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Letter to my Children: Lessons from “Becoming Warren Buffett”

The documentary “Becoming Warren Buffett” got to my core. It contains rich lessons about life, purpose, and professional growth. While watching it, I caught myself thinking about my parents who taught me many of the same principals Warren Buffett lives by, my clients who I wanted to discuss the insights with, and you two, V and G. Although I’m already sharing some of these life lessons with you daily, I felt compelled to put them in writing. My hope is that when you are out in the world, you will remember these lessons that speak to our family principles.


Focus: Buffett tells us that he and Bill Gates were asked to write down one word that described what helped them the most in their lives and that they both wrote the word FOCUS. Achievement requires focus.

Circle of competence: he explains that you need to “define what your game is. Where you have an edge.” You need to find your circle of competence.

Consistency and simplicity: Buffett shows consistency and simplicity in how he manages his life and business.

Public speaking: He tells us that he was terrified of public speaking and how important it was for him to take the Dale Carnegie public speaking course. It helped him get over his fear and propose to his wife.

Ethics: Buffett was never interested in making money by cheating, and he proved to the world that you can make money with a high ethical standard. He proved that you can simultaneously be a high achieving businessman and a good human being.

Deep work: He reads 5 to 6 hours a day and makes time to think. Buffett’s ability to focus and to get in “the zone” allows him to maximize his analytical abilities.

“Work that is not work”: Buffett works with people he enjoys and gets into his “zone,” so work does not feel like work.

Taking responsibility: The way Buffett managed the Salomon Brothers scandal was a historical example of how you must take responsibility for your mistakes and that you can rebuild trust when you have credibility.

Celebration: His partner, Charlie, tells us “Celebration is part of making a group of people work well together.” We all have to make the time to stop and smell the coffee.

Vulnerability: He was vulnerable about needing to do a better job of understanding human nature and solving human problems.

Generosity: Buffett will always be remembered by his philanthropy. He concluded that the best use of his utilities was to give back to society.

Compound interest: Buffett started working, saving and investing very early in life. He preaches about the powerful concept of compound interest.

Love: He acknowledges that we need others to grow. Buffett speaks about how his wife made him more of a whole person. He talks about the importance of his parents, partners, employees, and investors. He says “it is a very strange thing, love…you can’t get rid of it. The more you give, the more you get. If you try to hang on to it, you lose it.”


V and G: As you explore your life path, my advice to you is to discover what you are good at and find the type of work that “feels like not work.” If you want to achieve, you need to focus; keep it simple and be consistent so you have time for what’s important. Being a good human being is the most essential principle of all. Take responsibility for your mistakes and keep a high ethical standard. Find your voice and don’t be afraid to speak up. Make the time to celebrate the small wins and create special moments – these memories will help you through the tough times. Be vulnerable about areas where you can improve and be a life-learner. Be generous, give back, help someone in need, and always remember to love. There is no shame in asking for help because we need people to grow. Mom and Dad will always love you! Last but not least, start saving and investing early – compound interest works.

Leading with Clarity, Purpose and People

Over the past weeks, I’ve engaged with CEOs and have listened to them present powerful ideas.  I witnessed a resounding message emanating from these talks and client meetings. This key leadership message is: It all comes down to People and Purpose.

Keep your Purpose Clear and Simple

At an Executive Roundtable event, Suntrust CEO, Bill Rogers, touched upon on how a company’s purpose and services need to be clear. The mission needs to be uncomplicated, short and sweet, so that it’s easy for employees to remember. “To run a thriving organization, you need to create clarity and purpose”. If people are confused about why they’re there, then it’s harder to keep them engaged.

Focus on Cultivating People

This emphasis of delivering a clear corporate message is equally matched by the focus on People. A CEO of a software startup I spoke with described his company as being in the talent business. “We are fighting for talent every day. Attracting the right people is one of my top priorities. It all starts with that.” All  business leaders know that finding the right people and keeping them motivated is essential to having a thriving organization. Now they are making sure they focus their energy and company resources on that. They are practicing what they preach.

Slow down, Realign and Reconnect

Another Entrepreneur/CEO I’ve engaged with reflected on how he felt his business was expanding too quickly. Concerned that they were losing focus and not communicating well internally, he came to realization that it was time to put people first.  He was shifting his priorities to decelerate other business objectives in order to reconnect with employees, and realign their company’s purpose.

Keep Your People Inspired

This common theme of investing in your company’s people was conveyed yet again during a panel for a Miami Tech event.  Mike Parra, CEO of DHL Express, shared: “I see myself as the Chief Energy Officer”. You need to guarantee that people come to work with the right energy to bring results. How can you develop a culture and business process that creates energy? I offer different strategies to this topic in my recent Exploritat post, Creating Energy in your Team.

Making the Circle Tighter/Increasing Your Accessibility

Are you creating the environment in your organization for people to feel engaged? At Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg holds a weekly “All-hands” webcast for top management to engage with all employees. Designed to allow employees to have more visibility and clearer messaging, it also enables upper management to have a direct ear to inspire their people with a renewed sense of purpose and energy and reassert their purpose. Lori Goler, Facebook’s Head of People, explains “It really is a way for people to express what’s on their mind. And for us to hear that.”1

Undeniably, the drums are beating louder and clearer that to be an effective leader in today’s business world, your mantra must embrace Purpose and People. I’ve observed many leaders extolling the need for creating clarity, aligning with the company’s goals, and connecting with people. Be sure to keep these ideas front and center in your mind as you head into every week.

 

Leticia Hartmann is a Certified Executive Coach who specializes in leadership and career growth. She is the founder of Exploritat.

 

Taking the Driver’s Seat on Your Career Growth

Charting your course towards a CEO position or leadership role has taken quite a different trajectory compared to what it once was. In today’s business world, growth-minded executives no longer wait to be recognized for their contributions and standby in anticipation of that well-deserved promotion. To get ahead, you need to be your own advocate.

Take risks

Taking the Driver's Seat on your Career GrowthIn a recent study published by Harvard Business Review, C-level executives referred to as ‘CEO Sprinters’, were analyzed over a 10 year period. The findings of this CEO Genome Project showed that Sprinters achieved fast-track success by making bold initiatives that catapulted them ahead of their peers who followed more traditional career paths. This accelerated path often requires taking on risk, forcing yourself out of your professional comfort zone, and adopting the mindset of “making your own luck”. If success is what you seek, dare to take chances and expand into new territories.

Manage up/Communicate your accomplishments

In addition to making strategic strides to expedite your career growth, learning to hone your communications skills is vital. You are your foremost champion when it comes to educating your company about your value and accomplishments. Many highly productive executives don’t pay attention to managing up or recognize the importance of selling their achievements. If this sounds like you, schedule time into your calendar for making a conscious effort to communicate the impact you have on your organization.

Become a thought leader

Taking on the role of being a leading voice within your field is enormously valuable. Executives who make a conscious effort to study new trends, explore future possibilities and communicate their ideas, have the potential to serve as thought leaders.

Time for learning is time for growth

How can you be ahead of a moving curve and guarantee that you are a “disruption-ready leader”? Make time for strategic thinking and learning beyond your role.

Be proactive about building relationships

If you’ve got your sights set on executive growth, you must dedicate time to building key relationships. Carve out time to network and proactively cultivate relationships outside your current role within your organization. Reach out to key executives you may not frequently interact with and ask for advice from opinion makers in your industry.

Get support from a mentor or coach

Every step higher you take in your career requires a different set of skills. Don’t feel like you need to go it alone. Leverage different resources to prepare for growth. If your company has a formal mentor program, take advantage of it. If not, reach out to an executive coach or partner outside your organization who can help you expand your thinking and develop your next layer of performance.

Now more than ever, there’s no shortage of ways for you to propel your career forward. And while effort, talent and ambition are still the keystones of what it takes to make a great leader, keeping your toolkit updated will get you there faster. If there were road signs for today’s up-and-comers, they might read: Be Bold. Be Savvy. Be Noticed. Be Heard. Be Proactive. Follow these signposts towards your career growth, and the sky’s the limit.

 

Leticia Hartmann is a Certified Executive Coach who specializes in leadership development and career growth. She is the founder of Exploritat.

“I am too Modest” – This Statement may be Hurting Your Career

Modesty is equated with not being boastful or self-promoting. Talking about our accomplishments is often perceived as being egotistical and can leave a bad taste for those listening. However, when it comes to your career growth, is your modesty in fact holding you back?

Why being modest is not ‘good business practice’

Being modest in the corporate world doesn’t benefit you or your team. In order to get the recognition that you deserve, it is important to sell yourself and manage up. Hone your ability to value yourself so that others can see your value. I’ve worked with great leaders who are masters in being both humble and yet not modest. They make the time to expose their results as a team which in turn helps to gain visibility and resources to do even more. They get the exposure they’ve rightfully earned. In short, there is nothing ‘wrong’ with not being modest.

Often times, being reserved and humble about your achievements in the workplace could be a problem of not seeing your value. What’s the remedy?

How do you stop yourself from being ‘too modest’?

Develop a conscious habit to:

  • Define your own value proposition. Put on paper what you bring to the table. Ask yourself the following questions: “What are your accomplishments and results to your organization? Are you creating value to your company? Are you creating value to yourself? Are you creating value to your team?”
  • Manage up. Expose yourself and your team in terms of showing the results. This will help to further your career in terms of getting what you need and getting the resources to move your team forward. There are a wide range of actions to manage up including: scheduling meetings with upper management, taking on larger projects, accepting speaking opportunities or becoming a thought leader.
  • Check your assumptions.  Ask yourself, “What thoughts come to mind when I think of showing off my value? Am I afraid of being perceived as being a bragger? How are these assumptions serving me as a leader?”
  • Adapt your mindset. Do some soul searching to determine if your modesty is related with being too judgmental with yourself. Leadership coaching is one strategy that could help you to overcome this and serve as a catalyst for positive transformation. Take concrete actions to train your brain to act with a learner’s mindset.

The reality is that no one understands your strengths as intimately as you do. You know what you can bring to the table. Getting results is only part of your job as a leader. Building upon your success and seeking out opportunities to expose these triumphs is the cherry on top. It is then, that you will see real progress happen in your career.

 

Leticia Hartmann is a Certified Executive Coach who specializes in leadership development and career growth. She is the founder of Exploritat.

Creating Energy in Your Team

Do you have a favorite song that makes you feel instantaneously uplifted? Recently, everytime I listen to “Can’t Stop The Feeling” by Justin Timberlake, I feel infused with an infectious positive energy.

Consider what you could do as a leader to tap into this type of positive energy to engage your employees to maximize their potential. During my career as a corporate leader and executive coach, I’ve experienced that when a leader is brimming with energy and is capable of energizing his followers, half of the effort of making things happen is done.

There are many motivational techniques and reward models for creating these types of positive vibes.

Design Energy Rituals

Recently I came across a New York Times article, which uncovered a lesser-known factor attributing to the Chicago Cubs’ success of breaking a 108 year championship losing streak. Prior to practice, the team’s conditioning and strength coach, Tim Buss, calls the players into a circle formation. A team member is randomly chosen to stand in the middle of that circle, and each person then goes around and says something positive about the selected person. Third Baseman, Kris Bryant, shares “There’s times throughout the year where I need them to say something positive about me and I feel better. ” Buss is also known for showing up to work wearing quirky ensembles. Team members delight in this and concur that the more positive energy, the higher morale is boosted and elevates the team as a whole.

These energy rituals, including similar team-building exercises or bonding experiences, help to motivate and build a connection and sense of common goals. As you get employees more intimately involved, their job becomes more like a shared experience that they connect to on an emotional level.

Increase your “Relational Energy”

In a study published by Harvard Business Review, it was shown that “relational energy” in the workplace, the energy that comes from interacting with work colleagues, has a direct effect on employee performance. Some people have an innately positive outlook towards work and their everyday tasks at hand. Simply by being around such people, your mood and work approach can be elevated, and thereby your work performance. As a leader, you can motivate and inspire your team on a regular basis by imbibing them with a healthy cup of affirmation and positivity. The research’s empirical evidence found that a manager’s relational energy “increases one’s motivation at work, attention to tasks, and absorption in work activities.”

Create an Inspiring Workspace

Although your firm may not be a hip start-up, there’s no reason you can’t adopt some of the attractive bells and whistles that deliver the creativity offered by such glossy tech companies. Create a culture that is inspirational and fun. Add a ping-pong or foosball table to the common area as an alternative to gathering ‘round the water cooler or stale vending machines. Designate workspace areas designed for engagement and coworking. By investing in a work atmosphere and culture that is inspirational, people are incentivized to come together and collaborate. This also lends itself to a renewed sense of enthusiasm and commitment to their job.

Whether you start the ritual of a monthly flash mob on the company roof terrace, or a meditative, kumbaya fireside sit-down, think about ways in which you can deliver inspirational energy to your team. Look for out-of-the-box approaches to invigorate the daily humdrum and infuse with creativity. And as Timberlake reminds us, be sure to bring some of that “sunshine in your pocket”.

 

Leticia Hartmann is a Certified Executive Coach who specializes in leadership and career growth. She is the founder of Exploritat.

Are Your Top Achievers at Risk of Burnout?

Top achievers are typically workaholics by nature. They don’t settle for mediocre results. It’s as if though they’re wired to their company’s mission and results. On both a professional and personal level, they’re committed to make it happen for you. Then, suddenly, it’s as if they wake up one day and ask themselves “Why am I giving my life to this company?”

So, what can you do to help your top achievers? Telling them to work less isn’t effective but you might be able to help them work smarter. It’s essential to make your top achievers understand that it’s to their own benefit to create healthier boundaries for work and budget their time better. The following are a series of questions and identifiers that I’ve gathered throughout my corporate and executive coaching life.

  • Burnout barometer: How do you know if your top achievers are feeling burned out? Who are your the top contributors that you need to focus your attention to guarantee they are not at the point of disengaging?
  • Meaningful work: Your key players will almost always stay engaged if they continue to find meaning in their work. How do you reward all the effort they pour into your company in a way that touches their heart & soul (or brain)? Are they impacting a greater cause? Are they seeing any type of gain on a personal or emotional level? Are they getting the type of recognition they want/need? Does your company have an outreach program or make significant social impacts?
  • Team structure: How do you measure if a Leader has the team size needed to get the job done? How do you review process and procedures to avoid bureaucracy and red tape?
  • Productivity tools: I can assure you that many top achievers could do more if they had better time management tools. Learning these skills is easy; however adopting a new habit and changing a personal operating system requires another step. Training can be supplemented with leadership coaching to support long lasting behavior change.
  • Delegation: Many top achievers tend to be controlling and find it difficult to delegate their work. How can you help them learn how to delegate better?

The above checklist is meant to serve as a litmus test to determine if action needs to be taken. As an executive coach, I still see many companies expecting more and more from their top achievers, pushing them to the point where they disengage and look for a way out. If you have the power in your organization to offer advice to your key contributors, make the time to analyze how you can help them achieve even more.

Leticia Hartmann is a Certified Executive Coach and Founder at Exploritat.

Are you a “Disruption-Ready” Leader?

Two topics are dominating my exchanges with business leaders in recent months:  attention deficit and disruption. “I feel I am all over the place.” “I am having a hard time focusing on larger projects.” “How is my industry going to look like in two years?”  “What innovation will impact my role next?” Statements and questions such as these are what I have been hearing as of late.

Continue reading “Are you a “Disruption-Ready” Leader?”

Why You Need to Embrace Risk to Further Your Professional Growth

Your capacity to embrace risk directly impacts your ability to maximize your professional growth. Risk-taking allows you to learn more about yourself, assess your strengths and weaknesses, and make connections that you had not previously made or could not see. Why should you take that step out of your comfort zone?

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How Assumptions are Affecting Your Career Opportunities

So often when we consider new career opportunities, we are confronted with the negative voice of our own egos. I recently had one client deem hers “the ghost in the room.” Here’s a typical scenario: You’re changing professional roles and the voice tells you that the new team you’ll be working with doesn’t have confidence in you, or that someone else would have been more qualified to fill the position. You start to become weighed down by ideas and stories that you fabricate in your mind. You wind up creating assumptions about other people, their beliefs, and about yourself, and in the process, erode your self-confidence and convince yourself that you’re not good enough.

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How to Commit to Your Professional Growth

You have to commit to the turn!”

My ski instructor stood beside me, encouraging me to move forward. But I couldn’t. I was frozen. Was it the fear of getting hurt? Or the limiting beliefs that I had bad knees and that I was just not the athletic type?

My experience on the Colorado slopes solidified a key component of professional growth and development, something I’m always considering as an executive coach: in order to realize your career dreams, you must be fully committed to the goal. You need to do the hard work of “committing to the turn” before you even step into the arena of growth.

Continue reading “How to Commit to Your Professional Growth”

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