Inside My Head

On Time vs. Timely

Everyone has a different relationship with time. For some, it’s an absolute and for others, it’s more of a guideline. And in many cases, it can be very dependent on who else is involved, or may be different between personal and professional lives. I’ve been thinking about time lately and how my approach to time shapes my brand. When it comes to work, I have a very strict approach that has developed over the years: I am not just on time – I am timely. This means more than being on time for meetings (which is important!). Being timely means I meet deadlines, early if possible. I respond as quickly as I can because I know someone is waiting on me. I try to respect other people’s time by given them enough notice for things rather than dropping in at the last minute. I only accept meetings I plan to attend. I try to avoid cancelling at the last minute at all costs. These are all things I take seriously because they are part of my reputation. There are lots of things people could say about me, but I don’t ever want one of them to be that you can’t count on me to be responsive.

I had a staff member tell me once that being on time was “my thing.” That was curious to me because I hadn’t ever considered it my thing. I had always considered my relationship to be driven by the situation. In this case, we had published hours of operation and people could show up at any time during those hours, so yeah, being on time was important for all of us – not just me and “my thing.” And being on time meant being there 15 minutes before we officially opened so we were ready for guests right when we said we would be, even if most often, our guests wandered in later.

Time is a funny thing in the fact that we’ve managed to all get on the same page about the 24 hour day, but past that, it all seems relative. What’s your relationship with time?


Career Libby

New Kid on the Block

I have started a new job. Technically, I don’t start for a few more months, but I’ve been offered and hired and already sent to a meeting.  It was great, this meeting; it is a terrific way to get the lay of the land. It also made me very aware of my “new kid” status.

I was at my last job for over eleven years so not much was new to me, but now everything is new – it’s slightly disconcerting but it’s also very exciting.

  • Lingo: All the jargon and lingo for this organization is new to me – it’s a new industry full of new acronyms and terminology. I got lost about ten minutes into the conversation but kept jotting down everything I didn’t know – I’ve got a laundry list but it’ll be fun to cross each one off as I learn!
  • Reputation: I came from an organization where a lot of the staff where actually members – to them, I probably seem like some kind of anomaly in their midst. I am not sure of my reputation. I know that I’m held in high esteem by upper management, my new boss, but I’m not sure about my peers: Did they like my work? Did they learn from me in the past? Was my style collegial or off-putting?
  • Relationships: The staffer running the meeting seemed hesitant to have me there at first – maybe there was concern that I’d try to interfere or insert myself. It all ended up fine in the end: he welcoming, me complimentary.  But it was a reminder of the process that I’m going to have to go through to get to know people and have them get to know me: gaining trust is not an easy road…it takes hard work and a sensitive eye.
  • Work ethic: In my old job, it was (until the end) a situation where everyone knew I would get my work done and do it well. I don’t have that level of trust yet so I think that means I’ve got to work harder than ever before. My position is virtual, and aside from a few meetings, I haven’t been required to physically go in to the office – it’s my choice to go in once a week for staff meetings. I think it’s important to have that face time to build trust and new relationships, observe how I interact with people, understand that the job is important to me and that I’m a team player.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been the new kid on the block, but I’m going to do whatever it takes to make sure they know I’ve got the right stuff.

– Libby Bingham

Inside My Head Karen


Loss:  the state or feeling of grief when deprived of someone or something of value. 

-New Oxford American Dictionary

The loss of a life. The loss of love. The loss of a job. The loss of health. The loss of money. The loss of friendship. The loss of a game.

Why is loss so painful?

It creates a grief in our hearts that can feel unbearable, overwhelming, deflating, disheartening, discouraging, or anxious.

We all deal with loss differently.

  • Some build walls as a shield of protection.
  • Some avoid the topic because it’s easier to not talk about it.
  • Some get angry to avoid breaking down in tears.
  • Some are overly sensitive because touching the wound is excruciating.
  • Some use dark humor to cover up the deep pain.
  • Some go quiet to silence the multitude of thoughts racing through their mind.
  • Some escape through substance to drown the grief.
  • Some flight because it’s easier to carry on than to deal with it.
  • Some meditate for relief from their anxiety.
  • Some choose retribution to avoid the feeling of rejection.

There is no perfect way to grieve loss. It’s impossible to perform flawlessly when we grieve.

Even in sports, I watch a team lose the championship and some are crying, some are throwing their towel down in frustration, some are sitting on the bench head in hands looking down at the ground, some head straight to the locker room and some are trying to remain composed and professional for the sake of the spectators.

It doesn’t matter how we deal with loss, the reality is we all identify with loss.

Here’s the kicker: and as much as you want to get over it, you don’t bounce back. Yes, time will heal, but not in a bouncy way!

Healing the experience of loss is more like filling a bucket of water with a syringe. Each drop is one step closer to restoring a full bucket inside you. We forget we need to replenish our souls! The expression “a cup of cold water to the soul” is about filling the bucket back up. And filling the bucket takes time.  It’s a process.  Replenishment takes time, and some buckets may take a little longer than others.

All that is required of us is this: simply say yes to the process. A willingness to allow ourselves to be replenished.  Time is patient.

– Karen Thrall

* also published on


Find the Tina(s) to Your Amy

While this article was posted last year, it just recently came across my path: What No One Tells You About Your Career When You’re 22 by Katie Burke. The concept itself isn’t new – passing along wisdom gained through experience to those who don’t yet have said experience – but among the advice you might expect to see, there was one piece that stood out to me.

We would expect to see advice about receiving feedback, strengthening weaknesses and taking ownership, but number three on Burke’s list if “find the Tina(s) to Your Amy.”

“A lot of people talk about how developing friendships at work can improve your personal life, but these relationships can also have a huge impact on your career path. Just look at Tina Fey and Amy Pohler — they’re best friends who also push each other to achieve amazing things in their respective careers.”

Full disclosure: I LOVE Amy Pohler. I adore Tina Fey, too, and since Burke has claimed Fey as her spirit animal, I’ll happily take Pohler. I admire their individual talents, smarts and candor, but the thing I love most is how much they love working together.

One of my favorite quotes from Pohler is “do work you are proud of with your talented friends.” As I’ve grown in my career, I’ve learned I work best with a partner in crime. I step up my game, I enjoy the work more and two heads are always better than one. I also love having a co-conspirator – someone with whom I can plan surprises for the larger team. And I especially love a break from the Real Housewives model – women going after each other for sport. Lifting up two women who go out of their way to support each other and other women around them warms my heart. Those are the examples I want to see.

So among all the advice to lean in, take risks and embrace gratitude, first and foremost, find yourself a partner in crime. The rest will follow and come what may, you’ll have each other to lean on.

Awesomeness in the World Karen

Innovators Spit on Worry and Carry On

What makes us shrink back or hold back?

When I’m hanging out with my wisest friends (who are 70 years and older), I notice a common occurrence: they are less affected by circumstances. They carry an acceptance about where they are, who they’re with and what they’re doing in that very moment. All that matters is now. And in that now moment, they are real, true to themselves, honest, present, sincere and worry-free.

Innovators are similar.

Innovators are such a gift to the human race.  If you’re an innovator, stand tall. You have a greater purpose than simply coming up with new and exciting ideas.

Innovators seem to have the least amount of struggle with falsity. In my opinion, they are uncompromising people. They seem to not invest a lot of their energy in what other people think. They are unapologetic for their opinions, actions and convictions. Okay sure, some innovators are difficult to work with and have peculiarities that might occasionally drive us crazy, but wouldn’t that simply be their unique style, not a flaw in their character?

I am a fortunate woman because my clients are primarily innovators. They are a gift to my journey. Though they may identify with my moments of worry, they have the boldness to spit on worry and carry on.

Let me speak to the heart of an innovator for a moment. If you’re one of them, this is what I think of you.

You teach the rest of us how:

  1. to be present
  2. to remain true to our unique self
  3. to be confident in our thoughts and actions
  4. to be unapologetic for the decisions we make
  5. to embrace the convictions we want to live out
  6. to have faith in what we are pursuing
  7. to not give up
  8. to bend but not break
  9. to be immersed in thought
  10. to radically believe

You remind us to stay the course.

If you’re an innovator, part of your purpose is to inspire us to walk in our true self, worry-free. Those are big shoes to fill, but you’re the people that can fill them.

When I’m with an innovator, it’s amazing how quickly nothing else matters. What worried me, no longer has power. The world is full of options. How can we possibly accomplish anything if we worry? Worry breeds falsity. Possibilities diffuse worry. Innovators understand this.

“Do not anticipate trouble or worry about what may never happen.  Keep in the sunlight.” – Benjamin Franklin


– Karen Thrall

*also published on



Ah, the Apology Battle

Apologies. Everything has something to say about them. Including me, last year. Lena Dunham just published Sorry, Not Sorry: My Apology Addiction on LinkedIn. Not surprisingly, a rebuttal, Dear Lena, stop telling me to stop saying sorry was quickly published in US Today by Lindsay Deutsch. Apologies are a popular battle ground, especially for women – right up there with swearing (some insist on abstaining and other insist it means you’re smarter).

I was doing a training a couple months ago where we were discussing apologies as part of a well-rounded skill set. We wandered off into a similar discussion being had by Dunham and Deutsch about apologies in the workplace and gender. One of the women asked about apologizing when it seems more and more like women are being told not to apologize. In response, one of the men in the training made the observation that maybe we should be looking at it the other way – rather than telling women to apologize less, we should be encouraging men to apologize more.

Apologies (and swearing!) can be powerful, and it’s dangerous to completely eliminate them from your vocabulary. Like most things, we shouldn’t always or never. There is a time and place for everything, and as Dunham so eloquently points out:

“One of the most important things a person in charge can do is own their mistakes and apologize sincerely and specifically, in a way that shows their colleagues they have learned and they will do better.” – Lena Dunham 


Inside My Head Karen

Know Your Stressors

Taking inventory of our internal well-being on a regular basis is fundamental to healthy living. When we go through a challenging time, a big change, an unexpected disruption (or a planned one), it’s a good idea to ask ourselves, “Heyyyyy youuuu inside there, how are you doing?

The most important part of stress is this:  
Are you handling it okay?  

When I did this quiz, my stress results were very high. I knew they would be. There’s been a lot of change over the past 12 months. Along with the change, stress. Of course! It comes with the territory.

How we handle stress is what we need to measure.

Ask your closest relationships: Do you think I handle stress well?

For me personally, I’m making life-changing decisions and carving a new path – a path I want to live. The impact these changes are having on me, the inner-person Karen, are monumental. The paradox of this stress and change is that I’ve chosen it. I want the change.

Regardless, change comes with risk, which inevitably induces greater levels of stress.

Although stress is a complex subject, I know what I have to do in order to stay healthy.  I don’t want stress to invoke physical ailments.

Since I’m in a season of high stress (note:  a season), I find myself much more diligent in making sure I’m doing okay. Here are a few of my go-to’s that I find highly valuable and helpful:

  • Find the calm in the chaos.  (I continually say, “All will be well. I’m on the right path.  Keep going.”)
  • Spend time outdoors reflecting and pondering your thoughts.
  • Enjoy solitude and find time to think so you can unpack the clutter in your mind.
  • Give yourself permission to feel your fear, worry or uncertainty. (I used to stuff my feelings. I don’t do that anymore.)
  • Choose gratitude and every day speak out that for which you’re truly thankful.
  • Remind yourself that love is greater than stress. Stay connected with the people that mean the most to you!
  • Every year have a medical check up and blood work done to make sure you’re healthy.
  • Choose to eat healthy and drink lots of water.
  • Love laughing. (I make sure my days are filled with joy.)

Stress is a normal part of life, but it’s not to dominate our lives and it must not be given any controlling power on our circumstances.

– Karen Thrall

*also published on



The Price of Silence

6 Ways Nice People Can Manage Conflict by Travis Bradberry recently showed up on Huffington Post and I was struck by his first point: Consider the repercussions of silence. When it comes to conflict, we so often tend to think silence is easier – if we can just grit out teeth and get through it, things will be fine. But the behavior continues and we find ourselves rolling our eyes, coughing loudly, making snide comments and, before we know it, we find ourselves in passive aggressive territory, or even just aggressive territory. Both of which are surefire ways to make sure a problem doesn’t get resolved.

The reason this struck me as the first point is that silence is often viewed as not making a decision or the absences of a decision, but I would argue that it’s very much a decision – it’s a decision to allow the bothersome behavior to continue. We think people know their actions are problematic, but that assumes they make a conscious decision to make our lives difficult. And as much as we’d like to cast people in the role of villain, that just simply isn’t the case most of the time. They’re working with the information they have, which if we remain silent, is just one side of the story – their own.

If we don’t take the opportunity to speak up when we have a preference for something else when it comes to a behavior or decision, it’s just as much our fault if we don’t like the result. In the absence of anything else, our silence is our implicit endorsement. So next time you find yourself thinking it’s easier to stay quiet than to share your preference, think about how unhappy you’ll be next time that behavior occurs or a similar decision is made. Because with your silence, the only thing that’s guaranteed is that the same thing will happen again.

On the Job

The Gift of Communications

I’ve had several conversations lately that have taken me back to my undergrad classroom. One of the most memorable lessons I have from college was from a communications course. Our professor talked about how we envision our own messages – wrapped up in beautiful packages and neatly presented to the other people in our conversation. We imagine they’ll open that box and see our message just as we intended. And more importantly, we imagine they’ll see it just as we see it, since that’s how we packed it and presented it.

But we all view what’s in the box differently. We can experience the same content, but we apply our own lenses of experience to that message. We assign intent and motive, and each message is colored by those that have come before it. Each message is received differently based on who’s opening that box. We may have similar lenses, but no two people will experience anything exactly the same.

It’s a powerful reminder that our words can carry a lot of weight, but the context of what’s around our words matters a great deal. How are you presenting your communication gifts?



Book Reports

The Author of Your Story

Several friends had recommended Cheryl Strayed’s Wild to me, despite my idea of a good outdoor adventure being a patio at my favorite winery. But I like a well-told story and Strayed delivers just that. The story is about her solo journey along the Pacific Crest Trail of the West Coast. She decides to make the trip after the death of her mother, the end of her marriage and a general feeling of being lost in her own life. It’s a great book if you’re into the outdoors or if you’re into a good human interest story. The latter is the one that captured my attention.

At the time of her hike, Strayer wasn’t aware of any other women hiking the train alone. She came across some solo men hikers, but the women were always part of a pair of group. Strayer had enough to fear from the wilderness that didn’t have anything to do with her gender, but she also has some unique concerns as a solo woman hiker. That said, fairly early on in her hike, she made a conscious choice about how she would handle her fear.

Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me. Insisting on this story was a form of mind control, but for the most part, it worked.  – Cheryl Strayed

I love this quote for many reasons. First, she ties her emotions to the story she tells herself, which is something that resonates with me – facts and observations don’t upset or scare us. It’s the stories we tell ourselves about these facts and observations that lead us to feel something about them.  And secondly, that means Strayed decided for herself to buck what she’s been told as a woman and decide she would and could write the story of her choosing.

Sure, fear can keep us safe in a lot of situations. But fear can also hold us back if we let it be the sole author of our story. What’s writing your story?