About Erika Andersen

Over the past 30 years, Erika has developed a reputation for creating approaches to learning and business-building that are custom tailored to her clients’ challenges, goals, and culture.

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Archive for May, 2007


Props to Phil

Link: Make It Great! with Phil Gerbyshak: Growing Great Employees: Erika Andersen on Management (part 1).

I was just reading Phil Gerbyshak’s fun, inspiring blog tonight, and I realized I’ve never mentioned him here. I feel remiss.


Phil has seemingless endless energy, and wide-ranging interests…check out his blog and you’ll see what I mean. He also has been a big fan and promoter of my book — for which I feel very grateful — and invited me to do an e-interview with him about the book; the first part is the link above.

This is one of the lovely and unexpected things that’s happened since Growing Great Employees was published; I’ve discovered this big community online of folks who are genuinely interested in making work better, more engaging, more productive, more satisfying. They’re smart, curious, irreverent and energetic.

I know this blog thing has been happening for awhile – but I’m thrilled that I’ve now engaged in this realm, and encourage all of you to do the same, if you haven’t already.

Posted in Weblogs


Once upon a time

Link: 800-CEO-READ Blog.

The 8CR blog is one I check out often. Today’s entry is especially nice: it focuses on Ira Glass and the art of storytelling.

I’m a big, big fan of storytelling as a way to teach, learn and communicate. It three-dimensionalizes messages and connects them to head, heart and guts.

Imagine our ancestors sitting around the campfire in some neolithic past, making sense of the world through stories….our love of narrative is hardwired into us.

Wander over to 8CR and get some insight about about how to do it well….

Posted in communicating


I Love This Website

Link: Brains on Fire is an Identity Company (Corporate Identity, Brand Identity, Corporate Communications, Branding, Creative Marketing).

I was wandering around a list of corporate blogs tonight, and found this. I’m now a big fan: I love the way the site looks, works, reads and feels. Most of all, I love that the medium is the message: that the whole site is exactly what they say they do for their customers.

Check out the “Individuals” page especially (I’d send you to it, but you can only link straight to the home page – one small glitch they might want to think about changing). I suppose the more cynical among you might consider this “people” page mere cutesyness, but I love the energy and unconventionality of it, and suspect that everyone on the page really enjoys being a part of offering themselves to the public in this format.

As you know, I’m all about making work better…and I have a feeling Brains on Fire a good place to work. I see a lot of the indicators that, in my experience, make a work environment positive and productive: a clear and compelling central goal; a high level of inclusion (check out the group blog); real pride in individual accomplishments (check out the “newsworthy” section); clear and simple structures that support the goals (the way the site is organized).

My day is made.

Posted in Organizations


Apologies to Mary Kay

I’m often embarrassed to discover the extent to which some assumption I’ve harbored is both limiting and inaccurate. Fortunately, embarassment notwithstanding, I find I’m generally able to revise my assumption to better reflect reality.

An example: a few months ago, shortly after she graduated from college, My daughter told me that she wanted to start a Mary Kay business, and asked if her dad and I could loan her the money to get her initial inventory. My first reaction? Mary Kay – isn’t that some cheesy thing that a couple of bored housewives who have big hair and too much make-up do in their spare time?

Well, now I’m suitably humbled. As I did some research on my own, and started to hear more about the organization from our daughter, I found out just how far off my assumptions were. As you may or may not know (this is from the company website), there are currently more than 1.7 million Mary Kay consultants in 30 markets worldwide; the company has averaged double-digit annual growth since its founding in 1963; and, in 2005, the Mary Kay company had more than $2.25 BILLION in wholesale sales.

And it turns out that Mary Kay Ash was a visionary leader who created a business model based on women supporting each other to be entrepreneurs; who has been responsible for creating more female millionaires in the US than any other individual; and who also built a charitable foundation that does powerful work in the areas of women’s cancers and domestic violence.

Silly me.

So, check around the inside of your own head. Anything – a person, and idea, an organization – you’re dismissing based on limited or flawed information? You might want to take a closer look.

Posted in Thinking


Team is Lovely

A quick note, sitting in the DFW Airport, waiting to fly back to New York. Had a wonderful day today with a team from TJX, one of our clients. The most enjoyable thing? They really seem to like and respect each other, which yielded a lot of learning, a lot of humor, a lot of honesty.

I love it when people work together in ways that support them all in becoming even better than they would be alone.

Posted in Organizations


Gen Y: We’re Here and We’re…Different

Link: USATODAY.com – Generation Y: They’ve arrived at work with a new attitude.

My daughter, who recently finished college, has just begun her first “real” job. She’s working as the support person in a real estate office while she studies for her real estate license. My son is looking for a job he can work full-time this summer, and then part-time when he goes back to school in the fall. I’ve noticed their expectations about and approach to work are different from mine (especially from mine at their ages); some of the differences are good, I think. A few strike me as odd and potentially problematic. But definitely different.

And I notice that they’re not only different from me (a boomer), they’re also different from my business partner and some of our Proteus consultants (gen xers). So I found this article about Generation Y (both my kids fit into this generation) very interesting.

Here’s my favorite quote from the article: “Generation Y is much less likely to respond to the traditional command-and-control type of management still popular in much of today’s workforce.” I’ve really observed that to be true in my kids and the other young working people I know. I even talk about it in the introduction to Growing Great Employees — the idea that the covenant of work has changed, and that younger employees especially (I think gens x and y are similar in this way) think of work as a fairly egalitarian exchange of value. In other words: “You, manager, treat me with respect and consideration, and provide clear direction and opportunities to do the things I like and am excited about, and I’ll do my job and help to build the business.”

So, for as long as we baby boomers are around and working – if we want to be successful in leading, managing and keeping these talented younger employees, we’re going to have to challenge some of our deeply held assumptions about what it means to be a boss.

Posted in people


Back in the USA

I just did a Google news search on “people management.” I was simply casting a net; kind of randomly looking for interesting stuff to blog about. But I discovered interestingness in an unexpected way…

Of the first 40 results, only 10 were from the US,. When I subtracted press releases (which were, in effect, ads for companies that provide some form of people management technology) the disparity grew: only 3 out of 26 – 11.5% – were substantive US-based articles about the actual managing of people.

What’s up with that?

I suspect it’s an indication that we’re not nearly as cool, on a whole variety of levels, as we persist in believing we are relative to the rest of the world. (Note, in the Peter’s Projection map at the right, how relatively small the US is.)

Posted in Current Affairs


Turning Employees Into Leaders

Link: SWIFIT » Blog Archive » Turning Employees Into Leaders.

I found this in a blog called SWIFIT – “See What I Found Interesting Today.” Great name — and I especially like this particular post. The post references a really thoughtful and well-written article in CIO magazine: they both focus on the importance of good people management. As you know, this is a passion of mine.

One of the main points made in both post and article is this: that the only way senior executives can free themselves up to do the strategic work they need to do is by developing their employees as leaders. There are so many practical, business-based reasons companies should do everything they can to assure that their managers are capable and effective; this is certainly one of the most important.

Posted in Leading People


Horses, Water, Drinking

I was talking to one of my colleagues today about a coaching client he’s been working with recently. It’s kind of a difficult situation for him, because this person, though smart and capable, has proven to be not very receptive to the coaching process.

My fellow Proteus coaches and I tend to find this the most difficult situation to deal with as coaches. We want so much to help people be successful, and when we can see that they have the potential to succeed – that they understand what we’re talking about, and could learn the skills they need and change the behaviors that are getting in their way – but simply don’t care to do what’s required, it’s hard for us not to get frustrated and sad on their behalf.

The conversation really reinforced for me, oddly, the extent to which we’re each in contol of our own destiny. So often, the difference between success and failure is our willingness to do what needs to be done in order to succeed. When you think you can’t do something; investigate your self-talk: remind yourself of the power of your human mind.

Posted in Thinking