What Is Your Mountain?

In competition, how do you know who has the upper hand? Does it depend on size or skill level, or maybe strategy? Perhaps it’s something else. Recently, I faced off against a 14,000 ft. mountain alone and discovered where the upper hand truly lies.

Preparing to climb a 14,000 ft. Mountain

A few years ago, I decided to climb another fourteener, otherwise known as a mountain of that same minimum elevation. However, I struggled to find anyone who would go with me. So, about a year ago, I finally decided that the next time a Colorado speaking engagement came across my desk, I was going to climb with or without anyone. Climbing/hiking has always been a hobby of mine. I had even completed two similar climbs over ten years ago with groups. Taking on this mountain was different. I was going solo.

There are 96 fourteeners in the United States. Fifty-three of those are in Colorado. I live in flat ol’ Dallas.

Trailhead sign marker
Beginning of the hike
1/3 of the way up

Was something like this even possible at this point? After living just above sea level, I began to doubt myself with so much time between climbs. Anxiety set in, thinking about accomplishing this solo, knowing something could potentially go wrong.

One thing I’ve learned recently is that self-reliance yields results. With that, I began daily training with the top of this mountain in sight. I used my phone to log training progress on the stair stepper with a weighted backpack, mini cardio challenges to increase my endurance, and weight lifting reps to build muscle strength. I developed plans, backup plans, and contingency plans.

After three months of diligence, it was time to climb

I boarded a flight to Colorado on a Friday morning for my speaking engagement later that day. It was nice to be doing something familiar like engaging with an audience before something borderline terrifying. I mentioned the next day’s climbing plans to the group, who asked to be kept apprised of my journey to the top. Knowing that my new friends were rooting for me engulfed me with even more determination.

On the long, beautifully scenic drive to the mountains, I learned that the snow conditions on the mountain were slightly worse than anticipated. This was the first wrench in the plan. This wouldn’t be the safest option for a group, let alone, well, being alone. I had never climbed in snow before and needed the least amount of issues as possible.

After arriving into town, I began some research that led to a different peak that wasn’t covered in as much snow. This peak, however, was much farther away.  Thankfully, another hotel was available just an hour from where I stood, so I set off.

I was in bed by midnight. Sleeping was difficult, between weighing the “what if’s” and being too tired to actually fall asleep. I faded slowly…

And then I woke up late! I packed up and scrambled the new trailhead as I thought to myself, “great start, Shannon.” I ended up on Mt. Belford, a Class 2 mountain, which was more difficult than what I was expecting, but I sucked it up and prepared myself mentally for the challenge (in hindsight, I’m still not certain if it was the smartest move).

There I was at 7:30 a.m., late but ready to rock with my gear loaded, boots strapped, and hydropack filled. My spirits screamed “let’s GO,” but then slowly began to realize that cell service was absolutely non-existent and nobody else was around. Most hikers start well before 6 a.m. To make matters worse, Mt. Belford was very much off the beaten path from civilization.

It would have been so easy to just panic but instead, I strategized. Anybody I encountered, ascending or descending, I would keep track of to reference my position on this mountain.

Originally, I had budgeted five hours to ascend and three hours to come back down; gravity and whatnot. But about an hour in, I was already exhausted and seriously wondering if I could do this. It’s well known that to be successful on the mountains, it’s best to reach the summit by noon. Otherwise, you may have to deal with unplanned, sporadic thunderstorms. If you’re on the peak while an afternoon thunderstorm rolls in… good luck.

As I contemplated my exit strategy for bad weather, I remembered that I flew all the way to the middle of Colorado to do this one thing — I can’t quit. That’s when I began to set mini goals, or checkpoints, for myself as I did with my initial training.

“Make it one more hour and then you can take another snack break”

“Count your steps and see how many you can consecutively get before stopping to take another sip of water”

“You may not make it to the top, but let’s see how far you can get in the five hours you committed”

Tiny goals, tiny progress, but everything adds up. Slowly, with each stride and each breath, I knew I would conquer this hill.

As noon drew closer, I began to see other climbers, those who arrived on time, making their descent. “Is anyone still up there,” I would ask. Each person knew the importance of this answer and confirmed that some people were still up at the top.

12:30 p.m. rolled in with the clouds as I continued my way up the mountain. At this point, all other options were gone. I had to hustle to make sure I reached the summit and hope that somebody, anybody was still up there. In no way, could I be up there by myself so late in the day.

The weight of this situation crashed down on every nerve. I could feel the cold air get thinner. I could taste my water supply starting to deplete. I could also see the inevitable clouds begin to swirl ahead. I had to pick up the pace.

I passed the first false summit. 1:00 p.m.

I passed the second false summit. 1:30 p.m.

“Hello?” I yelled a few times to empty terrain. I wasn’t there yet. With part haste and part anxiety, I began to jog. Moments later, around the last switchback, I see shadowy figures up ahead. The last group was making their descent.

“Please! Please! I’ve made it this far. Will you please wait for me to summit?” I shouted.

“It’s right there. We’ll wait, but HURRY!” somebody shouted back.

I continued to run; faster, harder until I finally reached the top.

Finally, I had made it. I stood there, holding back tears. Any sense of urgency to descend was pushed to the side for just a second as I panned across what seemed like the entire rest of the world underneath me in that moment — quiet, still, empty. I pulled out my phone and took one photo before noticing the clouds getting a darker shade of angry. Something was about to happen.

(If you zoom in on the upper left, you can see me in all black climbing to the summit while these folks waited. Also, note the ominous clouds.)
Reaching the summit of Mt. Belford 14,197 ft elevation.

Holding a Mt. Belford sign with the elevation on it.

The climb down

I jumped off the top rock and sprinted toward the nice folks, praying they hadn’t left yet. They were slowly making their way back to the trail. As we joined together, the thunder rumbled. This was our first warning.

We FLEW. Nothing but hiking boots but faster than skis as we zigzagged through the switchbacks. And then the ominous clouds turned for the worst.

Overhead, the sky pelted us with graupel (soft small water pellets). Underneath us, the rocks were loose and the ground was wet. Our clothing became a darker shade as it saturated with water and my toes burned with every step. After an hour of downhill running, we made it below the tree line without getting struck by lightning.

We stopped for a moment in the trees and caught our breath. The nice folks continued their way without me. I had given every remaining ounce of energy in the sprint and somehow needed to find a way to finish my descent.

I eventually did make it down. As soon as I saw my rental car, I fell to the ground and wept. I couldn’t feel my legs. My feet were bloody and bruised. I wasn’t sure if I still had either of my big toenails still attached.

This was one of the most challenging experiences I have ever faced in my life. The mental capacity needed to push one’s self, without anyone or anything to comfort you, is monumental. Without cell service, or music, podcasts, nothing – just sheer will power.

You can plan down to the exact sip of water. You can train with professionals. But when you’re faced with empty terrain, alone, and the “what if’s” start to creep into the back of your mind, the effects are crippling. There were moments when I truly doubted that I would make it to the top, let alone OFF the mountain.

But I did. And I did it by myself. 14,197 ft. June 5, 2021

While this was intended to be a fun activity fueled by my love for hiking, I walked away from this with so much more than a thrill.

During the five hours it took me to ascend, I fought harder for mental endurance than I did physical. Questions swirled in my head every time I stopped to catch my breath. There were times when I considered admitting defeat and turning around. At other times I wondered if I truly could even finish, and what would happen if I couldn’t find help. During the very last hour I lost all feeling in my legs near the point of collapsing. But there was no other choice but to continue. Life was on the line. I had to keep telling myself: “You – Can – Do – This.”

I am 100% convinced that humans are capable of so much more than we realize.

We are all born with varying degrees of physical and mental strength. As children, we begin with education in the classroom and exercising on the playground. We learn to read and write and how to play hopscotch or tetherball. We form passions and opinions and begin to develop a lifestyle with routines and goals. And then we get comfortable and settle, adhering to societal norms and our own checklists.

But what if you pushed even just 10% harder than you thought you could? What if you woke up an hour earlier every day to work toward a goal you really wanted to achieve? What if you really are capable of pursuing that crazy idea you’ve stored away in the back of your mind? What would happen if you really did achieve it?

What would that mean to you?

I spend nine hours climbing a 14,000 ft. mountain by myself. I learned that when my back is against a wall, feet bloody and bruised, knees about to buckle with each step, that I choose to fight back and survive. Because that’s what it takes to cross the finish line, even when you’re weak, broken, and bloody. 

Maybe your goal isn’t a fourteener. But if you’ve read this far, then perhaps you have something in mind, something more you want from life.

So what’s keeping you from climbing your mountain?

An hour in.

Looking for your next Keynote Motivational Speaker? Let’s chat!

Shannon is a motivational speaker and business consultant based in Dallas, TX. She has worked in almost all 50 states with audiences ranging from corporate executives to student leaders.

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Ten Years Speaking Business

This past December, I was snowed in at my sister’s house in Kansas City writing out my goals and projections for 2021. I had just finished my last virtual keynote of 2020 (from her basement) and was excited to end the year strong when I realized

Drumroll please…….

2021 marks TEN YEARS of owning my speaking/consulting business!

Girl holding a balloon

Wow! I couldn’t believe it. Where had the last decade gone? Whom had I impacted? What had I accomplished?

In those ten years I:

  • Spoke in 45 states (still need Rhode Island, Idaho, Maine, Hawaii and Alaska! Know anyone there?)
  • Addressed over 200,000 audience members
  • Worked with companies like Tesla, Fidelity Investments, Newell-Rubbermaid, Garmin, MIT and more
  • Delivered more than 50 segments for TV programs around the country including: ABC, CBS, Nickelodeon and others
  • Delivered a TEDx Talk
  • Designed apparel to accompany my “Dream It Map It Reach It” initiative that signifies it doesn’t matter where you come from, or what you have in your pockets, you can still dream big and accomplish your dreams

After a decade of both exhilarating highs and lows, I’ve learned a few things from this wild ride. Strap in, I’m taking you with me!

Here are the ten things I’ve learned over the past ten years. 

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1. Start with a solid plan.

When I realized being a motivational speaker and business consultant was in my DNA, I put together a plan. I hired a business coach, asked tons of questions and created benchmarks and mile markers to guide progress and results. I knew my plan may get derailed along the way, but because I knew what I wanted to accomplish, it kept me on the right track for success! Q. What’s your plan for 2021?

2. Mentors, mentors, mentors.

Every successful person has had a mentor, or maybe a few mentors, who offered advice, motivation, encouragement, emotional support and grace.  I wouldn’t be where I am today without a few significant individuals who have walked alongside me over the past decade. It is helpful to have a fresh set of eyes and ears, especially when I’ve needed to make difficult decisions.  Many times, my mentors encouraged me to stick with the plan, even when it got hard.  But sometimes, they provided fresh insight and permission to walk the other way and try a new plan, when my original wasn’t coming together as expected. Q. Who do you look to for advice and encouragement along your journey?

3. When the tides change, learn to change with them!

This feels very relevant for 2020, but the truth is that we encounter obstacles every year (heck, probably ever week) that cause us to shift, pivot, roll with it and figure it out. Did you know that in the spring of 2020, when all of my speaking commitments cancelled, I went back to my sales career for a brief while to help distribute a product that was vital during those early stages of the pandemic?  Was that part of my plan?  No way!  But when 2020 threw me those lemons, I learned to incorporate them until I figured out what would be next.  When you deny change, you deny yourself opportunities and growth. And wow, have I grown tremendously in this past year. Q. How have you grown because you had to adapt to new realities?

4. There’s no one way to define your professional or personal life.

Every story I’ve heard over the last decade has been similar…. But different. There’s no one way to be the best employee, entrepreneur, student, mom, friend or spouse. However, there IS a right way for how you can define your life. It’s all up to you. You get to make your own rules. Don’t let anyone define that for you. Q. How do you describe yourself?

5. Hindsight is 20/20.

I probably should’ve written that book. Or created more online courses. Or said yes to more things. Hindsight is always 20/20. But, we can’t live our lives in the rearview mirror. We have to keep taking action forward! Q. How are you looking forward?

6. Every relationship matters.

I’ll never forget one Tuesday morning in October 2017. I was drinking my coffee and about to start the day when the phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but answered like I always do, “Hi this is Shannon!” On the other end was Brian, the president of an audio/visual company I had worked with a few years prior. We chatted for a bit and then he cut to the chase. He was producing an international company conference which included renting out Gillette Stadium in Boston for three days and they wanted me to emcee the entire thing. I was floored. His staff remembered me from another conference I keynoted and thought I would be the perfect fit for this event. It was a dream come true and something I will never take for granted. I’m certainly not perfect at it, but every day I try to treat everyone with kindness and respect. You never know what relationships will come back around in your life. Q. How can you reevaluate your relationships? 

7. Nothing replaces work ethic.

You can study at elite schools, obtain the highest degrees and have unlimited connections, but nothing can take the place of hard work. If you are willing to work hard enough, I believe you can have anything you want.  The best players on the field are not always the biggest, the strongest, or fastest. The same can be said about the workplace.  Despite what the media and news often show, the best in the boardroom are not always the smartest, wealthiest or most educated.  But are they the persistent! Q. How can you increase your work ethic and productivity this next year?

8. Criticism is tough.

There will always be someone who provides solicited (and unsolicited) criticism that makes you question your decisions and your plan. But it’s how you handle the critics that will define you. Detractors are just that – detracting you from your path and your plan. When you can, turn the criticism into fuel to keep you going. Q. It hurts to hear, but how can you turn criticism into a catalyst for you?

9. Your physical health impacts your emotional and mental health.

When I started my business, I was coming off the healthiest time of my life serving as an NFL cheerleader. I was in the best shape I’d been in, which allowed me to work round the clock building my dream business. However, over time running from airport to airport, eating meals out and not getting to the gym as often, caused my metabolism to shift. I felt the energy drain and realized I couldn’t offer as much to my audiences when I wasn’t feeling my absolute best. That’s why I’ve been on a mission to get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily and drinking as much water as possible. Q. I know you know, but are you moving that body of yours?

10. When in doubt, follow your gut.

I’ve learned time and time again; your gut instinct is almost always right. Sure, we put parameters in place to try and guide us, but at the end of the day, if you’ve done the homework, you should feel confident about putting yourself out there and knowing right from wrong. It all works out the way it’s supposed to. Q. Do you trust yourself?

Gratitude – In Closing

Looking back, the one thing I can confidently say is that I am beyond grateful for the journey. The ups, the downs, the twists, and turns. All of it. I can send this note out today knowing that as nervous as I was a decade ago, I still chased my dream. It’s never too late to do what your heart is passionate about. Thank you for being on this journey with me! You inspire me to keep pursuing these passions. I hope you pursue yours! As a matter of fact, let me know what you are chasing. Maybe I can help you get there. Feel free to email me!

Looking for a virtual keynote speaker? A consultant for your team? A coach? Let’s chat! I would be honored to work with you!

Cheers to the next ten!

21-Day Thankful Challenge

The holidays are upon us, the store sales have begun and many of us are quickly trying to cross off items on our “things to accomplish this year” list.  Although 2020 hasn’t been what any of us expected, there are still things for which we can be thankful, so I’m kicking off my 21-Day Thankful Challenge TODAY!

Join me on CBS Portland as I talk about having a thankful heart over the next 21 days.

If you’ve been part of my community for a while, you know I’ve participated in this challenge several times. It’s simple: jump into the Facebook group, download the FREE Workbook and begin encouraging others over the next 21 days to live with a thankful heart. The challenge runs November 10 – November 30, and takes no more than five minutes of your attention each day.

Looking for your next Keynote Motivational Speaker? Let’s chat!

Shannon is a motivational speaker and business consultant based in Dallas, TX. She has worked in almost all 50 states with audiences ranging from corporate executives to student leaders.

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2020 Vision

October 1st crept up on me.

Ahhhh, October. The leaves are changing. Pumpkin spice flavors appear on every menu. School is (usually) in full-swing. Football games consume our weekends, and annual trips to the pumpkin patch and apple orchards pepper our social media pages.  It’s also the beginning of the last quarter of the calendar year…a subtle reminder that we’re running out of time to cross things off our “goals to finish this year” list.  

I remember October 2019 like it was yesterday. My friends and I were enjoying pizza at Sixty Vines, a popular spot in Dallas. My event planner friend told the group how excited she was for her 2020 conference titled “Vision 2020.” It was going to be a huge conference with all the bells and whistles, and her company was planning an awesome celebration to culminate the event.

[Insert mic drop] If only we’d had 2020 vision a year ago.

Like you, I had audacious goals for 2020. This was going to be MY year. I was slated to speak at more conferences than ever before. I debuted a new keynote in December 2019 that was very well-received and I had to plans to expand my business.  

And then, March happened.  The virus and pandemic changed everything we knew about our ways of life.

The last seven months have been strange, and over the last few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about my goals from January 1st. I had many New Year’s resolutions, hopes and dreams, and was determined to take my work ethic to a new level this year. I realized that even though October sneaked up on me, it’s not too late to make 2020 the year I had intended it to be.

Together, let’s vow to be intentional with the last three months of the year. Here’s my plan.

If you follow me on social media, you know I swear by the Best Self Journal. It categorizes three important goals into 13 weeks to divide and conquer. So, I just started a new journal and set some attainable goals:

Write 6-8 blog posts between now and December 31

Create 4-6 new YouTube videos between now and December 31

Start building an online course that goes along with my new keynote

If you had to sit down today and write out three major goals for yourself, what would they be? I’d love to hear yours. Send me an email or tag me in your post so I can see!

Let’s fight to finish this year strong! Work toward that career move you wanted prior to the pandemic. If you are a leader in your organization, find a way to build unity and strength with your team. But no matter what, let’s not waste these last three months. We still have an opportunity to show up for our careers, our spouses, our families and our friends in all the best ways. A new normal doesn’t mean giving 50%. Let’s give these next 180 days all we’ve got.

PS – if you want to buy a journal, I still have a code to get 15% off! Use “ShanDance” at checkout.

Four Journals

Looking for your next Keynote Motivational Speaker? Let’s chat!

Shannon is a motivational speaker and business consultant based in Dallas, TX. She has worked in almost all 50 states with audiences ranging from corporate executives to student leaders.

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Building Great Teams During a Pandemic

Building great teams under normal circumstances can be challenging.  Building great teams during a pandemic can feel down right impossible. Many of us are struggling to find a work/life balance while operating with remote workforces, a myriad of distractions, added pressures and uncharted waters.

How can we use these (often uncomfortable) circumstances to make our teams better?

Let’s go back to the basics.

In cheerleading, I learned that “practice makes perfect.” We constantly honed in on the number of reps we could physically do over and over and over again. The simple thought was that by pushing the number of reps we completed, we could create muscle memory that would pull every team member through any difficult scenario we faced.  

On Sunday, Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker proved that methodology applies to more than cheerleading.

Cliff Notes:

  • With four seconds remaining in the game, the Chiefs tied it up to take the game in to overtime.
  • During overtime, the Chiefs were forced to a fourth down, and Butker was thrust into a pressure cooker situation: a two-minute warning, a false-start penalty and a timeout from the Chargers, undoubtedly used as an additional means of distraction.
  • Butker was forced to kick THREE times in less than three minutes. Because of a penalty against his team, his third kick was from 58 yards out, the second longest field goal ever kicked, to win a game in overtime since 1974.

During a time of additional distractions and pressures, Butker went back to the basics. He relied on the long kicks he repeated over and over this summer. 

While few of us are professional athletes, we can use Butker’s “back to basics” approach to help build a better team.

  • Figure out the assignment, then do the homework. What does every team member need to do in order to be successful?
  • Push the reps. Does your team need more leadership drills? Communication exercises? Marketing knowledge?
  • Lead and support.  Lead with confidence that your team has the skills necessary to succeed. And don’t ask your team to do anything you aren’t willing to do yourself;  strong teams begin with strong leaders who are willing to walk alongside!

When your back is against the wall, the stakes are high and the team is counting on you – instill in your team that they have the skills to succeed.  Remind them of their past wins and acknowledge the work they’ve put in.  Encourage and reinforce the behavior that has helped them get this far. Be willing to call in reinforcements, perhaps in the form of extra training, to help your team succeed and to show that you’re willing to contribute to help them achieve progress over perfection.

Looking for your next Keynote Motivational Speaker? Let’s chat!

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Shannon is a motivational speaker and business consultant based in Dallas, TX. She has worked in almost all 50 states with audiences ranging from corporate executives to student leaders.

When to Hire a Recruiter

When to hire a recruiting firm?

People are your greatest asset. They’re your brand ambassadors and the lifeline to help build your business. According to a recent study by Paycor, labor costs can account for up to 70% of total business costs, which means they’re also your biggest investment, both in terms of finances and time.  

It’s true that headhunters, recruiters and staffing agencies can come at a premium cost difficult to digest for a small or medium size business. That cost is the reason many businesses shy away from seeking help outside of the organization. But remember what I said in the first paragraph, that people are your biggest investment?  That’s the main reason why you should consider spending the extra money. Wondering when is the right time to make that decision? Let’s dive in to why and when the cost to work with a headhunter or professional recruiting firm makes sense.

Why you should partner with a headhunter or recruiting firm.

A headhunter’s job is to be your partner through the entire process and to have your best interest in mind. They share your goal to fill the position quickly, and with the most qualified candidate. A headhunter doesn’t want to re-fill the position down the road and most (good) headhunters pride themselves on never having to do so.

Headhunters can source passive candidates in addition to active job seekers. This is an important one!  It’s common for companies to post a job, then wait for candidate resumes to trickle in. However, a good headhunter will understand your business, your company culture and the nonverbal idiosyncrasies that make your organization tick. Powered with that information, the headhunter can proactively work through their internal candidate database and call on prospects employed at other companies who may not be actively looking, but who may be a great fit for your company. Their proactive vs. reactive approach can make all the difference.

Headhunters know how to sell the position to potential candidates. While you know all of the best reasons to work for your firm, it can be difficult to clearly communicate all the things that make your company great to a potential candidate.  In this economy, every selling point matters! A headhunter knows how to work with a candidate to sell them on your company.

A headhunter is trained to assess candidates. I vividly remember one particular search I was conducting. The client loved a specific candidate who interviewed very well and seemed to check all the boxes, but something in my gut said I needed to dig deeper. After doing more research and asking more questions, I found the missing links that indicated this candidate wasn’t the right fit. Had I allowed the client to move forward, I believe we’d have needed to replace this person shortly thereafter.  

When should you make the decision to outsource the recruitment process?

Just like an engineer has studied how to build bridges, an accountant knows how to assess financial documents, or a doctor knows how to provide healthcare, a headhunter knows the fastest, best way to find your ideal candidates.

If you are questioning whether or not to partner with a headhunter, ask yourself:

  • Could my time be better spent building my business?
  • Is my time limited right now?
  • Does my office manager or HR person already have a full plate?
  • Has anyone in my office been formally trained on recruiting a great team member?
  • Have I already tried to perform the search without finding the ideal candidate?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, finding a trusted, qualified headhunter to assist you is the best answer! Time is money and your people are your most valuable resources!  A recruiter can help make your life easier by bringing you qualified, sourced candidates who are more likely to be a great fit within your organization. If funding the expense of a headhunter still has you worried, remember that if the recruiter does his or her job well, a new employee should be able to hit the ground running and start making (or saving) you money.

Here’s to building world class teams and organizations. I hope these tips help as you are looking for great talent to add to your team in 2019. If you are looking for additional consulting, reach out to us! www.ShannonMcKain.com

Shannon is a motivational keynote speaker and business consultant based in Dallas, TX. She has worked in almost all 50 states with audiences ranging from corporate executives to student leaders.

Top Tips for Recruiting Top Talent

It’s that time of year!  Spring has sprung, graduates have graduated, and businesses are kicking it into high gear.

Each year at this time, I see an uptick in consulting and recruiting questions directed my way. However, this year is particularly different with unemployment being the lowest since 1969. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics on June 2, 2019, unemployment is still sitting at a record low of 3.6%.

Trying to recruit top talent in this economy is going to require a strategic, multi-pronged and thoughtful approach. Here are my top six tips for employers to recruit the best talent in today’s candidate-friendly climate.  

  1. Understand exactly what you need in your next hire.

The more detailed and organized you are about hiring your next employee, the better your chances are in finding that person. The days of posting a generic job description and sitting back receiving resumes are over. Today, employers need to be more thoughtful about identifying traits and qualities new hires should possess to make their team the best. Do you need someone with strong analytical skills? A big picture thinker? A peacemaker? Someone with very specific industry experience? Once you have identified those details, you can be more strategic about finding that person. Only after honing in on very specific things needed for a job, was I able to put together a precise approach to finding that person.

  • Have a bigger budget and longer pipelines to find your next employee.

Need to fill a role ASAP? It’s probably going to take you twice as long to get that position filled because there aren’t as many candidates in this type of economy.

Additionally, it’s wise to forecast time and money towards all upcoming positions you may need to fill in the foreseeable future. I highly recommend considering all employee needs between now and end of 2019, then, think of ways to keep great candidates close to your company. This could mean engaging with a recruiter or consultant to provide frequent guidance, expanding your job board postings budget, and/or offering a referral/recruitment plan to your current employees. 

  • Make sure your company brand is clear and concise across all platforms.

In a tight candidate economy, it’s important to make sure your brand stands out. Clarity and consistency are paramount in making that happen. It still seems to ring true that individuals, brands and businesses only have approximately 7 seconds to make a strong first impression. If your branding isn’t clear or consistent, you miss the opportunity to stand out to employees who are looking.

Take a quick audit of your social media platforms, company website and job postings. Have you used the same logo on each page? Have you used the same color palette in every post? Are you clear in communicating who you are and what you do? Hiring a brand consultant or strategist to help you review those details may be worth the money.  

  • Educate your current employees on how to be a brand ambassador or influencer.

Influencer marketing is all the rage right now and you can utilize the same tools with your current employees. Award bonuses and incentives to employees who create brandable content that helps promote the company.  

  • Video content is important to an overall recruitment strategy in 2019.

According to a February 2019 White Paper by technology giant Cisco, video content will increase to 85% of all IP traffic by 2022.

Video can elevate your social media channels and company career pages. Highlight your office space, clientele, or unique factors of your company and employees. The more information you share in short or long form video, the more people will know about your brand.

  • Manage expectations from the very beginning of the recruitment cycle.

One of the most important things you can do for a new employee is to offer authenticity from the first impression. Talking about the open position and company in a way that is positive and enthusiastic communicates a tone for the relationship that is far different than if you use general terms, are unorganized or unclear about what your company has to offer the new hire.  

Managing and setting the tone for expectations can affect the way a candidate interacts with you and ultimately how successful the working relationship can be!

I hope these tips help as you are looking for great talent to add to your team in 2019. If you are looking for additional consulting, reach out to us! www.ShannonMcKain.com

Shannon is a motivational keynote speaker and business consultant based in Dallas, TX. She has worked in almost all 50 states with audiences ranging from corporate executives to student leaders.

Intrinsic Motivation

A couple of years ago, I traveled to Barcelona for a trip with two of my girlfriends. We were having the time of our lives exploring the city, enjoying new experiences, and dining on great food.

Unfortunately, I had packed the wrong shoes for walking around this beautiful city and by day three my feet were over it! I told my friends I didn’t care what mode of transportation passed us next, I was flagging it down and getting a ride back to the hotel. I turned around and here came Alex, with the biggest smile, pedaling a rickshaw.

I knew from experience that rickshaws weren’t the most cost effective means of transportation. In fact, Alex quoted a price that made me gasp, but I couldn’t walk another step, so we climbed aboard his rickshaw and away we went. I wasn’t prepared for the conversation that would follow.

Alex began asking us lots of questions…where were we from, what were we doing in Spain, how we liked Barcelona, and more. During the ten-minute ride, we learned that he was a sophomore at the local university. He LOVED being a rickshaw driver and had some big goals. He realized that if he got up an extra hour everyday to work, he could save enough money over the next semester to buy his own rickshaw and start his own company. He handed me his business card and it was clear he had created a marketing and business plan to get his company off the ground and make a living. His motivation as a young person was overwhelmingly refreshing and I began to wonder if he was born with some level of intrinsic motivation.

Intrinsic motivation is defined as engaging in a behavior because it is personally rewarding, not for an external award. Alex possessed five key components that had helped him realize measurable success over a short amount of time.

  • Achievement drive – the personal drive to improve and achieve
  • Commitment – the ability to set, and reach, goals
  • Initiative – the willingness and readiness to act on opportunities
  • Optimism – the gift of finding the silver lining, even after a set-back
  • Resilience – the ability to adapt and overcome

The more I’ve studied the relationship between motivation and emotional intelligence, the more I’ve understood how we become motivated the most when we find activities that allow us to operate at an optimal “flow.”

Daniel Goleman, author of Working with Emotional Intelligence gives the example of “Joe.” Joe is someone who finds his work exhilarating and performs at his best. The key to exhilaration is not the task itself – Joe’s job is often routine – but the special state of mind Joe creates as he works, a state called “flow.” Flow moves people to do their best work, no matter what work they are doing.

Goleman isn’t the only expert in “flow.” Years ago, I meandered through a Barnes & Noble and found a book titled Flow. The psychology of the optimal experience.

In 1975, Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi defined flow as, “the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at a great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.” Csikszentmihalyi said that psychologists who study happiness, life satisfaction and intrinsic motivation have found this definition helpful.

The idea of flow and intrinsic motivation fascinates me. The idea that someone like Alex was intrinsically motivated to start his own company at the age of 20 and put the desire into action is inspiring.

Recently, I asked a few friends these questions:

  • What motivates you?
  • When do you feel you are performing at an optimal level?
  • What in your life do you take initiative on?

 

The range of answers was pretty cool…

  • Creating solutions for customers
  • When I am working on something really important for someone else
  • Motivated by learning, growing and creating
  • Having a goal, dream or vision
  • To be the best in my profession

Emotional intelligence and motivation go hand-in-hand. If you get out of bed everyday but aren’t compelled to live your life with a sense of purpose, perhaps you need to ask yourself those three questions. I want to know what drives people, what makes them tick, what makes them want to give 110%. And I want that for you, too.

Motivation is what pushes us to achieve our goals, feel more fulfilled and improve overall quality of life. Without proper motivation, the quality of work is likely not at its full potential. Understanding what motivates you is a primary component in becoming more emotionally intelligent, but also in achieving success in life.

So, what’s motivating you today? Is it to return to school? Earn a promotion? Take a dream vacation? Pay off some debt?

In my keynotes, I talk about emotional intelligence and success in the workplace. From working with c-level executives in healthcare, middle managers in corporate America or students forging the start of their careers, I am passionate about helping people find their definition of success.

 

Shannon is a motivational speaker based in Dallas, TX. She has worked in almost all 50 states with audiences ranging from corporate executives to student leaders.

What does Patrick Mahomes have to do with Emotional Intelligence?

I’ve been studying emotional intelligence for nearly two decades and the more I research, the more I realize no matter how “emotional” one is, we all have an opportunity to grow more “emotionally intelligent.”

Specifically, a key factor to the EQ formula includes managing our emotions. It’s not enough to simply have awareness of our emotions. Being able to be in control emotionally is huge but can also be challenging. We are wired to feel emotion through the limbic system in our brain. The degree to which we experience emotions differs from person to person, but we all feel anger, stress, fear, and happiness. It’s how we respond to those emotions that are so important – critical, really – in affecting our interactions with others in the workplace.

Take Kansas City Chiefs 2nd year Quarterback Patrick Mahomes II; who is just 23 years old!  In the spotlight of Monday Night Football’s national stage, Mahomes performed on a level rarely seen in Kansas City let alone in the NFL.  Not only did he display exemplary skill, he also managed his emotions in a way, I believe, helped him lead the Chiefs to their fourth consecutive win!

There were several variables that a person lacking emotional intelligence would have allowed to affect their performance.  Flags disrupting the Chiefs offensive rhythm, the pressure of needing to overcome a ten point 4th quarter deficit, the deafening roar of the opposing fans at Denver’s Mile High Stadium and relentless pressure from the Bronco’s defense. But during all of it, I barely saw Mahomes get worked up. Instead, he was calm and collected for almost the entire game. That is a huge part of what emotional intelligence is – managing your emotions especially in challenging moments to still achieve your desired outcome.

During my years in corporate America, I found the same principle to ring true. It was much easier to become energized and remain positive about my job when working for someone who exhibited servant leadership and stayed calm, even when faced with difficult business decisions. These people made me want to work harder and do better, because my efforts were valued. Likewise, I’ve experienced projects that left me feeling emotionally drained and pessimistic when I worked for someone who couldn’t control his or her emotions and expressed extreme verbal frustration when I didn’t meet my goals. That’s a tough and toxic environment in which to work and ultimately caused me to change my circumstances (i.e. get a new job!).

The next time you are watching a sporting event, observe the leadership of the team or the coaching staff. How are they responding in the heat of the moment? How does that behavior affect the players and supporting coaches? One of my favorite recent articles about emotional intelligence in the sports world discusses the Philadelphia Eagles decision to hire an “emotionally intelligent” coach and the team’s success as a result of that hire.

Not a sports fan? That’s ok! You can make these same observations at work or school. Identify someone in a leadership position and take note of the way they respond to critical issues. Then, look at those around them. Are employees eager to please, because they respect the leader? Or, do they seem bent and broken from years of working under autocratic leadership?

With a few simple steps, we can all learn to manage our EQ and take our game to the next level.

  1. Take a day and focus on what triggers your emotions both positively and negatively. Use your senses. What smells, sounds, sight and the environment around you triggers you to react. Having awareness is the first key step.
  2. Knowing what those triggers are, identify 1-2 ways that will help you stay calm and collected before you react. Do you need to walk away from the situation? Do you need to write down your thoughts first?
  3. Think about these three key areas of managing your emotions: Control, Accountability and Adaptability.

Just like Patrick Mahomes II, we all have the ability to strengthen our EQ especially in intense moments. It’s the practice and education that makes us ready for them.

One of my most popular speaking topics is, “Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace: What’s your EIQ?” wherein I work with groups to discuss ways to identify, assess and control their own personalities and to work with the variety of personalities they encounter in the workplace. My Four Square approach will help everyone increase his or her social and emotional I.Q. Sound like this might be a good fit for your organization? Let’s talk!

Do you have this one key attribute?

I was recently leading a two-day workshop for the leaders of various divisions across a company. We were having a blast talking all things leadership, emotional intelligence, generational differences and personal development in the workplace.

I love having opportunities like this to spend so much time with corporate or student leadership teams, helping them grow and evolve!

As we started the self-awareness piece of the workshop, I asked all attendees to complete a personality test. Though I was certain everyone in the room had taken various tests throughout their careers, I wanted to focus on a different aspect for the purpose of our training. I handed each attendee a 40-question test and upon completion, we compiled the answers into four groupings of “personalities.”

As we looked at the attributes of the personality groups, nearly everyone nodded in agreement as they unveiled attributes that defined the group in which they felt like they belonged: “life of the party,” “analytical,” “inclusive,” “logical,” and so on.

Then, I changed the results from how the participant saw him or herself, to how others interpreted those personalities in the workplace. In one case, the HR Director saw herself as rational, firm on policy, and tough-minded. However, others in the office saw her as critical, ruthless, and lacking empathy. She was shocked to hear how she was perceived by her co-workers.

Being self-aware about our emotions isn’t just about knowing if we are happy or sad. It’s also about being aware of how our behaviors and emotions affect those with whom we interact. Understanding this could make all the difference in how successful our interactions are in the workplace.

It has been proven that people who are self-aware are able to achieve much more success because of this one key attribute.

If you are curious about ways to strengthen your self-awareness as it relates to personality and emotional intelligence, try this exercise:

Download your own worksheet:  SelfAwarenessActivity

On a piece of paper, create three columns: self awareness, perceived awareness, and other’s feedback. Write down all of the attributes you believe to be true about yourself in the first column. In the middle column, create a list of how you think others see you. Remember, it’s important for us to understand how we are perceived by others! The final column may take some time but is so worth it! Find a few people whom you trust to provide candid and constructive feedback.

Here’s a sample email you could send to these people:

Hi! I am working on my goals and self-awareness. Would you consider providing honest and constructive feedback about these four questions? I have intentionally left them open-ended so you can provide answers in your own words. Thanks, in advance, for helping me become a better {peer, coworker, student, boss, etc.}.

In the workplace, please describe how you view me in these areas:

  • Personality: Do others see me as funny? Inclusive? Kind? Hard to work with? Easy going? Strict on deadlines? Overly emotional?
  • Work Product: How can I improve my work as part of the overall team/company success?
  • Strengths: What are my strengths and how can I better use them to contribute to our team?
  • Weaknesses: Are there things I do that may be perceived as a weakness or that may prevent me from being seen as a leader in the office?

I hope this exercise helps you become more self-aware and emotionally intelligent in all areas of your life. My goal is to create more cohesive teams and develop better leaders, and I believe that being emotionally intelligent about ourselves and those around us is key for optimal success!

Shannon is a motivational speaker based in Dallas, TX. She has worked in almost all 50 states with audiences ranging from corporate executives to student leaders.