Kindness is an Identity Detector!

Kindness Personal leadership Respect

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Key Point: I recently had a chance to listen to employees’ stories that defined a memorable connection with customers and/or other co-workers. What made the stories worth remembering? In every case there was something much deeper than “service,” “responsiveness,” “quality” or other surface explanations. The underlying basis for a meaningful bridge built between two people was based on empathy, understanding, and ultimately a remarkable act of KINDNESS. This caused me to dig a little for a more complete explanation. Please note some research that may help us better appreciate the power of virtue, especially kindness, pertaining to advancing relationships:

“Moral features are the chief dimension by which we judge, sort and choose social partners. For men and women alike, the single most sought-after trait in a long-term romantic partner is kindness – beating out beauty, wealth, health, shared interests, even intelligence.”

“And while we often think of our friends as the people who are uniquely matched to our shared personality, moral character plays the largest role in determining whether you like someone or not (what social psychologists call impression formation), and predicts the success and longevity of these bonds. Virtues are mentioned with more frequency in obituaries than achievements, abilities or talents. This is even the case for obituaries of notable luminaries, people who are being written about because of their accomplishments, not their moral fiber.”

“‘Know thyself’ is a flimsy bargain-basement platitude, endlessly recycled but maddeningly empty. It skates the very existential question it pretends to address, the question that obsesses us: What is it to know oneself? The lesson of the identity detector is this: when we dig deep, beneath our memory traces and career ambitions and favorite authors and small talk, we find a constellation of moral capacities. This is what we should cultivate and burnish, if we want people to know who we really are.”

I would add… Consistently acting on who we are, is really knowing ourselves. 

And of course that’s why I believe so strongly in the Character Triangle’s three elements (they’re not perfection but the sincere pursuit of it). They are virtues so vital to our identity and relationships.  My short form and most accessible description of The Character Triangle is: Do it now, Be Kind, Give More.

Character Moves: 

  1. Are you consistently kind? I realize, especially after receiving some candid feedback regarding my kindness identity this weekend, I can do much better on this virtue. Kindness is NOT soft and it is an extension of really showing we care; not just saying we do. I see it is a key sub element of RESPECT and we are unlikely capable of being fully progressed on the respect scale without being unconsciously and consistently kind. 
  2. I lived on the beachside strand in Hermosa Beach, LA. It was an incredible spot. I walked by it for nostalgic reasons recently and noticed the well worn, imbedded sign, quoting the great John Wooden, at the corner of the wall that surrounds the home. I walked by the sign every day for more than a year, and probably even read it a few times. Now some 20 plus years later I’m more capable and committed to honoring the message that was waiting there for me all this time.

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Consistent kindness in The Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: One of my favorite podcast hosts routinely gives advice to the degree of, “It’s just so much easier to be nice than not.” I agree with this. And frankly, it boils down to acknowledging that it’s a lot of B.S. busy work to be rude. Think of the effort needed to be “mean” versus just, “nice.” Yeah, yeah, everyone and their mom hears, “nice guys finish last,” (except your mom tells you to be nice anyways). Fine. But really… I view “nice/kind” as a maze; it’s how you play it. Lay those “nice/kind” cards down right, and it truly translates to confidence, awareness, attentiveness, and values that certainly cross the finish line first. Know when/how to bend backwards, and you’ll earn the support to get pushed back up.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Why the Audience Applauds

Accountability Contribution Purpose

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Key Point: Leadership is always about people and purpose. Most of us know who Yo-Yo Ma is. This world-renowned cellist is the recipient of numerous awards including 17 Grammys, the Polar Music Prize, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Ma is a graduate of both Juilliard and Harvard University. However, what I find profoundly interesting about Ma is his philosophy and framework: Hey says, “My passion is actually for people. So the exploration into different music of different times has to do with trying to figure out who these people are, what this music represents and what context do we want to give it and what does it mean to us right now.”

Nelson Mandela is perhaps the most revered moral leader in modern times. And Mandela was first and foremost about ALL the African people. He says, “I have fought against white domination. I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all people live together in harmony…”

So while the roadmap to guide us in leadership and contribution is quite cluttered with advice, the most impactful leaders in entertainment, politics, business and elsewhere have an uncanny and perhaps unusual ability to make their purpose in life about other people. They focus on what others deeply need, value and appreciate. And by always asking themselves what is most important to the “audience,” they tirelessly dig until they strike some seemingly unassailable vein. Their medium may be music, a boardroom or pulpit but their “story” literally captures the audience in a deep, emotional way. And that inspires people to feel and act.

Additionally, I will argue that the power of having an aspirational ideal and purpose gives renowned leaders an advanced moral identity that makes leadership choices clear. Everything is viewed through the lens of people and purpose. And hence the true leaders’ identity and self becomes synonymous with their purpose, emotionally and meaningfully connecting with people for some greater good. 

Character Moves: 

  1. Few of us will ever be touched by history and become a Mandela or Ma. But all of us can take a moment before we set out for the day to think about the “audience” in front of us. What do they need from us? We can be mindful that our actions define us, state our purpose and define our identity. 
  2. All of us can think of our purpose as the story we want and hope people tell about us. If we are fortunate, someday someone will be telling a story about us at our 85th birthday. What will your story be about? What will they say about what you stood for? How will you have made some deep emotional connection with those singing happy birthday? 

P.S. Last Sunday was my mom’s 85th birthday. What a story you’ve created. Happy Birthday, sweetie. 

People and purpose in The Triangle 

Lorne 

One Millennial View: The phrase “do it for the story” has become some sort of Millennial mantra… In fact, what today, isn’t about telling a story to an audience? Check out the average person’s Instagram. It’s all about connecting with followers, attempting to document the highlights, values and appreciation of everyday life. What we’re probably not doing is sharing the scene of a standard board meeting or our everyday work experiences on social media… It doesn’t “make the cut.” But if we envision our offices as a platform to also naturally build a story, create relationships, and acquire “followers” (aka peers, bosses, and colleagues that appreciate your presence), maybe that’s a good way to approach it. You might not be taking a picture of the moment, but are you creating a story and appealing enough on a regular basis where an audience would deem it “post worthy?”

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Regarding Washing Our Hands

Respect Well-being

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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,

Lorne

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

Talk Isn’t Cheap

Accountability Communication Personal leadership

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Key Point: Learning how to listen and talk to each other is a life long requirement. It requires focus, thoughtful skill development and the mindset, that face-to-face, voice-to-voice conversation is essential to relationship development. An experienced colleague of mine, who has had a very successful executive career, mused to me the other day; “so many of the challenges I was dealing with last week could have been avoided by having conversations with people rather than using the ubiquitous email. If I had a blog, I would blog about the need for everyone to talk more and use email less… It could be a topic for one of your blogs, Lorne?” Ok… Jill… Here it is:

The foundation of successful “talk” starts in childhood. Decades of research shows that parents of all backgrounds do not need to buy expensive educational toys, digital devices and chauffeur their kids to enrichment classes to give them an edge. What they need to do with their children is much simpler: TALK!! But of course, the quality of these discussions counts too. A study conducted by researchers at the UCLA School of Public Health (published in the journal Pediatrics), found that two-way adult-child conversations were six times as potent in promoting language development as interludes in which the adult did all the talking.

Notice the phrase “two-way.” Well, the competence from relentlessly developing effective two-way conversation needs to be continuous. It is instructive to me that two leading companies Quicken and Zappos, prioritize two-way communication while bringing all new employees on board. They do not and cannot assume that their new hires come equipped to know how to constructively talk. Wow! The lead content of the leadership development initiative at the company I work for is called “Conversations!” Why? As Susan Scott has famously noted, “Conversation is the relationship and the relationship is the conversation.” One key to effective leadership is the ability to have crucial conversations and develop relationships. 

Character Moves:

  1. How have you improved your skills or ability to have a two-way conversation recently? Are you more equipped to take on any challenging discussion? What framework or model do you use? Or do you just “wing it” because you assume everyone just knows how to ” talk?” As an example, I’m going to watch the video below: “How to Speak so that People Want to Listen.”
  1. Please STOP hiding behind or inappropriately using email and/or texting. They are typically NOT effective tools for problem solving, creating, or meaningful relationship development. With platforms like Skype, FaceTime , and many other video oriented options, we can have more face-to-face interaction, even at a distance. More listening, and talking… Less email trails that can waste time and result in a relationship deficit. 
  1. Remember if we really value a relationship, we have to invest in talking to each other: That simple AND complex. Right, Jill? 

Watch this video and just talk in the Triangle,

 

Lorne 

One Millennial View: No one needs to remind me that my iPhone is used less as a “telephone” than anything else… 90 percent of my correspondence is text based, and that’s how I prefer it. Except, there are situations we’ve all been in when tone is ever so important. Unless you’re dead sure how someone is phrasing something, or knows the cadence of your own voice (which implies you likely spend enough face-to-face time anyways where you’re on that level), a call is never a bad idea when communicating something where “tone” could be misunderstood. Heck, iMessage can even record and text audio messages now with the push of a button… Let’s avoid getting caught in the tone-trap, they don’t have an emoji for “digging yourself out of a hole” yet. I would know.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

A “Shoe in” at Zappos

Empathy Organizational culture Respect

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Key Point: Do you know a secret recipe that drives lasting positive relationships with customers and teammates? Zappos has 10 core values it imbeds into every fabric of the company. The other day, I spent a day with other colleagues visiting their headquarters; getting a behind the scenes look at their cultural strategy and tactics. All 10 values are clearly and deeply resident in the vast majority of Zapponians. If you don’t believe and embrace the values, you leave the company. There are no exceptions. The underpinning of everything the company teaches around their culture and core values is something they call PEC: Personal Emotional Connection.

A PEC at Zappos means every person makes a commitment to positive relationship development. And the company does not leave the idea of Personal Emotional Connection to chance. They spend weeks teaching every employee that a meaningful PEC involves three vital components: 1. An authentic connection. 2. Real empathy. 3. A valued solution. Additionally, they coach to these three elements. When you listen to Zapponians on the phone with their customers, the best calls include all three elements of PEC. And of course anybody who interacts with someone sincerely committed to a PEC concludes the relationship with a positive experience. We all love people who really care about our situation, find a way to connect with us and then do everything to solve our problems. When you listen to customers on the phone in Zappos customer loyalty center, after a strong PEC, they are almost in suspended disbelief and reluctant to hang up. Customers are so hardened by crappy customer service and steeled for conflict that they are waiting for the other “shoe to drop” (as it were). Instead, they’re pleasantly surprised to find out that there isn’t one.

Character Moves:

  1. Try intentionally applying the PEC framework to people you want to develop a positive relationship with. You will be amazed at how effective it is. Do it proactively and beyond just reacting to relationship issues. What if you identified people you wanted to make an emotional connection with and employed a proactive PEC? You would enhance your personal leadership brand.
  1. Think of a personal story involving a time when you changed someone’s life for the better and I bet you the “PEC 3” were fully applied and embraced. So in addition to concluding each day asking yourself how much you added positive value to everyone you interacted with, identify people you made a deep connection with, empathetically listened to AND brought a resolution to a present or potential problem for. That action will make you a masterful relationship builder and even more effective leader!

Doing the PEC in the Triangle

Lorne

One Millennial View: It’s pretty popular knowledge that Comcast has some of the most abhorrent customer service. (Thus why a Comcast shirt accompanied with devil horns was a noteworthy Halloween costume in 2014). You wonder how a company like Zappos avoids this issue… Sure, maybe people just like talking shoes more than cable packages, but they both deal with troubleshooting. So, it likely comes down to instilled values and PEC. I happen not to be on the phones at a customer service desk, but I’d like to aim to always have the PEC to my position to develop positive relationships with anyone I engage with… And never leave them on “hold.”

– Garrett

Edited and Published by Garrett Rubis