christine e. middleton

By day... dot connector. consumer strategist. practitioner. coach. helping executives find new ways to expand and grow their bottom lines.

In between hours... student of life. passion for inspired living. truth seeker. advocate of level playing fields. fan of creativity and design.


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“Learn to take risks. Live life everyday and feel the fear because that’s what brings the passion.”

–Sarah Friar (MBA ’00), CFO of Square, Inc.
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“There is absolutely no career safety – risk can’t be avoided.”

–Professor Irv Grousbeck

Food for thought: 

"Ninety-nine percent of the failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses."

- George Washington Carver, scientist, botanist, inventor and educator

George Carver was born into slavery yet defied the odds. Beyond learning to read and write, George went on to college for two degrees.

He became known for his curiosity and dedication, which lead to new uses of peanut, sweet potato, soybean and pecan crops. Important at the time.

And, of the hundreds of products he invented, they included plastics, paints, dyes and a type of gasoline. Things we take for granted today.

It’s amazing to think what each of us are capable of if we just believe we can  (…and get out of our own way).

One common hiring mistake: Hiring more of the same. Everyone thinking the same way doesn’t produce new results.

This is very different from finding talent who align and fit in with the culture.

I’m always confounded at the prevalence of this mistake. It limits creativity.

Another creativity-enducing nugget shared in this 40-second spot: Time away from the desk, quiet time to contemplate, talking with people who have diverse perspectives, and looking beyond your own backyard and outside your industry for new ideas.

(Consultants can also be a great source of alternative perspectives.)

For more on fastcompany:

The founder of travel startup Peek shares how she stays open to inspiration, wherever it finds her.

Read More>

Love it. And here’s the point:

This is so fun for me you have no idea,” Kathryn Cicoletti says. 

So who is Kathryn and what’s she having fun doing?  Kathryn is creator of MakinSense Babe, a video-driven site that translates financial and investment information into language we all can understand.

About time! 

And apparently, Ms. Cicoletti’s style is similar to Jon Stewart.

Even better.

To launch this site, Ms. Cicoletti left her half a million a year job. “I love the idea of taking things that are generally boring—sorry, finance is really boring, let’s be honest—and making them entertaining.”

And that’s what she’s doing. Clever… sure… needed… yes!

But more than that it’s about loving what you do for a living and in such a way it works for you. The money - it will follow.


…Uning clever analogies and wry wit to simplify financial topics,” Cicoletti’s videos skewer the mainstream financial industry, while making savvy investors of her subscribers.

"I spent a lot of time looking at the landscape to see what is out there and what other people were doing. I wanted to be sure that I was coming at finance and money topics from a different angle.”


Read More>

(via fastcompany)

a quote by Alice Walker worth reflecting upon…

"The first rule of holes: When you’re in one, stop digging."

- Molly Ivans, Columnist for several papers, including the New York Times

When we find we’ve offended someone, back ourselves into a corner, made a bad decision, or end up in a pickle of some sort, often our reaction is to keep talking, trying, doing. 

But that is exactly what we shouldn’t do!

Molly’s sage advice - stop digging - is the best course of action. 

Just look at the recent Donald Sterling/LA Clipper scandal to see an example of someone who keeps digging… and how it makes things worse.

Not only was Mr. Sterling giving the press tons of fodder that detrimentally hurt his reputation with important funders and partners, but his continual digging led to court judgments against him.

Most of us won’t be on the national stage like this, but like Mr. Sterling how we conduct ourselves (behind closed doors, in front of cameras, on social media) and treat others is everything. When we find we’ve made a mistake or uncover new information that shows we’re actually wrong, how we respond is critical.  

Spinning, covering the mistake, justifications or denying – all lead to sudden death in the court of public opinion. (Even those who seem to get away with it, they don’t. You just don’t get to see karma catching up to them down the road.)

Rather than continuing to dig, just stop and change approaches. Go to a place of humility. Admit foremost to yourself where you went wrong. Apologize and be prepared to follow it with actions (how ever long it takes) to show the authenticity of your remorse and rebuild trust. Without it, you create a legacy that might conflict with your dreams and goals.

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power."

- President Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln is one of our greatest examples of what makes a good leader.

It’s not because he had certain looks, wore certain clothes or promenaded in certain circles. He wouldn’t have made for “good TV” nor sound bytes news could use.

It was how he approached life, people, situations. It all starts from within, as his quote suggests. 

Here’s one blog that gives a practical outline of what this looks like leading in today’s work environment.

What will happen …if you face and hold greed, anger, judgment, hurt in compassion instead of projecting it in hatred?

This question is really the difference between life and death.

By facing our pain and refusing to send it elsewhere, we stop the drama and hurt we, in turn, create.

We stop blaming. We heal.

We begin to change in profound ways - not only within ourselves, but everyone with whom we come into contact is impacted.

We find freedom from hurts caused by others. We are free to focus our attention and energy on more important things, including happiness, joy, creativity, connection.

The path and the price of transformation might seem hard at first, but so are most things that are important. Don’t let “hard” ever stop you.

Leadership is about setting your own course in a way that inspires others to follow.

…And with good intentions that elevates others, your legacy will be great. 

When is profiling a good thing? Customizing ads based on age, sex, demographics because that’s what technology allows you to do… it can really misfire if you’re not careful.

This ad constantly plays on Pandora lately… at least for me. And every time I hear it I want to scream.

Unlike Cheryl Sandberg, I didn’t have handouts, a leg up, or powerful mentors/sponsors who opened doors.

No, I had a few bosses who were intimated by what I achieved - one who took credit while pushing me down. Another, who later, apologized to me for allowing a negative perception around my reputation because she believed/thrived on the drama another colleague created around her.

I’m not bitter about these experiences - I went to school to study the subject of leadership instead.

Actually, these experiences have made me a better employee, manager and a stronger person. I have continued to leaned in, speak up, raised my hand and be authentically me while learning along the way…

And regardless of the behaviors of these bosses and predicaments in general, I too have made decisions; therefore, I accept the outcomes.

However, leaning into to my career - the way Cheryl suggests -  has not led (yet) to the outcomes promised as a result of hard work and dedication.


What I have learned are invaluable life lessons most around me do not yet know. Perhaps that is worth more than all the riches one can put in a closet or bank account.

And, for the most part, I’ve come to peace with the fact when I finally have a family, its makeup may not include a child of my own, as I gave those years to raising my hand and leaning in. 

…that is until I hear this ad and it brings out my inner warrior - "How cruel this ad is! What a personal matter with so much associated with it… to just advertise casually?… Have they no sensitivity or shame?!"   

When I hear this ad, I also think of all the women who can’t have kids and have tried, including my friend, who has cried many gut-wrenching tears. I think of all the emotional pain she’s gone through trying …what if she, or the many other women, who hear this ad?  

Cruel and all for a buck. I mean, it’s not like I can opt-out of the ad or tailor the targeting differently. 

General associations and profiling are rarely the full picture or accurate. In my case, these ads are off-base for one reason or another  99% of the time. I am not someone who always likes more of the same, but instead like exploring what’s new and different.

I resent being stuffed into averages. I suspect others feel the same.

So, I am thinking whether using Pandora is a thing of the past for me. (Hello worst fear of a marketer.) I definitely give Shady Grove Hospital a big thumbs down for producing such an ad strategy on this subject - especially in an area where women do have careers and want families, but don’t often result in two realities aligning… with a Sandberg-ending. 

The good news is I’m not done with my career. I’m hopeful and happy. And the best reminder out of this - not all subject matters/companies should use the benefits of social media targeting … generalizations are a bad thing. And they, in fact, do hurt.

MOST egos would get in the way of such a decision - this CEO resigned and changed his role within the company… 

DESPITE the upsides (including happier employees, new growth trajectories, and personal satisfaction).

As a friend of mine, CEO of an engineering firm, said to me recently, "At a certain point in a company’s evolution, it’s usually the founder who gets in the way of growth. I know I did.

Like my friend, Michael Anton Smith’s awareness about his own strengths and weaknesses led to solid decisions about personnel changes. In Anton Smith’s case, he resigned as CEO of Mind Candy, creator of Moshi Monsters, to lead the creative side of the company.

Rather than hanging on to image and a title, Anton Smith is making decisions to align with his passion and strengths, which means bringing in talent to fill in the rest.

Not only will he (and those around him) be more happy, but the company, if it hires correctly, can flourish being organized and led by someone who also is in their “sweet spot,” or passion area.

But this isn’t why this story is gaining attention. How Anton Smith announced his decision is the reason it’s being noticed — posting his decision via this YouTube clip vs. a traditional press release statement.

(I’m not sure I’d recommend this for everyone.Then again, it’s good to see not everyone follows a formula for the sake of it. I like the straight forward approach, which according to Anton Smith, fits with the company brand so a win-win.)

"The sky is not my limit… I am."

- T.F. Hodge

Clever ideas, built-in learning and social fundraising… this is the type of business projects we all should be backing.

It might not solve world hunger, but at minimal it might be a step towards relation building. It might be a way to test new technologies. It might be the next “ah ha” connection between existing ideas to make a major break through.

Business to developing country, school to school, person to person why not use our minds, resources, skills to think outside our own boxes? 

Whatever the idea, when the tides rise, they rise for everyone.

When leaning in - however you do it -  the bonds between people become more meaningful and put a smile on someone’s face (including your own). I say there’s nothing better for our hearts and international community.

What can you do to stretch your imagination …and make a difference?


Energy-harnessing musical instrument provides power to communities off the grid

There are areas in the world where energy infrastructure is next to nonexistent, meaning that the people living there can’t rely on a consistent source of electricity.

Now a new project has developed SPARK, a musical instrument that is harnessing human activity to create energy and adding light to people’s lives. READ MORE…

Be crumbled.
So wild flowers will come up
Where you are.
You have been stony for too many years.
Try something different. Surrender.


It’s about time…

If for no other reason I love the Millennial generation because they are growing up with blurred lines of traditional sexism. It still lingers but it’s also changing, which makes us all better.

Pulled from onbeing:

"You run like a girl." "You throw like a girl." These are two phrases I was brought up with. This ad from Always is something I’ll … remind myself of the power of language — and when not to use it.

Another example of linking products to changes in society to make a movement (via a marketing campaign), increase the value of a brand, use of advertising and social media.

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