Thursday, April 3, 2014

Big Statement

Last month, Cate Blanchett gave a memorable Oscar acceptance speech for her Best Actress turn in Blue Jasmine. In addition to giving the usual thanks to the Academy, her agent, family and publicist, she also seized the opportunity to offer some socioeconomic commentary as well, opining, "Those of us in the industry who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences. They are not. Audiences want to see them and, in fact, they earn money."

And she's right; mainstream award-winning blockbuster hits like The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Gravity and Frozen, each sporting female leads, were some of the top internationally grossing films of last year.

It's also fitting that Blanchett's commentary occurred during Women's History Month - as March has been officially designated by Congress since 1987 - celebrating the courage, commitment and strength of influential women and their significant impact on the U.S. as well as the world. Although we've come a long way (Baby) with some major strides in women's leadership roles, some of BigSpeak's experts stress the need for women to step up with a definitive strategy and take the quest to another level - outside the comfort zone - to fully achieve parity and balance.

"Take a Job You Aren't Qualified For." - Liz Wiseman

Liz Wiseman
Liz Wiseman

In a recent blog post, Liz Wiseman, an executive advisor, strategy and leadership consultant, and best-selling author of Multipliers related her early experiences at Oracle, where, at the age of 24 Multipliers she was tasked with creating the entire global training university for the software giant. Her advice for this and subsequent challenges: don't lean in, dive in. "My lack of experience was more than compensated for by the intentionality of learning," adding, "If you are qualified, what's to learn? I never want a job I'm qualified for."

"Dare to Disrupt Yourself and Your Status Quo.
Throw Down Your Pom-poms,
and Get in the Game. Be Disruptive Now." - Whitney Johnson

Whitney Johnson
Whitney Johnson

Whitney Johnson, is a top-ranked Wall Street analyst, Thinkers 50 nominee, disruptive innovation expert, and Author of Dare. Dream. Do. "There are times in disrupting myself that I am lonely, I am scared, I feel impoverished and yet I wouldn't do it any other way."

Dare. Dream. Do.Whitney disrupted her own life more than once to achieve remarkable professional and personal success. After following her husband to New York, while he worked on his PhD at Columbia, she started as a secretary at the bottom of the Wall Street food chain. Studying business at night and working 80 hours per week, she navigated a rapid corporate ascent through a series of investment banking and research roles at Salomon Smith Barney and Merrill Lynch. Gaining recognition for her market savvy and stock-rating acumen, by 2005, when she left her sell-side research position, Whitney had earned a coveted double-ranking in the Institutional Investors surveys. Today, she thinks, "There's a way for us to dream and be feminine and my goal is to help women understand that we can bridge those two."

"While it's a nice notion that simply leaning in could get us
on the other side, it requires more than that. It requires walking through -
Forcefully, graciously and immediately." - Libby Gill

Libby Gill
Libby Gill

Libby Gill is an executive coach and consultant, and the former head of communications and PR for Sony, Universal, and Turner Broadcasting. She is also the author of award-winning You Unstuck: Mastering the New Rules of Risk-taking in Work and Life. In her latest article What Women Leaders Want she integrates principles from the aforementioned speakers: having the courage to disrupt yourself, and shedding the comfortable while engendering the Multipliers "we" team ethic.

"The only way I can see the workplace working for women is if we figure out what we want as individuals and then demonstrate our value so definitively that it's impossible not to give it to us.
I've keynoted at many women's leadership conferences including Kellogg's, Microsoft, and Safeway and while I secretly hope that the need for these types of forums goes away someday, I don't see that happening anytime soon - at least not until we see the number of women in leadership and management roles increase significantly.

While the number of women at the top hasn't shifted much in the past two decades, the corporate mindset has. Even in fields traditionally led by men (though often staffed by women) like technology and manufacturing, doors are opening for us.

You Unstuck: Mastering the New Rules of Risk-taking in Work and LifeHere are some strategies so you can stop banging your head against brick walls and start walking through open doors

Be so great at what you do it's hard to turn you down. When you make it worth the company's time to support your needs, they'll be a lot more inclined to help you create a balance that works for you. It's a two-way street and when you provide ongoing excellence, you're in the driver's seat.

Invite the guys into the women's leadership clubhouse. The sooner you bring men into the process, the sooner we'll all benefit. Request feedback so often, that it becomes routine. Ramp up your confidence and have the courage to share tough truths. And for heaven's sake, invite the guys to your women's events.

Take a team approach. Research suggests that women leaders who advocate for their teams - rather than themselves - are viewed far more positively in the workplace. You'll get much further saying 'we' than 'me.'

Recognize that plenty of men face the same issues as women. We haven't cornered the market on the need for work-life balance. Men may not vent as much as we do, but they also struggle with challenges related to their children, aging parents, and health concerns.

Share your passions and plans with others. Once you decide what's right for you, your family (however you define it), and your future, have the courage to share your strategies on how to get there. If there's one thing that women want, it's companionship on the path to leadership!"

Big Picture

Ronald J. Garan
Ronald J. Garan
Speaking of big Oscar winners, Gravity pulled in seven of its own, including Best Director honors for Alfonso Cuaron. With the film's worldwide gross of over $800 million, and the popularity of Neil deGrasse Tyson's TV reboot of Carl Sagan's Cosmos, as well as Bill Nye's recent ubiquity across all other media, it seems as though we are witnessing a revival of intergalactic interest and a cultural resurgence of scientific perspective in the public consciousness. If so, we have the perfect speaker to elevate that awareness to stratospheric levels (seeing as he's actually been to the stratosphere).

Shuttle Launch

BigSpeak recently signed-on exclusive speaker Colonel Ronald J. Garan, Jr. In addition to possessing degrees in business economics and aerospace engineering, Col. Garan is a decorated US Air Force test pilot, fighter pilot, Space Shuttle, Soyuz and International Space Station astronaut, aquanaut, and now, social entrepreneur, whose following is eclipsed only by the miles he's logged orbiting Earth.

Colonel Ronald J. Garan, Jr.

After being selected as a pilot in the astronaut program in 2000, he was tapped to become one of six "aquanauts" in the world's only undersea research lab for NASA's NEEMO underwater research mission in 2006. His first space mission was in 2008, on the shuttle Discovery to help deliver Japan's Kibo lab to the International Space Station. In 2011, he returned via Russian Soyuz craft for a nearly six-month tour of duty on the station, participating in the last shuttle-based spacewalk, before returning in the Soyuz's space capsule - which lost communication with ground control upon reentry - resulting in a rough landing in Kazakhstan.

Shuttle Launch

It was during these extended stays in space, experiencing tranquil, unparalleled views of our planet's surface (in addition to the eventful Soyuz landing) that he came upon the realization which brought him down to earth (literally) and fuels his current mission to resolve the planet's biggest problems. "It really punches you in the gut when you're looking at our planet from that vantage point. You can't help but think that, if we can share this perspective, we can maybe overcome the challenges that we face. That's one of the big goals." He adds," Our world is changing rapidly, and the exponential increases in technological advancements have created a highly interconnected global society. With this new interconnectedness, come new tools that have never existed before. We now live in a world where we have all of the resources and technology necessary to solve many - if not all - of the challenges facing our planet. We now have the means to enable true global collaboration that is both consistent and world changing."

Ron Garan

Garan now shares this perspective with audiences across the globe, utilizing a blend masterful storytelling, inspiring anecdotes, humor and stunning footage (which alone is worth the ride) making the case for worldwide collaboration in an unprecedented era of connectedness (and leading through example by founding the Manna Energy Foundation, which assists the villages of Rwanda to establish potable water supplies).

Ron Garan

To bring this one-of-a kind, down-to-earth, yet out-of-this-world insight and inspiration on innovation, collaboration, social entrepreneurship and more to your organization (and learn how to save the world along the way) contact us for details on booking Ron Garan.

Big Opportunity

John Kotter
John Kotter

Back in November of 2012, we featured an overview of a new organizational paradigm, posited by change management and leadership authority John Kotter in that month's Harvard Business Review (where Kotter enjoys the distinction of being one of its most reprinted contributors). Originally entitled Change Faster: How to build adaptive genius in your organization it outlined Kotter's contention that the traditional hierarchic structure of most companies works well as a standard operating system for handling the day-to-day business, but lacks the agility and framework to address rapid, complex changes and innovation.

XLR8 (Accelerate) Building Strategic Agility
He proposed a new framework for competing and winning in a world of constant turbulence and disruption based on a parallel-universe-like model or second operating system, which continually assesses both the industry and the organization, and reacts with greater agility, speed, and creativity than the existing one. It works in concert with and complements the traditional hierarchy, which in turn, makes the enterprise easier to run and accelerates strategic change.

Since then, Kotter has expanded his concept into a complete book due out April 8th, entitled XLR8 (Accelerate) Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World, picking up where the original HBR article left off. In Accelerate (XLR8) Kotter, utilizing many of his familiar tenets (creating urgency, generating buy-in), illustrates the five core principles underlying the new network system, the eight Accelerators that drive it, and perhaps most crucial, the book reveals how the best companies focus and align this energy and urgency around what Kotter calls the big opportunity - a confluence of conditions facing an organization that create a rare chance to leap ahead through a transformative change.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Big Thanks:

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg learns the rules of engagement from BigSpeak Exclusive Speaker and former Campbell's Soup CEO Douglas Conant in this Washington Post article.

Each year, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg gives himself a personal discipline challenge...(more)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Monday, January 20, 2014

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Big Rush?

Distressed by a compressed holiday schedule? Seeking the perfect speaker for an upcoming event, a master of ceremonies for that year-end awards gala or a replacement for the keynote speaker who contracted the flu at the last second?
We do last-minute.