[A] clear, practical, and powerful approach for navigating through tough times. Bonnie Hammer, President, NBCU Cable Entertainment and Cable Studios

About Erika Andersen

erika 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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Be Bad First

Be Bad First

Get Good at Things FAST to Stay Ready for the Future
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Leading So People Will Follow

Proven leadership framework that creates loyalty, commitment and results.
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Plan for Success; Out-think Your Competitors; Stay Ahead of Change
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Archive for the ‘Media’ Category


Lights, Camera, Action!

I love being around people who are good at things. Last week and this, we’ve turned the NYC Proteus office into the Proteus pop-up studio: the swing office is the edit suite, the coaching space is the actors’ green room, the kitchen is craft services, and every other space is somehow being used as a set. Over five days of shooting, we’re creating 24 separate pieces of video, all of which will be up on ProteusLeader.com when it goes live in October.The still below is from the filming of the intro to my new book (coming from Bibliomotion in March), Be Bad First: Get Good at Things Fast to Stay Ready for the Future.

2015-08-25 11.34.05[3]

Our partners in this endeavor are the talented, smart, funny and warm professionals of Capisco, a Paris-based film group led by Clement Jouve. It’s such a pleasure to work with them – I’m finding out so much, both about film-making and about great teams. Watching Jim, the director, work with the actors and Delphine, his second camera person, to get exactly the shots that make each scene work, and that give Max, the editor, just what he needs to make it all work.  And Max is, frankly, a magician.  It’s really fun watching him make each scene flow just the way it should (and make a two-camera shoot look like a three-camera shoot). Nicolai, the sound guy, is invisible and essential, and Clement keeps everything moving and connected.

They work together like a dance ensemble or a sports team: fluent, continuous hand-offs of action and responsibility, graceful and frictionless. Because they mostly speak French to each other, and I don’t speak French (except for, now, “c’est bon!” “je suis pret” and “quoi?”), I can observe the shape of their interaction rather than getting caught in the words.

And so I’m noticing that, like all high performance teams, they have clear goals (creating excellent film that meets the client’s needs), agreed-upon measures (clear standards of quality and time benchmarks for each piece of film), well-defined roles (everyone clearly knows what each person on the team is responsible for doing), simple process (how they operate together – it’s like a well-calibrated machine) and high trust (it’s obvious that they respect and have affection for each other, and feel that each person on the team is highly capable and will get results).

Observing a great team is really fun; getting to work with them is even more fun. Realizing that their excellent product is going to be an integral part of  ProteusLeader is the most fun. It’s so gratifying to have partners who, like us, believe that supporting people to be better managers and leaders is important, and who can help us bring to life our vision of an online learning platform that helps people build those skills in a way that’s simple, fun, and highly useful.

I’m so excited about having all of this to share with you in October!


Talking About Leadership

I know I’m probably not supposed to say this – it’s kind of like saying you prefer one of your children over another – but just between you and me, Leading So People Will Follow may be my favorite of the books I’ve written so far.  I’m so much enjoying talking about it with people – especially the folks who have been interviewing me recently, around the book’s publication.  People are asking such interesting questions – we’re having such good conversations about the nature of leadership, and how people can get to be better leaders.

Yesterday a friend and client was asking me why I like this topic of leadership so much.  I realized that it’s because the idea of leading, and what it means to lead, is right at the heart of my own personal mission of helping people become what they want to become. So many people want to be leaders – not just to have formal jobs leading others, but to be people who can guide, direct and influence others in a variety of professional and personal settings.

I suspect that you might be one of those people – and so I hope you find these interviews useful and interesting:


Celebrate Great Leaders!

I’ve really loved writing these last twelve posts about the leaders in Leading So People Will Follow.  I’m fond of and have great respect for every one of them, and some of them have become good friends over the years.

Tomorrow night in New York City we’re having a launch party for the book, and we’re also giving each of these leaders a Fully Accepted Leader Award. I’m really looking forward to it, on a variety of levels.  I’m especially excited about the opportunity to publicly thank and acknowledge these folks for making the effort, every day, to be good and worthy leaders.

As the ‘book team’ has been preparing for this party and for the book’s launch, we’ve been talking (as you might imagine) about good leaders, and how profoundly they can affect their followers, their companies, even the world.  Rusty Shelton had a great idea last week, which we evolved in collaboration, and which I want to share with you here.

Let’s declare October 16th Fully Accepted Leader Day. Let’s make it the day, this year

courtesy Andrei Shumskly

and every year, to publicly celebrate and thank the great leaders in our lives; those people who we’ve experienced as consistently  far-sighted, passionate, courageous, wise, generous, and trustworthy in guiding and directing us.  It could be a parent, a coach, a teacher, or a manager.  It could be the company CEO, or the executive assistant who organized a disaster relief effort single-handed. It could be someone who stepped up in an emergency, or someone who shows up as a quiet, inspiring leader day in and day out.

On the 16th, I encourage you to thank these people publicly: on your blog or through facebook or Twitter; with a photo essay on Pinterest; by sending an email to the person and cc-ing your larger circle. And of course, the 16th is just an excuse: how great it would be if we took the opportunity any day, all year, to thank those people who have impacted our lives in a positive way.

Too often, we talk as though there are not good leaders – as though all organizations are run by self-aggrandizing fools, everyone in public office is slick and cynical, and any person who’s in a position of power is corrupt.  Let’s let everyone know about the good, worthy, followable leaders who’ve inspired us, helped us grow, and made our lives better.

Viva la Fully Accepted Leaders!


Fully Accepted Leaders

The launch of Leading So People Will Follow, on October 9th, is coming up fast.  The interesting thing about publishing books (at least for me) is that everything else keeps going along as usual, with this fairly large project plunked down in the middle of it all!  I’m still coaching, consulting and facilitating client groups; still running the business with my partner Jeff; deeply involved in our Proteus re-brand; focused on continuing to develop my own skills and capabilities and those of my Proteus colleagues; spending as much time as possible with my husband and family….and at the same time, doing all the ramp-up required to launch a book well.

The leaders I’ve profiled in Leading are a big inspiration to me in this regard – many of them have far busier lives than I do, with responsibility for leading thousands of folks, and they do it with grace and thoughtfulness.

So I thought that I’d spend the next 6 weeks doing a kind of homage to them here on the blog, both because I’m such a fan of each of them and also to provide you with a kind of sneak peek at the book.

Each of my next 12 posts here will be focused on one of the Leading exemplars; I’ll include a brief excerpt from the book that focuses on how they lead, and then add a little about what I’ve seen and appreciated in working with them over the years. I’ll introduce the leaders in the order in which they appear in the book, and let you know which of the six attributes I chose each person to exemplify.

I’m very excited about giving you a small window into these folks and their leadership – each of them has enriched my life, and I believe they’ll be an inspiration to you, as well.

So stay tuned:  on Sunday I’ll be introducing you to Bonnie Hammer…


All the Knowledge of the World At Your Fingertips

Last night I stayed up late to finish a little cotton sundress I was knitting for my granddaughter.  When I got to the bottom of the skirt, the pattern called for a ‘picot bind off.’  I’d never done that technique before, and the instructions in the pattern didn’t help – I couldn’t figure it out.

So, of course, I got online and Googled “picot bind off.”  And within moments, I had dozens of options. I went on Youtube and watched a very clear and simple video example of the technique, and was able to complete it easily.

This morning I told my husband about it, and we started talking about how the internet has transformed human learning.

Two hundred years ago, I would only have been able to learn a new knitting technique if someone in my village or town knew it and could show it to me.

One hundred years ago, I might have been able to read it in a book (but, as I discovered, that’s often not a very efficient way to learn).

Fifty years ago, I could have read it in a book or magazine, and then if I knew an expert knitter, and he or she knew this particular stitch, I could have called him or her on the phone and asked to be walked through the instructions.

But it’s only in this past 10 years or so that our options for learning have exploded in this amazing way.  Now, within a few minutes and a couple of clicks, I can find a video  and/or written explanation of pretty much any knitting technique that exists.

Every single day, we use the internet to gain knowledge we would not, in any past human era, have been able to find. “To google” (as in, I’ll just google it) has become a verb so common over the past decade that it doesn’t even seem fantastic to us anymore. All the knowledge of the world and all of man’s creation is at our fingertips: most all art, music, writing, insight; information on any possible subject.  It’s more than any of us could ever take in.

When I think about it this way, it makes me want to be a little more discriminating in my time online.  If all the food in the world was available to me right now, I’d want to select the best, freshest, most delicious.  Now that the planet’s knowledge is spread out before me…I want to choose to fill my brain with those things that will be most interesting, helpful, fun, inspiring, thought-provoking.

William Morris, the English writer and artist, once said, “Only have in your house what you know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”  A good prescription for what we put in our brains, as well.


Obama Showing Courage and Wisdom

I’m a fan of our President.  I voted for him in 2008, and I intend to vote for him again. I believe he’s doing a good job, especially with all that he and the country have had to deal with since he’s been elected.

I’m especially proud of him this week, given his statements in support of  same-sex marriage. I agree with his position: I feel strongly that two adults who love and want to commit their lives to each other; who want to become spouses, should be able to do.

As I’ve watched him come to this decision and share it with the nation, I’m pleased to see both courage and wisdom in it.  Courage in a leader is a blend of toughness, decisiveness, willingness to move past one’s own limitations, humility and resilience.  It involves making difficult business and personal decisions; overcoming fear and risk to act on those decisions; and responding to the outcomes of those decisions in a responsible way.  People need courageous leaders in order to know that someone will make the tough calls and take responsibility for them.

Wisdom is one of the attributes that balances courage: it is the ability to reflect and understand, to grow from that understanding, and to share the insight that arises out of that reflection and growth.  Wisdom is the process of consciously learning from one’s experience, and offering that learning for the benefit of others and of the enterprise. I really liked hearing the President talk about how his own point of view on this issue had evolved over the past few years through knowing and talking with gay and lesbian couples on his staff and in the military, people who loved each other and who wanted to marry – but couldn’t.

You are, of course, welcome to disagree with me – I know politics is a contentious realm, especially these days. But I’m really glad to have a president I respect, one who demonstrates the qualities I most want to see in any leader, but most of all in my country’s leader.


Tikatok Ticks On

Just over a year ago, I posted about working with the team at Tikatok to clarify their core values.  Tikatok is a cool little entrepreneurial company that lives within Barnes & Noble.  Tikatok describes itself on their website as “a fun world where kids create and share their own books.”

At the time, I noted that the five core values the team identified seemed powerful for a couple of reasons – they applied equally to relationships with customers and with each other, and they seemed like clarifications of an already-existing culture on the team, vs. something contrived or overly aspirational.  Their values are:

1)      (TRUST)  We believe in our customers and each other. 
2)      (EMPATHY)  We care and we build communities that care.
3)     (PERSONAL IDENTITY)  We encourage self-expression.
4)     (ACHIEVING FULL POTENTIAL)  We inspire everyone to achieve their full potential.
5)     (HAPPINESS)  We invite people to do what makes them happy.


I remember leaving the session feeling Sharon and her group had a great foundation for success.

Just today, Sharon sent me a link to an article in this month’s edition of Hemispheres, United Airlines inflight magazine.  She and five other entrepreneurs are profiled as “innovators who promise to change the way we live.”  I’m thrilled to see that Tikatok continues to thrive and grow – it reinforces my belief that people can do well by doing good.


The Donald Comes Up Short

As I’ve observed the whole “birther” movement over the past few months, with Donald Trump and various Tea Party adherents declaring with absolute certainty the “fact” of Obama’s  foreign origins, my overall response has been…what?

Well, maybe a little more colorful than that but – you get the point.  When the state of Hawaii finally released Obama’s birth certificate a few days ago, and then when the President went to town on the Donald at the Washington Press Correspondents’ Dinner, I was pretty pleased; at last this silliness can be laid to rest.

But I suspect that some other goofy movement will arise; some other reason why Obama shouldn’t be – can’t be – the president.  I could chalk it up to simple, awful racism, but I actually think it’s a little more complicated than that.  I think some people just can’t get their heads around the fact of Obama’s ‘differentness’ on lots of levels: too young, too black, too smart, too straightforward (contrast his “I did drugs in high school” with Clinton’s “I never inhaled”) too obviously in love with his wife – who is clearly his partner and equal, vs. his very secondary helpmeet…all things that we’ve come not to expect from Presidents.

So, for some people, if Obama doesn’t look, act and sound as they think a President should, based on their pre-existing assumptions, it’s not the assumptions that are off – it’s him.

Reminds me of my last post about dandelions…


Two Blogs for the Price of One

That is, absolutely free of charge.  Not a bad deal.  I began my blog at forbes.com, How Work Works, on Wednesday, and I invite you to take a look.  It will be less free-form than this one (where I talk about pretty much whatever strikes my fancy).

I actually established my  intended turf in my first post. I talked about my belief that work should and can be both productive and fun – and my related belief that doing good work and having a good time are what most people want from their jobs. I set a goal of focusing on making work what we want it to be.

I’d love to have you be a part of that conversation, if that sounds interesting to you: let’s share things at work and in business that we observe are working well, and think about how we can help those things spread. And let’s talk about things that aren’t working so well, and how we might be able to fix them.

In the spirit of that, my second post was about Groupon – a company that seems to be doing well on a how bunch of levels: building a “tribe” of highly engaged employees who are providing a useful service in a simple way that benefits consumers, businesses and groupon.  Not just win-win: win-win-win!

Posted in Media,News,Web/Tech


Blogging for Forbes

I’m very excited – my wonderful publicist Barbara Henricks and her colleague Kaila Murphy have just told me that the folks at forbes.com are inviting me to be a regular blogger for them.

What a great platform!  I’ll keep blogging here, of course, as I have for the past four years, and this will stay the same mix of personal and business that it’s been all along.  My Forbes blog will be more business-focused, though my lens will be what I’m always curious about: I’ll explore how we and others can make work a place where people create the careers and lives they most want, and where we can get great results that also make a positive impact on the planet (or at least not a negative impact), while having a good time.

They’re asking me what I want to call my blog. It’s supposed to be my name, and then a title – kind of a tagline. I’m considering either  “Talking About Work” or “How Work Works.”

I’d love your feedback, or any other ideas…