Tag Archives: success

Live Your Values Through Your Work

By Mellicia Marx, Founder of Poplin Style Direction and Friend of Simple Intentions


Author Mellicia Marx pictured top left at the 2017 YouthCare Luncheon

Early in my career, I was drawn to public service and the nonprofit world. Why? It seemed obvious. Careers in these sectors were the best and perhaps, realistically, the only way to give back and make a difference in any significant or productive way. After all, making the world a better place is central to the job description. Later, I thought, corporate America could also offer the same opportunity, but only if you were able to land one of a company’s few corporate social responsibility roles.

Eventually, of course, I discovered that none of this was true. It turns out you can live your values no matter your industry; that you can have a meaningful impact on the people around you by nurturing your own strengths and sharing them with others. It can even benefit you in your career. And you don’t need to uproot your life to do this — really.

Now I’ve left non-profits and public service. I run my own small business as a personal stylist — I help women communicate who they truly are, using personal style as a lens. And it is by far the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. By providing clear guidelines to help a woman know what flatters her frame, and guidance about how to convey what makes her uniquely her, I plant a seed that helps her flourish in all aspects of her life. Especially gratifying is to work with a client a year or two after we first met, and to see how her life has been influenced by our work together. Peoples’ lives are being improved, or even transformed, by this work. And I can see it at close range, in a way I never could earlier in my career.

And yet, there’s more. In addition to my work with clients, I devote a great deal of my energy into my volunteer work with YouthCare, a Seattle-based nonprofit devoted to empower homeless youth ages 11–24 in my community. It’s a rewarding and rejuvenating part of my everyday life — and it presents yet another opportunity to channel my personal values into something meaningful and productive.

We all have the ability to seamlessly integrate our values into our work and life, with less effort than perhaps is common belief. And as I have learned first-hand, this not only makes a positive impact on your community but can propel your career or enhance your business in unexpected ways.

Leverage Your Expertise

What do you have to offer to your community? For starters, you are almost certainly an expert in something — most likely the thing that helps you put food on the table. What value do you create with your work? How could the community benefit from it? In my case, as a personal stylist I can help people with a problem we all experience, regardless of lifestyle, income, or even housing status — what am I going to wear today?

By partnering with YouthCare, I’ve made my expertise available to a segment of the population who, it turns out, can really benefit from it. Working together, we’ve created a styling session program for youth in YouthCare’s Barista Training Program. We teach them what clothing is appropriate for job interviews and the workplace, then help them “shop” from a boutique of quality clothes donated by the community — and my client base. It’s a successful, thriving community program that is really just an extension of the work I do every day with my clients.

Think about your own work. Do you have skills you take for granted, but that just might be incredibly advantageous to someone in need?

Identify Your Resources

Let’s face it: we live in a hectic world where time is at a premium. Maybe, given the pressures of your career and the time it takes up, volunteering is a separate, subordinate dream that you might eventually realize — in retirement. But it doesn’t have to be. In fact, you can actively benefit your career by way of volunteering.

In my case, I’ve found that by threading together my volunteering and my business, I have tangibly enhanced my clients’ customer experience. I offer each client the opportunity to donate her extraneous clothes after we have gone through the step of editing her closet. I take those pieces to YouthCare for our styling session program, and the organization sends tax information back to the client. It doesn’t stop there. I also invite clients to attend graduation ceremonies for the youth finishing up the Barista Training Program. There’s no obligation, just the chance to see the impact of their donated clothes on the lives of young people in our community. And I host tables at YouthCare’s annual luncheon (pictured above) and invite clients to attend — I regularly have over twenty attendees. Every once in a while, I share stories about youth on my blog and Instagram and tag clients who donate with a public thank you.

This approach is in line with my values, and is good for business in so many ways. Not long ago, I started working with a new client transitioning to female after she read my blog posts about working with transgender youth. I also have clients who reach out after our initial styling sessions because they have more clothes to donate; this allows me to stay connected with clients in the long term without needing to “sell” them something. And client surveys show that learning about my work in the community contributes to their choosing to work with my company.

Living my values not only enhanced my sense of fulfillment but helped build my business and brand – this can be true for anyone, regardless of job title.

Select Your Cause

Youth homelessness is particularly upsetting to me. These are just kids. They’re kids who didn’t have someone to help them buy their first car, or encourage them to take the SATs, or even help them choose their first bra or tie their first tie. They live a challenging and often dangerous life. But I’ve found that one afternoon of warmth and attention from our team can really shift the path for some of these kids. They know that someone, who is not paid to care, really does care. They know that there is no question too embarrassing to ask, and they know that when they leave they will not “look homeless” — something so many of them fear on a daily basis.

For you it might be the environment, or animal welfare, or social justice that fuels your passion. Think about causes that mean something to you. They might even be naturally aligned with the expertise you have to offer. Then do some research, find the organizations that are doing the best work in that field, and ask how you can help.

Yes, some jobs offer more flexibility than others to choose how one spends their time and resources. But it doesn’t take much. Every time you write a letter, make a call, or spend an hour with someone in need, you are positively contributing to your community — and maybe even your career.



On-demand Teams: The Talent Solution for High Value Results

By Lisa Hufford, Founder of Simplicity Consulting and Friend of Simple Intentions


We tailor our lives every day in consideration of the factors around us, and the problems we face.  As the weather changes, we change what we wear. If we are feeling stressed, we might hit the gym, or indulge in a guilty pleasure. We adapt.

So why are we not incorporating this innate adaptability into the way we work?  More often than not, we are faced with problems in the workplace that arise and adapt to the change as our flow of work does. To navigate these dynamic problems, we need to build on-demand teams in order to provide adaptability.

Accessing talent on demand allows us to achieve our goals, while balancing the resources we have with the resources we need. The challenge is how to find this balance.  Using a simple methodology, called SPEED, you can incorporate these on-demand teams into your workplace. Utilizing SPEED provides you with a way to access the growing independent talent pool and potential to achieve innovative results that could not be reached with your typical assets.

SPEED means thinking about your team in a much broader sense than simply placing names on an organizational chart. It’s about asking what your business needs and goals are, both now and in the future, and focusing on securing the right talent, regardless of the form it takes.

The SPEED methodology breaks down into five steps: Success, Plan, Execute, Evaluate and Decide. Each step is essential to securing the right talent.

The importance in success is to find focus in your project and clarity in the talent you need. Look at your team’s expertise and decide if there is a talent gap that needs filling to make the project a success. Optimizing for the expertise and skills needed for the project goals will help you achieve your objectives faster.

You need a sound project description. A project description is essential to establishing exactly what you need a consultant to deliver. You are searching for the tools you don’t already have. Build the description before talking to any candidates, you want them to be able to hit the ground running and add value from day one.

Once you have selected your consultant, set the project up for successful execution by documenting the project deliverables in a Statement of Work (SOW), onboarding the consultant, and integrating them into your team. The SOW will keep the priorities of your project clear. Onboarding and team integration will establish a trusting working relationship between the consultant, yourself, and the team.

As business needs change, so will the goals and metrics. It’s important to keep this in mind when working with your consultant. Constant evaluation of metrics ensures goals are being met and both parties have the same understanding.

The achievement of project goals makes us feel empowered to take on the next project faster and in a more efficient way. Each application of SPEED lessens the learning curve. But before we take on our next project, we must decide whether the current project remains a priority. If it is, continue the work and bring on additional resources as needed. If not, decide if the consultant has the skillset needed to help with the next project.

Now that you know the steps, you can embrace adaptability in your workplace. Let’s stop trying to fix our problems with a half empty toolbox. Find the tools you need, in the talent pool you now know how to access. It’s as simple as S-P-E-E-D.


Lisa Hufford is the founder of Simplicity Consulting and author of the newly released book “Navigating the Talent Shift: How to Build On-demand Teams That Drive Innovation, Control Costs, And Get Results


Celebrating Disappointment

By Christopher Littlefield, Founder of Acknowledgment Works & Friend of Simple Intentions

A photo by Teddy Kelley. unsplash.com/photos/okavjRLgnjo

A few years ago, in the space of a week’s time, my wife found out that she did not get TWO jobs she was a finalist for. Wanting to support her, I bought flowers, made a make shift sign reading “Happy you did not get the job day!” and greeted her with cheering at the door when she arrived home. Yes, my intention was to be supportive and mitigate the potential after shock of the news, but the incident sparked a real question for me: Why don’t we celebrate when things don’t work out?

The immediate answer is obvious; it’s disappointing. Disappointment makes people feel like crap, so why would you celebrate it? But bear with me for a second as we explore the idea. If you think about it, many of the amazing experiences, lessons, and loves we currently cherish in our lives would not have been possible if everything had worked out as we planned. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate my ex’s (well, some of them), but I am VERY thankful those relationships did not work out. If they had, I would not have met the love of my life; my wife, Maria.

For many of us it was the disappointment of not getting accepted to a school or program, losing a job, bombing a presentation, getting dumped, or being passed over for a promotion that was responsible for igniting our passion to pick up arms and fight for what we really wanted in life. It is those disappointments that often become the catalyst for the better things that happen in our lives.

So the next time something doesn’t work out the way you want it to, take a few minutes to stomp your feet, cry a little, shake your fist at the sky, but then find a friend and go celebrate because the door just opened for another amazing experience to be born.


Is “Office” a State of Mind?

By Jae Ellard, Simple Intentions Founder and CEO

[Note: This post originally appeared in Mindful Magazine]

It used to beDefining office_0615 when someone talked about being at the office they meant they were at an actual physical space. With the rise of workplace flexibility, global work teams, and technology to support a slew of telework options, “office” has become an elusive concept.

The number of “mobile workers” in the US will reach 105 million by 2020, estimates market intelligence firm IDC. That means almost three-quarters of our work force will find themselves with flexible office situations. It’s no wonder, then, that many Fortune 500 companies are committed to attracting and retaining employees by offering flexible work environments and promoting diverse work styles.

Depending on what you do for a living and how you like to work, you will have your own unique definition of “office”. For some, office still means a physical space – like a desk or a cubical (or, for the free-spirited, their favorite café). For others, office means a device, like a tablet or phone. For these people, they’re “at the office” whenever their device is on and in their vicinity.

For others still, office is a state of mind – it’s whenever you have work thoughts, which for many people is a lot of the time. It’s easy to see how nontraditional work situations can take on a life of their own, and lead to more stress rather than more flexibility. That’s why it’s important to define what “flexible work” means to you.

A recent study in the American Sociological Review found that workers with well-designed flexible work situations are less stressed, experience less burnout, and have increased job satisfaction compared to their peers in a typical workday situation.

Simply giving employees more control over their schedules and shifting emphasis to results rather than hours logged allows employees to be effective and happy. Go figure.

What’s imperative is that managers and employees work together to establish what is acceptable within the company or team culture. This is a huge opportunity to build trust and prevent confusion by discussing upfront what “office” means from the employer’s perspective. Then everyone can work together to construct what a workday at the office ideally looks like.

In order to have a balanced, mindful approach to flexible work situations, consider the following.

  1. Your Physical Space

If your office is an actual space, notice what you need in that space. If you work from home, is there a well-defined space in your house where “office” takes place, or do you “office” a little bit everywhere? If “office” means a device, ask yourself when do you engage and disengage with the “office” (your device): Is it a set time, like 7 p.m., or is it when you reach a specific physical destination?

  1. Your Mindset

If your office is a mindset, think about how you can intentionally tap into and let go of work thoughts. Perhaps you can establish a “stop work thoughts” mantra that helps you bookmark the thought, for example, “Thank you, I will come back to this later.” Or you could intentionally take a few deep breaths to redirect your energy, or try to set a concrete time when work thoughts are just not welcome.

  1. Your Time

When does “office” begin and end for you? Flexibility is about choice, and if the choice is to be always on, the power of flexibility is diminished. Embrace and enjoy the flexibility to work wherever and whenever by being intentional about how, where, and when you “office”.

Tips for how to work anywhere

  • Make sure some of your “office” hours overlap with a standard workday
  • Find time for face-to-face meetings and schedule them regularly
  • Avoid working on sensitive documents over public Wi-Fi
  • Block out brainstorming time in your calendar – “think” time is part of your job

Is it Possible to Have Balance and Success?

By Jae Ellard, Simple Intentions Founder

[Note: This post originally appeared on Huffington Post.]

success and balanceWhen people talk about balance, it’s very common the word success enters into the discussion. People often describe balance as feeling like they are successful at honoring their commitments. Yet, at the same time, many people believe it’s a tradeoff — that you can have either a successful life or a balanced life, but not both. This belief is simply not true.

It’s possible to have both success and balance because the desired outcomes are similar for most people: To create easy joy and meaningful engagement between the interconnected relationships, roles and responsibilities that make up life. As with balance, success means different things to different to people, and the definition changes over time as one’s life circumstances shift and evolve.

Success is personal, and each person has his or her own idea of what is desirable, acceptable and comfortable. There is no right or wrong idea of success. No television show, magazine, motivational speaker, or guru can tell you what success means for you. It is defined by you and you alone, because you are unique.

Like balance, success has many layers that are measured in different ways depending on various factors, like where you grew up in the world, who you grew up with and who you are today, in this moment.

Individual success is often described and measured by physical, emotional and spiritual elements. For example, it could be measured by someone’s size or how they look. It could be a feeling or state of being, such as enlightenment or Maslow’s concept of self-actualization.

Social success is commonly discussed and measured in terms of wealth, education and community status. Examples are where a person lives, where they went to school, the extent and value of their philanthropic efforts.

Many elements of social success are connected to cultural values and vary from country to country and house to house, as each culture and family honors different values. All of these variables makes it impossible to have a unified definition of social success.

And don’t forget the workplace and our professional lives, where we most commonly associate and glamorize ideas of success. Professional success is often defined and measured by recognition, as in a title, salary or level, the number of likes or followers on social media, or one’s level of power, respect and influence.

Many of these layers lend to the creation of a certain desired perception. The definition of success can include both how you want to be perceived by others and how you want to feel each morning when you wake up.

Think about what success means to you right now in this moment. What is your motivation for that — a feeling or a desired perception or both? For many, the meaning of success combines both: a feeling and a desired perception, and it’s super hard to decipher which comes first. Does perception drive feeling or does feeling drive perception? Many people who are perceived to be successful don’t necessarily feel successful. And others who feel successful wouldn’t traditionally be labeled as such. It’s all relative, and it follows the same logic as for balance because we are all unique.

Both how you want to feel and how you want to be perceived are part of your definitions of success and balance. Most people are more in touch with what it feels like to not have either balance or success than knowing when they are experiencing balance or feeling successful. Yet, the two are so closely intermingled, it’s hard to have one without the other.

The secret to living a successful and balanced life is nested within knowing what motivates you and having intentional conversations about that with the people that matter in your life.