Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wednesday Wink 009

 Wednesday Wink 009

When you think about it, we spend a lot of our time with the people that we work with. Many of us sometimes feel married to our computers. I spend Monday-Thursday and every other Friday at the office, which can easily become depressing and often times I find it difficult to prioritize and become successful in my personal and professional life. Sometimes I wish there was a handbook. A step by step manual for moms, business, and women in general. And while I do not have all the answers and learn something new everyday, I actually feel pretty good about where I am today. It isn't perfect, but it is pretty great. My father has been a huge influence on me when it comes to my career. I leaned on him when I first entered the professional world and to this day call him for advice. When it comes to being "business savvy," I think about my father. I pretty much owe most of my success to him. The rest of my success could not have happened without several key people and a few tips that I thought that I would pass along on today's wink.

Tip #1: The Candy Jar
Yes, a candy jar. I owe success to chocolate. When I started out in consulting, it was difficult to learn all the new faces of the project and for everyone to get to know me, but one thing was certain... if you have candy, they will come. I was able to quickly learn faces and names. I knew when it was a tense day because the jar would be drained by lunch and I started to pick up on everyone's favorites. It was a catalyst for starting conversations and people I might never have met otherwise would step into my cubicle to say hello and take an afternoon treat break.  In turn, I was known as the one with the candy jar. I still have the candy jar and I still enjoy meeting new co-workers. It also comes in handy when your boss' birthday rolls around and you know that her favorite is Almond Joy.  
Tip #2: A Rolodex
Whether yours is electronic or still of the old fashion paper variety, my husband is one of the best when it comes to this little trick. Whenever he meets someone new, he takes their business card and later writes anything personal about that person that they mentioned. For instance that their oldest son attends Baylor University. Building trust in your working relationship requires more than Excel Workbook skills. It shows that you truly care about the people that you work with when you take the time to ask them about their personal interests as well. My husband is a master at this and not because he takes the time to write down aspects of someone's life or remembers their birthday, but because he genuinely does care.  He is interested. He is a total people person. I learned a lot from him.
Tip #3: Encouragement
We encourage our friends and family, so why not our co-workers. Often times we get so caught up in routine, that we forget to take time out to recognize success and hard work. We forget to tell those that work with us on a daily basis just how important they are to your success and how much you appreciate working with them. Keeping a positive work environment is a team effort. This week we kicked off a major project for our company and our department. My boss gave the analogy of geese in her kickoff presentation and I really took that heart. "As geese fly in formation, they honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. In groups where there is encouragement, the production is much greater." I sent each of my team members a "Goose" call and let them know that I was looking forward to working with them. I get that it was just a bird whistle, but the thought was that each time they saw it on their desk they might smile and be encouraged.
Tip #4: Drink Coffee
Although many of you are coffee drinkers, I prefer Coke Zero. This tip is not in its literal sense. In fact, it is a phrase used by a previous boss of mine, John Jefferson. He completely changed my business perspective. He knew when to push me and knew when to pull me. He was truly a people developer. A teacher and a mentor. He helped me to find a voice in business and be confident in my abilities. He said that we should always get the little things right, which is why today I still read emails fifty times and edit them over and over before pressing send. It is all about giving the right impression and that starts with the small things. John encouraged me to look at the big picture in all things. I am pretty certain that he had per-conceived ideas about me, which probably came from the fact that I was totally green and right out of college; But I like to think that I proved him wrong in the end. Because in the end, it was the two of us left standing and we made a pretty great team. All that being said, I get to his phrase "drink coffee." Anytime an issue would come up and things would get frantic, John would simply look at me, pause and ask me to "drink coffee," which meant to take a step back and process the issue before raising the red flag. Carefully dissect the scenario and try to outline the true risks. What was the business impact? Did I see any possible solutions? And nine times out of ten, my heart would slow down and the huge, scary ISSUE, wasn't really that big of an issue at all. And that was the message to send. A message with a detailed description of the issue, possible risks and potential solutions. I learned a lot of valuable skills from John that I will forever take with me. I am a better person and manager because of JJ. I think it is pretty safe to say drinking coffee is not just something for the office... wink!

Tip #5: Business Advocate
It is important to be an advocate for yourself, but it is equally important to surround yourself with those that will be an advocate for you. I believe that I have been blessed with so many amazing mentors and it is those individuals that not only gave me wonderful business advice, but have been an advocate for my success. Everyone needs someone to stand behind them in business. Someone who believes in them and looks for opportunities to share that with others. My first career counselor at Accenture, Scott Pharr, was an incredible business advocate and really went out of his way to ensure that I was successful. Andrea Wittrock was exactly as her name suggests... a Rock. I have the utmost respect for Andrea as a business woman and a friend. She is beautiful, intelligent and successful and I really miss working with her. And then there is my Spectra family... Beth Glaze who highlighted my successes and was such a positive influence for me and now my current boss Denise Janousek, to whom I owe so much. She is a fighter. She stands up for what she believes in and can completely back it up. She fights for her employees and makes them her top priority. I want to be the type of manager that she has been for me - a business advocate in it purest form. I admire Denise. She seems to have it all... success as a mom, success in business, and success as a woman. And I cannot close this without mentioning those others along the way that have been there for me and provided different aspects in business that I thank them for. From friendship to advice... you impacted me! Elise Johnson, Diana Doughty, Roni Cappadona, Kim Artall, LaRay Odum, Cathy Watson, Jill Hirshenfang, Margaret Robinson Moul, Ashley Amy Grahmann, Leia McKinnon, Bruce Robinson, Connie Recinto, Kathy Seay, Sarah Pollard, Alexandra Geddes, Kerri Donica, and so many more!

What are some of your business tips?


  1. Desk Calender. I have had one on my desk every year since I joined the bank. It is really helpful to see every day and week for the next month right there at your fingertips. No opening outlook or flipping though pages to see if you are free next Wednesday, just look down at the 18x24 paper on your desk. That is my tip, well that and marry a very organized woman.

  2. I ditto Bill on the calendar, but mine is digital. I use Google Calendar. I have a personal one, a meal planning one, and my husband has one. They are are linked together and display as a single calendar with the seperate activities in different colors. Mine is also synced with my work calendar so at a glance I can know if I can schedule a doctor appointment on Tuesday based on my work schedule, my personal, and my husband's. The meal planning is one we just started but we will know what's for dinner so he can know what to pull out of the freezer for me (a bonus to him working from home) or if we are available to go out with friends!
    And thanks for the shoutout! I love our friendship too! We need another lunch date!

  3. I am so honored to have been mentioned! Building bonds is a very important part of life, both personal and professional. In order to build those bonds, you must get to know a person on a personal level too. Love that Bill makes notes about things of people he meets. It means so much to ask someone how their child is doing when you can use their name! You are awesome!!

  4. Alison Wylie WilliamsSeptember 22, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    I agree with Bill about the calendar. I have one hanging on my wall that I try to keep updated with my Outlook appointments. It's usually color-coded to show work v personal appointments, but it helps tremendously. My phone calendar is synched with my outlook, so I have everything in one place. And I connect with people through their personal lives as well. Maybe it's because Bill and I are both leos? I usually don't write it down, I can usually just remember it. I feel like it gives me the upper hand to the other attorneys because I DO take the time to remember those little things and to ask about them. I try to connect to them personally and professionally. I love the candy jar idea!

  5. Alison Wylie WilliamsSeptember 22, 2011 at 1:04 PM

    Oh and I do the little gifts, too. I usually do something for Halloween and Christmas. The little metal buckets on the Target $1 aisle work wonders with some candy in them! :-)

  6. You are such a giving person, Kate and a natural leader and mentor. I have to say "listening" rather than talking has been a learning curve for me. Asking someone how they are and meaning it! When I ask our bookkeeper or secretary for a small favor, I give them a Starbucks gift card...just enough for a wouldn't believe how many people have never been to Starbucks...I was shocked!
    Oh the candy jar idea...xoxoMom