Working on a Dream




Friday, October 25, 2013

How to Dress like a Normal Person OR Quit Dressing like you are 14 Years Old.

Something that you and I have heard many times is that your actions speak louder than your words. No matter how emphatic you express yourself; your actions will either prove (or disprove) what you say about yourself.  "I am really into healthy eating!" states Mathew.  But you observe Matthew eating at work over the last month and notice Matthew really enjoys the Hostess brand a little too much.  You also watch as Matthew passes up veggies and fruits for unhealthy processed foods at every turn. Over time, you realize that Matthew thinks he is a healthy eater, but in real space and time, is not. There is a dissonance between what he says and what he does.

If you want to be trusted by others, your actions and your words must align.  Being a credible person means that your actions underline what you say.  If your actions do not, you will undermine yourself.  And why would you want to do that?

Recently I was reading through "The Power of Presence" by Kristi Hedges. In her book, she highlights something called the 55/38/7 rule. 55% of our message is communicated  through facial expressions, 38% is communicated by tone of voice, and only 7% through words. This means we communicate more when we think we are not communicating ... and that is scary!  The lesson is not that words do not matter, it is just that they matter a lot less than what we think.  This means you need to shift your focus away from only worrying about what you are saying (or going to say) but the demeanor when you are speaking.

One way you could help yourself in this area is by improving the way you dress.
Above we learned that nonverbal communication is a HUGE aspect when communicating.  Dressing in a way that matches what you are trying to convey (your presence) removes one unnecessary barrier between yourself and others. The gal that wants to be taken seriously at work but continues to dress like  she's 17 is not helping herself.  The fella that dresses in military cargo pants and an Affliction T-shirt will not be taken seriously in the corporate setting.  I know, you dress according to your personal style and that's all that matters.  Right? Wrong. Time to grow up.

Below are some helpful tips when it comes to dressing professionally provided by Hedges:
1) Dress for the job you want, not for the job you have. 
2) When you get promoted, your wardrobe does too.
3) Wear clothes that fit you properly. 
4) Do not just dress solely for comfort (I like my sweats as much as you, trust me).  
5) Dress for presence.
6) Wear a jacket.  A blazer / sport coat is always a good thing to keep in your office.
7) Do not wear revealing clothes.  As a matter of fact, the younger you are the more conservative as a general rule.
8) Anything connected to work is work.  This is a good rule of thumb when figuring out what to wear.
9) Shave. Smell good. Comb your hair. Wear a watch.  
10) Always dress 1 level above the group you lead.

Dress is one aspect that you have absolute control over.  The good thing is nowadays you can find much of the above for very cheap (check out a consignment shop!).  Still not convinced?
Coco Chanel rightly said: "Dress shabbily, they notice the dress. Dress impeccably, they notice the woman."  

The choice is yours...

Email me at for more advice on improving your presence. 




Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Developing your Leadership Presence

-The Power of Presence-

According to consultant and author Kristi Hedges, “Presence is the great equalizer.” She writes about the importance of a person’s presence in her new book, “The Power of Presence.” Kristi teaches that presence is developed by ridding yourself of limiting behaviors and incorporating new ways of thinking and acting. She calls this I-Presence.
I Presence is 3 dimensional:

1) Intentional
Your beliefs shape every aspect of your presence, from body language to the actions you choose and the words you choose to verbalize. It is critical to get your head around what type of presence you want to demonstrate, the values you want to convey, and how that matches up (or doesn’t) with how others currently perceive you.

2) Individual
You connect with individuals, not with hierarchical concepts. Positional power and titles are losing ground in today’s workplace; many times they serve as actual barriers to making a strong bond with those around you. This isn’t about having all the right answers, nor is it about working harder than everyone else. This one goes back to the sandbox...

3) Inspirational
Presence is about moving people. Sure, you could use fear tactics, but that will become counterproductive in just a short time. Under those conditions people work hard for a short time, then get even more discouraged and discontent. Leadership presence is about a set of skills that many in the non-profit workforce have to utilize. It’s our bread and butter to say the least. Things like: vision, encouraging words and modeling the way are our lifeline as we inspire others.

This quality is demonstrated powerfully in the life of Jesus. We learn about leadership presence in the 1st chapter of the Gospel of John where John’s disciples decide to inquire further about Jesus. In this passage Jesus asks His would-be-disciples, “What are you looking for?" Instead of the disciples pulling out a list of questions, they ask Jesus, “Where are you staying?” “Come and you will see” was Jesus’ reply. Why did Jesus and His disciples have this seemingly confusing exchange? The reason is because in ancient Israel some learned under a Rabbi. They would pick a Rabbi (teacher) and “sit at their feet” to learn. With this answer, the disciples had a firsthand answer to their question about the Messiah. Notice the huge difference between how our society would have handled this and the way Jesus did. Jesus did not send them to the internet or the library. Instead, He communed with these men in an intimate setting. He invited them into His life to observe how He lived, how He handled Himself in public affairs AND in private ones. Jesus practiced intentionality, connected with people individually and had an inspiring presence.

“Leadership presence begins in your head,” observes Hedges, “It resides in how you think about yourself, your abilities, your environment, and your potential.” Building your presence starts with one of my favorite words: intentionality. Intentional means doing something on purpose. Until you are deliberate about creating a powerful leadership presence via the three avenues expressed above, no tricks or gimmicks will help you. In fact, going the quick route will make you less authentic -and less authentic is easy to spot. If I could boil this post down to a summary, I’d quote Emerson who once said, “The best effort of a fine person is felt after we have left their presence.” This is leadership presence, it is that mysterious elegance given off by a man or a woman that no one in the room can quite put their finger on, but are all keenly aware of.

-Be Intentional
-Be Individual
-Be Inspirational

On Purpose. Today.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Do you believe in Magic?

DO you believe in magic?
When I was a kid I did too. Then I grew up.
Thankfully the magic is back since I read Lee Cockerell's fantastic book titled, "Creating Magic." Cockerell was the Executive Vice President, Operations, for Walk Disney World for over ten years. He knows a thing or two about Creating Magic in the workplace.  Below is a summary of some of his best stuff.  Enjoy!

Strategy #1: Remember, everyone is important.
Cockerell, opens this section by teaching on the subject of "inclusion."  Inclusion at the workplace is described simply when everyone feels like they matter and everyone knows that they matter.  When this is the case, employees are happy to come to work and give you their energy, creativity and loyalty. The opposite of inclusion is when people feel isolated and unimportant. The key takeaway for leaders is to ensure everyone is valued -despite position, rank or title.  Cockerell initiated a simple tool at Disney that helped reinforce inclusion, "RAVE."  RAVE means: "respect, appreciate and value everyone."

Below I will outline the best strategy to incorporate inclusion into your organization:

1. Make sure everyone matters ... and everyone knows it.  A leader's job is a lot like parenting: you have a heart full of love for your employees, but sometimes forget to verbalize that love.  DO THIS: Physically sit across from your team and express how much you care about them, how much the corporation values them, etc. Do this regularly with your team -both corporately and individually- and watch moral improve.  You might be thinking that this is common sense and you are right; sadly common sense does not always equal common practice.

 2. Know your team.  Every worker has different motivations, priorities, preferences, and dreams.  "Workers hail from different backgrounds and different neighborhoods." This means you have to get to know your team individually. Question: Do you know your employees favorite sports team(s)? Do you know their birthdays?  Going forward, understand that this is not an easy task; it will not happen overnight either. However, the payoff is huge.  Start this process now.

3.  Let your team get to know you.  Everything starts with you, as the leader.  You must model the way, this means going first.  Do not expect an open workforce if you are closed off.  It's just that simple. Start this process yesterday.

4.  Great people sincerely.  I'll be the first to admit that this one is toughest for me.  I am always in a hurry, always on a mission and always ADHD.  It is important to not get so wrapped up in your work that you miss the reason why you are doing what you are doing.  A professor of mine once said, "When you start emphasizing projects over people you've lost your way."  Cockerell suggests taking "strolls" throughout your workplace stopping to say hello to team members and customers.  I couldn't agree more.

5.  Reach out to everyone on your team.  I aways tell key leaders that seem mystified on how to reach out to others this, "just remember that people want the same thing(s) that you want." If you walk into a room and do not know a single soul, what do you think that person wants? To feel comfortable & to make a connection ... and fast. Place yourself in the shoes of others, and then proceed.  People want what you want; they want valued, heard, respected, listened to, Etc. Steven Covey taught, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."  This is the position you must take as a leader as you reach out to everyone on your team.

6. Make yourself available.  Leaders are available.  My door is always open, and on the rare occasions it is not, it is always open.  One thing that I pride myself on is how many people I can rub shoulders with by the end of the week.  I tell others that Jesus' ministry was powerful because He was constantly surrounding Himself with people.  Jesus knew what mattered most, this is why He formed a powerful crew that embraced His values.  He and His disciples understood the power of presence; you should too.

7.  Listen to understand. In the 7 Habits of Effective People, Steven Covey taught, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood."  Most people think that they are good communicators because they like to talk, however, I say that good communicators are good listeners.  This means active listening.  Look at people in the eye, nod indicating that you understand.  Say, "Let me summarize what I hear you saying" or "What I think you are saying is ... is this right?" This really is not an option either. If  you are like me, you have talked with a person on more than one occasion and you thought you were communicating crystal clear.  Then, you find out afterward that what you said and what was heard are as similar as a banana and an eggplant.

8.  Communicate clearly, directly, and honestly.  Please use ordinary language, language that conveys exactly what you mean.  It is difficult enough to grasp the central message with all the hoopla going on around you. Leaders must be clear; eliminate all fluff and get to the point.  Furthermore, I want to highlight the "direct" aspect, which I believe is absolutely essential.  Do you know how much junk you could eliminate in your life just by speaking directly to a person?  Get rid of the backdoor meeting, forget the whisperings behind the curtain; you are a leader, man up and be direct.  Your team will respect you for this in the long run.

9. Stand up for the excluded. In every group there is a small minority of individuals that may not have the social skills to connect.  I am not asking you to baby them, but you have to use a bit more energy helping them to connect.  Cockerell teaches, "Make no mistake, anyone who feels left out is left out."  Listen, I know that each person is responsible to make an individual effort to connect, and this can be a bit of an irritation because it seems that you are "babying" someone, but at least give it a try to give the excluded member a chance.  Personally, I encourage the group or a particular group member to make a personal connection with a member like this, hoping that a friendship is formed.

10.  Forget about the chain of command. Workplace hierarchies are disappearing before our very eyes. Top down command structure is being leveled to a more "flat" organization. This means no one particularly cares about your title.  This has caused a lot of change in the workplace, one in particular is that more natural leaders have the ability to flourish.  More people have a voice than just the guy at the top, more people can add creative infusion than just the gal running the place.  Stop playing the victim role, see yourself as the change agent.  Remember, losers find an excuse and winners find a way.

11. Design your culture.   Your workplace has a distinct culture just as Italy has a distinct culture. Your culture is the "why you do things around here the way you do things around here." And I am not talking about a S.O.P. or a book of rules, I am talking about feet on the ground, real, everyday practices.  This is the soft stuff that nobody can see, but everyone can feel.  A leader must (1) be aware of their workplace culture and (2) help define or redefine the workplace culture.

In the opening chapter, Lee Cockerell writes this very Tweet-able quote in the introduction, "Great leadership leads to employee excellence, which leads to customer satisfaction and strong business results. In other words, the customer doesn't come first; leadership comes first.

Starting to believe in magic?  
Me too. 

Monday, October 7, 2013


Yes.  poop.

Travel back in time with me to Thursday. I'll begin with how things unfolded so you can grasp the level of grenade-like frustration that I will be telling you in a few moments ...

Thursday, after work, I walk into my house feeling a slight bit guilty over minimal dad / daughter-wife-dog time.  I quickly find out that Christen really wants to make it to Bible study that night, but she will make it only if she finishes her homework.  So I decide to take Charlie and Isabella for a nice stroll, figuring this will get me in some time with my loved ones & free up Christen to get her work done.

The walk was great!  Beautiful outside. Charlie was barking at every creature about his size or smaller and Isabella was taking it all in.

Then, we returned home.  When I walked in the door, Christen handed me a bottle and I started feeding little Isa.  While I fed her, I did the "dad dance."  You know the dance if you ever watched a new dad holding their child.  Hips swaying like they are listening to Jazz music, feet sliding from side to side like a pathetic break-dance and shoulders shifting like a boat lost at sea.  As the dance was in full swing, I heard Christen say these fateful words:  "Anth, I smell poop."  At that moment, I took in a deep breathe and my nostrils picked up what my wife's nostrils were picking up.


I quickly looked down and when my eyes saw the 2,829,039 poop marks on my carpet (which we just had professionally cleaned 3 weeks ago), I lost it.

Apparently I stepped in crap-o-la somewhere on my walk and dragged it seemingly on every square inch of my carpet.  This was a first. I have to tell you; it doesn't take a lot to frustrate me; but it does take a lot to ruin my night.  I found myself on my hands and knees scrubbing every mark I could find.  I then took one look at Isabella and reasoned that spot cleaning will just not satisfy.

While this is going on, Christen is trying to get her work done; Isabella is setting records in cry decibels and I have approximately 45 minutes till Bible study. I found myself in a situation where even a saint would pull their hair out.

I seriously could not think of a lesson in all this mess.  One would think a great lesson would be the Lord teaching me about picking up after Charlie; you know, "My son, this is what you get for letting Charlie poo-poo in everyone's yard for the past 9 1/2 years." But the thing is,  I already pick up after Charlie 95 percent of the time.  So I had a hard time figuring out what I could learn from this smelly incident -until after Bible study- over 4 hours after everything developed.  The lesson is simple:
I should not have been this angry 4 hours after the incident.  Life could be a lot worse.  Being this mad after so many hours have passed is totally unnecessary.  Despite what I think or however anyone else would react, I, Anthony Kladitis do not need to stay mad over this incident for such a long period.  Honestly, part of me wanted to hang onto the feeling of frustration and anger. Somehow, I thought I was justified due to what I had to endure.  But the reality is, I needed to get over it.  And I did.  

I bet there are things that you need to get over too. Things that happened longer than 4 hours ago in your life that you should get over right now.  But you hold on and allow whatever poop that entered your life to spread ... and now you stink. This is how anger works.  It spreads to other areas in your life and then you start to reek. Over time people lose their desire to be in your presence and you isolate yourself from your loved ones.

The poop incident was hopefully a "first time for everything" ordeal.
However, I am hoping the lesson I learned endures till the next time I step in whatever mess life throws at me.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Breaking Free: Renewal & Transformation!

I heard a discussion centering on how we, as humans,develop patterns. Afterward, I did some research and stumbled upon this article by Havi Brooks. It is titled, “The science behind your habit (Or: It’s not your fault. It’s your brain!).”  

Below is a summary of the article:
There’s this semi-creepy deja vu thing that starts happening when one of your patterns kicks in.

It doesn’t really matter which pattern. Truth is, of course, we’re in pattern mode all the time. The way you stand, the way you react to certain smells, the way you breathe. It’s all patterns and patterning. But you tend to only think about it when one specific pattern is driving you batty and you just can’t find your way out of it. Before you start hating on yourself for succumbing to those irritating habits and patterns, here’s the out, and it’s legitimate, too: it’s not your fault that you repeat the same behaviors over and over again. That’s your wiring. It’s the job of your brain to follow patterns. That’s how it works, so that’s what it does.
Not that shifting all the blame to your brain is any great reassurance, but there you have it. Your zippy little neurons, bless them, like doing familiar things so they can zoom off on autopilot. No “road less traveled” stuff for them. They like the old, familiar path. Your brain is filled with neural pathways. They’re formed by your oldest habits and memories, and (this part is kind of crazy) are actually strengthened every time you repeat a familiar action. Or react emotionally in a similar way. Or mull over how much you can’t stand something or someone.
It’s just amazing to me the way you can sometimes almost see the neurons in your brain whizzing right past the less deeply marked pathways and following the old road that they know so well. Whoosh! It’s exactly like the way that path formed in your yard, the one from the door to wherever you go the most.

Now, for some geeky Bible stuff:
Romans 12: 2 states: "And be not conformed to this world: but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that youmay prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

See that word, “transformed” in the above passage? The Greek word used is “μεταμορφόω; it literally means, “to change into another form, to transform, to transfigure.”  The message presented by the Apostle Paul is: if you have patterns that are not healthy, sinful, bad, (or whatever word you want to insert), you can change by the power of God.  You can start creating new paths by intentionally setting fresh patterns in your life. It seems like Paul and Brooks are emphasizing similar points just from different perspectives.

Recently, I took my dog Charlie on a nice long walk in the woods and soon we discovered a pathway.  That path did not just clear itself.  It was made by men and women trotting along, beating down the grass, clearing the way.  Over and over the same trail was taken and then viola, a nice clear path was formed!  Now let’s say that Charlie and I were feeling adventurous and one day we decided to “go where no man has gone before” by creating a new path. That means we would have to veer off the original path and start the process all over.  This is what Paul means when he says to “transform” your mind.  It is the hard work of setting new patterns in your life.  It is the difficult journey of drawing in and applying new thoughts into your mind.  

And this is all very tough work.  
This is why you find so many people still pulling from their “4 year” degree 25 years after their “4 year” degree. We become complacent with the grooves already set.  And I am here to tell you that this is not acceptable for today’s leader, nor dare I say for the Christian.  It is our role to endeavor a Christ-likeness in our lives and this means a continually renewing.  My philosophy on renewal is simple; the only way to keep a cracked vessel from leaking is to continually fill it. (Or you could always use duck-tape … but that would ruin my analogy).  

Renewal and transformation is a lifelong process of intentionality.