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5 Ways to Ensure Critical Knowledge Transfer

Knowledge transfer is a constant in any organization, because passing along experienced-based knowledge is essential. Especially as we see baby boomers retiring and other top employees leaving for new opportunities. How can you ensure that wisdom is passed on? This article from CLO magazine provides five tips, plus some reader reaction from our founder and CEO, Amy Franko.

Read more. (See page 20 for Amy’s comment.)

Webinar On-Demand: Closing Skill Gaps with Curriculum Planning and Design

Greater Cincinnati’s Chapter of the Association for Talent Development Webinar Featuring Impact Instruction is Available On-Demand

071415-GCATD-Webinar-JPG slide

Watch the webinar now.

More than 70 percent of organizations surveyed for the 2014 Corporate Learning Factbook cite “capability gaps” as one of their top five challenges.

Within many of those companies, it takes 3-5 years for a seasoned employee to become fully productive. Solving these challenges around capability gaps and time to productivity becomes even more complex given virtual teams, global operations, information overload, and ever-changing business priorities. These are real issues that impact the overall effectiveness and competitiveness of your organization.

Curriculum Planning and Design is a foundational solution to addressing these challenges. It improves the talent management process, the ROI of training, and ultimately business outcomes in some key ways.

Curriculum Planning and Design:

  • Creates a clear and consistent set of skills and learning paths for a role
  • Improves engagement by allowing employees to envision their future in the organization
  • Helps lines of business and training organizations better prioritize and align training investments
  • Streamlines the onboarding process, improving time to initial productivity

In this session, we address:

  • The framework and key outputs of Impact Instruction’s curriculum planning process, from initial planning through implementation and maintenance
  • Aligning curriculum plans to other key organizational initiatives
  • How to involve key audience members and stakeholders to create an environment for success
  • Best practices we have uncovered in conducting this process for other organizations
  • Practical next steps to consider for your organization

Greater Cincinnati
  Watch it now.
Hosted by: Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the ATD
Facilitators: Amy Franko, Founder & CEO, Impact Instruction Group
Lisa Gearhart, Senior Instructional Designer

Next Stop: Austin! Talent Management Exchange

tmxAt Impact Instruction Group, we know it’s important to stay ahead of the curve. That’s why we make it a point to be a part of some of the industry’s top events. We’re hitting the road again in July.

Our Founder & CEO, Amy Franko, is attending the Talent Management Exchange in Austin this week. Will you be there, too? Be sure to connect with us during the event. In the meantime, check out a video welcome, highlights of our services, and resources just for you on our Talent Management Exchange page.


Executive presence: Are you born with it, or do you cultivate it?

smart bizWhile our Founder and CEO Amy Franko has met many people who innately possess executive presence in spades, she’s also known many who worked to cultivate it. But these attributes and skills aren’t just for someone aspiring to become an executive leader. In this article in Smart Business, Amy shares how to make an impact in any aspect of your personal and professional life.

Read more.

5 Top Learnings from the SITE Annual Conference

SITE_Conf2015Impact Instruction is headquartered in Ohio: home of the Buckeyes, LeBron… and more than 200 insurance carriers. We’ve had the chance to work and connect with several of these great institutions. So when we were invited to be a part of the Society of Insurance Trainers and Educators (SITE), we jumped at the chance. Our own Cyndi McAlpine joined other members of SITE in Colorado Springs in June for the group’s annual conference. This is no fly-by-night operation. The conference has been held since 1954. We can see why. It offered some info-packed sessions and fun networking opportunities. What tips and trends did Cyndi uncover? She shares her top five.

1. Small conference. Big impact. In the scheme of things, this was a smaller-sized conference (225 attendees, 107 organizations from 33 states, and three international attendees) as compared to other massive, 1,000+ attendee events I’ve attended in the past. Many attendees stated they were grateful for that fact, as there was a clear sense of community at this event. SITE members were incredibly welcoming to new attendees, which began with a “First Timers Breakfast,” followed with a speed networking event focused on helping folks make connections (old and new). Nice touch.

2. Back to the basics part 1: genuine leadership and success come from high touch not high tech. Byrd Bagget’s keynote address was engaging, humorous, and focused on the fundamentals of leadership. Byrd had many quotes worth noting: “If you burn the bridges of your past, you better know how to walk on water,” and “Feedback is a gift,” along with his witty acronyms like, “PHD – Preserve Human Dignity” and “EGO – Edging Growth Out.” At the end of the day, Byrd’s comments were a helpful reminder that if you want to be a great leader, it starts with being an intentional human being who genuinely cares for others. (“People want to feel valued, secure and appreciated,” he said.) Other critical traits of successful leaders include being humble, showing sincere energy and enthusiasm for others and their ideas, and leveraging strong interpersonal skills.

I found these tidbits interesting:

  • 60 percent of people log off of Facebook depressed
  • Unnecessary interruptions eat up an average of 28 percent of the work day

There used to be far more social interactions at work with chatting and connecting with coworkers in the break room and neighborhood gatherings. Today there are far more social interactions which are very surface-level connections through technology (social media). It makes me want to get out the barbeque and invite a bunch of neighbors over.

3. Back to the basics part 2: it’s ALL about the learner. As one might suspect, in the Insurance industry, there is some heavy lifting required for compliance training. Dr. Ray Jimenez, of Vignettes Learning, shared some thoughtful reminders to keep it simple, focus on the critical content, and provide context (through storytelling) to create engaging and sustainable learning.

It appears we’ve gone a bit off track with L&D approaches by starting out with the Trainer’s objectives.

Does this sound familiar?

“… at the end of this course you will …”

Instead, we should open by engaging the learners and allowing them to state their expectations for the course.

Dr. Jimenez also discussed the modern learner as someone who prefers to be taught the critical content (“must learn”), and then be left to determine the “learn on need” content. This is the reason why microlearning is becoming so popular. The challenge for L&D professionals then becomes separating out the “must learn” content from the “learn on need” content.

Ray also stated that “no one will ever learn anything new unless he can connect with something he knows.” His suggestion for creating more engaged learning is to first provide context using events learners can relate to, prior to teaching them the associated facts.

And finally, for sustained learning, allow the learners to share their stories associated with the facts they have learned. Their stories are more important than the teacher’s.

4. What’s trending: microlearning using brain science + gamification = improved learning retention. A fairly consistent theme throughout most of the sessions was how to condense training time via micro-learning. One of the more compelling sessions was held by Dr. B. Price Kerfoot of VA Boston Healthcare System and Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Kerfoot cited the often referred to statistics of traditional instructor led learning:

  • 50 percent loss of content retention within 30 minutes
  • Only 5 – 15 percent of content retained three weeks following the course

Therefore, much of Dr. Kerfoots research has been focused on how to improve retention. Dr. Kerfoot conducted a considerable search on brain science as it relates to education and found a couple of key elements: spacing and testing effects.

The spacing refers to delivering shorter amounts of content over a period of time. By combining the spacing concept with the testing element, and leveraging gamification (they found that learners really wanted to know how they did on their assessments as compared to their peers), the results were astounding. Their methodology consisted of delivering two questions to healthcare professionals via email every week for a period of time. Upon answering the questions, the learner received an immediate response to:

  • Let them know how they did, and what is the correct answer
  • Provide links to additional information if the learner chose to seek out supporting content
  • See how their performance compared to their peers

There was a lot more to this discussion, and suffice it to say that they have found a model from which at least two businesses (participating at the conference) have been created. Leveraging technology to deliver this concept has created improved ways to deliver more sustainable learning.

5. I have all of this training. Now what? Let’s do some math. The estimated cost per one hour of training (including SME cost) is $18,000. And on-average, large L&D organizations offer thousands of courses. That translates into an $18 million investment. Of these thousands of courses available, ATD’s recent study indicated only 50 percent were still viable and being re-used.
The bottom line is that the cost of creating new content is typically prohibitive.

Therefore, the suggestion was made to “modernize” current content through a three-step process:

  • Reduce – eliminate outdated courses that are no longer relevant, or reduce existing content to be shorter for better learner engagement on focused content
  • Reuse – Use fresher content across broader audiences – perhaps it’s a common topic (leadership). Or reuse imagery and video in other courses
  • Recycle – Refresh old content enough to make it relevant and “different.” Perhaps take a longer course and chunk it into micro-learning

Impact Instruction Group has helped our clients through a curriculum planning process that is role-based and helps to determine the critical path for key roles in the business. At the end of this process, there is a clear understanding of what content exists, which content requires updating, and where there are gaps. This process has been instrumental to our clients as they assess their existing L&D investments and where to strategically place focused investments that will provide the greatest impact to their business.

The verdict? This conference was a valuable investment for Impact Instruction. I look forward to seeing everyone in Minneapolis next year for the 2016 annual conference. And, in the meantime, be sure to register for the Aug. 21 SITE webinar featuring Impact Founder and CEO Amy Franko. She’ll talk game-changing technology trends as they relate to learning and development, with a special focus on the insurance industry, of course. Learn more here.

cyndi profile pic (2)Cyndi McAlpine is director of operations at Impact Instruction Group. She earned a Masters in Materials Science and Engineering from Washington State University and has over 20 years of successful experience in business leadership and management. Her business career includes Technical Service, Strategic Planning, Marketing, and she led the implementation of Total Quality Management initiative across 14 sites through-out North America. Her last corporate role was as Global Director of eBusiness for a $1.4b multi-national organization where she acted as a liaison between business and IT for enterprise-wide projects. Cyndi’s success continues to be driven by her passion to help others reach their potential through being a results-driven servant leader. She brings demonstrated problem solving skills, high attention to detail and strong communication skills. Cyndi leads operational excellence efforts for Impact Instruction, and her role is to ensure clients receive extraordinary service with proactive communication, clearly defined project time-lines and deliverables, and working with the Impact Instruction consultants to achieve client results. Connect with Cyndi.

Thirty-One Gifts: Simple. Easy. Faster.

Empowering Consultants with Video-based Training on New Virtual Office Tools

We recently announced that Impact Instruction Group received an APEX Award for Publication Excellence for our work with Thirty-One Gifts. What made that project stand out? This case study provides the details.

indexThirty-One Gifts is one of the leading direct-selling companies in the U.S., the fastest-growing woman-owned company in the world, and the 28th largest direct-selling organization in the world. The distinctive functional products range from personalized home organization solutions to the Jewell by Thirty-One fashion line that includes premium, functional faux leather purses, pockets and wallets, and the JK by Thirty-One line of artisan jewelry. Products are sold through more than 107,000 independent sales consultants via home parties. The company operates in the U.S. and nine Canadian provinces.

The Challenge

Thirty-One provides its consultants with support they need to grow their businesses and succeed. To further enhance their experience and efficiency, the company launched new websites and new mobile applications that provide more streamlined support for key functions to help consultants complete their work with greater ease, in faster time and with simplified processes so they could become more successful in generating sales and higher levels of customer satisfaction.

As the sites and apps neared completion, focus groups highlighted the need for a training program to help the consultants get up to speed quickly and easily.

Thirty-One turned to Impact Instruction Group to deliver this crucial training support.

Our Solution and Approach

With consultants distributed across two countries, eLearning made sense. Quick video tutorials were created to not only train consultants at their convenience, but also to generate enthusiasm for their new tools.
Impact Instruction’s solution included storyboard design, production, visual design, development, and implementation of video-based learning to support the U.S. website, Canadian website and mobile application. The video-based learning series walked consultants through the steps to create parties, send invitations, create orders and manage the checkout functions.

A Thirty-One subject matter expert worked directly with Impact Instruction to ensure the many differences in the country-specific order-entry system were described, and that new features, simplified navigation and big wins were spotlighted. Thirty-One even expanded the scope of the content to incorporate core sales messaging and marketing basics. This enabled the training to position new technology as an effective tool to meet the consultants’ business needs.

Business Impact

Working on an aggressive timeline and requiring significant flexibility to meet some changing demands, Impact Instruction completed the first video series one week prior to the website launch. That meant consultants could take advantage of training even before the systems were up and running—ensuring rapid time to productivity.

“Impact Instruction was flexible when our needs changed, while still going above and beyond and respecting the project timelines,” said Jenny Raynes, Manager, consultant experience specialist, Thirty-One Gifts.

The videos and the new resources have been met with rave reviews. And the corporate team noted it was one of the most seamless projects they have managed.

 “Impact Instruction proved to be a valuable partner through the entire training development process for our new order entry system and digital applications. From identifying an exciting and engaging learning platform to the delivery of cutting-edge training modules, Impact Instruction associates were professional, experienced and knowledgeable. They truly brought the training to life for our sales field!” said Andrea Dowding, executive director, sales field leadership and development, Thirty-One Gifts.

10 Takeaways from mLearnCon

mlc15-logoMobile technologies are changing the way we interact with the world. How does that affect our role in learning and development? Those who want to be in the know attend mLearnCon, the leading mobile learning and performance event in North America. The conference just took place in Austin, TX earlier this month. Impact Instruction Group’s Senior Instructional Designer Virginia Abbott was there. She shares her top 10 takeaways, so now you can be in the know, too.

  1. Jeopardy! in my pocket. Ken Jennings, the all-time Jeopardy! champion and mLearnCon keynote speaker, reflected on his 2011 Jeopardy! challenge match with IBM’s supercomputer, Watson. Jennings’ shocking loss to Watson is the fountainhead of man’s use of technology to source information. Think of your own usage of Google and Siri.
  2. Should I stay or should I go? Look around you today. List 10 technologies, then cross out the ones that you think will become obsolete in the near or distant future. Would you have eliminated the eight-track player, cassette player, disc player or Walkman in their heydays? Allison Cerra’s keynote shed light on the speed of change in technology, the fear of change, yet the repercussions of being left behind. Technology should be viewed like a game of Frogger.
  3. Yes, I think I can build an app with Appcelerator. For a couple of years, I have been dreaming about building my own app, but not because I think I have an app idea that will millionarize me. I liken building an app to American Ninja Warrior for the mind. I want to ring the finish bell of success. With Appcelerator I can build an app in JavaScript, and boom! It’s cross-platform. The Learning Dojo, Jeff Batt, broke down the process into technically bit-sized skills so even the white belted JavaScript writer like myself can accomplish building an App.
  4. Make your sketchbook come alive. Go straight from your flow chart to real interactive sketches with POP! It’s one of the easiest apps I have ever used. Just sketch your screen, take a picture with your phone, and then add hotlinks. That’s it. No longer do you, or your clients, need to imagine the flow. POP just makes it happen!
  5.  Bye, bye Flash; well hello there, Adobe Edge Animate! Less than a decade ago, I would walk into my office and get so excited to create with Adobe Flash. Visual candy. With the demise of Flash, (yes, we can really say that now), Adobe, although they will not say it is the replacement of Flash, has created the replacement of Flash in HTML5 with Edge Animate. So hop back on that candy wagon, and school up on Edge Animate!
  6. Responsive couch potato learning. Years ago I traveled a couple of hours for in-depth Dreamweaver training. The training was great, the hotel and associated costs were not. Now that same training comes in many forms, like on-line webinars. And every Friday, you can tune in to live TV with Lodestone, one of the largest instructor-led and online training companies in the U.S. This way I can eat my chips, and learn too for free.
  7. Bite Sized Behavior Modification. Apple watches are beautiful, and really beneficial to specific segments. But with that teeny, tiny screen, what could it possibly offer to the training world? Behavior modification. Think of it as the good angel on your wrist. What could you change for the better by designing an Apple Watch App?
  8. Power to PowerPoint. While there are multiple products on the market that are additive to PowerPoint, iSpring is inexpensive yet powerful. It runs the full capability of quizzes, videos, and interactions, without slowing down production speed. What I like most about iSpring is its simplicity of display, no heavy-handed skins here. Also you can drag and drop an embedded video anywhere on the screen you like and even enlarge it to full-screen view. Simple and clean, but powerful and fast; that’s a winning combination.
  9. Set the pace with micro-learning videos. Lowe’s steps ahead of the pack with its #LowesFixInSix micro-learning Vine videos. I am amazed at what I can learn in six seconds. In micro-learning videos, the power of repetition is in the learner’s control. Get the concept in six seconds? Great! Move on. Or repeat until you do. No more scrubbing through videos to get past “in this video you will learn…” introductions. Old school just got a new micro-lift.
  10. Take Time for Yourself. No, it is not easy to pull away from work for three days. It’s about time, cost, and effort. With conferences like mLearnCon, the reward is there when you meet your peers from around the world who share like goals, and experience great trainers, and big picture ideas from the keynote speakers.

Virginia Abbott, Senior Instructional Designer
virginiaVirginia is an award-winning instructional designer specializing in distance learning. She creates eLearning programs, job aids, and websites that drive business results. Virginia is a two-time recipient of the APEX Award for Publication Excellence in the category of education and training. She serves on the Franklin University Instructional Design and Performance Technology Advisory Board and is a member of Central Ohio ASTD. An outdoor enthusiast, Virginia also serves as a board member for Clear Lake Township Land Conservancy. 

And the APEX goes to… us!

Impact Instruction Receives Award for Work with Thirty-One Gifts

2015_winnerAt Impact Instruction Group, we pride ourselves on creating learning experiences that deliver business impact. When our work garners industry recognition, it’s icing on the cake.

We’re delighted to share the news that we’ve received a 2015 APEX Award of Excellence in the category of Publications – Education and Training. This award recognizes our work with Thirty-One Gifts’ order entry system training. Impact Instruction worked with the company to deliver a broad spectrum of training, which elevates the brand through the learning process and emphasizes the fundamentals of their unique selling techniques.With a theme of “simple, easier, faster,” the training empowers the company’s 102,000 independent sales consultants with the know-how needed to put their virtual office tools to work. Read the full project case study.

APEX Awards are based on excellence in graphic design, editorial content and the ability to achieve overall communications excellence. With nearly 1,900 entries, competition was exceptionally intense. Our recognition speaks volumes to the collaboration between Thirty-One and Impact Instruction, as well as an exemplary finished product.

Thanks to Thirty-One and all our clients for allowing us to be strategic partners in your learning and leadership development programs.

You can read more about Impact’s award-winning projects here.

Best Practices for eLearning Localization

Tips for Creating Solutions Across Countries and Cultures

By Jim DeRosa, Senior Instructional Designer

Early on in my career as an instructional designer, my biggest customer asked for assistance translating a course that I had been maintaining into Japanese. “How hard could it be?” I thought.

I rushed out and purchased some translation software, which I will not name here, and ran the source documents through the program. I proudly emailed them to my customer, waiting for his sure-to-be-quick approval. To my surprise, their Japanese reviewer was unimpressed, calling the work “just short of gibberish.” Some of the words made sense, he claimed, but the order, syntax, and (most importantly) meaning was more akin to something written by his then 3-year-old daughter.

I’ll spare you the rest of the trial-and-error-and-then-some-more-error story. Suffice to say that in the end, they were pleased with the course, and I had learned some very valuable lessons about translation and localization for training, and specifically for eLearning. Here are some tips for your next localization initiative.

Translation vs. Localization

Although linguists, academics, and other experts probably have better definitions, in this context, I like to simplify the differences between translation and localization.

Translation is simply converting the words from one language to another. Unlike my ill-fated software, a translator must read and comprehend the material, and then convey that same message in the target language.

Localization includes language translation, but also considers customs, graphics, colors, fonts, number formats, and other elements to ensure that the material is not simply understandable, but usable, culturally appropriate, and meaningful.

Begin with the End in Mind

CMMake localization part of the discussion from the earliest planning stages. Confirm that you have the time and budget to implement an appropriate level of localization. Understanding the localization requirements before you start the project will affect your visual, language, and audio design choices.

For example, when beginning work on this recent compliance course, I determined that the audience would be strictly U.S.-based, native English speakers. This gave me greater design flexibility to use a little humor and uniquely American cultural items in the course design, ultimately, making it more interesting for the learner.

If the audience had included, for example, Japanese learners, I could choose to either tone down the theme to make it more universal, or work with the customer’s Japanese resources to customize it to Japanese culture.

In addition, do some research to understand the learning cultures in your target audiences. Some regions are used to a rigid learning environment, so an interactive, scenario-based adventure might not be a fit.

Use a Global Voice

For all but the most creative courses, you can follow some simple rules to make localization as easy as possible. In many cases, adhering to these writing styles will enable a good translator to help you produce a course that is easily absorbed by a target-language learner.

Even if the course is not being localized, using these tips will help learners whose first language may not be English. I might even argue that some of these are best practice for single-language courses to make certain types of material less torturous to even native-language readers. (Yes, I’m looking at you, 97 percent of yearly compliance training courses!)

  • Use clear, concise words
  • Use strong, active verbs
  • Use affirmative rather than negative statements
  • Use simple sentences when possible rather than compound sentences
  • Choose words with only a single meaning over a word with multiple meanings, when possible
  • Use literal language instead of figures of speech
  • Avoid contractions and abbreviations
  • Do not use jargon or “insider” terms
  • Do not use humor
  • Be careful when presenting information in alphabetical order

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words…

But are they the right words? If you’re like many designers, you have probably used the old standby “thumbs up” stock photo hundreds of times. But, did you know that this gesture has a decidedly negative connotation in many countries, including Russia and Greece? I didn’t either, but Roger E. Axtell writes about this and other signals in his book, Gestures: The Do’s and Taboos of Body Language Around the World.

In addition to questionable hand movements, many graphics can cause you trouble when localizing a course. Think about some of the most common images that you have used in courses that could mean, at best, nothing, and at worst, something entirely different:

  • “Stop” or other traffic signs
  • The “OK” hand sign
  • Question mark as a “help” icon
  • Dollar signs to represent money
  • People pointing with their index finger
  • Depictions of other cultures that are insulting, stereotypical, or out of step with their perception
  • Colors that may have different meanings, such as a white flag or a black dress

Working with Text in Images

Images with embedded text present special difficulties when localizing a course. Unless I have the resources to redesign text-based graphics, I use a few tricks in the initial design to simplify the process.

  • When possible, use separate text and image objects in your authoring tool
  • When this is not possible:
    o Use numbered callouts with a legend instead of using text to directly label parts of an image
    o Avoid putting text into boxes as part of a design, since the size of the text can shift greatly
    o Try to keep text outside of the image area to avoid shifting text covering the image
    o Use separate layers for text and images to make the text replacement easier

Give Your Text Room to Grow

We’ve all been in the position of stuffing 10 pounds of text onto a 5-pound page. In a single-language course this isn’t the best instructional design, but it’s also not a showstopper.

But, according to IBM’s Guidelines to Design Global Solutions, when translating from English to many other languages, the space required can take anywhere from 30-200 percent more space. This affects your main text blocks, but pay special attention to smaller text areas, because they are likely to expand much more than larger ones. Look out for these problem areas:

  • Popup boxes
  • Feedback dialog boxes
  • Tables (especially column and row headers)
  • Interface elements and labels

Expanding text may also change pagination of multi-page documents, such as user guides or job aids. Consider this when referencing other parts of the document, and use words such as “preceding” and “following” instead of “above” and “below.”

Find a Trusted Translator

Google Translate is an amazing technology. But there is a big difference between allowing it to translate your lunch order on a business trip and entrusting it to translate course materials that your learners understand. The consequences in the latter situation will be much more disturbing than unwanted mustard on your chicken salad sandwich.

Build a stable of translations resources that you can trust. I have dealt with larger companies and small, one-man-shops and have had great results with both. The key takeaway is that the translator will be responsible for ensuring that your words are understood as you intended them. Just like a home-improvement project, it’s probably not a terrific idea to make a decision based solely on the lowest price or fastest turnaround time.

A good partner will not only ensure that you are getting an accurate translation, but will also help update scenarios, stories, and case studies to make them relevant to the target audience by incorporating items such as:

  • Local names
  • Familiar places
  • Customary food and drinks
  • Appropriate measurements and temperatures

The Trouble with Audio

I find audio translation to be one of the more difficult development challenges. We’re all used to dropping audio on a page and syncing up bullet points and images to the spoken word. But, when you can’t understand the spoken language, that task is impossible.

Although it’s fairly tedious work, this simplified workflow gets the job done for me:

  1.  Include audio cue markers in the audio script that is sent to the translator so that she can ensure that they are moved to the correct spot in the translated audio.
  2. After the recording is complete, a fluent listener can convert the cue points into time codes.
  3. When inserting the new audio, make sure that your audio start point is at the beginning of the timeline, or you will need to offset your cues by the corresponding amount of time.

Is it All Worth It?

In a word, yes. In most cases nothing short of a course completely written by and for a cultural native will provide understandable, credible materials that accelerate learning by your global workforce.

Of course, for some courses a quick translation will be good enough to get the job done.

Being armed with these tips will help you to achieve the right level of learner engagement and understanding within your localization timeline and budget.

Jim DeRosa, Senior Instructional Designer
Jim has over 15 years of experience creating award-winning training and interactive marketing. As a content designer and developer, he has helped to deliver many successful projects. He specializes in creative visual treatments, eLearning design and development, branded user interfaces and templates, and all things technical.

Being a Leader of Impact and Influence

Three strategies for stepping into leadership, defining success in a way that resonates with us, and living each day creating impact and influence.

By Amy Franko

pablo (1)
30,000 days to play the game of life.

At the time I came across that number while reading Arianna’s book on the third metric, I was celebrating a milestone birthday, having turned 40. I did a quick calculation. With that number, that means I’ve used about 15,000 of my 30,000 days. (I’m hoping if I play my cards right, I might squeeze in a few more beyond that 30,000 number.)

It made me stop and think. As I move through the 30,000 days that make up my life, how often have I stopped (or at least slowed down) to consider my impact? And am I making an impact with the people and in the ways I truly want?

Conversations about impact and legacy often come later in life, as we look back at what we’ve accomplished and contributed. What if we looked forward instead? What if we looked forward and consciously designed our path of impact and influence?

I had the opportunity to talk on this topic of creating a life and career of impact and influence to about 200 future leaders. I’m sharing with you a few of the key points from that talk on how we can all step into leadership, define success in a way that resonates with us, and live each day creating impact and influence.

1. Commit to finding your bold vision. (It’s OK if you don’t have one today.)

You might not be aware of Roya Mahboob. Roya is a rare force and what I call a woman of impact. I discovered Roya’s work a number of years ago while writing a piece on women in technology, and her story is nothing short of amazing.

Having been a refugee in Iran until 2003, Roya is now an entrepreneur in Afghanistan, as the founder and leader of a top software development company in the city of Herat. What makes this so amazing is that she does this despite deep cultural resistance and even threats to her life. In addition to employing many women in her firm as software engineers, she also runs an NGO that empowers women by providing them work weaving carpets. (You can watch this NATO video to learn more about Roya.) Today, she is the recipient of a number of leadership honors, one being named to Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world for 2013.

What does it take to become someone as extraordinary as Roya? She has chosen a bold vision and has chosen to live a bold life; she has chosen to be a leader who creates opportunity where most would see none, and to pioneer the way for women in technology. She has taught me that to be someone of impact and influence I have to be willing to choose differently, to commit to finding and living that bold vision. Some of us are born with that certainty of vision, but I think the vast majority of us need time and experience to help us uncover what we’re most passionate about.

When I reflect on my vision and where I want to be a leader of impact and influence, I am most passionate in my work of developing future leaders in various capacities. I’m in my element, time stands still, and the work comes very naturally to me. Growing up the oldest of 5 daughters, I’m also extremely passionate about mentoring young women and girls into leadership roles. I wish I could say these things came to me overnight, or that I was born knowing them, but it wasn’t the case at all. These things came to me over time, and usually started with the kernel of idea, someone pointing me in a direction, or providing an opportunity that was perfect at the time.

I would encourage you to take those kernels of ideas that speak to you, spend time with them, and see where you can grow them into a bigger and bolder vision, a vision that you can turn into a cornerstone of impact and influence.

2. Trade in the traditional to-do list.

People of impact and influence invest their time differently. I’ve found that they have a way of getting laser focused on what is truly most important, and they can delegate, delete, or delay the smaller things in life. I’ve also learned that people of impact and influence trade in the traditional to-do list for some more significant lists.

Most of us have a bunch of to-do lists – professional, personal, the bucket list, the lists we keep in our head, the lists we keep on post-it notes, the lists we keep on our mobile devices. I’m not saying those lists go away entirely, but if we can trade in the traditional to-do list for some lists of more significance, it would make a huge difference in our ability to be impactful and influential. Below are five lists that I encourage people to reflect on; they typically have only a few things on them, but they take much longer to create:

• To Be: What kind of person do I want to be in the world?
• To Have: What (non-material) things do I want to have?
• To Achieve: What do I want to achieve that is significant to my vision?
• To Serve: Who do I want to serve, and how do I want to serve them?
• To Stretch: How can I push myself out of my comfort zone?

3. Ask yourself some important questions (and keep asking them).

The work of living a life of impact and influence takes time, space, and the willingness to sit with a lot of questions. Some of them uncomfortable, some of them difficult to answer, some that take a lot of introspection or the courage to ask your trusted circle for their input. Below are some of the questions that I sit with – I often journal about them, and keep them somewhere that I can reflect on them over longer periods of time:

To become someone of IMPACT:
• Where do I INVEST my time, talent and treasure?
• Do I embrace a MINDSET of impact and influence?
• Am I pursuing my PATH with PASSION, personally and professionally?
• Am I asking for ACCESS and am I ACCESSIBLE?
• Am I living by CHOICE and not chance?
• Am I allowing TIME for space and silence?

• Am I willing to INSPIRE others?
• Do I cultivate and share my NETWORK?
• Am I FUTURE focused?
• How do I want my LEADERSHIP to be remembered?
• How am I creating my UNIQUE vision and bringing others along with me?
• Do I ELEVATE those around me?
• Am I creating a CULTURE I can be proud of?
• Do I EXPECT more?

If there’s one thing I try to keep in mind at all times, it’s this:

There may be someone in this world right now, in this moment, looking to me and watching what I do. I may be a role model or in some small way help them along their path. I may never have the opportunity to interact with that person, but I have the opportunity to make an impact without even knowing the outcome.

When I consciously try to live with that reminder, it helps me to continue looking forward on that journey to being a leader of impact and influence.