Interview on The Nikki Clarke Show

On August 17th, I am being interviewed by the amazing Nikki Clarke on the Nikki Clarke Show. I'm sure we'll discuss some exciting topics like issues of the day, coaching, public speaking, volunteerism, women's empowerment and the list could go on! The Nikki Clarke Network was founded by Nikki Clarke in May 2014. The network is a 24 hour inspirational online tv network. The network offers unique programming with informative and entertaining segments in the areas of business, lifestyle, health, wellness, beauty, music and food among many topics.
The show also airs on Rogers Channels 672/673 and Bell Fibe Channels 559/560.

The interview is going to be awesome!

7 Tips to Have an Effective Mentoring Relationship

Being a mentor is a very rewarding experience when you help someone (the mentee) develop or enhance their skills in a specific area. Having been a mentor (and coach) to numerous people throughout my life, I can attest first hand to the happiness that you feel when you contribute to someone's personal growth and development. Coaching is a different type of relationship and in a future post, I will discuss the difference between mentoring and coaching. When entering into a mentoring relationship you should have clear expectations whether you are the mentor or the mentee. Here are 7 tips to help ensure that you have a successful mentoring relationship. They are:

1. Before entering into a mentoring relationship, perform a self-assessment in terms of your individual strengths and weaknesses in order to help you maximize the relationship.

2. If you are the mentee, determine your individual goals and objectives before beginning to formally meet with your mentor.

3. Determine how much time you can commit to the mentoring relationship i.e. three face to face meetings in a six month period and three phone calls. Stick to that schedule.

4. When meetings are scheduled, come prepared with specific agenda items to discuss and keep notes of what transpired during the meeting. Keeping notes can help you to track your progress towards your goals.

5. At each meeting, review the progress/status of your goals that you initially established if you are the mentee to determine how much progress you've made. Keeping track helps you to determine what further actions are required.

6. Throughout the mentoring relationship keep a “success journal.” Keep track of the success that you are making as you progress towards your goals.

7. At the end of the mentorship period, review your overall progress towards the goals that you set at the beginning of the relationship. Once the formal mentoring relationship ends, ideally both the mentor and the mentee should give each other feedback. By delivering feedback to each other, you can determine the overall success of goals achieved. In recognition of both of your efforts celebrate the achievement of the goals and the success that you both have achieved.

It is important to have clearly defined goals at the beginning of a mentoring relationship, work on achieving those goals and chart progress towards those goals. Being a mentor can be a very satisfying way that you contribute to someone's life.

Please comment and share if you received value from these useful tips.

Leadership Lessons from Leadership Expert John C. Maxwell

“Leadership is a verb not a noun.” John C. Maxwell

John Maxwell is a leadership guru who has written numerous New York Times best-selling books on the topics of leadership and personal development. For well over four decades, he has written on the topic of leadership in addition to coaching leaders and consulting with companies and organizations. I recently had the opportunity to meet John Maxwell in person and other outstanding Thought Leaders at the Change Leadership Conference in Toronto. Maxwell delivered a humorous and enlightening keynote on leadership in today’s environment.

While there were numerous insights I gleaned from his talk, one of the key insights that stood out right from the start is that according to Maxwell, “leadership is a verb not a noun.” What this means is that leadership is the act of doing, it’s not a static entity. My opinion is there are people who are great managers (they know the functional and technical aspects of their job) yet they need to grow into being a leader. Maxwell described leadership as a process, which I understood to mean that over time it is possible to grow into a high level of leadership capacity. I think for many of us this is a relief to know as the term “leaders are born and not made,” is often used when describing an outstanding leader. Describing leadership as a process means that no matter where someone is at in their leadership journey, developing the skills to be an excellent leader can be developed with the right mentoring, coaching and tools.

A good metaphor that I liked that Maxwell used was the concept of the “leadership lid.” An organization and its employee or team members can only develop or grow as high as the leadership lid of its leaders. For example, say there was a scale of one to five and the top leader was operating at a level one. The employees and the organization as a whole would not be able to move past the level one leadership lid. If employees are capable of moving past level one, they will not stay in that organization over the long term because they will feel they are stagnating in their roles. Also, the organization as a whole will suffer and stagnant. If the top leader or leadership team is operating at a high level, everyone in the organization benefits and is elevated to that level, including the organization as a whole.

The majority of Maxwell’s presentation focused on the five levels of leadership described in his book, The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential. In his talk and in the book, he describes each of the levels of leadership. Level five leadership is the highest a leader can aspire to in their leadership journey. For more specific info about the various levels of leadership, read the book. In a nutshell, here is what I took away from his talk about the five levels of leadership.

Level One Leaders
Level one leaders have authority by virtue of their position and title. People follow these leaders because of their title and it takes minimal effort to convince people to follow level one leaders. In other words, people follow directions because their leader is the boss. If you are an employee and you want to stay employed, following the directions of your boss keeps you employed. Unfortunately, level one leadership (i.e. leadership by title) is the level of leadership that prevails in many companies and organizations. The leaders who have the authority to lead are not necessarily the most visionary leaders in an organization. Sometimes through tenure or seniority, some people have the authority to lead simply because of their title and position, not necessarily because they are a good leader.

Level Two Leaders
Level two leaders start to build relationships. According to Maxwell, there are various questions that followers at this level ask of their leaders. These questions can include: 1) do they like me? 2) can you help me and 3) can I trust you? In other words, as my leader will you manipulate me or help to motivate me to achieve goals? Leaders who start to gain the trust of their followers beyond their title, start to build trust in their followers and enhance their relationships. Level two leaders listen and ask questions. Their followers see that these leaders are open to building relationships. These leaders listen, learn and lead.

Level Three Leaders
Level three leaders are leaders who start to have the moral authority to lead. In other words, people don’t follow level three leaders just because of their title and position. They follow these leaders because they have been successful and they have a track record of successful leadership. Level three leaders are now teaching others what they know and are sharing their knowledge with their followers.

Level Four Leaders
Level four leaders start to gain momentum when it comes to leadership. Level four leaders start to really empower their followers. These leaders gain momentum because they have built upon the other levels of leadership. At this level, leaders have the formal title and position. As leaders, they are listening to their followers and incorporating the learnings into their leadership style. Level four leaders have a successful track record of leading others through their moral authority of listening and learning. And they also share their knowledge to empower others. Level four leaders want to equip and empower their followers so that their followers can start to be leaders in their own right.

Level Five Leaders
Level five leadership is the pinnacle of the leadership levels. Level five leaders have successfully gone through the various levels of leadership. People follow them because of who they are. They lead by example. Level five leaders want their followers to become successful, independent leaders who will empower other people. In other words, according to Maxwell, the person you equipped is equipping others. In the John Maxwell organization, they only invest in people who invest in others.

I thought the five levels of leadership scale is an excellent barometer to test where people are at in terms of their leadership journey, style and impact.

Another key point that really stood out for me from John Maxwell’s talk was his perspective on consistency. Maxwell revealed that he has been asked numerous times over the years, what is the key to his success. According to him, the key determinant of his success was consistency over 45 plus years of doing his leadership work. For me, it was a brilliant insight when he said, “Consistency Compounds.” Think about some of the less than stellar results you may have achieved or not achieved in your life. What were some the contributing factors? I’m sure lack of consistency played a factor in some shape or form. Let me leave you some questions to ask yourself to help you gain insight on your success journey.

1.If leadership can be described as a process. What steps are you taking to enhance your leadership skills to assist the process?
2.Where are you in terms of the five levels of leadership and how can you improve?
3.What would happen to your life if you made consistency a dominant factor? Stay tuned in the next few weeks. I will be writing a major blog post on the topic of consistency!

I always love hearing from my readers, share your thoughts on any of the above.

Three Ways to Play a Bigger Game in Life!

Rick Tamlyn is an international coach, speaker and author of Play Your Bigger Game. In the book and in his speeches and workshops, he helps people live more meaningful and purposeful lives by elevating the way they play their game. The game being a metaphor for life. I attended one of his introductory workshops and here are some key takeaways that I learned about how to play a bigger game in life. They are:

1. Be laser focused when it comes to your priorities. The world was here before you or I were born and there is a good chance it will be here long after we have departed the mortal coil. Meaning that if you set out with the goal to change the world, you’re going to be frustrated. With all the issues in the world it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Does that mean that you don’t fight the good fight for causes you believe in or against injustices that exist in the world. Of course not. You continue to advocate for issues that you believe in and rail against injustices. To deal with the overwhelm when you want to make a difference, pick an area or areas where you can make the largest impact for the most amount of people and focus in on those areas. Each human being only has so much time and energy and being laser focused helps you to achieve your highest priorities. Being laser focused on your priorities means that you know how you want to contribute and the type of impact or legacy that you want to leave. Look at how you can positively impact your sphere of influence with the causes you believe in. Sometimes you don’t need to go far, you can start with your family, your work or your neighbourhood.

2. Have a vision and be committed to it. Often in life people lack the confidence to start working on a goal or project. They believe they can’t finish a project or reach a goal, so they don’t bother starting. Even if you don’t have everything figured out when starting out on a goal, your level of commitment can help you achieve that goal. Rick Tamlyn says that “the antidote to lack of confidence is being committed.” When you know your values and have a vision for your life, it is easier to commit to a goal even if all the details aren’t worked out. For example, if getting healthy was a matter of life or death for you, your commitment to being healthy and living would make you figure out the details. Knowing your values and having a vision for your life can help you with being committed to a goal. When you have a life vision , it’s very easy to commit to priorities that fit within that vision and say no to things that don’t.

3. Play (live) outside of your comfort zone. Rick Tamlyn says that, “Playing a bigger game will design who I become.” If you are continuously “playing it safe” and not learning or growing, you will find your life becoming stagnant. When you don’t set new goals or aim for new achievements, it’s challenging for new opportunities, people and things to come into your life. Stepping outside of your comfort zone may mean setting a new vision for your life where you have to let go of people, places, things as well as things about yourself that don’t fit into your new life vision. We are creative beings. At any time we can choose who we are and who we want to be. We are not limited by our past, family, or societal programming and conditioning. While it does take work to bring your vision or goals to fruition, it is worth the time and effort required. When you learn to play outside your comfort zone while using your gifts and talents to serve others, life is enjoyable and you learn to live your life purpose. So have fun, take those calculated risks, learn something new, reach out to someone and love with an open heart.

Here’s to playing Your Bigger Game!

Six Tips To Help You When You Are a Panelist

Recently, I was invited to be part of a panel on women and entrepreneurship at an entrepreneurship expo at the Ontario Science Centre. I was part of a panel that included a moderator and two other panelists. The moderator was Katherine Roos, Executive Director – Imagination Catalyst at OCAD University. The two panelists were: Dr. Diana Kraskouskaya, CEO of Dalriada Therapeutics and Chakameh Shafii, CEO and Co-Founder of TranQool. It was a wonderful experience. The moderator asked questions to the panelists for about 40 minutes. Afterwards, there was a question and answer period with audience members.

If you have the opportunity to participate as part of a panel, I highly recommend it. Here are six tips that can help you navigate the opportunity when you are invited to be a panelist. They are:

1. Panel Fit. Before you accept the invitation to be part of a panel, determine if it’s a good fit for you. There are a variety of reasons why you could be asked to be on a panel. You could be invited based on: your expertise, your professional experience, your education, your network, or your profile and platform. Before you accept the invitation, decide if being a panelist is a good fit for you. Take into consideration your professional experience and the value that you would add to the panel. When I accepted the invitation to participate, I decided that it was a good fit. The other two panelists were CEOs and based on my experience as a “solopreneur” in the coaching and consulting areas, I could give a unique perspective. Being on the panel was also in alignment with my commitment to women’s issues, including economic empowerment.

2. Conduct Your Research. In order to prepare properly, conduct research into the following: the organization hosting the panel, the topic under consideration, the moderator and the other panelists. Doing your research in advance will help you to speak credibly to the topic that will be discussed. I conducted research into all the above and it served me well on the panel.

3. Questions from the Moderator. If possible try to obtain some examples of the questions that the moderator might ask in advance of the panel and prepare accordingly. If you are unable to obtain some of the questions in advance, prepare a few sample questions and practice with them. I anticipated what some of the questions might be and some of those questions were asked.

4. Share Personal Stories. You were asked to be part of a panel because of your expertise and professional background. The audience members want to learn about your journey. Be prepared to share relevant, personal stories that highlight your area of expertise. One area where I got personal was when the moderator asked me who my mentor was. I mentioned my mother who taught me the tenacity, courage, perseverance, empathy and compassion that I need to succeed in business and in life.

5. Questions from the Audience. Similar to preparing for the moderator’s questions, anticipate some questions that might come from the audience. When the questions are asked, answer to the best of your ability. I brainstormed a few potential questions in advance and some of them were asked by audience members.

6. Connect with Your Host. Before the date of the panel, ensure that you have communicated with your host well in advance. Have at least one phone call with your host in addition to email communication to determine the event expectations and the venue location/time. If he or she doesn’t do so automatically, ask to be connected with the panel moderator to touch base. On the date of the event, arrive early, connect with the host and make sure that you know where the panel meeting room location is. After the event, thank the host for the wonderful opportunity.

While you may not have participated on a panel (yet), these tips will help you navigate that opportunity smoothly. When opportunity knocks, preparation will enable you to open the door with full confidence!

The Art of Empowerment: Practice Compassion

The world needs more compassion. A bold statement indeed, yet I'm sure that many of you would agree with that statement. Empathy is the ability to feel what another person is feeling and compassion takes it one step further through action to help alleviate suffering. When I was a child, my first major lesson involving compassion occurred when two homeless teenage girls came to live with my family.

To complicate the situation, one of the teens was pregnant. It was my mother who encountered the teens and had learned about their plight. She invited them for dinner and through circumstances they ended up living with my family for well over a month. They stayed with my family until they could get permanent help. They teens eventually with my mother’s help found an apartment and the pregnant girl had a beautiful healthy baby.

I believe that having that experience early in my life permeated my consciousness and left a deep imprint. It informed some of the volunteer work that I do as I believe that it’s important to give back to the community. The experience helped me to realize even at a young age that on some level, call it the spiritual level, we are all connected. If we’re connected, then it makes sense to reach out to our fellow human beings in times of need.

We can perform compassionate acts, yet compassion really is a practice. Just as we can have an exercise routine or a meditation practice, the same applies to compassion. The more that we exercise our “compassion muscle,” the easier it will be for us to be compassionate. I believe that compassion can teach us several life lessons. The first one is that compassion involves a willingness to be open to see pain or suffering in our midst. Helping someone may not be as dramatic as helping two homeless teens get off the street. It could be in our homes, workplaces or among our circle of friends where compassion is needed. It is easy to get insular and not be concerned about people who may be going through a difficult time.

Another lesson that compassion teaches us is to be nonjudgmental with the people that we are reaching out to or trying to help. When we act compassionately we do the best that we can in the situation and then as much as possible detach from the outcome. Lastly, being compassionate teaches us to operate from our hearts and not the rational mind. You may encounter a situation where it does not seem rational to act yet your heart is compelling you to move in that direction. I invite you to look for those moments in your life where you can be compassionate because you never know the life changing impact that you can have in another person’s life.

As published in Sibyl Magazine: For the Spirit and Soul of a Woman (October 2016 issue)

The Art of Empowerment: Be Audacious!

Say it out loud the word audacity! It feels good, doesn’t it? The general definition of audacity is boldness. I would say that is it boldness taken up a notch. Are you an audacious person? Do you have the audacity to be seen, to be heard, for who you truly are? Can you own your brilliance? In other words, can you embody that boldness that is required to start a business? Or be vulnerable? Or to step outside of your comfort zone to speak in front of an audience to demonstrate your talents and expertise.

People are scared of stepping outside of their comfort zone and trying something new. They are fearful of being ridiculed or of being judged. Public speaking and communicating effectively are essential skills you will need to learn in order to get your message out into the world. If you don’t learn to be audacious, you’ll miss out on many of life’s opportunities.

In life, I believe in being respectful and treating people with dignity. Sometimes in life though being a little edgy in a good way can help you move towards your goals. If the circumstances in your life have prevented you from pursuing your goals or you feel stuck perhaps it is time to bring boldness or audacity back into your life. Many of us are people pleasers who look to others to approve of the choices and the decisions that we make in our lives. If you want to live a life that you truly love realize that it is only you who needs to approve of the decisions and the choices in your life. We conform by seeking approval because we want to be accepted. Learn to accept and approve of yourself. You don’t need anyone to determine your worth. You were made by the Divine. Breaking the bonds of conformity and being truly who you are requires audacity. You are being audacious when you stand in your authentic truth.

Be audacious and commit to owning your power. Owning your power means taking the full responsibility for the choices and results in your life. Conformity is not your friend. When you listen to Divine Guidance you will know what steps to take to make the life of your dreams come true. Listening to Divine Guidance will allow you to be that audacious person who stands fully in your power. When you are audacious enough to fully own your power, you know that you have the power of choice to make your goals and dreams come true. Know that you are worthy to pursue your dreams. In other words, it’s time to start owning your brilliance and the value that you bring to the world. Be audacious and let the love and gifts you bring to the world shine in all their glory!

As published in Sibyl Magazine: For the Spirit and Soul of a Woman (July 2016 issue)

The Art of Empowerment: Honor Your Journey

One of the most beautiful gifts that we have as human beings is the power of choice. We can make choices that can alter the trajectory of our lives. Regardless of what stage you are at in life, realize that you do have the power of choice. Even if you have been wearing the proverbial mask and hiding who you truly are, realize that you are never “stuck” in your life. A situation may have persisted in your life for a long time, yet one day you make the choice that it’s time for a major change. When you make the choice, this time, it’s different. You not only set the intention, you develop a plan and take the action steps required to move towards your goal in a focused way.

You are now willing to take risks to achieve your dreams. You are not concerned about what other people say or who approves or disapproves of you. In other words, you have finally owned your power as a woman. Owning your power as a woman means that you fully embrace your gifts and your talents with no apologies. It also means that you have the maturity and the wisdom to deal with your choices and consequences come what may.

Owning your power means taking full stock of your life. It means having a vision and assessing where you are now and ultimately where you want to be. And more importantly, who you want to be. If there is a major gap in the vision that you have for your life, now is the time to get truly focused on your highest priorities and bring them to fruition.

At the same time, while working towards your dreams, honor your life’s journey so far. Many people belittle their lives because they have not had from their perspective any major accomplishments according to “society’s standards.|” As a woman, honor the totality of your life’s journey and your accomplishments! Honor them all in the various family and social roles that you play in life.

A woman who owns her power takes credit in a humble way and stops comparing herself to other people. She knows that her life’s journey is unique. The way you love, your joy, your gifts, your talents, your relationships and how you relate to the world are uniquely yours. Similarly, your pain, your struggles, your challenges, and your wounds have all played a role for you to become the strong and capable woman that you are now.

You have so many gifts and talents that the world needs. God, the Divine, the Christ Consciousness, Source; however, you define the universal power has put you on this earth for a reason. Honor your life’s journey as that is how the Divine envisioned you fulfilling your destiny.

As published in Sibyl Magazine: For the Spirit and Soul of a Woman (February 2016)

Selected as Keynote Speaker for Club Officers Appreciation Brunch on March 6, 2016

I am pleased to announce that I will be the Keynote Speaker for the District 60 Club Officers Appreciation Brunch on March 6, 2016 at the Metropolitan Centre in Toronto.

Date: October 21, 2015—October 21, 2015
Time: 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Event: Guest Speaker at Liberty Village Toastmasters Event
Venue: Liberty Village Toastmasters
Location: 627 Queens Quay West
Toronto
Public: Public