What’s Your ‘Sell by Date?’

Abundance Transformation

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Key Point: Most of us have become accustomed to looking at the expiration date on food. I don’t know about you, but if some item is on the shelf past its “best by date,” well I’m not buying it. And as insensitive as it sounds, you and I have “expiration dates” stamped on us too. If we don’t refresh, we will be discarded. Harsh but true.

Everyone would benefit from reading Karie Willyerd and Barbara Mistick’s, Stretch… How to Future Proof Yourself for Tomorrow’s Workplace. As Chief People Officer of a major corporation, I still see and hear people waiting for career development, or that someone in “HR” or elsewhere is actually working on their careers. Why? Because, I don’t get it. Really, I don’t. Of course, organizations continue to invest tons of money into employee and career development opportunities. However, let me make this clear. As the CPO, I am not responsible for anyone’s career but my own. Yes, my team and I are responsible for developing tools and a system for career development, but a personal career plan is all on you and me. If we aren’t actively and urgently advancing our capabilities, we will be replaced. Our careers will be “managed” for us and we probably won’t like the outcome. If you’ve followed this blog for the last few years, you’ve heard this before. I feel so strongly about, it that when I run into material that might inspire you to act or give you practical advice, then I want share it. “Stretch,” based on vast amounts of research, is that kind of resource.

How prepared are you to refresh your expiration date and get ready for tomorrow? Based on the book, we should assess ourselves on the following:

  1. Functional Excellence: A set of honed skills in a discipline that involves depth that will be in demand and not easily replaced by automation.
  1. Emotional Intelligence: The ability to be compassionate, and empathetic while also being very self-aware. I also believe you should be conscious of your spiritual and positive quotients in connection with this. This includes the Character Triangle. Be accountable, respectful, and abundant!!
  1. Personal Advocacy: Do you have the ability to publicly support and promote yourself so others seek you out? Everyone sells. This is NOT narcissistic self-promotion, but instead it’s establishing a personal brand.
  1. Cross Cultural Dexterity: You and I will never be fully inclusive unless we genuinely are able to view the world in 360-degree swivels. Our world view is just one view. Be present. Be aware. This is not political correctness. Often people fall back on that cliché when others don’t see things the way we do or we’re intellectually lazy. Inclusion and collaboration skills are imperative.
  1. Geek Acumen: We have to be technologists. No more excuses. There is NO role that doesn’t require advanced digital fluency. This is not only because of the tool application, but because to be digitally fluent you have to be a fearless learner. There are few training manuals, and even fewer trainers. If you aren’t a technologist, you likely don’t have a growth mindset.
  1. Virtual Collaboration: Many roles involve working anywhere. Each of us has to know how to share knowledge, problem solve and communicate with people in different time zones and proximity. See number 5. (For example, in the last 24 months “sharing screens” has become a daily way of working on Skype).
  1. Entrepreneurial Spirit: This is not about owning a business, but the mindset of continuously seeking ways of creating more value. Entrepreneurs almost can’t stop thinking about how to make things better and having others recognize the value.
  1. Creative Problem Solving: Problem solving, creativity and innovation is a process and mindset. Like leadership, it is developed. What’s in your problem solving, innovating toolkit? If you can’t identify at least 10 tools (brainstorming is NOT one of them), you don’t get this.
  1. Leadership: Learn how to inspire people so that they seek out an opportunity to work with you, get results and develop others. It’s that simple, and that hard. You and I will never complete our leadership “course.” Note: This is where relationship development thrives. One has to embrace love in its fullest definition.
  2. Stretchpertise: This is the ability and resilience to be continuously adaptive. If you don’t like change, be prepared to be left behind or alone. Sorry, but that’s the way I see it.
  1. Energy Management: The authors don’t refer to this, but I think it’s vital. Personal energy is the most valuable currency. We run more on electricity than calories. People that advance and live life to the fullest have huge amounts of energy. It is a learned and practiced capability; all the stuff I write about mindfulness, exercise, nutrition, etc.

Character Moves:

  1. Please don’t be overwhelmed or intimidated by the above “list.” However, assess where you are on each area and develop one small step to advance where you need to strengthen. It’s not about perfection, ever. It’s about having the personal discipline and system thinking to progress on all fronts. Have the perspective, that continuous personal growth contributes mightily to our personal happiness.

Stretch in the Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: Sometimes my weeks just fly by. Monday to Friday melts together like a whirlwind of routine, and that’s how you shake your head and all of a sudden it’s April already. Lists like this are perfect for slowing down, taking time to use critical analysis, formulate different plans, reconstruct the mundane, and check your expiration date. Sheesh, maybe I’ve been in the fridge for too long.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Do You Shadow Box?

Accountability Contribution

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Shadow

Key Point: Shadow boxing is great exercise for both individuals and organizations. I was with a group of leaders discussing the impact of market disruption, when Dr. Luke Williams, author of the book Disrupt, and professor at NYU, exclaimed: “You’ve got to shadow box with intention… Feel what it’s like to try and knock yourself out!” Huh? So we talked more about it and the essence of our conversation was that great organizations (and I believe great individuals) work on continuous reinvention through the process of purposeful “shadow boxing.” Let’s examine this idea further. 

As you likely know, shadow boxing is when a boxer or fighter moves around throwing punches at the air. It’s a popular exercise to sharpen fighting techniques, improve conditioning, and mentally prepare for a fight. The psychology behind shadow boxing is to strengthen one’s advantages and visualize the sweetness of victory through rich imagery.  

There is also a thoughtful perspective about shadow boxing from an individual or personal perspective. The exceptional spiritualist, Richard Rohr, has the following view:

“One never gets to the second half of life without major shadow boxing. The important thing is to learn from your shadow side. Some call this pattern the discovery of the ‘golden shadow’ because it carries so much enlightenment for the soul. The general pattern is that heroes learn and grow from encountering their shadow, whereas villains never do. Invariably, the movies and novels that are most memorable show real ‘character development’ and growing through shadow work. This inspires us all because it calls us all. As Carl Jung put it so well, ‘Where you stumble and fall, there you find pure gold.’” This was adapted from Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.

The likelihood of being clocked by a sucker punch, (like when at a Donald Trump rally), is high when organizations and individuals become complacent and incremental; comfortably stewing in self proclaimed victory. This is why organizations and individuals need to shadow box. Why not continuously practice strengthening advantages and visualizing victory?

Character Moves:

  1. Regularly and with specific intentionally (not just annually!!), discover what’s in your organization’s and personal shadow. “Shadow box” and pan for gold by finding the places where there is a pattern of stumbling or falling. Use the learning for institutional and character development. Continuously reimagine, reinvent, and disrupt.

Shadow Boxing in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: PHEW! This concept is a fight I can get behind! I was worried it would encourage actual “shadow boxing” in a normal gym, which in my experience is about the most attention starved, space consuming, “look at this maniac” activity that I’ve observed. There are boxing gyms/classes for a reason if you really need to throw haymakers at the air. Just one Millennial’s opinion, of course.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Living in a Paradox

Personal leadership Purpose Respect

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Key Point: Living under the umbrella of a paradox helps me make sense out of the peaks and valleys in my life. For example, it seems wise to be able to both accept AND resist. Another paradox is being confident and yet humble, or knowing how to be both adverse to risk yet cautious. I’m beginning to fully appreciate the power of the conjunction “AND.” I don’t mean applying “AND” as an endorsement for wasteful consumption, or being unable to make a choice when foolishly wanting it all. Rather,the  “AND” applies that works best for me, connects the two sides of a paradox. It allows me to embrace my imperfection by balancing on the paradox continuum. Furthermore, I am struck by how the wisdom of a paradox seems to glide across cultures. A wonderful article in Psychology Today by Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu reinforced this for me:

“’From out of the blue, a huge tsunami came and washed away my home and all the material possessions I had worked for my whole life. But when I finally came to myself, I looked around and realized that I still had my family, and that this year, once again, the world was filled with the sweet, fresh breeze of early summer.’” These are the words by Isao Sato, a survivor of the horrific tsunami that struck the coast of Japan, Mar. 11, 2011. He also wrote the following touching haiku as part of his healing process:

“Bereft of belongings

Yet blessed by the touch of the

Early summer breeze.”

“Shikata ga nah” is a Japanese phrase that captures the positive aspect of acceptance and gratitude in the face of hardship. The interpretation however does not mean to imply helplessness or giving up. It is culturally coupled with the concept of ‘Ganburu,’ translated as perseverance against adversity. The saying ‘Nana-Korobi, Ya-Oki,’ ‘Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight,’ is a Japanese proverb that reflects this notion of resilience.”

Hence the Japanese cultural paradox of both accepting “what is” AND resisting helplessness by embracing resilience. Inclusiveness contributes to fully understanding a paradox by bringing additional clarity as we learn from each other. Someone said that “diversity” means everyone is invited to the party, AND “inclusiveness” is then being asked to dance. When we “dance” together, the embrace helps us understand each other in unique and rich ways. Now if some one asks me to define resilience in the future I could say, “fall seven times, get up eight.” When I feel the pain of loss, I will try to remember Sato’s haiku as an sample of graceful acceptance and gratitude. I appreciate the paradox of acceptance and resistance more completely, by looking both east and west. 

Character Moves:

  1. Outline the key paradoxes that provides you with a framework for living and recognize how they show up in your workplace. How do these paradoxes live in other cultures? (If at all)? What can you learn from the phrases and interpretation when translated from another language? 
  1. A paradox, while having two sides and being connected, is ironically anything but dualistic. That is, an immature mind typically settles for “black or white,” “win or lose,” or some other simplistic explanation. An inner journey (usually involving contemplation), removes that illusion. Embrace the contradiction and tension of paradox. It is a conundrum, and it’s freeing.

Paradox in the Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: Compared to many Millennials, I’m definitely more of a traditionalist. However, I was recently reminded that as stubborn as I may be, I’m always open to hear out different viewpoints or have a conversation, which I guess is my way of finding that paradox. I look forward to searching for more ways to explore the paradoxes in my own work and life.

– Garrett Rubis

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Don’t Become a Cliché!

Accountability Transformation

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Key Point: Every business segment or category ends up establishing clichés; the widespread beliefs that govern the way people think or do business in a certain space. Frankly, they become so commonplace that they’ve typically lost their ingenuity and impact, until challenged.

As an example, it used to be a cliché that you stayed at a hotel when away from home. Suddenly, the cliché is challenged and companies like Airbnb and VRBO evolve and take huge market share from the hotel industry.

Another cliché is that you need to call for a taxi to get a ride, and that you should give the driver a tip. Well, now we all know the meaning behind the term “Uberized.”

Or perhaps another cliché is that you need to watch your favorite television at a certain time. Huh? That’s old school, and Netflix “binge watching” is the new norm. If you become a great observer, you will see clichés everywhere in one of the following categories:

  1. Interaction clichés: What the customer experiences when buying products and services. (For example: You need to be present and fill in paper work to access a car (really, ZipCar)?
  2. Product clichés: Product attributes are as advertised as “Soda is sweet and aspirational,” (really, Red Bull)?
  3. Pricing clichés: Men pay high prices on a per/unit basis for razor blades (really? Dollar Shave Club offers a higher value subscription model).

I was recently introduced this concept by Luke Williams, the author of Disrupt: Think the Unthinkable, and it really got me observing how many clichés are out there waiting to be attacked and disrupted. It also got me thinking about the risk of me becoming a cliché… For example, this is what a Chief People Officer does. “Really? What if someone out there is bringing more CPO value as determined by interaction, products or pricing? Well… I will be “disrupted.” It’s only a matter of time, unless I refuse to become a cliché.

Character Moves:

  1. Be more than being the best at what you do by continuously exploring ways of being the only one that does what you do. Do not allow yourself (or your department/function/group/team/company, etc.) to become a cliché. Disrupt yourself!! Before it’s too late.
  1. Routine is somewhat comforting but also a set up for being disrupted. The most advanced people and organizations are constantly provoking discomfort by stepping away from routines. Purposefully try new things to help you challenge clichés about yourself. Consciously and proactively turn your organizational clichés upside down by observing how other industries do what you do very differently. As an example, most companies provide after order care using call centers to provide customer service. What if you found a company where customers (not full time employees) were paid to solve other customer problems? Hint: It exists already. Could this apply to your company? Or do you like your clichés?

Attacking clichés in the Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: Ambitious Millennials quickly learn that some of those in the “real world” enjoy comfort and routine far more than we thought or hoped. Even if we have brave new ideas, sometimes they just die. What can we do? The concept that risks shouldn’t be taken if they don’t have to be, becomes more acceptable, which is just the norm… Whoa whoa whoa, wait, that sounds pretty cliché to me. Let’s break that. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

The Co-Worker Code

Productivity Respect Teamwork

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Key Point: Do you know about the “co-worker code?” Well, probably not, because I just made the term up as a way of describing something I’m paying more attention to these days. It’s the magic that happens when the relationship between co-workers transcends almost all else. It is more than teamwork, yet it is fundamental to becoming a great team. The “code” is like an unspoken secret handshake, where people working together come to understand that what happens between them matters most. They will never intentionally let each other down. While the views of managers and others count, the “thumbs up” approval of the co-worker code is at the top of the ladder of importance.

Recently, I was presented with some data that reinforced (more than any other factor) a great place to work is influenced by what happens between teammates. Obviously having a compelling purpose and great leadership is necessary, but is surprisingly insufficient for achieving workplace greatness. Have we really paid enough attention to what takes place between co- workers?

I really do pay attention to what Google does in part because they throw incredible resources and analytics behind what they focus on. The following refers to a team productivity study Google recently undertook, and I think it might be related to my early thinking about the co-workers code. As per the Feb. edition of Quartz:

“Google wants to know the secret to building a more productive team. The tech giant charged a team to find out. The project, known as Project Aristotle, took several years, and included interviews with hundreds of employees and analysis of data about the people on more than 100 active teams at the company… Google’s data-driven approach ended up highlighting what leaders in the business world have known for a while; the best teams respect one another’s emotions and are mindful that all members should contribute to the conversation equally. It has less to do with who is in a team, and more with how a team’s members interact with one another.”

The obvious and simple “aha” behind this, seems to be a nest of psychological safety that high performing co-worker teams ideally achieve. The magic or “code” happens when teammates deeply care for one another, and accept the authentic contributions of all. When that happens, in consort with a compelling company purpose and great leadership; well, it becomes cultural magic. 

Character Moves: 

  1. Pay more attention to the co-worker code and conditions for psychological safety between teammates. Allow for co-workers to invest in it. If you’re a leader, promote it. And consciously advance it with your own co-workers.
  1. Remember that after every meeting, co-workers are texting or talking to each other starting with the question… “What did you think about that?” We know the answer to that really matters. Make it matter more by promoting the co-worker code to find the magic. 

Co-worker Code in The Triangle,

Lorne 

One Millennial View: Good, relatable co-workers aren’t always going to be in our control. They’re not exactly a group of friends we can pick out, but maybe it’s one of those things that we might want to be more picky about. When I hear stories of friends who have co-workers they enjoy spending time away from work with, I know that wherever I wind up next, I’ll be looking for a similar situation. I can’t wait for that job interview where I find a company who spends weekends like I do, or has similar past experiences and passions. I feel like a company with likeminded individuals “on and off the field” will likely create the best results and be a pleasure to be part of.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis