The Excellence In Retail Blog Questions

Why did you start blogging? It was actually a cathartic activity for me. I worked in a very broken, toxic specialty retail organization that really turned me off of retail for a bit I started writing to actually convince myself that there was a better way to lead and treat people and run a business through supporting and treating everyone with respect and honesty like the adults they are.

Do you have a background in writing? Absolutely not! As a matter of fact, I am almost uncomfortable reading my early posts – they were so awkward and clunky. My writing has evolved dramatically in the past two and a half years and I keep working on learning what I can.

Do you monetize your blog? I do not. For two reasons…(1) It would alter the aesthetic of my blog and that would bother me and (2) I would have to employee cookies on this site and I want my amazing audience to feel free and comfortable to click through this site without any disruption to their other online activities. I do get work from this blog so though I don’t monetize it by viewers, I do – ultimately – find work from this.

Who do you model your blog after [who inspired you]? I try not to read other blogs consistently, which seems counter-intuitive – I know. I don’t want to adopt a pastiche of anyone’s style. I do – however – do a significant amount of research on topics I write about so I read a lot of blogs but no one’s consistently so I can maintain the integrity of my evolving style of writing.

Where do you get your topics? My sources for topics come from two areas primarily: (1) My experiences – many times I don’t want to write about a topic before I can repair the damaged issue so I will add a topic to my list and then write about “it” once we have corrected the challenge and I know that what we have implemented has been effective. (2) Friends…my acquaintances and friends will call me for help with an issue and I love that because a lot of times I have to do some research as I haven’t experienced the challenge they are facing. It forces me to learn something new which is energizing.

How did you know how to start blogging? I didn’t know anything about it when I bought the program to set up a blog…I worked through kinks and problems. I figured it out because I had a compelling purpose to use my “voice”. I have never let “I don’t know how” hold me back from ANY experience I have wanted to have. If there is passion around it and interest…I will figure it out.

How do you get published on other mediums? I am very fortunate to have lots of amazing readers who give me some really fabulous opportunities. I cover a lot of topics and I am happy that most of them resonate with a variety of people who find my posts interesting enough to share with their audiences. I am so grateful and get so super excited when this happens!

Parochial Interview Questions

Where would you like to be in five years? In five years I would like to be working with a company in a high-level strategic capacity that inspires organizational health, growth, and sustainability. Whether that is in a role where I am working with the executive team or leading a team of innovative, creative talent – I want to find a company to be loyal to, proud of, and challenged by. Being 100% transparent, I would like to work close to home. I hugely enjoy travel, but as a parent, I get kind of sad leaving my kiddos for more than a day or two.

Do you have any desire to lead a team? [This question usually comes from someone who hasn’t reviewed my résumé. So, after a internal eye-roll…here is my answer]. I have been the architect of at least 15 top-performing”teams”. I have led teams of eight to teams of 800 in my career. I have led teams at the corporate office [Store Ops] and in the field [Regions], successfully. I have developed over ten people from Store Manager roles to District Manager roles. I have developed three people from District Manager to Regional Manager. I have consistently taken on bottom performing teams and through leadership accessibility and career capital development lead them to the top performing teams in every business lever.

What is your leadership style? I lead and function as a colleague through three things: (1) Warmth, (2) Competence, and (3) Creativity. I do not assign myself a traditional leadership descriptor like “servant leader”. I work hard to develop talent in people I work with and who I am fortunate enough to lead. I work incredibly hard to earn the engagement and interaction of my bosses, peers, and those I am lucky enough to mentor every single day. That is my style.

What are your greatest strengths? I am a passionately curious learner. I do not compare myself to others – I focus on living up to my definition of excellence. I own my motivation and inspiration 100%, I never leave that or expect it of anyone else – it is within me completely. I am highly productive and I can adeptly tune out nonsense. I can instill these things in others – that is my super-power. I am fiercely loyal to people I believe in and a company that values creativity, innovation, their people and their customer.

What are your greatest weaknesses? I am greatly underestimated. I find humor in challenge and chaos and I do not use “management-speak”…I speak plainly and that is seen as a weakness in most “professional” environments. I enjoy having fun and I find humor in my day, that sometimes is seen as a flaw. I cannot tolerate a culture that accepts the status quo. I am impatient – which is something I work on daily but patience is probably a competency that I will never master completely. I do not have time for politicking mediocrity or people who lack integrity – people and cultures that support this lose my trust and loyalty pretty quickly.

How long have you been in Learning & Development? I have officially been in a L&D role for approximately six years. However, I have been constructing and leading organizationally top-performing teams for almost 2o years – that wasn’t luck. That was a lot of deliberate communication, development, candor. and coaching. I have been building and leading effective teams for almost two decades with very little in the way of formal resources from the organizations I have worked for. EVERYTHING I know, I know from experience, trial & error, personal learning, and partnering with people who know a lot more than I do. This has been invaluable in my success and growth.

What is your experience in L&D? I have written content. I have designed LMS programs. I have formal learning experience, hosting seminars and classroom style training [it is ineffective with today’s learners]. I am passionate about social and experiential learning. Using micro-learning platforms and gamification to drive engagement to L&D initiatives have been my greatest success stories in 2017 and 2018. I have been the architect of four cloud-based apps and one open sourced learning program in the last two years.

What scares you? Two things come to mind when I think of things that scare me: (1) Being average and (2) Public speaking to large groups. That being said – I have taken on three speaking gigs in 2018 [so far] that were for groups of 750 to 1500. It was terrifying and I am definitely not awesome at it yet…I am working through this fear and learning from the greats on how to make it inspiring and captivating to my audience.

Personal-esque Questions I Am Frequently Asked

Who inspires you and why? I think the one of the most influential character in history – for me – is Napolean. I find him remarkable and so interesting. He didn’t let anything stop him…he fought for every single success he had and he had a lot of detractors over the course of his career. Just learning about who he was as a child and he had a vision and a drive to be great. Everything was deliberate, organized, and pathologically focused when it came to his vision. He also had a variety of interests which made him extremely interesting as a person – separate from his military prowess. He’s such a great role model for me and keeps me hyper-focused on what can happen if you aren’t mindful and prepared or if you lose track of your purpose.

You mentioned your children, how do you do what you do and balance that with motherhood? It’s my normal. My children are absolutely my priority…I work hard mostly because of them and my need to provide a future filled with incredible opportunities for them. I have been working multiple roles simultaneously for the last several years. That being said, I am very lucky I get to work from home so frequently and I get to chose my hours. I volunteer at their school(s) and I take them to their sports practices and games. I am committed to being an example to my children that hard work and a strong drive you can do some interesting things. We can’t just “hope” that good things happen [Hope is not a strategy in our house]. We need to ensure they will.  Since I have worked for lots of organizations overseas I am lucky I can get up at 3 or 4 in the morning to have Skype calls and get work done while it is the business day over in Europe.

With work and children, do you have time for hobbies? What else do you do? I actually have a lot of interests outside of “work”. I workout three to five times a week usually. I also do some cooking/baking for a bed & breakfast in my town that is owned by friends of mine. I love cooking [and I’m pretty good at it] and entertaining so I get to stretch and practice my skills by having friends over for appetizer and dessert parties to test recipes for me. Or cocktail and dessert parties. I take the winning dishes and recipes and get to share those with the guests at the B&B. I flex my creative muscles by drawing! Though I am not great at it – it is a fabulous outlet for me and the process of drawing helps me work through work challenges and supports my brain to make sense out of nonsense. In March 2018, I actually sold my very first piece of artwork to someone who thought my work was “whimsical and lighthearted”.

How do you maintain your energy level? If I am being totally transparent, I become exhausted sometimes but I recognize that don’t have time for that. I have lots of things to do so in order to work 45+hours a week; be a present, active, and engaged parent; get my daily errands and normal people things done –  I have to stay positive. I am very fortunate to have an optimistic outlook on things so that keeps me motivated and excited about accomplishing tasks and projects and taking immediate action on what needs to happen next. I am energized by accomplishment – so finishing up a project that wows and delights my clients and my people drives me. Making dishes that earn the B&B an elevated rating gets me excited to try more and do more that will surprise the guests. Being a parent who is present and involved in every single thing my kids do and supporting them earning amazing grades [both honor roll students], citizenship awards, perfect attendance awards, and being kind and smart individuals with integrity keeps me wildly motivated and inspired.

You have a lot of locations listed on your résumé – where do you live? I grew up in a family that was fairly nomadic. My dad was an employment lawyer in Chicago. then bought a knitting mill in South Carolina, became president of a few companies in the Southwest. Moving around was in my DNA so when I got into retail it became the norm for me especially when moving for work came with more responsibility. I currently own a home in the Chicago area, an apartment in the NYC area, and a have a condo in Orange County, CA. I would love to be settled in one of those location on a permanent basis. I would love for it to be a Chicago area as that is “home” but, my work has been – primarily – out of these three locations over the past 15 years and I enjoy all of them.

You have had a lot of autonomy as a consultant – would you have an issue in a structured environment? Why would you consider a permanent role? I have had flexibility in my schedule and bringing my own highly-productive way to work to all the organizations I have had the pleasure of working with, however…I have adapted to the cultures I have worked with. I am available during their work day [sometimes 6-15 hours ahead of me] and have used their processes of communication and have adapted to their culture specific expectations. I have worked perm roles in both structured and unstructured environments and have been perfectly fine and comfortable in both. I have a personal commitment to deliver to my definition of excellence.  That expectation doesn’t change.

As far as finding a permanent role, I would love that at this point in my career for a couple of reasons: (1) My priority is my family, I want us to be settled in a single location – like normal people – so that they can stay at their school with their friends as they progress academically. I do not want to have them in new schools every year or two. Additionally, I would love to live and work in the same area. My consulting gigs takes me out of the area at least one week a month and in that week I have to have my incredible nanny stay with my children. Finally, it’s not my favorite thing to have to worry about the next gig and making sure there isn’t a lapse in projects. (2) I want to have a long-term impact on an organization. I want to build lively and robust workplace relationships with colleagues that are collaborative, fun, productive, and honest. I want to make a difference and be challenged and share what I am great at with a company. I don’t have any hidden agenda outside of doing what is best for my family and my company. I want to love what I do and go home every day knowing I made a difference in a great way.