I wish I would have spent more time at the office!

You’ve probably heard the old saying by Rabbi Harold Kushner…Nobody on their deathbed has ever said “I wish I had spent more time at the office.” My father recently passed away so I’ve been thinking a lot about his legacy and how he lived his life. One thing that has bubbled up is that although no one might say they wish they had spent more time at the office, they might say, “I wish I would have spent my time at work differently.”

Vicki and DadMy dad, Bob, was a man of words and worked in sales, sales management and leadership in the food industry for the better part of his career. He was full of ideas for how to improve work and sometimes got in trouble because he spoke up when others might not have.

He took pride in his contributions and worked as a volunteer for SCORE (helping small business owners grow their business) in his retirement. From my perspective as his daughter, I think he would have called himself a Chief Paradise Officer.

I hope that today, you will think about what you would say about your job on your deathbed.

We spend more time working than we do anything else (expect for sleeping). Shouldn’t we feel good about what we are doing and how we are doing it? What’s the point if you go to work and complain every day? What’s the point if you toss and turn on Sunday night because work is on your mind?

What can you do today to make things better so that on your deathbed, you can truly say, “I created my own Professional Paradise during?” I don’t mean starting your own business – I mean looking at what makes you satisfied, energized & productive and connecting with that to become a Chief Paradise Officer – no matter what is happening around you.

And, if you’re thinking, “Sure Vicki, that’s easy for you to say – you are your own boss,” think again. You all are my bosses. I’m here to work in service to you. So every day when I come to work I am the role model for Chief Paradise Officers around the globe. It’s not always easy, but I work at it and hopefully I’m hitting the mark.

I can honestly say that on my deathbed (and I hope that doesn’t happen for a long, long time), I might just say, “I loved the time I spent in my office”…will you?

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Silly Signs and You

Silly SignsI was sitting in a small regional airport waiting for my delayed flight to board. That was when I saw these signs on the door. This made me laugh and wonder…

Did they put both signs up at the same time because research shows that two signs that say the same thing are better than one?


Was there an emergency and someone didn’t get the meaning of the first sign?


Who thought that they needed a second sign?
Was there a committee meeting held to discuss the addition?


Did one of the airport leaders make the decision unilaterally and everyone thought it was ridiculous? (Like I did.)

And then I thought, how does this impact the employee’s engagement and view of their leader and workplace? Do they even see the signs anymore? Was the second sign just a total waste of time, energy & money? Is this really a safety enhancer? Are the employees rolling their eyes as this represents the overall vibe of this workplace? (I know some of you are thinking I had too much time on my hands, and you would be correct – haha.)

So, here’s a question to ponder this month…What “signs” are you putting up at work that might leave your teammates or direct reports or customers wondering? Are your signs helpful or do they lead to disengagement or confusion or even ridicule?

Perhaps the “sign” is not your actual work but the way in which you do it. Perhaps as a leader you’re putting up someone else’s signs even when you think they aren’t helpful instead of pushing back.

I challenge you today to take a fresh look at the signs you are putting up in the world and make them the kind that contribute to your own engagement and the engagement of others.

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Do something you’re afraid of today….

bikeshoesI did it. I finally got bike shoes that clip into the peddles. If you’re not a cyclist, no worries, just imagine your shoes being attached to the peddles and you have to unclip them when you stop or else you fall off your bike and go BOOM! And here’s what everyone who has clips tells you…”You WILL fall!”

Why, you might ask, am I subjecting myself to something scary that also has the potential of causing injury (I’m wondering that myself as I type this – haha). Because I CAN! And because all my cycling buddies tell me that I’ll see a vast difference in the energy I put out to climb hills or do long distance rides. The effort will decrease and the reward will increase. (Now that I’m typing that, I’m thinking “Why didn’t I do this in 2008 when I participated in my first triathlon?)

So here’s my question for you…

What’s something you’re afraid of doing at work that would have a great payoff if you did it?

Here are some challenges for you to ponder and take the plunge:

  • Offer to lead part of a staff meeting – make it fun and interesting.
  • Volunteer to be part of an organization-wide committee or project team that’s outside your comfort zone.
  • Call someone in another department that you kind of know and wish you knew better and invite him or her to meet you for coffee.
  • Schedule a meeting to talk with your boss about your hopes and aspirations – share your plan for making changes you’d like to see at work.
  • Have that tough conversation with someone who reports to you about the thing that everyone knows and secretly talks about behind your back.

That’s plenty for today. Picture yourself being “successful” (For me that will mean becoming comfortable with clipping in and unclipping so that I remain safely upright on my bike). What does success look like in your situation? How does that connect to what makes you satisfied, energized & productive (AKA engaged) at work?

Boredom at work is a real buzz kill and doing something you’re afraid of (that has a calculated risk) is one way to cause a spark that leads to you creating your own Professional Paradise.

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What I learned at a Carrabba’s in Texas

Earlier this month I presented the opening keynote for the Texas Organization of Nurse Executives (TONE) Annual Conference. The group of 200+ nursing leaders were great (welcome to all of you who are reading this). As an added bonus, my book editor and good friend, Juli Baldwin lives in Dallas so she came to see me speak and help me sell books after the talk.

After I was finished, Juli and I headed to the Carrabba’s Italian Restaurant in Dallas for lunch because Juli’s Carrabba Family Picson, Ryan, is a manager there (Ryan is 23 – he’s on the left in the picture). I’d met Juli’s two other son’s, but hadn’t met Ryan so this was a perfect spot to go. Ryan and his team were delightful hosts.

Near the end of the meal, the proprietor of the store, Cameron Morrow (he’s in his late 20’s) came in with his 10-month old daughter to run the weekly manager meeting. He and Juli had never met.

What I saw then was nothing short of amazing when it comes to engagement.

With Ryan standing next to him, Cameron looked Juli in the eye and talked for several minutes about how wonderful Ryan is doing as a manager. He spoke with authority, conviction and most importantly a caring heart. No, I haven’t gone all soft on you – I could just tell that Cameron is very dedicated to recognizing those around him. It was lovely as Cameron took his time with the conversation.

I had just met Cameron that day but I’m guessing that something that makes him satisfied, energized & productive (AKA engaged) is mentoring others and seeing folks grow and develop. He was certainly successful that day. Ryan stood next to Cameron and watched with a big smile on his face. Juli started to cry (she’s a self proclaimed crier – haha). I had goose bumps all over. I can only imagine that Ryan’s level of engagement (which is already high) has increased based on those few minutes of thoughtful conversation.

Today, think of the power of your words. Think about who you could positively influence by sharing your appreciation and honest comments about his or her work. Maybe it’s the person working along side you or someone who reports to you, maybe it’s someone from another department who you depend on to get your work done…the list of possibilities is endless. The gift you give that person is priceless.

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Part 2 – Why your employee engagement survey scores aren’t what you want them to be

employee engagement survey2Wondering why your engagement scores aren’t improving? Here’s the second reason. Did you miss the first? Just click HERE.

Now, here’s the second reason…Leaders take on too much of the responsibility for engaging others.

Satisfied, Energized & Productive
If you want to positively impact engagement, start with talking about it in a way that’s relevant to the employee. In my first book, SHIFT to Professional Paradise: 5 Steps to Less Stress, More Energy & Remarkable Results at Work, I define engagement as when someone is satisfied, energized & productive. A synonym is Professional Paradise™. Yes, you read that right. Professional Paradise. It’s not an oxymoron and it’s not something you can create for someone else. Keep this in mind as you continue.

Click here to uncover what to do next…

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Miscommunication and Disengagement

Miscommunication and misunderstanding are causes of disengagement and frustration at work. Here’s a case in point.

I went to a bar/restaurant with 2 friends to watch the 2015 National Championship (for college football). My older son went to Clemson undergrad and Alabama law school so we knew we were going to win either way – ha-ha. When we arrived at the watering hole, they had the game on with no volume. They were playing background music and when we asked the bartender to turn on the sound, he said (with a sad face), “My manager won’t let me”. When we asked “Why?”, he said “I don’t know”.

There were two other ladies there watching the game and cheering as well. The bartender said he could turn on the closed captioning, but that just didn’t cut it. One of my friends walked to another bar and sure enough they had the volume on. We made our move. That bartender who was waiting on us, wasn’t happy. Money that could have been his – just walked out the door. We told our new football watching friends (the 2 ladies) that there was sound down the street and they came with us (along with 15 friends who were meeting them).

That first bar got what the manager wanted…a quiet night with soft music with 18 less customers than they could have had. The bartender had to be super frustrated due to the misunderstanding. Now to think about this from the manager’s perspective, maybe there was a long standing set of complaints about having football games on or games don’t mesh with the values and branding of the bar. I don’t think that message had been conveyed to the bartender and other servers who were watching money walk out the door.

Here’s your opportunity to avoid miscommunication that causes disengagement, regardless of your position in your organization.

If you are in a supervisory role (making decisions that affect others) …

1. Explain the “What”, the “Why” and the “How” of your decision
2. Listen for feedback. What do team members know that you don’t that could affect this decision?
3. Be flexible where you can – sometimes the method for reaching goals isn’t as important as you think
4. Trust your staff to make the best decisions for the organization and your customers

If you are a team member (on the receiving end of decisions that are made) …

1. Ask “Why?” if you don’t understand – curiosity is a helpful attribute
2. Share the benefits for the business that your method provides
3. Avoid the temptation to complain about a decision all night to customers or coworkers
4. Trust that your manager may have more information than you do

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