Alloy Solutions Leadership Blog

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Work-Life Balance: Mountaintop or Moving Target?

Work-Life Balance: Mountaintop or Moving Target? by Jamie Hansen

This post was originally part of our Finish Strong Challenge, which emphasized components of modern resilience to help participants finish the year on a high note and build positive momentum for 2021. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for the latest on future challenges and updates from Alloy!

When I think about work/life balance, I’m reminded of the message license plate of a friend of mine whose husband has had multiple cross-country relocations with his company:  It reads, “HERE4NOW”. I was taken aback when I first saw that because it felt a little bleak – too brief, too short term. But there’s wisdom in the brevity of its sentiment:  acknowledging the present moment and that it won’t last forever can lead to a sense of clarity in making the most of the time we have. I know we may not be in this place for long, but we’re going to have the best time while we...

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Connecting Purpose and Resilience

Connecting Purpose and Resilience, by Ryan Hansen

This post was originally part of our Finish Strong Challenge, which emphasized components of modern resilience to help participants finish the year on a high note and build positive momentum for 2021. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for the latest on future challenges and updates from Alloy!

How many times do you think about why you do what you do?

Why?

It's a simple word, but it can be a complex question. Let's ask the same question a few different ways:

  • Why does my work matter?
  • How does my work help other people (on my team, in my company, or in society at large)?
  • What would happen if my role did not exist?
  • Who am I serving?
  • Who benefits from the work I do?
  • Who is counting on me to do my job?

Many of us get so caught up in the day-to-day grind of our work that we eventually stop focusing on the overarching purpose that makes our work important and necessary.

As we take a closer look at Finding Your...

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Reflecting on 2020, in All of its Weird and Unpredictable Glory

Reflecting on 2020, by Ryan Hansen

2020. What a year it has been. They called it "challenging," "uncertain," and "unprecedented." No matter your preferred descriptors, 2020 has been a year unlike any other.

2020 certainly changed Alloy in many ways. COVID-19 was a significant challenge for our business, as it was for millions of others. Looking back on it now, with the benefit of hindsight (insert joke about 20/20 vision here), it's refreshing to recall the lessons and successes amidst the obstacles and surprises.

The Things We Figured Out in 2020

Virtual Options are Here to Stay
Looking back, it's kind of funny to remember how many times Jamie and I went back and forth on taking our training to the digital space. In March, we decided to start sharing daily live videos on our Facebook page, to share some tips and insights for our online community - and we actually got pretty comfortable with it by around the time summer rolled around! We followed that up with a virtual leader forum,...

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Leading Through Hard Decisions: A Case Study in Decision-Making

Leading Through Hard Decisions: A Case Study in Decision-Making, by Ryan Hansen

Leaders always get stuck with the hardest decisions. It can be a blessing and a curse, but every conundrum, every dilemma, and every head-scratcher makes its way onto the desk of the person in charge.

We have seen a lot of leaders making hard choices this year, and some leaders have done better than others. For the sake of learning and growing together, I thought it would be beneficial to analyze a recent situation and recognize the leadership lessons we can take from it. I picked out a scenario that has made monumental waves here in Nebraska, but the lessons within are relevant everywhere.

Case Study: 2020 College Football and the Big Ten Conference

Let's start with some background. As with everything else, COVID-19 threw a major wrench into the plans for anyone hoping to see college football this year. The outbreak in March canceled spring practices across the country, and fans...

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Podcasts for Leaders: A Playlist for Professional Development

Podcasts for Leaders: A Playlist for Professional Development

For all the disruption 2020 has dealt most of us, this year has been a boon for the podcast industry. The medium was already on the rise, but circumstances have combined to boost its popularity to new heights. A hiatus from movies, sports, tv shows, and most social gatherings make podcasts an easy choice - you can find a podcast on any subject under the sun, and new episodes are never farther away than your smartphone.

Growth-oriented leaders can leverage the availability and portability of podcasts to soak up lessons from the greatest teachers on leadership and professional development. With that in mind, our team put together a list of our favorite podcasts to fuel your fire and make you the leader you want to follow:

The John Maxwell Leadership Podcast
John Maxwell has been called the world's most influential leadership expert by Inc., and we are proud to call him one of our mentors. Maxwell hosts this podcast...

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Two Questions to Transform Your Communication Skills

Two Questions to Transform Your Communication Skills, by Ryan Hansen

You know those moments where you hear something and it immediately changes the way you think? That wave of clarity crashes over you, and suddenly it all makes sense! I call these instances "lightbulb moments," and they have marked some important realizations throughout my life.

Two years ago, I had a lightbulb moment I'll never forget.

As I was sitting in a hotel conference room in Orlando, Florida, a trainer caught my attention with this line: "Today, I am going to instantly improve your communication skills with just two questions."

Looking back, I think I rolled my eyes. Okay dude, sure you are, I thought. Let's see you impress this room of trainers...

Then the trainer explained the two questions, and my lightbulb went on.

Human Behavior is Predictable.

People are funny. There are billions of us, from hundreds of countries, cultures, races, and religions, and yet, in many ways, we're all the same.

The...

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Harnessing Moments to Create Experiences

Harnessing Moments to Create Experiences, by Haley Hansen

What if I told you that there is a science to creating positive, memorable experiences for your customers and your employees?

Thanks to authors Dan and Chip Heath, there certainly is! Dan and Chip are academic researchers - Dan works with Duke, and Chip is a professor at Stanford - and they also happen to be brothers. You might know them from their books Decisive, Made to Stick, or Switch, and I recently finished reading their latest book, The Power of Moments. This book is all about how and why certain experiences really stick with us and leave a lasting impact, and how we can use what we know to create lasting experiences for others.

As the Heaths explain, experience and memory are tricky concepts to quantify. The thing is, neither one really follows the pattern we would usually expect. However, we know for certain that memorable experiences - which the Heaths call "Defining Moments" - leave a long and significant impact in...

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Leadership Toolbox: Reading List PART 2

A Reading List for Leaders, Part 2, from the Alloy Solutions Team

This is Part 2 in our Reading List series. Click Here for Part 1!

Perhaps the best part of being in the business of developing people is that you come across some truly outstanding resources for personal development. Scratch that - the best part is sharing those resources with others and watching their growth.

With that in mind, the Solutions Team has compiled the following list of our favorite books on personal growth and professional development. You can see the list for yourself, and if anything catches your eye, grab a copy for yourself on Amazon (links included below).

The Infinite Game - Simon Sinek
As Simon Sinek explains, most of us approach business goals like a series of finite games: short, defined periods with expressed goals and a clear endpoint. We chase quarterly sales goals and annual quotas. We know the rules and we know who else is playing, and we do anything we need to do to win THIS game. Then...

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Leading When You're Not Sure What to Say

Leading When You're Not Sure What to Say, by Ryan Hansen

I am at a loss for words this week.

The last several days have been filled with hurtful words, painful scenes on unfolding in city streets and TV screens, and challenging - but heartfelt and important - conversations with friends and family. I find myself struggling to find the words to support and lead through days like these.

If you are leading people right now, you have probably found yourself in a similar place. Every day brings a new challenge, so how can we know what our people need from us? When they look to us for leadership, will we be prepared to answer? Great leaders are forged in crisis, and we are certainly in the middle of a leadership crisis right now.

The simple truth is this: in a crisis of humanity, the solution is human values. We need to connect with each other as people, more than as coworkers. Many of us have spent careers learning and perfecting every intricacy of the modern workplace...

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Protecting Your "New Normal"

Protecting Your "New Normal" by Ryan Hansen

Two months ago, how many of us knew the best spot in our house for a video call? How many of us knew how to share our screens or choose a virtual background? How many of us had ever attended a "virtual happy hour," or even heard of such a thing?

The last few weeks have been unusual, to say the least, and it appears that we're in the early stages of returning to something that resembles business as usual. So as the homeschooling winds down and video calls begin to dwindle, you might consider: Are there any components of this time that I want to continue?

That question might have sounded crazy in March, when everything was unfamiliar territory. Weeks later, though, some of us have started to find a new routine. We've adopted new schedules, picked up new habits, even tried to learn new skills. Surely some of those are worth keeping, right? Let's take a look at some of the common themes from this period of isolation.

...

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