constructive criticism

Mon 22 July 2019
What is the line between constructive criticism and getting berated? I think that all depends on the listener.


Throughout life, you are going to be offered advice…warranted and unwarranted. How do you handle that advice, especially when it comes in the form of criticism? When you are young and in your teenage years, you are more inclined to rebel and learn for yourself and not want to be told what to do or how you are doing it wrong. When you are old, you feel as if you have had enough life experience to know that what somebody is telling you is not anything new and that you are pretty sure you are right about what you are doing. But there is a sweet spot in the middle, when people are most open to change and taking advice. These are your wisest years because these years allow you to learn from others, try new things, make mistakes, and grow from those mistakes. The longer you can prolong this mentality, the wiser you will be.


I left off my last blog detailing how AIM began connecting students with mentors. Once we started charging students $90 to connect with mentors, we received wild success. Every student received internships, follow up meetings with their mentor, recommendations to meet other professionals in their field or a combination of those outcomes.


It was awesome to feel that AIM was truly making a positive impact on these college students. My only issue was that AIM was not making nearly enough money to sustain a business and I needed to discover a way to make AIM sustainable.


Having the realization and acceptance that your current business plan is unsustainable is not easy to accept. I met with an Indiana University alumnus who was a former investment banker and recruiter for JP Morgan Chase. He ripped my business model apart…to shreds…no mercy. I could have gotten angry and hung up the phone, but I realized there was a silver lining.


First, I learned that most people are not inherently mean and their goal is not to berate you. Second, in every conversation, there is always a nugget of beneficial information that can be learned.


What this alumnus mentioned was that despite mentorship being beneficial, AIM would not be sustainable and that most college graduates entering the business world lacked soft skills and emotional intelligence (which he argued were as important as mentorship). He said that if a company could figure out a way to teach these skills and include a mentoring aspect that JP Morgan Chase and most other companies would be very intrigued in paying money to connect with the students AIM helped.


In essence, I learned a way to monetize AIM outside of the students and not purely that my current business plan sucked. I learned that despite Indiana University’s best efforts to teach soft skills and emotional intelligence, those are just skills that are very personal and difficult to measure with grades. It also requires a certain motivation level and desire of the student to want to learn and develop these skills too.


When these courses that teach soft skills and emotional intelligence are required, the motivation of the student diminishes significantly because they never had a choice of whether or not to take the class.


AIM pivoted to provide students who voluntarily purchased access to enroll in workshops that taught soft skills and emotional intelligence, connected students with mentors, and then with employment opportunities after they understood themselves well enough to gauge a better idea of what they wanted out of their career.


Most people don’t voluntarily try to bring others down. Most people inherently want to help others out because they derive the pleasure of feeling valued and special when they can share their wisdom. Realize that when others are criticizing you, they may have a point, so don’t take it as a personal attack, but rather embrace it, learn from it, and maybe build a positive relationship.

Thu 9 February 2023
Conflict is an inevitable part of human interaction, and it can arise in any setting, including the workplace. When conflicts occur, it is important for leaders to have the skills and strategies necessary to effectively resolve them. 
 
Inclusive leaders play a crucial role in promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, and must be equipped to handle conflicts that may arise because of differences in perspectives, experiences, and identities.
 
Conflict resolution strategies for inclusive leaders:
 
  1. Active Listening: Encourage all parties involved to express their thoughts and feelings without interruptions. Listen attentively to understand the underlying issues and concerns.
 
One of the key strategies for inclusive leaders to resolve conflicts is active listening. Encouraging all parties involved to express their thoughts and feelings without interruptions is crucial in resolving conflicts. By listening attentively to understand the underlying issues and concerns, inclusive leaders can ensure that all perspectives are heard and considered. 
 
2. Empathy: Try to understand the perspective of each party and show empathy towards their feelings and experiences.
 
Empathy is also a valuable tool in conflict resolution. Inclusive leaders should strive to understand the perspective of each party and show empathy toward their feelings and experiences. This can help to build trust and foster a sense of understanding, which can be essential in finding a resolution.
 
3. Encourage open communication: Encourage team members to express their thoughts and feelings openly and provide a safe space for constructive dialogue.
 
Communication is also a critical aspect of conflict resolution. Inclusive leaders should ensure clear and open communication between all parties, encouraging everyone to express their opinions and providing regular updates on the progress of the conflict resolution process.
 
4. Lead by example: Set an example for the team by demonstrating effective conflict resolution skills, such as active listening and empathy.
 
Leading by example is another important leadership tip for resolving team conflicts. Inclusive leaders should set an example for the team by demonstrating effective conflict-resolution skills, such as active listening and empathy. This can help to promote these skills within the team and foster a positive and inclusive workplace culture.
 
5. Mediate conflicts: Take an active role in mediating conflicts between team members, helping to find mutually beneficial solutions.
 
Mediating conflicts between team members is another important role that leaders can play. By taking an active role in resolving conflicts, inclusive leaders can help to find mutually beneficial solutions and prevent conflicts from escalating. It is important for leaders to be impartial and neutral in their approach, and to consider the perspectives and needs of all parties involved.
 
6. Establish clear guidelines: Establish clear guidelines for resolving conflicts and communicate these to the team. This can help to prevent conflicts from escalating and ensure that they are resolved in a timely manner.
 
Establishing clear guidelines for resolving conflicts can also be an effective way to prevent conflicts from escalating. Leaders should communicate these guidelines to the team and ensure that they are understood and followed. This can help to prevent conflicts from becoming entrenched and ensure that they are resolved in a timely manner.
 
7. Encourage team building: Encourage team building activities and opportunities for team members to get to know one another on a personal level. This can help to build trust and reduce the likelihood of conflicts arising.
 
Encouraging team building and opportunities for team members to get to know one another on a personal level can also help to reduce the likelihood of conflicts arising. This can build trust and foster a sense of understanding and cooperation, which can be critical in resolving conflicts in a positive and inclusive manner. One great way to encourage team building is through the Ambition In Motion Horizontal Mentorship Program.
 
8. Provide training: Provide training and development opportunities for team members on conflict resolution skills and effective communication.
 
            Providing training and development opportunities for team members on conflict resolution skills and effective communication is an important aspect of leadership for inclusive leaders. By investing in the development of their team members, leaders can help to promote a positive and inclusive workplace culture and ensure that conflicts are resolved effectively. One way of receiving guidance on how to be an inclusive leader is with training and metrics via AIM Insights.
 
9. Flexibility: Be open to new ideas and solutions and be willing to adjust your approach as needed.
 
Inclusive leaders must be flexible and open to new ideas and solutions. They should be willing to adjust their approach as needed and embrace change to find the best resolution for all parties involved.

10. Follow-Up with Team: Reach out to the team members involved in the conflict after the resolution has been put in place.
 
Following up with your team members after going through the conflict-resolution process shows them that you see the value in them as individuals and employees. Reaching out to check in on how your team is feeling will aid in a stronger continuation of your team's work after the resolution stage.
 
By showing that you care about their well-being after the conflict, you allow your team to rebuild trust in the team's efforts.
 
Inclusive leaders prioritize conflict resolution skills because they understand that conflicts are a normal and inevitable part of human interaction, particularly in diverse teams and organizations. Conflicts can arise due to differences in opinions, values, and interests, and if not managed properly, they can harm productivity, morale, and teamwork.
 
Therefore, conflict resolution skills are essential for inclusive leaders to ensure that their teams and organizations remain cohesive and effective, even in the face of disagreements. By having strong conflict-resolution skills, inclusive leaders can promote open and respectful communication, maintain positive relationships, encourage diverse thinking, and improve decision-making. 
 
Overall, inclusive leaders who prioritize conflict resolution skills can create a positive and productive work environment where diverse perspectives and ideas are valued, conflicts are resolved in a constructive manner, and all team members feel heard and respected.
Fri 12 May 2023
On March 30th, 2023, Ambition in Motion hosted an executive symposium with panelists Laura Iannelli, Syriac Joswin, and Chris Mashburn. These symposiums are an effective way to network with successful executives and get to learn some of what makes them good leaders. High-level executives and thought leaders come together to discuss industry trends, share insights, and best practices, and engage in strategic discussions. The symposium typically features keynote speakers, panel discussions, and networking opportunities for attendees to connect and exchange ideas. 

The purpose of an executive symposium is to provide a platform for executives to learn from each other and gain new perspectives on the challenges and opportunities facing their industries. The symposium is usually organized around a specific theme or topic, such as emerging technologies, industry disruption, or global business trends.

During this symposium, an interesting point was brought up by Chris Mashburn.  Every month Chris and his team have a meeting involving a "mistake of the month" where everyone, especially him, shares a mistake they made. In Chris’ opinion- which was soundly endorsed by Laura and Syriac- the best companies have cultures where people can feel open to being honest and owning mistakes. Now, we’ve gone over the process of building and maintaining- a company culture that embraces mistakes, but how much is this actually used, and what else can companies use to enhance not only their culture but their public image as well? 

When a company acknowledges its mistakes openly, it can earn the appreciation of the public in several ways. First, it demonstrates honesty and transparency, which can build trust with customers and stakeholders. Second, taking steps to rectify a mistake and prevent it from happening again can improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. Third, openly acknowledging mistakes can lead to a strengthened brand reputation, positioning the company as a leader in its industry and a trusted partner. Finally, increased employee morale can result from a company committed to doing the right thing and creating a positive impact, which can lead to long-term benefits for the company.

One example of a company that openly acknowledges its mistakes is Buffer, a social media management platform. In 2013, Buffer suffered a major security breach that resulted in the exposure of its users' passwords. Rather than trying to sweep the incident under the rug, Buffer's CEO, Joel Gascoigne, published a detailed blog post explaining what had happened, how the company was responding, and what it was doing to prevent similar breaches in the future.

Gascoigne's transparency and accountability earned him praise from both customers and industry experts. Buffer's users appreciated the company's honesty and commitment to fixing the problem, and the incident ultimately strengthened their loyalty to the brand.

Another example is Starbucks, which famously closed all of its stores for a day in 2018 to conduct anti-bias training following an incident where two black men were arrested in one of its Philadelphia locations. In addition to the training, Starbucks issued a public apology and announced a series of policy changes to prevent similar incidents from happening in the future.

By acknowledging its mistake and taking swift action to address it, Starbucks demonstrated its commitment to creating a culture of inclusivity and respect for all customers. The incident prompted a national conversation about racial bias in public spaces and positioned Starbucks as a leader in the fight against discrimination.

In 2015, Volkswagen admitted to cheating on emissions tests for its diesel cars. The company's CEO, Martin Winterkorn, publicly apologized and resigned shortly after. Volkswagen also agreed to pay billions of dollars in fines and compensation to affected customers.

In 2016, Wells Fargo was fined $185 million for opening millions of fake customer accounts. The company's CEO, John Stumpf, faced intense criticism and eventually resigned. The company also launched a public apology campaign and implemented new policies and procedures to prevent similar issues from occurring in the future.

In the 1970s, Nestle faced a boycott over its marketing of baby formula in developing countries, which was found to be contributing to infant malnutrition and mortality. The company responded by introducing new marketing practices and donating millions of dollars to infant nutrition programs. Nestle also established the Nestle Infant Formula Audit Commission, which monitors the company's compliance with international marketing standards.

In 2018, Facebook faced intense criticism after it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica had accessed the personal data of millions of Facebook users without their consent. The company's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, publicly apologized and testified before Congress. Facebook also launched new privacy controls and policies to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future. We are also currently seeing settlements for users as a result of this.

What most of these companies have in common is that they are all massive companies that are present to this day, despite suffering from major accidents and public relations events. By acknowledging these mistakes, they were able to salvage their reputation and preserve their customers.

Mistakes happen, and that’s okay for the business, so long as they are handled appropriately. Ambition In Motion believes in this so strongly that they are hosting an Executive Symposium on How to Build a Culture of Embracing Mistakes.

If you are interested in going to the next Ambition in Motion Executive Symposium, click here! Our next event will be on Thursday, July 27th, 2023, from 5-8pm CDT. Participants will be able to enjoy hors d’oeuvres while networking with leaders, practice working through case studies with other executives, and get to learn from 3 distinguished panelists on how they have been able to effectively build a culture of embracing mistakes, and what mistakes they have made to get to the point that they are at now.

Unable to attend this event? No worries! Click here to stay updated on future events, and to see information about our previous events. For any questions regarding these symposiums, please contact garrettmintz@ambition-in-motion.com



Fri 14 July 2023
Bad news can come in many forms and at unexpected times. Getting passed up for a promotion, receiving undesired project results, or even recognizing disparities in workplace treatment are just some experiences that can decrease motivation and divert progress. These experiences may feel detrimental with little hope for recovery. 

A large contributor to how adversity is handled relies on ones mindset before, during, and after receiving the news. Even during unsuccessful moments, prioritizing your frame of thinking will allow for the best future steps. 

When encountering difficulties, it is natural to default to a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset is a frame of thinking that inhibits the ability to look past the issue at hand. Individuals who possess a fixed mindset believe that their skill set is relatively inflexible so there isn’t much opportunity for improvement. Setbacks are perceived as limitations of their skillsets which leads those with fixed mindsets to avoid challenges. 

To overcome hardship implementing a growth mindset may lead to honing adaptability, embracing creativity, continued optimism, and the motivation to acquire a new skill. A growth mindset stems from the belief that everyone has the ability to continue to develop skills and make improvements based on continuous efforts. One isn’t stuck in their current position with a growth mindset because they can take steps to improve and continue to learn in any given situation. This perspective is particularly important when dealing with setbacks, and can be implemented daily to concentrate on your objectives.  

The growth mindset recognizes that challenges will arise and these setbacks serve as opportunities for growth. Possessing a growth mindset may even lead to the pursuit of new challenges as they will serve as further areas to expand knowledge and experience. Utilizing this framework can encourage passion and purpose in both personal and professional settings due to the ability to maintain an optimistic perspective. Overall, this perspective aims to work towards a more fulfilling life because one isn’t self imposing mental limitations. 

Maintaining a growth mindset in the face of bad news is a challenge, but it is achievable with diligent effort and continued practice. These are some initiatives geared towards developing a growth mindset during challenging moments to increase your ability to take productive first steps. 

  1. Process your emotions: 
Acknowledge your emotions and why you are frustrated with the situation. When receiving bad news it is natural to feel disheartened or frustrated with the outcome. Allow yourself the opportunity to embrace these emotions and process them. Recognize the root of your feelings and why it made you feel that way. Initial negative reactions are common when dealing with difficulties and are part of life. 
2. Reframe the situation as a learning opportunity: 
Seek potential lessons you can learn from the situation and ways you can approach this problem differently going forward. Reflecting on what went poorly may direct you to a new skill you can learn that will be beneficial in the future. Spend time analyzing tangible things that can be enhanced rather than dwelling on things out of your control. 
3. Acquire feedback: 
Gathering feedback and receiving constructive criticism work to determine areas that need improvement and are good ways to prevent the repetition of similar setbacks. Reaching out to others who have more knowledge of what occurred can provide clarity and prevent you from wondering what went wrong.  
4. Identify alternative solutions:
Depending on the situation at hand, there may be additional pathways to pursue to achieve your desired outcome. Pursuing alternatives may mean having a conversation with a coworker about different processes that can be implemented, or a conversation with management to learn what opportunities are available/ feasible. Identifying alternative solutions may ultimately lead to pursuing a position at a company that aligns better with your interests and will value your skill set appropriately. Allow time to use your creativity to find different solutions. 
5. Seek support from peers or outside resources:
When managing a setback, speaking with peers can allow you to gain perspective and recognize that others have experienced similar hardships. Vocalizing your outlook on the obstacle will allow for collaborative problem-solving and lead to informed decisions. Surrounding yourself with individuals who positively support and encourage you is key to maintaining a growth mindset. An alternative approach is to seek a mentor removed from the situation and learn how they may approach the current difficulty. A mentor's guidance will allow you to be accountable in your pursuit of growth. 
6. Establish Goals: 
Goal setting is a powerful tool when working towards a growth mindset. After enduring a difficult situation, creating attainable ways to move forward will allow you to have productive results despite obstacles. Determine what your current goals are and then break them down into smaller more achievable goals. By breaking down your goals, you can maintain motivation and gain a sense of accomplishment. Goal setting creates a strong foundation for accountability and motivation for improvement. 

Successfully navigating a setback isn’t an easy endeavor, but maintaining a growth mindset will work toward more rewarding results. Bad news isn’t a determinant of continued misfortune if it is used as motivation to pursue new goals. 

Remember that upholding a growth mindset is a continuous process and one that takes time. Commit to embracing challenges as opportunities for development and recognize that a growth mindset can help achieve success in difficult times. 


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