Why Inclusion is a Great Thing!!!

We accomplish so much more when we include others. There is such a focus on diversity & inclusion within corporate America, finally!!! Everyone deserves a piece of the business pie to be shared fairly.

Over the past few years, the LGBT community has been invited to the table as partners for business in corporate America. I always say that if the door is going to open for my company because I am part of the LGBT or WBE community, that’s great yet it’s our exemplary service that keeps us in the door!!! I take it very seriously that if I am out there opening doors for the younger generation of business owners as others have done for me, then I will be one of the best in our industry. And I feel like we are accomplishing that every day. You may wonder why I am not saying that we have accomplished it? Well, one must be their best in business every day and every day business demands are changing. We move with the needs of our clients and internal employees. So we take one day at a time and act be our best.

Within the journey of inclusion, we still exclude. So, I “crusade” along with my other LGBT peers to make it a safer and fairer place for our business community. Yet, if we within our community are excluding each other because of gender and ethnicity then we are moving through quicksand to include all people. We are missing the boat of what inclusion is really all about.

It’s a fact that Caucasian gay men still have the advantage over the rest of us in the LGBT community. That’s not fair and I am blowing the whistle on the disparity wherever I can. If we are breaking down barriers to be accepted than it must be all the way around. We have to make space for everyone AND we are not to exclude those outside the LGBT community. This isn’t an exclusive club, this is life and all the personalities and backgrounds come together to make a beautiful blend of wisdom & expertise.

Just as we take to the streets when ignorant public servants don’t issue marriage licenses, we need to also take to the streets for world peace and that includes all of us. We need to understand each other’s challenges and find ways to be inclusive so our collective experiences can allow for collaboration.

So as we approach 2016, let’s be inclusive everywhere, in our workplaces, in our neighborhoods and in our families.

Happy Thanksgiving

Life is filled with gratitude at every turn. As part of my morning grounding ritual which includes prayer, meditation and journaling, I start off with writing a daily mantra and 5 things for which I am grateful. Some days it’s small and other days a major “Thank you God”!! This practice allows me to see the simple things that surround me every day which keep life in perspective during tough days.

When I left the house this morning, my wife had all the baking stuff out to prepare for her apple and pumpkin pie masterpieces. By the time I return home this afternoon, the house will smell amazing. As I drove to work this morning there are lots of folks parked in the grocery store lot and heading in with long lists of Thanksgiving favorites.

I have wonderful memories of growing up and having a packed house either at my Mom’s or Nan’s. Served were the Italian favorites like melon & prosciutto, wedding soup, ravioli and then the turkey came with plenty of trimmings. It was an amazing meal and we all seemed to have plenty of room for everything. We would take a break while the table was cleaned off, then out came a huge salad with fennel & celery on the side. It helped us digest after a big meal. Then there was another break before the desserts were put on the table including apple & pumpkin pie, cannoli, Italian cookies and after dinner drinks. All the while football games were on there was happy activity in the kitchen. It was always amazing to me what was created in the small kitchens of yesteryear.

As I prepare for the holiday with cleaning, setting the table and jumping into the cooking wherever my wife allows, I keep the wonderful memories close to my heart while enjoying the moment with my wife, kids and granddaughters. I am truly grateful for the life that God has given to me and I value it every day.

In the midst of the rush and the planning for Black Friday, I wish for you to always keep at the forefront that Thanksgiving is about gratitude for all we are and have. Before you race to the kitchen on Thanksgiving morning, take a few minutes to stop and think about 5 things you are most grateful for this season.

May the joy of the day bring you and your family much peace, tons of smiles and an abundance of love. Thank you for all you are to me and to AdNet.

We Shine for The City of Lights

Last week’s acts of terrorism on Paris has caused us all to stop and look again at the preciousness of life. Innocent people were enjoying an evening at café’s and a concert only to have life stopped abruptly by cowards. No one can wrap our arms around the repeated terrorist attacks throughout Europe as well as the numerous shootings on college campuses across the United States.

When I listen to the news reports about the evil people behind these acts, it is said that they speak words like “this is for God”. God does not inflict pain on people so how they use religion as a crutch for violence is deadly. This appears to be the common theme behind terrorist attacks, US shootings and even people denying people of obtaining their marriage licenses. Who are we to write the rules of God and determine who lives, who dies and who gets to have rights? We’ve got it all wrong by judging, harming and playing God with other people’s lives.

If these ISIS terrorists are so against another countries choice, then why are they going after innocent people and not confronting the countries leaders? We, the citizens, are often held hostage by the acts of a country’s political system; and if the terrorists listened to how we really feel, they would hear that many of us who sit in a café, go to a theater or stroll along a city street, are disenchanted by the choices our political system makes.

While we may be disenchanted and frustrated by our politicians and leaders, we also know that harming another human is the wrong way to make a statement. When we act in peace, extend more acts of kindness than harm, our souls shine and more people will listen.

As I pray for peace and healing for my brothers & sisters in Paris (we are all connected) I am also taking more time to be kind, to not lose my temper, to offer a helping hand and to give from my heart. Though we are far away nestled in the perceived safety of the United States, we can offer healing through our energy, our words and our thoughts. It might sound small yet it’s a start.

I shine for Paris.

Step Up, Step Out, Step Off

In times of change/transition, we are often called forth to take on roles and tasks that we may not be otherwise accustomed to handle. Sometimes it’s a choice and sometimes a necessity. This can occur in both business and personal. Often times, these choices come up suddenly where there is not a great deal of time to make a decision. It can be stressful and equally empowering to take risks and act on behalf of the greater good of an organization or within one’s family system.

Not everyone is always up for the “call”. There are times when people will run to the background, dig their heads in the sand or be an incredible warrior to trudge through the flames of adversity. In those moments it can be hard to discern the best approach. I find that often I put on my warrior cap and race toward the burning building and sometimes not knowing if I will come out alive but nonetheless taking on the challenge and facing whatever comes my way. I have learned that when I avoid an issue, it festers louder and uglier down the road. I only have time for joy; no more drama!!

I cannot control how others wish to take action or not take action and sometimes that is frustrating for me. I have seen incidents where everyone wants control or have a say yet some don’t want to get their hands dirty. You know that term “armchair quarterbacks”?? Oh, they are the ones who have all the answers, all the opinions yet won’t get up off the chair to get their hands dirty. Their actions show that they want to sit on the sidelines, so we, the warriors, act accordingly and proceed forward. Then at some point, those "armchair-ers" emerge with great wisdom and criticism about how the warriors proceeded.

I have seen that behavior in both my corporate and personal life. If you have chosen to “step out” of the heat, then why would you criticize those of us who are in the burning building trying our best to do the right thing? I take that as either their warrior side has never been developed or they are just too darned afraid to step up when their souls are telling them they need to get involved. As a leader, it is our job to teach who we lead to try it out, take a risk and talk through the fear because often times that practice will help the individual to see that they were capable of stepping up all the time; it just took a little reassurance and nudge.

As a spouse, parent and adult child, sometimes the dynamics can be more personal or emotional. Still the warrior within needs to step up and move forward to do the right thing. When there are incidents where the family member is the expert armchair quarterback taking little to no action, I am learning to let the commentary roll off my back and move forward to do the right thing. Often times with family, someone’s life can really and truly be on the line. And when that fact is evident, ego’s can move aside because when it is to provide safety and better quality of life for a loved one, you are just going to have to “step off” my path. Because I will never let your insecurities stop me from protecting the ones I love.

So there is always a choice----Step Up – Step Out – Step Off. If you chose to step out, say some prayers for those of us who step up because we are often making your life a little easier.

The Power of Feminine Leadership

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in the Tuck Business School Executive Leadership program. I gathered with about 60 other female CEO’s from varying size companies. Some of us were first generation entrepreneurs (founders) and some were 2nd and 3rd generation entrepreneurs taking over at the helm of parents and grandparents. Some were sole proprietors while others were leading $100mm+ organizations. Whatever the mix, we all had similar challenges. We rejoiced, we cried and we celebrated!!

As the week approached it felt more like a burden to take me away from my company and consistently mounting list of tasks. Hurricane Joaquin was brewing in the Atlantic heading up the coast and I was wishing that bad weather would delay the program. Nope, Joaquin veered off into the ocean and I was free & clear to arrive on time. So I drove up to North Jersey on Sunday, got to my room and slowly unpacked and mentally prepared myself for an intense week of learning. I was already tired, balancing caretaking for my mom and just not in the mood to put on my extroverted hat. Too bad; I’m here to learn, give and build collaborative partnerships.

The first reception was a pleasant introduction to the professors and sponsors; all whom were welcoming and gracious. I thought to myself that with all the preparations that go into making this a globally successful program, I would overcome my own “stuff” and jump in fully. The first day we all went around the room making introductions and listened to valuable insights about how to dig deeper into our organizations. As I listened and took notes, there were feelings of gratitude that my organization is positioned with so much going for it and the employees. I had no horror stories to share and that is unusual with the journey myself & AdNet has been on since the recession. Everyone is working so well together, has each other’s backs in a fiercely loyal way and works toward success for the team while growing as individuals. The days of the greedy lone wolves are long gone and I love it!!! Listening to others challenges had me dig deeper into my company’s structure and foundation. Both are strong AND we have areas that definitely need improvement. I went back to my room each night filled with ideas and questions that need to be asked. It was enlightening.

As the week progressed, the natural bonding of like minded women began to form. We could look at each other after a thought provoking comment and almost be able to finish each other’s sentences. And then the humorous side comments poking fun at ourselves and each other made sometimes intense learning easier to bear. This was a room filled with highly accomplished women who are committed to our craft of running businesses; and it is a craft I love!!! Nothing can stop any of us and the economy and life experiences have tried to set us back. Yes, we all had/have various setbacks yet the common theme is that we are all warriors with an incredible resolve!!! I look at my own journey and with what life has put on my path over the past 5 years; I know how to pick myself up, dust myself off and forge a new path. Nothing can keep me from my joy!!!

I came away from the program with not just a clearer roadmap and affirmation that AdNet is on a solid path but at the end, amazing women and one incredible man (who is the lead professor) who will help keep my leadership on track. The energy in the room was something that can’t be bottled; you have to experience it to take it with you. And the beauty of that energy is that it can be easily accessible by just asking or sitting still long enough to recall the messages. One more time I learned that when I take more time to work “on” my company versus “in” my company, we grow at a healthier & more accelerated pace. That was my final outcome; that growth is the goal and it must be a healthy culture for the revenue growth to have greater meaning. So that is my focus and priority. You won’t find me bragging about numbers; you will hear me share how an ailing company is healing and thriving. We are advocates for workplace excellence and equality!! That is who we are and very much who I am. Thank you WBENC for sending me and thank you to my team for doing your magic in my absence.

I highly recommend the Tuck Program. It is a life changer; a gift!!