‘I’m Burying My Husband Today’

Books Gratitude Respect


Key Point: Contribution awareness and action builds and rebuilds self-confidence! The title of this blog refers to a journal entry by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, four days after her husband suddenly died. She and one of my favorite academics, Wharton’s Adam Grant, have just published a book titled, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy. Sandberg tragically lost her husband, Dave Goldberg, while they were celebrating a friend’s birthday at a resort in Mexico. Goldberg went to the gym, had a cardiac arrhythmia, and died.  Option B, with superb guidance and contribution from Grant, is Sandberg’s journey through the sadness and anger, to her choice to find happiness again. 

I’m just starting the book and flipped to Chapter 4 on “Self Compassion and Self-Confidence.” I was immediately captured by a very important insight regarding that condition and characteristic we all deserve: SELF-CONFIDENCE. Sandberg was struggling to regain confidence upon returning to Facebook after this shattering experience of suddenly losing her husband. While she was challenged to appreciate what to be grateful for, she was stymied even more in regaining confidence. Adam Grant and a colleague, Jane Dutton, pointed out to Sandberg, that gratitude lists were helpful but served a different purpose. What she really needed to do to rebuild confidence was the act of daily journaling “contribution lists.” Gratitude lists make us thankful, yet are primarily passive in nature. Contribution journaling on the other hand, refers to how we are active and make a difference in our daily lives. Sandberg now encourages friends and teammates to regularly write down contribution lists every day, and the overwhelming feedback from people who take her advice is: “I wish I would have started this sooner.” As Sandberg notes, empathy and compassion are important and from her perspective, encouragement is even better… Especially when it starts within. 

I feel self-confidence is so very important, yet so elusive for far too many people. Finding and expanding confidence is so much more in our control when we think in terms of acknowledging small, valued contributions every day!

Character Moves:

  1. Every night before you wrap things up and close your eyes, write down and/or recount to yourself what contributions you made that day, however small. Over time, you will build a wonderful summary of how you make a positive difference. This builds well-recognized and earned self-confidence.  Please do this!!
  1. And then write down a few things you are grateful for. Doing both will make a difference to the most important person in your life… YOU. And you are so worth it. 

More self-confidence in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: I think most Millennials learn that confidence is one of the most important things we can possess. Whether it’s job interviews, presentations, proposals, or even socializing outside of the office: Confidence is key. I guess, if you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect anyone else to? Hey, I might even try journaling a daily “contribution list.” 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Spiders, Pain and Happiness

Accountability Books Happiness


Key Point: We can learn so much from spiders. Our chief economist, Todd Hirsch, wrote a new book entitled “Spiders in Space,” (which will officially be released at the end of April). The author tells a story about NASA taking spiders into space to see how they would react to zero gravity. Of course, spinning a web is based on gravity and spiders have been doing that the same way for more than 200,000 years! So, these unsuspecting spiders now find their home on the international space station and there is NO gravity. Now THAT’S disruption. For a while, they are disoriented and have a heck of time. The webs are a mess and the spiders are struggling. Then, one day they seem to regroup and amazingly learn to spin their webs in zero gravity. As Todd tells the story, they teach themselves to web from the corners out in windshield wiper fashion. They transform and invent a new web spinning process. Todd points out under similar circumstances, we humans would have likely formed a task force, eventually insisting the astronauts take us back home. 

I am really enjoying Mark Manson‘s book, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fu*k.” He points out that “happiness” is a verb more than a state of being. I agree with that. It comes essentially from the satisfaction of moving forward by solving problems. His view includes the premise that instead of asking ourselves what we want in life, we might be better off asking ourselves the question: “What pain are you willing to experience in your life?” “What are you willing to struggle for?” That will tell you more about what you really care about, and are willing to do. Happiness comes from struggling and resolving challenges or problems. Many of us desire all kinds of things, and frankly have no real commitment to do what it takes to get there. Our hopeful “what if?” eventually becomes “what else?” In the end, we really don’t want the “what if?” very much. Joy comes from the continual struggle to get to some desired future state and so do results. How much pain do you want to sustain? Really? Then do something about it NOW. 

Manson has another very practical tenet I really like. He calls it the “Do Something” principle. If you’re stuck or in a rut, do something; almost anything. That will often propel you. Start moving. If you wait for inspiration and motivation to act, inertia may very well win out. Forward action leads to inspiration, and then motivation. The spiders did not wait to be inspired or motivated. They just started spinning, one failure after another, and then one time – bingo, real progress! That’s inspirational and the motivation to keep acting. Spin!

Character Moves: 

  1. If you feel like you’re entering “zero gravity,” stop hoping to return to the past. It will not happen. Go forward and enjoy fighting through it. Why would you rob yourself of happiness? 
  1. Do something… Keep spinning… One day, voila! And you get to do it again. How fortunate we are to have these problems? Like the lesson from the Pixar movie “Inside Out,” joy and sad go together. So do problems and happiness. 

Spinning happy webs in The Triangle, 


One Millennial View: Ha, when people say they’re afraid of spiders, the last thing you’d think they’d be most intimidated of is their tenacity… But unfortunately for many, forcing oneself to actually “do something” is scarier than eight legs and a little venom. If you’re stuck, I bet your “spidey senses” are already tingling and you already know that you need to figure out how to spin that web again.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

All Shook Up!

Accountability Books Transformation


Key Point: “Are things just getting too damned fast and complex?” That’s a question I hear from people everywhere. Combined with the supernova of exploding technology (underpinned by Moore’s Law), increasingly fast-paced globalization (financial goods and services, information, ideas, innovation) and the unprecedented tremors in our planet’s natural system (climate change, bio-diversity loss, deforestation, geochemical flows), we’ve entered into what Pulitzer Prize winner and NYT best selling author, Thomas Friedman, describes as an “age of accelerations.”

These conditions are transforming every aspect of modern life. We all know this to be true at some level, yet to get a comprehensive, systemic overview, I urge all of our readers to read or listen to Friedman’s latest book: Thank You For Being Late. When you read about the transformative examples in each area, it kind of blows your mind. 

Additionally, let’s throw the following important and evolving principle into the mix: Once any object is connected, it fundamentally changes the very nature of that object. In 2016, one of the most widely read books by CEO’s was The Seventh Sense by Joshua Cooper Ramo. After reading it, I understand why. This book argues the premise that the spread of networks and constant, ever-faster connections, is creating a new kind of order everywhere. Today, power includes the paradox of being both more concentrated AND distributed than ever before (for example; Google, Facebook, Twitter).  He contends that individuals, organizations, and nations that can appreciate and master the new-networked order will flourish; those that can’t will flounder.  This author, who is on the Board of Amazon, FedEx, etc. is a highly respected advisor to elite leaders around the world, and he underscores that this is a time calling for “seventh sense” thinking—the ability to discern how things connect to other things in nodes and networks, “to look at any object and see the way in which it is changed by connection forever.”

Character Moves:

  1. Join me on a journey to better understand the implications of leading others and ourselves in this environment of transformative accelerants AND disruptive network connectivity. It requires fundamentally reimagined leadership models, new ways of working/living, and different thinking/acting.  The traditional ideas of “change leadership” are outmoded! Throughout 2017 we will explore and together be pioneers of the “new way.”
  2. If leading CEOs are reading Friedman and Ramo, you may want to as well. I certainly am. 

A changed “object” in The Triangle 


One Millennial View: We Millennials are lucky that we’ve never really existed in a time that wasn’t rapidly changing, and we’ve constantly been adapting to new transformative accelerants as they’ve been introduced to us over the past couple decades. This should make “change” a lot more interesting than intimidating. The principle of connectivity, however, is going to turn things on their head for Millennials as well. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Visual Intelligence: Do I Really See You?

Abundance Books


Key Point: “Sharpen your perception, change your life.” That’s the tag line for Amy Herman‘s book, “Visual Intelligence.” As noted in my last blog, and worth repeating, she works with leading law enforcement groups around the world (e.g. NSA, CIA, Special Forces, NYPD), the medical profession and with many front running companies. The unique aspect of Amy’s work is that she uses art to teach people how to increase their visual intelligence. She has a thriving business helping people enhance observation and perception skills as well as communicate inferences more effectively through carefully observing paintings and photography. Herman teaches us to refrain from using the terms “obviously” and “clearly” in narrative, lines of questioning, and description. Those are terms that can lead us astray. There is very little if anything that is “obvious” or “clear” to all. We only need the recent American presidential election to remind us of that lesson.

Amy’s smart approach shows people how to be precise, straightforward and use the simplest possible terms to describe both unfamiliar and repeated situations in accurate ways, minimizing preconceived judgment and unconscious bias. And she reminds us to remain alert to eye contact, facial expressions, and non-verbal communication too.

Leonardo da Vinci claimed all of his scientific and artistic accomplishments came from “saper vadere,” or “knowing how to see.” Herman wants us too see more too. When she shows paintings and photos to her students, those looking at the exact same visuals see so much more or less than others. Too often, we let our biases, unconscious or otherwise, filter and make inferences that are wrong at best and dangerous at worse. Herman encourages us to be as objective as possible, look at the entire picture corner to corner for full context. And while we must appreciate our personal experiences, we must NOT to let our emotions and assumptions blind us.

At the end of Herman’s presentation, she shows her students a picture they saw for the first time a few hours before, and the observation change is startling. People see so much more with increased accuracy and less faulty judgment. Herman then asks the following: “What changed? The picture, or you?”

Character Moves:

  1. Even if we genuinely embrace Ubuntu (see last blog), what do we really see? What biases or judgment is in the way? Apply Amy’s fact based framework as noted above.
  1. Always look at the entire picture “corner to corner” and not just the standout characters in the middle of the frame.
  1. Now connect this framework to the idea of showing up and really seeing others as per the Zulu greeting. We would SEE so much more.

Really seeing you in the Triangle,


One Millennial View: Millennials can be incredibly guilty of sharing news articles after only reading the headline, and that’s just an example that barely scratches the surface of our intolerance for time consuming detail. As much as we want all our information in 140 characters or less, Herman makes the strong point that sometimes it takes some in-depth analysis to draw a well founded perspective, and we can all use a “corner to corner” lesson if we’re being honest with ourselves.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

The Strength of Kindness

Books Kindness Respect


Key Point: It is so easy be mean spirited. It requires little or no emotional muscle and therefore it is so handy for the weak to serve it up. And bullies master meanness. I’ve seen hate-filled behavior in every part of my life. When it becomes the norm in a culture, the experience is toxic and deeply damaging. Kindness, on the other hand, takes intentionality and emotional strength. It also involves generosity of spirit. When it becomes resident in a culture, the members thrive and even fly. 

I was inspired to write this after attending a funeral. It was for the matriarch of a family in a wonderful farm community. I’m in the small town bar, post funeral, having a beer and reflecting as I write this. The town’s community hall was filled to the brim in celebration, as this 99-year-old woman’s life received appropriate tribute. This marvelous person was an exceptional mother, wife, grandmother, great-grandmother, seamstress, baker, community leader, and more, but the overarching theme of her life was kindness. She gave so much of it to caregivers in her nursing home during the last four years of life that the staff needed a quiet room to cry together upon her passing. The eulogies on her behalf inspired me to remind myself (and hopefully you) that one of our very reasons for living is to freely and generously offer kindness. Of course, to be genuinely kind, one has to have the strength to deeply care for others.

Five million people have read RJ Palacio’s book “Wonder.” It’s written for adolescents and (if you haven’t already), I encourage you to read it regardless of your age. August “Auggie” Pullman is a 10-year-old living in the fictional neighborhood of North River Heights in upper Manhattan. He has a rare facial deformity, which he refers to as “mandibulofacial dysostosis,” more commonly known as Treacher Collins syndrome and a cleft palate… As Auggie exclaims: “I won’t describe what I look like. Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.” Due to numerous surgeries, Auggie had been home-schooled by his mother, and his parents decide to enroll him at Beecher Prep, a private school. As Auggie works at navigating school, his biggest nemesis is a character who barely conceals his disgust at Auggie’s appearance. He bullies Auggie and hates him for the way he looks. As Auggie struggles through the meanness and bullying, he sometimes wishes every day could be Halloween… “We could all wear masks all the time. Then we could walk around and get to know each other before we got to see what we looked like under the masks.” How many people around us at work and in other parts of our lives feel this way? What do you and I do to make a difference?

Character Moves:

  1. At your eulogy, will one of the adjectives describing your life include kindness? (Not just the time you worked at United Way, or gave at the food bank). I’m talking about the everyday stuff from the moment you roll out of bed until you fall asleep. Every day has hundreds of moments inviting acts of kindness. 
  1. When given the choice between being right, or being kind, do you choose kindness? Personally, I have work to do here. I do not need to “win” all the time even though my ego says I should. 
  1. In the closing chapters of “Wonder,” the middle school principal addresses the student body at the end of school year’s awards ceremony. He introduces the challenge of “being kinder than necessary,” and concludes the event with a powerful quote by the 19th century abolitionist, Henry Ward Beecher: “He/she is the greatest whose strength carries the most hearts by the attraction of his/her own.” How about getting emotionally buff through the strength of “more than necessary kindness?”

Kind strength in the Triangle,

PS… The following includes a link with great books about kindness. Reading them to children will be a little strength work for us too. 


One Millennial View: I often discuss how nice and kind I find people in Los Angeles to be. This is surprising to some, because L.A. is stereotyped as a stuck up, shallow city. But people mostly  smile here, they’re friendly and cheerful, and while some believe that’s just a fake front, it’s important to recognize that they’re choosing a positive demeanor over a negative one. I think this is because it’s easier to be kind. I’d argue that it takes more effort to be mean… Meanness also shows insecurity, and sends unappealing vibes… It’s just “not a good look.” As you also may have heard, in Los Angeles, a “look” is something people certainly do care about.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Even Millennials Need to Stretch

Accountability Books Growth mindset


Preface: I asked Garrett to write the main blog this time, from a Millennial perspective. I heard Karie Willyerd speak at a conference the other day, and although we’ve referred to her book “Stretch” before, I thought Garrett’s view might be unique. Even Millennials need to stretch. In role reversal, I have submitted “One Boomer’s View” at the bottom. 

Millennial Key Point: As relatively new career starters, we’re constantly mindful that we’re expected to prove ourselves. We’re the “fresh fish,” and we need to convince everyone we can swim. That’s just the way it is. Karie Willyerd and Barbara Mistick’s book, Stretch: How to Future Proof Yourself in Tomorrow’s Workplace, speaks to the question: How do you stay relevant at work? 

They say, “The problem is you are so busy keeping up with your day-to-day that you can’t prepare for tomorrow.” Interesting.

The book lists “Five Practices” that we all need to know (in every generation) to keep current and relevant as our careers and corporations inevitably evolve. Below is my Millennial response to each: 

1. Learn in Any Situation: 

Followers of this blog have heard this one before. If Millennials have the advantage in anything, it might be this. In the workplace, we’re like 4-year-olds with iPads. We learn something every time we update our iPhones, or download a new app. We can’t be sticklers to one technology or method… Sheesh, even our everyday terminology has an expiration date. What was socially acceptable yesterday could get us roasted today if we don’t keep current. This translates to the workplace too; being “in the know” is just everyday life. 

2. Open Your Thinking to a World Beyond Where You Are Now: 

Just two years ago, some of us were probably still renting DVDs!! LOL! All we know is a world beyond where we are now. Every Millennial is kicking themselves because we all likely imagined the concept of SnapChat before it came out. Now its market value is over $20 billion dollars. Thinking about it isn’t the issue; it’s knowing how to implement it… Which bring us to the next practice.

3. Connect to the People Who Can Help You Make Your Future Happen:

 Now we get into tougher territory. I think some Millennials are hesitant to reach out to others, especially higher ups, because we’re afraid they’ll assume we A. Want something from them, or B. Want to take short cuts. I’ll admit that this fear has certainly stopped me in my tracks from time to time. This reverts back to Practice 1 for me, because I think if we learn how to ask for guidance without ever implying that we’re trying to piggyback, it’s likely we’ll be able to connect and receive their two-cents. After all, great leaders have a responsibility to develop others, and the idea that lower level people should know their place is an outdated viewpoint. 

4. Seek Experiences That Will Prepare You For Tomorrow: 

As comfy as entry roles may be, sooner or later you have to find a coach or mentor who’s willing to take you off the bench and put you in the big game. In a world with many players on a roster, it’s easy to stay on the sidelines for longer than you want to. Does that business trip sound scary, inconvenient, stressful and out of your league? Good. Try to take it. 

5. Stay Motivated Through the Ups and Downs of a Career So You Can Bounce Forward: 

As Millennials and post-grads, we can sometimes get anxious about how long ago college was, and what we have (or have not) accomplished in between. Often we forget that we have decades (literally multiple 10-year-spans) ahead of us, where we’ll be working with many new ups and downs along the way. That shouldn’t be daunting, it should be exciting. We can spend this time learning, thinking, connecting and experiencing throughout it all… If that isn’t enough motivation, then, well, I don’t know what to tell you. 

Millennial Character Moves: 

  1. Be thankful that you may have some technological advantages and a more youthful spirit to take risks, dream and progress… But you need the help, courage and guidance of those above you to make the correct connections to unglue yourself from any stuck position. Try not to be such a wuss, and turn those LinkedIn connections into handshakes. 
  1. Remember that time isn’t slowing down for you, things will never be easier, and you need to keep “stretching” unless you want a career ending injury. 

Keep limber in the Triangle, 

– Garrett 

 One Boomer View: Staying relevant is a growth mindset combined with applying the five practices and more. If we’re not staying “fresh fish,” as Garrett puts it, we end up stinky. On a practical basis every one of us needs to learn on the fly, identifying exactly what we’ve added to our skill set in the past day, week, month. If we can’t do that we are not really consciously advancing. Note the butterflies in the stomach test. When was the last time you had that edgy nervousness? If not for a while, are you really pushing yourself? Or are you just coasting in a routine? Get a little scared all the time. That’s where the growth is. If not get out of the way and let that fresh fish swim past you. 

– Lorne