Print Icon

Alexandra Reese's Growth Guide

Practical insights to accelerate your growth in September


September is my favorite month. Not only is it my birthday month, but it is also my most pivotal month of the year. It's time to celebrate the wins of the first two-thirds of the year and make sure I'm set-up for success in the final third. It's also time to plant the seeds for a stellar 2023.  


Used wisely, September could be your most impactful month of the year too. What you do this month will determine how you perform in 2022. Do you meet, exceed, or miss your goals? It will also influence how you perform in 2023. Are you off-and-running with a clear vision and winning strategy? Or are you trailing your competition?

To set you up for success, I'm sharing three of my favorite September activities. I hope you'll use these to accelerate your growth and impact. Cheers to a stellar 2022--and 2023!


If you enjoy this newsletter, please share with one person in your network who may benefit. If you received this newsletter from a friend, I invite you to subscribe.


If you are curious about how we can partner to accelerate your growth, please don't hesitate to book your free consultation today. And watch your inbox for two new development opportunities, coming later this month!


Are you behind on and stressed about your 2022 goals? Use this innovation activity to quickly replan, so you can achieve your bold ambitions

The biggest mistake organizations make is that they keep working ineffective plans.

In 2018, a Fortune 1000 apparel company asked my team to troubleshoot why their digital transformation wasn’t working. In just one week, we pinpointed the issue.


The e-commerce department, which owned the strategy, had neither the authority nor capability to lead organization-wide transformation. So, they cherry-picked initiatives that they alone could execute. This led to incremental technology improvement, not the rapid organizational transformation called for in the strategy.


We recommended they change course. They should establish a chief digital officer with the authority, resources, and capabilities to lead organization-wide transformation.


They declined. The CIO wasn’t willing to change course; he wanted his team to keep hacking away at the digital strategy. And the other executives wouldn't push back, fearful that another executive at the table might dilute their power.


To my knowledge, this company is still working the same strategy and hasn't fundamentally transformed its use of technology. In the short-term, it's maintained growth through acquisition. But looking forward, outdated technology and tech debt represent existential threats to its future.


If you want to change the outcome, you need to change the plan.

Audi is a fantastic foil to my former client. When they realized competitors were adopting their strategy—and quickly gaining speed against them—they changed course.


In the early 2000s, Audi was the reigning champion of the prestigious Le Mans race. Between 2000 and 2005, Audi won five of six races with the Audi R8. Its strategy to have the fastest car on the course was working well!

But Audi saw the writing on the wall. Other manufacturers started to integrate Audi’s technology into their vehicles. In 2003, Bentley won the race with the Bentley Speed 8. And other companies were catching-up to Audi as well.

So, Audi decided to pivot strategy. What if it accepted it could no longer make the fastest car? How could it still win the race? 

When Audi accepted speed as a constraint, it propelled innovation in new directions. The engineering team realized it could make a more efficient car, which could save time on pit stops. It no longer needed to be the fastest.

Audi debuted its diesel engine car, the R10 TDI, in 2006. This new diesel technology was the foundation for Audi vehicle designs for nine years to come. During that time, Audi won eight of nine Le Mans races.

You can leverage Audi’s framework to reset your Q4 plans and win your 2022 goals

Adam Morgan and Mark Berden laid out this innovation framework in their 2015 book, Propelling Questions. To this day, it remains one of my favorite strategy and innovation activities; I’ve used it with 50+ clients with great success. Here’s the step-by-step process:

Step 1. Organize your innovation session

Identify one goal you’ve been struggling to achieve. Invite the team responsible for executing that goal together for a 2.5-hour work session. Set the stage by sharing that you’d like use this time to explore new pathways toward your goal. You can share the Audi story for inspiration.


Step 2. Generate ideas in an innovation session

First, begin with a creative activity to get people into a generative frame of mind.

Second, formulate propelling questions to guide innovation: 

  • Use the ad libs template, “How can we achieve [bold ambition] when [significant constraint]?” 
  • Share Audi’s propelling question as an example, How can we win the Le Mans race when we can’t build a faster car
I recommend you use your goal as the bold ambition. Then, invite the team to silently brainstorm all the constraints that have prevented progress thus far. Once the team has finished brainstorming, discuss and prioritize constraints. You should end-up with one or two propelling questions.

Third, generate answers to your propelling question: 

  • Use the ad libs template,                      “We can [bold ambition] if [new idea].” 
  • Share Audi’s answer as an example,  We can win the Le Mans race by building a more efficient car
  • Use the image at right to spur ideation.

I recommend working in groups of three to five to brainstorm answers. Then, discuss as a full group. Winnow the options down to a select few that decision-makers can review and move forward.

Step 3. Agree on the path forward

Bring the decision-makers and team leader together to discuss recommendations for a new path forward. Agree on the major course-correction, then let the team work out the details in implementation. 

If you'd like replanning support, so you can blow through your 2022 goals, I'm here to help. Schedule a time to talk.


Self-awareness is key to unlocking dramatic performance improvements with ease. Use my four-part framework to jumpstart your growth.

In May 2018, I ended a 2-year relationship.
My mind and body felt as cluttered and unnavigable as the home of a hoarder. I had so many conflicting thoughts and feelings coursing through me that I couldn't make sense of how I thought or felt. Without that clarity, I felt stuck and unable to move forward.

Enter Dr. Habibi Sadeghi and his groundbreaking book, The Clarity Cleanse.

The purpose of the book is to help you build the tools and ability to recognize and process your emotions. The first tool you learn is the PEW-12. It's a writing exercise that enables you to quickly surface and process subconscious thoughts and feelings, so you can purge the negativity.

In only 12 minutes a day, I pulled myself out of my negativity spiral and into a clear and positive mindset
Now, I use this activity whenever I'm feeling stuck, frustrated, angry, or down. It enables me to quickly surface, understand, and process negative thoughts and feelings. That awareness is the first step to changing those mindsets and patterns that no longer serve me, so I can lead with greater confidence, ease, and joy. I can't imagine my life without it!

The PEW-12 is a great tool for deepening your situational self-awareness, how you think, feel, and respond to external stimuli. But this is only one dimension of self-awareness.

There are four dimensions of self-awareness, each of which serves a unique purpose

I've defined the dimensions in terms of context (intrinsic or situational) and source of feedback (within ourselves or from others). 

The image (right) defines what you can learn in each dimension.

If you'd like to learn WHY and HOW to improve self-awareness in each dimension, please download my free guide


Don't map-out your strategy process before asking these three questions. They could save you a LOT of time, money, and stress. 

As your operating environment changes, so too should your planning process

And yet, most organizations rarely adapt their planning process over time. They continue to ask the same questions, refer to the same data sources, talk to the same stakeholders, and engage in the same rote planning conversations. Consequently, they tend to hear the same things over and over and miss major shifts in their operating environment.


Blockbuster is a cautionary tale of the rote strategy process.


Blockbuster’s demise started when it rebuffed Netflix’s offer to sell its company for $50 million. Despite Netflix’s rapidly growing popularity—it gained 500K subscribers less than one year after launching its subscription model—Blockbuster didn’t even bother with a counteroffer. They literally laughed Netflix right out of the room.


Netflix’s rapid customer acquisition should have piqued serious interest within Blockbuster. But the company wasn’t paying attention to new industry trends or customer segments. It lived in an echo chamber with the same, outdated people and insights. 

Use these three questions to shape your strategy process, so you can maintain your competitive edge

With respect to each major facet of your operating environment (see image at right), ask:

  1. What are we uncertain about?
  2. What are our biggest risks to success?
  3. What other assumptions are we making that, if proven false, would have a significant negative impact?
Your responses to these questions should provide critical framing and direction for your next strategy process. 

Had Blockbuster asked these questions, it would have realized it needed better insights on technology innovation and the preferences of younger demographics. These questions would have saved the company from demise.  

Preparing for an effective and efficient strategy process should be quick and engaging. If you'd like support, I'm here to help. Schedule a time to talk.


Opportunities to Partner

COMING SOON: Later this month, I will share two new development opportunities with my community. There will be special offers available this month only, so please keep an eye on your inbox.

Nonprofit Leadership Development: You're a nonprofit leader whose ready to take your growth and impact to the next level. Join me and 5+ fantastic nonprofit leaders on September 16th to learn and discuss new approaches to nonprofit leadership. Event details and the registration link are available on my website. 

Growth Advisory: You've been working diligently to grow your organization, but have yet to achieve sustainable results. Or perhaps you've done exceptionally well and are ready to take things to a new level. I can help you hone a compelling vision and strategy, then execute with confidence, ease, and joy. 

Coaching: You're ready to improve your life, leadership, and impact. As your coach, I'll work with you (and your team, if desired) to clarify your vision and purpose, set bold goals, build an actionable strategy, and cultivate the mindset, beliefs, and behaviors necessary to achieve sustainable results. 


Links to Past Growth Guide Editions

August: (1) Adapt your strategy process, (2) Why you should support your mid-level managers more, (3) Take control of your mid-career crisis

July(1) Win with values, (2) How to get hybrid work right, (3) Vacation like a European

June(1) The mid-year review, (2) Sharpen your creative skills, (3) Win through failure

May: (1) Prepare for the next downturn; (2) Make better, faster decisions; (3) Embrace difference to improve performance

April: (1) The Q1 review, (2) Prime yourself for success, (3) Focus your innovation investments for impact


Follow Us On


Want to change how you receive these emails?

You can Unsubscribe