Archive for the ‘Women In Business’ Category

Be You

Posted by krystamasciale on January 10, 2012  |   1 Comment »

For me, it’s not “sometimes” … it’s every day. And it’s a reminder needed in both my professional and personal life.

There are still areas where I catch myself trying to replicate someone else’s life. The way they act, dress, decorate, cook, lead, speak, write. And then I realize they don’t have it figured out either so I might as well stick to what I’m good at … being me.

Get rid of anything that is just an attempt to be like everyone else. You weren’t created to be an imitation.

Dream Bigger

Posted by krystamasciale on January 5, 2012  |   3 Comments »

I saw this today and it kind-of sucker punched me.

I’ve always been a big picture kind-of gal … a visionary … foreword thinking.

In the past year, I’ve accomplished most of those “big picture” dreams I had for myself since I was in undergrad. The goals that remain are more lifestyle oriented like: travel more, make more money, etc.

Those things don’t scare me. They’re doable. 

I know what it’s like to have dreams that scare the poop right out of me. Accomplishing them required me to step up, take risks, rely on other people … rely on God.

I guess what this little poster jolted out of me this morning was this: dreaming small (or not dreaming at all) puts me in the driver’s seat. It allows me to be completely in control because those dreams are attainable on my own. Dreaming big requires a loss of control. It requires we trust God for some divine intervention. It requires we ask other people for help (barf). And it requires a willingness to let the big dream morph into something entirely different (often times, something better) than we imagined.

THAT (to me) is scary stuff.

I’d love to hear what dream of yours scares the panties off you. If you don’t have one, what are you afraid to lose by dreaming of a life bigger than yourself? 

PRIORITIES

Posted by krystamasciale on December 14, 2011  |   No Comments »

“Even if you want the right things, you may make the wrong decisions based on your inability to prioritize the things that matter to you.” Erwin McManus

I’m really looking forward to the Christmas vacation the hubs and I are taking. Two weeks of adventure, good food and no email tend to get you on the straight and narrow real quick.  It’ll be a great time to celebrate the successes (and crazy scary moments) of this year and focus on what really matters before we start 2012.

What are your priorities? Do you ever find yourself moving them around when great opportunities arise?

Quote-O-the-Day

Posted by krystamasciale on December 7, 2011  |   1 Comment »
“What we see depends mainly on what we look for.” John Lubbock

Social Schmedia

Posted by krystamasciale on December 6, 2011  |   4 Comments »

Can we have a really quick conversation about Social Media?

Great, thanks.

Here are some of my recent observations (not earth shattering, but worth the mention):

1. The Internet provides the perfect place for cowards to have hurtful conversations without suffering any repercussions. Example: If you say something on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, any other social media platform, and someone has something against you personally, this is a perfect opportunity for them to make a jab at YOU. Notice I said, you, not your content. Big difference.

2. People think they have permission to speak into your life just because they stalk you online. I don’t do life with 99% of the people in my online network. There are a lot of people in my network who I did life with in high school, college or various organizations in my past. However, we aren’t real-life-call-you-on-the-phone-have-double-dates kind of friends. Some people stalk your Facebook, Twitter and/or blog and it gives them the allusion that you’re friends. They may, perhaps, say things to you that you feel are inappropriate or completely unsolicited. Please realize Social Media can be extremely one-sided. Before you get crazy on them, realize they may just see your relationship differently because they feel like they know you based on the number of hours they put into stalking your online presence.

3. When you put yourself out there … you aren’t allowed to get your panties in a wad when someone disagrees with you in front of your Tweeples, readers or Facebook stalkers. Seriously. There’s nothing private or safe about intentionally airing your opinions online. People are going to disagree. If you’re smart, you’ll use that tension to create meaningful dialog and learn about another perspective. If you’re insecure, you shouldn’t be online. Period.

4. Quality not quantity. I used to think, “If people really want to know what I’m up to all the live long day, I’ll accept their friend request.” I feel a tad bit differently about that now. Here’s why:

If I were hosting a dinner party with a bunch of people from various friend camps, I would feel responsible for creating a space where everyone felt welcome to have honest conversation. They shouldn’t feel embarrassed or hesitant to share what they feel, think or care about. I hold the same philosophy now when people come to my “online home.” If a “friend” says something I feel is a direct attack on my personality or character, I ask them to send me a private message or an email. If they don’t, I defriend them. Not because I don’t want people in my life who don’t like me … but because it isn’t constructive to other people stopping by. It makes people feel unsafe, like they’re a potential target. Besides, it’s no one else’s business if they have a personal problem with me. It should stay between said friend and I. If someone offers an opinion that is completely opposite of mine … I welcome the conversation with open arms. Why? Because I like to learn. As long as they aren’t attacking anyone personally, I’m cool with differing opinions floating around.

5. Know your reason for building a social network. You don’t HAVE to be active on social media platforms to be “in the know.” Remember, there are pros and cons to EVERYTHING and your time is precious. If you’re going to invest your personal/work time into something, it better be something you love or have a value for.

My reason for blogging: I want to be more disciplined in writing, I want to be helpful to a specific demographic of the population, and I want them to feel less alone.

My reason for Tweeting: To gather information from various industries and build professional relationships with people I’d like to end up being friends with some day.

My reason for Facebook: To keep in touch with my friends and family around the world.

I love social media because in real life I’m a social person. But the relationships are not the same as face-to-face relationships … and we need to remember that.

Stories? Thoughts?

Creatives Making Waves

Posted by krystamasciale on December 2, 2011  |   No Comments »

After yesterday’s post, I came across two projects that show what happens when creatives are given the space to do what they do best:

1. The Versalette — FASHION.

Two fashion designers found a solution to the growing problem with consumerism and the lack of sustainability in their industry. Their philosophy: You can have more with less.

They designed the Versalette — a multifunctional piece that can be worn more than 15 different ways and is made in the US with 100% recycled fabric. They launched a Kickstarter campaign and are well on their way to hitting their $30,000 goal to jump start production. This is exactly the kind of solution that leads others into more creative thinking and pulls them into a movement to take better care of our planet! Check out how their Versalette goes from a skirt to a scarf to a purse, oh my!


2. Neighborhood Film Company

Some crazy talented filmmakers decided to forgo their careers of fame and fortune to be the solution to the problems of homelessness and recidivism around the nation. After working on some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbuster films the founder of Neighborhood Film Company felt the process of making a film could be the second chance people needed to get back on the right track. I love how this team is leveraging their talents and networks to bring hope in a way that’s relevant and unique. Watch their story here (it’s only 5 minutes and you know you aren’t doing anything at your desk this fine Friday morning).

If they were on your team, this is the kind of thinking that should be allowed. I suppose the question is, are organizations willing to be a part of the solution? Are they willing to get a little uncomfortable and adopt new ways of doing business? Some aren’t … and that’s ok. The ones who are … they’ll change the way people interact with the world. There’s no doubt about that.

Creatives | Wave of the Future Part 1

Posted by krystamasciale on December 1, 2011  |   1 Comment »

I have a theory.

I believe creatives are the hope for the future of our marketplace. 

It’s certainly not because I think business people are less valuable than the creative minds out there. But I do think the creative community brings something unique to the table that our existing workplace infrastructure doesn’t fully accommodate.

For instance, creativity.

When was the last time you worked in a corporate environment that allowed any sort of creative thinking for longer than a water cooler visit? I’m not talking crayons and filmmaking here. I’m just talking basic out-of-the-box thinking that was encouraged and nurtured. What about creativity in the way most of see it (aka … the crazy artist people). When was the last time your workplace allowed any of “those people” into the mix to collaborate or provide ideas?

The new wave of business is set up to foster the kind of environment necessary where creative thinkers are not only valued, but also an intricate part of how the business operates. These businesses have teams of people who come from various backgrounds and offer differing strengths, but everyone has the same respect for the creative process and the role it plays in building more competitive and innovative businesses.

Companies who can’t adapt to creative thinkers will die. Of course, I could be wrong, but to be on the safe side, here are some things I’ve learned about working with creatives:

Provide structure and boundaries so they can gain traction (and don’t get your panties in a wad when they start breaking through those boundaries like bulldozers. That’s where the gold is.).

Let them brainstorm. You don’t have to let them run a muck in your staff meetings, but you DO need to set aside good chunks of time so they can process their ideas. Oh, and they’re just brain dumping … you don’t have to act on EVERY. SINGLE. IDEA. Just sit back, take notes, and watch the show.

Be honest and compassionate in your communication efforts. If changes need to be made to the work they’re creating, it’s super helpful if the tone of your voice is sincere — not degrading or harsh. There’s no need to be rude (this is a general rule for interacting with ANYONE, by the way).

Be clear about expectations. Creative individuals solve problems whether it’s through design, writing copy, algorithms,etc. Make sure you know what piece of the problem you want them to solve, by when, with what budget, with which team members and to whom they are to report.

Follow up. You need to check in often to steer the creative team back on track. Again, give them space to brainstorm and let their ideas marinate so they can play around with them a little. But know that if you don’t eventually reel them back in, you’re setting them up for failure. And again, be nice with the reeling.

Let them play. Just because they go surfing in the middle of the morning doesn’t mean they’re slackers. Sometimes it does, but that’s a character flaw, not a trait of a creative. They need space to think. If you hire someone who is respectful, professional and damn good at what they do, give them the freedom (and space) to do things that provide them perspective and clarity. This looks different for everyone. If they’ve been hunkered down at their desk for too long and start to look like zombies (this could happen between anywhere between 1 hour and 5 days), tell them to take a creative break. Require they turn off their work email, go to a new restaurant, grab coffee, take in a museum, surfing, concert, sit outside … ANYTHING but think about the project they’ve been asked to complete. I promise they’ll come back reinvigorated and likely with an idea for a direction that will take your company to the next level.

Remember they aren’t stupid. These individuals are highly skilled and deeply intellectual. It’s wise not to treat them like glorified elementary kids armed with colored pencils and sketch books.

Remember they aren’t aliens. They’re people just like you and me. Some may be tatted up, have crazy ear plug things, where flip flops and black rimmed glasses … but they aren’t from Mars. They’re just different. And I’d be willing to bet most of us could use a little “different” in our lives.

I know this isn’t news to most of you. But for those who are in a position to invite creatives into the flow of your business, I’d highly encourage it. You’ll be amazed at what the new dynamic will do for your team

(here’s a little graphic designer guide from the folks at Design You Trust)

Vacations = Good Business Practice

Posted by krystamasciale on November 28, 2011  |   No Comments »

I suck at relaxing.

As someone who likes to win, I usually don’t participate in activities where I know I will likely fail.

When we start packing for a vacation I start to get hives and break out into cold sweats as I imagine different scenarios where everyone else is having a great time and I’m the uptight asshole who can’t even talk herself into a few beers to loosen up.

Part of it is that I like to keep myself on lock-down … I like to be in control of my actions and how I’m perceived. Being a child of an alcoholic will do that to you — there’s no way in hell I’ll be seen as the uncontrollable drunk. (It’s always extremes with me … you’re either a drunk or boring — I choose boring.)

As an entrepreneur, I’ve come to make relaxing/vacations/calming the hell down a priority. And I try to do it as regularly as possible.

Why?

Because my business and relationships depend on it.

As Americans, we take pride in working ourselves into the ground. Time is money and we love our money … which leaves little room for actually unwinding and unplugging. After months of straight working and being “on” (via Crackberries, iPhones, iPads, computers, etc), I have to believe we’re simply useless.

It takes me a few days into vacation for my brain to go on auto pilot, but I eventually get there. By the last day, I’m planning ways to rearrange my schedule in order to protect more of my time and provide space that will allow more creative thinking and less dependence on email and social media.

Vacations provide rest for an overworked brain and over-stressed bodies. They provide a chance to regroup, reevaluate and gain clarity on what your priorities really are (which likely don’t include working until your numb).

We need to take more vacations. Real ones folks … not the kind where you take your smart phone to the beach and sneak a peak when your spouse isn’t looking. I 100% believe it’s one of the best business practices out there.

Brain Candy

Posted by krystamasciale on November 10, 2011  |   2 Comments »

I run into imitation a lot in my business. People notice what works well for someone else in their industry and try to replicate it in hopes it will work for them too. In school, they called that plagiarism. You actually got kicked out if they caught you. Why? Because it’s not yours … you didn’t actually do the work. And more importantly … it’s not YOU.

Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.  Anne Lamott 

I wish I would have written that. In fact, if Seth Godin and Anne Lamott were to procreate, I would want to be their spawn. Since that’s clearly not possible, what I have left is the option to pretend I’m something I’m not, or own who I am. There are people who won’t like me or buy my product (which actually isn’t as traumatizing after you get used to it). But if I’m confident in owning the truth about who I am, I won’t have to be someone else when I’m with friends, family or clients. I’ll tell you, there’s nothing more freeing than letting go of that illusion and being … you.

Values

Posted by krystamasciale on October 24, 2011  |   No Comments »

I remember walking out of my first class in grad school thinking: “I’ve gotten my money’s worth already.”

First class … day one, class one of a two-year graduate program on Organizational Leadership.

It was intense.

My professor was a woman from Iran who specializes in Leadership Development and Organizational Strategy. Her course for that semester … ethics. It was the most influential course I took throughout my entire academic career.

We spent evenings listening to her inform us of our responsibility as business leaders to be aware of the ethical codes set by organizations we may end up working for. And then one night, it got personal. She walked in with bags of bite-sized Hershey’s candy bars. I thought I’d hit the jackpot and decided to grab a few and indulge myself. As empty wrappers littered our tables, our professor began to tell us about the Ivory Coast and the slave labor that was occurring, all to Hershey’s knowledge, around their most precious product: chocolate.

You could see the horror in all of our faces. 1) that we didn’t know about the origin of products we frequently purchase and 2) that we had just eaten a handful of chocolate that had likely been produced by a child whose parents thought they were sending him to become educated and have a better life.

Her exercise was the foundation for a conversation we would spend weeks discussing: personal values.

She wanted us to know that things aren’t so black and white. Should an American company operate by American rules on someone else’s soil? Is that appropriate? Can we impose our values on other cultures both as individuals and organizations? What are our values as leaders within these organizations? Do they align with the values of the company we’re working for? If not, is it appropriate for us to require that they compromise their values so we don’t have to compromise ours?

It wasn’t pretty. Isn’t everything black and white? What do you mean when you say that my leadership style is requiring others compromise their values?

One week she handed out a list of values and 5 notecards to each of us in the room. She told us to choose 5 values on the worksheet and write one value per notecard.

I wanted to die. Dramatic? Maybe. But I was going to grad school to learn how to be a better leader and ultimately run an organization into greatness and I didn’t even know what I cared about. Well, I didn’t know what I cared about enough to articulate it in one-word answers.

My first point of paranoia: There were a gazillion values on that list. How could I pick just 5? Second, what if my values made me look like an asshole? I was in a graduate program with a bunch of softies who liked to cry and talk about feelings. If I didn’t choose values that made me look compassionate, it would only confirm my classmate’s theory that I sucked as a person.

I finally got over it and picked my values: respect, responsibility, influence, competency/excellence, exploration.

In my thesis, I was able to look back at this first class and break these down a little:

1. Respect – Everyone deserves to be heard. Human rights should not be violated not matter race, creed, sexual orientation or age. People are capable of much more than we give them credit for, which means I am responsible for asking questions before making assumptions.

2. Responsibility – As a leader I feel that I am responsible for creating spaces for others to maximize their potential. One of the more devastating experiences in my life has been believing I am capable of of something great, but not having the platform or support to actualize it. We also have access to more information than ever before. I believe I am responsible for doing what I can with my time, talents and resources to create as much good as possible in the world.

3. Influence – I have a core conviction to build a platform that has the capacity to be a compelling force in the way people act, behave and think. This platform will be a group effort, not led solely by my own opinions.

4. Competency/Excellence – This one is two-fold. To excel, by definition means you have to not only do better than, but also surpass others. In my opinion, the average person does not want to work hard enough to adopt a mindset of excellence .. it’s too hard. I’m not ok with settling for average. I believe most people settle for average because it is too painful to admit someone else may be more qualified. I think that’s lame. I strive to surround myself with people who are capable, uniquely talented in specific areas and strive to work together to create something that suppresses the status quo and redefines what people deem possible.

5. Exploration – “To travel for the purpose of discovery.” Exploration diminishes our fears and assumptions of something in which we are completely unfamiliar. Exploration has changed what I care about by exposing opportunities for my passions to flourish. Exploration reminds me of my desire for adventure and discovery. And it ultimately leads to a better understanding of the world around me.

What are your top 5 values? Do you feel like your values are being compromised in your workplace? Are you causing others to compromise their values by requiring they adapt to yours?