Holding Patterns

On a recent flight across the pond I was lucky enough to sit next to a very interesting fellow passenger. He was a highly regarded and renowned surgeon. On our approach into Heathrow, he turned to me and confided ‘ I hate this bit’. ‘Which bit’, I replied, the crew were tidying up at the time, ‘the landing, we’re in a holding pattern and I’m not in control’. An acutely candid admittance, I couldn’t help but notice. I too, hate ‘ that bit’, from years working in the airline industry I am well aware that calamities, shall we say, mostly occur on take off or landing. Anyway, my concerned neighbour didn’t need to know that, so in the moment, I just reassured and chatted until the landing gear hit the tarmac.

holding-pattern

 

Prior to this moment of honesty, we had been discussing leadership in a clinical environment, and he had talked about how some surgeons occasionally ‘lose it’ in theatre. This surprised me. He was about to receive an acutely candid concern from me at this point but I held it in. He was talking about highly talented surgeons that occasionally succumb to stress, and that unfortunately this often plays out in a high-risk theatre scenario. He went on to say that with a strong team there would usually be someone who would step in and disperse the tension. Of course, the surgeon takes the lead in an operation and this scenario can impact not only on the outcome for the patient, but also the performance and productivity of those around him or her. Some may feel able to call something out and others not.

Of course, this doesn’t only occur in a theatre situation, we see it play out daily with the senior leaders responsible for large corporations and huge numbers of employees, small businesses and politically, where the consequence for a nation and its people are immense.

Recent events have given rise to many feeling utterly shaken by the uncertainty and complex times in which we currently live. It is therefore understandable that people may feel disorientated and anxious about the future.

However, our futures aren’t entirely based upon the actions and decisions of other people. Humans are remarkably resilient, flaws and all, and history has documented it. So, whether you agree or disagree with what’s happening in the world, you do have a choice over how you tackle your own challenges and the things that you can influence. You are utterly in control of your own thoughts and actions, if you choose to be.

We can sit in a metaphorical holding pattern and hope that someone else will provide a lifeline in whatever guise that takes, or take an action ourselves. As a friend said to me yesterday, the best way to tackle fear is to get out there and get busy.

Sometimes it takes guts and a dollop of bravery, but to coin one of my favourite quotes, as Eleanor Roosevelt herself said, ‘ Humans are like teabags, you never know how strong they are until you put them in hot water!’

As for my new surgeon friend, he continues to champion good leadership in a clinical setting and personally he doesn’t have to get on a plane for at least three months so he’s happy.

Get comfortable with discomfort and leave the holding pattern.

Wishing you every possibility,

Kate

Kate Tojeiro is an Executive Coach to executives and leaders across the world in both large corporations and small cutting edge businesses, and author of The Art of Possible.

Advertisements

‘Tis the season

I have a book called Giving 2.0, it is a fascinating book essentially about philanthropy.
giving
‘Tis the season of giving, and just a quick visit to the shops can reveal that the purchasing of gifts and presents sometimes verges upon frenzied. I was in a shop just yesterday when an altercation broke out, over a pair of slippers of all things! Many of us were chuckling, strangers and onlookers united in the slight ridiculousness of the situation.

However, on a recent trip to New York one couldn’t help but notice the many homeless people in the streets, prevalent in all cities across the world, but nevertheless serving as a stark reminder of the many differences and inequalities in life.

Blake Mucoskie’s TOMS One for One program is a very practical business model, which gives to a person in need for every product sold. Since 2006, TOMS has given away over 45 million pairs of shoes. It started with shoes, and now the program extends to eyewear and clean safe water. Testament to the power of giving; a robust bottom line, impressive growth, and undoubtedly making the lives of others better through sharing both material items and the non-material too.

Sharing invariably brings more back to us than we give in the first place. It is often the smallest acts of kindness or generosity that pay the biggest dividends. There is much research out there about what children would most like from family and friends, and whilst the latest toy and cool brands feature, by far the most requested is time. Time to play, time to talk and one-to-one attention. In this time-pressed world, that’s something to consider.

I work with a senior business leader who generously gives of his time and support and he notices the little things that impact upon others. The business year on year exceeds expectations, morale is great and I truly believe that his staff would do anything for him – in the main because they believe he would do anything for them.

Mark Zuckerberg has recently given away a remarkable 99% of his wealth, which seems to have been lauded as much as criticised in the press. I overheard someone rather animatedly stating that the money he has given away shouldn’t have had strings attached. Surely giving away a massive amount of wealth to people in need with a few rules is the only sensible way to do it.

Either way the amount of good that philanthropic act will achieve is immense.

As Mandela said:

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead”

Have a wonderful Christmas and we wish you a happy prosperous and successful 2016!

My warmest wishes,

Kate

The Art of Possible – new habits, neuroscience and the power of deliberate action’
Out now on Amazon in hardback and Kindle; eBook on Google Books and iBooks.

Nasty Gal, the devil’s in the detail….

 

My first boss was fond of saying “it’s the little things that make big things happen”. 

More specifically noticing the little things, the details, and also intuitively spotting how others feel. 

 

In the course of the last few months I have interviewed some extraordinary people for my forthcoming book; a young lady who, from a very hard childhood indeed, now has an apprenticeship and is studying for a degree and is possibly one of the most uplifting people I’ve ever met, the CEOs of several Fortune 100 companies, and some elite sportsmen and sportswomen from netball to racetrack.  I have felt humbled, awestruck, slight terror and excitement, as the passenger of a well-known former racing champion on a track. And huge inspiration. 



2013 BTCC Media Day. #5 Rob Collard (GBR). E-Bay Motors. BMW 125i MSport.These people all notice, they notice lots (or have learned to). One trait they all shared almost palpably was the sheer ruthlessness around attention to detail.  Be it personal fitness, technical excellence, product detail or superb team communication, nothing was left to chance.  Nothing that is, that was within their control.  It was the racing driver who articulated it most powerfully. Listening to him, it was evident that he went to incredible lengths to ensure that everything that was within his control was exactly that, under his control.  Can’t control the weather, track conditions or what other drivers are doing but you can know exactly what’s going on with you and with your car. 
 


Nasty Gal is a $100m, 7 year old, online vintage retail company with more than 350 employees.  Sophie Amoruso, the straight-talking, irreverent and fabulous CEO and founder, talks compellingly about attention to detail, the painstaking attention that goes into styling, sourcing and curating outfits.  Most importantly noticing the customer, ‘ignore your customer, at your peril’.  If an item sells – they stock more items that are similar, if it doesn’t or a customer complains, that’s it – they don’t go near it ever again. 


SophieAmoruso

There are countless examples of organizations that haven’t listened to the customer and certainly not minded the little things so that the big things take care of themselves. 
 


As Giorgio Armani succinctly put it ‘to create something exceptional, your mind must be relentlessly focused on the smallest detail’.
 


Do you need to pay attention to any little things today? 
 


My warmest wishes,
 


Kate Tojeiro

 

Having built up a string of prestigious FTSE 100 and Fortune 100 clients over the last 15 years, Kate Tojeiro works as an executive coach with the boards, senior leaders and teams of some of the world’s most illustrious organisations and some of the most cutting edge, organically-grown start ups.

Contact her at www.the-x-fusion.co.uk. 
 

 

Nasty Gal, the devil’s in the detail….

When the going gets tough……

When the going gets tough ….
My eldest daughter was recently somewhat embarrassed to hear that I love “When the going gets tough…” by Billy Ocean and the occasional power ballad! It wasn’t just the admission, it was that I happened to air this guilty pleasure while being interviewed on the radio.

She then went on to say, musing a little, ‘It’s cool to say what you like though’. And that, was that.

I couldn’t help but ponder later: ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going’ is something of a mantra for the best leaders out there. Their words, of course, might be very different. The fine line between successful leaders and less successful one’s, is nearly always evident when the going gets tough. The same can be said of great sportsmen and women who, under great physical and mental stress make things look effortless. But you know for sure that a massive amount of hard work, energy and effort has gone into honing that ability, even if it’s on a foundation of natural skill. They practice daily!

Image

For many of the banks, the going appears to be getting even tougher, and the proposed PFIZER takeover of Astra Zeneca is proving challenging for many, at industry, city and even government level.

‘Getting going’ when it’s hard, navigating a path through uncertainty, challenge and difficulty, means taking into consideration all those involved around you. I recently discovered through a fascinating discussion with a neuroscientist, that through rigorous research it is understood that ‘successful people’ do indeed have a very high level of self-awareness and that of others.

Whilst dealing with complex technical scenarios, compliance, product issues, markets, the press et al, they are also very aware of the impact a challenge is having on the individuals involved. And they subsequently take the actions and interventions needed to make it easier for them. Sometimes, just admitting that it’s tough goes a very long way too.

Some years ago, I was at a company meeting with the CEO of a tech company that was six months from running out of cash. They were only just making payroll each month. The CEO got the team together every single morning, in person/ via teleconference call/ Skype and candidly told everyone what was happening and what needed to be achieved in order to turn the company around. He also told them how much he believed in them. He shared a document weekly that quite clearly stated how much money the company had, or didn’t have, too!

Six months later, with a few new deals and an investor on the horizon, things were looking better. He now lives in Boston, MA and the company thrives, they still fondly remember the engine room, as it was called, over a shop on Oxford Street in London when the company nearly went to the wall.

Image

When the going gets tough or even when it doesn’t, do you know what your strengths are? And do you practice for whatever it is that you want to achieve daily?

As Yogi Berra eloquently put it: In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is….. Successful people practice….. a lot.

And of course, if you’d like some support and assistance through the tough ‘stuff’, you know where we are.
My warmest wishes,
Kate

Kate Tojeiro is Managing Director and Executive Performance Coach at X fusion.

Why fit in when you were born to stand out

 Why fit in when you were born to stand out.

Having spent some of the weekend with nieces, nephews and assorted friends under eleven, Pharrell William’s ‘Happy’ is still playing in my head. I can’t claim to know the words, as the kids all had slight variations to Pharrell’s original lyrics. The ‘ Happy, Happy, Happy……’ was a consistent and a constant though.ImageWhen life is throwing various shades of excitement and challenge sometimes the ‘happy’ bit seems a bit hard to find. Whether you’re the CEO of a global business with hundreds of thousands of employees or running a neat charity full of volunteers, one thing I’ve observed clearly is that the most content and comfortable in their own skin perhaps, are more often than not being ‘themselves’.

What I mean to say is; they say what they think, are not afraid to challenge the status quo and maybe, in fact often, put themselves out on a limb, so to speak. This can take bravery and courage and of course, we are all bound by certain processes, systems and rules however those that work the rules so that they can be themselves rather than be or do or say what they think others wish them to be are generally happier and achieve whatever it is that they’ve set out to achieve. Do we really ever know what others think anyways?

I met with the founder and CEO of a well-known fashion label a few weeks back, the company had just been offered a significant amount of growth funding. ‘I can’t take the investment, Kate’ he said, ‘it would suck out our soul and we wouldn’t be who we are’. It just didn’t feel right. So, they didn’t take it and whilst to some, that might seem a harder path, it’s their path and it works for them and innovation and creativity (without pots of cash) is thriving.

Divine Chocolate is a brilliant brand known for standing for what it believes, once awarded for “its courageous and creative marketing stance in favour of fair trade in the highly competitive chocolate confectionery market”. Way to go!

An amazing lady, Steph Jeavons left the Ace Café in West London yesterday to travel around the world on her 250cc motorbike with £5 a day to spend on food. The challenge; living, learning and enjoying by circumnavigating 42 countries across at least 6 continents and following her dream. Just fantastic!

She’s being herself . When we do the thing that is utterly what we believe and syncs with our purpose (even if we don’t know it on a conscious level) but it just feels right, the results speak for themselves.

As Sir Martin Sorrell, of WPP once said, ‘impossible is nothing and nothing is impossible’.

And as As Dr Seuss beautifully put it ’why fit in when you were born to stand out’.

ImageHave a fantastic Spring and if you need a little help putting a little bounce in your stride, you know where we are.

If you were truly being yourself today, what would you do differently, now?

Alternatively……a little bit of ‘Happy, happy, happy…..’ goes a long way…….

My warmest wishes,

Kate

 

Board rash.

Board rash I discovered, can develop as a result of friction between one’s torso and a surfboard due to sand adhering to the wax, this is easily remedied by wearing a rash-vest. Unlike, I couldn’t help musing, the friction and tension I had observed developing during a board meeting the week before.  The feeling of discomfort however was probably similar.

For the first time this summer, I tried surfing, it has always been something of a wistful desire. Sitting on a board waiting for a wave and then feeling the slight swell of the ocean, paddling hard, becoming aware of the bubbles of water at your feet, the surface of the water ahead of you changing to peculiar flat swirls with almost a stalling motion signifying the moment to get up. Then up, the adrenalin rush, the feeling of being literally on the water at the behest of nature is just breath-taking…..

surfer_cornwall
That moment was, in truth, the odd nanosecond amongst hours in the sea, falling off more times than I can recall and many times realizing the moment had passed. Much ingested seawater later, I can just about ride a (little) wave.

A delegate appeared in the break at a recent workshop and said ‘leading’s hardest when people are upset or emotionally charged, the rest of the time it’s ‘relatively easy’, right? ‘Well, yes’, I said ‘a leader that notices what’s going on and takes action especially during tough times will stand out significantly from those that notice what’s going on but don’t actually do anything.” ‘No quick fix then, okay, thanks’, he said and went off for a coffee looking thoughtful.

Metaphorically speaking, we can either take action and go for that wave even if the net result is more seawater and another plunge into the sea, or we can watch the moment go by, observe from the sidelines and wash up on the beach. Alternatively we can act and get stuck in, the experience is richer and the more accomplished we become. Awareness develops and that’s better for everyone!

In 1969, two young men Doug Warbrick and Brian Singer set up RipCurl.  The culture and ethos today is still all about the surfer and the sea although there is of course now a mighty successful commercial element too. It is a great case study of noticing what’s required, getting stuck in and doing something about it – be it product or a changing market. The people who run the company were and still are the test pilots. And even today on a clear day with a brisk wind running straight from the land, you’ll be pushed to find anyone in the RipCurl offices  – hurrah for that!

Billabong, the embattled global surf brand, in contrast, has perhaps not taken action where it may have and has just announced losses of almost $860million.

take_action_ii
An inspiring adventurer and explorer I know oft lives by the adage ‘better to die on the adventure than to die waiting for it’, he has achieved much, is a brilliant motivator and has made many things possible both for himself and those around him. This adage may be a little extreme for some of us, however if taking action makes the difference, I reckon it’s worth the risk. As TS Eliot put it ’only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go’.

Have a fabulous autumn and if you need a little assistance in how far you can go, you know where we are.

My warmest wishes,

Kate

Can’t stop change…

Being an Activist!
Be really honest, are there a few days in your life when you want to hide in your office and ignore the world? Hope that no-one will come and find you, or ask you for anything, be it an opinion, a signature, a decision, an agreement to get a new photocopier? Whatever – it is called being human and happens to us all.

Being the leader of an organisation, regardless of its size, does take a huge amount of energy, and responsibility and requires you to be active – either physically or mentally – whether you like it or not.

Now here’s the thing. That is why you are in the position of leadership right now. That is why you are in the top 2% of the population. That is why people want to follow you and be guided by you. You have already shown your tenacity and energy in order to have got into the position that you are in. So feel good about that! A very few percentage of the population are willing to be brave enough, active enough or maybe responsible enough to take on a leadership role – to set up and drive a company, to head up a group of people, to turn an idea into a business.

Here’s the catch.
Unfortunately you are only as good as your last action. What I mean by that is that now that you have made it to the ‘top’ or somewhere close, you cannot revert to a passive way of life and stay being successful. It just doesn’t work. I am sure that we have all known those managers of the past who have got to the position that they think they deserve(!) and then sit back on their laurels using power and status alone to remain in position. Do they add value to the business? Probably little. They might do enough to keep the status quo, but not a lot more. They know how to work the system, and stay out of the firing line. In the end, neither the company or they feel good about the situation. It doesn’t work for anyone.

As a successful leader you find that you have to remain ACTIVE in all that you do. Talk passionately, question the status quo, find out what the competition is doing, employ another great asset, think beyond tomorrow. The list is literally endless, which is inspiring but can be quite scary too. However, how do you feel at the end of the day when you have been active throughout? I would hope that words spring to mind such as achievement, higher self esteem and satisfaction. It must be worth it as you will go back and do it all over again tomorrow. Won’t you?

Please do recognise that there are some days you need to re-group, we just don’t have all that energy required – that is normal! The trick is to recognise this – and allow yourself to have a day of ‘re-grouping’. Just don’t make the big decisions on this day!

So – how do you find ways to continue to be an Activist, without completely wearing yourselves out? Here are some thoughts.

Firstly, enjoy what you do. I am sure that we can think about something you have been hugely involved in, whether it is mending a motorbike, working out a puzzle, painting a picture or a house, and the time has just disappeared. It is wonderful to be so involved that you give it your all without stopping, or even feeling tired (until afterwards at least!). Does work still do that for you?

Secondly, you don’t have to go it alone. Employing some people who are like minded and can be just as active as you, enables you to pass on the gauntlet without doing it all by yourself. Having used your passion to bring them on board will pass on that energy and away they go.

It does get easier too. Luckily, we humans do learn as we go along, so that the tremendous amount of energy we employ in doing something for the first time, requires slight less each time that we do it. So being active actually increases our comfort zone. That’s a relief isn’t it?

Don’t waste your energy on valueless things. So many of us sit through meetings where there is so much potential talent sitting around the table, and none of it gets used. Look in your diary and highlight the events where your passion and your energy are required and make them a priority, minimising the energy-sapping appointments.

Look at yourself at times – and make sure that you are not doing the ‘power – status’ thing – you may feel good for a day, but not sure that it adds value to you or your company!

Finally – a thought, in the words of Carmel McConnell, an inspiring activist and author – ‘You have loads of talent. Let’s face it, most days it just sits waiting inside you.’ So what are you waiting for?

Until next week

Kate Tojeiro is an Executive Performance Coach at http://www.the-x-fusion.co.uk