Simple beliefs about management, Plucky-style

This morning I responded to a prospective client who is weighing bringing me onsite to teach So Now You’re a Manager to their leadership team. She asked me to address how this training’s content addresses the biggest problems in the org, which are:

  • Managers can’t get out of the weeds and are too busy with their own day-to-day to manage their reports
  • Lack of leadership from the management team
  • Managers not pushing down responsibilities and not really understanding how to manage people
  • Reports not managing up
  • Fear of failing

Here was my off-the–cuff response, which seemed worthy of sharing for others considering sending folks to Philadelphia’s training in March:

Based on the list of 5 concerns, here’s what I’d say:
  • Managers cannot successfully lead unless they see themselves as leaders. So the first thing we’ll do is leadership mission statements in which all managers in the room must craft their own interpretation of managing and leading. Then they share them with the room. This is important because it’s the first step towards OWNING the experience of managing and leading and publicly interpreting that for their peers. This action will help with #2 and #3.
  • Then we’ll build on the concept of what the heck management is (short story: I believe all managers have a double major. Building trust and finding opportunities. That’s it. If they ONLY take this away from our time together, it will be a big win). Building trust and finding opportunities looks like a number of tactical things (1:1s, tracking resources’ paths, listening closely at leadership meetings, meeting with peers, sharing appreciation and reward systems). This portion of our time together will help with #1 and #4.
  • And regarding #5, I’m sure I’ll say this 10x/day while we’re together, but life is a giant science experiment. TRY THINGS! You must be willing to try things, assess and adjust as managers. This belief is my entire vibe in the room, I will encourage people to practice elements together, I will endlessly brainstorm with you all about what hasn’t been working and pull new ideas and experiments out of you.
  • Fundamentally I believe managing is like parenting. You never graduate. You will continue to hone these skills for your entire career – delegation, patience, managing UP, building trust, etc. Even if you get decent at one in Q1, you may struggle in Q3 because the humans you are working with and for will evolve! They’re like moving targets. 🙂 But with awareness and intention, commitment and a peer group of folks who are also managing alongside you, managing is incredibly rewarding and growing and the years of experiments and anecdotes they build up will make really fascinating and stretching careers for them all.


Does this sound like something your org needs? Send me your managers! There are still spots open for So Now You’re a Manager, Philadelphia edition on March 22-23, 2018. I would love to help empower your leaders and send them back with some GUMPTION! And tools!

Four Years of Plucky

To everyone who has ever supported Plucky,

Businesses, though they are believed to have been started in garages, basements and backyard sheds, are started over coffee. At least, that’s true about Plucky. I had an idea four years ago (a longer story for a longer day), but it was over coffees and lunches that I refined that idea and found a tiny door leading to space in the market.

Plucky turned 4 earlier this month and Plucky sure has grown. In the beginning, Plucky felt like a kid-sister business. I scrapped things together, asked for a lot of advice, watched how other grown-up businesses found their way. There’s still an element of that, but lately people have been asking me for advice about starting their own businesses. That’s how I know the tectonic plates of business have shifted underneath me.

I find it incredibly valuable to pause and reflect each year, though as a solo businessperson I don’t have any employees to gather in a conference room to hear a State of the Union. Then I realized something: YOU should hear the State of the Union. YOU- family and industry colleague and friend (and my dear third grade teacher!)- YOU should know how your retweets and shares, your coffees and your generous introductions have manifested Plucky’s growth this year.

So here we go!


I started tracking numbers this year. During Year 4, Plucky:

  • was open 3.5 days/week (thanks, Chris Dary, for the extra childcare!)
  • did work in countries
  • served 22 companies/clients
  • coached over 76 individuals
  • led audits and workshops (internal and external-facing) that have hosted 433 humans

Those last two numbers are very valuable to me because it means that, this year, more than 500 humans have told me their names, shared aspirational career growth and participated in content that empowers Adult Development. I care about this so much because I believe this is how I’ll change the world. Every employee who experiences a patient ear and the permission to find growth at work has the ability to bloom in new ways.

The ripples extend wide.

Behind the Scenes

While many of my hours have been spent working directly with clients this year, there is always significant work happening to expand the depth and path of the business. To that end, here are some new efforts that saw lift-off during Plucky’s 4th year:


The retreats, the 1:1s, the selling event tickets and the blog posts… it is all in service of healthy people making powerful, aligned contributions to their place of work. While I started firmly in tech, I am seeing growth in a number of other industries, like media, retail, insurance and religion (!). I love this because it means Plucky’s appeal is to humans.

Humans sure sounds like a powerful pipeline.

Year 5

A continued focus on supporting leadership services and speaking, here are a few efforts I have my eye on for Year 5:

  • Wider ReachSo Now You’re a Manager trainings in 2018 (possible cities include Philadelphia, Chicago, Portland and Austin)
  • Branding: Launch of Plucky Merch for sale, including 1:1 starter kit for new managers
  • Giving Back: free coaching for a different non-profit each quarter (focus on orgs that are minority-led or career-oriented)
  • Collaboration: obvious evolution for #PluckyWomen, perhaps folding it into an existing local effort


Thanks for the intros. Thanks for coming to #PluckyWomen. Thanks for showing up and growing during our coaching sessions. Thanks for reading my writing and believing in Plucky’s mission.

But thanks especially for being open to changing things in the workplace, world. Every moment you spend on self-aware actions moves the needle.

Change takes time. I have time. Here comes Year 5.

xo Jen

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