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.

Visit Erika's Forbes.com Blog

Latest tweets

  • Loading tweets...

Be Bad First

Get Good at Things FAST to Stay Ready for the Future
Learn More...

Leading So People Will Follow

Proven leadership framework that creates loyalty, commitment and results.
Learn More...

Being Strategic

Plan for Success; Out-think Your Competitors; Stay Ahead of Change
Learn More...

Growing Great Employees

Turning Ordinary People into Extraordinary Performers
Learn More...

Bg Ribbon Green

Archive for April, 2011


Dandelions and Other Weeds

Today I had dandelions for dinner.

Just yesterday I read an article in a gardening magazine about dandelions; how they’re nutritious, healing and tasty. How the early European settlers brought dandelion seeds with them to the New World because they were considered such a valuable vegetable and spring tonic.

So today, when we went to our old house to spruce up the yard, since we just put it back on the market, I pulled up all the dandelions and brought them home to cook.  I cut off the roots, washed the leaves, and found a recipe online.  And we had had boiled dandelion greens with ham as part of our dinner tonight. They were delicious.

It made me think about all the other things I assume are “weeds.” There are way too many  ideas, people and pursuits that I assume don’t have value and therefore dismiss – in effect, immediately plucking them up and throwing them away without considering all that they might offer me.

I’d love to hear about stuff that you’ve found useful, beautiful or functional that you may have initially dismissed as “weeds.”

Posted in learning, Thinking


The Next Generation

Quite often, people of my generation (the boomers) are pretty dismissive of  folks now in their 20s and early 30s.  I find that clients who are of an age with me tend to stereotype the millenials (this seems to be the default name for the new generation of grown-ups) at work as cynical and lazy, lacking in work ethic and feeling entitled to success without effort.

It’s simply not my experience.  Of course, any group has its slackers and malcontents – but I’m actually much encouraged by the young adults I know.

My own kids, for instance, who range in age from almost 21 to 27, are curious and deeply motivated to find work that’s meaningful and to create good lives for themselves.  My 27-year-old daughter, a new mom, is getting her Masters degree in Early Childhood Education because she loves kids and really wants to have a positive impact on the next generation after hers.  My 23-year-old son is in Kenya for a month, working with a wonderful organization that provides a home anda  future for orphaned girls, and he and a friend have a multi-year plan to open a cafe in Brooklyn. My almost 21-year-old step-daughter and her boyfriend have just signed the lease on their first apartment and are studying, respectively, for the MCAT and LSAT.

Pretty impressive.  True, all three are very independent, and don’t automatically assume that adults are right or smart — and they all have very finely tuned bullshit detectors. And I suppose to a grown-up who was rigid or self-aggrandizing, they might come across as insufficiently deferential and overly skeptical.

But I look at my kids and their friends and feel quite confident about the next forty years or so.  It seems to me they have the curiosity and roll-up-your-sleeves-and-make-it-happen attitude that will serve us, and them, well in the years to come.


“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything”

– William Shakespeare

Spring never fails to charm me.  Everything gradually waking up, reviving; all the rough grays, browns and tans softening, showing green or red.  Purple croci, yellow daffodils.  Running water appears from snow.  Mist on the river instead of ice.

You’d think it would get boring – after all, it’s pretty much the same every year.  But I find that if I’m open to being touched, lovely things always touch me.

Which makes me think that the experience of being jaded – “been there, done that” – is pretty much entirely a matter of what you assume about what’s happening, vs. the event itself.

For example, I know that I could look at the tree outside our bedroom window – we call it the beauty tree – and think, “Yeah, OK, here it goes again, just like every year: the buds that are starting to swell.  Then the leaves will unfurl from the buds.  Ho hum.” And that if I framed it that way in my mind I wouldn’t really see it; I would just check it off my mental list as something familiar.

But I can also not do that. Instead, I can sit in bed and notice how something that seemed completely dead two weeks ago is changing before my eyes; that the angular structure of every branch is softened by the rounding of the buds, making the ends of the branches almost hazy, and that tiny stripes and touches of the tenderest green color are beginning to give that haziness the look of green gauze.  I can be astonished by the beauty and the relentless, quiet swell of renewed life.

I can choose to be bored; I can choose to be enchanted.


Wandering in Different Tribes

I went to a baby shower yesterday – the daughter of a dear friend is having twins sometime in the next couple of months.  My daughter, baby granddaughter and I all went together, and on the way there we talked about the kind of event it was likely to be.

To put it simply: Woodstock.  My friend Jan, the grandmother-to-be, has lived near Woodstock since the sixties, as have many of her friends.  Most of the women in attendance were around my age, but they were quite different from my usual crowd: lots of long grey hair and flowing tunics; conversations about eastern healing modalities and organic farming.

It was an odd experience – I’m usually on the new age/liberal end of the continuum in a group of my peers (I have tattoos, I lived in an ashram, my childrens’ births were attended by midwives), but in this group I felt quite mainstream (NY business author, slick haircut, corporate clients).

But then I started to notice the commonalities underlying the differences.  These women and my more usual crowd all care about their families; they’re all working for a more equitable and healthy society; they’re all making effort to create lives of meaning and purpose.  And they all and support other women, a fact beautifully evident at yesterday’s celebration.

What are the common threads among the groups in which you find yourself in the different parts of your life?