My Lessons Learned About Scaling

My first job was baking bagels at age 15 in Connecticut. When my family moved to Arizona a year later, I packed groceries and stocked shelves until I graduated high school, then sold clothes while in college. After earning my degree, I joined Arthur Andersen & Co. as a management information consultant where I worked in Phoenix, Chicago, and Seattle. After 11 years, I went to Microsoft, where I worked for nine years before leaving to homeschool our son. My professional life now is as an author, editor, consultant and advocate for disability inclusion. It is a journey that I never anticipated and I am grateful for the great learnings of life that it has given me.

Over the years, I have experienced countless bumps and bruises, made many mistakes, and had some successes along the way. However, one of my biggest growth areas was my rise as a leader. Much of what I learned was by making my own mistakes rather than learning from others. To help you avoid touching the stove (trust me, it’s hot), I’ve compiled a list of some of my most valuable (and painful) learnings. I hope they are useful.

Lean in during a crisis

  • Say “I’m focused,” not “I’m nervous.” Others want to know that you are in control.

  • Stay calm when everyone else is freaking out.

  • Sometimes your best alternative is the least worst alternative.

  • Don’t be evasive or “go in the dark.” Others will make up their own answer if you don’t give it to them directly.

  • Get immediate alignment on the goal and what needs to happen next, even if you don’t know all the steps to get there.

  • Act deliberately to adapt to the urgency of the situation.

run with purpose

  • Be manic about bringing clarity to chaos.

  • Think well enough to solve the problem; do not polish the apple.

  • Respond when asked for help, but make sure others help themselves too.

  • Be clear about what, who and when, and hold others accountable for getting things done.

  • Be decisive, but be willing to admit when you’re wrong.

  • Make and follow through on difficult decisions with empathy and intentionality.

  • Don’t let the urgent crowd out the important.

  • Calendar all on your calendar, including downtime.

cultivate others

  • Be accessible, do not open the door; you also need to get things done.

  • Respect the time of others as you want yours to be respected.

  • genuinely seek Y share wisdom candidly.

  • Don’t delegate tasks to complete, empower problems to solve.

  • Do what you say you will do and expect others to do the same.

  • Create an environment where others feel comfortable asking for help.

be a great communicator

  • Have high value per word (Two ears, one mouth).

  • Ask clarifying questions to ensure understanding.

  • Ask qualifying questions to challenge thinking.

  • Watch others for verbal and nonverbal cues and adjust your actions accordingly.

Behave as if you belong to the position

  • Walk and talk with purpose, not like you’re out of control.

  • Be politically aware, not politically driven.

  • Never do anything that would cause anyone to question your integrity or principles.

  • Know what life satisfaction looks like (personal, professional, financial, etc.) and work towards it.

  • Don’t make your position seem so demanding that no one else wants it; Don’t send emails at 2 am.

I would love to know what you think of my learnings or if you have questions. Ping me at www.lonniepacelli.com/contact.

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