person shooting colorful confetti up against a blue sky
person shooting colorful confetti up against a blue sky
Photo by Jason Dent on Unsplash

One of the most stressful and time-intensive periods of my Facebook tenure was the performance review cycles that happened every 6 months. I’d spent decades working at startups and design firms with erratic approaches to giving feedback; so despite the mental impact, I remain grateful for a formal, if flawed system of performance reviews.

Performance reviews are inherently nerve-wracking. In theory, you should be aligned with your manager and already have a good sense of how you’re doing. This should happen through regular feedback and 1-on-1 conversations. Yet in practice, even the best managers and organizations get distracted with the thousands of urgent requests that take precedence over long-term people development. …


Telescope pointing out over a cityscape with a beautiful pink tinge of sky
Telescope pointing out over a cityscape with a beautiful pink tinge of sky
Photo by Matthew Ansley on Unsplash

When we get negative feedback at work, there can be a first moment of resistance, a recoil against the feedback:

  • “That’s not me. That’s not who I am.”
  • “I can’t lead like that.”
  • “It doesn’t feel authentic.”
  • “I don’t have the [confidence/wisdom/courage/voice/xxx] to be like that.”

Through the years, I’ve worked with many people who have been seeking that perfect leadership style, aura, or presence. In the corporate world, where we’re used to seeing specific descriptions of performance metrics, job expectations, and clear behaviors to attain, it can be really frustrating to get feedback that our leadership style isn’t right. It’s hard to take action on that feedback. …


outline of a black tree against blue/purple/pink sunset sky
outline of a black tree against blue/purple/pink sunset sky
Photo by Joshua Sukoff on Unsplash

It’s the first work week of 2021 and for some of us it’s a rough transition time back from a period of holiday celebrations followed by rest and relaxation. Transitions are tricky. Our bodies and minds get into particular rhythms of being—what we eat, when we wake up and go to sleep, and the movement patterns of being free from a desk+computer— and it’s hard to change these habits.

Another transition is the hope of leaving the chaos of 2020 behind and approaching the new year of 2021. Yet many of us are also sick of that phrase “the new normal,” realize that we’re still in a challenging fight with COVID-19 and vaccination, AND can also appreciate the psychological clean slate of a fresh year. Being able to appreciate paradox and still function is a familiar state. …


North star with me in center surrounded by axis of Projects, People, Community on a backround of northen lights
North star with me in center surrounded by axis of Projects, People, Community on a backround of northen lights
North Star framework of leadership

2020 was not what anyone expected. It’s a historic year that will be remembered through our lifetime. Moving into the new year of 2021 is a quirk of human calendars, and yet there’s something magical about passing the milestone and getting a fresh start.

We’re all familiar with New Year’s Resolutions and how they typically end in a dumpster fire by the end of January. Yet without dreaming and wishing for something different, we end up stuck in default modes, repeating old patterns, and continuing to tread the well-worn grooves of our lives.

This article outlines about a leadership framework revolving around your one word intention to define your 2021 north star. I’ll also share mine as an example. If you want additional support to create yours, my colleague Jim Herman and I are leading a 4-week group program that begins on January 12. …


Two car side by side in front of yellow doors. Left car is old and dilapidated. Right car is a gorgeous classic.
Two car side by side in front of yellow doors. Left car is old and dilapidated. Right car is a gorgeous classic.
Photo by Dietmar Becker on Unsplash

“What’s wrong with me?,” a client asked. He’d been toiling away at a management consulting job for many years but still hadn’t made partner. His friends, relatives, fellow alumni were all eminently successful — tech CEOs, non-profit Exec Directors, surgeons with their own practice, and tenured professors. It seemed like everyone else was doing well, while he was facing failure after failure.

We’re born into a society of comparisons. In school, we’re assigned letter grades to assess our performance. We’re broken into groups and assigned reading materials based on our level of skill. Everyone implicitly knows how they compare to everyone else. She’s funnier than I am. He’s more attractive than me. She’s got better taste than anyone else. …


View through car dashboard of a freeway with strips of trees lining both sides
View through car dashboard of a freeway with strips of trees lining both sides
Beauty strips of trees along the 101 in Oregon

We all have our default-mode patterns of behavior. These are well-worn grooves for how we act. It’s built upon years of pattern-recognition and success. These patterns can serve us really well both for our success and as a coping mechanism to lean heavily on in times of crises. And, it’s important to clearly see and recognize the patterns. This leaves us with choice.

I was recently driving down the 101 in Oregon. We were struck by the natural beauty — swathes of green forests emerging through the misty shreds of fog. Then we entered a strange corridor. Looking down the freeway in tunnel vision, you could see an endless curtain of green trees lining both sides of the road. Yet when you looked closely, the trees were quite thin and through the gaps you could see wide expanses of clearcut logged stumps. …


The author jumping high over the snow at the edge of Crater Lake, OR
The author jumping high over the snow at the edge of Crater Lake, OR
Photo by Toben Dilworth

It’s been a year since I’ve gotten on an airplane, the longest period of time in my life when I haven’t traveled. I’d gone home to Thailand to attend a joyful family wedding and to spend time with my widowed mom. I got a brief taste of travel when I spent this past Thanksgiving week driving from San Francisco to Bend Oregon, and back again. It’s been the longest and farthest I’ve gone in the last year. It’s felt like a giant sigh of relief from the constriction of 2020 and my soul marinated in the white space.

White space in design is any section of a piece that is unused; or space around an object. If you look at a magazine layout, white space is the space between the words and pictures. It’s not something you typically pay a lot of attention to. We often focus on the content of the words and pictures. As designers, we’re told to “make it pop,” “make it bigger,” “make it stand out more” around the logo or button call to action. Yet the magic of white space is that it gives the content room to breathe. Rather than making the logo bigger, if you leave more white space around it, the logo will stand out more and feel bigger. …


Many people busy and in blur at Tokyo’s Shinagawa subway station
Many people busy and in blur at Tokyo’s Shinagawa subway station
Photo by Karen Lau on Unsplash

“Hey, how are you?”

“Phew, so crazy busy. You?”

For many years, I held on to my busy-ness as a badge of honor. I would proudly brandish my calendar that’s packed with double- or triple-booked meetings as a mark of how important I was. Often when people stopped by my desk to talk to me, my snippy glare and body language let them know that I needed to get back to the urgent emails and pings on my laptop rather than take a couple of minutes to connect with a human.

I worked at design firms for 10 years. It was the perfect environment for my restless spirit. Projects were often 3–6 months long and focused on envisioning the future for all the world’s top technology companies. We all had shiny-object syndrome. Ooh, we get to work on a social gaming system! And now switch gears to design a videophone for deaf people! And now a mobile phone OS built around relationships! Woo-hoo, it’s a connected smart home! It was constant pings moving from shiny object to shiny object. I never had the chance to focus and go deep because there was always something new to do—collaborate with talented designers, run sprints with clients, create more future-facing design concepts, and shoot day-in-the-life videos of happy people fiddling with their devices. The constant stimulation and motion meant that I was never bored. My shiny-object-obsessed spirit kept happily bouncing from project to project. …


White pottery crumpled in failure to hold the shape
White pottery crumpled in failure to hold the shape
Photo by Tom Crew on Unsplash

We have all experienced failure, catastrophic events, or instances where things did not go our way. These are all part of the uncontrollables of life and feel even more acute in 2020. These failures will never go away because life is uncontrollable, however, we can learn to live with them and to recover faster from negative events.

I look at Joe Biden as the epitome in recovering from failure. He’s had 77 years of life and some corresponding years of catastrophic events.

He’s struggled with stuttering since boyhood. While he’s not the most crisp and confident speaker—his stutter was noticeable last Friday evening as he spoke to the nation and told everyone to have hope, one day before the news outlets officially called the presidential race. His speaking style is all the more impressive for knowing what he’s overcome. …


Man in distance looking out over golden hued mountains. Contemplative.
Man in distance looking out over golden hued mountains. Contemplative.
Photo by Colton Duke on Unsplash

We often think of leadership as how we show up at work and inspire a team towards a common organization goal. Yet we can show up as leaders in all aspects of our lives. Emotional leadership is how we we work through our emotions — negative, positive and all the nuances in between — and continue to show up as leaders for everyone around us. It helps us understand stress & anxiety and better manage those emotions. It leverages our curiosity, enthusiasm, and confidence to inspire others.

Emotional leadership is especially needed as we navigate through uncertainty and complexity. This year of 2020 has been particularly challenging. We’re facing multiple global crises on an unimaginable level — COVID-19, Black Lives Matter, climate change affecting severe wildfires in the American west, and this week’s U.S. Presidential election. This is a year of change where all the best laid plans get thrust out the window. …

About

Tutti Taygerly

Leadership coach & champion of difficult people; designer of human experiences; ex-Facebook; surfer, traveller, mom; tuttitaygerly.com

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