I am not big on books or articles that espouse numerical requirements to be or succeed at something. The 7 habits,5Rules, etc. They often suggest inadequacy, and especially as of late it is a tool to suggest “we” belong to a club you are not qualified for. In reading this adaptation from The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons From CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed,” The author, NY Time columnist Adam Bryant seems to take a somewhat different tact by stating “The good news: these traits are not genetic. It’s not as if you have to be tall or left-handed. These qualities are developed through attitude, habit and discipline — factors that are within your control.”
Based on interviews with over 70 CEO’s the book proposes five essentials for success, based on the CEO’s interviewed and what they look for when hiring.
They ask big-picture questions. They wonder why things work the way they do and whether those things can be improved upon. They want to know people’s stories, and what they do.
The C.E.O.’s are not necessarily the smartest people in the room, but they are the best students
You want somebody who is just alert and very awake and engaged with the world and wanting to know more.”
Do they tend to blame failures on factors they cannot control, or do they believe they have the ability to shape events and circumstances by making the most of what they can control.
They understand how teams work and how to get the most out of the group.
The people who truly succeed in business are the ones who actually have figured out how to mobilize people who are not their direct reports.”
A Simple Mind-Set
Yet few people can deliver the simplicity that many bosses want. Instead, they mistakenly assume that the bosses will be impressed by a long PowerPoint presentation….
Even Steve Ballmer CEO of Microsoft, the owners of PowerpPoint says “he understood the impulse in presentations to share all the underlying research that led to a conclusion. But he changed the way he runs meetings to get to the conclusion first.”
They want to know if somebody is the kind of person who takes ownership of challenges or starts looking for excuses.
As they moved up in organizations, the attitude remained the same — this is my job, and I’m going to own it.
Are you comfortable being uncomfortable?
Many executives said fearlessness was one of the top qualities they’re looking for when they were interviewing job candidates.
Chief executives advise that you will be rewarded for fearlessness, because so few people live that way and bring this attitude to work.
If morale at your company or organization seems like it is at an all time low, you are not alone. Last week, The Conference Board reported employee morale is at the lowest level since they started tracking it 22 years ago. Less than half of all workers are satisfied with their jobs.
With that news it can’t be a surprise that so many companies are performing poorly. The model of the past looks as if organizations go out of their way to make their employees unhappy. They rule by fear, indifference, and ask you to be grateful for having a job.
Not all companies are bad places to work. Just this week Fortune published their 100 Best Companies Places To Work. Other companies in corporate America are catching on as well. Sue Shallenbarger points out in her WSJ Article ” Thinking Happy Thoughts At Work” , these companies are bringing in coaches and other experts to teach happiness to the employees. Some of the happiness inducing modalities used are meditation, inner peace, gratitude, and other techniques,which have wide ranging influences from positive psychology to Hinduism.
There have been many research studies over the years which show the positive impacts of happy employees, including less absenteeism, lower turnover, higher productivity, and more creativity. So get this, happy employees can improve your bottom line. Try it as an experiment, see what happens.
Here are some tips to get you started:
1. Catch your employees doing things well and right. Then tell them. What we dwell on grows. Focus on what is working well, what people are doing right, and watch things improve.
2. Bring in a coach, or other specialist to empower the people you work with how to be happier. The full impact of a practice such as meditation is not even known, but what we is known is that it reduces stress, clarifies thinking, people have reported being more creative, and feeling more alert.
3. Make a gratitude list every day for what, and who you are grateful for at your organization. Now go out and tell the people on the list you are grateful for them, their work, and their contribution. Be specific. It might be worth sounding a little crazy, to make a real difference.
One of the big challenges I often hear from executives and entrepreneurs is about standing out. Everyone wants to stand out, stand out in their career, industry, job search, community, among the competition, and even in life. I admit, I have even thought about it on more than one occasion.
So last spring when Executive Coach Alan Cohen and I, were invited to present at Fordham’s Graduate School of Business, we tackled the subject head on. Looking at people who do stand out and what are the determining factors. We presented a series of 8 points that if practiced would help you stand out.
Since then, I have had the opportunity to present on the topic a number of times, each time the topic has evolved. Most recently, I presented it to about 45 Business Owners for the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce and TD Bank. As most of my presentations are dialogues, I often learn as much as the audience and it helps shape my views on the topic.
What really has become apparent is that it is not as much about the “how” as it is about the “what”. What are you willing to take a stand for? What are you willing not to compromise on, saying this is what I want? This is what I must have?
Standing out is not something to be achieved, it is not a destination. It is a choice, a way of life, and an attitude. While it can feel lonely at times, it doesn’t separate you as better than. Standing Out ultimately connects you and makes you feel part of. Standing Out can’t really be done alone, and even if it could, it could never be sustained alone.
I see a lot of people who take a stand for personal and professional freedom as an example. They eitherlost their job or get fed up at work, realize they are not being true to themselves and want the independence and autonomy that come with being your own boss.
What are you willing to take a stand for? What is that you are willing to put it all on the line for, in your life? Get clear on that, reorient your life around it, and standing out happens naturally.
Remember, STAND is an attitude and a lifestyle. If your answer is “I don’t know”, consider taking a stand for figuring it out.
Career Freedom in it’s most basic form is exercising your power to choose, what you do, when you do it, and how you go about doing it. Many like to take the position that they do not have a choice when it comes to their career, that they are some sort of trap because of financial, family or other reasons. They are still making a choice to put whatever it is over the choice concern their work. The key to freedom here is being aware of where you have choices that you previously did not see, and perhaps making different choices.
Career like almost any other endeavor in life, can be looked at as a game. Most people are in career games they did not consciously choose ,or chose for the wrong reasons. Everyone in their family is a doctor, so they became one; or they chose if because it was lucrative, or for one of many other reasons.
They are playing the game of wealth, status, and prestige. A game that has been handed to them. Unfortunately this is a game that relatively few people win. If everyone could win that wouldn’t be very much fun. It is no surprise that so many people suffer from work related stress illness, ranging from discontentment to hatred ,or even depression over their work.
People feel trapped to some degree; they don’t see they can make the decision to start playing a different game. Choosing the game you are in, and what you are playing for is a huge responsibility, it would mean freedom. Pursuing what you want, not what your parents want for you, teachers think is best for you, or the media suggests you should want. In the end this is the only type of game worth playing, a game whose outcome is intrinsically important to the individual playing it.
As in traditional games, not only does winning have to be important to you, but playing well does too. While winning is much more fun, you can still do really well, play great, and not have the highest score. I wouldn’t mind the payout the losing team at the Super Bowl or World Series receives.
Playing to win requires perseverance, courage, and heart, which you can only sustain when something is intrinsically important to you, it connects to who you are at your essence;
So how does one figure this out. I have had clients that figured it out in a couple of weeks and others have taken longer. The process of discovering can be played like a game as well. Before you can even name the game, consider what winning looks like? If you were looking back one year from now, and your situation was perfect what would it be like? What would it feel like? How would you know that you were winning your career game?
What would have to happen for you to win?
Taking this on is not for everyone. It requires a strong commitment and can be challenging at times. After all it were too easy, that wouldn’t be a game worth playing. If you take this path, there will be lots of distractions and pressure to play a game someone else thinks you should play, a game that seems like it has an easy pay off, although it will be on someone else’s terms.
Consider this quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 18th Century German Poet: “Concerning acts of initiative there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius power and magic in it.”
In a feature that aired on CBS News “Sunday Morning” they point out:
The copy machine was invented in 1937, but the idea was rejected by the likes of GE and IBM. It would be 10 years before Xerox’s machine would make its debut. John Grisham’s first novel was rejected by a dozen publishing houses … and Henry Ford went bankrupt 5 times.
Citing an American Psychological Association(APA) study, Medical News Today reports three-fourths of Americans say they are stressed about work & money; one-third of Americans are living with extreme stress, and the most commonly cited source of stress— mentioned by 74 percent of respondents — was work.
If you are think you are one of these people with a high degree of stress and poor quality of life due to work, take notice! companies large and small are recognizing that happy & healthy employees affect the bottom line in a positive way.
This month the APA recognized five organizations for their comprehensive efforts to promote employee health and well-being while improving performance. Companies presented with the American Psychological Association’s 2008 Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award (PHWA) were Arkansas Educational Television Network, Cooperativa de Seguros Múltiples de Puerto Rico, Nike Tennessee, Porter Keadle Moore (Georgia) and Westminster Savings Credit Union (British Columbia).
If you run a company or own a business and believe that it wouldn’t be practical for you to implement this, listen to what these organizations report: A turnover rate of 11 percent compared to the national average of 40 percent according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Surveys completed by employees of the winning organizations showed overall well-being and job satisfaction for employees to be significantly greater compared to national averages.
According to the APA report; at Westminster Savings Credit Union, high employee satisfaction and low turnover means that two thirds of WSCU’s openings are filled internally, lowering administrative costs. Increased productivity is another benefit for the organizations. In 2007, Nike Tennessee increased productivity by 51 percent, while reducing injury rates by almost 30 percent. And at Cooperativa de Seguros Múltiples, an insurance company in Puerto Rico, employee loyalty is high with a 15-year average length of service and a turnover rate of less than two percent.”
In a New York Times article published this week on the same subject, they point out that “48 percent of the employers in the survey said stress created by long hours and limited resources was affecting business performance, but only 5 percent said they were taking strong action to address those areas.”
The Times highlights some well know organizations that are showing initiative in this area as well. They include:
GlaxoSmithKline has program called “Team Resilience” which combines things like health assessments, discussion groups and follow-up evaluations to deal with workplace stress.
PricewaterhouseCoopers also addresses stress in multiple ways. For example, in annual surveys, employees asked for more coaching and opportunities to connect with more experienced colleagues — and got them.
Workplace Options, a provider of work-life employee benefits, reports that a recent poll of more than 700 working adults found 76 percent believe it is important that companies offer employees wellness programs to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The U.S. Surgeon General states that 50 percent of this year’s high-cost employees in terms of health care were not in that category last year, and more than 87 percent of health care claims costs are due to an individual’s lifestyle, according to a study by Indiana University. To combat these trends, it is important for companies to consider adopting wellness initiatives that incorporate coaching for maximum results.
Predominantly from the viewpoint of Corporate Wellness, Talent Mangement cites the benefits of coporate wellness programs and coaching. “According to recent studies, pairing personalized coaching with employee wellness initiatives leads to higher success rates.”
What i think is evident is that employers are starting to realize that a happy healthy employee performs better. In order to affect this employers are recognizing that they must look at the employee in terms of their whole life, and how they can help them maintain a quality life.
TED started as an invitation only conference in the 1980’s; bringing together the most innovative minds from Technology, Entertainment, and Design. It continues today, with selected guests invited to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes or less. While these talks were initially only heard by those in attendance, the evolution of the web sparked the creation of Ted Talks, a video archive of these presentations. They have graciously made them available to the public.
These speakers are not just leaders in their fields, they are the trailblazers knocking down the walls of conformity. They are using their position, gifts, talent, resources and knowledge to make the world a better place.
The talks are classified in categories that you don’t ordinarily see on other sites. They include “most jaw-dropping” which is led by Blaise Aguera Y Arcas, co-creator of Photosynth a monumental piece of software capable of assembling statis photos into a synergy of zoomable navigatable spaces.
Deborah Scranton who tops the “most courageous” category shows clips and discusses her film “The War Tapes” which documents putting cameras in the hands of a unit of The New Hampshire National Guard for one year while in Iraq
The “most inspiring” category includes Richard St. John who spent more than a decade researching the secrets of success — and distilling them into 8 words, 3 minutes and one successful book; Stupid, Ugly, Unlucky and Rich: Spike’s Guide to Success
There is a dose of inspiration here for anyone and everyone.
Fast Company published 18 of the most innovative business minds of the past year. There are some familiar names on the list and some new. Regardless of the industry you are in, chances are you will find someone on this list who inspires you.
Included is Timothy Ferris; Author of The Four Hour Work Week.
Ferriss is a Princeton University guest lecturer in High-Tech Entrepreneurship, the first American in history to hold a Guinness World Record in tango, a national Chinese kickboxing champion, and even a MTV breakdancer in Taiwan. But, what he’s most known for is his 80-20 principle, suggesting that people outsource everyday tasks. He adds, “I’m asking some important and long-avoided questions that make people uncomfortable.”
Follow this link for the other honorees;