Cindy Novotny

Act Local and Live Global!

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The beauty of my job is that I get to travel the world and experience life as a local.  Although I stay in some of the most incredible hotels around the globe, I always ask the locals what they do for fun, what the best food to eat is, and where they go for entertainment after work so that I can get the full experience myself.  This week while working in Marrakech we wandered around the Medina, shopped in the markets and enjoyed watching the snake charmers in the square.

One evening we went to El Fenn’s rooftop bar which is the spot to be at sunset.  Magnificent views and cocktails to celebrate the end of a perfect day.  As the sunset became the most amazing backdrop to our evening we spent time talking to local Moroccans about life in Marrakech.  Some of the tips they gave can apply to any bustling city.  So, as you travel around the world remember these do’s and don’ts and enjoy the local life!

DO:

·  Always embrace the spirit of the destination looking for hidden paths and doorways

·  Sip the local tea (in Marrakech the mint tea) while listening to the local music or call to prayer

·  Learn to ‘haggle’ with the shopkeepers but always be fair

·  Get lost (with a map) and don’t stick to such strict itineraries

·  Know the local pricing – how much you should tip (or not), how much a guide or a taxi               costs before you start out

·  Mind your manners but portray a confident approach

·  Take in a local treatment at a spa (my favorite) – don’t always go with the normal Swedish         Massage

·  Talk to the elders in the community – hear their stories and pay attention to old customs

·  Travel off season to enjoy the destination without the crowds

DON’T:

·  Stay on your phone while missing out on the experience

·  Check your emails until the end of the day

·  Don’t let the ‘hawkers’ make you nervous – just stay focused and keep moving

·  Don’t stress that you can’t see your local news

·  Don’t dress too casual – blend in

·  Ignore local laws and customs

After spending time at El Fenn Rooftop, I heard so many great stories.  The hotel is owned by Richard Branson’s sister, Madonna had her birthday party there and much more.  All the tales led to great conversations that night at dinner.  What a difference it makes to enjoy your journey and live the great life of the ‘road warrior.’

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Short Getaways to Re-energize Yourself!!!

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I can’t believe that it is Labor Day Weekend and for those of you not in the USA, I am sure it is a bank holiday of some sort.  How did this summer go so fast?  Time flies they say.

I was very fortunate to take the month of August and work from our beautiful cottage in Northern Michigan.  Although I was working a bit, I wasn’t on a plane, in a hotel or a meeting.  I was on conference calls, working on my book and talking to clients and my team all the time.   There were mini breaks throughout the entire month that helped re-energize me to take on the last 4 months of the year where my travel schedule kicks back in to gear.  Starting with Morocco, Dubai, London, Ireland, Paris, Mexico and not to mention the stateside travel from sea to shining sea.  

I think mini getaways are so much more relaxing because taking one 2-week vacation can be exhausting.  The tours, the museums, the dinners and the shopping can wear you down.  Planning for a vacation is also overwhelming – where to go, where to stay, etc.  A quick getaway takes less planning.

So how do you make this work?  Take off a few Fridays throughout the year and a few Mondays and make a 2-day weekend turn into a 4-day getaway.  Or you might take a single vacation day and use it to reconnect with friends, family and just doing errands around the house.   

These short breaks give you a chance to disconnect, breathe and jump back into work without a lot of stress.  As you plan for the upcoming holidays – take my advice and ask for some days off.  You will be glad you did.  

 

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So, You Don’t Give a ‘Rip’…. Neither Do I!

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It simply amazes me how people can act.  Even people you know very well.  When things are going their way, the world is perfect.  The minute things don’t go their way, the shift in attitude is so transparent.  For years I used to let things like this bother me.  I would have a stomach ache over relationships that were not going well, situations that needed to be addressed and just worrying about the next conversation.

Those days are over.  I have worked my tail off to deliver results to our clients, MCA team members, friends and family.  I only ask that I get the same commitment in return.  So, when I don’t get the best of those around me both in business and my personal life, I am just going to move on.  You don’t care, why should I? 

There is no reason to be negative, no reason to argue every issue and no reason to surround yourself with those that don’t have the same commitment as you do. 

As you are reading this ask yourself a few questions about those you consider important in your life –

1.       Do they bring out the best in you and others on the team or in the family?

2.       Do they contribute to the relationship whether at work or home as much as you do?

3.       Are they a team player or in it just for themselves?

4.       Do they constantly create havoc in your life?

5.       What would happen if they were no longer in your life?

These are simple questions to answer and ones that should be discussed with those in your circle.  I believe strongly in living this life to our fullest and those that don’t want to be in the game should move on.  Most of us know that during tough times your real friends and family show up, the ones that don’t are only in your life for their selfish reasons.  Who needs them?  I don’t.  I want to share my love, support, mentoring and leadership with anyone who wants to be part of my team. 

This state of mind creates freedom!  Once you make a commitment and stick to it, you are free to live your whole life.  Enjoy this wonderful ride of life and don’t let anyone drag you down!

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Pc: Pinterest

Attention Leaders – What is your ROI?

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I am asked every day the same question – ‘What is the ROI on your training, consulting or coaching?’  We provide validated analytics and even more proof in a money back guarantee that our processes work.  But, what I want to ask leadership everyday is what their ROI is.

I have been on all sides of the business.  Sales, operations, leadership and now organizational development.  I have had to prove my ‘worth,’ or ROI from the beginning.  You don’t make your quota – done!  But lately, I am wondering who is really stepping up to provide value to their teams and organizations.  Why do we have to discuss accountability of leadership in each session we facilitate?

I think the answer lies in the fact that too many leaders continue to look at the scoreboard and forget to play ball.  The buzzwords of today bring clarity to this:

·         Dashboard

·         Employee engagement surveys

·         NPS (Net Promoter Scores)

·         Board approval

·         TripAdvisor

·         Cvent Analytics

The list goes on and on.  I speak to sales people everyday in my one-on-one coaching sessions and hear virtually the same thing regardless of what company they are with.  ‘I don’t get much assistance or coaching from my leader.’  This is not right.  A leader is hired to lead people to success, not manage a spreadsheet.  If you find yourself spending more time in closed door meetings, analyzing the reason your team is not as successful as they should be, then it is time to step out from behind that desk and conduct your own audit.  What ROI did you provide today?

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Scoop up Summer!

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As many of you know I try very hard to take a bit of a ‘summer break.’  Most people call this vacation.  For me it is just a break from jet fuel.  As a business owner and consummate sales person, I really can’t take the ‘get away from it all – unplug vacation,’ but I can take a break.

My summer break is doing my work on my front porch overlooking Betsie Bay which leads to beautiful Lake Michigan.  My mornings start with a freshly brewed coffee, doing emails, working on finishing my 2nd book and early morning conference calls.  Then a walk on the beach, going to the farmers market and getting what I am going to make for dinner.  This is truly a break for me.

It is so easy to get pushed and pushed along your life without realizing that everyone needs a break.  But as I always say, what is a break to one is not to another.  It is true bliss for me when people take the time to stop and visit with me on my porch, sharing stories and laughter.  What I don’t consider pure bliss is running to my next flight to make sure I get to my next destination on time. 

Do yourself a favor with the bit of summer that is left.  Find your special place, grab a book or even your iPad and enjoy what you love – even if it is work!  Now is a great time to start your planning for 2019.  What are your personal and professional goals?  Where are you now and where do you want to be next year?  There are only 4 months left in 2018 – make a strong start to 2019 by planning NOW!

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There is Always Hope!

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Never believe that all is lost in your life either in business or in your personal life.  There is always a possibility for a new beginning.  When a sales professional loses a client or a bit of their business, get out of your rut and find new business.  Sulking will get you nowhere.

The same thought applies in your personal life.  Hope can jump start and re-set your day, month and year.  I am amazed at how many people I run into that are ‘downers.’  Nothing is ever right.  It doesn’t matter that the economy is better than ever, these people find reasons why life sucks!

Hope is also not a strategy for success – you must put actions behind your hope to make sure you change behavior.  Only you can give yourself hope and only you can take it away.  There are opportunities everywhere – you just must get out and find them.

What are you waiting for?

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Take Responsibility for Yourself!

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What has happened to our world?  Too many people expect to get a free ride in business and in life.  I was raised to take responsibility for my actions and my future.  Growing up, I didn’t have things handed to me and have worked extremely hard for everything I have now.

I am going to share a story that happened in my early 20’s to give an example of how I was held accountable of my actions.  It was summer at the time and I had a good job. I ended up being laid off and decided that I was going to claim unemployment.  After I got home, I decided I was going to lay out in the sun and while doing so, my father came home early to find me not at work.  Yes, you guessed it.  It was less than 30 minutes, that I was up, showered and out looking for a job.  There would be no excuses, and there would be no free ride.

Last week in Scotland I met a gentleman on our plane who was from Dallas, Texas.  He’s a father of 4 young adults and came from a family of 5 kids.  His dad was a physician and they lived a nice life.  His father told all 5 kids, ‘I will put a roof over your head, I will keep you fed and clothed, I will pay for all of your education and I will protect you.’  But the next statement is what was interesting.  He then said that at about 10 years old he asked his dad to buy him a bike.  His dad looked him in the eyes and said again – ‘I will put a roof over your head, I will keep you fed and clothed, I will pay for all of your education and I will protect you, but I don’t buy bikes!’  ‘If you want a bike, get a paper route, get a job as a golf caddy, wash cars and save your money to buy a bike.’

Now not that I agree or disagree with this, but it does make me think about how different it is today.  I’m not just talking about young people, it is about people from all backgrounds and ages.  What makes anyone think they deserve a free ride. 

My fear is that if people keep taking advantage of employers, friends, churches, family because they feel entitled - our future will be dim.  We need to raise our kids to work hard for extra things.  When it comes to work, we need employees to accept the job and salary and if they want more, they have to do more. 

Stop sitting back in your easy chair watching life pass you by.  Get out there and make things happen!  Ownership of your life is key – so take accountability, step up to the plate and hit that home run!

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The Art of Perfection!

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I have been working in London all week and when I am in any country I love to live like I am a local.  Last night we went to Notting Hill and visited The Distillery which specializes in all things Gin!

Gintonica, Ginstitute, Portabello Road Gin and many other tiny board rooms and bars are all within this fabulous establishment.  Now, I have never been a gin drinker, but again, ‘when in Rome…’

We sat down to an enormous menu of Gin Cocktails.  I went for the Botanist.  The bartender said to me, it is time you learned how to perfect a proper G&T.  And then I became a connoisseur!  It is all about perfection. 

So, let me take you on my journey.

1.      Start with the right glass – not a tall Collins glass but a balloon glass (like a wine glass).  It is the best way to savor the taste and flavor in glass that has a larger surface for you to smell the aroma

2.     Many people think that a lime goes with a G&T, but most ins have a lemon peel in the mix.  My Botanist had green apple, mint and juniper berries.  Fantastic taste!

3.     Fill the glass entirely with ice and use chilled tonic.  Not just any tonic, but Fever-Tree Tonic.  For my Botanist we used Fever-Tree Tonic with Elderflower.

What seemed like a simple drink now became art and perfection.  Loving every moment of the experience.  As I continued to learn more about The Ginstitute it got even better.  It began its life as London’s smallest museum above a building that is ingrained with an alcohol-sodden past.  N. 171 Portobello Road, a public house since the 19th century.  Outgrowing its diminutive home and combined with the desire of the Portobello Road Gin team to bring production of the gin back to its roots, in 2016 they moved a few doors down London’s most famous street to No. 186, where lies a building that has housed drinking establishments since 1867.  Most famous were The Colville Hotel, known as the ‘Pisshouse.’

Perfection should be in everything we do – all day, every day.  Pay attention to your life, business and future.  Don’t waste a minute on average.  Do it right the first time!

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PC : Minted

Mystified!

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It is Friday the 13th! Wow, how exciting. It is a great day for me as it has always been a lucky number in our family. So why are so many people confused about this day? According to the Stress Management Institute in Ashville, NC, 17 to 21 million people suffer from anxiety on this day.  I am mystified at that statistic. To me it is just a day. I have had days filled with anxiety that do not fall on the 13th where I get caught in emotional conflicts and can’t seem to find the right words, answers or solutions. Many times, this confusion clouds my judgement and causes me undo stress – again this could happen on any day of the year.

I am a strong believer in mentors, counselors and friends who can help support me during confusing and tough times – do you? If not, learn to seek the advice from others, make a pro/con list and action steps to give you the ability to move through the confusion.

I am mystified at how so many people live their life in a confused state for way too long. Find ways to maintain a positive and consistent way of life to stay on your path to success. Don’t get caught up in superstitions or confusion. Move beyond your fear and embrace life. It is meant to be lived!

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Stop Meeting Madness!

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It is time to get down to business.   And what I mean by that is to free ourselves from boring, non-eventful and unproductive meetings.  I speak to employees from countless different companies all over the world, and they all share the same thing with me – ‘our meetings are a waste of time.’  Every time I hear that statement, it gets me thinking.  Why am I hearing this but the leaders running these meetings are not?

It’s simple – no one focuses on the objective of a meeting. 

So today, I have decided to share with you a couple of tips to make your meetings more enjoyable, more productive and how to make your employees stop thinking that you are wasting their time.

1.       Survey your entire team on what they would like to see in the meetings, how often and how they should be facilitated.

2.       Interpret the results from your survey together with the entire team and make some  collective decisions.

3.       Have a set agenda and goal for each meeting or do not have the meeting.

4.       Monitor all goals at meetings.

5.       Rotate who facilitates the meetings.

6.       Debrief bigger issues after the meeting in smaller groups.

7.       Move the meeting place around.

8.       As a leader don’t dominate the meeting.

9.       Keep the meeting motivational, positive and engaging.

10.    Always start and end on time.

You don’t have time to waste, so take these tips and put them to good use.  I promise it will make a difference in your meetings and how your employees view them!

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Did You Learn Anything as a ROOKIE?

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Why is it that the name ‘rookie’ is mostly used in the sports industry?  A rookie is anyone who starts a new profession, new opportunity or doing something that they have never done before.  But you never hear anyone use that term, do you?  Whenever you are starting a new venture, taking on a new career, job, role or leadership position, you go back to being known as a ‘rookie.’  As anyone who is doing something new for the first time, you need a coach or mentor to guide you along the way.

The world is full of ‘know it all’ people.  I am sure you can name several right off the top of your head.  They have done it all, read it all and have solved every problem.  But look at it this way, there is a benefit in being a rookie.  You don’t know what you don’t know, and your objective is to learn!

But no one starting a new job or new business will learn anything if they don’t admit or come to terms that they are a beginner.  Education, age or status has absolutely nothing to do with it.  It is about losing your ego so that you are open to learn and grow.

If you have taken on a new position or more responsibility, make sure you are open to feedback, growth and learning.  Do not sit back and wait to be told what to do.  Take initiative, jump right in, ask questions, let people know that you are new to what you’re doing and that you still are learning.  With this mindset you will never fail, and not only will your team will prop you up along the way, they will respect you more as well.  Have FUN being a ‘rookie’ and get ready for success!

FUN FACT: Master Connection Associates loves their mascot dogs and our newest member is named ROOKIE!  See below!

Zero to 260 mph

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As many of you know, I am the type of person that goes from zero to 100.  I like to get on with it and love getting things done as quickly (and as efficiently) as possible.  Life is so busy for most of us, but it is worth it when we stay productive and on top of it.  The most successful people are the ones with the go-getter mentality!  I’m talking about those who push through, don’t give up and those who use their failures as lessons of growth.

But what most of you DON’T know is that at a very young age, I was able to visit the pits at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  And let me tell you, it was such an incredible experience.  It was right about the time when electronics became more reliable for the teams to use two-way radios for better communication.

The reason I bring up that story relates to my blog today. This week I was able to work with the amazing Capitol Auto Group up in Salem, Oregon.  It is so much fun to spend a few days with a client who really “gets it.” In addition, I even got to enjoy my love of cars and racing as I spent time speaking to over 300 employees about drive, commitment, sense of urgency, enthusiasm and ambition.

But to top off the night, one of the service managers invited me to visit Gregg Lawrence’s (www.greggracing.net) garage where he and his team of mechanics were taking apart an A/Fuel Dragster.  I was able to watch these talented men work for an hour and see how quickly, yet efficiently they move.  The car that I watched be taken apart has to be back up and ready in two weeks to race.

As I spent an hour just in awe, I also learned about the incredible amounts of money that is put into this.  I mean hundreds and thousands of dollars go into just the tools!  This is the kind of hobby that can only become a business if you WIN.  What most people in this industry are trying to do is figure out how to make money in a hobby like this, while knowing that it is also an extremely competitive sport.

When you invest your own money into a sport or hobby that will bring you nothing in return unless you are first to cross that finish line, it can be an extremely scary thought.  But how will you know if you never put yourself in that situation?  Sometimes you do have to take a risk to be able to do your best to win the race and accomplish what you wanted from the beginning.  It’s the same way with your job today.

Do you have the drive, ambition and guts to make that final push as the car does as it comes out of the pit?  Because in all reality, in a race like the Indy 500, pushing yourself to make it through the 500 miles with your timing on point is crucial for you to win.

So do you have what it takes to push yourself in your 500 mile race when you get out of bed tomorrow?

Living with Greater Courage

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It is very difficult for me to write my blog today.  As most of you have heard, I held off on my blog last week because my dear son-in-law passed away.  With that being said, I knew I had to deal with it but I also needed to focus on the light.  I believe John Kane’s passing has touched the world.  He brought light to what so many people sadly struggle with.  John’s work with the PTSD Foundation and Camp Hope helped so many combat veterans deal with so many problems.  Earlier this week, Camp Hope held a beautiful service in honor of our beloved John Kane.  During this service, I was touched deeply when listening to the stories about how my son-in-law saved people’s lives.  He truly was one of a kind.

I had no prior experience in dealing with this.  Now I know so many people who have struggled at different times in their life.  Because of this and all the stories I have heard, we must slow down.  Pay closer attention to our family, our friends, our neighbors and colleagues.  Someone standing right in front of you could be struggling, and by you paying attention could give them a hope they feel is missing.

A month ago when I was working in the UK, the entire country was focusing on mental health for the entire week I was there.  I was shocked when I read all of the information about how many people suffer with mental health issues, and most of them never fully confront their issues until it is too late.

I believe we need to continue to bring this topic into the light of day.  To show that it is not something that should be whispered about, ashamed of or only discussed with therapists.  We all need to find the courage to help those around us who may be battling demons – realize that everyone has something going on.

There always seems to be a wake-up call that gives people the ability to make major life changes, but for some it is too late.  So what can you do?

1. Start having real conversations with your loved ones.

2. Develop positive thoughts to share with people you know have some issues.

3. Live a great life – Live one day at a time.

4. Don’t let society push you in the wrong direction.

5. Take charge of your destiny and know that the truth will always win.

I also want to take a minute and thank all of you for your kind words, thoughts and prayers during this extremely difficult time.  I am so blessed to have such a beautiful and strong daughter and blessed that she has one amazing angel watching over her.

 “Life is no brief candle to me.  It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to the future generations.”... George Bernard Shaw

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Stop Wasting Time!

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I don’t know many people who haven’t read Stephen Covey’s book ‘7 Habits for Highly Effective People.’  But I do know many people who didn’t implement any of the ideas from the book.  Taking control of your time means taking control of YOU!

Stop talking about time management because you can’t manage the watch or the clock – you can only manage you.  So what I will talk about today is how to stop wasting time by managing yourself.  Stephen Covey talks about focusing on what is important but not urgent.  You and I both know that staying healthy is important, but missing a work out is not that big of a deal.  Missing a deadline could cost you a client.  But missing one work out will not cause you immediate health issues. 

We all have 24 hours in a day and many of us accomplish more in 8 of those hours than most accomplish in a week.  Why?  Because we focus and manage ourselves. 

So as summer approaches and we want to have more time to spend with our family and friends at the beach, you need to take my tips and get on with it.

1.    Stop spreading your work out over the day – put your to do’s, plans, projects in buckets on your calendar and do them each one at a time.  This means blocking out one hour at the most and not checking emails, answering your cell phone or letting anyone interrupt you

2.    Carve out time in the morning or late day for social media – not all day long

3.    Plan your work out when you know you can REALLY do it

4.    Eliminate distractions during the day that take you away from your goals so you can take that Friday off to go the beach

5.    Swallow the big frog first.  If you have never heard that saying it tries to give you a visual of why you should do the most important things first.  Picture having to swallow 5 frogs.  They are lined up in front of you.  They range in size.  There is one big toad that you can’t even imagine swallowing so you save it until last.  Imagine after swallowing 4 frogs what it will be like to finish off with that huge, ugly toad!  Do the most important things first and the rest of the day will be a breeze

6.    Stay the course.  Hold yourself to the schedule and if you have to reduce your scope – do it but stick to the schedule always

Life is a journey of never ending goals.  Remember you must live it with energy and zest if you wish to create unbelievable memories!

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The Story of The Bamboo Tree!

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Since I am in Korea this week we have been talking a lot about of the strength of bamboo so I thought I would share the story of the bamboo tree with you.

Like any plant, growth of the Chinese Bamboo Tree requires nurturing – water, fertile soil, sunshine. In its first year, we see no visible signs of activity. In the second year, again, no growth above the soil. The third, the fourth, still nothing. Our patience is tested and we begin to wonder if our efforts (caring, water, etc.) will ever be rewarded.

And finally in the fifth year – behold, a miracle! We experience growth. And what growth it is! The Chinese Bamboo Tree grows 80 feet in just six weeks!

But let’s be serious, does the Chinese Bamboo Tree really grow 80 feet in six weeks? Did the Chinese Bamboo Tree lie dormant for four years only to grow exponentially in the fifth? Or, was the little tree growing underground, developing a root system strong enough to support its potential for outward growth in the fifth year and beyond? The answer is, of course, it’s obvious. Had the tree not developed a strong unseen foundation it could not have sustained its life as it grew.

The same principle is true for people. People, who patiently toil towards worthwhile dreams and goals, building strong character while overcoming adversity and challenge, grow the strong internal foundation to handle success.  While people who try the ‘get-rich quick’ scams and the charlatans who pretend to be something they are not, and even the lottery winners usually are unable to sustain unearned sudden wealth.

Do you have the patience to gain your strength and keep growing? 

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Why I Love Traveling

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As many of you know I am always on the road for my job.  This week has been even more exciting than most.  I flew to London and each night when I finished my sessions we jumped on a train and headed to a new city in England. 

I have heard from so many people say that my job is so stressful.  Running from offices to train stations in heels, getting on the train, making conference calls and getting in after 9:00 pm each night!  I LOVE it.  Different cities, different cultures, different food and lovely landscape along the route. 

I organized my travel bag for this trip well before we started.  Normally my lip gloss is tucked in between my USB cords, my power pack is not re-charged, my train tickets are buried under stacks of files and I am a ‘hot mess.’

Not this time – I used my best travel tips on myself. 

I love my Tumi carry-on but it is heavy, so I am on the lookout for a lighter version of my favorite bag to make traveling easier.  I have been looking at a few different websites of new companies like Away at their new carry-on bags.  There are so many options.

Let me know if you know of a light carry-on for computers and work versus clothes!

So that takes me to my other message of traveling today.  I really don’t have a bucket list as the world is on my list.  I also want to take travel back to a much grander time when you were excited about your upcoming trip.  Where you dressed well, thought of travel as personal transformation and were curious.  I want to live my whole life and be present on all my journeys – not living in a bubble acting like a know-it-all.

Get out and enjoy this fabulous world, even if you jump in your car this weekend and explore your own back yard.

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Keep the Standards High to Motivate Your Team!

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There is a misconception that a tough leader is not motivational.  This in fact, is simply not the case.  Employees are always observing their leaders and with that, sets the tone for their development. 

If a leader doesn’t walk the walk, talk the talk and hold themselves or others accountable; no one else will either.  Setting high standards and living to those standards separates the good from the great.  High standards and work ethics lead to high performance.  Low standards lead to low performance and lack of commitment. 

I believe that my energy, work ethic and high standards not only energizes my team, but also motivates them.  Those who do not agree with my approach most likely would not fit in.  As a leader of your own business, department or region, it is up to you to set the bar.  But you also have to remember that it goes both ways.  With that said, the members of my team who are the most self-motivated give me the motivation and energy I need in order to continue being successful not only at my job, but also as a leader.  They are the ones who step up, give ideas and are true in their feedback to me.

But in all honesty, I am not a perfectionist.  In fact most of the time it is my team that finds the mistakes and areas that need improvement.  I consider that the highest standard ever.  Being a tyrant or nitpicker is not my style.  I just demand that we all give the best every day and do whatever it takes to be excellent. 

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What Can You Learn from 7 Year Olds?

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At MCA, we believe in “walking the talk” of our ethos every day in our line up and we help our clients focus on their non-negotiable standards. So, you can imagine how impressive it was when I visited my 7 year old nephew’s elementary school in Texas and witnessed this very thing!!!

Every morning at this elementary school they do something called ‘Rise & Shine’.  This is where all K-5 grade students join in the cafeteria together for their ‘morning lineup’.  Each grade is announced and every child participates.  They know their songs, chants, and act as part of the team at their school while learning to treat everyone with respect.  These kids read their 8 expectations out loud, stand for our Pledge of Allegiance and the Texas Pledge.  They have a joke of the day, chant of the week and also read through everyone’s birthdays.  This was Bradford’s role… a 7 year old kid, standing in front of hundreds of students with no fear because these are his friends.  They all felt together, equal and loved.  They were disciplined, sat in line correctly and listened to the kid who was talking.  There was no division.  They know what is to be expected of them and they will handle themselves in the RIGHT way – making RIGHT choices.

OH THE THINGS YOU CAN LEARN FROM 7 year olds!

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The Dolce and Gabbana Style

cindynovotny1 Comment

I am so fortunate that I get to travel the world and meet remarkable people everywhere I go. Today was special though. Who would have imagined that on a sunny afternoon in Sardinia, Italy I would find myself enjoying lunch by the seashore, dancing to the music of Italy all while sipping Rosé with none other than Alfonso Dolce, the CEO of Dolce and Gabbana?!

...Dolce and Gabbana are considered the inventors of a Mediterranean style that draws its inspiration from Sicily. 

At the beginning of their career, the designers turned to Sophia Loren, Claudia Cardinale, and Stefania Sandrelli for inspiration. The Dolce & Gabbana woman is unbiased and brazen, but fearful of God and devoted to church and family - an attitude typical of southern Italian Catholicism.

A Dolce & Gabbana woman is one who simultaneously reveals and conceals brassieres and corsets, lace, lingerie, veils, and who is disturbing in her impetuous sensuality; a provocative woman proud of her body.

I just love this!!!

The designers' models are soft, round, and full-figured (love this too).  They were not looking for a retro look; however, Dolce & Gabbana turned to the past for innovation. The designers remarked, "We want to use the past to project it into the future.” 

In past blogs I have talked about fashion and how it represents business today.  I wrote about Brooks Brothers and their ability to sustain for over 200 years and how today they have moved from ready to wear, to made to measure.  Dolce and Gabbana is a perfect example of the explosion of Italian “ready to wear” but with style, creativity and versatility.  This brand has exemplified how to stay relevant in the world of couture fashion and not lose your sense of authenticity.

So here is my question to you...  How can you apply this to your business?

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Falling in Love with Uncharted Travel

cindynovotny1 Comment

Today I drove from Houston, Texas to Sikeston, Missouri with my friend Shelley Marlow and my parent’s wonderful Malamute, Charley. Why? Because every year my parents leave the heat of Texas and enjoy their summer in beautiful northern Michigan - that’s why!

What I realized during my drive is that I love the scenery of our country. The rolling hills, Bluebonnets, farm land and the vibrant green woods. For me, this is uncharted travel at its best. My normal travel consists of planned flights, Uber rides to a hotel and flights to the next destination.

Although I love my life, I thoroughly enjoyed my 8 hours of driving north today and will equally enjoy it tomorrow as I continue north to Michigan.

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I love packing my bag and heading to a new destination and this wanderlust only grows deeper the older I get.  Sure - when you are a millennial it is so fun to pick up and go.  No kids, pets, or worries.  But if you plan better you will end up with more money to make memories.  So no matter your age, pick up and go when you have the freedom to do so.

Here are some of my tips for you to ‘pick up and go’ -

  1. Save money for a spur of the moment trip
  2. Don’t make too many plans
  3. Be open to try new things
  4. Don’t be afraid to travel alone – I do it all the time and meet so many people
  5. Travel pushes you out of your comfort zone - be ready to grow as a person too!

As I left my parents’ home at 4:00 AM in their van with their dog, I watched them wave goodbye as we pulled out of the driveway.  No matter how old I am, my parents still worry.  This was the first time I was driving this trip without one of them.  They wrote out my directions with precision so that I wouldn’t get lost and this gave me the comfort to hit the road and enjoy the ride. 

Get out on the road and enjoy the beauty of life on the road!

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