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Managing Change - Creatis

Easy + Quick. What Business Leaders Can Learn from the New Rules of Golf.

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I love to work - I really do. But if push comes to shove - I gotta say I think I love golf more. Lately I've become fascinated with the new Rules of Golf that were released this year by the USGA and R&A which are the governing bodies of golf. In the most sweeping revision in more than 60 years, they have reorganized the rules to make them easier to understand and to speed up pace of play.

Now it may be a bit of stretch, but I think business leaders can learn something from these new rules as well.  First - don't be afraid to change even if there is a 60-year history of how it's always been done.  Second - ALWAYS look for new ways to run your business in ways that make it easier for your employees and allow them to have a faster 'pace of play' in terms of how they get things done. Finally, be sure to know the rules of whatever 'game' you are playing. More than one professional golfer has lost a tournament because of an avoidable rules infraction, and just like in business that can lead to the loss of a LOT of money.

So even for you non-golfers out there (hey - you can at least appear smart to your golfing colleagues) - here is an overview of some of the key rules and changes:

  1. Flagstick In or Out. You can now have the flagstick in or out of the hole while putting - it is the player's choice. 

  2. Take a Knee. When you drop the ball while taking relief - you now must do so from knee height. 

  3. Ready. Set. Play. You now don't have to worry about whose turn it is to hit during stroke play - it is now fine to hit your ball when you get to it as long as you can do so safely. But - order of play does still matter in the Match Play format because remember that your opponent can make you replay a shot if you hit out of turn.

  4. Go Ahead and Pick Up Sticks. Or stones. Or other things similar which are all called loose impediments. You can now do this without penalty from Bunkers and Penalty Areas (previously called Water Hazards) - so clean away but don't move your ball when doing so or you'll incur a penalty.

  5. The Dreaded Double Hit. A double hit (when your club hits the ball twice during one stroke) is still likely not a very good shot - but at least now there is no penalty and it counts as only one shot.

  6. You Can Search Just Do It Quickly. To improve pace of play, golfers now have just three minutes to search for a missing ball rather than five minutes. Thinking is - if you haven't found it in three minutes, you likely weren't going to find it anyway.

  7. I Swear It Was the Wind. If a natural force like wind or water moves your ball - that's OK. There is no penalty and you play the ball from its new spot. However, if you are on the putting green and have already marked/replaced your ball and then the wind moves it - in that case there still is no penalty but you move your ball back to its previous spot.

  8. Taking Relief is as Easy as A-B-C. Take a drop from a Penalty Area or when you have Declared Your Ball Unplayable is still as easy as A - B - C (although all incur a one-stroke penalty):
    1. - All the Way Back (also known as stroke & distance) - go back and drop the ball from within one-club length of your previous spot. 
    2. Back-on-the-Line Relief - go back as far as you want on a straight line formed by the flag and the reference point; drop the ball. 
    3. - Two Club Lengths Relief (red stake penalty areas only + for unplayable balls) - drop the ball within two club lengths from your reference point, no closer to the hoel.


Go With Grace....

I have created a fictional business executive named Grace. She's seasoned. She's smart. She's worked for great companies. She's steadily risen through the ranks. She goes 'all in' and is 110% committed to the company. And she's been given the chance to "pursue other opportunities" several times.  

Lucky Grace.

As you probably have already figured out, Grace is not a totally made up person as she is based on personal experiences from transitions I did over the course of my 30+ year career.  I know first-hand that exiting a company will be the most terrifying and the most liberating experience you have (get) to face in your professional career.  But there is life after (insert company name here).

How Goodness Pays: A Review

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I've read a lot of leadership books. Well - OK - I actually have BOUGHT quite a few books on leadership and have even read some of them. Which is why I found the new book by Paul Batz with Paul Hillen entitled "How Goodness Pays" so compelling. It's a small but powerful book jam packed with ideas on how leading with goodness helps a business engage more customers, retain more employees and make more money. Amazing - and how can one argue with Goodness?!?

Starting with their definition of Goodness in business which is: when people thrive together in a culture of encouragement, accountabilty and positive teamwork. Their research quantified the impact of leading with Goodness, and they identify the Five Goodness Pays Factors that, when present in a business, consistently lead to positive financial results. These Five Factors are:

  1. Compelling business plan - having a business plan that creates genuine employee engagement and followership.

  2. Belief that profits are healthy for all - building commitment to the idea that profits are beneficial for everyone including employees, executives and owners.

  3. Team-based culture- creating a culture that rewards a 'we is greater than me' approach (which dovetails perfectly with how Creatis define our value of Teamwork).

  4. Timely and transparent decision-making - gain employee respect by making decisions in a timely fashion and being accountable for the behaviors and results that come from these decisions.

  5. Magnetic ethics -  attracting good people by role modelling what is and what is not acceptable (which parellels the Creatis Doing What's Right value).

How To "Go With Grace" During Life's Transitions

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I know a business executive named Grace. She's seasoned. She's smart. She does yoga. She calls herself an 'intrapreneur'. She only knows how to be 'all in' and is always 110% committed to anything she takes on. And she's been given the chance to "pursue other opportunities" more than once.

Lucky Grace.

As you may have guessed, Grace looks a lot like me and how to "Go With Grace" is based on my transition experiences over the course of my 30+ year professional career. I know first-hand that exiting a company will be the most terrifying and liberating experience you have (get) to face. But have hope... because I guarantee that there is life after (insert company name here).

How To Be A Good Leader during the Inevitable Downpours

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When it rains - it pours. True for mother nature and true in business. As a leader, it's easy to get so focused on the 'tasks' involved in working through a packed To Do list - that we may stop making time for our people. Sound familiar? If so - here is what I've learned over the years about how to keep people first and still get work done.

Leading a smaller company like Creatis with 130 employees is much different than the executive marketing roles I had at Carlson Companies and Caribou Coffee. I work much more often 'in' the business than 'on' the business with a need to manage WAY more details. The urgent routinely pushes out the important - and my choice to prioritize my coaching and mentoring quickly falls by the wayside. And while my ability to 'get things done' during these task-laden rainstorms is admirable, it has significant impact on how others perceive what's important to our business. It needs to be People First - Tasks Second, but it's not always easy to work that way.

During my 12 years at Carlson, I had the privilege of participating in a year-long coaching program called Perception Choices with Carol Keers and Tom Mungavan from Change Masters Incorporated (www.changemasters.com). That was more than 20 years ago (hard to believe - yes I was 15 at the time), and yet I still use many of the coaching tips I learned from them. If you are struggling with how others perceive you as a leader - I highly recommend you check them out. Or - pick up a copy of their book entitled "Seeing Yourself As Other Do" as it is a great read.

 Here are some great things I learned from Carol, Tom and others over the years:

  1. Lean In - Literally and Figuratively.  Body language speaks WAY louder than words ever can, so as a leader we need to physically demonstrate our engagement during one to one conversations or during meetings. Lean toward the person, make eye contact, respond with verbal cues that show you are listening and understanding what is being shared. 

  2. Your Face Says It All.  So apparently I become very stern-looking with a closed down face and narrow lips when I am listening intently - which creates the perception that I was not open to someone else's ideas. Who knew? This was actually the oppositive of what I intend - this is when I am fully engaged and genuinely trying to understand the other person's POV. Know what your face is saying as it isn't always what you are trying to communicate.

  3. Multi-Tasking is No Go. I pride myself on my ability to get a lot done all at the same time. It's a talent, right?  Wrong! Giving someone your full attention is a must. Put down the cell phone. Turn away from the computer. Don't take any calls when one of your team is asking for your help. It's not only the respectful thing to do - it's also the productive thing to do as your full attention can solve the issue being presented so much faster.

  4. OPPOV - The tool I have pulled out most often is the OPPOV tool - looking at things from the Other Person's Point of View. This tool helps you look at the driving forces of someone else's behavior based on what he/she is rewarded for, motivated by and fearful of. Taking a quick 5 minutes to think about this first has really helped me increase my effectiveness in engaging with others. Amazing how thinking about something based on how someone else might view it can really help your own perspective.

It's Your Choice to Live Here. Quit B*tching

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It's hard to live in Minnesota lately. Really hard! Closed schools, 3+-hour commutes, 20 degrees below zero and freezing cold offices have challenged even the heartiest of us Minnesotans. But we do choose to live here. Free will and all that. But with more snow storms heading our way, it kinda makes you wonder why we made this choice, doesn't it?

I live in Becker and have a 60-mile drive to Minneapolis - so a 2 to 3 hour commute is not that uncommon for me. I just tell myself "Suck it up, Buttercup" because it is MY choice to live in the cornfields so far away from our office. We all make choices in our personal and professional lives - some intentional and some accidental - but either way we have to live with these choices. Or do we?

I got a chance to speak at the Executive Forum for Career Partners Twin Cities (www.cpitwincities.com), which is an executive coaching and transition services firm that has been instrumental in my career. During our forum discussion, we used my career as a backdrop and talked through some of the key pivots - choices - that I have made during my career and the good/bads that went along with each.

Here are some of those key pivots:

  1. Grad School or Bust. -After getting an undergrad in business I started working in St. Cloud as an HR assistant for $13,800 a year (seemed like a lot back then). I made the intentional choice to go back for an MBA after two years of working as I wanted to move into the 'big city' and get into marketing. Today I get asked often if an MBA or some type of advanced certification is a good idea. My very helpful answer to this is, "It depends." If you want to shift functional disciplines or gain new skills that add to what you already have - I do recommend it. But evaluate if the time and money you need to invest is worth it - as just getting more of the same training with some additional fancy letters may not make sense.

  2. But Won't I Miss the Winters? - I had a great opportunity to move to Atlanta for a job early on in my career - although it meant moving away from my family here in Minnesota. Was I willing to take the leap for a job that could set up my career - or would I play it safe and comfortable? I did take the job which led to 5 years of leading global marketing programs and travel to more than 20 countries. Fortunately, I got lucky in that my husband and I found a way to make the commute work (although we never got a chance to have children which is one of my biggest regrets.)  Career choices aren't always easy, but when a great opportunity presents itself that seems like the perfect fit - I say grab it.  It may be awhile before it comes along again and definitely is worth a try.
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  3. Getting Fired Can Mean Opportunity - I was blessed to lead marketing and product development at Caribou Coffee for a few years - one of my absolute favorite jobs to this day. When a new CEO was brought in during my tenure I was given the chance to work out a transition to onboard my replacement and then stay on as a consultant for another 6 months. This lead me to the accidental choice of starting my own consulting business, Blackline Marketing, with my first client being Caribou. But I will say, I had to check my ego at the door each morning as it wasn't easy to onboard the guy who was replacing me or go sit in a cube - but it was worth it. It is devasting to lose a job you love, but try to stay positive and look for the opportunity that may come along with it.  It may just set up your next great career step.

  4. Helps to be Lucky AND Good. I was lucky enough to be invited to join the Creatis board over ten years ago, which put me in a great place to join Creatis as President in 2014. Are you putting yourself in enough of the right places that can lead to opportunities?  If not - make the choice now to focus on building out your network, get engaged with a non-profit or actively seek to join the board of a small to medium-sized company. Good things can follow, but you have to get yourself out there as being in the 'right place at the right time' doesn't just happen by itself.

My Two Cents. Worth At Least A Nickel (I Hope).

According to Wikipedia, “my two cents” is a United States idiomatic expression taken from the original English expression ‘to put in my two pennies worth’ or ‘my two-penn’orth’.  It is used to preface the tentative stating of one’s opinion, because by deprecating the opinion to follow (suggesting its value is only two cents), the user of the phrase hopes to lessen the impact of a possibly contentious statement, showing politeness and humility.
How interesting! (But, of course, that’s just my two cents.)

As I begin sharing personal and professional comments via this Creatis blog, I certainly hope you find my opinions and content useful.  Those that know me well might suggest that I am not one typically afraid of sharing my point of view. But what I have shared in the past was often more carefully ‘managed’ then they might have realized.

Spring Cleaning. How to Clear Away The Clutter so Good Ideas Rise to the Top.

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I love Spring Cleaning. For some reason as the snow melts and the temps rise, I just get a wave of new energy to clear away the clutter. Could be because at home it makes it easier to find the golf clubs that I stashed away last fall. But whatever the reason, it's healthy to clear away the clutter to find the most important things to keep and the less important stuff you can throw away.

One the of things I like most about EOS (the Entrepreneurial Operating System - www.eosworldwide.com) that we use to run our business is that EOS helps to clear away the clutter so you can focus on what's important. It let's great ideas rise to the top and provides an efficient and effective way to identify and resolve issues that are getting in the way of achieving your goals

I find the Five Leadership Abilities they define to be particularly compelling. When you and/or your team have hit a ceiling and are feeling stuck, overwhelmed or frustrated, it is a good time as the leader to STOP and clear away the clutter. This lies with your ability to deploy the five disciplines of good leadership which are:

  1. Your ability to simplify.The bigger you are, typically the more complex and chaotic your operation becomes. But I found that even in smaller organizations like Creatis it is easy to make things harder than needed. To clear away the clutter you should simplify messages, processes, structure and communications. Ask yourself, "Is it as simple as possible?"

  2. Your ability to delegate and elevate. I find myself way too often working "IN" our business versus working "ON" our business where I can have the most impact. EOS has a very helpful tool around delegating the clutter that is eating up your capacity so you can elevate your focus on moving the company forward. It's simply putting where you are spending your time into four quadrants: "Love/Great", "Like/Good", "Don't Like/Good" and "Don't Like/Not Good". If you are spending most of your time in the last two, you probably need to clear away some clutter.

  3. Your ability to predict.Running a small, dynamic company like Creatis has pushed my focus to be much closer into a one year and even a 90 day horizon. As leaders, our ability to see what's coming for the long-term matters but being able to do so in the short-term could matter even more. Invest time so you can see what's coming - as your ability to provide clear direction, focus and prioritization for your team is what matters most.

  4. Your ability to systemize. I was lucky enough to be trained in Six Sigma while at Carlson, but today I find all that great process mapping can actually create more clutter for my team. Systemize simply means to document, simplify and get everyone following the top core processes that make up your differentiating way of doing business. Per EOS, you have to systemize the predictable so that you can humanize the exceptional.

  5. Your ability to structure. Both inside and outside of EOS, I have found that really nothing else matters until you have the Right People in the Right Seats.  EOS has a great toolkit around developing a clear Accountabilty Chart to determine the right structure for your organization. Start with the seats - then add great people. Because really talented and exceptional people in a seat that allows them to do what they do best means they are constantly clearing away their own clutter which enables them to be excellent.

Why "Just Do As I Say" Doesn't Seem To Work Anymore (and Probably Never Did)

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I never had the chance to have kids. So I never went through the stage where my two-year old son questioned everything by asking 'why' over and over (and over) - or the teenage years when my daughter did EXACTLY the opposite of what I asked her to do. I never got a chance to use the "Just do it because I say so" or "I'm the mom, that's why" lines - a skill which quite honestly may have come in handy during my business career. But employees aren't children of course, and using the "just do as I say" directive is not very effective leadership. Even if at times one gets awfully frustrated when things aren't getting done.


Whether baby boomer or millennial or gen z, it strikes me that no one likes to be told what to do. Or at least the highly productive business professionals I've worked with don't. We all want to feel empowered. We all want to control our own destiny. We all want to have expectations of us clearly stated so we can do great work. I doubt that any of us show up to work with a goal of NOT meeting our boss' expectations of what is needed from us that day.

So why is it, then, that people don't always do what they say they are going to do? 

Good question.

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I was talking recently with my friend and colleague, Kurt Theriault, who is the President of Allied Executives, about how to effectively run our business and he shared this model with me. As an aside - Allied Executives is a great resource for business leaders and sponsors the CEO Peer group that I participate in monthly. Check 'em out at www.alliedexecutives.com.

We were discussing why seemingly talented and engaged business people sometimes just aren't cutting it. Even with crystal clear direction on what is expected of them, they can not or will not do what is needed. He shared the following reasons why this might be happening:

  1. Don't Know Was Supposed To -This is the scenario where an employee has the right attitude and skills, but is working from unclear direction. He/she probably has not had great engagement from a boss who has clearly stated what is expected of them. The fix here is easy - review his/her seat, seek understanding of what they believe the deliverables of that seat are, and then clarify expectations and help prioritize actions. 
  2. Doesn't Know How - Similar to the scenario above, this situation has a fairly easy solve. Most of us aren't keen to admit we don't know how to do something, and often times this can get in our way of doing a job well. The solve here is to fully engage with your employee and be honest. Let him/her know that something isn't getting done and ask them why this is happening - ask them what is getting in their way of doing that particular task or achieving an expected outcome. If you've created a caring and trusting work environment where it is OK to admit a gap in skills or knowledge - this will come out and together you can focus on the right training or coaching needed to fill this gap.
  3. Don't Have Capacity- Gaps in capacity comes in many forms and some are solvable (and some not). Again the solve is open and honest communication with employees about where they are getting stuck or what is getting in their way. If they say they don't have 'time' - them help them re-prioritize their focus. If it is a work/life balance issue, that will require a little more conversation. Bottom line - as the leader you need to probe for understanding of what the real issue is - and coach 'em up or move 'em out depending on what you hear.
  4. Don't Want To or Don't Like To - The solve here is easy, this person has to go away. There is very little we can do as leaders to MAKE someone do something they fundamental don't wish to do. Don't waste your energy and cut your losses.
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