Two Truths and a Lie

March 13, 2019

Normally, I don’t think about business and party games in the same conversation, but this time, I just can’t help myself.

I just returned home from our first ever Lead Her Up Retreat for women business leaders. The event was successful beyond our expectations, and it has me thinking overtime about the whole idea of leadership. For three days, more than 30 successful women business leaders explored how to lead themselves, their teams and their legacies.

One day over lunch, the women at my table decided to play “2 Truths and a Lie” to get to know each other a little better.

And it got me thinking.

There are a lot of lies we tell ourselves about leadership. Lies that make us think we’re not cut out for leadership…or that there’s some magic “right way” to be a leader.

I’m inviting you to my virtual lunch table right now. Let’s play Two Truths and a Lie about leadership.

Ready?  Here we go. See if you can find the lie.

#1 – Leadership is more about who you are than about what you do. Leadership is not about place or position. You can be a leader from anywhere in an organization. Your values, attitudes and beliefs shape your actions and decisions, determining how successful you are as a leader. Leadership is a calling, not just a job. Leadership is about who you are at the core—your values, beliefs, attitudes. How you behave as a leader is shaped by those inner truths. To be a good leader, you need to focus as much on the inner work of personal development as you do on the outer work of team building.


#2 – The leader needs to be the strongest person on the team.

For a team to be successful, it needs to be strong. The leader must set the example. Being able to weather adversity, overcome barriers, and navigate changing expectations is an essential element of leadership. A leader who appears weak or vulnerable loses the respect and trust of the team. The collective courage of the team is weakened if the leader shows any sign of fallibility or vulnerability. No matter what goes on, never let them see you sweat.


#3 – Great leaders are also great followers.

Most leaders did not begin their professional lives as leaders. They started out as followers and, if they were lucky, learned how to be good leaders by observing successful leaders at work. They learned how to be part of a team, how to put the group’s needs ahead of personal gain, and how to bring out the best in others. If you want to learn how to be a great leader, become a good follower…and a good student.


Did you spot the lie?


It’s #2 – The leader needs to be the strongest person on the team.

Traditional wisdom in business has been that vulnerability is a sign of weakness and weakness is bad. Brene Brown has turned that concept on its head in her recent book Dare to Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Open Hearts.

Brown argues that the armored “stiff upper lip” leader doesn’t truly serve the team or make it more successful. She says that there is a difference between being “strong” and having courage. It’s courage that’s required for leadership.

A leader’s courage lies in the willingness to be vulnerable…to own the hard truths and have the tough conversations.

“Vulnerability is… the only path to courage and it is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, trust, empathy,” according to Brown. She tells us that vulnerability is the key to authenticity in leadership. When leaders are vulnerable, they are more open and emotionally available to the team. This emotional availability builds trust, expands possibilities and boosts team performance.

The next time you’re tempted to put on that armor, hide your doubts or gloss over mistakes, try being transparent and vulnerable instead. Enroll the team in finding solutions together and see how much further you’ll go.

Go forth and do great things,

Martha Hanlon and Chris Williams

Martha & Chris

Who’s Responsible for This?

March 6, 2019

responsibilityA couple of months ago, I won a free, three-month membership to a gym.

I actually went!  I toddled in and met the manager, registered and got my membership pass.

Each week, I diligently went to this new gym, shirking my existing gym, spoke with some of my fellow flabbies and generally enjoyed the experience.  The gym was clean, well-appointed…and didn’t smell like gym socks.  Always a selling point in my book.

My three, free months ended two weeks ago.  I’m kind of sad. And not because my time with them has ended.  I’m sad because…

They haven’t called me.

Their records clearly show I came into their gym.  Their records indicate my free membership has expired.  Someone might even miss me!

But I’ve received no call from them to discuss really joining this time.  Like, for money.

Who’s responsibility is it to reach out?  Mine or theirs?

Clearly, it is their responsibility.  They are the experts.  They could talk to me about what I want to accomplish in a gym and really show me how I can get there with them.  They might want a new member or four.  Yet, they have done NOTHING to encourage me to join.

How many of your clients or folks who have gotten something for free from you…and you’ve called them to get them on board for m-o-n-e-y?

Or do you think they’ll just phone you up?

We were talking to one of our clients the other day, and he mentioned he had an opportunity to build his business by tracking down some of the folks who used him.  He knows they’ve moved to another business. Fresh opportunity.

Same client.  Different business.

He’s got a bunch of them, and they would be a great source of new business.  They already have an opinion of him and his service.  It’s a good opinion.

He said, “They’ll call me when they leave.”

Me, “Really?  Have they called you?”

Him, “No.”

Me, “Who’s responsibility is it to call?”


Ah…it’s yours.

Not theirs.

Might you see yourself in this little picture?  Are you of the belief your customers and former customers will just pick up the phone and call you?

Because they have so much time on their hands?

Because they just love you that much?

Because it’s their responsibility???

This ball is in your court.

Call them.  Reopen your relationship.  I promise you; your efforts will bear fruit.

This ball is in your court.

Go forth and do great things,

Martha Hanlon and Chris Williams

Martha Hanlon and Chris Williams

1000% Return

February 27, 2019

How would you like to get a 1000% return on your investment? Any investment?

If this sounds too good to be true, I understand why you’re skeptical. After all, over time the stock market has averaged an annual 10% rate of return…some years more, some less.

Is your brain spinning? Trying to think about what that investment could possibly be?

I was equally skeptical, but now I’m a believer.

That magical investment is…planning. 

Here’s the deal: according to author and motivational speaker Brian Tracy, “Every minute you spend in planning saves 10 minutes in execution; this gives you a 1,000 percent return on energy!”

All I had to do to find the truth in this statement was to look back at the times when I plunged into pursuing a goal without taking the time to develop a clear plan. There were plenty of near-misses and some outright failures along the way that cost me both time and money.

Time and money that could have been saved if I’d taken the time to plan…to carefully consider how best to reach that goal.

Once you’ve made that critical investment in planning, you can only reap the reward if you EXECUTE your plan. The combination of great planning and consistent execution of the plan is what it takes to meet your goals.

Our client Steve is a great example. Steve’s goal was to quit his day job and join his wife in business. That meant being able to generate enough new revenue for the business to replace his salary AND benefits…a total of about $60,000.

Steve calculated that he needed to bring in 2 new clients every week by July 4th to meet that revenue goal. He looked at his numbers to see which strategies for bringing in clients were most effective and set about using those strategies to begin driving toward the goal…every single day.

Steve focused his attention on bringing in new clients, knowing that was the path to success. He was persistent and consistent. No distractions, no excuses.

And sure enough….Steve was able to quit that day job right on schedule. And the business he shares with his wife is thriving.

Without a clear plan and consistent execution, Steve might still be working that day job and dreaming of quitting.

What about you? Have you developed a clear plan for those goals you set at the beginning of the year? If so, good for you. How are you doing with implementation?

And if not…make the investment in planning now and then get busy executing that plan

Your 1000% return is waiting for you.

Go forth and do great things.

Martha Hanlon and Chris Williams

Martha and Chris