Become a Connection Master

Be Respectful Community Empathy Respect


Key Point: How many connection points do you have with people you want to advance a relationship with? How do you begin your communication with anyone? Do you start at a connection point and go from there? 

The first time I went to Seoul, South Korea, I was there to work on a consortium between three U.S. companies and a local Korean partner. Shortly after our plane touched down, we gathered with our teams in a hotel meeting room. Our Korean hosts were gracious and well organized. A team of four to five subject matter experts accompanied each CEO. The president of the Korean company then announced without any advanced notice, that the working teams were going to immediately work on our proposal (due at the end of the week), but the plans were different for the four CEOs. Hmm… Ok. So the four of us were shuffled off to an awaiting car, which to our surprise took us to one of Seoul’s most famous spas. No swimming trunks required. Oh, geez. 

Within an hour, we were stripping down to our birthday suits, led from one spa pool to another (some with unusual color… like green tea). This included different types of spa stations (hot rocks, etc.). The four of us knew each other to various degrees from previous meetings and phone calls, however, our Korean hosts made sure we now knew exactly what we looked like without our CEO “uniforms;” just four dumpy, wrinkled, old guys sitting naked in a pool… The last one with water temp at 59 degrees F; our final indignity. (I apologize if this image is causing readers nausea, lol). In retrospect, the strategy of our Korean hosts, while very uncomfortable at first, was quite clever. We needed to be transparent, open, and didn’t have much time to get to a trusting relationship. Getting naked together, while highly unusual for us westerners, helped us get there in a hurry. I wish I could tell you we won the bid. Unfortunately, the RFP (request for proposal) was withdrawn before we could fully compete. However, the four companies had become a team of one very quickly, and I liked our chances if we could have presented our bid. 

Having an emotional connection point is something we teach and encourage as a gateway process in all team and individual learning/development in our company. With anyone we want to advance our relationship (customer, teammate, outside stakeholder), we encourage finding a connection point BEFORE getting into content. It might be as simple as exchanging a smile, remembering names, common circumstances, etc. This applies whether face-to-face, video, voice or text. We want people to connect FIRST. The message is, “I see you,” and “I want you to see me.” After establishing genuine contact, we can really begin to listen to each other. 

Character Moves:

  1. Establish an intentional connection strategy with everyone you want to advance a relationship with. As a real life metaphor, try applying this with strangers that you share the road with. When you see the other car trying to switch lanes, why not graciously let them in front of you? Your action says, “I see you.” How does it work for you when you ignore them, or worse? Present them with your middle finger?
  2. Watch the very best connectors; They have a smile, eye contact, a way of finding a common ground, even when it’s something benign as the weather. The very best are masters regardless of the medium. They remember details, and invest in the bridges between you and them. And we need those bridges to “walk back and forth” on. How else do we begin to really listen and empathize with each other if we do not have a connection point and some emotional place to start from?
  3. The very best communicators are humble and confident enough to recognize the need to advance all relationships, including with those in less advantageous situations and even so called “enemies.” A connection point, however small, begins a bridge and where there is a bridge, however fragile, there is the hope of getting to a better place. 

Master connector in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: When I recently heard that temperatures in Arizona would reach around the 120 degree F mark, a part of me got a little jealous. That type of heat, however miserable, brings a connection between you and everyone else experiencing it. When you burn your hand on a steering wheel, and when your ChapStick liquefies, you can silently pass anyone else in a parking lot and you each give each other the “holy $#!*, is it hot” look. It’s a cool experience, and then whatever meeting you may have with the sweet, sweet relief of air conditioning will automatically be so much better.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

New ‘C’s’ at Work: Caring, Collaborating, Contributing, Communities

Abundance Be Abundant Collaboration Community


Key Point: Advanced collaboration technology like the following Google G Suite applications; G+, Work Groups, Hangouts, Meet, etc., are helping to drive a work renaissance. The BusinessDictionary definition of community is: “Self-organized network of people with common agenda, cause, or interest, who collaborate by sharing ideas, information, and other resources.”

At the company I work for, every Monday and Tuesday we have something called “Hangouts and Spotlights.” For 45-minutes, this virtual video/chat connection attracts people from a dispersed and vast geographical area, all with the common interest of advancing our leadership and culture. Consistently, we have 300 plus people (sometimes as many as 600) attend. I’ve been wondering why we get such consistent interest and participation. Yes, the speakers are interesting, the logistics are well done, and the facilitation is pretty good. However, I believe the primary reason is because the attendees have formed a virtual community. They not only show up for the content, they show up for EACH OTHER. Before the broadcast even starts, the emojis and quips are flying around the chat line. As the speakers engage the participants, the community becomes fully part of the narrative. The group (perhaps unknowingly), has now become the story. The presenting team is vital, but the “stars of the show” are the hundreds that question, provide answers, share their feelings and show their collective care. I wish I could tell you that I knew this would happen before we started. A colleague of mine believed in the initiative and was sure community would happen. I just didn’t get it. Now, I certainly do. 

We know that as humans, we love to solve problems, share ideas, information and support each other. Until recently, developing community in the workplace involved levels of complexity. It usually consisted of some form of face-to-face meeting, and that can be challenging. As much as we love to collaborate, we detest wasting our time. Now, digital collaboration platforms are making community easier and richer in every way. If you have a common interest, a smart phone, Internet access, and an application, you can have a community up and running in minutes (often utilizing full video as well as voice and text). Wow. People don’t need permission. The hierarchy doesn’t need to be involved unless they partake as genuine, and ideally equal contributors. Join and participate from anywhere at any time. And if the community loses its way or value, it simply and virtually disappears. In this world where complexity seems to be dramatically increasing, simplicity rules. 

The hidden and often most-underdeveloped value in organizations is the raw and unleashed value of peer-to-peer power. People have the ideas, solutions, answers and usually the skill we need. Employees’ contribution at every level is most often unfound and contained because the hierarchical structure of command and control, “consciously or unconsciously,” suffocates it. The customer driven urgency and survival needed to provide more value to others at greater speed is now complimented by super networks, smart devices and collaboration/communication software that is finally freeing up and allowing people to contribute as a true community. 

Character Moves: 

  1. Understand how to create and build community within your work place. Find those rich common causes and develop a movement of value for your colleagues. Learn the new collaboration tools and platforms that make community just “work.” Be part of the renaissance that puts peer-to-peer power to the forefront of organizations.

Community in The Triangle, 


One Millennial View: I recently heard of an organization that started a new Slack group entitled “healthy snacks” to try and get its fad-diet conscious employees to organize how to make the kitchen more nutritional. Apparently it attracted monstrous attention from the top, all the way down… Everyone either wanted in, or said “good luck with that!” Point is – A topic so simple can bring an entire organization together to discuss, debate, problem solve, and eventually replace jellybeans with the newest Keto-friendly munchies (or whatever). What a time we’re living in. This communal conversation might seem complicated at first, but it’s healthier.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Laugh Your %#$ off! For real!

Abundance Community Well-being


Key Point: Laughter and a sense of humor are like oxygen for the spirit. I love to make people laugh and work with people who do the same. Over my career, practical jokes and just plain finding the humor in daily stuff has made such a difference in my life. Getting results at work is serious, but it doesn’t mean that it requires everyone to be head down, humorless and somehow thinking fun is for “after work.” These days, particularly with the advancement of mobile technology, work and after work are blending into what is clearly just life. I am not going to reserve humor for “after 5:00 p.m. and weekends.” I don’t expect everyone to be a comedian or prankster but if you’re a sour puss, please go work somewhere else. The Mayo Clinic and countless other scientific organizations have underlined the important health benefits of laughter. You and I deserve to laugh and have fun with each other for no other reason than it is physically and emotionally good for us. In fact, I believe we owe it to ourselves to laugh out loud daily, as many times as we can. It also impacts our P.Q. (Positive Quotient).

This week my CEO took a few of us to a world class Comedy Festival. Belly laughing for a couple of hours reminded me of how sometimes we under value humor in the office. By the way, this CEO is a guy who laughs everyday. I love working with him. (Trust me… This does not diminish his toughness). During my career I have prided myself in practical jokes, including but not limited to putting a colleagues sailing boat up for sale at 25 percent of its value, hiding a CEO’s top secret plan after he threatened to fire anyone who misplaced it, and an unimaginable number of infantile, but hopefully well intentioned pranks. More importantly, finding the daily humor in most things is what I really believe puts a smile on each other’s souls.

Even serious subjects are fair game. As an example, we are getting ready to up our game by advancing the company diversity/inclusion strategy and that’s causing some angst regarding implementation. So I sent the following picture out and added the caption as a precursor to our planning discussion on the next steps:

“Ok raise your hand if you want to talk about our inclusion strategy?” 


Ok… Humor is personal but at least I’m trying to see comedy in this subject… Haha.

Character Moves to Improve Our Sense of Humor (Adapted from the Mayo Clinic research):

  1. Put humor on your daily horizon. Consciously look for things that make you and others laugh. This could include proactively looking for photos or comic strips that make you chuckle. Keep funny movies or comedy podcasts on hand for when you need an added boost. (I love CBC’s “This is That.” Everytime I listen to those guys, I burst out laughing).
  2. Laugh and the world laughs with you. Find a way to laugh about your own situations and watch your stress begin to fade away. Even if it feels forced at first, practice laughing. It does your body good. Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable. (Remember my scrotum blog)? 🙂
  3. Share a laugh. Make it a habit to spend time with funny friends and teammates. And then return the favor by sharing comedic stories or jokes with those around you. Occasionally a great, and still tasteful practical joke makes a wonderful contribution.
  4. Knock-knock. Look for the humor in situations around you. Connect the wonderful attributes of your teammates to what is naturally funny about themselves and their situations. This is NOT making fun of people, but finding wonderful humor in what is unique and glorious about them.
  5. Know what isn’t funny. Don’t laugh at the expense of others. Some forms of humor aren’t appropriate. Use your best judgment to discern a good joke from a bad, or hurtful one. Anything involving the bathroom and related body parts is usually out of line… Certainly with workmates. (This is where there is a difference between “work” and “non-work.”

Havin’ a laugh in The Triangle,


Thanksgiving… Who Cares?

Abundance Be Abundant Community Gratitude


Key Point: We ALL care about Thanksgiving. I’m both an American and Canadian citizen and as you likely know, both countries have a Thanksgiving holiday. And while both dates provide a moment to celebrate and give thanks, they are both remarkably different AND similar. My observation is that for Americans it is a pause for reflection and chance to take a deep breath (for many, four days off work). It is also the gateway to the holiday season. In some ways Thanksgiving in the U.S. is a “bigger” event than Christmas. Because the Canadian holiday is a long weekend in October, the pause is shorter and the connection to the Christmas season is distant. The common ingredient to both holidays and countries however, are reflections of gratitude, family, friends, food and football. Yet I think the best ingredient in the beautiful recipe of Thanksgiving is that it is spiritual but not necessarily religious. We ALL get to fully participate regardless of faith, race, or position in life. It is not exclusive to Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, or any others. Thanksgiving is essentially free, unburdened by material expectations or faith obligations. It is simply a moment to say thank you to each other, our selves, and to our own Divine.

Character Move:

  1. Simply, be grateful. Having the breath to do so and the freedom to celebrate is a great place to start. Remember to say a genuine thank you to yourself… Forgive yourself, accept and cherish your humanity.

Thanksgiving in The Triangle,


P.S. every Thanksgiving our family tries to watch the funny and touching comedy movie, Planes, Trains and Automobiles. The unlikely combo of Steve Martin and John Candy’s characters struggle to get home for Thanksgiving. Through a riotous and unlikely adventure they find the real spirit of Thanksgiving. Give yourself the gift of watching it… In my case, for the 20th time, and I promise a smile will cross your cranium. Happy Thanksgiving!