Archive for February, 2012

The Kama Sutra of Business

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

hotcoffeeWho knew that physical positions mattered so much when it comes to generating novel, useful and profitable business ideas? Your feet, your hands and your use of space directly impact your fluency (how many ideas you can generate), flexibility (the sheer number of ideas) and originality.

In recent studies conducted at the University of Michigan and New York University, researchers demonstrated that your body guides your mind. Change your position, burst with creativity.

Here’s the measurable evidence submitted by Suntae Kim, Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks and Evan Polman in the New York Times on Sunday.

People walking around unrestricted while tasked to come up with original ideas for use of a common toy generated 25% more ideas than those who were forced to stay within a path marked by tape while doing the same assignment.

People who were instructed to alternate between two hands as they came up with new ideas for a use of a building generated 50% more novel ideas versus people who were told to use one hand only .

People sitting outside a cubicle came up with 20% more word associations (variations on the word “tape” for example, like worm or measure) than those sitting inside the cubicle.

For a long time we’ve known that objects impacted your perception of the environment – especially those around you. Carrying a warm cup of tea will generate more “wow, these strangers sure seem warm and hospitable” thoughts than an holding a piece of ice.

Now we know that where you are and what you are doing with your body can generate the billion dollar category busting innovations.

Would you like your personal brand to be seen as abundant, effective and overflowing with effective solutions?

Do this. Take a hike. Do a downward facing dog yoga move. Sit on the roof. Carry a lucky (fake) rabbit’s foot. Let the cubicle dwellers stare at their screens. Make your fortune.

Want to be more creative without adding any expense to your budget? Email me: [email protected]

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One Baby Step

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Copy of leop rhin shoesIs there one small item – something as low as $1 that your prospects could buy from you?

Could it be a trial offer that costs just $1, and a payment of significantly more – if the trial offer proves to be valuable and effective?

We all think of hitting home runs, of developing the killer app, closing the monster deal or getting the absolutely ideal job.

What if you could get exactly what you want, it’s just that you started really, really small. Micro-small.

We know it’s true with learning new skills and unlearning bad habits. Almost everything good starts with a baby step. Try to knit a whole scarf – you can’t at one time. You can only make one stitch at a time.

Can’t read a whole 200 page book in an instant or consume a whole 16 ounce steak in one bite.  Got to take it all a bit or a bite at a time.

Do this today. Break down your biggest goal – or your unfulfilled resolution – into micro-dots along a line toward the ideal result. Create the tiny points – maybe calorie by calorie, maybe letter by letter, maybe just finding the phone number of just one person who you need to call.

Every great chain of events starts with one link and then only grows as you add them.

Let’s take all the heat down a notch. Baby yourself. One small step at a time.

Need ideas about making your large goals small? Email me: [email protected]

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15 Questions To Test Your Hostility Level

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

imagesAnswer these questions (honestly – no one will know but you):

1.  An office mate eats a sandwich with a whole lot of onions

a. I consider his odor might increase my chances for a promotion

b. I consider telling him he’s stinking up the place

2.  My IT consultant leaves after fixing my computer – it goes down the next day

a. I call him up and tell him what a miserable job he did

b. I call him up and let him know what happened

3. I am waiting in the express line at the bank that says: “loan payments only.”

a. I check my voicemail and Facebook account for updates

b. I look ahead to see who’s got a deposit slip or cash in their hands

4. The news is filled with stories about the number of foreclosures in the US

a. I believe people who can’t pay their mortgages knew they were taking out loans they couldn’t repay

b. I believe a lot of people were victims of bad loan deals or lost their jobs unexpectedly

5. There have been times when I was very angry with others

a. I was always able to control any desire to lash out physically

b. I have impulsively hit or pushed someone

6. An online news source discussed the causes and costs of drug addiction

a. I wish society had more effective prevention and treatment options

b. People involved with substances get what they deserve

7. The emergency room is jammed up with uninsured people

a. People who don’t have healthcare insurance are irresponsible

b. Healthcare insurance is priced out of range for many people

8. I sometimes argue with a colleague or customer

a. I occasionally use profanity, it’s common now even on television

b. I rarely use curse words or off-color language

9. A driver cuts me off on the road

a. I honk and consider speeding up to return the favor

b. I decelerate to put some room between our cars

10. Something extremely important must be done at work

a. As usual, I take it on myself so that it’s done right

b. I ask a co-worker if she can pitch in

11. Frequently I let an angry feeling

a. Come and go, because it avoids making a big deal out of something small

b. Be the catalyst for my speaking my mind; it’s not good to hold anger in

12. Someone criticizes something I’ve done

a. I feel annoyed

b. I try to decide if there is merit in the criticism

13. I overhear an unkind comment about me

a. I typically forget about it after a short while

b. I think about it for hours, sometimes longer

14. My co-worker is asking a lot of questions about a project we’re starting on

a. I assume she’s trying to be proactive and solve some problems that might be ahead

b. I assume she’s not capable or confident about her part of the project

15. My friend expresses an ignorant belief about politics

a. I set him straight

b. I let the comment pass

Scoring: Hostility has three categories. Each one: cynicism, anger and aggression are represented by five of the questions in the quiz. See below to rate yourself (the answer in parenthesis is the hostile one). For each category, if you score just 0-2 points, you’re doing okay (zero being ideal). If you’re scoring higher, you now have some insight into why your career or business may be sputtering.

Cynicism: 3(b), 4(a), 7(a), 10(a), 14(b),

Anger: 1(b), 6(b), 9(a), 13(b), 12 (a)

Aggression: 2(a), 5(b), 8(a), 11(b), 15(a)

Want some tools to help you lower your level of hostility? (And no, none of them involve deep breathing or meditation). Email me: [email protected]

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20 Questions Smart Employees Ask Themselves

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

person-with-question-markThese 20 questions cover five key areas that are critical to your accurately evaluating how well you’re doing at work. Your answers (or score) predict whether you’re likely to be promoted, fired or kept simmering in the same spot for years to come.

Score each question on a scale of 1-10 (10 = AWESOME). Add up your total score in each category. If you are totally awesome, you’ll have a total of 200 points. If you score below 30 points in any category, it’s time to take remedial action.

Job mastery

How well do I?

1. Exhibit expertise of the particular knowledge and skills that make me a uniquely valuable employee

2. Continue to get educated to update my knowledge and skills for my position and the positions I desire to hold in the future

3. Understand the metrics by which I am evaluated as well as those that my department is judged, and work to excel at those measured behaviors

4. Manage my tasks and actions to contribute to the performance outcomes set for my department and company

Communication with my boss

How well do I?

5. Understand and articulate my boss’ top priorities and reasons for them, and approach my work in that manner

6. Know which is of greater consequence to my superior: people, projects or principles

7. Appreciate my boss’ sense of balancing the need to a) gather information and b) take action

8. Show that I understand and support my superiors’ professional aspirations

Relating to others and gaining visibility

How well do I?

9. Seek to create significant, lasting connections with everyone in my company

10. Communicate using all opportunities to strengthen my ties throughout the organization

11. Manage my intentions and actions to appropriately compete and collaborate with my peers

12. Project my desire to be a resource to others as well as a willingness to be assisted by them

Cultural sensibility, belief and belonging

How well do I?

13. Keep a clear picture of the formal and informal reporting lines in my company

14. Like my company’s overall approach to business, people and the marketplace

15. Believe that I can contribute to the larger goals and vision of my organization

16. See that opportunities exist for me to grow and gain greater responsibility and authority in my company

Good judgment and resourcefulness

How well do I?

17.  Imagine I would be able to step up and fill in for my boss or another superior, if needed

18. Seek opportunities to be increasingly effective and efficient with the tools, workspace and funds allocated to me

19. Build relationships outside of the company that can be leveraged for its benefit

20. Relate to people who have the capacity to mentor me and widen my scope of influence

There’s a wealth of free and low-cost resources to get you back on track. Let me know if there are any areas you’d like to drill down on, and I’ll be happy to send you a list to kick-start your career. Email: [email protected]

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Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

gold-dollar-signIf I had one wish that could be fulfilled by every job candidate I see, it’s that he or she would want to earn a million dollars a year, plus bonuses. I’ve asked lots of other business owners and they seem to agree that there’s one quality sorely missing from job seekers. That quality is ambition.

Given that my company is based in the US and specifically in Southern California, once home to the most ambitious people in the world – people who rode to the Western frontier with nothing more than a cow and a shotgun (okay, maybe they had some pots and salted pork rinds) – the paucity of ambition is particularly puzzling.

Not to say all job candidates are slackers, although a slacker often comes cloaked in a job seeker’s persona. This is typically a person who’s not all that uncomfortable living in the suburban ranch style home of now ancient parental Yuppies, and occupying a twin bed below a shelf littered with beanie babies, a Rubik’s cube and a Game Boy.

But, slackers aren’t the real problem. After all like most executives I still have enough papers to scan to fill up a terabyte or two of data storage and a number of other mind-numbing tasks perfect for a worker who is mysteriously satisfied if ear buds can be worn on the job.

The job candidates who confound me are people who expect to work for the majority of their lives. These are the student loan burdened and club going, or those with two kids, a bad marriage, mortgage and a master’s degree in something vaguely therapeutic. Meaning, these people all have debts to pay and modest Ketel One or kettle bell dreams to fulfill.

Why do they see the finish line so near? Why is it enough to end their run with the middle of the pack in a 5K? Why are we seeing so few people who are the type to claim the top podium spot in the Ironman world championship – or at least to die or cry trying?

Is it all those “special someone” days in elementary school? Is it the T-ball “tournaments” when everyone got a trophy for showing up?

Is it the legion of greedy, secretive corporate and investment fiends who haven’t just purloined our country’s wealth but made it all but impossible to believe there are still roads to success unblocked by the divine rights of the 1%?

Are pub-crawls and outlet malls setting a new low for what people aspire to have and to hold?

Tell me you expect to earn a million dollars, and I will eagerly ask you not only how, but also how I can help you. Business owners everywhere need big thinkers, heavy hitters, people who play through pain and know there’s gore in glory.

Ambition. It’s the other way to work.

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