Lean In Jamaica Program

The 12 things I learned from “Lean In” and the Discussion Guide


This is what I learned in each chapter. Since I couldn’t possibly do the book justice; I implore you to read it.

  1. Don’t judge a book by its author - The first and foremost thing I learned from Lean In was to not judge a book by its author. I fell into the trap like so many others lambasting Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg for writing a book about challenges she couldn’t possibly understand. My initial objective in reading the book was to be able to criticize from a position of knowledge.  I couldn’t have been more wrong. Immediately I was absorbed into a funny, witty, very personal account of what read as easily to me as would my own story. The Lean In concept consumed me. I was thrilled to know that I had been leaning in for quite some time, but… there was so much more that I could do and with so much more finesse.  I’m sharing with you my personal take aways from the Lean In experience while wishing you your own experience with this transformational book.
  2. Chapter 1 – What would I do if I weren’t afraid? I’d work for me and simultaneously start a technology company…in progress! I learned that I don’t have to be  afraid nor embarrassed by my fear.
  3. Chapter 2 - How am I going to sit at the table? Rather than waiting patiently to be appointed to more Boards, I’m going to seek out Board appointments. Truthfully it is scary to say but I’ve also learned to be more emboldened and not hide from by what I really truly want; success.
  4. Chapter 3 - How am I going to be successful and liked?  The first ground breaker for me was just understanding why I wasn’t as liked as much as I wanted to be, and then discovering that with some careful thought and positioning, I could soften while not diluting my delivery of opinions, recommendations or decisions.   My most valuable takeaway from the book came here; I learned how to negotiate well without giving up too much ground (what I normally do) and without risking the relationship (what I normally fear).
  5. Chapter 4 – It IS a jungle gym not a ladder! I’ve realized that it’s ok for my path to the corner office to meander. I won’t shy away from opportunities or challenges that are parallel or even downward if ultimately I can see them leading to rapid advancement.
  6. Chapter 5 - Who are my mentors? While I’m not great at asking for help, I have a handful of friends, male and female, who I go to for help on an on-going basis whether it’s a new idea or a “how to” execution question.  I learned that those are my mentors, how to seek more, and the best way to engage them.
  7. Chapter 6 - My truth… I need to learn about gentle delivery, especially when I’m upset.
  8. Chapter 7 – About leaving before I leave.  Another challenge for me, I’m moving and every decision I’ve made in the last year has been around the move rather than just making the best decisions.  I don’t do well with uncertainty so this one will have to be a work in progress for me.
  9. Chapter 8 – Having a real partner. I’m lucky, I’ve won the partner lottery, he’s fair and simply an amazing source of love and support. The sad part is I didn’t expect of him the shared responsibility that he automatically assumed. I didn’t realize it was what I should have expected, that’s why I count myself so lucky that it was a conclusion that he came to on his own.
  10. Chapter 9 - Doing it all…Secretly I like being thought of as “How does she do it” so I bake the cookies and then work all night. I think what I learned here is when my efforts miss the mark I don’t have to emotionally flog myself; it is what it is.
  11. Chapter 10 – Talk about it! If we’re ever going to shift the gender bias we have to acknowledge it exists and take baby steps as well as leaps in order to over come it.  I learned that I shouldn’t be afraid to talk about it, it’s not imaginary it’s real.
  12. Chapter 11 - Working together… I love working with women, they’re tremendously hardworking and dedicated. What I don’t like is the perception some men have that women can’t work well together. My lesson was to stamp out that kind of nonsense when I hear it, and gently nudge women I see that aren’t supporting their counterparts.

That’s what I learned.

Here are the discussion guides, Lean In!



Our Services

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Caribbean Women in Leadership, Yep, Still a Crisis!

Men are from Mars Women are from Venus was never more evident to me than from a meeting that I was in today.  Two men were lamenting that the IDB created a lending program specifically targeted to women entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean. These esteemed, extremely bright, and well meaning gentlemen had surmised that since women are graduating in greater numbers than men, true (source:gapminder.org) and women make up a greater percentage of the overall workforce than men, not true 55%men, 45% women (source: Statin) that there is no need to create  incentive programs for women.  I’m fully astounded that anyone could dispute the plight of women in this day and age.

The Facts

The reality is that women are STILL disproportionately under represented in leadership roles in the Caribbean, even with two female Prime Ministers.  I’m just about convinced that having female Prime Ministers is conspicuously misleading.  Trinidad and Jamaica are the only two of the 15 Caricom member states with female leadership. Eighty – Seven Percent (87%) of Caricom is run by men. The same may be true in business, we see Thalia Lyn and Audrey Marks and somehow believe that we’re home free. Regardless of how many working women you see the data suggests that there aren’t enough, yet.

The gentlemen I was meeting with believed that women are represented in the majority in the financial services sector. Here’s the skinny, not nearly, not in leadership anyway.

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(Source: Each of their websites)

So what does it all mean? That we’ve got a long way to go but anyone that perpetuates a myth that women are treated equally in the workforce to men is a part of the problem, not the solution. It’s tantamount to saying that racism has disappeared since Barack Obama became US President. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that we’re making gains but have so much more ground to cover.

What we can learn about Customer Service from the Harlem Shake Phenomenon!

What can we learn from 32 seconds of a viral video about excellence in customer service delivery.


Original Harlem Shake http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=384IUU43bfQ

In two weeks, an obscure group of teenagers and a song released last year went from 0 – 175 Million views on Youtube. The video was released on February 2nd by five teenagers from Queensland, Australia. The teenagers danced to “Harlem Shake” by electronic musician Baauer which has since  inspired tens of thousands of copy cat videos, over 40,000 in the first 2 weeks. Baauer’s single reached #1 on the iTunes America chart and #2 on iTunes in the UK and Australia by February 15, 2013.

Three distinct aspects

  • Part 1 - Usually, a “Harlem Shake” video begins with one person (often helmeted or masked) dancing to the song alone for 15 seconds, surrounded by other people not paying attention or unaware of the person dancing.
  • Part 2 - The bass drops and the video cuts to the entire crowd doing a crazy convulsive dance for the next 15 seconds, there’s a slow down, but then everyone continues.
  • Part 3 - As the video progresses everyone is wildly and passionately doing their own dance but all with the music, creating a single scene. Typically people wield strange props while doing the dance.


What does this have to do with Excellent Customer Service and how are the two similar?

Customer Service Definition:  Customer service is the provision of service to customers (internal and external) before, during and after a purchase. It’s how you treat people; everyone you meet is a potential customer.

Harlem Shake – starts with one nameless faceless person, just doing their thing having a good time and … no one notices. Excellent Customer Service starts the same way, normally it’s just one nameless faceless person that starts the revolution and yes typically everyone else is oblivious. Even if no one notices, commit to delivering the best customer service experience anyway. Deliver out of passion. A passion for customers and a passion for what you do.

Lesson One: Deliver your customer service passionately as though no one is watching.

Then the beat drops and… other people finally see what’s happening catch the groove and start to participate. If you’re the innovator and you deliver excellent service, eventually everyone else will catch on.  Even if the momentum slows, worry not, things will pick up, just keep doing your best.  If you’re not the innovator, but you see the momentum around you, join in.

Lesson Two: Participate in what’s taking place in your organization, allow yourself to get caught up in the transformation that’s taking place.

Finally a truly uninhibited group of individuals dances wildly usually with odd props, but creating one cohesive scene. Once everyone is involved and uninhibited everyone has to be empowered to deliver their own brand of customer service under an overarching guideline which is the organization’s customer service policy.

Lesson Three:  Feel empowered to deliver your brand of customer service, depending on your role. Take your customer service viral.

And the props you’ll need….

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  1. A Ring (engagement ring) to remember to engage your customers, really understand what they want, be the conversation starter.
  2. Eye glasses to make sure to maintain eye contact, they’ll know that you’re sincere.
  3. Headphones to plug into them and actively listen to their wants, needs and objectives.
  4. Deodorant so that you can be up close and personal, be personable and sincere so that they want to do business with you.
  5. A tooth brush to remind you to always smile.
  6. Keys as in keys to something you own, take ownership of your customer relationship, take ownership of anything that is handed to you to execute on.
  7. A ball to remind you to not drop the ball, when something is given to you, don’t drop it and if you’re giving something to someone else to do, make sure to confirm that they’ve got it before you let it go.
  8. A copy of the book Great Expectations to remind you to set a great expectation then exceed it.
  9. Proactiv Acne Cream to remind you to be proactive, learn your customers patterns so that you can anticipate their needs.
  10. A hammer that reminds you that when there’s an issue, just fix it, don’t run, don’t hide, just fix it.
  11. A mirror to remind you to treat customers the way you’d like to be treated, if you act as though you’re always serving the ultimate customer, you, your delivery will be impeccable.
  12. A watch to remind you to set the time expectation, if you’re committing to an activity set a deadline and stick to it. If you can’t stick to the deadline, then follow up before the deadline. Follow up with them before they have to check back with you, they’ll know you haven’t forgotten.
  13. A Bible to remind you to be trustworthy and honest.  Every interaction with your customer should be as though you’re under oath.
  14. A Spoon & Bowl to remind you to prepare as you would prepare food, put all the ingredients together and don’t be afraid to mix things up. For every customer interaction prepare, look at the industry, do your research, so that you’re in the best position to deliver.


Why? – Because your life and livelihood depends on it.  With the economy the way that it is, excellence in customer service has to be one of many defining characteristics of your business.  The companies that survived the great depression were the ones that out innovated, out planned and out served their competition.  Deliver like your company, your family, your life depends on it, because in these trying times, they do.

My personal favorite Harlem Shake version so far http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Creyd_QN8WM enjoy!

Terminating Staff? Don’t feel bad, really.


I’m a Malcom Gladwell enthusiast to say the least.  The author of Blink, Tipping Point and Outliers among others is a confirmed genius or at least an outlier according to his book. His philosophy creeps into a blog here and there, now and then.   Every time I read a book about some super genius, like Gladwell, Steve Jobs or Oprah that was fired I think, “Seriously?!?!?”. Yes apparently sometimes employers get it wrong, or do they?  Maybe it wasn’t working, maybe it was clear from the onset that they were destined for greater things, or maybe whomever fired them was blind, or worse threatened by their genius.  Regardless of what it might have been it was a blessing.  None of them would have accomplished what they did without that defining incident.  Being fired can be a tipping point.   A really good friend of mine at the moment is praying to be fired.  She simply hates her job but can’t seem to kick herself in the pants to believe that there is something else out there in these challenging times. So she goes to work and waits for the kick, every day.

That’s why it never bothers me to fire anyone. I firmly believe that everyone is good at something and needs to find their calling.  If I have provided all of the support, guidance, tools and opportunities to learn and develop and if not at least due care. Then I can part company with an employee with the clearest of consciences. Who knows you may just be the hand of divinity on that person’s path to a brighter future.

You always hear that people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. So does every job, and while you always want to leave on your own terms, that’s not always going to be the case.  I’m extremely fortunate for every path that crosses mine, each one is an opportunity to learn, grow or interact.

I was terminated, and it truly was the best thing that could have happened to me. I’m not saying it feels great at the time, and if you are terminated with a sense of dignity it makes a big difference in your recovery.  A termination almost always creates a sense of uncertainty, even if you will it or expected it.  But there is one certainty, when my final biography is written that incident will be highlighted as the thing that I most needed that I couldn’t do myself. I now live in gratitude of that moment and for any every success that has come since, even more so.


Is Timing Everything? – Why The Time Your Staff Arrives Isn’t Important.

punch clock2

Is the time your staff arrives to work important.  That depends, doesn’t it always depend? But yes it depends.  If they have customer facing entry level jobs then it does matter, they have to be there at the time they’re supposed to be there or customers aren’t served, doors aren’t opened, shifts aren’t changed and the system falls down.  However if what they do is primarily mental mid to upper management then I challenge anyone that believes it’s better to monitor time than performance.  Arrival and departure time is no more a measure of productivity than skin colour is a measure of sun exposure; it’s totally hit or miss.

Here’s a study by Dan Pink about Motivation from his book Drive, astounding.

In addition to above, my experience has always been that the more you empower people to perform and make them feel that what they’re doing is important instilling a sense of pride, you get a natural tendency towards going above and beyond.  Which could mean many things including early arrival, if that’s when their brain works the best.  Any staff member at mid management that has to be monitored on a minute-by-minute basis either has a lack of understanding or feeling of control of their area of concern or is a poor fit for the role. Focusing on measurable achievement on the other hand is something that can be relied upon.  Is that fool proof, not by any means but neither is monitoring arrival. Some people arrive early and leave late to avoid traffic but spend their whole day social slacking on Facebook. What’s important is to set the expectation and explain any stringent time requirements.  As an employer and as a parent I’ve always found that the more you treat people like children the more they reach your minimum expectation. In both instances they are problems that you as the person in charge have to solve, but in my opinion, punching the clock isn’t the solution.