Congrats to the 2017 Evergreen Leadership Community Builders

Annually Evergreen Leadership seeks out 15 leaders across the state of Indiana who are taking active leadership roles in their community. In addition to formally recognizing them for their leadership, they are invited to attend an Evergreen Leadership Retreat at Wooded Glen. Here they connect and learn how to create as a leader. Each person leaves the retreat with affirmation, support and a vision of something they can create as a leader. Those creations vary by individual, with some being very personal, others work focused and others community focused.

Today I’d like to share with you our 2017 honorees.

Big News! Introducing LEAP: Leverage Your Experience. Achieve Prosperity.

I have something very exciting to share with you!  It’s based on this:

Without doubt, the best decision I’ve made in my professional career was to leave corporate to do independent consulting.

The past thirteen years have been filled with meaningful work, the autonomy to shape my work and my life and an earning power that has far surpassed what I imagined. Independent consulting has stretched me professionally and has enabled me to do the work I love with a variety of clients all over the globe. And I don’t miss the endless meetings, the internal politics and the levels of bureaucracy that had to be navigated.

Over time I’ve helped a number of people start their own consulting business. My help has enabled them to get started faster and smarter. As I think back to my own start up, I had invaluable help from a few people but mostly I had to figure things out on my own over time. I made avoidable mistakes. I missed opportunities. It took a long time to get comfortable with all the nuances of running a business.

I feel that I am uniquely positioned to help others launch their business. I’ve had very large clients and very small clients across industries. I’ve taught a consulting course at Purdue for 5 years. And, helping others make positive change is the hallmark of my work.  I can give others an experienced guide, process and tools to help move from working for someone else to working for yourself.

So I’ve partnered up with Katie Workman (social media expert / graphic artist), and I have created LEAP – a 3 step process that helps professionals with marketable skills make the leap from corporate to consulting.

  1. True Fit Appraisal – I will help others determine if they are a good candidate for independent consulting using a validated assessment tool, a readiness checklist, and a coaching session with me.
  2. 8 Day Intensive – Face to face working session to build out the business, learn the ins and outs of consulting and build a support network. There are hard deliverables including a business plan, pricing strategy, marketing strategy & plan, bio, logo, business cards and templates for proposals and contracts.
  3. Bound Support System – Ongoing coaching and hands on support that includes setting up a legal entity, a social media collateral, monthly coaching sessions with Katie and I and a peer support network.

Our first 8 Day Intensive will be October 11 – 18th in Caswell Beach, NC. We only have room for 10!

If you or people in your professional network are:

  • Serious about doing independent consulting but are unsure about how to start
  • Considering consulting as a career choice and want to prepare now
  • Already doing consulting and need a boost
  • In transition and consulting would be a great alternative

You’ll want to learn how LEAP can help you launch your consulting business swifter and smarter and with support. Go to for details. There you’ll be able to schedule a 30 minute conversation with me to learn if LEAP is a fit for you.

Outsmarting Overwhelm

I fall prey to feeling overwhelmed more than I’d like. The “to do” list is long and grows like a teenager in a growth spurt. At times there are so many tugs on my time that I can find myself paralyzed, seemingly unable to tackle even one of the hundreds of tasks facing me.

Most often these times are of my own making (although not all the time). All of these times of overwhelm induce anxiety, warp my perspective and render me far less effective than I desire.

As I consult and coach and teach, I know I am not alone. Many are overwhelmed by jobs that demand them to be available 24/7. It is not uncommon for one person to be doing the job of 3 others as organizations shrink and downsize. Family demands collude with work demands, causing those caught between them to feel inadequate at either.

One of my strengths on the Gallop Strength finder Profile is “maximizer”. While it is a strength, at times it is also my greatest liability. As such I straddle the fine line between getting a lot of important things done and making myself and others crazy by the sheer volume of things I am taking on.

Tactics to Outsmart Overwhelm

I’ve grown wiser about overcoming overwhelm after a lifetime of practice. As such, here are the tactics that I’ve found work:

Tactic One: Know that this too shall pass.

It always does. It will this time too. Remind yourself of this over and over and over again. Breathe. Put your head down and work. Repeat as needed.

Tactic Two: Create order in one small part of your life.

When all of your life seems spinning out of control, create one oasis of orderliness. Clean your desk. Organize your to-do list. Do the dishes and clean the sink. I’m not sure exactly why this works, but I do know that 20 minutes spent organizing out the piles of work on my desk, even when I know I should by using that time to actually work on the piles, helps.

Tactic Three: Prioritize short and long term.

When in serious overwhelm, know exactly what you need to do to get through the next hour, the next meeting, the next day. And get that done. Repeat over and over until you’re working on the things that need done two days out, and then three and then four. Note that this is a survival strategy and not a sustainable approach. If after a week, you are not lengthening your time horizon, more drastic action needs taken.

Tactic Four: Break long term goals and projects into action steps and schedule them.

At the beginning of any big thing, take time in the very beginning to block your calendar for the time you’ll need to get all the assorted and sundry tasks done. Put time on your calendar for the actual work, the inevitable meetings, the research needed. Add some extra time on your calendar because we all know that things take longer than expected. My rule on this tactic is that I can move the time blocks around on my calendar, from a Monday to a Tuesday (for example), but I can’t schedule over them or delete them.

Tactic Five: Get help.

Ask your boss to off load work that can be done by another. Use a virtual assistant service like Fiverr or Fancy Hands. Hire an intern. Hire someone to do outside of work tasks if this period of overwhelm is cutting into your personal time. No matter HOW you do it, do it!

Tactic Six: Solve the underlying problem.

Only you know that that is. It may mean a serious talk with your boss about workload, or it may be letting go of high maintenance clients or low margin work. It may be hiring an additional person. It may be saying no to requests that fall outside your top priorities.

Tactic Seven: Take care of yourself.

This is another counterintuitive move. In overwhelm we tend to work longer and harder. Skip sleep, exercise and down time. As a short term strategy (think a day or two), this may be an option. As a long term strategy, it renders you less productive, less focused and even more frazzled. So sleep. Eat well. Exercise. Play. In fact I think I’ll take a nap now!

What tactics did I miss? What do you do to overcome overwhelm?

Words Matter

Even 15 years later, I still recall my eye-rolling. My long sighs. My suggestion that we just move on and get some “real work” done. And the rebuke.

The setting was one of those way too long, want to pull your hair out sessions with way too many people crafting a mission statement for the team. We agreed on the big points and were divided on the finer ones – the exact choice of words, their phrasing and even their punctuation.

This activity is something, in my mind, that should occur on the frequency of colonoscopies – every decade or so, unless it can be avoided.

My Comeuppance: Words Matter

My comeuppance in the moment was a senior leader, who looking directly at me, declared strongly that “words matter”. My more profound comeuppance has occurred over time as I craft key messages for my clients, as I write myself, and as I search for the right words to describe the transformational work I do.

I realize now, deep in my bones, that words matter. They matter very much.

And so I am much more patient in that search for words (and images as well) that convey what is intended. That communicate well beyond the mere arrangement of letters – into cultural connotations, into tone, into similes and metaphors, into that amazing place in our brains that transform symbols into thoughts and ultimately actions.

The collective search for those words can prompt robust thinking, give rise to compelling questions, surface differing viewpoints, lead to new insights, and ultimately create shared deep understanding.

Simultaneously, I’m sensitive to the situations in which we use too many words – creating complexity, boredom and confusion. I’m also sensitive to those times where there are too few words – creating doubt, insignificance and once again confusion.

Creating Clarity

I marvel at those times when there is eloquence, simplicity and clarity. I strive for those times. For in those times, there is comprehension, understanding and illumination.

The right words can send powerful messages without needing to be wordy. It matters if you describe your team as innovative versus improvement-minded. It matters if your team describes you as one that works hard or works with integrity. The difference between being customer-focused and being customer-obsessed is significant.

I would continue to submit that the grammar, spelling, and finer points can be taken off line. Just don’t allow the substantive work of searching for those words and phrases that describe you, your work and your products and services to be shortchanged.

The deadline is quickly approaching for the second annual Community Builders Award. The Community Builders Award recognizes and connects emerging leaders (between ages of 25 and 40) across the state of Indiana who are actively working to improve their leadership and the communities they live in.

Honor an emerging leader, today!

Positive Discontent

Positive and discontent. The words don’t seem to go together. For we all know, too well, those times of discontent. When we are out of sorts and at times grumpy. Where things are just not right. When our worlds are not awful… but neither are they awesome.

So to describe those times of discontent with an adjective of “positive” jolts us. Far better pairings might use the words dark or disconcerting or uncomfortable. But positive? How can that be?

Discontent can be positive when it signals to us that something needs to change. When it causes us to examine our situation in more detail. When it prompts us to envision better options, and especially when it spurs us to action.

Innovation from Positive Discontent

I suspect there would be very little innovation without positive discontent. Our founding fathers used positive discontent to “form a more perfect union”. The drawbacks of horse drawn carriages prompted the invention of the motor car. Discontent with the first handheld cellar phone, which weighed 2.5 pounds, cost $3,995 and enabled a half hour of talk time on a full charge fueled rapid improvements in cell phone design and technology.

Virtually every invention is the human attempt to “make things better”.

The trap in times of discontent is becoming numb. Too often we persevere, suck it up, blame others, or claim hopelessness. This is tolerable for a short time and terrible for a life time.

And so putting the words “positive” and “discontent” can serve us well. It enables us to see discontent as a signal that we need to slow down and examine the cause of the discontent. In that slowing down time, we can explore what is at the root of all this unhappiness. We can envision what is better. We can tap into the creativity that discontent can spark. We can refuse to passively accept that which is not whole and solid and healthy and good.

What if you looked at disconnect as an early warning sign? The canary in the coal mine? The little voice that tells you to wake up and move on, to grow into your potential, to move to a better place? What then?

Might you really see the positive aspects that discontent holds?

Evergreen Leadership is excited to announce we are accepting nominations for the second annual Community Builders Award. The Community Builders Award recognizes and connects emerging leaders (between ages of 25 and 40) across the state of Indiana who are actively working to improve their leadership and the communities they live in.

Pre-enactment: A Way to Create the Future You Want

I am a big advocate of working forward rather than backward. I’ve transformed my life into one of meaning and fulfillment and joy by using several methods of envisioning what I wanted to create in my life, rather than focusing my efforts on what I did NOT want in my life.

As such, I’ve journaled, created vision boards, set HEART goals, and created accountability systems to ensure that I acted unfailingly on those dreams. And, without doubt, it has worked.

Yet, as powerful as those techniques are, none are nearly as amazing as a way of envisioning (and then creating) a better future than one I learned from Joanna Taft, director of the Harrison Center for the Arts  and visionary community leader. (You can see her Ted Talk on Cultural Entrepreneurship here.)

Her question is this. Rather than reenact, why not pre-enact?

Here is the concept. A reenactment is the recreation of an era in the past, in as authentic of a way as possible. People are in costume. The surroundings are true to the period. The activities that ensue and the food that is consumed are replicas of the experience of that time. Reenactments are a multi-sensory way to step back into time – a suspension of the current day and a walk into the past.

Why not pre-enact?

Joanna’s question was why not pre-enact? She wondered what would happen if we created a transitory, but tangible, environment that was the embodiment of the future that we’d like to create. Where people got into character. Where the environment was created through creative staging. Where things were transformed, even for a brief time, offering a glimpse into what might be.

Her pre-enactment theater project is a community based one. The core question this project centers around is: “What would it be like to reimagine the Monon 16 neighborhood as it ought to be–equitable, vibrant and just?” The current state of the Monon 16 neighborhood is one with 19% unemployment, 32.7% living below the poverty level, abandoned houses and vacant commercial space.”

Pre-enactment is described here, from the project web site:

Our stage will be the entire three block commercial stretch of Monon 16. Set designers and property owners will make both temporary and permanent improvements to the physical structures to depict a healthy neighborhood. These physical structures will serve as the setting for actors and neighbors to engage in site specific and interactive performance, to help the community envision a healthy neighborhood. We will work for 12 months with local actors and set designers from large and small theater companies, and collaborate with visual artists, community stakeholders and three schools to perform visioning exercises. This work will help neighbors plan for the future by re-envisioning the Monon 16 area “the way it ought to be”. Instead of economic development at the cost of displacement, Pre-Enactment envisions a just, equitable and vibrant neighborhood where everyone is included in economic prosperity.

While yet a few months away, I suspect that pre-enactment for Monon 16 already has profoundly changed the neighborhood. It has created conversations of possibilities. It has pulled people together to dream and envision. It has opened eyes to potential rather than problems.

Pre-enacting in Your Life

And so I’m intrigued by ways to repurpose this concept of pre-enactment, of envisioning and then creating a stage and acting into the future you want to create. I wonder if we might pre-enact:

  • The customer experience you would like to create
  • What your business will be like 5 years from now
  • A healthy, vibrant team culture
  • An ideal family day
  • The successful outcome of a team project
  • An amazing work day
  • The future for your community group
  • An ideal day in your dream career

For pre-enactment moves us from mere thought to pure action. It creates community as we hear others visions. An environment arises where we step into the future with our full senses engaged, seeing what could be and gaining confidence that so much is possible. And that we, working together, can create that future we so vividly pre-enacted.

What do you think? Where might you pre-enact something?

Evergreen Leadership is excited to announce we are accepting nominations for the second annual Community Builders Award. The Community Builders Award recognizes and connects emerging leaders (between ages of 25 and 40) across the state of Indiana who are actively working to improve their leadership and the communities they live in.

Reframing – “Fix Your Face”

Two women leaders recently shared a wonderful story to me that struck at a basic truth. Here is how the story unfolded.

Michelle was commanded (not asked, but told) to participate in a developmental program that required her to be out of her regular work for a day and a half. It also required an overnight. Now Michelle is a very busy woman – at work, at home and in the community. Not only was she miffed that she was directed and not asked, but she was annoyed at the amount of productive time she would sacrifice, both at work and at home.

This is where Kenya enters the story.  She also was asked to participate in the same program; albeit in a more inviting way. She too would lose work time. She too would be away from work and home.

Michelle’s first response was negative. She was angry. She was frustrated. She vented to Kenya about how annoying, unjust and terrible this whole thing was.

Kenya’s first response was different. She was curious. What was this program about? How might it help her? She learned more about the program and thought this was a very interesting opportunity; one that might be well be worth the loss of work and personal time.

And so, when Michelle’s email came to Kenya, with all the disbelief and complaining and frustration, she presented Michelle with very sage advice in three short words: Fix Your Face. Not just once, but several times, until she got her point across.

What does Fix Your Face mean?

Fix Your Face was advice to look at this situation differently. It said:

  • There is an opportunity here. Stop complaining and see the possibility.
  • Get over yourself – you might not like the way you were invited – but this shows that someone believes you are worth investing in.
  • You can be grouchy, but that gets you nowhere.

What Kenya did for Michelle was a great example of reframing. Reframing enables us to seek different perspectives on the same situation. It is a process of finding a way to look at a situation that is different than your first reaction. With several choices on how to view a situation, we are able to find the one that pulls us up rather than pushes us down. Reframing can put us in a place of possibility rather than problem.

Like Michelle, it is easy to react to a situation and see only the negative. I’ve seen folks who can awfulize just about anything. They win a million dollars; they complain about the taxes. They get cut off in traffic, and they believe that person waited for them and them alone to make their move. Someone wishes them well and they suspect ulterior motives.

Understanding Reframing

Reframing is not a way to brush over bad things nor is it a Pollyanna approach to life. It is, however, a way to acknowledge that we very seldom have complete information about any situation and that we do, indeed, tend to fill in our information gaps with explanations to satisfy our urge for congruence. And too often, we put ourselves smack dab in the center of that story we construct.

Reframing helps each of us to recall that most times the center of focus is not about us. It reminds us that most times, others are simply doing the best they can with what they have.

Learning to reframe is a powerful way to explore alternatives and to honestly appraise what you know and don’t know. Too often we assume negative intent when there was none. Too often we take offense when none was intended. Too often we jump to conclusions with incomplete information.

A great coach, Lindsay Boccardo, shares this story to illustrate the traps we fall into with a simple story of a young woman anxiously awaiting her boyfriend for a date on their anniversary. He is late; she becomes annoyed. And then, when he does arrive, he reeks of perfume. A fight ensues, for she is now furious at him for “cheating on her.” The fight escalates; the universe is ruined.

The reality? He was shopping for perfume for her and testing the fragrances for the perfect one for her. He was late because he was trying hard to get it right.

Reframing a Situation

Here is a list of questions to use when you want to reframe (or to help someone else reframe a situation):

  • What do I really know about this situation?
  • What is true? What am I assuming?
  • What facts might I be conveniently omitting or ignoring?
  • What are some alternative ways I might look at this situation?
  • If I assume the other person was without ill intent, how might that change the way I see this?
  • What is the best possible outcome for this situation?
  • What options do I have in going forward?

So, I’m curious. Are there places in your life where you need to “fix your face?”

The 2018 Community Builders Award

Can Doing Nothing be an Act of Leadership?

Leading seems to us to be an action verb. Visionary. Problem solver. Manager. Fire fighter.

As leaders we can feel compelled to build, to fix, to organize.

Very seldom do we give ourselves the latitude to do nothing. We are busy. We are needed. Others rely on us.

There is a shadow side of having our hands in everything. Our actions communicate and when we are in perpetual doing and fixing and solving, the message we may be sending can be:

  • I don’t believe you are capable of handling this situation.
  • You need my wisdom, judgement, action for everything.
  • I can resolve this better.
  • I am indispensable.

And at times, when we spend some much time in the day to day, we can fail to do the more important but less urgent work.

The idea of intentionally doing nothing is counterintuitive. It may strike you as lazy. As failing in your duty. As not leading.

When To Do Nothing

Yet I would propose there are times when, as leaders, we might do nothing.

Here are a few examples:

  • The situation is highly like to resolve itself without our intervention.
  • Others are perfectly capable of doing the right thing without our guidance.
  • Others may grow in skill or confidence if they navigate the solution to the situation.
  • We don’t have enough information to make an informed decision about how to proceed.
  • There are other, more important issues that demand our attention.

Don’t be mistaken. I am not suggesting totally hands off, do nothing leadership. I am merely suggesting the totally hands on all the time and in all situations may not be the right choice. For when we set up our leadership so that EVERYTHING revolves around our actions, our decisions, our guidance – we choke off creativity, we impede others growth and development, we burn out, we grow weary of this very heavy burden we have ourselves created.


Remarkable women leaders, join us for a 24-hour multigenerational retreat experience on May 4-5, 2017 at Wooded Glen Retreat Center.

During our time together, you will work, play, and honor your mind, body, and spirit with a transformative program. Experience influential relationship building, mastermind, small group, and full leadership sessions, delicious food and restful accommodations.

Learn more at

Have you ever felt stuck? Here’s my process for getting unstuck and moving forward.

There are times in life we get stuck. We dislike where we are. It might be in our career, in a relationship, or in a specific geography. We might not like our current employer, boss or customers, yet don’t see any other options.

I’ve been there – and I have had plenty of conversations with people who are stuck and want some help getting unstuck. What I’ve noticed is that there is a consistent pattern that accompanies the “getting stuck” times both with me and with others. Breaking this pattern is the first step to freedom and perhaps the most important one.

The “I’m stuck” Pattern

See if you can find the pattern in this common dialog:

“I’m needing to make a change. I hate my job.”

“Why is that?”

“My boss stinks. The company doesn’t appreciate me. And I am capable of doing so much more. There has to be something better out there.”

“What type of job and company are you looking for?”

“A good one. I don’t know exactly, but it has to be better than this one. I want to like what I do and get paid well for my work.”

“What do you like to do?”

“Well, I could do about anything, if given a chance. I know I don’t want to do what I’m currently doing. There has to be something better.”

“What have you done so far to make things better in your current job?”

“I let the folks in HR know that I wanted a new job, but they haven’t found anything different for me.”

“What type of job are you hoping they find for you?”

“Well, a better one. One that uses my skills and talents and passions.”

“Hmmm…..tell me about what skills, talents and passions you have.”

“Oh, I don’t know. I’m pretty good at relationships and I like doing meaningful work.”

And so the conversation goes on. And while it is easy to see when others have a lack of focus and clarity AND when they are expecting others to do their work, it is also easy to fall into the same traps ourselves, where we:

  • Know what we don’t want, but can’t articulate what we do want
  • Have no clear idea of where we are aiming
  • Blame others for the place we find ourselves
  • Look for others to rescue us

The example above talked about being stuck in a job but similar conversations occur every single hour of every single day on a myriad of topics. About poor financial performance. About underperforming teams. About failed relationships. About social problems. About anywhere we find ourselves not getting the results we want and not doing anything differently.

The Process of Getting Unstuck

There is no magic in getting unstuck. Getting unstuck takes work and accountability. But, first and foremost, it takes a clear description of what you DO want instead of what you DON’T want. Without this clarity, people get trapped in a pattern of repeated failure. They get unstuck for a bit and then re-stuck again. They hop from one job that they hate to the next job they hate and then on to the next one, which they hate as well. This pattern may feel like movement, and in some ways it is, but it is not the same as getting unstuck. It is wasted effort and aimless wandering. It is spinning your wheels and not getting any traction.

Moving toward something is much more productive than moving away from something. The challenge, however, is how to know what we are moving toward. Envisioning what you want is work that requires introspection, exploration, and a dose of vulnerability.

There are times that you just don’t know. These times require exploring and learning.

There are other times when you are afraid to pursue what you really want. These times require courage, acts of faith, and movement.

If your problem is not knowing what you want, try any one of these tactics to get clarity:

  • Do an energy audit. Observe and then note (journals are great for this) – when you are energized, alive and enjoying what you doing. Note the opposite – what drains your spirit and energy. After a few weeks, patterns will emerge. Discern what is common about your positive energy activities – and find ways to do more of those activities and less of those that drain you.
  • Assess. Find ways to get some objective data about your situation. If you are stuck financially, have a financial advisor look at your situation. If you are stuck in your career, have a coach administer a personal assessment tool and debrief the results. Not matter where you are stuck, there will be a neutral outsider with expertise that can help you see what is happening with more clarity and will help you find a path forward.
  • Explore. Ask good questions. Wrestle with the answers. Interview others. Job shadow if you are considering a job change. Read. Take note of what successful people are doing in those areas you are stuck.
  • Subtract. In those times when you don’t know what to do, begin the process of elimination. You can begin by creating a list of all the things you DON’T want to continue or to consider. Try a few things – and take them off the list as appropriate. Review what you are subtracting. What patterns do you see?

Moving You Forward

If your problem is fear of moving forward, these things can help you:

  • Use peer pressure. Announce what you are aiming to do to those who will support you and will hold you accountable. Get a coach. Form a team around you to help, goad, nudge and push you as needed.
  • Just do something. The first step is often the hardest. It does not have to big, however one must start. Start small, but start, and remember the first step can be learning or assessing.
  • Remove obstacles.  There will be plenty of things getting in your way. It may be money, experience, education. It may be your own “head trash”. Know that there is no “instant success” – and diligently remove obstacles, one at a time.
  • Learn from the Pros. Our own internal resistance is for many the biggest obstacle. There are two books that “kick me in the butt” every time that happens (and it happens frequently). They are Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and  The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

Without doubt, we all get stuck at times. The key question is this: Are you willing to do the work to get unstuck? If not, can you live with the alternative?

I’d love to hear from you. What do you do when you are stuck? Please share!


Remarkable women leaders, join us for a 24-hour multigenerational retreat experience on May 4-5, 2017 at Wooded Glen Retreat Center.

During our time together, you will work, play, and honor your mind, body, and spirit with a transformative program. Experience influential relationship building, mastermind, small group, and full leadership sessions, delicious food and restful accommodations.

Learn more at


20 Free Ways You Can Invest in Yourself

In a recent post, I discussed the importance of investing in yourself. In this post, I’m sharing a great list of no-cost ways you can do that. No-cost means no funding required, no need to open your wallet and/or use your credit card.

But of course there is a cost. Investing in yourself will require time. It will require effort. It will require that you value yourself enough to nurture your growth. And it might require you to take a risk and try something new!

  1. Free Online Courses from Top Universities

Ever want to go to Harvard? MIT? UC Berkley?  edX offers free, online educations, across a wide variety of topics at no cost. Almost too good to be true.

  1. Use YouTube

You Tube has more than videos that make you laugh. Check out their education channel for an amazing array of topics, ranging from pre-school to college to life-long learning. I recently use a YouTube video to fix my car and averted a trip to the shop.

  1. Read

Let us be grateful to Guttenberg for making books so readily accessible. We have a treasure trove available at our fingertips. Go to the library. And, if you like to read on your electronic device, check out Freebooksy, which lists over 500,000 free books you can download.

  1. Attend Free Seminars

If you look, you’ll find free seminars in a variety of place. In your community, at your local college or university, or online.

  1. Watch the History Channel

Learn about the past on the History Channel. If you happen to miss one on your favorite History Channel shows, you can watch them online (even Swamp People – which I have to admit eludes me as to why it is in this line up).

  1. Find a Mentor or a Teacher

Most individuals are reluctant to ask someone to take time to teach you what they know. At the same time, most individuals are honored and happy to teach someone about the things they do well and enjoy. So get over your reluctance and reach out to that person who knows how to do what you want to learn. Chances are, they’ll be honored and say yes.

  1. Listen to Podcasts

Podcasts are informational series that are broadcast and can be downloaded to listen to at your convenience. You can subscribe to a series or search for individuals ones – and then listen to them on your devise (phone, pc, iPad, iPod). Here is The Atlantic’s list of the best podcasts for 2016 to get you started.

  1. Go to Museums

If you happen to be in Washington, D.C. you’ll have many museums to explore at no cost. Even if you are not, check out your local museums, as many of them offer free days. They may not be at peak times, but you won’t have to contend with big crowds.

  1. Subscribe to Blogs

As you might suggest, I’m a big fan of blogs. I like getting bite sized information over time. Many blogs are written by experts in their fields and present me with information, new perspectives and ideas. Simply Google this search: Blogs about <topic> and most likely someone will have curated a list of the top blogs for your area of interest.

  1. Explore Newspapers

Old school, I know, but newspapers are still a great source about a variety of information. Find them for free at your local library – every day! Pick up a newspaper from a different city or country, and the learning will be rich.

  1. Subscribe to The Skimm

This is summary of the top, daily news that’s delivered to you inbox every morning. Filled with crisp writing, they live up to their name, and this service is offered at no cost.

  1. Job Shadow

Ask someone if you can shadow them for a day. You might do this to learn about a new career opportunity or just to learn what others in your organization do and how your work impacts their work. Even local law enforcement agencies often offer the chance to do “ride alongs”.

  1. Watch TED talks

If you have an extra 18 minutes, find a topic of interest and prepare to be informed and inspired. TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today it covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages.

  1. Volunteer

Volunteering is a great way to learn, to expand your horizons, meet other people and do good along the way. Whether your interest is building homes or helping the homeless, art or sports, education or the environment – there is an organization who would be thrilled to have you.

  1. People Watch

Sharpen your observation skills and simply watch and see what you learn. Observe people you admire and discern what you can do to be more like them. Notice how people react in certain situations and learn something about group behavior. The key here is to be a true observer – and to leave the judgement behind.

  1. Talk with Someone New at Networking Events

If your tendency at networking events is to a.) avoid them, b) only talk to those you know or c) hide in the bathroom and exit as soon as possible, you might want to experiment with reaching out to someone new or different at the next one. Just try it and see what happens!

  1. Experiment

Which leads me to the next way to learn something new. Positioning something as an experiment allows you the freedom to try something “just to see what happens”. That mindset allows you to be freer, less judgmental and more open to the inevitable flub ups that come with first attempts. Think about the difference between “learning to play the guitar” to “experimenting with the guitar”.

  1. Download Learning Apps

As of January, 2017, there were over 2.2 million apps for iOS devices. Not all are educational, but a large number are. Just one example: Dualingo is a free app that enables you to learn an amazing number of languages – for free.

  1. Physical Training

It sounds odd that teaching your body something new would impact your brain, but it does. Research shows that moving our bodies and improving physical performance has carry over benefits to brain functioning and wellbeing.

  1. Play

Too often we equate learning with work. Hard work. Play is integral for learning – and not just for 3 year olds. Take up a hobby. Watch a funny movie. Hang out with preschoolers. Break out the board games. Take up a team sport. You’ll have fun and be mentally sharper as well.


I’m adding a bonus tip for you – taking our count to 21. You might be surprised at what it is – SLEEP! Our brain needs deep sleep to connect and store all those neural pathways that we are forming and wanting to cement. So learn, play, connect and then sleep, baby, sleep!

Many thanks to the great folks at Simon Property Group, who in a recent workshop, Learning at the Speed of Life, helped generate this list!


Remarkable women leaders, join us for a 24-hour multigenerational retreat experience on May 4-5, 2017 at Wooded Glen Retreat Center.

During our time together, you will work, play, and honor your mind, body, and spirit with a transformative program. Experience influential relationship building, mastermind, small group, and full leadership sessions, delicious food and restful

Learn more at

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!