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Success & Career

8 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My First Boss



8 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My First Boss

Have you ever had a personal encounter with someone that absolutely changed your life? Whether for better or worse, that one person impacted the way you see things and the choices you make.


For me, one of those people was Blair Rigby, owner of Showcase Interiors, and my first real boss.


As you can imagine, I learned a lot at my first job, but the skill acquisition far surpassed traditional characteristics like punctuality and reliability. I learned valuable leadership lessons that stuck with me through my whole life and still impact my personal interactions to this day.


Let me tell you what I learned.

8 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My First Boss

1. Attitude is more important than education.

Leaving one of my night classes at Ricks College, I noticed a posting on the hall bulletin board, advertising an opening as a warehouse assistant at Showcase Interiors.  It seemed like destiny, since I had recently decided I wanted to be an interior designer (this was a foot in the door!).


Five minutes into the interview, I was informed that a college degree was a prerequisite for the position.  I wanted the job so bad…I lied.  I said I was in my last year of school and would graduate in a few short months.


I was given the job, but Mr. Rigby soon discovered my deception. He would have been justified in his decision to fire me; however, he allowed me to stay.  What made him disregard his own, self-imposed requirements?


My work ethic.


Mr. Rigby had given me an opportunity to excel both personally and professionally. He had welcomed my interest in new business areas and let me earn my rank as a purposeful team player in a few short months.


Hard work, determination, perseverance—these qualities are at least as valuable, if not more valuable, than a college degree or inherent business acumen.


I’m not just saying this because the ‘attitude over education’ debate saved me from unemployment. I’ve seen firsthand, time and time again, that the best team members are those who are willing to go above and beyond. A leader must be careful to not discount the potential for greatness, simply because there’s a lack of education or experience.


There are certain short-term gains associated with trained ability, but perseverance, drive and dedication win in the long-term.

2. Employees are human…and should be treated as such.

In many businesses, employees are more often seen as a job title or a list of responsibilities rather than actual human beings. Employees have feelings and families. They have good days and bad. They have passions and desires.


The leader who takes these things into consideration is the one who is able to truly optimize productivity.


Despite being the owner of the company, Mr. Rigby was the type of boss who was also your friend. He took time to get to know every employee and genuinely cared about their welfare. He created rapport with each member of the team, which ultimately enabled a better understanding of their competencies, strengths, and abilities.


These assets are easily overlooked by the bosses who reject the opportunity to get to know their workforce.


Mr. Rigby taught me that we are all humans. Knowing I had a boss that genuinely cared about me created a sense of belonging and inspired reciprocal results.


Regardless of how busy a leader becomes, it is important to not forget or dismiss the fact that humans are not robots; there is infinite potential for a human despite, faults and shortcomings.


Successfully matching employee’s strengths with responsibilities is the best way to cultivate a productive team. Only personal interactions will identify the most important components for success: passion, drive, and interest. It is human attributes like these that take mediocre to great!

3. Pinpoint the cause of each problem and then identify a solution.

Mr. Rigby didn’t just point out mistakes and walk away. He took the time to explain what caused the mistake and helped me identify specific ways to avoid the same shortcomings in the future.


He downplayed my personal faults by turning the situation into a learning experience.


To be honest, I made a lot of mistakes in the interest of trying to be the fastest and the best. If Mr. Rigby would have only identified the symptom and not the cause, he would have ignored the fact that my mistakes were really derived from a lack of understanding—and not a symptom of negligence or incompetence.


With the wrong leadership style, my boss’s reactions to these mistakes could have robbed my confidence and left me too afraid to try new things – which would turn a valuable employee into a complacent and uninspired robot.

4. Be passionate.

Mr. Rigby was incredibly passionate about his business. He showed appreciation for all the details of his operation, even the seemingly insignificant ones.


Many business owners are passionate about things like providing great customer service and selling quality products. However, generating overall enthusiasm is challenging if you aren’t interested and attentive to the little things.


It’s important to note there is a difference between cultivating passion and micromanaging. Micromanagement is derived from a lack of trust. Passion stems from a desire to improve and a commitment to quality.


As Warren Buffet said, “Without passion, you don’t have energy.  Without energy, you have nothing.”

5. Inspire people to do and be more.

I can’t tell you how many times I was pushed outside my comfort zone while working with Mr. Rigby. He just kept assigning tasks with blind faith that I could do them.


He let me work to improve and allowed me to fix my mistakes. I did make mistakes while venturing outside my area of expertise, but his forgiveness and encouragement motivated me to improve.


And I wanted to improve. He inspired me to be better and learn more, and I wanted to impress him with my progress.


Mr. Rigby demanded more than I thought I could do, but sure enough—he was right. As a result, I ended up realizing that whatever I think I can do, I can actually do a little better.


I hope my leadership has that same impact on others.

6. Work shouldn’t be work.

I may get gussied up in suites and spend the majority of my day sitting behind a desk now, but it wasn’t always that way. I used to spend significant portions of my work day in less conventional ways.


At Showcase Interiors, my speedy and masterful command of the company’s forklift earned me the nickname Mario Andretti. The crew regularly paused to play a bit of basketball because there was a hoop installed in the warehouse. And to learn essential details about the products we offer, we created ad hock quizzes and competitions.




Because when work is fun, it isn’t a chore.

7. Accept advice when people are willing to give it.

My boss had instructed me on how to measure and cut the carpet from the roll. Headstrong teenager that I was, I figured my method was better than his.


You can probably guess how that turned out. I miss-cut the carpet. And as you know, there isn’t much use for a piece of carpet that is shorter than the room it is supposed to fill.


I had made a costly and inconvenient mistake, but that mistake turned into an essential life lesson.


Humility is a valuable characteristic. We shouldn’t assume we have the right answers, best strategies and superior rational. Those who have gone before us are wiser and more experienced. If they are willing to guide us down the right path, we will often do better to follow.

8. Own your responsibility.

I once sold a product to a customer that we didn’t actually stock.


Mr. Rigby could have handled the situation himself, soothing the client and rectifying the problem. Instead, he made me call the very upset customer who accused me of being completely incompetent. The abuse may have been warranted, but it was oh-so humiliating!


At the time, it was hard to get past the embarrassment and shame I was feeling. In hindsight though, I can appreciate the lesson Mr. Rigby was trying to teach me.


Responsibility is a gift we give people. We enable them to do things and act independently. But that gift can be a double edge sword. Responsibility demands we own our actions, whether good or bad. We can’t highlight our successes while simultaneously downplaying our failures. We need to acknowledge our shortcomings too—and learn from them.


Even though it’s been years since I left Mr. Rigby and Showcase Interiors, the lessons I learned will last me a lifetime.


What about you? What legacy are you leaving your employees? Is your leadership style impactful and memorable in a good way—or bad?

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Success & Career

5 tiny habits that can change your life and career



Tiny Habits That Can Change Your Life

When it comes to the daily grind, time seems to keep passing by – yet many things remain the same. We are so busy trying to get things done, keeping our heads above water, that we don’t take real time to think about things like balance, self-care, or making necessary changes.

Little do we realize that small tweaks at home and at work might create opportunities for us to have true balance, and even achieve that elusive success.

Let’s look at five tiny habits you can implement today to control the chaos – and start changing your life and career.


Tiny Habits That Can Change Your Life and Career

1.) Embrace the concept of a “clean slate” at work.

Tiny Habits That Can Change Your Life

This involves implementing a few simple routines and organizational tools upfront. This will save you time in the long run, and will leave you feeling satisfied at the start – and end – of your day.

For example:

  • Create folders in your e-mail inbox by person and topic. Be sure to move applicable items there. The feeling of a clean inbox can reduce anxiety and enables you to find important material faster!
  • Write phone messages on a notepad next to you each day.
  • Return each call.
  • Note the status of what you were able to do, what needs to be done, and cross out which ones have been taken care of.
  • Complete your list before you leave work.

Nothing feels better than looking at the list and knowing that you have attended to every person, every item, and every task you started with. Yes, more may come in later. But these were your starting tasks.

You are leaving with everything crossed off, a clean slate for the day. You can start tomorrow with a clean slate as well. You’re more organized: able to look at a detailed history of each item you did, each person you spoke to, each item you completed.

A well-structured system and way of doing things is mentally good for you. It’s also a nice feeling to walk away with a complete sense of accomplishment for the day.


2.) Surround yourself with people who nourish your soul, NOT people who infect it.

Tiny Habits That Can Change Your Life

Think about the people you chose to be with. Don’t feel guilty about setting boundaries, no matter who they are. Be honest if someone is a “toxic” person in your life. Surround yourself with folks who build you up, support you, are honest but fair with you, and those who have your best interests at heart.

We of course need people who are going to tell us the truth. But remember that truth can be told with kindness. We can give ourselves permission to distance ourselves from, or let people go. These are individuals who make us feel bad about ourselves, or take every chance they can get to criticize our every choice.

There is enough negativity in the world. We don’t need to have it in those closest to us. You will be amazed at the difference when you give yourself permission to set healthy boundaries. So surround yourself with healthy relationships. Stop feeling like you must endure unhealthy ones.


3.) Clutter creates anxiety more than you realize.

Tiny Habits That Can Change Your Life

Whether it’s your home or your workspace, getting organized makes a huge difference in your state of mind. So start practicing tiny habits that create structure.

At work:

Get those piles into drawers and desktop storage. File folders are your friends! Label by topic, date, etc. Having things organized and at your fingertips will save you time and a great deal of anxiety.

Have trays for things that are needed on a daily or weekly basis. Organize your office supplies neatly. Remember that your desk is also a presentation of who you are.

You may think that those piles make you look busy – but they really make you look disorganized. Create your own system so that you can locate anything instantly. That, is more impressive than a pile.

At home:

Think more in terms of scaling down to get organized. Make it a goal to make you space your solace. Organize, donate, and find a place for everything. If you have not used it in a year, consider donating. If things belong together, group them. Get the right storage to hold things.

Group things where they make the most sense. Move things where they work and function best. Get rid of things that no longer work, are expired, are outdated, or that could benefit someone else more than sitting in a pile at your home.

You will not miss them. You will probably feel pretty good for sharing the love. Nothing feels better as having a fully functional home where you can live and breathe; where there is no clutter, and where everything has a place.


4.) Practice good, daily self-care.

Tiny Habits That Can Change Your Life

It may seem so simple, yet we all seem to fall short when it comes to this vital area that impacts our lives and our careers. If we practice tiny habits of self-care, we function better, perform better, and surely, improve our opportunities for success.

Good self-care includes things, such as:

  • Getting enough sleep each night. This includes going to bed and getting up at the same time, seven days a week. When going to bed, there should be NO electronics, including screens or cell phones, as they stimulate the mind and keep you awake.
  • Eating food that nourishes you – such as whole foods, not processed foods.
  • Drinking eight glasses of water each day.
  • Enjoying treats in moderation, no need to crash diet!
  • Be sure to wake up 30 to 60 minutes earlier than usual to ease into your day, and allow yourself to practice your morning routine.

Whether it be reading the paper, listening to a podcast, watching a TV show, yoga, or morning meditation, how you begin sets the tone for the day. So set aside time in the morning so you are not rushed. This is an essential part of your day.

If you start rushed, you are going to feel that way the whole day. Starting with balance, leads to a balanced day.


5.) Self-talk is one of the most powerful habits we can change.

Tiny Habits That Can Change Your Life

If we think about how often we thought something negative about ourselves, someone else, or about a situation, we would see how powerful negative self-talk can be. Now think about how better our lives could be if we stopped ourselves before doing it. It’s possible – but it takes effort and conscious work.

You simply need to pay attention and catch yourself. But as you do, the difference can be profound. You start to see how by removing negativity and replacing it with realistic thinking, you feel more balanced. Imagine the impact it can have on your work and relationships, to not see things in the worst possible light?

By implementing these tiny habits, you can bring about tremendous changes to your work and personal life. A few would only be one-time tasks. While others require minimal, but – hopefully welcome – effort.

If things are not working well in these areas of your life, why not give these tiny habits a chance? You will at least be a little more organized. And hopefully, be well-rested at the end.



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Success & Career

7 Ways to Organize Your Day for Success



Organize Your Day for Success

Nope, don’t panic. I’m not going to start by telling you to get up earlier! As an Integrative Nutrition® Health Coach, I firmly believe in bio-individuality. This is the idea that we are all unique: just as some people can’t tolerate gluten and some can, there are early birds and others are night owls. Neither is wrong – they’re just different.

So yes, just as our definitions of success look different, how we structure our days for success will vary as well. However, I believe that there are some things in common.

For the sake of having a starting point, let’s agree that success is showing up in your life (career, relationships, physical activity, etc.) in the most biologically effective way possible (i.e., you are healthy in every sense of the word).

So how would you organize your day for success? Here are seven ways to try:


7 Ways to Organize Your Day for Success

1.) Wake up without an alarm if possible (see also #7).

Organize Your Day for Success

Jolting awake to an alarm is a sure-fire way to feel like you’re off to the races first thing in the morning. Instead, learn how many hours of sleep you are naturally inclined to. Then try to get that every night.

Waking up naturally prevents that influx of fight-or-flight chemicals coursing through your veins: nobody needs that kind of stress at the start of the day! Chronic stress can wreak all kinds of havoc with your body, starting a cascade of poor health outcomes.


2.) Start the day with screen-free “me time”.

The moment you check your email or social media, you are giving others power over how you spend your time. There will almost always be an email that just can’t wait or a post that brings on a severe case of #FOMO. Before you know it, you’re sucked in.

Instead of reaching immediately for a device, consider starting a new practice that can take as little as 5 to 10 minutes (or less) or as much time as you create for it: breathing, meditation, mindfulness, gratitude, journaling.

The Web is full of resources for these – just don’t go looking for them first thing in the morning! Are you an early bird? Use this gift of time to work out, meal prep, read, etc.


3.) Create time blocks (see also #5).

Organize Your Day for Success

As much as we think we can multitask, research shows we really can’t. “Task-switching” – what we’re really doing when we think we’re multitasking – can cost us as much as 40 percent of our productivity.

The solution: block out specific times on your schedule for tasks that require your full attention. During those times, close all other tabs and turn off all your notifications – and I mean all of them!

In between these blocks and not before, take a break to check email, make some calls – take care of some smaller tasks. Set a timer that indicates your next productive block is starting.


4.) Schedule your workouts and meals.

We seem to have time for everything but what really nourishes us: fuelling our bodies well and moving them regularly. As a health coach, when you tell me, “I don’t have time to…” what I hear is, “I don’t prioritize…”

I see you rolling your eyes. Let me tell you: if you do that enough, they’ll stick back there. But seriously – it comes down to this: if you wouldn’t cancel on your work, your client’s needs, your spouse’s needs, your kids’ needs, why would you cancel on yourself?

Meaningful self-care is putting on your oxygen mask first so you can help those who depend on you. Organize your day and put those blocks on your schedule. Treat them as unbreakable appointments with yourself.


5.) Multitask…intentionally (see also #3).

Organize Your Day for Success

Yes, I know I told you not to multitask. Now I’m telling you it’s okay if you do it intentionally. What does that mean?

In my work, I talk a lot about primary foods – all the other things in our lives that nourish us (or don’t!) besides what we put in our mouths. Think: sleep, career, spiritual practice, physical activity, time in nature, etc.

The multitasking I encourage is the kind that helps us nurture ourselves on the primary level, NOT the type that tries to manage a staggering number of little tasks that make our schedules so overwhelming.

What this looks like:

  • Need to spend quality time with family members? Instead of adding an outing (with all the planning, preparation, and consensus-building it requires), combine it with another area that needs some attention: take suggestions on the week’s meals, shop together, do some meal prep, etc.
  • Missing time with your girlfriends? Combine it with a workout or better yet, a walk in nature.
  • Desperate to do a little meal prep for the week? Invite a few friends over to cook so that you all get to stock up for the week. (There might be wine involved?)
  • House feeling like a hardhat zone, but you’d rather read? Clean while you listen to an audio book.
  • Time constraints making you choose between a workout and your spiritual practice? Take a walk in nature or practice a walking meditation.


6.) Make a plan for tomorrow.

You don’t have to organize your day down to the minute (although that works for some people). Instead, write down 1-3 large tasks to be done tomorrow and prioritize those once you’re done with your “me time.”

Are the tasks unpalatable? Brian Tracy has written about this concept in his book ‘Eat that Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time’. He calls the tasks we are most intimidated by (and therefore put off doing) as “frogs”.

His recommendation: start your work – not just the day – by “eating a frog”. If all the frogs look big and ugly, eat the biggest, ugliest frog first.


7.) Get to bed on time to get the sleep you need (see #1).

Organize Your Day for Success

Once you know how many hours of sleep you need, organize your day and figure out when you need to get to bed. Make sure to end the day as you began it: NO screens for at least 30 minutes before bedtime!

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