tech companies are turning to their Black ERGs to save them from their racial... Read more.

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written by Kamala Avila-Salmon

“We joined the ERG because we needed help, but we became the help,” she said.

LET THAT READ SINK INTO YOUR SOUL AND MAKE YOU SQUIRM.

This quote is from an excellent Washington post story about how tech companies are turning to their Black ERGs to save them from their racial problems. For free.

I was sent this article yesterday and after a full day-long search, I can confirm there are #NoLiesDetected. This struggle is so real. Today, I had a chance to sit in on a new D&I training at work and it was actually amazing. (If you are a Black person who has ever attended a corporate D&I training, you will understand why I was kind of surprised. These trainings generally do little to even comment on the racist order the workplace, much less seek to disrupt it.) The Black woman who led it said something early on that resonated with me deeply. She said, “Right now, companies are sitting at the intersection of Diversity & Inclusion and racial justice.” And BOY, is that true!

If you think predominantly White companies are bad at D&I (and yes, they are), they truly don’t know which way is up when it comes to racial justice. But almost overnight, racial justice jumped onto the corporate agenda nationally and it’s been messy to say the least. On the one hand, this is a NECESSARY shift. If you’re not focused on racial justice, D&I basically amounts to bringing people of color into a space that you know is harmful to them and including them in a culture where the only way they can survive is assimilation. Let me say it again- bringing Black people into a workplace that was built on White supremacy is ACTUALLY a form of abuse. It is a recipe for the proverbial “leaky funnel” of talent. Black people will come in, usually running away from the White supremacy of their last workplace, will find yours to be no better, and will leave to the next place that sounds better but probably will not be. It is in this way that D&I, as a corporate practice and a strategy for improving anything, has been broken from jump and it is why I knew I couldn’t build my new “inclusion strategy” role the way that typical D&I work is done. My friends who work in D&I say I am “disruptive” which I take as a high compliment. I don’t think I could live with myself if I colored within the toxic lines that were drawn before I arrived.

But on the other hand, there is something that might be comical if it wasn’t so dangerous, about companies and execs who have never even really been serious about D&I jumping right to trying to solve for racial justice in their organizations. Like, you fully skipped SEVERAL steps here. There are almost no major corporations who have actively measured and compensated their leaders based on their ability to build and lead diverse teams. No CEOs have ever been ousted for failing to move their terrible diversity numbers in all the years they have measured it and passionately claimed it was important. D&I is the only company priority that you can routinely fail at and face no consequences. The message has been pretty clear- helping people of color succeed at your company is not something to be expected of a leader. So it should be no surprise that in the middle of a national racial injustice crisis, we would have primarily non-Black leadership who can’t figure out how to send a staff memo explaining why Black lives mattered without help. We have never before asked them to know how to do this. They do not know how to do “racial justice” because they have never even thought about it.

So yes, OF COURSE, Black people become VVVVIPs in corporate America during this moment. I have said before that I happen to believe that Black people NEED to consulted in these matters. I have seen what happens when leaders who have no expertise in navigating race try to “lead” on this issue and it is not okay. They are often doing harm. So our counsel is needed. But here is the flip side, Black people are also exhausted. For real, WE ARE TIRED. Because holding space for people who have on some level always known we were oppressed and have never before cared and are now feeling all the feelings about both sides of that equation is a lot. So what you do when you know you are probably imposing on people who are already tired but also whose counsel you actually really, really do need yet have never earned? It’s really tough. Here’s my advice on how to navigate this.

(1) Find a person with diversity or inclusion in their title. I think it is okay to ask these people for help but make sure you are mindful of how many inbound requests they have coming in right now, be clear about your deadlines, and do everything you can do to do some of your own homework/research first. Also think about how you can properly recognize them for their work, in word and in deed.

(2) If you cannot do #1, tread very lightly. If you are working on something that requires the input of Black people and specifically Black people on your team because it is very specific to your work context and a generalist D&I opinion won’t do, be careful. Acknowledge that this isn’t their job but you would value their opinion. Provide actual room for them to say “no” if they can’t do it. If they say yes, take their input but also SEEK WAYS TO PAY THEM FOR THIS. Can you do a spot bonus? Can you reflect on all the times they have done this for you and recognize that this is showing leadership and impact beyond their role and recommend them for the PROMOTION they are probably overdue for anyway? And know that a yes to one request is NOT a “yes” to being your permanent D&I consultant. It should not be a life sentence of unpaid, invisible labor. Black people right now are TIRED and your company’s unacknowledged racism is probably one of the things making them more tired. Ask each and EVERY time you need help and be ready to accept a “no”.

(3) Some of your Black colleagues who do not work in D&I officially actually want to jump in proactively here. They are asking you to. You probably know who they are. They are the ones who have been pushing your business to be more intentional with diverse audiences and customers for years. Or the ones who have been recommending inclusion-minded initiatives or programs for the team to do from the start. These are your stars. They are trying to help you make more money because diversity is good business and inclusion is retention. LISTEN TO THESE VOICES NOW. DO WHAT THEY ARE TELLING YOU TO DO IF AT ALL POSSIBLE. And then, figure out how you can pay or promote them for the labor they are doing willingly without being asked, even when they are personally in trauma.

(4) Really make sure to reflect on why you don’t already have Black leadership on your team that you could be leveraging at this moment and make plans to fix this. Right now, you know you really need Black leaders because you think this is a “Black problem” (it is not but I will explain that at another time). But you have actually ALWAYS needed Black leaders. Seeing how valuable they are now, how good were any of your business decisions without diversity in the room all along?

Here’s one more thing I’ll leave you with. The Black people who are stepping up now to help save your company and your communications and your culture and your business have actually always been there. They have ALWAYS been leaders. Really ask yourself why you’ve never noticed them before, never worked with them before, never seen their brilliance till now. Be curious about their careers and their trajectories and their development plans beyond the ways in which they can help you now. Find out what their experiences at your company have been like (and if you need their help on diversity right now, you can be sure they have not been good) and decide what you want to do about that. Who are their advocates? Who are their sponsors? Who is blocking them? When were they last promoted? Were they fairly leveled in the company in the first place? This moment will past but their talent will still be there. If the Black “leaders” who are stepping up right now do not get TITLES and money to match the load they are taking on and SOON, how committed to racial justice and equity in the workplace are you really? Are you committed to change or just crisis management?

Article originally posted on medium.com

Building the first Facebook marketing team focused on inspiring the Facebook family of apps to develop and ship more inclusive, culturally-relevant marketing campaigns that represent our global user base and lead the industry.

Connect with Kamala on LinkedIn.

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The Presumed Neutrality of Whiteness http://www.jtechbah.com/the-presumed-neutrality-of-whiteness/ http://www.jtechbah.com/the-presumed-neutrality-of-whiteness/#respond Wed, 23 Sep 2020 13:00:34 +0000 https://www.www.jtechbah.com/?p=1613 written by Kamala Avila-Salmon It was an idea so obvious that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t articulated it explicitly before: the presumed neutrality of Whiteness. What I mean is the assumption that White people have no identity or set of experiences that influence how they see the world. People of color obviously do- that’s why... Read more.

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written by Kamala Avila-Salmon

It was an idea so obvious that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t articulated it explicitly before: the presumed neutrality of Whiteness. What I mean is the assumption that White people have no identity or set of experiences that influence how they see the world. People of color obviously do- that’s why we’re so often accused of “playing the race card” and why it’s so hard to believe us when we say that racism is actually a problem. We have skin in the game, we would benefit from a society that admits that there is racism, we will use it to “get stuff”. At least that’s how the argument goes. But so many don’t consider how clearly White people also have skin in the game, how they benefit from a society that pretends there is no racism, how they use it to “keep stuff”. But this is clearly, obviously, gallingly the case. To be White has never meant to be neutral.

I started re-reading Dr Beverly Tatum-Daniel’s book “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” and near the start, she establishes her definition of “racism” as “a system of advantage based on race” and talks about how people, often White people and almost always non-Black people, push back immediately. “That’s not what the dictionary says.” She responds, “Who wrote the dictionary?” It may be the most expertly administered academic clapback ever because ISN’T THIS EXACTLY THE POINT. We don’t have any neutral institutions or authorities in American society. We have by and large, White ones, and to assume they are neutral is to buy into a presumed neutrality of Whiteness that can’t possibly be real. Everything in a racist society, including Webster’s Dictionary, is an expression of systemic racism. Period.

The term came to me in the midst of a discussion I was having with a good friend who is White and for whom I can list a long record of active allyship. Her character or commitment to antiracism is not in question. This is important because she said something that made me realize she had bought into a narrative of White neutrality that she likely never realized. We were talking about a controversial decision that was made which most Black people would say had harmed them and I was saying that there should have been at least one Black subject-matter expert in the room when it happened. Her first point of pushback was “just because they weren’t in the room doesn’t meant they didn’t weigh in.” Which: maybe. But they still convened a room so why not have that person there? Then she said “that’s an awful lot of pressure to put on that one person” which it is but the answer to that is to have MORE than one, not to have zero. Finally we came to it, “We can’t necessarily have every group affected by a certain decision in the room. That’s why we have rules.” Because presumably, those people would be biased towards their own group’s interests and wouldn’t be able to administer the rules. This is when I saw it. She was operating on a very standard line of reasoning that the White people in the room were dispassionately interpreting and applying objective principle but non-White people cannot do that. Also that it was not relevant that White people happened to write the rules being administered. Moreover, it assumes the White people in the room are themselves neutral and belong to no group that has interests of its own. This is the result of for too long, assigning race and therefore racial interests to only people of color. White people have no race, no group, no interests. They are neutral and objective. Society has just randomly given them a disproportionate hold on power, wealth, privilege, etc. Who can say why? It’s a mystery.

The last few sentences are my own inferences obviously. My friend didn’t say that. She never would have articulated that logical conclusion of her initial thoughts. We actually talked about the presumed neutrality piece a bit in the moment and unpacked it more. But it was a big enough a-ha moment for me that I wanted to share it. The presumed neutrality of Whiteness is why the term “identity politics” is used only in reference to people of color and other diverse groups while no group has ever practiced a more effective, consistent, and enduring form of identity politics than White people in this country. Entire voting, housing, criminal justice, education, and employment policies have been designed to explicitly and implicitly center and elevate Whiteness. “Those immigrants are taking your jobs and are murderers and rapists” is identity politics. Black people as “super predators” and “complainers who don’t want to work hard” is identity politics.

Presumed neutrality is why we use the term “affirmative action” to describe a very modest set of policies that was meant to recognize centuries of outright exclusion of people of color from opportunity (though its clearest beneficiaries are White women) but we don’t recognize that America has in fact only ever truly engaged in affirmative action in favor of White people, assigning everything from freedom to citizenship to access to property to education and more to people simply because they were White. Since the day they first showed up on land that was already occupied, White people murdered the people on it, took over, enslaved human beings to develop it, and engineered everything from the Homestead Act to redlining and more to ensure that wealth would flow to and remain in White hands BECAUSE they were White.

Presumed neutrality of Whiteness is also at play when we seek out people of color for their perspectives as such — e.g. engaging Black people to work on racial justice work now or Latinx people for Hispanic Heritage Month work, which YOU NEED TO DO by the way- but fail to realize that in all your other workstreams, when you only had White people in the room, you were actually not getting a neutral perspective. You were getting a White one. And that is different.

Friends, we need to really interrogate the presumed neutrality of Whiteness, and its inverse the presumed biased-ness of BIPOC people and therefore the unreliability of the stories they tell. It is a WHOLE ENTIRE THING and it shows up everywhere. Many White people who are aspire to be allies don’t realize how much they have bought into their own presumed neutrality. This is why I have been pushing the REFLECTION portion of my allyship journey. Without some deep reflection, you cannot recognize the ways in which seeing yourself as a “not racist person” has made you actually the perfect accomplice of systemic racism. I want you to think about why it makes you uncomfortable when a person of color advocates for themselves. Why you think what they’re saying can’t possibly be true. Or is probably not fully true. Or is in some way biased. Yet you probably feel fine advocating for your current position, your current standing in the world or in your organization, your set of beliefs, even though they were likely not fully fairly or objectively achieved and don’t recognize that holding on to it means not making room for people of color, for BLACK PEOPLE, to rise up alongside you, maybe even above you is actually you not being ready to be actively anti-racist in all the ways that your Facebook and Instagram posts would lead one to believe.

This work is hard. Un-centering yourself is very difficult. But please stay with it. Because I sincerely hope that this wave of multiracial advocacy that #BlackLivesMatter doesn’t end when the time for sacrifice to make them matter comes along. Also that time is now. #TalkAboutRace#AndYourPlaceInIt #NeutralityInAFightForEqualityIsNotReal

Article originally posted on Medium.com

Building the first Facebook marketing team focused on inspiring the Facebook family of apps to develop and ship more inclusive, culturally-relevant marketing campaigns that represent our global user base and lead the industry.?
Connect with Kamala on LinkedIn
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10 paradigm shifts for graphic designers http://www.jtechbah.com/10-paradigm-shifts-for-graphic-designers/ http://www.jtechbah.com/10-paradigm-shifts-for-graphic-designers/#respond Mon, 21 Sep 2020 13:00:36 +0000 https://www.www.jtechbah.com/?p=1627 written by Joshua Hoering Becoming more strategic, collaborative, and valuable. For $250, a business can pay a graphic designer to create a logo for their business. Or, for $10,000 a business can hire a graphic designer to form a design strategy that contextually places the business’s branding in a stronghold against the market it’s competing... Read more.

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written by Joshua Hoering

Becoming more strategic, collaborative, and valuable.

For $250, a business can pay a graphic designer to create a logo for their business. Or, for $10,000 a business can hire a graphic designer to form a design strategy that contextually places the business’s branding in a stronghold against the market it’s competing in. Businesses aren’t just paying more for the same thing, but for a designer to use specific skills, abilities, and knowledge in a strategic problem-solving way.

To have a seat at the table, strategic graphic designers of the future need much more than refined craftsmanship in a technical process to be so valuable in the marketplace; obtaining a strategic skillset isn’t often found in through higher education, but elsewhere.

The Traditional Designer Graphic

She is known as someone who works with a particular set of skills to reach a state of perfection from a design brief. Paul Rand, Milton Glaser, and Saul Bass are prime examples of traditional graphic designers. Their work is distinctively recognizable and they were hired for their refined aesthetics and reliable reputation.

Carolyn Davidson, original Nike sketch, 1971

In 1971, Carolyn Davidson met Phil Knight, then an assistant professor at Portland State University who was starting a new sports shoe company. Davidson was a student at PSU making extra cash freelancing graphic design services to pay for oil painting classes at the university. Knight hired Davidson for $2 an hour to come up with a logo that would be placed on all the shoes. So, she created several logos, showed, them to Knight, who took a look, pointed at the swoosh mark, and said “We liked this one slightly more than the others”, paid Davidson $35 and both of them went on their way. Davidson continued to study painting while Knight founded Nike, a multi-billion dollar company. With only recognition for Davidson’s drawing abilities, she created an iconic logo that would become a branding masterpiece worth a fortune.

Steve Jobs with NeXT

In 1993, Steve Jobs hired Paul Rand for $100,000 to create a logo for NeXT, Job’s business venture after being fired from Apple. Jobs asked Rand to design several logos, to which Rand replied,

“No, I will solve your problem for you and you will pay me. You don’t have to use the solution. If you want options go talk to other people. But I’ll solve your problem for you the best way I know how, and you use it or not, that’s up to you — you’re the client — but you pay me.”

— Paul Rand, 1993

Image courtesy of Wright auction house, Chicago, IL.

In 1996, Steve Jobs sold NeXT to Apple for $400 million.

Now, a logo doesn’t represent the value of an entire company, but from these two stories, we learn of two different types of graphic designers: the graphic designer who understands their value and the graphic designer who does not.

The Graphic Designer of the Future

When clients hire graphic designers to solve problems, graphic designers are handed design briefs (the client’s understanding of the problems). The graphic designer of the future starts from the design brief to a research strategy to investigate the client’s market, the user‘s needs, and to strategize a path toward solving the problem before creating anything.

Kees Dorst, professor at the University of Technology in Sydney wrote:

“When people started trying to understand design … the first model they devised was of design as a problem solving process.”

To become recognized for problem-solving processes, the graphic designer must take it upon themselves to understand different strategies for doing so. The Four Orders of Design is a structure that helps us understand the hierarchy of design, developed by Richard Buchanan. Deeper into his writing, he explains design is a process that involves systematic disruption and interactions between users before considering what is designed… meaning the results of effective design are equally as valuable as the tangible deliverable.

Four Orders of Design by Richard Buchanan

Design isn’t just a person at a desk pumping out logos. It’s a process where the graphic designer solves problems that disrupt systems in collaboration with the client and the end-user.

Tony Golsby-Smith, professor at Alphacrucis College put it this way:

“Design is the human power of conceiving, planning, and making products that serve human beings in the accomplishment of their individual and collective purposes.”

Empathy & Collaboration

So far, we understand Paul Rand and Carolyn Davidson as graphic designers who work to satisfy a design brief. If we are to find graphic designers who work collaboratively with the client, we need a new strategy that works systematically to disrupt systems and considers interactions between users.

Design Thinking is famously known as a collaborative problem-solving strategy championed by IDEO and Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (d.school) that emphasizes not graphic designers, but the end-user… this fits the bill.

Empathy is the driving force of Design Thinking, requiring everyone involved in the strategy to investigate human needs before ever solving the problem at hand. To be empathetic, people must seek to understand one another through mutual collaboration. Collaboration means designing together; not alone. To maximize the potential of Design Thinking, each person collaborating on the problem should have a different worldview, knowledgebase, and skillset to contribute to a more holistic solution. Therefore, the diversity of the group becomes as equally valuable as expertise in the group dynamic.

Strategies of Exploration

Beyond empathy, collaboration, and diversity of the group collaborating on a problem… graphic designers leading the process must have a library of design strategies to pull from to find solutions in linear and non-linear ways.

Terry Winograd, professor of Computer Science at Stanford University writes:

“There is no direct path between the designer’s intention and the outcome. As you work a problem, you are continually in the process of developing a path into it, forming new appreciations and understandings as you make new moves.”

The emphasis on process, not the design brief, is important here. The graphic designer must be capable of leading strategies and processes even if they’re messy. And, they will be messy. But as a facilitator of the process, these strategies become the tools the graphic designer uses to lead.

Throughout any of these processes, the graphic designer keeps their attention on the why and how; not the product. In doing so, the graphic designer gathers insights to explore the psychology behind what the intended audience or end-user needs. Strategies for finding these insights are not traditionally taught in higher education design programs but they are finding their way into programs. As a result, the responsibility of having these strategies ready is still on the graphic designer, which can be learned through workshops at IDEO, books, graduate-level classes at universities, and from experience working in the field.

Deliverables

When strategy becomes a primary responsibility of a graphic designer, deliverables look different. Graphic Design is largely known as a service industry where clients pay for typography, photography, and illustration. These deliverables are all visual. In the scope of Design Thinking and the Four Orders of Design, the deliverables of strategy & research are insights that look like excerpts from interviews, analyzed data reports, survey results, customer user journey maps, and the like. The difference between delivering visual products and insights should not be confused as any less work. The value of the insights guides decision-making, so the return on investment (ROI) is huge. All of these deliverables should be charged from the grahpic designer to the client with a mutual understanding of their value contributing to solving the client’s problems.

Customer User Journey Map from Nielsen Norman Group

Pricing, Negotiating, and Sustainability

Charging clients for strategy and research can be foreign for graphic designers, so understanding a variety of pricing models, how to negotiate, and working toward a goal of sustainability can help.

There are 5 models of pricing:

1. Cost-based pricing is frequently used to maximize profits and requires graphic designers to add up all their costs associated with offering a design and adding on a percentage for profit.

2. Fixed pricing charges the client a set price for a service offered, regardless of how many hours are expended or how many resources are involved.

3. Hourly pricing requires graphic designers to charge time and expenses for designs in an invoice to the client of all expenses required (such as mileage to client’s business, paper costs, etc.) and for each hour of work at an hourly price depending on the services purchased.

4. Performance-based pricing required graphic designers to invoice clients based on the performance of the design delivered.

5. Value-based pricing requires graphic designers to determine a price based on the perceived value clients will receive from the design.

Of these five models, value-based pricing most accurately represents what is being purchased from the graphic designer because the problems being addressed are understood systematically. (Liozu, S., Hinterhuber, A., Boland, R., Perelli, S.)

Beyond pricing, graphic designers must be adept at negotiating prices to make a profit, which provides the value of their work. Having a framework that communicates a process that can be trusted by a client is more important than a portfolio. (Enns, B.) While the portfolio provides a body of work representative of the past, an articulated design process promises new results that shouldn’t be like anything else since the results are tailored specifically to the client’s intended audience.

Finally, a sustainable business practice is the most important principle to remember. Becoming a sustainable graphic designer means business is continuous and reliable while finances are operating on a profit margin. Graphic designers are often driven by passion not profit, but keeping a business healthy and thriving requires a reciprocal relationship between the graphic designer and client. If designers deliver valuable results, clients will refer designers to other potential clients.

Good work will bring more good work.

Beyond Client-Based Work

There will always be dips in business. When graphic designers are not working with clients, they can be networking to build new partnerships, but they can also utilize their skills and abilities to build additional streams of revenue to supplement their income.

‘Passive income’ is a popular topic; it’s debatable whether they are effective or not. Creating an online store that sells digital or physical products is a route that requires work on the front end but it serves the end goal of marketing their work and serving as a useful or beautiful product that is enjoyed by others. It’s even possible to sell products to other graphic designers. Dustin Lee makes six figures selling Photoshop actions, Illustrator tools, brushes, textures, patterns, etc. through his web store Retro Supply.

Dustin Lee’s “Retro Supply Co.” at https://www.retrosupply.co/

Developing online classes through services such as Skillshare, Lydia, and Udemy allows graphic designers to teach profitable skills to other graphic designers. Graphic designer Ohn Mar earns $1,250 — $3,500 per month from her classes on Skillshare. As a result, sharing these skills also builds credibility for the graphic designer and their ability to lead others through processes.

www.skillshare.com

Hosting podcasts or videocasts using streaming services also creates the opportunity to teach others, but hosting a show that creates or contributes to the broader design community is easier than ever before. Debbie Millman has been posting “Design Matters”, a podcast where she interviews a different graphic designer every episode for over 14 years.

The income created by initiating multiple streams of revenue can pay off in the long run and may require little maintenance from the graphic designer. As these ventures are established, it’s worth noting the earlier and more strategic graphic designers initiate these ventures, the more they will make in the long run and could exponentially cause the graphic designer to become more valuable to clients.

Making a Living

It turns out, graphic designers can still make a good living shipping design; not research & strategy. Aaron Draplin, David Carson, and James Victore are successful in their own right and do quite well without offering research and strategy services. Ultimately, if research & strategy are not services a graphic designer wishes to offer, they’re working in a niche market.

The same goes for clients, as well— clients may not want to hire a graphic designer for strategy, but a niche graphic designer who delivers a specific kind of design. In this case, the specialist is more valuable than the generalist.

Today, there are local and international markets for selling design services. Websites like 99designs, Toptal, and Upwork have created a marketplace of graphic designers who share their experience, education, specialties, and portfolios and can be hired for specific services and publicly reviewed later by the client. This makes it easy to start a design practice by plugging into a market.

Conclusion

The field of Design will continue evolving as new theories and strategies are developed over time. To move from a traditional graphic designer to the graphic designer of the future, 10 paradigm shifts can help:

1. Discover problems before creating deliverables

2. Investigate human needs with a blank slate

3. Excel at collaboration

4. Lead the Design Thinking process

5. Charge clients for the entire design process

6. Utilize a value-based pricing model

7. Negotiate using a reliable framework.

8. Invest early in passive income ventures.

9. Deliver quality work sustainably.

10. Assess the client’s needs early on.

Discussion

At the end of the day, the client is still left with a decision to hire a graphic designer who’s charging $35 for a logo or a graphic designer who’s charging $10,000 design strategy that guides the deliverables. As the field evolves and becomes more recognized for processes like Design Thinking and the utilization of the Four Orders of Design, its demand and value will increase over time for businesses who seek such transformative and effective practices. Graphic designers who choose not to practice these powerful processes will be left in a niche market and graphic designers aren’t bad or better — but, traditional in historical context because their peers will have already moved into the future.

Bibliography

  1. Dorst, Kees. Notes on Design: How Creative Practice Works. BIS Publishers, 2017.
  2. Enns, B. (2010). The win without pitching manifesto. RockBench Publishing Corp.
  3. Golsby-Smith, T. (1996). Fourth Order Design: A Practical Perspective. The MIT Press.
  4. Kees Dorst, Notes on Design: How Creative Practice Works, 2017
  5. Liozu, S., Hinterhuber, A., Boland, R., Perelli, S. (2012). The Conceptualization of Value-Based Pricing in Industrial Firms. Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management: Vol. 11, 1, 12–34.
  6. Muratovski, G. (2016). Research for designers. Los Angeles: SAGE.
  7. Winograd, Terry. Bringing Design to Software. Addison-Wesley Publishing, 1996.

Featured Photograph by Retha Ferguson

Joshua Hoering is a multidisciplinary designer & strategist, artist, and most of all, a teacher. He has a passion for systematic problem-solving, leading innovation processes, and inspiring diverse teams.? He has a trusted and proven track record working with nonprofits, museums, universities, and government institutions by understanding their missions of serving their communities.? He’s an alumnus of Indiana University (BFA & MSEd) and a current M.F.A. student at the Savannah College of Art & Design working on a degree in Graphic Design & Visual Experience.

Connect with Joshua: Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and LinkedIn

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Many of y’all just celebrated your first Juneteenth…now what? http://www.jtechbah.com/many-of-yall-just-celebrated-your-first-juneteenthnow-what/ http://www.jtechbah.com/many-of-yall-just-celebrated-your-first-juneteenthnow-what/#respond Tue, 15 Sep 2020 23:07:08 +0000 https://www.www.jtechbah.com/?p=1610 written by Kamala Avila-Salmon Yesterday, I heard a line that I just can’t stop thinking about. “White people are acting like Black people just came out.” It’s laugh-out-loud funny but of course it’s not. If you don’t get it, let me explain. Think of the last time a big Avengers movie or a new iPhone... Read more.

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written by Kamala Avila-Salmon

Yesterday, I heard a line that I just can’t stop thinking about. “White people are acting like Black people just came out.” It’s laugh-out-loud funny but of course it’s not. If you don’t get it, let me explain.

Think of the last time a big Avengers movie or a new iPhone or the last surprise Beyoncé album came out. There was a FRENZY!! It was all anyone could talk about, online or IRL. People would camp out around the country to get a ticket or to buy the phone or in the case of the album, just listen to it 24/7 for weeks. Every news story is about the new hot thing that just came out. This is what Black people are feeling right now. It’s like we JUST CAME OUT. The volume of interest in racial justice and ending police brutality and systemic racism and looking at corporate policies on inclusion and saying #BlackLivesMatter has never been higher. Juneteenth is the new cool holiday, despite being a thing for 155 years at this point. Four weeks after George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and Amy Cooper/Christian Cooper, non-Black people still seem interested in talking about race and many are still out marching. It’s kind of mind-blowing. It’s lasted longer than I’ve seen any similar moments last before. It has surprised me everyday and on good days, even made me optimistic.

But here’s the thing about things that “just came out”- the frenzy tends to fade fast. 6 weeks after Lemonade came out, there were still a few loud corners of the internet raving about it but everybody else moved on. 3 months after everyone say Avengers Endgame, it was all but forgotten. 6 months after the new iPhone came out, the media attention had moved way on. I don’t know how long it will take but this moment of #BLACKLIVESMATTER all caps will pass at some point. For much of the last month, I’ve been worried about this but honestly, it’s unavoidable. We can only live at a fever-pitch for so long. So at this point, I think we’d better just start preparing for what’s next. How do we make sure that this time is actually different? That though the volume may change, the #BlackLivesMatter movement remains a societal refrain, something as indisputable as the fact that while Lemonade is a pretty old album, it’s still a treasured classic?

In order for anti-racism to become a way of life for you and not just a hashtag, you have to spend time REALLY thinking about your place in our White supremacist world order and it needs to make you very uncomfortable. If you’re a newer non-Black and especially White ally, you might be feeling some kind of way right now. Black people (like this one!) have been very vocal about the fact that we’re a bit leery of your newfound #BLM hobby. That’s because we don’t want to be the latest fad. When we see all these new people showing up, it brings into sharp relief just how silent you’ve been to our cries for justice before. What if I told you that the fight for Black lives precedes George Floyd and Breonna Taylor? That the pain you are feeling now at those stories is one the Black community has felt again and again, during all those stories of unarmed Black people killed by police and vigilantes that consumed our minds while you never even deigned to mention them the whole time we were your friends, your coworkers, maybe even your family members? It is pretty destabilizing to feel like you’re only just really listening now because it means you were not listening then. Honestly, it hurts and it may even make some of us pretty mad.

Here’s what I want you to reflect on- THIS IS A FAIR REACTION and the skepticism you are feeling, you have earned. This is when you need to really lean in to the reflection part of the funnel. Really ponder why you’ve never felt comfortable saying #BlackLivesMatter at work before? Why you’ve been okay with the fact that you have hired almost no Black people at your job and that there are of course almost no Black leaders there? Why you’ve never talked to your kids about race and anti-Blackness and why your parents probably never talked to you? Think about why we have statues around the nation of people who wanted to extend my enslavement but far fewer statues of the Black people who fought to make our founding national principles true. Find out where your family was during the Civil Rights movement and think about where you’ve been during this one up until this very moment. Unpack White privilege and White fragility and make yourself very, very uncomfortable with your own silence and complicity. This is the work.

The secret to making sure this is not just a fad for you is to be genuinely, irreversibly rattled from the inside out in a way that changes you and makes it so that you can’t possibly go back to business-as-usual. You need to really know better so you can actually #DoBetter.

I don’t know how much longer we will have the eyes of the world on this movement, when the next distraction will come. For all we know, it’s right around the corner as I’m hearing that COVID-19 numbers around the country are nearing the levels they were at when we first shut down. (Also: why are we reopening??) Before this moment passes, here are some things you can do to make sure, you are a forever kind of ally, not just a temporary fan of the movement.

1. COMMIT TO EDUCATION. I’ve mentioned a lot of areas of exploration above. Don’t let your curiosity about them expire with this post. American society and systems are structured to make sure you don’t have the information you need to fight racism or even to see it. There’s a reason you never learned about #Juneteenth till now. If you are a White person, the only way you could possibly know enough right now is if you were already a critical race theory scholar. Otherwise, you’re behind. By a lot. CATCH UP! Read White Fragility, cover to cover, and also Stamped from the Beginning, and The New Jim Crow, and all the brilliant books topping the NYT bestseller list right now. Start a book club with other non-Black friends to get through them all. When the media moves on from #BLM, you should still be reading and learning. And should go without saying, you can’t be anti-racist if you haven’t read the book.

2. DIVERSIFY YOUR MEDIA SOURCES. If you do an audit of how you have gotten your news to this point, you will find that they are probably disgustingly White. That needs to end. The NYT is great but can you start reading The Root and The Grio too? Keep listening to The Daily but add Code Switch and It’s Been A Minute. Whatever your industry is, whether it’s media, tech, CPG, consulting, find the Black voices who are discussing it and start following them. On social media, you should have started following Rachel Cargle and Patrisse Cullors and DeRay McKesson and many other Black voices leading this discussion by now. You need to consume a diverse diet of Black voices. Long after the media moves on, these voices will still be talking about race in ways you need to hear.

3. BECOME UNCOMFORTABLE IN ALL-WHITE SPACES. This includes your personal life. Start questioning why your neighborhood and schools are all-White and asking those questions all loud and then figuring out what you can do to change this. What’s really happening at your company that’s committed to diversity and inclusion but can’t hire more than one non-White person a quarter? Where can you push? That moms group you’re in? Is it a little too White for the diverse city you’re living in? Why is that? You need to become deeply skeptical of all-White spaces because more often than not, this homogeneity happens by design, not by accident. Question everything.

4. INVEST IN BLACK PEOPLE. One question I’ve had throughout this moment has been, how many people with #BLM profile frames and status messages actually have a Black friend? How many have 2? How many mentor Black people in their workplace? Let’s just say, if this was a prerequisite, many of you would have to turn in your #BLM badges. If you really want to be in this fight for the long-haul, if Black lives really matter to you, so should Black coworkers and Black friends. You can’t be broken over George Floyd and have never hired a Black person yourself if you’re a team leader. That won’t cut it. One of the memorable parts of the book, White Fragility, is Robin’s claim that a clear marker of our investment in White supremacy is the unchecked narrative that one can live in an all-White neighborhood and go to all-White schools and have all-White friends your whole life and lose nothing of value by never having relationships with people of color. Think about how messed up that is. I have a LOT of White friends, many quite close. Of that, I think I have 2 White friends of whom I am certain that I am not their “one Black friend”. TWO. You can feel how you feel about that but don’t think it doesn’t matter. Your commitment to honoring lost Black lives will ultimately be measured by your commitment to living Black people.

5. BUILD IN ACCOUNTABILITY. In your journey to getting through reflection to lived anti-racism, you will stumble. Undoubtedly. What matters is what you will do when that happens. You can’t expect to live in a racist society that centers Whiteness and not continue to have racial blinders on. Do you have a friend that can lovingly check you? Can you be a person that people of color know welcomes feedback on this issue? If I see you unintentionally participating in White supremacy or anti-Blackness, can I tell you or nah? Will I risk you never talking to me again and biting my head off and telling me I’m actually the one being racist for thinking you were? Many people can’t do this because we’ve been taught that being called racist is the worst thing that could ever happen to us and we must avoid it at all costs. But we live in a racist world so OF COURSE racism seeps in to influence us. Own that and seek accountability. Have a monthly calendar check to remind you to be disrupting White supremacy for the rest of your life. Maybe get a non-Black partner to go on the journey with and keep each other focused. And yeah, if you do #4 right, you’ll have people in your life that can tell you how you’re doing.

6. KEEP TALKING ABOUT RACE. Nothing makes people more uncomfortable than talking about race but now, finally, this conversation as begun, in places where it never existed before. Corporate boardrooms, all-White FB groups, family dinner tables, and more. This moment will not last forever but the dialogues that have begun now absolutely can and should. If you follow me on Facebook or IG, I will be so join me there. But also start some of your own. Everyone needs to get off the bench and in the game for this movement to be sustainable.

I’ll leave you with my Allyship Journey. It pulls from the marketing conversion funnel, which is framed as awareness → consideration → purchase. This journey is not about buying anything. This is about showing up thoughtfully and ACTIVELY as an anti-racist. This word is flying around but it is not a Facebook post or hashtag. It has meaning and you need to get this right. It’s great that you are now AWARE, it makes sense to feel both SYMPATHY and EMPATHY, but you have to keep moving down the funnel. Empathy is not the goal here. You need to DO something. Push into REFLECTION as above and then move as quickly as possible into anti-racist action, a life journey of interrupting White supremacy wherever it shows up as often as it shows up.

This post is long but it shouldn’t be longer than your commitment to moving all the way to ANTIRACISM. All your Black friends and coworkers are watching with great interest to see how this all plays out.

Article originally posted on Medium.com

Building the first Facebook marketing team focused on inspiring the Facebook family of apps to develop and ship more inclusive, culturally-relevant marketing campaigns that represent our global user base and lead the industry.?
Connect with Kamala on LinkedIn
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Without Compassion, Resilient Leaders Will Fall Short http://www.jtechbah.com/without-compassion-resilient-leaders-will-fall-short/ http://www.jtechbah.com/without-compassion-resilient-leaders-will-fall-short/#respond Mon, 24 Aug 2020 18:45:29 +0000 https://www.www.jtechbah.com/?p=1605 Written by Carol Kauffman It can come out of nowhere — a contempt attack.?Like a panic attack, it arises suddenly and takes over completely. You feel a roil of emotions and an overpowering sense of exasperation: the person you’re working with is wasting your time, undermining your efforts, holding back the team. They’re weak, lazy,... Read more.

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Written by Carol Kauffman

PIER/Getty Images

It can come out of nowhere — a contempt attack.?Like a panic attack, it arises suddenly and takes over completely. You feel a roil of emotions and an overpowering sense of exasperation: the person you’re working with is wasting your time, undermining your efforts, holding back the team. They’re weak, lazy, willfully misguided. In the grips of the attack, you can no longer focus on the matter at hand. The problem is more fundamental. What troubles you about this person is not so much what they’re doing as who they are.

Most leaders experience contempt attacks at one time or another, especially during times of crisis, uncertainty, and high stress. Leaders need to be strong and resilient to make it through these periods. Paradoxically, however, those very strengths make leaders vulnerable to these attacks, because in the heat of the moment they forget that not everybody is as strong and resilient as they are.

Consider a CEO I’ll call Gwen, who leads a well-known financial institution. During the financial crisis of 2009, Gwen was the picture of calm: perfectly coiffed hair, Chanel suit, and a commitment to doing whatever it took to help her institution navigate the crisis — which it did, with flying colors. Understandably, in the aftermath of the crisis, Gwen was proud of what she’d done. As she put it, “Under pressure I lowered my pulse, stayed strategic, and got everyone to execute brilliantly.”

In the work she’d done, Gwen had withstood the kind of pressure that would crush a normal person. Unfortunately, a lot of the people who worked for Gwen hated the experience. As one of them put it, she was an “ice queen slave driver” who couldn’t be bothered to connect to her people. She drove the team relentlessly, micromanaged, and took over herself when she felt members of her team were falling short. In her view, she had done this to rescue the team — but they weren’t grateful, and she couldn’t understand why. She may have won the war, by successfully navigating the crisis, but her team was unhappy, and she sure wasn’t winning the peace. So to turn things around, the board insisted that she hire a coach.

I ended up being the person Gwen chose to work with. When we first met, she didn’t hold back. “They think I’m the one that needs coaching!” she told me. “It’s the team, not me. They collapsed. They put our entire organization in jeopardy, and I had to carry them out of the mess on my back. I’ve seen their feedback: How I need to listen and slow down. ‘Take them all with me.’ I am supposed to be more open? And they want me to be vulnerable?”

Her eyes narrowed, and she leaned toward me with fury and contempt shooting out of every pore of her being.

“Frankly, Carol,” she said, “I’d rather walk on nails.”

Gwen is not a “bad” person. She felt betrayed by her team, who she felt had abandoned her when she needed them most and now threatened her leadership. It never occurred to her that the members of her team might not be as relentlessly resilient and mentally tough as she was. Blind to this fact, she was unable to relate to her employees empathetically and instead assumed they had chosen to fail her. From her standpoint, they deserved her contempt.

In my decades of working as an executive coach, I’ve seen versions of this story play out time and again. Men are more likely to experience contempt attacks than women, but, as Gwen’s case makes clear, leaders of both genders are vulnerable. And no matter what the situation, the attacks put leaders, their people, and their companies at risk. To put it simply, contempt is dangerous in a leader.

Just how dangerous was something I learned years ago, when I was part of a research team, at the Maudsley Royal Hospital, in London, that was studying what we called “levels of expressed emotion.” What we found was shocking. Working with patients who had suffered episodes of depression or schizophrenia, we found that a high number of remarks given in a critical or contemptuous tone by a family member was as powerful a predictor of relapse as their not having taking medication.

As a leader, you need to recognize how powerfully your contempt can affect the people you’re working with. You overlook this at your peril. Fortunately, it’s possible to train yourself to be alert to signs of an impending contempt attack — and in so doing, to help yourself hit the reset button.

***

Awareness is key. One early sign of an impending attack is that you feel like rolling your eyes. Another is disparaging somebody in your mind. (“What a loser,” “Get a grip.”) Do you feel a sneer coming on? Are you looking down your nose at that person, or blaming them for their weakness? If these things are happening, you’re no longer creating a zone of psychological safety for the two of you, and you lose effectiveness as a leader. Don’t let this kind of amygdala hijack control your actions. Once you recognize that an attack is imminent, deactivation has to become your only goal. Only after you’ve addressed your own behavior can you start thinking again about somebody else’s.

Consider how another client of mine — I’ll call him John — coped in this sort of situation.

Second in command of a pharma giant, John hit the ground running after Covid-19 arrived. Early on, however, he saw it from a different vantage point than most. His take, as he described it to me recently, was this: “This is horrible, and we’re racing against time for the vaccine, but, still, our parents and grandparents had it so much worse during WWII.”

John went on to describe his leadership team. “Some are amazing,” he said. “Really stepping up, and not always the one’s you’d expect. They are incredible. But others? They’re just missing in action. What they are doing? Sitting on their hands? I need them. It’s pathetic.”

John scoffed, rolled his eyes, and said, “One guy, Kevin — I just don’t get it. He’s afraid of his shadow, for Pete’s sake. He needs to get stuff done not hide at home quivering under his desk.”

As I listened to John, I was baffled. His attitude was shockingly out of character. I knew him as a beloved, highly collaborative, and empathic leader, but suddenly he was on a judgmental rant. And I heard telltale signs of contempt in his voice. How could he be so callous? I was reminded of Gwen, and then it hit me. He was a former military officer and, like Gwen, he was fearless. He was the epitome of a guy with the “right stuff” — but he couldn’t imagine what it was like not to have it.

“John,” I asked, “do you remember what you loved to do in your twenties?”

He looked and me blankly.

“After your time in the military, didn’t you fly helicopters for fun? And each time you took off, didn’t you have to face death and overcome your fear?”

He gave a short nod.

“For the hundreds of times you strapped into that seat, you built up your resistance to danger. It’s like you inoculated yourself against fear, over and over. And you loved it, didn’t you?”

“Well yes,” he admitted, looking down. “I used to weave them through the trees for fun.”

I could only imagine looking up at a helicopter thundering past, 30 feet off the ground. For?fun?

“Here’s the thing,” I told him. “You’ve developed a backbone of steel. There are few people with more fortitude than you have. And that means you aren’t the normal one here. Kevin is. You can’t measure his behavior by yours.”

John is a quick thinker, and it took him only seconds to pivot.

“You’re right,” he said. “Damn! I never thought of it that way. Kevin didn’t deserve that attitude. It’s good thing I didn’t call him yesterday. It wouldn’t have been pretty.”

“But now?”

“I’ll be a lot kinder.”

***

In my work as a coach, I’ve found that leaders can take several steps to help keep a contempt attack at bay:

? If you’re an exceptionally strong and resilient leader, like John, recognize that you are the unusual one and don’t judge others based on yourself. Instead, think about what prepared you for the experiences that have made you stronger. Then apply that thinking to others, who haven’t been trained as you have. Take that “What’s wrong with them?” energy and use it to create an environment for them to be stronger. Don’t be so quick to judge them as failures. You have no idea what else may be going on for them. And don’t forget the genetic lottery — some of your stability may be inborn, and you can’t take credit for that.

? Remind yourself of who this person really is, not who they are at this moment. If you find yourself looking down on them, see if you can come up with three things that you respect about them. What have they accomplished that matters to you or the organization? When have they gone out of their way for you or someone on your team? If you can’t come up with anything, you’re probably too stressed to think straight — or you need to turn your attention back on yourself. If this person really isn’t up to the challenge of being on your team, why are they still on it? It’s not their fault that you chose to keep them there.

? Empathy involves making an extra effort to be kind. Walk over the bridge to where the other person is, try to see the world from their point of view, and then help them see yours. That’s what Gwen did. At one of our later sessions, I found her holding a black moleskin notebook open to a long list of names. About half of them had checkmarks next to them. “Carol,” she said, “you’ll be proud of me. Last time we talked about my starting conversations with people to understand them better. So I made a list of people and started doing that. It’s my kindness campaign — and it’s been amazing. They aren’t anything like I thought. They’re bright and interesting. I get it now.”

? Finally, to create the impact you want, ask yourself these questions: Who do I want to be right now? Am I living my values? Ask yourself about 30 times today. And then do it all over again tomorrow.

 

Carol Kauffman (carolkauffman.com) is an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and the founder of the Institute of Coaching. She has been ranked #1 Leadership Coach by Marshall Goldsmith and shortlisted as one of the top 8 by Thinkers50.

 

 

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The Wave of Change http://www.jtechbah.com/the-wave-of-change/ http://www.jtechbah.com/the-wave-of-change/#respond Mon, 06 Jul 2020 23:00:51 +0000 https://www.www.jtechbah.com/?p=1593 written by Alice Tang, ChFC?, MIM Sink or Swim: It’s all about how you pivot As the world changes in response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, we are not likely to return to the old ways of doing things. People, businesses, and entire industries are evaluating, updating, and re-inventing how things are done. And that is... Read more.

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written by Alice Tang, ChFC?, MIM

Sink or Swim: It’s all about how you pivot

As the world changes in response to the Coronavirus Pandemic, we are not likely to return to the old ways of doing things. People, businesses, and entire industries are evaluating, updating, and re-inventing how things are done. And that is a great thing!

Rather than spending time and energy wishing things would “go back to normal” or convincing ourselves to get used to the “new normal,” let’s ensure what we’re doing today in our lives and business will be relevant tomorrow. Striving for “normal” was and never will be a recipe for success but relevance that is something to pursue with a passion. If you want to be relevant, you need to have an open mind, listen to, and anticipate the needs and wants of those you serve.

My father has always told me to “Accept reality if you can’t change it. When you don’t accept reality, your life is miserable. Once you accept reality, you release your creativity so you can solve your circumstance.” He was a mechanic in a printing business when he started working in his teens and ended up buying the company. As he grew his business, he invested in advanced machines and a bigger space for his printing shop, which increased his revenue but not his profits. He had a family to care for and knew he had to change if he was going to create wealth and weather the storms.

Rather than doubling-down on old methods, he began to look for answers. He met a friend who could better control his profits by manufactured figurines using the injection molding method. My dad knew he could not migrate to this new business model overnight, but he could start shifting course. After volunteering to work at his friend’s business in the evenings for free in exchange for learning about the business, he migrated his business to a figurine manufacturing company in less than two years.

His business pivot supported the family; after he sold the company, he was able to fund his retirement fully. You see, the printing business was dramatically shifting, and my dad saw that there was no way a small business like his would be able to compete as the industry became capital-intensive. So he decided to pivot early to stay relevant.

After seeing my dad re-invent his business and pivot with the changing times, I’ve consistently applied that learning to my career and personal pursuits.

Rather than pursuing a path or promoting products and services that may be less relevant, I’ve learned to trust my instinct and pivot when needed. Sometimes this means acquiring a new skill; other times, I have found it much more valuable to build on what’s working and pair up with others who have complementary skills to serve our clients best.

The world is currently riding a big wave of change. We can’t stop the wave from coming, and if we stay on the beach, our sandcastles/businesses will get washed away with the tide. So, if you’re still sitting on the beach waiting for the wave to pass, ask yourself these questions about your business and services.

1. Is it effective?
2. Is it efficient?
3. Is it relevant?
4. Does it bring you joy?

If you’re spending your time, energy, and hard-earned money on things that are not a resounding yes to all of these questions, it’s time to accept reality and get creative! Those that adapt quickly will be leaps and bounds ahead of those that wait. Here are a few questions to consider as you look for new innovative solutions to offer your clients.

? Has the problem we have been solving changed?
? If the issues have changed, what do they look like now?
? Are you the person/company to solve it, be honest?
? What additional skills do you and your team need to pick up to be relevant?
? What baggage do you need to drop so you can accept reality and move forward?

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” ~ Charles Darwin

Alice Tang, ChFC?, MIM
VP & Partner at BPG Wealth Management

As a top female producer in the financial industry and a sought after speaker, Alice has built her business and success by focusing on creating and deepening relationships one connection at a time. For additional insights on how to build your network, deepen your relationships and advance your business and career visit https://www.askalicetang.com/

Connect with Alice here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alicetang2010/

Tel: (503) 654-7676 | Fax: (503) 653-7575 | www.bpgnetwork.com | 12901 SE 97th Avenue, Suite 240 Clackamas, OR 97015
Securities and advisory services offered through Royal Alliance Associates, Inc. (RAA), member FINRA/SIPC. RAA is separately owned and other entities and/ or marketing names, products or services referenced here are independent of RAA.

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