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.]

I still have the email. It’s been years since a highly placed corporate boss, who had the reputation and approach that things were never quite good enough, sent it to me. He was long on critique and revisions; short on acknowledgement and appreciation.

Anyone else reading his message would deem it ordinary. No flowery words, no glowing adjectives, no verbose flattery or deliberate feel-good rhetoric. It was written in a matter-of-fact, straight-to-the-point style that took three sentences.

Yet its mark was indelible. Not because his appreciation was infrequent, but because it was genuine. While it was an out of the ordinary contribution he acknowledged, the message didn’t come in a signature-pen form letter “from” him via HR, nor was it composed and sent by an executive assistant. It came from him. He took the time to notice, comment, and engage. That simple email reconfirmed my commitment and spurred my enthusiasm.

It doesn’t take much to let someone know they’re valued. So why it is that so few people take the time to do it?

According to an online survey, (continue reading →)

Leadership, Trust Inc, Winning at Working 

I’m a colleague of Nan’s. I sometimes post on Current Musings about work, life and the blending of the two. Last week I found myself driving the winding back roads on the border of Maryland and Pennsylvania. It was that unique time of day when the moon is descending and the sun is rising. It felt eerie and tranquil at the same time. As I pulled into a local diner for breakfast, I saw a few groups of men having coffee through the window. I opened the door and was greeted with “Good Morning what’ll you have, coffee is hot.” In the next hour, I was reminded again and again of the benefits of living in the present. I guess you could say I had one of those ‘ahah’ moments.

So, here are a few of my favorite reminders of how to live in the moment:

  • Think of time for what it is – a human concept. The watch on your wrist and the clock on the wall mean nothing to Mother Nature. To her, life is one evolving moment – a perpetual cycle of interdependent impermanence.
  • Pay attention to the small things – notice the world around you. Be thankful for the small things like eating ice cream, listening to music, or realizing you have more time to sleep.
  • Smile – look in the mirror and smile; it can influence how you feel. It will make you happier and help you appreciate the moment.
  • Perform random acts of kindness – selfless acts that help others. One of the easiest lessons for how to live in the moment is to do something for someone else without expecting anything in return.
  • Give thanks – Be thankful. Every now and then take stock of just how good you have it. Express your gratitude in the moment when you feel it.
  • Don’t worry – much harder to do than it sounds. Worrying today won’t change what happens tomorrow. Every second you spend in worry about the future is a second of the present wasted.

With the constant 24/7 noise bombarding us, sometimes we become weary and distracted without knowing it.  Reminders are a great way to get unstuck and moving in the right direction. Whatever that is for you. I know I needed one that morning!

Until next time take good care and be safe out there.




My goal when traveling is to travel light. But less than half the time I achieve that goal. Despite or maybe because of a strong planning tendency, I’m frequently faced with piles of “absolutely-needed” or “just-in-case” stuff that even my spatially-challenged mind knows won’t fit into a medium suitcase. Wading through the items to determine what goes and stays yields a better outcome. But rarely does it eliminate taking more than I need.

Packing amnesia sets in as I forget how encumbered I feel in the actual traveling part. That’s what happened recently on our Ireland vacation. My barely-able-to-close medium suitcase became an annoying daily struggle to find things, repack, and maneuver. All the stuff I brought felt physically and emotionally weighty and confining.

I’ve come to realize life is a lot like my packing. Despite good intentions and self-reflection, (continue reading →)

In the Scheme of Things, Life 

I’m a colleague of Nan’s. It’s been several months since I posted on Current Musings. With cooler temperatures and a new school calendar starting; I thought it a perfect time to share what’s on my mind and perhaps yours.

I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed this week with a lengthy to-do list, changing schedules and pressing work deadlines. I need to get grounded quickly. So, I picked up Nan’s most recent book, It’s Not About Time – How to Thrive and Get the Results You Want at Work and in Life for some perspective and real-world tips. Skimming the table of contents, Chapter 1 – What Do You Want? and the specific topic of Self-Management grabbed my attention.

What is Self-Management? The Olympic swimmer, author Sarah Connors describes it like this, “Remember, the feeling you get from a good run is  (continue reading →)

It's Not About Time, Uncategorized 

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