lessons learned from leading limitless ambition for the ladies who launch gala

Lessons Learned From Leading Limitless Ambition

As I get ready for the gala this week, I realize that this leadership ride I’ve been on has shaped some powerful lessons in my life. You see,  when I was in grad school I was a woman seeking to take a stance of power within my life and the world around me. Thanks to connections made at Kent State University’s LaunchNet, I was fortunate enough to encounter a young startup non-profit that had a motto aimed at helping girls dream, believe, and achieve without limits. As a lover of building solutions from scratch and human empowerment, I found a home to pursue my passion of achieving long-term strategic goals, while doing good in the world.

Shortly after, I found myself to be the president-elect of Limitless Ambition, Inc. and while growing a non-profit organization that empowers women in Northeast Ohio, I’ve come to unearth many areas of growth. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned after 2 full years in the position.

This post was originally published on LinkedIn Pulse. Read more.

Starting an International Food Business With Founder & CEO of Micah Specialty Foods [Video]

Being an entrepreneur can be exciting for people who are comfortable risks. Starting Career Champs has been a major learning curve, but it is inspiring hearing from other entrepreneurs building their visions into realities. Nana and Natasha, are the respectively the founder and CEO team that runs Micah Specialty Foods

Nana and Natasha, are the respectively the founder and CEO team that runs Micah Specialty Foods. Their signature dish the Supreme Sauce has been appetizing pallets across Northeast Ohio with its international Ghanian flare.

Hear all about how they take risks in their business, work together across international lines, and use their past experiences to get their business right.

Thanks for viewing! If you are interested in being on career champs, email me at zingahart@gmail.com

 

friends connecting by a campsite like one would find in northeast ohio especially if you were on a retreat and wanted to connect with your leadership team

One More Move: Connect

friends connecting by a campsite like one would find in northeast ohio especially if you were on a retreat and wanted to connect with your leadership team

Image source

I had lunch with a colleague yesterday and the weather was delicious. When in Northeast Ohio one must bask in the sun’s rays for winter is always a whisper away. My colleague was a woman I’ve been meaning to have lunch with since last year. It took twelve months for our schedules to align so we could breath and meet for lunch’s sake. She was a mentor to the Executive Director of the non-profit I am helping to grow, and when she spoke in one of my graduate classes I could tell she was a kindred spirit.

Tweet: Persistence pays. Follow up on the people you mean to meet. You meant to meet them for a reason. @ZingaHartTweet: Persistence pays. Follow up on the people you mean to meet. You meant to meet them for a reason. @ZingaHart

Meeting for leisure can be rare in a world where agenda’s are pressing and calendar days stream past us. Yet, leisure is the glue that sticks business together. It is where we find the human in all the services, activities, and products we offer. It keeps us orbiting around where our purpose belongs. It is imperative that all personalities find ways to connect. My lunch was a bonus because she was an acquaintance so we had much to discover about each other. When we met, I got to remind myself of why I got into higher education, the renaissance career path I have taken over the past decade, and the complex life history that makes me who I am. She got to speak about her path as well and the art of leadership today. We didn’t focus on the mission, yet we refueled for the long haul.

zinga hart paulo freire only through communication can human life hold meaning

Here are three simple ways to connect this week:

  • Remember that person you’ve been meaning to call? Send an email or Facebook message. Sometimes it takes a build up to get to the call stage.
  • Respond to someone’s comment on LinkedIn. If they reply back keep the conversation going.
  • Schedule 1 lunch meeting with a person you would like to know more. Schedule it for 2-3 weeks out so you don’t feel rushed into the challenge.

Connecting with people is the cornerstone of building trust. Therefore human connection is the cornerstone of our economy. Authentic leaders will find time and space to facilitate human connection and allow for it to grow in organic ways. How do you take steps to grow your connection with others? I would love tips – as an INTP it is a worthy challenge for me.

Dealing with negativity using wellness techniques either personal wellness or wellness in the workplace including mental, physical, and spiritual wellness

Use Wellness to Overcome Negative Ruts

 Facebook is introducing a dislike button.  Although they are not quite ready to roll it out, yet it is imperative that you and your team are able to face negativity in a way that yields positive outcomes.  You are going to have to face negative situations, behaviors, and emotions in your life and your business. When you practice ways to embrace negativity you will strengthen your ability to innovate and improve over time. Managing negativity means making proactive prevention a priority under your leadership. Mental, physical, and spiritual wellness are components necessary for maintaining positivity within your enterprise’s well-being. Here are some ways to consider how you can strengthen your systems and embrace negativity for good.

Mental Wellness

Our thoughts craft our reality and consistent negative thoughts can generate a reality that saps away our motivation, inspiration, and overall energy. Beyond our own input, the brain has a bias towards negative stimuli. We notice when something is wrong more strongly and more often than we notice positive attributes. Think of a silky smooth face, save for a small pimple on the right chin line.Our pimple gets more attention because it deviates from our preferred norm. Since our mind can easily dwell in negativity it is important to strengthen our mental toughness. Having a strong mindset and a belief in your ability to create positive outcomes will form a habit that will propel you beyond negativity and towards success.

Here’s a great YouTube clip where you can feel the integrity of positive thinking:

Physical Wellness

Of course. your mind can only take flight with your body. Physical wellness plays an important role in our ability to function at our prime capacity. It is your source of energy, which is the fuel you use to maintain a positive attitude all day. Consider this, when you are tired, loaded on junk food, and at an inert state due to bare minimum movement, your are bound to be cranky, groggy, and unfocused. Diet, exercise, and rest are key players in your physical wellness, but the main leader is your relationship with your body. Find ways to celebrate and respect your body for all it has produced in your life. A great way to tap into that relationship is through Tai Chi, which forces us to slow down and feel how we move.Then make sure to regularly fit in those superfoods in and to move a bit.

I attend to my fitness. I go to the gym every day and try to maintain my physical fitness; without that, it it tough to take challenges on the chess board.

Spiritual Wellness

Spiritual wellness is a tricky category, but one may call this emotional wellness or even wellness for the soul. Whatever it is; it is the positive emotions we elicit from certain actions we take. From putting on a favorite dance playlist or volunteering for your good cause to even taking some time to garden in the year. We as humans need to fulfill our desires and ignoring or downplaying them will build a subtle, yet powerful force of negative living. For yourself, take some time to ask and question if you are doing the activities that align with your values and vision. For your team, allow for people to spend time talking about their hobbies or create social activities around activities directly tied to the bottom line. This will boost morale and perhaps ignite creativity within your organization.

Here’s a quick exercise to boost wellness at work:

  • Hold a walking meeting on ways to improve wellness around the office
  • Create a “Free Fruit Friday” and bring in healthy fruits for people
  • Place an anonymous suggestion box for employees to freely share their thoughts and opinions
  • Craft out time for office groups to meet on a subject tied to their interests

There is a ton of ways to improve  wellness in your life and ventures. Wellness prevents negativity from paralyzing your flow. Take time today to boost the positives around you, and when Facebook rolls out its dislike button, you will be fully prepared.


Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Free Your Team

free your team

Authentic talent acquisition is a key trend in corporate recruiting. It keeps companies working with the millennial workforce and helps them stay competitive in our flat economy.HR professionals, CEOs, and leaders overall need to pay attention to ensure all members of the company family are thriving throughout their career. Capturing talent is  an important best practice, ensuring your company’s people bring value on their journey.

What happens after is a road you must manage while your company and team evolve. An employee’s new career path will take them through many positions, those can either be with your company or with another. This is why it is important to develop a relationship with your employees where they feel free to grow within your company’s headquarters and global operation. Paying attention to placement, communication, and awareness of your team members will ensure you yield the most out of everyone’s purpose, passions, and contributions to the vision.

Placement

“Everybody’s a genius…”

How do you measure your organization’s genius? Every person is comprised of work preferences that ensure they will naturally thrive. Somewhat like a work destiny, work preferences could be boiled down to a six letter code, created by, academic psychologist, John Holland. He created the Holland code or RIASEC,  which covered what a person would be enjoy doing as a part of their vocation.

Learn more about the code

Of course human measurements can only test so far, and at base our guesses our 50/50. Real placement comes from experience. Set up times and opportunities for your employees to actively experiment. Encourage committees and allow employees to shadow in departments; speak with your employees about their codes and get their feedback. Over time, you and your employee will find a place within your enterprise that allows them to apply themselves in a way that is motivated by their preferences.

Communications

We are now a part of the trust economy. Building trust with your company’s leaders and team requires communication, transparency, and integrity. Corporations must brand from within in order to project their integrity to larger community. Yet, how do you communicate with your entire organization? If you are constantly pointing towards how great your company is without ensuring everyone is on board you will eventually move away from the trajectory that your employees are following. Elicit feedback relentlessly and accept all feedback equally to keep the lines of communication flowing. The best organizations do not run on emotions, yet they allow emotions to be freely expressed. Have strong systems in place to ensure everyone feels safe to share the voice and take a seat at the table.

Awareness

When you company’s tribe is just right you will feel the buzz of flow. Everyone will have a strong attention and care to what they are doing. While this is excellent and you have built a strong rapport, the final step to the employee’s buyer’s journey is leaving them feeling delighted. Take small steps to show you are aware of their lives as humans. Celebrate birthdays, appreciate their impact, highlight their hobbies. Find the time to engage and go the extra step with your employees and they will become your best brand ambassadors. 

Paying attention to your employees as listening to your overall market. A free team will be driven, motivated, and empowered to build the prosperity of your company’s mission and vision. With workforce potential declining, it is important to capture and keep talent on your side.

What is the cost of losing an employee?

  • For entry-level employees, it costs between 30% and 50% of their annual salary to replace them.
  • For mid-level employees, it costs upwards of 150% of their annual salary to replace them.
  • For high-level or highly specialized employees, you’re looking at 400% of their annual salary.

[Cited from Karlyn Borysenko]

The return on investment comes in the form of savings and revenue building from having a free and happy team.

How does your company ensure its employees are thriving?

Higher Education Meeting : Higher Education Needs Business Analyst Consultants

Higher Education Needs Business Analyst Consultants on Its Leadership Team

I’m in higher education and I’m a business consultant. From what I’ve observed, higher education, as a whole, has some pretty heavy projects on its plate. With the incoming forces of a new generation of students, technologies, and concerns institutions are being looked towards for the ability to deliver results transparently and delightfully. How do you as a higher education leader envision the future? The plan we hold in mind, sight, and spirit is what truly maintains the legacy of an enterprising community. With the shaping culture of entrepreneurship in the higher ed field it is important to consider if your workforce is comprised of strong, agile teams in place to adapt to our very responsive world.

Higher Education Leadership Meeting

One team member to seek immediately would be the highly valued Business Analyst Consultant (BAC). From a business analyst, you will find a team member that is able to find and communicate the real problems within your operations, plans, and technologies. From there they work on the team to ensure the solution solves the problem, which can be a lot trickier than one might guess. As a consultant you will find they have the ability to develop and maintain relationships with the long-term goal in mind, making the solution-building process a lot less stressful over time. The BAC can be the backbone of a project acting as the communication center so the rest of your community body can act towards the common mission. There are three skills your BAC should bring to the table.

Enterprise analysis

What problems is your organization facing today? Are you aware of all the moving pieces and are they producing as effectively as they can? In this world no leader has time to focus on the ever-changing landscape. A BAC will. A good business analyst consultant review the external and internal factors and analyze how they may converge, so you can make effective decisions to prevent or solve any impending issues.

college seats communicating with new generation of college students

Elicitation

Once you’ve decided on a solution to create, the BAC will go to work to discover the true requirements needed to make your solution work as it should. Who will use the solution? Who needs to authorize? How can build as simple a solution as possible within our budget limits? Answering these questions thoroughly and early on helps straighten out what could spiral in the future.

Documentation and Communication

Once an authentic solution is discovered, the BAC will then get to real work. Designing, documenting, and communicating the solution over and over until it is clearly understood by all parties involved in the style they want to hear it. How does your VP of Finances? Director of Technology? Your students? Your alumni? Who really needs to know about the solutions your planning and how should they be engaged? Ensuring everyone can come on board with the plan ensures the solution grows organically within your organization and it will be adopted by the community.


Higher education is the “village” of modern civilization. As higher educators we have to ensure our practices, processes, and tools contribute to the development of every learner we welcome. We must be more agile than we balance the seemingly infinite capabilities of technology within the limits of human needs. Ensuring every member of your team is contributing to their fullest means leadership that respects and properly places their talent. A BAC will help you keep the problems your mission seeks to solve in mind, while finding its root causes and ensuring the solutions resolves or prevents the cause. Invest well in your consultant as 66% of success may hinge on their talents.

Akron Women in Tech: One Year Grown!

I didn’t post a One More Move article yesterday because I was attending the One Year Anniversary of Akron Women in Tech! It was at the Nightlight Theater in Akron and the event went pretty well. Here’s some highlights:

The Group

I found Akron Women in Tech on MeetUp. The group hosts discussion meetings, workshops, and work meetings for women to come together learn, code, and grow. Every event I have attended (around 3) has been a great way to bond, talk latest tech trends, and just meet other women in Northeast Ohio. They’ve had 20 MeetUps so far and have definitely gained credibility quickly in the community.

Check out their online slides!

The Venue

I’ve never been to The Nightlight Cinema Theater, but I will definitely be back. The quaint venue was spacious enough for a mid-to-large group and the mix of theater seating with antique coaching helps make you feel like you’re balling enough to be in your own home theater. The Nightlight shows independent films for you Netflix scrapers and on Mondays they contribute to good community causes. Definitely worth supporting.

The People

Networking with others is a cornerstone of leadership and knowing there is a community of tech interested women in Northeast Ohio is definitely worth meeting. The discussion on crappy C- movies, latests technologies, and new tidbits like FreeCodeCamp being recognized on LinkedIN as an educator was definitely worth carting out my daughter and driving to Akron for a great celebration.

Props to Akron Women in Tech! I wish you all well with your new 501c3 status and hope you can collaborate with Limitless Ambition one day!

leading teams for difficult times

Leadership for Difficult Times

leading teams for difficult times

Lead Your Teams With Your Head Grounded

Dealing with difficult times is a part of doing business. From running out of paper on copy machines to not having enough quality time with the people you care about can cause a low-level amount of stress that can be overcome with smart healing moves. What happens when the amount of unrest in external influences starts to seep into the productivity of your team. Caring about  external aggravations, stressors, and threats can keep your team feeling secure enough to focus applying their full potential. How can leaders better lead their teams when times are stressful? Here are 5 bits of wisdom to consider

Build awareness

Knowing what is causing stress within your team. Ask questions and listen to the different insights and concerns your team is building around the point of concern. Build awareness within yourself as well. Find when your fears or temper is getting the best of you and spot stress-management techniques to improve your state of being.

Encourage communication

While some of your team may be very vocal about the shaky times your are in or that are beginning, some others may not be so engaged. Getting every team member on board in your organization will require reminding everyone that communication isn’t only encouraged, but a priority. Schedule productive meetings, have an anonymous comment and suggestion box, and remind every one of the confidentiality and protection policies you have in place.

Remember your mission

It is easy to get blindsided in a disaster. What keeps you in place is your purpose and end goals. While steering your organization forward may require flexibility it is important to always keep in mind what you are steering toward.

Provide avenues for stress relief

Tumultuous times often cause undue stress on leadership and team members. Relaxing the body and mind will keep your company’s spirits lifted. Host retreats, bring in healthy fruits, have a company potluck and remind your everyone to take care of themselves.

Acknowledging challenges is a positive sign of good leadership within your company and a step in your journey of small business success. When the tough times arise, it is time for even more assessment, experience, and communication to ensure that you continue to fulfill your mission and vision.

photo credit: 13a.LedelleMoe.Collapse.Lofts14Two.WDC.29jul06 via photopin (license)

Valuing people hurts your bonds

In preparation for a workshop I was going to give, I ended up doing a value identification exercise.

quarters balancing represents value and teamwork

It was then I realized the names of the important people in my life: my husband, daughter, and other family members did not pop up.

Part of me felt obligated to write them down on my list, but my mind kept calculating that this connection was off. After reflecting for a bit, I realized that value should only be placed on objects, actions, and ideas. For instance, my husband is priceless and, therefore, invaluable. Now his influence skills, care of his family, and trustworthiness are actions and qualities I have come to value during our relationship. His being as a person was never something I could weigh against any human measurement of value.

When we value others we equate them to commodities. Whether it is positive (Jenny a valuable member of the team) or negative (Rich wasn’t worth a dime) we lower their potential and limit their possibilities to imperfect human measurements. Finally, we subject ourselves to the possibility of measuring our worth with money, possessions, or other human values. Karl Marx, a philosopher who studied weaknesses in the purely capitalist society, noted the concept of commodity fetishism or measuring social relationships by their usability or where the object is valued in place of the work behind the object. A lot like reality celebrities Hollywood glitz and glam supersedes the low-budget, low-quality content produced on reality TV shows.

So when relating with others, build a stronger connection not by valuing them for who they are, but seek, find, and appreciate the value of what others do. How do we relate to others in a positive way without placing value directly on the person?

Consider all of the other ways we can relate. 

For instance, I love my husband, care deeply for my daughter and value the trust I share with my sister. There are so many other ways to connect our beings to another without demoting them to the level of an object.

How can you do that today?

photo credit: Balance (license)