The Power to Build: Elena Balasa

At age 10, Elena Balasa’s father asked her what she’d do if their home in Romania burned down and she had nothing left. “I will be desperate and I will cry so hard,” Elena replied. “No,” her father said, “You will think of what you need to do so you can build a better house than before.” Starting over, metaphorically building a better house, is how Elena lives her life. Engineers, Elena and her "college sweetheart" husband began trying to immigrate legally to the U.S. in 1990—with no success. After becoming Canadian residents, in 2003 her husband was offered a job as an engineer manager in Salt Lake City, Utah. Together, they had to decide whether to start over in a new country. “When we decided to emigrate we knew our challenges: different culture, no close family around us, starting our life again when we were 38 years old and most families are settling down at this age. However, we didn’t realize then how challenging the transition would be!” Elena says. Today, Elena says she’s reached her “biggest dream.” She and her husband are U.S. citizens. They have a cherished daughter, good careers, and opportunities to learn and grow. Elena is working on her MBA, volunteers … [Read more...]

A Toy Story for Leaders

Time Magazine’s Top 25 Best Inventions of 2014 are awesome, mostly. A filter that fights Ebola. A ring that glows to tell you when you’ve received an email from your boss. Clip a chip on your shirt and you’ll get a signal/buzz if you’re slouching. The real-life Hoverboard so you can float above the ground (well, only an inch but still, how cool). I don’t care a fig for the “Selfie Streamliners,” like the selfie stick so you can hold your smartphone back far enough to snap yet another picture of yourself. Apparently there's a market for selfie-aids, which makes me seriously question humanity. Forget about selfie aids. All I really, really, really want for Christmas: IamElemental. Action figures for girls, and in my case, a grown-up woman with a girl’s heart. Its character, not characters.™ If you have any girls in your life (or if you were a girl once), you know that it has been nearly impossible to find empowering action figures, “dolls” that portray women as athletic and strong, as heroes. Even our one superhero icon, Wonder Woman, is so sexualized today that she looks more like a porn star—or Barbie—than I’m comfortable purchasing for the girls in my life. Thanks to … [Read more...]

“DAMN! I am the expert. And it feels great.” by Susan Caba

The notice on my freelance writing site said an agent was looking for a business expert to write a book on leadership. I had recently ghosted a business book (Break Points: Where Businesses Get Stuck) and I needed a new assignment. I decided to look over my publications and see if I could muster enough evidence to convince someone that I was a business writer. I’ve been interested in leadership and management for thirty-some years, in a casual way. Some of my newspaper friends were editors and we would often dissect their business knots. I covered city councils and other governmental organizations, as well as criminal courts--all of which required an eye on human interactions and their consequences. I wrote a monthly Q & A column, interviewing CEOs about their daily routines. But I certainly didn’t consider myself a business writer or an expert on leadership. In fact, I wasn’t sure what my strengths were as a reporter and writer. I’ve been a Jackie-of-all-Trades, which is good in some ways but left me scrambling for focus. If anything, I thought that focus would be the arts, artists and what I loftily refer to as “material culture” (stuff--I was a shopping … [Read more...]

Courageous Q&A

Two beautiful questions that take courage to ask and courage to answer: What’s one thing you’d like me to do more of as __________________ ? What’s one thing you want me to stop doing as __________________? Fill in the blanks with nouns like sister, supervisor, Dad, friend, etc. This week, try out these questions and listen with your heart to the answers. Let us know what happens! #inCourageLeading, Jone … [Read more...]

Simple Ideas Gone Wild

Creativity is more than just being different. Anyone can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach.  Making the simple awesomely simple, that’s creativity. – Charles Mingus Sometimes it's the simplest ideas that have the biggest impact. I recently saw Diane Von Furstenberg in an interview where she was promoting awards that she sponsors, through her foundation, for women who have overcome adversity to affect positive change within their communities and also on a global scale.  The nominated women have accomplished amazing things but what struck me is something she said about them- that all of these women had taken a tiny idea and nurtured it to accomplish big things.   (I think she knows a thing or two about that). She got me thinking.   It’s always the simplest ideas that have the biggest impact.  Here are some examples of small ideas gone wild: In 1937, a Connecticut mother of three children in discovered one of her sons had an allergy to commercially made breads. So she began experimenting with making breads that her son could eat. The popularity of her bread soon had her selling it locally out of her own kitchen. Today, Pepperidge Farm, Inc. … [Read more...]

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