Tag Archives: Leadership

Authenticity and Vulnerability Build Stronger Brands, Teams

When we think of leadership, vulnerability is the last leg of a stool you might expect to support teams. However, when speaking to three leaders across the communications industry, vulnerability seemed to be the secret ingredient to foster strong leadership and quality customer service.

Dr. Bill Withers, a professor in the Department of Journalism and Communication at Wartburg College in Waverly, IA., has studied, consulted and written about Quality Customer Service (QCS) for more than a decade. His blog, Faith. Lead. Serve., explores leadership topics about faith groups and large corporations. Having worked with four- and five-star organizations, Withers says, “Those organizations and their people all have a fundamental understanding of ‘excellence.’ They hire and train people with high EQs, not to meet – but exceed expectations, and they want every encounter to be an experience.”

A culture in which employees feel empowered to exceed expectations takes creative leadership. For some teams, that means a platform for expression. Not just creative expression, but a safe place for team members to be authentic. Erica Hanna, an Emmy award-winning producer and founder at Puke Rainbows Creative in Minneapolis, MN, and Kristin Darga, author and founder at Impact Founder, are two leaders in the creative community who serve that need. Hanna and Darga practice what they preach – authenticity and vulnerability.

Our Discussion on Creative Leadership

Darga created Impact Founder, an outlet and eventually a book where entrepreneurs could have raw conversations about what running and starting a business was really like. Darga said, “As a business owner, I can’t deny the direct correlation between my health, happiness, creativity and the growth of my business.”  Impact Founder became a platform where founders could connect and share stories of their personal success and failure.

Hanna grew in popularity across the Minneapolis and national blogging scene after openly and honestly expressing her thoughts on a variety of topics from human rights to mental health. As a director, producer and editor, Hanna’s work is an expression of her own authenticity. “Saying it and actually doing it are two completely different things,” she said. “Showing that struggle and transparency sometimes is exactly what the consumer needs.”

Three Takeaways

  1. Create a culture of excellence: Organizations known for Quality Customer Service create a culture of excellence.
  1. Speak up and share: Empowering teams and providing a safe platform for authentic conversations can help those who are having creative ups and downs. Team members who open up to others are often perceived as leaders.
  1. Embrace vulnerability and authenticity: In an era of overwhelming content, brands need to become comfortable with sharing authentic stories so they can stand out in the crowd.

Leadership and Other Lessons Learned from a Wise Woman

Dinner With Mary HoaglandEvery once in a while, if we’re lucky, we meet truly inspiring people that leave us in awe. Mary Hoagland, is one of those people.

As a group of us recently had dinner with her earlier this week, she had a lot of wisdom to share about her 92 years in this world. As we’re inundated with sensational stories in the media and on social media, it’s refreshing to hear from someone who is so accomplished, yet humble, and happy to live in the moment.

After graduating from Smith College in 1946, then marrying and raising four children, at the age of 48, she decided she wanted to go to law school. Her husband was a successful attorney in Denver, so why couldn’t she become one? After being turned down twice from the University of Denver School of Law because of her age, on her third attempt she showed up with her tuition check in hand and told them: “You’re a business, and you need my money.” They finally relented and admitted her in 1972. She graduated and went on to run her own family law practice for 16 years, which included representing women in serious, often dangerous, family situations.

Read more after the jump…

CenterTable @ SXSW 2017: Friday Sessions

Noor Tagouri speaking at SXSWi 2017

Noor Tagouri speaking at SXSWi 2017

The buzz and anxiety of the first sessions at South by Southwest (SXSW) are palpable. And its easy to see some of the broader themes of SXSW 2017 rise to the surface: leadership in times of adversity, using the technologies we have at our fingertips to solve everyday problems and the rise of chatbots were some of the front runners. Here are our highlights from Friday at SXSW: Read more after the jump…

Sometimes you have to slow down — and other lessons learned on sabbatical

Practicing yoga at Villa Gumonca on the island of Brac.

Practicing yoga at Villa Gumonca on the island of Brac.

I’ve just had the opportunity to take advantage of GFM’s generous sabbatical policy… After 10 years, employees are encouraged to take one month off to “undertake activities that promote individual rejuvenation and personal benefit.”

I did so by participating in a yoga retreat in Croatia with six Brits and a Norwegian I’d never met before, taking a two-week vacation in Croatia and Italy with my boyfriend, and then spending a week re-acclimating and getting organized at home in Denver. It was an absolutely wonderful experience and as I sat at lunch savoring my last few days off, I jotted down some of the lessons I learned that may prove helpful should you ever find yourself in the position of enjoying a month off.

1. Modifying isn’t cheating
As a former gymnast (AKA perfectionist) I feel the need to be able to bend forward and touch the ground with hands flat and legs straight when I’m practicing yoga. Thanks to a hamstring issue, I’m not currently able to, which has been driving me crazy. On this yoga retreat, our instructor encouraged me to bend my knees deeply in forward bend. Doing so not only enabled me to put my hands flat on the ground without pain, it also produced an amazing stretch that felt great. My preconceived notions of what “success” looked like in that pose and the expectations known only to me (no one else was watching to make sure I kept my legs straight) had been holding me back from true success.

Read more after the jump…

Five Lessons In Effective Leadership

indexGroundFloor Media’s President Ramonna Robinson was featured in a recent blog post from the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce on the 5 lessons that can make you a more effective leader. The story contains some great, actionable tips that anyone can implement.

For GroundFloor Media President Ramonna Robinson, learning about leadership was just the first step. The Leadership Foundation also connected her with people she may not have otherwise.

“In business—and even in my personal life—I find it extremely beneficial to surround myself with individuals who bring a variety of perspectives to the table,” she said. “Whether I need to think of a solution from a different perspective or come up with a new idea from an industry I’m not familiar with, my Leadership Denver classmates and Leadership Exchange colleagues are only a phone call away and always provide unique and interesting perspectives that broaden my horizons and help me think of things in new ways.”