Become a Connection Master

Be Respectful Community Empathy Respect

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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 Unfortunately, the RFP (request for proposal) was withdrawn before we could fully compete.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,

Lorne

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

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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, 

Lorne

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

To Our Readers and Followers

Abundance Community Gratitude

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After four plus years, publishing two blogs per week (about 450 blog posts), Garrett and I are taking a vacation until the first Tuesday in September!! We are looking forward to refueling and breathing in “white space” as we reload. We love sharing our thoughts with you, and are grateful for your encouragement and feedback. Thank you!

In the fall, you will see a revamped Lorne Rubis website and the addition of a podcast. Our continued commitment is to bring you thoughts that inspire, and meaningful insights that are both accessible and actionable. Your readership propels us forward everyday.

Have a great rest of the summer. We hope you will continue with us in the fall.

Lorne and Garrett

Have Fun at Work Every Day

Community Culture Respect

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Key Point: If you are not having fun at work most of the time, I have one strong recommendation: QUIT ASAP and find somewhere where you can! So what does having fun at work mean to me? The following may not translate the same way for you, but here is what I believe helps me have fun everyday:

  1. Do not take yourself or your work too seriously! Most of us are not saving lives or the planet. Even if we are, we benefit from being humble and self-deprecating in a balanced way. I enjoy teasing and being teased by others if it is not mean-spirited.
  1. Find the humor in every day things. Point out the quirkiness surrounding you and your team, and enjoy the heck out of it. The team I’m part of pokes fun at the biases we have, language we use, and viewpoints we carry around.
  1. Pull practical jokes. I have punk’d all of my teammates, and most of my direct reports. I could share pranks that would have you doubled over in laughter. We love each other more after. The stories become embellished over time.
  1. Celebrate wins and the idea of togetherness. I remember the first time in the early 90’s when I went to Japan. On Thursday and Friday nights, the streets were filled with happy (often-inebriated) teams, weaving arm-in-arm in the Ginza. I’m not necessarily advocating the incorporation of alcohol, but I am encouraging team celebrations and fun together. Go Bowling! Skeet Shooting! Dragon Boat racing! Any social activity!
  1. Laugh out loud multiple times a day. Every interaction, every meeting, (except with the odd case of a termination), should involve an “LOL.” I’m serous. LOL, many times, every day. Every meeting or interaction has a laugh meter that keeps us real and authentic.

Character Moves:

  1. What is your “laugh out loud factor” everyday at work? If it doesn’t happen at least once per day, ask yourself why.
  1. Embrace the humor in our “EVERY DAY.” Appreciate our personal vulnerability; perhaps even our shortcomings. We all want to be loved, embraced and to be our authentic selves. We are all naturally funny.

LOL everyday in The Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: In the classroom, we all had to be quiet. Curbing disruption makes more sense there. I wonder if that’s why there’s some myth where “fun at work” means you aren’t getting results, or aren’t doing your job properly. C’mon though. We’ve graduated. Even if you’re stuck filling out spread-sheet after spread-sheet, there’s no way that you can’t find the humor in how boring Excel can be with the person at the cube next to you. If people aren’t finding ways to joke at work, it’s likely because they’re afraid to, and that’s a shame.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

All of Us on Highway 63

Abundance Community Generosity

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Key Point: Alberta Provincial Highway No. 63 is a north and southbound highway running through northern Alberta, Canada. Much of Highway 63 passes through boreal forest, farmland and aspen parkland as far as Wandering River. The highway passes through the Athabasca Oil Sands between Fort McMurray and Fort MacKay. Over the years, extensive folklore has emerged surrounding Highway 63.

Most of the lore is based on crazy, often tragic driving experiences because vehicles of every shape and size perpetually hurl to and fro on 63, regardless of road conditions. While the peaks and valleys associated with a commodity like oil have had an impact on underlying stories related to the millions of road trips, in most cases, 63’s asphalt has been an “opportunity driven” route. The rides have been related to the fortunes associated with the world famous (or infamous depending on your viewpoint) oil sands. 

However, during the last few days, Highway 63 has become a hellish one-way escape route from Fort Mac, as more than 80,000 people have had to literally run for their lives, from one of the most devastating fires in Canadian history. There are too many incredible stories connected to the mass evacuation to replay here. But, one common theme has emerged from this disaster. 

Rising well beyond the despair and thick smoke, is the overwhelming generosity and compassion that the majority of people have displayed under the most unimaginably difficult of circumstances. While we all have a selfish “survival first” instinct, I believe a crises that threatens people and property can serve up moments of truth that also brings out our very best individual and collective behavior. The examples of people giving and sharing during this terrifying exodus are remarkable and awe inspiring. People who have lost everything, watched their homes burn in the rear view mirror, still share the little they have left with neighbors and strangers. People reaching out for each other in a loving, helping way will re-make Ft. McMurray. It will become richer in a more profound way. 

Over the last three years I’ve watched Albertans respond to both devastating floods, and now fires that have just crushed communities. The one thing that has been constant is exceptional human care and generosity. Though nature’s wrath has made “things” disappear, it has also ignited a spirit of abundance. The price of oil and gas may dramatically fluctuate, but the spirit of generosity and abundance is priceless.  It makes me proud to be an Albertan. 

Character Moves:

  1. While a crisis brings us together and makes the agenda of what’s “really important” so very clear, I wonder how we might make that spirit a more regular part our daily “normal lives.” I believe we all want a sense of abundance to define our workplaces and communities, and wish we didn’t need disasters to be awakened to that simple idea.
  1. Highway 63 is perhaps a metaphor. Our seemingly “clear road to prosperity,” can also one day serve as an escape route, as we leave the things we feel compelled to collect, abruptly behind. A humbling “fire or flood” is always lurking. The one redeeming outcome seems to be a spirit of generosity and abundance that helps us get back on the road and simply keep driving.

The abundant people of Fort Mac in The Triangle,

Lorne

One Millennial View: Thanks to the U.S. media’s main focus on the political climate in the United States, I barely saw footage of this crisis till today. But after seeing the clips, I was in awe of the apocalyptic-like inferno. Through the smoke, you could still see the courage, abundance and strong will of those that escaped. Literally no one has been hurt? That’s incredible. It’s reported that the fire is thankfully dying down, but thoughts and prayers to the folks in Fort McMurray are quickly spreading far and wide.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis