If feedback is a gift, then why is it so hard to receive?

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My company has a feedback tool which gives me the ability to provide or request feedback from others. I can provide feedback free form or request from a set of stock questions, such as:

  • What am I doing well?

  • What should I stop doing?

I have to admit, I was taken aback the first time I received a request to provide feedback from a coworker after a project we completed together. I had not heard of the feedback system yet and was immediately filled with anxiety. Most places I’ve worked previously saved their feedback for annual reviews, if that even happened or if feedback on others was solicited it was usually to build a case for their demise. No thank you, I don’t want a part in that!

I quickly closed out of the email and avoided it. Avoided the opportunity to tell the person what an amazing job they did. Avoided the “What should I stop doing?” question because I honestly couldn’t think of anything.

Then I learned a little more about the system. I was told we should ask for feedback often from our team members because it helps with annual reviews. Hello stressed out. Now I’m in constant fear of my feedback. I want to grow but I definitely don’t want it to hold back my career. All my bad qualities raced through my head, “You’re too quiet.” “You don’t speak up enough in meetings.” “You’re not smiling enough.” “You learn slower than the rest of the team.”

I was paralyzed by feedback I’ve never received, only the thoughts in my own head.

Real-time feedback and coaching promotes learning. When feedback is connected to compensation, feedback is muted, distorted, and given less frequently.

Jennifer Hyman

My First Feedback

I received my first piece of feedback while I was on vacation. The automated email flashed on my phone as I explored an antique store in Waco, Texas. It was an amazing day! I spent the morning at Magnolia Table and the afternoon shopping at Magnolia Market where Chip Gaines of Fixer Upper paid for my entire purchase! Then the email, instant dread filled my body. I knew it had to be bad. I could feel my body sink to the floor.

My whole demeanor changed and I began shake. “Ugh!” I thought. i knew I promised this person I’d send them a summary email when I landed and I didn’t do it. It had to be what the feedback was about. I blew it. I let him down. I had let the team down. I decided to not look at the feedback until I got back to the office the next week. Ya know what? It haunted me over my vacation. I should have just looked at it. If it was about the email, bam punch in the face, it stings a little lesson learned.

Instead, I waited until I got back to the office to read a wonderful compliment about my great work on our project. Had I just read the feedback, it would have been the icing on my already awesome day!

Beers with the Bosses

Since I enter the tech field, my bosses generally never talked to me. As long as I did my work, we’d chat at an occasional one-on-one, if it wasn’t blown off, or a review. I wouldn’t say my bosses were ever swinging by to chat me up or whatever. Needless to say, if it wasn’t regularly scheduled programming, if boss wanted to talk to me I was usually in trouble for something, and it was probably lame.

Fast forward to my current company, the one I’ve been talking about with the feedback system. The three leaders of our team invited my out for beers after work. I accepted the invitation but my brain started in again. I must have really messed up something for them to have to take me out and talk to me. I search my brain but can’t come up with anything. I start to worry more.

My boss, my ex-boss and I head to the bar. Their boss the Managing Director is caught in a meeting and will join later. I order I cider and notice I shake as I attempt to drink it. We casually talk about our upcoming weekends. The pressure builds in my chest. My boss texts his boss for an ETA. Ah, he must have to wait for him before they address the issue.

Finally, the Managing Director arrives, sits down, and starts talking about the meeting he was in. We talk about our families and dogs and sports all the while I’m shake within the center of my body and try to control it. I just want to scream, “Tell me what the heck I did wrong!”

Each of them finishes their drinks, closes out the tab and we all wish each other a nice weekend. And just like that they’re gone. I’m left walking to the train station bewildered. I hadn’t done anything wrong, they just wanted to grab a drink with me. Once again, I ruined the present experience because I was worried about the feedback I thought I would receive.

The Future is Feedback

Feedback is truly a gift. Sometimes it does feel like a punch in the face. Other times, it clicks and propels you forward. My companies feedback system isn’t a perfect system. Since, the each feedback transaction sends a copy to the person’s boss it becomes more of a “Kudos Collection” than anything. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my kudos but there’s definitely the fear of the permanent record.

I want to grow and develop my skills. I think instead of the question, “What should I stop doing?” we should be able to put in our own questions for growth, for example:

  • I want to be a better public speaker, do you see areas where I can improve?

  • I want to be a better facilitator, what’s holding me back?

  • I want to be an Architect, what skillsets do I need?

I have always thrived on actionable steps, plans and goals to get the next steps. Feedback should be a tool to help us realize our best selves.

If you found this helpful, I’d love it if you’d like it and share it with your network!

Kelli Mohr

How Much Time are You Spending on Apps?

Ever wonder how much time you're spending on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or games?  Did you know that your iPhone records this time?  Follow these easy steps below to find out now!

  1. Go to Settings.

  2. Scroll down and tap Battery.

  3. Under the Battery Usage section, tap the Clock icon.

The time summary is shown under the app name in the list.  You can toggle between the Last 24 Hours or the Last 7 Days.  In the image below, you can see I have used Facebook for 8.3 hours in the last 7 days!  

There are other apps available to track your app usage such as Moment.  Moment creates a beautiful and easy to interpret bar graphs of your app usage.  The app requires daily screenshots of your battery usage which may get a little tedious. 

How about you?  Were you shocked by how much time you were spending on apps?  Did it prompt you to make a change?  I want to hear about your experiences in the comments below!  

Did you like this article and want to receive more tech tips in the future...  Don't forget to subscribe!  

Thanks for reading!!!

Kelli

My Emergency Fund Saved My Bacon

Accidents happens, tragedy strikes, and a lot of things in this life are out of our control.  The most we can do is prepare for the unexpected.  At the beginning of April I found myself without a job and I wasn't freaking out this time. I had worked hard over the last year to prepare for this day. Sure there were tough decisions I had to make daily, like 'Do I really need these Prada Loafers?' Answer: No.

Here's how I was able to save.  First, I needed to calculate my minimum expenses to survive. Mortgage, insurance, car payment, utilities, food, gas, etc.  To get you started, I created this handy Google Doc Emergency Plan Calculator template.  

Second, I had to figure out how much I could contribute to my emergency fund each month.  This told me how long it would take for me to save my desired amount.  

Total (from template) / Monthly Contribution = Number of Months

Lastly, was there anything else I could do to reach my Emergency Fund amount quicker?

  • Bonuses - to the fund.
  • Old designer clothes - Send to ThredUp to resell.
  • Stuff I'm not using anymore - Sell it on OfferUp.
  • Side Gigs - Set up a profile on UpWork.

Try not to get overwhelmed by the amount you need to save.  Start small and shoot for $1200. Why $1200, you ask?  That's usually the amount I need to spend for 4 new tires.  And that always comes up at the most inconvenient time (knock on wood).

In addition to my emergency fund, I set up an account with Wealthfront, so I could get better returns on the money I've saved.  The beauty for Wealthfront is fully automated diversified investments, lower fees, and no minimums.  They even invest your first $10,000 for free. 

I feel good about my current position.  I can use this time to find a job I am truly passionate about. Last time I was unemployed, I racked up $7000 in credit card debt and another $6000 from family friends.  I was "robbing Peter to pay Paul" shuffling money from one credit card to another.  It was awful, and it took me the next 7 years to pay off.  I don't even want to think about the interest I paid on that money.

If you have any questions or need help getting started, please don't hesitate to reach out to me.  If you liked this post, please share it with your friends!

Looking forward to hearing from you!

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Uber Games - The Pizza Rides Alone

Last night my friends and I checked out the new Optimism Brewing Company in Capital Hill neighborhood of Seattle. While we enjoyed our beers "Cheer", "Moxie", "Yellow", and "Black" we realized we needed food, stat.  

Optimism usually has a food truck but on this night they ran out of food early.  My friends and I were faced with the decisions, what to eat and how to get it to the brewery.  After a brief discussion, we decided on pizza.

We called Pagliacci Pizza to find the delivery time was 50 minutes to an hour.  It was too long of a wait for my post CrossFit workout friends' appetites.  If we did carryout the pizza would be ready in 20 minutes.  We figured out whose car was closest to do the pick up but he was hesitant to lose his good parking spot in the busy area.  

I suggested we order an Uber and set the pick up spot at Pagliacci and have the driver deliver the pizza to us.  After a minute of laughs, we started to realize the brilliance of the plan.  We decided to try it out and see what happens.  We scheduled the Uber and when the driver arrived my friend gave him a call.

Uber driver, "Yeah, hi.  I'm outside Pagliacci."

My friend, "Great. This might sound a little weird but there are two prepaid pizzas inside under the name so-and-so.  Would you mind picking those up and bringing them to us?"

Uber driver, "Okay, I'm walking in now... I'm grabbing your pizzas.... I'm on the way."

We watched our pizzas make move towards us on Uber's map.  In a total of 30 minutes, we had dinner delivered to us (faster than the delivery time), no one had to drive after one or two beers, and the Uber driver definitely received a five star review (we wish we could give him 10 stars).

The moral of this story is you can't get what you want if you don't ask for it.  We could have easily assumed the Uber driver would not accept our mission and got the pizza ourselves, but there was no harm in trying to ask him first.  We got the results we wanted, and more often than not you'll find people who are willing to help.  As another friend pointed out last night, 

"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." ~ Wayne Gretzky

Have you asked for something out of the norm and got the results you wanted?  I'd like to hear about it in the comments below.  If you liked this article, please share it with your friends.

 

Brand Building for Beginners

I recently had the opportunity to sit down and chat with a new graduate from the University of Washington, Xiu Wen Li.  I asked Xiu, a Marketing and Human Resources major, if there was any emphasis in her classes on building her own personal brand.  The topic was covered briefly in one class but they did not dive into any specifics.  

This post includes the ideas I gave Xui to get started and a few extras. These small steps are relevant for new grads, business owners, or anyone interested in redefining their career.     

Focus

Figure out what interests you and makes you tick.  Start by reading content in the field, attend meet ups, and conferences.  Take time to meet and talk to other people in your field and ask about their experiences.  Use services like CoffeeMe to connect with others in your area of interest.       

Share

Make a goal each week to share articles, infographics, and other relevant content with your social media networks, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram.  For more information on to social media posts, check out: Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World or The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users

When you feel comfortable sharing to your networks, add your own opinions or observations about the articles with your posts.  Also, engage with the people interacting with your posts as long as it's productive.

Build Experience

One discouragement for recent college graduates and people who change their careers, is the years of experience asked in job posts.  Don't let this stop you for applying for a job you want.  Go for it anyway!  If you are a right fit for a company, they may be flexible on their requirements.

Another great way to gain experience or build your portfolio is to volunteer your special skills. Many non-profits or local groups need help in areas they are not accustomed to or cannot afford to pay an expert. So reach out and see where you can help make a difference.  

What an exciting time to venture out and start a career.  The world of work is not the same as it's been in the last decade.  Services like Upwork allow you to pick up jobs on the side as needed.  You can write a guest blog for another publication.  Your options are endless if you change your traditional work mindset. Everyone has the opportunity to create a job they love.

If you like what you've read, please subscribe and share this article with your friends.  Feel free to start a discussion in the comments!

 

How to Create a Positive Mindset

I recently spoke at a Ladies in Seattle Tech (LiST) meet up.  The theme of the evening was Career Advice for My 22 Year Old Self.  Naturally, as a Recovering Perfectionist, my advice was "Don't be so hard on yourself."

Everyday we experience thousands of thoughts.  Some are so tiny we hardly even notice them.  Like the steps we take to get to work.  Turn right here, stop now, oh man that's a good song, I better crank it up!

The thoughts that hold us back from being the people that we are supposed to be are our negative ones.  Thoughts like:

  • I don't know enough to deserve a raise.
  • I'm not smart enough.
  • I don't have any good ideas.
  • I'm a fraud.

I've had many of these types of thoughts over the years.  The were hindering my ability to grow and play bigger. So I hired a coach and he had me do this exercise where I wrote down all of my thoughts over a 2 week time period.  I realized most of my thoughts were the same everyday.  I was stuck in a negative thought loop and I needed out.

We categorized my thoughts into themes and I rewrote them into positive stories to tell myself.  My new stories looked like this:

  • I know my stuff and I deserve a raise.
  • I'm smart and I'm a leader in my field.
  • I have great ideas and i contribute to my team.
  • I'm learning new skills things and building my skills.

A much better way to think about my life and change my path.  With these new stories I arm myself with positive thoughts and change my mindset.  Now when my fearful, old, negative thoughts pop in my head, I tell myself my new story and shut it down immediately.

It's an ongoing process I work at everyday but I'm thankful I have the tools to work through what used to seem like hopeless situations.  If I cannot use a story to change an obsessive negative thought that's bothering me, I know it is time for me to get creative and start making something.  Whether it is writing, cooking, coding, or painting, sharing with the world is enough to calm my inner dialog.

I hope this has been helpful and you will start writing your own stories for success.  If you have any questions or stories you'd like to share, I'd love to hear about them in the comments below.

Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.
— Willie Nelson



5 Lessons Business Leaders Can Learn from the Seattle Seahawks

As the Seattle Seahawks complete their NFL season, with their first Super Bowl win in franchise history, there are five lessons business leaders can learn from their memorable season.

#1 Appreciate Your Customer

Today was the Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl 48 victory parade in Seattle, Washington.  Nearly 700,000 fans showed up in the streets, at CenturyLink Field and at Safeco Field to participate in the event.  These fans are known as the 12th Man.  In 1984, the Seahawks retired number 12 in honor of their fans who are consistently the loudest fans in the NFL.  In 2003, the 12th Man Flag was introduced and is now raised before every home game for the fans and for the home field advantage the 12th man gives the Seahawks.

The relationship between the Seahawks and the fans is based on continued love and appreciation.  After the Super Bowl win, coach Pete Carroll told the crowd, “We take this trophy back, and everybody knows we take this trophy back to the 12th man.”  This relationship probably explains the estimated 3-1 Seahawks to Broncos fan ratio at the Super Bowl according to Yahoo! sports.  During the victory parade today, players like Golden Tate and Sidney Rice recorded the crowd while they passed through downtown Seattle as the fans snapped pictures of them.

Appreciate your customers who support and believe in your product or service.  Customers can become an advocate for you.  If your customers feel appreciated and like what you do, they will tell their friends or followers to use your product or service.  If someone’s friend recommends you they are more likely to use yours over another.  These recommendations become free marketing for your company. 

#2 Grow New Leadership within your Organization

Pete Carroll is an amazing coach.  He inspires, forgives, defends, and has a great attitude.  What is unique about Pete Carroll is he trusts his team enough to create leaders among his players.  These leaders, like Russell Wilson and Richard Sherman, in turn coach and inspire their teammates.  

Within the Seahawks organization it’s not about who makes the most money, it’s about finding and molding the players who will inspire other players as well as the fans.  Not only are Wilson and Sherman leaders on the field, they are also leaders in the community.  

In business, it’s important to discover and grow your talent for leadership positions.  Leadership development brings new perspectives to your business from people who are involved with the day to day work.  New perspectives help innovate products and services.  If you are currently a leader, continue to grow your skills and search for new challenges for leadership outside of your organization.

#3 Believe

When it came to the Seahawks 2012 draft picks, Donald Wood of the Bleacher Report gave them a grade of F and stated, “Pete Carroll is proving why he didn’t make it in the NFL the first time.”  He also, commented that Russell Wilson “was by far the worst move of the draft.”  

Two years after that draft, Russell Wilson told a story on the Late Show with David Letterman where his dad asked him years ago, “Why not you, Russ? Why not you?”  Wilson returned to his team and asked, “Why not us? Why can’t we be the Super Bowl Champions in Super Bowl 48?  We have the players, we have the coaching staff, we have the best fans in the world. Let’s go get it! And that was our mindset.”

When you offer a product or a service the most important thing is believe in it whole-heartedly.  Doubt and fear are the killers of creativity and success.  Know what you want to achieve and pick yourself to create it or change it!     

#4 Concentrate on Small Goals

Throughout the 2013-2014 season the Seahawks concentrated on one game at a time.  They treated every game like it was their biggest game with a “1-0” mentality after each win.  The team held onto this small goal during their 13-3 regular season.     

The big picture and where you want to be in the future can overwhelm you.  You know your goal, the next step is to break it down into small manageable pieces.  Work on each piece and celebrate your small victories as you move toward your goal.  Eventually, you will fail on one of those pieces, that’s okay.  Use the failure as a lesson and apply it to the next piece.  Before you know it, you will reach your goal!  No job is too big if you break it into enough pieces. 

#5 Commit 

According to Pete Carroll, “The “I’M IN” sign is a physical affirmation of an internal commitment to “tap in” and compete to be your best you.  Players and coaches tap in when they’re going to work on the game field, on the practice field or in the weight room to symbolize that they’re setting all distractions aside and focusing solely on the opportunity in front of them to perform and compete.”

You and your employees must commit to the product or service you provide 100%.  Employees who don’t believe or commit slow the forward progress of your product or service.  These employees may cause unnecessary drama, problems or excuses for why your product or service will not work.  Their negativity destroys morale, demotivates others, and creates distrust within your company.  When everyone is committed to and excited about a common goal there is a feeling of camaraderie that can inspire your team more than money.

Originally published February 5, 2014 on Tumblr.