Regarding Storytelling Skills: by Ricardo González

It’s hard to get anyone to truly hear your story until it’s personal.  We have to make the story personal.

For the story to have impact, it has to be personal.  Personal stories are the best stories for transferring ideas from one person to another.

Listening to someone else’s personal story only gets me so far.  The rest of the distance is covered by me.  I have to make the story MY story.  That is what it means to make the story personal.

If you write on the first few pages of the notebook and hand me a largely empty notebook, I will read what you wrote.  If it is honest and true, I will “get” your story.  Then, I will write my story next to yours.

I will fill up the notebook.

I will fill up two more.

Then I will pass the notebook along to somebody else.  If I have been honest and true, they will “get” our story.  Then, they will write their story.  Right next to ours.

This is the process of transferring  ideas from one person to another.

This is the process of making each person a part of the story.

However, in order for me to pass the notebook along to the next person, you had to pass it along to me. You had to relinquish control of the notebook and maybe even the pen.  You had to entrust it into my hands.  You had to hope that what you set down as the start of the story gave me enough to write my part of the story in a way that aligned with your original vision.

Most importantly, you had to give your vision over to me.

It’s not yours any more.  That has to be OK.

You have to trust your writing.

You have to trust my writing.

You have to trust the next person’s writing.

That is how you make the story personal.

If you aren’t ready to do that, then don’t pretend you are.  And don’t expect anyone else to be.

Ricardo González is an IT manager for a Fortune 100  company who strives to inspire freedom to innovate, teach the value of personal leadership, and influence others to exceed their limits.

I am privileged to call him Friend.

Read more from Ric at

Regarding Collective Facilitation Skills: by Ricardo González

“If you want to impress me, go get something done with a group of volunteers who have no reason to follow you at all.” –Seth Godin

It’s one thing to “lead” others when the company you all work for anoints you as the leader and manager.  That kind of leadership is easy to do. You can do it on auto-pilot.  I know; years ago I did it.  There was a period, many years ago, in my professional life when I was just going through the motions.  I had become so cynical and so de-motivated that I just showed up to work and “led” my team by rote.   I was like a ghost of the leader and manager that I could have been.  I was paid to carry out tasks x, y, and z; my team was paid to carry out tasks a, b, and c; and we were all paid to pretend that I was in charge.  We all carried out our tasks.

The prior year, I had fought hard and worked harder to bring everything I had to the workplace.  I strove to be innovative.  I strove to connect with my team.  I strove to be involved and understand the business of my team.  I was rewarded at the end of that year with an average review, an average salary increase, and absolutely no mention of the fact that I had done more to develop the business of my team than my direct manager.  Somehow, though, they got the credit.

That’s when I gave up. I vowed that I would do nothing but the minimum requirement for my job from that point forward.  I dotted every “i” and every “t” that my manager asked me to. I jumped through all the hoops they wanted me to jump through.  I was a good little boy, sat at my desk, raised my hand, and did all the assignments precisely as requested.  I did no more and no less.

The next year, I got an exceptional review, an above-average compensation increase, and lots of thanks for a job well done and for responding to feedback.

Something inside me snapped. That’s when I realized that I had wasted a year in the professional lives of the people on my team.  I was ashamed. I had done them a disservice.  I punished them, nobody else.  The company wanted a cog, I played along, and I had started to turn my team into a team of little, corporate cogs.  I vowed at that point to never do that to anyone again.

So, yes, leading others when you’ve been organizationally anointed to lead them is easy.

What’s hard is true, spiritual leadership.  I’m talking about the kind of leadership that comes from your soul.  It’s the kind of leadership that focuses on the spiritual work that each individual is longing to undertake that is hidden behind the guise of the tasks they have to get done. Manage the tasks; lead the people.

This is the first step to impressing Seth Godin.  It’s also the first step in collective facilitation.

Anyone can follow the rules for effective meetings.  Anyone can learn essential facilitation skills.  Anyone can take notes, assign tasks, follow up with the people assigned to those tasks, track progress in a project plan…  There are so-called “boot camps” to teach project management skills. There are classes to teach organizational skills.  There are even apps you can get for your PC, smartphone, and tablet that can aid in the management of your task lists. There are plenty of tools at your disposal.

That’s all easy.

The hard part is the connecting part.  You know when a meeting has no soul, when the person attempting to lead is going through the motions.  If everyone is paid to get work done…let’s face it, work will get done.  So, to open yourself up to spiritual leadership and the connecting art of collective facilitation, lead a group of volunteers on a difficult, challenging journey.  Forget the Fortune 100 company; you know how to dance their pre-choreographed dance.  That will hold for now.  Instead, identify a void, find out where the volunteers congregate, and try to move them to action.  THAT is a challenge.

I know; I’ve done it.

You’ll have no choice but to be yourself.  You’ll have no choice but to be sincere.  You’ll have no choice but to be genuine in your approach.  You’ll have no choice but to listen.  You’ll have no choice but to inspire.  You’ll have no choice but to innovate.  You’ll have no choice but to influence. What worked for you at your place of employment might not work for you in this space. Chances are, you’ll be faced with far greater hurdles than you’ve ever faced before. More challenges.  More roadblocks.  More resistance.  More failure.

And do you know what? Chances are you won’t even notice, as long as your spirit is engaged.

That, my friends, is the essence of collective facilitation.

Ricardo González is an IT manager for a Fortune 100 company who strives to inspire freedom to innovate, teach the value of personal leadership, and influence others to exceed their limits.

I am privileged to call him Friend.

Read more from Ric at

Regarding Giving Skills: by Ricardo González

Being generous is easy. It doesn’t take much skill to be generous.  You do something nice for a sibling.  Done. You give a co-worker a quarter at the vending machine.  Done. You buy a friend lunch.  Done.  You give a parent a lavish birthday gift.  Done, done, and done.

The power in giving comes when we begin to practice it without attachment.  Try giving to others with no thought of return.  Try giving to others with no thought of the benefit to yourself.  Try giving to someone who has wronged you.  Try giving to someone who you dislike.  Try giving to someone who doesn’t look like they need anything. Try giving to that person who never says “thank you,” who never looks grateful.

This is giving without attachment.  This is true generosity.  Practicing it is a skill, and it takes a whole lot of work.

Ironically, the most genuine, authentic forms of giving require the greatest level of detachment. When we are emotionally invested in a pre-conceived outcome, then our act of giving is more about our own feelings and desires than it is about the benefits to the other person.  If you can  remove emotional attachment to the outcome, then the outcome actually changes.  The outcome is no longer the observable reaction of the individual but the actual impact of the gift given.

When we give freely and without attachment, the recipient of our gifts can fully embrace that which was given.  They do not have to fear reciprocation.  They do not have to worry about whether or not the gesture requires a response. They do not have to worry about whether or not accepting the gift creates obligation.  Instead, they can focus on the gift and the impact the gift will have in their life.

The real gift is not that which is given, though, as much as it is the fact that something was given.  The impact, then, becomes the goodwill and spiritual energy that passes between two individuals.  The flow of generosity from one to another strengthens the bond between them.  It is mother’s milk to a potential new friendship. It is sustenance for a strong relationship.

Learning to give in this way elevates giving from an act to an art.

To develop the skills that allow us to practice our art, we need repetition.  Learning to paint is no different than learning to give.  Both require us to leverage repetition to help us hone our skill.  It is important to practice giving, to do it over and over again, in order to become truly proficient at it.  Anyone can elevate giving to the level of art.  If you strive to have impact on the world, become skilled in the art of giving.

Ricardo González is an IT manager for a Fortune 100 company who strives to inspire freedom to innovate, teach the value of personal leadership, and influence others to exceed their limits.

I am privileged to call him Friend.

Read more from Ric at

For more on this 21st Century Leadership Skill … Skill 5

Regarding Networking Skills: by Ricardo González

If I have an Achilles Heel, it’s the fine art of networking. I’ve never been very good at it.  It plays to my deepest insecurity: rejection.

You can give me a topic, 10 minutes of prep, an audience of 100 people, and I’ll be fine.  I read once that Henry Fonda used to vomit before going on stage even after decades as an established master of his craft.  Even if he didn’t literally vomit, the point is made: the act still got to him. It gets to me, too, and I have had to obscure a hand or knee that won’t stop shaking. Still, I can do it and do it fairly well.

Me, an idea, a stage, and 200 people. Would you believe that I can pull it off because of the anonymity of it?  It’s true. When it’s you against 200, you can get lost in the crowd. If somebody looks disinterested, look at somebody who doesn’t. Find enough of them, and you can fool yourself into thinking you’re in a coliseum filled with raving fans. When you look at it that way, rejection doesn’t matter.  You just ignore it and focus on the ones who “get” you.

Now, if you put me in a room with 200 people, tell me the topic a month in advance, and give me access to all the research I need…BUT you  also take away the stage and take away the authority that is inherent in being the one holding the microphone, then you’ll get a totally different result. You’ll probably get a totally different me. You’ll get the me that has to face rejection 200 times. You’ll get the me that will anticipate rejection 200 times.  Oddly, I don’t have the past experiences to justify such an outlook. I can’t recall ever being rejected 200 times in one evening. That doesn’t change the fact that being thrust into this kind of one-on-one situations will almost always kick off the tape that plays in my subconscious that drives me to believe that I will, once again, be rejected.

And yet, just a few days ago, someone I haven’t seen in 8 or 9 years, sent me a note just for the heck of it. We’ve kept in contact over the years, and, about every 6 months or so, something clicks in the Universe that causes one of us to reach out to the other. It’s almost like clockwork. It’s effortless. It’s genuine.

It’s networking.

Building a network is probably the single-most important thing any worker in the 21st Century can do. Throw out the idea of the cocktail party schmoozer. Throw out the idea of the business-card-pushing conference enthusiast who can only waste precisely 240 seconds of their time on you because somebody much more important than you just walked in the door.  That is not the network-building that I’m talking about. The networks we need today are the ones based in mutual respect. They are built on the common understanding that comes from a genuine meeting of the minds. They are fueled by generosity and kindness. They are reciprocal because of a desire to help the other, not out of obligation. They are connections that allow gifts to be exchanged, not favors tallied up.

You can’t build a network, though, on casual Facebook shout-outs alone. The strength of the connections you make is increased with the frequency and intensity of interaction. Your network (and you do already have one) has layers, and each layer serves a purpose in your life. There’s no set description or hierarchy for the layers of your network. I mean, I am sure somebody somewhere has written a book or published a whitepaper, but, in the end, the definition of each layer, the hierarchy among them, and the purpose of each is something we determine individually. The act of determining these things is just that: an act.  It is something that you must consciously do. If you don’t, circumstance will make the choices for you, and you might not always be happy with the result.

Your network is too important to your happiness and fulfillment as a human being to be left to chance and to your “unconsciousness.” There’s a name for that unconscious being: Tolle calls it “Pain Body;” Godin calls it “Lizard Brain;” Pressfield calls it “Resistance.” Call it what you like. The fact of that matter is that the unconscious entity that lives inside of you is the same one that keeps playing that rejection tape for me. You know, the one that makes me relive some ancient rejection that takes everything in me to forget. It’s doubt and fear and loathing and embarrassment and 1000 other acts of self-sabotage all wrapped up into a sinister package that gnaws at the base of your brain all day long.  And that thing isn’t going to take care of your network. Only you can.

So be deliberate. Determine the hierarchies for yourself. Describe them in your own words.  Consciously place the people you already know into each. Figure out what is important to you and how you want each person to fit into your life. Forget how they do today. Chances are that you are giving far too much power to some people and neglecting a bunch of other people to whom you would much rather dedicate your time and energy. Fix your network.

Only after your network is fixed can you go be the linchpin, the Great Connector, that you are meant to be. Once you fix your network, you can serve it and its members better.  Once you fix your network, you will realize that yours is just a small part of a much bigger, much more powerful network and that we are all servants of the same human collective.

Ricardo González is an IT manager for a Fortune 100 company who strives to inspire freedom to innovate, teach the value of personal leadership, and influence others to exceed their limits.

I am privileged to call him Friend.

Read more from Ric at

For more on this 21st Century Leadership Skill … Skill 4

Regarding Messaging Skills: by Ricardo González

The staff here understands why some of the administrative tasks they are asked to carry out are necessary. They understand that billing is important and that billing accurately is essential to the operating model of the business. They understand that their timekeeping tools are there to help achieve that end. Some of it may seem absurd and unnecessary to them, but, in the end, they comply.

Why do they comply?

They comply because they understand the “why.” Their leadership has made it clear that the administrative tasks help them make decisions, help them demonstrate value to the business, and help them tell the story of their company. Understanding the “why” makes the “how” so much more tolerable. And they understand the “why” because they can see it at work around them.  Their leadership is committed to that level of transparency.

Whether or not I agree with the administrative tasks, the why, or even the how is totally irrelevant. I have had the opportunity to observe and learn a crucial lesson about messaging.  It’s not enough to just tell people that something has to be done. A story has to be a part of that telling, and that story has to be repeated. Often. Clearly. Consistently.

The most successful messages are a story. The best stories are personal.  If you make the story your own as part of the telling, it will be that much easier for your audience to attempt to make it theirs, as well.

Ricardo González is an IT manager for a Fortune 100 company who strives to inspire freedom to innovate, teach the value of personal leadership, and influence others to exceed their limits.

I am privileged to call him Friend.

Read more from Ric at

For more on this 21st Century Leadership Skill … Skill 3

Regarding Communication and Connection Skills: by Ricardo González

Effective leadership hinges on one simple idea: to move a group of people to action, you have to connect with them.  Leadership born from anything other than connection is temporary at best.  For a leader’s influence to endure in such a way that it is clear that their former followers carry on his legacy because they choose to do so is a remarkable gift.  And it is a gift given only to those leaders who manage to make the personal connection.

I’m still working on that connection.  In some cases, I’ve made it.  In others, it still eludes me.  Do cultural differences make it more difficult? Sure. The truth, though, is that the difficulty has more to do with the personality of the leader than anything else.  It is a test of one’s adaptability to quickly create new connections with different personalities.  In my situation, I have learned that it is the same on either side of the Atlantic.  It comes down to me.  What am I willing to do, as a human being, to push myself to meet the challenge?  What’s my strategy for passing the test?

Simple: swallow hard and do the work.

Then what?

With the connections made and nurtured over time, the possibilities begin to multiply.  What can one person accomplish with a healthy and robust network of personal connections?  The simple answer is “anything.”  But to get from here to there, the individuals have to align behind a compelling vision of what tomorrow can bring.  The story we want to sell to the outside world is crafted within the safety of the network.   This is how communication becomes a tool of great power.

Confident, authentic communication from a confident, authentic leader can move anyone.  I think often of the Dalai Lama and how this simple Buddhist monk can move tens of thousands of strangers to not only support his cause but embrace the spirit of his teachings.  The Dalai Lama  accomplishes two very important things at once: he champions the cause of his people in Tibet and he spreads a message of peace based in spirituality, not religion, to the wider world.  He will work one audience, delivering both messages at once.  I have experienced his powerful talks  firsthand, sitting alongside an American seeking spiritual teaching and a Tibetan-in-exile seeking hope for the future. At the center sat the Dalai Lama, speaking one set of words but delivering two distinct messages.  This is the finest example of the power of masterful communication that I have ever witnessed.

Our goals in leadership will most likely be far less ambitious than world peace and Tibetan freedom, but the process of connecting and communicating the story are essentially the same.  First, expend the energy to create the connections.  Nurture those connections.  Then, tell your story to the connected.  They will help you carry the message forward once they reach the threshold of engagement.  Getting beyond interest and into engagement is a matter of messaging.

Ricardo González is an IT manager for a Fortune 100 company who strives  to inspire freedom to innovate, teach the value of personal leadership, and influence others to exceed their limits.

I am privileged to call him Friend.

Read more from Ric at


For more on this 21st Century Leadership Skill … Skill 2

Regarding Personal/Professional Growth Management Skills: by Ricardo González

If there’s a secret to be discovered regarding personal and professional growth, I’ve yet to uncover it. What I do know is this: complacency leads to stagnation. Don’t become complacent when it comes to your own development.

The last twelve months of my life have taught me that I own my career. That ownership extends to all aspects of my work life. I once believed  that accountability for my development belonged to “the company.” I used to think that the company owed me a training plan.  I used to think that the company owed me a career path. I used to think that the company had the responsibility to mold me into the kind of employee that it needed me to be, and that the process for molding should be laid out in black and white and customized for little ol’ me.

I realized that the company did have a plan for every employee. All I needed to do was conform. All I needed to do was squeeze myself into the mold, and everything would be OK. I lived that life for a number of years, quickly finding myself in the management mold. It suited me. I kept on trying to fit the mold.

But there’s a problem with the mold. The mold, you see, is based on somebody else’s ideal for the job you are to fill. There’s nothing inherently wrong with understanding what your role means to the larger organization.  In fact, that understanding is crucial to your success in the organization. The problem with fitting into the mold is that…well…you just can’t. You can’t expect someone to become the company prototype of a manager or the prototype of a great employee without losing some of what makes that individual most potent as a human being. Conformity is  compromise.  In small doses, it’s reasonable.  As a wholesale approach to management, compromise demotivates, suppresses innovation, and dulls the keenest intellects. When an individual compromises to that extent, their individuality is more than likely lost, and, as a result, their greatest potential to impact the organization is also lost.

Uniqueness is not insubordination. Uniqueness is not a path to anarchy. Uniqueness is not a desire to rebel against the system, rage against the machine, or undermine the corporate structure. Uniqueness is wealth. Uniqueness is empowerment. Uniqueness is a desire to raise the stakes, to improve the collective “game,” and to give the most the individual has to the organization. The notion of separation of our work and personal lives is becoming obsolete.  It is an archaic way of looking at the individual within the world of work. It is a relic of the industrial age. Living dual lives takes energy, and the energy spent takes its toll.  It weakens the individual, lowers their ability to succeed, and adversely affects performance.

That could be you. Maybe in ten years. Maybe now.

For the individual to be most powerful, they must be whole. The whole individual is the worker for the 21st Century. Whether within the hierarchy of a multi-national, Fortune 100 company or as a freelance consultant, the ultimate accountability for the development of the individual resides with the individual themselves. A corporation can outline the skills needed to fulfill the basic requirements of the job, their 20th Century responsibility, but only the individual can choose to explore and discover the wider world for those development opportunities that will help them achieve their life goals. There is no need to promote a separation between the person you are at work and the person you are at home. You can modify behavior to fit the appropriate social situation, sure, but the core of who you are is critical to your success, critical to your happiness, and must be honored at all times.

This leads to the most important question you can ask yourself: what is your intention for your life?

Professional life? Personal life? Nope. Remember: the need to separate the two no longer exists. It is an artificial construct that is meant to promote conformance. Reject the idea. Embrace the notion that you can be respectful of boundaries while revealing and fulfilling your full potential.

What is your intention for your life?

Here are three more questions that you can ask yourself every morning before letting your day get ahead of you:

What do you want to accomplish today?

What do you want to accomplish this year?

How does what you want to accomplish today relate to what you want to accomplish this week?

I know. This sounds like a rip off. I promise you, though, that there is nothing cheap about focusing on your intention for your day. After all, it’s just an extension of your intention for your life. The first step in freeing yourself from the idea that somebody else owns your development is understanding your intention for you life. Once you give yourself that gift, you will be able to take full and total control of your development as a human being. It’s a human being we want. It’s a human being we need. And if you find yourself working in a place that doesn’t value you as a human being, I’ve got one more question for you:

What’s your exit plan?

Ricardo González is an IT manager for a Fortune 100 company who strives to inspire freedom to innovate, teach the value of personal leadership, and influence others to exceed their limits.

I am privileged to call him Friend.

Read more from Ric at


For more on this 21st Century Leadership Skill … Skill 1