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Marshall Tarley Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

We become hypnotized by a constant stream of media on a tumultuous world of war and famine and political strife,  and we forget…there is another lens through which to look. The lens of goodness in the hearts and in the actions of so many; the lens with which we see the caring and kindness of our loved ones, despite their human faults; the lens through which we embrace all the goodness in ourselves, and give grateful thanks for all the abundance we have and cherish.  Happy Thanksgiving!

The Parent Manager

The Parent Manager

It was a lunch break at a conference when a woman started talking about how stressed she was.

She’s a single mother, working full-time, caring for her two daughters and trying to complete her Ph.D. thesis.  “If I just didn’t have to make their lunch every day. That little bit taken off my shoulders would be such a relief,” she said.

I asked how old her daughters were. She said they were twelve and fourteen.  “Twelve and fourteen,” I said, a little surprised.  “Well, I have an easy solution for you. Why don’t you have them make their own lunches.”

“I tried that,” she said. “They did it once, and never did it again.”

The conference was reconvening, and the conversation was cut short.  The next day, I ran into her again. We talked about a few topics from the conference. Then I said to her, “You know, that lunch thing is important.”

“You think so?”

“Really important,” I said. “After all, what else will you enable your daughters not to do? Or, disable them not to do?”

“Yeah, I get it,” she said, “but how do I get them to make their lunches?”

“First, you have to sit them down and explain how important this is to you.  Don’t just mention it in passing. Make it a somewhat formal meeting. Explain how hard you work and how determined you are to see that they have everything they need. Next, tell them what a big help it would be to you if they make their own lunches every day. Explain that in life, it is so important to meet your responsibilities, just like they see you doing every day. Now, you’re giving them a responsibility.  Emphasize that you are placing your trust in them. People feel honored by this. 

“Make a plan together. Decide the best time each evening or morning for them to make their lunch. Start with two days of the week. After a week or two, make it a regular daily routine. You can prompt them the first time or two. After their first success, thank them and remind them how much it means to you.  When they complete their first full week, get them a little token gift or treat.  Don’t overdo it. Once you have them routinized on this, you can drop off the prompts and rewards, except for a little reward once in a while as a good reminder that they have achieved something important.”

Then, the obvious question came. “And, what if they don’t do it,” she asked.

That’s where most parents fail. They throw up their hands and do it themselves. There are often two dynamics going on here. One, the parent wants to feel needed, wants to be in control and retain authority.  Secondly, they’re afraid to be firm with their kids. They’re fearful of their children’s ire or to see them unhappy.  But, these are the key moments where parents have to tough it out, brace themselves, and wait for the mini-storm to pass. In almost every instance, the storm will be minor and pass quickly.  Parents who fail in these critical moments are the ones who may end up picking their kids clothes out to wear in the morning  when they’re twenty years old, or paying their credit card bills when their twenty-eight, or making all kinds of excuses when they’re living at home and don’t have a job at thirty. Yikes!!!  I’ve seen it all and so have you.

“You have to be able to show some genuine anger and disappointment,” I told her. “You can’t just let them off the hook. In addition, you have to be willing to take something away, even if you’re feeling some hurt over it yourself.  You might tell them that if they can’t do this small thing for you, and for themselves, then you won’t be able to take them to that birthday party this Saturday or their soccer practice on Sunday.  Will that be hard for you to do? Will that pain you?  I’m pretty sure it will. But, it will likely happen only once in a great while, and it will save you from so much more pain down the line.”

“Okay,” she said. “I’m going to do it.”

She looked a little shaken and resolute. I believe she took in every word I said.  I didn’t keep in touch, but I do believe she followed through.

A week later, a middle manager called me asking for help with his team. “They just don’t meet their deadlines,” he told me. “I have to remind them, get after them constantly, and they still don’t meet their deadlines.”

I wish I had gotten that woman’s contact information. I would have had her coach him through his problem.

John LoFrumento

Everyone Needs A Champion…even the CEO!

John LoFrumento
John LoFrumento – ASCAP CEO (Retired)

When people think of a champion, they may think of the star athlete on the Wheaties box. They forget that champion is a verb too. Everyone needs someone in their corner, rooting for them, championing their cause. When we were kids, it may have been a parent, telling us that everything will be okay or giving us that little, “good luck,” before that emerging challenge. I’ll tell you a little secret that I’ve learned — now that we’re grown adults, we still need that voice of encouragement, even the CEO.

We all remember the days following September 11th, they were wrenching and shuddering, especially for those who lived in the areas directly attacked. I was working for ASCAP, the large music company in New York City. Besides being just subway stops from ground zero, we had lost an employee in the attack. When we came back to work, the CEO held town hall meetings for every division in the company. As Leadership Development Director, I sat in on every one of those meetings.  The CEO was a brilliant businessperson. On this day, he was a great people person and a great leader.  He was charismatic and instilled confidence.  His address to his managers and his workers was spot on. He answered every single question from the audience with kindness, understanding and intelligence. It was quite a performance. People left feeling reassured and supported.

I left work late that evening, and just as I walked through the glass doors into the elevator banks, the CEO entered from the opposite side of the floor. He looked tired. As we waited for the elevator, I said to him, “So tell me John, does anyone ever tell the CEO, ‘Good job.’?”

He grinned and shook his head and said, “No.”

“Well,” I said, “today, you did a really good job.”

He looked up and said thanks. I could tell by the look on his face, it meant a great deal to him.
We took the elevator down, said goodnight and went our separate ways.

The thing is, no matter how young you are or how old you get, no matter how much power you may seem to have, we all need to feel that there’s someone in our corner, someone who cares about us, someone to say, “it’s alright” or “good job,” someone to be our champion.


The Fabric of Our Lives

John LaVeglia
John LaVeglia

This is John LaVeglia (see picture). When I was fifteen years old, I worked at his neighborhood store, John’s Deli. He was the first person I ever met who recycled…before anyone ever knew what recycling was. He was worldly and smart. He was efficient, and planned and executed. He had a great rapport with customers and employees. I learned a great deal from him. He was a mentor back then. What’s more, he became a lifelong friend. We got together for a cup of coffee and a catch up today.

Whenever I do my planning for the year, the month, the week and the day, I do it on a Mind Map (a technique I’d love to teach you one day). One branch on my planning Mind Map is always my circle of friends and family…who I need to get in touch with, make a call, send an e-mail or see them, like today.
We all have busy lives. That’s why I keep that branch on every plan, right in front of me. If not, it’s too easy to let friendships slowly fade into oblivion, family too. Even those closest to us, who may silently feel slighted or ignored, may slowly slip away from us. And, for what?…to work more? Our circle of family and friends are the fabric of our lives, its very essence. Keep them in your sights and go out of your way to make time for them.

©2017 Marshall Tarley, LLC