This is a portion of the recorded sessions that are part of the Hawk Eye Coach Training. The interview was so valuable that I have decided to make it public.
The year was 2002; nearly ten years ago. A lone twenty-one year girl peered out of her bedroom courtyard apartment window. It was a bright September day. The semester had begun; it would be her last at the University of Delaware. But, she still had eight months to figure out what she would do once the diploma met her hand. She was motivated, yet shy. Her ability to appreciate various aspects of culture kept her grounded and allowed her to march to the beat of her own drum.
The apartment phone rang with a mysterious number on the caller ID and I answered the phone with curiosity. “Hello?” ‘Yes, is Kendra available?’ A woman’s kind voice echoed. Kendra was my roommate, and she was certainly motivated. She had just landed a fabulous internship at Astra-Zeneca, a pharmaceutical company nearby. “Uhh, no she is actually at class right now. Can I take a message?” “This is Jessi LaCosta calling from The Delaware Center of Contemporary Arts and she had applied for an internship, I was following up with this phone call.” Ahh, poor lady, I thought. Too late! My roommate had informed me to let any callers know that she was already spoken for so I continued as I was instructed. But what happened next took me by surprise. “Well, I still have this position open, I’m not sure if you would be interested?” What? Me?! Someone was offering me a chance at an internship without even seeing my credentials? Hmm, I thought.. Too good to be true. But I graciously accepted a meeting with Ms. LaCosta.
Two days later I met Jessi and the rest of the staff at the Arts building in downtown Wilmington, Delaware. The very next day, I received a phone call from Jessi offering me a position as an intern. I originally signed on for one semester but ended up spending the remainder of the year at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts as Jessi’s intern.
Jessi must have seen something in me that I did not see in myself. She taught me to assert myself. She helped me practice my professional voice and encouraged me along the way. We spent countless hours talking about her experiences in school and work and all the real things in between. When I moved back to New Jersey, our professional relationship continued and turned into a respectful friendship. As I struggled to find myself and a job that I loved, Jessi was finding herself too. She left her position as Director of PR/Marketing at the Arts Center and took her experiences and knowledge base to San Diego, California. It was there that she turned her passion into reality. Her desire to help others resonated a new beginning for herself and her community.
Part of Jessi’s undeniable strength comes from her life altering experience when she came face to face with a carjacker at the age of sixteen. Her ability to analyze, execute, and communicate literally saved her life. It was at the worst moment of her life that her strengths and abilities shined through. When I think of Jessi Lacosta, the following words come to mind; insight, clarity, and brilliance. Her ability to take risks and emit confidence is undeniable and inspirational. Jessi is currently the proud owner of BlueRio Strategies; a coaching, consulting, and organizational development firm. Her passion for educating others about the importance of vision and strategic planning has brought her career to new heights. Jessi is truly an inspiration to many. She has encouraged me to reinvent myself and focus on my abilities. It is because of her example that I have had the confidence to begin graduate school. As my last semester at William Paterson University winds down, I often think of Jessi and hope that someday if I can only accomplish half of what she has achieved, I will be successful.
This guest post was by Adriana M. I asked her to share this to demonstrate how powerful our conversations with others can be. And I am honored by this post – it has touched me deeply. And I admire Adriana greatly. You can read my interview with her here.
My short version take is:
” The accountable brand has a message or promise that resonates with its intended audience. A person or organization that delivers on that brand promise (which is related to vision, mission and values) engenders an appreciation, loyalty and support. This yields sustainability of the brand. A brand is more than a logo or a slogan. It is a reputation, a reflection of how others experience a company’s products and services or a person’s character. An authentic, sustainable brand is accountable, meets expectations and makes true impact.”
It probably is not the only way to describe it – so how would you describe it?
Achieving my vision meant developing The Hawk Eye Coach Training Program.
So often we hear “dream big” or “shoot for the stars” and yet real and “envisioned” obstacles stop us in our tracks. A few years back when I began my quest to make a better world through helping businesses and professionals create sustainable success by centering their visions on branding, I only slightly knew how big the dream could be.
Helping others create or – yes fix – systems so that their visions, values and missions were reflected in all actions, supporters, staff etc. (aka authentic, sustainable branding) was great. Still, in the back of my mind I also wondered how veterans could fit in… how could I/we (meaning society) help veterans integrate when they transitioned to the civilian world. These brave women and men made decisions that many of us would never – they fought in wars – they were responsible for equipment values in the millions – not to mention responsible for others’ lives. Yet – it only takes an hour each week to watch the news or read a blog or a magazine to realize many are not successfully reintegrating into the civilian world. And no matter what you may think about the military or war – these men and women are part of our society – so now what? – How will they affect the fabric of sustainable success for businesses, community – family?
The unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time since September 2001–a group referred to as Gulf War-era II veterans–was 12.1 percent in 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The jobless rate for all veterans was 8.3 percent. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/vet.nr0.htm
“Only eight percent of the general population can claim veteran status, but nearly one-fifth of the homeless population are veterans.” The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV)
I believe veterans have much to offer – some will not need any assistance to manifest their gifts as civilians – but many will need that extra help to transition into the next chapter of their lives. I realized I too, needed to do more to accomplish my own mission and vision[i] and it would include helping veterans. . (Read about vision and mission below.)
At first I thought I would help the families – maybe some life coaching or collaborating with other life caches. Then I thought – heck – why not coach the veteran to transition more smoothly. A non-profit in San Diego, CA, REBOOT, was also seeking facilitators to guide their three-week veteran transition program. That would be a great complement to what I was doing – so I applied and contracted with them (on a project basis) 18 months ago. That is where I also met my now great friend and advisor to the Hawk Eye Program, Joseph Almond.
So now here is where the dream gets big I mean REAL BIG. During my tenure at Reboot – while coaching and consulting in other industries for other needs – I saw a gap – a gap that must be filled. That gap is the lack of properly trained, talented transition coaches – specifically to help support veterans as they reintegrate. Sure – there are MANY great consultants, trainers and career coaches already helping veterans. Still for all the great ones – there are many who could be great, yet do not currently have the skills. That is where the Hawk Eye Coach Training Program comes in.
Please dream with me – I am about to launching a full-scale coach-training program. It has been months in the making. The curriculum I robust and rich and steeped in honest, ethical and strategic methods designed to guide a coach in the skills needed to uncover the best in the veteran.
If you are interested in learning more about the coach training program (it will launch in July with a pilot price) visit this page.
So Why Veterans? Eventually I will offer classes for other types of coaching, brand-centered sustainability, conflict management coaching. For now – the veteran is a crucial component to the American culture – no matter what you feel about the wars we have now or wars in the past, veterans are retiring and separating in large numbers. Without support many become devastating numbers – they join the ranks of homeless, the frustrated, the lost. And yet coaching with its valuable way of empowering and uncovering talents, strengths and gifts in all people could be a wonderful way to help. Since I love teaching and want to be able to contribute on large scale – training others to coach veterans seemed like the natural progression of my big dream.
Consider the facts below and then consider joining the ranks of the Hawk Eye Transition Coaches and help make a difference in the world:
The Veteran Population
- The unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces at any time since September 2001–a group referred to as Gulf War-era II veterans–was 12.1 percent in 2011, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The jobless rate for all veterans was 8.3 percent. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/vet.nr0.htm
- In 2011, 21.6 million men and women in the civilian noninstitutional population ages 18 and over were veterans. (See table 1.) • http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t05.htm
“Although flawless counts are impossible to come by – the transient nature of homeless populations presents a major difficulty – the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Veterans Affairs (VA) estimate that over 67,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. Over the course of a year, approximately twice that many experience homelessness. Only eight percent of the general population can claim veteran status, but nearly one-fifth of the homeless population are veterans.” The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV)
What services do veterans need?
“Veterans need a coordinated effort that provides secure housing, nutritional meals, basic physical health care, substance abuse care and aftercare, mental health counseling, personal development and empowerment. Additionally, veterans need job assessment, training and placement assistance.” The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (NCHV)
In a recent Client Study performed by the International Coaching Federation the following key findings were identified:
- 80 percent of individuals have experienced a positive change in self-esteem/self-confidence as a result of partnering with a professional coach.
[i] BlueRio’s vision is: To use insight from the powerful nexus of neuroscience, psychology, mindfulness and branding to transform the way that leadership is developed and sustained, ultimately leading to more civil, healthier and more effective communities. This includes business/corporate, government/nonprofit, educational and socially aware communities.
The Mission: To Transform lives through brand-centered sustainability – empowering individuals and organizations to build healthy, effective and sustainable platforms for personal and professional success.
As I watched the latest episode of NATURE last on my local PBS station, (Deep Thinkers) I couldn’t help but think how we could learn so much from the Whales and the dolphins.
Times have been tough for many of us these past few years – recession, gas prices, war, protests and many personal struggles as well. Yet, most of us have also been resilient – finding innovative ways to stay the course or change direction when needed.
The balance between team and standing out has probably never been trickier – especially for those looking for work and small business owners trying to create sustainable operations. As I work a lot with veterans, I also notice how truly difficult this can be- promoting self with or even above team.
Then it hit me – the balance – the strategy is right in front of us – it is in nature and what nature can teach us.
In one segment a group of young male dolphins ganged up on a female hoping to court her – hoping to mate. Another group of senior male dolphins arrived. Almost immediately the two groups of males began battle. However there was no physical violence. They used synchronized sounds to demonstrate power. The senior males won. After it was over – no hard feelings and all were fine. It was a show of teamwork and also of communication. There was an understanding of sorts and no rebuttal happened.
It reminded me of another show I saw last week on NATURE (Giant Lives) where many whales tried to court one female – they actually began to fight – it was a bit harder to watch as one whale crammed into another like two cars on a freeway colliding. Yet in the end – when the ones left were not the winner – they actually caressed and comforted each other – almost as if to say, “I am sorry brother that we fought – I am sorry we did not win – let’s be friends again.” It was so beautiful to watch – they slowly calmed each other – the same whales that had initially fought – what could we learn from that? Ahh I digress – back to leadership lessons from last night:
Part of last night’s episode covered a certain group of whales that have devised their own specialized process for hunting otherwise difficult food to find. It is a smooth, powerful and awe-inspiring series of moves that involve:
- Synchronized movements
- Clever attention to details
- Total team effort
While I cannot truly do it justice I will attempt to summarize:
- This group of whales begins communicating with each other when they are hungry.
- They then (all at once) perform a dance-like move that takes them under the water
- Using sound they herd a group of small fish and cause the fish to swim upwards
- The leader is above – creating a trap of bubbles
- The fish swim into the bubbles and when leader makes it know that it is time –
- All whales swim to the surface, open their mouths and inhale the fish.
Extraordinary to watch, but also amazing in that this was not known to be normal behavior for these whales. Still, in the area food is scarce – and these tiny fish that could be VERY hard for the gigantic whales to consume. With teamwork, leadership, patience and perseverance along with creativity – these whales have devised a superior plan.
Whales have been hunted for centuries. Whales face many obstacles. Whales are also resilient, able to strategize, become leaders and followers. We probably would not judge them for their actions. So the next time it feels a bit awkward to be the leader – but something tells you – it is needed – think of the whales. The next time you feel like you would prefer to stand out in a crowd – but strategy or insight tells you – better to be part of the group – think of the whales. There must be a reason they have survived and thrived for so long.
To watch the episode on your computer visit this link: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/episodes/ocean-giants/full-episode-deep-thinkers/7643/
Calling for applications to take the BCI for free! These final slots will be offered to several companies or organizations through the months of March and April.
After much analysis, the decision was made to simply the process and create a more affordable version of the BCI. Now included in the the cultural brand assessment is a survey for up to 150 raters, a report and a personalized debriefing phone session for each client. At launch this will cost $475 and will increase after the initial offering.
What is the BCI? This online diagnostic tool helps businesses and nonprofits understand how well their Brand/ DNA is integrated into their organizations and is viewed by all of the organization’s stakeholders. it can be an incredibly valuable tool to understand your organization and to understand how your Brand is perceived by all of your stakeholders. More info is available below.
This tool & report offers direction and guidance for both building upon current strengths, and identifying potentially crippling gaps that affect the long-term sustainability of a business unit or entire organization. A 60 – 90 minute phone debriefing session is also included to review main issues or interests from report.
In short, it can deliver the following:
- Insight for effective, sustainable change initiatives.
- A picture of the current internal communication/brand culture from “leader to line.”
- A snap-shot of current external stakeholders’ brand perceptions from – the board, selected vendors and community supporters, as well as a limited scope view of clients/customers’ perception of the brand culture.
- A baseline understanding of what is working in the cultural makeup of the organization’s employee landscape.
- A baseline understanding of the gaps that need to be addressed to effectively create a sustainable brand-centered culture system-wide.
- Increased engagement around focused areas needing development and improvement.
Get on board now for no financial investment and receive an invaluable gift back – a thorough report and strategy debriefing session…. We will only choose a a few clients for this special opportunity. You can apply at the link below. To learn more about the BCI – visit the Leadership Tools site.
- Accepting a thank you or a compliment
- Why is it so important to your career?
- How does it correspond with your brand?
- Why do so many people not handle it well?
So this concept has been on my mind for some time now. Why does it seem like fewer people are extending thank you’s and even fewer than that know how to respond when receiving one? I used to think that after doing some great work for someone and not getting a thank you – that the person on the receiving end must be rude – insensitive or plain just a jerk! Well, of course that is the reason – some of the time. And yet I started to notice a pattern: that those same people often did not handle well me GIVING them a thank you. So what gives?
If we look at anxiety, confidence and the concept of humility – all wrapped up It can spell “awkward misinterpretations.”
For many who shy way from attention – both offering and getting compliments and signs of gratitude can feel very uncomfortable. It can seem like a situation of exaggerated confidence or lack of humility – or just simply being too much in the spotlight. Yet – not honoring these forms of attention can do a disservice to any relationship.
Even in a work environment or networking situation you are ALWAYS SHOWING UP. Who you are and what you stand for is at the forefront of how people respond to you. So how do you prefer to show up? If you do something well and I notice it – I am thanking you – or complimenting you for value I see. By downplaying that – you are not only negating your own talents, but negating my opinion. This mirroring situation is two-sided and dynamic.
In other words – I mirror you and our experience with my reflection of your talents or gifts. I do that by saying, “Thanks – great job – or “really liked how you formatted that.”
When you say, “It was nothing – or “not really so great” or what I notice a lot now – you do not respond at all. What in essence you mirror back is — that my reflection of you is inaccurate –therefore that I must be wrong. Wow – talk about setting up situation to fail. Now I feel badly about my insight and wonder why you can’t see what I see – or worse I become frustrated that you did not appreciate my gratitude.
Accepting compliments and appreciation is a huge part of relationship building. Just as offering gratitude is also crucial as you invest energy into relationships = whether they be work or personal.
Sure – you will not always be noticed and you will not always seek or receive appreciation. But when you have the chance accept it kindly and professionally with a “Thank you – glad to help,” or Thank You – I am honored to serve. “ Or even just “Thank you” You will be setting the stage for a more engaged relationship and understanding of your value – of your brand.
And to be sure – if someone helps you along the way – please feel obliged to say a quick – Thanks – that was helpful – or appreciate your time. Think about it – for many of us – time is very valuable and we do not give it freely.
With the draw-down of troops comes the increased focus and attention on veterans transitioning into civilian lives. This past February I was honored to be chosen to facilitate week two of a three-week Veteran Transition program. During my training I met a phenomenal facilitator, Joseph Almond. Since then we have forged a friendship. He is a seasoned facilitator and having transitioned himself many years ago from the Army, he shared valuable insight with me as I began my work. Even as he currently works as a facilitator and consultant in many area including leadership and diversity, Joseph still dedicates time to helping Veterans. Below is an excerpt of an interview I had with him.
Q: What was the transition into the Civilian work like for you? My transition was very smooth based on preparation and support from family. It also presented challenges when I was hired as a manager trainee for an organization. I was still in the military mindset of accomplishing the mission without compromise. My civilian colleagues had the same commitment, however they sometimes approached things differently from what I had been accustomed. I learned to shift my military mindset by understanding that there was a new culture I was being exposed to. I had two mentors in the organization that supported me in my transition. They provided coaching – which proved to be invaluable.
Q: From your perspective, is the transition into civilian life/world the same or different for veterans today? I see it as being very different. When I transitioned there was no war being fought and our economy was strong. There were numerous opportunities for employment. Where as today, the economy is not as strong and it is very competitive with the unemployment rate being high. The unemployment rate is much higher for veterans. Organizations are hiring and firing everyday. Having said that, veterans and civilians alike must brand themselves like never before. Having a great resume just isn’t enough. Networking is more of a necessity today then it was when I transitioned.
Q: What are you doing to contribute to the effectiveness of those in transition to civilian lives and why? I work as a facilitator of a three-week transition workshop that is held monthly in San Diego. It is amazing to serve men and women who have served our country honorably. I have met some of the most talented people this country has produced. The feeling I have when facilitating this workshop is priceless. I have the opportunity to share my experiences with them as well as learning from their experiences.
Q: What do you see as maybe the top two or three challenges veterans face? Preparation and Expectation. Preparation through planning their lives is crucial. Some of the Veterans I have encountered have not planned the next 3-5 years of their lives out. They are focused on the now and surviving vs. tomorrow and thriving. Managing expectations can create tremendous value. If we expect to succeed at whatever cost then we will.
Q: What are 1 – 3 things that any Veteran in transition can do to increase the success of the career transition? Decide what they want. Network with others. Support others in achieving their dreams. Develop their dream team.
Q: What can others do to help? Most people have family members or friends that are or have served. If we would check in with these people and ask how we can be of support in their transition it would be powerful.
Q: What drives your passion? My family provides the fuel for my passion. Also, my desire to be in contribution and support others in achieving the lives they want. I believe when others are living their best life we all benefit.
Q: What do you foresee in the future? I see organizations hiring veterans and supporting them in entrepreneurship. There is a sea of talent out there and organizations are going to cast their nets wider in their search for talent.
Q: Who is/are your mentors? I have a dream team of a diverse people who I learn and glean from on an on going basis.
Q: What are you thoughts on coaching or mentoring for the veteran in transition? I think both coaching and mentoring would prove to be very valuable for veterans. Both have provided me with the support and knowledge that have transformed my life personally and professionally.
Q: Any parting words of advice? Veterans bring tremendous experience to any organization. They want an opportunity to show what they have just as most people do. Any organization that is wise enough to hire a veteran should be wise enough to leverage their skill sets. It’s important for the veteran and the organization to share and communicate expectations in order to ensure a successful transition.
You can read more about Joseph Almond, President of JAE Consulting at his LinkedIn profile:
I found a quote the other day and it impacted me greatly. And it reflected personal truths as well as indirectly – to me - how we can view sustainable leadership. Sustainability is about respect – respect for all around us – respect for the systems that interact to bring life forth.
Native American Quote
“The Circle has healing power. In the Circle, we are all equal. When in the Circle, no one is in front of you. No one is behind you. No one is above you. No one is below you. The Sacred Circle is designed to create unity. The Hoop of Life is also a circle. On this hoop there is a place for every species, every race, every tree and every plant. It is this completeness of Life that must be respected in order to bring about health on this planet.”
~Dave Chief, Oglala Lakota~
I have read this over and over again and realize that if we could all approach the systems in our life with the concept in mind that we are all part of a larger system – a circle – than perhaps the need for specific achievement would shift. It is natural to crave success – to desire achievement. Yet, in this quest it often happens that we see ourselves as before, above or behind another – instead of basing the achievement on what we give back . The gifts and talents may differ but in our humanity and respect for life – we can be equal.
When I first heard about LC3’s – I was thrilled. Then I learned about B-Corps and again I said “eureka!” But alas BlueRiop Strategies is just not there yet. So I can at least say when we grow up we want to be a “Certified B! or an L3C!!”
Well, it used to be that the single bottom-line was all anyone cared about. Some still do. At BlueRio Strategies we honestly believe you can affect a triple bottom-line that is ROI (profit financially driven) but also ROP (Return on people and planet – not just investment of $$$.) The Triple bottom line = People. Planet. Profit In this we hope to make a difference in our community and in the world. A sustainability entrepreneurship of sorts –responsible and sustainable – especially when it comes to social impact. Until we grow up – we hope to service those that have already chosen their path – other B-Corps and Lc3s… So what are these structures?
What is a B-Corp?
I stumbled upon this site: B-Corporation
“B-Corporations are a new type of corporation which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems. B Corps are unlike traditional businesses because they:
• Meet comprehensive and transparent social and environmental performance standards;
• Meet higher legal accountability standards;
• Build business constituency for good business
What a great way to help improve triple bottom line goals.
And what is an L3C? Per Marc Lane – an expert in the field:
“The “low-profit limited liability company” (L3C) is a new, hybrid business form which can leverage foundations’ program-related investments to access trillions of dollars of market-driven capital for ventures with modest financial prospects, but the possibility of major social impact.
An L3C can have different classes of investors – - individuals, nonprofits, for-profits, and even government agencies. But foundations, primarily seeking social payoffs, take the lion’s share of economic risk yet content themselves with below-market financial returns. No wonder for-profit investors, seeing the risk-reward tradeoff shifted dramatically in their favor, eagerly commit their capital and expertise to investments they would otherwise reject out of hand. “Marc is the force behind Illinois’ Low-profit Limited Liability Company (L3C) legislation, and has been instrumental in promoting L3C legislation in other states.” says Intersector L3C Partners.
So all depending on what BlueRio Strategies evolves into when it grows up – I dream that it will make lasting impact socially at large levels!