The impact of stress on our behavioral styles

One of our favorite conversations is when we get to discuss the impact of stress on our behavioral styles -- as our personality slowly cracks live a calving iceberg before dropping into the ocean waters below. Okay, so it's usually not that dramatic, but understanding how stress impacts your performance (and what to do about it) is important stuff. Check out the dominant color energy guides from Insights® below.

The Value of Commitment

Please welcome back to the Floricane blog:  Rick Jarvis, co-founder of One South Realty! Rick blogs constantly about Richmond here, here, and here. Rick has been a big Insights® fan from the beginning, so we thought we'd ask him what he learned at our fourth Insights® Explorations workshop.


I almost didn't make it to Floricane's latest Insights® Explorations session.

I took the youngest child to camp in Williamsburg and several of my biggest clients needed my time. The inbox was full and the number of ‘un-responded’ to texts approached double digits.

Oh, and it was a Friday morning.

But, I did make it (albeit a bit late) and I am glad I did. Had I let the pull of unanswered inquires dominate my day, I would have violated one of my personal values — commitment. How ironic, given that this latest Insights® Explorations installment was about (yes, you guessed it) personal values.

And, as you would expect (if you have been a regular at Insights® workshops), what you thought you were thinking at the start of the session may not actually be exactly what you end up thinking once the Floricane folks are done asking you questions and provoking far deeper analysis.

You see, throughout my formative years I spent a large part of my time sweating through a shirt that had a number on the back (and no, I was not in prison). I like to tell people who ask where I am from that I was born in Richmond and raised in a locker room. From the earliest age imaginable, I remember hitting, kicking, throwing, or otherwise interacting with an inflatable leather wrapped ball of various shapes, sizes, or colors on about every sun-baked field from Ashland to Petersburg and beyond while wearing the most hideously colored polyester uniforms of the 70’s and 80’s imaginable (Monacan High School color palate anyone?).

Having spent so much of my life being yelled... errrr... ‘encouraged’ by coaches and watching others experience the same, I began to hone my predictive skills about who would become successful and who would not. I have played with and against players who found great athletic success in all of the major sports and without a doubt, the ones who made it furthest were the ones who worked the hardest. For that reason, values like commitment, perseverance, effort, consistency, and work ethic will always resonate greatly with me.

This year’s Major League Baseball Hall of Fame (HoF) class is a great example. Ken Griffey, Jr. was the number one overall pick in the 1987 draft and he became the highest pick to ever be inducted into the HoF whereas Mike Piazza, drafted in the 62nd round (#1,390 overall) in 1988, was the lowest pick ever to make the HoF.

I think that both statistics are incredible because when you think of all of the number one overall picks in the history of baseball, Ken Griffey, Jr. is the only one out of them in the Hall of Fame?? Really?!? And, when Ken Griffey, Jr. is enshrined along side what was certainly an afterthought draft pick (1,389 players were picked in front of Mike Piazza!) the value of commitment could not be illustrated better. Both of their values to commitment distinguished them and landed them in the HoF.

As I may have mentioned in an earlier post, I am a multiple time attendee of Floricane sessions. I’ve had my profile done (twice) and sat through some form of Insights® roughly 10 times. I am kind of a junkie, I guess,. I have found this series of mini-sessions especially useful because we have not just been painting each other in shades of red, blue, green, and yellow. More importantly, we have been touching on topics that are similar to personal coaching.

As I walk away from the latest two-hour investment in self, courtesy of Floricane, I have a new understanding of why commitment is so important to me. It's why I have the friends and colleagues around me that I do and why some people have stayed in my life as long as they have.

See everyone on August 16!

Tattoo You

Please welcome to the Floricane blog:  Laura Waite of One South Realty! Laura has participated in Insights® Explorations since the start of the series this Spring, so we thought we’d ask her what she learned at our third workshop.

Thank you Floricane for another engaging Insights® Explorations session! I found myself, for the first time in my life, considering a tattoo. How could an afternoon session at Floricane inspire a tattoo? 

This workshop’s topic was goal setting, something I have never really prioritized nor considered myself good at. I’ve always thought:  I am too busy to set goals; who has time to think about such frivolous things as goals when there is so much else to do? (Who has not felt that way?) I have my daily list of to-dos that I check off - are those not goals? (Turns out they’re tasks that can help me achieve big goals.)

Goal setting sounded selfish to me, and like a cliché (like something you’d “put on” for a job interview). Instead, I usually would focus on what’s simple and realistic, like paying the mortgage (I love checking that box; that's my big goal every month).  Other goals have been spending quality time with family (I count my blessings when achieving that one) or doing a good job at work, and making people laugh.

At the Insights® Explorations session, we discussed the different traits associated with each color and the challenges those with each dominant energy may face.  My green/yellow self was worried that my goals would center around making others happy rather than focusing on myself, and how to commit to goals. (If I do not commit to goals then I won't be disappointed, right?) The dominant blue energy people in my group were worried about too many details getting in the way of clear goals.  The reds were concerned with being unrealistic and unreasonable.

We quickly decided that, for most, life goals would focus around these broad topics:

-Health

-Family/Relationships

-Job/Career/Community Service

-Self/Lifelong Learning

-Faith

-Social/Recreation

-Finances

I wanted to come up with a goal that would resonate with my priority topics from that list, that would resonate with personal mantra, my big picture, my singular sensation: my "tattoo" if you will.  As someone who may be the last person in Richmond, VA with no ink, I often think:  If I were to get a tattoo what would it be?

Most folks prioritized family and health being number one and two priorities, interchangeably. I proudly decided to go where no green/yellow people pleaser has gone before:  I prioritized Self/Faith/Lifelong Learning as my number one goal area.  If I am not able to set my main goal in life as myself, and learn to realize the importance of my own intentional contentment, satisfaction, and inner peace on a daily basis, then what good am I to any of the other areas?  Does mental health not affect physical health and cause sickness?  If I am relying on others for happiness, won't I always be disappointed?  Is it not the simple things in life that we look back on with the fondest memories that warm our spirit?

We were asked a series of questions that were all meant to inspire goal setting—each phrased differently so as to appease all of us on the color wheel, including:

-How would you spend your time if you won $10 million in the lottery?

-What would you do if you found out today that you had six months to live?

-Looking back on your life what activities have given you the best feelings of fulfillment or importance?

-What activities are you able to lose yourself and time doing?

We ended by working through how our goals needed to be “SMART” to be useful: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results Oriented, and Time Bound.

So here is my goal: My goal is to have the ability to be aware of my gifts in the present moment and to feel happiness and contentment that I am able to draw on to inspire joy in my life and the lives of others.  A bit lofty, and a bit long for a tattoo. 

But thank you, Floricane, for the opportunity to focus on myself for a couple of hours and feel better about my life.  It’s that simple and that satisfying.  If that is not tattoo worthy, that a tattoo should be all about “you” (I thought of "Tattoo You," a nod to my favorite band of all time the Stones - BONUS!), then I don't know what is.

So, I may be getting a lips tattoo as a shorthand for my goal?? The green/yellow in me needs to build some consensus first.

Floricane's June Newsletter

Every month, we offer up an opportunity to catch up with the Floricane team, and the work we're doing with organizations throughout Virginia. We call it a newsletter. It's electronic, and has pictures, words and links.

This month, we're offering up a few choice gems:

  • The Letter From John takes on issues of velocity, and the ways in which too much speed can wreck team effectiveness over time.
  • Updates on client work with the Auditor of Public Accounts, Housing Opportunities Made Equal, Smart Beginnings Virginia Peninsula, VCU's Injury and Violence Prevention Program, and the Virginia Society of Association Executives.
  • Words of wisdom on our Insights Explorations workshop series from Rick Jarvis of One South Realty Group and Ross Catrow of RVANews.
  • Plenty of new workshops and professional development opportunities.
  • A transition of sorts in the Playground Perspectives corner of the world.

Download the June 2016 newsletter here (or click the image above).

The Demise of RVANews, and Lessons Gained

There are three concurrent themes in this post. The first theme: Richmond has been, and remains, blessed with great small businesses. Second: Running a small business is hard work. The second theme: Richmond should be proud of its alternative news (recent) past.

Let's start in the middle. Running a small business is hard work.

The easiest way to discover this is to run your own small business. The next easiest way is to be married to a small business owner.

For most of my life, Richmond has been blessed with great small businesses. I used to work for one – a small, family-operated grocery store.

No, not that one. I’m talking about Lukhard’s Market. There were several in Richmond in the mid-1980s, and I was happily slogging away at the one in Bon Air when a Ukrop’s Supermarket opened three blocks away at the then-new Stony Point Shopping Center. The small team at Lukhard’s raged against the machine, but finally faded away. I took my shelf stocking, bag packing experience down the road, and spent the better part of eight years – most of high school and college – working at various Ukrop’s stores.

During high school, I bought my first punk rock record at Plan 9 in Carytown; waited restlessly in the back of Coppola’s Deli for my friend Adam to get off work before we hit a Good Guys’ show at Going Bananas; compulsively read Throttle magazine; and bought my beer without an I.D. at an unidentified Fan grocery store.

In college, Mongrel and World of Mirth (the tiki-inspired starter store) and Exile were my gift-shopping destinations of choice; the Village Café was a perpetual hangout; I bought questionable produce from the Fan Market to go with my ramen; and my first furniture came from La Diff (when it was less expensive, and on Patterson Avenue).

My two favorite post-college jobs were slinging coffee at one of Richmond’s first actual coffee houses, World Cup, and slinging alternative flicks (on VHS tapes, no less) at Video Fan. It wasn’t long before I found myself sucked into the corporate maw.

Fast forward with me to 2008. A local online news publication called RVANews was launched at the start of the recession. It was in good company. A slate of great small businesses were struggling successfully against the head winds – Elevation (advertising), The Hodges Partnership (public relations),  Blanchard’s Coffee (er, coffee). And a host of new companies were hitting the blocks – places like Lamplighter (more coffee), Floricane (my own strategy firm), Fraser Design, One South Realty Group (er, real estate).

Today, most of those businesses are still making a go of it. But RVA News is not. Not any longer. Today, it’s co-founder Ross Catrow – don’t forget his wife Valerie started in the RVANews trenches with him, as did business partner Scott Pharr – announced the small business is closing its doors. Stopping the presses.

In a city with fewer than a dozen or so solid news outlets, the loss of RVANews is real. You could feel it on Twitter as a generation of RVA denizens had a collective, “Holy shit!” moment. There was the gnashing of teeth. But more than that there was appreciation.

For a generation of Richmonders, RVANews has been a gift. The inherent goodness of Ross and Val, and the very community focused mission that drove their team, ensured that the gift almost always felt genuine. There was a real joy, and a sense of curiosity, behind RVANews.

Watching RVANews evolve its quirky sensibility, develop a voice, and deepen its connection to a new community of Richmonders was a genuine pleasure. Getting to know Ross and understand his own complex passions has been personally inspiring. The mere fact that I could watch someone else launch and build my dream job without feeling a stitch of envy tells you something about Ross Catrow.

Let’s backtrack again. Why should Richmond be so proud of its alternative news (recent) past? Because it broke the mold.

It was back in 2007 that some buzz started to be generated around town about the power of micro-blogging, or community news blogs. John Murden deserves so much of the credit – not just for Church Hill People’s News, but for his willingness to bike across town in the summer heat to help others set up sites, or just talk shop.

One of those summer nights found me, Murden, Ross Catrow and Scott Pharr (then of RVA Blogs, the aggregator that set our small worlds on fire), Jonah Holland (Near West End News), and a few others gathered above Uptown Copy to dream of a day when community news blogs ate daily newspapers for lunch.

Little did we know how quickly lunch would be served. Right there on the griddle, RVANews was born.

Rather than recount the story in relentless detail here, I’ll let the rest of Richmond’s media lay it out for us.

I don’t know how Valerie or Susan would have edited this post for clarity (not to mention fact checking my ass), but it felt important to put out a same-day reminder of a few important things that I still believe about this town:

  • We make it hard for entrepreneurs and small business owners to succeed in this town. There are not enough support systems to help entrepreneurs build solid business game plans, scale their successes, and learn to grow.
  • Despite that, we are rich with great entrepreneurial talent, and many businesses that continue to thrive.
  • Build alternatives to the status quo is a secret super power of Richmond. We should embrace that power.
  • Ross Catrow, Susan Howson and the rest of the RVANews team will move forward and do more amazing things. It’s inevitable.

The Mighty Green/Red Duo: Ross Catrow and Rick Jarvis Tackle Insights® Explorations!

Please welcome to the Floricane blog:  Ross Catrow, founder and publisher of RVANews, and Rick Jarvis, co-founder of One South Realty! Check out where Ross writes for RVANews, here; where he tweets, here; and what things he likes, here. Rick blogs constantly about Richmond here, here, and here. Rick and Ross have been big Insights® fans from the beginning (they have preferences for opposite Insights color energies), so we thought we'd ask them what they learned at our second Insights® Explorations workshop.

Ross

I love Insights®. Like, a lot. It's helped me better understand the people around me and given me an excellent vocabulary for discussing how those people behave and move through life. While I've spent a bunch of time (too much, maybe?) thinking about how my friends, family, and coworkers process information and make decisions, I haven't really put that kind of thought into what's going on with myself. How am I moving through life? Where am I going? I...don't know, but it certainly sounds like something I should figure out!

And this was just the point of the most recent Insights® Explorations session: creating a personal vision.

I've never had a written, specific personal vision, but the idea is really appealing to me. How useful would it be to have something you can use as a measuring stick when encountering new life situations or reevaluating existing ones? Something on hand to help you decide: "Hey, is this the right thing to spend my time on? Am I handling this situation the way I should be? Am I walking the right direction down the right path?"

Luckily, the folks in the room had spent a lot of time thinking about their personal visions and when asked about what words describe their own, a thousand Post-Its issued forth covered with words like "path," "dreams," and "self awareness." Piled together in thematic groups, it gave a good visual framework for what a vision should entail.

So at the end of the session, after consulting with the brilliant people at my table, here's what I ended up with:

I want to help folks do cool things that make Richmond a better place.

This is a start! But it's also pretty lacking in a bunch of important areas: family, health, spirituality.

So now that I've got a start, I need to put some serious time into thinking about those lacking areas and how to build them up and include them in my personal vision. I'll also be thinking about how my strengths and weaknesses (as defined by Insights®) play into this vision. How can I create a vision that encourages me to use my strengths (hanging out with people and listening to them talk about their super cool projects) and challenges my weaknesses (focusing on helping other people start new things, not starting all the new things myself)?

The next Insights® Exploration takes place on June 21st (come hang out!) and focuses on goals. Which is great, because by then I'll have my vision statement trimmed and tweaked. I'll know which direction I need to be pointed in, where I'm going, and what goals I need to make to get there.

I have a lot of work in front of me, which—as Floricane is known to do—has been assigned to me as homework to complete before the next session. Now it's time to figure this thing out!

Rick

Damn you, Floricane, you did it again.

Red, green, yellow and blue — the colors we all know so well — last month were turned upside down and scrambled by the introduction of the concepts of intuitive and sensory thinking to the Insights® wheel. So, I wondered where my surprise would lie when I walked into the colorful space that Floricane calls home for session 2 of 8 in the latest from Insights® Explorations.

The focus of the most recent workshop was that of ‘creating a Personal Vision.’ Sounds easy, right? Companies have them (masquerading as the Mission Statement) and all of the professional coaches seem to have them, too (think Bill Bellicheck’s ‘Do Your Job’ or John Wooden’s ‘Success Pyramid’). Having a framework seems to be prerequisite for success and since all of the groovy business gurus seem to have one, creating my own Personal Vision seemed like a great idea — I’m in.

So what would mine look like? Should it be measurable? Should it be in multiple parts or stated as one vision? Does it require a spreadsheet? Or Powerpoint? Creation of some type of overarching personal mission statement shouldn’t be hard for me — I am pretty red — and things like mission statements and company direction all seem to come pretty easily.

Or so I thought.

The session began simply enough — Kathy probing the group and asking us to come up with words that we thought might fit into our own version of ‘personal vision.’ The 20 or so of us started spewing words that you would expect — direction, guide, help, connect, learn, teach, provide, create, family — all pretty big picture words.

And guess what, Mr. Red here caught myself using words like ‘altruism, peace and why’ and not action words like ‘execute, measure, go, do and complete.’ They just came rushing out before I could stop them. Wait, what? What are these words I am using?!? WHAT IS HAPPENING TO ME?!? WHAT HAVE I DONE WITH RICK?!?!?

Oh, no. I’ve turned green. It's not easy being green!

By the time we were done discussing the basics of a Personal Vision, I realized that what I would have thought I wanted when I walked in was really not what what I wanted at all. And all of the things that I thought would have been important in Rick’s Personal Vision are really not what gets me out of bed each day.

As I now have to sift through my now perplexed mind and wonder how I can go from the preverbal ‘bull in a china shop’ to a future yoga instructor in less than 10 minutes, it makes me wonder what else I am capable of. And I think when I really break it down, that is probably my favorite thing about Insights (and Floricane) — its ability to challenge me to think, evolve and grow. And the creation of a personal vision is yet another part of the process.

I can’t wait for the next session — who knows, maybe they will make me yellow.

Four Things I’ve Learned about Board Retreats

 ...and Some Other Notes on the Last Few Weeks

It’s strategic planning crunch time here at Floricane, which means an exciting period of renewal for our clients as their fiscal years turn over and their leadership transitions. (I would insert a gardening metaphor here, but I’m still too waterlogged from two months of rain to discuss it.)

We’re attempting to land four simultaneous plans in the next few weeks and have been crisscrossing the state for some face time with our clients. Last week, the Floricane Strategic Planning Crew (John and I) did the following:

  • Traveled to Warrenton, Virginia, to facilitate our third Board retreat in as many weeks.
  • Tiptoed out of our respective homes while our families slept to spend the day in Newport News with the staff and Board of Smart Beginnings Virginia Peninsula.
  • Sat around a fire pit getting to know the fantastic and dedicated group of volunteers and staff who run the Virginia Society of Association Executives (VSAE).

The Saturday before, we huddled with the Board and staff from Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) to examine how their work can have an even greater impact on the state of fair and affordable housing in Virginia.

These many hours interacting with people, asking difficult questions, airing hopes and fears, pointing out elephants in rooms, celebrating alignment, and when necessary (twist my arm), enjoying a rare, rain-free evening around an outdoor fire, have taught me a few lessons:

  • No two Board retreats are alike. We always customize our agendas, but more often than not, we end up pivoting in the moment based on the tone, tenor and direction of the conversation.
  • Sometimes things click, and sometimes they don’t. All of these organizations are wrestling with important, complex issues. Often we have to wrap for the day knowing there is far more work to be done, and it’s easy to feel deflated when that happens.
  • Strategic planning can be a vulnerable time for an organization, particularly for staff and outgoing leadership. It’s often our responsibility to navigate the knowledge gap between Board members and the staff who run the day-to-day operations, and to make sure that bold ideas are both exciting and realistic. Staff on the other hand are inspired and supported best by Boards that take ownership of the plan and commit to championing its implementation.
  • If you’re going to spend 4-6 hours in a room with 20+ people, do it in a room with windows.       

I’m excited about the next few weeks. The strategies set forth in these plans will affect many, many people. The ripple effect of 12 people deciding to go in a certain direction, for example, could conceivably change the lives of hundreds of young children and families in Newport News and Hampton for the next few decades. The decisions made by the administrators of the Injury and Violence Prevention Program at VCU Medical Center will cascade out into the community in ways that will bring a new level of health, safety and quality of life to our region.

As soon as we land these plans, a few more are waiting on the tarmac for take-off. Here’s hoping the skies are clear and free of rain. 

An Insightful Morning with the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity

Previously on the Floricane blog, I’ve joked about being like this guy.  Seriously, my Insights profile says, “when communicating with Kathy, do not get too emotional,” and do “gently remind her of the human dimension.” Unsurprisingly, I don’t think I am often (ever) described as acting “warm and fuzzy.” But, I sure felt like this warm and fuzzy guy last Monday, after meeting the team at the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD).

It’s not just that LCLD’s mission to “creat[e] a truly diverse U.S. legal profession” is tailor made for my heart-strings (I used to work in the legal field, as a women’s rights project director). Beyond that shared passion, the people that do the hard work of making LCLD’s mission a reality touched me with their camaraderie and thoughtfulness as we spent the morning delving into Insights. Many of us know how inspiring it feels to be on a team that’s relational and supportive, and I could tell the LCLD team “clicks” like that. Watching (and helping) a team dive even deeper into figuring out who they are and how to relate even better to each other is incredibly inspiring, too.

Even before we started the session, a whole bunch of human dimension emotions flooded the room. A number of people nervously anticipated their Insights results. My favorite quote was, “I’m afraid the results will show I’m too bossy – or another b-word.” Two thoughts came to mind as I listened in:  One, I am someone who routinely sends brag texts to my friends after I check tasks off my to-do list – texts of endlessly repeating queen emojis. Needless to say, I hadn’t thought to worry about being seen as “bossy.” Two, Insights uses an online evaluator, testing word pairs to describe your style, and honestly, it hadn’t occurred to me that the word pairs alone – before even getting results -- would trigger worry.

The LCLD team’s warmth and harmonious dynamic helped to lift the worries in the room though, as teammates dug deep in to what makes their varying styles valuable. Personally, I am thankful that the LCLD team gave me the chance to step back from my usual style, put myself in their shoes, and practice how to more relationally convey one of the key take-aways of an Insights session: there is no right or wrong style, but an awareness of your preferences will help you become more adaptable.