Sometimes, the key to productivity is to stop thinking about it!


lazy1

Feeling Discouraged, Stuck, Lazy?

Do you ever have one of those days when every single thing on your task list feels impossible or just too annoying… and you can’t seem to get yourself engaged on anything?

As leaders we will always have hard things to deal with that will make some days feel miserable: Impossible demands, nasty politics, aggressive competitors, arrogant bosses, low performers, schedule pressures, resource cuts, multiple stakeholders, difficult people…the list goes on and on.

Add to that too much travel, sleep deprivation, long commutes, and seasonal allergies!

People often ask me how I am so productive all the time.

The first point is that I am not productive all the time!

But I do have some things I do to make progress, when I’m not in the mood to do the work.

1. Move something forward, anything

If the important things on your task list are just too unappealing to consider at this moment…Pick something small. Pick something easy. And move it forward.

The feeling of moving something forward — anything– no matter how small, can break the curse.

This pattern of achieving something will settle in, and you’ll be ready to tackle something bigger.

2. Stop dreading it…

The other technique I use when I really need to do something I am dreading, is to stop thinking about it and just start doing it.

Once I get going, it’s never as bad as I thought it would be.

Grab a template, save it under an appropriate file name. Write something — anything. Write it badly. Find the first piece of information…Just start.

I find that thinking about it too much before you start doesn’t help you start!

For me the key to productivity is sometimes to simply stop worrying and to start doing.

3. Drop the guilt

This was probably the hardest one to master, but finally, I realized that as humans we simply can’t be highly productive every day.

Some days, even when you can get yourself to start, it doesn’t go well. Your brain has other plans that day.

On those days when it is just not going to happen I’ve learned to accept it, and more importantly, to not be wracked with guilt.

So on a day when being productive is off the table, the two remaining choices are:

1. Don’t be productive and be OK…Appreciate the day for other reasons
2. Don’t be productive and be miserable…let the guilt entirely ruin the day

This one was not easy, but I’m getting better at it.

This is why one of my favorite quotes is from Mary Anne Radmacher: “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying I will try again tomorrow.”

What do you think?

Join the conversation about this on my Facebook page Patty Azzarello Practical Business Advice for Humans.


About Patty
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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook

Using Your Strengths to Thrive More at Work



This month’s Professional Development webinar was on the topic of Using Your Strengths to Thrive More at Work.

strengths

Get the webinar

If you missed it you can download the recording.

Members of Azzarello group can download this webinar for free.
Join now and get this webinar and all the webinars for free!

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Don’t take your strengths for granted

As humans we tend to take our strengths for granted because when we are working in our area of greatest natural strengths, what we are doing feels easy. And because it feels easy, it doesn’t seem impressive — so we fail to value our own strengths, and focus instead on the things we are not good at.

In this webinar we talked about the value and the magic that happens in your career when you recognize your strengths and start to build on them instead of focusing so much on your weaknesses.

Once you learn how to build upon your strengths your performance will increase, your career will progress more naturally, and you will be much happier!

I shared practical ideas for how to build on your strengths to put yourself in a position to truly excel.

Find your strengths: There are also pointers to strength assessments and exercises to help you discover your strengths included in the worksheets for this webinar.

Build your confidence

Never disqualify yourself from an opportunity because you are scared. Everyone is scared!

By using your strengths as a platform you can step outside your comfort zone with more confidence. Your strengths are the key to finding a more secure and confident place to work from.

We talked about how to build your confidence to take on new and challenging situations successfully by starting with your strengths

Tune Your Job

The most successful people figure out what they are really good at, and then put themselves in a position to do that most of the time!

It’s up to you to negotiate your performance objectives in a way that puts you in your power alley. Change your job over time. We talked about how to negotiate a business case that lets you use your strengths more.

Also, volunteer. Find and create opportunities to use your strengths — and get famous for doing so. You’ll find that you will attract more of that type of work over time (because you are good at it!) We discussed some examples of how to do this.

Build a team

No one person can be good at everything, but a team can! Learn to develop a team where you are all using your strengths and benefiting from each others’ contributions.

Like your job and life more!

When you are using your natural strengths, it feel great because your are succeeding without torturing yourself! You are making big gains and big wins. You feel proud. The crowds are cheering…

When you are thriving at work, when you have energy for your work, when you are confident at work because you have found a way of working that really suits your strengths and you feel appreciated, you will have much more energy to enjoy your life.

Also it feels great when you don’t need to turn yourself into someone else on Monday morning when you go to work. The more you can focus on your natural strengths the more your true self will feel welcome at work.

You have more control than you think

You have the opportunity to define how you work. By focusing on your natural strengths, you will feel happier and more confident, and you will succeed more.

Want some help?

To get some help with this and learn the specific ideas and techniques that we talked about, download the webinar: Using Your Strengths to Thrive More at Work, now.

Members: Download the webinar for free.
Non Members: You can purchase this individual webinar or podcast (links below).

There are some other really useful webinars in the Member Library related to this topic.

Members get these additional webinars for free:

So if you are not yet a member, you might as well join and get them all for free!

Let me be your mentor

Members of Azzarello Group basically get me as their mentor.

Every month you get new insights and tools in the form of these webinars, as well as the chance to call into a monthly members-only coaching hour where you can get direct personal coaching from me.

People tell me that membership gives them a totally new way of thinking about their career, getting promotions, solving difficult problems with bosses, peers, employees, and other annoying people, communicating better, being more influential, becoming a stronger leader, and enjoying their work more. I love to hear this, and I love to help!

If you join now, you’ll not only get this webinar, but all the other webinars in the Member Library.

AND you’ll get the opportunity to participate in monthly Coaching Hour conference calls with me.
Check out what we talk about.

AND as a member you’ll get to download your copy of the Career Year of action Guide (a $30 value) for free.

Membership is a great resource (and a steal at $179 for a whole year) to help you advance your career.

Join Now
Join Now.

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AT CHECKOUT TO SAVE $30 ON YOUR MEMBERSHIP

Other Options:

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ABOUT PATTY:

patty blog image
Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor.
She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or Facebook, or read her book RISE…3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, AND Liking Your Life.

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6 key choices for success and happiness


choices

Our choices

As we start the new year I’ve been thinking about choices.

I realized that there are some simple, key choices that we all have immediately available to us that can help us be more true to ourselves, and become happier and more successful at work and life — no matter where we are starting from.

These is certainly not an exhaustive list, but I have found that focusing on each of these practical choices always brings about a bigger positive change in my life and work than I expect.

Choice #1. The right people

Who you choose to spend time with has an enormous impact on your life. It strongly defines your level self-confidence (positive or negative), and your energy to move your life forward in ways that are important to you. And sadly, the reality is that the negative people have a bigger impact than the positive. So choose very carefully.

Spend time with people who make you better.

Spend time with people who encourage you to grow — people who challenge you in fun and inspiring ways to be the best version of you. Choose people who become happy when they see you grow.

Prioritize spending time with these people.

The world (or even perhaps some people in your group of friends or family) is full of people who will try to make you feel like you are doing something wrong by reaching further and wanting to improve yourself.

If you have these people in your life who don’t want you to grow, who hold you back, sabotage you, or try make you feel bad about your efforts to improve – these people are not your friends. Walk away.

If you are forced to work with bosses or peers who are holding you back, change something. — Either change your job — or (if you don’t want to change your job because it has other positives) add a new inspiring person to your mix whose energy will counteract the force of the toxic ones. Purposefully limit your time with these negative people.

Choice #2. Don’t give away your power

As a follow on to the first point when people try to drag you down or hold you back, remember, it is always about them. It is never about you. Expect it and guard against it. Keep pushing forward.

Don’t give away your power to make others feel more comfortable.

Don’t be afraid to be best yourself at full strength. It is good for you, and everyone that matters. Let the people who don’t honor the real you go away.

For example, one thing I see as people advance in their careers is that someone will get a promotion, and then become uncomfortable leading former peers.

If you get a promotion, step up. Don’t feel like you have to shrink away from the power of your bigger role to get former peers to like you. They need you to lead. Very often I have to advise new executives “it’s time to give yourself a promotion”!

You are allowed to be the best, most powerful version of you.

Sacrificing your power and becoming a smaller version of yourself to make someone else feel better about themselves does not work. It doesn’t actually make them feel better, and you suffer the loss of your true and best self.

Remember, not all people have the energy and ambition to invest in success the way that you do. That’s OK. Because that is only about them. It has nothing to do with you. Don’t let their smaller view make you feel bad about your bigger goals.

By the way, you have a boss who insists that you do this — that you stay small to make him or her look better, 1. You have a bad boss. 2. It’s not about you. 3. You really need to get a new boss!

If you haven’t read my book RISE, now is the time.

Choice #3. Be Creative

All people are creative. All people have a need to be creative. When we are little kids, we all sing, dance, draw, and paint. ALL of us. Then many of us stop because we are told by someone in the world that we don’t have enough talent — as though we don’t have a right to continue to do those things.

If you are feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or out of control, you will feel a lot better if you create something. Invent something that was not there before you made it. Sing, dance, draw, write, build. The outcome is actually not important at all. The process is.

Turn off all the distractions from the various glowing screens in your life for 30 minutes, and create something entirely from your own brain and efforts. It will make you feel better. And it gives your brain a real rest from the usual stresses, because you are actively engaging it in something else that you are in total control of.

Choice #4. Exercise

Awhile back I wrote a blog about What I learned from exercising 100 days in a row. I’m still at it. I’m well past the 6 month mark now.

Do something physical every day.

Exercise also makes your brain feel better and gives you more positive energy for your work and life. The biggest lesson I learned from exercising every day is that is it far easier to do something “not optional” than it is to do something that I think I “should do”. And I definitely feel better. (I can eat and drink more too!)

Choice #5. Remove Clutter

Most professional people I talk to are very busy and feel overwhelmed in some way. They have too much work and not enough time. I’ve written and spoken about Ruthless Priorities, and Strategic Time Management. But one of the most straightforward things you can do to save time and reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed is to simply eliminate clutter.

Eliminate clutter in your email inbox, in your office and your sock drawer. When you eliminate clutter, you don’t have to spend time looking for things. The important things show themselves.

When you eliminate clutter in your physical space, it eliminates clutter in your mental state. It helps you think more clearly about what is important to you, it makes you feel more in control, and it reduces the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Choice #6. Don’t stay angry

There will always be things in the world that make us angry. Science says that the physical/chemical anger reaction is a real thing in our bodies. But it’s important to note that that physical reaction runs its course in 90 seconds.

So getting angry is not a choice. But staying angry is a choice.

Whenever I pass the 5 minute mark on being angry I remind myself that this is now my choice. Staying angry makes you really tired. Nothing in life is better when you stay angry.

Defending your right to be angry over and over again doesn’t make you feel better, it keeps you stuck and exhausts you. I love the expression:

Staying angry is like you drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die

I also love something the Dali Lama said when someone questioned him about his pursuit of happiness in the face of so much suffering in the world. He explained that he spends 1 hour per day to thoroughly mourn for all the people and animals suffering in the world. But only 1 hour. Then he moves his focus to gratefulness and kindness for the rest of each day. I might not have that exactly right, but it’s hard to imagine that that is a bad idea!

What do you think?

What choices do you make that make you happier and more successful?
Join the conversation about this on my facebook page.

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About Patty
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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor. She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook, or read her book RISE…3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, AND Liking Your Life.

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How to have more energy when work is making you tired


apollo13

Preserving your energy

As I was writing the title for this post, I recalled when a former boss told me, “What I need most from you is to cope. I need you to be willing to come back every day.”

This was a real gift to me because sometimes merely coping with the strain of a tough job seems all you can really do. You’re worried about not adding enough value because you are barely coping. But this comment made me think about truly, how much trouble it would be for your boss if you weren’t there — coping!

So give yourself some slack. Work is hard. Coping is an accomplishment on its own.

I’ve written two articles about managing energy, one about Time Management & Happiness, and another one about understanding your energy and the internet.

But I’ve recently re-learned a key lesson that I want to share.

Staying angry uses A LOT of energy

I was returning from Europe on a Thursday. I actually paid money to change my flight from Friday to Thursday because I had a client schedule a 2 day session with me on the following Monday. I could not be jet-lagged for a client — they were expecting my maximum performance, so I decided to come home a day early to ensure I was fully rested.

But then I got stuck in Frankfurt on Thursday and didn’t get home until Friday night anyway — which I paid extra for! And the manner I got stuck was an epic and an entirely stupid, avoidable screwup of the airline.

Quick version…

You know how sometimes when you get selected for “random screening” when you try to board the plane? Typically, you take 5 steps to the left, someone searches your bag and pats you down, and then you get on the plane. Well this time, there was no one there to do the extra search — they let me on the plane anyway. Weird.

After sitting on the plane for 90 minutes, they announced that we couldn’t take off because “8 passengers were not screened properly”.

It took them another 90 minutes to get 8 of us off the plane. They then put us on a bus, and brought us back to the terminal. They did the screening, and then put us on a bus and brought us back to the plane. (I’m skipping over a few more minor catastrophes alone the way for brevity.)

Then we sat on the plane for another hour while they figured out what to do because the crew would time out before we got to San Francisco. So they then made an announcement that we were going to land in Chicago.

At that time, many passengers wanted to get off the plane. And as soon as that happened, they had to cancel the flight because the crew would time out even for Chicago.

For the life of me, I can not figure out:

1. Why they didn’t say “You 8 people stand over here. You can’t get on the plane yet — and then find a screener.
2. Why did it take 90 minutes to get 8 people off a plane. “Will the following 8 people please gather your belongings and come to the front of the plane?”

Anyway, the lesson…

Because I had this client on Monday morning my number one goal was to preserve my energy.

I kept thinking about the Apollo 13 movie where they had to get really creative because there was only a finite amount of battery power in reserve, and they had to use it sparingly and in unusual ways to preserve every drop to accomplish the goal.

Preserving my energy became my goal.

I realized that if I were to get worried or angry, that it would be draining my finite energy reserves for Monday morning.

I thought back to another time when this worry-energy link became very clear to me for the first time. I was on a bike ride where we got stuck on a tough climb for 2 hours basically in a monsoon. Every time there was a gust of wind, I panicked because I was afraid the wind was going to throw me off my bike either into the traffic, or off the cliff edge. It was truly terrifying.

But what I experienced was that every time I panicked, my legs got weak. Every time. It was not subtle. If I was scared my legs stopped working. So I really focused on not panicking, and I was able to keep my legs working and to finish this very grueling and wet climb. I learned an important lesson. Fear makes your legs tired.

Fear is exhausting — physically exhausting.

So during these many hours in Frankfurt which were tiring on their own, with this in mind, I kept very focused on not worrying. Not worrying about how it would turn out, and if I would be OK on Monday morning. There may have been good reason to worry, but by not worrying, I was keeping my battery reserves up.

Anger is exhausting — physically exhausting.

During these many hours, I also watched so many people being angry.

There was one business man who was particularly outraged for the whole 8 hours we were all being delayed together. I kept watching him maintaining his anger so vehemently, so that he could let us all know how very important he was, and how totally unacceptable this was.

I just kept looking at him thinking, “that looks so exhausting”.

So I really focused on keeping a smile on my face, laughing about how I paid extra for this, and being kind and friendly to the people around me.

I ended up at the hotel at the Frankfurt airport in a very comfortable bed and got a great night’s sleep. No stress.

I got home the next day, and spent the weekend still not worrying about Monday because I was still focused on keeping the reserves in the battery up. When Monday came, I felt fine. My performance for my customer was what it should have been.

You don’t need to stay angry

Awhile back I wrote an article, Your brain on stress referring to the research of a brain scientist who noted that the electrical and chemical process in your body when you get angry lasts for 90 seconds. Anger is a real thing in your body… For 90 seconds.

But after 90 seconds it’s totally up to you.

So my strategy is that when something makes me angry, I need to allow myself that real reaction — to become angry. But only for a couple of minutes. After a couple of minutes staying angry just drains too much energy.

I see a lot of people hold on to anger for a lot of reasons. I won’t get into all of them here, but I only want to say, if you want more energy, spend less time being angry.

How to stop being angry

This is a big question that funds lots of therapists, but the bottom line is that if you want to spend less time being angry you need to spend more time being happy.

The way I personally do this involves two approaches.

1. Drive it out with something else

When something has hurt me or made me very angry, when those thoughts attack my mind once again (usually when I am alone), I will do something to crowd them out. For me it’s either to try to talk out-load in Italian (which uses every last fiber of my brain, so there is no room for anger) or I will sing a song. Calling a friend or doing something creative also works for me. For some people exercise does the trick.

It’s not sophisticated, but for me that will flip the switch once the 90 seconds of real anger has subsided.

2. I will literally think of it on a schedule basis

If I want to spend more time thinking happy thoughts than negative ones, I imagine a calendar with 99% of its time blocks in white, and then one small block in black where I can be angry or hurt or sad for a half an hour.

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 12.15.58 PM

So when something is hurting me in some way, I sometimes think, “You know, I actually want to be angry about this. I deserve to be angry about this.” But then I say to myself, “Now is not the time, you have time scheduled for half an hour next week!”

It’s not that I stick to that particular schedule, but this calendar image and metaphor helps me not let the negativity intrude on my life in times when I really need to preserve my energy.

I learned this from an interview I heard with the Dali Lama who said that he spends 30 minutes per day focused on all the sorrow and suffering in the world to acknowledge it and to grieve, but no more than that. I thought that was brilliant.

What do you think?

Join the conversation about this on my Facebook page.

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ABOUT PATTY:

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Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor.
She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or Facebook, or read her book RISE…3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, AND Liking Your Life.

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Using time better



This month’s webinar was on the topic of Using Time Better

If you missed it, you can download the recording.

Using Time Better

How well do you use time?

It’s easy to blame others for making us too busy, but the first step is to face up to the fact that we alone, are the resource of our own time. What we choose to say yes to, decides how much time we have.

And how we choose invest the time we do have, also makes a big difference in the kinds of things we are able to get done.

If you’d like to get more, better stuff done, and have more fun in your life, consider taking more control of your time.

This is a very useful webinar to download if you:

  • Feel that you don’t always use time as effectively as you should
  • Want to feel less busy and overwhelmed
  • Have trouble carving out time for yourself
  • Want to keep focused on achieving a long term goal
  • Need a way to prioritize things that are most important to you
  • Want more time for yourself, your family, and for having fun

In this webinar: Using time better I share the ideas and techniques I have learned and practiced over the years to take more control of my time.

Members of Azzarello group can download this webinar for free.

If you are not a member, you can learn about membership or Join Now.

Join Now

What the webinar covered:

1. Happiness and Time Management

If you want to have fun and good things in your life, put them on your schedule.

It may sound like scheduling ruins the spontaneity in life, but the reality is that the busy-ness, responsibilities and crap in life all assert themselves to take your time, while the things that make you happy do not. They remain patiently waiting in the background for you do do something.

If you have a busy life and you don’t schedule time to do good things, they don’t happen.

2. Assessment, Planning and Measures

In the webinar I shared several tools to assess how you spend your time, and how to determine how you would like to spend your time ideally.

It’s also important to set the right measures and goals for yourself along the way. Having a goal and an outcome defined does not help motivate you every single day.

You need to set up the right reminders and support structure for yourself every single day if you want to make long term goals truly happen, in your work and in your life.

We talked about how to stay focused and determine the “every single day” activities that are required.

3. Negative triggers and time sinks

We all have some bad habits, and as well as annoying people who throw us off our game.
It’s important to see time sinks before the happen, and have a plan to defend against them.

We are all human and no one, including me, has a perfect record of being super-productive all the time.

But when you have common triggers that always throw you off your good intentions and your plan, it’s worth learning about them.

It’s important to do things on purpose to recognize your negative triggers and create new habits to support new goals.

In this webinar, we also talked about several techniques to deal with people in your life who are annoying time wasters.

The more you become aware of the peoeple who give you energy or drain your energy, the more power you have to tune how you spend your time. I thought I’d include one of my favorite internet quotes here!

life

4. Optimizing Time

Even with limited time, there are things you can do to maximize the use of the small amount of time you do have.

There are things that we can do increase our focus and effectiveness, and things we do that distract us. We all have behaviors that we can slip into, that result in our squandering time.

I outlined some specific, practical ideas to use your time and energy to get the best outcome.

5. Indulge sometimes

We are humans. We can’t be perfect.

Sometimes indulging in being lazy and wasting some time is exactly what you need to recover your energy for your next sprint or marathon.

It’s important to indulge yourself sometimes, and give yourself a break! Yes, set a high bar for yourself and how you use your time, but if you need to take some time off, it’s OK. Really.

Be aware, and choose

The more you can be aware of what you are doing and how you are using your time, the more power you will have to schedule time that is highly purposeful and intentional, and well spent, but also make room in your life for relaxing sometimes too.

This level of awareness and purposeful scheduling may seem like no fun, but in my book it’s better than actually having no fun!

To learn the specific ideas and techniques, we talked about, and get the worksheets to help you, download the webinar: Using Time Better, now.

Members: Download the webinar for free.
Non Members: You can purchase this individual webinar or podcast (links below).

Here are some additional, useful webinars related to this topic

Members get these additional webinars for free:

So you might as well join and get them all for free!

Let me be your mentor

Members of Azzarello Group basically get me as their mentor.

Every month you get new insights and tools in the form of these webinars, as well as the chance to call into a monthly members-only coaching hour where you can get direct personal coaching from me.

People tell me that membership gives them a totally new way of thinking about their career, getting promotions, solving difficult problems with bosses, peers, employees, and other annoying people, communicating better, being more influential, becoming a stronger leader, and enjoying their work more. I love to hear this, and I love to help!

If you join now, you’ll not only get this webinar, but all the other webinars in the Member Library.

AND you’ll get the opportunity to participate in monthly Coaching Hour conference calls with me.
Check out what we talk about.

AND as a member you’ll get to download your copy of the Career Year of action Guide (a $30 value) for free.

Membership is a great resource (and a steal at $179 for a whole year) to help you advance your career.

Join Now

Other Options:

Purchase just this webinar ($19.99)
Purchase just this podcast ($9.99)


ABOUT PATTY:

patty blog image
Patty Azzarello is an executive, best-selling author, speaker and CEO/Business Advisor.
She became the youngest general manager at HP at the age of 33, ran a billion dollar software business at 35 and became a CEO for the first time at 38 (all without turning into a self-centered, miserable jerk)

You can find Patty at www.AzzarelloGroup.com, follow her on twitter or facebook, or read her book RISE…3 Practical Steps for Advancing Your Career, Standing Out as a Leader, AND Liking Your Life.

Rise_CVR_3D_300

Free eBook Download