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I live with an overactive, big thinking mind that needs space and time to dream. It took me north of 30 years to figure this out. Once I understood, I began a quest to design my life around how my brain works.

Doing so changed everything.

I work remotely while I travel aggressively for two key reasons. First, like most solo consultants, adventure cures boredom and loneliness. Second, I tap my deepest well of creativity — the very source that feeds my soul and pays my bills — when I experience a change in scenery.

Drop me far outside of my comfort zone and that creative well flows abundantly. …

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Through my consulting work — a hybrid of strategic communications, leadership development and team skills building — I’ve noticed a most interesting trend: Young and mid-careerists, especially those who find themselves in executive roles early on, are generally expected to excellent, not become excellent.

It’s a paradox that can stop even the most talented professionals in their tracks.

As we move from a legacy workplace to a post-digital workforce, professional development for all staff, especially those in the comms function, is at an inflection point. Older millennials, and those before us, were given time and space to grow into our careers. …

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When you see the big red dot on a stage flanked by block T-E-D letters, you know the next 15 minutes of your life will be well spent. You buzz with an anticipation unique to TED — a potent combination of the unknown, the possibility of discomfort, and the promise of hearing something new.

Ask any “thought leader” and they’ll tell you a TED talk is on their bucket list. TED has become the gold standard for influential public speaking. And while there are no shortage of speakers, TED maintains the highest standards. …

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This summer, I attended the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network (DWEN) conference in Singapore to meet other founders and learn more about their adventures scaling barriers to scaling up.

I fell into a most enlightening conversation with my new friend, Lisa Rabasca Roepe, about our experiences with mansplaining. She shared her insights and encouraged me to do the same.

Let’s start with using an emotionally intelligent lens to mythbust mansplaining:

Mansplaining feels gender related because of the socioemotional dynamics between men and women, especially in an environment where gender parity does not exist.

The truth is, we all mansplain to each other, regardless of our own gender or that of the other person.

I am sharing this on the off chance there is a parent or boss out there who needs to hear it.

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I was not an easy child.

Every teacher I ever had, from preschool through elementary, described me as “spirited.” It’s one of those passive-aggressive, saccharine words meant to soften the blow of describing a child as a jerk.

I wasn’t particularly nasty or mean. I wasn’t a baby psychopath. I was willful. Bull headed. Stubborn as a mule.

Sometimes, I was even defiant.

All of these qualities make well-adjusted adults in charge of “spirited” children practically homicidal.

My general state of being was essentially a middle finger to the universe. I was so difficult, in fact, that my mother and I saw more than one psychologist together. …

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I am en route to the Dell Women’s Entrepreneur Network summit in Singapore where I’ll moderate a panel on workplace culture and employee engagement, and listen for insights and narratives for my editorial writing.

I don’t know what makes me more nervous — not packing the right shoes, or carrying business cards that don’t pass the American Psycho test. (Apparently, the Singaporean etiquette of business card presentation and handling is very delicate.)

In recent weeks, I’ve heard myself having this conversation about early entrepreneurship quite frequently and realize the value in sharing it publicly.

No one wakes up “the next Steve Jobs” of anything. Once upon a time, no one knew his name. He was just another odd ball in a sea of brilliant, West Coast odd balls. …

Emotionally intelligent leaders understand the difference.

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As an empath, I spent many years with terribly permeable social and emotional boundaries. I’d accept your burden with the same effort as I would carry my own.

This was not sustainable, as you can imagine. I eventually became so psychically exhausted that I didn’t have a breakdown as much as I had a break through.

And it didn’t happen on my therapist’s couch.

It came from my work guiding emerging and experienced leaders through emotional intelligence development, and then helping their teams with the same.

My brain busting moment was slow to develop, until it came crashing in:

Empathy and compassion are not the same thing, though we often use these terms loosely and interchangeably.

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There is a social truth universally understood but difficult to admit: We don’t like what we don’t trust, and we don’t trust what we don’t understand.

Herein lies the most modern of human dilemmas-navigating advanced technologies, specifically the juxtaposition of game-changing developments that improve the human experience versus the unknown outcomes of “thinking” machines and AI.

In an effort to better understand the trust gap between humans and advanced technologies-and find solutions to close it-I’ve hosted conversations with industry leaders at companies like Dell and data scientists like Jon Christiansen. …

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Deanna Curtis, Falconer — The Broadmoor

A hallmark of high emotional intelligence is a thirst for knowledge, an insatiable curiosity. Mine compels me to seek new and challenging experiences. Not base jumping, I’ll leave that to the adrenaline junkies, but a hybrid of intellectual and active pursuits typically achieved while traveling. This approach works for two distinct reasons:

  1. By always learning and by staying slightly uncomfortable, I find my capacity to connect, to relate and to influence greatly expands.
  2. By maintaining presence, I find meaningful leadership insights in the most unexpected places.

I recently visited The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs and met with their falconer, Deanna Curtis. Her role is fascinating enough to pique my interest, but what really sparked my curiosity is her experience managing birds of prey. …

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As a proud business owner, I’ve worked hard to design the life I want. A major part of this is the freedom to work from wherever I happen to be and empower others to do the same. In doing so, I’ve camped out in numerous co-working spaces nationwide, quietly observing the best and sometimes worst of each environment.

Unlike the folks who need more permanent digs, I hadn’t really thought of the co-working experience as, well, an experience, or anything more than a temporary solution, until now.

The widening spectrum of “experience spaces” is right on trend. Liz Elam, executive producer of the Global Coworking Unconference Conference, recently said that coworking will replace the office. …


Meghan E. Butler

Emotional Intelligence @ Work

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