Tag Archives: #Dr. Woody

What’s Your Career Trajectory?

Sebastian's First Birthday Party

When it comes to professional success, sometimes we can be our own worst enemy.

We all have our dream job or height on the career ladder that we wish to achieve, but there are many steps to turn that vision into a reality.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with David Van Rooy to chat about his forthcoming book Trajectory and the hurdles that hold most people back when it comes to professional success. Here’s what he had to say:

Woody: With so many career books out there what sets Trajectory apart from the others?

Van Rooy: In my career, I have been very fortunate to work for great companies, and more importantly, great leaders. This has given me first-hand insight into what differentiates those that are immensely successful from those that are merely average. Combining this real-world experience with my background in industrial-organizational psychology, I am able to not only explain what happens, but also provide an understanding of why using research is so important.

Woody: What is the single greatest hurdle to professional success in America?

Van Rooy: I think many people are looking for the “silver bullet” when it comes to professional success. The reality is that there are many factors that go into it. You need to be persistent and willing to ask for help. Beyond that, I think it is critical that people take ownership of their career. Many people work very hard, but wait on the sidelines hoping that opportunities will come to them. While this can happen, it’s also important to recognize the opportunities that your hard work will open up and proactively go after them.

Woody: What do you mean by “preparing for what comes after what’s next”?

Van Rooy: When people think about and plan their careers, they often focus primarily on getting their next job. What you will find is that they don’t always consider how that job will advance their skills and prepare them for the job that they want after that. Or worse, they take a similar job in a new company simply to get more pay, but they gain very little in terms of experience. By thinking two steps ahead, it is easier to ensure that your next job will get you closer to your longer-term goal – the job that’s after what’s next.

Woody: What is the stagnation trap and why do so many people fall prey to it?

Van Rooy: There is so much change going on – especially with disruptive technology that is constantly changing how work gets done – and it is absolutely essential to keep up with it. People that continue to rely on their old way of doing something will find that they get passed by. The irony is that you can become unsuccessful by doing the exact same thing that made you successful in the first place. Some of the most successful companies fell into the stagnation trap by continuing to rely on the product that got them there, even though they knew that their competitors were pushing into new areas.

Woody: Tell me about the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) and how you are supporting their mission with this book.

Van Rooy: One of the great things about Trajectory is that its message is relevant across multiple career stages, including times of transition. To me, one of the most important transitions occurs when our military veterans move into the civilian workforce. Recognizing an opportunity to help these heroes, I found a great organization – the Institute for Veteran’s and Military Families (IVMF) – that is dedicated to this cause, and to which I am donating all of my author royalties.


Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a CEC certified executive coach trained in organizational psychology. Dr. Woody is author of The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economand the new on-line course The YOU Plan for Career Change on Udemy. To book Dr. Woody for your next event contact Sue Falcone at sue@simplysuespeaks.com or call 1-888-766-3155.

It’s Freelance Friday with “Dr. Woody” Woodward

Growing a Business, but Maintaining Your Values

desertjet-screenweb

The most successful entrepreneurs blend their passions into their business ventures, and Denise Wilson, founder and CEO ofDesert Jet, is no exception.

As the founder and CEO of Desert Jet, an aviation management company, Wilson, a former pilot, is trying to simplify private air travel.

While attending the 2013 Annual EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in Desert Springs, Calif., I had the opportunity to sit down with Wilson to learn more about how her business and the role her values play in everyday operations. Here’s what she had to say:

Woody: Tell me about Desert Jet and where the idea for building this business came from?

Wilson: Desert Jet is an aircraft charter management and maintenance company. Think of us as the private car service of the sky. What makes us unique is that we have no requirements to buy an aircraft, to buy a share of an aircraft, or to even by a jet card. People just call us when they want to fly and fly with us. It’s a very simple process.

Woody: How has the transition been from pilot to entrepreneur to business executive?

WilsonIt’s been an incredibly fun and challenging experience. It goes from working in the business to on the business. That concept of being and working in the business, to now trying to be more of a strategist for the company and cheerleader for my employees, and also working on the business and really focusing on the growth of the company–it’s been a challenge. To this day, I’m still a pilot for the company, but I’m trying to find a balance between leading the company and basically having fun as a pilot.   

Woody What have been some of the toughest people management challenges you’ve had to learn?

Wilson:These days, I really am a coach and teacher in my company. It’s really been trying to transfer all of the knowledge I have about the operations of the company to others so that they can successfully run the company, which allows me to really lead the company.  

Woody: How do you instill your philosophy and your values in those who work for you?

WilsonIt takes a lot of time and patience. It’s really being able to have those philosophical discussions about what I believe in and what my values are. That’s an almost easier conversation to have than talking about the micromanaging and nitpicking of how do you particularly serve a client in the particular way they want to be served.    

Woody: What are some of those core values or guiding principles that you rely on as an executive?

Wilson:As long as everyone in my company keeps in mind the values of kindness and caring and basically thinking of ways that business aviation can give back to our community, then everything runs perfectly.

Woody: How do you instill that in those around you and make sure it spreads throughout the organization?

Wilson:By setting an example. If one of my employees comes to me and says one of our clients just fell ill, and I want to do something nice for them I show them the example and say this is what we are going to do: let’s send flowers, let’s go visit them in the hospital, let’s do these things…

Woody: So where do these values come from?

Wilson: Well, you know, I had a decision early on in the company about what the company was going to be about. And, it’s really not about the profits, it’s about what your life is going to be like. To me, I really want to enjoy walking down the halls of my company and looking at my employees and seeing that everyone is enjoying being there and having a good time. I want to see my clients be happy and really that’s what it’s about. I want to have a happy life, I want to enjoy my job and my work, and that’s really the big determining factor, do we live our values?

Woody: What advice do you have for women entrepreneurs looking to build their businesses while maintaining their values?

Wilson: Wow, you know there are a lot of key points where you’ll have decisions you have to make along the way where sometimes it’s easier to do the quick route that might be more profitable for the company, but rarely those short-term gains just aren’t worth the long-term sacrifice of yourself and who you really are, so I’d say as long as you are always following your gut instincts and heart you are doing the right thing.      

Click here to view Dr. Woody’s full live-taped video interview with Denise Wilson.


Sebastian's First Birthday PartyMichael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a CEC certified executive coach trained in organizational psychology. Dr. Woody is author of The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economand the new on-line course The YOU Plan for Career Change on Udemy. To book Dr. Woody for your next event contact Sue Falcone at sue@simplysuespeaks.com or call 1-888-766-3155.

It’s Freelance Friday with “Dr. Woody” Woodward

The Cubicle Turns 50

cubicle-office-work

Love it or hate it, the dreaded office cubicle is part of our work life.

The office cubicle or “action office” was created by Robert Propst of the famed Herman Miller furniture company and debuted in 1964 as an alternative to the bull pen or classroom-style arrangements that dominated offices for decades prior to the 1960s. The original design was meant to mitigate the sensory overload and lack of privacy people complained about at the time.

Oddly enough, that same classroom-style design he was trying to combat with the cube has resurfaced as the “open office” concept that’s had quite the resurgence in the last decade. So this begs the question: Is the cube really all that bad, and do people really want to work in open office plans?

There is no doubt the proliferation of digital and wireless technology has dramatically changed the way we do work. However, one principle has always remained the same: The more you work with people and allow them to operate naturally, the more productive they will be–this is a concept that many in the executive ranks still struggle to comprehend. Instead of thinking in terms of cube vs. open plan, we should instead be thinking about smart design and enhancing the ability of employees to focus.

When it comes to creating a productive office space, here are some facts to consider from a 2013 study by the design firm Gensler:

  • 53% of employees are disturbed by others when trying to focus;
  • 69% of employees are dissatisfied with noise levels of their primary workspace;
  • 77% of employees prefer quiet when they need to focus.

For business owners considering the best layout for their workspace, here are some tips:

One Size Does Not Fit All. – Just because a design is all the rage in Silicon Valley doesn’t make it the right fit for your business. Work space design needs to be driven by more than meager attempts at forced collaboration and federally-mandated ergonomics. It’s about customizing a space to help people flow and operate as naturally as possible.  The recent emphasis on collaboration through shared workspaces may be at the cost of an individual’s ability to actually focus (Notice that most people in shared or open work spaces are wearing headphones).

A Little Privacy Can Go a Long Way. We are social creatures by nature, but we do need privacy. The famous Hawthorne studies demonstrated that when you know others are watching and listening, you act differently. People have a tendency to behave in ways that are socially desirable because they want to fit in. This can be both good and bad. Ultimately, it’s best to err on the side of being yourself and most people are likely to be themselves when they have some privacy. Also, people do like having their own space, an enclave where they can leave things without fear of disruption, a space they can  be responsible for and personalize. When you give people ownership they care.

Choice is Good. Autonomy fosters ownership and responsibility, which is why it’s important to allow employees freedom in how they work. Well-designed offices should offer a variety of spaces to allow  employees the freedom to choose the type of work space that best suits their needs at any one particular time. A Cornell study of small businesses found that those who gave employees choice in how they did their work grew 4 times faster and had  one-third less turnover!

When it comes down to it, you have to find ways to work with your employees, not against them. When it comes to work space, the spirit of getting it right really comes down to understanding the natural flow of human behavior. Executives and even designers often have the tendency to project their personalities and beliefs onto the office environment which can create work spaces that are more reflections of themselves than actually reflective of the needs of their employees.

Sebastian's First Birthday PartyMichael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a CEC certified executive coach trained in organizational psychology. Dr. Woody is author of The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economand the new on-line course The YOU Plan for Career Change on Udemy. To book Dr. Woody for your next event contact Sue Falcone at sue@simplysuespeaks.com or call 1-888-766-3155.

It’s Freelance Friday with “Dr. Woody” Woodward

It’s Not Intentional, It’s Just Their Personality

personalityEvery workplace has its own unique cast of characters who drive the overall culture of the organization. Regardless of how harmonious this culture may appear, we must keep in mind that every cast member is different and has the ability to contribute to or detract from that harmony. The challenge is that when it comes to spotting what sets us apart, we tend to focus on superficial differences such as gender, race, and ethnicity. Although it’s natural to focus our attention on the obvious, it’s not always the right path, particularly when it comes to building relationships and fostering team cohesion.

The fact is one of the greatest drivers of misunderstanding and conflict between individuals is personality. One of the key reasons for this is that we often mistake personality for intent. In other words, we have the tendency to assume a colleague is intentionally acting different from us, when in fact she is actually different from us. For example, some people are more extroverted and assertive whereas others are more introverted and reserved. In meetings, this can be a challenge when the extrovert feels the introvert isn’t contributing as aggressively as desired, when in fact, the introvert is just processing, reflecting, and waiting for the right moment.

Other less obvious differences can include an individual’s need for structure, routine, and control vs. someone who is wide open, fluid, and collaborative or how agreeable someone is vs. someone who tends to stick to their guns. The key point to remember here is that these differences are natural preferences that will often drive behaviors counter to what is natural for you. They are not intentional acts designed to undermine you.

When it comes to understanding personality differences, one of the most researched models is the five-factor model also known as the Big Five. The theory is that there are five major trait categories that describe our personality. According to the Big Five, we all consistently fall somewhere along each of the following five continuums that many refer to as OCEAN: Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion/introversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.

Openness to Experience: At the open end, individuals are highly interested in experiencing new things and are flexible in their thinking, where at the opposite end, individuals are more closed and rigid in how they approach new experiences.

Conscientiousness: Those who are high in conscientiousness tend to be diligent and dutiful in the way the approach work and life. Individuals who are lower on the conscientiousness scale tend to be big picture thinkers and less interested in the details of how things get done.

Extraversion/Introversion: Probably the most recognizable personality trait is extroversion because it’s easy to see. Extraverts are socially assertive and gain energy from performing for and interacting with others. Introverts draw energy from reflection and tend to prefer working alone or in small groups.

Agreeableness: This scale looks at the level of friendliness versus hostility that someone tends to display when interacting with others. Those high in agreeableness are more trusting and modest whereas those low in agreeableness are more suspicious and oppositional.

Neuroticism (Emotional Stability): Those who are highly neurotic tend to be less stable and frequently demonstrate negative emotions. Those who are more emotionally stable are generally more pleasant and tend to be more resistant to stress.

Diversity of personality is often a key component to building a successful team. Take the time to get to know and understand the personalities of those you work with. There are numerous personality assessments out there on the market, most of which are about as useful as taking the latest Cosmopolitan quiz. So, when looking for an assessment, be sure to work with a trained professional and seek out those assessments that have some foundation in or strong overlap with the Big Five.

Photo Credit: Flickr/hang_in_there

Sebastian's First Birthday PartyMichael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a CEC certified executive coach trained in organizational psychology. Dr. Woody is author of The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economand the new on-line course The YOU Plan for Career Change on Udemy. To book Dr. Woody for your next event contact Sue Falcone at sue@simplysuespeaks.com or call 1-888-766-3155.

It’s Freelance Friday with “Dr. Woody” Woodward

Founder of Tough Mudder on Why Teamwork in Office Matters

Mud Run

Sprinting through mud-covered fields, army-crawling under live wires, climbing walls and running past fires all on the same course will test the endurance of any person. And it’s a big business.

While attending the 2013 Annual EY Entrepreneur of the Year Awards in Desert Springs, California I had the opportunity to sit down with Will Dean, founder and CEO of Tough Mudder.

I asked him what spurred the idea of the 12-mile challenges and how his own values and lifestyle play a role in his growing business. Here’s what he had to say:

Woody: What is Tough Mudder?

Dean: Let’s start with what Tough Mudder is not first. What Tough Mudder is not is a race. It’s a challenge you do it with your friends. It’s about teamwork and camaraderie. It’s a 12 mile military style obstacle course with about 20 obstacles spread out over that 12 miles designed to test you physically, mentally, and as a team.

Woody: What is it that inspired you to launch Tough Mudder?

Dean: About six years ago I did a triathlon and this was not a competitive event. There was no prize money and it wasn’t like I was at the front anyway. The zipper jammed on my wet suit and I turned to the guy next to me and I said, ‘hey can you just give this a quick pull?’ He said sorry, I’m kind of in a rush. And then the second guy said the same thing. Then the third guy, he helped me, but what I realized is this is an incredibly solitary pursuit. A lot of endurance events are very much about the individual and one of the things I saw with marathons in particular is when you do a marathon what people ask you is what time do you do it in. For a lot of people that’s not really the metric of success.

What I wanted to do was build an event that was all about team work, camaraderie, having fun, absolutely testing yourself physically and mentally, but at the end of it feeling like you’ve done it as part of a team.

Woody: So what is it about you personally and your personal experience that gave you this desire to facilitate team work and get that out there in the world through Tough Mudder?

Dean: I played a lot of sport growing up in the UK and one of the things that’s emphasized a lot in the UK, and certainly in Brittan, is it’s not just about the winning, it’s being part of a team, it’s taking part in something, something that’s bigger than yourself. I very much wanted to try and find an event that did that and I was looking around for something to train towards and I just didn’t see something out there that really resonated.

I thought I’m probably not the only person to think this way. I probably have friends and there are others out there that like the idea of something that’s about all around fitness, but isn’t about racing all the time because too much of life is one big rat race. Why can’t exercise be fun?

Woody: What are some of the challenges you have faced growing your team?

Dean: I think the key to scale is company culture. Company culture, culture in general, is just how people behave when you are not looking. When you’re walking around, people tend to be real saints. They tend to do exactly what you want when you are looking. The trouble is we are putting on events in 53 fields all around the world. Live events tend to rely on a lot of young people to execute them and so you have to be confident you have people who are actually going to behave the way you want them to in those tough situations when you may have to deal with an injury on a course or when you are dealing with a storm coming through. So it’s about recruiting the right people.

One of the things my co-founder and I always said was we’d never hire anyone that we wouldn’t have dinner with, and that’s something we’ve always been able to hold true to. I think really strong cultures– not only are they about getting the right people in and creating the right behavioral norms–but it’s also making sure the organization itself, when you get someone who doesn’t fit into that organization, rejects that individual. I think we’ve done a very good job of building a culture where people take a lot of personal responsibility. I think in the live event space that’s very, very important. But it’s certainly a challenge to build, grow, and maintain that culture.

Click here to view Dr. Woody’s full live-taped video interview with  Dean

Sebastian's First Birthday PartyMichael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a CEC certified executive coach trained in organizational psychology. Dr. Woody is author of The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economand the new on-line course The YOU Plan for Career Change on Udemy. To book Dr. Woody for your next event contact Sue Falcone at sue@simplysuespeaks.com or call 1-888-766-3155.

It’s Freelance Friday: Interview with Founder and CEO of KIND, Daniel Lubetzky by Dr. Michael Woody. “Authenticity Being Key Ingredient to Success”

KIND Founder on Authenticity Being Key Ingredient to Success

  • KIND

A brand is a promise, and that promise starts with authenticity.

Many executives will pay lip service to the idea of authenticity and having a strong set of values only to fail in genuinely demonstrating them in the way they live and lead on a day-to-day basis.

That is not the case with Daniel Lubetzky, founder and CEO of KIND Healthy Snacks. He identifies authenticity as one of the values that drives his personal and business life.

To Lubetzky, KIND is more than just a name and a business; it’s a way of living. As the son of a Holocaust survivor, he learned at an early age the power of kindness and helping others, which is why the folks at KIND strive to make as much of a positive social impact as they do an economic one. Critical to their success is that they do it in an authentic way. Programs like the KIND Movement and Strong & KIND are genuine reflections of Lubetzky’s drive to make the world a better place.

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Lubetzky at the annual EY Strategic Growth Forum to talk about the role authenticity and how his personal values play a role in his leadership. Below is a partial except, the entire interview can be seen here.

Woody: As a founder, how have your personal values helped you in creating this organization?

Lubetzky: Some of our core values are about transparency and authenticity, that’s not just in the product having a clear wrapper, but also the way we name our products with direct names. We don’t come up with cookie cutter a-la-mode names. We are very direct, [for example we use] Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew, Dark Chocolate Nut and Sea Salt, or Almond Apricot. It’s a choice, a difficult choice because marketers always want to do some spin, but we chose that in a world of so much hoopla we wanted to be very direct.

That applies also to our culture where we are very open internally with our team. We are very communicative and we even over communicate. It’s an expectation that if someone is not doing well the person they report to will explain that to them and give them a chance to adjust and work things out amongst themselves. It’s about building a family culture where team members understand we are all in this together, that we need to win together. There’s no office politics. The challenge is to continue achieving that while we grow. We are now 250 people, so how do you preserve those values of team spirit, kindness, and camaraderie.

Woody: Two hundred and fifty people make a big family, so what are some of the things you do to preserve that family feeling?           

Lubetzky: First you need to make sure that every team member understands the essence of who we are and that every team member understands they are an ambassador to the company and that they need to represent our values. When we bring in new team members we are not just looking for who is going to excel in the field, but also who is going to have the right heart, the right values, and the right work ethic. It’s not just about being a kind person, it’s also about having a commitment to excellence, about giving it your best, and about having team spirit.”

We also have some quirky things. One is called “kindos” where once a month every team member celebrates another team member by naming “kindos” after them. It’s kinda kudos, but “kindos”. Somebody that distinguished themselves by going above board to help somebody else–somebody that did something particularly kind to another. It just sends a message to our team that’s part of our culture, that it’s part of something that’s important to our growth to continue treating each other as partners and as a family.”

The most important this is to understand who you are, not just as a person, but as a company and what are your brand values, your brand promise, and make sure you understand what your unique selling proposition is and that you stay true to it no matter what. If there is a fad here, a trend there, or someone else is doing it differently just stay grounded and make sure you are yourself and make sure you are true today and tomorrow because if you keep that brand promise the consumers, your team, and everybody are going to understand what you stand for and this will help you answer all the questions along the journey.

Dr WoodyMichael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a CEC certified executive coach trained in organizational psychology. Dr. Woody is author of The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economand the new on-line course The YOU Plan for Career Change on Udemy. To book Dr. Woody for your next event contact Sue Falcone at sue@simplysuespeaks.com or call 1-888-766-3155.