Speaking of Allyship with Beth Chandler of YW Boston

February 8, 2023

Tune in here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/2079718/12127125


In this episode, Lisa Prior, President of The Boston Club, is joined by Beth Chandler, President and CEO of YW Boston.

Together they discuss:

  • How experiencing contradictions brought Beth into leadership
  • The importance of embracing difference on teams
  • YW Boston’s approach to equity work
  • What allyship means & examples of it
  • Intersectionality & being intersectional in our allyship
  • How to have uncomfortable conversations about gender & race

Tune in then subscribe to the show and follow Beth ChandlerYW Boston and The Boston Club on LinkedIn.


Tune in here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/2079718/12127125

Let’s Disrupt HR

October 21, 2019

In the movie, “Late Night,” actress and screen-play writer Mindy Kaling plays a wide-eyed career-shifter who leaps from her role as an excel-loving project manager in a chemical factory to a comedy writer on a hit television show. The morning of her first day of work as a writer, out of habit, she dresses up in a corporate-style dress. When her younger sister catches our heroine running out the door for her first day at the new job, the tween asks:

“Why are you dressed like you work in HR?”
The punch-line landed – a message from Hollywood that even screenwriters recognize that the HR profession is slow in adapting to the work of the future.

It’s time for a little disruption.During my career as a leadership coach and culture change agent, I’ve helped leaders and companies disrupt so they can grow. I now have the chance to share my vision of disruption on the stage in Boston.

Thank you, DisruptHR Boston, for the opportunity to be one of your speakers at the upcoming event November 6th here in my hometown!

Through my talk, WhoDunit? How Hollywood is Killing HR, I’ll share my views on what needs disrupting and the new roles that HR can play to create a refreshed and more powerful compact between employers and their people.

I’d love for you to join us and we have reserved a complimentary ticket for one of you!  All you need to do for a chance to win the ticket is join our contest by answering this one question:

When it comes to HR, what do you feel should be disrupted?

Enter our contest by simply commenting below your answer to the above question. Submissions are due by October 25th. We will put all the answers in a hat and randomly choose a winner, who will be notified of their win by email by November 1st.

Good luck!  We can’t wait to hear from you. Look for next month’s post where I’ll share highlights from my talk, highlights of the amazing wisdom my colleagues share on stage, as well as the wisdom shared by you all through your contest submissions.

Hope to see you November 6th!

Why Your Audacious Goal May Fail

June 5, 2019

It’s been a busy winter with lots of projects, clients and new writing goals – which brings me to the topic on my mind today: audacious goals…and how they can fail.

Who doesn’t love being inspired by a bold vision or audacious goal?

The lure of going where no one has gone before can be scintillating. An audacious goal draws in other pathbreakers; provides a rallying cry for your start-up business or big project. Yet over the past few months, through various executive coaching discussions and board meetings, the truth revealed itself to me.

Audacious goals can be a bad idea in the real world.­­

Years ago, in their book Built to Last, Jerry Porras and Jim Collins introduced the idea of audacious goals.They called them “big hairy audacious goals” or “BHAGs”, to be specific. According to these researchers/authors, the “built to last companies,” a group of 18 visionary long-lasting companies that outperformed their peers on financial measures in the stock market, reached for the stars in terms of disrupting the market place. Since the book was published, countless corporate websites claim “audacious goals” as part of their cultural fabric; untold leaders have drawn their teams in with the promise of the promised land. ­

In my coaching with executives, I see leaders who are reaching for big ideas and bold moves. From charting a ground-breaking path in the marketplace, to testing out exciting new partnerships or aggressive time lines, to stepping into the “chief” role when you’ve usually been the person behind the chief.

The main problem: setting the big vision is the easy part. It’s how to get there that’s the challenge. When jumping into the rapids, it’s easy to get pulled down.

So how do you chart a clear course?

·  Monitor your internal dialogue. In each situation, it wasn’t just the goal that was the challenge. It was the internal dialogue the executive had with themselves about why they couldn’t do it. Instead of taking a bold step forward, they were each hiding behind more tactical operations—I just don’t have time; there aren’t enough resources. Self-doubt tripped them up as they wondered, ‘do I have what it takes to succeed?’

· Go for an experiment instead of perfection. Taking the first step is a common barrier. Don’t try to be perfect. In fact, expect that your first step will not be perfect and break off a component. What’s some small part you could try? Is there a different kind of content?  While you’re putting that big stake in the ground, what small step would get you closer to a meaningful end?

· Reach out to someone who can help. Find a coach or mentor who can help. An executive coach is a great idea, but there are already people in your network who would be honored to be a sounding board.

It’s a biological fact: we humans are vulnerable to shiny objects, which trigger associations with water, a necessary nutrient for our growth and sustainability. Audacious goals are the shiny objects and the nutrients of business. As leaders, we thirst for the fresh idea that will sustain and grow our business.

So chart the course and you will achieve that goal

Finding Your Refuge, Your “Island of Sanity” through Peer Coaching

October 24, 2018

Fall is upon us. After summer vacation and quieter days online or in the office, activity boils back in a rush and suddenly it’s one stream of “I need this now,” “You’re the only one who can help,” “We’ve moved up the deadline on that project.” To handle all this activity, author Meg Wheatley says you need an “island of sanity,” a retreat or refuge where you can reclaim your best qualities and self. I learned about this idea from my friend and colleague Gabrielle Ganswindt, who studied with Meg and leads dialogue circles.

Peer coaching can serve as an island of sanity, for you and for others in your organization. Peer coaching is an outcome-oriented method that helps you take a step back, a look in the mirror, and gain a refreshed view of your work and life situation. A new perspective for rethinking where you would like to make a change or improvement. With peer coaching, you’ll make better choices, have more courage and skill to protect time and energy for the things that really matter; and feel more engaged and connected.

In our previous post, we introduced peer coaching and its benefits, relaying rigorous research by Polly Parker, Douglas T. Hall, Kathy E. Kram, and Ilene C. Wasserman and codified in their book, “Peer Coaching at Work: Principles and Practices.” In this newsletter, we’ll explore the first of three steps to successfully implement peer coaching, based on their research and my own experience with leaders and teams.



  • Choose a format. For example, will coaching take place 1-1 or in groups?
  • Create a strong foundation for the relationship.
  • Provide tools people can use to deepen self-awareness and get to know one another.
  • Establish agreements and commitments.

1-1 or Groups?

Peer coaching works in pairs or in groups. As an example, in a recent emerging leader program, we worked with the client to establish peer coaching groups that would support individuals in creating “Action Learning Projects.” These are specific products or services each individual would produce that were closely tied to the participants’ individual goals and objectives. Their peer coaches helped them think through their choices.Whether groups or 1-1, Parker, Hall, Kram and Wasserman’s research suggests that it is crucial that participants choose their peer coaching partners.

The first step to creating a successful peer coaching relationship is to create a strong foundation. Here’s how:

In any team or coaching relationship, a strong foundation is essential for success. Here are just a few of the elements:

 Personal sharing. I believe that personal sharing is the process of becoming more visible as a person, or unhiding. With today’s pace of organizations and the exponential rate of change and new knowledge, no one has the answers but many of us hide this, we hide our weaknesses, afraid to admit what we don’t know. On the flip side, we can lose sight of our strengths, which are essential to share.

 Norms/Agreements/Ground Rules/Principles: Whatever you call them, research has shown that the most productive relationships and teams are based upon agreed upon norms that each individual honors and practices. Example agreements:

  • Confidentiality
  • Promptness
  • Assume positive intent
  • Listen
  • Challenge

Commitments: If you’re embarking on a voyage to an “island of sanity,” you won’t reach your destination without commitment. Barriers will arise—the last minute, unexpected client deliverable; school calls and the kids are sick; budgets shrink. A sacred commitment is what you are willing to do to make your peer coaching situation a success.

Fall is upon us but December will be here before we know it. Time flies even if work-meetings seem to drag on and on. You reclaim your personal power over your circumstances by making time and saving energy for the things that truly matter. Using peer coaching, as your island of sanity, will help you get there.

Peer Coaching: The New Buddy System at Work

September 13, 2018

Recently, I took the plunge and started taking lessons toward scuba certification. That’s where I met Carmen Shultz, scuba instructor #8765432. Carmen proudly bares sun-damage spots and jelly-fish scars like war medals. Whether our group was in the classroom or in “confined waters” the right answers to Carmen’s quiz questions was, “the buddy system.”

Run out of air? Turn to your buddy.



Tangled in kelp? Signal your buddy.



Encounter a great white in the Boston Harbor? Stay close to your buddy.

Back up on the surface, organizational life has become a lot like the unpredictable waters below. The changing work of the future is here now and the waters are choppy.

For example, we’ve come to accept that 70% of the workforce is disengaged. One of the big reasons, studies show, is that people feel they don’t have a manager who cares or a buddy who has their back. This matters because we need an engaged workforce to deliver results.



  •  Peer coaching involves peers of equal status who support each other’s journey and goals.
  • For success, you must implement peer coaching correctly.
  • Use these three research-based steps to implement peer coaching in your organization.

Does organizational life need a buddy-system? 

Yes! But the old “mentoring” programs, when a wise sage imparted knowledge to a fledgling executive, don’t meet today’s needs. Instead, peer coaching has surfaced within the last ten years as a crucial and possibly more outcome-oriented alternative.

What is peer coaching? Is it different from mentoring?

Peer coaching is a “focused relationship between individuals of equal status who support each other’s personal and professional goals,” say my colleagues Polly Parker, Douglas Hall, Kathy Kram and Ilene Wasserman, in their latest book, “Peer Coaching at Work: Principles and Practices.” Through decades of research, these  experts in the field of mentoring and peer coaching have pinpointed the critical success factors that make peer coaching work.

Peer coaching is for everyone. In a world where no single person has the answers, we need to make the workplace safe for people to admit when they don’t have knowledge or skills and make it easy for them to seek advice and support. This will lead to greater organizational efficiency and ease in accomplishing the audacious goals organizations—and individuals—need to achieve to survive.

Why seek a peer coach or implement a peer coaching approach for your organization?

Peer coaching delivers what many people seek—opportunities to grow and develop, to feel connected. In their research, Parker, Hall,  Kram and Wasserman found the surprising benefits of peer coaching include greater “zest, empowered action, new knowledge and skills, enhanced self-awareness and a desire for more connection.” All of the benefits are well-accepted components of employee engagement.

Learning is a social process: cognitive scientists tell us that we learn and retain more when in relation with other people, a common trait of both mentoring and coaching. But I find peer coaching to be different from mentoring for several reasons:

  • Mutual goal-setting. Mentoring assumes that the mentor has knowledge to impart. The peer coaching process requires each learner to set goals and help the other move toward achieving those goals.
  • Method. Mentoring is often informal. Peer coaching uses a proven method – evidence-based approaches and tools which elicit insights and meaning and translate them into action.
  • Accountability. Mentors do not hold mentees accountable for outcomes. Peer coaching processes build-in accountability mechanisms.
  • Assumptions. Mentors may or may not be skilled in challenging mentees to face and challenge the assumptions that drive their behaviors. Peer coaching is a skilled process for surfacing assumptions.
  • Feedback and Feedforward. Mentors may pull punches or not. Peer coaches hold a mirror for one another and aren’t afraid to offer a picture of their colleague’s behavior and impact, or to offer advice for future success.

How can you successfully implement peer coaching in your organization?

Parker, Hall,  Kram and Wasserman outline three, evidenced-based steps for seeking a peer coach or for implementing an approach for your organization:

  1. Create a strong foundation for the peer coaching relationship.
  2. Create success through method, skills and self-awareness.
  3. Make peer coaching a habit, for yourself and for your organization.

In each of the next three newsletters, we’ll take a deeper dive into each of these steps, so you have a roadmap for implementing this new-economy way of generating knowledge, innovation, insight, engagement and connection, for yourself and for others.

What impressed me most about Carmen, scuba instructor #8765432, was her forceful yet caring way of ensuring that we each did what was needed to survive the unexpected while underwater. When it comes to scuba diving, I can’t imagine going to any depth without a buddy.

Like Carmen, all scuba instructors are required to have a number. People have come to feel like numbers in organizational life. Peer coaching is an important solution to creating a more human workplace, with greater depth of connection and learning.

But buyer beware: peer coaching isn’t just getting together for tea or happy hour. Success is a matter of being intentional. Before you take the plunge into peer coaching, make sure you have a plan.

The Secret to Leading Effectively in the New Way of Work

May 11, 2018

It’s not your grandfather’s world of work, when everything was connected, from the factory town to lunch breaks at Mom and Pop’s on Main street.

What’s the secret to bringing people together to work with passion toward a common purpose, vision and goals in the new way of work?

The answer: Depth of Connection.

I’ve been speaking about Depth of Connection in my talk, Who Dunit? How Hollywood is Killing HR from stages in Pittsburgh, Dallas and Charlotte. I even opened one night in front of a Comedy Improv audience in Dallas, which is hilarious because you, my friends and colleagues, all know that I’m not actually funny.

What is Depth of Connection?

It’s the human glue that brings effective teams together—when people find the win-win in the NeXus between the needs of the organization and the person. Communities fit in there too, but we’ll talk about that another day.

You—the leader—create Depth of Connection in the workplace when you create the conditions for people to find the three things they crave most from the work experience:

  • Purpose: For some, this means a project or task that is personally meaningful; for others, it’s a paycheck they can live on.
  • Relationships: Everyone wants a boss who has their back; colleagues who care. Everyone.
  • Development: In a world changing at a pace 300 times faster than any point in human history, professional development enables people of all levels to take charge of their lives by taking charge of their careers.

How can you, the leader, create Depth of Connection?

Use my 4-EQ’s.
 To bring more Depth of Connection into your team, ask people to share their answers to my 4 Easy Questions, which I shared when I keynoted at this year’s Mass Bay Project Management Institute 40th Anniversary Conference:

1. Which role do I tend to play on teams?
2. How do I prefer to contribute and be included?
3. What is something I would like to learn or experience as a result of being part of this team?
4. What do I need from this team to be successful

Avanti: Stop Being, Start Doing

March 23, 2018

Much of my writing is about The Nexus – that magical intersection where your professional passions merge with the needs and goals of your organization to create a win/win that moves productivity forward toward the big goals. That is the core of my recent book and the foundation of what I coach leaders about how to get the best out of themselves and their organizations.

But when I look at my own Nexus and how I got there, I see a winding path and there were times I got stuck…

Many of you were with me along the journey of another book I started to write many years ago, When We Were Made in America. (That’s the latest title. I haven’t given up on that work.) After Grub Street, Boston’s premier, national creative writing center, accepted me into their 10-month pilot program called the Non-Fiction Career Lab, I imagined I’d write that book in nine months. But I struggled with the lack of self-confidence that comes at mid-career when you dare to leap from something you know (leadership coaching and organizational consulting) to the unknown, which for me was non-fiction writing. When I settled in my seat every Wednesday, I felt intimidated by the sheer talent of my instructors and classmates, who included a brilliant New York Times columnist, a celebrated local author, and rising-star classmate whose work was immediately featured in Boston Magazine. They were quick to pick up nuanced ideas and writing conventions and used sophisticated words.

But what stood out the most, is they got up to bat, made more shots on goal, submitted their writing to journals, periodicals and magazines and got back on the horse, rejection after rejection. My friend Molly submitted an essay to more than 100 outlets and never gave up until she got that essay published. Between you and me, I took one shot on goal and submitted an article to HBR, got rejected and didn’t submit anything else.  Struggling to find the core message of my writing, I felt miserable; disconnected; farther from The Nexus than when I’d started. I froze and could not move forward.

Have you seen this bumper sticker that advises, “You’re a Human Being, not a Human Doing”? I hate that bumper sticker because the truth is I am happiest when I act; move forward. Don’t get me wrong, there are many benefits to being still and reflecting. “We don’t learn by doing, we learn by reflecting on doing,” the educator John Dewey famously said. But we can’t remain frozen in our dreams or thoughts without acting in the world, without taking a shot on goal or getting up to bat once we’ve decided on a goal, direction or purpose.

My heritage is Italian, and my family spent a few years living in Rome, Italy. Italians use the word avanti, which means “move forward.” Action is what enables you to gain experience and learn about the world, a topic, someone else; yourself. I find myself not wanting to sit still. I want to be in the world. To be connected. To move forward. With verve.

How about you? From this perch, with so much of 2018 still ahead, what is your “doing”? What is something you’ve been wanting to do but have been afraid, frozen?

Write that down, let it sink in … and then say AVANTI!

What is your NEXUS?

February 20, 2018

I write from my kitchen table on a frosty January morning, still thinking about the year ahead:

What are my goals?

Who do I want to be?

When I look back at this year, from the vantage point of being a 90-year old in a rocking chair, what will have been most important? What will I feel good about? What will I want to remember from 2018?

The year 2017 brought many blessings, including the warm reception for Take Charge of Your VIEW: Career Advice You Won’t Get From Your Boss. With that book and the bustle that followed came a greater sense of moving toward my life purpose.

The goal I set for the beginning of 2018 to was to articulate what my work is about – in one word.

Big companies are known for a brand, an intangible quality beyond the product they offer.

Starbucks offers lifestyle; their stores have a vibe they call “verve.”

Disney offers happiness through magic.

At Prior Consulting, we provide leadership coaching and change consulting. But what one word can capture the essence of the unique way our vision and work impacts the world?

I brainstormed the things we do:

Win-Win relationships
Future of Work

But none of these fully capture the essence of how our clients shift when we work together. Digging deeper, I realized that my specialty is helping clients zoom in on where these ideas connect, where they join together to make something bigger—what I call The Nexus..

Your Nexus is where your work feels connected to a deeper purpose; where your vision and passion intersect with the goals and needs of your organization; your community and the world.

The Nexus is where we connect to each other, and ourselves, to make something bigger happen.

What is your Nexus? Who will you connect with in 2018 to create something bigger? And how will you together make your mark in the world?

Recent media events:

Interview in Forbes.com by Jessica Lutz:  If You Feel Stuck at Work, Quitting Might Not Be Your Best Option


TV interview on The Take with Sue O’Connel on NECN/ NBC 10 Boston


Article published on Recruiter.com: Feeling Stuck? How to Make Your Old Job Feel New




November 22, 2017

It’s that time of year to think about what we are thankful for. With the publication of my book this year and the rush of excitement and events that followed, my thoughts go back to how my journey as an author started twenty years ago…at midnight on Thanksgiving.

Turkey leftovers chilled in the refrigerator. Our six-week old son and three-year old daughter slept upstairs in my in-laws’ home. The tables were cleaned, lights dimmed. I sat alone at the kitchen table, cursor blinking on the laptop, and typed the first words on a research paper on career development I had been invited to publish through the Executive Development Roundtable at Boston University.

At midnight, my father in-law appeared at the kitchen doorway. “What are doing?” he asked. I replied that if I didn’t write up my research findings on the career development practices of 17 organizations now, I’d never find time when I returned to work. The world was changing. Jobs were changing. A new way of work was emerging. Career development would be key to the success of employees and employers alike.

Fast-forward twenty years.
 This past June, that six-week old baby, now a wonderful young man, accompanied me to the New York Book Expo to launch, “Take Charge of Your VIEW: Career Advice You Won’t Get From Your Boss.” The reception since then has been amazing. In the months ahead, you’ll hear more about my interviews with Forbes; the Economist; podcasters and radio stations across the country, and even a few case studies about how organizations have been using my book to build win-win relationships so people bring their best selves to their work and organizations achieve bold goals. Everyone thrives today and tomorrow. That’s the vision I share in my book.

I can’t find the words to express my heartfelt thanks to so many of you who have been with me along this journey. From old friends to new champions, you’ve filled my heart with the belief that it takes a village to get anything worthwhile accomplished. Thank you for so much support.

Speaking of gratitude.
 Because I always want this column to be practical, I’d like to share a gratitude tip I’ve picked up in my work as a Research Coach for physicians coping with stress and burnout due to mounting pressures and change. If you want more flow and satisfaction in your work today, keep a gratitude journal and make it specific. Flow is that feeling of being completely absorbed in work that you love. Gratitude is “the strength most associated with life satisfaction, happiness, achievement, building better relationships and improvements in psychological and physical health,” say the researchers at The VIA Institute.[i] Your gratitude journal memorializes moments of flow. I’ve noticed that the people who get the most from this practice make it specific. You can too. Answer these three questions each day:

-What is one thing you are grateful for today?
-What is one specific interaction with a colleague, customer, or boss that you felt good about?
-What is one pearl of wisdom, something you learned?

TIP: Consider starting a gratitude journal this week, during Thanksgiving, a time of being thankful and reflecting on what is good.

Wishing you and your loved-ones abundant peace this Thanksgiving, and the life and career of your dreams along the path.

With gratitude,

PS: To my Boston area friends, Take Charge of Your VIEW will soon be available at Newtonville Books and at Brookline Booksmith!

The Remaining Secrets of Great Teams

July 21, 2017

Before my new book on career development, Take Charge of Your VIEW, launched last month, I was writing to you about the five key ingredients in the secret sauce that makes great teams. I took a break from this to let everyone know about my book release, but am now returning to let you know the remaining ingredients that lead to success.

A quick reminder, the first three ingredients are the need to inspire purpose, establish team norms and support each other.

Here are the final two ingredients:

Ingredient #4: Ownership

What I believe: when it comes to work, quality is love. My Nana’s sauce was delicious because she sweated the details: she hovered over the bubbling red liquid to ensure it simmered at just the right temperature, protected it from high heat, and focused her attention as she added salt or oregano.

Your work quality is your love. It reflects the time and energy you are willing to allocate to provide great service, produce a great product, be a great Manager/Leader.

Crucial to ownership is understanding that group quality is every individual team member’s job. Each team member is the one person ultimately responsible for their own tasks and when each individual achieves, the team as a whole achieves.

Tips you can use: In your next team meeting, ask each team member to describe what quality means to them. Tell them about why you are passionate about your work. What do you love? How can the team help one another demonstrate ownership for what you achieve together?

Ingredient #5: Trustworthiness

What’s the most important ingredient in the relationship between team members? Trust, you say?

Philosopher Onora O’Neill respectfully disagrees. Focusing on trust “gets the equation backwards,” O’Neill says in her TedTalk. Trust is something other people earn from you. Trustworthiness, on the other hand, is something you earn from other people.

O’Neill defines trustworthiness as your capacity to consistently demonstrate three qualities, being:

  • Reliable: you follow through with commitments and keep promises.
  • Sincere: you are transparent about your motives.
  • Competent: you demonstrate the skills needed to get the job done.

Instead of worrying about how your colleagues need to earn your trust, be the kind of person that your colleagues trust. You will not only get more done together, but will have more fun doing it.

Tips you can use: In your next team meeting, ask team members to describe how they can personally demonstrate more trustworthiness.

That’s a wrap! Thanks for going on this journey with me to uncover the 5 key ingredients in the secret sauce of great teams:

  1. Inspiring Purpose
  2. Team Norms
  3. Supporting Each Other
  4. Ownership of the Work
  5. Trustworthiness

I hope you’ve taken away some useful insights and practical tips.

In the meantime, I wish you and your teams much satisfaction and success, wherever you are in your journey.

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