Are you asking good questions?

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      Have you ever been given unsolicited advice? How did it help you? Did it make you feel annoyed or stupid?
      In the last 5 years, I have seen this annoyance show up randomly as I work with various clients.  It seems to stem from those with an honest desire to help but their efforts can result in adverse reactions.

       The quote, “Nothing FOR me without me” is meant to emphasize the idea that asking deeper QUESTIONS is important before deciding what is GOOD for someone.  Asking good questions helps you to be a better leader.  The more you learn to listen, the better your questions become. And the more questions you ask, the more you can understand the real problem you are trying to solve.
Here’s why asking questions is important:
*Questions help uncover the challenges you are facing and generate better solutions to solve those challenges. Sometimes we give our first answer and race on without digging any deeper.
*Questions help uncover the available capacity and potential of those you lead.  A good question can often cause an “A-HA” moment to happen, which will lead to innovation and growth.
*Questions keep you in learning mode, rather than assumption or judgement mode. When you learn to ask questions, you will not feel rushed to provide the solution, provide the answer, or take on the challenge.
      Learning to ask good questions is the sign of a leader bought into the development of their staff as well as the team. If you’re interested in learning more about how to ask good questions, or to schedule a session please see our website at

Traci Newkirk 
Chief Team Developer

Are you asking yourself the tough questions?

      picture for blog today      I am a personality junkie.  Leading with the Clifton StrengthsFinder talent of Empathy, I am fascinated with the madness, gladness and sadness of humanity. I love studying what makes people “tick”, how they are wired to process information, and how they go about building relationships with others. I know my Top 34 Strengths, my Enneagram number (2w.3), my DISC profile (IDSC), my Entrepreneur BP-10,  and my Myers-Briggs results.  I have taken Sales Profile assessments, Kolbie assessments, and the Spiritual Gifts test.  On this quest to understand other people, I have found some very helpful and self-correcting information about myself as well.
      Author Zora Neale Hurston has a quote in her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God that says, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.”  For me, the last 5 years have been answering years, but I, like many of you I’m sure, have had my share of questioning years. I think it is important to remember that it is EMOTIONALLY HEALTHY for all of us to take a moment and ask ourselves some hard questions.  I want to challenge all of you to spend some time in the month of January processing who you are and what your motives are.  If we don’t know our motivations and the stories or lies we are telling ourselves, how can we ever grow past them?  We can change, readjust, self-correct, and we don’t have to live stuck…repeating the same old habits year after year.  Consider these questions when you have time to sit and reflect for a moment:
Are you giving life to others or just yourself?
Are you creating a positive impact on others?
Do you understand where your anger is coming from?
Which of your Strengths are turned up too high?
Are you practicing a Sabbath weekly? If not, why?
What Strength needs to sit in the backseat sometimes?
What is motivating you to be unregulated?
Do you know your values and are you able to live them out daily?
      In 2019, we have created an Executive Coaching platform that uses 4 different assessments that allow you to spend some time thinking about the questions above. If you are interested in learning more about our available sessions, please visit us at!

Traci Newkirk 
Chief Team Developer

Is your learning greater than your experience?

      blog 11      I used to be a collector of experiences.  We would plan a trip and as soon as I came home, I would begin to plan the vacation for the next year.  I still love the “high” that comes from planning an event.  One day, my husband planned our anniversary trip and would not tell me what we were doing in advance.  I never knew the next “thing” until it happened and the whole weekend was filled with new and exciting adventures.  On the ride home, he asked me what I learned.  I thought this was a weird question because “learning” had not been a part of our weekend.  I sat and thought for a minute. I told him that I had learned that I never really enjoy our vacations once they start…I am always concerned with keeping us on schedule, moving our group to the next experience, worrying about directions and timing the experience just right.  But on this trip, I was relaxed and just very much present. I learned that I really enjoyed the spontaneity.

This question “what did you learn?” has become part of my daily and weekly life.  Every time we train a new client, I challenge Logan to list all the things she learned.  When our internal team has a challenging week, I have them share what they individually learned from the experience.  When a deal goes south, we have an autopsy of the deal.  Each time, we try and make our learning greater than our experience.  Continual learning is essential to lifetime growth.  Dan Sullivan in the Laws of Lifetime Growth says, “You don’t get to choose all the experiences you have, but you do get to choose what to do with them.  You can use them as excuses, wear them as badges of honor, or make them emotional triggers for when you want to go on a good rant or have a good cry, or bury them like skeletons, which always seem to resurface later. These choices do not help you grow.  Or you can use them as raw material for learning, harnessing the emotional energy behind them to drive you to make good use of their lessons.”

While making your new years resolutions for this year, I hope you will consider making this quote one of your resolutions for 2019. Transform your experiences into lessons and you will never feel disadvantaged by your past.

Traci Newkirk 
Chief Team Developer

Are you a good receiver?

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      For Christmas this year, I started a new tradition.  At the first of December, I made a pact with myself to drop off one gift every day for 12 days.  The gifts did not need to be expensive, but they had to be thoughtful. Something not wasteful, not frivolous, but gifts that would make the recipient feel seen and valued. It has been great to practice “giving” without worrying about “getting”.  This has not been easy, but honestly has brought great joy to me.  What has been interesting is how they have been received. 
      Some people have been skeptical…wondering what I wanted by delivering a gift.  Some people have been gracious sending pictures of them enjoying the item. Others have dropped off a gift at my home….uncomfortable not being on the same status of gift giving. Others have been hard on themselves for not having the idea or for not being a good “gift giver”.  Pretty much, I have learned that people struggle with receiving generosity.
      This makes me wonder about our ability to receive and feel joy from a gift. One of my long-time vendors last week had a gift for ME and treated me to lunch after a training session.  It was so precious.  This was my first time (as the vendor) being gifted and it was just lovely. I could tell it brought her and the department great joy and I left feeling loved and served.  My ability to receive the gift was also a gift.  I appreciated their thoughtfulness. 
      How are you doing being a good receiver this holiday?  Can you just sit in the joy of being gifted?  Or do you feel your value only when you have a gift to give in return? Are you being generous with yourself and the season of life you are in?  Can you receive even when you can’t afford to give? 
      Learning to be generous sometimes begins by being generous to our ourselves.  Try recognizing with non-judgement this season: kindness, respect and care.  Learn to be a good receiver and celebrate the fact that someone cares enough to even try. 

Traci Newkirk 
Chief Team Developer

Are you a BOTH/AND type of person?

blog 8      For the last couple of years, I have noticed a trend in the workforce.  I especially notice it when the individual is low in the CliftonStrengths talent of Harmony.  Here is what I am observing:  A manager is sitting in a Senior Management meeting and she is upset at her team.  She spends time being frustrated and upset at their performance.  At her next team meeting, she talks about how the Senior Management is really coming down hard on her and how their (the teams) performance is putting her in a bad position. She tells them, throwing her hands up in the air, that you guys have got to get your crap together.  And walks out.
      This manager just became an EITHER/OR type of manager. E/O managers have to pick a side to defend. They create an US vs. THEM type of team.  The manager positions herself to be on the SENIOR Management team and not her own work team.  The team feels that the manager is against them.  This is an ineffective way to influence people.
      A different management approach is to be a BOTH/AND type of manager.  The B/A manager can be FOR the Senior Management Team AND for her team.  She doesn’t feel the need to pick sides, after all, they are all on one team…THE COMPANY.  A BOTH/AND manager would listen intently to the quarterly goals.  She then creates SMART goals breaking things down into parts that can be easily understood. She will then meet with her team and ask for input on how the team can achieve the goals.  She allows her team to formulate their plan individually.  She then holds them accountable daily or weekly to the SMART goals THEY have individually set.  She supports her team when she communicates the metrics to the Senior Management team.
      A BOTH/AND manager can be for the company, team and senior leaders.  This requires not taking sides, being curious, building collaboration and being aware.  It is all about mindset.
      We can apply this BOTH/AND attitude to many parts of our lives.  Here are a few ways to consider:

 *You can be BOTH a successful business woman AND a mom.
*You can be BOTH courageous AND fearful.
*You can be loyal to BOTH your mom AND your mother-in-law.
*You can be for BOTH your husband AND your kids. (Your husband is not your enemy.)
*You can BOTH lead AND follow your team.
*You can be BOTH a teacher AND a learner.
*You can BOTH work hard AND rest well.
*You can BOTH serve AND be served.
*You can be BOTH generous AND receive generosity well.
      Learning to not take sides is a healthy and mature way of conducting yourself. It’s also a more effective way to lead.

Traci Newkirk 
Chief Team Developer

The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek…

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      15 years ago while sitting at Soby’s, my husband and I made a brave and equally stupid decision.  We decided to start our own business. In 2003, the United States economy was slowly recovering from the latest 10 year recession. We launched ICAP with the backing of two close friends and we had about $80.00 in our savings account.  We had two small children at the time, no insurance and a mortgage.  To say I was fearful would be an understatement. Statistics say that most businesses die within 5 years of starting. 
blog 6      The graph above is from the US Department of Labor and it shows the birth and death rate of businesses. The blue line (BIRTH) should always be higher than the red line (DEATH).  You know your economy is in trouble when the blue line drops below the red line.  As you can see, that happened during the 2008-2010 recession and we lost about 75% of our business during that time.  I have never met a business owner who doesn’t know first hand about disappointment, failure and even heartbreak.  We have certainly felt all of those emotions and many others.

But at the same time, over the last 15 years, we have felt great joy.  Joy when we staffed someone out of a bad situation and doubled their income. Happiness when we found a Jr level position for a candidate when they needed to change fields. Gratitude when we hired people for our internal staff who were trustworthy. Fulfillment when we can help an employee become more self aware and a better spouse, co-worker and friend. Starting a business has been a horrifying and absolutely thrilling journey.  One that I would highly recommend but also caution against.

Sadly, we have never stopped in these 15 years to look back and to celebrate. To revel for a moment in what we have accomplished and how far we have come.  In 2018, we are stopping and celebrating and thinking and dreaming of what our future could look like.

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      Thank you so much for being a part of the last 15 years, for hiring us to be your culture consultant, for allowing us to partner with you as you develop your Human Potential. We are so thankful for the opportunity to serve you!

Traci Newkirk

Traci Newkirk 
Chief Team Developer