Success and Value, An Equation

Corporations, non-profits, businesses and start-ups share a success model based on achievements. Each organization has its unique thumbprint written into a mandate or mission statement. Most have these posted on their websites as hallmarks of thoughtful, good business practice. Attention is being paid to the ‘why’ a company exists and typically in the case of non-profits, the ‘who’ they are attempting to serve. The statements are based on Values.

Over time, and as growth occurs, these achievements are measured. Goals are set for employees, financial benchmarks increase, companies buoyed by success look for innovative ways to meet their potential. And this is where it gets interesting.

As a contract employee with many years of freelance consulting and producing,  I have been privy to a wide scope of high level board room conversations. As incredibly diverse as these projects have been, one constant is true – the leadership in these rooms sets the tone. (There are many fantastic articles and books about leadership that prove across cultures specific leadership styles remain consistent. No need to re-visit in this article. Brene Brown’s  Dare to Lead is quite literally, the manifesto.) Stay with me here…

It is the culture of success in the board room that defines the ultimate success of the company. Obvious, yes? What isn’t so clear is how the measurement of success can easily slip away from the early achievement goals based on Values. Being in the room or part of the conversations of so many different types of organizations has offered me a front row seat with a balcony perspective. Leading my own projects has provided the ‘in the trenches’ experience of keeping a team on the path to reaching  goals while holding onto the mission -which is the true heart of the work. It’s not easy. Especially when there are so many ‘constituents’ to please! Murky messaging occurs when the heart of the work is forgotten and success outcomes shift. Here is today’s big realization:

We value the measurements of our success. When really, for true success we should be measuring our values.

Boom.

Mic drop. (Hello, is thing on? Anyone still with me?)

In our pursuit of success – as companies and as individuals – have we put all our eggs in the ‘measurement basket’? When did measuring our values stop being important? Companies need to continue to keep the values at the forefront of decision making asking questions such as ‘is this new direction inline with our company values?’ That initial foundation of ‘value built success‘ unfortunately gives way to numbers driven, employee stressed, higher and higher achievement expectations that chase outcomes based on numbers metrics.

Let me put this another way: a new company initially looks for clients who mirror their values, we look for like-minded clients who share certain affinities. They are the low hanging fruit so to speak, of potential contracts. As the company succeeds and expansion continues, the measurement of success is increasingly about productivity, achievement and growth. The story that can be told by the accumulated data – the numbers –  takes center stage; percentages based on dollars and bank figures; graphs, charts and spreadsheets become the benchmark.  And this is the easiest way to recognize a shift in company culture. The story changes. The story is no longer about the ‘why’ and ‘who’.

Growth, achievement, output, all absolutely need to be the goals of running a successful corporation. Success is awesome and important. It just seems to me, that when we put more emphasis on the measurements – the data – we lose sight of greater potential. Give me a room full of people dedicated to the Values of the organization and the achievements will blow the limits off of any growth chart! Focus on the Measurements, and the value system is askew. That same room of awesome people will have to use that same extraordinary collective energy, to push numbers. Ugh. Trust me, focus on the Values and the numbers will follow.

I just need to say it one more time. About Success.

To achieve true success we need to continually Measure our Values. Otherwise, we end up Valuing the Measurements – which is not a long term strategy for success.  It’s people, people! Keep our eye on the Values and growth will follow. Along with happiness.  And a whole slew of other healthy outcomes.

Kim and Sara, the Language of Music

Like Mother Like Daughter was my first collaboration with Kim Blanchard Souch and her daughter Sara Sobey. This mother-daughter duo began performing together when Sara was just a young teen. Kim was a touring singer/songwriter while pregnant with Sara, so it was not a surprise that Sara could sing before she could speak! What Kim could not have known was that music would be more than a bridge between them. For a long time, it would be their only shared language.

Diagnosed on the autism spectrum, Sara had a very limited vocabulary. It was when she sang that Sara could communicate with an extensive vocabulary, discovering a joy that was both physical and emotional. Her body would almost hum as her voice resonated!

This is just where this duo’s story begins. Tours, fundraisers in support of the Autism Society, recordings and appearances brought much attention to their beautiful harmonies and storytelling.  Original songs penned by Kim have told the stories of mothers and daughters, family, life, love and loss.

Now, something extraordinary is happening. Along this life journey Kim and Sara have developed their own unique voices. They perform together – and always will! But now there is room for self-expression. Kim’s path is returning to her roots as a touring artist with songwriting for herself and others as a renewed focus. Sara’s dream has been to perform with a Symphony, which happened for the first time this year.

There is more, much more, to come from both these artists and I can’t wait be a part of this next chapter! Over the coming months, their music journeys are diverging and yet we know they will always be entwined. For as they find new strength with their own voices, that beautiful harmony they create will only deepen.

Enjoy this link, to Kim Blanchard Souch and Sara Sobey singing:

Like Mother, Like Daughter

The Importance of a Friend

My Brother’s Keeper, an Obama Foundation led initiative to provide mentorship to young men of color, found a special home in Spartanburg, South Carolina. It was an honor to tell its impact story in this video. The partners from the community, the school and school district as well as the men who commit to years of mentorship, are making a difference one young man at a time.

 

Letting Go, with Oprah, Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith & Tomato Soup

On my early morning walk today I listened to the SuperSoul Conversation Podcast in which Oprah and Agape International Spiritual Center Dr. Michael Bernard Beckwith explore manisfesting the life of your dreams. This is such a popular topic now as new age and spiritual awakening guides determine that if we can just get out of our own way, we can then be open to the possibilities and potentials of our souls.

Is it really that simple? According to Dr. Beckwith, it is about having intentions that align with our personal purpose.  In requesting a tangible explanation  about his assumptions, Oprah, fittingly, brings it back to soup. Tomato soup actually. She was working in her garden and thinking about how she would love a bowl of fresh tomato soup. She let that thought go, and shortly after, her neighbor appeared with a pot of tomato soup! How many times have we thought about someone and they called or we ran into them unexpectedly? While these are fun examples of intuition and serendipity, Dr. Beckwith explains that stating intentions isn’t about asking for things, but about being open to the discovery and acceptance of our personal purpose.

So, with that to mull over on this gorgeous Sunday morning, I am re-visiting one of my favorite ‘fresh from the garden’ soup recipes. Tomato, of course!

Here’s to another slurpy spoonful of SuperSoul Sunday Conversations! Link to the podcast is below the tomato soup recipe.

GO TEAM!

Tomato Soupfor you or your neighbor to make! – Non-Dairy, Vegan

 

Ingredients

Fresh Tomatoes – vine ripened, any variety will do! – cut in half. I usually use at least 6.

Garlic – 2 cloves chopped (or more if you love garlic)

Salt, Pepper

Sugar – white sugar, just a touch, but not absolutely necessary

White Onion – 1, sliced

Celery – 4 stalks or more, cut in chunks

Vegetable Broth – 1 carton, more or less

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) – as much as you need

There are two secrets to the success of this recipe – using fresh ingredients and then roasting the vegetables first!

Making the Soup

Step 1. Roast the tomatoes (sliced in half) the chopped celery, onion, and garlic, drizzled with EVOO, at a 425 degree oven, for 30 minutes.

Step 2. Let the vegetables cool slightly and, if you aren’t keen on the look/texture of tomato skins, remove some of them. They will separate easily from the tomato. I happen to like the char taste and in a later step, the skins are dealt with!

Step 3. Heat some EVOO in the bottom of a pot, over medium heat.

Step 4. Add the roasted vegetables with the juices from the roasting pan to the soup pot, along with just enough vegetable broth to cover. Salt and Pepper to taste, plus a light dusting of sugar if you choose.

Step 5. Heat until it boils. Let it simmer for 10 minutes. (The longer it simmers, the more delish it is!)

Step 6. Remove from heat, let cool slightly, then either put it in the blender or use your hand held blender/emusifier, and puree the soup. This will give it a lovely creamy texture, without adding dairy.

Step 7. Return to the pot, add more vegetable broth if it is too thick. At this point, you can also add dairy or almond milk/cream if you want a creamier, richer tasting version. Heat to delicious tasting temperature.

Step 8. Ladle a good portion of the soup into a container, and walk it over to your neighbor. You never know, you might be the answer to their prayers!

 

 

Song Receives Industry Nod!

Just as we are set to officially release the seasonal single ‘Street in Winter‘, a US-based music industry professionals network has given the production high marks! Singer/songwriter Donna Creighton received requests for permission to broadcast, alerting us to the accolades.

imagesSpecial recognition was given to the production of the recording, citing Donna Creighton for Composition/Performance and moi(!) as Producer/Arranger. ‘Street in Winter‘ was recorded in 2012 in anticipation of releasing for the 2013 winter season. The advance interest has been very rewarding making the wait worthwhile. Appearing on the recording with Donna is Stephen Holowitz on keyboards, Paul Stephenson on trumpet, Julia Hambleton on clarinet, Ian McKay on drums, Louise Fagan (moi!) on vocals, with our dear friend the late Kevin Muir playing bass. The song was recorded at EMAC Studios.

musicxray 21st Century A&R specializes in connecting commercially viable musicians with industry professionals. Once a song is approved for submission, it is sent to producers who rate the song’s appeal, production values and marketability. If the song receives a high enough rating, musicxray recommends the song to targeted broadcasters. We are thrilled to announce that ‘Street in Winter‘ received the highest ratings! YIPPEE!!

imagesFurther exciting broadcast announcements will be made next week – but this one, well, we couldn’t keep it to ourselves! ‘Street in Winter‘ is just like the lovely meander down a wintry street the lyrics describe. It is destined to be added to everyone’s holiday playlists!

For an advance listen please visit Donna’s Reverbnation site. You can also purchase it for only 99cents! If you choose to buy the song, you will be making an important contribution to the continuing development of new music. And you will be able to sing it anytime you want – on a wintry drive, while ice skating in your backyard rink, decorating your Christmas tree or lying on a beach on a sunny island somewhere South! imagesMore exciting news to follow – stay tuned!

A Ticket For the Sisters!

Our initiative to ‘Buy Your Sister a Ticket’ for our upcoming show Heroines of the Sexual Gothic was sparked in a conversation with Kimberley Young Milani (Brescia University College). How could we make our presentation accessible to as many people as possible?

The Sister Ticket idea is simple: when you purchase your ticket online you have the option to purchase a 2nd (or 3rd or 4th…)at a reduced rate. These extra tickets are then distributed through the tremendous community organizations that work directly with women who are facing personal challenges.

The ‘Buy Your Sister a Ticket’ really hit the mark with our advance ticket purchasers! Also, I have heard from a colleague in New York City who is adopting this idea for her upcoming productions – her words ‘ this is brilliant… can I copy you? I am adding this to my shows and recommending it to my contacts!‘.

There is still time for you to participate. Even if you, sadly, cannot make it to our show perhaps you would assist someone else from this community to attend?

To purchase an online ticket please visit http://www.thecircle.ca  or http://www.brescia.uwo.ca/thecircle/events/the_sophia_series.html

Thursday May 2nd 8pm Brescia University College, London Ontario Canada!

ticket_banner

Heroines of the Sexual Gothic

Circle poster

“a hilarious, profound and subverting evening of prose and song from among the best!” – Dave Bidini, Bidiniband, the Rheostatics, Author of 11 Books, National Post columnist, and all around great guy!

A catchy title isn’t it? It can conjure various emotions, heavily influenced by our personal experiences. Some of us will focus on ‘heroines’, and others of us the ‘sexual’ – putting ‘sexual gothic’ together is certainly provocative. What we are really exploring is how the female and the idea of the feminine is framed by social context, physical attributes that we are born with or grow into, with an author’s eye to the personal exploration of herself in relation to her characters. Add the phenomenal original scoring of the Billie Hollies and we have a presentation that is rich in discovery, drama, humour and celebration.

In Heroines of the Sexual Gothic, critically acclaimed author Susan Swan explores her relationship to some of her most intriguing characters – the giantess Anna Swan, the fiercely independent Asked For Adams and the romantically idealistic Mary “Mouse” Bradford. In traditional Gothic, the setting is a ruined castle. In Sexual Gothic, the body is the ruined castle, as each of these characters contends with physical challenges or oddities that prevent them from accepting themselves as women. Woven throughout Swan’s explorations is original music composed and performed by The Billie Hollies, Toronto’s popular woman opera noir quartet. The soulful sound of The Billie Hollies singing passages from Swan’s novels bring these characters to life, allowing the audience to powerfully connect to their own hopes and struggles. We had a debut of the idea with a 20 minute sketch at a fundraiser for the Toronto Women’s Bookstore  last June. After a winter of development kindly supported by the Canada Council, we are ready for our first presentation in London, Ontario. Thank you to The Circle, Women’s Centre, Brescia University College, UWO. Join us for this unique evening of performance – Susan Swan and The Billie Hollies have created an evening of talk and music you’ll never forget.

Directed and Produced by Louise Fagan
Assistant producer and director: Mariel Marshall

The Jeanne Adamson Memorial Event of The Sophia Series presented by The Circle Women’s Centre, Brescia University College, University of Western Ontario, London Ontario Canada

Heroines of the Sexual Gothic
Featuring Canadian Author Susan Swan and
the all-woman opera noir quartet, The Billie Hollies

Thursday 2 May 2013, 8:00 p.m.
Meet & Greet Reception with the Artists to follow the performance
Brescia Auditorium, Brescia University College, London
Tickets: $20.00; $15.00 for Circle members
Free Parking

Info & Tickets: www.thecircle.ca or circle@uwo.ca
or 519-432-8353 ext. 28288

Visit our website at http://www.heroinesofthesexualgothic.com for more info about the entire team!