Maxisms: 8 Things I Learned from My Crazy Father

My father, Max Feldt, stood 6’ 3” with a personality so big (and the towns we lived in so small) that the postal service once delivered a letter to me addressed only: “To the eldest daughter of Big Max, Stamford, Texas.”

Big MaxFamily lore says he roared, “Who said I wanted a boy?” when reminded that prior to my birth he’d boasted HE was having a son. (No ultrasound back then, folks.)

Daddy was the dominant influence on my life—eventually. It wasn’t till I delivered his eulogy, when I was 50 years old, that I realized he had given me an entire philosophy of life and leadership.

He had many aphorisms I refer to as his Maxisms, including this all-purpose one he repeated to me on hundreds of occasions:

You can do anything your pretty little head desires.

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Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

You can do it at the beach, on a boat, or by the pool

I was on vacation the last few weeks.

And judging from the number of vacation messages from people on this newsletter list, so were many of you. Hope you had a restorative experience if you have already taken time off, (See below for who I met on my vacation.) And if yours is still to come, I hope you are planning to get away for a vacation or maybe a stress free staycation.

With summer location changes,  it’s only fair to extend the early bird rate for my 9 Practical Leadership Power Tools to Accelerate Your Career online certificate course. And the great thing is you can do this anywhere, any time, any time zone.Sometimes you have to slow down to accelerate. Yes, paradox is at the heart of leadership.

Register by end of the day July 1 and you’ll still get $100 off the full price.

What better time than the lazy(er) days of summer to get the benefit of learning  new concepts, tools, and tips that will refresh you, inspire you, and accelerate your career? I’ll share secrets I’ve learned from a lifetime of organizational leadership along with the latest thinking and research. And you’ll connect with other women in a supportive circle.

If you’ve been considering signing up but were afraid to make the time commitment, check out the benefits:

  • APPLY new power and leadership definitions to your own work
  • EMBRACE your power with intention, take challenges confidently, and lead authentically
  • UNDERSTAND the game — what keeps women from parity in leadership in order to accelerate your own career
  • APPLY the 9 Practical Leadership Power Tools to your goals
  • DEVELOP a powerful Personal Leadership Action Plan
  • NETWORK with purpose
  • NEGOTIATE with confidence
  • EARN a Leadership Certificate to advance your resume

Questions? Contact me.

Recap9 Practical Leadership Power Tools to Accelerate Your Career

When: Four weeks, July 16–August 13

Where: Online, asynchronous, meaning you don’t have to be online at any particular time (remember, you can do it on the beach)

Why: Because you are worth it

Bonus: Get the exclusive Take The Lead Close The Gap Appfree– the tool you need to close your own pay and leadership gap

Hurry: Early bird offer expires at midnight pacific time July 1.

 

Warmest Regards—and Power to You,

Gloria Feldt and the Take The Lead Team


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

The Meaning of Crackers, or What Painful Memory Holds You Back?

2013-06-24 18.50.38Stefi materialized like a sea sprite during our first breakfast at the Dubrovnik estate overlooking placid turquoise Adriatic waters. In an uncharacteristically impulsive act, I had purchased four nights for four people in this Croatian paradise at a charity auction. And here we were, absorbing the wonders of this gorgeous place, complete with Nada the amazing chef, a driver—and Stefi.

Until that moment, the four of us–my husband Alex and me and our friends Eileen and Bill–had been giving our full attention to Nada’s spread. There were succulent strawberries, salacious green figs, and juicy peaches that really tasted like the pure, unadulterated produce Croatians speak proudly of maintaining, local yogurts and cheeses, healthy whole grain cereal, and freshly baked sesame bread served with bottomless cups of steaming strong coffee.

Stefi’s appearance roused us from our breakfast bliss.

She skimmed across the garden patio in child-sized yellow Crocs, and planted herself between our table and the kitchen. With a cheery, “Good morning!” she began to weave a captivating narrative.

2013-06-25 19.17.38Unlike the lovely but reserved Nada (whom we later learned from Stefi had once been the national women’s judo champion—appearances can be deceiving), Stefi bubbled. Her full name is Stefica, but the diminutive fits her perfectly. She described herself as “a tiny person” in comparison to typical tall Croatians, suggesting her shortness was one reason why despite her master’s degree in marketing and economics, at age 31 she was still unable to find professional work.

“So I’m mopping floors,” she allowed, with more irony than bitterness. “But,” she quickly continued, “I’m lucky to have this job to support myself. And bit by bit, day by day, I am going forward.  You have to be patient and not become discouraged.”

Who could not love this energetic miniature woman in her Disney themed t-shirt? We peppered her with questions: Where did you learn your English? (in school) Are you married? (No) What job would you like to have? (anything where I could use my marketing skills) Have you tried approaching online marketing services? (I just yesterday applied to Elance! How amazing that you ask me that question today!)

2013-06-26 14.18.29Typical Americans, we began to solve her problems, whether she wanted our help or not. She responded to each word of advice with delight, as though it was a sparkling gem she had never before imagined.

And yet: there was always a “yet.” A reason she could name that made her success unlikely.

Like many of the Croatians we’d met during the first three days of our visit before coming to the villa, Stefi expressed a constricted view of life’s potential.

The country’s long history of avoiding subjugation by paying tributes to stronger forces had been recounted to us by tour guides and books.

But fresher wounds of war stem from the 1990’s Croatian War of Independence that formed the country’s present borders. This personal experience of terror and deprivation remains raw, defining many Croatians’ worldview. It scars most adults’ memories, just as its physical scars remain visible in buildings pock marked or reduced to rubble.

Stefi described her wartime hunger in painful detail, speculating that lack of food during a crucial developmental period had stunted her growth.

“We had nothing to eat but crackers,” she told us.

2013-06-23 14.17.31Crackers came to symbolize the trauma of war. Years later, she recounted, when the villa owner served her a cracker and cheese appetizer. “I saw the crackers and couldn’t breathe,” she said, fanning her face with her hands as if to ward off a fainting spell.

And there was the conundrum. Could she break out of her traumatic victimhood to achieve her stated life goals? Could she change the paradigm of her life view?  Was she wishing for a fairy godmother to transform her struggles with the wave if a wand? Or, having been defined by wartime’s limitations, was she now more comfortable staying put within her own real or perceived barriers?

Could she face down those crackers and move on?

During our short stay at the villa, we became like old friends. Stefi continued to talk with us about many things, while seamlessly making our beds, helping Nada cook and serve, and offering advice on hikes around the area.

But I realized, on the last day when I encouraged her to start a blog in order to build her profile with prospective employers and she quietly replied “Oh, good idea,” with furrowed brow, that she probably would not take action on any of our suggestions.

And I wondered, how often do we all limit ourselves by staying within our mental boundaries because breaking out seems even more painful?

When does the risk of changing what has become our “normal” in life keep us set in psychic stone even when our behavior pattern no longer serves us? How can we become aware when we are so shaped by past struggles that we fail to see today’s opportunity staring us in the face?

What “cracker memories” are holding you back?


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.