Margaret Graziano | Founder | KeenAlignment

Resiliency, Review, Re-calibrate are the three R(s) required in leadership. Resiliency to manage the hurdles of being a business leader, the ability to review – to regularly check in with yourself and evaluate how you’re doing and finally, to recalibrate – to shift when needed. Leading with these leadership traits Margaret Graziano asserts “I take myself through this process on a small scale weekly and then on a major scale annually so that I’m clear on what I want to say yes to in the coming year and that I’m operating in alignment with my values.” She is the Founder of KeenAlignment, a company which empowers mission-driven organizations to accomplish their vision through aligning people, purpose and strategy.

Below are highlights of the interview conducted between Insights Success and Margaret Graziano:

Give a brief overview of your background and your role in KeenAlignment.

I began my career as a single mom, with a high school education, working in a straight commission recruiting role. After rising to a top performer in the company, I started my own recruiting business and sold it in 2008. Throughout this time period, I dedicated 20 hours per week to volunteer opportunities in the human potential industry and after ten years, I knew that helping people live extraordinary lives by transforming the world of work was my calling. Unfortunately, my own limited thinking kept me from believing I could actually pursue that passion. So, when I entered into a business relationship with someone who was not in alignment with my values, it came as no shock that the business fell apart.

At rock bottom, I no longer had anything to lose by pursuing my dream. Today, I work with business leaders to create intentional cultures that even they are inspired to be a part of. We help them articulate the difference they’re committed to making and define the values they want to operate by. As a result, we’ve enabled more than 50 businesses and over 350 leaders to become conscious stewards of their teams and their organization’s mission.

How do you diversify your solutions that appeal to your target audience? 

Our cultural transformation model is based on the organization’s constraints and our solutions are modularized so different components can be arranged according to each organization’s unique strengths, values and strategic objectives. By the end of our time together, our customer’s mission is alive and actionable throughout the organization. Our customers experience reduced operating expenses, increased employee retention, improved employee contribution and performance, improved customer experience, revenue growth, and more.

Describe some of the vital attributes that every businesswoman should possess. 

  • Know your “why.” Why are you in the role as a woman leader? What’s important to you? What difference are you making? It’s crucial to be deeply connected to what your values are, who you are in life, and what you’re committed to.
  • Connection – understand your team, what they need, what’s important to them and how they contribute to your business. I call this “systems thinking.” It’s the ability to see what needs to be accomplished in each role to move your business forward.
  • Relationship management – Women don’t give themselves enough opportunities to build and nurture relationships with other professional women and we need to do a better job of this. It’s vital to spend time with people at the same level of commitment in the world and who share your values. When that happens, we’re all going to accomplish much more, faster.
  • Self-care – Self-care is directly related to neuroplasticity. And the five elements of neuroplasticity are sleep, exercise, nutrition, novelty and mindfulness. Tending to these elements boosts your energy, stamina and resilience, which are critical to success.
  • The three R’s – Resiliency, Review, Recalibrate. Resiliency to manage hurdles, to regularly review and evaluate how you’re doing and finally, to recalibrate or shift when needed. I take myself through this process on a small scale weekly and then on a major scale annually so that I’m clear on what I want to say yes to in the coming year and that I’m operating in alignment with my values.

What were the past experiences, achievements or lessons that shaped Margaret’s journey? 

Making and learning from my mistakes is a theme weaved through all of my life experiences – from marrying someone to please my mother and staying in that unhealthy marriage for longer than I should have, to not holding people accountable and tolerating a lack of performance in my recruiting firm, to partnering with a person who was philosophically misaligned with how I wanted to operate my company – those adversities and challenges where I didn’t honor my intuition and wisdom, forced me to build resilience, learn from my mistakes and reshape how I moved forward in my life.

What were some of the primal challenges and roadblocks that Margaret Graziano faced during the initial phase of her journey? 

My primal challenges are deeply rooted in questions like: “Am I good enough? Do I have what it takes?” It has quieted down through my own personal development work, however early on, it dominated my thinking. I spent far too much time, money and effort trying not to be who I was. Now, I accept my strengths, weaknesses, and lessons and continue moving forward grounded in who I am and what I am committed to contributing in this world.

Where does Margaret Graziano see herself in the near future and how will you catalyze the change? 

I see myself leading an organization for social good. I see myself continuing to enroll and train people in the power of transforming workplace culture by shifting how humans think, react to that thinking, and therefore treat each other. My future is about the integration of people, business priorities and liberating structures that shape a constructive, intentional culture and enable people to experience fulfillment through their work. I see myself shaping KeenAlignment as a company for social good, meaning that we exist to serve the world in being a better place. We enable and empower business leaders to integrate people, culture and strategy and we promise to do it though living and modelling Conscious Capitalism business practices. I plan to catalyze this by staying on track, working with a powerhouse coach and a team of folks that are strong in everything that I am not.

What is your advice for emerging women entrepreneurs? 

Connect to your “why” at a visceral level. Define your values – what you value as a woman leader and what that looks like in the day to day. Find a mentor who’s been where you want to go; a mentor who can give you advice and counsel or sit and quietly listen and support. Hire a coach for a specific time period who operates in an abundance paradigm, has a track record for enabling others to accomplish results, has a specific coaching model, is a great questioner and inspires you to tap into your internal genius.

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