I spoke to soon. #iamgrateful and #iamthankful and I should keep my eye on the prize, that prize, in perpetuity. I have plenty of outlets for my gratitude; this one is a documentation of my own for those moments when the world is too busy to ride alongside me.
I’m excited for this next phase of my life and career. Gratitude will be more front and center. So it’s not a wrap. #iamgrateful and #iamthankful it’s not a wrap. There’s too much to appreciate.
Have you ever successfully changed someone’s mind on something political (perspective), religious (belief), or sports related (say, GOAT)? Would love to hear your story. I don’t think I ever have. I am certain I haven’t actually. So I am wondering if it is possible? Or if these three categories of conversations are so entrenched and so fundamental…but also, so rife with conjecture, POV, and interpretation, that they make for infinite debate (which is why we perpetuate them) and an environment where everyone can walk away validates and “knowing they were right.”
Resumes are interesting things. I guess LinkedIn profiles even moreso. They highlight accomplishments. We’re all taught to write our bullet points and summaries in standard formats (like STAR – Situation, Tasks, Actions, Results.) I am not crying against convention here as there is substantive, material value in highlighting what you’ve done well and achieved.
But where is the standard for self-reflection? Where is the format for all of us to reflect upon our mistakes? To look at where we made mistakes? Where we could have done better? How can we get better at seeking disconfirming evidence and critical feedback, as opposed to succumbing to our narratives and stories of success?
Before taking on a new role I do my best to reach back out to individuals I’ve worked with in the past to ask for their feedback and guidance. I share my request broadly, and I ask for feedback candidly. And I’m always amazed at the responses and interest individuals take in responding and sharing their thoughts. Often I learn as much from the time they take as the words they actually share. In advance of starting my new job at LiveIntent, I was able to connect with a few individuals for this reason:
Former peer and head of corporate development
Former boss and CMO
Former boss and CEO
Former peer and President
Former boss turned client
That makes for seven conversations with people who have worked with me at an executive capacity and were willing to take the time to sit down with me or hop on the phone and share their advice generally, and then directed specifically at the areas and opportunities I have for improvement. I can’t thank them enough. Here’s what I heard, loudly and clearly.
Listen more than you talk. I heard this several times and by digging deeper into it I discovered that the problem is very obviously twofold: 1) I need to get better at active listening, and 2) I need to do a better job of making it clear that I have heard what’s been shared with me. I have a host of excuses and perspectives that I feel compelled to share here, but it doesn’t change the fact that one of the most universal pieces of advice I heard was that I could improve “how” I listened.
Enough with the albatrosses. I take my work very seriously, and because of that, I carry my mistakes and the company’s mistakes with me, heavily. Though I do a good job of masking these (mostly) with my team I have been told that I can do a better job of handling these with respect to my peers and my bosses (notably the CEO.) I can’t thank a former CEO enough for this advice. It resonated loudly and actually set me free from some things that have stayed with me from past roles.
Think a level down AND a level up. A very strong pattern in my feedback sessions focused on how often I sided with my team. It was perhaps the most challenging piece of feedback to hear. I view a core tenet of my job to be supporting for, advocating for, and developing my team. But I need to continue to do a better job of finding balance between my team and the expectations of my role. One of the best pieces of advice I was given here was to think of my role as much from a level up as I practice doing from a level down. In the case of my role at LiveIntent, it’s as much about thinking about my job from the POV of our President and our CEO as it is about thinking of my role from the POV of my team.
Overcommunicate, and overcommunicate about overcommunicating. I tend to communicate to the level I believe I’m being heard. I’ve tried overcompensating on either side, by either assuming everything is being read or assuming nothing is (culture has dictated both.) But what I have to make sure I do is highlight the reason I’m communicating as much as I am and then validate that the audience finds it to be appropriate. And when in doubt. err on the side of more information and context while providing the recipient an easy out in the form of “here’s why I’m sharing, tell me if it’s too much or too little, and until you do, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing.”
Don’t stop having fun. When you feel it happening, find a way to reverse it. Walk around the block. Step back and take a day off. Tell your boss the way you’re feeling and why. But find a way to transparently share what’s happening and invite people in to help you get out of your rut. Because when you stop having fun, everyone around you knows it. And when everyone around you knows it, the slippery slope to negative momentum steepens and gets that much more slick.
Remember why you were hired. And if you’re not sure, ask the question up front. With every new role comes a new layer of accountability and ownership. Don’t outsource your brain, don’t compromise on your values, don’t confuse collaboration and input with democracy, don’t stop moving forward and don’t stop doing these kinds of things — asking questions to find out where you can improve. It’s all of these things that made you the ideal candidate for the role you’re stepping into (assuming you were honest throughout the interview process.) So when the chips are down, reflect back on why you were hired. And put all of those reasons back on display.
I can’t thank the folks who took some time to mold me, in the past, over time, and just these past few weeks. I am whatever and whoever I am today because of your influence. Hopefully, it’s something you take a little pride in.
LiveIntent, here I come. Better for the wear. Better for all the care.
(Note: I took notes on my feelings starting from the moment my wife went into labor. But given the realities of parenthood, I obviously waited until I had a semblance of sanity to push through my thoughts and publish them.)
Baby-to-be. TMLFYI (Today My Love for you Is)…best delivered indirectly. Since Thursday evening at 7pm ET your mom has been in labor. What does that mean? It means cramps at such an incredible frequency, consistency, and duration, that there’s nothing a partner like me can do but feel hopeless and inspired. You see, your mom is something special. There are horror stories out there for how women react when they get into this situation.
What I know, is that she experienced all of the pain I was told to expect. Debilitating pain. She couldn’t eat. She couldn’t sleep. She couldn’t sit. She couldn’t stand. Even the things she does involuntarily — like breathe — she had to be deliberate about. Everything we did (conversations, watching tv, going up stairs, walking to the car) had a commercial break (somewhere in 4-20 minute intervals.) Except instead of commercials about wireless provider dominance, your mom experienced pain that was borderline incomparable.
She did this from 7pm ET on Thursday January 9th, to 9:45am on Sunday January 12th. 62 hours. Sixty-two hours.
And not once did she lose her poise. She cradled you in her arms through her belly to make sure you were ok each and every time. It was beautiful. She delayed all pain saving measures until medically necessary. And she looked more stunning and beautiful than she did the day I met her, the day I proposed to her (though honestly, she had kind of let herself go the night I proposed — that’s a hysterical and different story), and the day we got married.
So Sunshine, today my love for you is best delivered indirectly… because I’m channeling all of my energy to your mom, who’s doing such a ridiculously good job loving you like nobody else can.