Category Archives: How This CEO Needs to Grow

Memo to CEOs: Apologize in Advance

We’re all leaders. And as leaders, people are watching our actions.  That’s why it’s good to ask ourselves: Am I clear in my direction? Am I kind in my communication? Do I live my life according to principle? Have I accepted the call to live a life of excellence?

Here are two guidelines to help us become – and stay – leaders of excellence:

1. You’re responsible not only for others, but also for ‘taking care of you.’ That means getting the sleep that you need; it means building the space in your day so that you actually have time to be patient. If you don’t, you’ll face pressure that might cause you to react in ways that are not the true you. As CEO, you want to be your best self at all times.

Sometimes, we don’t succeed.  As a leader, your most painful times are when you are not the person you want to be. Perhaps there is an unexpected pressure—a new partnership, a deadline, or a team member who needs extra help. Perhaps you don’t achieve all that you’d hoped to do that day. Perhaps you go home disappointed in yourself: I could have had a kinder tone; I could have slowed down to encourage that team member who needed more time or insight. That’s where we move to Point #2.

2. Learn to apologize quickly, even in advance. People are watching, absorbing your every move. Since we make mistakes, we need to apologize, and quickly. That’s where the graciousness of your team, and of you, come in. So, try to apologize when it is right to do so, and apologize in advance. 

Here’s an example: If you feel you don’t understand the situation, or haven’t seen all your emails, you might preface your comments by saying, “I apologize in advance if I don’t have the full information,” or “I apologize in advance if I’ve missed something,” or “I apologize in advance for moving quickly today. I appreciate your support.”

This is openness. It’s true, it’s real.

It’s compassionate all ways around. It sets your heart up to be a better leader, to be a humble leader, to be a listening leader. It sets appropriate expectations with your team. Your apology is asking them for their graciousness in advance.

Graciousness in advance—what a lovely concept we all deserve to experience.

Confessions of a Caffeine-a-holic

I used to be a Caffeine-a-holic, even when I wasn’t drinking any.  I still craved it.

So when I was getting off caffeine, it took me three times.  The first two were outwardly successful.  I got my caffeine intake very, very low, and my energy was natural and in line with who I really was.  But I still craved, oh so craved,  desperately, that Diet Coke.  I wanted the feeling of those sparkly bubbles in my tummy.  Somehow, it soothed my soul. 

That craving made me realize I wasn’t fully healed.
Later on I met a very special intern who worked for me at UniversalGiving.  He remains a closest friend today, and his name is Austin Smith.  He was a star runner at Princeton, and he and I were very much aligned with taking care of ourselves, from the vision we had for our lives, to our day-to-day living.
One day we were talking about how I’d never done drugs.  And his response was, “yes, you have, and you do.”
I was shocked and he was right.  As he related, caffeine is one of the most powerful drugs that we have.
Through his inspiration and gentle wake-up call, I was able to begin another attempt at getting off caffeine.  With quiet prayer, encouragement, patient trust and a gentle, enduring sense of a moment by moment commitment, I was able to make a true transition this time.  I was ready to be healed not only of drinking caffeine, but also of the craving for it.  I was inspired by the principle that I wanted to do the right thing and be honest for what was really happening in my life. I was indeed doing drugs. And I didn’t want anything to do with it. 
For the first three months I literally ran home to go to bed because I was so exhausted, falling asleep at nine or nine-thirty… I was scared I’d never be out dancing salsa or swing again.  But eventually my body rhythm recalibrated itself… Now I get nice amounts of sleep, unrelated to any effects from caffeine.  The beauty of it all is that I no longer crave the Diet Coke or coffee. 

That’s true healing….which includes not only body, but also peace of mind…and the peace of living in principle. 
This post is part of “How This CEO Needs to Grow,” Pamela’s series about being transparent in the areas she is working on to be a better person and leader.

Confessions of a Late-a-holic

I’m a Late-a-holic, and I have to admit it.  I’d say about 95% of the time, I’m on time now.  I’m a little bit humbly proud of this fact, because I have made a big effort to respect other people’s time…as it should be.
However, even when I do show up on time, I’m still a Late-a-holic.   Because even when I’m on time, I’m still late in my mind.  I’m not fully healed.  
I run to my meetings.   I slam on my walking pants and keds and run down the stairs.  Running down the street, I miss all the opportunities to listen to nature, greet people, enjoy the special moments

And I get there and that means 2.2 minutes in advance.  Lightning.

I rip off my keds and pants slam them down to the bottom of my bag straighten out my skirt  smooth down my hair bend down look at a small mirror reapply any make-up stand up breathe deeply. I walk into my meeting with presence. 

But in my mind I’m still running, I’m just making it, and even though I am there at 4:00 pm and 10 seconds for my 4:00 pm meeting… I’m still late in my mind.  You’re Late-Girl, You’re a Late-a-holic, and boy do I want to get rid of this brand.

This post is part of “How This CEO Needs to Grow,” Pamela’s series about being transparent in the areas she is working on to be a better person and leader.

How This CEO Needs to Grow Flow Chart

Many of the posts in “How this CEO Needs to Grow” discuss how I try each day to honor people in my life. (For example, “I Run in Half Way Through” and “I Choose to Run“). Living a life that values people can be done simply by being on time or acknowledging a homeless person on my way to work. It requires carving out space and time in your life; it relates to both business and personal relationships.

I have put together a flow chart that incorporates this theme and discusses how important it is to value and respect people, understand their goals and respect their time.

How This CEO Needs to Grow Flow Chart

Daily Prosperity, Starting with Me.

Now I know I have to figure out how to carve out more time in between my meetings, to get there on time. I am finding that in my ‘running’ to meetings, I am falling — full out on the sidewalk, arms splayed, bags spilled all over — about 1-2x month.

I’ve been a runner so I just get up and keep moving. This last Saturday was a tough one. I really banged my knee with a blood and bruise. People drew breaths as they saw me fly on the concrete. But having taken care of my 3 nephews and nieces at a very young age, I always tell myself, “You’re Ok!” I flash big smiles to all around that it didn’t scare me and I am more than ok. Then I stuff every scattered paper, pen, an orange, a book, my cellphone back in my bag and take off. Get there on time.

I did. My dear friend was late for coffee. 25 minutes. So I could recollect myself, but the process, the on the way, made me halt. I need to build on not only the importance of being present for others along the way but also, now, the importance of treating myself with the same care and respect as I do others.

It is not so fun to run and fall and be on time.

My next goal, is walk, smile, connect and be on time.

This is going to be a big one for me. Will I still be able to get all the heartfelt things done I need to? The organization and order which makes me feel peaceful in my home? The important partnership which needs to be follow up on for UniversalGiving?

I am going to trust that it will. Following a sincere intention to care for myself as I do others, I believe, will ultimately bring a higher sense of peace and daily prosperity in my actions….

<< See the previous installment of How This CEO is Growing, “I Choose to Run”

I Choose to Run

There is a difference between being on time, and being on time as an ingrained habit. I have to say I am watching myself closely.

I am finding a few interesting things. First, I definitely choose to run. There are certain items I feel I truly need to get through before I leave to a meeting. So I’d rather run and be on time, than walk and be on time. That extra 15 minutes can help me outreach in so many ways.

I am speaking as much if not more so about emails, phone calls or thank you notes that relate personally in my life, rather than work. There are the messages that seem to be not necessary, such as an extra message to team member to thank them for work well done, or writing a note of encouragement and leaving it on a team member’s desk. But it is so a part of who I am, so ingrained in how I think and would like to act, that it is impossible to ignore. It must get done.

So part of me has made a silent request, putting it out there, that I naturally get up earlier so I can do more of these things. It is happening. Where I normally woke up around 7 or 7:20, I am now naturally waking up at 6:30, or even 5:45 some mornings. And still no caffeine, so that is exciting to see. It give me more time to over my gratefuls and do things for others.

So with that 15 minutes — I run to get there on time. It’s not easy. But I get there. I’ve met my goal to be on time.

The Importance of ‘On the Way’

However, as I watch this, there is a new feeling percolating. I am missing the stream of life on the way. There are so many interactions I have when I do walk. I can appreciate the blue sky or really experience the differing winds of San Francisco.  If you are still, you may hear a thin whistling wind; a low blustering wind which may whip about you, and the low hollow sound of a ‘flute’ type wind.  Nature impresses and moves us when we are silent.

I can also review my gratefuls for the day. I prepare my mind and heart for the next meeting so that I can be kind, giving, listening.

There are homeless people to greet. There is a person at the streetlight to say hello to as we both wait for the light to change. There is a call from a team member which I perhaps need to receive.  There is the daily call I put into my mom and dad, which I love to do.

There is an openness and a flow to natural living, giving and receiving what comes.

There is a giving of myself to that normal, relaxed moment, if I would allow myself that time more. I would still get there on time, which is the first goal.

No Presence

Instead I am intensely programmed. Shoulders down, elbows in, bags tight at side and I am beelined to my destination, no stops, no presence, no other opportunities allowed. On time. Go. Run. Sprint.

The good things I did which shortened my time to get to this meeting, I cannot now do on my way to the meeting.

Being Present With Myself

There is another goal. That is being present not only in my meeting, but also present with myself and the world, on the way.

It is amazing as we strive to improve ourselves, how we uncover other truths, other meaning, other ways to increase quality of life, quality of the moment, quality of the world.  Be in the moment, on the way.

<< See the previous installment of How This CEO Needs to Grow, “When I Walk In, My Mom Beams”

When I Walk In, My Mom Beams

From April 2010

While the following situation takes place in church, these values apply to all aspects of life.

Beaming with a Special Light of Honor

It’s now nearly 4 months later. I’ve made a sincere and strong mental commitment to be on time and it’s working. And I say that humbly because every day is a new day and I need to prove myself. Prove myself and my commitment to respect others, and in this case, my beloved mom.

You want to get to church on time, then this is what you have to do. Back it up and figure it out. I start preparing to leave work at 4:30. I actually don’t end up leaving until 5:30. Things come up. An extra email needs to be answered. A team member has a question. I want to finish a proposal. But now I have a bit more of the space to tie things up.

And often times I don’t or can’t tie it up. And I leave anyways. I am making that commitment, and it is working.

There are times when I leave past 5:30. I know what happens then.

I know you are tired, but you’ve left later. And in order to get there on time, you’re going to have to run. That’s right, bags and all. So I end up running for 30 minutes to get home (it takes me about 50 minutes to walk home.) I’d say right now this happens about 50% of the time. So not great, but I still get to church on time.

A Mom Beaming with A Special Light of Honor

I wish you could see my mom. She’s at the front of the podium….. And when she sees me walk in a few minutes before the service….she is just beaming. Beaming with a special light. It’s almost a special light of honor. I can see it’s one of the greatest gifts I’ve given her. The gift of not just my time, and not just being on time. The gift of respect and true presence.

I have to say here my mom has been amazing. Not once has she mentioned a word to me about being late. She just moves forward working on her own life, not criticizing at all. She is a beautiful leader in her own and different right. I can see, feel and know that she trusts I am growing, too.

So I am starting to see my energy change in other ways, too. And, even my positive view of myself. I have a deeper respect for Pamela. I feel less burdened.

Walk Upright

There is such a relief and joy to not slink, but to walk upright into a beautiful church and congregation. By honoring my mom I am honoring myself. I often think when we take a strong stance for something principled, more good and strength come to you in ways you’d not imagined.

It’s a wonderful thing. Growing, Respect, Caring. And yes, being on time.:)

Of course, I’ll keep checking back. Every day is a new day. A new day to be on time, to respect, and to allow someone else to beam.

<< See the previous installment of How This CEO Needs to Grow, “I’d Run in Halfway Through”

See the next installment of How This CEO Needs to Grow, “I Choose to Run”>>