Reflections and Gratitude

It truly amazes me when I look back at the past year and recognize what I have accomplished when it comes to making a significant contribution towards development and advancement of women in the workplace. In choosing to keep a dedicated focus on strategies leveraging cross-generational collaboration, and women taking more calculated risks in their careers, I look back and am able to see how I am starting to make a mark. It makes me proud – the good kind of proud. This blog post is dedicated to all those people out there who believe in me, continue to believe in me, and are supporting all the wonderful things I am working on. Without you, none of these things would be real. Thank you.

Let me share with you the wonderful journey that has been this past year and words of appreciation that need to be shouted across the rooftops and into the windows of your offices. In addition, I hope you will take this opportunity to browse through my new website. In recognition of everything that has happened this past year, it was indeed time to launch a new website. I am thrilled with the look and feel, the content, and the components where you can make your own contributions. I know you will enjoy this blog post and browsing the new website.

Within the last year I have successfully launched gen-xyb™ High Tea to corporations in the Chicago marketplace. Companies sign up to send pairs of women to participate in the year long program, with the two women that comprise each pair coming from two different generational groups in the company. Once a month we have an intense and exciting afternoon work session where all these pairs of cross-generational women come together to cover topics that are critical to the strategic development and advancement of their careers. In addition to the leadership skills they develop during the program, these women are walking away from every session with an ever-expanding network of incredible relationships, as they deepen their ties with the other women in the program, and as they meet new people I constantly work into the mix for them. The feedback has been amazing, and with just three months left in the 2014 program, it is so rewarding to see companies re-committing for 2015, and to see new companies also signing up to have their women at the table in 2015.

I appreciate enormously the individuals and the companies that believed in my vision for this program, and who took the plunge to be part of this inaugural year. I am proud to have delivered you the value you believed in, and that for many of you, your re-commitment to next year is testament to your continued belief in the power of the program. I also appreciate those individuals and organizations that have taken the time to come and visit with us in the program this year, who have been bitten by the bug, and who are now budgeting to participate in 2015 and help grow the program even further. To my guest panelists – you are all amazing. Your voices, words and insights worked magic in the sessions. Thank you to all of you!

I am also hard at work on my book ‘Ready, Set…RISK!’ I was signed by a publisher for the book a couple of months ago. The book will be published in Q2 of 2015. ‘Ready, Set…RISK!’ is a book focused on positive strategies for women to turn risk into opportunity, accelerating the pace at which women move forward and upward in their careers.

I am grateful to the wonderful individuals that are graciously sharing their insights on this important topic as I interview them for the book. Many of you, while not being interviewed yourselves, are identifying people you know that you believe I should be interviewing and then connecting me with those people. In any book, it’s the stories and practical application that brings it alive. I may be the channel that is putting ‘pen to paper’, but for anyone that contributes to this effort in even the smallest way, your voice is part of this too. Thank you to all of you.

I’ve been doing speaking engagements. Topics have included, amongst others, ‘Write Your Own Story’, ‘Turning Risk Into Opportunity’, ‘Being Intentional’, ‘Your Next Chapters’, ‘Powering Up The Pipeline’, ‘Building Your Brand and Executive Presence’, ‘Closing the Confidence Gap’. Coming up in October I am doing a keynote at Chicago SHRM on transforming talent development – developing a culture of calculated risk taking in your organization.

Companies and associations have embraced the energy and passion that I bring with me, and enabled me to share that with others. I always maintain that certainly my goal when doing a speaking engagement is for people to leave having been inspired by me, but I also maintain that even more importantly, my goal is for them to leave being inspired by themselves! To those of you that have invited me in and provided the opportunity to accomplish those goals, I thank you. Whenever possible, I bring my long wooden sword with me to my speaking engagements. It’s become somewhat of a trademark associated with me now when I speak, standing up and slicing through the air with it as I speak. It gives me great joy to know that when I leave, the audience is leaving with their own mental image in their head of them carving out their own path, owning their own space as they grow in their career, wielding their sword as they move onwards and upwards. Thank you for that!

I recently launched gen-xyb™ Coaching Trees. Whereas gen-xyb™ High Tea is an program that is external to an organization, with companies sending women to participate in a program that includes women from many other companies; gen-xyb™ Coaching Trees is a service and program I provide to companies to come in and run for them inside of their organization, with the group comprised of only their employees, and can include both women and men. gen-xyb™ Coaching Trees is a cross-generational group-based coaching and mentoring construct. It enables a group of individuals to tackle opportunities and challenges through shared learning that balances experience, knowledge, reflection and action.

To be frank, I had no plans to launch a program such as gen-xyb™ Coaching Trees. But people kept asking me if I do coaching. I kept saying no, because I don’t believe my skills are best used in a one-on-one setting. I excel at group based innovation and dynamics. But I took a step back and listened as people kept asking, and recognized there must be a fit for something if I was continually being asked. I recognized that I was being challenged in the most positive of ways to stretch my thinking. As I took that step back, I decided to then step forward with an offering that met the need for coaching, but in a way that remained true to the platform I was building – hence the cross-generational group based coaching and mentoring construct that I can aid an organization with internal to their walls. To those of you that have and continue to challenge my thinking every day, that push me to keep innovating and keep building, I thank you!

Last but not least, even as these aspects I have shared with you above continue to take root and grow, I cannot rest. I am now also starting to work on what will undoubtedly be my biggest and most ambitious undertaking yet. By 2017 I plan to launch a conference. No other women’s conference that exists is anything like what I am creating. Because it is such early days still and I am still in concept refinement stage, unfortunately I cannot share the details with you yet. But suffice it to say that those wonderful individuals that have acted as a sounding board for me so far are all nuts for it and, like me, believe it is an incredible concept that will be game changing. I want to express my ongoing appreciation for all of you that listen to my ideas, that spur my thinking, that challenge me, that make me pause and think through aspects I may not have considered as fully as I should, but that fundamentally still encourage me and move me forward. Thank you!

In the past year, every day has not been perfect. There have been many tough days when I am exhausted, when I wonder if it will ever be easy (or at least easier), when I ask myself if I am just a little crazy or totally crazy for embarking on this journey. But then I look in the mirror, and I remind myself that I am capable of all of this and so much more. That instead of being bound by the limits of what I see in the mirror, I need to look beyond the mirror. I need to tap deep into the endless capabilities I have been blessed with that I cannot always touch and feel. I need to drink deeply of the reservoir of my unlimited potential that surrounds me.

I had this conversation just last week with someone I interviewed for my book. We spoke about how women are capable of so much. We spoke about how we need to believe in ourselves. The lady I was interviewing – Jan Allen, CEO of Paytech – said ‘I believe that women have endured a lot of hardship. We make our choices and learn to live with them. We have to. We know what we’re capable of in the way of our children and our families and things like that. But in business…when (we) do take the risk (we) have to be able to endure the choice of taking that risk.’

In closing, I want to, one more time, express deep gratitude and appreciation to all of you out there who have helped me endure my choices of taking my risks. I encourage each and everyone one of you to look not just into the mirror, but beyond the mirror, to tap into your endless capabilities and unlimited potential, and to do whatever you can, whether big or small, to make change happen for yourself and other women in whatever way each of you can.