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cynthia brian

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Empowerment
cynthia brian

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by Cynthia Brian

“And all at once, summer collapsed into fall.” Oscar Wilde

In the fall of my freshman year at UCLA, I began working at one of the very first health food stores ever created in California. It was called Nature’s Health Cove and all the offerings were organic: pesticide, insecticide, and colorant-free. The fruits and vegetables were pathetic looking. Worms bored into apples, the Swiss chard had holes from munching snails, greens boasted fringed tips, a gift from hungry marauding rabbits, tomatoes were cracked, zucchini was malformed. Yet the produce tasted delicious and even though the prices were at least double of anything one could purchase at a grocery store, the crops sold rapidly. One of my tasks was to cull through any severely damaged items, putting them in a bucket for a compost pick up by an urban farmer. 

Having worked in the fruit drying yards and big barn dehydrators growing up on our farm, it dawned on me that usually, half or more of any fruit or vegetable is salvageable. I suggested to the owner that perhaps we could cut out the decaying parts and create healthy drinks and dried snacks with the ripe remainders. The initiative became an instant success with both students and the general public clamoring for a revolving menu of inexpensive tasty treats.

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As summer collapses into fall, my trees and vines are heavy with fruit. As much as I eat and give away, there is still more for the picking. I detest waste and besides canning and freezing the extras, I wanted to create some of the dried fruits of my youth.

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While cleaning out one of our barns this summer, I came upon a vintage portable dehydrator that my Grandfather used eons ago to dry his autumn bounty of pears, apples, figs, and grapes.  I cleaned the appliance and set to work slicing and dicing. 

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The results are phenomenal.

If you’ve bought any dried fruit lately, you know how expensive it is. But if you are like me and enjoy DIY projects, I have a simple recipe for you to create your own personal organic fruit leathers. You can use trays and dry your produce in the sun the way it has been done for centuries, but it takes longer and critters may creep in to steal your sweets. My suggestion is to purchase a small dehydrator with four or five drawers. My dehydrator has four drawers and only a single heat setting. My thermometer says it’s dehydrating at 125 degrees, which is perfect. Every three hours I move the drawers from the bottom to the top.  From start to finish, it takes 24 hours. If you buy a dehydrator with adjustable temperature settings, you’ll be able to dehydrate more rapidly.

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Here’s what to do:

  1. 1. Wash and pat dry your desired fruit and vegetables.
  2. 2. You can peel if you wish, but I don’t. Cutaway any bruised or damaged parts. Cut into slices about ¼ to ½ inch thick.
  3. 3. Some vegetables including eggplant, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, potatoes, and radishes need to be blanched for a few minutes. 
  4. 4. Cut the slices in a bowl and toss with lemon juice or apple vinegar to reduce browning. Although this step is optional, it helps in preservation.
  5. 5. Spray the trays with a light spritz of canola or olive oil to prevent sticking.
  6. 6. Place slices of the same fruit or vegetable on dehydrator racks in a single layer without overlapping. Use different trays for different varieties.
  7. 7. Check on the process until when done. Let the racks cool before removing the fruit.
  8. 8. You can enjoy your items immediately but if you want to store your stash, pack the dried fruit in glass jars or sealable plastic bags. Shake jars or bags once day to make sure there is no condensation. If there is any moisture, return the product to the dehydrator for a bit more drying. 
  9. 9. Store in a pantry or room temperature darkened area.
  10. 10. Voila! Your very own dried fruit and leathers.Finished fruit leather.jpg

You can also put the dried fruit in bags and freezer. I’ve experimented with over-ripe bananas, apples, pears, Asian pears, and I even made raisins with chardonnay grapes, seeds, and all. Crunchy! Everything turns out delicious and I know these dried trials are nutritious because except for the bananas, they originate in my organic orchard. My next testing will be to make sweet potato chips from the sweet potatoes I’m growing. I plan to go exotic by drying mangoes, strawberries, pineapple, and papayas. 

Recently we witnessed a rise of what I call the “ugly fruit”. Stores, farmer’s markets, and on-line sites are popularizing the value of imperfect produce. This is a giant step forward in eliminating waste and re-educating our families to value all products provided by nature.  Farmers using organic methods know that crops are not always pretty, but the nutritional value and health benefits outweigh perfection of form. 

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As summer slowly fades into fall, I wish you abundance and a garden of eating.

Cynthia Brian’s Mid Month Gardening Guide

PRUNE “widow makers”, dead branches on trees. You can identify the dead branches before the leaves fall from the rest of the tree. 

CHECK the crape myrtles in bloom. If you are considering planting a tree or two later in autumn, this is the perfect time to decide what color will be an advantage to your landscape. Crape myrtles are excellent specimens for year-round attractiveness. The leaves will turn red and golden in late autumn, the bark is bare and beautiful in winter, the leaves are shiny green in spring, and the tree blooms midsummer to late fall.

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REFRIGERATE crocus, tulips, and hyacinths for six weeks before planting.

ADD aged chicken manure to your soil if you are noticing that it is less fertile.

MARK your calendar for a visit to the Be the Star You Are!® non-profit booth at the Moraga Pear and Wine Festival on Saturday, September 28th.  Thanks to our sponsor, The Lamorinda Weekly. Details at https://www.BetheStarYouAre.org/events.

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DEADHEAD tuberous begonias to keep them blooming until frost. The flowers are edible with a tangy, citrusy flavor.

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ENJOY the final days of freshly picked tomatoes tossed with basil or cilantro.

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HARVEST tangerines, Asian pears, and grapes as they ripen.

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PHOTOGRAPH your deciduous trees as the changing colors emerge. The contrast of colors will amaze you as you reflect on the time-line.

DEHYDRATE extra fruit and vegetables for tasty snacks. Kids especially love these dried sweets.

CUT and compost the damaged parts from “ugly” produce and cook with the rest. 

WASTE NOT! Be a steward of our planet with simple up-cycling.

WELCOME the cool and crisp days of autumn. Fall forward!

Happy Gardening. Happy Growing. 

See photos and read more: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1315/Digging-Deep-with-Goddess-Gardener-Cynthia-Brian-Fall-forward-and-waste-not.html

Cynthia Brian, The Goddess Gardener, raised in the vineyards of Napa County, is a New York Times best-selling author, actor, radio personality, speaker, media and writing coach as well as the Founder and Executive Director of Be the Star You Are!® 501 c3. 

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Tune into Cynthia’s Radio show and order her books at www.StarStyleRadio.com.

Buy a copy of her new books, Growing with the Goddess Gardener and Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers at www.cynthiabrian.com/online-store. BE StarYouAre_Millennials to Boomers Cover.jpeg

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Hire Cynthia for projects, consults, and lectures.

Cynthia@GoddessGardener.com

www.GoddessGardener.com

 

How Leaders Can Prepare Themselves For A Digital Transformation

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Business
How Leaders Can Prepare Themselves For A Digital Transformation

The following blog is a republish of an article appearing in Forbes written by Maureen Metcalf. It is the companion to an interview conducted with Mark Kvamme, co-founder and Partner at Drive Capital on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future on Tuesday, August 6th titled Business Disruptions: Are You Disrupting or Being Disrupted?

Many leaders have likely been hearing about the “rate of change” in a variety of ways. The World Economic Forum, for instance, published its 2018 report on global risks and trends to analyze where the world could be heading. This past year, the Harvard Business Review also published a piece about the importance of digital transformation. Both suggest that the rate of change is accelerating, and we need to be aware of the changes so we can take action. I’ve seen many companies adopt new technologies to automate tasks. For many, this is no longer a change of the future; it is happening now.

To be prepared for a transformation, I believe leaders must update their mindsets and behaviors. Below are my suggestions for getting started:

  1. Focus on what’s best for your organization.

As change accelerates, focus on getting the best outcome for your organization above being right. When facing challenges you have not previously mastered (and, in some cases, have never faced), evaluate, gather data and input from others, and plot a course of action you can experiment with. You likely won’t have the perfect plan, but this way, you can have a rough direction of where to move, which can, in turn, help you correct your course when necessary.

  1. Be prepared to make tough decisions.

Sometimes, leaders have to make tough calls to ensure the organization thrives. Implementing innovative tools can help keep your company competitive, but they will also impact your workforce. This is why it is critical that leaders balance the organization’s values with mission and profit.

Ask yourself the following questions if you’re feeling stuck when facing tough decisions:

  • Is my decision aligned with my values?
  • Am I willing and able to take the action required by this decision?
  • Does this decision align with our cultural values?
  • What system and process changes will be required to implement this decision?

I often see that leaders put forward proposals that meet one or more of these criteria, but when they look holistically at the implications of that proposal, they see flaws in the plan. An example was a restaurant I worked with that proposed limiting the amount of food employees consumed during a break. When examined further, this policy change made eating too much became grounds for termination. Managers were unwilling to terminate employees for eating too much during a shift because it conflicted with their values as a company.

  1. Think critically.

Complex thinking is also an important skill. As a leader, it’s critical that you understand any extended systems in your organization and how your decisions will ripple through the entire system. But I’ve observed that sometimes, this information is limited, which requires you to make quick decisions while thinking critically.

When this happens, determine the smallest decision you can make, given the information you have. What are the first, second and third level impacts this decision will have? By shifting the decision process to small decisions during times of uncertainty, a leader can break the inertia caused by uncertainty and gather important information from the small action. This approach reduces the risk of making incorrect large decisions.

  1. Stay curious.

From my perspective, leaders are now impacted by tangential forces; they need to be intellectually curious to ensure they are sufficiently informed to make strong decisions. Leaders must be open to the fact that they don’t always know everything. Ask yourself:

  1. What do I need to do to stay informed as a leader?
  2. What do I need to do to get more comfortable within myself being a continual learner?

Once you ask yourself these questions, remember to be open as you’re learning. Seek input from others and consume different forms of media to keep learning.

  1. Develop yourself and others.

As business ecosystems change, new tools and technologies emerge, and the competitive landscape can morph as well. This is why developing yourself and others is key. What are you doing to build your own skills and abilities, based on your current and emerging landscape? How are you developing your team? Building on the recommendation to stay curious, leaders should stay informed in order to continue their development, such as through reading publications outside your foundational content toward tangentially or loosely connected publications.

  1. Inspire others.

During times of uncertainty and change, I’ve found having the ability to inspire others is extremely valuable. In my experience, people often look to leaders they trust during times of change to ensure their safety and security. It is important for you to be keenly aware and sensitive to this need. Assess how well you relate to your team, and try to understand their goals and stressors. To build this strong rapport, communicate openly and honestly with your team and follow through on your commitments. I believe being trustworthy is now more important than ever.

  1. Learn from other perspectives.

When facing new situations and opportunities, it is critical to gather input from a diverse group of people. Encourage others to share candid input, which you can then utilize to craft solutions that accomplish the collective objectives of your organization and align with the company’s mission and values. Four important questions to ask yourself include:

  1. Have I included all critical perspectives to work through this issue?
  2. Have I created an environment where people feel encouraged to give open and honest input?
  3. Do people feel valued for their differing points of view?
  4. Do they see how their involvement created a more robust solution?

Leaders must ask for input, act on it, give feedback and recognize contributors in order for their team members and employees to feel confident in voicing their opinions.

While there is no magic solution to the challenges leaders face, I believe we are also at a point in time where leaders can make a huge impact on the world. From my perspective, your impact is possible when you are willing to develop yourself and learn how to navigate the personal discomfort of changing yourself and your organization to better navigate new opportunities.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out this and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the ILI LinkedIn.

About the author

Ms. Metcalf – Founder, CEO, and Board Chair of the Innovative Leadership Institute (formerly Metcalf & Associates) is a highly sought-after expert in anticipating and leveraging future business trends to transform organizations.

Photo by Pixabay

Can Civility Become a Competitive Advantage?

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Empowerment
Can Civility Become a Competitive Advantage?

What happened to civility? When did we lose it? Did we ever have it? How can we find it and successfully implement civility for the common good? There is no denying we live in a divided country. Strong opinions, harsh words, misrepresentation of facts, and outright lies have become commonplace. Civil discourse, discussion and debate has been replaced with name calling, hostile rhetoric and at times acts of violence.

The lack of civility is not limited to the political area. We see it every day in business. People are disengaged at work. Per a recent Gallup report, two-thirds of American workers are unhappy with their jobs and 15 percent actually hate their work. If my math is correct, that means 81 percent of workers do not enjoy their job and are not engaged toward working toward a common ground. This is a staggering number and brings with it serious problems such as: declining productivity, revenue and profit margins suffer, employee turnover increases, corporate sabotage rises, legal actions by customers and employees. Negative undergrounds, and worse yet, battle grounds, develop and gain traction.

Companies that suffer from departmental rivalries (lack of civility or common ground) are 5.82 times more likely to have systemic problems with honesty, according to a 15-year study conducted by consultant Ron Carucci. And widespread issues with honesty can pave the way to the kind of scandals that rocked Wells Fargo and Volkswagen in recent years.

While things will never be perfect, an improvement in civility can give companies a competitive edge. How do we get back to civility? While fear is the enemy of civility, education is the key to overcoming fear. The more we know about people, cultures, background, religions, races, etc., the better the chances for civil discourse.

Let’s break this down to the most basic component. Civility requires people to find a common ground to discuss, review and make decisions that affect the overall good of an organization. People are women and men. Each sees the world through very different lens. There are dozens of books that attempt to explain how men and women address nearly every imaginable issue. Let’s step back and look at some of the issues and challenges that have faced men and women over time.

Women’s issues go back to the cavemen days. The need to survive made the physically strongest individual the undisputed leader. Women were cast into subservient or secondary roles. As we left the caves there were more challenges to overcome:

  • The right to own property
  • The right to vote
  • Women’s roles, no working outside of the house
  • Entering the workforce challenges
  • Entering college
  • Wage Gap
  • Glass ceiling

Men’s issues can also be traced to the cavemen days. Since men are physically stronger, they held the position of power and privilege. Those aspects of perceived power and privilege continued for centuries which reinforced aggression, emotionlessness and other negative qualities, theorized as a component of masculine ideology, particularly in the United States. It is often validated by the statement “boys will be boys.” Adherence to traditional male gender roles restrict the kinds of emotions allowable for boys and men to express, including social expectations that men seek to be dominant (the “alpha male”) and limit their emotional range primarily to expressions of anger. Men continued to hold the positions of power and privilege.

As we entered the 1960s and 70s, things radically changed. More women started entering the workforce often out of economic necessity. They were putting off marriage. Women had more choices. More and more women graduated from college and were capable of supporting themselves. They didn’t need a man to be the sole provider and protector. In many cases they didn’t need a man at all.

Women were no longer willing to hold secondary roles. They were starting businesses; being elected to public office. After the 2018 election, 127 women serve in congress. 25 women (25%) serve in the U.S. Senate, and 102 women (23.4%) serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2020 women outnumber men in college, in grad schools, and in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs.

In the workplace, men and women issues only touch the surface. Now added to gender are the complexities of race, religion, sexual orientation, and more recently political persuasion issues. Cliques, splinter groups, and alliances start to form between those who feel left out or shut out versus those perceived to have the privileged and power. In this underground, these groups prepare for battle. One of the battles is to turn to the courts or legislation.

Each group feels they are disadvantaged or do not hold the position of privilege or power. Unfortunately, life and the world are not fair. Those who have don’t want to give it up. They feel they have earned their power and position of privilege. While the have nots claim discrimination and seek the law to “help level the playing field.” Strong social movements have led to laws whose intent were to create a “more equitable” environment going back to issue of slavery. They look to legislation for relief.

Since 1963, no less than 11 laws passed whose intent is to level the playing field against discrimination. While legislation does provide some relief, it is not a panacea. Rather, legislation provides guidelines. These guidelines produced countless regulations and mandatory compliance training. So on top of everything else business leader have to do—we now have to develop and address compliance training.

On or about 1969, in an effort to address the successful implementation of the laws, new regulations were mandated and we started the era of “mandatory compliance training.” Compliance training was often met with disdain. “Another compliance class! We don’t have time for this! These are a complete a total waste of time!”

So how successful has 56 years of mandatory compliance training been in bringing civility to the workplace? While there has been some progress, the underground is still alive and well. For example, Tamara Burke started a movement she called “Me Too” in 2006. It exploded into #METOO in 2017. Powerful, privileged people, such as Harvey Weinstein, Senator Al Franken, and TV personality Charlie Rose, lost their jobs, careers, and fortunes.

There is a renewed effort to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). We have daily political scandals and investigations. Old wounds are reopened and battle lines are drawn again.

Opportunities for Growth

While the majority of victims from the #METOO movement have been men, Meryl Streep’s character in the movie The Devil Wears Prada, shows us uncivil behavior is not just a masculine trait. On the positive note, the #METOO movement gives us the opportunity to discuss, explore, and address other toxins that harm both people and businesses such as:

  • Bullying
  • Intimidation
  • Retaliation
  • Closed minds
  • Friction between employee age groups

That is how we got to where we are today. Now what? How do we return to civility? We ask the hard questions.

  • How do we improve the workplace?
  • What to you enjoy about working here?
  • What goals are you trying to accomplish?
  • Finding a common ground – a point of agreement to begin
  • Agreement on the common ground creates a basis for progress

The first step is to understand the dynamics at play. My associate, Marc Porter Ph.D., research contents that every organization has three distinct environments.

  • Common ground
  • Underground
  • Battleground

What is the common ground?

In order to build a common ground there must be trust. With this trust comes the understanding that:

  • Conflict & debate have value and are constructive.
  • Confrontation and conflict in and of themselves are not toxic.
  • Productive conflict pools people and ideas toward the common goal.
  • Open dialogue
  • Conversation, debate, compromise, mutually agreed courses of action

What is the Underground?

The less people understand how their hard work adds value to bigger goals, the less engaged they are. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of failure and frustration. – Brene Brown – Dare to Lead. This creates the underground.

  • Lack of trust
  • Festering & silence – sit on the sidelines and wait for failure.
  • Win/lose mindset
  • Parties come into dialogue with closed minds.
  • Confrontation must be defeated.
  • Personal attacks

What is the battle ground?

When confrontation/competition attacks the value of a person the battle ground is created:

  • Negative cliques and alliances develop
  • Labeling (villain, victim, there is nothing I can do)
  • Planning mass exodus
  • Misuse of confidential information
  • Water cooler and at bar dialogues dominate opinions
  • Getting ready for battle—sabotage, passive resistance, legal action, etc.

Where do you stand as an organization?

Per Gallup, two-thirds of workers are unhappy with their jobs and 15 percent actually hate their work. 81% of people are NOT in the common ground. Your organization is or will soon be dysfunctional. The challenge is how do you move from underground and battle ground to common ground.

Four Key Components to Establish Common Ground

In the bestselling book Crucial Conversations, the author’s research states that “People will believe you are working toward a common ground in the workplace, when leadership shows they care about their goals, interest, and value.” – Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler – Crucial Conversations

  1. Are we connected?
  2. Do we have a future?
  3. Do we care about each other’s goals, interests, and value?
  4. Is there trust?

Challenges to Common Ground?

The illusion of technique. Far too many managers ask the wrong questions which misplaces their focus. They become fixated with constantly changing the process or procedures. This is too often a knee jerk reaction, which is similar to a farmer constantly re-plowing the same field every day. Rather than focusing on changing the techniques consider changing the dialogue.

  • Misplaced focus.
  • Constant changing of processes and procedures.
  • Change for the sake of change.
  • Throw multiple theories against the wall.
  • Trying for the quick fix – “Give me pill to cure this.”

Getting to Common Ground

High performing cultures are more than a great product or design or strategy. They have developed a safe environment. It has less to do with design than with connecting to deeper emotions: fear, ambition, and motivation. The real power of a successful interaction is located in the two-way emotional signaling that creates an atmosphere of connection that surrounds the conversation. – Daniel Coyle – The Culture Code

Something to consider: Words matter. How we think and talk about ourselves affects our self-image. Once we change our “self-talk,” we will be better able to interact positively with others. – Don Miguel Ruiz – The Four Agreements

  • Building the groundwork – There is no quick cure.
  • Like building a garden – it is going to take time and effort.
  • You are going to get dirty.
  • It is hard work.
  • It is constant attention and nurturing.

Civility as a Competitive Advantage

One misconception about highly successful cultures is that they are happy, lighthearted places. This is mostly NOT the case. They are energized and engaged, but at their core their members are oriented less around achieving happiness than around solving hard problems together. – Daniel Coyle – The Culture Code

The pool of shared meaning is the birthplace of synergy. Not only does a share pool help individuals make better choices, but since the meaning is shared, people willingly act on whatever decision they make with both unity and conviction. – Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler – Crucial Conversations

When you create an environment where people are energized and engaged, where they feel their ideas and input are valued, you will have the common ground where the civility within your organization will lead you to unprecedented success.

Call us, we’ll help you.

Creating Long Term Success

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Empowerment
Creating Long Term Success

I have often heard many “business experts” discuss how leadership methods and business principles in one area or industry simply do not apply to another industry. They argue, “I am a non-profit, the guidelines used by ‘for profit’ companies simply do not apply.” Another one is “My industry is so unique that we have to come up with our own set of guidelines. I must respectfully disagree. While the industries or businesses differ in what they do, I have discovered Ten rules or steps or guideline or principles (call them what you want) that worked for me in turning around six different organizations.

After thirty years, I came to the realization that similarities between organizations in crisis, be it a business, an industry, a government entity, a non-profit, an education system, a church and even an athletic program are strikingly similar. All are failing but are unwilling or unable to try new approaches. All become very defense when a new person comes in and tries to initiate change. The majority of the current staff says they are open to hearing the new plan, but will not make a real effort to help execute the plan. They would rather pay lip service to the plan and stand on the sidelines and watch the new plan fail so they can say “I knew it wouldn’t work.” The bottom line for organizations in crisis is this – What you are doing and the way you are doing it is not working. That is why new people are being brought into the organization.

I had the opportunity to work with Jim McLaughlin the head coach of the women’s volleyball program at the University of Washington. This program had it “rock bottom.” They had finished last or near last in their conference for several consecutive years. The former coach had resigned two weeks before the start of a new season. The program was clearly in crisis. The athletic director was able to convince a Jim McLaughlin to take over a job that was described as “Becoming the captain of the Titanic after it hit the ice burg.” The athletic director had accomplished the first of my Ten guidelines.

1. Find the right leader

This is often easier said than done. How do you know if you have the right leader? Initially you don’t. You do your due diligence, set your goals and requirements, conduct interviews, check reference and make an informed decision. In other words you take a leap of faith.

2. The leader must clearly articulate the vision

If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll never know if you get there. Every leader must have a vision or a plan. Everyone in the organization must know that vision and make it his or her own. The more concise the vision the better. Coach McLaughlins’s vision at the University of Washington was three points

Graduate every player
Finish in the top three in the PAC-12 every year. This gives the team the opportunity to compete for the national title
Prepare players for the U.S. national team

3. The leader must inspire people to believe

People become inspired when they see a consistent positive movement. The leader must stay the course by continuously articulating the vision and pointing out the “small steps” that are occurring. Consistency in the message and the method is critical. At Washington the team was playing with passion and intensity. The fans and the team saw the improvement and started to believe.

4. The leader must clearly define what he/she wants to do and what pieces are needed to get there.

When you take over an organization one of the first steps is to take inventory of the existing staff, products, processes, procedures etc…The leader must quickly determine the strengths and weaknesses in each area and have the courage to make the changes that will continue to move the program forward.

At the Washington, a new defensive specialist was being added to college volleyball. The goal of this position is to keep the ball from hitting the floor (called a dig), which prevents the other team from scoring. Two returning players believed they had the inside track for this position. The Coach McLaughlin had recruited a freshman who won the position. The premise was simple. It we can make it more difficult for the opponent to score, we improve our chances of winning. Starting a true freshman in a critical role, was a courageous step but one that was needed to get the organization to where it needed to be.

5. The leader must select the right people and put them in the best position to succeed.

The most difficult task in turning around an organization is evaluating and or replacing the people you inherit. These people were there before the new leader arrived and obviously have some vested interest in the organizations success. Hopefully most of the inherited people will buy into the program and are willing to change. Those that change can be valuable assets. Those who refuse have to be let go. This is concept Jim Collins described in his book Good to Great. Mr. Collins described it as getting the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus. Most leaders will say the most important asset in any organization is the employees. This is not really the case. We discovered the most valuable asset is the right people. The right people understand and accept the vision. The right people are motivated and driven. The right people are both ready and able to execute. The wrong people do none of these things. The wrong people lower standards. The wrong people drive away the right people.

At Washington Jim McLaughlin had a system. He needed people at each job who were willing to accept their role (job description). He selected (recruited) people who understood that the collective contribution of like-minded people would produce a result greater than what could be achieved alone. He often passed on a more talented person if that person was more interested in his/her individual success rather than that of the organization.

6. The leader must focus on details and training.

Once the leader starts getting the right people on the bus, the next step is to make sure everyone knows not only what to do but how and most important, why to do it. Many leaders call this falling into a routine; I prefer to call it finding your stride. Consistency is now the key. Constant repetition or practice must occur. The leader at times seems like a broken record. Some people call this having a mantra. The leader must constantly preach three things:

This is what we do
This is how we do it
This is why we do what we do
At Washington this was accomplished by the mantra “There are no small things in volleyball. Everything we do is important and has a purpose.”

7. The leader must document everything; the organization must operate without key people present.

Far too many organizations rely on word of mouth or the company grapevine to establish processes and procedures. This works if your organization is small with little to no turnover and people interact with each other daily. Many companies in crisis wanted to avoid creating a bureaucracy particularly if they came from large stagnant bureaucratic organizations. For many companies I heard the term “flat organization.” We have someone in the organization who knows what to do when a situation arises. That raises the question, what if the person who knows the answer isn’t there? Does the operation stop? Do you wait for the person to return in a day or two? Having a plan as simple as an instruction manual that is reviewed frequently allows the organization to address and resolve issues quickly. In short people know what to do.

At Washington every step and procedure was detailed and documented. Little was left to chance. They created written practice plans, game plans, training plans, travel plans, meal plans, position plans, recruiting plans, official and unofficial visit plans, home visit plans etc… Every day the white board was filled with the specific plan for that day. Failure to plan is planning to fail.

8. The leader must constantly review all aspects of the operation making adjustments as needed to stay on course.

The only constant in life is change. Truly great leaders constantly evaluate themselves. Once they have a good sense of what the market is doing and what opportunities the market is offering, they must have the courage to change. A prime example is Walgreen’s. At one time food service, (soda fountain), was highly profitable. As then CEO Charles R. “Cork” Walgreen projected forward he saw no role for food service. Over five years he eliminated food service and focused on convenient locations and wide product availability. Today we find Walgreen stores at nearly every major intersection.

In 2004, Washington went to the volleyball Final Four. While they did not win, the vast majority of the team was returning the following year. Projecting forward, Coach McLaughlin made three major changes.

He replaced the staring middle blocker, a senior, with a physically gifted but very inexperienced sophomore.
He brought in an assistant coach whose specialty was coaching how to block at the net.
He moved his three time All American to a new position on the right side.

He knew his team was good enough to return to the Final Four, but unless they improved their blocking and generated more scoring from the right side they would have trouble beating Nebraska. The adjustments paid off handsomely. The young sophomore became a force at the net becoming an All American, and the team’s blocking went from a weakness to a major strength. Washington won the 2005 national championship sweeping Nebraska for the title.

9. The leader must continue to bring in people that are better than the ones already in place.

How and why do you find better people once you have achieved success? The answer is fairly basic. If you figured out how to become better, so will your competition. Many great leaders become more nervous when things are going well. As hard as it is to reach a high level of success, it is even harder to maintain. Success also brings competitors attempting to raid your top people. It is critical to continue to raise the requirements and expectations to attract more of the right people.

At Washington, the volleyball program went from last place in the PAC-10 to the Elite 8 and three consecutive Final Fours including one national championship in five years. Some of the best student athletes in the world were now interested in coming to Washington. A player from the 2001 team said to me, “The transformation of this program happened so quick it is beyond belief. Most of the girls I played with in 2001 would not make this team.

10. The leader cannot lose sight of the goal.

As a leader, the worst thing you can do is relax when your organization is doing well. At times success breeds apathy and complacency. A leader must guard against the attitude “We got to where we wanted now we can take it easy.” I will never forget what a speaker at a turnaround management conference in New Orleans once said: “We worked so hard to pull our company from the brink of disaster. We were able to convince the staff that we had the right plan and the right vision. As things started to improve, I noticed complacency had begun. The attention to detail was not as intense. We started to fall back into some bad habits. I saw it, but I guess I started to believe our own press releases and didn’t move quickly enough, and we found ourselves back in danger.”

Washington continued to have laser like focus. Over his 14 year tenure his teams reached the NCAA tournament 13 straight years, the eighth-longest active streak. In addition to a national title, Washington produced four NCAA Final Four appearances, three national players of the year, three Pacific-12 Conference titles, 17 players who combined for 34 American Volleyball Coaches Association All-America awards, nine CoSIDA Academic All-America scrolls and 58 all-Pac-12 awards.

Summary

I think we can safely say that the turnaround principles described here are not limited to for profit businesses. With the right leader, the rules can be applied to any type or size of business of organization. So if your business or organization is at a cross road give these rules a try. They are not easy. They will test and challenge you in ways you could never imagine, but in the end they work. Give me a call. I will be happy to help your where I can.

The Future of Aging

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Empowerment
The Future of Aging

The Eldercare Advocate

Are we living longer as a society? According to Paul Irving, Chairman of The Milken Institute Center for The Future of Aging, while overall it appears people are living to advanced ages, there is inequality in longevity which can be linked directly to socioeconomics and community.

The quality of people’s lives is significantly affected by their financial means and as well as where they live. Access to, and knowledge of, a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise and a more healthful diet, access to health care, as well as depression, loneliness, and isolation, are factors linked to decrease in life span over the past 3 years for people who life in communities where they may be facing more challenges as opposed to those living in more rural areas. Other factors which may affect a person’s overall health issues is actually discrimination against older people, also known as ageism.

The John Hartford Foundation[1]released an issue brief in April of 2017 entitled “Reframing Aging”.  The brief emphasizes the negative impact of our society’s view of becoming older, and because of this negative view, as if it is a fate to be avoided at all costs (a conundrum in and of itself. In a previous blogpost, I suggested the incongruence of us mourning premature death as a life unfulfilled, and yet shunning the notion of getting older, avoiding the discussion at all costs.)  However, discrimination faced by older people is actually an issue of national concern which needs to be addressed. This discrimination leads us as a society to accept, tolerate or seem to be disinterested in the poor care, poor treatment, lack of dignity and lack of respect faced by older people, and indeed those that are very old.

The brief goes on to call for the need to redefine aging. This is based on the negative assumptions about what it means to get old. In addition, as Paul Irving states, there is no one size fits all. There is a vast difference to each person who is 65, 75, 85, or 95. No different that there is a vast difference amongst people of any other age group. These differences may be defined by health, wealth, education, religion, gender and sexual preference but can certainly go on from there.

Rather than having sympathy for the older person, society must shape its attitudes towards inclusion. It is indeed a human rights issue. The rights of the older person in no way differs from the rights of any other person in society.

The words we use also has a tremendous impact on our attitudes. In American culture, from the time we are little we are using the word ‘old’ as in “how old are you”. Other cultures ask the query, “how many years do you have?”, or “what year are you living?”. Transforming our language will play an important role in changing our attitudes.

Lastly, the brief suggests an entirely new perception about aging, both from society as a whole, as well as from the perspective of the person who is advancing in their years. It suggests the notion of building momentum, I support terminology such as advancing in years or continuing life’s journey. It is an accomplishment, something to be admired and respected. Other cultures consider reaching an advanced age as a jubilee of sorts.  In the latter case, it is documented that a person’s self-image has a tremendous impact on their overall health.

Science has done its part in helping people live longer. But institutions, society, businesses, communities have not necessarily kept up with science on the one hand yet, on the other, it has perpetuated our youth oriented culture. This is most evident in the $16.8 billion spent on both invasive and less invasive cosmetic techniques to maintain or regain their youthful appearance. Is this not counterintuitive to the idea of accepting and appreciating one’s age. I’ve heard people say, look at the wrinkles on my face and the gray hairs on my head, I have earned every single one. They have meaning and importance, not only in my life, but for the life of others.

What is the cost to society if we don’t change our attitudes, provide better care and a better quality of life to people as they advance in age? Those “wisdom keepers” are a valuable natural resource that can add tremendous value to our society on many fronts and to the lives of those younger than they who can indeed benefit from the wealth of acquired knowledge through years of life experience.

What is it to feel a particular age?

When we are younger, as we advance from our 20’s. to our 30’s and probably to about our 50’s we feel a sense of growth and maturity. But, what do we feel as we continue on our life’s journey from that point upward to our 60’’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s?

Irving points out that prior to the 20thcentury creation of the “Happy Birthday” song, age was judged by fitness, health, etc. A return to this way of thinking may help us on the road to restructuring and refashioning our attitudes towards people as they continue to age.

Hugo Gerstl, a guest on Voices for Eldercare Advocacy remains a practicing trial attorney and author of 5 books at seventy-eight years of age.  He suggests that despite what we see in the mirror, a person always remains the same age deep down inside himself or herself, and that age is early maturity.

Gerstl also suggests that there is not a limitation or an endpoint in the jobs of life and he believes that the attitude one has toward or traditional idea of a job affects our attitudes towards life.  In our early years, through teens or early twenties for some, it is the job of going to school which is followed by years of gainful employment. But, if one chooses to end their traditional employment, they can think of their job as a continuation to acquire knowledge, to grow, to help others, to have interests beyond himself or herself. This is what keeps a person vital, vibrant, active and engaged. In doing so, there are significant contributions one can make though they may take on a different form.

[1]https://www.johnahartford.org/dissemination-center/view/reframing-aging-issue-brief-released

People, People Everywhere And Not A Person To Hire…

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Business
People, People Everywhere And Not A Person To Hire…

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This blog is provided by Dave DuBose and Will O’Brien from True North Growth Partners, as a companion to their interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future. This interview Lasting Solutions for Distribution Center Labor Shortages aired on 9/10/19.

 

Of course, that title is a takeoff from Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. The author referred to a thirsty sailor surrounded by saltwater that he cannot drink. This is what many distribution center (DC) operators face when they can’t attract and retain the workforce that they need to support their operations. With historically low unemployment, the demand for DC labor is escalating- a trend that will continue. This drives higher wages while the quality of the available workforce drops.

Other factors make this situation more complex. Job candidates may be unable to meet an organization’s hiring requirements for drug testing and work history. Lowering standards creates workforce reliability issues. Ecommerce is a big driver. Amazon (the biggest example) has over 100 fulfillment & sortation centers. The e-comm channel requires 4X the labor compared to retail and wholesale fulfillment. This creates a salary war, undercutting any loyalty that workers might have had. This is magnified at peak season.

How does a leader deal with all of this? Three strategies underpin a winning playbook:

  1. Reduce the Work Content
  2. Be a “Sticky Employer”
  3. Get the Most Out of Your Workforce

Strategy #1, “Reduce the Work Content,” is the focus of this blog

REDUCE THE WORK CONTENT OF THE FACILITY

Reducing work content is a challenge that belongs in the playbook. Analytical rigor is required to appropriately consider each option for achieving this goal and careful planning and execution is a must-have: these are not “quick fix” alternatives, but they can be very effective.

  • DC Bypass is the method of flowing goods to the customer or store while bypassing the DC or fulfillment center. It is necessary to analyze volume and order history so that an effective program can be designed that will provide the relief to the facility and have minimal-to-no impact on supplier charges or the customer experience.
  • Store-Based Fulfillment is growing rapidly. The most common version of this is BOPIS (Buy Online – Pickup In-Store). Walmart will ship an e-comm item to a store at no charge. Many grocers offer the increasingly popular curbside pick-up service. Others enable their stores to ship e-comm orders to customers’ homes. One retailer performs this function early in the morning, before the store opens for walk-in traffic. DSW stated that its stores are within 20 minutes of 70% of their customers, so they can’t afford to NOT take advantage of that proximity for improved speed and delivery cost. Target, Dick’s, Best Buy and others use store-based fulfillment as an economical way to compete against Amazon’s hyper-fast delivery model. Details related to how a retailer handles allocation, store operations, order management and small package carrier relationships are critically important. Creating and communicating a detailed plan ensures that leaders understand the assumptions about inventory, handling and transportation costs, as well as reductions in markdowns – and are committed to execution.
  • Pop-Up Fulfillment Centers are used during peak seasons to provide relief from surges in demand. Advancements in robotics enable operators to slot more items in pop-ups than ever before, with reduced training needs and improved speed and customer service. Robots, in this case, Automated Mobile Robots (AMRs) from companies like Locus, Fetch Robotics and 6 Rivers can be deployed very quickly, typically in less than a day. The software that operates AMRs is cloud based, which eases the IT requirements. AMRs are safe around people and other mobile equipment. The interface between the worker and the AMR is very simple, so training for the associate takes only minutes. Worker productivity dramatically increases because the robot eliminates the need for the worker to walk the entire facility. Most AMR providers offer their products on a “Robot-As-A-Service” basis, avoiding the large capital outlay that is needed for traditional material handling equipment. There is great flexibility with AMRs as the number of machines can flex over time with volume.

 

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AMRs in work environment

The two most significant advantages of pop-ups are reductions in labor and the cost of the last mile. By locating pop-up facilities in markets with dense demand, the operator shifts its labor burden from hiring  hundreds of associates in a labor-constrained single market to hiring dozens of associates in each of a handful of locations across the country- a much more achievable task. The cost of the last mile is    significant and is reduced by having pop-ups in dense markets. Given the success of pop-up DCs, operators are beginning to consider keeping them open year-round to augment distribution networks that need e-comm friendly solutions for speed, cost effectiveness and customer service. Careful product flow analysis and cost modeling ensures that the solution will deliver the intended benefits.

 

  • Automated Material Handling Equipment (MHE) solutions offer different options for reducing labor requirements in large, capital-intensive DCs. Continued innovation in automated-storage-and-retrieval and goods-to-person systems, as well as in conveyors, sorters and put-walls, enable operators to realize significant labor savings. 60% of a DC worker’s time can be spent walking in the facility, sometimes as much as 15 miles per day. Innovative developments continue in pack station and auto-bagger technologies. Automated MHE solutions fit well in high-volume operations and these solutions require significant effort to properly design and select the appropriate equipment for each situation.
  • Leverage a 3PL Partner: Finally, sophisticated 3PLs provide a wide range of services, from end-to-end fulfillment, including last mile delivery, to executing only the pieces of an operation that are most challenging to the business. A 3PL is a viable option for many scenarios. It is very important to perform due diligence in partner selection and in the integration of all processes and technologies to guarantee a flawless conversion and smooth operation.

 

If you are facing distribution or fulfillment challenges in your business, there are many options available to you. If you would like to discuss your situation with Will O’Brien or Dave DuBose, they can be reached at www.truenorthgrowthpartners.com.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

About the Authors

Dave DuBose is a senior supply chain professional with strong cross-industry experience including retail, consumer products, resources and high-tech in the North American and global theaters. Dave has held executive positions in logistics and supply chain in industry as well as consulting and has more than 30 years of professional experience. DuBose delivers innovative results and can translate business strategy into operating strategy and tactics. He has deep expertise in end-to-end business operations and in deploying business solutions from strategy through implementation. Dave is currently serving as the Columbus Roundtable board president the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals. He is active in speaking and writing about contemporary supply chain issues.

Will O’Brien is a partner at True North Growth Partners where he works with organizations on the supply chain and operations sides of their business. He helps his clients overcome the things that hold back their growth and profitability. He has over 30 years of experience in supply chain and operations. He has held executive positions in both industry and consulting. As an executive at Lowe’s Home Improvement he helped to lead the development of the supply chain for that big box retailer during a period of rapid growth, from $35 billion to $50 billion in revenue. He also helped pioneer Lowe’s omni-channel fulfillment when its online sales were growing significantly. He successfully grew a mid-sized family owned supply chain consulting firm by over 50%, expanded its markets, improved its pricing, reengineered its sales and business development organization and created career paths and professional growth for its associates.

The Mission Specialist

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Variety
The Mission Specialist

The Mission Specialist
Over the years I’ve had a lot of people ask me: “Are you in Radio?”
Or tell me: “You should be in Radio!”
And over the years I considered Albert Schweitzer to be a mentor: and I liked what he had to say about happiness and success. A couple of my “most favorite” quotes: “Success is not the key to happiness, happiness is the key to success” and “The only ones among you who will be truly happy are those who have sought and found a way to serve others.”
I share that idea with pretty much every group I speak too. And I’ve spoken to a lot of youth groups. And young people often are still figuring out what to do with their lives, what to go for!
I’ll also share a thought from Howard Thurman who advised us: “Don’t ask ‘what does the world need?’ Instead ask ‘what makes me come alive?’ then go do that!”
See I reckon that what the world needs is people who have come alive! Who are doing what they love to do.
Now I should let you know that I said I speak to youth groups, and I recently had an idea about that that I’d like to share with you. In fact, if there’s anything you get out of today’s show I hope you’ll remember this:
“Youth is not an age, not a number, it’s a state of mind, and perhaps even more than that, it’s a state of having passion for ideals.”
And a friend recently shared this idea:
To really grow we need to get out of our comfort zone. And she said that means: Do something that excites you, and maybe even scares you a little bit.

I recently started reading a book by Rich Karlgaard called Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a world obsessed with early achievement.

So many of us are taking the chance on something new.
Sherry told me the other day that she loves to see me doing what I love to do. This lights me up!
And it scares me a little too.
I’ve been on the Radio, quite a lot over the years. As a guest of Al MacIntyre, EdSchultz, and even Marlo Anderson on their Radio shows. But I’ve never been the host before!
You know, everything reminds me of a story: and this is an example.
That reminds me of the time when I gave my first speech at a Toastmasters club. Now, many of you probably know that speaking in public is one of the greatest fears that people have. Well, I was giving my first speech. I said the opening line, and forgot what I was to say next. I just stood there, then I remembered what to say next and went on with the speech. Well Tony Livernois was my evaluator, and he started his speech evaluation by saying “you’ve got the pause down!”
It was then that I realized: Hey I can’t make a mistake up here. No one knows what I’m going to say next. (Heck, Most the time I don’t even know myself what I’m going to say next!) Join me Mondays at 4pm Eastern, 1 Pacific to find out! BraveHearts Radio, on the Voice America Variety Channel.

We MADE it!

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Empowerment
We MADE it!

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Miracle Moment®

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,

When the road you’re trudging seems all up hill,

When the funds are low, and the debts are high,

And you want to smile, but you have to cry,

When care is pressing you down a bit,

Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

—Anonymous

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MESSAGE FROM CYNTHIA BRIAN, Founder/Executive Director

WE MADE IT!!! Twenty years of serving our communities and country through numerous life-changing outreach programs with 100% volunteer positions and no paid staff! What an accomplishment for everyone involved. On September 9th, 2019, Be the Star You Are!® is 20 years old. Yes, it has been a labor of love for me to trudge forward despite our numerous setbacks. There was a time when BTSYA had only 43 cents in the bank and I knew I would have to close the doors within a week because we just didn’t have the funds available to proceed further. Sadness filled my soul.

Then a miracle happened. Actually…THREE miracles in the same day. 

  1. #1 I opened the mail from my 18-year-old daughter who had just started her first year of college and was also working to pay her expenses. Out fell a check for $100 with a note that read, “Mom, this to help Be the Star You Are!® continue its great work. I know I’ll always have you, but if you quit, the other kids won’t have you. You CAN’T quit.”
  2. #2 The phone rang and a restaurant offered to give a percentage of their proceeds for a full day to Be the Star You Are!® 
  3. #3 A big envelope arrived from the kids at juvenile halls that we had been providing free books and reading circles to for several years. In the envelope were numerous hand-written thank you notes from these incarcerated youth. The hand-crafted cards were colorful and happy with mostly misspelled words and messages saying “thank you, gracias, or love you for caring”. One note read “Not only was this my very first book, but it was the first gift I’ve ever received.” But the note that tugged at our heartstrings the most said the following: “Thank you for saving my life. Without Be the Star You Are!®, I would have committed suicide.”

With those three “coincidences” occurring on my darkest day, I went outside at night to look to the heavens. “If I’m supposed to keep up this mission of empowering women, families, and youth, I need to see a sign. Please send me a shooting star.”  Yes, I was praying for a signal. And miracle #4 transpired. A bright star shot across the dark sky going from the far left to the far right so that there was not a chance I would miss it. 

It hasn’t been easy leading a non-profit but we are still here and we are always making a difference. I am honored to work with women, families, and teens. Their successes in life give me great joy.

I want to thank every person and business who has crossed paths with our outreach through two decades: volunteers, sponsors, beneficiaries, and donors. Be the Star You Are!® has touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals across the globe. We donated over $2 million in resources with a 100% volunteer workforce. Read about our amazing accomplishments at http://www.bethestaryouare.org/positive-results . Special thanks to Lamorinda Weekly, Mechanics Bank, and Moraga Hardware and Lumber for recent donations and to Justine Christoff for creating our new logos.

BTSYA still struggles to get funding and we hope you will be generous and make a tax-deductible donation to help us celebrate our 20th birthday. You can donate through PAYPAL GIVING FUND with 100% going to BTSYA with NO FEES:  https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504

We are not throwing a party or a gala, even though we wanted to, as we will use every donated penny to help others live and thrive.

No, I never quit. And I hope you will follow your heart and never quit either.

In the trilogy of Be the Star You Are!® books, I always include the poem, Don’t Quit.  You can support the charity by buying books, at https://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store . 

But I leave you with the last verse:

For Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger or faster man.

But, sooner or later, the man who wins

Is the one who thinks he can.

—Anonymous

What I’ve discovered is that success rarely comes on the first, second, third or fourth try. Sometimes even the hundredth. Keep trying and don’t give up. Even when you are rejected unnecessarily, consider each rejection as character building. You are a miracle of life, and you can do it. Give yourself a break, but never quit. You are a star! Embrace each “no” and exclaim, “Thank you, I am now that much closer to a yes!”

Together WE CAN!

Thank you for being part of our galaxy.  Make sure to visit http://www.BTSYA.org to see our gallery of photos from the past twenty years. In this newsletter, we share a few!

Our new motto is “Communicate, Collaborate, Innovate!” Hope you’ll join us.

Blessings and Gratitude,

Cynthia Brian

Founder/Executive Director

Be the Star You Are!®

PO Box 376

Moraga, California 94556

Cynthia@BetheStarYouAre.org

https://www.BetheStarYouAre.org

http://www.BTSYA.org

DONATE: https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504

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VOLUNTEER WRITES ABOUT BTSYA EXPERIENCES

Volunteering is a great way for teens to band together or to work individually to make a difference in the community. BTSYA offers the opportunity to become a leader and learn communication skills with its numerous volunteer opportunities. Brigitte Jia is a university sophomore interested in helping to bring the flaws of society to light. A volunteer with BTSYA, she is a host and reporter on Express Yourself!™ Teen Radio, artist, and published writer. She enjoys reading, playing the violin, and weightlifting. http://www.expressyourselfteenradio.com

Read Press Pass with the full story from Brigitte:

https://blog.voiceamerica.com/2019/09/07/be-the-star-you-are-501-c3-celebrates-20-years-serving-the-world/

Read the newspaper article: https://www.lamorindaweekly.com/archive/issue1314/Local-literacy-nonprofit-celebrates-20-years-of-service.html

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COME SEE US AT THE PEAR AND WINE FESTIVAL

On Saturday, September 28 from 11-3pm, Event Teen Director Siri Phaneedra and BTSYA volunteers will be offering fun and free activities at the Be the Star You Are!® booth at the Pear and Wine Festival at Moraga Commons Park in Moraga. Henna, face painting, reading circle, pop up concert, teen radio reporters, and more will be available to celebrate our 20th anniversary. The canopy will have the name of our sponsor, The Lamorinda Weekly. Stop by with the family, enjoy the festivities, and make a tax-deductible donation. More info at bestpear fest.jpg

https://www.BetheStarYouAre.org/events

To aid with sponsorship, email info@Bethestaryouare.org.

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FIND BOOKS AND HONEST REVIEWS

Be the Star You Are!® partners with The Reading Tub to increase literacy by offering first hand, honest reviews of books for young people. BTSYA Star Book reviewers read and write reviews which are published at The Reading Tub at  https://thereadingtub.org/books/be-the-star-you-are/

and also in our creative community at http://www.btsya.com/book_reviews.html . You’ll find more than 3000 reviews of books. We thank Founder and Executive Director, Terry Doherty, for her passion and dedication to books while collaborating with Be the Star You Are!®

WOW! 20 years. That is awesome. Perseverance and passion … you have them in limitless supply.” Terry Doherty, Founder and Executive Director, The Reading Tub

_________________

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‘Give yourself a boost of positivity by buying copies of our signature books in the Be the Star You Are!® series. 100% of the proceeds benefit the charity and you’ll treasure the stories for a lifetime. Buy now at https://www.CynthiaBrian.com/online-store.

PPS: Read how BTSYA is Making a Difference: https://www.ibpa-online.org/news/460747/IBPA-Member-Spotlight-Cynthia-Brian.htm 

DONATE: https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504

_______________________

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“I Am Because We Are” 

by Karen Kitchel

Photo from Wiccanbipolarforum’s Post

An anthropologist proposed a game to the kids in an African tribe. He put a basket full of fruit near a tree and told them that whoever got there first won the sweet fruits.

When he gave them the signal to run, they all took each other’s hands and ran together, then sat in a circle enjoying their treats.

When he asked them why they chose to run as a group when they could have had more fruit individually, one child spoke up and said: “UBUNTU, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?”

‘UBUNTU’ in the Xhosa culture means: “I am because we are.”

Contributed by volunteer Karen Kitchel who is passionate about scattering kindness. Currently, she serves meals to the homeless, is a volunteer teacher, writer, job coach, and mentor. She wrote the chapter, The Gift of Adoption, in our book, Be the Star You Are! Millennials to Boomers Celebrating Gifts of Positive Voices in a Changing Digital World and she continues to volunteer as a contributor to our newsletter. www.scatteringkindness.com

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LEND US YOUR EARS!

Get inspired, motivated, and informed with our two upbeat, life-affirming, innovative radio broadcasts from Be the Star You Are!® Radio heard on the Voice America Network, Empowerment Channel. StarStyle® airs Wednesdays LIVE from 4-5pm PT with host Cynthia Brian as your empowerment architect bringing you edu-tainment that will change your life for the better. http://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2206/be-the-star-you-are

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Express Yourself!™ airs on Sundays at 3pm PT with teen and young adult hosts interviewing a variety of authors, musicians, celebrities, and experts on topics of interest to the younger generation. https://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2014/express-yourself

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Visit www.BetheStarYouAreRadio.com to see the descriptions and photos.

To sponsor or advertise on any of our programs, please email info@BetheStarYouAre.org.

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DISCOUNTS & MORE

 We appreciate a direct donation most of all via PAYPAL GIVING FUND at https://www.paypal.com/fundraiser/charity/1504

Checks can be sent to PO Box 376, Moraga, California 94556

Other easy ways that assist our mission and don’t cost you a penny!

1. AmazonSmile donates .5% of purchases https://smile.amazon.com/ch/94-3333882

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2. Discounted books at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/shops/be_the_star_you_are_charity

3. Buy or Sell on EBAY:http://givingworks.ebay.com/charity-auctions/charity/be-the-star-you-are-501-c-3/1504/?favorite=link

4. Use GoodSearch to search the web & buy from your favorite stores. Choose Be the Star You Are as your charity to support. You can log in with Facebook, too!http://www.goodsearch.com/goodto-go/be-the-star-you-are

5. Shop at over 1300 stores on IGIVE: http://www.iGive.com/BTSYA

6. BTSYA Logo Store: http://btsya.rylees.net

7. Giving Assistant: Shop. Earn. Give! Use Giving Assistant to earn cash back at 3300+ popular online stores, then donate a percentage to BTSYA:https://givingassistant.org/np#be-the-star-you-are-inc

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8. Designer Clothes to Buy or Sell: https://www.unionandfifth.com/charities/be-the-star-you-are-moraga-ca/shop

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Gaslighting : An emotional abuse to burn your sanity

Posted by presspass on
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Health & Wellness
Gaslighting : An emotional abuse to burn your sanity

Gaslighting or Gaslighters …. this term is being used more than ever before in clinical and research literature as well as in political commentary. The term Gaslighting is now commonly used to describe behavior that is inherently manipulative. Gaslighting is a powerful form of emotional abuse. This sophisticated emotional abuse tactic makes victims question their own sanity.

Gaslighters use this mind game to gain control over the victim. Like other types of abuse, gaslighting can turn out in all sorts of relationships, including personal, romantic, social and professional. You may find gaslighters everywhere; political leaders, social media influencer, news anchors, celebrities, your neighbor, a close friend, your boss, colleague, your sibling, parents or other close relations – anyone of among these people surrounding you is in the position to gaslight you.

What is gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a form of psychological and emotional abuse used to eradicate or alter another human being’s perception of reality to gain influence, power, and control. Gaslighters deliberately play subtle mind games and psychological manipulations; which are carried out gradually in stages. To undermine the mental stability of its victim gaslighter repeats such manipulation time after time. These cause another individual (victim) to doubt his/her own judgments and perceptions.

The origin of the term Gaslighting

I know a question must be bugging you; from where did this term come from? The trendy phrase “Gaslighting” is originated from a 1938 mystery thriller play written by British playwright Patrick Hamilton called Gaslight . It was adapted into a popular movie in 1944 ; starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer and directed by George Cukor. In the movie, husband Gregory manipulates his innocent, loving and trusting wife Paula into believing she can no longer believe her own perceptions of reality.

Gregory tries to convince Paula through manipulating situations that she is going crazy. In one pivotal scene of this popular movie, Gregory causes the gaslights in the house to flicker by turning them on in the attic of the house. Paula notices this change asks his husband why the gaslights are flickering. Gregory convinces Paula that it’s not really happening and that it’s all in her mind, causing her to doubt her self-perception. Hence the term Gaslighting was born.

While the term Gaslighting never vanished, over seven decades later, gaslighting has fully resurfaced in personal relationships. The word gaslighting has become more popular everywhere since Donald Trump’s inauguration, so much so that the Oxford Dictionaries included it in one of the most popular words of 2018.

Effects of gaslighting

Galighting can have catastrophic effects on your mental health. The process is often gradual and may lead a person to develop mental health concerns. Gaslighting can impact your life in following manner

  • Constant self-doubt
  • Altered perception about reality
  • No trust on own judgments
  • Stressed out feelings
  • Lack of self-confidence
  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Social isolation and withdrawal
  • Decreased decision making ability
  • Depression

signs of gaslighting

Gaslighting tactics used by Gaslighters

Gaslighting can take place in various forms. Sometimes; it involves manipulating a person’s environment behind her/his back. On some other occasions the form of psychological abuse is entirely verbal and emotional. Common techniques used by gaslighters include following manipulative actions. These are most common warning signs of gaslighting

Lie and deny

A gaslighter is a constant liar. Gaslighters lie, lie and lie. Lie and deny these are the biggest weapons of gaslighters. They set up abusive pattern using them. The target/victim begins to question everything and become uncertain of the simplest matters. This self doubt and confusion in victim’s mind is what all gaslighters want. The constant self doubt and confusion that the abuser has instilled leads the victim to become desperate for clarity. In most of the cases the victim tries to seek clarity from abuser only. It becomes cycle and victim become more vulnerable.

Projection

Projection is gaslighter’s signature technique. They are liar, cheater, manipulator and have negative mindset. Whatever the gaslighter/narcissist is or whatever he/she is doing, he/she will assign those characteristics or behaviors to you. Gaslighters uses this technique projection so often that target/victim starts trying to defend him/her; and is distracted from the gaslighter’s own behavior.

Gaslighting - an Emotional Abuse

Congruence

The congruence is missing in what gaslighters say and what they do. One can notice the mismatch in their words and actions. They will make promises and commitments but their words mean nothing. When it comes to action, their behavior is altogether different. They will also use compassionate words as a weapon at times to smooth over the particular situation. Then questioned for any incident, they may use words like, ” Honey, you know how much I love you. I can’t even think to hurt you like this.” These are the apologies and words which victim want to hear, but those are not authentic. When dealing with gaslighters always pay attention to their actions and not on the words.

Listening refusal

The gaslighters refuse to listen any concerns of gaslightee or pretend not to understand them. They try to make the victim feel bitter and question own sanity.

Challenge memory

They challenge and question the victim’s memory. Gaslighters deny the incidents and events occurred in the way the gaslithtee remembers. They may even deny and pretend to forget incidents or events that have happened actually, this manipulation helps further question the victim’s memory. They may also create false details of the incident or event that did not occur.

gasligheting

Change the subject

Gaslighters change the subject and try to divert the target’s attention from a topic. They divert the topic by asking another question, or making a statement typically directed to challenge your thoughts. They may also twist and redirect the conversation into an argument about the person’s credibility.

Isolation

Gasligter declare that you are crazy. They know that victim is questioning his/her sanity. As I mentioned earlier, unfortunately in most of cases the victim search for clarity in the person who is purposefully causing the confusion. Here they call victim crazy and make them to believe it. They also spread it to other people, relatives and friends that “you’re crazy”. Gaslighter spreads rumors and gossips about you to relatives, friends and other surrounding people to you. They will pretend to be worried about you and “your behavior” while subtly telling others that you seems to have mental health issues like emotionally unstable or crazy. When victim approach them (friends and relatives) for help, they does not believe him/her. They don’t take the victim seriously. This way gaslighter isolates the victim from getting help.

gaslighting tactics used by gaslighters

Signs of Gaslighting

I have already mentioned the harmful and bad effects of gaslighting on receiver or victim. Long exposure to gaslighting triggers many mental health issues. Therefore, it becomes extremely important to recognize when you are being gaslighted. Check the following signs of gaslighting and ask yourself if any of the symptom or statements is true for your life:

  • You start doubting your own feelings or your sense of reality, and try to convince yourself that the gaslighter’s behaviour is not that bad or that you are being too sensitive on the issues.
  • Decision making becomes tough and you distrust yourself. You look towards your friends, partner or relatives for taking decisions for you.
  • There is no congruence in words and actions of your spouse, family member or friends. Their behaviour confuses you.
  • You feel like you are having low self-esteem. The thoughts like you are not “good enough” always prevails in your mind.
  • You always keep apologizing for what you do or who you are, assuming people are disappointed with you.
  • You try to live up to the  ingenuine, unrealistic and unreasonable expectations and demands of others.
  • Sense of insecurity and vulnerability, you feel like your behavior and actions will be questioned and you will look like fool in front of others.
  • You feel like something worst or terrible is about to happen whenever friends, spouse or relatives surrounds you.
  • A strong feeling that you are good for nothing.
  • You feel lonely, powerless and trapped.

The more you are aware of these gaslighting techniques, the earlier you can identify them and avoid falling into the gaslighter’s trap.  Are you experiencing gaslighting?  Do you know someone else who is?  Do you have any recommendations that would help others?  Please feel free to share in the comment section.

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