Author Archives: Kelly Isley

Four Ways to Boost Your Morning Routine

Are you looking for ways to improve your morning routine? Based on psychologist Ron Friedman studies – it’s a smart move. As Friedman confirms, the first three hours of your day are the most precious for maximized productivity.

“Typically, we have a window of about three hours where we’re really, really focused. We’re able to have some strong contributions in terms of planning, in terms of thinking, in terms of speaking well,” Friedman shares with Harvard Business Review.

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For inspiration, take a look at four routines of these successful leaders as well as a clever video spotlighting some of the busiest people out there and what they do to save time:

Exercise and leverage technology to maximize your scheduleDr. Peter Diamandis, New York Times best-selling author and XPRIZE Foundation founder is on a mission to open the space frontier for humanity. His personal motto is: “The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself.”

So how does this innovator optimize his morning? In his recent discussion with Josh Ellis at Success, Diamandis explained that his office is equipped with a treadmill that he uses during teleconferences since he values exercise and has a hard time sitting still. He also took the advice of colleagues and is enjoying Audible. It’s the app that is helping Diamandis catch up on his reading and travels with him as he continues chasing his dreams.

” Pro tip: Join Jessica Herrin CEO of Stella & Dot, Professor Adam Grant of Wharton, Vicky Schiff Partner at Mosaic Real Estate, James Segil of Co-Founder of Edgecast Networks with others, interviewed by Radiate, as these high-powered people reveal what they are doing to take back time.”

Identify and work on your priorities – As one of CNN’s most popular commentators, Mel Robbins has mastered the ability to turn complicated topics into memorable sound bites. She also has a simple and effective morning routine that includes doing a “brain dump” for 5 to 10 minutes without opening that inbox on your phone, laptop or other computers. For Robbins, “This consists of dumping all your projects, to-dos, reminders and priorities onto a piece of paper. Then highlight the top three things on the list that you need to deal with today, things that matter most to you.”

Even if you are facing a full schedule, “this starts your day by focusing on what’s important to you. I make my notes in a 3-by-5-inch notebook that I carry everywhere so I can continue brain-dumping all day.”

“Next—still without visiting that inbox—open your calendar and find a 30-minute block in your day when you can focus on your top three things uninterrupted. It doesn’t matter when that block happens; find the time and schedule it.”

Work on the hardest task first – In his own words, Niraj Ranjan Rout, Co-Founder and CEO of Hiver, shares, “I am a meditation person – a few minutes in the morning really helps clear the head. Before starting for work, I make sure to check my email and plan a top-heavy day – the difficult tasks first.”

An important strategy and reminder from Niraj, “It is crucial to have a clear picture of what you want to achieve during the day – before you leave home.”

Plan a task that you will look forward to working on  – In her recent Entrepreneur article, Amna Shamim writes, “When you’re dreading the hard work you have to do, do something fun first in order to ease into work and to have something, initially, that you look forward to. I alternate my ‘boring/hard’ tasks with ones I find fun or easy.”

“An example? I love reading articles about high-level SEO tactics, but don’t feel the same way about keyword research for clients. I alternate articles I’ve stockpiled with finding 10 solid keywords.”

“For every 10 keywords I can find that meet my stringent criteria, I get to pick a fun article to consume. This is my personal method of combining positive reinforcement with actual productivity.”

Now it’s your turn

In the comments section that follows, take a moment to share one of your favorite morning routines that have helped you be more successful.

This article originally appeared in ThinkPositiveMag.com

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How to Keep Your Boss Happy and Add Value

Bosses are important because many employees have bosses, are bosses, or may play both roles. If you find yourself in one of these categories, you are in good company as Stanford research indicates there are at least 21 million bosses in the United States today.

Despite staggering numbers of people in charge, the mission is simple: make your boss’ role easier, become indispensable and help them meet their objectives. Since this mission may be easier said than done, tips on building your relationship with your boss follow.

Be the effective communicator

Bosses have full schedules, crowded inboxes, and appreciate concise communication. For perspective, the average office worker now sends or receives 121 emails a day, according to a recent report by the Radicati Group. Translation: your Boss potentially receives more than 121 emails each day. To be heard by your boss, speak and write in brief sentences, use the smallest amount of words possible to get your point across (e.g., key messages), and make that point clear and easy to understand.

Business people shaking hands with their future patner

Be the go-getter

With a little direction, self-motivated employees are the go-getters that take the lead on assignments or research details before important meetings. Sara Nichols, Senior Vice President at Kforce Inc. says these self-starters can help their bosses save time and allow them to focus on other areas.

“Employees that routinely rise to new challenges and demonstrate a high degree of self-motivation, tend to get recognized when the opportunity for advancement is presented,” says Nichols.

Be informed

It is important to understand the operation of your organization. If you are new to the company or are now ready to learn more, start by familiarizing yourself with the organizational chart and reporting structures. Follow this with a review of the top customers as well as the profit and loss to understand the financials. This will make your more valuable to your boss in the near term and allow you grow into a role that a fluid workforce may create as time progresses. Learn as much as you can along the way as the ability to adapt to change is a valuable skill in today’s workforce.

Be supportive of professional goals

Certainly, a primary job of any employee is to make the boss’s life easier. Just like you, your boss has professional goals that he or she is trying to accomplish, Al Coleman Jr. lawyer, professor and author reminds us; “Find out what’s on your boss’s plate, and see how you can help to lighten the load.”

Be the ambassador

If questions can be answered better in the field, schedule the trip. I was speaking with a senior leader in the high-tech industry and he shared a clever tip that helped him expand a relationship with a non-technical boss. His two-part action included field visits as well as periodic 1:1 briefings with his boss who was new to his industry. As an added benefit of spending time, to help his boss understand the technical issues on the job, this high-tech leader was able to expand his business acumen as his new boss was assigned to lead a large organization for obvious reasons.

In the end, your boss has a role to cover, projects to lead, and initiatives to execute—and they hired you because they want you to help make these efforts successful. Based on your experience, do you have a tip or expert insight that has helped you build a positive relationship with your boss? If so, please share your professional tip with the audience by adding a comment below.

This article originally appeared in ThinkPositiveMag.com

Businesspeople walking on busy office staircase

To Move Up, Think Beyond Your Current Role

Increased earnings, added career satisfaction and looking forward to the day ahead can all be perks of capturing your next promotion. These 5 pieces of advice can help you make that happen.

  1. Manage your boss

“Managing up,” instructs Bob Pozen, Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management, “does not mean manipulating your boss. It means establishing a mutually beneficial partnership. You want to become resources for each other.” This wisdom is a reminder that it is critical to strengthen the working bond with your boss. Wondering how to get started? Begin by analyzing what the boss pays attention to and expects from you and your peers. It is also important to understand the best way to relate to your leader. In other words, how do they want to be kept informed of important news (e.g., call, text, urgent email?). A third action; learn which people influence them the most inside or outside of the organization. By knowing this, it can help you identify a future partner or set of allies needed to gain approval in larger or more critical efforts.

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  1. Identify what you want and put it in writing

Set aside time to write out your career goals, review on a regular basis and make plans to accomplish them. For everyone who thinks this act is simple, the insight from Harvard’s study on goal setting may surprise you. Following decades of research, the study shows that successful people reach their career goals not because of who they are, but often because of what they accomplish.

Here is an excerpt from the iconic Harvard study. In 1979, interviewers for Harvard’s MBA Program asked new graduates “Have you set clear, written goals for your future and made plans to accomplish them?”

The findings:

84% had no specific goals at all

13% had goals but they were not committed to paper

3% had clear, written goals and plans to accomplish them

As a follow on, in 1989, the interviewers again met with the graduates of that class. Study results: The 13% of the class who had undocumented goals were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84% who had no goals at all. Another important discovery: the 3% who had clear, written goals were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97% put together.

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  1. Work across borders

Today’s high potential candidates work effectively with diverse teams and build common ground quickly. Further, successful leaders with experience in more than one country are increasingly considered as valuable as their specialties. Looking closer at trends and the global DDI study, CEO’s have named cultural competence as one of the top critical skills they want leadership teams to have. The surprising reality gap DDI uncovered: only 34% of leaders in the study ranked working with people from different cultures as a true strength.

Interested in learning how you can capture a global experience or build on what you have? Take on a short-term assignment at your organization’s office in another country. Unable to leave home or not with a company that has an international presence? Serve on a team or committee through a professional association or non-profit with international members. Make the most of this opportunity by preparing in advance through books such as ‘The Culture Map’ by Professor Erin Meyer or at a minimum spend time researching the culture of your new team members.

  1. Get a sponsor and be a sponsor

Your success will certainly be built on hard work and many great leaders will tell you that they could never have reached their position without having mentors or sponsors along the way. If you are curious how mentors and sponsor differ, Gordon Nixon, the respected former chief executive of Royal Bank of Canada, explains the contrast to the Financial Times: “We’ve all had mentors who have offered advice, but sponsors are the people inside our company who have helped us get to senior levels. Sponsors are what you really need to succeed.”

Although you won’t always know who your sponsors are, it is important to understand that they will advocate for you in the workplace when you need to be more visible. Ultimately, your legacy relates to your perceived success in an organization, so actively make an effort to build relationships and prove your value-add to your organization. Word to the wise – this may translate into handling unfamiliar projects or volunteering to deal with the most difficult customer, in order for you to grow as a leader. Another growth opportunity includes paying it forward, which includes keeping an eye out for someone whom you can sponsor. As being a sponsor is rewarding and may even open doors for your next career move.

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  1. Continue learning while earning

Expanding your knowledge base can improve your confidence and earnings. Thinking of heading back for an advanced degree or an executive program? You will be in good company as a recent Georgetown University report focused on those of us who learn while earning, cites college enrollment increasing from 2 million to 20 million in 60 years. If you enjoy reading and want to gain good business advice, here are 4 books worth reviewing: ‘Secrets of the Superbosses’ by Sydney Finkelstein, ‘Act Like A Leader Think Like A Leader’ by Herminia Ibarra, ‘Collective Genius’ by Linda A. Hill & Greg Brandeau plus ‘How to Get a Meeting with Anyone’ by Stu Heinecke.

Wrap up

Do you have a favorite tip that has helped you move your career forward? If so, take a moment to share your thoughts with our audience by adding a comment below. Here’s to your continued success.

This article originally appeared in ThinkPositiveMag.com

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Secrets to Leading Effective Global Teams

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, global talent mobility levels have increased by 25% over the last decade and they predict a further 50% growth by 2020. Which means in the next decade the ability of organizations to manage their global talent efficiently will mark the difference between success and failure.

To get ahead of this challenge, follow along as recognized experts share how they hire, lead and retain the very best global talent in today’s competitive marketplace.

Translations for tomorrow

Build The Right Global Team

In her recent HBR article “Hire the Best and Let Them Work from Wherever They Are,” Cassandra Frangos, Vice President of Cisco’s Global Executive Talent outlines the right things to look for when hiring a remote, global team member:

1. Assess whether the person is independent, passionate about their work, and collaborative. In addition, the most important experience this individual should have is past success working remotely. Find out how they made it work and double down on the due diligence.

2. Consider the individual’s leadership style and how they project themselves. In order to make an impression from afar, they need to stand out in a crowd and be an advocate for their ideas.

3. Take a close look at the manager to whom they will report. Remote employees need someone who will advocate for them regardless of where they live.

Pro Tip: The last part of hiring people who are going to work remotely is knowing when it won’t work. There are some jobs where the location is fixed. In some companies, for instance, the head of sales needs to work in close proximity to the CEO. For other mission-critical positions, it is necessary to be face to face with local accounts or available for the community.

Words That Work

Paul Berry, Founder & CEO of RebelMouse shares what he has learned in his 15 years of managing remote, global teams. Here are three tips that I have personally adopted:

1. Live and breathe your email and make sure the team does too – the only way I’ve found that works is when everyone on the team keeps their inboxes open and checks emails as their absolute highest priority. Without that we operate blindly to each other since there is no tapping someone on the shoulder as there would experience in an office.

2. Give the benefit of the doubt – my team has huge cultural and language differences (although everyone does have a working knowledge of English as the basic way we communicate). We all were raised with different ways of approaching projects, handling conflict resolution, etc. It’s essential that we forgive each other constantly for odd grammar, odd behavior and instead try to make the beauty of building something together lift us above any confusion.

3. Be intentionally positive – It is too easy for things to sound negative in an email. Without tone, body language or anything else, it’s extra important to make sure emails don’t turn into hurt feelings. Sarcasm and deadpan humor can come across the wrong way (especially because humor doesn’t always translate across cultures). But being friendly and approachable – even if it means using lots of emoticons – is always welcome. I try to encourage my team to be overly friendly in their emails, even if it means they sound less “businesslike.”

Improve Team Culture

Melinda Emerson, author and recognized business owner shares “If your team is [or a portion of them are] working virtually like my marketing & sales teams are, leverage technology such as Skype, join.me, and google hangout so you can be ‘face-to-face,’ for certain meetings and try to plan an event not related to work where you get together in real time at some point during the year. You’d be amazed at how spending time together and not just talking about work can really strengthen your bond. Another important reminder from Ms. Emerson: “Invest in your team and they will protect your business.”

Know Your Audience

INSEAD Professor Erin Meyer’s timeless CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria reinforces the importance of cultural awareness and perception as leaders expand their global teams through the potential treacherous terrain.

Timing & Next Steps

Two additional resources worth mentioning include: world clock and the global holiday calendar from Time & Date. These are handy links for anyone working across time zones. Now it’s your turn. Do you have tips or resources that have helped you work in different cultures and get things done? If so, thanks in advance for joining the conversation and sharing insight via the comment section below.

This article originally appeared in ThinkPositiveMag.com

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Salary Negotiation Strategies to Use Today

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The ability to negotiate a competitive salary is a critical skill to have during the interview process; it is also a talent that will benefit you throughout your career. If you are like many employees taking on additional responsibility, working longer hours, and not seeing any improvement in your salary – it may be time to request a salary increase. So, how can you improve your chances of a successful negotiation? Follow these 4 steps to make a good case:

Step No. 1 – Do your homework. Begin this action by talking with professional recruiters and checking comparable roles listed online to help you determine which salary range you will fit into. A few sites to check for competitive salary information include: Glassdoor, Careerbliss, Salary and Indeed.

Step No. 2 – Track your successes. Make a solid list of your contributions and have it handy during the salary negotiation. Consider where you have delivered return on investment for your company. For example: Have you saved your employer money or streamlined processes to be more efficient? Captured additional clients or expanded an account that was outside of the sales plan? Or have you delivered a new initiative on time and on budget? Also, you can capture specific comments from colleagues as well as other leaders that detail what types of accomplishments you have made that added to the bottom line. By tracking and sharing these examples you will be making a stronger case for a salary increase.

Step No. 3 – Be flexible and practice. Before you approach your leadership about a raise, know exactly what you want. Another critical action is to practice your discussion and key messages in advance of your meeting. Who can help you prepare? Schedule a practice session or role play discussion with a trusted family member or mentor. Also be ready to be flexible. As an example: if you ask for a 10 percent salary increase and you are told that there is no money in the budget; perhaps you can negotiate a non-cash benefit that would include an extra week of vacation, flex time, or stock options. If all else fails, this is the time to ask your leader if you can discuss a raise in salary 6 months from now, when the company is in better financial shape or when the organizations budget discussions have been finalized.

Step No. 4 – Time it right. Take note on how your company is doing financially and within industry. Do this by answering the following questions: have recent budget cuts taken place? Were layoffs or reductions in force recently announced? If any of these or related negative actions have taken place – it is not the right time to ask for a raise in salary. Although it is a good time to continue tracking your successes and update your resume with recent accomplishments.

By following these steps you will be better positioned and prepared to ask for the salary you deserve. Do you have comments or additional tips regarding salary negotiations? Continue the conversation in the comments section following this article.

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Five Ways to Conquer Stress and Be Happier

Today’s challenge in the battlefield of life: stress and anxiety are affecting 40 million adults in the U.S. age 18 or older, based on studies by the National Institute of Mental Health. So how can you begin conquering stress today, before it impacts – or further impacts your life?

Follow along to discover ways to maintain a healthy lifestyle that will you help manage stress — exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and capture enough sleep.

For the love of dogs

Tired of the elliptical or bike? Inside the Harvard Medical School report, “Get Healthy, Get a Dog,” experts highlight the many health and social benefits of having a dog, including reducing stress, being more active, and promoting social connection. As an introduction to the study, the University has created a video that spotlights a few prominent members of Harvard’s canine community. In addition, Elizabeth Pegg Frates, clinical assistant professor at the Medical School, shares study insight and how dog’s might be a wonderful addition to any community.

Key findings: ongoing research is showing that the health benefits of owning a dog are undeniable. Harvard Medical School reminds us that dog owners have lower blood pressure and healthier cholesterol levels, as well as a lower risk of heart disease, than non-owners. There are also many psychological benefits to having a canine around. Dog owners are less prone to bouts of loneliness, anxiety, and depression. Simply petting your dog can make you feel less stressed.

Tackle a full schedule in the office

It is true that a bad diet can impact your stress levels and overall mental health. Even the 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is now reinforcing the message. To improve lunch, vending machines visits, and late night fast food runs during the week consider:

Rethinking the working lunch – Based on a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who ate lunch while playing or working on their computers, ended up eating more cookies (30 minutes later) than those who escaped their screen. Tactic: carve out 15 minutes and head to a conference room or outdoors for lunch versus eating in front of your computer. A reduced stress level and smaller waistline will be your reward.

Snacking smarter – The clock has struck 3 p.m. and your stomach is rumbling – is it time to visit the office vending machine? Actually it is fine to eat something to hold you over until dinner according to several Nutritionists. Tactic: head to the vending machine and choose a low-calorie cookie pack or a natural granola bar versus the supersized candy bar. Interested in saving time and money? Bring a healthy snack from home.

Locating healthy fast food – Working late and need a quick healthy dinner? Tactic: If fast food is the only option take a minute to look at the restaurant’s nutrition facts on the web before you go. This way you can make an informed choice and avoid a stressful last minute decision.

Evict those monsters under the bed

Which came first – the monsters, stress or poor sleep? The order may depend on your age, although if you had a terrible night’s sleep, you are not alone. Instead, you join 45% of American’s that experienced a poor sleep. Further, the National Sleep Foundation’s inaugural Sleep Health Index™ notes, that a terrible night’s sleep also impacts daily activities for the same group in a one week period. Taking a closer look, shows us The Sleep Health Index™ along with University studies indicate that losing only a few hours of sleep will increase stress, exhaustion, sadness and worst of all anger in the majority of us. So, win the battle with sleep deprivation by adopting these tips from the Nation Sleep Foundation tonight.

Moving forward

Do you have a favorite tip that has helped you win the battle against stress? If you do, take a moment to share your thoughts with our audience by adding a comment below.

Need more help? If the stress in your life is more than you can cope with, get help right away.

1 – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

2 – Go to the nearest hospital or emergency room

3 – Call your physician, health provider or clergy

4 – Contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness www.nami.org 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)

Professionals Adapt Now

These Companies Are Hiring Large Remote Workforces

If your goal is to join a well-known company and work remotely, today’s trends may be moving the odds in your favor. Taking a closer look: telecommuting in the U.S. has risen to 37% according to Gallup’s annual work and education poll. For perspective, this increase is four times greater than the 9% found in 1995. Fortune magazine as well as FlexJobs, have also identified companies of all shapes and sizes hiring significant numbers of remote workers. Additional studies indicate 83% of hiring managers say telecommuting will be more prevalent in the next five years. Based on these findings, it is time to examine which companies are leading the trend and what they are learning.

Help Wanted
Amazon, Dell, GE, American Express, and Apple are a few of the household names that are hiring. Regarding volume, Fortune magazine’s recent analysis highlights 10 companies that include SAP, Kaplan, and Convergys who hire significant numbers of remote workers. If you are looking for one of today’s best resources, review the annual Top 100 Companies to Watch for Remote Jobs created by FlexJobs which spotlights organizations that recruit for remote or work-from-home roles. The comprehensive list is based on analysis of over 30,000 real companies and organizations involved in a variety of industries.

Communication is Key
Several large companies indicate that the best remote workers are strong communicators who value teaming and sharing ideas that drive results. Other success criteria include accountability, goal setting, and having the ability to measure success. It is clear that introverts and those with a “lone wolf approach” will struggle in a remote job.

Companies Leading the Trend
Why is hiring remote workers and adding flexibility into the work week gaining ground? It is due in part to the financial success stories. Here are a few highlights from Steven Greenhouse’s New York Times interview with non-profit and finance leaders that is worth sharing:

Ellen Galinsky, president of the Families and Work Institute, saying, “The nation’s accounting firms excel at this for a boring, accounting reason — they’ve looked at the numbers, and they see it helps.” Jennifer Allyn, managing director inPricewaterhouseCoopers’ office of diversity, notes that stepped-up flexibility policies have helped cut turnover to 15 percent a year, from 24 percent.

The article adds, “Firms estimate that the cost of hiring and training a new employee can be 1.5 times a departing worker’s salary, so reducing turnover by 200 employees could mean $30 million in savings.” Sharon Allen, Deloitte’s chairwoman, said her firm’s flexibility policies saved more than $45 million a year by reducing turnover.

Moving Forward
Now that you are armed with a better understanding of today’s workplace trends, is it time for you to find a new or improved role? In either instance, here’s a strategy from Sara Sutton Fell, CEO and founder of FlexJobs that may help you take a step forward in your current role:

If you are already employed and like your job, there’s no reason why you have to start a brand-new job search. Find out your company’s policy on workplace flexibility to see if it already offers work-from-home options. Then, go through your job duties to see which ones need to be done in the office and which ones can be done from your home office. Schedule a meeting with your boss to see if you can transfer your in-office job to a virtual one by pointing out how much of your job is already telecommuting friendly. And be prepared that your boss may only let you work from home a day or two each week to start until he or she gets used to the new working arrangement.

Wrap Up
Have you successfully captured a remote working role or added flexibility to your work week? Share your thoughts with the audience by adding a comment below. Here’s to your future success.

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Four Smart Moves To Make Your Next Conference Successful

For every leader who has a full schedule and must attend industry conferences, I am sharing four of my recommendations for maximizing time:

No. 1  Identify two key people you want to meet during the conference and do it. This may include: potential clients, candidates for strategic partnership, new members, the keynote speaker, possible mentors, or a host of others who you can connect with and that may help move you closer to your goals.

No. 2  Stay at the host hotel if possible and stay during the key days. Even though this is not school and you can easily arrive late and leave early, you never know what you might be missing by doing this.

No. 3  Be an active participant, not a passive observer. You may not be a formal presenter, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have something to contribute. Make sure you ask intelligent/relevant questions and make comments when the format allows it.

No. 4  When entering a large conference, stay near the back until you identify your key people to contact and position yourself accordingly. This is what you will see seasoned conference attendees doing and most often key leadership will stay near the back of a conference (if they are not speaking) and in an effort to streamline their exit once the session wraps up.

Now it is your turn. Share one of your tips with our followers and enjoy a productive conference.

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Four Things Smart Leaders Are Doing Today

When Harvard Business Review found that workplace learning was a common thread in the “Best Performing Companies In The World”, Leaders took notice. Building on that news, this Leader started the search for change management learning opportunities that were unique, yet proven. Imagine my surprise when a highly recommended program included a subject matter expert named: Lenny T. Lizard. Yes, a lizard? Intrigued, I contacted Lenny’s business partner, Kathy Dempsey, President of Keep Shedding! Inc., to learn more. As it turned out, Ms. Dempsey, an award winning author, keynote speaker and recognized “change expert”, has worked with several Fortune 500 companies. Her goal: to implement programs that ignite change in leaders. Follow along in our interview that covers four lessons you will enjoy.

Q: What is the philosophy of shedding? Why is this important and how did Lenny become your business partner?

Ms. Dempsey: Good questions and let’s start with Lenny. As background, Lenny was the result of a life-changing conversation with a colleague about his pet lizard that died because it didn’t shed his skin. Two transformational things happened that day: first he gave me a benchmark for my personal growth path so I had a metaphor “shed or you’re dead” featuring Lenny who has been a great listener, business partner, and vehicle for helping people. Second, it is remarkable how much lizards can teach us about growth and change. The first of four key lessons to share with tomorrow’s business professionals and organizations is that if they don’t shed they can become unhealthy and die.

Q:  Fantastic introduction. Can you tell us- what is the biggest barrier to shedding in today’s world of business?

Ms. Dempsey: Overcoming fear is the biggest barrier to shedding. Studies teach us that a staggering 95% of people say that fear is the number one thing that holds them back at work and in life. A few years ago I had the privilege of speaking for the Disney Corporation in Orlando. After experiencing an incredible backstage tour I was surprised to discover that Walt Disney was afraid of mice. So what did he do to face his fear? He embraced that fear and transformed it into his biggest professional success. Walt Disney chose to make his fear less scary. He added big ears, a fun playful face and named his fear: Mickey. The key lesson: when you resist facing your fear there is usually a price to pay – not only to you but also to others.

Just think for a moment, if Walt Disney had never faced his fear – there would be no Disney World. Can you imagine the millions of people being robbed of their happy childhood memories and family vacations?

Q: Fascinating. Can you share a few more lessons that can help leaders in their quest to conquer change management?

Ms. Dempsey: Definitely. Here are three more lessons:

Heighten your awareness  It is the key to any behavioral change. A good example of this would be learning to manage your energy, not your time. Your energy is critical for sustaining success.

Take a recharge break every 90 minutes  Research shows that in workplaces where regular breaks are encouraged, productivity increases and rates of sickness decrease.

Focus your energy on things you can control or influence  Why? Ask yourself – where do most of us waste our energy? On things we have no control over. A good reminder: make a conscious effort not to let control issues rob you of your precious time and energy. Instead, strive to focus only on the things that you have control over today.

Opportunity Which fear can you embrace in the next 10 days? Keep in mind that the cure for fear is – action. How can you take a page from Walt Disney’s life and make that fear your friend? Next, take a look at the short TED Talk with Nilofer Merchant that is part of this article. Her key lesson: Got a meeting? Take a walk. You may be surprised how fresh air can drive fresh thinking.

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Is It Possible To Predict Success?

It is true that productive leadership teams can turn companies around. But how do you build or reshape a team to be successful? To discover how, I secured a rare interview with the knowledgeable Dr. Michael Cofield, Diplomate in Clinical Health Psychology with the American Board of Professional Psychology. Highlights that introduce the Losada Ratio and related, successful strategies follow:

Q: What is the “Losada Line” and how can it be a strategic tool for leadership teams?

Dr. Cofield: The Losada Ratio was developed by a well-known organizational psychologist, Dr. Marcial Losada. He studied over fifty companies, utilizing verbatim transcripts of strategic planning meetings. He discovered that the most successful companies have a predictable three to one ratio of positive to negative interactions between team members. That is, for every critical interaction, there needs to be at least three positive ones in order to offset the negativity. Companies that fell below 3:1 P/N (positive/negative ratio) were shown to function much more poorly in terms of productivity and profit. Thus, increasing a company’s P/N can yield huge benefits.

Q: What types of advantages can work teams that fall within the optimum zone deliver to their business and organizations?

Dr. Cofield: Well, one example is a mining company that Losada’s group worked with and reported on. The company was losing a significant degree of productivity and profit every month. However, once some relatively simple “P/N” strategies were implemented amongst the managers, they saw a 40% increase in productivity at the end of the year. The company’s CEO wrote an extremely grateful letter praising the organizational intervention efforts and giving them great credit for essentially turning the company’s productivity around.

Q: What are one or two good strategies work teams can use immediately to get closer to the optimum ratio, and will stand the test of time?

Dr. Cofield: One technique that has been utilized is the implementation of an “E-ppreciation” strategy. Each team member is asked to write a very brief message of appreciation to a different team member on a daily basis, or at least three times per week.

Secondly, a very effective communication strategy known as “DPR” or Dynamic Positive Responding, teaches team members and supervisors how to “celebrate” good news, rather than focusing exclusively on negative input.

Q: What is a good resource that work teams can use to monitor when they want to gain a deeper understanding of this area or monitor what is on the horizon?

Dr. Cofield: One excellent website is “AuthenticHappiness.com”. It contains a variety of self-assessment tools free of charge. They measure such success-related workplace attributes as personal optimism and “grit” or the tendency to “stick to it” on the job, regardless of the challenges.

Opportunity Do you have a team that can benefit from one of these techniques? If so, have the team report progress, within the first two months of their effort to keep the momentum going.PrdSuccesstLg4469640Hands