2020….I’m Filing It Under “Significant Chaos”…..

December Article Mann Success

I don’t know about you, but I am ready to put 2020 in a folder deep in my hard drive under the title “Significant Chaos”. I have never been happier to wipe the slate clean and start thinking through my personal and business strategies for the coming year. Typically, in years past, I check the boxes on what’s been accomplished and formulate the plan moving forward. However, as I sit down to think about 2021, I plan on doing my postmortem with a different lens on. First, I may have a glass of wine on the ready, because as I think about the challenges 2020 presented us with, I can’t help but be amazed by what we are capable of when the struggles and curveballs come a mile a minute.

My biggest take-away is just how adaptable we truly are. Everything from working solely from home, being a pseudo school teacher, to washing hands and wearing masks challenged even the most organized of the bunch. There was no planning, no organization; we were thrown into the deep end of the pool and had no choice but to swim. We had to completely change how we work as individuals and, in many cases, organizations had to shift their business models in order to survive – Even a small business like me.

How many of us went from working in an office to working from home? From having our own office workspace, to sharing the kitchen table with our children doing their schoolwork? I was relegated to a corner in my home because of the needs of my husband and son and ended up repurposing another room as my company headquarters. How many of us went from having full-time, on site technology support to becoming our family’s technology expert? Everything from zoom fails, to forgetting about my background activity on a video call “happened!” As leaders, how many of us had to start evaluating our team’s performance, not just by being present, but solely by the work they produced, no matter when they were able to produce it? The transition to our new normal was not easy, but we did it. We were all able to quickly adapt to what the situation required and continue to be successful contributors.

And let’s not forget the organizations we support. Many companies had to reinvent the way they do business in order to survive. Companies like Peloton, one of my personal favorites, launched an “At Home” series, to produce content when fitness studios had to stay closed. Manufacturing facilities switched their operations to support the medical industry by producing PPE, and distilleries started making hand sanitizer instead of alcohol, while countless companies had to switch from a mainly brick and mortar to a solely online existence. 

It has been a truly remarkable time; and while 2020 presented hardships for so many of us, we were able perservere and overcome many of them. So, as you plan for the coming year, keep the adaptability of your people and organizations at the forefront of those plans. We are more innovative than we ever thought possible. I recently had a client share that they didn’t realize just how quickly they could rip the proverbial band-aid off. Let’s think about how we can best apply these lessons in 2021! So while we most likely will not return to our pre-Covid normal anytime soon, if ever, it’s OK, because we now know that no matter what 2021 throws at us, we have built the muscle to adapt, and we will succeed in whatever our new normal, on the other side of Covid, has in store for us. Stay safe and healthy out there. My best wishes for a peaceful and healthy holiday season.


MBTI Leadership Styles & Decision Making

Mann Success August Tip

TJ – Logical Decision Makers – When working with the TJ, remember they are analytical decisive leaders. They make decisions based on principles and rationale assessment of outcomes.

TP – Adaptable Problem Solvers – Remember, the TP likes to lead by example. They value technical expertise and create frameworks for their decisions. They can also change course as new information comes in.

FP – Supportive Coaches – The FP leader is warm, flexible and likes to collaborate and involve others in their decisions. They prefer shared rewards & harmony.

FJ – Values Based Decision Makers – The FJ is a warm decisive leader. They make decisions based on personal values and empathy. They seek harmony and consensus.

Adapted from 2020 MBTI Playbook

Three Ways to Prevent Someone from Stealing Your Spotlight in a Meeting

Stealing Your Spotlight

We’ve all been there at one point or another. You’re in a meeting, and in the span of 30 seconds, your objective has gone off the rails and what you intended to accomplish is now a distant memory. Someone has hijacked the agenda and is actively stealing your spotlight! It’s almost like being back on the playground, and a kid named Spike has literally kicked you off the swing set. You didn’t want to get off the swing, but that pushy kid landed you in the sand.

Recognize Who’s Stealing Your Spotlight

You may see a few observable traits of the swing set thief in meetings. They frequently interrupt, try to steal or redirect the agenda, or break the flow of the group. They try to dominate the conversation, infusing their opinions without allowing input from others.

It almost seems like the old saying, “my way or the highway.” Typically, there is no room for discussion and the behavior rings more aggressive than assertive. Sometimes it’s downright brutal. The culprit criticizes ideas, emotions start to run high, and meeting participants shut down and run for the hills.

How good is that for a team? Remember the old science theory we learned in school: negative energy attracts negative energy? When you make room for the swing set thief, the entire team loses energy and enthusiasm. Engagement suffers, and your collaborative, creative environment evaporates.

Get Your Swing Back

  1. First and foremost, stay in charge of your meeting. As the meeting leader, send out a clear agenda of topics ahead of time. Sounds simple, but you would be shocked at how many people don’t take this suggestion to heart. Remember that those who are more introverted need time to internally process and think about the topic. Give them that courtesy with an advance agenda. Also, when the meeting starts, clearly state your objectives and expected outcomes for your time together.
  2. Second, take your place next to the usual culprit. If you are convening in person, keep the thief close to you instead of sitting directly across from them. Because you are not face-to-face, you’ll have a better chance of staying in control and not landing in the sand or running for help. The proximity you create may keep your swing stealer in check.
  3. Third, don’t be wishy-washy when responding to the thief. Stay cool, collected and confident. Be emotionally intelligent and aware of your reactions. Don’t roll your eyes or look away; don’t huff and puff or show frustration. Look the thief straight in the eye. If the thief gets aggressive or does a lot of interrupting and derailing, don’t be afraid to hit the brakes. The thief needs this correction big time. Calmly and professionally tell them you want to finish your point and will provide them the same opportunity shortly. The key is to stay in control and stop the behavior gracefully and precisely.

Understand What Motivates Swing Set Thieves

As a certified coach in the field of personalities and behaviors, I find that swing set thieves typically just want to be heard, or they are so motivated by results that they move too fast for others.

Others are astute at recognizing problems and are trying to vet them out and make sure you see them, too. That, or they are so determined to get the work done, that they don’t want to take the time to hear others.

Most of the time they are well-intentioned, but their delivery gets them in trouble. Trust me, we do need them to see what could go wrong, and to drive results quickly. However, they need to understand that breaking the flow of the meeting is troublesome, stifles creativity and, if they do it too often, can damage their brand. They will find that instead of being perceived as someone who uncovers issues or moves the team quickly, people will consider them a proverbial roadblock.

Know Yourself

I imagine we all have had some experience in this area. The trick is to evaluate our leadership and increase our self-awareness of what side of the swing we are on. Are we sitting on it or getting pushed off?

It takes practice but, in either case, acknowledging your own behaviors and bringing more balance to the situation helps the greater good of the teams you work on and the goals of your company.

What techniques have you used to manage swing set thieves?

This post was originally published by Christine in Forbes’ Coaches Council CommunityVoice — an invitation-only division of Forbes Magazine — where Christine is a member and contributing author.

Photo credit: composita

A Second Chance That Changed Two Lives

Mann Consulting Blog Second Chance

In the last few months, I’ve been thinking about why we hold on to unpleasant memories and experiences. Why do we allow them to endlessly rent space in the “attic” of our minds? We wonder if we could have done things differently. We harbor hard feelings. In some cases, we just leave our stuff unresolved.

Recently, I had a crazy experience that forced me to confront what I had been storing in my own attic, literally and figuratively, and illuminated what’s possible when we free up that space. By giving something a second chance, I made my own life better while doing the same for someone else.

Facing my clutter

I was visiting my mom in Florida, where she reminded me to look through some things I had left there when I lived close by.  Among them was my wedding dress from another life long, long ago, and far, far away.  The dress had been hanging in her closet for years. I loved it when I bought it. It was unique and reflected my personality. It was from a time that started happily, but ended not quite as expected.

When I moved to Arizona, I left it hanging in my mom’s closet. I didn’t want to take it with me, but I was unwilling to let it go. So it got stuck in my “attic.”  When Mom reminded me about it (thanks!), I realized it was time to #choosewisely. It was time to empty the attic and set myself free.

On a whim, I posted the dress to Facebook with three simple pics and a price. Within a few days, a nice woman from Arizona sent me a message.  Her wedding was just weeks away, and her dress had been lost by the bridal store.  She was in a panic and hoped my dress might be the answer she desperately needed.  The next few days were a whirlwind of texts and scheduling as we arranged to get her and the dress in the same room for a fitting.

A second chance to shine

With my husband onsite in Arizona (thanks, Bruce!), and me on Facetime from Florida, she went into a room to try the dress on. When she reappeared, we were stunned. It fit her like a glove! She was thrilled with the vintage style. Even better, she didn’t have to do a thing to make it perfect. In an instant, what had been “clutter” was reborn as the star it once was.

After the wedding, she shared pictures and told me about her wonderful day.  People commented on how beautiful she looked. She shared the story of how she found the dress.  I was overcome with joy knowing how happy it made her on such an important day in her life. The dress that was holding me back propelled someone else into a beautiful new chapter.  I couldn’t have been more excited and pleased.

Be kind to yourself, but act

On reflection, I realize I wasn’t ready to release the dress from its closet prison when I first moved to Arizona. That’s OK. Sometimes we need to give ourselves space. But as time passed, I kept pushing it aside. It was just one more unpleasant thing I needed to do. I realized I needed to act. And when I did, I brought positive energy into my own life while creating new opportunities for others. It felt so freeing to happily let it go, and showed me how much I have grown, learned, and moved on.

We all shut people or things “off” for a variety of reasons. Maybe we aren’t ready. Maybe it’s too hard at the time. But this experience reminds me that, now and again, we need to make a conscious effort to look unpleasantness straight in the eye, resolve it, let it go, or sometimes even give it a second chance.

What are you storing in your attic that might change lives if you #choosewisely to set it free? #unlockyourpotential


Need a Translator for Your Company’s Vision?

Need a Translator for Your Company's Vision

We need translators in many aspects of our everyday lives: foreign language translators, technical translators and even translators for our children, who sometimes sound like they are speaking an entirely different language. At work, do you seem to need a translator for your company’s vision, mission, and goals? Companies spend a lot of time and money pulling these together. They are careful about word selection, what the vision, mission, and goals will convey, and how they will read. Once companies complete this work, they laminate the statements, post them in break rooms, and add them to important presentations.

And that’s all great. Except maybe when the middle- and front-line employees walk out of those presentations saying, “Wow, I get the big picture, but I don’t understand what it means to me.”

As an executive coach and a facilitator of leadership courses, I’m often asked: What is the best way to gain buy-in on a new vision, mission, and associated goals? Below is a model to help you build understanding and commitment to a new direction.

Translating Your Company’s Vision

Remember, the kind of information people like and trust may be different. Some people seek the big picture — they want to comprehend the meaning of things — while others want more details, specifics, and plans. To address both, I coach executives to use this formula:

BP + AP = MU

(Big Picture + Action Plan = Meaningful Understanding)

Step 1: BP (Big Picture)

Always start with the big picture. Explain the vision as the aspiration, and speak about how the mission directly relates to the vision. Go through three of four high-level goals. Connect the dots by mentally or physically drawing a picture, or speaking in a way that visualizes the future. This will help people “see” where you are headed. But don’t stop there!

Step 2: AP (Action Plan)

Outside of the C-Suite, your management team and front-line want to know specifically what the vision and mission mean to them. They want to know their role in the process. Typically, they want to support the mission, but sometimes they have trouble converting what the high level means to them and their teams. Sometimes employees get the goals early in the year and, when it’s time for self-assessment, they have difficulty connecting their work to the goals.

So, when launching your new direction, be sure to use the second half of the formula: AP (Action Plan). AP means providing a visual of your plan or key thoughts on real actions and timing. Talk about or show an example of one of the goals and specifically how it translates to the front line. Here is an example:

Goal: Provide our customers with service experiences that retain their business and a positive perception of our products and services every day.

Pretty nebulous, wouldn’t you say?

If that is a high-level goal across your business, as leaders, the second part of the formula is critical. Start translating. Make it meaningful. Imagine you were leading a phone service center team. What would this mean to them? This is where the third step comes in.

Step 3: MU (Meaningful Understanding)

Translation: Provide our customers with a great service experience by keeping our abandoned calls under 1% and obtaining a 98% incident satisfaction rate after each call.

As leaders, part of your role — whether you know it or not — is translation expert. When the thoughts from the top are translated effectively, buy-in happens and people start heading in a common direction — collectively. They know what the big picture goals mean specifically to them. So, maybe, just add this new formula to your bag of tricks.


(Big Picture + Action Plan = Meaningful Understanding)

This post was originally published by Christine in Forbes’ Coaches Council CommunityVoice — an invitation-only division of Forbes Magazine — where Christine is a member and contributing author.

Photo credit: rawpixel

“It’s Been a Pleasure…”

It's Been a Pleasure

This year I dedicated myself to placing importance on choosing wisely.  Choosing balance, choosing health, choosing my work and my passions more thoughtfully. It was all going very well.

Until February 7. That’s when I received a call I had been hoping would never come. 

Those close to me knew that even with my day-to-day running smoothly, there was a cloud covering our family.  My father was suffering from lung cancer, and the call that day was to come to Florida, fast.

In that moment, my mind froze. Kind of like your computer does when you have too many windows open. I felt the walls spinning, almost like tunnel vision. Inertia.  I knew this day was coming, but like everyone who loses someone important in their lives, I was pushing it aside mentally.

After hanging up with my mom and taking a deep breath, I started looking at my calendar. I was mentally shifting things around, “If I move that, I can do this…”, etc.  It wasn’t even thoughtful or logical.

Then it hit me. I stopped in my tracks and said, “What am I doing?! I have to gonow!” I realized there was no way to negotiate my time, no way to meet my many commitments. So I surrendered and said, “I know where I need to be, I know where I have to be, and, most importantly I know where I want to be most, right now.”

It's Been a PleasureWith a few clicks I found two tickets for my aunt and me to fly from Arizona to Florida. We got there in 24 hours. My mom had prepared me so when I walked in, I knew what to expect.  We were near the end.

I had chosen wisely.

That day I helped my dad eat lunch, and we sat together on the couch.  As I searched the channels, he stopped me on Seinfeld.  We watched it together and had a good laugh.  He held my hand.  I knew what he was trying to tell me. I knew. Trying to keep things cool, I looked over with a smile and said, “Dad, this whole thing really sucks.”  (Sorry.)  He nodded his head with a well-known, sarcastic grin. He then looked over and said to me, “You know, Christine, it’s been a pleasure…”

That is probably the last conversation I had with him as the following days were filled with hospice and high emotion. I can’t even begin to explain.  I was there more than a month following his passing.

It's Been a PleasureWhat I learned was how truly wonderful people are when you are at your worst. My colleagues were generous in covering my classes. My clients were beyond understanding about my commitments. My friends and family were at their absolute best.  Most of all, my husband stepped in without hesitation when I literally dropped everything; he was a pillar of strength. My 10-year-old son even helped soothe my pain after I delivered my father’s eulogy.

Looking back now that things have calmed a bit, I realize it was the best choice I ever made.  I wouldn’t trade that last day for anything.  I’m proud we left nothing unsaid.  And, honestly, the pleasure and honor were mine.

Moral of the story: Follow your gut and intuition, ask for help, have faith that those around you will understand. Doing this gave me that very important day. I would choose the same again in a heartbeat.

Continue to #choosewisely.


Choose Wisely: Break Out of Your Personal “Groundhog Day”

Choose Wisely Groundhog

I was experiencing my own version of “Groundhog Day.”

Have you seen that movie?

If you haven’t, here’s a quick summary: Bill Murray plays a weatherman who relives the same day, over and over, until he re-examines his life and starts making better choices. It’s a funny movie, and worth checking out as a Groundhog Day activity.


But more importantly, it offers great perspective on the importance of our personal priorities, and how those priorities influence our lives and success.

As I entered the new year, I saw many of the same things on my priority list as I had from previous years. I kept carrying them over each year, and each year they fell by the wayside. I was starting to feel stuck in an endless loop – just like the movie!

So, this year I decided to regroup, reevaluate, and restart.

I took the first step on January 1, when I wrote down what I wanted to accomplish this year, both personally and professionally.  The more I explored, the clearer it became that in order to achieve my goals, I had to make one important choice first.


Yikes. That felt pretty selfish! How could I effectively serve others – which is my passion and joy – if I’m my own top priority? Turns out that taking care of yourself first helps you focus and accomplish so much more! After all, the airlines say to “put on your own oxygen mask first before assisting others.”

I decided it was time to make a conscious effort to choose, and choose wisely. A friend suggested this theme, and I absolutely loved it. Why? Because I realized that my ability to change my life largely came down to my own choices, and that I always had the ability to make a new or different choice. Even when a decision is outside of my influence or control, I still have a choice in how I respond.  That’s incredibly empowering!

So how am I doing?

On a personal level, I now choose wisely as soon as I wake up in the morning. Before I’m distracted by anything else, I take care of myself, first, so I can perform my best. For 25 out of 31 days in January, I did just that. And I can feel and see the difference in my results.

Professionally, I chose to invest in my practice so I can reach and help more people. I revamped my website, expanded my services, and began sharing my learnings in various publications so that others can benefit. (I’d love your feedback so I can know if I’m on the right track!)

Best of all, I no longer feel stuck in the same loop, and I feel a renewed sense of purpose. I want everyone to experience this, so watch this space as I continue to share what I learn, and explore new ways to help others make choices that align with their priorities.

Now it’s your turn!

Are you making different choices this year? What was the smartest choice you made in January and why? Share in the comments below and I’ll personally cheer you on!  #choosewisely

P.S. What should I name my groundhog?


Give New Life to Old Dreams Through Action

MANN Consulting Blog Action

As a coach, I am always fascinated to hear about the many dreams and aspirations people have — the things they have wanted to do forever, but for reasons of time, resources, or life getting in the way, they haven’t pursued. These dreams rent space in the corners of our minds, peeking out occasionally in the hope of moving out of the internal ideas apartment.  Yet somehow they remain untouched. Why? No action!

Without action, our dreams never move out. They get stuck and keep knocking on the door, yelling to break free. They bug you all the time…at work, before you fall asleep…what to do?

This New Year, resolve to give an old dream new life through action!

MANN Consulting Blog Action GoalsOver the last few years, I have found that the most effective way to maintain my New Year’s momentum is to think about my goals first, and then, most importantly, I “get them down!” I don’t just commit to them mentally, I also physically sit down — as I am now in Starbucks — to put them on paper (or a Word doc :)).

But even when we take this step, we often encounter a common barrier: the end game of our dream seems so far off and overwhelming that starting feels virtually impossible. Do you recognize this barrier? Do you come up with 50 reasons why you can’t do something and then stop dead in your tracks?


I see this so often that I wanted to share a few ideas to help you move your dreams from renting space in your head to actually shaping your future:

  1. Write down your big — maybe even crazy — aspiration. Make it as big as you like. No barriers.
  2. Write down how you might get there. Don’t worry about all the specifics. Start by listing the skills and knowledge you bring to the table to make that dream happen. (It’s here where most people stop and say, “Oh heavens, never mind!” Don’t stop! Keep going!)
  3. Pick three or four small goals and actions (“chunks”) to help you gain momentum. Some hints:
    • Keep them manageable and achievable.
    • Allow yourself some time so you can fit them into your day-to-day activities.
    • When those chunks are complete, celebrate and identify your next three chunks.
    • Rinse and repeat!

For example, if you are starting a small business, a “chunk” could be just researching and networking for three months to inform your business plan. Note that I did not say “build the business in three months”, but just start the research and the homework. When we break things into smaller pieces they become more manageable and tangible. It really works!

I’d love to hear if you plan on giving these ideas a try. Whatever approach you take, the most important thing is to start. I hope you all have a healthy and happy New Year!


This post was originally published on LinkedIn.

One Picture, Two Perspectives

MANN Consulting Blog One Picture Two Perspectives

How many perspectives does it take to see and tell a full story? There’s no absolute answer, but it’s most certainly more than one!

Have you ever stared at a painting, a presentation, or a report and, after talking to a someone else about it, you thought to yourself, “I didn’t see that at all!”  Even when we are all looking at the same thing, the way we interpret can be diametrically different.

I’ve seen this happen both at the office and at home!  Way back when we moved into our house, my husband took one look at our kitchen and instantly saw the potential, the big picture, the end game.  He’d already mapped in his mind where the new cabinets could be.  He saw the future.

MANN Consulting Blog One Story Two PerspectivesNot me.  I saw the present reality.  I saw the detail and wanted to run for the hills.  I kept asking questions: “How many cabinets?” “Which walls?”  “How long will this take?” “Where’s the plan?”  I also kept saying, “Show me. I can’t visualize it.”   So, in that moment, my very patient husband whipped out a piece of yellow lined paper, drew the concept, and took me through it step-by-step.  Once I could see the detail, I was good.  Two perspectives.

Ever see this play out at work?  Leaders create and share a big-picture vision. Some walk out and say, “What does that mean to me?”  We all process information in different ways.  Some use their senses — they like to touch, hear, feel, see, and experience. Others are more intuitive — they can mentally put the pieces together, connect the dots, seek greater meaning, and see in pictures! Many perspectives.

So what’s the message? When communicating, either know your audience really, really well, or take extra time to create a story that speaks to multiple perspectives!

P.S. I think the kitchen turned out great, don’t you?


This post was originally published on LinkedIn.

Trying a Different Kind of Surfing :: A Lesson from a Little One

MANN Consulting Blog Trying New Surfing

Have you ever thought about a time when you could have done something different, tried something new, or conquered a fear, and when you were just at the point of trying, you backed away?  What is it that stops us in our tracks?  What prevents us from exploring uncharted territory? What I typically hear in my many walks of life is, “What if something bad happens? What if I can’t do it? I’m not sure; I’ve never done this before.”

Well, sometimes it’s our little ones who remind us that taking a chance can be freeing, invigorating, and confidence-building.

I had the recent pleasure of taking a vacation in beautiful Kauai, Hawaii.  I was feeling frustrated that my son’s electronic devices were competing with our vacation in a big way.  As a kid, I was always afraid of trying something new, so I said to my eight-year-old son, “Want to try surfing?”

MANN Consulting Blog Trying New SurfingAt first he looked at me in horror for having to put that device down, but then tilted his head and said, “Sure, I’d like to try.”  I was then horrified.  What was I thinking sending him into the surf?  Once I gathered myself, I “hired” my husband to be his protector.  I watched as they listened to the instructor. I saw him test the waters to ensure he could swim to the board. Then off they went and paddled out to sea.

I almost fell out of my chair. Within 20 minutes, after many tries, a small (to me) wave was on the horizon. I looked up and there he was …paddling, balancing, standing up!  Then a gust of wind caught him and boom!  He was traversing the bay on a wave.  I couldn’t speak.

Then I saw a rock.  OMG.  Even our video went astray at this point.  But his instincts kicked in and he was fine.  As they came to shore, I expected to hear, “No way! Not doing that again!” But you know what?  He came out and said, “Mom! That was AWESOME!  Can I do it again tomorrow?” and, “I was scared Mom, but I did it!  Thanks for letting me try!”

Here’s what I learned: If someone provides that uncertain opportunity, consider catching the wave!  Test and adjust your approach if needed.  If something unexpected happens (the rock), rely on your instincts and experience to navigate the course, and when it’s over celebrate your success (we had ice cream).   Also, stop surfing on your devices and do the real thing!


This post was originally published on LinkedIn.

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