Monthly Archives: July 2011

Another Reason to take a Vacation

The summer vacation season inspired me to write an article on the subject for the current issue of the North Bay Business Journal. I describe four very good reasons for taking time off. But there’s one more that I want to include here ~ stepping back from the day-to-day hustle is an opportunity to be reinspired, to think about what you do and why you do it. Use it as an opportunity to recharge your self-motivation. I hope you enjoy the article.


More often than I would have thought, I feel compelled to “prescribe” a vacation for a client. It seems that many hard-working, industrious types have a difficult time acknowledging that they need a break from work. This is especially true of small business owners, whose personal contributions are usually critical to their company’s daily operations. Yet, no matter how central a person is to an organization, it is imperative that he or she recognizes the benefits of taking time off. Taking a vacation is important for a number of reasons. To continue reading, please click here.

Food for Thought ~

To work at our highest level requires keeping ourselves in top condition ~ in all aspects: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. I hope you will make rest, reflection and renewal important components of your vacation plans.

Question of the day ~

Do you do a good job taking care of yourself and taking adequate time off? What notable benefits or brainstorms have you had from a vacation?

Mary answers branding question

Ask Mary ~

Question: What does the term “brand” actually mean?

Answer ~

I love this question! For three reasons: First, because leaders need to understand this concept. Second, I appreciate people asking fundamental questions. Third, there’s a lot of misuse and misunderstanding of this now ubiquitous term, hence my reader’s puzzlement. Here’s my take on the subject. Guess what? It’s a new term for a timeless concept. As long as there have been organized commercial efforts to sell goods and services, “brands” have been part of that process. Fundamentally, it is the effort to distinguish your products from others. It used to be called “image” or “identity.” Before that it was called “reputation.” What has changed is our highly escalated state of media saturation. We now have print, electronic, cell phone, video, special events, viral campaigns, and more. There are so many ways to be seen, heard, and known, especially visually. We are in a new landscape of intense competition and extreme exposure. The term “branding” evolved to capture the gestalt of it all.

Note to Leaders ~

It is crucial that you personally understand branding. You cannot “leave it to the marketing people.” You cannot delegate the strategic management of your company’s identity. The term has become an essential concept in our management and marketing lexicon. I invite you to join me in clarifying its use and meaning. For a good primer, start with this excellent wikipedia overview.

Branding is a big iceberg, and this is just the proverbial tip.

As always, I invite your feedback and comments.

Leadership Independence

Last week’s holiday celebrated Independence Day. Although it’s more familiarly known as “The Fourth of July,” its origins are based on a signal event in our country’s history. Considering this led me to think about the concept of independence and how it relates to leadership, and then another leadership paradox appeared. Most of the strong leaders I know have a great capacity for independence. They are comfortable seeing things differently, having a minority opinion, and taking action when others might hesitate. The paradox is that too much independence can lead to isolation and marginalization, thus becoming ineffective as a leader.

Food for Thought ~

Leaders need not only the capacity for independent thinking, but the capacity to relate and interact with their constituents and find ways to achieve group consensus, which is even more powerful than individual brilliance. Independent-thinking leaders make a significant contribution. They raise the discourse to a higher level and are able to step, or even leap forward when the situation requires boldness. They also understand and appreciate the greater truth of interdependence.

Question of the day ~

How do you express your independence as a leader? Have you found an optimal integration of leadership independence with dynamic group process?

This is the last call for a direct link to my recently-published article on leadership self-awareness.

Celebrating independence and interdependence,

A Personal Connection to Leadership History

An ancestor of mine, Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Maryland, was one of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. Having a personal connection to that momentous act of leadership certainly makes history come alive. The representatives of the thirteen colonies at the Continental Congress in Philadelphia boldly set forth their vision for a new, independent nation, and the Revolutionary War ensued. Most of us today do not realize the personal price that many of those signers paid ~ some were imprisoned, some lost their health, property, wealth, loved ones, and/or their livelihoods. Those were serious times and those individuals were courageous as well as idealistic. (For additional historical details, here’s a good website.)

Food for Thought ~

Most of my leadership work and that of my clients and colleagues involves the effective management of groups, organizations and businesses. But sometimes leaders are called to go beyond their day-to-day responsibilities and step into greater leadership roles. Great leaders stand up for what they believe and are prepared to make sacrifices if needed. The names Churchill, Mandela, King and Gandhi come to mind, just to name a very few. There are innumerable issues in the world and in our own communities today that need leadership. Let us honor those who hear and heed that call.

Question of the day ~

Have you felt called to take your leadership skills above and beyond your own organization?