“If you want to have an impact on business, you must have an impact on people.” Kathleen Crandall

There is an abundance of information and studies that suggest business grows when people feel valued and engaged in the workplace. The best leaders who generate the most successful outcomes know that how they lead, motivate and engage people is the secret to success. Some lean in, some enable greatness, and others rely on team building and empowerment to move the dial. In every case, it is a focus on people that makes a difference.

Consider the impact of intentionally “lifting up” others as a collaborative mindset. As humans we understand the concept of a clan and the need to help each other achieve and accomplish goals. It requires empathy, kindness, acknowledgement, resources, teamwork and the ability to provide encouragement in words and actions. It requires that leaders have a vision and communicate it well and often to everyone in the organization.

At Meaningful Connections, we have designed a new model called LiftingUp™ Leadership, a term inspired by Anne Pryor. “This is a new mindset that engages the heart and the mind in how we work together more effectively”, said Anne Pryor. “It requires trust and a selfless commitment to others. And, when people work together with the intention to help each other and provide unconditional support and Lovitude® (love and gratitude) to reach a goal, it begets more of the same. It becomes contagious, and leads to results that exceed our highest expectations”, Pryor explained.

Research shows that business grows when people feel significant, passionate, confident, motivated, and even inspired to produce more and with better results. Cultures of contribution and accountability are built and succeed when people feel valued, recognized and invested in the vision of their leader. And leaders who understand this concept are seeing significant change and positive results and happy employees.

Leaders who “Lift Up” others embrace compassion, empathy, generosity and unconditional support of others without judgment.  They understand their impact on others and use it for the good of relationships and the organization. This starts with self-awareness, having clarity around their individual impact, (what many are now calling personal brand), and engaging with others with positive intention. It grows and builds when people connect in a more significant way online and off.

Today that means blending human one-to-one interactions with electronic and online communications to create and build meaningful connections. “The new world of work will not look like that of the past.  The trend in the future is intrapreneurialism and the place and space to enable that. Leaders of businesses large and small will succeed when they embrace and prepare for this new work environment and invest in people,” said Rise Kasmirski.

Learn more about LiftingUp Leadership with Meaningful Connections, a partner in the Collaborative Leadership Center at Sugar Lake Lodge. Consider building LiftingUp Leadership concepts into your next corporate retreat or attend one of the powerful LiftingUp Leadership events offered throughout the year.

The first LiftingUp Leadership retreat will be offered to women leaders May 14-16 and limited to 20 attendees.  May 14-16, 2014


“LiftingUp™ Leadership Retreat – a new heart and mind shift for women leaders in business”

Be a part of a very special event where up to twenty women leaders will gather for a transformative retreat. Meaningful Connections will host this gathering at the Collaborative Leadership Center at Sugar Lake Lodge. This is an empowering and transformative retreat set in nature for women leaders seeking a more profound approach to leadership

Each day will feature new learnings and concepts around LiftingUp Leadership, a new approach to business and personal success. You will experience a perfect balance between teachings that will transform what you think, believe and feel about leading in today’s business environment and time to reflect and ponder the future in pristine nature.

What you will learn and experience:

 Intentional Impact – how you lead has a ripple impact that extends far beyond your business.  Learn about the power of your personal brand and how to be more intentional in your impact in lifting people up and enabling success How to Leverage the New World of Work – what you need to know about attracting, engaging and retaining high performers in today’s market

  • How to Create a Culture of Connection from the inside out and create more business as a result – learn how online tools and personal interaction contribute to building brands, meaningful connections and business 24/7
  • Experience a ground-breaking approach to future mapping, created by futurist Masanori Kanda

Investment:  $1,399 includes private room, meals and all retreat materials.  Space is limited to 20 so register early.

Presented by Kathleen Crandall, Anne Pryor and Rise Kasmirski co-creators of Meaningful Connections

For more information or to register, please contact Kathleen Crandall at [email protected]

Jacquie Berglund CEO Finnegans Inc. Keynote at The Stir Women’s Foundation of Minnesota  

It was an enriching week for the Meaningful Connections team. Kathleen, Anne and I had the opportunity to present at and hear two magnificently authentic and unforgettable key note speakers at two Twin Cities events. These are speakers that you want as friends once you’ve heard them. Speakers that you will secretly commit to supporting and spreading their good name every chance you get. These are speakers with the “Coolness Factor”.

At the annual Dakota County Chamber of Commerce Women’s Conference, where we presented strategies for networking and personal branding for multitudes of women entrepreneurs and leaders, we heard the effervescent and totally authentic key note speaker (aka Exceptional Executive) Jennifer “JJ” Schaidler. Her style was easy, engaging, backyard BBQ conversation – packed with warmth and humor.  In this style she imparted her priceless wisdom on Maximizing Your Career Path, gained from years of experience as a senior female leader in the executive suite.

JJ instantly won over the hearts and minds of the audience as she told one tale after another of the ups and downs of her career….the importance of taking risks, treating her employees as co-workers, embracing new opportunities…. all for the benefit of our professional growth. One might say that JJ’s personal brand was alive and well throughout her address – and because of that, she won us over.

Later that day we found ourselves enraptured by Jacquie Berglund, a CNN Leader with a Heart, and key note speaker at The Stir (an annual fundraising event for the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota).  From the moment Jacquie graced the stage, her passion and commitment to her lifelong mission of giving back captured and held the attention of an audience of 1200 throughout her presentation. One cannot fabricate that level of excitement and engagement without being authentic and real. Everything about the glint in her eyes as she spoke, her willingness to mix in the bumps with the triumphs, her gracious acknowledgement of all who helped her on her path, made us want to leap up and pitch in to support her mission.

So what is the Coolness Factor and when does it show up in your life?

  • It’s when you know yourself well enough to not want to fake it for the crowd
  • When you’re willing to show up 100% yourself for the sake of your message and your audience
  • When you stand so strong in whom you are that you face your fear, and the audience, with all you’ve got.

We are all about authenticity at Meaningful Connections. We can help you uncover your powerful personal brand and build meaningful connections to attract other like-minded, authentic people.

I’ve spent most of my 30-year career managing and building brands.  I’ve had the honor of working with some of the most recognized and respected corporate, service and product brands on the market. In all of my experience working with brands, I was, and continue to be, most intrigued by people and the fact that they, too, have a brand.

Every person walking this planet has a brand whether they are aware of it or not. And that brand has a voice. Our brand voice is communicating an expectation of what it might be like to know us or work with us.  Our brand communicates, “Trust me” or “I am reliable” or “I am accomplished and professional and will take great care of your child / project / team.”

Our brand comes to life in every way we show up from what we wear (our brand image), what we communicate verbally and non-verbally (our brand voice), and in the experience of knowing us or working with us (the brand experience).

Most people aren’t aware that they have a brand let alone what it is. The prevalence of social media makes every person a global brand. What you post and how often says volumes about you and goes far beyond your small group of online “friends.” Every tweet and every Facebook or LinkedIn post is an opportunity to reinforce your brand or cause confusion. Every time you send an email (and how you sign that email), gives you a chance to build your brand. The way you treat a waiter or whether you deliver your work on time is your brand coming to life in an experience.

The most simple way to understand your brand is to ask yourself, “What am I known for?” and, more importantly, “What happens because of me and my impact on people?”

My brand is best captured in a quote by Alexandra Stoddard and I have this built into my email signature.  “Slow down, calm down, don’t worry, don’t hurry.  Trust the process.”  Every time I send or respond to an email, my brand is building. My “style” is calm and reassuring.  I deliver on my promise to “bring personal brands to life,” with a thoughtful process that gently guides people through phases of discovery and articulation of their brand for job search, to raise their visibility in their business and to help them get what they desire. I am reassuring as I inspire and motivate people to do their work. I help people bring their personal brand- to life authentically and consistently and with confidence.

In my role as a personal brand expert, with Meaningful Connections I am known for helping people understand their impact on people and to bring it to life consistently through their image, their brand voice and the experience of knowing them or working with them.

So, what happens because of you?

By Risё Kasmirski

A year ago I had an embarrassing little fall on a slippery street as I was heading to my car. My left foot bent sideways as I headed down, and both legs tightened to lessen the impact. I pulled myself up, brushed myself off, and hobbled on my way, assuring myself that it would be just a matter of time before aching muscles and bruises healed and I was my old self again.

Flash forward a month or two and I am limping a bit. I am assuming that I am in the healing process and that it is just taking time. Several more months go by and friends and strangers are pointing out to me that they see I am limping and look in pain. I want to scream at them “don’t you think I know???…It’s nothing!”

Finally I begin doubting that I will ever have 100% mobility again. I am frustrated, stressed, feeling old, in pain, and beating myself up for being unable to heal myself. I surrender to a visit to a physical therapist – which I have avoided out of stubbornness and a belief that I know what’s wrong and can heal myself.

Imagine my joy to discover that my hip has been slightly out of alignment for this past year and my body has tried to make continuous adjustments to no avail.  After some helpful adjustments I am alive again! I stand tall with no limp, no strain, and I feel whole and energized. I am in alignment and there is truly no better place to be.

How is your career going? Is your work in alignment with your inner values, beliefs, and you authentic self? You will know you are in career alignment if your work brings you fulfillment and joy. When you are not aligned with your work, your life feels difficult and stress and frustration may be a daily occurrence.

Perhaps you’ve taken a career fall somewhere along the way. Maybe others are noticing that you seem out of alignment, while you are just trying to make due each day. When you are ready, you can turn that around…put your career back on track.

  • You start with self-reflection – getting clear and focused on who you are and where you are headed.
  • Then you take a deep dive into discovering your uniqueness – your personal brand – and how your brand impacts everything you do in work and life.
  • And finally, you bring that brand message to the world through your communications, connections, and online visibility, to attract the work that is right for you to do your highest good.

Here’s to career alignment!

by Risё Kasmirski

If I could sum up the collective exasperated sigh of everyone working on creating their LinkedIn profile these days, it would be…. “Why do I have to do this Again???”

Things have changed in the past few years. Have you noticed? Today we effortlessly create and build business and social relationships around the world with a few clicks of the keyboard, or mobile device, and an intention to make a connection.

Many of us have hundreds, even thousands, of connections through LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media avenues. Yet, exactly how meaningful are these connections? How are we contributing to this network we’re creating?

How are we showing up authentically to build relationships that bring us the results we desire and allow us to assist others in getting what they desire?

At Meaningful Connections, we are changing the way in which individuals and organizations build and maintain valuable relationships for career and business success. Our 3 step approach is simple, yet profound – and a very new way of doing business.

1. Clarity and Focus – Clarity requires taking a deep dive inward to get very clear on who we are as our most authentic selves, what we desire, with whom and how we want to connect. Without clarity, it’s nearly impossible to create compelling and consistent messages for the outer world that builds our reputation and helps us make important connections.

2. Personal Branding – Everyone has a personal brand that is unique to themselves, whether they are aware of their brand or not. Personal branding contains elements of self-awareness as well as how we are perceived by others. It is the key to showing up authentically in all of our interactions and for building and managing our reputation. Strong and consistent personal brands attract others for career and business opportunities.

3. Online Visibility Strategy – Meaningful connections happen when we are clear on who we are and what we desire, and bring our personal brand out in the world through all of the many avenues in which we now connect.

In this highly interactive world, how and where we show up online are important ingredients for career and business success. A solid social connection strategy keeps us on top of the latest ways to reach our intended audience and invites meaningful connections that cultivate results.

How self-aware are you? Do you know what you desire, and how you want to interact with the world?

Are you aware of your personal brand? Do you know how to convey a consistent brand message to enhance your reputation? Do you have a social media strategy that attracts the kinds of meaningful connections that you desire?

Meaningful Connections strategists Rise Kasmirski, Kathleen Crandall and Anne Pryor can help you with any or all parts of this newly integrated approach.