Celebrate ‘Whoops’

Key Point: Sometimes I talk too much instead of listening more, and I need to work on being a better judge of where to jump in as a leader versus “helping.” The other day I was on a call/”hang out” with a large number of people. A colleague answered a question in a manner I thought was incomplete. So, I attempted to diplomatically clarify for the “betterment” of the audience. The result was that I likely “improved” the answer by 10 percent, and in the process, unintentionally undermined my teammate. The feedback from another colleague who cared enough to give me straight, tough, caring feedback: “You might have been a more encouraging leader if you would have let the first explanation stand?”

The hard thing about feedback for me is to NOT take it personally. Rather, I need get better at genuinely letting the advice soak into my head and then consciously choose to do or not do something about it. I know all about the theory that feedback is a “gift.” Heck, I’ve written about it in my blogs multiple times over the years. The dirty little secret for me though, is that I have a little bit of a “perfection” complex, and rather than accepting the critical viewpoint of others, my mental processing starts with defensively rationalizing my behavior and judging the merit of the opinion. And of course, personal feedback is just that – one viewpoint, and it needs to be considered accordingly. However, if we listen hard enough, trends will inform and guide us where to act. I have never ending work to do when it comes to embracing feedback more effectively. 

In their excellent book, “Option B.”, Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant have a wonderful chapter called “Falling and Learning” at work. One story Sandberg writes about refers to the notion of building resilience through learning from failure, and the story includes a character named “Whoops.” A colleague Sandberg worked with at Google used to ask her team to share a failure or mistake they made each week, and then the team would vote on the biggest screw up. The “winner” got to keep a stuffed monkey nicknamed “Whoops” at their desk for the week. The idea is that mistakes and learning need to be openly shared and discussed. It reminds the team of the importance of trying hard things and embracing authentic, vulnerable transparency to promote team and individual learning. My honest experience is that most organizations talk a good game on this idea, yet acute listening followed by fast action based on learning is not what really happens. Too often, customer feedback and complaints result in apology at best and blind avoidance at worst. Great leadership includes a serious capability to get results, to slurp up complaints and problems with a zealous, fierce, self-accountability. 

Character Moves:

  1. Start with going after your own personal critical feedback with a vengeance, not taking it personally. Then, make it personal to ACT on what you learn about yourself.
  2. Translate this fierce personal feedback attitude at every level in the organization. Be relentless about searching for every way to be better. Find a way to get “Whoops” sitting in every one’s area. Love “Whoops” at the personal and organizational level, and great things will happen. 

Loving Whoops in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: It seems like fearing personal feedback can only become a handicap when attempting to grow, learn and move forward. I feel like there’s this myth perpetuated by media (movies, TV, etc.) that if you screw up a procedure at work, that’s it, you’re done, “you’ll never work in this town again!” Ummmm, I have yet to see that ever happen (Oh, I’m talking about legal, ethical and accidental mistakes). I try to bat 1,000 at work at all times, but I have messed up plenty. The point is, if you don’t swing and miss sometimes then you’re not playing the game, and that’s a way quicker way to not be needed on the roster anymore.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

What New Skill Are You Going Learn in 2015?

Key Point: Commit to developing at least one new skill that will make you more valuable to your organization and the overall market in 2015. Be mindful and intentional about what it is. Really think about it and develop a bit-by-bit plan to get there. Remember the best investment is in YOU. The following is an excerpt from a recent HBR article on the subject. Amy Gallo is a contributing editor at Harvard Business Review. Follow her on Twitter at @amyegallo.

“What the Experts Say

‘Mastering new skills is not optional in today’s business environment. ‘In a fast-moving, competitive world, being able to learn new skills is one of the keys to success. It’s not enough to be smart — you need to always be getting smarter,’ says Heidi Grant Halvorson, a motivational psychologist and author of the HBR Single Nine Things Successful People Do Differently. Joseph Weintraub, a professor of management and organizational behavior at Babson College and coauthor of the book, The Coaching Manager: Developing Top Talent in Business, agrees: ‘We need to constantly look for opportunities to stretch ourselves in ways that may not always feel comfortable at first. Continual improvement is necessary to get ahead.’ Here are some principles to follow in your quest for self-improvement:’

Principles to Remember


– Select a skill that is valued by your organization and manager

– Divide the skill up into smaller, manageable tasks 

 – Reflect on what you’ve learned and what you still want to accomplish


– Try to learn in a vacuum — ask others for guidance and feedback 

 – Rely solely on your boss for advice — you may want to involve someone who isn’t responsible for evaluating you

 – Assume it’s going to happen overnight — it usually takes at least six months to develop a new skill.

Character Moves: 

  1. Choose wisely and commit. Be thoughtful about what skill(s) you chose and be honest about how ready you are to take the learning on. Be clear about how learning the skill will increase your personal equity. Do not assume a new skill will come to you as a matter of course. If you are not intentional about this, at the end of 2015 you will have another year of experience but little progress regarding progressive and differentiating services to show for the time investment.Tjeff
  2. Follow a game plan to get there. Vision is great, but action towards that vision is the difference maker 

P.S. yes, I do have my 2015 new learning objectives and game plan

Self-investing in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: This is a great reminder and something that a millennial or younger employee might be able to take the best advantage of. As a good friend of mine once said (during a successful job interview, no less): “Hey, I have no kids, no dog, no mortgage…” His message to the interviewer was that his priorities could tailor to the job he was gunning for, and he could make the time to do something like learn extra, valuable skills. I too have no kids, no dog and no mortgage… If I have time to Netflix on a Tuesday, I have time for new skill learning too. Time to draft that game plan.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Oh the People You Will Meet?

Key Point: The last line in Colin Powell’s book It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership is the following: “The people in my life made me what I am.” That sentence in its simplicity is the essence of his being.

There is an old adage that states, “When the student is ready, the teacher comes.” I believe that every day provides us with an opportunity to learn from others. The people we run into and seek out daily are not just other folks but literally life coaches.

As an example, yesterday I had a meeting with a colleague who taught me how to synthesize and use a metaphor to describe a problem. Observing and listening to a conversation with teammates at another meeting reinforced the principle that self-accountability is the key to career progress. Another person refused to give up his parking place to me, which reinforced the importance of being generous. These are just a few examples, and the day wasn’t even over yet.

Beyond being conscious and learning from our daily interactions, proactively seeking out what we want to learn from others is also important. I doubt that I will meet Colin Powell in person but I can learn a lot by reading about what he thinks and believes. The following are 13 rules Powell uses to guide his life. Click here if you want his further thoughts on each point.

 “1. It ain’t as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning.

2. Get mad, then get over it.

3. Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.

4. It can be done!

5. Be careful what you choose.

6. Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.

7. You can’t make someone else’s choices.

8. Check small things.

9. Share credit.

10. Remain calm. Be kind.

11. Have a vision.

12. Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers.

13. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”

Character Move:

  1. On a daily basis, consciously view interactions with people as lessons to help us more thoughtfully shape who we are and how we continue to evolve.
  2. Seek out your teachers and coaches. Who do you want to learn from? Why? What about them attracts you? Inspires you? Accept what you can also learn from those you don’t choose but for one reason or another enters your life.
  3. While each of us is our own person and continues to uniquely evolve, having a mindset that everyone we interact with is a teacher provides us a roadmap based on the importance of respecting the value of all. Everyone is a teacher. As students, we need to be ready for them.
  4. Remember that ALL the people in our lives will collectively and profoundly shape who we are. Based on that premise, who do you want to seek out? What will you learn from each person you interact with?

People shape the Triangle, 



Why Earners are Learners

What if you and I approached every day as if we were an empty bucket and we consciously filled ourselves up with the insight and knowledge from the people we met and things we did? What if we had the humility to have a beginner’s mind with the eager openness that a great student has? We would define our sense of being by what we were becoming as much as what we achieved and contributed.

I’ve come to understand, as a practical example of great learners, that the best sales people I know understand their customers often better the customers know themselves. They tirelessly educate themselves and go into incredible detail about the customers and can anticipate needs with uncanny insight. The best sales earners are no doubt super learners.

I’m not talking about you and me trying to be perfect. We can be content and happy and still be famished and thirsty for personal learning and development.

Character Move:

  1. Be more active about learning rather than passive in our daily activities. As an example, when we meet any one new make it a point to learn something from or about them.
  2. Be purposeful about what we learn and want to learn. This doesn’t mean that we all need to be academics but we need to see ourselves going to school daily. ANY activity we choose to invest in (from what we read, watch, listen, and do) is a source of curricula. Make each day “class time.”
  3. Write it down. Whether it’s a journal, a blog, or whatever, there is enormous value from noting what we’ve learned daily. Give yourself a test.
  4. Our talents and skills can deteriorate if we don’t continuously develop them. We should never retire from personal development.
  5. Recognize that becoming a super learner is more investing in a student mind set than in a “student loan.” We can be better students starting right now.


Be a student in the Triangle,


PS. Did you sign up for G5’s leadership learning programs?  Why?  Why not?  For 12 months of free learner use the code “g5lornerubis”.

Lorne Rubis

Lorne Rubis

The constant in Lorne’s diverse career is his ability to successfully lead organizations through significant change. At US West, where he served as a Vice President / Company Officer, Lorne was one of only seven direct reports ...
Read more about Lorne Rubis

Listen to Lorne's latest podcasts

Confidence, Patti Smith and Dylan: Failing authentically

Breathe fire: Leading and inspiring ourselves

Asking for feedback: The why

Taking on a new role: Lorne's journey

Lessons from Dot: Integrating technology into workplace culture


The Character Triangle Companion


Download the New eBook Today


The Character Triangle

Character Triangle Book CoverBuild Character, Have an Impact, and Inspire Others



Character Triangle

Our character is exclusively ours. We define it by how we think and what we do. I believe that acting with Character is driven by what I call the Character Triangle.

What, exactly, is the Character Triangle (CT)?

The CT describes and emphasizes three distinct but interdependent values:

Be Accountable: first person action to make things better, avoiding blame.
Be Respectful: being present, listening, looking again, focusing on the process.
Be Abundant: generous in spirit, moving forward, minimizing the lack of.

Read more about the Character Triangle


Be Accountable

Be Respectful

Be Abundant

Free Resources


The Character Triangle Companion Worksheet

NEW! The Character Triangle Companion Worksheet – Google Docs Version


Mind Your Own Business Radio – with Debi Davis, WLOB 1310 AM, 3/10/12 radio interview of Lorne Rubis


Would you like to view videos I reference in my blogs?  You can find them by subscribing to my channel on YouTube