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One Face: Shed the Mask, Own Your Values, and Lead Wisely

One Face: Shed the Mask, Own Your Values, and Lead Wisely

by Sarah McDugal


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Business leaders risk devastating exposure and failure to achieve long-term success when their internal values are out of alignment with the message they project to an external audience.

"One Face: Shed the Mask, Own Your Values, and Lead Wisely" is for you if:

you long for less stress and more freedom to be yourself,

you want to make a lasting impact in addition to profits, and

you wish to know for sure that you are making the right decision every time.

In One Face you will learn how to:

articulate and discover your own values,

make wise leadership decisions focused on longevity, and

transform the gift of feedback into growth.

After reading this book, you will possess a clearly defined set of core values, a four-step framework for wise decision-making, and the tools you need to build your brand to last beyond a lifetime.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781630477325
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Publication date: 06/07/2016
Pages: 152
Sales rank: 826,289
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Sarah K. McDugal is a brand strategist, director, and entrepreneur with more than twenty years of experience in brand development, media production and team leadership. She has directed more than one hundred and fifty story videos for clients ranging from citywide brand campaigns to global TV networks.

Read an Excerpt



Souls live at the intersection between our wills, hearts and physical selves. When one is out of harmony with the others, we disintegrate.

Jane E. Stevenson

It's 3 o'clock in the morning, and I've been at work since 7:00 a.m. yesterday. For the past 20 hours, I've been hyper-focused on running my team's annual general meetings. Our remotely operated international staff has gathered together in Western Europe from more than five different countries to spend a week planning out the next year's projects.

My weary crew members are dropping laptops into backpacks with eyes glazed. We aren't even halfway through the week, and everyone is ready to collapse. We all desperately need sleep, some time off, and a chance to wander cobblestone streets and find inspiration again. I'm about to follow my guys out the door when the boss beckons me into his office.

"Sit down and go over these script concepts with me. I want to add some new projects to the production calendar." He means the calendar we already finished. The one that got voted yesterday, before he tweaked the minutes from the meeting since he didn't like the vote.

I'm exhausted. I'm in a country five time zones away from home and haven't gotten past the jet lag yet. I'm starving because we worked straight through dinner. It takes every remaining ounce of energy to focus my brain out of the fog creeping up on the edges of my vision. At this point, it's all I can do to respond in full sentences.

Oh yes. And yesterday at 5:00 a.m., two little blue lines announced that I'm pregnant. I haven't even told my husband yet. I feel nauseated, but I'm not sure if it's from pregnancy or sheer exhaustion.

Oblivious, my boss isn't even talking about his latest plans to triple the production schedule. I already know it doesn't matter to him that the project lineup was voted. He'll mix it around however he likes, without regard for logic or productivity. He drones on about imaginary insubordination he thinks he has sensed from one or two of our team members. Every couple of days he's convinced that a different person is out to get him. Or to get me. Or somebody else.

I. Could. Not. Care. Less.

My first thought is to protect the current target of his interpersonal paranoia: Why are you slandering the team member who is likely the smartest creative person on our crew (and one of my best friends)? Why are you saying she's after my job? Is it because she and I both stood up to you when you rewrote the voted committee minutes yesterday before sending them out to the team? Is this just malicious payback? His rambling shifts to how he thinks some of the young female team members should take wardrobe lessons from his fashionable and sexy daughter. Then his monologue drifts to daydreaming about exotic vacation plans he's making with his wife.

My next thought is pure self-preservation. Is there any sane reason that this can't wait a mere four hours until 7:00 a.m. when I'm expected to be back at my desk? All I want to do is sleep.

My boss is a narcissistic manipulator, and I'm gradually realizing that I've been enabling him for years. Despite the fact that I'd probably describe myself as someone who reads people well, I'm really only starting to see it for what it is. I've been so busy pandering to his ego, managing his paranoia, and offering myself as a buffer to protect my team from his toxicity that I can't even pinpoint where things went off track.

He's the epitome of a man living different personas to different people. When he's speaking to large crowds around the world, he pontificates ivory tower theories on how to engage in meaningful relationships with people. Off the stage, he rules his support team with an iron dictatorship, keeping us constantly off balance and groveling to please his unpredictable whims. He does not live with one face. He cannot be trusted to do what is right nor to keep his own word, and the entire team knows it. I've stayed this many years because I believe passionately in the work we do, because the reality has crept upon me, because thought I could somehow make it better.

And I don't have a clue how I let things spiral so out of control.


There was a time when society was made up almost solely of small, intimate social groups. People lived on farms, in villages, in small towns. Even in the big cities, distinct social classes forced narrow circles of interaction. Everybody knew everybody else's story because they grew up alongside each other and then grew old in the same place. If you beat your wife or lied compulsively or cheated customers at your market stall, people knew. They might ignore it, but they still knew. People kept each other's secrets as a matter of survival.

There was a great deal of openness and transparency in this social face-toface world, but, in contrast, the corporate business world of the industrial age offered consumers little opportunity for fact-checking. The only information you had was the data the company put on paper for you to see. Corporations could essentially tell any story they wanted because it was almost impossible for anyone to uncover the skeletons in their closets, the multiple identities behind closed doors, or their schizophrenic values. This created a very real, opaque corporate veil.

If an organization had a schizophrenic past or a fraudulent present, all you had to do was bury the paper trail, and there was a good chance nobody would ever find the evidence. Even information technically considered "in the public domain" required a time-consuming trip to the county courthouse or an archives building. Then you had to sit in a file room and sneeze your way through a hundred mildewy boxes until you found that one elusive sheet of paper. You had to possess an intense investigative drive — or a search warrant — to ever hope to unveil corporate secrets.

Those large corporations also controlled the media, which meant they controlled the story. A select few at the top determined the message, the morals, and the mindset they wished to instill among the public. The corporate veil protected big companies and shielded the shenanigans of their leadership from public view. It was fairly easy to hide the skeletons in your corporate closet in the analog world.

That was then.

Those large corporations also controlled the media, which meant they controlled the story. A select few at the top determined the message, the morals, and the mindset they wished to instill among the public. The corporate veil protected big companies and shielded the shenanigans of their leadership from public view. It was fairly easy to hide the skeletons in your corporate closet in the analog world.

That was then.


Now we have the reverse.

You might naturally think this means that the opaque veil has been pulled back, since so much information is out in the open. But instead of vanishing, the veil has simply repositioned itself. Now, rather than keeping corporate secrets hidden away, we've allowed it to separate us individually through a constant façade of digital media.

In real life, we now tend to exist in isolated, compartmentalized worlds where we rarely speak to neighbors, and where anybody can pose as anybody else on the Internet. The digital world gives every person with a WiFi connection the platform to pretend to be anyone they wish, for any purpose, a luxury once available only to wealthy businesses. Identity reinvention awaits, available at the stroke of our fingertips. Any teenage kid in a chat room knows it's challenging to resist the lure of presenting ourselves as someone we're not, simply because digital media makes it so easy for us to do so. And those on the other side of the screen have no way of knowing if you're the 13-year-old girl you say you are or a dangerous criminal. There's no way to know the difference.

If you're a jerk, or a narcissist, or a fraud, or a pedophile, the digital veil can allow you to successfully conceal your true self for a very long time. Interestingly, since the veil has flipped, it also allows the average person to more successfully navigate around what was once such an opaque corporate protection. Three dozen keystrokes on Google can reveal anything that is a matter of public record anywhere, and can often expose a significant amount of so-called private data as well. Corporate skeletons are no longer so easily closeted away.

We're living in the center of this digital flip. Unless we make a focused, intentional effort to seek transparency, while simultaneously rejecting the temptation to compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else's social media highlight reel, we don't stand a chance at authenticity.

Whether you are a corporate leader, a brand manager, a non-profit visionary, or simply a caring individual, you're telling a story with your life and through your organization. All relationships are based on trust. That trust is either strengthened or destroyed by the values people observe you acting out on a day-to-day basis. When there is a breakdown between what happens in a leader's private life and the message they present to their public, or between a company's published philosophy and the experience someone has with an employee or product — trust is broken.

Nothing kills brand engagement and violates trust faster than feeling betrayed, believing you'd bought into a relationship that offered one particular set of values, and then discovering that the reality is something different. Examples such as Enron and Bill Cosby come to mind.

In personal life, in public leadership, and in corporate identity and brand experience, it is absolutely vital to choose a set of core values, clearly articulate them, and then consistently and intentionally implement them across all platforms.

If all facets of your individual leadership or your organization are not governed by the same set of values, you will end up dividing your effectiveness by spending at least some of your energy putting a positive spin on the skeletons in your closet and investing the rest of that energy into making sure no one opens the closet door.

The looming challenge we all face in both corporate and individual identity is our deep and rooted human need to live with one face.



It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.

Warren Buffett

The years I spent working for that particularly narcissistic manipulator were some of the best of my life. It sounds counter-intuitive, but I'm grateful for the experience. That job allowed me to travel the world, producing events and directing media projects I'd never imagined possible. I was privileged to work with amazing team members — outstanding, talented, passionate individuals who were also conscientious professionals.

For a 20-something fresh out of graduate school, I was given a remarkable amount of freedom, at first. Freedom to be creative, to hone my skills, to manage a creative team, to partner with people who inspired positive and tangible change within our target demographic. I got to explore my natural leadership strengths and taste the satisfaction of making massive social impact by creating resources for international community development agencies, producing short films for global broadcast that taught positive messages for families, and mentoring younger media professionals into fulfilling careers.

It was a dream job. The satisfaction was there; the fulfillment was there. I had constant opportunities to indulge my wanderlust, traveling to exotic places like Australia, Russia, the Netherlands — directing video productions, developing training resources, speaking to crowds of hundreds and sometimes thousands. Everything was amazing — except for the situation with my boss.

So why did I put up with him for so long?

I truly believed in the work our team was doing. That was one of the good reasons. One of the not-so-great reasons was that I was far too trusting. Of course, it wasn't so bad at first. You rarely leap directly into a toxic relationship or an abusive environment. Rather, it creeps upon you by degrees. All the little opportunities where you silenced the warning in your gut and went along with something that didn't quite feel right — those add up over time. Little choices that seemed neutral but weren't — yet you couldn't see reality for what it was until you got enough puzzle pieces in place.


I was too young, trusting, and completely under his charismatic spell, in the beginning, to realize that this work I loved so much was permanently throttled by the reality that the top leader did not live with transparent authenticity behind closed doors. After all, I was in my late 20s and already the associate director of an international non-profit. Wasn't that worth putting up with some frustrations? So what if I have a pesky boss. Doesn't everyone?

For a long time, I dismissed his power-hungry behavior as merely the reality of having a grown-up job in a grownup world, where the top brass are naturally expected to be capricious, demanding, paranoid, and petty. I spent years excusing and enabling him, buffering the abuse from my team, until that exhausted encounter in the wee hours when it dawned on me just how precarious everything had become.

Not long after, my crew was ready to quit, the overseeing board began investigating my boss on multiple allegations of sexual harassment, and the entire organization was in danger of crumbling because the guy at the top didn't live with one face. Because his public and private personas were not governed by an aligned set of core values.

For years, I told myself that as long as I lived with integrity, I could protect the team and our audience from the toxic internal state of affairs. I took it upon myself to try to be the glue for all these fractures. But I was both asking too much of myself, and giving myself too much credit at the same time. Looking back, I should have confronted it head-on in a values-driven, integrity-driven way instead of just hoping it would get better and praying I could manage the fallout.

When a corporate culture is fractured behind the scenes — unless those fractures are addressed and repaired — no project, no company, no cause, no individual leader will reach their full potential. And no one single person can be expected to bridge the gaps in someone else's integrity. Every single person, including the boss, must be held responsible to maintain their own personal integrity.

Fortunately, even the most unscrupulous boss can teach life-changing lessons. One of the greatest lessons I learned from that experience was how not to manage my teams. Thanks to him, I now operate under a completely opposite philosophy of team management.

If it was great — my team did it.

If it was okay — we did it.

If it was a complete bust — I did it.

It doesn't matter who on the team was responsible; we'll sort out responsibility and ways to improve within the team, in private. Any leadership decision I make, as long as it's the opposite of what that former boss would have done, I'll probably be in the clear. I do not expect perfection, but I do demand transparency.

From a team management viewpoint, those brutal years taught me the value of building infrastructure differently by focusing on:

• clear communication,

• timely conflict resolution,

• transparent goals,

• complete loyalty, and

• absolutely no skeletons stashed in the closet.

From a client management viewpoint, those years taught me not only to act with integrity but also to never over-trust. It's wise to listen when your instincts say "there's a red flag here" instead of sitting back and hoping it won't get too bad, or assuming you can manage the fallout. Now, if I discover that a client has unaddressed skeletons in the closet or is living with a fractured set of conflicting values, I simply decline to work with them. I won't present their product. I won't promote them.

Unless, of course, they're tired of living a double life, and they have come to me for a complete reboot.

You're sitting there asking, "But doesn't that result in a loss of work?" Yep. Absolutely.

And I'm okay with that. Because the same clients who have a low threshold on honesty are going to be the ones who run my team ragged and then argue over the bill. Rather than slipping from one crisis management to the next, this philosophy means we are free to create outstanding quality projects for clients who actually appreciate it.

I'd rather spend my time helping good clients become great, than massaging the egos of hopelessly narcissistic ones. Really, you could probably just call it naked self-preservation.


This does not mean you don't get to have both a public and a private life. When you are on a public platform as an individual leader or your organization is communicating with your audience, you naturally have public and private realities. Totally not the same thing as public face and private face.


Excerpted from "One Face"
by .
Copyright © 2016 SARAH McDUGAL.
Excerpted by permission of Morgan James Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. The Digital Flip,
Chapter 2. I Never Meant to End up Here,
Chapter 3. Living LEJIT,
Chapter 4. Kissing Frogs,
Chapter 5. The Gift You Hate to Love,
Chapter 6. One Face,
Chapter 7. Framed,
Chapter 8. U-Turn,
Chapter 9. Mentor Power,
Chapter 10. Go Forward | Think Backward,
About the Author,

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