Ep. 5 – Microsoft Leader Muriel Bekto on Achieving BIG Goals

Muriel Bekto is a Global Client Director at Microsoft, supporting major companies like Roche to help them transform health care through the use of tech. Prior to Microsoft, Muriel worked in various strategic leadership positions in the health care industry, most recently as Country Manager Switzerland at Mölnlycke Healthcare and Strategic Marketing Manager EMEA at Johnson & Johnson.

Muriel is known personally and professionally as an achiever who really knows how to get her shit done! She is so successful in her career precisely because she is passionate about goal setting and very strategic and methodical in her execution towards those goals. When you stay focused and open, that’s when great things happen. Muriel’s advice to Level Up Your Leadership: Doors to success will open up for you when you commit to continuous personal growth & goal setting.

It’s that combination of strategy and execution of goals that many of us could improve upon… especially if you’re like I am and tend to lose some enthusiasm for the project about a quarter of the way in.

Fun fact: Because Muriel is seriously so good at goal setting, planning, and achieving, I asked her to serve as my business mentor last year. I’ve been lucky enough to have had her words of wisdom through countless new opportunities and I can honestly say her advice has steered me to reach for new goals I simply wouldn’t have tried for – or achieved — otherwise.

So what are Muriel’s secrets to actually completing and achieving her goals?

 Muriel’s Top 5 practical habits she uses to achieve goals
  1. She sets aside time in her busy schedule every year to write down her goals for the future and reflect on her goals from the past. Muriel believes there’s value in setting realistic stretch goals (who wants to feel like a failure and a loser when they’ve set sky-high unattainable goals for themselves?). Writing goals down has the benefit of being concrete, well thought out, and, most importantly, a commitment to yourself. And on that point, Muriel keeps those commitments to herself so there’s no external pressure to perform – ie, you won’t see her posting her goals anywhere on social media.
  2. She reads, reads, reads (and listens to podcasts 😉). Muriel stays curious and open to learning all the time. She finds ways to fit in reading books (skimming only the relevant sections counts!) and often looks for articles on social media — even those that are diverse and that she doesn’t necessarily relate to — because she knows they help stretch her out of her knowledge comfort zone. Which leads to…
  3. She embraces change. Muriel makes sure to try something new at least every month. Small or big, the point is to keep challenging her comfort zone and to keep her brain from getting to complacent. She’s constantly on the lookout for new tech solutions and apps and also travels to new places and eats new foods. I think if I challenged her to take on samba lessons, she would!
  4. She knows the value of asking for and receiving feedback – even when it hurts. Muriel follows the idea that feedback is a gift and that, when delivered by people you can trust, it can be beneficial and genuinely helpful to you and your career. Even feedback mechanisms as simple as asking a colleague for their quick thoughts can be very helpful. Muriel’s also discovered some of her own blind spots through 360-degree feedback tools and recommends them to everyone as another truly great source of insight.
  5. She works with her strengths, not her weaknesses. Muriel knows the value of focusing on what you’re good at. She highly recommends the process of outlining your personal unique value proposition – the special strength / value you can bring to an organization – and focusing on that strength of what you offer when looking for a job or when setting performance goals with your manager.

Enjoy!

Lisa

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In this episode, we also discussed:

  • How Muriel got to be so successful at achieving her goals.
  • How making a plan and focusing on the end goal (despite obstacles), is important. Also, if the obstacles are too high, how to find another way to achieve your goals.
  • Why, once she achieves a goal, she immediately has to set another goal.
  • How to go from ideas for goals to focusing on the ones to pick and pursue.
  • The logical process Muriel uses to think through what she really wants out of life and how to cultivate goals that help to support the bigger picture.
  • Why it’s easier to achieve your goals once you know why you want to achieve them.
  • Why it’s important to set aside time to think, reflect, and read – and ask people for feedback.
  • How an open mind enables you to take on career risks.
  • How crafting your own unique value proposition helps you to feel empowered like you can do anything you want in life (!!).
  • Concrete tips and questions to answer that will help you to create your own unique value proposition.
  • Why working on your strengths is way better for achieving career success than working on what you’re bad at.
  • How being honest with yourself about your strengths can help you to find the right job fit.
  • How to live your strengths and preferences AND still be flexible to meet the preferences and needs of other people.
  • The important role of empathy in success in sales.
  • Why looking inside is the best first step when you’re having trouble in a relationship with a partner or colleague.
  • Why it’s painful to receive feedback but also why it’s so worthwhile (and why you should definitely do it anyway despite the fear!).
  • Why the best and most effective way to receive feedback is to ask for it proactively.
  • How to give effective feedback to others.
  • The best – and most surprising – management training Muriel ever attended and the profound impact it had on her (hint: it had nothing to do with strategy or economics).
  • The most effective ways to reduce stress and manage your energy to avoid burnout.
  • How you don’t have to follow the perfect nutritional plan in order to reap some major health benefits.
  • Why giving up sleep is one of the worst activities you could give up in order to balance your life.
  • A productivity hack to delay doing a task if you’re not in the right mindset.
  • Why the energy you bring to a meeting can be more important than the perfect presentation (ie, don’t burn yourself out trying to be perfect when you could be well-rested instead!).
  • Why learning to delegate a task – even if the person can’t do the task as well as you could – is critical for your success.
  • How middle managers can effectively deal with being squeezed from the top and the bottom and how they can survive and thrive with too many tasks on their plate.
  • Why a helpful tool can help you to discover what’s urgent, what’s important, and where you should prioritize and focus your time (instead of where you most likely are currently focusing…). Here’s a (free) link to an exercise I use with clients.
  • Why it’s critical to raise your boss’ awareness of your workload if you want to reduce it.
  • Why fixing our habits with email could help us to be more productive – and how a simple phone call or chat could significantly cut your email time.
  • Practical tips and techniques for managing inbox overload. Also, why you shouldn’t CC Muriel on emails!
  • Comparing the pace of working in tech vs. working in health care: the IT world is lightning fast!
  • Why people need to be ready for change and only when people are ready are they open to new technology.
  • Why young people are the best source of information for interesting new apps and tech.
  • Why Muriel pushes herself to learn something new every single month, even small changes to habits.
  • How continuous self-reflection plays a big impact on your success.
  • Why writing your goals down makes it a stronger commitment to yourself.
  • How setting realistic goals keeps you from feeling like a loser who couldn’t achieve their goals.
  • How reading stimulates your imagination.

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