Labor Day is over, pools have closed, and county fairs have come to an end. Now it’s time to shift gears and focus on getting kids back to school, and it’s also time to get in gear when it comes to re-engaging back at work. Even if you don’t have kids or have adult kids no longer in school, it doesn’t matter how old we get or how many years it has been since we graduated, we all still live our lives according to the school calendar.

Over the summer, everyone seems to be on a physical or mental vacation…or both. They are not called the lazy days of summer for nothing. The warm weather is calling you outside and that’s the time we head to the beach, read trashy novels, travel to visit with family and friends, and try to do the least amount of work as possible. It’s also the time that many working parents are trying to juggle multiple additional responsibilities…camp counselor, Uber driver, summer school tutor, and lifeguard. It can be very challenging to make work a top priority and many see productivity, motivation, and engagement drop during the summer months.

This is true whether you are currently employed or are in the hunt for a new, or better, position. However, everything changes once the kids bust out the new backpacks, sharpen those number two pencils, and establish a new routine for the start of a new school year. Once the temperature starts to drop, workloads ramp up, to-do lists get longer, and hiring decisions escalate. Kids or no kids, everyone has a renewed sense of excitement at this time of year and are ready to re-activate their brains, buckle down, and get back to work. Just like kids have a new school supply list, classroom, and curriculum, so should professional adults.

Follow the ON Point Action Plan so you can go back to work with a bang!

7 Ways to Get Back to Work After Summer Vacation

  1. Clean Up – start fresh by cleaning up your desk & workspace; no one is productive or efficient when they need to wade through floaties & bottles of sunscreen
  2. Find the Focus – priorities change & it’s easy to daydream over the summer; establish a new routine with mini daily goals that help set you up for success
  3. Reconnect – competing vacation schedules make it hard to connect; reach out & catch up with friends & colleagues
  4. Go To School – start of school is also about committing to personal & professional growth & development; find a conference or get a new certification
  5. Boost Your Foundation – resumes & LinkedIn profiles get neglected during the summer; revisit them & make the necessary updates, changes & revisions
  6. Get Engaged – summer can mean “out of sight, out of mind;” increase your visibility within your team, organization, industry and/or community
  7. Finish Strong – the end of the year will be here in a nano-second; revisit your professional goals, make a strategic plan & snap into action

Some of the best memories are summer camp memories…the smores, sailing competitions, and singalongs to mention a few. Whether you went to overnight camp, day camp, computer camp, or sports camp, there are some life experiences that can only be achieved by going to camp. It’s that immersive experience where you literally dive in headfirst with a group of strangers who are all learning, doing, and experiencing new adventures together for the first time – new people, perspectives, activities, skills, and schedules. It bonds you immediately and expands your mind exponentially. The amount of self-confidence and growth that occurs in those situations can last a lifetime and is impossible to replicate…or is it?

At ON Point, we believe professional and leadership development events should be treated like camp for adults. In fact, we are in the middle of hosting our annual Signature Leadership Summit for Women in Chicago where 30 top-performing professional women are attending from all over the country and from different companies with different professions. After only three days, these women walk in as strangers and leave as BFFs. Strong friendships are forged quickly as we all live together at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, wake up early for a private yoga class or run along the river, and dive in headfirst into a variety of leadership development topics and activities uniquely designed to catapult self-confidence and to elevate leaders to the next level. It’s a challenging environment that requires the participants to step outside their comfort zones, stretch themselves, have fun and be playful, and to fully focus on themselves.

The childhood life lessons learned at summer camp can carry over to adulthood when growth, learning, and development is done in the same spirit – when it’s fun, new, interactive, engaging, hands-on, personalized, challenging, supportive, celebratory, and facilitated in a way that optimizes and maximizes the experience. Adults only learn when they are uncomfortable, and too often leaders can get stuck in a rut – trapped in the complacent comfort zone. Camp shakes it up for kids in the summer and leadership development does the same for adults.

Follow the ON Point Action Plan and learn why adult camp should be on your calendar…

7 Reasons Why Adults Need to Go to Camp

  1. Meet Up – to connect with people beyond their usual circle and to expand their professional network
  2. Open Up – encourages adults to have more of a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset; open to new ideas & perspectives
  3. Act Up – close the computer & engage in more dynamic activities that require movement & in-person interaction & collaboration
  4. Whoop It Up – let yourself have fun, have deep belly laughs & be silly while learning
  5. Make It Up – new activities, people & environments boost creativity, innovation, problem-solving skills & adaptability
  6. Pay Up – investing in yourself & your leadership development is mandatory not optional; you are worth it & need to make it happen
  7. Level Up – immersive learning experiences empower adults to take their leadership skills, confidence & energy to the next level

Schools are closed, pools are open, and the sun is out – and that means it’s summer vacation. Why is it so easy for kids to countdown the days until they get to sleep late and go to camp, and working adults avoid vacations like the plague. And it’s getting worse. According to a 2022 survey, 55% of American employees do NOT use all of their PTO, only 23% use 100% of their vacation days, and 66% work while on vacation. When did vacations shift from being mandatory as a child to becoming barely optional as an adult?

There are several reasons why, but we know these are really just excuses. In our ever-increasing “grind culture,” being overworked, over-committed, and over-stressed has become a bizarre badge of honor and an unrealistic way of life. No one wants to look like a slacker. Others fear being replaced, overlooked, or becoming obsolete if they are not on the job and fully plugged in 24/7. Some want to avoid the potential mountain of work waiting for them when they return from vacation and are anxious about never being able to catch up. Others feel guilty about over-burdening their co-workers or teammates with additional tasks and responsibilities. And some have a false sense of importance that their workplace will completely fall apart in their absence.

At ON Point, most of our clients insist that work/life balance is a priority – an elusive goal that they will magically achieve someday. Well, someday to today! Vacations are not a luxury they are a necessity when it comes to career longevity and peak performance. Burnout is on the rise, disengagement is rampant, and the struggle to stay motivated is real. Not only do we coach our clients on the importance of focusing on health and wellbeing, selfcare, and time off, but we also live it. This month, we are each heading to Europe to relax, recharge, and take our professional development to the next level.

Embrace the ON Point Action Plan, and survey results, and learn why a vacation is the best strategy when it comes to professional development and career management.

7 Reasons Why Vacations Are the Secret to Success

  1. Culture – creates an environment that promotes work/life balance, health, wellbeing & sustainability
  2. Motivation – 71% of employees with encouraged time off felt more motivated when they returned
  3. Productivity – 58% of employees reported feeling more productive with higher quality work after a vacation
  4. Happiness – 68% of employees said they felt happier, more optimistic & in a better mood
  5. Energy – 66% admitted to returning to work after a vacation with more energy & enthusiasm
  6. Stress – 57% of employees felt less stressed after taking time off & unplugging
  7. Profitability – companies with more engaged, rested & productive employees had 21% greater profitability

From kindergarten to college, graduation season is in full swing. The inspiring speeches, the ceremonial walks across the stage to accept a diploma, the traditional cap and gown, and the festive celebrations – it is an exciting milestone that marks the transition from one chapter of life to another. But did you know that graduation is not just for kids? As adults, we are constantly transitioning from one phase to another – single to married to parenthood, manager to director to VP, and so on.

At ON Point, our top-performing clients are always asking “what’s next” and “how can I get to the next level or to the C-suite?” That itchy feeling people get when they have outgrown a particular place or position never leaves you. That is the “graduation effect.” That feeling when you know you have learned what you came to learn, grown as much as you could grow, and are ready for the next phase, the next challenge, and the next level. Every senior in high school and college feels it and so do so many professionals.

However, the biggest difference between graduating from college and “graduating” from one position to the next is that the college decides the graduation date for you. Graduations are designed to force people to move onto the next phase of life. Because change is so hard and stressful, many people stay in their positions well beyond their “graduation day.” Use this graduation season to ask yourself if this is the time to graduate onto a new position, a new industry, or a new phase of personal and professional growth and development.

Use the ON Point Action Plan to help plan your next graduation.

7 Ways the “Graduation Effect” Can Help Your Career

  1. Master the Graduate Mindset – nothing will move you faster or more successfully than a positive, open and excited mindset about the next chapter
  2. Change Majors – you can change your mind; just because you started out your career in sales or education doesn’t mean you have to stay there forever
  3. Tackle Your Transcript – just as students leave with GPAs and extracurricular activities, you should leave with your list of success metrics and accomplishments
  4. Update Your Yearbook – before you move on make sure you are connected with everyone and continue to build your network
  5. Continue Your Studies – you may be done with school but you’re never done learning; proactively pursue ongoing certifications and professional development
  6. Explore Internships – best way to consider new opportunities is by talking to people in those positions, volunteering, shadowing or creating a side hustle
  7. Toss Your Cap – quintessential display of graduation is collectively tossing caps in the air; create your own unique celebration and mark the occasion in a special way

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, but at ON Point we know first-hand this is an issue that impacts countless people on a daily basis and all year long. Pam Borton is one of only a few thousand Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coaches in the world, which is remarkable given the staggering statistics of mental health challenges in the workplace today.

According to an American Psychological Association survey, 58% of employees have experienced negative impacts of work-related stress, 87% of employees think actions from their employer would help their mental health, and 76% of employees have experienced burnout symptoms as a result of their work situations. Globally, it is estimated that 12 billion working days are lost every year to depression and anxiety with a cost of $1 trillion per year in lost productivity.

The conditions that contribute to these unfathomable statistics vary from person to person, but some of the risks to mental health in the workplace may include: discrimination or exclusion, inadequate or inequitable pay, job insecurity, excessive workloads or work pace, unsafe or poor working conditions, culture that enables negative behaviors, lack of control over job or workload, harassment or bullying, unclear roles and responsibilities, conflicting work/home demands, unrealistic expectations, 24/7/365 accessibility, and many more.

Our mental health and overall wellbeing is something that impacts all aspects of our lives personally and professionally. There is no delineation between the two. In order to act, operate, and perform at a high level today requires a holistic approach to health and wellbeing. We know this is also a marathon not a sprint, and we work with our high-performing clients, teams, and organizations on making health and wellbeing a priority, creating a positive culture and work environment, focusing on happiness, positivity, and optimism, and tracking and measuring the progress in those areas using specific tools and metrics.

Follow the ON Point Action Plan and start making health and wellbeing a priority in your life.

  1. Celebrate Your Wins – Big & small, daily & weekly, individually & with your team to help train the brain to think positively & to boost confidence.
  2. Exercise – Daily movement & an exercise routine can boost one’s mood, increase concentration, reduce anxiety, stress & depression & increase alertness.
  3. Connect with Others – Quality connections with friends, family, pets, colleagues or even a friendly hello to a stranger can boost positive feelings of connection & belonging.
  4. Relax, Recover & Recharge – Unwinding & taking time off is often seen as counterintuitive to today’s “grind culture” but it is critical to good health & longevity. 
  5. Increase Optimism – A daily dose of gratitude & learning the lessons as a result of setbacks, failures & mistakes will increase your optimism & strengthen your resilience.
  6. Take Small Steps – Don’t try to do everything all at once; set realistic goals, establish mini-milestones, make a plan, create accountability, stop & celebrate along the way. 
  7. Know Your Purpose & Passion – This is the heartbeat of our wellbeing; we all must see our lives as having meaning, a sense of direction & purpose; our “WHY.”

Even though you may still see snow on the ground and crank up the heat in your car, spring has officially sprung. It is that time of year when change is in the air. One day it can be cold and blustery and the next day it can be warm and sunny. Transitions in nature can be just as unpredictable and inconsistent as they are when people transition from one professional position to another. Whether it is an internal shift to a new title or department or a full-blown move to another position with another company, change can be hard. There are a million unanswered questions and a myriad of potential mistakes and missteps on the horizon. Fear of the unknown is the number one reason why people stay longer than they should. The best way to combat that fear is with a plan – control what you can control.

At ON Point, our clients have experienced a flurry of promotions and new positions already this year. On one hand, it is a very exciting time – it is a fresh start, a new season, and an opportunity to grow. On the other hand, the imposter syndrome may emerge and seeds of self-doubt may start to spread. The first day in a new position is like the first day of school in that every bit of confidence is needed because there is only one “first day”…so make the most of it. Come prepared with a winning game plan, a strategy for success, and a positive mindset. The biggest mistake people make is putting 100% of the effort in securing the new role, and then raise their arms and act as if they have crossed the finish line. No. The race isn’t over – it has just begun.

Follow the ON Point Action Plan to make sure you put your best foot forward on your first day.

7 Steps to Spring Into Your New Position with Confidence

  1. Look Back – reflect on your old position & take note of what you learned, what went well & what you would have done differently
  2. Jog Your Memory – amnesia can creep in so remind yourself of your strengths, successes, wins, accomplishments & value proposition
  3. Build a Brand – be intentional about how you want your new team & colleagues to experience you & the positive first impression you want to make
  4. Communicate Clearly – as a leader be ready to clearly articulate your leadership style & approach, communication preferences & expectations
  5. Think Small – no one solves the biggest problems on the first day; focus on quick wins that make an impact, showcase your strengths & boost your confidence
  6. Listen Up – ask questions, listen, observe, reserve judgement & exercise impulse control as you learn & understand the new landscape
  7. Reach Out – be proactive about introducing yourself especially in a remote work environment & be ready with your elevator pitch so others get to know you faster

Whether you are a fan of basketball or not, there is something special about the month of March that turns everyone into a raving fan. From the brackets to the buzzer beaters, it is an exciting time to cheer on your favorite team as they try to get to the Final Four. Some teams make it look easy, others struggle, and every year there seems to be an inspiring Cinderella story that captures the hearts of every spectator and commentator alike. However, whether your team is ranked #1 or #16, there are certain qualities and characteristics that elite athletic coaches possess that mean the difference between being eliminated in the first round or leading their team to the Final Four.

At ON Point, our clients are corporate athletes. They are wired to win. Their DNA is filled with drive and determination. And, they are laser-focused on the goal. However, given that success is a team sport, it is the leaders who know how to successfully “coach” their teams, and the individuals on their teams, that increase their chances of getting to their own Final Four. Gone are the days, in both athletics and in the workplace, when a leader can get away with yelling and screaming, perpetuating a culture of fear, and focusing solely on the results and not the whole person. Successful leaders today adopt a true coach approach and a holistic approach to developing, motivating, stretching, and rewarding their people.

Coach, if you want to lead your team to your own Final Four, then follow the ON Point Action Plan and get ready to cut down the net and prepare for a Gatorade bath.

7 Tips to Coach Your Team to the Final Four

  1. Get a Game Plan – top coaches scout out the competition, create winning strategies, plan for contingencies & know how to execute
  2. Truthfully Assess Talent – be able to accurately assess strengths, weaknesses, skills & the will to improve performance
  3. Switch Seats – make sure the right person is doing the right job & be prepared to make the tough call & the substitution if needed
  4. Clarify Roles – clearly communicate the roles, responsibilities & expectations of each person to minimize confusion & maximize results
  5. Find Another Gear – great coaches know how to take even elite players to another level; how to develop their people beyond what was possible
  6. Embrace Adversity – even if it looks easy, every winning team knows how to deal with injuries & other issues & come back even stronger & more resilient
  7. Make It Whole – take a holistic approach & focus on all elements of the corporate athlete; the physical, mental, emotional & purposeful aspects of their lives

Did 2022 turn out the way you expected?

If there is one lesson we have all learned in the last three years it is that … We have no idea what’s around the next corner or what the year will bring.

At ON Point, we are heading into the new year embracing exciting innovation, bigger thinking, higher expectations, enhanced performance excellence, and next level results. We have always had this mindset, but this year feels different.

This year feels like the perfect time to adopt a new mantra and a new mindset. We have a clean slate and are embracing a new beginning. Our mantra is exactly what we do on a daily basis for our clients as executive coaches…THINK. TRAIN. BE.

THINK. Elite athletes focus on the mental game. Altering your mindset can change your entire world. We help clients develop a more positive mindset using positive psychology and other proven strategies. We reframe challenges and find ways to boost optimism, improve wellbeing, and strengthen resiliency. When you know how to master your mindset and build mental toughness, your results will reach the next level.

TRAIN. Championship teams train like a professionals not amateurs.  The best place a premium on practice, applied learning, training and they approach each day like it is game day. It is the best who strive to master their craft as leaders of people and as builders of high performing teams.  They commit to their continuous journey of growth and development, change actions and behaviors, and align with the best coaches.

BE. Top performers operate in “the zone” or “flow”. Finding that level of confidence and inner knowing is leadership nirvana … that allows you to take risks, make decisions, and perform at an even higher level.  This is when you learn to trust your skills, your experience, your expertise, and your judgement to react without doubt or fear of failure.

Like a sports coach, executive coaches help their clients make the best decisions for themselves and those they lead. We level-up our clients in their current roles, while also preparing them for the next role. Our purpose is to develop our clients to THINK TRAIN and BE elite corporate athletes and help them exceed their own expectations and get to the next level.

Forget the turkey, the Macy’s Day Parade, football games, and family traditions – for many, the highlight of last week’s Thanksgiving holiday, were the sales on Black Friday. Not sure when, why, or how the day after a national holiday became synonymous with elbowing your way into Walmart to buy a big screen television, but here we are. This event has evolved into such a consumer tsunami that Black Friday now starts the week before and extends afterwards with the new additions of Cyber Monday and Travel Tuesday. It is all masterfully designed by retailers to boost sales, but did you know that it can also boost your career? Yes, Black Friday as a super-effective career management tool is much more valuable than another tv.

The first Black Friday strategy is about planning. These are the people that plot, plan, prepare, make lists, do market research, set alerts on their phones, assemble a team of highly-trained shopping ninjas, and have very specific items in mind they want to purchase. They know the sale is coming and wait patiently to optimize this cost-savings opportunity…operating with military-like precision. This is about identifying a goal, making a plan, working the plan, and achieving the goal – plus incorporating a double dose of impulse control. Think about how this strategy could help your career. Do you have a goal in mind or a vision for your future? Are you doing your homework and laying the groundwork for a successful outcome? Do you have the laser-focus and discipline needed to optimize professional opportunities?

The second Black Friday strategy is about striking while the iron is hot. These are the people who know a time-sensitive opportunity when they see one; can spot a great deal a mile away; able to process information quickly and snap into action; born with an aversion to getting stuck in analysis paralysis; and are willing to do whatever it takes to win including braving crowds of rabid shoppers and sleeping out all night to be first in line. They know these opportunities will not last and these televisions may never be this cheap again. They are not bogged down with all of the “what ifs” and limiting constraints of perfectionism – is this the “perfect” time, is this the “perfect” tv, “ is this the “perfect” opportunity? They see an opportunity and seize the moment. When it comes to managing your career, think about where you are on the “carpe diem” spectrum. Do you overthink and opt out or do you raise your hand and jump in? Do you question your confidence and convince yourself that you’ll be ready for the next Black Friday sale? What if there is never another Black Friday? Knowing when to strike while the iron is hot is critical to taking your career to the next level.

Follow the ON Point Action Plan to manage your career like a “Black Friday” sale.

7 Ways Black Friday Boosts Your Career

  1. Encourages you to think ahead and plan proactively
  2. Measures where you are the risk-taking spectrum
  3. Challenges your commitment to the goal
  4. Tests your impulse control
  5. Stretches your strategic and creative thinking skills
  6. Rewards effort and hard work
  7. Forces you to have a Plan B

We all know that the “one-size-fits-all” tag on a t-shirt isn’t true, and it isn’t true in the workplace either. Whether you provide a product or service, lead a team or organization, or simply show up at work each and every day – personalization and customization are critical to success. Recycling is important when it comes to paper and plastic, but not when it comes to people. People want to feel seen, heard, validated, valued, special, and unique – not a nameless, faceless, and meaningless number or entity. This is true for everyone…clients, customers, colleagues, employees, managers, friends, and family alike. This is why we respond more positively when our name appears on top of our favorite birthday cake rather than when we receive mail addressed to “Resident.”

The most successful and effective leaders know that each person on the team needs something different. They know how to customize their style and approach to match each individual…how to best communicate, motivate, inspire, have hard conversations, deliver feedback, push, and to connect. Top leaders know it is never a “one-size-fits-all” situation. Some leaders know how to do this naturally and intuitively and already have high Emotional Intelligence (EQ) that enables them to “read the room” very well. However, if this is not a natural strength of yours, don’t worry. EQ is a skill that can be learned, developed and strengthened, and ON Point has administered the Assessment and coached many leaders on how to increase their proficiency in this area. Another incredibly helpful tool when it comes to customization is the DiSC Assessment. Understanding your unique style and approach allows you to then better understand and relate to others using very specific strategies, tips, and techniques.

When it comes to running a business that provides a service, like executive coaching or consulting, customization is the top priority. From a 1:1 coaching engagement and 9-Month Leadership Academies to team coaching, organizational development and keynote presentations, everything is customized – because one size never fits all! Our clients expect us to understand their needs, their goals, and their challenges. They don’t want a recycled or repurposed program…they want something specifically tailored for them. They want customized content, curriculum, success metrics, and deliverables designed just for them. For example, we are coaching sales teams at two different companies. On the surface it may seem like an “apples-to-apples” situation…two sales teams responsible for driving revenue for their respective companies. However, nothing could be further from the truth. These two sales teams could not be more different and, therefore, they require a very different approach, a different focus, and a different program entirely. It’s all about knowing your “audience” and/or client and designing a customized program, presentation, product or service that meets them where they are at and gets them to where they want to go.

7 Benefits of Customization

  1. Strengthens connections and relationships
  2. Increases loyalty and retention
  3. Drives revenue and referrals
  4. Separates you from the competition
  5. Builds trust
  6. Improves performance and results
  7. Enhances marketability