Sunday, December 28, 2008

Book Review: Outliers, Reviewed by Zan Jones

Susan and I recently had a contest. It began with us discussing how a book review would be fun to do. She called me while I was at Costco doing pre-holiday party shopping and I told her Malcolm Gladwell's new book Outliers was in my shopping cart. She informed me that she had just bought the exact book from! So we decided that whoever finishes the book first can write the book review - and I won!

You may remember Malcolm Gladwell because he also wrote The Tipping Point and Blink. Both books accomplish one goal: they make you think. And Outliers is no exception. Gladwell defines an Outlier as a "statistical observation that is markedly different in value from others in the sample." In other words, an Outlier is someone who does something out of the ordinary that doesn't seem to make sense - like why people from Roseto, Pennsylvania had a death rate from heart disease 50% less than the U.S. as a whole when they cooked with lard, ate high fat diets, didn't exercise, smoked heavily and struggled with obesity.

If you only remember 2 words from the book, remember these: Opportunity and Legacy. Gladwell examines 2 types of Outliers - those who benefit from Opportunity and those who benefit from Legacy.

Opportunity Outliers

In Part I Gladwell describes Outliers who achieve success from the opportunities in their life. Here are my 3 favorite examples:

  1. The Matthew Effect (as in the book of the Bible).
    Gladwell questions the meritocracy of Canadian hockey. Aren't players who work the hardest and have the most talent the ones who make it to the top? Not necessarily. Through a convincing analysis Gladwell suggests that your success in Canadian hockey leagues is directly correlated to your birthday. People born in January, February and March have the best chances of success. The closer your birthday is to January 1, the better. And if you were born in the last half of the year then forget it!

  2. The 10,000 Hour Rule.
    This rule explains the breakout success of Mozart, the Beatles and Bill Gates. Gladwell claims 10,000 hours is the "magic number of greatness." Because of a variety of near perfect circumstances completely out of each person's control, these Outliers were able to get in 10,000 hours of practice at exceptionally young ages. Mozart hit the 10,000 hour mark around the time he was 21. To survive, the Beatles had been performing together 8 hours a day, 7 days a week for about 7 years before they hit the United States. And because of how close he lived to the University of Washington, the fact that his high school had a computer club way back in the 1960's and because he was able to spend high school semesters writing code, Bill Gates hit the 10,000 hour mark in his 20's.

  3. The Trouble with Geniuses.
    Having an IQ of 150 or greater qualifies one as a genius. The relationship between IQ and success only works up to a point. Once you hit an IQ of 120 then having any additional IQ points doesn't translate to any real-world advantage. Gladwell proves his point using lists of American Nobel prize winners. Bottom line: you don't have to be a genius - just smart enough. (There's hope for me!) And those of us in the Smart Zone know that Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is just as critical to success.
Legacy Outliers

In Part II Gladwell describes Outliers whose success (or failure) results from their legacy. Our heritage and culture of our past affect what we achieve in ways that we can't begin to imagine. Here are my 3 favorite examples:
  1. Harlan, Kentucky Family Feud.
    Gladwell describes a 19th century pattern in the Appalachian Mountains that began with the Howard-Turner family feud. Years of gunfire and fatal gunshot wounds occurred. It was a "culture of honor" to engage in an altercation with the enemy family. Then in the 1990s 2 psychologists conducted an experiment on the culture of honor. Men participating in the experiment were intentionally provoked to anger. And guess who got the angriest at the smallest provocation: southerners (ouch!). When northerners were provoked there was almost no effect. Southerners were almost itching for a fight. Are southerners just carrying out their cultural legacy when they get mad?

  2. The Ethnic Theory of Plane Crashes.
    Gladwell tells a harrowing story of how a Korean plane crash in 1997 was a result the pilot's ethnicity. During that same time period Korean pilots had crash losses 17% higher than American pilots. The root cause: the cultural legacy of respecting superiors. Korean copilots were afraid to be too assertive with their pilot in times of possible danger and Korean pilots were too respectful of air traffic controllers to question their directives. This attitude toward hierarchy can be measured by a "Power Distance Index (PDI)." Countries with the highest PDI (Brazil, South Korea, Morocco, Mexico and Philippines) had the most crashes. Countries with the lowest PDI (U.S., Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand) had the fewest crashes.

  3. Rice Paddies and Math Tests.
    For years students from China, South Korea and Japan have substantially outperformed their U.S. counterparts in math. How does this tie in to rice paddies? Cultivating Chinese rice paddies requires tedious and precise effort. It is estimated that rice farmers work 3,000 hours a year - compared to U.S. workers who work 2,000 hours per year. One other advantage is that the Asian number system has more regularity making calculations easier. This, combined with the cultural legacy of tedious rice culture and hard work, gives Asians an advantage in math. Click here for Gladwell's interview with Katie Couric discussing this subject.
In a nutshell the book proves this: people don't rise from nothing. The people that are on top of the world and appear to be self-made actually owe everything to extraordinary opportunities and cultural legacies that "allow them to learn and work hard and make sense of the world in ways we cannot."

    Thursday, December 11, 2008

    Getting Your Head Straight and Loading the Wagon

    I was recently a presenter for the Association of Equipment Manufacturers in Scottsdale Arizona. It was a beautiful place at the Kierland Westin Resort. I was asked to present twice, with one of the presentations during lunchtime for some of the key leaders in the organization. The audience was mostly made up of men who travel internationally and bring high level management skills to their organizations. I always collect little tidbits of information during events like this and this event was no different.

    At the end of the presentation and after the group that gathered around me disappated, a nice man handed me a piece of paper and gave me a smile. He proceded to tell me that he felt my message was smack on target for their industry and for the challenges they faced as managers.

    "Don't worry about the mule going blind, just load the wagon" was written on the piece of paper. From my presentation he knew I understood this idea and believed that I would like it. I do and I believe you will too.

    This well educated gentleman has read many business books, has very knowledgeable mentors and this statement guides him almost daily has he moves his business forward. This is a tidbit worth sharing as I hear from many of you that you don't want to get distracted by the economy, performance issues, and some uncertainty in your future. Stay in the Smart Zone and concentrate on loading the wagon. I hope you find this helpful and thanks to the man with the smile.

    Monday, December 1, 2008

    Don't Flip Out: Adapting to Change at Work

    Have you ever had the carpet yanked out from underneath you? It happened to me early in my career when the job I was promised at Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, Florida was discontinued because of budget cuts. Ouch - it was such an unexpected (and unwelcomed) change! But it was also one of the most important learning experiences I've had in my life. People in the Smart Zone adapt to change because they know adaptability is a character trait required for survival in today's business environments.

    "To be successful one must be willing to learn and apply new concepts and not be afraid of change."
    Craig Barrett, former CEO and Chairman of the Board for Intel Corp.

    You've had to adapt to change if this ever happened to you:
    • Your company was bought out or merged
    • Your department was reorganized
    • Your boss was promoted or left the company
    • You were a victim of downsizing
    • Your job description was expanded
    • The weekly staff meeting was moved to another day
    The Dallas Cowboys had to adapt to change recently when quarterback Tony Romo was sidelined with a broken pinkie finger. Corporate America (NFL included) has an "adapt or die" mentality. I laughed at a recent article in Inc. magazine where David Zugheri, cofounder of Houston First Mortgage, was determined to make the office paperless. So after investing in scanners he went in one night and unplugged every printer and copier and announced the next morning at 8:00 a.m. that the office was now paperless. Employees freaked out, 2 threatened to quit and by noon all printers and copiers had been plugged back in.

    People in the Smart Zone have enthusiasm for change. They are resilient and innovative. Here are 5 Smart Moves for adapting to change in your organization:
    1. Take a moment. Try to understand the change and its purpose. Why did your department get reorganized? Is it so communication can be improved? Is it to help avoid layoffs in the tough economy? Then decide if resisting the change is worth it. Adapting to change is easier when the root cause of the change is understood.
    2. Chill out. Fear and anxiety are normal responses to change but they can also impede your ability to adapt. Don't do what this news reporter did (although I don't blame him). Remain calm in the face of the unexpected. Let your response to a change not be ruled by fear but by your self-confidence.
    3. Don't gripe and moan! No one wants to work with a whiner. If you want to survive in today's competitive environment you must accept change with a smile and determine how you can contribute to making the change successful. Click here to read my example of how to respond positively to change.
    4. Differentiate yourself. We all seek change. Think about it - did you eat lunch at the same restaurant today as yesterday? Did you begin to re-read the same John Grisham book on the airplane yesterday instead of getting a new book? Accept the fact that change is necessary and be the one to give it a try.
    5. Stay focused on the end result. I consulted for a company who had so many "flavors of the month" that employees refused to embrace them because they knew the initiatives were short lived. Stay focused on the end result of your own job: cutting costs, increasing sales, satisfying customers, managing profit and loss, improving safety, etc. and make decisions that favorably impact the end result of your job.

    Tuesday, November 4, 2008

    Are the Presidential Candidates in the Smart Zone?

    It's finally Election Day and I have found myself glued to the television to watch debates (and even a few Saturday Night Live skits). Although I don't consider myself a political person, I find the current political climate fascinating. In fact, I voted early!

    People in the Smart Zone connect with others. You will most likely vote for the candidate you feel is most relevant - who shares your needs, wants and interests.

    The Smart Zone is the mental state for optimal performance using intellect, emotions, and behaviors. Sounds like something a psychologist might say - right? Let's take a look at how each candidate is IN or OUT of his Smart Zone using the model above.

    • Trust: The basis of being in the Smart Zone is trust. Do you trust the candidates? People will vote for who they trust the most. For example, it's important to address and right wrongs. If you saw McCain on Late Night with David Letterman he answered the question about why he canceled being on Dave's show to do an interview with Katie Couric by simply saying, "I screwed up."

    • Manage Perception: McCain wants to be viewed as a maverick and change agent. He has been perceived as having a temper and being mad. Obama wants to be perceived as a transformational leader. He has been perceived as slick and eloquent. Both perceptions can help and hurt each candidate.

    • Solution Oriented: Forward looking leaders focus on solutions, not problems. During the debates how did you feel when a candidate was presenting the facts about a problem (like healthcare) vs. presenting solutions to the problem? To be in the Smart Zone the candidates have to ask and answer "What" and "How" questions - not "Why" questions. "Why" questions focus on the problem. For example, instead of saying, "Why do we have the healthcare problem" candidates should say, "What are we going to do about the healthcare problem?"

    • Mental Theater: This is the drama we create in our heads so it seems an event really did happen. Both candidates have run negative ad campaigns and created negative drama about the other. When we only know part of a story our mind will try and fill in the blanks. This takes both candidates out of the Smart Zone.

    • Likeability: In the business world we say people leave bosses not companies. A leader's success depends on how he or she gets along with others. In fact, smiling when you are talking makes you likeable and memorable - a trait that Obama uses. Acting disrespectful of others has the opposite effect. It makes you unlikable. Both candidates have been accused of disrespecting the other. McCain even called Obama "that one" in one of the debates (which some viewed as disrespectful).

    • Manage Mood: Optimism is more useful for winning votes than pessimism. But a healthy dose of pessimism will bring out reality. During the last debate Obama took a more optimistic approach to changes he would make. McCain focused on the pessimistic realities of Obama's plans. It was a categorical difference in their approach.

    • Smart Zone Secret: Both McCain and Obama definitely know it! The Smart Zone secret is: take the focus off yourself. McCain and Obama have demonstrated behavior that shows their empathy for others and the desire to make life better for the American people.

    Just for fun, and if you have about 10 minutes, watch a Saturday Night Live skit spoofing both candidates. And if you have a chance, check out my blog to see some of the fun one of my associates is having with Halloween and the election.

    Friday, October 31, 2008

    Answer the Call of Accountability

    Sometimes I get frustrated with my friend Julie. I haven't been working out as much as I used to and she reminds me that I need to get back at it. And sometimes I feel like snarling at my CPA who reminds me not to expand my business too fast. We all need people to hold us accountable. Sales goals, budgets, contracts and deadlines are just like my friend Julie - they hold us accountable for promises we've made. People in the Smart Zone create accountability by inspiring others to accept responsibility for their actions.
    Accountability is really a call from your conscience. It's the voice that tells you to do the best you can and to hold others responsible for being their best selves. People lacking accountability are those who are "along for the ride" floating through life, blaming others for their failures and lacking integrity in relationships.

    To stay in the Smart Zone remain accountable to yourself first and use the following Smart Moves to create accountability:

    • Don't confuse obedience with accountability. It is common to confuse accountability with a system for making sure people do what you want them to do using rewards and punishments. Those who obey are merely doing the work to avoid getting punished. And they may do work to avoid getting punished at the expense of other people, morale or customer goodwill. This month's Inc. magazine article, Sins of Commissions, gives great insight into this phenomenon. Just doing what you are told is not accountability. One must take ownership of his successes and failures to be accountable.
    • Discomfort and remorse are important teachers. When someone fails to perform don't minimize the remorse they feel for messing up. Let them experience the emotions so you don't take away their learning. But remember that people don't learn when they feel threatened - so tread lightly.
    • Lead by example. I am guilty of telling my staff to keep our administrative area clutter free and then letting my desk pile up with stuff. If I want my staff to be more accountable, I must be more accountable.
    • Make expectations clear. I recently met Steve Goodson, General Manager of Green Grass Inc., while delivering the opening keynote at the Texas Nursery and Landscape Association's Annual Conference. His system of accountability in his business consists of three morning meetings per week: Monday (set weekly expectations), Wednesday (mid-week status check) and Friday (end of week status check). These meetings created extra work at first. But now everyone looks forward to them because they provide communication about specific company and customer expectations and hold all team members accountable for their promises. His staff appreciates the meetings and his overall business runs smoother.
    • Accountability and responsibility are first cousins. Make and keep your promises. Click here for a funny example of Jerry Seinfeld holding someone accountable for her promise. If you find yourself getting off track stop and check yourself. Be honest with yourself and be honest enough to hold others on your team to their personal best.Accountability comes from within and helps you catch problems early on so that you can take ownership of responding to them. Stop yourself the next time you have the urge to say, "That's not MY job." Hold yourself and others accountable so that everyone will perform at their personal best and work in the Smart Zone.

    Monday, October 27, 2008

    A Little Fun

    Never let it be said that employees of Smart Zone Solutions don't have fun. My Director of Client Relations, Zan, had lots of fun this weekend at a neighborhood Halloween party. Guess who she is:

    Here's another view (think vice presidential):

    That's right - Sarah Palin! She was the hit of the party next to Wonder Woman.

    In honor of the upcoming election I couldn't resist sharing these pictures. (Thanks Zan for letting me). And don't forget to vote!

    Thursday, October 9, 2008

    Feeling Down in the Dumps

    With the recent hurricane devastation in south Texas and financial industry crisis, we are all aware of the potential for depression in those whose lives have been affected. It makes sense that feelings of depression are logical after such major events.

    Those of you who have experienced coping with the loss of someone you love, the loss of your job, the loss of health, or even the changes in where you live can relate to the hopelessness of those affected by Hurricane Ike. But when is the sadness you feel appropriate and when is it a significant clinical depression?

    In any given year, it is expected that 1 out of 10 adults suffer from clinical depression. The symptoms of depression that require professional intervention include:

    • Persistent sad, anxious or "empty" mood
    • Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
    • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
    • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities that were once enjoyed, including sex
    • Decreased energy, fatigue, being "slowed down"
    • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
    • Insomnia, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
    • Appetite and/or weight loss or overeating and weight gain
    • Restlessness, irritability
    • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment, such as headaches, digestive disorders, and chronic pain.
    • In the extreme: thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts. Click here for a list of suicide facts.

    Experiencing one of these symptoms does not necessarily mean that you are clinically depressed. Rather, it's a combination of these symptoms that warrants professional attention.

    A new study in the Archives of General Psychiatry suggests that cognitive therapy (or "talk therapy") may be as effective as antidepressant drugs in the initial treatment of moderate to severe depression. Cognitive therapy involves a person talking through what they think is causing their depression. The therapist then can give specific skills to help change the way they view the problem and then learn how to better manage it. Of course, you should never quit taking medication for depression without the guidance of your doctor or therapist.

    Most people believe that there is little hope for depression even with proper treatment. Not true! It is estimated that 80% of people with depression improve with proper treatment. The real problem is that people are unwilling to get treatment in the first place. And people with depression can't just "snap out of it."

    If you are just feeling "down in the dumps" the following things can boost your mood:

    • Take a walk outside. Sunshine actually increases the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that will trigger a more active you.
    • Break down large tasks into small ones and do what you can.
    • Set realistic goals about what you want to accomplish.
    • Volunteer for a cause. Shifting your focus on helping someone else can lift your mood. Some of my office staff recently volunteered for the Red Cross to help hurricane victims.
    • Be willing to seek treatment. The true barrier to successfully eliminating depression is to be willing to participate in counseling.
    A good first step is to talk with your doctor, a psychologist and/or psychiatrist, a licensed professional counselor (LPC) or a qualified leader where you worship. For more information, you can go to or

    Thursday, September 18, 2008

    How to Be Self-Aware for Success

    I was shocked to find out recently what the #1 characteristic business school graduates lack when entering corporate America. Corporations surveyed stated that the #1 trait graduates lack is (get ready for this): self-awareness.

    I raised my eyebrows when I read it because self-awareness is at the heart emotional intelligence and being in the Smart Zone. Self-aware people are more productive and self-aware organizations are more profitable.

    Initially the term "self-awareness" might bring to mind the idea of meditation or even yoga. I like the way a recent Inc. magazine article defined self-awareness. It said, "Self-awareness is being conscious of what you're good at while acknowledging what you still have yet to learn. This includes admitting when you don't have the answer and owning up to mistakes." What does it look like to lack self-awareness?

    Remember the coach from Oklahoma, Mike Gundy, who lost it? Click here to watch it.

    Or the Miss Teen USA contestant from South Carolina? Click here to watch it.

    At work, lack of self-awareness shows up in the following ways:

    • The CEO who has to appear "right" at all costs.
    • The boss who goes into a rage when the department doesn't meet monthly business goals.
    • The coworker who talks overly loud on the phone in his cubicle - disturbing everyone else.
    • The coworker who competes instead of cooperates.
    • The person who takes credit for others' efforts and blames others for mistakes.
    • The salesperson who talks too much - annoying the customer.
    • The new hire who is afraid to admit she doesn't know how to do something.

    We've all lacked self-awareness at some time. I recently overcommitted to a project because I felt passionate about the cause but neglected to consider the amount of time it would take. I remember one time when I chewed out the mailman for not delivering my mail - unaware that it was because my car was parked in front of the mailbox interfering with his ability to do his job.

    Emotions can get the best of us if we are not self-aware. Being able to manage your emotions is what helps you be more self-aware and apologize when appropriate. Below are 4 Smart Moves to improve your self-awareness (without doing yoga!):

    1. Use your gut: Loan officers must sense when a loan might go bad even when the numbers look okay. Recruiters have to make educated, but timely, guesses about which candidates will fit in best within an organization. Having a hunch starts pretty deep in your brain and actually creates a physiological response. When you think, "This just doesn't feel right" and get a stomach ache - that's your body's response to your hunch. Listen to it!
    2. Keep it real. Have an accurate sense of your own strengths and limitations. Being blind to your own problem areas can put your career and business at risk. The key is to learn from your mistakes, acknowledge your own faults without rebuking those who point them out and have an "overall awareness" of your limitations.
    3. Believe in yourself. People with high self-awareness are naturally confident. They exude charisma, are likeable and often inspire confidence in those around them. On the flip side, extreme lack of self confidence can show up as arrogance and brashness. Workers who believe in themselves achieve more because their belief motivates them to work harder and persist through challenges.
    4. Walk your "inner" talk. Know and focus on your personal values. In business it's called "social responsibility." Jeff Swartz, CEO of the shoemaker Timberland, provides an inspiring example of this in the September issue of Fast Company. (Click here to read the article.) If your #1 priority is "being a good person" or "being there for your children" it can be easy to lose sight of this during the workday when we have too much to do in a short amount of time. Since few of our daily work tasks pertain to what we value most it's easy to spend too much time on lower priority tasks. Focus on your values and you are more likely to accomplish what you consider most important.

    Listen to your "inner talk" when making decisions to boost your own self-awareness. Over time a good internal dialog and being receptive to learning from your mistakes translates into the wisdom that can be seen when you are working in the Smart Zone.

    Tuesday, September 2, 2008

    Until One Is Committed, There Is Hesitancy

    I've recently rediscovered a quote I had forgotten. "Until one is committed, there is hesitancy...Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." by Goethe.

    Finding this quote again was timely as I make bold choices moving forward in business and in my personal life. With the January 2008 release of Working in the Smart Zone, our second book, we have experienced a very exciting surge in the work we are doing to keep people and companies working with Emotional Intelligence and Trust. Our commitment is strong as we move forward, without hesitation, making a difference in organizations with our consulting and in families with the clinical practice.

    As my own family commitments continue to rise, I have worked to remain intentional and present in the lives of our three boys and in my marriage. After all, now that they are in eight grade, fifth grade, and third grade, homework and projects take more energy and attention than they have in the past. As my husband and I look ahead to being married longer than some of our friends, we continue to be reminded that a good marriage doesn't just happen by chance. It takes work and attention to negotiate the challenges. Being committed to making it work, without hesitation, on a daily basis has it's rewards.

    We have heard from many of you that the economy, gas prices, difficult work environments, changes in company leaders, and worry have made it difficult to create the kind of change that would increase the bottom line. What we see is that there is no better time to be in the Smart Zone, where people can work to the best of their ability emotionally, intellectually, and behaviorally.

    Write this where you can see it "Until one is committed, there is hesitancy...Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." Now go forward, without hesitation and be in the Smart Zone.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2008

    What a Vacation Will Teach You

    I recently returned from a 7 day trip to the Bahamas. Growing up in Florida and now living in a landlocked suburb of Dallas, I often feel like I need to get my feet in the sand. For those of you who have been to the Bahamas, you know that I have just returned from a week in paradise. It got me thinking that I need to be in a beautiful place like that more often. In Working in the Smart Zone, I use a quote. "Go where you feel most like yourself." I know that I feel most like myself when my feet are in the sand and I can hear and smell the ocean.

    Here are 5 things that I know for sure after my week in the Bahamas:

    1. People who are consistent in their personal lives and in their business lives live the best lives. My family was given the opportunity to spend time on the south side of the island with our good friends the Clines. William Cline is a consulting executive who has spent the last 19 years in the Bahamas working for Stuart Cove, the owner of the third largest dive shop in the world. If you have been watching Discovery Channel's Shark Week, you have seen Stuart's staff and location in more than a few episodes. With up close and personal contact with Stuart and his family I couldn't help but be in awe of their business ethics, their daily management, and their inspirational personalities. The Clines and the Stuarts are successful business owners who understand the Smart Zone Secret. They live it, breathe it, and they are teaching it to their own children. Click here to learn more about the Smart Zone.

    2. Vacation time shouldn't be overscheduled. It is just a fact that most people spend time on vacation trying to do it all. While we planned 3 days and 2 nights at Atlantis, we whittled that side trip down so we could have more "sandy shoes time" on the beautiful beach at the condo where we stayed.

    3. Sometimes it is more fun to just relax. I don't know about you but most of the time it is hard for me to relax on vacation. I have so many thoughts in my head about business, daily life, the next project, and the tasks of being a business owner and a parent that it gets noisy in my head. People know me to be an information sponge. Sitting in a beach chair, no iPod in my ears, no book in my hands, and no laptop on my knees, I know I can get a lot accomplished in the creative side of my brain. Just getting some white space between my ears is so rewarding. I know my staff appreciates when I go on vacation since the noise in my head can sometimes come out of my mouth with a vengeance. When I come back from vacation, the noise in my head is a lot more controlled.

    4. Be with people you enjoy. We have always enjoyed the Clines. Our boys go to school together and our values are very much the same. After 8 days together, we still love each other. During those 8 days, they also performed an unplanned "intervention" with me as I continue to steer my consulting and clinical businesses forward. While they are my friends, they also possess expertise in human resources and consulting ( Their intervention worked. I have some changes ahead that will help me continue to maintain better balance in my professional and personal life.

    5. Set up systems so your customers and your business can thrive in your absence. The Bahamian Gods did a number on my computer while I was there. Funny thing, I could get every email sent to me but I couldn't email out. No, that wasn't part of the intervention. While I would have only written emails once a day, when it was least intrusive for our vacation, I quickly learned to enjoy seeing the emails showing a stream of productivity while my hands were tied and I was unable to intervene. With systems in place, you can get the time you need to enjoy being off duty. It really is a beautiful thing.
    I have made a few more promises to myself. First, we are definitely going back to the Bahamas if the Clines will still have us. Second, I need to go where I feel most like myself more often. Third, my creativity and leadership skills soar when I give myself the downtime. Go where you feel most like yourself, even if it isn't in the Bahamas.

    Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    Escalating Your Career by Managing Your Boss

    Your relationship with your boss is probably the most important relationship you have at work.

    I recently worked with a Sales Manager who was forced to play 20 Questions every time he went to his boss for approval. Sometimes the 20 Questions game would last over an hour and end with a 2-day project before his boss would give him approval. This often meant he couldn't respond to customers in a timely manner and lost business deals. To manage his boss the Sales Manager began thinking through every question his boss could possibly ask and formulating answers. He then began calling his boss and saying, "Here is the situation, here is what I want to do, and here is why we should do it." Miraculously, the 20 Questions game ended!

    I think we often look to our boss for what he/she can give us instead of what we can give to him. It's a 2-way street. Put the odds in your favor by managing your boss with the care and sensitivity with which you manage yourself.

    Here are 4 Smart Moves for managing your boss:

    1. Don't dump problems on your boss. Don't go to your boss with a problem until you've formulated a possible solution. Present both the problem and the solution to your boss simultaneously. Be solution focused. Your boss will be impressed by your ability to resolve your own problem and gain confidence in your abilities. Click here to listen to my recent "Ask the Expert" interview where I describe how to be solution focused.

    2. Never badmouth your boss. One of the unspoken rules successful people follow is to never talk bad about your boss and particularly not to the company higher-ups - and especially in a job interview. (Quick disclaimer: If there is an issue with your boss that needs the attention of human resources, then pursue it). You may not like a decision your boss makes or the way he treats his staff; however, gossiping about him will not get you points. It will erode the effectiveness of your team and cause dissension within your department. The belief will be: if you bad mouth your boss, you will bad mouth others. People will feel they cannot trust you and higher-ups will view you as a bad seed.

    3. Use the power of equity. Know what your boss needs and values most and provide it ahead of time, without being asked. I was irritated by my first boss out of college who micromanaged everyone. Once I figured out his main goal was to stay informed on the statistics in my department I began to report them to him ahead of time. It is human nature to feel obligated to those who help us with what we need. It is just as much the employee's responsibility to help make his boss a good leader as it is for the boss to help employees feel valued and successful.

    4. Compliment your boss. This may feel awkward or uncomfortable at first. I'm not talking about schmoozing, although there is evidence from a University of Michigan study that schmoozers are more likely to get raises over non-schmoozers. When your boss does something well, pay her a sincere compliment like, "You did a nice job running the staff meeting this morning. I appreciated your support." Positive feedback will reinforce the behavior and improve your relationship with your boss.
      Just for fun, click here for a recent list of the 15 Great TV Bosses. My favorite is Miranda Bailey from "Grey's Anatomy." From this list of TV bosses it's clear that, like everyone else, your boss is always learning.

      I have a Winston Churchill quote framed in my office that says, "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." Take responsibility for helping your boss succeed and you will both stay in the Smart Zone!

        Sunday, August 3, 2008

        Another Resource Used by Top Producers

        I may be one of the last people to know about this but just in case, I am passing another tool to increase productivity on to you. I just got introduced to PhoneTag. PhoneTag (formerly known as Simulscribe) uses advanced technology to convert voicemail to text and deliver it via e-mail and/or text messages.

        I frequently need an efficient way to check my voicemails while traveling or going between one meeting to another. Sometimes it is too cumbersome to dial into voicemail, listen and save the voicemail. I'd prefer a text message or email so I already have the information written down and I can access it more easily. PhoneTag has fixed that problem for me.

        While I don't care much for their logo on their t-shirt, I do think the service has great benefit. If you want to know more, go to this link and see what you think. We believe it is just another way you can Work in your Smart Zone.

        Thursday, July 31, 2008

        How to Get Along with Others

        One of the main reasons people lose their jobs isn't because they can't do the job, it is because they can't get along. Workers who cause a commotion and have difficulty getting along with others create more unproductive work, cost companies excess money, and contribute to low morale. Building a culture where the top performers work best involves a number of components. Here are just a few to look at in yourself and in the culture you create at work:

        • Nothing predicts being disliked more than aggression and negative interactions: While we all have bad days, it is important to recognize that being a hothead, even if it is just in response to being mad for an instant, can leave a bad impression. Click here to read our summary of the book Why Doesn't Anybody Like Me?

        • Increase your Emotional Intelligence (EQ): Remember that EQ involves the ability to understand your own emotions and perceive the emotions of others. It is like having a radar so you can read other people and know how to best proceed. In the workplace, a culture of high EQ is more productive. Click here to listen to an interview that I did recently for FIVE STAR SPEAKERS Bureau's "Ask the Expert" program where I discuss EQ.

        • Be solution oriented rather than problem focused: Instead of asking "why," ask "what" and "how" questions, which will get people talking about the solution.

        • Know the 4 factors that make a person likeable: Tim Sanders wrote a book called The Likeability Factor. He outlined 4 components of likeability. They are friendliness, your capacity to connect with others, your ability to be empathetic, and realness which is the integrity that stands behind your likeability and guarantees its authenticity. Chapter 12 in my book Working in the Smart Zone gives more Smart Moves to be likeable at work and home.
        Finally, we all can spot likeability when we see it. Recently when the beloved Tim Russert passed away unexpectedly, the celebrations of his life showed how likeable he truly was. The stories about his relationship with his coworkers, his staff, the public who loved him without knowing him personally, even the fact that he waited for the cable man at his son's apartment the day he died show that he was a likeable guy. Almost as impressionable is the legacy of likeability that he left with his son Luke. In case you missed it, click here to watch Luke's memorable interview 3 days after his dad's death.

        Friday, July 18, 2008

        Careers in Psychology & Counseling Conference

        I am excited to have been asked to deliver the keynote presentation for Argosy University's upcoming Careers in Psychology and Counseling Conference in Dallas, Texas on
        August 8.

        Argosy University has been offering degrees in professional psychology for more than 30 years. Approximately 14% of the nation's masters and doctorates in psychology are granted by Argosy University. And the field of psychology and counseling are ranked in the Top 10 of growing career fields.

        The conference will also consist of break out sessions where you will learn about "a day in the life" of the speakers in their respective fields of expertise while developing a deeper understanding of the unique career opportunities available in each area of specialization. Register now for this exciting and informative conference.

        See you there!

        Saturday, July 12, 2008

        The Explanation of Addiction

        In the corporate world and in our our clinical practice, we find ourselves being told that someone has an "addictive personality". I know it is true and we can spot it as we get to know the players. What we find is that people don't always know what they mean when they say "Addiction" and they use the term loosely even when someone, in my opinion, is just "spirited."

        Addiction is often brought on by stress in those people who have a genetic defect in a defined area of the brain. Addictions include drugs, alcohol, sex, food, gambling and/or spending. A typical hallmark symptom is a loss of control, craving and persistent abuse in spite of negative consequences. These consequences can include marital conflict, missing work, poor performance reviews, DWIs, and other legal snarl es. According to Dr. Kevin McCauley from the Institute for Addiction Study, "Addiction meets the standard definition of disease even better than MS and Schizophrenia."

        It is not negotiable that people with true addictions learn to manage stress better. In the Smart Zone we talk about making sure you know how to empty your bucket when it gets full. More importantly, we all need to know when our buckets are getting full - when the stress is piling on. For those with addictions, it is mandatory that they be better bucket emptiers. Many people loose the ability to manage their emotions so it is also important that they increase their emotional intelligence so they are more emotionally in sync with themselves.

        People who are addicted to whatever can't get by with blaming their addiction on a brain malformation or their genetic history in my opinion. We all now know that addictions can be managed with the proper support and tools to overcome the tendency.

        This blog submission is being written with one person in particular in mind. It is for the wife of one of the executives we have worked with in a business outside of Texas. It is to help support the family who is working hard to deal with this thing called addiction that is a source of destruction for a husband, father, son and boss. But I believe that this information can help anyone who suspects that someone they care about, work with, or live with. Even people with addiction can work in the Smart Zone. It is just even more important that they recognize what they need to do for their sake as well as the sake of others.

        Tuesday, July 1, 2008

        A Desktop Tool To Increase Productivity

        If I have discovered a new tool to keep you in your Smart Zone, wouldn't you want to know about it? Well, my Vistage CEO group introduced me to something that is going to help us manage daily tasks in our office and I am finding myself telling everyone. It is called, DeskAway, and you can learn more about it at It is a web based application that you can use free for a few projects and a few users. It is a way to have a dashboard for your team where the status of tasks is centralized. One of the best things is that it eliminates those ongoing run on emails that get sent back and forth as you are working on proposals, letters, and other documents that require the input and activities of more than one person. I am looking forward to all the projects we have that can be managed using DeskAway. Try it and let us know whether or not it is keeping you in your Smart Zone.

        Saturday, June 28, 2008

        Hear the Smart Zone Secret

        I recently had the honor of being interviewed by Steve Gardner, CEO of FIVE STAR Speakers and Trainers, for their Ask the Expert program. FIVE STAR Speakers and Trainers is a full service, international, speakers bureau that has been in business for over 20 years and works with meeting planners to find the best speakers in the industry for events. Their Ask the Expert program asks some of the leading best-selling authors, speakers & experts in their industry about some great tips & advice they could share with you - so I was excited to be included!

        Click here to hear my interview - it's about 20 minutes long and I discuss how to change your life with just 2 little words, how to be solution oriented instead of problem focused and how to stay in the Smart Zone. Keep listening until then end because I even reveal the Smart Zone secret!

        Sunday, June 22, 2008

        How to Get to the Core of Ethics on the Job

        "Rules cannot take the place of character."
        Alan Greenspan

        Recently I had an ethical dilemma. I went to our local PetSmart with my kids and our Golden Retriever Sophie. We found a new leash to replace the one that Sophie chewed on which now looked like it needed to be buried. So proud, we put the new leash on Sophie in the store and proceeded to get a few other things - enough that we needed a cart. After the cashier rang up our purchases, we paid and headed to the car. As I drove out of the parking lot, it occurred to me that she didn't realize that the leash was a purchase. We had left the store without paying for the leash! Even though it was inconvenient, we were in a hurry, and it would have been easier to just drive home, I turned around and all of us went inside and brought it to the cashier's attention and paid for the leash. Maintaining ethical standards is critical to staying in the Smart Zone.

        A recent Gallup poll revealed how people rate the honesty and ethical standards of different professions. Nurses rated highest on the ethical scale with grade school teachers coming in a close second. Lowest on the scale were lobbyists and car salesman. Click here to see how other professions rated.

        Harvard professor Howard Gardner has stated that it is more difficult for business people to keep an ethical mind than other professions. Mainly because in business there is not as much structure and the only goal is to make money and not break the law while doing so.

        A little more alarming is a recent Junior Achievement/Deloitte Teen Ethics Survey that reports nearly 40% of teens surveyed said it is sometimes necessary to cheat, plagiarize, lie or behave violently to succeed. We have to wonder if these students will make the right decisions as adults when they face ethical challenges on the job.

        Consider the following rationalizations for using unethical behavior at work:
        • No one will know. Who is going to know you stuck an extra ream of office paper in your briefcase?
        • It's not hurting anyone. I bet baseball player Barry Bonds felt that taking steroids wasn't hurting anyone. I'm sure track star Marion Jones felt the same way.
        • Everyone does it. I remember my mom saying, "If Julie jumped off a bridge would you?" One of my clients recently told me of her first experience as an intern when her coworkers explained how to "pad" her expense report to make up for low intern salary.

        Here are 4 Smart Moves for addressing the core of individual ethics:

        1. Focus on Character: Most ethics training in companies focuses on rule compliance and not on clarifying values and fostering individual integrity. In Michael Josephson's book, Making Ethical Decisions, he describes Six Pillars as the basis of ethical decisions and the foundation of well-lived lives. The Six Pillars are: trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring and good citizenship.
        2. Look for Humility. According to Stephen M.R. Covey, a humble person is more concerned about what is right than about being right. And we all remember in Jim Collins' book, Good to Great, that the Level 5 leader has "extreme personal humility." Being humble doesn't mean you are a wimp. It means you put principles ahead of your personal ego. You don't get caught up in win-lose power plays.
        3. Be Congruent. In other words, walk your talk. Make sure your behavior and intent are the same. If you are a manager, then don't say, "My company values family time" and then demand long working hours and weekends for you and your employees to get the job done.
        4. Watch Out for Moral Disengagement. This takes place when people behave in a way they wouldn't normally behave without feeling guilty. For example, lying to business competitors may be called "strategic." Or, "My boss told me to do it" is an excuse for shifting moral accountability to a superior. People with a high degree of empathy are less likely to morally disengage. Click here to read my blog post on How to Lead with Empathy.

        Running an ethical business begins with the individual character of each person. Staying true to core values will make your company more profitable and help you stay in the Smart Zone.

          Wednesday, June 11, 2008

          How to Build a Platform of Trust

          Now that summer is right in front of us, it is nice to be outside in the Texas heat, watch the kids play, and lose track of time. We have a swing in a tree in our front yard and at night kids gather and push each other. Our son Sam, who is now 8, is the trickster. He likes to go fast, hang upside down, and freak us all out with his aerobatic stunts. He trusts that he won't get hurt and that the branch will hold him as he twists and turns going as high as he can. Remember what it was like to have free flowing trust?

          Trust is one of the most important components in building a Smart Zone community. Without trust, the benefits of building high EQ cannot be sustained, and the strategies that lead to productivity will be sabotaged. Trust provides the platform for productivity, efficiency and for Working in the Smart Zone.

          The platform of Trust is attainable in any relationship at work and at home, and there are also ways to keep it steady and strong. The following Smart Moves can strengthen the platform of Trust and allow you to Work in the Smart Zone:

          • Address and right the wrongs. Blaming others is one of the fastest ways to burn yourself in the trust department. Passing the buck shows that you lack integrity. Do what is necessary, even when it inconveniences you. If it's your responsibility, fix it. We see this all the time especially in the political arena. Watch Scott McClellan's interview from this morning on the Today Show about his new book.

          • Be loyal to others when they're not present. At work, your alliances may change, and someone who's your peer today could be your supervisor or manager tomorrow. People will trust you when they have confidence that you can be trusted when they're not present, and that may not happen until they experience you behind the backs of others. Don't gossip, don't speak for other people, and encourage communication between two people instead of triangulating yourself into the communication of others. In this world of technology, there are many ways to maintain healthy alliances to build trust. Click here for my handout on trust.

          • Be clear with expectations and hold people accountable. When supervising people, be deliberate about the outcomes you are expecting and when possible, make them measurable. Set timelines so you can hold people accountable and monitor whether or not they have the self-management skills to hold themselves accountable.

          • Build your self-regard. Self-regard is how you see yourself and how others see you. It is very different than self-esteem. Your self-regard is what lets people know whether they can trust you to accept feedback, manage criticism, and be honest with them in return.

          • Be predictable, caring, and faithful. When you're predictable, others begin to see that you are consistent. When you're genuinely caring, others will trust you and see you as compassionate and invested in them. When you're faithful, you build loyalty, which is the result of a trusting relationship.

          • Demonstrate respect for those you work with. One-sided respect in relationships is temporary and delicate, yet over time it builds into respect that is reciprocal.

          • Follow through on your commitments. People can smell insincerity when a commitment is not followed through. When someone gets the reputation that he or she can't be trusted to do as they say, they face a hard uphill climb.

          • Be the same in public and in private. Some people are better at acting than others. It's better to be transparent than to be fake. When people can count on you being the same in private as you are in public, they'll trust you to be who you say you are. They'll also trust that what you say today will be consistent with what you say tomorrow.

          Tuesday, June 10, 2008

          How to Lead with Empathy

          I have to admit something that is so out of character. I did something I would NEVER do. I signed up for a credit card at Super Target just so I could get money back from my purchase that day. Jennifer, the sales clerk, was in her Smart Zone™ – working to the best of her ability emotionally, behaviorally, and intellectually. While she was scanning my items at the checkout counter she showed empathy.

          Jennifer, and other sales people like her, is a top performing sales clerk. I know why. Top performing sales clerks are 12 times more productive than those at the bottom and 85% more productive than an average performer. About 1/3 of this difference is due to technical skill and cognitive ability while 2/3 is due to emotional competence. (Goleman, 1998). The success of my purchase that day wasn’t because it was Super Target. It could have been Wal-Mart or Neiman’s. It was about Jennifer. Are you like Jennifer? Do you have a “Jennifer” on your team?

          Here is the story: It was the first cold day of the season and Jennifer noticed that I was buying jeans for our boys. Jennifer told me she too bought new jeans for her kids recently because their jeans were too short. My kids had the same problem! We talked some more and I felt like Jennifer and I were living the same life. She seemed to get it. When she told me she could save me $15, I felt like she was doing me a favor. It was like she was on my side. She was relying on her emotional competency. When another sales person tells me she can save me 10% on my purchase, they are not talking my language. They are relying on technical or cognitive ability. I can’t “feel” 10% but I can touch and spend $15.

          Jennifer showed empathy. Empathy is the awareness of the feelings, needs and concerns of others. Research in the 1970s and 1980s suggested that there was a negative correlation between positions of authority and empathetic abilities. But this attitude is no longer effective for organizations. We work in a team-oriented business culture requiring group cooperation. Empathy enables us to strengthen relationships, pick up early warning signs and recognize opportunities to influence others.

          Many may feel that showing empathy weakens your authority. In some cases this is true. A lawyer showing empathy for opposing council will not strengthen his case. At times it is necessary to talk straight and hold someone accountable rather than empathize.

          Sympathy can be mistaken for empathy. Sympathy is when you feel compassion for someone – but these are your feelings. Sympathy does not focus on what other’s are feeling. Keeping this in mind, People in the Smart Zone™ lead with empathy. Here are 5 smart tips for how to lead with empathy:

          • Listen well. Listening is an art and has a financial impact. Studies show that physicians who listen to their patients for at least 3 minutes significantly reduce malpractice lawsuits against them. Jennifer listened and she was able to speak my language. When we are anxious to make a sale or get our point across we are less likely to listen well. The next time someone objects to what you are saying resist the urge to defend your point and try responding with these words, “You’re absolutely right, I should consider that.”

          • Don’t be fake. Have integrity. Understanding someone’s point of view doesn’t mean you have to agree with it. In business negotiations when we understand how the other party feels it doesn’t mean we give in. It simply means we can be more skillful in our negotiation and minimize resentment and ill will. Jennifer was genuine.

          • No “one uppers.” Try not to project your feelings onto others. It is human nature to respond to someone else’s problem with an experience we have had. To lead with empathy we must hear out what others are saying without sharing a personal story to “one-up” theirs. Jennifer didn’t go on and on about her children’s situation. She made the customer important.

          • You don’t have to solve it. Just acknowledging someone’s problem or point of view is sometimes all that needs to be done. Whether or not you solve the problem, just showing concern and making a goodwill effort to make things better does some good emotionally. Jennifer felt my pain.

          • Watch out for empathy distress. Sometimes called “compassion fatigue,” empathy distress is where people suffer from someone else’s pain and suffering. Medical and social services workers are especially prone to this as are customer service representatives who deal with unhappy customers all day. Even in an office environment when a co-worker is faced with being laid off we may begin to feel the anxiety and stress for them. To combat empathy distress, stay open to your feelings and don’t blame yourself for negative outcomes of others. Jennifer doesn’t overdo it. She clearly knows the boundary.

          Take this quick empathy quiz. Draw the letter “E” on your forehead.

          Based on a study by Adam Galinsky, a social psychologist at Northwestern University, if you drew the “E” where you can read it but it is backwards to others (see image) then you are less likely to consider the viewpoints of others. But if you drew the “E” backward to you but legible to others then you are more likely to consider other’s viewpoints.

          Oh, yeah. You know what I later found out about Jennifer? She used to work at Disney World. She was Snow White. To be Snow White you have to be in your Smart Zone™ and be able to show Empathy. Jennifer shows Empathy - the awareness of the feelings, needs and concerns of others. Snow White sold me jeans that day and saved me money. She made me feel like a winner. Does Snow White work in your organization?

          Thursday, May 22, 2008

          Ribbon Cutting and Open House

          Here we are with the big scissors cutting the ribbon to celebrate the opening of our new office. Last Thursday, beginning at 4:30, we enjoyed an open house and book signing for my new book. The Plano Chamber of Commerce was gracious enough to come out in full force!

          Even though we just moved across the hall our space is much larger and more functional for our growing practice. It was great for our therapists (see photo below) Charmaine Solomon, LPC, Patti Allard, Ph.D. and Tricia Favre, Ph.D. to meet and visit with many of our referral sources as well as the local media. Susan Mendenhall of the Plano Profile was also nice enough to stop by.

          One of my dear friends, Juanell Teague, was there. She has guided me so much in my speaking career and is the person who helped me formulate my Smart Zone™ concept which is the basis of both of my books. Pictured below is Zan Jones, my Director of Client Relations who books me to speak, Juanell Teague and me.

          I am so thankful for everyone who was able to attend! It was a great evening!

          Sunday, May 18, 2008

          Book Review: The Starbucks Experience, Reviewed by Zan Jones

          Susan recently spoke at a showcase for FIVE STAR Speakers & Trainers, one of the country's premier speakers bureaus, along with Joseph Michelli, Ph.D., author of The Starbucks Experience. My job is to book Susan to speak at conferences throughout the United States and I normally don't get to attend when she speaks. But since this showcase was local I was able to attend with her! After hearing Dr. Michelli speak I snatched up a copy of his book to learn more. It was such a good read that Susan asked me to share my insights from the book with you.

          One thing I loved about the book right away was that its cover is designed to look and feel like Starbucks' cool cardboard cup holders that they spent 2 years researching.

          Take a look at these facts about Starbucks Coffee:

          • In 1987 there were 100 Starbucks employees. In 2006 there were 100,000.
          • Since 1992 the value of Starbucks stock has grown 5,000%.
          • There are 11,000 Starbucks locations worldwide.
          • Starbucks opens 5 new stores a day, 365 days a year.
          • Health insurance benefits are provided for 20-hours/week employees.
          • Employee turnover is 120% less than the industry average.

          Michelli describes and provides tons of stories about his "Five Principles (that Starbucks uses) for turning ordinary into extraordinary."

          Principle 1: Make It Your Own. Starbucks encourages employees to be fully engaged using what they call the "Five Ways of Being." These are all behaviors my mother taught me growing up - so they aren't too earth shattering to me. However, if you apply these principles in your business it gets a lot more impressive.

          • Be welcoming. According to Starbuck's International President Martin Coles, "People want to be recognized." Don't be surprised if your Starbucks' barista (the Italian word for bartender and Starbucks' word for coffee preparer) calls you by name or remembers your favorite drink when you arrive.
          • Be genuine. Connect, discover and respond to what people want.
          • Be considerate. Starbucks is replacing 5% of the energy used in its U.S. stores with wind energy and reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 2%. Also, as part of their acquisitions of Ethos Water, Starbucks is aiming to provide $10 million to water projects in developing countries over the next 5 years.
          • Be knowledgeable. This explains why Starbucks spends more on training employees than advertising.
          • Be involved. In the store, in the company and in the community. One example Michelli provides is of a California Starbucks where the baristas noticed a significant number of deaf customers regularly. The baristas elected to take sign language lessons on their own time to communicate with those customers more effectively. Baristas also listened to people, mainly women, describe how getting out of your car with 2 kids in car seats just to grab a cup of coffee is a chore. Starbucks responded and added drive-throughs which have made a huge impact on their business. (Just for fun, check out these Starbucks drive-through etiquette tips).

          Principle 2: Everything Matters. Former CEO Howard Schultz says "retail is detail." From the store music, which is for sale because customers loved it so much, to the pleasant atmosphere, comfy furniture, cool lighting, soothing colors and tidy tables and floors Starbucks strives to be your "Third Place." The first and second places in your life being your work and home.

          Principle 3: Surprise and Delight. When Cracker Jack made its debut in 1912 customers were truly delighted by the surprise in every box. But today we expect a Cracker Jack-like surprise in most things we buy. My favorite story is where a gentlemen in the drive-through bought the next person's drink. That person then decided to keep the surprise going paying for the drinks of the car behind him. This went on for 33 cars! Jim Alling, President of Starbucks U.S. Business, affectionately refers to this as "pay it forward" stories over just a "cup of coffee."

          Principle 4: Embrace Resistance. Starbucks views negative feedback as an opportunity to strengthen a relationship - "by first thanking customers for their business and recognizing their grievances." The author mentions a few mistakes made by Starbucks like the discontinued Chantico™ drinking chocolate and a poor judgment call by a Ground Zero store during the September 11, 2001 tragedy. Read more at this Starbucks gossip blog.

          To address resistance on a macro level Starbucks leads the industry in attempting to create a positive exchange for farmers with its Fair Trade Certified™ coffee which is a huge gesture of support to thousands of exploited coffee workers in third world nations. Even though Starbucks only buys about 4% of all coffee sold worldwide they are more likely to draw greater public scrutiny than other coffee sellers.

          Principle 5: Leave Your Mark. Starbucks is proud that their company culture is described as being comprised of the litter-picker-upper type of people. Their mission states that they are "committed to a role of environmental leadership in all facets of our business." Dispelling the myth that "big" equals "bad," Starbucks takes Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to a new level. From the Starbucks Foundation to community volunteers who tutor inner-city children to the Starbucks region that retrieves Santa letters from the post office and fulfills the requests - Starbucks knows that leaving their mark develops trust and grows their brand.

          Many of us have our own Starbucks stories. Here is what our Office Manager, Sharon Beck, told me. "The employees at my Starbucks are like family to me. One of them left flowers and a cake for me on Mother's Day (last Sunday). He dropped them off at the store early that morning on his way to the airport and then sent me a text message to make sure I would be by the store that day. He was flying home to Taiwan for a month to see his parents and took the time and effort to do that on his way."

          Michelli begins each chapter with a thoughtful quote and ends each chapter with his "Ideas to Sip On." My favorite is by Anne Frank and says, "How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." I think Starbucks works to do this one sip at a time. And I think Starbucks is definitely in the Smart Zone!

          Saturday, May 10, 2008

          How To Be In A Healthy Relationship

          Since we all want to be in healthy relationships, we would be interested in how to do this right? Instead of thinking that you chose the wrong partner, ask yourself, "Am I being the best partner I can be?" Also, it is better to ask, "Are you healthy in your relationship?" rather than "Are you in a healthy relationship?" It is really not about the relationship. It is about you in the relationship.

          We all struggle with this in my opinion. I struggle with it even with a Ph.D. in this stuff. But I know that having the right tools and strategies to keep myself in line are important. Don't miss that I am not saying, to "keep him or her in line". This is not about how do I change him? This is about how do I stay differentiated?

          Differentiation means distinguishing and balancing self-regulation and emotional attachment by going through relationship struggles that teach you the difference between the two. "Self-development" is controlling how we function with others and by ourselves. David Schnarch, Ph.D. is the one who has taught me the most about this. If you want to know more, look him up. He is a clinical psychologist and author who practices in Colorado.

          There are 4 ways to achieve differentiation and you have to know what they are to be in a healthy relationship. Take note of the following list and ask yourself if you do these things. If so you are on your way to being healthy in a relationship. The comments for each are my own:

          • Have a clear sense of self in close proximity to important partner (you stay loyal to yourself in the presence of others)

          • Self-regulate anxiety and self-soothe hurts (don't expect your partner to take care of it)

          • Have nonreactivity to your partner's anxieties (don't freak out when your partner gets angry or afraid - let it roll)

          • Tolerate discomfort for growth (it is going to hurt but the reward on the other side is worth it)

          While it is not easy, it is rewarding. We have helped many people learn to be better differentiated. In my opinion, we just help them tweak the ways to stay differentiated. Knowing how, you can hold yourself accountable and that will keep you Working in the Smart Zone.

          Wednesday, April 30, 2008

          How to Make Office Politics Work for You

          It's a political year and I'm starting to believe that office politics should be a job that Mike Rowe explores on his Discovery Channel show Dirty Jobs. One of my clients recently told me of a doozy! After a recent acquisition by my client's company, the newly acquired company planned a sales meeting. The President and other "top people" stayed in the Grand Hyatt Resort while everyone else was booked in a budget hotel a few miles away! Imagine the politics with lobbying to stay in the nicer hotel that took place prior to the meeting.

          Even though office politics get a bad rap, they can actually be a good thing. "Political moves are the navigation through your career - not the driver," says Susan DePhillips, former V.P. of Human Resources for Ross Stores.

          To be in the Smart Zone you must use Emotional Intelligence to know how to work within the politics of your environment. Here are some Smart Moves for how to make office politics work for you.

          • Start with Relationships. To accomplish your goals you'll need the respect and support of others - both above and below you on the corporate ladder. People change departments and your marketing buddy could move over to the finance department next week and have control over your budget. Support staff often have a special "in" with the boss and know best times and ways to approach the boss. Treat support staff like a good customer - by getting them information they need in a timely manner. It will pay off in the long run.

          • Motivate, Don't Bribe. I recently conducted a workshop where an audience member asked me the difference between motivating someone and a bribe. A bribe is when you receive something in return for your actions such as, "If you book me at the luxury hotel, I won't tell the boss when you leave work early on Friday." Motivating someone looks like this, "I'll book you in the luxury hotel because you deserve to stay somewhere nice." Motivating someone else will keep both of you in your Smart Zone.

          • Don't Use Knowledge as a Weapon. Have you ever worked with someone who set you up to look bad because they had information you didn't have? Have you ever walked into a meeting and felt confused about the discussion? (Just for fun, watch this humorous example). If you have information that will help your boss, subordinates, coworkers, or clients then share it with them. You will gain trust and loyalty from others.

          • Keep up with Gossip. Office gossip is the fastest ticket into office politics and, let's face it, it's a great diversion from the workday routine. Keeping up with office gossip will help you stay informed about tensions and upcoming changes and can help you balance life and work. It's okay to listen to the gossip - but just don't spread it. Chances are, if someone is gossiping with you, they will some day gossip about you.

          • Practice Now. According to University of Pennsylvania Professor John Eldred, politics is a practice that takes networking skills. "You can't wait until you are in a bind to start building networks," he says. Office politics is about building relationships and getting results at the same time.