The 4 Things That Make a Company Great: A Tribute

Time to read: one and one quarter minutes
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Two weeks ago, I had the distinct privilege to attend a reunion for the company that hired me in 2001, Guidant Corporation. As a result of an acquisition that turned Guidant into Boston Scientific (a dramatic series of events studied in MBA programs), former Guidant employees are everywhere. What's even more amazing is that 12 years after the acquisition, 400 people are excited to gather in a ballroom to drink beer and connect.

While I was at the event, I was thinking of you and how my experience at Guidant taught me what makes a truly great company. When you reflect on where you work, how many of these factors do you see (or not)? What can you do to influence these things, even in small ways?

Here are 4 things I learned from Guidant:

  1. Guidant prioritized employees. When I worked in HR, I was amazed at the decisions that got made about things like benefits, things that cost the company a pretty penny but were good for employees.

    Lesson: A great company prioritizes employees.

  2. Guidant had a culture of innovation. Each employee felt like they could contribute their gifts and make suggestions for process improvements that would actually be implemented. I had a lot of autonomy to create things I cared about like a van pool program for commuters.

    Lesson: Give employees freedom and let them do their best work for you.

  3. Employees felt connected to a sense of purpose. Our medical devices made a difference. Each year, patients would visit the campus for a celebration of their stories and our work. We were committed and deeply connected to a sense of mission and meaning.

    Lesson: People care deeply about the impact of their work.

  4. Employees belonged to each other. When I first interviewed, I heard things like, "Guidant is a family." In my roles, I interacted across many departments, and it was clear that we were on the same team. We cared deeply for one another. And still do.

    Lesson: Relationships matter. A lot.

If you've ever had the chance to work for your version of Guidant, you are lucky indeed. If you haven't, what can you do to make a difference?

With rebel love,

Christina

 

Can You Be Powerful When Things are Out of Control?

Time to read: 40 seconds

 If you're making choices, choose what's important to you, like Adventure!

If you're making choices, choose what's important to you, like Adventure!

I was talking with a client today about choices. She's in a tough situation that leaves her feeling powerless and isn't likely to change anytime soon. The challenge for her: to stay empowered and at choice even when so much feels out of her control.

So how do you stay empowered and at choice when things are out of your control?

The lesson is summed up in this poignant quote from writer, Annie Dilliard:

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."

You make choices every day - about how to respond in traffic, to be on time to meet a friend (or not), to show up to your child's soccer game (or not), to be annoyed after a meeting (or not). We all know people who seem bound and determined to be unhappy. And others who find happiness and gratitude even in the face of unbelievable hardship.

Your small choices matter, every minute of every day.

  • They matter to you. (Are you truly choosing according to what's important to you or are you choosing based on some sense of what you "should" choose or from a reactive emotional place?)
  • They matter to the people around you. (What are you modeling for your employees or your children?).
  • They matter to the world. (What is the energy you are projecting out into the wider world? Is it the energy you want to project?)

Life isn't always easy, and you don't always get what you want. You do, however, get to choose, every day, how you will navigate the cards you have been dealt.

And that, dear Corporate Rebel, is how you create the life you want. One choice at a time.

With rebel love,

Christina

 

Why You Can Stop Worrying About Your Career

Time to read: 2:19.26 minutes
 At camp, being…well…campy.

At camp, being…well…campy.

This summer, while I was working at my children's summer camp, I offered pro-bono coaching to the staff. After 30-hours of early morning sessions with a group of 19-26-year-olds, I started to notice patterns. Then, when considering my MBA, private and corporate clients, I realized there is an arch to the career journey characterized by age and phase of life. Daily, I hear people worrying about their careers and life choices. My goal today is to reassure you whether this is your first rodeo or your one-hundredth.

(Note: I'm not a huge fan of reducing individual experience to a one-size-fits all label so know that as I share these observations with you, the boundaries are fuzzy, and professional and personal experiences are as unique as you are.)

Age 19 - mid to late 20s: Exploration. If you are in this age group, you are likely laying awake a night worrying that you don't know what you want to be or if you should marry the guy or dump him, or if you will ever be able to afford a house. These early years of career development are fraught with worry and doubt.

My message? Have fun! Explore! Try some stuff. Work at a ski resort. Deliver pizza in New Zealand. Apprentice yourself to that scientist in the woods. Trust yourself.

Bottom line: Stop worrying.

Age 25 - late 20s (or if you're like me, early 30s): Roots. If you are here, you are starting to wonder about settling down. Living in one place starts to seem more attractive than seasonal employment and traveling all the time. Not surprisingly, as your perspective shifts, you start to find potential life partners. You might be hungry to get a career started and work, work, work. This is a great age to be a consultant or to have a job with lots of travel. You might be worrying if you are ready for commitments and responsibility.

My message? Embrace the change in perspective. Put down those roots. Make choices. If you're chomping at the bit to work, then work. Nothing is set in stone. You can always change direction. Trust yourself.

Bottom line: Stop worrying.

Age mid-30s to mid to late 40s: Complexity. Before this phase, you think you understand your priorities (career!). Then you have kids. Or your parents get sick. Or you get laid off. Or something else interrupts your perfect plan. Life gets complex, and your priorities start to shift again. If you are in this phase, you are likely worrying if you have invested too many years in the wrong job or if you should stay home with your children or if you will ever get that promotion or if you should try for an overseas assignment or if you are saving enough for retirement.

My message? Get back in touch with your values. Learn to live with increasing uncertainty. Be intentional in your choices. Make choices. Don't just stumble along doing what you think you're supposed to. Trust yourself.

Bottom line: Stop worrying.

Age late 40s to late 50s or early 60s: Confidence. If this is you, you likely care a lot less what people think. You're clearer about your gifts and are using them in the world. If you are a career professional, you've developed a level of expertise - even if that expertise spans many different specific job descriptions (like me). You're getting wiser. And calmer. Some things may be shaken up or re-negotiated - divorce, kids getting older, getting reconnected to past hobbies and interests. You might worry if you even remember who you are anymore.

My message? Get close with your gifts. Don't be afraid to be brave about necessary life changes. Own what you love. Be who you are. Trust yourself.

Bottom line: Stop worrying.

Mid to late 60s and 70s. Letting go. I rely on dear friends and mentors for anything I know about this phase. If you're here, your relationship to work as you've known it is shifting. You're excited about the prospect of well-earned freedom even as you worry about your identity and can't wait to purge your house. For some, the temptation to cling to a professional identity over-powers the potential expansion of possibilities making the transition to this powerful phase of life more difficult.

My message? Keep going! Have fun! Embrace the possibilities of a newly wide-open playing field. Invest your energy in the things that are most important to you.

Bottom line: Stop worrying.

Here's your challenge: Can you can find the point of this article?

Rebel love to you!

Christina

P.S. Do you have a friend who is fretting about one of these career phases? Share the love with them by forwarding this email. They can sign up to join us right here.

 

What Makes You a Corporate Rebel?

Time to read: 30 seconds and maybe 2 minutes to respond

 What makes a Corporate Rebel? It's the boots!

What makes a Corporate Rebel? It's the boots!

I get invited somewhat regularly to participate in interviews or collaborations with other coaches and entrepreneurs. I'm choosy about where I put my time and frankly, where I put your time and trust. With the most recent invitations, I've noticed something interesting which raises a question I want to ask you.

Most of the invitations are from coaches who help entrepreneurs build businesses. The hosts assume because the word "rebel" is in my brand, that I help people leave corporate jobs to become entrepreneurs. They are surprised when I decline and explain that I do not work with entrepreneurs, but in fact, help people get in and stay IN corporate. They assume that being a rebel and working in corporate is an impossible combination. In fact, a friend once said that he thought being a Corporate Rebel is an oxymoron.

To that I say, PISH-POSH!

You can be a rebel and work in a corporate job. When I was working in corporate, I knew lots of creative, dynamic and interesting people I would describe as rebels.

Which inspires a question for you: What makes you a rebel in your corporate job? (And if you're a coach or entrepreneur, you are most welcome here, too and I'd love to hear what makes you a rebel.) I have lots of thoughts and opinions on the subject and would love to hear from you first.

Feel free to hit email me at christina@boydsmithcoaching.com and let me know what you think or share your thoughts in the conversation at Corporate Rebel HQ on Facebook. Click this link to join or comment if you're already a member.

With rebel love,

Christina

 

5 Ways to Be an Awesome Newbie!

Time to read: Just under one little minute. You have errands to run!

 Now this is new: S'mores ice-cream cone with GLITTER!

Now this is new: S'mores ice-cream cone with GLITTER!

OMG. Has summer already ended? If you have kids starting school and even if you don't, can you feel that fall, back-to-school energy? Things feel more serious. Like we're all settling in and getting back to a routine.

My kids started a new school on Monday. They know no one and believe me, this Corporate Rebel Mama's heart has been very tender this week. We have lots of rebels starting new ventures like new jobs (hey Rick!) or living in new locations (shout out to you, Audrey!) or experimenting with new ways to do old jobs (Dean!).

There is newness in the air!

New possibilities.

A new start. (Even if you're in the same job, in the same company.)

A new year.

As we get to know the new community and routine at our new school, I'm noticing a few things that are helping me through these tender days. I share them with you as you embark on your new fall. Here are 5 ways to be new:

  1. Have a sense of adventure. Rather than focusing on all the things you don't have or can't do, lean into the adventure of a new job, project or school with all the fascination, wonder, and curiosity you would bring to an international vacation.
  2. Be humble. In our new school, I know very little about how things work. It's a steep learning curve and for a woman who is used to knowing everything that's going on, it's humbling to be at the beginning again. Stopping in humility every so often in your life is a very good thing. It's a great reset button to remind you to keep learning.
  3. Be open. Be open to new relationships and experiences. You have no idea where an opportunity or new friend is going to come from.
  4. Ask for help. Many times, you won't even have to ask. Help will just be available to you. In either case, be humble and take advantage of it.
  5. Stay in your discomfort zone. It's ok to be uncomfortable. In fact, it's marvelous to be uncomfortable. In the discomfort, you stretch. You learn new things about yourself. You discover new opportunities. And it will pass. Believe me, I'm uncomfortable a lot these days.

So, welcome to fall, beautiful rebels. Feels like it's going to be a smashing year!

With rebel love,

Christina

P.S. As part of doing lots of new things this fall, I am going to be interviewed on the What's NEXT webcast with Jason Lauritsen. He's interviewing leaders who bring innovation and positive disruption to the workplace - like me! The webcast is September 5 at 1:00 ET. It will be recorded if you can't make the event live. Join here and invite your friends. They are welcome to join, too!

 

You're the Best!

Time to read: Barely one minute. It's summer. You've got fun stuff to do.

 You are a gift!

You are a gift!

One of our own Corporate Rebels inspired today's blog. Steve sent me some astute comments after a post a few months ago. His thoughts inspired some fresh ways to think about your career which put you back in the driver's seat. If you feel like your career has been pushed this way and that by the winds of your company, read on!

Steve wrote, "I’ve shifted my attitude about work and career to how to use my gifts and talents (i.e., value proposition). For me, satisfaction comes from applying my gifts and talents which meets someone’s need and who is willing to compensate me for that."

Steve makes an excellent point. Put another way, you are a gift to your employer. Your contributions are as important as the things they give you.

Blow open your thinking about your career with these ideas:

  1. Your employment is an equal energy exchange. You give your gifts and talents. Your company gives you money and benefits. They need you as much as you need them. This idea puts the power in your career back in your hands.

  2. Do what you do best. You have gifts and talents. And you have...what shall we call them?…liabilities and weaknesses. Spend your career maximizing your strengths and partnering with other people's strengths (i.e. your liabilities and weaknesses). Doing what you do best allows you to shine and partnering with others who have different strengths, allows them to shine. It's a win-win!

  3. Stop competing. Spending your career trying to outdo your competition is not a winning strategy. Instead, focus on partnership, relationship, and delivering the best darn solutions to meet your (internal and external) customer's needs. By focusing on value and solutions, you set yourself up to be a sought-after member of any team.

You're the best!

Christina

P.S. Have a colleague who needs to see themselves as a gift to your organization? Send them this newsletter and they can sign up for weekly motivation and positivity right here.

 

What Would You Do If You Stopped Postponing Your Life?

Time to read: 40 little seconds (keeping in short so you can enjoy this summer day - for our Northern Hemisphere rebels!)
 This is a vent louver. I had to look it up.

This is a vent louver. I had to look it up.

Happy August Corporate Rebels!

A c!ient recently sent me an ah-ha about constantly trying to improve herself. Her insight made me think of you.

Here's the email she sent me (shared with her permission.):

"I had this revelation this morning that I've been spending so much time and energy trying to fix all these things about myself. It dawned on me that I'm actually using self-improvement as an excuse to postpone really living. The analogy that comes to mind is that I have a car with a bunch of little things wrong - hail dents, torn carpet, stained seats, broken vent louver - and I'm fixating about fixing them, rather than just packing up the car and taking a road trip.

I finally realized that I don't really need fixing any more than I need to fix a broken plastic vent louver. I can just pack up and go for a ride instead.

I want to stop using these excuses that are preventing me from taking the necessary risks to get out and enjoy life."

And there it is.

As a human, you will always have scratches and dents. They are part of what makes you wonderful. So, when you stop hiding behind your scratches and dents, what do YOU want to do?

Two words: Road trip!

Happy lazy August!

Christina

P.S. Invite some of your colleagues to road trip with you by joining the Corporate Rebel Video Podcast and Newsletter. They can sign up here.