Friday, March 28, 2008

New Thinking; New Doing

Ever have one of those weeks where nothing seems to go right?! While it's perfectly normal for that to happen from time to time, the bigger question is:
"Is there anything you can you do, besides just being patient, to help insure that next week will be better?"
I believe there is and that the answer has a lot to do with what I'll call New Thinking; New Doing. The idea is to force your brain to create new synapses - ones that wouldn't normally occur - as a way of jump-starting your mind into a more resourceful place. Here's how:
  1. Pick a topic, preferably one you have some definite views about
  2. Take the other side of the story and embrace it even more fervently
  3. Smile at how clever you are to have been able to do that

Some examples?

  • If you're a New York Yankees fan, be a die-hard BoSox supporter for a day and see how your fanaticism is far more transferable than you realized.
  • If you're a red, red, meat eater, be a vegan for a few days and see what happens to your views about food.
  • If you're a strident Barack Obama supporter figure out what Hillary Clinton should do to win the Democratic Party's nomination.
  • If you're classical music lover, switch to jazz or C&W and allow the emotions of the music to 'speak' to you.

One of the things that keep us stuck - especially when things get tough - is when we become even more entrenched with what we believe to be true. Consciously challenging yourself (and your myopia) is precisely what New Thinking; New Doing is all about.

See what it can do for you.

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Slacker Radio Rocks, or Chills, or Any Other Style of Music

Slacker Radio PC Magazine calls it, "The most exciting thing in digital music to happen in a long time."

Forbes says, "Slacker's No Slouch."

CNET News.com calls it, "a distinctive new Web music service."

I just think it's a great on-line music companion that offers an incredibly wide array of music styles, and a surprisingly deep collection of artists and song titles for my listening pleasure - without commercial interruption ... especially if you enjoy "alternative" musicianship.

Try it yourself: Just head over to www.slacker.com, select the type of music you like, and click the 'play' button. (I'm listening to its Alternative Chill at the moment - and loving it.)

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Building Employee Trust

Building Employee Trust: A New Equation, is the title of a book recently published by Icfai University Press in Hyderabad, India. It's a compilation of "relevant, authoritative, and thought-provoking articles written by experts" and it features one such article by yours truly, Barry Zweibel.

The article, entitled, "The Dangerous Allure of Trust," is the capstone of Section I of the book and is a reprint of a piece I wrote and had published in the October 2006 edition of Effective Executive magazine, another Icfai University Press publication.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Fear 303: A Revised Model of Fear

Last month I forwarded a model - Fear 101 - to explain how many people conceptualize fear. As you may recall, there was an inner core of Fearlessness, surrounded by a ring of Courageousness, encapsulated in a vast Infinity and Beyond called, The Land of Fear.

Since then, I've received numerous emails and phone calls from people telling me that that's exactly how they envision fear, too. Very gratifying, indeed.

The Next Step in the process, then, was for me was to figure out how to re-frame fear so that it would not be so large-and-in-charge as it is in the Fear 101 model. The “aha moment” came once I was ready to accept the possibility that Infinity and Beyond was just too big and unlimited a space for fear to claim so unilaterally. It was only then that I realized that Infinity and Beyond was not, ipso facto, the Land of Fear – it was simply a Benign Unknown.

What a wonderful shift!

The resultant upgrade, dubbed Fear 303, looks and works as such:

Fear 303 Model

Starting at the back of the pack is this huge Benign Unknown stretching out in most directions. Within it (and bubbling out of it in places) is this thing called Opportunity.

So that we're clear, Opportunity is a good thing.

Next, as the blue bubble indicates, our natural response to Opportunity is often Fearlessness. This, too, is a good thing, as Fearlessness often empowers us to positively leverage Opportunity.

For sticklers to detail, it should be noted that the Fear 303 model recognizes that, sometimes, Fearlessness splashes out past Opportunity and into other areas of the Benign Unknown that may neither be opportunities, nor so benign. But that's just the way things are, sometimes, right? (I failed to recognize that in Fear 202, which is why I didn't post it between 101 and 303.)

So here’s where I think it gets nice and juicy: Instead of allowing Fear to "own" all of Infinity and Beyond, Fear is now relegated to a small little cloud in the lower right-hand corner of the diagram. Like Fearlessness, Fear also overlays Opportunity - some opportunities do, indeed, frighten us - and parts of Fear splash out, as well, into the Benign Unknown, and into parts of the Unknown that may not be benign. That really is the way things are, sometimes, right?!

But in the Fear 303 model, Fear is clearly a whole lot less featured – especially when you consider how Fear is mostly covered by Courageousness in service to Opportunity.

Sure, sometimes Fear still prevents us from moving forward, but it does so to a considerably lesser extent than in Fear 101. Indeed, once we recognize that Fear does not have to be our default reaction to the Unknown, it is majorly dis-empowered and has significantly less automatic say-so over how we react to what's going on around us. We are at choice.

That feels very motivating (and plausible) to me. How does it feel to you?

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Creatively Sparking Creativity

Just finished reading a truly fascinating interview with Mario Almondo, director of human resources and organization at Ferrari in the April 2006 issue of the Harvard Business Review. (Yeah, 2006; I'm a little behind on my reading, okay?!)

In it he spoke about their Formula Uomo program. (Uomo=Human Being).
"You can't methodically teach creativity," says Almondo, "But you can provide an environment that nurtures it."
Two programs of particular note:
  1. English@breakfast - Italian-speaking employees can start their workday by practicing their English. They can also practice at lunch (English@lunch) or in the afternoon (English@tea) or in German (Deutsche Party), if they prefer. "Employees really enjoy these sessions, and, obviously, having multilingual employees is good for Ferrari."
  2. The Creativity Club - In this program, employees can actually meet, talk with, and ask questions of, different types of artists. "We've had painters, sculptors, a jazz musician, a writer, a radio DJ, a photographer, a chef, an actor, an orchestra conductor, and others," Almondo reports. "The goal is for our employees to learn about how artists generate ideas and solutions."

Interestingly, these programs are open to all employees, not just some, and not just to those at certain organizational levels. So there's all sorts of opportunities for senior executives and front-line personnel to interrelate ... as people ... rather than as a function of role, title, project, or assignment.

Too, "by holding the club at the firm, rather than, say, encouraging employees to take art courses elsewhere, we're hoping people will make links between the inspiration they get and their professional activities here."

Imagine how this builds comfort, connectedness, information- and idea-sharing, collegiality, engagement - and creativity - throughout the rest of the year ... in hallways, elevators, meetings, break rooms, coffee shops, and such ... up, down, and across, the entire organization.

That's assolutamente fantastico, ?!

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Office conditions leave room for improvement

This in from the L.A. Times: Filthy bathroom facilities and extreme office temperatures are most common gripes of unhappy workers:
"Forget salaries, expense accounts or keys to the executive washroom. Employee loyalty is won or lost over the cleanliness of the bathrooms and the amount of sticky goo on the carpet."
Citing a recently-conducted survey of 500 workers by Blumberg Capital Partners, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer Molly Selvin reports that "More than three quarters of those polled said the overall condition of their offices affected how they viewed their employer and whether they were likely to stay in their jobs."

In a January 23, 2006 blog posting titled, How DO You Motivate Employees? I talked about Frederick Herzberg's notion of hygiene factors* - things related to the job context, or environment, that don't necessarily motivate people by their presence, but almost always demotivate by their absence. Some of the hygiene factors cited included:
  • company policy and administration
  • quality of supervision
  • relationship with supervisor
  • work conditions
  • salary
  • relationship with peers
  • relationship with subordinates
  • status
  • security

Like chlorine in a swimming pool, the presence of hygiene factors don't necessarily make anyone feel more healthy (or even more motivated), but their absence will likely make people feel less healthy, and, as this article concludes, surely less motivated.

And now we can add the bathroom cleanliness to the list of literal - and figurative - workplace hygiene factors.

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*In contrast to hygiene factors, Herzberg identified what he called, true motivators - things that really do motivate employees - that are typically related to one's job content, like achievement, recognition, the work itself, responsibility, opportunity for advancement, and growth.)

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Monday, March 10, 2008

Foreclosure, a novel by Jacqueline D'Acre

Former GottaGettaCoach! client, Jacqueline D'Acre, from Thunder Bay, Canada by way of New Orleans, just had her new novel, Foreclosure, published by Stargazer Press. ISBN: 978-1-897424-00-1.

Foreclosure, by Jacqueline D'AcrePer its back cover:

"What do murder, horses and Lila’s creole diner have in common?

"Head down to St. Tremaine Parish near New Orleans and find out. Meet Bryn Wiley, a mild equine writer, who discovers a show horse breeder facing financial ruin, foreclosure and far worse! Then the sheriff fingers a champion stallion as a killer…but Bryn believes otherwise! Wherever there are horses there are money, deception and powerful secrets.

"Can Bryn unmask the real murderer before the stallion gets a lethal injection? In the sultry Louisiana heat, she roams New Orleans seeking a slayer—in a desperate race to save the stallion! The story drips with sweat, Spanish moss, a voodoo queen, blooded horses and quirky Deep South characters."

A horse breeder, columnist, and radio show talk host about horses, Jackie has a whole series of books planned with Bryn Wiley solving mysteries - and all will "swirl within the thrilling world of show horses."

Congrats on this wonderful accomplishment, Jackie!

To order Foreclosure: www.stargazerpress.com/foreclosure.html.