Business doesn’t have to be just business. You have to bring “you” to the business world.
Author and speaker Wendy Komac is a long-time turnaround specialist that has helped save companies by focusing on changing under-performers into exceptional workers. She is now focusing on individual employees, with 9 steps to take control of one’s career and life.
Wendy’s forthcoming book, Crabby Crappy People asks the question, “are you waiting for that mythical elevator to success?” The book is a wild ride with corporate America’s newest superhero, WendyWoman, through the toxic floors of fictional Fubar Corporation, where she teaches readers the 9 steps to success in discovering untapped potential and unfounded greatness.
After nearly 20 years of service in senior-level executive positions for an array of corporations, including SIRVA Inc., Prudential Financial and Corporate Express, Komac developed many unique programs and philosophies which she incorporated into her book. Komac spent more than 12 years developing and mentoring high-powered teams that consistently exceed goals in highly competitive markets. As a turnaround expert driven to succeed in the face of complex challenges, she has a history of successfully implementing and motivating global sales teams to become multi-million dollar industry leaders.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently writing my second book, Grow a P.A.I.R. and Lead. This book builds on my 9 steps to success by introducing the P.A.I.R. model, which stands for Power, Autonomy, Intimacy and Reciprocity. I also spend my time looking for any medium that allows me to shed a holistic and spiritual light on corporate America and weave some of those elements into a world that can often be antiseptic and sterile.
Where did the idea for I Work with Crabby Crappy People come from?
It’s been more than 25 years since I woke up one day in the basement of an office building and decided the way I was living my life wasn’t working for me. I was allowing life to steamroll me and as a result, I was a perpetual pile of mush. I wasn’t in control of my life, my feelings or my reactions and I was certainly an avid contestant in the daily blame game. When I realized that I was a crabby, crappy human being, I decided to implement some simple (albeit not easy) steps toward positive change. That led to a motivational speech called “The Elevator to Success is Out of Order: Use Steps.” Every time I delivered the speech, people would ask, “where’s the book?” When you finally realize that you have wasted precious borrowed time being crappy, you will do anything you can to stop. You can’t put more sand back in the hourglass, but you can change how you spend your sand. When you change your choices, you change your life, and that is exactly what I did. Realizing I was a crabby, crappy wasn’t the hard part; helping other people realize they were either that person or surrounded by those people sometimes was. During my career, as I moved from organization to organization, I encountered the same types of personalities. I figured if I was experiencing these types of personalities, everyone else must be, too. I want people to know they aren’t alone when they deal with someone like Methane Man or Not Me Lee and I also want to give them hope and inspiration. If I can eliminate the crabby, crappy version of myself, they can, too.
What does your typical day look like?
Every morning, I start with a 45-minute hot yoga session followed by 30 minutes of meditation. I use this time to feed myself physically, mentally and spiritually so that I am best prepared for the day. I’ve learned that if I don’t take care of myself, I can’t help other people. From there, I move in a million different directions. No day is the same –giving inspirational speeches, developing sales strategies, leading sustainable transformation training sessions and writing are often tasks that keep me busy throughout the day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Wendywoman may look like me, but in truth she is the face of a “mastermind group” that is made up of people with a range of talents and creative strengths that I trust. This group is often the home of many of my ideas and it helps me turn them into a reality. We have created a safe space in the group where no idea is turned down or shunned. We brainstorm blog ideas, create new story lines and work to further the brand. While I’ve learned over the years that I have a lot of great ideas, I have also learned that I don’t have to be the one who comes up with all the great ideas – I just need to find them. Generally speaking, I believe that while one person can be successful on his own, the results are better if he can partner with a group of people that believes not only in themselves, but their talent, as well. When you foster an environment of enrichment, you would be amazed at what comes out of people. Ideas aren’t just fiction if you have the right storytellers.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
One trend that really excites me is bringing the element of spirituality into corporate America. When I was enrolled in my master’s program back in 2002, spirituality was taboo. No one wanted to talk about it, let alone act on it. I remember a professor asking me why I was in the master’s program and when I told her my goal was to bring spirituality into the workplace, she raised her eyebrow and asked me to sit down. I made it my mission to bring this holistic concept to every organization I worked at. Spirituality isn’t about religion; it can focus on what makes a person well-rounded and what helps him/her find balance in life. We live in a world of balance sheets, budgets and books; we seldom take a step back to ask ourselves why am I here and what makes me the person I am. It is evident in today’s working world that no job is ever just 9-to-5 anymore. We are asking more of employees, paying them less and often making them commute further. When we make the effort to weave spiritual principles into the workplace in a way that is not offensive, we find these employees become more loyal and will produce incredible results. The idea that you don’t have to employ cutthroat strategies to be successful is new to most. Employ and cultivate talent and uniqueness and you have yourself a success story.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
After 18 months working for a great boss who gave me a lot of autonomy, the company I was working for merged and I ended up with a micromanaging boss whose idea of inspiring people was throwing golf balls around at the Monday morning meeting to wake them up. It was here that I learned to bloom where I was planted. I figured out that somewhere along the way, someone had told me that when happy things happen, I am happy and that when bad things happen I am sad. Working in this difficult environment, I realized this is a myth because it is possible to be happy despite the fact that the external conditions are terrible. I learned how to respond instead of reacting to situations, and with that came the return of my autonomy. I felt more in control no matter what the boss’ crabby, crappy behaviors were.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
Nothing, as life is a series of lessons that never end. You shouldn’t try to plan the lessons, but instead figure out how to learn the lessons. I have always done my personal best when I am up to my ass in alligators. I believe that you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have. Had I not had a bottle of vodka a day for 10 years, I don’t believe I would have 2 of the key leadership traits that have helped me achieve more success than I ever dreamed possible back in my drinking days: tenacity and empathy.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
People always wants to know the key to my success and the answer is it is not “my” success, but “our” success. Get to know your people! People are more than just corporate resources; they have hearts, not processors and they are made up of feelings, not balance sheets. When you commit to knowing your people, you are committing to bettering the organization. Don’t treat your people the way you want to be treated; treat your people the way they want to be treated. When you figure out what makes your people who they are, you’ll figure out how to make your business prosper.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Business doesn’t have to be just business. You have to bring “you” to the business world. Everyone is unique, talented and creative and it is up to the leaders of the corporate world to help foster those elements. When you break down the word “business,” you can split it in half to read “busi-ness.” We are not in the industry of being busy; we are in the industry of people. Incorporating yourself into your daily work is the reason we have so many industries, products and services in the marketplace. When you bring “you” to the table each day, you realize that your job no longer consists of tasks that are merely assigned to you; it becomes a larger picture made of tasks you put your signature on.
Tell us a secret.
I abhor competition, which probably sounds counter-intuitive since I have spent the majority of my executive career as a senior vice president of global sales. I believe that if you focus on beating someone else, you will never go the extra mile and do your personal best because you focus on doing just enough to beat the other person. I don’t compete against anyone except myself. To do so would be setting myself up for a mediocre performance.
What are your three favorite online tools and what do you love about them?
The Universe.com is one of my favorite daily subscriptions. The daily message is easy to incorporate into your life and the customization brings the message to life when you need it to the most. I also try and utilize all my social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. They help me connect with my blog readers and potential customers on a more personal level. Even I go back to Wendywoman.com to search the blog archives and check out the cartoon for a good laugh.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
From Worst to First: Behind the Scenes of Continental’s Remarkable Comeback by Gordon Bethune, the former CEO of Continental Airlines. Despite the fact that the book is almost 15 years old, the message is timeless. He was the mastermind responsible for turning the airline around to become one of the top 3 airlines in the industry in 1 year. Talk about managing to the quarter. He approached Continental with a holistic approach – if you don’t support your people, you don’t support your product. His go-forward plan, which is still in existence today, allowed him to fix the underlying and often-silenced problems such as employee morale and product quality. He is someone today’s leaders should emulate.
What’s on your playlist?
I am extremely eclectic in what I listen to. My iPod is home to a range of inspirational podcasts, artists and songs from The Eagles to Christian rock. Music is my therapy and I find myself downloading songs that are applicable to what I am going through at certain stages in my life. I think having a wide variety of music makes my kids less embarrassed to be around me; they think I’m “hip” because I am so versatile.
If you weren’t working on speaking and writing, what would you be doing?
On weekends, I volunteer at the detox ward of a major hospital. I am currently launching Wendywoman’s Workers, which will be a 501(c)(3) devoted to supporting young adults and their families struggling with addictions issues and other challenges. I would love to own and run a halfway house to teach young people that even if you have made poor choices in the past, you can change your choices and your life. Everyone can be a leader in his/her own life and it is never too late to start trying.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
- @JoelOsteen: I am a very spiritual person and Joel often delivers insightful information in a way that I can utilize. I always need the ability to put things into action for the greater good!
- @ThisIsSethsBlog: I absolutely love Seth Godin’s spirit and guidance around growing your business and utilizing different marketing channels. He has inspired me to try different approaches that I would not have tried on my own.
- @mikedooley: Mike Dooley continually teaches me how to delegate to the universe! It’s a skill worth learning.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
I am currently the sponsor to a 21-year-old girl who is working through a drug addiction. I often am blatantly honest about the very crazy stories of my life to help teach the lessons necessary to facilitate recovery. Our time together has us sharing many laughs–and many tears.
Who is your hero?
When it comes to business, Gordon Bethune is my hero. Gordon’s philosophy on leadership is possible for anyone to implement. When it comes to my personal life, my children Lexi and Cory inspire me to help make the world a better place. They also keep me grounded and remind me what is really important in life.
How do you stay so motivated and energized?
It can be tough to remain motivated and energized in a corporate world filled with constant change, but I find that working with and teaching people how to be leaders in their own lives has rewards that are far-reaching. I discovered that most people actually do better when they are in the midst of a challenge they believe they can overcome. I love balancing appropriate levels of change and inspiration in the workday so that everyone is challenged enough to stretch and grow past where they were yesterday. One thing I learned early on is the only thing that is constant is change; you can count on it happening every single day. Knowing that I am in control of my reactions and responses to constant change makes me feel empowered. By remaining at the wheel at all times, I make the choice to hit the gas or slam on the brakes and I don’t allow change to run me over. There’s something to be said about being the CEO of your life. When you are given the freedom to make decisions, you will make sustainable choices that help you prosper, be healthy and create the life you always wanted.
How did you become so involved in Bikram yoga?
Since my philosophy for life includes a focus on the mind, body and spirituality, hot yoga was the perfect way to work on all 3 at the same time. When I gave my life a much-needed overhaul, one of the areas I vowed to incorporate into my routine was exercise. I did some research on different yoga practices that would give the combination of a physical workout and a mental calm-down; Bikram yoga was it. I have a hot yoga room in my house that allows me to practice whenever I need it. Moving through yoga poses allows me to gain fluidity in my body and my mind. Taking an hour each day to connect with myself helps me to mentor people more successfully, make clearer decisions based on facts and emotions and maintain an overall sense of life balance. Balance is one of the top priorities I set for maintaining a healthy and successful lifestyle. I encourage everyone to find an exercise regimen that feeds not only their muscles, but also their minds.