ALL of Us Can Get Better at This!

Accountability Be Accountable

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Key Point: We all spend time suffering unnecessarily (although understandably), because most of us have such a hard time receiving and giving feedback. Families and organizations swirl in dysfunction based on this reality. 

Just the other day, I was talking to someone about giving important feedback to another. These two people care deeply for each other. Frankly, the person who could benefit from the insight has a blind spot. This individual (feedback receiver) literally can’t see, or is unaware of certain behavior. The biggest trepidation of the feedback giver in this case was the anticipated negative response. Essentially, giving the feedback was perceived to be more painful than allowing the person to continue in ignorance. So, everyone loses to some extent. Why is feedback exchange so hard?

Sheila Heen, “feedback author/ guru,” and Lecturer at Harvard Law, reflects on two core needs: “Human beings are wired to learn and grow. Getting better at something is what makes life satisfying. The other core human need is to be accepted, loved and respected for who we are now, as I am.”

And as my colleague and exec coach Michelle Steil, who teaches this stuff with me, emphasizes: “We require feedback to learn and grow, yet our personal beliefs about providing constructive feedback can create a conflict with our need to feel accepted for who we are.” This partly explains why it’s hard to both give and receive feedback. You also may have heard the term “Amygdala Hijack?” An oversimplified version of what essentially happens when we feel threatened is that our survival-trained brain responds, pumping out hormones that contribute to reactions like fight, flight, freeze and/or appease. So the negative reaction from feedback receivers is a “natural” response (amygdala hijack) at work. So what can we do about this paradox? 

Personal Leadership Moves (As Feedback Receiver):

  1. Put yourself in a position of control by reframing all feedback as an opportunity for you to grow. You can accept the feedback or not. Learn how to simply say “thank you.” Understand the perspective being presented to you. Be curious so you might better understand and give yourself time to determine what you may learn about yourself. Then do something about it. 
  2. Avoid or minimize the amygdala highjack by ASKING for forward feedback first. You can’t do anything about the past. However, you can always ask for one or two things you might do better in the immediate future. YOU are in control. Be a forward moving, always learning, feedback receiver. By acting this way, you make it safer for the feedback giver. 

Personal Leadership Moves (As Feedback Giver):

  1. Make sure the feedback is really about deep care for the receiver (and not about you). Intention and being a loving critic is way more important than style. Feedback giving is sometimes clumsy and messy. 
  2. Have the courage to give. It shows how much you care. Recognize it may not always go well. Yet that’s what loving leaders do. 

Always working on it in Personal Leadership 

– Lorne

One Millennial View: Sounds like a “mind over matter… over mind” situation. Some feedback might not always be the best you’ve ever heard, but be “thankful” for the opportunity to then improve. Speaking of, Happy Thanksgiving!

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Just Breathe!

Abundance

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Key Point: I’m using this very cool brainwave headband/application brain technology (I ran into at Singularity University,) called Muse! Why? Keep reading.

We are progressing way beyond the idea that meditation is new age hocus pocus. I don’t know one serious leader who isn’t at least thinking about mindfulness/meditation/breathing, and most likely at the very minimum, experimenting. As I’ve written before, this must be humorously entertaining to those of traditional cultures who have been practicing meditation for eons. Now, new research regarding the benefits of breathing/meditation is plentiful. And a recent article by Moran Cerf reports that breathing actuality changes the brain:

“Breathing is traditionally thought of as an automatic process driven by the brainstem—the part of the brain controlling such life-sustaining functions as heartbeat and sleeping patterns. But new and unique research, involving recordings made directly from within the brains of humans undergoing neurosurgery, shows that breathing can also change your brain. Simply put, changes in breathing—for example, breathing at different paces or paying careful attention to the breaths—were shown to engage different parts of the brain…

The research findings show that the advice to ‘take a deep breath’ may not just be a cliché. Exercises involving volitional breathing appear to alter the connectivity between parts of the brain.”

Holotropic Breathwork is also gaining traction. It is an approach to self-exploration and healing that integrates insights from modern consciousness research, anthropology, various depth psychologies, and transpersonal psychology. It’s a combination of meditation and breathing techniques and something interesting is emerging in this category.

Of course, some fitness gurus also rely on breathing techniques to contribute to their fitness strategy and overall promotion of well being. Wim Hof is one guy getting a lot of attention in this area, and getting amazing results with people by applying a very unique breathing/meditation practice integral to his fitness framework. Learn more about the “Iceman” from a previous blog I wrote.

Back to the Muse. I have tried to do meditation on my own, and discovered that I could benefit from a personal meditation assistant to keep me motivated and disciplined. I found that assistant in this brain technology. It guides one to a calm mind. My readers know that I am not in the business of promoting any product, and I have no commercial arrangements with any. However, the Muse is so helpful because it uses brain sensing technology to measure whether your mind is calm or active and translates those signals into guiding sounds. I will keep you posted on the personal results I’m getting. I’m also looking into applying Wim Hof’s breathing/cold/fitness program.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Everyone of us (scientifically proven), can benefit from calming the mind through meditation/breathing techniques. Start your meditation/breathing practice ASAP. If you need a little help, try an app like Headspace, or perhaps if you need a little more assistance, try Muse. 
  2. Explore the benefit of various breathing techniques as they relate to fitness including the Wim Hof method. It’s more than a bunch of bologna.
  3. Also explore the use of “cold” therapy, highly touted by smart and impactful people like Tony Robbins and Tim Ferriss, who plunge into very cold pools with regularity. So do world class athletes. (Geez, for those of us that are Canadians this seems like psychological terrorism, haha).

Just breathe (perhaps in the cold) in personal leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: Yeah, “brain stacks” are certainly hot (and cold) right now. I’ve heard all about Bulletproof coffee, MCT oil, Alphabrain, probiotics, cryotherapy, Wim Hof’s cold breathing methods and some of these other methods that might have some real merit… Some others (like micro-dosing), could be problematic. One thing’s for sure, meditation is by far the most cost friendly.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Ok, CEO: Answer These Questions

Accountability Be Accountable

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Key Point: How would you answer the following questions as a CEO? All major consulting companies conduct “C Level” surveys to help top leadership navigate trends and think through strategic challenges. Recently, I’ve been part of several of these, and please note that the specific questions and survey process are the confidential property of the consulting companies. However, I’m going to ask you my paraphrased version of sample questions that reflect the essence without compromising the survey protocol of the firms. These surveys usually take over an hour to complete. Then, the firms compile, analyze and give the respondent the collective feedback. To make this manageable, I’m going to ask you just a few representative questions. How would you answer them as the head of your organization?

  1. What is the level of urgency with which your enterprise needs to transform itself? Why?
  2. How successful has your organization been managing transformation in the past? Give examples.
  3. How effective is your organization at creating compelling customer experiences? Examples? Through what means?
  4. Think ahead to 2021 and you’ve been given an award for designing and implementing the most outstanding customer experience. Post on social media, the description of that experience in less than 140 characters.
  5. Name the top five emerging technology trends over the next three to five years, that will most disrupt your industry? Enterprise?
  6. To what extent do you have a well formed purpose and business strategy to navigate through the disruptive forces here now and in front of you?
  7. Your best strategy will be to: Defend, innovate, expand, diversify, or self-disrupt. Which one of these will be your lead stance? How confident are you in execution?
  8. You are being interviewed by major business outlets as the best example in 2021 of an organization that truly reinvented itself. Describe in 20 words or less the essence of your strategy ad business model change.
  9. To what extent is your leadership fully equipped to lead this transformation? Where are big gaps and what are you doing about it?
  10. To what extent are team members “all in” with the purpose, strategy, along with having the skills and mindset to fully participate in the transformation?
  11. How effective are you in using data analytics in a predictive fashion to improve both employee and customer experience? How will you be significantly better at this three years from now?
  12. How equipped and ready are you to PERSONALLY transform your organization? How will you transform yourself first as part of leading this?

The above questions were randomly selected, and samples only. The surveys themselves were much more extensive, specific, and connected. They twisted my brain.  And the technology/disruption section was most daunting to me. As an example, many leading enterprises are well on their way implementing Artificial Intelligence to both service customers and employees. It’s happening NOW, not 2021. The reality is, any thinking organization and awake leader is taking their institution through this type of honest reflection and discovery.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. You may or may not be the head of your organization (although 40 percent of our readers describe themselves as CEOs or Managing Directors). Nevertheless, your participation in answering these and similar questions is necessary.
  2. What did you learn about yourself and organization as you answered? What will you do about it?

Answering in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: These survey questions are interesting, and it is nice to see how much critical thinking and “brain twisting” these questions demand from corporate leaders. With more A.I. implementation and (of course), more technology we don’t even know about yet, planning more than four years ahead seems difficult. To put in perspective, in 2013, Uber was a brand new service and I was just hearing about Airbnb, Seamless, Snapchat, Venmo, and more. I see why we put an emphasis on learning and adapting.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Reverse Mentoring… Get Some

Accountability

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Key Point: Everyone who is not a Digital Native might want to hang with someone who is. I’m fortunate enough to be in a position to have a reverse mentor and her name is Christina. She is a third year business student at the University of Alberta, and she works for me as an intern. In fairness, she is not your average student. Christina is an award winning genius and I won’t get into her resume. Suffice to say, it is ridiculously impressive. However, this is more than a story about how capable Christina is. It is about the way she thinks, works, and how she teaches me.

I’m the executive sponsor of Google’s G Suite in our company, and I should be a master. Everyone knows I’m not, and I am working on it. However, applying all Google applications is like learning another language and my brain just has to stop and think. Christina on the other hand, seems to navigate everything digital first. She is always teaching me something by just the way she does stuff. Sometimes it’s hilarious and I feel like, “oh geez, she must feel like gramps needs a lot of work.” Still, she is so patient and respectful. And my executive assistant feels that way too as she also learns so much from Christina.

Some of the most significant characteristics of Digital Natives according to the Zur Institute are:

  • They are intuitive learners rather than linear. (They do not use or easily relate to manuals).
  • They learn via participation rather than passively, as illustrated in the difference between Wikipedia and Britannica.
  • Their brains have developed a high capacity to multitask and to rapidly task-switch (hopping).
  • They see the world in less hierarchical terms – the Internet levels the playing field, making everyone more equal online.

Companies like Microsoft are formally employing reverse mentoring. For Kristin Ruud, Human Resources Lead at Microsoft Norway, turning to millennials for insight is key to business success. She says, “Generation Y consumes services in a completely new way. Beyond the clear ability of the Gen Y’ers to drive business impact through their day-to-day core work, there are also invaluable insights to be harvested through full engagement with this group, insights that will help ensure we are able to meet the needs of a demanding consumer market.”

Traditional mentoring normally involves a seasoned exec showing the ropes to a younger and often less experienced colleague. With mentoring by Digital Natives it’s the complete opposite: These “kids,” new to the world of work, with completely different social behaviors and backgrounds are coaching senior leaders on what the workplace should look like, what drives younger talent, and how to move forward. Christina does all of the above and hopefully she is getting something from hanging out with me too.

So Christina, this blog is a tribute to you, all your Digital Native colleagues, the way you just get things done and show me what’s possible by the fearless ease by which you approach things with a natural digital lens. Thank you.

(I’ve also had the benefit to be reversed mentored by my son, Garrett, who is also a Millennial. He is teaching me much about the importance of video and storytelling. Thank you, Garrett). 

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Intentionally hang with a Digital Native. There is a natural digital experience difference between the oldest and youngest millennials.
  2. Be confident and humble enough to know how much you can learn from these reverse mentors. And while ideally they are respectful, don’t be shocked that these Digital Natives are not overly impressed with your title and office. The Internet does level the playing field. And remember, they’ve been “smarter” than their parents from the beginning.
  3. Be energized and have fun. It’s like getting a little bit of a brain transfusion.

Mentored in Personal Leadership,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: I too have had the pleasure of working with Christina, and I’m definitely on the “old” side of the Millennial spectrum. I consider myself a pretty intelligent individual, but I’m had my brain scrambled a few times learning how sophisticated she is when it comes to social media and technology. I look forward to learning much more!

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

From Code to Click

Accountability

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Key Point: Why would almost 200,000 people spend thousands of dollars and invest a week of their lives to attend a SalesForce conference? I think it partly has to do with the totally accessible movement defined as “From Coding to Clicking,” and the truly millions of opportunities being created as a result.

We all will literally have the ability to create and co-create digital experiences and applications without writing any material software code. Using the amazing platforms built by public cloud based powerhouses like Google and SalesForce, most of us will be able to become data scientists and software “engineers.” IT and business is merging into a fully integrated partnership, and it’s rapidly happening at an individual level as well. When we get the ability to fully leverage these big system platforms, the investment starts to turn into how well you and I can use the full potential of these amazing foundations. Let me give you an example pertaining to SalesForce. To promote this technology mastery, there is a SalesForce certification for almost every role in any organization. When one applies certification competence, we become much more valuable to our companies, others and ourselves. We build more personal equity. I’m going to share a just a few examples of the hundreds of certifications offered by SalesForce through their learning and certification platform called Trailhead:

Administrator’s Certification: Confirms you have the skills and knowledge to customize, configure, and manage a SalesForce implementation.

Developers Certification: Platform Developer 11; gain skill and knowledge in advanced programmatic capabilities of the SalesForce platform to build custom applications on their platform.

Marketers Cloud Social Specialists Certification: Add skills in the social landscape and components of Social Studio; including post creation management, analysis of conversations and reporting.

Specialists Certification: (This would be for executives). Learn how to lead and optimize the full use of the SF platform. And Google has the same “mastery” mentality and learning opportunities.

While these platforms are essentially equal for all, building on top of them is totally unique, customizable and scalable in distinctly different ways for each participating organization. Hence, the more each of us know about harnessing them, the more advantage we and our organizations have.

You might ask, “so what?” Great legacy firms like Microsoft and Cisco have been genius at applying certification learning systems for years. The big difference I’m noticing is that in most cases those certifications were limited or focused on IT or engineering roles. In the case of Google’s Cloud Platform and SalesForce, EVERYONE and EVERY role ideally becomes “certified,” and a power user. Not on every aspect of the full platform, of course, but as the system applies to each individual role.

At SalesForce’s DreamForce 17 conference, which just concluded, 175,000 (that’s the announced attendance) followers descended on San Francisco for four days. It was mind blowing to see the movement and momentum. And when SalesForce CEO Marc Benioff had a fireside chat with Diane Greene, Alphabet board member and head of Google Cloud, their partnership vision sparked a “WOW.” Everything in the public cloud harnessing the world’s leading AI/machine learning, predictive data science and search, etc, all at warp speed as these two giant forces connect to drive exponentiality. Talk about 10X.

The leading companies in attendance at DF17 want their employees to obsessively focus on applying their purpose to customers by leveraging every bit of advantage these platforms and their robust eco-systems provide. In that context – speed, agility and adaptability becomes THE advantage. That’s why the notion of rapidly progressing from “code to click” has huge momentum. Whatever market your company is in; financial services, construction, food services, etc, can be great at providing customers indispensable value. If you want to build your own software platform and apps on your own infrastructure, well, good luck. I’m “shorting your stock.”

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Determine what you will become certified in to make yourself more of a digital expert. Even if your company doesn’t use Google or SalesForce, think about making yourself way more marketable by becoming certified on these or other leading platforms. In most cases, these certifications are online and free.
  2. Business leaders and all levels of employees must be futurists, humanitarians, innovators AND technologists. What will you put on your resume to demonstrate that you are progressing in the technology category? Every role requires it.

Lorne

One Millennial View: Well, the homework didn’t end with your last earned degree. I’ve taken a few minutes to research what SalesForce has to offer in their Trialhead course department, and you can certainly access a wealth of information. While taking online coursework may seem daunting, you can’t really put “Watched Stranger Things Season 2” on your resume, so balancing your time by binging on a certification may be a great idea. You know, then go back to Stranger Things.>

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis