Remembering What It’s All About

A friend shared a video on Facebook this morning that I found particularly inspiring. Although she shared it in the context of a responsibility that speakers have, the same message applies to authors, to coaches, to artists and to those who stand in a public spotlight sharing their thoughts and ideas with the world, in whatever medium them use.

For some creatives, we get caught up in the process of creating. Passion for our art fulfills and sustains us, and that’s enough.

The problem is, that’s a very self-focused view of what we do.

For other creatives, there’s the ego-boost that comes with having our work recognized, whether through awards or rampant sales.

And once again, it’s a very self-focused view.

That’s not to say that we ignore the business aspects of what we do, because we do need to earn a living in order to keep creating. There’s no two ways about it, unless you’re independently wealthy already.

However, we also have a responsibility. And the success of our business and the reception of our message, no matter what form it takes, can only be assured when we remember who we’re doing it all for.

If I cook a meal that looks delicious, but tastes awful, what have I accomplished?

We need to always remember the experience that we’re giving our audience. They are our customer, whether they’re paying for the experience or not.

It doesn’t matter if, as a speaker, I have an audience of 2 people or 2,000. I have to give the same performance and imbue my delivery with the same energy, because those 2 people deserve my very best.

Quality counts.

I don’t care if you’re self-publishing a book, choreographing a dance piece, giving a presentation at work, performing on TV, coaching a new client, or whatever other unique skill and talent you have to share with the world.

If you don’t take that responsibility seriously, you may as well not do it at all. Or at least, don’t try to build a business around it.

If it’s about you, it’s a hobby. If it’s about the person who’s going to experience what you have to offer, you’ve got a business.

Care to see the video that got me all fired up today? :-)

Jamie Fox and Steve Harvey

An Interview with S. Chris Edmonds, Multi-Talented Executive Consultant

Chris Edmonds - The Culture EngineI had the pleasure of getting to know this month’s Featured Author through social media these past few years although we still haven’t met in person or even spoken on the phone. (We’ll have to remedy that, Chris!)

We met through mutual contacts and interest in the Lead Change Group, which is the organization that published one of the books I co-authored, The Character-Based Leader.

S. Chris Edmonds is the founder and CEO of the Purposeful Culture Group, which he launched after a 15-year career leading and managing teams. Since 1995, he has also served as a senior consultant with the Ken Blanchard Companies. [Read more…]

Book Review: The Apple in the Orchard by Sonia DiMaulo

The Apple in the Orchard by Sonia DiMauloThe Apple in the Orchard  by Sonia DiMaulo is an illustrated storybook about finding the courage to emerge as a leader. I hesitate to call this a children’s book, even though many who pick it up might think of it that way. The lessons in this book are suitable for children and adults alike, though.

The story itself is about Brave Apple, who learns the importance of living with purpose. She learns to question the status quo and look beyond what’s familiar to find her place in the world.

Brave Apple grows on Pale Green, a tree on the outskirts of the Orchard that is pale and produces sickly fruit because of his disconnect from Red Harvest, the largest, strongest and healthiest tree in the Orchard.

Red Harvest nurtures the relationships among the trees in the Orchard and cultivates collaboration as they grow and produce fruit. Since Pale Green is so far from the center of the Orchard, he misses the messages of Red Harvest. As a result, Pale Green believes that he is separate and apart from the rest of the Orchard. Believing that he is completely independent, Pale Green struggles without the support and connection of the rest of the Orchard.

As Brave Apple surveys the Orchard from the branches of Pale Green, she can see Red Harvest’s glow, but not feel it. A desire to connect with Red Harvest overwhelms her. She battles fear and uncertainty as she does what no one else has ever done. She leaves the safety of her branch, and begins her pilgrimage to the center of the Orchard. Her desire to learn is overwhelming.

Brave Apple’s story is an allegory of every leader’s journey. There comes a time when we question the things we’ve always been told. Our desire to learn forces us to seek out mentors and other leaders who can help us discover the secrets to achieving our passions and realizing our goals.

It’s a wonderful story to share with children, to show them that conformity is not always the best way. It encourages the reader, showing that curiosity and a desire to learn are noble qualities.

For adults, the story is equally appealing, and will resonate with many readers as they work to become emerging leaders themselves.

But don’t just take my word for it! This story has also been endorsed by the likes of Ken Blanchard, Mike Henry Sr, Roy Saunderson, and S. Max Brown; some pretty heavy hitters in the leadership arena.

Ken Blanchard has this to say about The Apple in the Orchard:

The Apple in the Orchard by Sonia Di Maulo is a lovely little book with a profound message: To pursue greatness, aspiring leaders sometimes must dare to leave the familiar. Opportunities for growth and learning are all around you—so take the leap, and grow!

To get your copy of The Apple in the Orchard, click here.

Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided to me by the author. No further compensation was made or promised. Additionally, no affiliate links were used in this post.

I’m Grateful for You

The Character-Based Leader - Tara Alemany

The Character-Based Leader is available on Amazon and on our website. For a copy autographed by me, purchase the book here.

This may seem a bit unusual for my typical posts, but indulge me for a bit if you will. It’s been an unusual past few days for me, and the things I was reminded of through them may resonate with you as well. If you can learn anything from my experiences, even better!

Last week, I was pleased to participate in a book launch that was huge and very personal for me. I had co-authored a book with 20 other authors called The Character-Based Leader: Instigating a Leadership Revolution… One Person at a Time. This book is incredible; unusual from any other book I’ve ever read because it is the collective vision of multiple authors all writing in a single voice, sharing the same message, each in their own unique way. Character counts in leadership, we say. And leadership today is sorely lacking in good character, but we each have it within ourselves to make a difference.

That’s not all that makes the book unique though. This collaboration was 100% virtual. Although I have come to know and love many of my co-authors through social networks, e-mail, video chats and phone calls, I have not met a single one of them in real life yet. Tomorrow, I will meet the first when Will Lukang joins me for a book signing event.

I tackled two distinct but related subjects in The Character-Based Leader, intentionality and perseverance. I wrote about how the choices we make reflect who we are in life. If you want to live an impactful life, you have to live purposefully. And I shared about how purpose leads to vision, which is one of the four key elements to perseverance. Without vision, there’s no justification to persevere.

As the book was launching, I told my mother that I had a feeling that when I looked back at the end of my days, this book was going to be one of the accomplishments I was most proud of. Little did I think at that time that my days might be numbered on one hand. [Read more…]

We Wrote a Book — And the Miles It Took to Get There!

The Character-Based Leader - Tara Alemany http://alewebsocial.comWhen the idea was first brought up early in 2011 for the Lead Change Group to write a book, we had no idea what we were getting into. There was some thought that with a large group of contributors, we could go from concept through writing, editing and publishing in three or four months.

Ultimately, twenty-one of us got on the bandwagon and committed to the project. As time drew on, some of the original participants had to drop out due to other constraints on their time. But the vision persisted and the project moved forward.

No one in their wildest imaginings could have anticipated that this project would ultimately take over 16 months to complete.

Can you imagine the consequences of a project at work that took 4 or 5 times longer than the planner had anticipated?!

Of course, none of us had the luxury of working on the project full-time. We all had other responsibilities, and progress was made much like that of a fire brigade. Each of us took as much or as little responsibility as we were able at any given time, and pitched in to the best of our abilities. When we needed to drop out of the line for a time, that was completely understood and respected by the rest of the team.

That’s the thing I love the most about my fellow Lead Change Authors. We made every effort to share one vision and use one voice, supporting a core belief that character-based leadership matters.

Individually, when we expound on what that means, you will get different responses, because each one is filtered through the lens of our own beliefs and experience. But in the end, we all believe that character-based leadership matters, and it matters significantly enough to spend countless hours dedicated to nothing more than birthing a book.

Today, this book has seen the light of day. And like the proud parents we are, we’re busy celebrating its launch, enjoying thecongratulationsof friends and family, feeling a bit tired, shaken and very relieved.

It’s been a long road to reach this point. It took more effort and heart than any of us ever imagined. Yet, now that we’re here, it all seems so very worth it.

What we’ve created is a book that’s inspiring. We’ve each made each other think in new and different ways about what it means to be a Character-Based Leader, and I hope that what we’ve shared will make you stop and think too.

What would happen in the world around you if you applied more character to your leadership? If you mentored your followers in more meaningful ways? If you reached out to help the people around you find their own way in the world?

What we’ve given you inThe Character-Based Leader: Instigating a Leadership Revolution… One Person at a Time is a sampling of our own experiences. It tells of the strengths and weaknesses we’ve identified in ourselves as we’ve tried to become the changes we want to see in the world. We are flawed at times, but striving to improve.

It is my hope that as you read this book, you will be inspired by what we have shared to make your own difference in the world, in whatever way you are uniquely suited to do.

If you want to learn more about the book, you can purchase it on Amazon. If you’re interested in helping us promote the book, we have a Resources page filled with tweets and status updates we’d love for you to share. And if you’re interested in reading a free sample chapter, that’s available here.

Thanks for joining us on this journey!

A Leader’s Legacy

This was originally posted on the Lead Change Group’s blog on June 25, 2012. Reposted here as part of the Evangelical Seminary’s Leadership Synchroblog campaign.

Legacy - http://alewebsocial.comI have a friend who I think is pretty neat.He’s always got a smile on his face, laughs easily, and doesn’t take himself too seriously. Kids love him. He’s a committed husband and Dad, as well as a humble man of faith. He makes learning new things fun, even when they’re challenging. He’s got a servant’s heart, yet is a strong leader, and he volunteers his time to his community and neighbors.

During a recent weekend trip with this friend and some others, I realized that everyone who knows him holds him in high regard. I’ve often wondered what people will say about me when I’m gone. (Strange, I know – but it’s part of being intentional about the legacy I want to leave.) It became apparent that my friend has been building his legacy for years already, and it’s a strong and solid one!

When it comes right down to it, though, haven’t we all?

The path we follow through this world intersects with others’ along the way. We make an imprint upon everyone we meet, no matter how large or small. When we hold a door open for someone else or send a friend a card for no reason, we are touching someone else’s life. It may not be the same impact as when you rescue someone from a burning building or help a child gain confidence, but we can’t go through life without affecting those around us.

And sometimes, it’s the small actions that have the biggest effect. Just plain being there when someone needs a friend, putting yourself in their shoes for a time, sharing simple words of encouragement and understanding – it all adds up to the legacy we leave.

What legacy areyouleaving as a person and a leader? Are you being intentional about it, or just letting it develop over time based on random acts and decisions you make? Better yet, does everyone you know hold you in high regard or are there relationships that need mending?

As leaders, we need to be aware of those around us, but more than that, we need to be aware of the effect we have on them by our actions and our inaction.

To become a leader with a legacy you can be proud of, here are a few action steps to point you in the right direction.

  • Imagine listening in at your own funeral. What do you want to hear people remember most about you? And what did you inspire people to aspire to? That’s going to become your goal.
  • Assess where you stand in relation to that goal now. If you need help with this, ask a trusted friend or mentor.
  • Identify what skills, characteristics and habits you need to start establishing now to more clearly achieve that goal.
  • Begin a program of self-improvement to better incorporate those behaviors into your life.
  • Periodically reassess both the goal and where you stand in relation to it.

We are works in progress until we die.Unfortunately, for most of us, we have no idea whether today’s the last day or if we have another year, 20 years or 50 years. Yet, a legacy waits for no one. We’re making one right now, whether we’re intentional about it or not. Is it something we can be proud of, or does it still need work?

The time to begin is today. What’s your legacy going to be?

What Does It Take to be a True Hero?

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. They can be young or old, black or white, rich or poor. If you look up the word at, you’ll see this is the first definition:

a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.

9/11 afforded many people the opportunity to look within themselves and find the hero within. We all have that quality within us. It’s that drive that enables us to put the needs of others before our own in times of trouble or sadness. That selflessness becomes a mark of maturity, demonstrating that we’ve learned a vital lesson. The world does not revolve around us.

Take a few minutes this day to watch this video, reflect upon it’s message and look within your own heart and mind.

The world needs more heroes. Where can you step up and make a difference in someone’s time of need? Whether it’s volunteering on your kid’s soccer team, mentoring a fatherless child, serving at a local soup kitchen, helping someone out financially, visiting with an elderly neighbor, or something completely different. When average people step up to fill a need, coming together and pulling together, they can accomplish amazing things.

As the narrator, Tom Hanks, shared:

The great boatlift of 9/11 became the largest sea evacuation in history, larger than the evacuation of Dunkirk in World War II, where 339,000 British and French soldiers were rescued over the course of nine days. On 9/11, nearly 500,000 civilians were rescued from Manhattan by boat. It took less than nine hours…

Don’t live your life wondering “Should I have?” And don’t wait for tragedy to strike to call up that inner hero. You have the ability to make the world a better place today.

I’d love for each of my readers to share whatever they’d like in the comments below, whether it’s their memories of how 9/11 affected them, or how they are inspired by this post and video to step up and commit letting their own inner hero loose. For those of us who lived through 9/11/2001, the world was forever changed. But we have it within ourselves to continue that change, embracing the spirit of self-sacrifice that made us proud to be Americans, to make a positive difference in our communities today.

Are you going to step up to the challenge?

On the Art of Becoming “Someone” on Twitter

Twitter engagement http://alewebsocial.comA friend asked recently:

My boss is interested in generating interest via twitter. I’ve “searched” his name and character’s name and “followed” people who are tweeting good stuff about him. How do you get people to follow you? How do you become “someone” on twitter? Thanks for any help you can offer.

Do you have similar questions? You’ve created a Twitter account, tweeted a few times, followed some interesting folks, but still haven’t figured out how to gain a following.

The easy answer is “engage them.” But that probably doesn’t really answer your question. “Engage who? And how?” you might ask.

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you’ll know that I’m a fan of real, authentic engagement. So, you won’t find me “buying” followers, auto-responding, etc. While some of the links I share are pre-scheduled, they are created by me. Responses you get, you’re getting from me.

Now, I could sit in my office and wait for people to pass by (in my Twitter feed), and say “hi” as they march along. But that would become redundant and unfulfilling over time. Instead, I proactively strive to be useful to my followers. I go to where they are, rather than waiting passively for them to find me.

I once had a boss whom I loved. He didn’t just have an open door policy… He took it upon himself to take periodic breaks throughout his very long day and “wander among us.” He’d stick his head in at my door and ask how my day was going, if there was anything I needed to move forward on a project, etc. He wasn’t micro-managing. He was showing a genuine interest in me as a person and the work I was doing. As a result, he created a bond of loyalty that’s almost impossible to create in any other way.

So, how does this apply to building a Twitter following? Effectively using social media means applying the best leadership skills available; those that recognize people as individuals with unique interests, needs and skills. It means not only responding to people when you’re spoken to, but being willing to start conversations yourself and join conversations that are in progress already (if you have anything useful to add).

There are tools and techniques I use to make it easier to find those I want to build stronger bonds with, whether they are following me already or not. Here are just a few of them:

  • Participate in Tweetchats that catch your interest. Wouldn’t it be valuable to connect with others who share that interest? If you’re not familiar with Tweetchats, they are conversations that take place on Twitter, often at a specific time, using a given hashtag. (To learn more about hashtags, check out Hashtags Demystified.) Some of my favorites include #LeadChange, #LeadFromWithin, #BookPro, #SocMed and #SlumberParty.
  • Find the tools that work for you in filtering the information firehose that is Twitter. With over 2,000tps (tweets per second) going out on Twitter any given day, there’s just no way to take it all in. There are many tools out there to help you work your way through the fluff to the gems. A few of my favorites are Hootsuite, Bottlenose and InboxQ.
    • Hootsuite allows me to create Twitter streams filtered by those I follow or specific hashtags and keywords I’m interested in, as well as allowing me to post content to my own profiles immediately or on a schedule.
    • Bottlenose allows me to see which conversations my connections are currently engaged in. (It has a really neat sonar interface!)
    • InboxQ allows me to watch for people who are posting questions that I can answer. Thereby, allowing me to engage in conversations that may not even have gotten started yet!
  • Share relevant content with those that follow you. There are a few ways to find good content. You don’t have to create it all yourself. I use as a great way to curate relevant content from others, Twylah to share my own great content, and the bufferapp browser extension to share what I’m reading.
  • Use Twitter directories both to share about who you are, and to find people you may be interested in getting to know more. Some of the more popular are Twellow, WeFollow and TweetFind.

As you interact with people online that you like, follow them! If they enjoyed the conversation, they may follow you back. Keep in mind, as you strive to “be someone” on Twitter, that to be someone, you have to be real and authentic. Focus on growing relationships rather than making sales. As you do, you’ll find that sales come naturally as a result.


What are your favorite methods of growing your Twitter following? Please share them below!

The Key to Pursuing a Dream

What’s your dream? Do you even know what it is? One of the things that has always amazed me about my daughter, Eliza, is that she has heldunwaveringlyto one dream since she was four-years-old. She wants to be a performing artist.

She knows that to achieve her dream, it takes hard work and lots of time and effort. She’s never anticipated that anyone would simply “make it happen” for her. She’s studied hard, pushed her body, broadened her horizons, studied with high-caliber teachers who are stars in their own rights, and continually strives to improve her skills.

Her talents are many. However, that wasn’t always the case… I enrolled her in a pre-ballet class at the age of four because she was the biggest klutz I’d ever seen. She’d become enamored of Angelina Ballerina, and I thought perhaps a little ballet would help her overcome thatpredilection. Contrary child! She loved it right away.

Over the years, she added tap, jazz, modern, acrobatics, contemporary, vocal performance, musical theatre and acting to her resume. In addition to attending a performing arts school for these classes, where she frequently studies 20 or more hours per week, she has sought performing opportunities outside of her school.

She became a member of the teen ensemble in Bye, Bye Birdie (her first auditioned role), was the youngest singer to join the Candlewood Children’s Choir, and dreams of being on stage on Broadway someday.

My daughter recognizes that to achieve her dreams, she has to be purposeful in what she does. So, at the age of 12, she mapped out the activities and pursuits that she believed would best position herself to accomplish those dreams. Now, at 14, she continues to follow that plan with the same passion and insight with which she created it in the first place.

Let me be clear here… I’m not one of those stage Moms always seeking the next role for her child. If you asked Eliza, she’d probably tell you I’ve been a ball-and-chain in this process, encouraging her to enjoy the journey along the way instead of dashing headlong so focused on the destination that she misses the scenery along the way.

So, I ask you again… What’s your dream? Have you ever thought about what it would take to accomplish it? Do you have a plan? Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as Jiminy Cricket would have us believe. You can’t just wish upon a star and have your dreams come true… It makes no difference who you are. Dreams take work, commitment and perseverance. But when you apply those elements, you too can become a star. As I mentioned a year ago in a post about a lesson my son taught me, when you start with the end in mind, defining your path to get there is so much easier.

On a parting note, just so you don’t think this blog post is the ramblings of a biased mother, enjoy this cover of a John Mayer song, “Daughters,” performed by my daughter, Eliza.

And, while you’re listening, let me know what dream you’re pursuing in the comments below. I’d love to support and encourage you.

8 Leadership Myths Dispelled | SmartBlogs

I had the pleasure of being invited recently to write a guest blog post on leadership for SmartBrief’s SmartBlog on Leadership.

I decided to share a bit about a recent experience I had, and to answer the question “what happens when you get 21 leaders together to work on a project?”

I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing just such a scenario over the past year, and the insights I’ve come away with defy certain myths about leaders.

Want to learn what they are? Check out the rest of the blog at 8 leadership myths dispelled | SmartBlogs.