“Oops and Ops” and Other Sage Insights

Episode #1089: In this episode of the Arete Coach Podcast, Norma Rosenberg, a Vistage Master Chair, explores the “oops and ops” term she dubbed as a result of COVID-19. During the episode, we discuss other insights such as the impact of COVID-19 on flexibility, creativity, and improvisation, and sage sayings she uses throughout her coaching practice.


About Norma Rosenberg

Norma Rosenberg is an Executive Coach and Master Vistage Chair who has been working with CEOs and senior executives for 40+ years. She came to coaching after a career in management consulting with PricewaterhouseCoopers, where she worked with numerous Fortune 500 companies. She has been a Chair with Vistage International since 1999 and has been coaching executives in management, sales, operations, marketing, customer service, and human resources. Her practice today is based in Manhattan and her clientele is a blend of for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. Norma is highly intuitive and perceptive. She is curious-minded, an innovator in the executive coaching field, and is pushing the limits of what coaching can be, particularly in our stay-at-home world.


Key highlights


“Oops and ops”

Timestamp 01:10


Norma has a phrase she created during the COVID-19 pandemic, “oops and ops”. During the pandemic, Norma noticed that every time she tried to type “ops” via text as shorthand for “opportunity,” her text would autocorrect to “oops”. She noticed the connection between these two words “because during the pandemic there were many things that didn’t work like before.” Sometimes “instead of an opportunity” her clients would “wind up with an ‘oops,’ something that doesn’t work well.” Through this experience with her clients, she thought “isn’t this a wonderful learning from this time?” Instead of viewing failures or “oops’” as simply losses, she viewed them with potential for “ops” saying that “a failure creates an opening, a space to rethink everything and come up with something new.”


Act now, not later

Timestamp 05:58


When discussing a slide from Sequoia’s “Survival of the Quickest,” Norma and Severin discuss the importance of acting now and not later. Norma shares that along with acting now, CEOs should be aware of how and where they are spending their time as a vital KPI. Because the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the workplace so much, CEOs should examine how they have changed where they spend their time and the things they focus on to best meet the needs of today’s workplace.


“Don’t tell, ask”

Timestamp 15:48


Early in Norma’s career as a consulting advisor for CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, she worked in a male-dominated industry. She shares that she “was the first woman” in the “big four company” that she was with. Because of this, she had “to come up with a way of not seeming to tell them what to do.” In doing this, she started asking questions to help them come up with their own answers, a vital part of coaching. Norma also explains that helping her clients come up with their own answers increased the likelihood that they would implement needed changes in their workplace or career.


“Bend and break the rules”

Timestamp 25:44


When asked what she meant by writing “you got to bend and break the rules”, Norma explains that covid-19 has been a great example of the need to bend and break rules become some “things just didn’t work” during the pandemic. For example, “being in the office every day” was no longer an option. Because of this, “new ways of working” had to be created. Norma shares that this is a reason why it’s so important to be “flexible” and “rethink” current strategies.


Living in the moment

Timestamp 31:33


In response to Severin asking “what’s next” for her, Norma shares that she is much “more open and spontaneous” about her future. While she “can’t possibly imagine the whole thing,” Norma feels that she “was made for this time because [she likes] to feel what’s going on with people and pay attention to that” as opposed to having a fixed plan. Today, Norma embraces living in the moment, coaching in smaller increments, is “loving coaching more than ever,” and is enjoying meeting people where they are at in their journey.


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