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  • Leadership Thoughts – Two Feet of Perspective

    A busy week including working in 4 cities, literally commuting via trains, planes, and automobiles, temperatures that varied from 90F+ to a dip of 55F in a matter of days, preparing for two major presentations, and a neighbourhood bbq to top it all off.

    Busy – productive – fun – and by the end my head was full.

    I realized I needed to let everything find a place in my brain, and I would benefit from some perspective. I found it without having to go far from home.

    A beautiful lake, a warm sunny day, and 30 minutes of free time on my hands. Perspective, POV, frame of mind. Whatever you want to call it. It always fascinates me how taking a few minutes to think frees up the required thoughts I need to pull it all together.

    Two feet of perspective. And life is good again.

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  • Leadership Thoughts – Tethered by Trust

    I recently took a vacation in the western provinces of Canada that included 11 days on a motorcycle. This was a first for me and I wasn’t sure what I was getting into.

    Two Harley motorcycles, two couples, many mountain ranges, large lakes and rivers and the Pacific Ocean, and countless twisties. Roads that allow the rider to enjoy, curving, swaying, following the natural landscape, with the beautiful views ever present.

    The road, my thoughts, and hours of enjoyment – about 77 hours of riding in fact – and this phrase popped into my head: “tethered by trust”.

    When two bikes ride together tethered by trust, the riding is an experience like poetry, like a symphony, like a well-oiled machine. There is an unspoken language that is learned through experience that enables joy and safety, leading and sharing, and pure exhilaration.

    It reminded me of leadership in work and personal experiences. When common goals, experience to execute, and trust exists, words are often unnecessary. We know where we’re going, we have the right skills, and people trust me to both lead and pass the reins at the appropriate moments. Lead when I’m needed, pass the reins to others either for a break or allow them to grow, or to recognize areas of strength that I may not have.

    A Harley motorcycle, an open road, and a few hand signals that are universally known by experienced riders. And don’t forget the dropped-arm-low-key-wave when you see a fellow biker.

    Tethered by trust. Leadership indeed.

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  • Women in Tech – Job Change?


    Women in Tech…

    Have you ever been on vacation and pondered a job change? I have taken a vacation several times in my life to consider a job change, or a job offer, and also to take stock of what I want to do.

    I laughed as I saw this sign today and thought to myself, well that’s a different kind of job.

    So if you’re thinking of a job change and want something really different from a life in Tech – I can hook you up with an opportunity in Washington state. It’s not clear if the cottage is available for accommodations, but I bet you could negotiate!

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  • Thankful Tuesday – Space to Think

    My brain needs space to think.

    Sometimes that space is just a quiet room, or an uninterrupted moment with eyes closed, or a walk around the block.

    When I was young and something became too much – usually involving two siblings mad at each other – my Gram would say “go run around the house”. A wise women she was. The run around the house bought her time away from the quarrel, but also distracted us kids from whatever big issue was going on. (You took my cookie, stop looking at me, etc.)

    Space. It allows my brain to think, and reflect, and gain perspective.

    I am currently on a vacation like no other I have taken. 11 days of riding a motorcycle in Western Canada and the U.S. with a loose agenda and many miles to travel. One city to the next, mountains everywhere I look, rushing water, dried up rivers, glaciers melting, forests thriving and forests burned, different cultures everywhere we land for lunch and the night, … and space.

    I remember this quote from my school days and always loved it. Now I am feeling it…

    “Go West, young man, go West. There is health in the country, and room away from our crowds of idlers and imbeciles.” “That,” I said, “is very frank advice, but it is medicine easier given than taken. It is a wide country, but I do not know just where to go.” “It is all room away from the pavements. […]”

    — Josiah Bushnell Grinnell [9]

    I am fortunate and I believe I live a blessed life. A key part of enjoying that is also stepping out of it to reflect, and taking that time, and space to think. What better way to do that than to go west, young man, go west!

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  • Leadership Thoughts – A-maze?

    There was a horrific event in our city a few months ago involving a man who intentionally drove his van into a crowd with the intent to kill people.

    It is unusual for such violence where I live, and therefore shocking and overwhelming for everyone who was involved as well as all of us who feel we live in an environment safe from such acts.

    One of the responses was for the city to install concrete barriers around our main train station. This station is used by approximately 300,000 commuters on a daily basis and all of the people using the train for vacation and other travel.

    So, it’s extremely important for the station to be safe. These barriers would definitely hinder, and probably stop an event like the one I described from happening in front of this location.

    As I walked by this week, I thought of the leadership it took. To take action, to make that action swift, and to demonstrate to the city that people are a priority. And yet, my second thought was this…

    Now we are stuck with these hideous looking barriers. They created a maze, it’s not amazing. Hard to walk through, hindering people’s commute every morning and night. Yes, barriers are probably needed. Couldn’t we implement something that is more appealing, and still a barrier? For inspiration, the large pots with flowers some hotels installed around their perimeter come to mind. While they are beautiful, they still provide the barrier to cars and other vehicles.

    I thought then that true leadership takes action, and follow-through. I worry that whoever decided to put up the concrete barriers is off to the next priority. I’ll bet he/she doesn’t take a commuter train and may never actually drive by and consider the view these concrete slabs create.

    So I’ll remind myself, and maybe some of you, remember to take action, think about people, and follow-up. Check back in, see how your decisions are doing a few weeks later, and refine where necessary. It’s not too hard.

    Have a safe day, girl geek.

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  • Leadership Thoughts – Open Minded?

    Open minded – having a mind receptive to new ideas, arguments, etc; unprejudiced

    Most people think they are open minded. Receptive to new ideas, willing to take in new facts, able to change their thinking. And yet, we often talk to people who are like us and think like us and believe the things we believe. How often do we intentionally expose ourselves to different or new just for the experience of opening our mind to the possibility of changing our mind?

    I attended an exhibit of works by Banksy. I was invited by a contact of mine and accepted without really knowing anything about this mysterious artist. When I was invited, I even had to look up who Banksy was and what his (street) art was about. Knowing my daughter (a computer science and art history grad) would enjoy it, I accepted partly for the opportunity to spend time with her and make her happy.

    As I experienced the art, taking it all in with no judgement I found myself enjoying the experience and the art and the artist. I felt connected to him in some way – his strength of conviction and passion for making his statements in a way that is bold and humble, consistent and creative. This artist and I on the surface have nothing in common and yet he made me feel this connection through his paintings and his words.

    I accomplished my goals of spending time with my daughter and making her happy, and came away with so much more. A feeling that I got to know and understand the artist a bit and a feeling of my mind expanding.

    Well done Banksy, we’ll done.

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  • Women in Tech – Asking for Help?

    I’m a girl geek and proud of it. So I decided to buy an Electronic personal assistant.

    I embraced the palm pilot many years ago, wear a stylish Fitbit band, and loved my blackberry for many years. (Okay, many blackberries including 3 white models, many years, and long after the majority of the planet had given up their blackberry). The point is I enjoy personal technology devices and integrating them into my daily routines.

    It was natural then, for me to purchase the Amazon Echo device.

    I purchased it, set it up at home, played with it for a few hours, and then unplugged it.

    I felt like I didn’t get it. I had a way to execute on everything it could do in a different way. And I decided to give it more thought, but didn’t expect to embrace this technology. And I didn’t really want to ask anyone for help.

    Coincidentally, a few weeks later I was invited to a small event the President of Amazon Canada, Eric Gales, was hosting. I was conflicted. The event wasn’t to talk about the Echo (Alexa) device and I wanted to be respectful, but I felt like I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to talk about it. Serendipity of circumstance.

    As a CIO, there can be a reluctance to say publicly “I don’t get it.” There is a technology being embraced and I understand technology. I wanted to enjoy it, but couldn’t figure out the value for me or my family. Why use it, how to use it, when to use it? I read about the uses – the smart home devices, the skills – and yet I couldn’t ‘feel it’.

    After introductions and business talk, there was a moment I was standing alone with Eric. I took a breath, planned my question, and went for it. I told him I’d bought the device and couldn’t figure out how to embrace it.

    I expected Eric to give me a corporate answer on the value of the device and a high level sales pitch. Instead, he took out his phone and showed me his personal set up for the devices in his home. As he described the skills and patterns his family uses, and the nighttime routine both he and his daughter have set up (that are different and yet complementary), it came to life for me.

    Forget the technology for a minute. He was describing a family and their interactions and their habits and traditions. It was enlightening. It was educational. It was sweet.

    I thanked him for his time and committed to him, and myself, to give it another try.

    I did. I tried it and embraced it. I got the family involved. We now have multiple assistants, connected smart home devices, and we’ve created skills. But more importantly, we’ve enhanced our normal and silly family interactions with the technology.

    It’s not really about the technology after all. It’s about the people. Thanks Eric for the perspective and the reminder.

    I know this every day when I am working with technology in my job. I just forgot for a moment. So I encourage you to think about these personal assistants and wearable technologies in a different way. It’s not about turning up the heat, or locking the doors automatically, or turning on the light for your dogs if you are late getting home. While the devices can help with all of these scenarios, it’s really about interacting with your current and evolving family dynamics.

    Ask Alexa to tell you a joke. Check your commute while putting on your shoes. Say thank you to Alexa and have her respond. (One of the things that amuses my husband in a way I don’t fully comprehend.)

    And most of all, create or enhance your family traditions.

    Girl geek. A quick reminder – don’t ever be afraid to ask for help.

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  • Thankful Tuesday – My Peeps and an Anniversary

    Today is my one year anniversary at this exciting new job! I need to thank my peeps.

    peep. (plural only) (now slang) People; often especially (with personal pronoun), one’s friends or associates.

    It’s such a perfect word. Friends and associates. My peeps. I think of these people so often.

    The ones who are there every day for me. The ones who have been there just for a moment of coaching – supporting – inspiring – teaching – guiding. And the ones in between, who played a role for a period of time. Through a job on this path, or a stage in this life.

    I am blessed. I know that.

    I learned many years ago my identity is not my job, my title, my position of hierarchy. My identity is who I am inside. So it’s easy to look forward and see what I want, where I can grow, and who I want to hang with. My peeps.

    We collect all these souls along the way.

    The boss who taught me how to sell a strategy. The co-worker who said “I’ve always been a fan” at the exact moment I needed a boost. The colleague who said “you are in the best position to assess what you want and make it happen”. The friend who took on a role similar to the one I was considering and talked me through the challenges and the fun he was encountering. The CIO at another company who counseled me that I should look for a role where I could manage infrastructure. The team member who said “you just see things so logically and clearly and not everyone can do that”.

    The friends who always believe. The family members who always cheer me on.

    So many peeps. So many moments.

    All leading to a decision one year ago to jump. To take a risk. To accept this job. To switch companies, and teams, and industries. To start over where I didn’t know anyone.

    And one year later, it’s so fun. And hard. And rewarding. And I know SO MANY new people that I never would have met.

    I am blessed.

    And I got a present. Wrapped in a beautiful bow. From our CEO. How cool is that?

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  • Leadership Thoughts – Unity is Strength

    What a day it was today. From the morning sunrise – the warmth – the peace of the early day.

    To the sunset and beauty I felt as I drove home.

    My perspective was clear as I tackled the day and the sunshine was shining on me. I stopped to reflect – both before and after – and capture the sights that book-ended this day for me.

    Today was a day of challenge for my team. We presented our technology strategy to the CEO and the entire Executive Team. 2 hours, many statistics, and details of the journey we’ve been on over the past year with many accomplishments to highlight.

    We prepared for weeks. This was no normal meeting. This was a chance to demonstrate our leadership, show we are serious about running the business of technology, and also that we are working as a team. The presentation went well. We made our key points. The room was engaged in the conversation and there was some good-hearted teasing along the way.

    When we were done, I was happy. And excited for the future wins. And proud. How many people get the opportunity to build a team of experts? And know that you are all pulling together? And that each one of them has your back? Well, I have that opportunity now. I am in the right place, at the right time, with the right people. Watch out world – we’re on fire!

    “Unity is strength. . . when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” –Mattie Stepanek