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Growth Leadership Personal Development

Improving Professionalism in the Workplace

Improving Professionalism in the Workplace

Professionalism in the workplace is a moving target. If you’re a high performer in your field, you probably don’t know where your talent comes from. You could list the great teachers and advisors and mentors you had along the way, but all they taught you were the skills. Your talent? That’s innate. It comes from someplace inside yourself. A special gift you have that enables you to zig when others zag and often come out a winner. 

If you’ve thought about it at all, you probably have a theory about it. You believe because you do A, then B happens—even if there’s no logical reason or proof that A and B are connected. But because you’re at the top of your game, you’re afraid tinkering with any part of who you are, and what you do will damage or diminish your “special gift.” 

There’s nothing wrong with being a high performer. Companies actively recruit the best people in each division looking for those shining leaders. But just about every company has at least one Top Performer who’s also a Pain in the Butt. These are the top executives who wreak havoc with their team and the organization because they are afraid altering that behavior might impact their performance. Being great at what you do doesn’t make you a great professional.

There is no shortage of signs like a high turnover rate in their department or maybe an occasional complaint to HR. Maybe some water cooler (or these days, Zoom) grumbling among your peers or your direct reports. If you don’t believe us, read your company evaluations on Glassdoor or Indeed or any site where employees and former employees can anonymously post comments. 

Once you investigate why someone lacks professionalism in the workplace, it will always be their relationship to pressure. And their inability to handle it outside their area of total confidence. 

Pressure Isn’t Part of the Job

Some of us feel pressure when we have to relate to other people. Some of us feel pressure when our workload exceeds our usual quota. Some of us—well, there are literally dozens of ways pressure arises. And probably even more so this past year in the face of unprecedented unexpected events.

Show us “pressure.” Was it in the recruitment ad? Did HR mention “pressure” when they were doing talent acquisition or developing recruiting strategies? They talk around it by saying things like “you can handle the job,” or “are you up for the challenges?” What they’re saying is that they believe you can handle any pressure that arises. But what is it?

We Fear the Unknown

The reason abnormal times cause us so much distress is because we have very little control over external events that are happening to us. Our anxiety level naturally goes up when faced with unknown situations. COVID-19 brought up many of the same feelings. 

A fireman’s job is to rush into situations that everyone else is running away from. They can do it because their perceived amount of control is higher. They know how fires behave. They know what different color flames mean. The situation is not unknown to them. They have “been here before.” It is that gap between what bystanders know and what professionals know that allows them to rush into what we think is danger.

The question becomes, how can we increase our own “window of tolerance?” How can we function effectively in normal times and challenging times?

Anxiety Affects Both Our Minds and Our Bodies

That’s why Mastery Under Pressure addresses both our minds and our bodies. 

Early last year, I was on the phone with a colleague whose thoughts were sending him into a near panic attack. He makes his living speaking and traveling. He’d been in the middle of a four-city road trip when the first pandemic lockdown was announced. His last two talks were canceled and he flew back home on a plane that was 90% empty. The combination of the uncertainty of the pandemic and the fear of losing his income was beyond his nervous system’s “window of tolerance.” He was freaking out.

I gave him a few tips that you can use when you find that your “monkey mind” has taken over.

  1. Become aware of your thoughts. You can’t change anything if you don’t know how you’re talking to yourself. Our unconscious programming runs in the background. And if you haven’t trained yourself to manage the wild nature of your mind, it will run you. 
  2. Ask yourself “Are my thoughts producing something useful?” I like to use the term, “productive thinking,” rather than positive thinking. If your thoughts are taking you into a downward spiral, take charge and shift them. Yes, this may be easier said than done, but, this next phrase may help. 
  3. “What’s in my control? What’s out of my control? This is the key to beginning to find your way out of a stressful situation. People frequently believe that being in control means controlling other people or events. This is an impossible endeavor. Being in control of our lives means being at choice as to how we think and behave.

Professionalism in the Workplace Pays Off

Being an all-around pro impacts your bottom line. When people respect and admire their peers and their bosses, they work better and with less stress. And being a place people want to work for makes it easier to recruit and keep other top performers. Then one day you’ll discover your entire organization is operating at its best. Only better!

Improve your professionalism in the workplace today!


Download the Free Professional Coaching  Corporate Preview


Search our hashtags for more information: #masteryunderpressure #makeyourbestbetter

Growth Human Resources Personal Development

Younger Generation Leadership Strategy: Invest in Great Training

Ideas from my new book Ingaging Leadership Meets the Younger Generations

Copious research documents the fact that younger generations like to learn. After all, they grew up attending schools and college; learning is part of the way they interact with the world.

One major study from Gallup, “How Younger Generations Want to Work and Live,” reports these findings:

  • 60% of younger generations say that the opportunity to learn and grow on the job is extremely important. In contrast, only 40% of Baby Boomers feel the same way.
  • 50% of younger generations strongly agree that they plan to remain in their jobs for at least the next year. That might sound like a big percentage, but 60% of all other groups plan to stay in place for at least a year. Baby Boomers and others are planning on sticking around, while younger generations are weighing their options.

Findings like these document that younger generations are more likely to stay Ingaged in their jobs if they can learn. Yet not all training takes place in a traditional classroom or corporate learning center. Here are some forms of training that appeal strongly to younger generation employees:

  • Bite-sized training on mobile devices. I have observed that younger generations, especially, like training that is delivered to them on their phones. Even more so, they like training that is delivered in short sessions—the kind they can complete while at lunch, on break, or even at the gym.
  • Mentoring relationships with supervisors. Gallup found that 60% of younger generations feel that the quality of the people who manage them is extremely important. With that in mind, your training for new employees can set up mentoring, not reporting, relationships between them and strategic managers. Explain how often check-ins and job reviews with their managers will happen, and what they will cover. (I am a firm believer in frequent check-ins between managers and the employees they supervise, not pro forma reviews that happen every so often.)
  • Being part of an energized and innovative team. This is a bit of a contradiction, but at the same time, younger generations think of themselves as individualist entrepreneurs; they also expect to be part of a great team. Letting younger generations get to know their teammates during training, and fostering a sense of team/group identity, can help convince them that they have joined the right organization.

Yes, training is important to younger generations, but I encourage you to think of it as more than a chance to teach skills. Younger generations are the most energized, skilled, and capable generations ever to enter the workforce. Train them well and they will become your organization’s brightest future.

Action Step: Review your training activities and materials. Ask yourself and others whether they are outdated, or new enough to appeal to your younger generation workers.

About Evan Hackel

Evan Hackel is a franchise industry leader, a widely published writer, a keynote speaker, a member of the New England Franchise Association Board, and Co-Chair of the International Franchise Association’s Knowledge Share Task Force.


A consultant to some of the largest franchise systems in North America, Evan is also Founder and Principal of Ingage Consulting, a consulting firm focused on improving the performance of franchises and all business organizations. By building cultures of partnership and common purpose within organizations, Ingage Consulting has established a record of helping a variety of organizations dramatically improve performance. In addition, Evan serves as CEO of Tortal Training, a firm that specializes in developing interactive eLearning solutions for companies in all sectors.


Before founding Ingage Consulting, Evan worked at CCA Global Partners for twenty years. At CCA, he was responsible for four business divisions with over 2000 units in four countries that generated more than $5 billion in sales. He also founded CCA’s departments in marketing, national programs, and training. He led the company’s effort to buy and turn around a franchise organization from bankruptcy. In four years, he grew the troubled franchise from 250 locations to a very successful with more than 550 locations.

Evan received an MBA from Boston College and a BA in Economics from Colorado College. He is a current and former board member of several organizations, cooperatives and groups to which he lends his expertise. He resides in Reading, Massachusetts with his wife, Laura, and three children.




Growth Health and Wellness

Neonatologist Susan Landers, MD Shares Tips For Expectant Parents When Babies Needs the NICU

More than half a million parents have babies that are born premature, a multiple or another critical scenario when admitted to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). Having a baby spend the early part of their life in the NICU seems frightening to most parents and can be a traumatic experience when confronted with life and death choices for their babies. The book, So Many Babies is written by Neonatologist and NICU expert Susan Landers, MD, which thoroughly prepares expectant parents on what to expect if their baby goes to NICU. Dr. Landers explains in detail what parents should expect to see, witness, experience, and what to ask the doctors while their child is there. So Many Babies is the most informative NICU doctor-to-parent book written on the subject of neonatal medicine and high-risk obstetrics. It’s an extraordinary book that should be read by every expectant parent. 

Dr. Landers sat down with the California Herald today to talk about her new book, So Many Babies: My Life Balancing a Busy Medical Career & Motherhood giving tips that expectant parents need to know about the NICU:


What is your book about and why did you write it? 

“So Many Babies” is about my 30-year-practice as a neonatologist taking care of sick babies in the NICU. My book relates stories about some incredibly special patients – some premature, some multiples, some born with severe birth defects, and their parents – each of whom touched me in profound ways. My book relates stories of my learning how to be a good enough mother raising three children of my own while practicing full time. My hope is that my motherhood journey will be reassuring to other working mothers.  


What was it like to work in the NICU? 

Working in the NICU often felt like working in a whirlwind. It was always exciting, and usually extremely rewarding. Watching babies respond positively to new technologies and treatments was gratifying. However, watching babies die despite full support was heartbreaking, and sometimes felt defeating.  Sometimes the NICU was incredibly stressful, especially in life and death situations, or challenging ethical cases. Sometimes it was a tragic and the NICU was a difficult place to work, especially while experiencing the suffering of some of the sickest babies and their parents.  Sometimes the NICU environment was noisy and almost nerve wracking, and other times it was quiet, calm, and subdued. There were always surprises and I enjoyed being part of a NICU team that was ready for anything, even quadruplets on a Sunday evening. 


What is the most important information you want parents to come away with from reading your book? 

I want parents to realize that the NICU experience is scary initially, sometimes traumatic, but in the end, it builds strength and character. Delivering a sick or preterm baby who requires NICU care is a shock to most parents, and it takes some number of days to adjust to where your baby is and to all the equipment and treatment that he or she needs. 

It is normal for most NICU parents to feel overwhelmed initially, but most adjust to having a baby in the hospital, become comfortable with asking questions, driving back and forth, visiting, and planning. Parents who are present as often as possible, touching, holding and reading to their babies, tend to connect more securely with their sick infant. NICU moms who pump or express their breastmilk for their infant give a enormous gift to their baby, one that improves their baby’s outcome, and one which no doctor or nurse can give. 

My stories were intended to inspire others with the courage and attentiveness that my favorite NICU parents displayed over the many weeks and months of their child’s stay. The parents that I describe in my book were curious, asked lots of questions, and developed good relationships with their baby’s nurses. They reached out for help when they needed it, were honest with caregivers, and generally took advice from the care team. 


What are some of the tips about the NICU that no one tells parents, but you wish they knew?

Most NICU moms feel guilt after the birth of a sick or preterm baby. However, preterm birth is most often unexplained. Although there are some medical conditions that precipitate it, like preeclampsia or diabetes, most often we do not know why mothers deliver a preterm baby or a baby with a birth defect. I want to reassure NICU moms that their baby’s condition is not their fault

I want parents to know that having a baby in the NICU will be the most stressful period they will experience as a couple, and as parents. If the parents work together, the experience can make their marriage or partnership stronger. 

Parents who must endure a longer NICU stay need to take care of themselves along the way. They need to let others cook and clean for them, let others drive them to the hospital and run errands for them. They might try to enjoy one night out each week, like a date night, to stay grounded to each other and maintain their relationship.  

Getting to know and talk with other NICU parents is helpful, and there are parent support groups that meet in some hospitals. In addition, there are good Instagram and Facebook NICU-parent-support groups. 

Most parents are tougher than they think they are, and I want them to know that even though having a baby in the NICU is hard, they will grow during the experience. 


While the book was extremely informative, I found some of the information in the book to potentially be terrifying to expectant parents. Is it really necessary for parents to be told the ENTIRE truth about what to expect in the NICU?

No, it is not necessary for parents to be told everything that can go wrong after delivery. If we did that, no one would want to chance having a baby. Remember that ninety percent of births are healthy full-term babies. Only ten percent of births are preterm, and eight percent are low birth weight. Another three percent of babies are born with a major birth defect. The NICU exists for these babies and for the unfortunate full-term babies that develop infection or illness after birth. Most babies do not need NICU care.

With good prenatal care, parents become aware of any condition for which they must be prepared. A meeting with a neonatologist before the delivery of a baby with a severe birth defect or extreme prematurity can reassure parents, inform them what to expect, and answer their questions. Once their baby is in the NICU receiving care, most parents prefer to “know what is going on.” They want to understand what chances their baby has, and they want honest answers (to the extent that we can predict those). Oftentimes, we cannot foresee outcomes accurately, and that frustrates some parents.  

I did not write this book to scare potential parents. I wrote this book to portray an accurate picture of my life caring for babies in the NICU, my attachments to my patients and their family, and my struggles balancing work and motherhood. 

Connect with Susan Landers, MD directly at https://susanlandersmd.com/

Purchase So Many Babies at https://www.amazon.com/So-Many-Babies-Balancing-Motherhood-ebook/dp/B091MX11TG/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1619459890&sr=8-1 


Growth Personal Development

‘Leaving Laurel’ Out Now!

“This one is on point on so many levels.” Full Support from myself Michael Beas Founder and CEO of Raver Magazine.

A poignant collection of music, the self-titled debut album is dedicated to the memory of band member, brother, and friend Pierce Fulton

OUT NOW – via Anjunadeep

Stream the album HERE

Photo Credit: Griff Fulton

“It all began when one of us was Leaving Laurel”. 

For Pierce and Gordon of Leaving Laurel, their music is a story of an old friendship that over many years, almost accidentally, blossomed into a musical collaboration.  Friends on the internet first, and eventually roommates in Los Angeles, the pair spent years together making their own separate brands of dance music, long before ever collaborating with one another. Gordon was one-half of bass-heavy duo Botnek, whilst Pierce found fame and toured the world with his solo project.


One day in Laurel Canyon, California, the pair were sharing their own unfinished music with one another. Pierce had an idea for a demo of Gordon’s, which spawned an impromptu writing session lasting the rest of the day.  Elated by what had just happened, they continued to write together over the coming weeks, but just as they were getting new momentum, Pierce had to head back to his home on the east coast.  The final song they wrote together before his flight was called ‘Leaving Laurel’. The music Pierce and Gordon made together is rich with emotion, densely packed with atmosphere, and often featured Gordon’s own gentle vocals. 


Pierce always envisioned the music they made together in California as an album, and after having released many of their early songs over the past year on Anjunadeep, they set out to finish everything they had started during that time. In revisiting the rest of their ideas from that era, they had realized – it all felt like one moment in time. One feeling. One chapter. The pair finished their debut album at the start of 2021, just prior to a horrible tragedy.


Pierce passed away in April of this year after a tragic struggle with his mental health. This album is dedicated to his memory and has come to represent much more than two friends making music together in the Laurel Canyon neighborhood of Los Angeles. The album announcement comes with today’s release of ‘Winter In The Woods’, a track inspired by the duo’s time isolated in the woods of Connecticut & Vermont. Pierce’s struggles were very private, and with this album, Gordon and Pierce’s brother and manager Griff want to let the world know simply this: 


It’s ok to not be ok.  


It’s for anyone who can relate to his pain, and to know you are not alone.


“Slow down and enjoy life.  It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.” – Pierce Fulton, via Eddie Cantor.

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