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Three BIG Things from Build Business 2019

During the MAX® Presentations on Thursday morning, Brian Parsley spoke to “Living Your Genius” and how to tap into your talents. He concluded his session by talking about 3 BIG THINGS when you’re reflecting on your day or an experience. Here are my three big takeaways from sessions I attended and observations I made at Build Business 2019:

Get out of your feelings. During Kisha Allen’s “Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, and Decision-Making for Thought Leaders,” she shared that we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them. Two keys to getting out of your own way are recognizing that emotionalism makes issues messy and you don’t have to have it all figured out by yourself. Leveraging the Socratic method by asking questions to get to the root of the problem and engaging others around you can help you make more sound decisions.

We all have to work with difficult personalities; one way to apply the critical thinking principles Kisha outlined is to come to these conversations equipped with research on the subject being discussed, check your judgments and feelings at the door, and save the venting for outside the office.

Feedback isn’t so scary. Amy Sandler’s keynote speech and following workshop on Radical Candor touched on both the importance and awkwardness of feedback. The term Radical Candor is used to describe communication that challenges directly while also showing that you care personally. She used a “spinach in your teeth” scenario to drive home radical candor is when you take someone aside and politely tell them they have spinach in their teeth whereas other routes would be to tell them in front of the crowd, to tell the person next to you instead of the one with the spinach in the teeth, or to remain silent. We all appreciate when someone lets us know what’s up, especially when it is delivered in a caring manner. Another tip to build trust with others is to practice mindful listening. The more you listen, the more effective people think you are at giving feedback.

I was inspired by Amy’s presentations and was eager to begin applying some of the Radical Candor practices. Although this instance doesn’t involve giving personal feedback, I realized that sometimes we all need a sounding board (or an attitude check) before delivering any kind of feedback. While giving suggestions for a new initiative at work last week, I was struggling with how to respond to an email that seemed to challenge my ideas. Everything I drafted in response sounded defensive (and unnecessarily sassy). Instead of pressing send, I asked another colleague for help to achieve the best delivery to share my ideas and open the conversation to move the project forward. This helped me to both send a constructive email and improve my working relationships.

Really get to know your manager. During Mary Abbajay’s “Manage Up to Move Up” session she talked about closing the gap between your boss’s and your own personal preferences. In order to do so, it’s important to understand how your boss operates and what their work style is. For example, if your boss is more introverted you may realize that they prefer emails over phone calls or if your boss is more extroverted you may realize that they prefer face-to-face brainstorming sessions. Mary took the Golden Rule one step further and shared the Platinum Rule, which is to treat others the way they want to be treated.

Although it may seem daunting at first, she suggested having a conversation with your boss (or if you are a manager, your direct reports) to map out both of your preferred style of communication, pet peeves, and top professional priorities. Although I have not had this direct conversation with my boss yet, we both have bonded over appreciating direct communication that gets right to the point instead of overly lofty or flowery language.

Thank you SMPS Boston for the scholarship to attend my first national conference! I’m still digesting all I learned but breaking it down in threes has been helpful. My three big things for a national conference first-timer is to bring more business cards than you think you’ll need, bring a sweater for the AC, and take “you time” breaks, whether that means ducking out for a few minutes to grab Starbucks or using one of the scheduled break times to do a sightseeing loop.

SMPS Boston is proud to offer our members scholarships for professional development opportunities. Kelly Brolin was one of the recipients of this year’s SMPS Build Business Scholarship, which covers the full cost of registration. Learn more about all the scholarships SMPS Boston offers.



Kelly Brolin is an event planning, storytelling, and social media enthusiast. She is a Senior Marketing Coordinator at CDM Smith and serves on both the SMPS Boston Special Events and Communications committees.

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