Newsletter & Blog

ACTS to Ensure Relevance

Laura Novakowski  -  May 04, 2011  -  Comments Off on ACTS to Ensure Relevance

A simple definition of relevance is the relation to the matter at hand.

“So what,” one might say. Well, experience and information is supporting that unless we ensure our relevance to a person, a department, a team, an organization, we can pretty much call it a day and move on.

What does it mean to ensure relevance? It means four steps…

  1. Ascertain your current roles, responsibilities and relationships. All too often, we become immersed, no let me rephrase that, we become entrenched in a position or a part that we play so deeply that we lose sight of what is important. Clearly assessing our current functions and tasks can help to establish how we are establishing our relevance to the situations that we find ourselves in. Once this step is done, we can move forward armed with valuable information. Now, we know what we can bring to the game, the job, the partnership.
  2. Create clarity around what is important. And let’s try something novel – a friend in a recent conversation really helped me with this – start with yourself first. This is the time for you to fully understand what you want and need to ensure that your mental and physical energy and are souls are important to the matters at hand. After we appreciate our own wants and needs, then and only then can we start to fully appreciate what is important to others. Now, we can start asking better questions, sharing relevant information, talent and energy.
  3. Transform through thoughtful action. Setting goals is a way of life. In fact, goals are set all the time most of the time without thought and definitely without any consideration for the planned actions that will help accomplish that goal. Investing thinking time up front can and will save tons of time. We can ensure relevance when we go into an interview, a response to an “request for proposal” (RFP), an evaluation or meeting with at the very least a well-defined plan of action that can positively ensure successful outcomes.
  4. Sustain relevance. This last step involves consistent, ongoing, critical evaluation. The quality of what we evaluate is much more important then the quantity of what we are measuring. Sure we may have only made two mistakes, but the mistakes cost thousands of dollars or one or two priceless relationship. On the other hand, perhaps we have 50 clients but each of them only generates $500. Can a business survive on $25,000 or would changing the quality and the service and now the company commands $5000 per client and generates $250,000? Measuring and monitoring tasks, products, services, experiences – you decide what you want to measure, just be sure that it is meaningful.

Ascertaining, creating clarity, transforming and sustaining are approaches that can ensure relevance, that there is a “relationship to the matter or situation at hand” if you choose. The choice is yours.

“I Don’t Know.” Is NOT an Excuse

Laura Novakowski  -  Apr 28, 2011  -  Comments Off on “I Don’t Know.” Is NOT an Excuse

Businesses, communities, marriages, careers, lives are suffering, deteriorating or being destroyed everyday in so many ways. And, although there are numerous causes of this suffering, deterioration and destruction, I am consistently receiving this response as one major contributors – “I don’t know.”

We define ourselves by our thoughts, words and actions. What are we conveying to others when we say we don’t know?

We need to question and ask why we are saying “I don’t know my responsibilities in my career, my community or family.” If we agree to a role or a job, we need to be crystal clear about what we have agreed to or signed up for. If we are the CEO, president, owner, employee, spouse, parent or volunteer, it is imperative for us to have the expectations clearly laid out before we agree to the position.

Recently, I caught a segment of a reality television show – I honestly can’t tell you the name – but the show was about an expectant mother who was seeking help from an expert about becoming a new parent. The good news was she was asking for help in advance – She was scheduled to deliver the following Monday and her meeting with this expert was taking place on the preceding Friday, not quite 3 full days before she would bring into the world a brand new baby. To follow is the bad news…

The expert started with a basic intake assessment to determine how much help and information this new mother-to-be needed. The nine month pregnant woman was not able to answer one question correctly, nor could she demonstrate on a doll how she could care for a totally dependent infant. When the expert asked her to show changing a baby’s diaper, she asked, “I have to do THAT?”

The expert decided to take a different approach and here is how the interview continued.

Expert, “Will you have help?

Mother-to-be response, “Oh, yes we have hired a nanny.”

Expert, “Is she going to live in?

Mother-to-be response, “On, no, she’s only here during the day or when we are away.”

The expert turned to the audience and mouthed, “She doesn’t have a clue.

The sad part of this entire scenario for me is that this response is so, so typical. People jump into situations and don’t have any ideas of their responsibilities or roles and that is just a disaster waiting to happen. We have to stop using “I don’t know” as an answer and start coming in prepared with research, education, questions and an interest in learning more.

Let’s start taking ownership instead of looking for the easy way out or believe me, we will be learning some really hard lessons.

How Clear Are You on What You Really, Really Want?

Laura Novakowski  -  Apr 21, 2011  -  Comments Off on How Clear Are You on What You Really, Really Want?


One would think that when a person is asked what they really, really want in work, in life, in a relationship, that the response would be immediate. Surprisingly, or perhaps, not so surprising, the responses are: silence… or “Let me think for a minute,” or more sadly, “I really don’t take time to think about what I really want, I’m too busy doing.”

Silence or “Let me think for a minute

These two are interesting responses. They to me indicate that the person is stopped short for several reasons.

  1. Genuinely, I need time to give a thoughtful response because it is important to me
  2. Actually, I am afraid to express what I really want
  3. I need to think about a response that will sound interesting and important enough to share and impress you
  4. I don’t trust you and so I’m not willing to share

This third response, “I really don’t take time to think about what I really want, I’m too busy doing,” indicates several things to me.

  1. I’m not worthy of investing thinking time in myself to fully appreciate what I really want
  2. I’m not used to stopping all the crazy busyness to think
  3. I’m clueless to how important understanding what I really want is to me and to anyone involved with me
Whatever the reasons or stories we have for not clarifying what we really want, it has become profoundly clearly to me, that this is one of our greatest limiting factors in success in business and joy in life. The more I am clear about what I want, the more likely I am to attract that want (positive or negative into my life).

And so, I am leaving you with this question, “What do you really, really want out of …?”

Or in the words of Henry David Thoreau….will you “live your life in quiet desperation.

7 How-to’s to Inspire Dynamic Energy for Extraordinary Results

Laura Novakowski  -  Apr 13, 2011  -  Comments Off on 7 How-to’s to Inspire Dynamic Energy for Extraordinary Results

Have you ever walked into a room, meeting, conference or … and felt like the air was being sucked out of you? When this feeling happens, thoughts become clouded, ideas stifled and energy is at an all time low.

How do we turn this around? Especially, if we cannot leave the situation.

Here are some how-to’s that I have learned and am continuing to learn:

  1. Wear something bright. If the day feels dark and dreary and you are going into an environment that is darker and drearier add color – bright tie, shoes, jewelry, socks – if you are more daring – add color to shirt, dress, or whatever makes you think and feel more energy.
  2. Walk taller. Yes, square those shoulders and extend your neck. One of the first things I notice is how someone enters a room – is there head down, shoulders hunched and eyes focused on the floor or are holding themselves with confidence, ease and pride. Check yourself out in a mirror and practice walking tall. Always a great energy producer for me.
  3. SMILE. Make sure that the smile reaches your eyes. Feel the lines ease out of your face, except for those “laugh lines” which are well earned, around your eyes. People notice a smile and automatically connect in a much more positive manner.
  4. Adopt a Positive Attitude. This is easier said than done and yet with mental conditioning we can turn even the worst situation into an adventure and a valuable learning experience.
  5. Be prepared. Go into the meeting, conference, day with some information about what you might be getting into. Although this sounds obvious, I am noticing more and more that people sign up and show up without deciding what they want or need to get from the experience. I generally review the team members, agenda or anything else that might impact the me, positively or negatively.
  6. Identify 3 benefits that will happen as a result of you attending. The key to getting extraordinary results, is clarifying those results in advance. It always amazed me to find that people have such low expectations of themselves and others. As soon as I have identified the benefits to me, I become galvanized to take get going. Meeting someone new, hearing a new idea, learning something different – powerful and truly inspiring for me.
  7. Finally, Give yourself space. If you can’t, won’t don’t need to attend or show up, give yourself permission for quiet time. Become aware of what might be affecting your energy, thoughts and actions – believe me – I’d rather stay home than to drain others or my energy. Also, I want to be a contribution not a detriment.

Seven simple ways to inspire dynamic energy. Now go forth and generate dynamic energy.

April 2011 Power Choices Newsletter

Laura Novakowski  -  Apr 11, 2011  -   -  Comments Off on April 2011 Power Choices Newsletter

Download the April 2011 Power Choices Newsletter


Solipsism, Msispilos or Emotional Intelligence

Laura Novakowski  -  Apr 05, 2011  -  Comments Off on Solipsism, Msispilos or Emotional Intelligence

Have I peaked your interest?

Let’s start with some definitions.

Solipsism is…

  • the philosophical idea that one’s own mind is all that exists. Solipsism is an epistemological or ontological position that knowledge of anything outside one’s own specific mind is unjustified. The external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist. … www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solipsistic

Msispilos is

Emotional Intelligence

The Institute of Health and Human Potential (IHHP) defines Emotional Intelligence, or EI, as

“an ability or capacity to perceive, assess, and manage the emotions of one’s self, and of others. Our EQ, or Emotional Quotient, is how one measures Emotional Intelligence. Emotions have the potential to get in the way of our most important business and personal relationships.


According to John Kotter of Harvard Business School,

“Because of the furious pace of change in business today, difficult to manage relationships sabotage more business than anything else – it is not a question of strategy that gets us into trouble; it is a question of emotions.”

I recently talked with an entrepreneur – a very, very successful entrepreneur by the way – who demonstrated tremendous emotional intelligence. He was quite decisive and yet he factored in others’ thoughts and ideas, dreams and recommendations. He did this personally and professionally.

I’d like to share his personal story. The entrepreneur and his wife decided to adopt a baby. Traveling to Eastern Europe they visited an orphanage. Here he and his wife were virtually surrounded by more than one hundred infants in need of adoption. The busy care givers were shoving several crying babies at a time into their arms. Overwhelmed, he decided to sit on the floor and just observe. As he sat, an infant boy crawled near to him and sat back to watch. The only child not crying, he looked around and made eye contact with the man and then resumed quietly surveying the scene around him. An old soul of eight months. The next morning, a care giver brought several children out and the quiet child was among them. His wife reached for the child and the child moved into her arms smiling. You guessed it, they adopted the boy. Today the child is almost four. Full of fun, bright beyond belief and his father’s best friend.

For me this really put Solipsism, Msispilos and Emotional Intelligence into perspective. If he had been solipsistic, he might not have even wanted to adopt a child. If he had been msispilostic, he might have taken a very needy and challenging child. Because of his emotional intelligence, he found a child that he and his wife could love and would love them back.

The more I read about these concepts, the more I realize that we often trap ourselves into this world of solipsis – self interest that is so limiting that it hurts us at all levels. Or, when we engage in msispilos -other-orientation that we lose total confidence, respect and awareness for self. Two extremes that certainly are not particular useful. While emotional intelligence, transcends and embraces the philosophy that we “assess, perceive and manage” our awareness of self and others. Powerful.


Define Success and Build Foundations

Laura Novakowski  -  Mar 29, 2011  -  Comments Off on Define Success and Build Foundations

There’s a quote often attributed to Alice in Wonderland that goes like this “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”

By defining our success, we at least have a fighting chance of achieving what we really want. Success is unique and special for each of us. Some of us choose tangible success – a gold medal, a degree, a prize, a certain life style and income. Others seek achievement in spite of physical, mental or developmental limitations. Still others seek leaving a legacy such as a breakthrough cure, exploring new horizons, or creating an innovative product or service.

This is not about judging our motivators, Rather, defining success is about clarifying what is really important to each of us. By asking ourselves questions such as…

What lights me up in the morning, or causes me to lose sleep at night?

What provokes me to take outrageous risks and throw in all the chips?

When we start asking ourselves these motivating questions, we become inspired to live a life that is extraordinarily fulfilling. To define success we must discover what “trips our trigger.” Not just forces us, but compels us to take life changing actions.

Henry David Thoreau once wrote

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favour in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

When we define success, we can move confidently in the direction of our dreams and live each day putting foundations under those castles we build in the air.


Bearings, Key and Alternator

Laura Novakowski  -  Mar 23, 2011  -  Comments Off on Bearings, Key and Alternator

Paying attention to the signs and messages that show up in life and business can save tons of time, money, and energy. In the past several weeks, a team of 4 experienced car issues, which helped them avoid work and life issues that would have been so much worse.

It started with the newest and youngest member of the team having a “bearings” problem. Now, the definition of bearings is “the direction or path along which something moves or along which it lies .” Guess what? The bearings had to be changed. Often times, people choose a path that quite honestly is not the best. However, because they are on it and in it, they keep forging forward regardless of the consequences. Feelings of frustration, lack of motivation, overwhelmed and certainly tremendous dissatisfaction with self and others happen. When reviewing their current situation, the newest member of the team spent time evaluating their current direction and eliminated one time consuming job that was taking them completely off course. This change affected their thoughts and actions immediately enhancing the quality of their work and life.
The most senior member , the history and teacher”of the team had a key problem. It just would turn in the ignition. Now, the definition of key, “something crucial or central to the issue or problem.” The key had to be repaired. This person at the same time started to experience some heart problems. The key, like the heart, is core to our performance and success. This team player had lost some of their purpose due to a major personal life change and was starting to act as if they were no longer needed. This couldn’t have been further than the truth. Fortunately, the team pulled together to help this senior member see that they were absolutely essential to their success. As a team, they focused on validating purpose and contributions of each team player. Immediately, the sage of the group started to make some respectful health changes in diet and exercise that actually helped them to be relieved of some very distressing symptoms.

The last two team members experienced an alternator problem. Now, one definition of the alternator is to “charge the battery and to power an electric system when its engine is running. …” A battery is a source of power for any engine and needs constant charging. How interesting that their alternators needed to be replaced. With the charge there was no power. The charger and the source, also two critical team players had been trying to pick up and take over rather than serve as support. They too had to pull back and go on a retreat, a vacation, so that they could recharge and re-gain power.
Fortunately, the team payed attention to the “car problems” before their life problems became too serious. They regained their bearings, found the key to their purpose and recharged their power in work and life.

Are You Effective in Leadership Style?

Laura Novakowski  -  Mar 15, 2011  -  Comments Off on Are You Effective in Leadership Style?

Numerous styles of have been shared over the course of time. In my research, I have decided to share two very specific theories which describe behaviors that demonstrate how effective or ineffective a leader can be.

In the 1930’s, Dr. Levin, a psychologist, led a group of researchers in a study which established 3 types of leadership – Authoritarian, Delegative, and Participative.

  • Authoritarian, also known as autocratic, was a style where the leader tells you how to think and act. It’s the leader’s way or the highway. A tremendous amount of distinction between the boss and the underlings and never the twain shall meet.
  • Delegative, also known as laissez-faire, was a style where the leader offers little or no guidance and leaves the decisions up to the group.
  • Participative, also know as democratic, was a style where the leader offers support and guidance. This leader actively seeks input and actually listens and responds to suggestions. In this type of leadership, the leader actually actively engages and participates within their team.

In the 1990’s to the present, Dr. Paul Taffinder, an world renowned expert in leadership has been researching and publishing about seven styles of leadership. In 2006, Dr. Taffinder published these interesting styles of leadership in the book entitled, The Leadership Crash Course.

  • The Transformational Leader is a style that transforms commitment and levels of performance, highly goal directed and willing to go against traditional approaches.
  • The Enforcer is a style that are cautiously optimistic while driving towards very specific, defined objectives.
  • The Deal Maker is a style that attracts followers because of the energy, enthusiasm and interest in the new and exciting.
  • The Administrator is a style clear in what needs to be achieved and ruthlessly follow through.
  • The Visionary is a style that inspires people to dream of greatness but fail to follow through.
  • The Serial Entrepreneur is a style that is imaginative, but calculating, gamblers, displaying huge energy and commitment and sweeping people along with them because they make seemingly impossible challenges achievable
  • The Spin Doctor is a style that seems to be everything a leader should be, but their behavior is inconsistent and self-serving.

These are two different approaches to defining styles of leadership. Both experts researched and identified traits and abilities that demonstrate varying degrees of effectiveness as a leader. At any given time, people will demonstrate any and all of these leadership styles. The question now becomes, how can we aspire to become like the traditional style from Dr. Levin’s research, participative leader? And the next question, which in my mind now becomes imperative in this time of indecision, ineffective decisions, entrenched styles of leadership become truly transformational as Dr. Taffinder recommends?

I’m interested in your thoughts.

March 2011 Power Choices Newsletter

Laura Novakowski  -  Mar 11, 2011  -   -  Comments Off on March 2011 Power Choices Newsletter

Download the March 2011 Power Choices Newsletter


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