How to Find ‘The Goods’ To Persevere

May 17, 2016

Your people bring your brand to life. If you run an organization your actions define your brand.

As I type this in my polar bear pyjamas, it strikes me that how we start and end our day matters.

Dr. Martin Seligman, father of positive psychology and author of Flourish amongst other books, says we should (sorry to should on you) write down three things that went well and why at the end of the day.

Because our species notices the negative as a built in mechanism of survival, training our selves to notice the positive anchors what is good in our lives.

It’s the updated version of count your blessings. This technique has been shown through robust research to boost resilience and reduce depression and anxiety.

  • Do we teach our staff, share with our friends and establish family practices that lift us up or do we succumb to a bitch and nag fest or escape reality by watching it on TV?
  • Do you start or end your day by writing three things that went well and why?
  • Do you start your meetings not with rah rah ridiculousness but by asking what went well and  why – before tackling what’s not working?

Problems are the price of progress.

Naming the good shows you, your team and your family that you have ‘the goods’ to make it.

Great Leaders are Master Storytellers

May 17, 2016

The best leaders are master storytellers.

The one who gets the job: master storyteller.

The one who gets the funding: master storyteller.

The one who gets invited to dinner: master storyteller.

The one who changes the world: master storyteller.

How can you tell your story?

Don’t tell me. Take me.  

  • Spend 80% of your time taking me into your story using vivid word pictures and sensory detail.
  • Spend the next 10% of your time making your point.
  • Spend the final 10% of your time linking your point to your audience*

This is my morning. Not all of it, don’t worry.

I’ll start with the applause, lots of applause. Not for me, but for the speaker who ends by applauding the audience right back. Then she bends her head forward, hands together in a humble prayer position, mouths thank you and walks off stage.

The women start gathering their things, bags, coats, scarfs to leave for work or line up for the book signing.I move between the hotel’s now empty circular tables like a bee going from flower to flower. Over my arm is the mandatory women’s pink conference bag filled with sponsor goodies.I scoop up a few muffins and some bags of donated cereal and fill up my bag. I leave the hotel and walk down the steep city hill past Louis Vuitton on my left, and Prada and Gucci on my right. The street ends at the homeless protest encampment. Three police officers are standing with their yellow flouro vests hovering close but not too close.

I plonk my overflowing pink bag down on a concrete ramp. One guy with the kind of teeth my dentist would love to fix joins me. We start going through the bag. I don’t even know what’s in it. I pull out a Hazelnut latte mix. “Oh that’s great. I’d like that. We have a kettle here,” he says. I pull out a lemon power bar I’d actually like, but oh well. Then there’s a fancy smancy body lotion and a lip balm.  “That’s great” he says. For a second I think gosh.. maybe I would have liked those but I push the thought away. Next out is a tooth brush.  “Perfect,” he says.  Next are organic tampons.  “We can always use those around here” the guy says.

He says thanks. I say you are welcome and that’s it. I walk back up the hill past the $6000 clutches and wander back into the hotel. I had a hunch Gloria Steinem’s book signing line would be close to done. It is. Five people left. Ms. G is 82. She’s been speaking up for sixty years. I hand over a thank you card I scrawled that morning. I told her that her speech 30 years ago, where she asked people to announce what they were organizing, was a life changing moment for me. I’d never before or since, seen a speaker share their platform so others could ignite change.

Gloria responds, “My being here is an excuse for us all to get together. I’ve been doing these organizing announcements for so long that I go back to the places I’ve spoken to years later and find out what’s happened.” I say “Thank you, for all you’ve done for all of us.” I reach over and touch the hand that’s written boldly for decades. Her skin is soft.

I leave, again. Turning the corner, I see a homeless woman who looks the same age as Gloria. She’s sitting cross-legged on the concrete, a cardboard sign at her feet and a box for change.  To her right, on the ground are two pink bags filled with conference goodies.  I wasn’t the only one willing to see her.

What do you see today that others missed?

If you want to be a good storyteller, collect your stories. Keep a story file by writing or recording what’s happened to you. Life will give you plenty of  material.

That’s my point. Remember I said 80% tell a story and 10% make a point.

The last 10% is link that point to your audience.  The quality of your noticing is what will engage you to your audience. The quality of your point is what brings your message home. That’s your link – the last 10%.


*I am grateful to Glenn Capelli for the 80/10/10 model


Grown Up or Adult? The Grit Test.

May 15, 2016

I’ve met a lot of adults but not many grown ups.

Grown ups have grit.

They do the things others aren’t willing to do, over and over.

As I face my to do list with a sigh, I am channelling eminent Psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth.

She says self-discipline matters more than talent and even IQ.

I believe her. She won the 2013 MacArthur Fellowship, graduated from Harvard and she’s done ground breaking research on grit with Dr. Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania.

After you’ve completed your work that matters most, here’s her TED talk.




Your Board of Connectors

May 15, 2016

Amazing Mom
Once a year these moms of children (now adults) with special needs get together to share life hacks –  strategies they use to stay sane in a crazy world. (They also have a great time because they know she who laughs, lasts.)
Their annual retreat got me thinking.
Organizations have Boards of Directors. These gals are Broads of Connectors.
Do you have a circle like this? A place where you can tell the truth about your life – from work to family, faith to doubt, failure to Phoenix rising?
This matters because we suffer from infobesity* yet we’re starving for wisdom. The wisdom that comes from the fierce knowing of who we are because we have a place (a group of advisors, a circle of relentless friends) where we can bring the pieces of our selves that are broken and strong and realize who we have become and are becoming.
This is a business strategy. This is a life hack.
How can you or your business have a Board of Connectors?
There is a plumbing supply store that holds an early morning monthly breakfast meeting for plumbers. The stores owners don’t talk about their store, they let plumbers talk about their businesses and lives. The store provides the platform to connect people who work in isolation – isn’t that true for all of us in some way? Do these plumbers buy their stock from the store? You bet.
The companies and communities that figure out how to provide forums where people can get together, get real and level up this is what’s going on, this is what I now know and this is where I need a hand. That’s the “value-add” companies and communities are looking for so desperately. Just ask Fiskars, the scissor people and their communities of Fiskateers.
Those who connect up, and level up, lead.

*Infobesity was coined by Alvin Toffler in his 1970s book Future Shock. It means too much information. He predicted this state of data drawing fifty years ago. Wild.

The Best Book

May 12, 2016

“The best book you’ll ever read is the one you write.”Seth Godin said that. I never knew he meant until I wrote my own book.

1. What you already know is someone’s first step.

2. As you write, you learn twice because you figure out what you know and how to share it. Writing disciplines your thinking and deepens your wisdom.

3. Your completed work leaves a legacy.

4. It’s more doable than ever. If you hate writing you can record your book and have it transcribed. There are many  speech to text function tools. Mac’s have one. You can find it under System Preferences – Dictation and Speech). Or you can purchase a tool like Dragon Naturally Speaking.

5. You also don’ have to write a book – you could create a comic book. Heh, the US Army teaches their soldiers how to drive tanks that way. You can do a podcast or hold up your phone and create a recording.

6. Own what you know and share it. You’ve figured out the questions, solutions and stories someone needs.

7. Yes, I know it means putting yourself out there and being brave. It means creating content not consuming it, but why are you really here?



Book news coming soon  : )




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If it is not your genius it is not your job.
Louise B. Karch