Nan S. Russell
Author & Speaker
[ If you’re interested in a particular theme or topic I write about,
quickly find it in the blog by subject archives.]

Twelve minutes before I was to speak to a large group in a hotel ballroom, I was struggling with A/V equipment. With hundreds of presentations under my belt, I’m accustomed to glitches, but no matter what I tried my presentation wouldn’t project.

Hailing the meeting planner, he did his magic and within minutes an A/V tech arrived with another projector. That, too, failed and with five minutes remaining, he began troubleshooting each part of the set-up; I began rearranging my opening to buy more time. There was no need. The projector wasn’t the problem, the cord was. I was up and running with two minutes to spare.

But, this isn’t a story about A/V problems. It’s a story about two kinds of people.

At the end of my session, the technician returned to pack the equipment, putting the defective cord into the box with the projector. Thinking he forgot there was a problem with the cord, I reminded him.

“Yeah, I remember,” he said matter-of-factly. “But every projector has to have a cord. There are two projectors, so I need to put two cords back.” His thinking startled me. Clearly he (continue reading →)

Winning at Working 

“Nan-a!” her voice held displeasure. “You wore that last week; why do you wear that t-shirt so much?” “It’s my favorite,” I told my 7-year-old granddaughter. “I got it on our first Hawaii vacation when your dad was just a teenager.” I didn’t tell her I bought it when my optimism about people and the world was intact; a time when I was idealistic, or naïve, depending on perspective. In the years since, reality cracks, weathered-edges, and life experiences have augmented and enhanced my views.

Still, that t-shirt is my favorite; not because of its decades-old fabric, although I love its soft feel, and not because it holds memories of exploring Volcano National Park as a young family. No. This worn, turquoise patterned t-shirt is my favorite because it speaks to me.

“No Rain — No Rainbows” the front reads, with “Kimos Rules” on the back — everything from “Never judge a day by the weather” to “The best things in life aren’t things.” The front words are the ones that give me pause, serving their magic in the form of a nudge for me to keep my perspective; to remember life’s rainbows in times of rain.

Certainly life events shape us. As a child, having a fire destroy our home in the middle of the night created my need to (continue reading →)

In the Scheme of Things, Life 

A misty rain persisted while I wandered, nearly alone, on the grounds surrounding Blarney Castle, in County Cork, Ireland. Not far away was a tower remnant where the famous Blarney Stone is kissed by 400,000 visitors a year. My husband opted for stone-kissing; I was drawn to the gardens surrounding it.

It was The Poison Garden near the ruined castle walls that peaked my curiosity. A welcome sign stated the garden’s purpose was to educate visitors about the positive and negative aspects of poisonous plants; those “found both in the wild and in our own gardens.”

That morning, I learned that just a handful of people die each year from eating a poisonous plant in its natural state, but millions die from products made from those plants. The sign explained: “The plants aren’t ‘bad.’ We make them harmful by the ways in which we use them.”

Now weeks later, that statement’s lingering truth has been on my mind as (continue reading →)

In the Scheme of Things 

How mindful are you when it comes to your personal impact on trust at work? Are you contributing to the derailment of trust without even knowing it? Find out. My latest PsychologyToday piece.

Social media and a 24/7 news-frenzy fuel distrust no matter one’s political leanings. From governmental leaks to behind closed door healthcare dismantling, we live in times of intrigue, spin, rumor, jockeying, and miscommunication; some deliberate, some not. And all of that being accelerated and highlighted via technology. No wonder trust in government nears historic lows.

While most of us don’t work in such politically charged, made-for-reality-TV workplaces, we do encounter similar missteps, even mini-dramas, impacting trust levels in our own work groups of peers, staff, coworkers, and leaders.

While it’s easy to point fingers or notice others’ trust-derailing behaviors, it is difficult to create personal awareness about our own. In reality, we all contribute to the trust or distrust levels where we work, often through unintentional, mindless behaviors that diminish trust.

There are numerous ways we can spark distrust at work; below are a few. Whether you’re someone’s leader or coworker, consider how many of these behaviors are true, more often than not, for you.

15 Mindless Ways to Sabotage and Derail Trust in Your Work Group:

1. Focus on your “win” without thinking how it’s achieved or its impact on others
2. Ignore standards, values, policies, approaches teammates are expected to follow
3. Operate with 20th-century thinking in a 21st-century world; stop learning at work
4. Treat your small work issues, needs, or problems as five-alarm fires
5. Practice “cordial hypocrisy” — i.e. “pretend trust when there is none.”
6. Be unresponsive to requests that aren’t of personal interest or importance to you
7. Share confidential information from or about others

Read the rest:

Interested in creating more trust at work? Checkout my book: Trust, Inc.: How to Create a Business Culture that Will Ignite Passion, Engagement, and Innovation

Trust Inc, Uncategorized, Winning at Working 

This is name of Chapter 4 of my new book, It’s Not About Time – How to Thrive and Get the Results You Want at Work and in Life! 

We know you can’t literally ‘make time’. But you can embrace the practice of shifting your priorities to create more time to do what matters to you. Making time is ultimately about making choices. And all choices have trade-offs.

Here are three questions to ask yourself about time and your choices:

What time is yours?

What do your choices reflect?

What would you trade?

Once you discover the answers you can start to ‘make time’ for what matters to you.

Learn more about how to make time for what matters to you, or try a sample chapter.

It's Not About Time 

During The Great Recession, thanks to frequent-flyer points and a vacation club exchange, we spent a week in Hawaii for the cost of a rental car and food. While a fun and relaxing vacation, it was strange to be at an ocean-front Maui resort during peak tourist season, without the tourists. Several restaurants on this forty-acre property were even closed.

The bellman who showed us around told us he’d been working at the resort for 11 years and hadn’t seen anything like it. “I used to work full-time,” he told us. “Now I’m on a rotation with 16 others and lucky to get one day a week. I’m not sure how I can make it, even with unemployment.”

In comparison to that distressed bellman, on the last evening of vacation we chatted with a man who delivered our room service, commenting to him about the empty hotel. “Oh,” he said. “It’s kind of nice. I see this like a mini-vacation. I know it’ll pick up, and if not, I have some other things in the works.”

These were contrasting reactions to the same event. The bellman felt powerless and stressed-out while the room service staffer was calm and taking action. It reminded me of an experiment discussed in Time magazine about stress. In the experiment, (continue reading →)

Winning at Working 

Recently I bought a Samsung 8, replacing my Samsung 4 that I purchased new in 2013. I’m not, as one would say, an early adopter. My husband claims me converting to a new phone was a “hard birth” for him, comparing it to when our son was born after my 22 hours of labor followed by a C-section. I didn’t buy his comparison.

I love technology. Really, I do. I love that what took 20 minutes to look up in a reference book when I was young, now takes less that 20 seconds if you Ask Google or query Suri. I love punching in a location and being guided to the right location. And I especially love content at my finger tips that sparks my thinking, creativity, and curiosity.

While I’m an avid and passionate user, I’m not much for replacing technology. It’s not that I don’t like it once I get used to it, but I don’t like to get used to it. In my new phone’s case, I contemplated returning it after just one highly charged, frustrating, not-knowing-how day.

I didn’t. Instead, I (continue reading →)

In the Scheme of Things, Life 


This is name of Chapter 1 of my new book, It’s Not About Time – How to Thrive and Get the Results You Want at Work and in Life! Do you want to halt the busyness commandeering your life? Or maybe you’d like to have more time with the people and endeavors that matter to you? Or maybe what you want right now, is just more sleep? The reality is our wants and time demands often collide. It’s about choices. One of the first choices is the art of self-managing as a primary focus.

It's Not About Time 

The first time it was loud scratching that pulled me from a deep sleep. Before I could nudge my husband awake and turn on the lamp, the terrified squirrel had jumped from the wall near the bed to a wall further away. I watched him rapidly scale the reclaimed barn wood of our cabin bedroom loft. By first light, our patience and brooms had prevailed. We guided him toward an open door, relieved that he ran toward the nearest Lodgepole pine.

The second time we were sleeping with a squirrel, it was more unsettling. We were away on business and got a call from the person looking after our house. He said he’d encountered a frantic squirrel in our house when he arrived to check it.

Realizing a squirrel was with us the night before we left, I found frightening. I’d (continue reading →)

In the Scheme of Things, Life 

The “wisdom” on my refrigerator has changed through the years. As a young mother, Dorothy Law Nolte’s poem “Children Learn What They Live” was there. Later, quotes like Sophia Loren’s: “Mistakes are part of the dues one pays for a full life” found their way. And today? It’s a Pinterest find, “There are people who would love to have your bad days.”

It’s true. I’m an incurable quote lover. Given the number of quotations tweeted, posted, pinned, and shared, some of you are, too. I started collecting snippets of wisdom shortly after my brother, Craig, gave me a book when he left for college. The Treasure Chest contained quotations, poems, sentiments, and prayers from the “Great Minds of 2500 Years.” I devoured it as a teenager trying to figure out my own views. It still has prominent shelf space next to other books I’ve acquired filled with inspirational and thought provoking words.

Given my big appetite for “refrigerator wisdom,” and this being my 14th anniversary of writing for Montana Woman Magazine, I put together my own wisdom snippets — one for each year of writing “In the Scheme of Things.” It’s my way to say thank you for (continue reading →)

In the Scheme of Things, Life