Rethinking The Normal

Have you seen the “It Was Never a Dress” advertising campaign?

This campaign was developed for women in tech conferences. Axosoft who created the video, produces project management software but the campaign takes an iconic image and reminds us that sexual stereotypes are everywhere. It is a minute of pure inspiration where you may not have even considered a thought. I love how they rethought a normal, ubiquitous image to make it cool. 

CLICK HERE to read the article about this campaign in Ad Age Magazine. 

In the meantime, what other ubiquitous images, phrases, or sounds do we tolerate without thinking? And how can we creatively turn them on their heel? Let me know what you think when you see this one, and let me know if you have any other pet peeves we can collectively address (no pun intended).

PS: Axosoft is a “flat” organization and does not have any managerial titles. Double bravo, Axosoft.

Posted in Marketing and Technology

I Have Give Back Shame

shame(As originally posted on Switch and Shift)

I feel a tremendous social pressure to be inspired by and motivated to “give back.” And yet, over the years, that is not my operative state. I don’t belong to any community service groups. I haven’t joined any causes. And while I know I “should”, I haven’t gone to the river to pick up trash. Thus, the private shame. There must be something wrong with me.

In the world of business, giving back is the spine of social entrepreneurialism. While I am a champion of building values and real to life, positive principles into business, the compunction to be a social entrepreneur, to give back, whether or not I’ve gained, feels forced.

Even the gratitude movement gives me pause. I can be grateful for what I have, who I know, and what I do…. I am grateful for the birds and the bees and the trees. But do I need to be ashamed if I don’t have a gratitude “practice”?

Gratitude and giving back are often connected. I can’t figure out if this shame is a New Age, California, pseudo-Buddhist, religious dogma, or possibly a provincial, Christian religious doctrine. I wonder, am I logical or cynical?

Recently I began reading Adam Grant’s book Give and Take. If you haven’t read it, add it to your must list. Grant, a social economist, divides people into Givers, Takers and Matchers and then dissects the levels of success each statistically create in their life and how they do it. It’s an awesome study. But here’s the rub, I don’t know what I am. As he describes and tells stories of people in each group, I identify with them all. Dang!

I don’t think that anyone can read this book without wanting to be a giver. If you decide you are an obvious giver, are you simply being delusional? Even if Grant came to the conclusion that givers aren’t successful in their lives, I don’t know about you, but I’d still feel ashamed about not being a giver. Because giving just sounds better, right?

“If you are giving back, then you took too much.”


Then, last week while flipping through my social feeds I saw this quote:

“If you are giving back, then you took too much.”

I didn’t catch the author, but I practically jumped with glee. That’s it! Instantly, my shame melted and I gained the clarity I needed to understand that there is a black lining to social entrepreneurialism, Rotary Clubs, and The Gates Foundation. This is a semantic issue.

Our moms taught us this social norm. When we took our friends’ toys our mothers would scold, “Give it back!” And that is the culturally acceptable shaming principle. Giving back is returning what may not be ours, or when our share isn’t equitable. And if you don’t? “Shame on you!”

But, as intelligent adults who operate fairly, do we need to feel ashamed if “giving back” isn’t meaningful or motivating to us?

The Personal Interests, Attitudes, and Values assessment that I often interpret for leaders and their teams is called a Motivations Assessment. This model was developed in 1928 by German Psychologist Dr. Eduard Spranger, and then developed in the 1980s as an assessment tool by Bill Bonnstetter.

Spranger identified six primary motivations:

1. Theoretical—A passion to discover, learn, and analyze; a search for knowledge.

2. Utilitarian—A passion to gain return on investment of time, resources, and money.

3. Aesthetic—A passion to add balance and harmony in one’s own life, create beauty and art, and protect our natural resources.

4. Individualistic—A passion to achieve power and position to influence others.

5. Traditional—A passion to pursue the higher meaning in life through a defined system of living.


6. Social—A passion to change the world for the better and to assist others.

As intelligent adults who operate fairly, do we need to feel ashamed if “giving back” isn’t meaningful or motivating to us?

By using this assessment, we discover that these motivations come in a variety of combinations. We tend to experience a pull for whichever two are highest for us. In other words, the highest motivations will trump the others. Each combination and intensity is personally unique. That means that the motivation to assist others and give in a traditional way is only a peak motivation for some people.

People who have a strong Social motivation, are the drumbeat of giving. If assisting others is the generally accepted way to give, that means that there are plenty of us for whom giving isn’t a peak motivator. And this fact should not shame us.

That leads me to my point:

It is OK to learn and share your knowledge.

It is OK to be successful and enjoy your bounty.

It is OK to surround yourself with beauty and spread appreciation.

It is OK to rise in influence and impact others.

It is OK to make the world a better place.

And…it is OK not to.

If assisting others is the generally accepted way to give, that means that there are plenty of us for whom giving isn’t a peak motivator. And this fact should not shame us.

It is amazing to appreciate the differences in people and the variety of experiences we bring to the world. Let’s not assume that everyone should be striving to give or “give back,” but acknowledge that, in fact, we have a rainbow of possible choices to give in our own unique way.

Let’s eliminate “give back” shame and rather celebrate our uniqueness—who we authentically are motivated to be—and realize that some of us are motivated by giving back, but others, not so much.

Join me as I raise a glass and toast “To the end of shame… Viva la Difference.”

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Management

What are the Top 10 TEDTalks?

Time for a little inspiration

As a fan of public speaking, storytelling and well, TED, I loved finding this list of the top 10 TEDx Talks, in terms of amount of views, ever posted on

I was shocked to find I’d only ever seen two of them. Now I’ve watched them all. But the two I have seen and shared repeatedly are Brene Brown, who I adore for her life-changing, permission-giving work on vulnerability. It is beautiful work and this video was an entry to her work. Now I have read everything she’s Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Simon Sinek‘s is the second video I’d already seen.  I too was moved by his books:

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t

He is a dedicated member of the work revolution who encourages trust, collaboration, and breaking the rules.

Now I’ve watched all of these TED Talks, but I don’t want to be any more of a spoiler. You watch them and tell me what you think.  Which is your favorite and why?

But the number one , most viewed video of all time is Tom Thum The orchestra in my mouth. Watch it first and you’ll know why this guy rocks. I’m giving you the link to all 10, but by all means watch this one first. CLICK HERE

Screen Shot 2015-06-22 at 6.17.27 PM

Posted in Audio,Video and Book Recommendations

How to Be Creative

BusinessmanIt is very hard to convince busy business people to take a load off.

I try everyday to have this conversation with business leaders, but I’m up against the pervasive push of the media: blogs, videos, books, and productivity gurus emphatically claiming that the secret to success is to do more, organize better, reach higher levels of productivity, and that it just takes massive amounts of hard work, day-in and day-out to be successful. It is exhausting just to watch, read, and attend to, much less do the work. Which is why lots of us study the material, but we never follow through. Lots of us have spurts of motivation but peter out. It is just too much pressure.

Instead, we just churn on the hamster wheel of the day-to-day, facing burnout, dullness, and a lack of inspiration.

What if we didn’t? What if we didn’t push, push, push? Didn’t listen to the incessant drum beat of “Do more. Be more. Do more. Be more.”

That is what brought me back to Tony Schwartz of The Energy Project. Like a breath of fresh air, he is still beating the opposing drumbeat: Taking a load off actually improves your productivity. This is an old but great post where he discusses the six secrets of creativity. And they are not what you think.

If you already know Tony and have read this, take the time to read it again. If not, you are in for a treat. Enjoy.

6 Invisible Secrets Fostering Your Creativity

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Management

Changing the Rules

  don-t-keep-calm-it-s-time-for-a-revolution-9My friend, Robert, who was entering into a new career asked me if I would help him with his speech presentation. We set up a meeting to discuss it. When I arrived, I found he had brought another friend with him, Chris. Not only was this his friend, but also it was his sponsor in a new MLM (multi-level marketing) company he was joining. The presentation Robert needed help with involved his health, and what had led him to this health product that he was so passionate about, and was now selling. But first, they came to persuade me to join them. You are such a passionate speaker, Ruth. You could easily make five or six figures.” Chris said.I am more than willing to help Robert with his presentation. I can help him be passionate and persuasive. But,” I added, “You mustn't try to sell me your business.”But think of the possibilities.” Chris was starting to show signs of embarrassment. “Why wouldn't you use your powers for good?”Because this is YOUR passion. Not mine.” I clarified.What is your passion, Ruth?” Chris asked, and both men stared at me across the table. They had a forward—if not persuasive—technique here. But I've got my answer. I have been an integral part of the Work Revolution for the past 30 years. Imagine a world where people love to get up in the morning and their work is a positive and healthy part of their life and livelihood. What if the rules that have formed our livelihoods changed dramatically? I am passionate about making that happen. Robert and Chris nod. After all, that is what the very company they represent is promoting. What does it really mean to have a work revolution? It means that people are valued for what they bring to the table in real and practical ways. It means an equitable sharing of wealth. It means the end of the concept of “work / life balance.” It means a healthy life with all its parts. It means trust and respect, leading and following. I spend my days talking about—and helping others to be bold about—changing the rules. Eliminating the ones that don't make sense. Inserting new ones that support our humanity. That is why I am writing this long forward, to share this TedTalk with Brazilian businessman Ricardo Semier. Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 2.45.38 PM Viva la Revolution
Posted in Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Management

5 Steps to Make 2015 Your Best Year Yet

images-3Each year I have clients who shut down and party for the holidays only to start back up in January a bit disappointed that there wasn't a better start. They may even make a few resolutions and inevitably forget or give up by February. I know I've done this. But I'm going to make it different this year and I want you to join me to start the year as a productive reflective and planning time. 1. Head into the year extremely clear about where you are starting and where you want it to end. First reflect on the year you completed. Do you think it is valuable to stop and look at the progress you've made? When events don't happen as we like or we plan, we tend to look at the horizon and get frustrated that we can never seem to reach it. And then what do we do? We get frustrated, we spin our wheels, get overwhelmed, throw stuff at the walls, give up. The antidote is to stop, turn around and look at your progress. Question: In 2014, what progress have you made? What are you proud of? What have you learned? What worked? What didn't work? Then create your vision. When you have completed looking at your progress, then begins the important work of your Vision for 2015. Ask yourself the question: Question: 12 months from now, what will have had to happen for you to be satisfied with your result? 2. Decide who you want to BE before you decide what you will do. A year ago , my mastermind group posed this question to me. I stated emphatically that I wanted to be a contributing member of an innovative and intellectual community. And do you want to know the response I got? “You already are that , Ruth!” It was such an empowering moment for me because it wasn't about what I was doing it was about who I am. That realization allowed me to see what I needed to change to be in integrity with who I wanted to be. As important as our vision is, stepping into our genius or who we are is freeing. 3. Take responsibility for your dreams. Ask yourself this: On a scale of 1-10, how committed are you to accomplishing your vision in 2015? If your answer is a five, what will it take to get it to a ten? if you aren't very committed to it, why not? Is it what you really want? This isn't an exercise in baring down on goals. I don't want you to grit your teeth to accomplish anything. I want this be easy for you. If you aren't committed to your own vision then go back to explore your it again. Don't tolerate a lack of commitment. Here is another great reason why: There are a boat load of obstacles challenging us. Primarily we are the obstacle. When it gets hard, we often sabotage ourselves. The closer we get to greatness, the closer we get to our genius, the louder our inner voice screams, “Danger.” And we know exactly how to push our own buttons. But there is more. You need a preservation plan for what you will be, think or do when you bump into those obstacles and your inner voice is screaming at you. So when we get afraid, procrastinate, get lost in busyness, talk ourselves out of our greatness, genius and vision, you need to have a plan. Who do you call? Where do you go? How do you change your mindset?   4. Collaborate Question: Who's brain, genius , skills, expertise or access do you need to help you create your vision in 2015? This may mean growing or changing your staff. Sometimes we have the wrong people on our team and now – while you are planning - is the right time to recognize that we need to make a change. For many business people we aren't using the brains and genius on our team in a meaningful way. Collaboration is not always who you hire. It is synergy. It is recognizing your own genius, adjusting your vision so that you get to be in your genius more of the time and using all the brains around you. It means sharing expertise. Here are some ideas: Hire in house, virtually or for projects. Create a partnerships, personally, professionally or between businesses. Get a mentor. Get a coach. Get a mastermind group. High performing people know that they can not accomplish their vision alone. And they need the objective insight the helps them be the best they can be. The secret to ensure that your motivation holds for the entire year and not just like setting a new years resolution that will flame out by February: 5. Create Movement Successful people head into the new year extremely clear about what they've learned and where they want it to end. They don't just let it happen. They create their vision. Then they create the steps they will take to get them there. They step into that future as the person they want to BE not just the plans they want to do. They understand where they have dropped the ball in the past and what road blocks and obstacles they are likely to run into. They have a plan when obstacles occur because they will. They understand their own limitations as well as strengths and weaknesses. And because of this they identify their genius so that they can effectively collaborate with others. Get a mentor. Get a coach. Get a mastermind group.

Unlock Your Genius and Simplify Your Life: Start with a Leadership Genius Quick Start Focus Session

Click Here for More Information
Posted in Business Growth, Entrepreneurship

How Would Picasso Design Your Org Chart?

This article was proudly offered to and published by Talent Culture. Let me know what your think in the comments section.

We typically think of organizational charts as a set of vertically stacked boxes that represent people and their job descriptions. Additionally, the chart illustrates who reports to whom and the hierarchy of the company. And this is generally how we think about organizations: who is the boss and what are they the boss of? I’m declaring my disdain of those charts and the vertical structures they represent. I am dedicated to the end of the org chart as we know it! With that in mind, I’ve created the “Top 10 Reasons I Hate Organizational Charts” list: Top 10 Reasons Why I Hate Org Charts
  1. They are vertical, not horizontal.
  2. People are represented as boxes.
  3. You can’t see the informal relationships of an organization.
  4. They are a myopic internal vision of a company.
  5. There are no customers represented.
  6. There is no community, social or otherwise, represented.
  7. You can’t see the stage or language of an organization.
  8. No core value, noble cause, purpose, mission, or vision is visible.
  9. They don’t promote leadership and mentorship, learning or teaching at multiple levels.
  10. They don’t support creativity, innovation, uniqueness, and greatness.
OrganizationalChart 1.jpg.CROP.original-original Rebecca Onion wrote about what is considered the first org chart by New York and Erie Railroad on Besides being historically significant, the chart is beautiful to regard. Designed by McCallum and drafted by G.H. Henshaw, a civil engineer, the chart draws from the natural motifs popular in the Victorian aesthetic. Looked at from afar, the whole resembles a tree laden with fruit or blossoms. Up close, the individual “branches” illustrating groups of employees who worked on the trains have the rough, natural look of vines, twining alongside the straight lines of the tracks that they service. Click here for the full article on Talent Culture's blog.
Posted in Leadership and Management

Why Complaining is Good Business

“If you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgment.” — Brené Brown

Set goal There is an old management adage that comes up from time to time. And when it does, it is stated with nods, winks, and knowingness. It goes something like this, “Don’t come to me with your complaints. If you are going to complain, bring the solution —then I will pay attention.” For the record, each time I hear ANY variation of this, I want to throw up. Complaining is a symptom that something is wrong. And this adage is like telling a kid, “Don’t be sad before you know how to become happy.” In a brilliant political essay titled “ In Defense of Complaining,” Sarah Kendzior explains: “Complaint is often perceived as an alternative to action. Those who complain are criticized as ‘just complaining,’ instead of ‘actually doing something.’ But for marginalized and stigmatized groups — racial and religious minorities, women, the poor, people who lack civic rights — complaining is the first step in removing the shame from a lifetime of being told one’s problems are unimportant, nonexistent, or even a cause for gratitude. Complaining alerts the world that the problem is a problem.” Have you ever had anyone tell you to bring the solution if you are going to point out a problem? What is your reaction? Mine is to feel heat in my face: embarrassment. I think that yes, surely they are right, and then…. drum roll… I feel stupid, humiliated, and vulnerable. Why? Because inevitably, I don’t have the solution. In fact, I’m not sure that I even have the right question. Read more for the original Switch and Shift Post. Plus: See my favorite comment of all time...
Posted in Leadership and Management

I Have a Secret to Share

I Have a Secret to Share I have a secret to share... It's almost Christmas, and many business owners have mentally given up for the year. They've shut up shop, stopped marketing — and are preparing to hibernate for the Christmas period... hoping they'll make it through until after the holiday season. BIG MISTAKE. This message is short, but very important. Please read every word. It could make a difference between a good New Year and an AMAZING New Year. The truth is... there's one strategy that works incredibly well. Right now, if you are starting to think about all the things that didn't work so well this year and how you want next year to be different, this is the perfect opportunity for you take the time to gain clarity about what you have learned this year and where you are going in 2015. You can make next year better than this year. That's why this week, I'm going to run a special tele-call just for my clients and friends. It's called How to Make 2015 Your Best Year Yet and it's happening on Thursday, December 18th at 11am PST. Click here to find out more. I Have a Secret to ShareOn this special call, you'll learn:
  • Exactly how to make 2015 your best year ever.
  • The number one place you should start with your planning. (HINT: It's got nothing to do with a business plan.)
  • The 3 sure-fire shifts that separate the top 5% of entrepreneurs from all the rest and how to implement them into your 2015 plan.
  • The secret to ensure that your motivation holds for the entire year and not just like setting a new years resolution that will flame out by February.
Most importantly, I'll tell you the one best way to finally get leverage in your business. Please do your best to be with me live as we learn How to Make 2015 Your Best Year Yet.
Posted in Leadership and Management Tagged with: , , , ,

All Great Projects Start With a Great Plan

All Great Projects Start With a Great Plan Whenever I get disappointed that my great projects haven't worked out as planned, invariably I recognize the fact that I really didn't have a great plan after all. All Great Projects Start With a Great PlanSure, there are times when I make a plan and then change course for good reason. But most of the time my great plans don't work out because either I got distracted by day to day tasks or I didn't keep my eye on the plan. That is why I'm excited to offer this free tele-call on Thursday for all the entrepreneurs I know. We are going to get clear and create a great plan, gosh darn it. I'm ready to make 2015 the best year yet and I want you to join me. If you are ready to make 2015 your best year yet, you must start with this tele-call. I have limited space so REGISTER NOW and find out exactly how to make 2015 your best year yet.
Posted in Leadership and Management Tagged with: , , , , ,