Blog

Moving Forward – Meaningful Changes From the Pandemic

In March 2020, we all watched as the world was put on “hold”. “Stay at home” orders were put into place, remote working became the new reality, and we all were forced to make adjustments in order to cope with the growing pandemic. Fast forward to today, and there seems to be a possibility of reclaiming some of the past that we considered “normal”. As vaccinations roll out across the world and countries start to relax restrictions, it provides us an opportunity to reflect on the past year and all of the changes that came with it. 

The Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, launched The World After Coronavirus Video Series, featuring more than 100 interviews with leading experts and practitioners across the world, exploring the challenges and opportunities we will face in our post-coronavirus future.

As stated by Marina Khidekel at Thrive Global, “Amidst all the disruption that we’ve experienced from the COVID-19 pandemic, this time has offered us small silver linings and insights and habits that we’ll carry with us into the future.” 

What do we want to bring forward? What do we want to leave behind? And what do we want to reclaim from our life pre-COVID?

Many people adopted new hobbies and rituals into their routines during the pandemic, some of which will continue as we begin to transition into a post-COVID world. What are some things that you began doing during COVID that you hope to continue post-pandemic? Below are some meaningful rituals to consider bringing forward.

Staying connected and maintaining relationships.

We have all found new ways to stay socially-connected to one another, even when physically distanced. This pandemic has reminded us all of the importance of maintaining relationships, even when miles apart. 

Incorporating “me” time into my daily routine.

For many, the line between work/life balance has become blurred due to remote working. With constant pressure to feel like you need to be “on the clock”, it’s important to schedule “me” time in the day to focus on yourself and your wellbeing. Literally, schedule “me time” on your calendar!

Daily mindfulness practice.

The last year has been anything but normal, which can feel overwhelming at times. Incorporating daily mindfulness practice into your routine can help to clear your mind and prevent feelings of stress and uncertainty. This can be as simple as three deep breaths several times a day or writing down three items you have gratitude for daily.

What rituals are you bringing forward? And what do you want to leave behind?

Standing in Solidarity, Awakening, Time for Responsibility

Over the last two weeks, the world has watched people take to the streets across the United States with outrage caused by the killing of a black man, George Floyd by a white police officer, Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis. This story has been on replay for decades, with more than 1,000 people killed by police annually since 2015, according to Mapping Police Violence, spotlighting the failure of our criminal justice system. It exposes the centuries-old structural racism and white supremacy that created a capitalism that works for the White Europeans that set foot on this continent. 

White Americans have been trained to see racism as black people’s problem. Now, we are only beginning to recognize that racism is toxic to our lives. There are missing parts of our humanity that keep us from being able to connect deeply with people of color beyond the comforts of the workplace where invariably we hold positions of power and authority or through the lens of sports and entertainment.

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

—James Baldwin

As President Obama has shared, we can make this a turning point for real change

HOW CAN WE MAKE THIS A TURNING POINT FOR REAL CHANGE?

Get Educated: on racism, white supremacy and police violence in America.

    • 11 Terms You Should Know Better to Understand Structural Racism
    • Characteristics of White Supremacy Culture, perfectionism, sense of urgency, defensiveness, quantity over quality, worship of the written word, paternalism, either/or thinking, power hoarding, fear of conflict, individualism, progress is bigger, objectivity, right to comfort.. are all norms of white dominant organizational cultures.
    • White Fragility by Dr. Robin DiAngelo unpacks and discusses the dynamics of white privilege and white fragility and why it’s hard for white people to talk about race.
    • How to Be An Anti-Racist’ by leading anti-racist scholar Ibram X Kendi points us toward liberating ways to thinking about ourselves and each other. Start a discussion using the author’s discussion guide.
    • Resources compiled for white people by Wisconsin Voices, a pro-democracy network that partners with organizations that lead campaigns to invest in anti-racist infrastructure, systems and policies that uplift and affirm BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) lives.

Take Action & Get Engaged: Support organizations, movements and elected officials for policy reform.

Invest in Racial Equity: Either by supporting Black-owned small businesses or donating to organizations working to challenge racism.

Mural on plywood window covering after looting along State Street in Madison, Wisconsin. Part of the Art for Justice project following the killing of George Floyd. Click here to view a slideshow of all of the murals painted on State Street. Credit: Mary Stelletello

In 1984 when I was a college student at U.C. Berkeley, I stood in solidarity with faculty and staff who protested the investment of their pension funds in the Apartheid regime of South Africa. The faculty and staff won that fight.  Ten years later, South Africa abolished Apartheid and established a new system of government.

In 2004, I had the privilege to visit Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela served 27 years in prison for his fight against injustice. I bought his book, Long Walk to Freedom at the bookstore on that trip.  He wrote:

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of their skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can learn to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. A change in our laws and policies has to come hand in hand with a change in our hearts.”

We are waking up to this reality in a new way… we must keep going because as white people, this is our fight for a change in our hearts and humanity. Black Lives Matter.

Building Resiliency Through the Pandemic

As “stay at home” orders extend across the country, and we begin to be more personally impacted by COVID-19, our ability to remain optimistic and hopeful becomes increasingly challenged.  We continue to experience expectations of productivity and effectiveness in “work from home” environments, managing virtual teams and meeting deliverables. 

One of humanity’s most powerful survival skills is our ability to build resilience.  Resilience means adapting well in the face of adversity and is associated with a mindset that recognizes our capacity to grow through life-altering and stressful events.

According to Dr. Arielle Schwartz, “Resilience is not a trait that you either have or do not have; it is a set of strategies that can be learned and practiced by anyone.”

Dr. Schwartz offers her framework of six pillars of resilience:

    1. Growth mindset: Cultivating an understanding that life experiences, whether positive or negative, provide ongoing opportunities for learning and development.
    2. Emotional Intelligence: Recognizing that you will experience feelings of fear, exhaustion, anger, sadness and a host of other emotions as a part of this global trauma we are living through.  This is normal and part of your innate resilience. Gaining tools to navigate through this process allows you to reclaim your balance.
    3. Community Connections:  This pillar has been the most dramatically altered during the pandemic as we have previously associated “connection” with in-person interaction. We now must be intentional at creating virtual connections.  We may be physically distancing but social solidarity is essential.
    4. Self-expression:  Activating the creative part of your brain, the prefrontal cortex through writing, art, dance, music increases access to the hormone oxytocin which helps you feel more social connection and relational resonance.
    5. Embodiment: Our bodies need to process stressful events through breath and movement. When these natural impulses are ignored the biological effects of stress persist.  Activities such as yoga, meditation, and mindfulness breathing build resilience.
    6. Choice and Control: The belief and acceptance that there are events in our life that are completely outside our control.  Resilience comes with knowing that there are still things in your life that you do have control over.

Building resilience is a daily practice of small behaviors that support your physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual health.  In taking microsteps every day, you will start to feel stronger, optimistic, capable and connected to others.

Finding our way in the New Normal…

As the month of March began, we were watching the Coronavirus spread across China and Europe but here across the pond, we continued to operate as business as usual.

I look back at notes I took at client meetings and coaching calls during the first week of March and it feels like it was a different reality.  Indeed it was… since then, our inboxes and feeds have been exploding with news of the spread of the virus across Europe, U.S. and North America. Restrictions are being put in place daily to flatten the curve. We are trying to find a new rhythm of life navigating COVID-19.  We are experiencing the metamorphosis of a new world order.

With this sudden dramatic shift in our daily routine, our brains revert to our most primitive state, the reptilian brain. “What is going on? How can this be happening? This isn’t real. This doesn’t make any sense? I need to protect myself”.

The reptilian brain is the oldest part of our brain, developed in primitive humans to make decisions to protect us from the lions, tigers and bears. When we are in our primitive brain we are reactive, we take a stance of fighting, fleeing, appeasing or freezing.  None of these stances can help us navigate this new normal.

If you have been reading my blog over the last few years, you have seen some posts about Conversational Intelligence® or C-IQ.  Conversational Intelligence is about moving from the “I-Centric” primitive brain to the “We-Centric” prefrontal cortex part of the brain. The capabilities that reside in the prefrontal cortex are empathy, creativity and innovation.  These are the skills we need to find our way in the new normal.

Photo source: Conversational Intelligence® for Coaches

What does it take to move from the primitive brain to the prefrontal cortex?

    1. Recognize you are in your primitive brain and take several breaths. This calms the nervous system and slows down the cortisol which is the hormone activated by this fear response.
    2. Reduce the amount of media you consume about the pandemic (don’t scroll your phone before bed or immediately when you wake up). This allows your brain to start and end the day with more optimism.
    3. Reach out to friends and family members who are finding their way in this new normal. We may have “stay at home” orders in place but humans are social beings. We need social solidarity to move to the prefrontal cortex.
    4. Take Microsteps of creating new habits. There are SO MANY resources out there but I really like what Thrive Global is curating in their new series, “Thriving in the New Normal” that offers Microsteps about sleep, nutrition, stress, and more to help us proactively strengthen our immune system and build resilience. 

During this time, our initial tendency is to go to that primitive brain and hunker down, hoping that it will pass.  We all know now that we are in this together for the long haul. We are co-creating our new normal.

If you are in your primitive brain, feeling lost, stuck, not knowing what steps to take, let’s chat. I am here for you and look forward to co-creating the new normal with empathy, creativity and innovation. A new normal that works for all of us.

Three Steps to Managing Your Energy This Season

As the year winds down and the days shorten, I find that my energy level starts to drop. The “Happy Lamp” that I have on my desk throughout the year is turned on more hours and I recognize that I need to be more mindful and intentional about managing the energy in my personal gas tank.

The article written by Tony Schwartz called “Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time” always comes to mind this time of year. No matter how many hours we work, if we have low levels of energy, our productivity will suffer.  Schwartz states that energy comes from four major wellsprings in human beings: the body, emotions, mind and spirit. In each of these areas, we can expand and renew energy, if we establish simple rituals that are intentional, scheduled and ultimately become automatic.

I have found that I have varying levels of recharging to keep my energy tank full. Some rituals are micro-behaviors, some behaviors are moderate and then there are the deep dive recharging rituals. Here are some rituals that work for me:

  1. Disconnect from technology: We live in a connected world and technology is ever present. It is an energy drain so to reduce that drain, I charge my phone in the kitchen overnight and I don’t look at it until after breakfast. It allows me to shut down fully at night and ease into my day.
  2. Walk the dog: This is literal and figurative. I have had a dog for decades of my life and it forces me to get away from the computer and get outside for 20 minutes, a couple of times a day. If you don’t have a dog, you can create a meeting appointment called, “Walk the Dog” to get away from the desk.
  3. Go to your happy place: This is the deep dive.. Annually (this time of year).. I go to Hawaii for renewal to soak up the sunlight and watch the waves, turtles, dolphins, and rainbows. It reconnects me to the gifts of this planet and fills the wellsprings of mind, body and spirit.

As we launch into the next decade, I encourage you to explore new rituals and practice recharging your mind and body.

This blog was originally published on Thrive Global December 26, 2019.

The Decade of Action: Next Steps to Becoming a More Sustainable World

In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly created a collection of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), each designed to target a specific area of sustainability. These goals are intended to serve as a blueprint for all countries in order to create a sustainable future for all. The UN determined that in order to create a sustainable world, the SDGs must be achieved globally by 2030.

Although 15 years seems like a long period of time, five years into this, the world remains behind schedule on achieving these goals. As small business owners, we are responsible for incorporating the SDGs into our business models. By doing so, we are setting a precedent and example for other businesses to follow our lead. 

Since 2012, Vista Global has been a Certified B Corp, meaning that our business practices meet the highest standards of social and environmental performance. The B Corp certification was first created by the nonprofit B Lab in 2007, and since its establishment more than 3,000 businesses worldwide have become Certified B Corps. This certification can be rigorous and time consuming. Therefore, to broaden the reach to businesses interested in adopting sustainable practices, B Lab, in partnership with the UN Global Impact, developed a new solution, known as the SDG Action Manager. 

The SDG Action Manager is a free tool that was created in order to bring attention to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. This tool allows businesses worldwide to create goals, monitor progress, and implement change in their business and community. The SDG Action Manager consists of 17 components, beginning with a baseline assessment, followed by an assessment relating to each of the SDGs:

Each category is designed to make businesses think about their impacts, both positive and negative. After completing the different assessments, businesses will be provided with a ranking, indicating how close they are to achieving a certain goal. The purpose of this tool is to provide businesses with a metric for monitoring their impacts and solutions for taking action. 

Vista Global is committed to working towards SDG Goal #5 “Achieve Gender Equality and Empower all Women and Girls.” As a woman leader of a certified B Corp, Mary Stelletello, Founder of Vista Global has signed the global WeTheChange declaration. Any woman business owner or ally can sign this declaration. This connects individual action to a global movement.

How does the SDG Action Manager Work?

Find your starting point

To begin, each business will complete an assessment of current business practices. This assessment will identify which SDGs matter most in your company. 

Understand your impact

After completing the assessment, businesses will have a clear understanding of which of their current business practices are creating a positive impact, as well as risk areas that need addressing. 

Set goals and track improvement

After you have a better understanding of your current impacts, it’s time to take action. Stay motivated by creating goals and track your progress on the dashboard. 

With only 10 years left to achieve the SDGs, the SDG Action Manager serves as an easy tool to assist businesses in adopting sustainability into their business strategy. We have the power to build a sustainable, inclusive and regenerative global economy. 

Get Started Today!

Three Ways We Can Reshape the Global Economy for Everyone

It’s been three months since the Business Roundtable released a revised statement of purpose signed by 181 of its 193 members, issuing a new commitment to move from shareholder primacy to creating “value for all of our stakeholders.” This declaration was met with the gamut of reactions including skepticism, “about time” sighs, and a challenge from the B Corp community to follow up with action and collaboration through its #LetsGetToWork open letter and campaign

With $7 trillion in revenue annually, these leading U.S. corporations are a powerful voice in the market and beyond. Their action – or failure to act – will have an undeniable impact on the sustainability and equitability of business and community in the coming decade. Three months later, the BRT Twitter account shares positive individual actions taken by its members almost daily but it remains to be seen if and what collective action will come next. 

But We’re Not Waiting to Take Action

As a certified B Corp, my coaching and consulting firm votes every day to prioritize people over profit and to build a regenerative economy. We do this by providing 95% of our services to customers that address social and economic problems. We also encourage our staff to donate more than 5% of their time to volunteer service.

Vista Global is a small business with a small economic engine. As we’ve discovered from many movements in the past few years – #TimesUp, #FridaysforFuture, and #BlackLivesMatter – there is power in numbers. That’s why I’ve been actively looking for ways to connect with and amplify the work that needs to be done. 

A clear way that we can ensure a more purpose-driven bottom line is to propel more women into leadership roles. As Fortune.com noted in the article, “Climate Change Is Everyone’s Problem. Women Are Ready to Solve It”: 

Women are more inclined to take a broader, more long-term view and are more willing to engage with difficult issues that have an everyday impact not only on a company’s bottom line but across our society as a whole.” 

Ironically, corporations who promote women will not only strengthen their commitment to purpose but will also increase their bottom line: 

“Firms with female CEOs and CFOs produce superior stock price performance, compared to the market average, and firms with a high gender diversity on their board of directors are more profitable and larger than firms with low gender diversity, according to a new study from S&P Global Market Intelligence.” — Korn Ferry Institute 

3 Ways to Close the Opportunity Gap

Unfortunately, finding women to fill these leadership roles isn’t as easy as it sounds due to the “broken rung” of opportunity. This phrase was recently introduced in a study from McKinsey and LeanIn.org. It represents the fact that many women aren’t being denied top management positions. Instead, they are missing out on the initial promotion opportunities to step up into management. Without this first step, there is no further opportunity to climb the corporate ladder. 

This year, as a founding signatory to the #WeTheChange declaration, I have committed to actively building a world where women are equally represented for a “radically inclusive and richly regenerative global economy.” Here are 3 ways that businesses – from a solopreneur to a billion-dollar corporation – can contribute to the conversation, close the opportunity gap for women, and be a positive force for change.

Pay Equity

In recent Congressional testimony provided by Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan CEO and Chair of the BRT, it was determined that Mr. Dimon received total compensation of $31.5 million in 2018 which is 1312 times the starting wage of a JP Morgan teller. Congresswoman Katie Porter attempted to create the tightest possible budget for a constituent living in her district and found it impossible to make this salary work with a monthly deficit of $567. This pay equity gap will add up to an average loss of $418,800 over a 40-year career for a 20-year-old woman starting to work full time this year according to the National Women’s Law Center. Closing the wage gap is about both leveling the playing field and a more robust economy with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research calculating that closing the wage gap would add $512.6 billion to the U.S. economy annually.

Sponsorship: Beyond Mentoring

I first experienced sponsorship when I started a new management position and soon realized that I was being paid 50% of one of my counterparts who had less experience. I rewrote my job description and advocated for myself, but it was the sponsorship of a male colleague in an executive management role that sealed the deal for my pay to be increased to equitable standings. 

Mentors provide encouragement and advice, using their own valuable experience to help their mentee discover opportunities, chart their own path, and avoid pitfalls. Sponsors go one step further and take action, helping to build social capital by introducing junior employees to their social network, going to bat for them in interviews, and creating opportunity for these leaders on the rise. Ellevate, another women-owned certified B Corp, is an excellent example of sponsorship in action with a powerful online network, peer group “squads,” and regional in-person events. Women and men in leadership must take on the responsibility for not only providing sage advice but championing the work and potential of women. 

Leadership Development: 70-20-10

Beyond actively seeking out sponsorship opportunities, businesses must invest in leadership development through coaching, ongoing education, and by simply giving women the reins to lead. Based on 30 years of research conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership, Bridgespan Group has designed the 70-20-10 leadership development model that posits leadership is learned by doing. The model calls for 70 percent of development to consist of on-the-job learning, supported by 20 percent coaching and mentoring and 10 percent classroom training. If women know that their leadership development is valued and will be rewarded, that broken rung will practically repair itself.

What’s Next?

We commend Jamie Dimon and BRT CEOs in recognizing that the U.S. economy needs to work for everyone.. Next up? Let’s walk the walk. Taking action by closing the wage gap, fostering sponsorships, designing 70-20-10 leadership development, and implementing inclusive workplace policies is good for business and will reshape the U.S. economy to create a durable prosperity for everyone. 

This blog was originally published on Thrive Global December 4, 2019.