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 August, 2008


Grrrl Power

Free Video – Business and personal finance news from CNNMoney.com.

My mom was a feminist; my grandmothers were suffragettes.  The idea that women and men are equally capable in the world of work, and that all people should have the same chances to learn, strive and benefit from their efforts: I absorbed this idea with my mother’s milk.
I cried during Obama’s speech last week; partly because it was a powerful, beautifully crafted piece of oratory that resonated with my own beliefs and hopes, but mostly because a man of mixed race and his smart, powerful, beautiful wife and their daughters may become America’s First Family.
And even though I was never a huge Hillary fan and am definitely not a Sarah Palin fan, I feel proud and hopeful that these women are playing such an important part in this year’s presidential election.
Ann Richards, the late governor of Texas, has long been an inspiration to me.  I loved her take-no-prisoners attitude and her wonderfully bawdy sense of humor — and, perhaps most of all, the fact that she was such an unapologetically female blast of energy in the good-old-boy environment of Texas politics.
This link above is a video about the “Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders.”  Before her death, Ann helped start a school to provide girls from poor families with the skills, knowledge and attitudes they need to succeed in school and life. It is efforts like this, I believe, that will re-establish the US as a land of opportunity. In the words of the school’s principal, Jeanne Goka: “thoughts lead to words; words lead to actions; actions lead to habits; habits lead to character; and character leads to destiny.”
Posted in Leading People


Wayne’s World

BlogTalkRadio – Blog Business Success – Erika Andersen: Growing Great Employees

I had a very fun hour on the phone earlier this week.  Wayne Hurlburt, the guy behind Blog Business World, interviewed me for his show on Blog Talk Radio.  He both asked great questions and is truly interested in good people management – a combination guaranteed to get me talking.

He also wrote an extraordinarily kind review of Growing Great Employees on his blog, for which I feel honored and grateful.

In fact, I'm grateful in general for folks like Wayne, who really care about managers and their employees, and are doing their best to make work work better. 
Posted in Books


Yay, Mom!

Parenting – Helping a Son With Attention-Deficit Disorder Achieve Gold-Medal Focus – NYTimes.com.

Along with millions of others around the world, I've been pretty much glued to the Olympics for the past week.  It would be hard not to be inspired by this outpouring of passion, skill, focus, and relentless heart. 

I just watched a very sweet interview with the near-superhuman Michael Phelps and his mom. I didn't know that Michael was diagnosed with ADHD as a child, nor that his mother raised him and his two sisters, for the most part, as a single parent. Knowing this, I feel even more respect than before for both of them.  And I found this excellent article in the NYT about how she supported Michael to overcome his obstacles (including one teacher who told her, "Your son will never be able to focus on anything"). 

But really, the subject of this post is love.  The look in Michael Phelps' eyes when his mom was speaking, and the way he spoke about her dedication to her work, and to him and his sisters, was so lovely, simple and sincere. It affected me deeply. It reminded me that people who do astonishing things in their lives almost always create that success upon the web of support, belief and love of those closest to them. It was beautiful to see him recognizing and acknowledging that so clearly.
Posted in News


Saving the Earth – One Driveway at a Time

Paradise Unpaved | Franke James.

Driveway_after This visual article is beautiful, engaging, funny, inspiring, and practical. It's the story of how my friend and colleague Franke James and her husband successfully went up against the city of North York (which, as she points out, is really Toronto) to be allowed to replace their huge, ugly, ecologically unsound concrete interlock driveway with a green alternative. 

She also has a number of other really excellent articles on the environment at her website My Green Conscience.

And, of course, she's the brains and passion behind Office-Politics. All in all, Franke is a huge net gain for the planet!
Posted in Community


YouTube – The Process

YouTube – The Process

A friend of mine sent this to me.  It's very funny -but I believe it will resonate as uncomfortably accurate with anyone who has ever been at the effect of an awful corporate task force process. Situations like this — where the end product gets gradually worsened by committee — are awful to watch and worse to be a part of. It's like participating in a slow-motion train wreck.


This parody is such a great example of what happens when people 1) lose sight of the actual problem they're trying to solve and 2) start focusing on their own enhancement or advancement vs. the greater good.  

It's also a great cautionary tale for consultants: Note to self – if the client starts telling you to do things you KNOW are going to yield a bad outcome…speak up!
Posted in Organizations


How Smart Is This?

JetBlue offers free trip to nowhere from JFK | Oddly Enough | Reuters .

I'm always intrigued by JetBlue.  I suspect they have a lot of people in their organization who say, "How can we…?"  and not so many people who say, "There's no way we can…"

This article is about a unique approach they're taking to testing the systems at their new JFK terminal. Basically, they're asking 1,00 of their best customers to volunteer to be guinea pigs for the baggage handling and security systems in return for "unspecified giveaways, free parking, and lunch."

Here's why I think this is brilliant.  In one fell swoop, they're 1) building community with their customers ("we're all in this together, and we need you"), 2) getting actual customer data about how things work and feel, 3) garnering free publicity (as witness this article), 4) demonstrating their commitment to customer service, and 5) getting a chance to debug the systems before they go live.

Pretty great. So glad nobody talked them out of it.


Posted in Organizations


Phil Gerbyshak Rocks

Phil Gerbyshak – Motivational Speaker on Leadership, Management, and Service.

Watch this video of my friend Phil Gerbyshak.  I love the combination of self-deprecating humor and substance. Phil is undoubtedly the most energetic and hopeful person I know.  It’s a joy to watch him make his way through the world.
Posted in people