June 13, 2010

Love and Gratitude

Yesterday was the happiest day of my life. The births of my children were the most deeply transformative days of my life - a whole new person who is yours and made of you! - but for pure unadulterated happiness, yesterday takes the cake. (And the cake was good, too.)

Now I'm off for two weeks on honeymoon in Wales, my favorite place on earth - soon to be one of my new husband's favorites, I hope.  So probably no blogging.

Until I'm back, I wish you all love and challenge, joy and satisfaction, gratitude and curiosity.

June 05, 2010


Lately, I've been reflecting on the feeling of contentment.  I am generally content, and over the past year more so than ever before.  I consider it an entirely positive thing.

Then last week, I was talking with a client about the future he wants to create for himself, and he said, "I never want to feel content - I always want to be moving forward."  I just listened, and as he continued speaking, I realized that in his mind contentment and complacency are nearly synonymous.  He believes that if he is truly content, he will no longer feel motivated to achieve.

I believe the exact opposite.  When I'm content -- not restless, out of balance, or revved up in any way; but simply at peace and and full of joy -- I am at my most productive.  When I'm content with my life, none of my energy has to go toward trying to make myself feel OK, feel better, and I can focus entirely on experiencing and accomplishing those things that are truly important to me.

What about you?  Do you consider contentment the strong foundation from which you build, or a dangerous soporific?

May 27, 2010

Actually Being Strategic

Proceed Until Apprehended » Blog Archive » Strategic Thinking vs. Being Strategic.

I have a daily Google alert on "being strategic," and it's just fascinating to me what comes up - what people mean by that phrase is so all over the map.  Some people clearly think it means "being manipulative and deceitful" or "acting in your own best interest vs. for the greater good."  Some people use it to mean "being willing to give up short-term gain for long-term benefit," while some clearly think it means simply "crushing the competition."

For anyone reading this who hasn't heard me say this already: I define being strategic as consistently making those core directional choices that will best move you toward your hoped-for future.

So I loved the post linked at the top.  The author, Nevin Danielson, makes a great distinction between people who think in a strategic way and those who translate that into actually being strategic. I really agree with him; there are a lot of people who see a possible future, and can even articulate the efforts that will take you there....but then who don't have the courage or motivation to move forward. Or perhaps they don't see the difference - they think it's enough to just think clearly, and don't understand that nothing changes unless you make the effort to use your clarity to affect the world.

May 26, 2010

More Fun with Public TV

Being Still getting an enormous kick out of the making-a-public-television-show process.  It helps that the Detroit Public Television team working on this is so dedicated and competent!  Here's their latest cool effort: the sell-sheet they created to let their buyers know that the DVD will be available.

I love that they both understand the topic and are genuinely excited about it - it shows both in the copy they write and in the quality of our interactions.  I feel very grateful to have such smart and enthusiastic partners in this effort.


May 20, 2010


Today I was talking with a client about an employee of his - smart, hardworking, results-oriented - who is in some danger of losing her job simply because she is unable or unwilling to let go of her pre-conceived notions of how her boss should structure their department.  More specifically, she seems to believe that she should have a bigger job. Stuck4X4 In fact, that she should be given significant parts of a peer's job - things that other person is doing very well. And her current position is great - it's an important job, with responsibilities that could prepare her for and leverage her into bigger and even more interesting jobs in the future.

As I listened to him describing the situation, I thought: this is the negative power of the human ego.  This person's resistance could truly damage her career.  Reading this, it may be hard not to think, "Why on earth doesn't she just get with the program?"

But I bet each of us has done this at some point in our lives. I certainly have.  Wanted something so intensely and were so completely convinced it was our due, that we ignored the impact our intransigence  was having on important things in our lives: relationships, jobs, opportunities.

May 15, 2010

Power of Women

On Thursday and Friday of this week I had the opportunity to hang out with a group of marvelous women - smart, funny. warm, real. It was all due to the connector-nature (in the Malcolm Gladwell sense) of Wenda Harris Millard, who brought together a group of women CMOs in her beautiful Charleston home, and asked me to come and teach them the Being Strategic model.

They were all so delightful - and seemed to enjoy our conversation and find it valuable.  And I was reminded how uniquely nourishing it can be to spend time with a group of women. There's something about women, when we're together - we bring all of who we are; professionals, moms, wives, sisters, daughters - into our conversations - and it's both deeply reinforcing and  a source of new knowledge and insight.

Thank you so much, Wenda!

May 07, 2010

A Job Well Done

I'm sitting in the back of a car (from our excellent upstate limo service, Adriano) being driven home from LaGuardia after a week on the road. It's Friday night, and as Jerry heads up the Taconic, I'm finishing up loose ends from various client engagements, answering email, setting up some calls and meetings for next week.

As I write this, I'm feeling both bone-tired and extremely happy.  I had two important client engagements this week, one in Minneapolis, and one in Chicago, and both were rife with problematic elements: either or both could have been a complete goat rodeo, as a friend of mine used to say.

But we navigated through them successfully.  In fact, great work was done by all, and both clients are in a significantly better place than they were a week ago.  In fact, I'd say we delivered on the Proteus brand promise big-time: both experienced us as illuminating, strengthening and trustworthy.

I feel extremely grateful that I get to help people in important ways.  I love the satisfaction that comes from feeling that I've put all my attention, skill and experience into providing that help.

A great close to a long week...

April 29, 2010

I Heart Entrepreneurs

Virginia Council of CEOs - Home.

I'm sitting in the Norfolk, VA, airport (and a very nice airport it is), having just spoken at the annual conference of the Virginia Council of CEOs.  I walked them through the Being Strategic model and skills - having them identify a real business challenge to work on as they learned - and then they got into small breakout groups for an hour or so to go deeper into their challenges, using the process.

Entrepreneurs are great: hopeful, can-do, high-energy folks, for the most part, who spend their days creating something from nothing.  They grabbed  Being Strategic as a useful approach and set of tools (I had the same experience at the Inc. Conference) and immediately began trying it out.  Big fun.

The downside of most entrepreneurs (and I saw this, too) is that they often have a hard time stepping back from the action - even momentarily - to get a larger sense of where they're trying to go, and where they are now relative to that hoped-for future.  Their tendency is just to leap in and start problem-solving.

Unfortunately, the problem that's yelling loudest to be solved is not always the one that's in your best interest to put all your (limited) resources toward solving. 

Many of the participants acknowledged that the biggest stretch for them is to take a breath, step back, and ask - "Is doing this the best use of my time and resources?  Will doing this really contribute toward us achieving the future we've envisioned?"

But it's such an important thing to learn to do -- it's at the core of being able to grow your business sustainably.  Good reminder for me as a small business owner, too! 

April 24, 2010

Fun with Public Television

Image001 This week I had one of the most eye-opening, exhilarating, joyful experiences of my life: I teamed with a marvelous group of people to make good TV.  Maybe even great TV.

We were in Wixom, Michigan, at Detroit Public Television's impressive state-of-the-art  HD TV studio.  I got to meet the group of smart, collaborative, flexible women that I'd been partnering with for months via phone and email - Diane Bliss, Jamie Westrick, Josette Marano, Rosalind Kimbrough and Aimee Longato.  And then I got to work with a whole new group of smart, collaborative people - Alex, Larry, Greg, Tammy, Todd, Leo, Fred (both Freds), Matt, Brian, Lisa...

And at the end of two days of (for me) learning and huge fun for all: voila - television!

Being Strategic with Erika Andersen will air first in Detroit on WTVS, Channel 56 on June 6th at 10:30am, and then starting in August, it will be airing nationally.

It's an hour-long program of me with a live studio audience, teaching them the Being Strategic process and skills, and helping them start to apply it to a real challenge in their lives. The DPTV folks built a great set, pulled together an enthusiastic studio audience, and were consummate professionals throughout.

If you don't find it being shown on your local public television station, you're more than welcome to call them and tell them you need to see it!

April 21, 2010

Talking with Zane Safrit

Today's Guest: Erika Andersen, author of Being Strategic - Zane Safrit.

In just a few minutes, I'll be talking with my friend Zane about all things strategic...listen in live or catch it streaming.  Zane always ask great questions, so it should be fun!