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I'd be happy to chat about The Activated Genius Method, my research, our individual and organizational coaching programs designed to maximize your performance, or Tailored Output in general.

No question it too silly, or too profound. This is my life's work. Let's chat!

- julie


Arlington, VA
United States

Tailored Output is a professional development coaching company with an emphasis on goal-setting, career-planning, and team-building within the context of creating whole and fulfilling lives. 



Individuals working with Tailored Output will uncover their unique genius to identify career opportunities that will contribute to a whole and fulfilled life.

Organizations working with Tailored Output will learn how to assemble multi-disciplinary teams--staffed with engaged and motivated members--to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks in alignment with the corporate mission and values.

 

Blog

The Tailored Output Blog

 

The Cost of Creating the Future

Julie Slanker

You know this already: The future you are creating won't show up for free.

If it was going to be easy, or cheap, it would be done already.

This work that you're doing is going to cost some significant time, energy, and money.

As the leader of this effort - the owner of your Vision - providing sufficient resources is your responsibility.

If that feels daunting, you're not alone. When we start out, most of us are at a disadvantage. First, because our access to resources is historically uneven. And also because - culturally - we don't talk about money. It's rude. Uncouth. 

During our formative years, if it wasn't for The Price is Right, many of us wouldn't have known the cost of anything. As entertaining as that show is, I'm willing to bet your Vision will not call for a jet ski or a new bedroom set... 

Instead, it will require labor and travel, education and nutrition. Ways to compensate and communicate with your team. It will require short-term surges and long-term sustainment. Prototypes. And printer paper. As well as your time and energy to pull it all together and keep the whole operation running.

How do you put a price on all of that? 

And then, once you do: Where does that fit into the budget?

Daunting is probably an understatement. 

The first step is to shorten your time horizon. You don't know (yet) what it will take to get you all the way to the future you are creating. So trying to estimate the cost of that (non-existent) plan would be an exercise in futility. So only budget as far as you can see, up to and over the next major obstacle. And if that still feels too far away, or uncertain, consider the next 18 months of sustained activity.

What will you need?

Make a list. Then talk to your team. What are they willing to do, for what compensation (if any)? For everything else? Consult Amazon and Travelocity and Frelancer.com to estimate what it will take to successfully complete this phase of your work.

Hint: It might be nothing! It may just take a whole lot of your time and elbow grease. That's good! You already have all that, and you know how to create more if that's what you need.

What if it's not nothing?

What if all totaled up, even the next few months, are going to cost much more than you have to give, financially?

The answer - and you're going to hate it - is that this is a chance to see your financial constraints as an opportunity to re-think your plan. If you don't have the resources to make it work, you will need a different, more-creative way forward.

What could you bootstrap? Or DIY? What could you scale back or change and still generate the same result? What could you share or borrow or rent? What could you move closer to home. What could you make more personal and less high-tech? 

 [Quote: "Money is an accelerant, not a silver bullet." - Ash Maurya,  Running Lean ]

[Quote: "Money is an accelerant, not a silver bullet." - Ash Maurya, Running Lean]

Sure, you could raise money. That is another option. But not necessarily a good one. If your plan is solid and well-tested, outside resources can accelerate your progress. But if your path is still uncertain, you run the risk of pouring gasoline on the wrong fire and creating a bigger mess for yourself in the long run. 

That is the other responsibility that comes with providing sufficient resources: Ensuring good stewardship. 

You have a long way to go between now and achieving your Vision. And it is only going to get more complicated. What you learn in these next few months about how to provide and manage necessary resources will be critical to your longterm success. 

Want to go deeper? Sign up for my weekly Rise & Shine! Monday morning email. Every week, we'll work to turn a piece of The Activated Genius Method into practical, actionable steps to access and engage your Genius so that you can improve your work, your life, and our world.
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The How-To Guide

Julie Slanker

We've covered Why.

We've envisioned What.

We've enlisted Who.

It's time for How.

How are you going to accomplish the things you've set out to do?

But, Julie, you might be thinking, you've already told us a million times that we won't be able to see more than a few steps ahead. That's right! That's not the how I'm talking about. This has nothing to do with intricate plans to march yourself from point A to point Z. 

 [Quote: "We need to focus on the boring stuff: how to measure progress, how to set up milestones, and how to prioritize work." - Eric Rise,  Lean Startup ]

[Quote: "We need to focus on the boring stuff: how to measure progress, how to set up milestones, and how to prioritize work." - Eric Rise, Lean Startup]

This how, is the boring how.

The schedule.

The communication guidelines.

The accountability plan.

The expectations for documentation.

The how-to guide

The users manual for yourself and your team.

This doesn't need to be a lengthy, formal document. Shorter is often better. But I do encourage you to write it down. Keep it somewhere (digital) where everyone can see it. 

Start by simply documenting what you're already doing.

Too often I see leaders begin with an idealized version of how they think the perfect team should look and act and be. It is the natural consequence of reading all the research and going to all the training and wanting to be the best leader you can be.

But it's a trap.

Your team is not perfect. It is a unique mixture of Genius and mindsets and preferred ways of working. Imposing an idealized rule-book down on that melting pot will only lead to aggravation and a lot of wasted energy. Your team will mock it. Then they will ignore it. And if you fight them, they will leave. Because they already know how to do it, in many important ways.

Human beings are an adaptive species. When motivated, we will find a way to get shit done in any environment, despite all manner of constraints and limitations. 

If you are getting anything done at all, even if what you've done is merely the formation of your team, you already have naturally chosen schedules, and priorities, and modes of communication, suited to your current situation. 

What are they? Write them down.

This is where your leadership, and your research, comes in. What's working? What could be better? What have you not considered, yet? What can wait until you're group is bigger?

Propose changes. Provide justification. Get your team's buy-in. Then try it.

Make a plan to check-in (perhaps quarterly) on how things are working. Are you communicating enough, and by the right means? Are you focused on the right priorities? How do you know? Are you making progress? Are you meeting deadlines? Are you challenging each other? And is your team thriving?

When new teammates join, and they see the how-to guide, are they able to quickly and meaningfully participate without stifling their own creativity or suppressing their preferred ways of working?

If not?

Propose something better! Observe what they're doing when they're succeeding despite your handbook and see how you can make that different way of working the standard. 

The point is not to live up to a Harvard Business Review case-study, or try to recreate some other organization's team dynamic. 

The purpose is to determine what works for your group. To create clear expectations, accountability, and  a boundary around this intense work, so that you and your team can generate forward momentum and make meaningful and sustainable progress. 

Want to go deeper? Sign up for my weekly Rise & Shine! Monday morning email. Every week, we'll work to turn a piece of The Activated Genius Method into practical, actionable steps to access and engage your Genius so that you can improve your work, your life, and our world.
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Diversity is Mandatory

Julie Slanker

I told you once that not all work is your work. Remember?

It wasn't so long ago that I encouraged you to look at the landscape of activities required to overturn the status quo (you can no longer stand) and determine what of that effort is work that only you can do. What tasks will benefit most from the unique Genius that only you posses?

Well, what about the rest?

There is no doubt a long list of actions, activities, objectives, and outcomes that will require a different Genius than what's inside of you. Probably multiple different Geniuses, if we're being honest.

You know what that means...  

It's time to build your team.

It is time to find people who make up for what you lack. Or who have some of what you have along with the energy to multiply your effort. Who are motivated by your compelling Vision and wiling to commit themselves to the future you are creating, as uncertain as your path to success may still be.

It's time to enlist partners and participants. 

As you begin to assemble your cohort - whether it's loosely held or tightly bound, whether it's well-defined or nebulous, whether you assign specific roles or ad hoc tasks - only one criteria is mandatory: Diversity.

 [Quote: "A deeply diverse team can be as good as a deeply talented one." - Andrew Zolli & Ann Marie Healy, Resiliance]

[Quote: "A deeply diverse team can be as good as a deeply talented one." - Andrew Zolli & Ann Marie Healy, Resiliance]

Diversity is Mandatory

Because it is the only way to succeed. 

First, because you have blind spots. You have your areas of lesser strength, and you also have areas that you don't even know you'll struggle with, because you've never tested that aspect about you. 

And, because you're biased. We all are. Our lifetime of experiences, traumas, successes, and failures has created a pattern of behaviors and reactions in each of our heads. There are rules we all follow, even though they aren't really rules. And our individual ways of observing could cause us to miss the most important markers for our future success. 

Most importantly, because the future is uncertain. Yes, you have your Vision. You know what you are creating. And hopefully you have a clear understanding of the status quo - as it is. What lies between today and your eventual success is unknown beyond the first few visible steps. You cannot anticipate the mix of Genius you will need by your side as you reach step 5 or 8 or 53.

Sure, you could wait until you get there to determine who else to recruit to your team. And you may have to do that, still, even after prioritizing diversity.

But there's something to be said for creating a core team from the beginning. The things you will learn together as you begin your quest will create a common bond. The obstacles you overcome, even while the path is still relatively simple, will develop critical knowledge about how you all function as a team. Who leads, who organizes, who envisions, who begins, and how do the roles reverse under different circumstances?

How the team collaborates cannot be quickly taught or learned, it must be developed from within. Together. 

So as you begin to enlist support for the future you are creating, ask yourself: are you satisfied with the diversity on your team? Are you happy with the mix of Genius, experience, and training?

Or do you need to share your Vision even more broadly?

Want to go deeper? Sign up for my weekly Rise & Shine! Monday morning email. Every week, we'll work to turn a piece of The Activated Genius Method into practical, actionable steps to access and engage your Genius so that you can improve your work, your life, and our world.
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References:

Resilience: Why Things Bounce Back by Andrew Zolli and Ann Marie Healy

StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath

Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath