Dear Uncommon Subscriber, Let me explain…

My last newsletter was published in June 2013.  I’ve missed you!  As you may know, 2013 was a doozy – serving up enumerable challenges and, thankfully, just as many opportunities. Let me bring you up to speed…

Uncommon Consulting Sold to IDG Research Services!
After shepherding Uncommon through nearly five years of steady growth, I made the decision to join forces with my former employer.  We have combined all the good stuff of Uncommon with the unprecedented workforce efficacy and employee engagement analytics of IDG Research Services.  It’s a match made in heaven for me and my Uncommon clients alike – allowing for greater resources and an expanded set of services to measure and manage all aspects your workforce in support of business goals.

We offer:

  • Motivizion: A next generation employee survey which measures organizational, management and individual efficacy.  Including measurement of employee motivation.
  • MF Team Analysis: A comprehensive assessment of a team’s current and predicted motivation and engagement levels that includes a custom 16-page report for each individual and an overview of driving needs, talents, intrinsic motivation and motivation capability of the team as a whole.
  • Motivation and Engagement Programs: From 1 hour overviews to 3-6 month team transformations, these programs are interactive, energizing and informative sessions packed with practical, real-time tools.
  • Motivation Factor Practitioner Certification: The 3-day certification program which prepares participants to practice the remarkable Motivation Factor Methodology with their own clients and businesses.  Next certification is this March!
  • Management Best Practice Programs: A hallmark of Uncommon’s services, these programs cover management basics and beyond and are infused with techniques for building and maintaining greater motivation and engagement at every level.

What About the Uncommon Personal Stuff?
Many of you have taken advantage of the more personal side of Uncommon – our programs on getting unstuck, discovering personal passions, articulating life and work purpose, and just plain figuring out what you want to be when you grow up.  I am happy to say these programs will still be available – on an on-demand basis – through the newly named Uncommon Contributions.  Look for more on this soon.

So…it’s all good.



For those of you who know me well, you may be wondering what’s been going on with me.Through the Knothole: Quickly isolate and move past obstacles, promptly improve an underperforming team  On the professional side, check out the awesome update.  On the personal side (with a few life lessons thrown in for good measure), here’s the deal…

It’s been a tumultuous year:
– My husband and I decided to get unmarried (it sounds SO much better than getting divorced but after 23 years married it is still a painfully difficult transition that we are working through with love and humor.)
– Our house was robbed and though I’m a woman of EXTREMELY simple tastes (so virtually no financial loss) I am heartbroken to have lost my wedding rings and hand-me-downs from my great grandmother.
– Our cat was run over – literally – and (unfortunately/fortunately) lived to tell the tale. Tail is intact but he’s crooked for the rest of his eight lives.
– One of my three fabulous children went through a bout of pretty significant anxiety symptoms and was refusing to go to school which challenged me to exercise all my parenting, communication, influence and motivation muscles every morning for a couple of months.

Seriously.  By December I was done.  Tired.  Exhausted. Overwhelmed. At the end of my tether.

As a result of all this mayhem in my life, I was finding myself behind on emails, relationship maintenance, invoicing, housework, school work, fundraising, and fun.  My middle child even asked, “How can we get fun, funny mom back?”. Sigh….How indeed.

What helped?

– Friends.  Good lord how I love my friends.  I didn’t realize until all this craziness how valuable my friendships are and how much love and support can come from saying “I am done. I need help.”  Thank you to all of you.

– Energy Drainer Exercises.  I’m telling you I would be in McLean’s right now in a straight jacket sipping broth through a straw if it weren’t for the head-clearing, forward-moving, clarity-providing results of the Motivation Factor energy drainer exercise.  As Dory says: “Just keep swimming… Just keep swimming…”

– Perspective. I do not live in a war torn country. I am not being bombed or gassed. I have choices. In fact, I have a comfy home in a lovely town in a wonderful country and the resources to get through pretty much anything.

– Wine. Nuff said.

– Patient clients and colleagues.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you who have been patiently standing by waiting for my return call, email, newsletter or next program. I know I’ve been less than responsive.  I know we have incredible opportunities to do amazing things together.  We will.  I just needed a sec.

Next Steps
I took a few weeks to step back, gain perspective and right the ship.  I had to make some tough decisions about what I can/want and can’t/don’t want to do.  I used the Motivation Factor framework to remind myself of what is nourishing to me, how I can best contribute and of what is most purposeful in my life. One of the biggest changes, as you may know, is that I sold Uncommon Consulting to my old company and am now employed by IDG Research doing something NEW and DIFFERENT (More about that here).

So. Thank you for your patience and your support. I am SO excited about the things to come in my work. I am SO grateful for all of you – you who read this blog, who are my clients, who are my colleagues, you who want to inspire yourself and others to generate and bask in meaningful work.  Thank you.

Wishing you peace in the present and resilience forever.
– Julie

The Gender Divide…Really?

I have to say I was a little aggravated.  When I saw the results of the research, it irked me.  It irked me that there was a difference.

I have to confess I was a little taken aback.  When I heard from no fewer than three separate executive level male leaders over the course of no more than three months, that each had a problem working with women.

I have to admit, though, that there is something to this.  And I am moved – as usual – to encourage an open discussion.  A discussion about the existence and ramifications of the difference between men and women in the workplace.

It doesn’t help anyone – or any relationship – or any organization – to deny it.  A bridge isn’t built until it is joined in the middle. And the fact of the matter is, one of the 50% of us has to work productively with the other 50% of us in order to create good work and good lives.

So here’s the deal.  Recent research shows that the motivation factors (the driving forces that compel us to act or not act in certain ways) of men and women are different.  The differences are not surprising.  In fact they are quite typical – even archetypal.  That’s what aggravated me.  And things that aggravate, irritate and itch usually do so because they represent at least a grain of sand of truth.

There is more than a grain of sand of truth in this case.  If you’ve read this far, you know it too.  If you hit the “back” button in dismissive disgust at the topic, you know it too.  So we must stop pretending that those differences don’t exist. We can do better. We can all do a better job of understanding our own motivators and leveraging those of others.  Ostriches don’t make good leaders in the long term.

Seats are limited

I’m hosting Helle Bundgaard next Wednesday, June 6 at the Center for Meaningful Work to present this research and discuss the implications of these findings.  I hope you’ll join us!  (The great common motivators – beer, pretzels, wine and cheese – will be served)

In Honor…

A dear friend just sent along this poem, “Fairy Tales” by Chester Swor.  I share it in honor of those who lost their lives this week in Boston. In honor of those who have lost someone dear.  In honor of those who ran toward the danger to touch someone, help someone, save someone.  In honor of all those who have touched, helped and saved me when I needed it.  This is for you.

“Fairy Tales” by Chester Swor

It seems wherever I go
People come into my life or go out of it
Touching me where I feel
Then leaving me only a memory
Like the Gossamer fairy tales of children –
Easily forgotten
And I wasn’t through knowing them.

How do I know
Who I am seeing for the last time?
How do you halt your life to gather and keep all
Those around you that you’ve ever known?
And how do you keep fairy tales from losing their magic?

So come
Brush against the walls of my life
And stay long enough for us to know each other
Even though we’ll have to part sometime
And we both know
The longer you stay
The more I’ll want you when you are gone.

But come anyway
For fairy tales are the happiest stories we read
And great books are made of little chapters.

Bestselling Author and Career Coach TAMA KIEVES

Dear Uncommon Readers,
I am so excited to be hosting Tama Kieves on April 24th for “Inspired and Unstoppable: Wildly Succeeding in Your Life’s Work!” and, by way of introduction and to provide a bit of background on who she is and how she created her own Inspired, Unstoppable and Wild Success…here is an excerpt from Tama’s latest book:

Book excerpt by Tama Kieves

At the most dramatic turning point of my life, I left my career as an overworked attorney to follow my soul’s haunting desire to become a writer. I had graduated with honors from Harvard Law School and worked in the litigation department of a huge, elite law firm. While there, I traded my life for societal slaps on the back, more money, and more grinding work assignments. I made partnership track. But I was desperate to be free, exhausted in my good, safe job, dying of meaninglessness, suffocating the life out of my creative soul. Finally, a friend asked me a vital question:

“If you’re this successful doing work you don’t love,

what could you do with work you do love?”

 I decided to answer that question with my life. I left the practice of law to undergo the art, practice, and baptism of listening to myself in this lifetime. I wrote about this amazing journey of transition in my first book, This Time I Dance! Creating the Work You Love.

A bit about the new book: “Inspired & Unstoppable”
This book is about wildly succeeding in your life’s work: taking what you came here to do to the next level. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t want to just “follow my bliss.” I wanted to follow my bliss, say to a bank, or to a bestseller list, or to some kind of explosive expression in the world. It had never been my dream to leave my law practice to end up as an incompetent entrepreneur or a starving artist. But I also didn’t leave one falsely successful life, only to turn myself into a sock puppet again, swallow my spirit, and “get with the program” so I could “make it in the big time.”

I was going for the holy grail of wild success, the deluxe spirit package, passion, sweetness, and inspired prosperity. I wanted creative independence and security, worldly fanfare and peace of mind and the experience that abundance came from doing the work I came to do, the way I came to do it. The only problem was, I could name my desires until the cows came home—and kicked back with Netflix, cud, and apple martinis—but I wasn’t sure how to create this “everything comes together” life.

Yes, I’d practiced law and maybe I should have known how to project business goals in the “real world.” But, truth is, I have a poet-philosopher’s heart and tend to process life in metaphors and fires-in-the-belly, more than data and numbers. While I’m ambitious and logical, I’m also part rebel, gypsy, and lightning-bolt bearer. That means, for instance, that when well-meaning folks suggested conventional means like business plans, I tried not to start speaking in tongues or bite them.

Still, I craved commercial success, recognition, and reach, so I turned to marketing advice, success books and popular titles in the business, self-help, and motivational world. But the more I read, the more disillusioned I felt. I had finally found a dream that gave me life—but everything I read about succeeding in it felt soul-numbing. I just knew I had the mojo, but “the getting it out there,” the pipelines to income and opportunities, seemed to be governed by a mechanical, harsh, or clannishly linear world. It didn’t matter if I had twelve thousand diamonds; the jewelers wore blindfolds. Everything made it clear that real success required what I didn’t have, and without a “mind meld” with Anthony Robbins, Donald Trump or, say, “The Terminator” would never have.

Like so many of us, I didn’t realize that I already possessed an inspired way to succeed. It hadn’t dawned on me yet that the electricity that inspires our dreams also inspires the means.

But this is the truth I know now: taking what you love into the world has little to do with conventional techniques, established reality, or the formulas of the marketplace. Following your true desire or calling is an initiation of soul. It’s a rite of passage. It’s a whole new game board with exciting new rules. Bring your diamonds. (Read on for more from Tama…)

How to be Successful

I hate to break it to you but there is no one sure recipe for how to be successful.

There are actually hundreds of thousands  – perhaps millions – of ways to become successful.  And each and every one depends on you.

Your definition of success, your willingness to work hard, your willingness to trust, your willingness to dream, your willingness to let go, to love, to hope, to change and to take action.

It’s not about “able”.  We’re all able.  It’s about willingness.  It’s about being open.  It’s about letting go and trying a new approach.  It’s about being you and being real.  And this is the hardest part.

We are wired for safety, security, status, certainty and status quo.  We can’t sell the house, we can’t move the kids out of school, we can’t speak up against senior management, we can’t lose our benefits.

Yes.  You can.  But are you willing?  Are you willing to define success – YOUR version success – and take stock of where you are against it?  Are you willing to relax and play with possibility?  Are you willing to consider – really consider – that this is not the best you can do, the most you can be, that this is not all there is?

I hope so.  Come play.  I have some possibilities.

One fabulous opportunity to play is coming up later this month.  The Center for Meaningful Work is hosting Tama Kieves – best-selling author, inspirational speaker and career coach – for a workshop that will move you to action.  Join us!

Goal to Hell

We’ve all heard that the road to hell is paved with good intentions and I can’t think of a more appropriate saying to sum up how so many people come to regard their work and life.

We do well in first grade to get into second grade.  Must pass grades in 7th to get to 8th.  Do well on our SATs to get into a good college so we can get a good job with good benefits.  Scrabble around the corporate ladder to get a bigger office, better salary, nicer title.  And then wake up and realize we are in hell.

It’s the moment we realize that our goals to:

  1. Increase sales by 20%
  2. Expand into 30% more territory and
  3. Cut expenses by 15%

actually translate to:

  1. Be 20% more dreadful
  2. Ignore family 18% more
  3. Decrease soul by 22%*

It’s the moment you realize that “this isn’t what I’m supposed to be doing”.

It’s the moment you realize “I should have been a helicopter pilot”.

This moment can be a galling, pit of your stomach realization that you took a “right” turn when you should have hung a left.  It can cause a deep, sinking feeling of resignation with a sad back up chorus of altos singing “Why bother now?  It’s too late”.

But it’s not.  There’s still time. And the consequences of not trying are really quite damning…

“Definition of Hell: The last day you have on Earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become.” – Anonymous

Don’t let this happen to you.  Suffer less.  Soar more.

And join us at the Center for Meaningful Work on April 24th to enjoy an energizing, inspiring, mojo-inducing workshop with bestselling author and career coach, Tama Kieves.

*Hat tip to DAK

Crabs in a Bucket

Have you heard of crab mentality?  The analogy comes from the apparent habit of crabs in a bucket to hinder the escape of any one crab.  Alone in a bucket, any one crab can make his or her getaway but in a bucket full of crabs they grab at one another and pull the potential escapee back down.

If you’re like me – and the many folks I’ve mentioned this analogy to – your reaction may be along the lines of “YES! That’s exactly what happens!”.  And you may not be referring to your own personal experience with crabs in a bucket but instead, alas, of your own work and life experience.

Like crabs – or any living thing – we are wired for survival.  I don’t believe crabs – crabby as they have a reputation to be – are necessarily plotting to thwart a colleague’s success. From a crab’s perspective, survival is “out” and back where she belongs. Alone in a bucket she’ll grab on to any crab hold to make it over the lid.  In a bucket full of crabs, she’ll do the same – even if it happens to be the shapely leg of a fellow crab.  Dashed hopes for all involved.

Lessons from the crab bucket:
1. To get out of a bucket, you may have to have the tenacity to shake off more than a few fellow crabs.
2. When a fellow crab is making an escape, resist the urge to grab and pull – it helps no one and can have disastrous consequences.
3. Consider that we tend to measure and value ourselves in relation to our fellow crabs.  There are other buckets out there.  Better yet, there is a big blue free sea.  Consider that the biggest obstacle to your own escape, just might the value you place on you.

Tips for Escaping Buckets

  • Awareness of the bucket is the first step.  Take stock of your work and life.  Good bucket? Or no?
  • Evaluate your current vs ideal relationship to the bucket
  • Establish a goal
    • Option 1: Celebrate and nurture a good bucket
    • Option 2: Plan your escape
    • Option 3: Commit to helping others escape if the bucket is not their bag
  • Commit to your goal with a clear vision of success
  • Execute your plan with milestones, support and expert advice
  • Follow through, don’t peek back into the bucket, head forward
  • Pass it on



How to Make a Suffering Bastard

Mix high stress levels with low resilience and add a handful of the following ingredients to taste:
misaligned expectations
lack of feedback
blocked progress
boring tasks
inability to set and defend boundaries
lack of communication
uninspired purpose
lack of confidence

Shake vigorously and place in a dysfunctional culture to allow the mixture to rise.

For those of you looking for the drink.  Please see below:

Original Recipe

From Joe Scialom’s private papers, and published in Beachbum Berry Remixed by Jeff Berry, 2010

Shake everything, except ginger beer, with ice. Stir in ginger beer and pour into a double old-fashioned glass. Garnish with orange slice and sprig of mint.


What if

What if you could get promoted? What if you could quit? What if you could stand up to that bully in marketing? What if you could just get your team on the same page?

What if you got all A’s in school? What if you got into a good college? What if you still have no idea what to do with your life? What if you never traveled?

What if you reached that one sullen kid? What if you said no to the tests? What if you did what was warranted? What if you said yes?

What if you said what you really meant? What if you decided? What if you listened? Really listened.

What if?