Planners’ Picks — January 9, 2024

Planners’ Picks  A collection of resources from CSN planning committee members worth mentioning

Let’s finalize our Word Of The Year, prepare for some change, and tap into our creativity this week in PP. We’re also asking for your input on the future direction of CSN events in a short survey.


:: Image of the Week

Apricity: the warmth of the sun in winter.

Even in the cold of winter, we can look for bright spots and warmth in nature and our relationships.


:: Self-Leadership Development

What’s Your Word Of The Year For 2024?

What’s your Word of the Year for 2024? This has become a popular exercise for people in recent years, in addition to or instead of goal setting. This is a great alternative to New Year’s Resolutions or a way to organize all of your different goals. Not familiar with this concept? Here’s an article from photographer Elisabeth McKnight on ideas for choosing a word:

Rich Gassen’s take on this exercise:
My 2023 word was “curiosity,” which is one of my core values. Anything you focus on will start to bubble up more in your environment: when you buy a car, you suddenly start seeing the same model all over town where you didn’t notice them before. When you focus on a word, instances of that word become very apparent to you.

Curiosity at its core is a way to be open to listening more, trying new things, or understanding others’ perspectives. Having this as my word for 2023 broadened my views on many things, and exposed me to situations and people that I may not have considered engaging with previously.

For 2024, I am adopting “creativity” as my word, which is another of my core values. I have been an artist and creative person all my life, but creativity is more than art; it’s a way of looking at problems in a different way, it’s how you lead others within the constraints you are given, and it’s being more thoughtful and experimental in your actions. I see this expanding my world in several ways in the coming months as I focus intently on the creative process for challenges I face in work and play.

From another CSN planner, Nancy Kujak-Ford:

My word for 2023 was “strength.” Yes, I wanted to MOVE more to become physically stronger. However, I found that new muscles formed around valuing true relationships, prioritizing my needs, and beginning to understand what healthy boundaries look like. While I don’t have the “gains” that I thought I would, I think I strengthened my relationship with myself. In 2024, I hope to continue to discover new possibilities that I didn’t know existed. 

My 2024 word is “shed.” In life, we have a habit of picking up habits, practices, and responsibilities that we think define our value to the world. This year, I will look for opportunities to shed habits in my work that prevent me from developing as a supervisor and colleague. I will release past ways of communicating with my friends and family to build stronger, deeper relationships. Finally, I hope to use the new space created to fill it with things that bring me joy and light! Sometimes, we pick up things along the way that we need to put back down because it isn’t our job to carry the weight of them. This new path will be illuminated from the shadows of expectations that I have been carrying for so long.

From planner Heidi Udelhoven:

My 2024 word is “connection.” This year I am working to rebuild and strengthen relationships that have weakened over time, to broaden my network of social and professional contacts and friendships. 

And finally from planner Carol Hulland:

My 2024 word is “harmony.” To me, that means paying attention, to bring richness, depth and nuance to the whole. There’s also space for uniqueness and creativity in there.

We want to hear what you choose for a word of the year, and have a cool way to display them all! To go (enter code 7264 165) and enter your word, and then visit to see all of the entries from our group in a word cloud. The more people who participate, the more interesting this exercise will be. Thank you all for your leadership and participation!

Mel Robbins Best Year Ever Workbook and Journal

Mel Robbins became one of the most trusted experts in change and motivation the hard way: by first screwing up her own life. Download the FREE, 29-page workbook designed with science-backed exercises and journaling prompts to get clear about what you want and what you need to do to get it in the new year…

Mel’s in a category all her own. As one of the world’s most widely followed and listened to podcast hosts and authors, she’s sought after by the world’s leading brands and medical professionals who use her research-backed tools and strategies in clinical and corporate settings. At the same time, she has amassed 12 million followers online, with her videos going viral almost daily.

Check out this resource to help you map out ways to make 2024 your best year.


:: CSN’s Book of the Week Recommendation

The Creative Act: A Way of Being

From the legendary music producer, a master at helping people connect with the wellsprings of their creativity, comes a beautifully crafted book many years in the making that offers that same deep wisdom to all of us. Leadership at its core is coming up with creative solutions to problems and challenges we face in our teams. We’re all creative in different ways.

“I set out to write a book about what to do to make a great work of art. Instead, it revealed itself to be a book on how to be.” —Rick Rubin

Many famed music producers are known for a particular sound that has its day. Rick Rubin is known for something else: creating a space where artists of all different genres and traditions can home in on who they really are and what they really offer. He has made a practice of helping people transcend their self-imposed expectations in order to reconnect with a state of innocence from which the surprising becomes inevitable. Over the years, as he has thought deeply about where creativity comes from and where it doesn’t, he has learned that being an artist isn’t about your specific output, it’s about your relationship to the world. Creativity has a place in everyone’s life, and everyone can make that place larger. In fact, there are few more important responsibilities.

The Creative Act is a beautiful and generous course of study that illuminates the path of the artist as a road we all can follow. It distills the wisdom gleaned from a lifetime’s work into a luminous reading experience that puts the power to create moments—and lifetimes—of exhilaration and transcendence within closer reach for all of us. Some notable excerpts:

Awareness needs constant refreshing. If it becomes a habit, even a good habit, it will need to be reinvented again and again. Until one day, you notice that you are always in the practice of awareness, at all times, in all places, living our life in a state of constant openness to receiving.” p45

“There’s a reason we are drawn to gazing at the ocean. It is said the ocean provides a closer reflection to who we are than any mirror.” p53

In Japanese poetry, there’s an artful form of repair called kintsugi. When a piece of ceramic pottery breaks, rather than trying to restore it to its original condition, the artisan accentuates the fault by using gold to fill the cracks. This beautifully draws attention to where the work was broken, creating a golden vein. Instead of the flaw diminishing the work, it becomes a focal point, an area of both physical and aesthetic strength. The scar also tells the story of the piece, chronicling its past experience.

We can apply this same technique to ourselves and embrace our imperfections. Whatever insecurities we have can be reframed as a guiding force to our creativity. They only become a hindrance when they prevent our ability to share what’s closest to our heart.”  p81

“The heart of open-mindedness is curiosity. Curiosity doesn’t take sides or insist on a single way of doing things. It explores all perspectives, always open to new ways, always seeking to arrive at original insights. Craving constant expansion, it looks upon the outer limits of the mind with wonder. It pushes to expose falsely set boundaries and break through to new frontiers.”  p285


:: Creativity

How to Access Your Creativity

Here’s a great interview with Rick Rubin and Andrew Huberman about creativity.

We are all creative in our special ways; even if you’re not an artist, you’re coming up with creative ways to solve the daily challenges we encounter.

Rick is the author of a new book, “The Creative Act: A Way of Being,” (featured above) which explores the creative process and how to access creativity. I read it cover to cover and took a lot of ideas away from it, along with confirming why I do much of what I do in a creative process.

If you enjoy their conversation, search for the follow-up podcast from them about protocols for creativity. Both have countless gems within their hours.

“The odds increase, the more you try.” – James Clear

How Boredom Can Lead To Your Most Brilliant Ideas

Do you sometimes have your most creative ideas while folding laundry, washing dishes, or doing nothing in particular? It’s because when your body goes on autopilot, your brain gets busy forming new neural connections that connect ideas and solve problems. Learn to love being bored as Manoush Zomorodi explains the connection between spacing out and creativity.


:: Work Culture & Team Development

Five Actionable Tips to Beat the January Blues

This list is from the crew at Friday Pulse, a group promoting workplace happiness and culture improvements.

  1. Connect

Remember that you are not alone. Reach out and connect with your co-workers and friends. Remote working can be a little lonely, so why not try connecting with a different team member each week?

  1. Get outside

January can be cold and miserable but make time to venture out. Even if it’s for just 30 minutes every day, going for a walk or a run outside will help you feel and work better.

  1. A sense of humor

Laughter really is the best medicine! Many of us miss office camaraderie when working remotely, so take time here and there to share a joke with your colleagues, and find the funny side of tricky situations

  1. Variety and fun

Think about what’s brought you joy in the past, and do more of it in 2024. Maybe it’s even time to start that new hobby you’ve been talking about! Having focus outside of work can help build a healthy work-life balance.

  1. Cut out bad habits

Don’t underestimate the power of the new year – it provides a clean slate and is the perfect time to disrupt bad habits.

“If you’re leading and no one is following, you’re just taking a walk.” – John Maxwell

5 Ways to Disagree Respectfully at Work

Work disagreements are a good thing. Having the psychological safety at work to voice an opinion that’s different from the consensus can feel extremely liberating. Plus, it’s often good for business. Experts say that differences of opinion can lead to new and innovative ways of thinking and, eventually, to better camaraderie among coworkers.

Read more in this Korn Ferry article.

Helping Middle Managers in Current Landscapes of Work

Employers who value their future leaders have a problem. A recent survey shows that 70% of middle managers would love to return to being independent contributors (ICs) if they could keep the same pay. Even more alarming is that executives already know this — 74% agreed their middle managers would love to return to being independent contributors if they could keep the same pay, too.

According to research by The Predictive Index (PI) in partnership with HR Dive’s studioID, executives know middle managers have some concerns — but they’re either not focusing on the right solutions or disagree on what’s truly troubling middle management. Beyond wanting to return to being an IC, more than one in four middle managers (28%) also feel stuck in their roles. Why?

From a shortage of resources to a lack of senior support, this report connects the dots for executives to go from knowing there’s a problem to understanding the diagnosis — and how to fix it. Read on to learn what’s keeping middle managers stuck and how to address their most prominent red flags.

“Never tell people ‘how’ to do things. Tell them ‘what’ to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” –General George S. Patton


:: Mental Health and Self-Care

4 Scientific Secrets to Happiness

Back in 1938, scientists at Harvard University embarked upon an ambitious longitudinal study to track the health of 724 people. The group was a combination of Harvard sophomores and low-income teenage boys in Boston. The goal was simple: Follow them from childhood to their senior years to determine what makes a person happy and healthy.

Today, 85 years later, the Harvard Study of Adult Development is considered one of the world’s longest-running studies of adult life and human happiness.  Read this article from Dr. Melissa Hughes on the four secrets to happiness (none of which are more material things…).

“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.” ― Karl Barth


:: Communication

How to Use Social Media Intentionally

One of your colleagues recently asked: When I log onto social media I end up scrolling and wasting time. Do you have a schedule of how you can use it intentionally to move your business forward?

Social media can be a serious time suck. The average person spends 147 minutes per day on social platforms. (And if we’re being honest, I bet a lot of us spend quite a bit more than that!) It’s easy to get distracted and waste time scrolling, even if you intend to grow your business or attract new staff.

The key is to use social media intentionally. And I’ve found that having a checklist can help you stay focused and on track.

Networking When You Hate Talking to Strangers

The power of serendipity is hot in business circles. Silicon Valley campuses have been constructed to foster more “random collisions.” One key to creativity, many thinkers say, is unexpected interactions.  “Create spaces where you’re wandering around and exposing yourself to new people,” John Hagel of Deloitte’s Center for the Edge told me in an interview. And venture capitalist Anthony Tjan and his colleagues conducted an expansive survey of entrepreneurs that revealed a quarter of them self-identified as lucky and traced their success to embracing serendipitous encounters.

All that is well and good – for people who don’t mind talking to strangers. But as an introvert, one of the situations I hate most is making small talk with people I don’t know. Here’s how I’ve managed to strike the balance between meeting new people – and being exposed to interesting new ideas – and not having to initiate awkward conversations.

Dorie Clark lays out some advice on how to navigate networking and social situations better, with four tips for you in this HBR article.


:: Change Management

How to Keep Your Company Culture Strong Over Time

Imagine shaping a company’s culture not with brute force, but with the finesse of a craftsman. As a business coach for more than twenty-five years, I have worked with thousands of businesses to help them develop a company culture that not only works for their business and their customers but will also withstand the test of time. This is the essence of the “culture hammer” — which is a tool that I teach our business coaching clients, about wielding shaping moments with care and persistence, thus creating a lifetime legacy for their business moving forward.

Read on for how you too can use the “culture hammer” to create a lasting company culture.


:: Help Us Strategize for 2024!

CSN 2024 Survey

The planners of CSN are asking for your input! We have appreciated over eight years of connecting, collaborating, and celebrating with you. We want to continue to learn, grow, and support you all in the coming years, and would love to hear from you and how we create the community and learning space that helps you continue to develop as a person. Please spend a few minutes responding to our survey as we would consider a sign of appreciation from you.