The Courage to Show Up!

Key Point: Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Have the courage to really show up in work and life. Make up your mind to be a friggin’ badass and just bring it! 

This week (as we regularly do with ALL new recruits), our CEO and I personally connected with our new hires and asked them to declare themselves “All In” or “All Out.” After 90 days, when team members have enough information to know if they can connect with our culture to become impact players and story creators, we ask them to declare which category they identify with. If they are “All In, they individually tell our CEO that they choose to go forward. If they honestly think they can’t or don’t want to be, we want them to leave with dignity and a month’s pay… No questions asked. When we describe what being “All In” means, we ask people to “show up and bring it.” This is not about perfection or having every day go smoothly. We understand that’s not realistic for any of us. However, we want people to be vulnerable and courageous. Vulnerability is not about winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up, especially when we have little or no assurance of the outcome. And most often at work, even though we want to manage risk as best as possible, we can’t control everything. Hence we must have team members who will step out, stand out, speak up, invent, reimagine, connect, advance and story (a verb). When we create own our stories, we avoid being trapped as characters in tales someone else is telling. We consciously see ourselves as both author and protagonist based on what we actually think, feel and do. You can’t just think you’d like to step up, and stand out… You have to feel it and do it too. 

We can choose courage or we can choose comfort, but we can’t have both at the same time. Having the courage to be vulnerable means knowing that you’re going to do something you want to do—and that you may fail at doing it. Leaning into this fear and failure is uncomfortable, and probably causes our stomachs to rumble. But that’s something we’ve got to be okay with if we want to fulfill our highest potential—both personally and professionally. And that’s what we expect of ourselves as leaders in our company and how we want ALL people in ALL roles to think, feel and act. 

Dr. Brene Brown is one of my favorite authors and teachers. Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. Brené’s 2010 TED Houston talk, The Power of Vulnerability, has been viewed more than 20 million times and is one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world. (Watch it here). She has spent the past 13 years studying vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame.  She has numerous best sellers and her brand-new book is titled Rising Strong. In it, she writes,

“A lot of cheap seats in the arena are filled with people who never venture onto the floor. They just hurl mean-spirited criticisms and put-downs from a safe distance. The problem is, when we stop caring what people think and stop feeling hurt by cruelty, we lose our ability to connect. But when we’re defined by what people think we lose the courage to be vulnerable. Therefore, we need to be selective about the feedback we let into our lives. For me, if you’re not in the arena getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.” 

We want everyone in the arena engaged, with scraped knees, and “dirt on their uniforms.” You can’t be a story creator, and real impact player without being vulnerable and stepping out… That means failing, winning, failing again and ultimately rising strong as Dr. Brown emphasizes. If you sit on the sidelines, we want you “all out!” Have the courage to be vulnerable, and then we know you’ll be “All In!”

Character Moves:  

  1. Recognize that while failing is not something we intentionally set out to do, the practical physics of vulnerability is that we will eventually fall. But learning from the fall, if we really listen to those who deeply care for us and ourselves, helps us grow and changes us for the better. How great is that?! 
  2. Being vulnerable includes self-respect and fully accepting that we as individuals are more than enough. However, our thinking, feeling, and action may NOT YET be. It fills us with optimism and the courage to take chances and create our own story! 

Vulnerable in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: Did you get chills? I got chills. I bet everyone (myself included) can think of 10 real time scenarios in life where we could be a little more vulnerable, but we may keep telling ourselves the safe zone is “best for now.” Even as a Millennial I somehow get an “excuse” for more time wasted, as if my clock isn’t ticking. But realistically, the confidence to attempt what I’m scared of is always the most attractive option, and even if my dismount doesn’t land, it’ll only draw a clearer map for the next course of action. That’s scary and uncomfortable. But I’d like to accept that life should be scary and uncomfortable sometimes.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Loving-Kindness Meditation

Key Point: My last blog underscored the importance and positive impact of kindness. Kindness is totally free and accessible to us all. It is a mindset and an intentional choice.  Even better, we can further develop our capacity for extending kindness. And in keeping with this kindness theme and holiday season, here is a gift to all of us that literally does keep on giving, to others AND ourselves. It is called LOVING-KINDNESS meditation. I’m going to share the science that reinforces that this is serious stuff. For those that may think that both kindness and meditation are for mush-brained sissies, this is especially for you. 

Loving-kindness meditation focuses on developing feelings of goodwill, kindness and warmth towards others. Emma Seppälä, Ph.D, is a research scientist and the Associate Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University. In her TED talk, she emphasizes that compassion, kindness and empathy are very basic emotions to us. She also has collected research relative to loving-kindness meditation and it has a tremendous amount of benefits. The following are just a few noted in her study:  


study by Shahar B found that loving-kindness meditation was effective for self-critical individuals in reducing self-criticism and depressive symptoms, and improving self-compassion and positive emotions. These changes were maintained three months post-intervention.


Makes you a more helpful person

Loving-kindness meditation appears to enhance positive interpersonal attitudes as well as emotions. For instance, Leiberg, Klimecki and Singer conducted a study that examined the effects of loving-kindness meditation on pro-social behavior, and found that compared to a memory control group, the loving-kindness meditation group showed increased helping behavior in a game context.

Increases compassion

A recent review of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) concludes that loving-kindness meditation may be the most effective practice for increasing compassion.

Increases empathy

Similarly, Klimecki, Leiberg, Lamm and Singer (2013) found that loving-kindness meditation training increased participants’ empathic responses to the distress of others, but also increased positive affective experiences, even in response to witnessing others in distress.

Decreases your bias towards others

recent study found that compared to a closely matched active control condition, six weeks of loving-kindness meditation training decreased implicit bias against minorities.


We know that the brain is shaped by our activities. Regularly practicing loving-kindness meditation can help activate and strengthen areas of the brain responsible for empathy & emotional intelligence.

Activates empathy & emotional processing in the brain

We showed this link in our research and so have our colleagues.

Increases gray matter volume in areas of the brain related to emotion regulation.


Loving-kindness meditation also benefits your psychophysiology & makes it more resilient.

Increases respiratory Sinus Arrythmia (RSA)

Just 10 minutes of loving-kindness meditation had an immediate relaxing effect as evidenced by increased respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA), an index of parasympathetic cardiac control (i.e., your ability to enter a relaxing and restorative state), and slowed (i.e., more relaxed) respiration rate.

Increases telomere length—a biological marker of aging

We know that stress decreases telomere length (telomeres are tiny bits of your genetic materials—chromosomes—that are a biological marker of aging). However [a study] found that women with experience in loving-kindness meditation had relatively longer telomere length compared to age-matched controls! Throw out the expensive anti-aging creams and get on your meditation cushion!”

Character Moves: 

  1. Simply repeat the mantra below. An example of kindness – loving meditation. There are many more meditations to match your comfort level. Just Google or develop one that works for you:

 “May all beings be happy, content and fulfilled, May all beings be healed and whole, May all beings have whatever they want and need. May all beings be protected from harm and free from fear. May all beings be awakened, liberated and free, May there be peace on earth and the entire universe.”

  1. Practice this kindness-love meditation every day… Walking, closing your eyes at your desk, while you mute the TV during a commercial break, etc. Contemporary science is solid in outlining the benefits. If you’d like more historical evidence, “the most ancient Buddhist collection of texts ‘Pali Canon’ fully defines the benefit of loving-kindness meditation. 

Kindness meditation gifts in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: Alright, I’m not usually one for chants, meditation, incense, or any of those “typical” mind exercises you may avoid yoga studios because of… But then again, that’s me just tricking myself, because I certainly have my own methods of “meditation.” They come in the form of a good beach run, a beloved podcast/playlist, or even biking to the gym to clear my head after a tough workday. If you have those little daily releases, you’re generally happier, and if you haven’t noticed, it’s the happy folk that are the kindest. However you can create that full circle for yourself, it’s worth figuring out how to draw it.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Regarding Washing Our Hands

Key Point: Hopefully we understand that hand washing with soap is a big disease and influenza preventer. I do disinfect all the time, but I still get a cold or flu once in a while. “Hand washing” is obviously not bullet proof. So, when we do get sick, all of us need to give ourselves guilt free permission to rest and recover at home… Not in a public work place. The last statement is probably a lightening flash of “obvious,” yet old and even dumb habits are hard to break. Currently, I’m fighting off my annual winter cold, feeling sorry for myself and a little grumpy.

I’m from a generation of people who often think showing up to work when sick is an act of commitment and perseverance. But really, who wants to shake hands with us or have us sniffing and sneezing our way through meetings? Still, a lot of us still do it. Why? The great thing about today’s mobile technology is that many of us can accomplish the necessary from home; even at half speed. I worked from home in the a.m., and then went into the office later for what I believe were “indispensable” face-to-face meetings. It may have still been dumb, but a 50 percent improvement over my normal ill-informed behavior (pun intended).

As mobile video technology becomes more ubiquitous, our mindset will reinforce that work is about getting results more than being at a place. So, when we do get sick, hopefully guilt free common sense will prevail, and better work/rest scenarios will evolve. Wash your hands of both germs, and “sick guilt” when necessary.

Character Moves:

  1. Don’t be dumb and go to a workplace sick (that means me too).
  1. Give yourself permission to get well fast in a guilt free way. Help set an example for others (again, I’m included).
  1. Watch the TED Talks video about the vital life saving nature of soap based hand washing below. And for goodness sake… Scrub up. 

Sick blog in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: Sick days for Millennials are also tricky, because the back-thought is “Oh great, some healthy person is sending in their resume for my same job right now.” But, let’s get back on a healthy note. Character Triangle speaking, let’s just enjoy one of the sickest things I’ve seen all week. (In this case, “sick” is a positive adjective).

When the Toronto Maple Leafs recently hosted the Nashville Predators, the singer’s mic cut out during the performance of the U.S. National Anthem (a nod to the visiting U.S. team). Instead of remaining silent, a predominantly Canadian crowd immediately took action and belted it out for her… It demonstrated the Respect, Abundance and Self-Accountability that CT followers, and every singing Canadian in attendance practiced. This single action has helped define the bond these two great countries share. Cue the chills, pride and brotherhood. Thanks, Canada… Just what the doctor ordered!

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Open a Jar of Mosquitos to Get a Buzz

Key Point: I have a regularly scheduled 60-minute weekly meeting with my boss, the company CEO. The other day, half way through our regular meeting, I realized he was fighting to stay interested. Sure, I was updating him on all the great stuff I had going on, all very important to me. But was I offering him anything really interesting or novel to help him with his agenda? By pausing and asking if he was getting anything out of our discussion, we redirected and went into a white board free for all… We ventured into new, potentially more impactful territory.

It made me reflect and remind myself, when spending time with someone we’re trying to influence (boss, colleague, sales prospect), we may bring more value to the relationship by asking ourselves the following questions: Am I teaching or sharing something he/she doesn’t know? Have I introduced them to material that’s unexpected, surprising or offers a new and novel solution to an old or new problem they care about?

I love the following story shared by Carmine Gallo in his recent HBR article.

“In his 2009 TED presentation on the impact of malaria in African countries, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates shocked his audience when he opened a jar of mosquitoes in the middle of his talk. ‘Malaria, of course, is transmitted by mosquitoes,’ he said. ‘I brought some here so you can experience this. I’ll let these roam around the auditorium. There’s no reason why only poor people should have the experience.’ He reassured his audience that the mosquitoes were not infected – but not until he grabbed their attention and drawn them into the conversation.

As neuroscientist Dr. A.K. Pradeep confirms, our brains can’t ignore novelty. ‘They are trained to look for something brilliant and new, something that stands out.’ He should know. He’s a pioneer in the area of neuromarketing, studying advertisements, packaging, and design for major brands launching new products.”

Jonah Berger, a professor of marketing at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, analyzed 7,000 New York Times articles published during a three month period to see which ones made the most-emailed list. His research, captured in What Emotion Goes Viral the Fastest concluded that we are compelled to share something that makes a real emotional connection and gets our hearts racing and blood pumping. Anger and awe are two such emotions that drive people to action.

Character Moves:

  1. First of all, acknowledge that you will bring more value to relationships when you are capable of sparking a positive, emotional response from your “audience” by ideally introducing something new to them at the same time. The two elements: Novel and emotional, are more powerful together. You are the connector.
  2. Determine ways of being surprising and novel… Bring something “brilliant and new that stands out” as Pradeep suggests. I’m not suggesting this can practically happen in every interaction, however, by asking yourself the question, you may be surprised how much more effective you are in getting people’s attention. Open that jar of mosquitos.
  3. Look for the emotional connection. Ideally when people can connect a literal or metaphorical picture of a desired future state to what you’re discussing, they feel compelled to act. This often results in momentum and sustainable results based on value you have provided.

Creating the best buzz in the Triangle,



Lorne Rubis

Lorne Rubis

The constant in Lorne’s diverse career is his ability to successfully lead organizations through significant change. At US West, where he served as a Vice President / Company Officer, Lorne was one of only seven direct reports ...
Read more about Lorne Rubis

Listen to Lorne's latest podcasts

Confidence, Patti Smith and Dylan: Failing authentically

Breathe fire: Leading and inspiring ourselves

Asking for feedback: The why

Taking on a new role: Lorne's journey

Lessons from Dot: Integrating technology into workplace culture


The Character Triangle Companion


Download the New eBook Today


The Character Triangle

Character Triangle Book CoverBuild Character, Have an Impact, and Inspire Others



Character Triangle

Our character is exclusively ours. We define it by how we think and what we do. I believe that acting with Character is driven by what I call the Character Triangle.

What, exactly, is the Character Triangle (CT)?

The CT describes and emphasizes three distinct but interdependent values:

Be Accountable: first person action to make things better, avoiding blame.
Be Respectful: being present, listening, looking again, focusing on the process.
Be Abundant: generous in spirit, moving forward, minimizing the lack of.

Read more about the Character Triangle


Be Accountable

Be Respectful

Be Abundant

Free Resources