Leadership (not political) problems, leadership lists, and Nena’s balloons

Hi leader,

What a week and month so far, eh?

It’s hard to stay focused on what I can influence or control when “What the $%X@&* is going on?!” is a common refrain with everyone I speak with.

No good transition is coming to mind right now, and so, here are thoughts I hope move you towards awesome leadership.

This week it’s about leadership lists, the 1980s, and things blue and gold.

(TL; DR: This month’s free workshop is about building your leadership brand. What do you convey to your team in your brand?)

It’s not a political problem. It’s a leadership problem.

Quick, real fast! What are 5 words and phrases you’d use to describe Volodymyr Zelenskyy? Don’t overthink it. Just list them.

Again: this is not political. It’s about leadership.

OK, great. Your next pressure-filled task is to repeat the same exercise for . . .

Vladimir Putin. (Come on–you had to know that he was next.)

I’m not going to write some blah blah deep thoughts about comparing your two lists and these two leaders.

I know you get it. (Otherwise, you wouldn’t be on this Awesome Leader journey with me, right?)

Eager to share your lists? I’m eager to read them.

Send me your lists, and 5 of you will win a copy of Davos Man: How the Billionaires Devoured the World by Peter S. Goodman (yes, I get the irony in using an Amazon link for that book) or the graphic novel Andre the Giant: Life and Legend by Brian “Box” Brown.

Am I made of money? No. Do I like giving away books? Yes.

Do I want you to start thinking about the words and phrases you’d use to describe the leaders around you? Yes.

And you should start with your own list first.

How would 5 people you work with you describe you? What would be the 5 words and phrases they’d list?

What comes to mind when they hear your voice, get an email from you, or see your face in a Zoom, or when you walk into a conference room?

I don’t think their lists would have anything in common with your Putin one.

Yet what they write might surprise you. You might be irked by the brand you convey when you come into their minds.

Want to learn more?

I’ll make this easy for you. Leadership brand is the topic for this month’s free workshop.

It’s March 17 at 8 am PT/11 am ET/16:00 GMT/19:00 EET (that’s Eastern European Time).

In one hour, you’ll learn:

  • The current and ideal states of your brand: how do people see you now and how you want them to see you,
  • The words and phrases that describe you and share how you contribute as a leader,
  • How to match projects, behaviors, and stakeholders with your developing brand,
  • And I have a list of leadership characteristics for you to use in the workshop.

Register now. I’d love to have you join me.

BTW, Zelenskyy is the same guy playing the Ukrainian president in this video from his former TV series and also the real president of Ukraine who received a standing ovation from the EU Parliament.

My 5 words and phrases for him are different from those I have scrawled for Putin.

I’ll give the final words (for now) on Zelenskyy to Adam Grant.

Come to the March workshop, and we’ll create your lists.

It’s the 1980s. Don’t worry. Be happy.

This past week makes me feel like I’m back in the 1980s.

The music was the best, leaded gas for my metallic rootbeer brown 1974 BMW 2002 was, like, only .99 cents a gallon, and, oh yeah, there was the threat of nuclear war.

I was listening to Nena singing about 99 red balloons.

Since I was a high school nerd, I was listening in German (here’s that music video–wow–too real for this week) because who else would take German as a foreign language in the 1980s except for the daughter of a German immigrant (like me).

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine seems to be the one topic that most everyone can get on board with. Even the Swiss feel comfortable expressing a non-neutral stance. Like, wow. (No offense to my Swiss friends and clients; you know I love you, your mountains, and your chocolate.)

I’m an executive coach. I live and breathe helping leaders and their teams improve. Get to rockstar (maybe not ’80s rockstar) status.

Bringing Russia’s actions up in this newsletter is not a political thing. It’s a leadership one.

Decide what it means to be a leader (read above again–as a start) and then hold other leaders accountable. Again, even the neutral Swiss are doing it.

Did I get you down? Need some happiness?

The free monthly Happiness Calendar comes to you from the Greater Good Science Center at U.C. Berkeley (Go Bears! And, ahem, their colors are blue and gold).

Want the other side of a happiness calendar? Check out one of my favorite books: The Happiness Trap by Dr. Russ Harris.

Wait, is there blue and yellow on that site? Well, gosh, darn it. Coincidence.

Book summary: humans weren’t built to be happy all the time, and there’s a lot of value in recognizing and understanding the lows. It’s a great book with practical exercises. I often drag my CEOs & CFOs through the book, and they thank me afterward (usually two chapters in).

I wish I hand a magic wand. To fix the “leaders” who are pulling us away from common goals. OK, off my coaching soapbox.

Lead with ease and talk to you next week,


PS You can book a meeting with me when you want to learn how to bring 15-minute leadership lessons to your company and team.