Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Library Leaders get Treats in Hershey

Here's a picture from our final session at the PLA conference with our special guest!

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

St. Maarten IS the Friendly Island!

Greetings! I thought I'd make a quick post to share some details on the Good Life Festival & Retreat -- it was FANTASTIC! A big shout out to the JI Group for pulling together a wonderful event. Accomodations and service at the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino were great. Upon arrival there, we were welcomed by the St. Maarten Tourism Board as we began to unwind from our travels (completely uneventful and without delays -- surprise!).

The stress management sessions were well received. We had a discussion on Wednesday evening about our various roles/responsibilities, how to perceive them in different ways and better communicate our needs to minimize stress. On Thursday morning, I led the group through three relaxation and meditation exercises before folks headed back to the beach, etc. Then, a few of us went to the French side (St. Martin) for some local creole and browsing in the market.

No pics yet -- my phone was off the whole stay -- but hope to share some soon. I was sorry to cut my visit short (Friday); however, I do plan to return to the island for future fun (and perhaps business). My bags are packed for my next adventure -- leadership training with the "rowdy" librarians in Hershey, PA. Did someone say chocolate?? :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Staying Connected: The Positive Side of BlackBerry

Before I head down to St. Maarten for the Good Life Festival and Retreat, I thought I'd give a shout out to my colleague Kevin Carroll for being highlighted as a featured BlackBerry owner on their website.

Who is Kevin Carroll? Kevin, author of Rules of the Red Rubber Ball, is the dynamic speaker who gets the librarians all "rowdy" when he kicks off our Turning the Page leadership training events -- by encouraging them to be creative and unconventional as they plan and execute their advocacy projects. In his BlackBerry testimonial, Kevin speaks to the benefit of staying connected with family and colleagues via the device while on the road. What's ironic about me giving the shout-out today is that I called Verizon earlier today to ensure that I'd have mobile access to phone and email while in St. Maarten.

Now, I know this may seem to some a bit contrary to some of my earlier posts about the need to unplug from our various devices. However, I do believe there is some peace of mind that comes from being able to reach out and stay connected when necessary. And, I've been able to post pics to this blog from the road using my Pearl (which I'll try to do over the next few days). The trick is to find the right balance!

BTW, you can learn more about Kevin, his firm -- Katalyst Consultancy, and how he helps people incorporate play into their work and personal growth on his blog.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tips to Re-Energize for Spring!

Now that the buds are beginning to appear on trees, it's really starting to look like spring in NYC. I thought I'd share some tips based on a question that was posed on one of my list-serve groups:

How can you get re-energized for Spring if the pressures of work/career, personal life (or taxes!) make you feel stressed or burnt out?

Play Music
Yes, it really can be that simple! Researchers have shown (through brain mapping) that different sound frequency patterns can lead to more healthful states. Sounds that slow our brainwaves can also slow down our heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension – and help us to relax! You can experiment on your own by listening to different types of music and observing your physical and emotional reactions. I’ve found that listening to jazz really helps me to focus while I’m working. If you’re interested in exploring this a bit deeper, check out Dr. Jeffrey Thompson’s Brain Fitness Kits at He has created a series of audio programs for relaxation and better sleep. I really like his Awakened Mind program – helps me be more creative.

Change Your Perception
How you think about your situation can have a big impact on how stressed you feel. Pay attention to the language you use when you describe your daily activities – words like “have to” imply the activity is a burden (pressure); words like “should have” imply some sort of regret (guilt). Think about one stressful aspect of your life. Can you imagine an alternative, positive solution? If you’d like help re-invigorating your imagination, check out Not a Box, by Antoinette Portis at

What do you think -- what are you doing to get yourself excited and re-energized for spring?? :)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Leadership Training Update: The Sagamore

I'm back in NYC after last week's library leadership training events at The Sagamore. The picture from the last post truly didn't do justice to the landscape and scenery. Here's a shout out to Shannon and the team at The Sagamore -- thanks for making PLA and our participants feel so welcome and special! I must admit that it was cool to be back in my home-state -- where my "Ellis, like the Island" introductory joke was met with at least a chuckle!

Once again, we had some rich discussions in my enhancing project leadership sessions. We discussed the challenges of being a team of one -- library leaders who manage the shop on their own. How can you create effective teams? How do you not burnout as you balance your many responsibilities?

I typically encourage them to think broadly about their potential team members -- volunteers, board members, trustees, students, et al. In many cases, a librarian has had an "a-ha" moment about someone to approach that s/he hadn't considered before. I also suggest they tap into the passions (WOW! Factors) of others when including people on projects -- assigning tasks that they will be excited and inspired to perform. I feel I can personally relate to their stories having founded my own practice/firm.

Even in the beginning, I spoke in terms of "we," even though I hadn't really established my network of associates and consultants. It was partially to create a more established business presence; however, it also helped me personally as it motivated me to find those team members so I wouldn't be working in a vacuum (and have to keep disguising my voice on the phone -- just kidding!). That's what makes this PLA project so fun for me (aside from the fun, "rowdy" librarians *smile*) -- the great people I get to work with on a weekly basis.

In the sessions, we did acknowledge that it can be difficult to delegate responsibilities to new team members once you've found them. Why? Because we become very efficient when we're a team of one. We figure out very creative ways to keep all of those (red, rubber) balls juggling in the air. What's wrong with that? Well, nothing -- except that your new team members may have their own ideas about how to "juggle" and perform their tasks. In the sessions, we discuss how important it is to set people up to succeed, by providing the right resources, training and support. And, also by getting out of their way when necessary -- giving them permission to do it their way. Is this always easy? Absolutely not! But, true leaders know this and they accept the responsibility.

So, I'm "off" from PLA until the end of the month. I'm looking forward to our next event in Hershey. Until then, I'll be getting ready for the GLF Retreat in St. Maarten!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

View from Sagamore Cottage

The picture probably doesn't fully capture how beautiful it is here. It's so relaxing waking up to this view, though!

Friday, April 04, 2008

On the Road Again: Training Update

I have a couple of days "down" time from traveling and I thought I'd post a few quick thoughts. BTW, it's really two days to catch up on calls, emails and laundry before hitting the road again on Sunday! I returned yesterday from Annapolis (sorry the pic was so dark) where I had a great time training a group of "rowdy" librarians -- their word, not mine ... I swear!

Thank goodness I've had the opportunity to train some energetic, enthusiastic and eager librarians and supporters over the past month. Because my travel delays have been incredible! It took me 6 hours to get to Annapolis on Tuesday -- waited at LaGuardia for almost 4 hours for a 1.5 hour flight! The reason shared by the airline -- no crew was available for my flight.

It's pretty ironic when I think of the project leadership session I lead for the librarians in which we discuss creating effective project teams. Now, if you're running an airline, wouldn't having sufficient, qualified crew members for each flight be at the top of your list??? Perhaps I'm being a bit simplistic. I understand the challenges of managing matrix organizations. However, when I (finally) arrived in Annapolis, my PLA colleagues told me they had a similar experience the night before -- a missing pilot! Does anyone else see a pattern here??

Last week, I was caught in the grounding of planes on my way back from Minneapolis and the PLA National Conference. It was pretty annoying to have to pay $75 to have the airline release my ticket so that I wouldn't spend 6.5 hours waiting for a flight that was sure to cancel. The most annoying part was that I'd left the event and missed the "spider web" closing activity with my team -- under the delusion that I could catch a midday direct flight back to New York. Yes, I know that leaders have to make the tough decisions based on the info they have available at the moment. It didn't make me feel any better, though.

I know that I'm a bit sensitive to this -- perhaps it's because my travel debacles have become one of the jokes amongst my PLA trainers and colleagues. I'm OK with the ribbing and teasing -- that's what friends do. I was concerned on Tuesday afternoon as my flight was further and further delayed that I'd miss our opening reception -- I really felt like I was on my way to a family reunion.

Well, on Sunday, I'm heading up to Bolton Landing, NY (outside Albany) -- on Amtrak! I figure that spending 2.5 hours on a train shouldn't be as bad as having another 1-hour flight delayed for a bunch of hours. Wish me luck! Our next two leadership training events are being held at the Sagamore Hotel. It will be great to meet some librarians and supporters from my home state!

View from Annapolis Marina