Archive for TRIumph & Success

Rise Up from “We the People” to “We The Leaders”

Ryan Underwood is the CEO and Chief Leadership Officer of TEAMTRI and a Sector Partner of GiANT Worldwide. Ryan helps multiply leaders to serve and create awesome futures. Ryan and his wife Carrie Underwood attended the Presidential Inauguration and share with us lessons from this unique experience. Email:   Twitter: @TEAMTRI_CEO

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We recently had the opportunity to attend the 58th Inauguration of the President of the United States as guests of Congress. Our home, like all of our Team at TRI, split our votes Inflatable pool Canada in a number of ways for a number of candidates just like America did.

The point of this reflection is not to call out a party or politics, but, to call up all of you to reach for a higher level of leadership, service, and love from yourself, for one another, and for our nation.

In the video I shot on my phone from my vantage point on the inaugural platform, you’ll experience what we experienced during the swearing in ceremony. Listen closely. This is what most of the world didn’t hear if you watched it on TV.

Listen past the Supreme Court Chief Justice trying to conduct the ceremony. Listen past the pledge of the President. Listen for the voices in the crowd SHOUTING the Preamble to the Constitution over the top of the ceremony to try and distract, disrupt, and derail the proceeding. They are not hard to miss.


Did you hear “WE THE PEOPLE…?!”

Did you hear some of the audience trying to disrupt the swearing in ceremony?

There was nothing wrong with the inaugural platform, speakers or AV. There were speakers placed throughout the platform and we all heard every speech, presentation, and prayer clearly during the ceremony—until this moment.

The Preamble was being SHOUTED in a rehearsed, choregraphed, and orchestrated fashion right over the top of the swearing in ceremony. How the Chief Justice and President got through this moment without error still amazes me. It was the exercise of the First Amendment guaranteeing FREE SPEECH at full volume carelessly attempting to interrupt the first part of the Constitution that makes possible that very same right.

And while inauguration week ended with the transition of power, my lesson on that day comes from the beginning of the week when we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Day.  Dr. King famously said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.  Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

As I’ve reflected on inauguration day and Dr. King, it occurred to me that, “Drama cannot drive out drama, only leadership can do that.”

In a democracy, we choose officials who represent us. They do more than represent our perspective, issue, or opinion—they represent our current collective level of leadership.

If we want better leadership, we’re not going to get it by SHOUTING at officials rudely as that is exactly what our leaders are going to do back to us. We’re going to get great leadership when “we the people” become “we the leaders.”  When we use our voices as leaders in the right time and the right space with the right message not to “call out” others but to “call them up” to the higher level of leadership we as citizens exhibit and expect.

A clear example of using your voice the right way, at the right time, with the right message can be learned from Dr. King.  And, I’m not talking about Martin Luther, I’m talking about another Dr. King—his youngest daughter Reverend Dr. Bernice King.


I loved her message, especially at the 12:55 mark when she said, “People no longer care whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, they are looking for leaders willing to serve humanity at all costs.”

When we limit our view to seeing ourselves as just people, then we the people disrupt and shout. And we get people at all levels who disrupt our lives and shout at us.

But when we see ourselves as leaders serving humanity at all costs, we are going to get leaders who serve us and humanity at all costs.

The best the laws of man can do is create a Constitution for we the people. But, the laws of humanity call us to stand on the foundation of the Constitution and rise and reach to become we the leaders.

Rising up happens in your house…in my house…before it happens in The White House. Rising up means we can do better than shouting. Rising up means realizing actions do indeed speak louder than words. Rising up means we serve. And when we rise, we the leaders will raise up true leaders to serve humanity and the shouts we hear will be shouts of joy!

10 Helpful EXTRA STEPS of Leadership Philosophy #12DaysOfLeadership

Welcome to TeamTRI’s 12 Days of Leadership! From now until Christmas we’ll be celebrating the holiday season by sharing 12 days of powerful leadership ideas, resources and content. We hope these articles get you in the holiday spirit and ready to go lead the world to greatness! Today’s article is by Curtis Haley (@TeamTRI_Curtis)

For our tenth day in our #12DaysOfLeadership, we’re excited to talk about the ten steps EXTRA STEP! leadership model which we practice and teach here at TeamTRI. No matter where you are on your personal leadership journey, the EXTRA STEP! process can help you better serve the people you represent by sharpening your resolve to meet their needs and provide an incredible experience for your customers, whoever they happen to be!

And like all great ideas in life, we made it even easier to understand the EXTRA STEP! by making it an acronym. Let’s break it down one letter at a time:

Extraordinary Customer Service: The idea behind the first element of the model is that the difference between ordinary service and extraordinary service is adding in that little “extra”. True leadership means not waiting for things to happen, but MAKING things happen. You can practice this in your own life by anticipating the needs of your customers before they arise, then working to solve those needs!

X-Factor: We all remember algebra class (no matter how hard we try to forget, in some cases). In algebra, you learn that “X” is the unknown quantity, and that stands true for the X-Factor element. Great leaders take initiative to find opportunities to serve, and go above and beyond to find solutions to challenges. This requires keen analytical skills to FIND the X-Factor, combined with well-honed creative thinking to find solutions that meet the needs of your audience.

Top of Mind Awareness: What’s on the top of your mind right now? Dinner? Work? That new Bruno Mars song you can’t get out of your head? As a leader, it’s up to you to ensure your organization and brand are constantly near the top of mind for your stakeholders. Think about the buzzword that you want associated most with your brand – your job is to build positive relationships to ensure that when people think of that buzzword, they think of YOU.

Results-Driven: Every action you take should have the end in mind. When you wake up and put on your professional attire, you don’t do so because it’s the most comfortable outfit you own, but because you want to put the best possible foot forward in order to achieve your desired results. Don’t settle for activity, but become obsessed with results – consider how your actions are moving the needle forward for your goals, and use that growth to gauge your own success.

Ambassadors of Leadership Excellence: What does it mean to be an ambassador? It means that you are the face of your organization, and that your actions speak not just for you but for everything you represent. Just like the United States wouldn’t want to send Miley Cyrus to the United Nations, so should you want to ensure that you are knowledgeable about your organization, welcoming to everyone you meet, and representative of your mission and goals to everyone you meet. Through charm, grace and sincerity, you can be the bridge between your organization and the outside world.

Speak to the Fans: “Wah wah wah wah wah” – if this is what people hear when you talk about your organization, you’ve already lost them. Representing your organization well requires effective communication, and effective communication requires powerful planning and dynamic delivery which is inspiring, educational, persuasive, influential and informational in all environments.

Timeliness: The “T” stands for…wait, haven’t we done this letter already? Totally. But the SECOND T stands for one of the most important elements of the model: Timeliness. In our world, we train people about the concept of “leader time” – harnessing good habits of efficiency, organization and wise preparation to complete projects and arrive at events ahead of the expected time. This means accurately anticipating how much time and which resources are required to complete a project in advance of the deadline, learning to say “NO” to opportunities which may overload your plate.

Evaluation: As the saying goes, “those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it”. That’s why leaders understand the value of seeking feedback from customers and stakeholders in order to identify potential areas for growth and improvement on personal and organizational levels. Receiving feedback can be a touchy subject – nobody likes to feel incompetent – but remember that everyone makes mistakes, and the only way to learn from them is to acknowledge them.

Project Planning: While the most visible (and most exciting) part of being a leader may be the time when you’re on stage speaking to your audience, the truth is that leadership is 90% successful project completion and 10% face time in front of customers. Your wise planning and hard work when you AREN’T on stage guarantee a warm, enthusiastic reception when you ARE on stage.

!: We’re not sure how you pronounce this final element, but the intent is clear: Enthusiasm and excitement should be the foundation of everything you do. You have an incredible opportunity to serve others and to make their experience amazing, and your excitement only enhances that experience for everyone involved. We all love being around positive people, and that’s even more true when you’re in the trenches getting work done. A smile, a cheer, and a pat on the back for your teammates all go a long way toward helping people value the chance to make a difference in the lives of others.

There you have it, folks – the EXTRA STEP! model of leadership. The best part of this model is that it’s not a far-off goal that you have to achieve, but rather a commitment to your customers that you can adopt right now. Which of the EXTRA STEP! elements resonated the most with you? Let us know on Twitter @TeamTRI, and stay tuned tomorrow for the next installment of the #12DaysOfLeadership!

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Lessons From Losing: The Four Things I Know To Be True

There are three things that I know to be true in life: my name is Valerie Caña, I am currently eighteen years old, and I just broke $200 worth of Christmas cat ornaments at the store I work at in a matter of six seconds.

A lot of my peers might know me from before as that girl who was a DECA State Officer for wayyy too long or as a former National Officer candidate from Nevada. Both of those were acceptable. But now? Well, now I’m just the clumsy sales associate who decided to defer college for a year. I believe I did awesome things in DECA, but honestly the titles I received back then don’t matter anymore. It’s in the past. I am irrelevant, and I’ve come to terms with that a long time ago.

Since I was invited to write this article, I’ve been struggling to come up with “THE END-ALL, BE-ALL” ultimate leadership lesson that summarizes everything I learned in my CTSO career and maybe help raise your spirits to the land of success.

Unfortunately, I possess no knowledge of the secret of life, nor the key ingredient of becoming a great leader. In a perfect world, I would have won DECA Executive Office, gone to a top college on a scholarship, and still be relevant enough to be featured on this awesome blog. Instead, I just remember crying against the concrete wall of the Closing Session room, watching a different reality take place instead of my dreams. So as you can see, I can’t exactly tell you how to be successful. I, myself, am wobbling on my own rocky path. But I can tell you, despite my seemingly failures, why I am inescapably and undeniably happy:

I decided to be.

There’s a lot of room for joy once you cry out all of your sorrow. The morning after our national conference ended, I waved all of the members of my organization goodbye and emptied the millions of used tissues out of my purse. Then, I ascended the elevator back to my hotel room and chose to enjoy the way the sun’s light stretched across the floor and onto me. I packed my bags and chose to love how my DECA blazer looked wrinkled into a tired heap and how my heals were scuffed with the memories of running all across Orlando. I chose to admit my defeat, and then I happily chose to take the path that completely contradicted my original plan.

I took a gap year. Not even an “exciting” gap year abroad or working on a farm on the East Coast. I stayed where I have always been and got a job I really liked…for no legitimate reason other than that life was tremendously great that I could make my own decisions.

My family and friends were quite shocked. I had always been the person they expected to be extremely accomplished, trying to do big, extravagant things every single day.

“No,” I told them, “I’m just a human being and I kinda wanna take a break.”

I’m not saying I wasn’t happy when I was in DECA. Of course I was ecstatic doing all those cool things standing under the spotlight. But when I woke up that one morning and the sun shone so brilliantly during my time of loss, that alone told me that this was still my time. I can do everything and I can do nothing, and it can still be a great day.

That said, YOU can do everything or do nothing, and have a great day. It’s important to realize that yes, you can absolutely move on and do crazy big things, but there is also a joy in taking time to rest and to experience the smaller aspects of life. There are many paths in this big world of ours, and sometimes you have to stop in the middle of the direction you’re moving to notice the million other directions available to you. Not all are major roads to mountaintops. Some are tiny detours and bumps in the road. And others are the in-betweens of a journey where you just have to sit down for a bit and love the world around you will keep on going. All is good. All is life.

I quite like this “small somebody” I am today, because it lets me feel how large our universe is and how wonderful every minuscule detail of it is. It’s the small things like how my best friend calls me in between her busy schedule, how my sister includes me by asking which headphones to buy, or how I can now afford to treat my parents out to dinner. What I never noticed before has become so incredibly significant. Even laughing together with strangers at the bus driver’s joke is miraculous to me.

We can be people who are larger than life, always doing something, always chasing our dreams into oblivion. But when we stumble on the ground, we don’t have to suck up our pride and get right back up immediately. Instead, I encourage you to lie back for a while, reflect, and see that life is probably a lot larger than you expected.

I decided to be happy in life, and that meant to be easily impressed and appreciative of every encounter. It meant to let go of what I wanted, and grab on to what the world had always had. I think it’s pretty cool to stop for a moment and feel fulfilled just by how alive and decent the world is around you. Especially to someone like me, an eighteen year old klutzy sales associate, things like are pretty awesome.

I suppose that’s the fourth thing I know to be true.

Valerie Caña is a former three-year DECA State Officer and a talented, inspirational young person. She currently lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.

5 Unexpected Life Lessons Learned From…Knitting?!

I have been a knitter for almost nine years.  It started as a hobby I wanted to learn to make cute baby hats for my new son, and as a way to let some creativity flow while I was at home with a baby.  I never thought I would come to love it as much as I do, and I definitely never thought it would teach me some life lessons.  But that’s exactly what happened!

Here are five unexpected life lessons I learned from knitting:

1. Little actions over time can add up to an impressive final product.  Every knitting project is made up of hundreds, sometimes thousands of individual stitches. I don’t always  (or ever, really) have time to sit down and knit a whole project from start to finish. But if I knit a few stitches here and there, maybe for a whole evening or maybe for five minutes while I wait for coffee to brew, eventually I will have a finished product.  The same is true of any task.  If you can just keep chipping away at it, over time you will be finished, even if it feels like you barely got anything done sometimes.


2. Break it down. When something feels impossible, keep in mind that it can always be broken down into smaller, more manageable steps. All knitting, even the most elaborate lace shawl or cabled sweater, is produced from simply knowing how to do a few basic knitting stitches.  Once you have those stitches mastered, you can move on to implementing them for a whole row, and then a whole section, and pretty soon you have a finished product!  All it took was completing the smaller pieces in a way that wasn’t as intimidating.

3. Don’t stop before your work is done. If you spend hours and hours knitting a sweater, but then can’t find the last hour to seam all the pieces together, then you haven’t really made a sweater.  Don’t stop working until the job is done or you won’t have a finished, usable product to show for all your hard work.

4. Make the important things a priority. When people find out that I knit they often ask how I find time for it with four kids and a job, or comment that they wish they had time for a hobby like that.  I used to just smile and shrug, but I’ve come to realize that I have time to knit because I make time to knit.  I helps me relax, feel productive, and unleash some creativity.  Now I tell curious onlookers that I make the time.   I have recently tried replacing the phrase, “I don’t have time for that” with “That is not a priority for me.”  You don’t like knitting and that’s why you don’t make time for it?  Great!  But when it applies to things that are actually important, like relationships or another hobby that does nurture you, it can be eye-opening to reframe your thoughts about it that way.

5. Have fun! Sometimes I find myself plugging away on a knitting project that is boring me to tears.  Then I remember that this is supposed to be something fun and if it’s not fun then something needs to change.  Sometimes I start a new project, sometimes I remind myself why I am knitting this particular item, and sometimes I just need to take a break for a while. But if things in life aren’t feeling fun, maybe it’s time to shake it up a bit!  Or maybe it’s time to take up knitting.

Sarah Magney is an Association Management Specialist with TeamTRI. She is currently working on knitting a life-size replica of the Mona Lisa, maybe.

The Three General Orders: Leadership Lessons from Army Basic Training

I grew up in rural Indiana. It was a nice place to grow up, but not much to do. Like many kids who grow up in rural areas, CTSOs were my first glimpse at the big city and lots of culture.

Once I graduated from high school in 1988, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and my parents were not willing to finance that. So, I did something pretty drastic for me – I joined the United States Army. I enlisted as a broadcast journalist and was ready to see the world.

Only one thing stood between me and a career like on Good Morning, Vietnam: basic training.

Basic training is lots of physical training, but it is also a lot of mental work as well. It takes both strong and smart people to be good soldiers. Every solider also has to learn their three general orders.

As I got to thinking about these general orders recently, I determined that they really are the keys to leadership. There is a reason the entire United States Army can recite them on demand.

  1. “I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved.”

In terms of leadership, this means to pay attention and do everything you have been asked to do. Never leave the people you are leading on their own and always do what you can to protect and support them.

  1. “I will obey my special orders and perform all of my duties in a military manner.”

Do everything you have been asked to do (and then some) and do it all with the courtesy and professionalism that you owe your teammates.

  1. “I will report violations of my special orders, emergencies, and anything not covered in my instructions, to the commander of the relief.”

This one is the most important. If you mess up, own it. If you have questions, ask. If something happens, report it. And always be willing to seek clarity and guidance from the people above you. That is how you learn and grow.

A military path isn’t for everyone. But, even if you don’t choose to join the Army, remember your general orders and march on!

Teresa Mankin is the State Director for SkillsUSA Oregon and a huge Indianapolis Colts fan. Follow her on Twitter @teresamankin.