You can’t get what you don’t ask for!

FeedbackLife is about managing expectations. If you were to ask, the majority of people would say that they care very much about how they are perceived and are always looking to improve. So why the sweaty palms when your boss says “Can we talk? I have some feedback I’d like to share with you.”
How can we fix the perception of feedback?
  1. Change the Conversation: The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) is well known for its model of Situation, Behavior, Impact (SBI). This method shifts the focus on feedback away from the person and focuses on the impact — positive or negative and the behaviors leading to the result. This approach works the majority of the time, with one caveat. If the receiver didn’t know or understand the behaviors they were supposed to exhibit and the results that were expected, then how can we hold them accountable? When we don’t set expectations for our people, we aren’t expressing feedback, we are revealing resentment which is our fault, not theirs.
  2. Create a culture of Trust: I love this definition of trust… it’s the ability to connect and listen without judgement. We can build trust by practicing the SBI model on a DAILY basis. Your team members (or clients) can’t read your mind! Be very clear about your expectations, the desired result and the process by which to achieve it.
  3. Open, Honest, Transparent Conversations: What if every conversation started with a common understanding of expectations by all parties and not with assumptions? Feedback shouldn’t be scary, it should be welcomed. If it happens every day and focuses on performance against clear expectations then plain and simple, it is a conversation.  One based on trust and mutual respect. And better yet, if you take it to heart, you can change your behavior and ultimately it’s impact on others.
Embrace feedback and watch yourself grow as a leader!

Nothing worth having comes easy

Struggle brings progress whether you succeed or fail.  You either succeed and move forward or you fail and learn from it, but either way you are growing.  My dad used to always tell me, nothing worth having ever comes easy and those words still ring true today.  Keeping your dreams alive requires faith, HARD work, dedication and most importantly belief in yourself.

Last week for International Women’s Day, I posted on Instagram one of my favorite quotes… “Here’s to strong women.  May we know them.  May we be them. May we raise them.” And in reality I’m not only raising two strong women, but also a strong young man who respects the women in his life.  In fact, he was the first to comment on my post and simply said “Whoop, whoop!”

Please allow me to share my advice for raising strong children, the future leaders of America…

  • Just Keep Swimming: follow in the footsteps of your parents and grandparents work ethic.  Know that you can do anything you put your mind to and that we are your biggest fans.  It won’t come easy, but I promise you it WILL be WORTH it, just as you all are. The Law of Attraction can’t be fulfilled without action. There are no coincidences.
  • Never Stop Learning: “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” – John Wooden.  In the last few months since I started my business, I have done more learning through reading, podcasts and networking with others and it has truly been rewarding.   You will never know it all, but to live life to your fullest capability, you must continually be looking for ways to improve and adapt. Don’t settle. Set goals, achieve them and keep aiming higher because the sky’s the limit.
  • Through it all, Be Humble: no matter who you meet, work for or come in contact with, there is always something valuable to learn from the encounter. There was a time in my career that I thought humility was a sign of weakness, but in reality it is the epitome of strength and growth. Be smart enough to know when you need help and brave enough to ask for it and you’ll be amazed at the outcome and the way others view you as a result.

My journey to entrepreneurship has been a spiritual one.  I have found out so much about what I’m capable of and question why it took me so long to take that leap of faith.  I now have the freedom to choose how I spend my time, the work I want to do, and the people I choose to do it with.  My message to you, dear children, is that tough times will come, but don’t give up and walk away.  You have what it takes to change the world and I look forward to that front row seat to watch it happen.









All it takes is one wrong move…to ruin a company’s most valuable asset

This morning I was on my way to drop off my daughter at school and little did I know that one wrong move would change my 20+ year perfect driving record.  We had a light dusting of snow overnight in Colorado and I awoke to single digit temps. Unfortunately, not even an all wheel drive SUV can save you on icy side streets. I braced for impact, not only from the oncoming minivan, but also from my insurance premiums that I saw rising before my very eyes!  Note:  no one was hurt, thank God, and that is really all that matters.
However, the business woman and writer in me couldn’t help but find inspiration from my accident. It occurred to me that literally all it takes is one wrong move to wipe out a perfect driving record or ….  worse yet, your company’s most valuable asset i.e. your reputation.

What place do you think ethics and values have in strategic planning?  Strategic planning provides an organization a sense of urgency, direction, and purpose. Without planning, you becomes reactive, vulnerable to threats, and closed to opportunities.  I would argue that “core values/beliefs” are the foundation of any company’s strategic plan and should drive decision-making on a daily basis. Unlike other aspects of the plan, they need to last forever and are not negotiable as your reputation is at stake. Ethics are the “should” and “should not’s” that guide your organization’s decisions, attitudes, behaviors and performance. They should answer such questions as how you conduct your business, who you do business with and what makes your culture unique? When the core values of your company are clear, and communicated on a regular basis to all employees, they form the basis of your company strategy.

Similar to my side street this morning, compromising your ethics — even just once — is a slippery slope.  The idea is that one thing leads naturally to allowing another until you find yourself sliding rapidly downhill. Ethics is all about the art of navigating the slippery slope and the only way to develop a strong sense of ethics is to do what you believe in, to take actions consistent with your company’s core values/beliefs time and time again.  I’ve been fortunate in my long corporate career, and now in my coaching business, to have worked with CEOs that have uncompromising ethical standards and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  As a top executive or business owner, you set the standard that all employees will follow and more importantly, your customers will admire. So don’t head down that slippery slope, because you may not like what you find at the bottom of the hill.

Planning Works…ask my 6th grader

Feb. 1 is right around the corner and as I begin month two down my entrepreneurial path, I am reminded that personal growth and development doesn’t have to take place in an executive office, cubicle or board room. It can take place in the bedroom of a 6th grader.  These past few months home with my children have been an amazing learning experience for me and I can’t help but smile when I see that my coaching is rubbing off on them.  I couldn’t be more proud of the strong, confident young adults they are becoming and, as my oldest daughter pointed out to me this week, the love and support of her family has made all of that possible.

I walked into my 11-year-old daughter’s room last week and found this “morning routine” on her desk.  The first thought that crossed my mind was, she gets it!  My 6th grader understands the importance of having a plan.  And equally important, she has followed that plan every day since.

As much as it pains this Chicago Bears’ fan to quote a Green Bay Packer, I have to agree with Vince Lombardi when he said:  Plan your work and work your plan.” Victor Hugo, author of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame had a similar quote, “He who every morning plans the transaction of the day and follows out that plan, carries a thread that will guide him through the maze of the most busy life.  But where no plan is laid, where the disposal of time is surrendered merely to the chance of incidence, chaos will soon reign.”  Both of these quotes have manifested themselves in my new daily routine as I work to get my business up and running.  I have always been a firm believer in leading by example, so how could I possibly look a potential client or business owner in the eye and reinforce the importance of setting goals and developing a strategic plan without having done so myself?

It’s almost February, how many of you have stuck to your New Years resolutions?  Having a plan is NOT good enough, you need to follow it and have the discipline to stay true to your vision, values and commitments.  For without that, chaos will surely reign and with chaos comes powerless leaders, poor performance and low productivity.  Employees, much like my 6th grade daughter, actually thrive on a routine. It’s amazing what a team can accomplish when working towards a common mission. I witnessed it first hand over and over again in my career. On the contrary… lack of clearly defined goals, constant changing of priorities and a strategic plan that never gets implemented will ultimately lead to the failure of any team or worse yet, company.

No more excuses! Whether it is a plan for your business, physical well-being, financial security,  or any other aspect of your life, PLANNING WORKS when you do it. Just ask my 6th grader.


Who Knew My Space was My Frog?

As I mentioned in my last blog, I’ve been reading Brian Tracy’s “Eat that Frog”.  For those of you not familiar, your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on and also the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your life at that moment.

So I discovered last week, when setting goals and making my to-do list, that my space, was my frog.  And no, I”m not referring to the social networking website dinosaur created 14 years ago, but rather to what has truly become my personal space.  I have a study in my home that I intended to use as my home office and it needed a facelift and some customization to make it my own. It required that I go through a number of boxes from my old “corporate” office and clear out room for some new items.  Needless to say, I procrastinated for weeks.

But when I finally made it a point of eating that frog, and doing so as Brian would say “single-mindedly”, that is without diversion or distraction until it is 100% complete, what a positive impact it has had on my transition to work-at-home mother.

This photo of my desktop in my new home office is representative of the following:  humility, love and pride.

1) Humility – it was a turning point for me in my career when I began to embrace the importance of being humble.  My Dad always taught me that respect had to be earned, but it took me years to realize that would happen when I chose to listen more and speak less. It’s always been my practice to hire subject matter experts and trust in them to inform my decision as a leader.  I had to learn to be okay with not knowing everything, and while coffee may make me awesome, diversity of thought and inclusion is what earned me respect and truly made me a high performing leader.  As an added bonus, a 24 oz. coffee mug isn’t a bad way to start your day.  Thanks Kacey  😉

2) Love – hands down, my favorite addition to my space was a Christmas gift from my husband that literally brought me to tears.  He had made a personalized nameplate/clock/business card holder with my new business name, Altitude Business Coaching.  He’s always been my biggest fan but this gesture and outward show of love and support was truly above and beyond anything I had imagined.

3) Pride- last but not least, while living out my dream and following my passion has been so rewarding, I would give anything for my parents to be alive today to witness it first hand.  And since that isn’t possible, the next best thing is to look them in the eye every morning when I walk into my new home office and see the pride in their eyes.  No better way to say “Good Morning” then with a ray of light from heaven.

Setting up my home office has provided a kick start to my new business.  There is something about finding your happy place that can genuinely provide daily motivation.  So don’t procrastinate, eat your frog, and discover the greatest positive impact you can have on your life in this very moment.


Show you C.A.R.E.

I truly believe that human capital is an organization’s greatest asset and sadly, often the most neglected.  Why do you think that is?  I suspect that as a general rule people come to work every day wanting to do a good job and be successful.  The key is finding support and ongoing motivation for them to be able to maintain that level of professionalism.  But how much quality face time do you think they get with their managers and supervisors daily?  The same folks that spend their entire days in meetings with their peers competing for the title of “smartest person in the room.”  One of my favorite quotes of all time is “If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.”  I could go off on a tangent here and talk about diversity and inclusion but that wasn’t my goal for this particular blog.  Maybe next time ;).


The above quote was not only coined by Teddy Roosevelt, but perpetuated by other influential leadership authors like John Maxwell and Zig Ziglar.  So for those managers and supervisors that I referred to earlier, take note.  To demonstrate just how important this concept is, I’m going to use the word C.A.R.E. to build an acrostic with four skills to help you show your team members that frankly, my dear, you do give a damn.

C- Communication
Seek first to understand, then to be understood.  Active listening is so important when dealing with your employees so that they know they’ve actually been heard.  You don’t always have to agree, but hearing them out will go a long way towards gaining their trust and respect, both of which are crucial to your success as a leader.
A- Accountability
Simply put, DWYSYWD…. Do What You Say You Will Do.  What better way to show someone you care then to be fully accountable to them?  If you commit to it, follow through.  Otherwise, credibility is lost along with your ability to influence.
R- Recognition
Celebrate the small victories.  Focus your team by creating clarity around shared goals and objectives.  Make them achievable in a reasonable time frame and eliminate competing priorities.  Success breeds success.  And making your people successful should be your number one priority.
E- Engagement

Be authentic.  To engage is to “establish a meaningful contact or connection with” someone.  Doesn’t that sound like a way to show you care?  Don’t spend your day going through the motions.  Engage with your people in meaningful conversations and you’ll be amazed at what you learn.

To be successful, your company needs motivated people.  Maya Angelou said “at the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”  So, by all means, make them feel good.




2018… Find your Blend!

It’s a new year, so may as well start out with a few confessions. I’m one of those people who doesn’t believe in work-life balance. There I said it. 1) it’s ALL life and 2) my life (and I’m guessing most of yours too) has never known true balance. Another reality I’ve learned to accept is that you will never be able to do everything that you have to do and you can’t please everyone.  That’s the bad news. The good news is, you CAN find work-life blend. And when you do, you’ll know it.  Because you’ll wake up every morning, as I have for the last two months, with a smile in your heart. ❤️
As the year came to an end, I found myself reflecting on the past, living in the present and looking forward to a bright future. While my 2017 was filled with many blessings, some friends and family were not as fortunate. For a period of time, I felt like every other week I got more bad news. It was really hard to cope but my first response was always, thank you God! When you find yourself surrounded by such sadness, it’s then when you TRULY appreciate all the blessings that have been bestowed upon you. Life really is too short to be anything but happy. So, after great soul-searching, I decided to take a risk and pursue my true passion. I couldn’t have done it without a little courage and a lot of love and support from my family and friends.  Thanks to all of you, I’ve realized my dream of owning my own business and more importantly, found my perfect blend. My vision is to change the world through business leadership and education by inspiring people to reach new heights.  Therefore, my new business is named Altitude Business Coaching. Partnering my passion, with the expertise of Brian Tracy’s core material and methodologies, seemed too good to be true. Now that dream is my new reality.
My advice to you in 2018…find YOUR blend. Live fully, laugh loudly, and love deeply and be unwavering in your commitment to all of the above.
If you find yourself asking where to start, read along with me a Brian Tracy classic and learn how to “Eat that Frog!”
Dare to dream,
Coach Sandy