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 September, 2007


Postcards from the (Inside) Edge

G’day mate! I’m writing this from Australia, where I’ve just finished attending a conference at a retreat center outside of Brisbane. My husband and I and about 3500 other folks from all over the world spent five days with our teacher, a remarkable man named Prem Rawat. The focus – as is always the case when we see him – was inner peace. Many years ago he showed me a simple way to connect to a source of pure happiness inside myself, independent of my external circumstances. I occasionally have the chance to get together with him, be deeply reminded of that fact, and spend time luxuriating in that inner joy.

It was wonderful. I feel refreshed and rejuvenated, and ready to dive back into my somewhat hectic and very varied day-to-day life with a renewed clarity and enjoyment.

I’ll talk with you again when I’m back in the USA…

Posted in learning


Do You Love It, Part II

I was on a plane the other night, flying from New York to Milwaukee. I was thinking about the various things I could do: I could read the book I’d brought, I could re-arrange some stuff on my computer that needed re-arranging, I could finish the to-do list for my next week’s client work, I could…

And then I remembered. I could finish writing the article I was working on! It was like remembering I had a present that I hadn’t yet opened. I got all excited, pulled out my computer, and began. I dove in; got lost in beauty of language, of crafting a clear bridge from my head, heart and experience to my readers’. The next thing I knew, the pilot was telling me to shut off my computer, and we were close to landing.

I thought to myself, “I really, truly love to write.” And, like dominos falling behind the first, other things started making sense to me. For instance, people often ask me how I have the “discipline” to write books. And I’ve always said some version of, well, it’s not that hard, I’ve got time on planes and trains, or late at night. I just find the time.

But the truth is: I love it. It’s fun and gratifying and challenging and extremely fascinating to me, and I love feeling like I’m getting better at it, and I get really excited when I write something in a way that’s both clear and true. I most love the sense that I’m offering my reader a gift: of knowledge, of capability, or of insight.

And the next domino was this: how extremely powerful it is to love what you do. I’ve always felt that to some extent (It’s why Jim Collin’s “best at, passionate about, drives the economic engine” resonated so deeply with me), but when I recognized how much I love writing, it struck me much more deeply. The love of some endeavor is such an enormously efficacious motivator: you just want to do it whenever you can.

Is there something you love to do? Is it part of your work? Could you make it part of your work?

Posted in learning


Brain Flexing

Link: What’s Next: The Cost of Competence – Technology – Innovation – Change.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the current pace of change in business. Partly because I’m fascinated by it, but largely because our clients have been wrestling with it, and we’re trying to help. Especially – but not exclusively – our media clients, who are affected daily by new technology and shifting patterns of consumer behavior.

The article above is great food for thought – and it resonates with my own experience. The basic message is: when times require nimbleness and fresh thinking, those who have become most expert in the current situation are often at the biggest disadvantage – their very expertise tends to make them less open to learning to think in new ways.

And – given the fact that expertise generally develops over time – this sounds like bad news for those of us in the over-40 set.

There is a way around it, though. They talk about it in the article, and I’ve noticed it myself. Executives who make a conscious effort to stay open to new ideas – by really listening to people who think differently than they do, by inviting new people into the conversation, by challening their own assumptions – those executives keep their brains and their points of view from calcifying, and they seem more able to think in fresh ways about what might work now and into the future.

What are you doing, by way of mental calisthentics, to keep your brain from getting stiff with expertise?

Posted in Thinking


Lesson Learned

How dependent are you on your computer? Has your computer ever died?

Until last Thursday, my answers would have been “very” and “no.” Not only no, but no with dismissive arrogance: I’m a Mac person, have been one for 20 years, and have never experienced a crash. Macs are perfect, right? Backups – sure, kind of…well…actually…

Then, Thursday at 6pm, my trusty Mac Powerbook turned up its toes, gave out an extended death rattle, and stopped working. Auggghhh!!

Fortunately, I was able to get in a cab and race down to Tekserve, here in NYC. Bad news: they told me my hard drive was toast. Moderately good news: they told me they have an 85% data recovery success rate. More bad news: it would take a week to even find out whether they could salvage anything. Moderately good news: they could put a rush on it – and let me know by Tuesday, at the latest. Good news: they had a beautiful new Macbook Pro in stock for me to buy while I waited to hear the verdict (and freaked myself out thinking about what it would take to recreate my output since my last back-up).

Suddenly, my answers to the first two questions changed to “completely,” and “oh my god – yes.”

There is a happy ending. Our good friend Scott Serota, who works at Tekserve, called us with regular updates, and let us know on Saturday afternoon that, after numerous attempts, they’d salvaged everything on the drive.

I felt kind of like I’d been pulled back from the very edge of a cliff.

And the moral of the story is: BACK UP YOUR DATA. I’m now going to be the zealot queen of backup. Every time I create something, I’m going to make sure there are two of it. At least two of it.

How would you answer the questions? Tell us your story!

Posted in Media


21st Century Recruiting

Link: 9 Signs the Online Job Market is Broken : Instigator Blog.

We (that is, my company – Proteus International) have just started looking for a fultime person to add to our team. We’re trying to find somebody we’re calling “Practice Director, Building Skills and Knowledge.” One of our consultants, Kate, is running the search for us, and she’s been talking to friends and former colleagues in recruiting to get their sense of the current most viable ways to recruit – especially online.

My business partner, Jeff, and I created a good clear job description, and I wrote a one-page prose description, and also a briefer description to post on job sites. Now it’s just a matter of deciding which sites will work best, and making sure that the posting conveys not only the job, but a sense of who we are as a company and what we do with and for clients.

In wandering around the internet (trying to be helpful to Kate by becoming a little more knowoledgable), I found this great post in one of the blogs I enjoy. I like the “9 signs” list (though it doesn’t bode well for our search), but I LOVE the video job ad. If I were a python wrangler, I’d definitely apply for the job. Check it out – you’ll see what I mean.

Oh, and if you want to find out more about OUR job, drop me a line or post a comment, and I’ll send you the job profile and description.

Posted in Work


Bad Bosses on Notice

Link: Business: Now the rank and file are ranking.

Articles like this make me so happy. The essence of it is that the internet is providing a way for workers to hold their bosses accountable for their behavior: now, if bosses are control freaks, abusive jerks, or just plain clueless, their employees have a variety of places on the web to “out” them anonymously. (The one mentioned in the article that intrgues me most is eBossWatch.com, where employees get to “rate” their boss on 6 criteria.)

The article also asks why there are so many bad bosses, and concludes that a big reason is the habit of promoting people into management simply because they’re good at doing their jobs. Some of you know this is particular pet peeve of mine (I rant about it at some length in my ChangeThis manifesto), so I was pleased to see it here.

The article concludes that people are less willing to put up with bad bosses than they used to be – and that, as the boomers age and there are fewer talented workers available, businesses with poor managers will suffer increasingly from a brain drain of their best workers.

So, my question to you is, do you have a bad boss? If so, what’s your plan — put up with it, try to change him/her, or leave?

Posted in Leading People