As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
My father always said that I came from a line of ‘teachers and preachers’. Both of my parents were teachers and, on my father’s side, everyone seemed to be a teacher of some kind at either the high school or university level. I was on a fast track to teaching until a grade 10 art teacher derailed my plans by encouraging me to become an illustrator. It took 7 years after graduating college and stints in advertising, marketing and fundraising before I found myself back on the path my father had predicted when I moved into the world of corporate training.
What was home like?
I was born in the UK and emigrated to Canada in the mid-1970’s. My father had quit teaching and taken a role with the Canadian rugby team as their technical director (essentially, their head coach). I still remember landing at the Ottawa airport and walking across the tarmac into the arrivals zone. My brothers and I raced to see my dad who had been in Canada for a few weeks finding us a home and getting things set up. We drove to our new house in, what seemed like, the world’s biggest car and ate chocolate chip ice cream before falling asleep after a marathon 16 hour travel journey.
Being the oldest of four, and the only girl of a father who was highly traditional, wasn’t the easiest. I tend to be highly independent by nature, so it wasn’t surprising that by the time I hit my teenage years, my dad and I weren’t exactly seeing eye to eye. I left home at the beginning of my grade 12 year and when I was 19, my parents and brothers moved back to England while I remained in Canada. That experience helped me build a great deal of resilience and further cemented my personal values around autonomy and independence. No wonder I ultimately became an entrepreneur!
“Did I REALLY Sign Up For This?!” was recently published. What inspired you to write?
I had been blogging about leadership for 10 years on my blog RoundtableTalk. One day, my colleague Kim suggested that I consider pulling the posts together into a book format. She felt that there were so many great words of wisdom that would have a longer shelf life in a book than they do on a blog, which tends to be a bit more ‘just in time’. I started the blog as a way to share many of the tools and techniques we use at The Roundtable, in addition to providing stories and insights from the clients that I have the opportunity to work with as well as from my own personal experience. I’m really interested in how things ‘really’ work and found that there weren’t many voices in the leadership space that were active leaders writing about the ‘good, the bad and the ugly’ of leadership. I wanted to provide something that did just that from the perspective of someone who sees themselves first and foremost as a practicing leader and business owner vs. a leadership coach.
Who or what has influenced your writing?
My first job was at The Ottawa Citizenin the Advertising Department. I loved to write and signed up to be a staff journalist for our employee newsletter. The editor of the staff paper (who was a real journalist) was always giving me a hard time about bringing too much of a conversational/personal tone to my writing. I spent many an hour trying to be more ‘neutral’, but it was a challenge. I’ve realized that this is what people appreciate about my style. In reading my work, people tell me that they feel like they’re talking to me directly. I like that. So, I guess my style was influenced by a professional journalist who I chose to ignore. (See, there’s that independence/autonomy thing coming up again!)
Is there a message in your book you want readers to grasp?
The main thing that I would like readers to take from my book is that leadership is ultimately about progress and not perfection. I often feel like leadership books are written with the view that we need to be the ‘perfect’ leader in order to be a successful leader. There is so much advice out there and my own conclusion is, to paraphrase Maya Angelou, when you know better, you can do better. Leadership is about self-insight. When you know yourself, you can lead others. In compiling the book, it was interesting to me just how much I wrote about that notion of self-discovery. Leadership development is a journey, not an event, and we need to be kind and patient with ourselves and we travel the roads ahead. I hope people see themselves in the book and feel inspired to keep trying to be a little bit better, each and every day.
Since this website is about sales & leadership, talk to us about some of your favorite blogs and websites you visit for information.
Right now I’m obsessing about neuroscience and mindfulness, so many of the places I like to haunt are in those areas. David Rock and his team at The Neuro Leadership Institute is one of my favourite consultancies for brain-based coaching and they have some excellent resources. His SCARF model is just outstanding. Marshall Goldsmith is my idol when it comes to behaviour based coaching and his Thinkers50 website is just loaded with resources that are so useful and practical. His feedforward technique is a gamechanger. Danielle Laporte and Brené Brown are both my sources for spiritual and mindful inspiration. Plus, they are great brand marketers. And finally, Gary Vee (Vaynerchuk) is the guy I go to as a salesperson and marketer to really get inspired along with Scott Scratton and his ‘Unpodcast,’ as well his material from UnMarketing. Such a brilliant book. Oh, and TED.com. Always so much inspiration there.
Finally, any advice to writers just starting?
Just start. The hardest thing for me was entering that very first blog post. It was terrifying. And then I saw the stats and only 10 people saw it. True confession… it was probably me viewing it 10 times. It will take a while to find your voice and your rhythm, but keep at it. As Seth Godin says, it’s all about shipping. Keep creating great content.
I carry around a journal where I’ll jot down ideas. Sometimes the hardest thing is to get inspired on what to write about. Tracking things as they come to you is a way to make that easier. The most challenging thing I’ve found about writing is keeping it consistent. I have friends who block the same two hours every week to write. My life (and I) tend not to work that way. I’m more of a binge writer, so knocking off a few articles and posts is easier for me to manage than trying to write at the same time every week. Do what works for you.
Glain Roberts-McCabe is Founder of the Roundtable, a place where leaders cultivate their leadership, together through group and team coaching. She is the author of Did I REALLY Sign Up for This?! #leadership truths on how to drive, survive and thrive. The Roundtable was named the top External HR Advisory/Consultancy of the Year in 2016 by the Canadian HR Awards. Visit their website at www.goroundtable.com.