Leadership in Times of Crisis, with Nicole Mahoney

Episode 172

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In this solocast episode of Destination on the Left, BTI’s Nicole Mahoney shares her thoughts surrounding the impact of the Coronavirus on travel and tourism since the pandemic took hold. She discusses the components of great leadership and mental strength and explains the importance of each in times of crisis.

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • BTI’s thoughts surrounding the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic after two weeks of lockdown
  • The importance of great leadership in times of crisis
  • Why leadership is defined by behavior, not title alone
  • Steve Farber’s LEAP framework and how to apply it to become a stronger leader
  • How to manage fear in times of crisis
  • Scarcity mindset vs. abundance mindset and how each plays a role in this crisis
  • The big idea from Charlie Mackesy’s book, “The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse”

Emerging Leaders in the Coronavirus Pandemic

These past couple of weeks have tested every aspect of our businesses. The Coronavirus Pandemic is yet to hit rock bottom, and it has forced us to push the threshold of creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving in the travel and tourism industry. There are silver linings in this mess if you’re willing to look for them, and one of them comes in the form of team members who are stepping up to the plate. In times of chaos, great leaders will emerge in many different capacities. They are not just leaders by title, they are leaders by behavior, and they are keeping the gears turning as everything around us comes to a halt.

The Leap Framework

If you didn’t get a chance to listen, Episode 166 with author and extreme leadership coach, Steve Farber, we talked about what it means to be a leader. In times like these, great leaders are critical to the survival of every organization. Steve’s LEAP framework breaks down the components of great leadership so we can apply them and become stronger leaders no matter who we are. Love – Cultivate love; find love in yourself and love in others to lift everyone up. Energy – Create energy around a vision, a direction, or a response to a crisis. Audacity – Inspire our teams to follow us into unchartered territory in search of solutions. Proof – Leaders walk the walk, prove your commitment through action and not just words.

Abundance Mindset

Even with the right framework, coaching, and mentorship, leaders succumb to human fallacies and emotions take hold. If we are operating from a place of fear, we cannot operate effectively as leaders because it hinders our ability to make decisions for our organizations. In these difficult times, we must step out of the scarcity mindset and assume an abundance mindset. We need to be forward-thinking, open to opportunity, and to serve as a beacon for our communities. It will take all of us working together to make it through the pandemic and start recovering—but the will to do so must start with a positive mindset.


Nicole Mahoney: 00:24 Hello listeners, this week is another solo cast episode me talking to you. We have several wonderful guest interviews ready to publish, but I wanted to take this opportunity to share my experience through this unprecedented time with you. I continue to record interviews even during these strange times and we’ll be bringing you those episodes in the coming weeks. If you are interested in being a guest on the show, feel free to reach me directly@nicoleatbreaktheicemedia.com now maybe a great time to have a conversation and to share your smarts as we all navigate these uncertain times together, the past couple of weeks have felt like an avalanche of changes and adjustments that we can hardly keep up with. It has been mentally strenuous and stressful. This I know for sure. These are the times when true leaders will shine. I believe we are all leaders in some way. Whether you are the CEO, president or director of your business organization or department, or you are someone who colleagues and industry stakeholders look up to and lean on, or you are a leader in your community, within your household, among your friends and family.

Nicole Mahoney: 01:39 The title does not make you a leader. Your behaviors and attitudes are what makes [inaudible] great leaders. When I talked to author and extreme leadership coach Steve Farber in episode one 66 we explored what it means to be a leader in depth. We talked about the leap framework for extreme leadership and applying those principles during this critical time will help all of us be stronger leaders. I recommend you go back and listen to episode one 66 to hear about the framework firsthand from Steve Farber. In the meantime, let’s revisit them now and think about how they can apply to times of crisis. First L is for cultivating love, remembering who we are, loving yourself and loving others during these times of crisis. We’ll lift everyone up in a press conference. Last weekend, New York state governor Andrew Cuomo urged new Yorkers to practice humility, kindness, compassion, gentility and patients. An important reminder coming from a state leader who is pushed to the limits navigating this crisis and still reminding all of us that we need to take a deep breath and remember, we are all human and we are all on this journey together.

Nicole Mahoney: 03:05 The E in leap is for generating energy. Extreme leaders create energy around a vision, a direction, a response to a crisis, energize your community to be part of the solution during this crisis. Show them the way, even if you only know the direction to go today or at this moment, you can preface everything you suggest with at this moment. This is our direction. You are ready to change and pivot as the crisis we are in evolves in New York state. We have seen tremendous energy around protecting small businesses while needing to slow the spread. For example, the state liquor authority quickly changed their regulations around delivery and curbside pickup so that our craft beverage producers can still serve their customers even though their tasting rooms have been forced to close. Gathering energy in one direction today with a willingness to change direction tomorrow is going to be our new normal for awhile.

Nicole Mahoney: 04:11 The a in leap stands for inspire audacity. Extreme leaders have the audacity and inspire their teams to have the audacity to follow their direction even if that direction is into new or unchartered territory. We are all in unchartered territory at the moment. This is the new normal as so many have called it. We all need the audacity to make choices and to think of new ways to serve our customers, community and family. Now is the time to really push to reach for those new opportunities that might not have been clear to us a few weeks ago. Many of you may be thinking, who am I to suggest that direction or that idea is above my pay grade or I don’t want to share my thoughts because I’m afraid to step on someone else’s toes. Extreme leaders need to push these thoughts out of their minds. Now is not the time for imposter syndrome to sneak in on you.

Nicole Mahoney: 05:20 You know what I mean? Right. We all experience imposter syndrome. That voice in your head that tells you that you cannot do something that stops you in your tracks from being fully who you are meant to be. I’d like to read you this quote by Marianne Williamson that was shared with me last week during a virtual women’s leadership group session. Marianne Williamson States our deepest fear. It’s not that we are an adequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous. Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

Nicole Mahoney: 06:29 It’s not just in some of us, it’s an everyone, and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. That phrase stuck with me and I hope it resonates with you too. I am not going to play small, especially not now. Finally, the P in leap stands for provide roof. Extreme leaders don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk. They prove that they are living out their own ideas and beliefs. They show the communities that they serve, that they are there for them. They are operating from a place of love, creating energy for themselves and those around them and they have the audacity to move in the direction. A C as best for that moment last week was hard.

Nicole Mahoney: 07:28 The weeks ahead will be hard, but we know we will get through this by using the leap framework and showing up as extreme leaders every day. One of my favorite quotes from Steve Farber is to do what you love in service of others. You love what you do. We must continue to do what we love and service of others. Love what we do. That is how we will move through this time of uncertainty and become stronger as a result. I want to talk about fear. I heard a speech from us travel CEO, Roger Dow and he described a fear as faults, expectations appearing real that hit home for me. Anytime I have felt paralyzed by fear, it was because I let my mind convince me that the worst of the worst was going to happen in a state of fear. I am at my worst decision making capability.

Nicole Mahoney: 08:25 I am not my best self for my team, my colleagues or my family. It is difficult to accomplish even the smallest tasks. Fear sneaks up on you when you least expect it. Even in more normal times. It can overcome you without notice or reason I have found, but keeping a positive forward thinking mindset has been key. [inaudible] pulling myself out of fear and into a place where creative thoughts can flow, problem can happen and I can be my best self. A trip to the grocery store is a great illustration of what happens when we operate out of fear. Last weekend I decided to do my grocery shopping early in the morning to beat the crowds. It was 6:30 AM when I arrived. At the store. The parking lot seemed manageable. I was able to find a spot pretty close to the store. I had my normal shopping list. I wasn’t buying into the hype and the fear-mongering.

Nicole Mahoney: 09:24 I just wanted to get my weekly essentials. As I approached the store, I told myself this was a normal shopping trip. I was going to remain Tom. I would pick up what I could and return home. No stress. I was not prepared mentally for what I saw when I entered the store. The produce department was scarce. That one potato in sight where there had been full bins of fruits and vegetables, there were now empty bins and in some cases rolling carts that hadn’t been unpacked sitting in the aisles for customers to help themselves. The new produce that had just arrived, bread was gone. Meat [inaudible] jeez God. As I made my way through the store, I felt the worry fall over me. I started to feel the panic and the fear that others around me seem to be feeling after filling my cart with what I could.

Nicole Mahoney: 10:16 I proceeded to the checkout line, which winded its way around the store cause it was so long the store employees were forced to limit numbers of certain items that customers could buy and they were literally taking things out of people’s carts as they went through the line. There were so many people in the store at the crack of Dawn that the front end manager was frantic on the phone because he couldn’t restart the items that had been taken from customer carts fast enough and he was worried about the frozen items. I could feel my whole body tense up. I told myself to wait patiently and tried to find the positive thoughts. This was not easy and when I left the store I felt afraid, uncertain, wondering if I was missing something that everyone else knew, but I didn’t. Where are we really going to be on lockdown for months on end with no access to food or toilet paper?

Nicole Mahoney: 11:09 Later when I had time to reflect on this experience, I realized what was happening. People are operating from a place of fear and a scarcity mindset. A scarcity mindset is what is driving everyone to hoard toilet paper and other goods. That is not the place that I have trained my mind to live in focus. I am much happier and can think clearer when I operate from an abundant mindset. Abundance does not mean that we have everything we need right now, but it means that we can achieve or we’ll be able to have. Everything we need are everything maybe changing right before our eyes. The things we thought we must have are valued. Most are likely not going to be the same as we come out of this crisis, but keeping an abundant mindset will help us think clearer and be the extreme leaders that we are destined to be.

Nicole Mahoney: 12:02 I want to take a few minutes to illustrate the difference between abundance and scarcity. Mindsets. People with an abundance mindset, I believe there is always more. They believe that the best is yet to come. They believe that with risk comes reward. They share their knowledge and experience believing. Everyone will benefit. They take ownership of change. They think big. They give credit, they collaborate. They are givers. They are confident. They are trusting. They are grateful. They’re optimistic possibility thinkers, people with a scarcity mindset. I believe there is never enough. They believe it will never be like the good old days. They believe that we better be careful. That seems risky. They hold their knowledge and experience believing it gives them an edge. They fear change. They tried to get their fair share. They think small, they take credit, they compete. They are hoarders, they are fearful, they are suspicious, they are complainer’s and they’re pessimistic.

Nicole Mahoney: 13:18 Worst case scenario thinkers, I mentioned my women’s leadership group earlier. We did an exercise that has really helped me think about this crisis and how I want to respond to it. I’m going to share that exercise with you now. You might want to grab a piece of paper or open the notes app on your phone for this first, think about your community, those that you serve. Go ahead and think about who you serve and take a few minutes to write it all down. For me. I serve my family, my employees, clients, and you, our audience, part of the travel and tourism industry, the industry that I love so much. Next, think about how you want to serve your community during this time of crisis. What is your North star? What are your guiding principles? Then write a vision statement for how you want to serve during this time.

Nicole Mahoney: 14:15 Go ahead. Think about your community and how you want to serve them during this time of prices and write it down for me. I want to provide forward thinking leadership, a calm voice and practical perspective to my family, employees, clients, and to you, the destination on the left audience, the people who make up the travel and tourism industry that I love so much. That is my North star and the guideposts by which I am proceeding. What is yours? I’d love to hear it. Feel free to email it to me, Nicole, at break the ice media.com I urge you to look for places to find positivity, look for the silver lining, and use this time to hone your extreme leadership skills. I recently read a book that I highly recommend. It is a short book. It almost looks like it could be a children’s book, although the author says it is for those who are ages eight to 80 this book is about love and friendship and I just reread it yesterday.

Nicole Mahoney: 15:23 The book is called the boy, the mole, the facts and the horse. Bye Charlie McAfee. I’m going to read you a few of the pages from the book. It is illustrated beautifully and reading it through a channel that is audio only will not make as big of an impact as it will if you buy it and see the beautiful illustrations and read it in its entirety. I recommend you go to Amazon and order it today. I will have a link to the book in the show notes of this episode. There are so many lessons throughout. I’ve selected a few that I think are particularly valuable at this time. I’ll do my best to describe the illustrations where I can. The illustrations in this book are mainly of a boy [inaudible], a Fox and a horse and author Charlie MCE sees introduction. He describes the four characters. The boy is lonely when the mall for surfaces, they spend time together gazing into the wild.

Nicole Mahoney: 16:21 I think the wild is a bit like life frightening sometimes, but beautiful in their wanderings they meet the Fox. It’s never going to be easy. Meaning affects if you are a mole, the boy is full of questions. The mall is greedy for cake. The facts is mainly silent because he has been hurt by life. The horse [inaudible] is the biggest thing they have ever encountered and also the gentlest. They are all different like us and each has their own weaknesses. Their adventures happen in springtime. For one moment snow is falling and the Sunshine’s the next, which is also a little like life, it can turn on a six Pence. So a few pages into the book, the boy in the mall are sitting on a tree brand easing into the wild and the mall asks the boy, what do you want to be when you grow up? [inaudible]

Nicole Mahoney: 17:19 says the boy on the next page, the boy and the mole are still sitting on a tree branch gazing into the wild. And the boy asks the mall, what do you think success is to love? I said, the mall later in the book, the boy in the mall are sitting on the ground together and the mole says to the boy, one of our greatest freedoms is how we react to things. The story goes on and eventually the boy and the mall meet the Fox and the horse and I’m one of the pages is an illustration of the horse carrying the boy and the mall on its back, but the Fox walking beside them and the boy asks, what is the bravest thing you have ever said? Help or the horse and the next page the horse continues asking for help isn’t giving up. It’s refusing to give up.

Nicole Mahoney: 18:16 I’m going to repeat that one. Asking for help isn’t giving up. It is refusing to give up. Sometimes said the horse sometimes what? Ask the boy. Sometimes just getting up and carrying on is brave and magnificent. A few pages later the friends are gazing into the wild and the mole says, the greatest illusion is that life. It should be perfect. Several pages later. The horse explains when the dark clouds come. Keep going. When the big things feel out of control, focus on what you love right under your nose. This storm we’ll pass. These are just a few of the pages of this wonderful book. Reading it to you on a podcast only gives you a small glimpse. If you were inspired, I recommend you read the entire book, which will take you less than 30 minutes, but we’ll bring you much love, energy, audacity, improve to help you be the extreme leader that is needed right now.

Nicole Mahoney: 19:26 My wish for you is that you find hope, energy, and inspiration to continue to lead your community. Together. We will get through this and it will take all of us to move past this and into recovery. Stay safe and stay healthy. Hi listeners, I have an exciting announcement. We will be hosting our second destination on the left virtual summit featuring 15 amazing speakers that will be held on [inaudible] April 1st through the third. The great thing about this summit is it’s free. There is no travel cost for you and you can do it from the comfort of your own office. Go to destination on the left.com forward slash summit for more details. The spring destination on the left virtual summit is focused on the tourism marketing revolution. With so many rapid changes in our industry, we need to stay ahead of the curve and this summit will help you do just that. We have three same days, digital marketing, travel, trade marketing, and niche markets. So you can pick the topics that are most interesting to you or attend all three days and gain insight into many facets of the industry. Again, check it out@destinationontheleft.com forward slash. Summit

Speaker 1: 20:45 it’s time to hit the road again. Visit destination on the left.com during your travels for more podcasts, show notes and fresh ideas.

Speaker 3: 21:30 [inaudible].

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