Notes From the Front Porch: A Change of Seasons

Ideas, perspectives and stories to help you lead and live

In the year since my mother passed away, much of my spare time has been consumed by the hard physical and emotional work of clearing out – and managing the challenging sale of – her homes in Denver and Maine. Believe me when I say this chapter can’t close soon enough. Thankfully, barring any more surprises, it is within reach. I think.

My last big push, (fingers crossed) was at the Maine house in August. My husband, Tom, and I spent an entire week sorting, keeping, donating, selling, pitching and cleaning through 25-plus years of Gwin’s personal belongings.

Particularly as we cleared out her storage spaces, I thought a lot about how easy it is to accumulate what we don’t need. We all do it, either for sentimental reasons, (hello, handmade Christmas ornaments from 1969) or because we think someday we might need THAT VERY THING. Or 24 of those things. (See Exhibit A, below … an entire box of nothing but ropes.) I mean, as long as we have the space, right? Or do we.

The parallels to how we approach our work and our leadership really stood out for me as I made what felt like thousands of decisions about what should stay and what should go. Here are a few:

  • What do we carry into our work lives that no longer serves us? This can show up in a lot of ways, including limiting beliefs, old habits and outdated approaches. 
  • Where can we scale back so we can focus on what matters most? It’s an awful feeling to be weighed down because of having too much on our plates. Think about those back-burner projects that only serve to distract us and create stress. Are they really necessary?
  • And finally, what IS worth keeping and nurturing? What deserves to be rescued from the clutter and given prominence? Each of us brings unique strengths and qualities to our work. Let’s give them new life and let them shine.

Doing this kind of personal inventory has helped me create clarity, lightness and focus for my work as we move into 2020. Maybe it can help you do the same. In the meantime, I do have a few closets and drawers I still need to tackle…

Downstream Sets Sights on 2020

Boothbay, Maine

Taking time from day-to-day work to get clear and aligned on priorities is important for organizations of any size. As Lewis Carroll wrote, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”

That’s why GG and I cleared our calendars and headed to Maine in August for our own Downstream strategic planning retreat. We took a good look at our strengths and opportunities as a business, defined what success in 2020 will look like and mapped out the goals and milestones needed to get there. And, knowing the value of rest and play, we took time to soak up the unique and rugged beauty of the Maine coastline, (complete with whale watching).

We left Maine confident that we’re focused on the right things and eager for what 2020 will bring for Downstream and our clients. Here’s to a big new year ahead.

GG Shares Leadership Lessons at AgencyCon

Digital agency leaders from across the country gathered in beautiful Breckenridge, Colo., for two days in September for AgencyCon 2019 to learn and share best practices in agency management, operations and growth. As one of the conference speakers, GG shared a number of lessons she’s learned from running two successful businesses, including how to be a courageous leader and why having very clear company and personal values is critical.

One conference participant live-tweeted this quote during GG’s session: “Gotta tackle the hard stuff whether we like to or not.” That sounds about right but unfortunately the hard stuff is our best teacher. Fortunately, we are wired for learning. For more on values, read on.

Having Clear Values Leads to Power

If someone asked you to quickly rattle off your organization’s values, could you? What about your own personal values? That might be easier but are you really clear on the one or two that truly guide you? If not, don’t feel bad. We’re all values-oriented. It’s just that we’re rarely asked to think about what those core values are.

But here’s the thing. The clearer you and your organization can be about your values, the easier it is to make choices. And not only that, operationalizing those values empowers your team to make decisions without you. How liberating is that? Clarity is POWER.

Living into our values isn’t just a nice-to-have. It makes everything better, from our physical health to our leadership effectiveness, to our relationships. Think of a time when you were asked to do something outside of your values and how uncomfortable that made you feel. Our bodies don’t lie. They know when we’re not in alignment with our values, and that misalignment shows up in all sorts of unhelpful ways.

If you’d like some help clarifying your own personal values, go here to find a long list of possibilities from Dr. Brené Brown’s Dare to Lead™ research. It’s an interesting exercise, although getting to one or two values is not as easy as it sounds.

Local Leaders Complete Downstream’s First Public Dare to Lead Workshop

Dare to Lead | Denver | 2019

A strong and diverse group of leaders developed their courageous leadership skills in Downstream’s first public Dare to Lead workshop based on Brene Brown’s ground-breaking research. 

Participants left the session feeling excited and motivated to put their new skills into action back at work and in their personal lives. Here’s what just one leader had to say:

“This was so helpful. Thank you for helping me to continue on my journey to be a daring person, and a daring leader.”

If you want to become a more courageous leader who inspires innovation, collaboration and effectiveness among those around you, please consider joining us for the next Dare to Lead™ workshop Jan. 15 and Feb. 21, 2020. If you’d like more information first, just give us a call.

Allison Lucernoni Joins the Downstream Team

Allison Lucernoni

Creating the right setting in which people can thrive is an important element of leadership. This includes creating a physical environment where people feel comfortable and safe and know that all their needs are being met. 

At Downstream, it’s something we can’t help but pay attention to. For any events we manage, we think through every logistical detail so our client teams can focus on the topic at hand. Fortunately, we’ve found the perfect person to help us meet our high standards. Please join us in welcoming Allison Lucernoni to Downstream as our event consultant. 

Allison brings more than 25 years of marketing and meeting and events management to her role at Downstream. Her vast experience includes managing all pre-event and on-site elements of corporate conferences ranging in size from 100 to 3,000 executives. We are all in very good hands with Allison.

Upcoming Events

Jan. 15 and Feb. 21, 2020, Denver – Dare to Lead™ workshop. Over these two days, we’ll be guiding leaders through how to develop their skill set for leading more courageously, the result of which is enhancing a culture that is more collaborative, creative and brave. If you’ve been thinking about joining, give us a call to learn more. Or, register here.

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