A Chance To Make Change

During the Leadership Albuquerque 2020 retreat, I had the opportunity to hear from our vise-chair, Debbie Johnson, speaking on the topic of Leadership. She has been the Director of Economic Development and Entrepreneurship for CNM and owned a marketing firm with her [late] husband Rick Johnson, amongst many other high marks. With a history like this, I was sure she has had a lot of experience with being a leader.

In a very traditional presentation, Debbie planned to share ideas and quotes, not using slides, but in more of a conversational way. A conversation is not the way that people tend to teach anymore, and it was refreshing to have something so engaging. Here is a recap of the quotes I captured and what I took away from them.

  • “Be a student of leadership.” – Be humble in knowing that being a leader is a constant state of learning.
  • “Remove the chip on your shoulder.” – Being collaborative will get you farther than being competitive in the workplace.
  • “Have an entrepreneurial mindset.” – Learn to approach challenges with an open mind and be willing to look for answers in new ways.
  • “You learn as much from your peers as you do from great leaders.” – Your relationships with those you work with will prove to be invaluable.
  • “Failure is a fabulous teacher.” – Failures are inevitable, but there are lessons to be learned in every experience that can only make you better.
  • “Use data to drive your decision making.” – It’s the best way to make forward movement. However, remember that data is about your head, but leadership is about your heart.
  • “Learn to see grey.” – There are always two sides to every story, and it’s never black and white. Try to put yourself in other’s shoes.
  • “There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom.” – Knowledge is the information you receive or impart, while wisdom is actually caring about it.

Debbie also provided her list of the 8 P’s of Leadership to keep in mind down the path of leadership:

  1. People
  2. Passion
  3. Principles
  4. Purpose
  5. Persistence
  6. Patience
  7. Partnership
  8. Philanthropy

Last, Debbie also provided 8 inspirational quotes:

  1. “Just do it.” – Phil Night
  2. “The buck stops here.” – Harry Truman
  3. “Know the difference between power and influence.” -Jay Stoll
  4. “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ” – Maya Angelou
  5. “Ignore the egomaniacs and the nay-sayers; focus on what can be done and with whom.” – Kathie Winograd
  6. “When I was born, the doctor told my parents, ‘I’m sorry.’ But that’s because he didn’t know how awesome I am!” – Tim Harris, Restaurant owner with down syndrome
  7. “The only hand you’ll ever need is at the end of your sleave.” – Charles R. Cunningham
  8. “Your will to exceed is your biggest asset.” – Clifton Taulbert

I’m hoping to get to know Debbie a bit more with my time in LA2020, and that I may learn to use some of her wisdom.

Characteristics of Leadership

All the stars aligned for me and I was selected to be in 40th class of Leadership Albuquerque 2020. This has been a huge opportunity for me because I have such a strong desire to be connected and contributing to the city I live in. What a great way to meet lots of “movers and shakers” that are shaping the city I moved to!

I attended the annual retreat for LA2020, which was a two day even of leadership education and information. I found this event to be to life-changing! I had realizations that were suddenly made clear, and I have made changes professionally as well as generally to my life because of it.

Early on day one was a presentation by our LA2020 Chair, Bruce Stidworthy, President and CEO for Bohannan Huston. His talk on leadership was simple, and easy to follow, but also inspiring and had some gems for take-aways. This is my summation from my notes.

7 Characteristics of Successful Leaders

Leadership by Example

1) Hard Work – There is no substitute for hard work. Sometimes this requires sacrifice, but this doesn’t mean doing something you don’t like or don’t believe in. It’s putting in the work because it’s apparent when you care to get things right. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it!

2) Good Work – Take pride in the work you do and measure the results because it matters. Ask for feedback and be willing to hear it. By doing things well, your reputation will precede you.

3) Relationships – Invest in your relationships and value them highly. Always speak the truth and show that you care. This means more than being sympathetic – you need to take action, show that you care. It takes time to cultivate the relationships that you may depend on.

4) Balance – It’s important to have balance in your life. As important as work is, you also need to find time to be with family and friends, as well as time for yourself – body, mind, and spirit. Also, doing work you like is a step towards balance.

5) Integrity – Make commitments carefully and demonstrate humility. Admit when you are wrong or don’t know something. Don’t be careless with the truth, even in small matters, as this will impact how others will trust you later.

6) Innovation – Try new things fearlessly. Life is a long journey of learning. Be creative and look to be inspired to help with problem-solving. The only way you will get better at doing something is to do it.

7) A Spirit of Service – Everyone is serving someone else, even when you are at the top. Get to know those you are helping and understand their problems, then use your unique skills to help them. Helping others to be successful is a win-win.

If you get a chance to meet Bruce, you will find a very humble man who demonstrates all of these characteristics. I’m looking forward to getting to know him more throughout my year with Leadership ABQ.

The HOW Design Conference Experience

I was lucky enough to have my organization send me to a design conference this year. I say this because conferences are ridiculously expensive these days and after paying so much for my attendance, I certainly hoped I would get something great out of going.

I chose the 2019 HOW Design Conference in Chicago. At first, I was a little concerned about the lack of way finding. A design conference should have great design for their signage, right? I was also disappointed to find that they were not providing meals and really scaled back on perks. But once the programming began, my impressions changed.

By the time I was on a plane back home, I really felt inspired! I knew that going to this conference was worth it! I felt changed. It’s been almost a month now, and I am still thinking about the sessions and their topics, the energy I received, and the new convictions I have because of it. You are reading this blog today because I went to this conference. Was it worth it? YES

The conference is broken up into several tracks catering to:
• Creative Freelancer
• Creative Leadership
• Design + Creativity
• The Dieline Conference
• Digital
• In-House
• Tools + Resources

I was able to attend 32 sessions and touched on all of these tracks except for Dieline. I was blown away by some of the presentations! I’m not going to go over every detail, but here are my highlights.

Terri Trespicio talked about how to discover, capture, and communicate your best ideas. My biggest takeaways were her comments, “Figure out why you are great, not how to become great,” and “When we change how we see our work we change how we see our future.” I’ve since started following Terri and continue to learn how to change how I see my work and myself for the better.

Gaemer Gutierrez had a couple of sessions on leadership and creating better departmental communication. I am working with my team to implement some of these principles and create better bridges between departments. His detailed sessions really helped to be able to bring back actionable ideas.

Andrew LaMonica also had personal strategies for creative leadership and I felt connected to his principles. I also follow Andrew and continue to learn new strategies or be reminded of the fundamentals that everyone should know. I want to note that Andrew is also very attentive and responds to comments, showing he really cares about the people he connects with.

Stephen Gates presented on how the future is creative, also the theme for the conference, and he really got the creative juices going. I could tell that everyone was capturing his every word. He talked about how important a personal brand is, and how this isn’t something that you do the next time you are looking for a job. It’s something you curate as an ongoing project that never ends. It should follow you and even proceed you. A personal brand should be “consistent, credible, creative, and memorable.”

Last, but most riveting, Elizabeth Gilbert gave a talk about how she became a writer. The story is captured beautifully by Terri. In short, Elizabeth had an artist neighbor that she secretly admired. When she spoke to her about how she wished she could live a life like her and have all the time in the world to make art, the woman asked her, “What are you willing to give up to obtain the life you are pretending that you want?” She pointed out that people say they don’t have time, but they have time to watch TV, or spend time with friends, or fill their time with lots of various other activities. Ultimately we all have control over this and choose where to spend time. This was an eye opener for me and something that changed me. I have started new projects and I feel I owe it to Elizabeth’s inspirational story.

So here I go! This blog was created because I went to the HOW Design conference. Would I recommend someone else to go? Absolutely!