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 December, 2007


Better late…

At last I’m back to explain my drawing from the 16th.

First, “X” marks the spot: that’s where you are now.

Then, there’s the castle on the hill: that’s where you want to go…your hoped-for future.

Between your current location and the castle is the mountain, with whatever obstacles lie between you and your vision – rockslides, ogres, rodents of unusual size.

And that big arrow? That’s your strategies: those core directional choices – and the specific tactics to implement them – that will best move you toward your hoped-for future.


One thing I’ve noticed about people who are successful: they keep the whole thing in their viewfinder; X, castle, mountain, arrow.

Talk to me about this — how do you stay conscious of your “bigger picture”? Do you know leaders who do this? What gets in the way of staying aware of the critical elements? Etc.

Posted in News




Very exciting, and once again I’m indebted to the folks at 800CEOREAD. They’ve selected Growing Great Employees as one of 4 semi-finalists for Best Business Book of 2007 in the category of Human Resources and Organizational Development.

Thanks guys…now I’m crossing my fingers for the final tally!

(I will get back to the castle drawing tomorrow, I promise. Although Dan Roam explained it so well in his comment to the last post, I’m not sure it’s necessary…)

Posted in News


Worth a Thousand Words?

This is an experiment: I was so enchanted by Dan Roam’s pictorial depiction of his experience at the 8CR author’s Pow-Wow, that I asked him how to put hand-drawn pictures on my blog. So, here’s my first attempt.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you what it is!


Posted in Thinking


Support Systems

Sometimes, clouds do have silver linings.

The cloud: I’m extremely tired right now. Much as I hate to admit it, I’m feeling stretched to my limit. A combination of wall-to-wall work, winter travel sagas, some complex and unexpected setbacks, and a whole bunch of priorities with goals attached all colliding at once.

The silver lining: I have people who love me, and who I love, that I can call up and say, “Help!”

And not even help-by-doing-something-specific. Just ‘help’ by listening and empathizing with my state of overwhelm, and letting me know that they’re on my side.

Community seems to be a theme in my life lately; how essential and nourishing a true community can be. I tend to be pretty independent and self-sufficent as a rule, so this is a great ah-ha for me.

It seems like John Donne was right.

I’d love to hear about the ways in which community is important for you…

Posted in News


Reflections on a Reflection

Link: Reflections on a Remarkable Event « Remarkable Leadership.

Have you ever stood between two mirrors and seen your image repeated endlessly out to either side of you? This post is kind of like that: it’s a post about a post about posts (some of which are about posts).

The link above is to Kevin Eikenberry’s Remarkable Leadership blog, where he offers links to posts on other people’s blogs about the 800CEOREAD Author Pow-Wow that he and I and a bunch of other folks attended last week.

The fact that so many of us are blogging about the event gives you some indication of the impact it had on us. I’m especially fond of Dan Roam’s pictorial post assessing the pow-wow’s life-altering quotient relative to other conferences.

Like others, I’ve been thinking about the conference quite a lot since leaving Chicago on Wednesday afternoon. At this point in my reflections, these are the things that have hit me hardest:

Author as entrepreneur. I kind of knew this going into the pow-wow, but now I’m really clear that being a business book author – if you’re serious about it – is like building any other business. You need a strategic vision that clarifies your hoped-for-future and includes strategies and tactics for getting there. The pow-wow was both a catalyst for this realization, and a feast of tools and insights to use in building my strategic vision.

We’re still physical creatures: Because we now have the ability to communicate easily and immediately without being in the same place, we can fall into thinking that being with each other virtually is the same as being with each other physically. Interestingly, we don’t apply this to personal relationships (hard to imagine a parent being content with a purely skype-and-email relationship with a college-bound child, or a wife feeling that texting and ichats provide sufficient intimacy with her husband). Social networks are fun and cool and serve many valuable purposes…but (IMHO) they will never offer all the benefits of simply being in the same room with another person.

Cast your bread upon the waters. While I agree there are times when it’s best to play your cards close to the chest, it’s often – perhaps most often – the wiser choice to lay them down on the table. I loved the generosity of spirit demonstrated by every person there: authors, publishers, booksellers, publicists, branding folks. Everyone shared their wisdom and experience without reservation; I believe we each felt that we received much more than we gave.

Lay your burdens down. I loved that people asked for help. Most of the attendees, including the presenters, were perfectly willing to share their areas of not knowing, and were curious as children in pursuit of “why” and “how.” It was a delight to be in a room full of smart people trying to get smarter – as opposed to trying to prove themselves smarter than others.

These elements created an environment that combined safety and experimentation; vulnerability and strength; excitement and comfort; real seriousness and high good humor.

I’m counting the days till next year. Just out of curiosity: what’s the most valuable conference or meeting you’ve ever attended – and why?

This photo – which I stole from Phil Gerbyshak; thanks, Phil – shows me preparing to be dazzled by Dan Roam’s clarity and insight, while Bill Welter is stunned to find out how easy it is to create a blog on typepad…

Posted in News


Link Love and Live Community

Just got back from attending the 2nd annual 800CEOREAD author Pow-wow. I enjoyed it so much, and found it so valuable – I suspect it will take days to integrate everything I learned and felt.

So, for now, I’ll just do as my friend Phil Gerbyshak encouraged me and share link love – here are blogs and websites from the delightful, smart, inspiring, interesting and encouraging folks I met there:

Greg Alexander
Jose Castillo
Kevin Eikenberry
Phil Gerbyshak
Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell
Joe Heuer
Alex Kjerulf
Steve Little
Bob Mintz
Susan Quandt
David Meerman Scott
Mike Stallard
Dan Roam
John Rosen and AnnaMaria Turano
Raj Setty
Bill Welter
Steve Yastrow
Shelly Dolley
Barbara Cave Henricks and Dennis Welch
Mark Fortier
Nick and Nikki Morgan
Gerry Sindell
Les Tuerk
Susan Williams

And of course, as always – the lovely crew at 800CEOREAD, with special thanks to Kate and Todd.

More later, but for the moment: to every one of you, and to the folks who aren’t on the list simply because I don’t know your blog or website address –

Thank you so much.

Posted in Community


Grateful In Spite of Circumstance

Link: You Already Know This Stuff.

I like “You Already know This Stuff”; Jodee, whose blog it is, has a wonderful spirit. So, here I am, sitting in O’Hare airport, caught in the First Great Storm of the winter (it hasn’t seemed like that big a deal – I kind of don’t get it). Anyway, I was supposed to fly from Madison, WI to NY yesterday afternoon, and then to Toronto tonight. Long story short: bus to Chicago, delay, cancel, delay, cancel — and finally just threw in the towel and am headed directly from Chicago to Toronto this afternoon (I hope).

And yet, I’m still feeling pretty grateful. Had a great and inspiring session with (of all things!) a group of lawyers on Friday; just had a lovely conversation with my husband; my computer’s working, as is the internet connection; I’m healthy and reasonably sane.

So, Jodee’s post(s) about gratitude resonated for me – especially the Garfunkel lyrics she offers.

I often feel if I can get through the most irritating, or boring, or challenging situations and still experience a measure of gratitude…I’m taking advantage of the amazing fact that I’m alive.

And that makes me grateful…

Posted in learning