Year-end Review: Your Personal & Professional Self-Evaluation

For me personally, I find the end of the year is a great time to take stock of the past year, the ups and downs, as well as the key learnings. It’s an opportunity to look back to see how far I’ve come and what I’ve accomplished and discovered along the way. It’s also an opportunity to reflect upon the year’s challenges and pitfalls and how I dealt with them. I use all these insights and reflections to help me plan my objectives and goals for the following year.
Let’s take a look at where you’ve you come from and what you’ve accomplished – and use that to help plan where you want to go next year – just by completing this short, 20 minute exercise.

Getting Started
• Get ready to make some lists – I like to get three or four sheets of paper, and divide them into 3 x 4 grids – one block per month.

• Get out your business and personal calendars – this will help jog your memory of what and how you spent your time.

• Get out your journal or diary if you keep one. This will help you reflect on how you were feeling and reacting to events going on around you.

• When you answer the questions think about the whole year – start in January, and consider month by month.

1st Topic: Your Accomplishments

Ask yourself: What obstacles or challenges did you overcome? How did the results impact your life positively or negatively? Was the time and effort worth it?

(I find that it helps to use the obstacles I have overcome, as indicators of what I am capable of – great reminder and good for the soul.)

The reason I ask you to consider all these questions together is because frequently you may not realize how significant your accomplishments really are. And it’s not just about remembering everything you’ve tackled in the previous year, it’s just as important to consider how you got there – what skills and abilities you used to navigate your way.  (Here’s something we forget – you deserve to recognize, acknowledge and give yourself credit for everything you have accomplished and created. That’s tough to do for many so make sure you take the time to do it!)

Now, also consider and reflect upon the following:
• What is the most important thing/item on this list?
• What were the top 3?
• How would you sum up your year?

Section 2: What You Learned

Ask yourself: What did you learn about yourself? What new skills or abilities did you acquire? How did your understanding of other people change? How have these learnings changed or reinforced your thought processes and behaviours?  Again, go back to January and work forward.

The answer to this question is a surprise to me every year – might surprise you too. We all feel as if time has gone by so quickly, and perhaps we haven’t changed all. But, when you reflect on it, you realize you have learned and grown in ways you could never have imagined when the year began.

Be it personally or professionally, I would be very surprised if you haven’t made some significant shift this year. Think back to the small interactions you’ve had, the small changes and tweaks you have made in your life based on ‘aha moments’, or little lessons you have learned over time. Those are the experiences that make us who we are and give us the wisdom and insight to make better, well informed choices as we move forward.

Next, look over your list, and consider:
• What’s the most important or significant thing on this list?
• What are the top 3?
• What really sums up your year?

Section 3: How You Feel

Review and reflect upon your answers to the previous questions and ask yourself: how satisfied or content do you feel overall? How do you feel about this year relative to other years? What areas do you feel the best and least satisfied about? Are there any factors or patterns related to feeling your best or worst?
Focus on all the accomplishments – no matter the scope or size. For your personal growth it is very important to consider the totality of what you overcame, what you accomplished and contributed, and what you learned along the way.

How satisfied or content you are will help you to answer the last question…

Section 4: What’s Next for You?

Ask yourself: What’s missing, and what’s next in my life?

You’ve thought about what you’ve overcome, accomplished, learned and how you may have changed. And with that you can now plan to go forward.

• Do you feel there’s something missing in your list of accomplishments?
• What would you like to spend more or less time on?
• What goals or dreams would you like to achieve this time around?

Section 5: Planning for a new year

The end of one year comes with the beginning of another – and the promise of a fresh start, filled with more opportunities and growth. Let go of past baggage, tie up loose ends, tidy up your feelings and get ready for what’s ahead.

Here’s to making this your best year yet!

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”
–Semisonic, Closing Time


The 2 Greatest Words?

Imperfect Action is Better than Perfect InactionThe 2 Greatest Words

From the Titan Academy Global AG – Oct 2015 newsletter


Language is powerful. The words we use drive the deeds we do.

Call a condition a problem and you get to reply to it from the position of a victim.

Speak an excuse, and you get to deliver your power to it, sometimes for a lifetime.

Words can destroy people’s confidence, provoke their greatness, electrify your performance and free entire nations.

Maybe two of the best ones to recite regularly so they become a part of your vocabulary are…

…Just start.

…nothing happens until you move!

And once you do, life begins to put the wind behind your sails. The Muse comes out to play. Your best self starts revealing more of its higher nature.

–just start the needle-moving project that will rewire your career

–just start the conversation needed to forgive the unforgiven

–just start the run that will become your marathon

–just start the craft that will raise you to genius

–just start the relationship that will lead you to love

–just start the book that will awaken your thinking

–just start the course that will transform your life

–just start the habit that will shift your productivity

–just start the dream that will change the world.

You’ve been blessed with hidden jewels that lie deep within. These are the talents that slumber, the gifts that lay dormant and the calls on your life that we all ask you to live.

Without you showing up, shining fully, standing up after you’ve fallen, persisting when you feel like surrendering, we’ll all be less of a human family. Things will be colder. And the world will be less bright.

So please. Just start.



Merrill Pierce named Professional of the Year by Distinctive Women

Facebook Merrill Pierce Professional of the Year

Professional of the Year honour is part of Distinctive Women’s annual peer nomination program.

Congratulations Merrill!!!!! 



Asking the Right Questions

I am reminded daily that we often do not get the right answers, simply because we haven’t asked the right questions. Seems simple and straightforward, but it is too common the cause of ambiguity and misunderstanding in business and in life.

If you are going to reach your find full potential and your objectives, you will need to make choices that will lead you to new actions. thinking

In most situations that you are faced with, being conscious of the following questions will help to reveal what is motivating your actions. The responses to these questions will clarify your thinking and support you in making the choices that are in your highest and best interest.

Incredibly simple but powerful, these questions may be used in any or all situations where you find yourself stumped or at a crossroad:

  • Will this choice/option move me toward an inspiring outcome or keep me stuck in the past?
  • Will this choice bring me long term fulfillment or simply short term gratification?
  • Am I being true to myself and my needs or am I trying to please someone else?
  • Am I looking for what’s right or am I looking for what’s wrong?
  • Will this choice fuel my energy or deplete me?
  • Can I use this situation as a catalyst for growth and change or will I use it to be hard on myself?
  • Does this choice empower or dis-empower me?
  • Is this an act of self-awareness or self-sabotage?
  • Am I doing this because I have faith or am I doing this out of fear?

I attribute some of these questions to Debbie Ford, and Anthony Robbins who once said –

“Quality questions create a quality life” and to make quality decisions we must see clearly. Asking these questions will help you to make what was previously unconscious, conscious, so that you can choose the direction that comes from being fully aware.


Merrill Pierce included again in this year’s Distinctive Women line-up

From DISTINCTIVE WOMEN Magazine – 2015-2016 Edition

Distinctive Women magazine is a national publication and online community that showcases exceptional entrepreneurs and outstanding achievers across Canada.

Merrill Pierce Distinctive Women

“Engaging top executive talent in a supportive, collaborative and insightful dialogue, leading to a better understanding and practice of leadership.” MP

When trends in leadership shift and change, Merrill Pierce is usually where the action is happening.

 A sought-after executive coach since 1998, Merrill has recently expanded into the United States, called upon by companies who aren’t just looking for advice — they want coaches who are part of their team.

“I’m finding that after 17 years, there’s even more interest in looking at how leaders lead from a team’s standpoint,” says Merrill.

“Of particular note is a tremendous shift in women’s leadership stance — their leadership style — from one of self-doubt to being more affirmative, confident and openly engaged in creating relationships. As corporate leaders, men are also becoming more humble in their style,” she adds.

As a result, Merrill says the hottest trend is ‘reverse mentoring’ — pairing a millennial-aged employee with a president.

“It changes the communication landscape and opens a window between two very different demographics,” she notes. “It’s another way to engage with the leaders of the future.”


More on the changing role of the CEO

Great article from CEO & Chairman,  Paul Metselaar
4 Ways the Role of the CEO Is Changing
“The world is moving so fast now, and technology is changing every industry. Unsurprisingly, the role of the CEO is changing along with it.”
In the old days, the CEO was an autocrat. They would say, “This is how we’re going to do things,” and that was the bottom line; they would micromanage to make sure everyone was doing what they were supposed to be doing.Today, business has become so complex and there’s so much that is required to produce great service or a great product that it’s way beyond the expertise of one person. The world is moving so fast now, and technology is changing every industry.Unsurprisingly, the role of the CEO is changing along with it.The Wolff Olins Report 2015, which looks at the current and emerging leadership climate, notes that CEOs must “find ways to create the uncorporation–a company where the culture celebrates and nurtures individualism whilst continuing to meet hard and demanding targets.” As the CEO of a company with almost 600 employees, I agree that this “paradox” is the next great challenge of modern leadership.Here, then, are four ways the role of the CEO is changing to meet the demands of the future:

  1. Serving the business

I don’t view the concepts of individualism and a corporate environment as mutually exclusive. The way I see my role as CEO of Ovation is that I am ultimately a catalyst for the business. I have always said that I consider our employees Ovation’s “special sauce.” Therefore, it makes sense that investing in and focusing on them will in turn help the business. It is extremely important to be very careful not to undermine people. When that happens, it creates a rot that will eventually metastasize throughout the organization. When someone is disempowered they are also disenchanted, and they won’t want to do their jobs effectively. Unless you empower people at the next level–to also empower their teams to collaborate and formulate best practices–it’s impossible to be successful.

  1. Listening to the experts

It’s unrealistic to think that every CEO has an expertise in every area. I happen to be good at sales and marketing, and I’m less astute with finance and technology. It’s important to surround yourself with a leadership team that can fill the gaps that you have in your expertise. One of the things I do is walk around and talk to my team, and I find out where there may be obstacles preventing them from getting stuff done. My job is to then grease the wheels of the organization in different areas. If it was not originally in our budget, I need to then decide if it’s going to solve our problem, and then I need to get it done behind the scenes without anybody feeling like I’m micromanaging or counter-acting or disempowering them. That’s one of the things that I pride myself on: knowing when it’s appropriate to stick my nose in versus when to take a step back.

  1. Learning from experience

I am by nature an optimistic person, so whenever something bad or unexpected happens, my instinct is always to look on the bright side. If you have the right frame of mind, everything is a learning experience that will tell you how to be a better leader and build a better company. I recently read an article discussing the fact that children whose parents do not let them make mistakes, such as falling off a bicycle, have a harder time in life because they never learned how to keep going in the face of adversity. I think the same is true in the business travel industry (or any industry, really) as well. There were so many events (think 9/11, two Gulf Wars and the Global Financial Crisis) that happened where we could have given up but didn’t, and I think we are better because of it. Related to that, it’s extremely important to me that Ovation employees never feel afraid to discuss new ideas or strategies just because it’s something we have never done or considered before, and therefore may not work. For example, a few years ago we started an invitation only, 24 hour VIP service called our Titanium Desk, at the suggestion of one of our managers. It had never been done before, and it now boasts some of the highest profile clients in the industry, continuing to grow because it is a differentiated service that our competitors can’t match.

  1. Creating a holistic work environment

I have continually said I am a firm believer that it’s incumbent upon us as an employer to provide a holistic work environment that includes a salary, benefits, and a collegial atmosphere where people want to come to work. If you do all of those things, people will want to stay working for the company and they’ll go the extra mile. Instead of walking out the door when their shift ends at 5 p.m., they’ll take that extra call. It’s a free market out there, and particularly now with the unemployment rate going down and the economy improving, it’s even more important that we provide a compelling and attractive work package so that people don’t want to look elsewhere. We have a very high retention rate in a difficult industry which tends to have somewhat of a revolving door, and it is a big competitive advantage to boast a loyal and growing work force. The bottom line is that you want people to take a proprietary interest in your business, for them to know their worth as employees, and to treat the company like it’s their own.


Read the rest of this entry »


Merrill speaks out on Women and Confidence


Expect the unexpected!


Merrill on The Challenges of a CEO


Change Agents

The impact of change

As an executive coach, I do a lot of work with transition and change and a quote that I often use is:

“Change is the essence of life.
Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become”

Change for some signals excitement, hope and possibilities.  For the majority though, it ignites fear.  Change is uncomfortable.  It raises doubts. And, many questions:  How will this affect my job?  Will I need to learn new skills?  What was wrong with the way we were doing things?, etc.

However, change is necessary in business. Continuous change.  Because if we don’t change, adapt, and innovate faster than our competitors we will lose our competitive edge.



The need for change agents

If your business wants to effectively implement change, it needs to cultivate a culture that embraces change, and diligently identify areas of resistance.

Change can be uncomfortable and stressful, but with the help of enough strategically placed change agents, the pain and sorrow can be minimized.  

thinking Man through Hoop OneWay

Who are the most likely change agents?

I do a lot of work in Boston with the Society for Organizational Learning (SOL) – led by Peter Senge at Harvard.  Over the years we have analyzed what competencies and values are embodied by those employees most likely to become effective change agents.  Here’s the profile:



Typically, these employees would demonstrate the following behaviours on a day-to-day basis:

  • Flexible and resilient
  • Results-oriented
  • Comfortable exploring alternative perspectives
  • Work well a variety of individuals or groups
  • Adaptable – make adjustments as the situation changes
  • Natural leadership abilities – will take charge of initiatives and situations and make tough decisions

Tips to being an effective Change Agent:

  • Develop a clear vision
    • People get frustrated when there’s no clear vision, or visions that aren’t aligned. Be able to clearly communicate the vision.
  • Lead by example
  • Be patient but persistent
    • Change does not happen overnight. To have sustainable change it has to be meaningful to people. And remember, people do not do things at the same pace.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions