TGIF - Girl Power Female soccer

TGIF – Girl Power

Hello for the weekly rendez-vous on Friday.  TGIF – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, and Fun.

Trust

I’m trusting in womens’ leadership and in the business case for diversity (gender and more) in executive teams.  Female soccer is a key player in this game.  Our family is cheering for the French in 2019 FIFA Female World Cup.  Are you watching the matches too?

Wendie Renard and Amandine Henry on French female soccer team
The action! TOGETHER. That’s teamwork.

Thought-Provoking Facts:

Twenty years ago, women and girls represented less than 2% of the soccer-playing population in France.  Today, close to 8% of the players are female.

Whereas the number of total French soccer players grew 15% from 1999, the number of women players multiplied fivefold!

What’s the big deal?  According to CEO Magazine, 95% of Fortune 500 CEO’s played sports in college.  I am trusting we can get more women into the boardroom by getting them on the field.

Les Bleues

The French fashion magazine Elle has added an entire section “Les Bleues” (The French women’s soccer team) to their website.  Great pics and daily updates.  That’s where this photo of “Les Bleues” comes from.

(Trivia: the men’s team is called “Les Bleus” without the second “e”)

Gratitude

This week in France all high school seniors are taking the Baccalaureate test.  It began on Monday morning with Philosophy.

On Sunday evening, around the dinner table, our boys tested each other on philosophy quotes. Here is a quiz for you:

Who said, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.” ? (scroll down for the answer)

Seen further standing on shoulders of giants

Food for thought:

On who’s shoulders are YOU standing?

My parents, among others.

What have you been able to see that you could not have envisioned without him?

The world.  They took us traveling as kids and I have not stopped since.  We now live on different continents!

How will you thank them?

I call them…try to do so weekly.  In several decades, I want my kids to call me too. 🙂

Inspiration

Of course Isaac Newton (quote above) inspires me…and I wanted to share wisdom from a woman too. Please, in the comments, share what woman inspires you!

I had the pleasure of hearing Leymah Gbowee speak in Paris after she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.  As leader of the Women in Peacebuilding Network in Liberia, thousands of Christian and Muslim women prayed together for peace and held DAILY non-violent demonstrations.  Their efforts contributed to the end of the Liberian civil war.

Leymah Gbowee Nobel Peace Prize 2011
from LeMonde

“We are tired of war. We are tired of running. We are tired of begging for bulgur wheat. We are tired of our children being raped. We are now taking this stand, to secure the future of our children. Because we believe, as custodians of society, tomorrow our children will ask us, “Mama, what was your role during the crisis?”

– Leymah Gbowee speaking to dictator Charles Taylor and officials.

Food for thought:

What are you tired of? 

For what will you take a stand?

Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Prize 2011
from the Personal Development Café

“You can tell people of the need to struggle, but when the powerless start to see that they really can make a difference, nothing can quench the fire.”

– Leymah Gbowee

Food for thought:

Where do you feel powerless? 

What is One. Thing. YOU can do TODAY to make a difference?

Fun

It’s a double graduation year.  Here I am with our son graduating with a Master in Management from HEC Paris and with our youngest who is passing the Bac. (He’ll have his eyes fully glowing when the baccalaureate exam is over!)

HEC Paris graduation

Great memories of lots of work and lots of fun.

Wishing you a great week.

Sincerely, Denise

P.S. PLEASE share what woman inspires you in the comments below.  Thanks.

 

Neat & New Stuff

Insights from Vice-Dean of Sciences Po Management School

Vice Dean Sciences Po ManagementIn this interview, Olivier Guillet of France’s prestigious Sciences Po School of Management and Innovation addresses the 21st century leadership needs.  The Internet has revolutionized the management criteria and requires new skills for success.  Read on…

How to move from Book-Wise to Street Smart

There is knowledge to gain AFTER the degree.  It’s the wisdom of applying what we learn.

At work that translates into changing habits, like disciplining ourselves to gain a fresh perspective.  Tips to open our eyes, ears, and minds.  Read on…

Looking for Interview Suggestions

Can you recommend a wise leader with a message related to building constructive conversations at work?  Many of you appreciate the interviews I led with tried and tested leaders who overcame challenging conditions.

It would be an honor to know about them and to possibly interview them.  Please send me an email.

TGIF-rain in paris

TGIF – Us vs. Them

Hello for the weekly rendez-vous on Friday.  TGIF – Trust, Gratitude, Inspiration, and Fun.

Trust

I am trusting in the Power (and sweetness) of Diversity.

Diversity in icecream. Tin Pot Creamery

This past Monday France was on holiday for Pentecost.  It is the Christian “Diversity Day,” and what happened that day holds insights for how we create or break a sense of belonging. Let me explain.

Pentecost is a day when the group became defined by its center, not by its barriers.

Pentecost marks the day when the news about Jesus’ resurrection became international news.  His disciples, mostly uneducated small-town fishermen, spoke Hebrew and were following the Jewish calendar of celebrating Passover in Jerusalem. The city was full of people who traveled from other nations to celebrate the feast.  According to the Bible*, on Pentecost the disciples were given a supernatural ability to speak these foreign languages and told about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

In 2019 terms, this is like being confused while watching a foreign movie without subtitles. Then, amazingly, the actors come to you and play the scene in your own language and you understand.

What does this have to do with diversity?  Many groups are defined by their border.  It’s a barrier which describes who is “in” and who is “OUT.” 

  • We are women, you are men.
  • We are Ivy League School graduates…What’s your background?
  • We are…

and the list goes on.

Pentecost is a day when the group became defined by its center, not by its barriers.  By making the news of Jesus available to people of all languages, the focus became Jesus and not the cultural barriers.

Jesus Mafa African Mary & JesusI am trusting that each of us will choose to focus on common, centering principles such as justice and equal rights.  You and I, as we lead by example and act within our circles of influence, can make a difference in building inclusive cultures within our companies and communities.

And, I love this image of the Madonna and child by Jesus Mafa.  Why should Jesus look like a well-fed, richly clothed Italian infant from the Renaissance period?!   This image made me aware of some of my unconscious biases.

Maybe you too have seen the T-shirts that read, “I met God.  She’s black.” 🙂  When we meet God, I think every one of us will be surprised.

*For the Pentecost story, see Acts chapter 2

Gratitude

Thank you to the people who support the “cause” of others

  • For the men promoting women to leadership
  • For the whites insisting on equal rights for people of other races
  • For the atheists welcoming prayers of the faithful
  • For the healthy investing in equipment for the disabled

I am also grateful to one of my sons, he was about 10 years old at the time, who said, “Mom, you do stuff for Christians.  What do you do for non-Christians?”  That question changed how I invest my time and energy…and eventually to why I am writing you right now.

Thanks, darling.

Inspiration

Following up on these meaning-of-life thoughts, my inspiration this week comes from an Excel file!!!!!!

Isabelle Roux-Buisson is mentoring me on an entrepreneurial project, and she sent me an “Assumptions Dashboard” spreadsheet.  This has been so helpful and grounding.

assumptions entrepreneurs make

Entrepreneurship is like navigating in the fog.  We move forward step by step and try to get as much clarity as possible.  Writing down assumptions gives shape to potential obstacles.  Testing these premises opens the way for opportunities.

Her inspiring impetus boosted me to test market presuppositions and to move from the “I hope” stage to the “that door is closed but this one is open!” phase.

Isabelle is a senior executive in the tech field and a jury for the Harvard Business School New Venture Competition in Europe.  You can learn from her too!  Here is her interview on how she developed Emotional Intelligence throughout various stages of her career.

Fun

Last week, I hinted at our D-Day inspired haircutting ritual.  The Allied forces brought the harbor to Arromanches-les-Bains; we bring our hairdresser to our home.

It’s been going on for over two decades.  That means it’s working…and we make it fun!

Haircut at home for boys
Haricut at home for men

All six of us pass through Adrien Bracon’s expert snips.  When the kids were tykes it was exhausting having them sit still BOTH while in a barber’s chair AND while their brothers’ Chewbacca (massive head of hair) got trimmed.  HELL.

Instead we sip flavored coffee, exchange music, and send emails (!) while getting our hair reshaped.  And since there are six of us, haircutting time always falls around mealtime.  We easily transition to wine and cheese.

These pictures were taken at the same place with the same people, 15 years apart.

I love to take the bore out of a chore.  What small shift in perspective – a reframe – could make your life more pleasant? 

Get in touch.  This is what I talk about with clients: transforming a relationship challenge into an opportunity for growth.

See below the article on fresh perspectives inspired by inclement weather.  The cover image on the TGIF is from Christophe Jacrot, an amazing photographer taking pictures in the snow and rain.  It’s been raining every day in Paris this week.  That was less fun for me, but the plants love it!

Looking forward to being in touch next Friday.

Neat & New Stuff

Interview with Isabelle Roux-Buisson

Isabelle Roux-BuissonIsabelle shares how she leaned on emotional intelligence (EI) skills throughout her career.  Each stage of leadership requires different skills to connect with and motivate team members and other stakeholders. She shares how learned about emotional intelligence and then intentionally integrated these skills into her management style.  Read on…

3 Managerial Insights from Snow in Paris

Paris in the snowIt’s not literally freezing in Paris, but the weather sure is cold for this time of year and intense precipitation falls every day. This post presents fresh perspectives on work that were gained from inclement weather.  It’s a reframing with the intent to make your management as productive and more fun.

Read on…

Looking for Interview Suggestions

Can you recommend a wise leader with a message related to building constructive conversations at work?  Many of you appreciate the interviews I led with tried and tested leaders who overcame challenging conditions.

It would be an honor to know about them and to possibly interview them.  Please send me an email.

Muslims in prayer

Being an Outsider in the Paris “No Go Zone”

Last week I was invited to lunch in the Paris “No Go Zone” and here is what I learned about being an outsider.

My Outsider Experience

There I was waiting in front of a low-income housing complex in the middle of St Denis, the Paris suburb where Jawad Bendaoud housed the terrorist attackers who stormed the Bataclan on November 13, 2015 and killed 130 music fans and wounded another 413 people.

Equiping Juvenile Delinquents to Contribute Positively

I was invited to lunch at the restaurant Taf & Maffé to join the seven youth in juvenile detention that I was training in social skills.  The town justice service hires me to give wayward youth tools to contribute positively to society.  I love these sessions of authentic exchange and where I grow as much or more as they do.  This lunch opened my eyes wide with discovery.

White Anglo-Saxon, Female, Red-Head Outsider

As a tall, white woman with spikey, bright red hair, I often stand out in a crowd.  Here, surrounded by men of African and Middle Eastern origin, some wearing tunics and prayer caps, I definitely looked out of place.

I felt displaced as well.  My bearings were off.  I consider myself open-minded and had thought I had no specific expectations.  Yet, standing alone in unknown territory, I realized I looked for familiar signs.  Specifically, I searched for the welcoming signboard of a restaurant and a clearly displayed menu to lure me in.  There was nothing of the sort.  Just a high rise and men.  (I saw two women in veils, both begging.)

welcoming restaurant from outsider view
My unrealistic expectation

A man in a tunic pointed me towards the inside of the housing complex and I went in.

Outdoor “Mosque”

Beyond the entrance, in the building’s courtyard, lay a patchwork of colorful rugs.  I had not integrated that we were Friday and that, for the Muslims in St Denis, prayer time began at 1:48 pm. There wasn’t enough space at the mosque, so the “inn” made room for the faithful.

The man pointed me further down a corridor and I walked into a large hall with tables and chairs and people serving out of industrial size cooking pots.  Questioning eyes observed me as I scrutinized the room, noticing the buzz of activity and the full chairs.  I was not expected here either, so I waited outside for my crowd.

The youth finally arrived AND our group kept waiting (!), huddled in the small segment of the sidewalk that basked in the sun.  My confusion grew, yet since the youth were calm-despite-hunger, I remained relaxed-enough too.

Our dining room was being prepared.

Lunch is Served

We were ushered into a 20m² room which served as the office of an association which integrates refugees into France.  They had moved the printers and photocopy machine to the side, stacked papers in piles, and moved the desks to form one large table.  Again, I had not come with set expectations yet discovered that this is not what I had anticipated!  In retrospect I realized I had expected a “Chez Samir,” something like an exotic version of “Chez Sylvie.”

We enjoyed a flavorful, filling, and exotic meal of bissap (hibiscus) juice, chicken maffé (like an African paella), HOT chili sauce, and dégué (millet grain pudding flavored with orange blossom).

Even when everyone had finished eating, we stayed put.  Since I was leading the afternoon training session for the youth, my eye was on the watch.  Yet, as a guest, I let the organizers set the rhythm and opted to let go of control and to enjoy the company and the moment.

Waiting.  Not my Schedule.  Theirs.

By now a group of ten or more of us were huddled in the doorway, with still no indication of movement and easy chit chat around.  Then one of the youths announced, “It’s time.”

While we were eating, the courtyard had filled with men for the mid-day prayer.  Prayer time was now completed; we could open the door.

We joined the crowd of worshipers as they flooded into the street and flowed on their way.

I grew from the experience of being an outsider.

My Take-Aways from being an Outsider

Open-Mindedness

I (re)learned that open-mind is not a state of being that one reaches.  It’s a journey…that goes deeper and deeper.

As a Protestant white American married to an atheist French man from West Indies descent, I think of myself as open-minded.   Our marriage would not have lasted twenty-seven years had we not each made considerable concessions to and for each other.

Yet an open-mind cannot be earned and worn as a Scout badge for public recognition.  As I acknowledged my surprised reactions to these unknown surroundings, I discovered untrod paths of open-mindedness and traveled further along the journey.

Unconscious Bias

A decade ago, few people were aware of unconscious biases.  Now, “unconscious bias” is an often-heard, sometimes-understood term.

Unconscious bias. Lots of outsiders
Growth in awareness of unconscious bias over 15 years

Here is how the University of California, San Francisco defines it.  

“Unconscious biases are social stereotypes about certain groups of people that individuals form outside their own conscious awareness. Everyone holds unconscious beliefs about various social and identity groups, and these biases stem from one’s tendency to organize social worlds by categorizing.

Unconscious bias is far more prevalent than conscious prejudice and often incompatible with one’s conscious values. Certain scenarios can activate unconscious attitudes and beliefs. For example, biases may be more prevalent when multi-tasking or working under time pressure.”

I confess, I had thought I was addressing and uncovering (a.k.a. eliminating) my unconscious biases fairly well.   Yet during my visit to Saint Denis, a neighborhood physically close to my home and yet culturally far removed from my norm, I kept bumping into my assumptions.

I expected restaurants to have outdoor signs and buildings to welcome residents, not worshipers.

Mostly, I realized that we (you and I included) have an uncanny bias towards thinking that we might be unbiased!  LOL

Empathy

The best way to grow in empathy is to get out of our comfort zone.

Authentic empathy comes from the heart.  It is experienced.  It is not an intellectual thought.

Alone on that sidewalk I felt insecure, with a loss of bearings.  Taking initiatives required effort and felt risky.  Instead of my usual proactive self, I waited for others to make the first move.

I caught a glimpse of what it feels like to be excluded.

In the past, I responded to other people’s slowness, reactivity, and lack of self-confidence with critique.  “C’mon.  Get over it.”  Thanks to my work in constructive collaboration, I have learned to replace judgement with encouragement.

I did not need advice on that street corner.  I needed courage poured into me and the strength that comes from a benevolent presence.

Transformative Trainings

In St Denis, I was hired to open these youths’ eyes, minds, and even hearts.  Through soft skills training and building their self-awareness and other-awareness, we connected constructively.  Here were their parting thoughts:

  • Hope
  • Motivation to look for a job
  • Confidence in myself

These youth also opened my eyes, mind, and heart.  That’s what I love about our workshops on constructive collaboration tools.  Through role plays and team activities we create a safe space for learners to step outside of their comfort zone.  They are free to laugh at themselves, to discover new insights, and to choose how and how much to grow.

For YOUR Team Too

Find out more about these trainings to bring out the best performance and collaboration from your teams.  We define our training program according to your organization’s needs.

Are you seeking to build a more inclusive culture?  We help build self-awareness, empathy, and trust which are pillars to developing a sense of belonging and contribution.

Your success depends upon negotiation skills?  We help you and your team understand other people’s perspectives and balance short- and long-term benefits so that you can negotiate creative outcomes where all parties gain.

You want to give your team a motivational boost?  We help you break down communication barriers and build relationship bridges so that expectations are clear, progress gets recognized, and success is achievable.

Be in touch.  It’s what we do:  transform difficulties into opportunities for growth.

SoSooper = from blooper to sooooo super!

Cover photo from The Great Courses Daily website
Restaurant photo is Chez Sylvain & Sylvie in Bordeaux region

Diversity at work

How Diversity-Friendly are You?

Even though diversity is a much talked about subject, many of us wonder how it impacts our work.  Does it really matter?

This is the third article in a three-part series on diversity inspired by Steven Sels, the CEO of Primagaz.  His first message addresses the bottom-line benefits of integrating 19 different nationalities in his Parisian offices.

Read: 12 Riches of Diversity – Insights from Steven Sels, CEO of Primagaz France

In the second post, Sels broaches the prerequisites to a successful diversity strategy and describes his company’s collegiate decision-making which enables Primagaz to innovate and to act quickly.

Read:  Embracing Differences Without Conflict

As we concluded our interview, Steven Sels thanked me for the opportunity to step back, put a framework around his thoughts on diversity, and challenge himself to explore new ideas.

It’s a gift to step back, put a framework around our thoughts on diversity, and explore ideas further.

How Diversity-Friendly Are YOU?

When did you last step back and clarify your thoughts on diversity? 

Take this SHORT quiz.  I just timed myself; it took 2 minutes and 8 seconds.  Consider it a gift to help you step back and structure your thoughts.

Click here to get answers to the Diversity Quiz.

Biker in Paris in the snow

How Snow in Paris Taught me about Diversity

It’s snowing in Paris.  A layer of white flakes changes what is visible and how things previously hidden, now appear.

Snow, more specifically comparing the sun-filled and snow-covered view of the same scene, provides a visual image of benefits of diversity.

Switching Paradigms – the Positive Perspective

On my walk to the Metro, I pass by a patch of unkempt, sprawling nettles.

Today, with a dust of snow, these weeds appear just as delicate and ethereal as the flowers caringly planted that grow beside them.

It’s quite refreshing, both literally (!) and figuratively.  How do you feel around a person who always finds faults?  Whose company do you seek:  the shoe salesman who goes into the jungle and asserts, “No one wears shoes.  There is no market.” or the one who discovers, “No one wears shoes.  What opportunity!”

It is energizing to observe what is good and admirable.  When looking out for the mishaps, we miss the qualities.  We find what we seek.

Noticing the Unseen

What surprised me the most is not what the snow covered…but what it revealed.

The size of the tree trunks.  The wire fence.

Paris in 1919 in the snow

Tree Trunks

On a sunny day, when I look at a tree my eyes focus on the network of branches and the promise of leaves.  These branches covered in white blended into the light grey sky.  It’s the tree trunks that stand out, a blotch of dark standing out like a sore thumb.

A friend is launching a start-up.  She has product characteristic without being sure of her market.  Oops!  It’s time to step back and get the big picture. Her mentor shared, “You have beautiful leaves.  Now grow the tree!”

Intellectually, this made sense.  Yet it remained head-knowledge.  Today as we walked in the snow and the white branches faded into the light gray sky, the tree trunks loomed larger than usual.  She “got it.”  Without the tree trunk (understanding the market need), the leaves (her company’s specific solutions) don’t matter.

The snow uncovered the fundamentals.

Wire Fence

It’s the wire fence that surprised me the most.  I rarely noticed the slender cross wires.  Now each wire measures 1cm high with snow.  What used to be a quazi-transparent barrier is now quazi-opaque.

It’s like the H & M “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” hoodie worn by a black boy.  The campaign did not register with the all-white board of directors until The Weeknd cancelled his marketing contract.  (How many lost weeks and dollars went into seducing him and then negotiating and signing the agreement?!)  Negative press abounds.  Good-will took a dive.

The snow revealed how something that seems innocuous to one group could be restrictive to another.

Diversity MATTERS and has consequences.

Diversity MATTERS and has consequences. Click to Tweet

Diversity Accelerates Competitiveness

Amy Edmondson, Harvard Business School professor and author of Teaming: how organizations learn, innovate, and compete in the Knowledge Economy, reminds leaders that although most incentive and promotion packages are based on individual performance, teamwork remains the essential ingredient for success. In the speed-driven Internet economy, the organizations that prosper are those that create teams that learn together faster.

When everyone thinks the same way, learning suffers.  Less surprise.  Fewer questions.  Less conflict.  Fewer solutions.

Which brainstorming session would you prefer attending?

  • The meeting in your corporate auditorium with people you regularly work with all dressed in their customary suits
  • The session beginning with surprising trust-building exercises, led by junior members of the team…

“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”
Albert Einstein

Diversity Reduces Risk

Diversity is like investing in a portfolio of stock vs. solely in one company or industry.  The advertisement campaign may go sour in one organization; it’s unlikely that all competitors make the exact same decisions.

Edmondson asserts that high-learning organizations (companies, families, classrooms…) allow risk-taking and its corollary, failure.

They systematize learning as of the beginning of the discovery process and at every step along the way to catch bloopers while the stakes remain small.

It’s easier to change course at 500 meters into the journey than 20 km into the hike.  In addition to less backtracking (and the related negative emotions), finding the “wrong turn” and getting on track is more expeditious.

Diversity Brings Discomfort

A client spoke of their corporate culture: new hires with potential integrate the “Fast Track” where both they and the company invest in their managerial development.  It’s an intense program which generates elite graduates with ambition and proven grit…who also think alike.

When the company merged with a previous competitor, the newly created organization was led by a “Fast Track” graduate.  Over the next year, all of the professionals from the previous company resigned from the new organization.

The stock price of the parent company also took a deep dive and management announced massive job cuts.  Is there a relationship?

Discomfort of diversity now could save from the greater pain and cost of job loss later.

Be Diverse in your Diversity

Your workplace is more traditional?  Start by actively cultivating diversity at home.  We are each responsible for our own learning.

Try one of these:

    1. Connect with your teen by doing an activity that’s in their comfort zone.
      Have you tried an Escape Game together?  A stand-up comedy show?
    2. Explore different cultures through food.
      It’s a great way to explore diversity with kids.  This week try Black Ink Risotto.  Next week how about Curried Tofu. So what if the kids don’t like it.  It’s one meal…and a conversation that can build over weeks.
    3. Do you work with numbers and pride yourself in rational thought? Take a MOOC on emotions or a drawing class.
      Or if you artistic, sign up for a logic-driven coding course.
    4. Get inspired by Keith Ferrazzi, entrepreneur and author of Never Eat Alone, and co-host a dinner party.
      You invite half the guest and your friend invites people you do not yet know.  As you mingle and linger in the comfort of a home, you grow your network and your comfort zone.
    5. Build empathy as a family and volunteer for a food drive.
      Listening to the stories of the guests challenges one’s stereotypes.

You can be a catalyzer for diversity in your office.  Practice at home makes diversity easier to implement at work.  You’ll have intriguing stories to share at the coffee machine and become a resource and encouragement for others seeking ways to add spice to the team.

 

Stay tuned for upcoming insight on management inspired by the Paris snow storm.

 

Photo from Maleva.& Salut Paris