Thursday, January 23, 2014

Leaders Without Masks

"Jim Gordon: I never cared who you were.

Batman: And you were right.

Jim Gordon: Shouldn't the people know the hero who saved them?

Batman: A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a young boy's shoulders, to let him know the world hadn't ended."

We are all superheroes in disguise. Well, that is if we choose to be. We practice empathy and care for someone in need. We demonstrate respect and humility to let those voice their concerns in their heart. And we do it all without the mask. 

Ironically enough though, my peer who I'll call Kay, prepped the agenda for our monthly meeting and requested that we dress up as our favorite superhero. 

Corny at best it's definitely a way to 'bring fun back into work.' So today, I woke up on a good note. Not to an alarm but to a surprisingly refreshed mind that said "Get up Tima; the world is waiting for your innovations." 

I got dressed in probably my most comfy outfit as if I were going to a 7AM lecture at ASU and not work. 

Long gray shirt with quarter sleeves that fell off the shoulder on one side and not the other. Leggings that are so thick in material, they would not be suitable for yoga so maybe suitable for public. And my high fuscia boots. 

I stopped at Matador coffee where I finally saw a familiar face who I remember since 2009 when they first opened their shop. Hadn't seen him in two years, our smiles lit up the coffee shop as he made my iced bullseye. 

Fast forward to my drive to work, listening to frank Sinatra hoping for a great day regardless how big the pile on my desk is- I'm about to get off the freeway and realize 'ahh, I didn't bring a cape!' I laughed at myself and smiled at the fact that we have someone like Kay in our organization who's trying to help with engagement and culture. 

The day was bumpy from the beginning. Meeting after meeting on items I didn't agree with, I kept quiet and reminded myself to breathe. 

Then following lunch, I spent almost three hours in a conference room mapping out the next best system for our organization's success. 

Kay myself and a few other people were working on different continuous improvement efforts. Three-twenty came along and Kay excused herself to go take care of something. 

Sitting now with only one of my peers, we conversed on the system and chatted on other items. Then my phone rang and Kay needed me. 

I packed up my stuff and dashed across the parking lot. Left my stuff at my desk only to grab my keys. 

Within 10 mins of her call, I was able to pick her up safely. 

After resolving some things, we drove back to work to drop off the food that Kay went to get for the monthly meeting. 

I walked in late knowing that I had good reason for being late. When I finally had a grasp on where I was, I sat down, thankfully across two smiling, reassuring faces. The meeting continued. 

Being that it was a monthly staff meeting with a room full of managers and leaders (and I say that for a reason) things got heated. I was frustrated. I was confused. I felt unheard and disrespected. So I kept quiet the rest of the meeting and took minutes to follow up on issues at a later time. 

I safely made it home and went straight to my room. 

"Need to relax and remember to breath" I told myself, as cliche as it was. 

When I finally started feeling better and relaxed enough to go to sleep, my mom came into my room and hands me the phone without warning only to hear my friend crying on the other end. 

She hung up on me to put her baby to sleep. So I waited patiently for 20 minutes or so, then contacted her. I didn't know what was wrong. I didn't know why she was crying but I told her I'm hear to listen. Listen to her cry or listen to her breath or listen to her brag about the amazing 77 degree January weather we had today. 

Without hesitation she opened up to me but interestingly enough without saying any details. I listened. And started to feel what she felt. Then after about and hour and half, she was smiling again and relaxed enough to get some rest. 

Although this is a long story, the point is by being a good person, you can be there for those around you. 

You can rescue them when they're stranded on the side of the road. 

You can redeem them of their tears and let them breath in the process. 

You can be their superhero and all you needed was your bucket of good friendship traits-

Listener; respecter; empathizer; caregiver; teacher; motivator. 

Sounds a lot like a good leader too.   

Friday, January 10, 2014

Letting The Clock Dial Turn

"Today's generation want it now." A common phrase expressed by everyone. Now I could probably take the time to research about the statistics behind this and how it's probably contributed to video games, touch phones and other smart technology. But what I really want to share are the consequences. 

Where will this behavior land us?  

For the most part we'll keep getting a new project, a new desk, a new team and so forth. In my 'Create Your 2014' post, I spoke about what steps I took last spring to be in the position I am today. Although they were objective and strategic steps, there were soft skills that landed me the respect I needed. 

The best part about so-called 'millennials' is the short attention span and go-getter behavior. We're very adaptive to change and even thrive off of it. However, there are a few traits we can learn from our predecessors and patience is number one. 

Although I agree with a saying I recently read- "good things don't come for those who wait for it; good things come to those who work for it," I've learned that patience has sculpted my leadership style. 

My co-worker always tells me: 

"Teach the change. Give them the tools to make the change. When the dial goes from 12 to 1, applaud the change. Then teach the next change to go from 1 to 2." 

So I'll be 30 by the time we get through the entire life cycle of a clock?! 

But the message here is how we must embrace the moment and the little wins we achieve to keep the engagement and the motivation, especially if your team consists of those two to three times your age. 

The other trait I want to bring up again and again, is humility. We don't know it all. We may be more technical. We may be faster. We may be more alert on everything that's happening through twitter and Facebook and google+. 

But if we stop and ask more questions then giving answers, we'll develop even more rapidly and have a team of followers behind us. 

Arrogance gets you nowhere. And if you're standing in a meeting with a bunch of senior leaders, don't jump to the conclusion that you know what they're referring to. There is always a piece of information you don't have that someone else can provide to you and speaking up on a topic prematurely will just deplete your credibility bucket. 

So our generation must learn to push on the brakes when there are other cars around us on the street.

Of course, when we're on highway I-10 halfway between Phoenix and LA, just step on it. You know where you're going. You know how to get there. Go and get it. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Create Your 2014

Another year has passed us by. 

Five year old little boy becomes a superhero for a day when San Francisco turns into Gotham City courtesy of Make-A-Wish; Albert Einstein school of medicine in New York gets one step closer to a cure for HIV and the minions stole our hearts yet again being the top third grossing film of the year in Despicable Me 2. 

For Medtronic, we had the privilege of working on and releasing two new devices. One being an injectable heart monitor that will allow doctors to monitor potential pacemaker candidates without invasive surgery ( Reveal LinQ.) 
But 2013 had its challenges as well. Loved ones passed from health reasons or Boston marathon attack or massive tornados in Oklahoma City. We dealt with the government shutdown and more recently a credit card security breach at Target during the holidays. 

So the clock strikes midnight; the ball drops in Times Square and we wonder what the new year has in store for us. We're hoping it'll get better. How about we tell the new year how it's going to be? This time last year I was a semester away from finishing my masters and hopeful of a role change. It happened. It happened because I worked for it. I spent my weekends in the library. I spent my one-on-ones with my manager discussing my next step and reviewing deliverables to get me there. 

Why not take a few minutes and map out your year?

First, write out the key highlights and challenges of 2013. We gain motivation from the achievements and happy moments. And there are numerous lessons  in our not so bright times that we can learn from. 

Next, write out your 2015 self. On January 1, 2015: who do you look like? What role do you carry? What certificate or degree do you now hold? By setting key goals, you're able to now create the future. It won't go as planned of course but with the objectives down on paper, you'll be closer to your end result than your current self. 

Finally, map out your steps. Seek help. Find a mentor or call that friend who you never liked to seek advice from but always tried. Creating your roadmap gives you a clear picture of the path and the speed bumps you may encounter. 

Of course we cannot control how the house votes or what natural disasters stir up but let's own what we can control. 

Laugh at the obstacles and you'll walk right over them.

Be kind to others and you'll never feel alone. 

Keep your head up and you'll reach the trophy. 

Don't just say it'll be different but take action to make it happen. Remember- it's only 365 days. We can do this. 

Happy new year. 

(Picture found at: )