Executive Career Counsel from Scott Fenton, VP/CIO, River Wind Systems (An Intel Company)

3e70a7dOne of the best ‘perks’ of my business is being warmly introduced to my clients and colleague’s all time favorite mentors and leadership role models. Anyone who knows me can quickly surmise that I am a leadership nut—I have an insatiable curiosity to understand what makes the best and the most influential leaders tick. In light of my forthcoming book, The “Suite” Spot, I have been collecting interviews with some of these men and women for the past few years. Today, I wanted to share some sage wisdom from one of these gentlemen, Scott Fenton, VP/CIO of River Wind Systems (An Intel Company).

Thank you John Ragan for the introduction. Enjoy and let us know what you think about Scott’s counsel:
On confidence:

“I began my career 25 years ago at Tektronix, which back then was a red hot place to work in technology. It was quite intimidating being around so many really smart people. And public speaking at that time felt like a living nightmare. However, over time, through networking and increased familiarity with my expertise, my confidence grew. There is no way to avoid those growing pains. If you are not feeling those pangs of growth, then you are probably not expanding yourself in the way that you need to if you see yourself eventually acquiring a senior level position. If you want to get to the C-suite, it is mandatory that you embody tremendous confidence and extraordinary public speaking skills.”

On developing people:

“Early on in my career, a common fear based approach to success that I flirted with was to never hire people who were smarter than you for fear that they would eventually replace you. I quickly realized that this was faulty logic and that I would much rather surround myself with the best and the brightest so that we can be successful together. The saying my team has come to know all too well is, “If I know more about your job than you do, then we are both in trouble”. My management philosophy is that my people are the experts in their particular roles and I want to serve as a strategic sounding board for them. I make sure that I am spending quality time with my reports and I also believe in checking in with folks who don’t report up to me but who impact our overall business. Ongoing open communication is really most important when charged with developing a team and growing a company.”

On satisfaction:

“These days, I get most jazzed by working with other executives on strategy. Earlier on, I was very tactically focused and consumed with keeping our systems running. Since taking on the CIO role, my sole focus is helping to grow our company and keep customers happy. This involves reviewing business trends, providing tools and technology that will help our enterprise expand its reach, and networking with our industry leaders.”

On delegation:

“When people come to me with problems I ask them: What is your issue? What problem are you trying to solve? After discussing, I offer my ideas and then try to put them in touch with the appropriate resource or person who can best help them.”

On strategy:

“For me, thinking strategically meant taking off my technical hat and putting on my business hat and then having casual, but critical conversations with the senior leaders of my organization. Sometimes, this meant popping into their offices or catching them in the hallways and engaging them in a thoughtful dialogue around our business. I get frustrated at times with droning casual chit-chat like someone dropping into my office and asking me how my weekend was and wanting details, or perhaps some comment about the weather. I think to myself, “Really, is that all what you want to talk about? ”
If you are looking to become more strategic, focus on becoming a trusted advisor for your organizations leadership. Work to understand what is important to them, then help them problem solve and build those relationships over time. I worked to learn something about every department of the organizations I have been a part of so I would be sure to offer counsel that took into account each dimension of our business’ total landscape.”



Want to Win Friends & Influence (Powerful) People? Start by Building Trust

Bn3Cq0aIUAAkyZcDo you ever wonder what X factor or DNA sequence charming and powerful people embody that allow them to attract and directly impact very important people? These are the women and men who are able to build consensus, drive critical initiatives and in a nutshell get things d.o.n.e. throughout their lives. What is the crucial ingredient to their sustained success?


It is true. Infinitely successful people are able to establish and build trust with those they surround themselves with AND they entrust those around them to support them in achieving their goals. How does one build trust?

In two simple steps: Disclose and Seek Feedback. Rinse and Repeat.

By consistently following this two step process, as proven by the Johari Window, you will build a highly personalized relationship bond based on increased awareness of commonalities and shared values and empathy for one another. Every time I teach or address a new group, I begin our session by sharing part of my story that they might not expect to learn from me and I ask them to tell us something about themselves that they have not shared before. Immediately, anxiety decreases, affinity grows and the conversation is deepened and as a result our ‘learning lab’ has been established within the first ten minutes. I explain that I am the learning facilitator but that everyone in the room has as much to teach one another as and we will work to share our wisdom collaboratively. This participative teaching style results in everyone feeling of equal value and a shared ownership of this learning experience. It also takes the unreasonable expectations I used to put on my own shoulders that somehow I was supposed to have ALL the answers.
So what is the application for this phenomenon in the day to day workplace where many of us fall into a trap of trying to do everything ourselves, not letting our guard down and as a result, implying that others are not to be trusted and that there is only one way to get things done?
To highlight this scenario, I am going to share with you part of an interview I conducted with Sales Executive, Enrica Carroll for my forthcoming book, The “Suite” Spot:
Katie: How did you stop trying to unconsciously be all things to all people?
Enrica Carroll: “Surrounding yourself with the right people is critical and enabling. But it also requires you to stop needing to do everything yourself, or insisting that it be done your way. It demands a leap of faith that others can do what you did and do it as well or better. Of course, this is all easier said than done. The truth is, that even though I had many good people around me, in retrospect I realize I micromanaged too much and found it very difficult to relinquish control. I would handle it differently if I had it all to do over again.”
What I so appreciate about Enrica’s omission here is that in hindsight, she is able to acknowledge that this is a three part challenge:
First is the need to let go of the control of some of the little and big details throughout your life.
Second is the need to turn these responsibilities over to people whom you entrust enough to get those things done in a satisfactory manner.
Third is the grace and faith to accept that while those things may get done a bit differently than you may have done, this is okay.
When we become overly invested in a pattern of getting things done OUR WAY, we decrease the opportunities to let people into our life where collaboration typically leads to a greater compound effect. A pattern of ‘my way or the highway’ reflects a distrust of those around you and only leads to greater likelihood of isolation and decreased influencing capabilities.

If you would like to become more influential at the office and beyond, here are some questions you can practice using in an effort to build greater trust:
“I would really appreciate your insights on my recent work. I always find your point of view valuable.”
“How can I best support you?”“I have been a bit overwhelmed by the magnitude of X project lately. Would you like to grab a cup of coffee and brainstorm on how we can best partner on its outcome?”

What are some of the ways you build trust in your relationships?



Want to Super Charge Your 2014? Check This Out:

instaquote-_tempI have always been the type of person who lives in the ‘tomorrow’ (what’s next, how can I position myself for my next best thing…) versus the ‘yesterday’ (coulda, woulda, shoulda mentality). As a result, I started thinking this weekend about where I have netted out so far with my 2014 resolutions, goals, dreams (or whatever you call your aspirations for business and life beyond the office) and I thought it would be helpful to collectively evaluate where we all stand as we look ahead to the remaining half of 2014 over the next month or so. Care to join me?

Just like any diet, or desire for a shift in our inputs and outputs throughout our lives—the best way to really make a calculated impact, is by taking the time to evaluate and determine what’s working, what’s not working and understanding what we need to shift so that we end 2014 with a bang. So, I put together a quick 10 question survey, asking all of us to answer these questions:
1. Are you tracking to achieve your 2014 goals?
2. If you have an unfulfilled 2014 New Year’s resolution that you wish you had stuck with–what is it?
3. What are you most proud of achieving so far this year?
4. What three goals of yours are most important to accomplish by year’s end?
5. What do you need to prioritize to accomplish these goals?
6. What might prevent you from achieving your year-end goals?
7. What are you doing differently this year that is helping you be even more successful than last year?
8. Who or what has had the greatest positive impact on achieving your goals?
9. What limiting belief is holding you back from achieving what you want?
10. True success is…..

Do these questions resonate with you? If so, take 15 minutes and complete them in our survey: Katie Kelley Networks Mid Year Review Survey. Then, if you are in Portland, join us at our June 4th Katie Kelley Networks Mid Year Soiree where Katie will be unveiling the overall results of the survey OR sign up to listen in to our online class: Katie Kelley Networks Mid Year Review Online Class on June 10th! All participants in these events, will be part of our KKN Consultation Raffle that will be announced on June 10th. So, who is in? Oh yes, and one more thing, I am offering a free of charge, 30 minute group coaching call every Tuesday at Noon PT to support you every step of the way. Join us tomorrow: #SuiteSpot Coaching Call, Noon PT.

Let’s do this!


Join our #SuiteSpot Movement

instaquote-_tempI vividly recall the moment I vowed to myself that I would not settle until I found my “suite spot” that point of balance, unique to each and every one of us, when we realize the folly of trying to “have it all” and begin looking for the right mix of personal and career success. I was 30 years old, living in Manhattan, working at a job I once found fascinating but was now driving me crazy. I came home one night to my ‘table for one’ Manhattan studio apartment, slumped into my futon and wondered how my once bright-eyed exuberant self had turned into this sad, lonely, workaholic drudge.
What went wrong? I had been faithfully following my carefully crafted career plan from the age of 16, when I decided I would become a certified psychotherapist running my own family practice in Manhattan. Really. But here I sat in my chair, far from my California home, a fully certified, post Smith College Masters Degree young professional with three years of hard won experience working on the locked psychiatric ward of the Cornell Weill New York Presbyterian Hospital, feeling as if I were strapped in a straightjacket myself. The conventional practice of psychotherapy was not letting me express my true self. I wanted to rip off the straightjacket and follow my heart to more fulfilling work and a happier home life, to my “suite spot.” If I could do that, then perhaps I could help other ambitious young people who had worked their tails off getting to the land of their dreams, only to wake up one day wondering, “Is this all there is?”
What do you do when you achieve your career dream at age 30, or any age for that matter, and wonder, “Why am I so unhappy?” In my case, I decided to jump out of my rut and set out in a fresh direction. Fast forward to 2014. I did eventually discover my “suite spot”, and I now reap daily joy not only from my work at KKN and my life beyond the office but also with my family.
Now, I want to share with you the lessons I have learned on my own journey from overworked, overstressed, hyper-driven, unhappy, unfulfilled and, ultimately, unsuccessful drone to a professional in love with her work and her life. These lessons came from continually putting myself through three key career phases: Explore, Develop, Practice. This ongoing process enabled me to achieve the clarity, influence and fortune I craved. With it I ultimately shed my straightjacket and created my #SuiteSpot .

Would you like to find your way to your very own #SuiteSpot? We’d love to have you join our community and share your journey with us—it’s so much more fun that way!

Join us every Tuesday at Noon PST, 3pm EST starting tomorrow for our #SuiteSpot Coaching Call. It’s on me (no charge!). Share with us your questions and we will do our best to offer you our best strategies, fresh perspectives and sources of inspiration to you all. Register here: https://www.facebook.com/events/268874676616657/

Talk to you soon!



How to Manage Your Underwhelming Boss

meryl-streep-the-devil-wears-prada-6-8-12Do you have a boss who leaves you starving for more…direction, feedback, inspiration, vision, and the list goes on and on? Research show that the greatest determinant of whether one stays or quits their job is the centered on the quality of their relationship with their boss. But I often see more muted scenarios where my clients certainly don’t hate their boss, actually they really respect them in many regards, but are quenched for more…direction, feedback, inspiration…..and there just does not appear to be as deep a well as they’d hoped there be from their superior(s). 

So, what’s an aspiring high flyer such as yourself supposed to do when faced with a boss who isn’t terrible enough to make you want to leave your job, but certainly does not give you the boost, strategic oversight, cheer-leading, training….(you fill in the blank) that you are secretly craving?

Here are some factors that could be at play:

Just like all parents are not ascribed the mandatory parenting skills in the delivery room; not all managers are natural people developers nor do they necessarily value that skill set (despite what they say).

If the leaders at the top of your organization don’t value, model and ‘walk the talk’ of effective management development, then chances are your boss isn’t going to feel too inclined to fall in line with those disciplines themselves.

Giving them the benefit of the doubt, beyond your boss not knowing how to properly give you what you need, or feel so inclined, they also may not have a clue that anything is missing in your relationship.

Here are some suggestions on how to manage your underwhelming boss:

Find a way to tactfully ask for what you need from your boss, backing up your requests with a business case mentality (meaning, if you give me ‘x’, it will help me do ‘y’ so much more powerfully because, ‘z’).

Observe the manner in which your boss speaks to others in your office and notice if there are similar patterns as those in your relationship (leading you to realize her or his possible limitations or biases with certain personality styles/approaches). Based on those observations, adapt your style accordingly.

Once you are very clear on what you need in order to reach your prescribed or self appointed goals, find alternative ways to get what you need to reach those ends (meaning, you may need to garner what you are not getting from your boss from other sources).

Adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, even if you are working within a large organization, roll up your sleeves, and get creative in order to uncover the fuel you need.

Come to terms with the fact that you boss has limitations and figure out a plan for how you can manage that disappointment while keeping your eyes on YOUR prize. 

Try to determine what makes your boss tick. What can you do to set them up for even greater success?

Evaluate periodically (every 6 month) how this ‘situation’ is impacting you both in the short and long term and whether it is worth staying given the limitations of their development.

I’d love to hear from some of you about how YOU have managed or are managing your underwhelming boss. What’s worked? What’s backfired?


How Storytelling Just Changed My Life

10007253_10202625621474233_380040675_nOver the past few weeks I have addressed four remarkable audiences in Portland, Spokane, Boston and New Jersey.  The first opportunity was my most nerve wracking speaking experience to date. Rather than expounding from my areas of business expertise, I was asked by Melody Biringer, founder of Urban Campfire, to disclose how I overcame one of my largest personal challenges.  The exact assignment was: if you were leaving earth on a spaceship, what one lesson would you share before you departed?   

After several iterations and lots of angst and sleepless nights over how deep I would go with this talk—I took the floor that night, lowered my mask and gave what was described as an incredibly raw, painfully honest and transformative talk about how my early life experience led me to a very unhappy and toxic relationship as a young woman and then how I worked myself through all of that to a place of psychological and emotional freedom today.

Several of my clients were in the audience and they reached out to me as did many of the audience members over the following days to tell me how my story helped them make connections between their life today with their early life that they had never considered before.  Ironically, what felt like one of the most excruciating experiences for me as a storyteller (because I was sharing stories that brought up so much shame, pain and heartache), had not only liberated me but also had helped the audience members access unexplored parts of their souls, hearts and psyches as well. This was not your average dinner party with speakers—this was a communal evolution.

But this is not where the story ends.

While I thought that this experience at Urban Campfire was almost more of a personal ‘stretch’ assignment, I had no idea that it would end up forever transforming the manner in which I approach my business role as a teacher and coach.  Without all that much conscious planning, each time I turned on my microphone and commenced my next corporate speaking engagement, I began by sharing my personal and professional narrative that had led me to becoming their instructor that day.  What I uniquely experienced as a person AND an evolving professional is exactly what makes my particular teachings and sensibilities what they are today—it’s all part of the same story.

For the first time, I felt comfortable lowering my ‘corporate’ guise and exposing my challenges, my frustrations, my discontent, my joys….my SELF…. all while I was still teaching them the disciplines and practices that I had promised in my training contracts. 

And the response was magical…..

Every time I completed my trainings, men and women charged right up to me and shared THEIR deeply personal similar challenges, long hoped for dreams, frustrations, opportunities, new ‘ahas’, follow up questions, requests for follow up calls and sessions….this had never happened before with such intensity, passion and TRUST.

And that is what I believe happened to me this last month. I uncovered the power that my own authentic storytelling has on my audiences; by sharing with them from a very intimate and honest place, they in turn were drawn close to me immediately because they TRUSTED my intentions and were all the more open to allowing me to guide them in their own process of self discovery, development and transformation.  Wow!!! What a gift.

Thank YOU Urban Campfire, Meeting Planners International-Cascadia Educational Conference, Boston College’s 1st Women’s Summit and Novartis Vaccines Career Development Program for hosting me and allowing me to be a part of your communities. I will never forget our time together.



How to Create a Great Offense for Office Politicking

Joan-Holloway-Out-of-Town-3-01-joan-holloway-23489388-790-535I was teaching at an educational conference in Spokane last week and I asked the audience how they best navigate office politics.  A woman in her 60’s raised her hand, stood and with a huge smile plastered across her face, she proudly proclaimed, “I found the solution to navigating office politics—I work from home!”  The crowd bellowed with laughter and likely a tinge of jealousy of her workplace arrangement. 

The reality is tackling office politics and perhaps workplace or institutional sexism layered on top, is not often addressed in business courses or motivational books. And yet the topic and matter at hand continues to rear its head in old, new, big, even small companies everywhere.

Office politics can be defined as the jockeying for limited resources, power and opportunities within an organization.   Today’s Katie Kelley Networks Leadership Academy Course, “How to Navigate Office Politics” addresses these three fundamental questions:

  • Are my eyes on my actual prize?
  • Do I have a strategy for navigating office politics?
  • How do I ensure that I am staying on the top of my business game while also honoring my ethics?

While writing my forthcoming book, I reached out to two of our countries leading experts on the topic of office politics and was fortunate to be granted interviews with them for the book and today’s class.  Those experts are:

Dr. Kathleen Kelley Reardon is a Management and Organization Professor at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business, Author, Artist and Huffington Post Blogger.

Dr. Lois Frankel is a Bestselling author, Executive Coach and an Internationally-Recognized Expert in the field of leadership development for women.

I invite you to join us for today’s class (either live or later on recording) if you:

  • Are at a loss for how to manage a workplace bully or boss who seems to always sabotage your initiatives, projects, etc.
  • Are always getting the short end of the stick when it comes to promotions, merit, resources, access to clients, etc
  • Don’t have a plan for how to get ahead in your organization or if you don’t believe the power lies within you to make any substantial impact within the constraints of your companies politics

Freebie teaser tip: Remain crystal clear on your ‘prize’; meaning, be completely conscious of where you want to land long term in your career/business and what it is going to take to attain those goals. This means addressing head on even the ‘murky’ contextual factors that make up your company’s culture and naming it, rather than allowing it to hold you hostage.

If this tip resonated with you—then you should probably partake in this class. We will talk to you on the other end. And happy St. Patrick’s Day!


How Behaving Strategically is like an Annoying Diet

thHere’s what comes to mind when I think about behaving in an even more strategic manner than I do today:

Slowing down

Delaying gratification

Digging deep

Applying measured, sometimes mechanical and inorganic practices

Forcing myself to seed for long term growth

Behaving in a counter-intuitive manner

Taking the road less traveled

Assess objectively what may have felt good and satisfying and even intoxicating


Don’t some of these attributes sound like being on a really annoying diet?

As I evolve in my own career, I find that pushing myself to think, plan and behave in a strategic manner can feel much like putting myself on a diet that I really don’t want to stick to.  You see the opposite of practicing strategy in my business and my life is to simply do what feels good, easier and much more natural and organic.  Allowing myself to ‘go with the flow’ of whatever shiny object has landed itself in my path on any given day can even appear to be smart and downright clever.  They are opportunities aren’t they? And we go getters, pleasers and over achievers sure love to check an item off our to-do list and collect an easy win when so much around us can feel so far away.

But here’s the rub with doing whatever is easiest, obvious and most comfortable—it’s what everyone else around you is doing as well.  And this is not the kind of practice that is going to elevate your game, help you break out from the pack and truly excel so that you reach those audacious goals you set on 1/1/14. 

Trust me on this one.

As a coach working with many management professionals, one of the core lessons I help my clients with is shifting from their comfortable tactical orientation and moving into a steady diet of thinking, planning and behaving in a strategic manner. Together we fight gravity, because being a ‘task master’ is an enormous piece of our success puzzle, up to this point in time. We are set in our ways and have a difficult time, entrusting work to others and taking the time to shift our often unconscious and deeply ingrained daily practices.

If these thoughts sound oh so familiar to you, join us tomorrow (or later on recording) for:

Katie Kelley Networks Leadership Academy: How to Become a Strategic Thinker

We will dive deep into how you can make that shift to behaving in a strategic manner that will feel so good because you will start hitting your goals in no time. Promise!


How to Unlock Your Own Mysteries & Embody Work-Life Blissfulness


“We live in a postmodern age when it’s pretty hard to come up with anything new, especially on a fundamental level… There’s always someone playing faster, louder, more distorted. So you can’t really go anywhere except into yourself. All that’s left is to figure out who you are….” -Tuck Andress, via Pitchfork by Ryan Dombal

This quote hit me like a ton of bricks this weekend not only on a personal level but also as a development instructor who is immersed in the daily process of helping very intelligent and successful people ‘up their game’ throughout their lives. And the truth is, there is nothing wildly new or ‘emerging’ about how to continue to build a life that is chock full of clarity, influence and fortune that hasn’t already been said before. 

The true challenge for us all in integrating ‘best practices’ whether we are discussing how to become a more skilled salesperson or someone who needs to empower those around them in a more consistent way—is to begin by unlocking our own great mysteries:

·Your ability to trust and love yourself and others

·Your capacity to put your best foot forward each day

·A willingness to practice humility, compassion and forgiveness

Tomorrow’s Katie Kelley Networks Leadership Academy class, “How to Strike Your Work Life Balance” dives into how revealing your own answers to these great mysteries are directly connected to your ability to embody a work-life blissfulness.  As this prophetic quote above states, our greatest quest is an inward journey where our singular complexities and battles are being negotiated and re-assigned every day. 

Tomorrow’s $29 class, which as always is available later on recording, tackles how remaining in a tactical stance becomes a huge liability as you move into a senior leadership role.  This matter can apply to how you are appropriately divvying up your work at the office and at home or beyond.  We will talk about how you can begin to practice new ways of behaving when it comes to delegating, letting go and asking for help. 

We will dive into these specific questions:

·  Are you unconsciously trying to be all things to all people?

·  Do your actions reflect the belief that there is only one way to get things done and that no one is to be fully trusted?

·Do you approach your business and your family management with a team approach?

Join us? Register here now: How to Strike Your Work-Life Balance.  Talk to you then!


How to Re-Wire Your Psychology Towards Risk Taking

fortune-favors-the-bold-3Genuine and sustainable success demands courage, hustle, integrity and a willingness to learn from others. It requires you to step outside of your comfort zone almost every day and explore the possibilities of ‘what if?’.  These habits are often deliberate and intentional actions that do not just happen by default. They occur after you have taken the time to determine what specific measurable goal you want to achieve and what your strategy is to arrive at that place in time. Does all of this sound oh so familiar to you or does it sound like I am speaking to you in a foreign language?

If you are hungry to learn more about this tantalizing topic, join us for tomorrow’s Katie Kelley Networks Leadership Academy class, “How to Develop an Entrepreneurial Mindset”.  This class will assist participants in understanding how they can re-wire their psychology towards healthy risk taking.  How we have been socialized around risk taking can have a monumental impact on the way we utilize this critical catalyst in our business life. Building on the width and depth of our self- confidence, we must explore our comfort levels with ambiguity–taking calculated risks as we seek to expand our business horizons.

Throughout my career, I have observed a connection between how our early life relationships impact our psychology towards risk taking. There can be ‘heavy baggage’ for some of us around the concept of embracing an entrepreneurial mindset and stepping into an arena where our security and guaranteed outcomes are not set in stone. But here’s the kicker: this is where your FORTUNE resides!  Genuine and sustainable success is yours for the taking—you just have to be willing to get up every day and take the road less traveled and this requires bold risk taking.

Here are the three critical questions we will tackle in tomorrow’s class:

  • Do I have an entrepreneurial mindset?
  • How was risk modeled to me in my early life?
  • Do I view risk taking as an innovative strength?

Keep in mind, just like all of our online classes; you can listen after the class airs live on Tuesdays at Noon PST. In fact, 99% of our audience is listening on recording in the comfort of their home. Click here to register for “How to Develop an Entrepreneurial Mindset” Online Class ($29 per class). Go ahead and take a risk today, register for the class and give yourself an early Valentine’s Day treat. The gift of risk taking!