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“Giving Feedback” with Summer Prescott

Prior to giving constructive feedback, make certain that the recipient is in a good place, literally and figuratively, to receive it. I recall having a conversation regarding a plot point of a story that was under review, and the team member to whom I was speaking seemed distracted. I didn’t get frustrated, but I was […]

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Prior to giving constructive feedback, make certain that the recipient is in a good place, literally and figuratively, to receive it. I recall having a conversation regarding a plot point of a story that was under review, and the team member to whom I was speaking seemed distracted. I didn’t get frustrated, but I was curious as to why, so I asked what was going on. It turned out that she was at the doctor for a checkup. I immediately let her know that our conversation should be tabled until she was at home and had a quiet place to work. Similarly, use appropriate timing. A birthday afternoon is not the time for a performance review.

Asa part of our series about “How To Give Honest Feedback without Being Hurtful”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Summer Prescott.

Summer Prescott is a USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, who started her writing career just five years ago, and has built her company, Summer Prescott Books Publishing, from the ground up. She has written over one hundred books, mainly in the Cozy Mystery genre, and has also written successfully in Thriller and Romance. Summer’s publishing company has launched the careers of several writers who are now household names in the Cozy genre. Her reputation is built upon a dedication to quality and excellence.

Each member of Summer’s staff works remotely, and there are key techniques that Summer uses to make all team members feel appreciated, respected and highly valued. She maintains a productive and professional work environment by empowering her team members and encouraging them on their journey.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Ifaced financial panic, post-divorce, five years ago, in my mid-forties. I sat at my kitchen table, surrounded by bills due and dreams crushed, and pondered the futility of my existence. It hurt. It was scary. It seemed hopeless…but little did I know, my dreams were about to start coming true.

I’m no superwoman. I didn’t have a razzle-dazzle personality. I didn’t have connections. I was a barely-middle-class Midwestern mom, who reinvented my world by exploring options that didn’t exist when I first started working.

How did I find my niche? I clicked on an ad. Pretty glamorous, I know. Scrolling through Facebook, I saw an ad for freelance writers. Bored, and a tiny bit desperate, I went to the site and filled out a profile. I tossed out some low-ball bids, never dreaming that anyone would respond. If I wanted to have any hope of buying Christmas presents that year, I needed to make some cash, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

My first client tasked me with jazzing up book titles. Hundreds of book titles. I jumped at the chance to make a few bucks creatively, and ended up making roughly $3 an hour, BUT, I was making money using a long-dormant skill. Other jobs trickled in.

I used every bit of my spare time, staying up long into the night, writing. I worked four jobs, in addition to freelancing, and I was determined to get ahead. My assignments were turned in ahead of time and error-free, leading to rave reviews from my clients. Those reviews prompted a deluge of assignments, even after I significantly raised my prices several times. I was getting paid to write, and I was ecstatic.

Freelancing eventually led to a royalty contract, writing Cozy Mysteries, for a former client. Deciding to dive head-first into full-time writing, I quit my other jobs, trusted my new indie publisher, and hoped for the best. I was terrified.

My first Cozy Mystery, A Murder Moist Foul, shot up to the top ten in its genre almost immediately. Each subsequent book also hit the top ten, often landing at number one. I wrote forty-two books that first year, a book per week. I was working my heinie off, and having the time of my life.

My books have ranked alongside Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Janet Evanovich, and I’ve had the surreal experience of seeing my name on the bestseller lists in USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal. Publishing my own books, and those of other aspiring writers in my genre, just seemed to be the next logical step. I took it, and never looked back. I’m the boss now, I work with an epic team of dedicated and driven creatives. Life is good.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

From day one, my company has worked hard to establish a reputation for quality and integrity. In a time when literally anyone can publish a book online, my readers have known exactly what to expect from a book published by SPBP.

Each book goes through at least seven sets of hands before publication, ensuring a level of quality that leads to an optimal reader experience. My amazing team not only endeavors to make the manuscripts as typo and error-free as they can be, but they also screen for adherence to Cozy Mystery guidelines. These down-home murder mysteries contain no vulgarity, foul language, gore, or shocking imagery. Controversy is minimal to nonexistent, and the subject matter is appropriate for pre-teens to grandmas.

Summer Prescott Books is a company that cares very deeply about our fans. I receive emails, cards and messages all the time, and I try to reply to each one, as soon as I possibly can.

Some of my readers may be going through a divorce, or may have a loved one suffering with an illness, or worse. I’ve had several readers write to let me know that my books have gotten them through chemo, post-surgical recovery, or simply becoming empty nesters. I’ve offered free books to women who lost jobs, or were having marital issues, or who struggled with significant health problems.

One such reader was a dear woman whom I’ll call Susan. Susan was diagnosed with breast cancer, at virtually the same time that my sweet mother received the same diagnosis. They were the same age, and underwent similar treatments.

When Mom began her battle with cancer, I mentioned on Facebook how hard it was for me to see her suffering. Susan contacted me, showing gracious support, and providing valuable insight as to how my mom might be feeling throughout the process. We became friends, though our age difference is significant, and I loved hearing from her.

When Susan told me that my books provided the much-needed distraction that had gotten her through chemo, I pledged that she would receive every book I wrote, from that day on, for free. My company typically produces 2–3 books each week, and Susan received every one of them on their release day. She was delighted, and so grateful. She continued to keep me updated on her progress, and I was thrilled that she powered toward recovery.

My mother, feisty full-of-life-and-love-fighter that she was, lost her battle. I cried, I raged, I couldn’t eat or sleep.

Then I received a message from Susan.

“I won’t accept your books for free anymore, Summer. I’m going to buy each and every one of them as they come out. I’m recovered now, and they’re more than worth the money. Thank you what you did for me, just when I needed it most.”

Her sweetness eased some the darkness that I carried inside from the loss of my precious mother.

Grief is a strange animal. It’s always lurking, even when you think you have it conquered. There were moments, even a year or more after my mother’s death, where I’d stop in the aisle of the grocery store, where her favorite cookies sat innocently on the shelf, and I’d burst into tears. She was such a part of my life, I never knew when the memories were going to come flooding back in.

Fast forward to a few months after my mother passed. I’d had a bad day. One of those stress-filled, everything-and-everyone-annoys-me kind of days, and when the postman knocked on my front door, I sighed heavily, wondering what was about to annoy me all over again.

I pasted on a smile and thanked him for the package that he handed me, from an address that I didn’t recognize. I slit the oversized, padded envelope and a letter fell out. It was from Susan, and her kind words touched my heart profoundly. She thanked me for supporting her, and told me that she had handmade something just for me, out of sheer gratitude and love.

I opened the package, and when I saw what was inside, I sank to my knees and bawled like a baby. This dear, precious woman had transferred my book cover designs to fabric and had handmade a stunning quilt for me. I clutched it to my chest, the colorful fabric absorbing the tears that I shed, prompted by her unexpected gesture of love.

The thing that I think about, that gets me to this very day — yes, I’m choking up even writing about it — is that when she painstakingly sewed and quilted that exquisite masterpiece of love…she was thinking about me. Who am I to be on the receiving end of such sweet generosity? Such a beautifully selfless thing, all brought about because I started writing mysteries. It blows my mind.

Susan and I still enjoy our friendship to this day. When her husband passed recently, I sent her a tiny tree. She planted it where her husband’s favorite tree used to be, and surrounded it with a white picket fence. There’s a memorial bench beside the tree, where she sits and remembers her beloved.

She credits my books with helping her to live to fight another day, and while I know that medical science helped to heal her body, the books helped to soothe her soul. This, and stories like it, are why we do what we do at SPBP.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Oh, this one is hilarious. It happened relatively early in my writing career, and I still chuckle about it to this day.

I was visiting my daughter, who lived in a small town — Dillingham — on Bristol Bay, in bush Alaska. I had gotten in the day before, after a red-eye flight from Chicago, so my daughter and I were chatting, and enjoying the view of the bay through her picture window, while having morning coffee in our pajamas.

I had smudges of leftover mascara under my eyes, my hair looked like someone had frightened me, and my jammies were baggy, comfortable, and a bit unsightly. But who cared? I was enjoying my time with my daughter. We were on our second pot of strong brew when the doorbell rang. At seven thirty in the morning. My daughter and I looked at each other like deer caught in the headlights. Both of us are introverts, and an unexpected chime of the doorbell sent us into flight mode.

Now, my daughter is amazing. She works with social agencies in the state of Alaska to protect the rights of Native children. She’s no shrinking violet. She knew everyone in her small town, and they knew enough of her to know that she values her privacy.

“Are you expecting someone?” I hissed, eyes wide, darting glances at the front door.

“No,” she whispered back.

“Then go see who it is,” I waved a hand at her and took a gulp of coffee.

“Come with me,” she demanded.

We went. When my daughter looked out of her peephole, she wilted with relief and opened the door, letting me know that it was a woman from her office. When my daughter opened the door, her coworker blushed and began speaking. She had heard that I was coming to visit my daughter, and wanted to let me know that she was my biggest fan. In a town of 2500, was a woman who had read every single book that I’d written. I met her in my pajamas, crazy hair, mascara smudges and all, and she was delighted. I was shaking and couldn’t tell whether it was from caffeine, or the fact that someone had recognized me and had gone out of her way to meet me. Perhaps it was a combination of the two. All I know was that it was surreal and put me on cloud nine for the rest of the day.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

In retrospect, it’s giggle-worthy, but at the time, the mistake that I made embarrassed the heck out of me. Cozy Mystery books are squeaky-clean when it comes to language and content — oh man, I’m cringing just remembering this, and now it’s going to be out there for everyone to see — and SPBP is known for quality control. The mistake that I made, early on, failed on both counts, and created perhaps more angst for me than it should have.

Early in the company’s existence, when I was still working out the bugs of our production system, I was behind on turning in a manuscript, which meant that my team had to rush the entire process. I made the executive decision that, since I had self-edited, and declared it to be clean and error-free, we would just go ahead and publish. Big mistake.

A member of my review team messaged my assistant to point out an error on an advance copy. The same advance copy that had just gone live on Amazon. It seemed that, though I had meant for one of my characters heads to have “popped out from behind a tree,” I had doubled the o’s in popped rather than the p’s and had created quite a different picture for my readers.

I was mortified. Of course I immediately went to my dashboard, and though the book had gone live, it still showed as publishing, which meant I couldn’t go in and edit. Of all times for the files to be slow!! Eventually, the mistake was corrected, but not before several eager fans had procured a copy. Thankfully, most of the copies sold, prior to my edits, were ebooks, which updated when the files were uploaded again. I do still shudder a bit when I consider that there are a handful of paperbacks out there uncorrected. Ugh. Ya gotta laugh, right?

What advice would you give to other CEOs and business leaders to help their employees to thrive and avoid burnout?

I love my team to pieces, and I do everything that I can to facilitate a happy and healthy crew. Productivity is important, but so is making a concerted effort to undergird team members with a sense of purpose and empowerment that will drive them to excel, personally and professionally.

Accessibility, Appreciation, and Accountability are key concepts that will help a team grow and thrive. I work hard to see the individuals behind the positions, because people are not merely cogs in a production machine. They have thoughts, feelings, and ideas, and I strive to provide an environment where each person feels valued and understood.

Accessibility

Members of the team can reach out to me, my assistant, or any other team member 24/7/365. Whether someone has a work-related question, or needs advice on a relational dilemma, we’re there for each other. We value relationships and personal lives as well as work performance.

My cyber door is always open, and team members are encouraged to present issues, ideas, and challenges. Sometimes the most creative solutions are reached via chat at two o’clock in the morning. We effectively utilize technology to stay in touch, while maintaining our boundaries and personal space. Texting and DM are fantastic because they allow us to address messages at our convenience, from anywhere in the world. I’ve held meetings while sitting in the Skyclub, waiting for a flight.

Accountability

Clear communication of individual and group goals is an essential foundation for accountability. Expectations are precisely defined, and the implications of failure are succinctly spelled out.

My business is very production-driven. Each step of our process depends upon successful completion of the previous steps, so if one person is struggling, we all struggle. Rather than allowing a situation to cause resentment, the team rallies around the struggling team member and pitches in to help. Once the situation is under control, we analyze how it was created, and implement appropriate strategies to prevent a recurrence.

Team members send each other reminders and encourage progress, using checklists and sharing calendars. Everyone feels supported, rather than judged, and production improves as a result. Members hold each other accountable, and try to resolve issues without resorting to executive involvement. We’re all invested in our collective success, and stand or fall, we face challenges and triumphs together.

Appreciation

Navigating the personalities and thought processes of a team of highly creative and sensitive group of people can be tricky sometimes, but harnessing the collective power of their contributions propels us to heights we never imagined. I work with authors, editors, proofreaders, cover designers, formatters, and admin staff. Each person is unique and wonderful, and I respect every one of them. They know that. They feel the respect, and hear it from me, on the regular. Which makes it much easier when the time for constructive feedback comes around.

I want every person on the team to feel needed, invested and important. When they do a good job, I’m the first to shout it from the mountain tops. We all need pats on the back, and at SPBP, they’re given out with glorious abandon. I may be a bit biased, but my team is awesome, and I let them know it. Gift cards, floral deliveries, thank you notes, and shoutouts on social media, are frequent and heartfelt. I have extremely high expectations, and the team rarely falls short, because they know how much they are valued and appreciated.

Burnout

As any hardworking organization does, we occasionally hit bumps in the road. We have frenzied times of busyness, just before deadlines hit, and tough projects that test our limits. Avoiding burnout is key, particularly when working with creatives. Creatives can’t create or solve problems when they’re overworked, stressed, or exhausted.

I fight burnout within the team by making our schedule quite fluid. The team works remotely, and there’s never a sense of someone watching their every move. I refuse to micromanage. When a task is assigned, I have every confidence that it will be completed either on time or early. If a team member wants to go to bed early and start working at four a.m., so be it. If they’re night owls — I’m looking at you, Jonathan — they may stay up until three. I leave their schedules up to them, with deadlines as their guide. We work with hard dates, and as long as we’re a go on publishing day, huzzah, you do you.

Most of us work seven days a week, at least to some degree, and everyone takes their technology on vacation with them, so that they can pitch in if necessary. Do I require this? Nope. I just happen to work with an outstanding team of individuals who are as invested in my business as I am. Team members are proud of what they do, and volunteer to do more, when the need arises.

If I see burnout sneaking up on someone, I’ll remind them that maybe it’s time for a few days off. Every team member knows that vacation time is theirs for the asking, as long as their tasks can be absorbed into the group as a whole. They’re kept in the loop if they want to be, but if they, or I, feel like a complete departure is needed, the rest of the team is notified that the vacationing team member will be entirely unavailable for a specified period of time. This rarely happens, which is a testimony to the efficiency and effectiveness of our process.

The notion of an eight hour business day that starts and ends at specific times doesn’t mesh well with the SPBP business model, and I’ve found that my multi-national team works much better without traditional workplace constraints.

Want a three hour lunch? No problem. Just be aware that you may receive several texts while you’re chewing ever so slowly.

Our system places a great deal of responsibility on the individual, with rewards for a job well done, and it works for all of us. I’ve published books from bush Alaska, Ecuador, India, and a whole host of other beautiful vacation spots because I have the support of these dedicated teammates.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

To lead is to inspire, empower, and entrust. Leaders set the example by modeling inclusive behavior within their team that fosters trust, communication, collaboration, and shared goals. A leader will provide the tools that allow the team to learn, grow, and succeed, making them an integral part of fulfilling the mission and vision of the business. Supervising progress, sharing constructive feedback, and being a resource for strategizing, trouble-shooting, and exploring new approaches, are all actions that define a leader, rather than a boss. A boss bosses, a leader leads. I constantly ask myself, “Would I follow my lead?” If not, then it’s time to learn more, listen more, and change my approach.

In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?

I find that when my body is out of sync, it’s nearly impossible to prepare my mind, so first things first, I have to pay attention to the physical self in order to properly attend to the mental self. How, as a long-standing exercise avoider, do I accomplish this?

I invested early in my writing career, in a standard poodle named Elvis, who is my dignified furry companion. He needs exercise. Whether I feel like it or not, whether I want to or not, every morning, we go to the park, first thing, to get his energy out, and to get my blood pumping. Some days we walk, some days it’s a rousing round of fetch, but we always get active.

When traveling, I walk, or swim. It’s rare for me to go to the gym. It’s a last resort, I like to be in nature while preparing my body for the stresses of the day. Even standing in my office and bouncing up and down on the balls of my feet, and rolling my head from shoulder to shoulder, helps quite a bit, if I’m pressed for time. Deep breathing is a must.

My first step toward mental preparation, for an important meeting or decision, is doing my homework. I gather facts, and analyze data. I look into the backgrounds and mindsets, as best I can, of the people who will be in attendance at crucial meetings and events. I literally memorize photographs in advance, so I’ll recognize key players. I take a good hard look at the pros and cons, ROI, and perhaps most importantly, the impact of a decision on my reader base, my reputation, and my team. I can’t allow myself to make decisions that will compromise my goals, values, or integrity.

If I’m presenting, or making a speech, I have the material memorized days in advance, and practice, practice, practice. For media appearances, I calm the jitters by forgetting about the camera and speaking warmly to the camera operator, or host.

In my workspace, I have a daily ritual. I come in, turn on the ceiling fan, light my favorite mango tangerine candle, burn a bit of palo santo wood, and take a few deep breaths, before I ever open my computer. I have a stereo on my desk — it’s a long desk, lol — and I play soft music from the 80’s because it floods my senses with sweet nostalgia. My office rug is thick and shaggy, and my desk chair faces a huge window. There is literally a four-feet-tall teddy bear in a vintage MCM chair in one corner of my office. Yes, I write Cozy Mysteries in a very cozy environment.

Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Can you briefly tell our readers about your experience with managing a team and giving feedback?

It’s not something that I’m proud of, but in my early days as a manager, years ago, when I was young and naive, I was a human bulldozer. I was very task oriented, rather than people oriented, and treated people like robots, with little regard for their feelings. My turnover rates, unsurprisingly, were higher than I liked, and it took a friend being very blunt with me about it, for me to see the awful error of my ways. My idea of giving feedback had been to point out errors and dictate corrections, with the dark specter of unemployment hovering ever near. I treated people as though they were replaceable, rather than treating them as valued team members. Yeah, gross, I know.

Let me just say, I love, love, love a much more relational approach to management. People, including me, are much more productive when they’re in a supportive, happy, and healthy work environment. I no longer dictate orders. I explore ideas, thoughts, and possibilities. Assess and Address is my tried and true process now — we assess situations and address issues — an approach that increases harmony and productivity. Feedback is given with respect and compassion, and — no surprise — it’s taken to heart. We work together as a team to solve problems and accomplish objectives. Turnover now is nearly nonexistent…imagine that!

This might seem intuitive but it will be constructive to spell it out. Can you share with us a few reasons why giving honest and direct feedback is essential to being an effective leader?

It is impossible to lead without building mutual trust and respect between a leader and their team. A huge part of the way that trust and respect is built, is through honest and effective communication. Team members need to know when they’ve done a great job, and they need to know when their performance needs to improve.

When a leader shares honest and constructive feedback, in a compassionate manner, it empowers the team member to assess and address the issues with their performance, and opens the door for them to regard the leader as someone to whom they can come with questions or ideas.

Productivity is the goal, and a team that communicates, even when communication involves correction, is a team that produces. This is why it is crucial for a leader to set the example by communicating feedback that is honest, objective, actionable, and carries with it no agenda, other than the success of the company and the team.

One of the trickiest parts of managing a team is giving honest feedback, in a way that doesn’t come across as too harsh. Can you please share with us five suggestions about how to best give constructive criticism to a remote employee? Kindly share a story or example for each.

My entire team, aside from my Assistant, works remotely, so this is my reality.

First suggestion — Prior to giving constructive feedback, make certain that the recipient is in a good place, literally and figuratively, to receive it. I recall having a conversation regarding a plot point of a story that was under review, and the team member to whom I was speaking seemed distracted. I didn’t get frustrated, but I was curious as to why, so I asked what was going on. It turned out that she was at the doctor for a checkup. I immediately let her know that our conversation should be tabled until she was at home and had a quiet place to work. Similarly, use appropriate timing. A birthday afternoon is not the time for a performance review.

Second suggestion — Address the individual, not the group. A company Zoom meeting is not the time to bring up a mistake made by a team member, unless it involves the entire team making the mistake. Take the person aside, figuratively, for one on one time. The goal is to change behaviors and habits, not to embarrass or humiliate. Can you listen effectively with a red face? I can’t.

Third suggestion — Shine a light. Constructive feedback doesn’t have to be negative, in fact it shouldn’t be. Positive change begins with constructive feedback, conveyed in a positive way. Peel back the layers of actions and decisions, to get to the heart of the issue, then consider examples of what should be done in the future, or what needs to be done currently, to remedy a situation, rather than focusing on what was done. That ship has sailed — move forward together. I try to always remind team members of their strengths, and encourage them to get creative with solutions.

Fourth suggestion — Listen. Give the team member your undivided attention. Turn your phone facedown, ignore email and chat notifications, and actually listen. Sometimes there are situations that we, as leaders may be unaware of, until we have a one on one conversation. I often have to read between the lines, noticing body language, facial expressions, and gestures, which I can’t do if I allow myself to be distracted. A team member will feel slighted if you check your email during a crucial conversation, and rightfully so. Respect their time, while expecting them to respect yours.

Fifth suggestion — Let business be business. Don’t take a team member’s lackluster performance personally, and counsel the team member to be objective about the issue as well. If you think that the team member intentionally made a mistake to get back at you, you have bigger issues than the mistake itself.

The team member shouldn’t feel that they are the problem. The problem might be an action that they took, an attitude that got the best of them, or a habit that they’ve formed. Those are all things that can be remedied with hard work and creativity. Get in the habit of assessing and addressing behaviors, not people.

I had a situation recently, where a typo slipped through the cracks, and the book went to publication. Not a single editor or proofreader caught the minor error. There were tears and heartfelt apologies from the team, but we handled it by taking a look at the process, and what we could try to avoid that scenario in the future. Team members went from horrified to relieved, after totally buying into a minor system adjustment that we developed together. The solution made the process less stressful, and more effective.

Can you address how to give constructive feedback over email? If someone is in front of you much of the nuance can be picked up in facial expressions and body language. But not when someone is remote. How do you prevent the email from sounding too critical or harsh?

My Process Coordinator loves my style of email communication, and even made up a term for it. She’ll tell me when someone needs to be “Summer-ized,” which means that there is a need for an encouraging correction. I have a rule — I never put anything in print that would shame me, if read aloud. I also try to put myself in the other person’s shoes, and think about how I’d feel to be on the receiving end of one of my emails.

So, how do I soften the blow, while achieving the goal, via email? A huge part of having impact, while maintaining the team member’s dignity and zen, is in the language that is used.

I don’t play the blame game, using the word “you” in an accusatory manner, for instance. It isn’t “you did that,” it’s “here’s my assessment.”

Even in an instance where performance needs to improve drastically, I begin by affirming the team member. I let them know how much I appreciate their effort and dedication. I remind them that they are valued, and that their contribution makes an impact on the entire team, then I break down the situation into its most basic components. I take an Assess and Address approach, which points out the positive, and analyzes the negative, in order to create the optimal.

Here’s what you did properly, here’s where you were an absolute superstar, and here’s an area that needs to be tweaked. Did you forget something? We all do that sometimes. Do you have a checklist? Did you check it? Tell me three things that you can do that will help you to remember next time. Was your data incorrect? Let’s go through your procedure for verification and see what processes need to change so that this doesn’t happen again. Did you not catch a typo? Thank you for catching the forty-two others. Let’s talk about minimizing distractions so that you can focus more fully on your work.”

I always end on a positive note that includes the team member in the solution.

In your experience, is there a best time to give feedback or critique? Should it be immediately after an incident? Should it be at a different time? Should it be at set intervals? Can you explain what you mean?

I prefer to address an issue immediately, but not if the adrenalin is still flowing from having to put out fires due to the error. In other words, I wait until I can look at the situation objectively and be an effective leader who gives constructive feedback, rather than venting about the inconvenience caused and money lost. If I know that the team member has time considerations like child care, appointments, etc…I’ll schedule a time with them when they’re as distraction-free as possible.

More often than not, team members take ownership, and come to me after having discovered their own error. We typically are able to discuss it as soon as I see their message.

How would you define what it is to “be a great boss”? Can you share a story?

A great boss puts people first. While profits and margins matter, at the end of the day, having a team, and company, that makes you proud, is a true hallmark of a great boss. A great boss is approachable and appreciative, and sets the example for a standard of excellence in performance, communication, and vision-casting. A great boss listens. A great boss acts, rather than reacts, and encourages professional and personal growth in every member of the team.

I had a difficult, but heartwarming conversation recently, with my former Operations Director. She came to me with a confession…she wanted to pursue her dream of writing and self-publishing. My writer-origin story had inspired her, and I had been encouraging her, for a very long time, to write.

While she loves SPBP, and wanted to stay involved — which she has been able to do, albeit in a very reduced capacity — she wanted to make her dreams come true, which necessitated her writing full time. We both cried, because it was bittersweet — she’s been with me for years now — but I gave her my wholehearted support. Why? Because a good boss recognizes that sometimes being a good boss means letting go, and serving as a launching pad for someone else’s dreams.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to inspire a collaboration movement! There are tech companies that are already doing this, but I think that the concept could, and perhaps should, permeate every corner of business. Creating inclusive, people-centric workspaces and process concepts, where freedom is prized and creativity is encouraged, has proven to be super-successful. Why? Because we need each other, and we can do more, when we do it together. SPBP has proven that assertion time and time again. Let’s take the 9–5 sitting-at-a-desk paradigm and turn it on its head!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I actually made this one up, but to be fair, it’s a different approach to “Yes, we can.”

Achievement in business doesn’t mean nearly as much when you’re alone on that mountaintop.

I discovered that it’s much more satisfying to say “Look what we did!” than, “Look what I did.”

I love giving credit where credit is due. I live to join with others in shared achievement, and I’m under no illusions that I’ve gotten where I am today all on my own.

It gives me great joy to celebrate mutual successes, and this has so many applications in life as well as business. We weather storms in life with our family and friends lifting us up. It’s easy to see how those same principles can translate into the realm of business. One person, alone, may be mighty, but the strength of a team, united in common purpose, reaching for their goal, is unstoppable.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

My website address is: www.summerprescottbooks.com

I also love interacting with readers and fellow authors on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

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