Deliver. Old cliché but the proof is totally in the pudding.  

My daughters hate the word ‘deliver’. They claim I repeat it too often. I guess I do. But in order to prove any point, you not only have to create the idea (which is some ways is the easy part), but you have to figure out how to make that idea come to life.

When I was sent to Kuwait to monitor a corporate strategy, my boss – the CEO of the Bank – said ‘Would you like to be in charge of one of the deliverables’.  Immediate answer, ‘No, I will just monitor implementation’.  Well that lasted a few weeks and I found myself in charge of the most difficult element of the strategy – to create the ‘Bank of the Future’.  Not only had I never worked in retail banking, but the work involved in monitoring the strategy was all-consuming.  As life goes, it did not matter what I thought;  I was going to deliver the Bank of the Future.

The path to dream what this could be included moving mountains, culturally and from a banking perspective.  The Team internally was not supportive and I was the ‘bad guy’ (non-Arab woman) bringing change. I got the feeling no one but the CEO was supportive.  And thus, virtually no one was collaborative.  Back-stabbing, undermining, non participation and more were daily occurrences.

So I just figured it out on my own.  Brought the results in a state-of-the art presentation to the CEO and got the support from the Chairman.  Ready to go.

But sabatoge continued even as we broke ground on the new facility and bought and tested the equipment.  It was a quagmire.

However, I delivered a very cool concept with all the elements that were required present.  I even built a mock branch to walk through and decided how it would work in real life.

At this point, no one could deny, I delivered.  The only issue was “not invented here” and “not wanted here”.

In the end, it was discarded and I was thrown out.

But, I did deliver and it was pretty cool.  So proof is in the pudding, even if the powers that be chose differently.  My guess is they never thought I could do it and talk would not have convinced.  Building it did.

Focus. Getting distracted wastes time and breeds potential for failure.

2014 was a tough year for me.  I brought my father back to his condo from the retirement home in a quick decision that followed months of observing “little” things that didn’t seem to make sense.  My dad was not fully functioning and I couldn’t understand what was happening.

The process of deterioration was slow, but progressive and complex to a non-medical professional daughter who did not have any idea what she was facing.  Dementia was creeping inside a man who had a MBA from University of Chicago and had been more organized and on top of the latest technology than anyone I had met.  But at 87, something was wrong.

Between hundreds of doctors appointments, falling and calling me at 3 am in London to say he was on the floor in Florida, to begging the doctor to assign us hospice help, to finding caregivers who could be there 24/7, to making sure he had a new outfit for Easter, going to the beach for an evening drink, making all of his meals, sorting medicines, I was in over my head and swamped.

Meanwhile, I was asked to join a nanotechnology company based in Palo Alto, CA and learn the topic in order to deliver a $50 million fundraising task.  At this stage in my career, I was challenged to learn a new scientific topic, travel 10 time zones weeks at a time, and pull together the entire corporate strategy in an e-book.  (Sometimes my ideas take more work than I even expect!).

Focusing on what I was trying to learn and accomplish while dealing with a dying father was a challenge I really did not have the foresight to know what was ahead.  On one Friday morning after I moved him to a 24/7 care facility, I received a call he had fallen and was seriously hurt.  I spent 3 days in the hospital trying to sort out next steps.  We moved him to the caregivers home after a week in hospice care and he seemed to be recovering.

En route back to California from Europe I was in Chicago for my 40th High School reunion when my “purse was ringing all night”.  He had fallen again and broke his hip.  I found a flight at 1am and was in Florida by 10 am the next day, cancelling yet another work trip.  I sorted the hospice arrangements and flew back to work.

In this case, distraction from work was proving almost unbearable.  Dealing with the multiple events and sorting all of the care was overwhelming.

The only thing I could do was focus when I could with no interruptions and compartmentalize the trauma at home.

Somehow, dad hung on long enough for me to say goodbye with a smile.  The fundraising pitch got done in the most amazing production of my career and we are off and running on the fundraising.

In hindsight, all would have been easier if I were able to focus.  But I couldn’t master the unknown with dad and switch between a dying father and  Nanotechnology.  Somehow, I pulled it together and got the work done to a high standard.  Several months late, but what can you do.  We are only human.

What I learned from this experience is to focus on the task at hand fully and not let everything distract you.  Once I was able to take that approach, I got more done, everyone was better for it, dad was ok and the project complete.  Hindsight is 20/20 but focus was the only way I could manage this very tough year and still come out whole. Exhausted but I delivered to both my loved on and my work.

Let’s hope 2015 is easier.