“We teach best what we most need to learn.”
“We teach best what we most need to learn.”
For 14 years, I had poured every ounce of my energy, thought, and time into growing a boutique digital marketing firm that guided companies all over the world as they learned to reshape and evolve their approach to growth. I was honored to contribute to the purpose and community-driven movement. I was writing, speaking, and teaching all over the world, influencing thought, shaping the search engine marketing industry, and pioneering an approach to genuine customer connection in the digital age.
In my journey to find my way back to who I wanted to be as a human — and the work I wanted to do in the world — I had to unlearn some old things and teach myself some new things.
When, for the first time in 14 years, I found the courage to rest, I followed my longing for building better companies into Org Design (OD). But the work awaiting me here was not just learning to support multi-billion dollar companies in operating better at scale, it was untangling my self worth from my identity as a Founder and CEO.
In my journey to find my way back to who I wanted to be as a human — and explore the work I wanted to do in the world — I had to unlearn some old things and teach myself some new things. The first part of this was facing some of the biggest lies I'd been telling myself for a very large portion of my life:
- My worthiness and value as a human comes only from what I do or produce in my work
- I have to be well-liked and validated by others to feel grounded, centered, and worthy
- Status, money, and external acknowledgement of my accolades is the most important measure of my success
- If I make the space to slow down or take a break, I will fall behind and never get "there"
As I was wading through dismantling these limiting stories and beliefs, I was flying every other week to cities like Phoenix and San Francisco to do my OD work. At the time, I was in the belly of the beast of these multi-billion dollar companies, teaching them how to manage complexity, experiment, make decisions, look at and solve their problems differently, and shift their systems and cultures at scale. I was teaching these companies to trade bloat and bureaucracy for agility and speed.
But something was missing.
These leaders and companies were struggling to navigate the uncertainty and complexity of their work environment. They were asking me to focus on reshaping their systems and processes so they could get "there" faster. And although that systems work is important — and I could absolutely help these leaders and teams design and systems-think their way out of most anything — these systems would continue to break down and fail the company and their customers if we continued to leave the vulnerability and emotions out of it.
That's when I noticed some similar lies that we tell ourselves as leaders and humans in our organizations:
- It's not personal, it's business (translation: don't get emotionally involved with the work or the people)
- To be a powerful, respected leader, I have to know all the answers and have it all figured out
- I can control the uncertainty and complexity of my environment by planning, controlling, micro-managing, and being constantly overwhelmed and overcommitted
- Fears and feelings have no place at work
Vulnerability and courage were the magic that broke these companies, humans, and systems wide open so they could finally become who they were really longing to be.
By combining the doing of the systems and process work with the being of the people work, I could teach companies, leaders, and teams to make shifts like these — bringing the desired resilience, creativity, innovation, efficiency, collaboration, profitability, and sustainability to our organizations:
FROM a culture of fear and blame TO inclusive environments of experimentation, innovation, and learning
FROM command-and-control hierarchy and learned helplessness TO self-managed, engaged humans and teams who share power and accountability
FROM overwhelmed, overcommitted, and always so busy TO working with purpose, intention, and having brave conversations about boundaries
FROM stalled and fear of getting it wrong TO making safe-to-try decisions, small moves, and proposing experiments for momentum
FROM working in silos TO resilient teams who trust and collaborate across the business, aligning to strategic vision
FROM talking about each other TO talking to each other
In 2021, I am a powerful, courageous, wholehearted change-maker who is practicing every day to be true to who I am and the human I am constantly becoming.
And this is what I know to be true about my work as an Org Designer and a teacher:
I am a DISRUPTOR - I guide Fortune 500 and SMB companies, teams and leaders to evolve their systems, ways of working, and build braver cultures. I teach organizations to drive alignment with autonomy, principles and vulnerability rather than rules and policies
I am a DESIGNER - I craft and direct change, innovation, and inclusion programs that integrate across organizations at scale — face-to-face and with a fully distributed workforce — to foster resilient, innovative, human companies
I am an INNOVATOR - I pioneer approaches to change that teach executives, senior leaders and teams across the organization to reshape systems and ways of working, increasing employee engagement, value provided to the customer, and the business
I provide THOUGHT LEADERSHIP + PARTNERSHIP - I speak globally, influencing thought in human-centric change and future of work. I provide data, knowledge, and expertise to leaders and teams across the organization to connect dots and achieve business objectives
And this is what I know to be true about me:
- Although I am incredibly proud of the work I do in the world — and I am lit up every time I get the opportunity to do this work — it doesn't make me who I am
- I will work hard and give my all to my work, but no longer at the sacrifice of my well being, relationship with myself, or my connection with my family
- I am committed to my journey as a teacher, paving my own path, and to the adventure of discomfort, learning, and growth
Maybe we can do this part together.