Flourish In 2014 By Discovering The Thread That Ties Your Story Together

Pam-Slim-1-150x150Instead of making new year’s resolutions again this year, which are notoriously hard to keep, why not set out on a concrete path to make the next chapter of your life more meaningful and satisfying? How?

By “finding the thread that ties your story together” suggests Pamela Slim in her idea-packed new bookBody of Work. Intuitively, you know that the stronger the role you can play in your career choices, the greater the chance you will be productive and happy with them.Body of work afL._AA160_

That’s why finding a way to incorporate your multiple interests and talents into a coherent whole on which you can grow your unique and valuable mastery can be key to the illusive, flourishing life you seek.

Know When It’s Time To Move On

For example, however you are working now, where are you on what Slim dubs “the loathing scale” ranging from one to ten? That scale ranges from deep dislike of your situation to where ”you don’t have to struggle so much everyday to make a happy, healthy living?” Even if you are in that comfortable “happy” work situation, what Jim Collins calls “the sweet spot” and Martha Beck describes as the “Promised Land” Slim calls it “dangerous.” You are not challenging yourself to hone your core mastery and thus vulnerable to losing options in your future. To keep growing your body of work, rather than getting “out of your comfort zone, she agrees with Michele Woodward’s re-framing: “enlarge your comfort zone.” Who knows? You may choose to quit sooner.

Along With the Fates, Be A Greater Co-Author Of Your Life Story

“Your body of work is everything you create, contribute, affect and impact… It is the personal legacy you leave at the end of your life, including and the tangible things you have created. Individuals who structure their careers around autonomy, master and purpose will have a powerful body of work,” writes Slim. I heartily agree with Slim when she writes that, “in the new world of work, our ability to create a powerful body of works is what will determine our ongoing employability.”

Becoming Category of one nTaking this approach you are more likely to become a sought-after by Becoming a Category of One, as Joe Calloway suggests and incorporate more of your talents and interests into a coherent life as Marci Alboher advocated in One Life/Multiple Careers, thus sometimes Reinventing You as Dorie Clark advocates for the times when you want to turn the page to a new chapter of work – and you want others to understand that shift.

Find Your True Path Of Multiple Mastery And Opportunity

Gain a more concrete insight into how you define success for your life and credible way to share your authentic story with others by following her eight-step path. You are more likely to stick to this path because Slim displays both warmth and competence in her steps: concrete steps with checklists, examples, heart-warming success stories, and perhaps most of all, reading about her personal success and satisfaction in following this approach.

Here are just some of the many takeaways from this book, which I strongly recommend…  See the rest of the column over at Forbes.Forbes1-150x1502-2

Pull More Customers Closer By Offering Experiences In Ways They Can Share

inside Fairmontf7dc38Walk inside the famous Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco and you’ll be immediately swept into a sumptuous holiday scene that includes a giant Christmas tree and a two-story-high Victorian gingerbread house. Yet sadly, like most other businesses that want to delight and engage customers at Christmas, they are missing some big opportunities. You can capture those opportunities, even if you don’t have  a huge holiday budget like the Fairmont does.

What if you could extend the holiday moments you offer farther into the lives of your customers?

What if you could inspire them to share their cheery experience with others?

With the right partners and methods you can. For example, what if the Fairmont partnered with an equally renowned local gingerbreadd71baker to make pre-wrapped, co-branded miniature “Fairmont Gingerbread Houses” and/or cookies collections for elves to sell at a side table near the giant Gingerbread House in the lobby?

Buyers could opt to have them mailed as gifts or walk out with them. Plus the baker could also sell the gingerbread houses to her retail outlets, enclosed in a box with a photo on top of the Fairmont’s lushly decorated lobby, featuring the house. Partners get to use their best talents and resources to gain a festive, warmed-up introduction to each other’s customers. Guests who stay five days or more at the hotel could get a free Gingerbread House, thus introducing the baker’s delicious artistry to the hotel’s most lucrative customers. And the hotel can give their most important guests a unique lagniappe that costs them nothing.

! Stitch IMG_0027Let’s further deepen the customer experience, to strengthen their sense of affiliation to you and your partner’s companies — and their desire to share their memory with others. Starting today, hotel guests can create customized eCards to send to friends and loved ones before they leave the hotel, thanks to a new partnership between a small start-up, KlabLab with a “Stitch” app, and venerable card maker Hallmark. They can use their iPhone to take photos of each other, perhaps by the Christmas tree, Gingerbread House or other holiday scene in the hotel.

Then they can choose a card image, font and message from Hallmark’s collection; add music from the iTunes Library; then customize their chosen message and immediately send their personalized eCard, keeping copies for themselves. Since each eCard has a Stitch+Hallmark watermark on it, those sharing their memories via personal eCards will also be sharing the news that anyone can can use this method to make personalized eCards.   Thus the partnership creates a virtuous circle that naturally scales visibility. Hint: Design your partnership method to create one.

Lessons:

Partner with companies to co-create a more memorable experience that enables you and your partners to:

• Stand out from your competition

• Co-brand an experience and objects-as-gifts that customers can enjoy with others, in the moment and later on

• Give them a reason to come back next year and/or other times because you regularly offer other special experiences, with related gifts they can buy

HintUnlike these partners, be explicit in showing and/or describing the benefits of the partnership to the people you seek to serve.

What other reputable businesses could you quickly forge a holiday partnership with to:

• Reach and serve more people in your mutual market?

• Add more excitement and/or convenience to your customers’ experience?

• Spur more spending and sharing by co-creating a holiday-themed, bundled package of products and/or services from you and your partner, that all partners can sell this season?

nintendo-southwest_120213-617x416For example Southwest Airlines and Nintendo have just partnered up to offer gaming lounges in some of the nation’s busiest airports through December 22nd.  And last Christmas upscale Neiman Marcus “put together a limited collection from 24 American designers” in partnership with value-centric Target so both could experiment with how to reach “a broader range of customers.”

Hint: It’s still not too late to co-create a first-ever, holiday experience that captivates your customers and enable you, and your complementary partner to gain warmed-up introductions to each others customers. What better way to grow your business faster, often while spending less?

Create The Ritual We Can Cheerfully Share

duck nIf a hotel can become famous for leading ducks across their lobby at 11:00 each day then certainly your business can become more well-known for some simple yet involving ritual that customers love to photograph and share with others. Make eye candy “first-evers” that attract reporters.  In fact it’s surprising that so few businesses and other organizations see the power of memory-making rituals, and that we keep talking about the few that do. AFor example, instead of creating a new ritual a sister hotel simply imitated the duck walk. You can do better. walk ducjs wn

1. Think quirky

As all actors know, a cute kid or animal almost always steals the show.  For example the annual ritual that raised $120,000 last year in a town of just 2,404 is the wiener dog race.  People and their dogs came from all over the country for the chance to compete.

wienerwnNow other towns imitate the races yet few seem to have sought out partners to cover the cost and increase the event’s visibility and features such as prizes. Think of pet food makers, shops, groomers and veterinarians as natural partners.

2. Create community around your ritual

3. Offer the unexpected

Instead of “just” offering a loaner car like the one you are getting serviced a British Volvo dealership also offered bikes, from its partnering business, as loaners. The dealership and the bike shop enjoyed three benefits  – deepening the loyalty of their eco-minded customers, getting introduced to each other’s customers, and attracting worldwide media coverage. How well do you know your customers? Well enough so you can reach more of them with an unlikely ally that also serves them? Hint: why not ask your customers to tell you the names of two or three other businesses they also use and trust? It’s likely that you, too, will discover some valuable potential partners.

valencia-300x1814. Reduce your cost of providing that ritual by partnering

Volvo’s ritual was then topped by Fiat in Spain. By partnering with electric bicycle maker Trek it could make the same offer yet without the cost of buying and maintaining the bikes. Trek benefits by getting a warmed-up introduction to possible customers. Bonus benefits? Many of the people who saw the cyclists also saw the co-branded label, Volvo+Trek, on their bikes and many of the cyclists told their friends about their experience.

5. Give a souvenir sample whenever people have to wait – or even pause

For a client years ago I set up an experiment in which those waiting in a movie theater line were greeted by smiling college students who offered each person a free ice cream bon bon on a silver tray. One each. The students simply walked down the line, saying, “Like a tasty bon bon while you’re waiting? If you like it there are more inside.” When bon bon samples were given away outside, sales of movie theatre snacks went up an average of 26 percent. iBest bon bonses

Cost-saving hint: Make your ritual so popular that you can attract more contributing partners. Then you can offer your customers that ritual more often yet at a lower cost to you.

happywnReady to help your customers share holiday cheer?

What unique and special customer-delighting holiday experience can you quickly conjure up with one or more partners to light up the lives of those you serve (or seek to serve) this holiday? I’d love to hear about it.

Also learn more ways to profitably partner. in my free,  two-day, live streaming video course for CreativeLIVE on December 9 and 10. creativeLIVE-Avatar2KareAnderson_1600x900

Ready To Turn The Page To The Adventure Story You’re Meant To Live?

hero sWhy wait until the new year begins?  What role do you really want to play in life now? What new scripts, characters and scenes do you desire, or want to drop?

Ready to overcome what Charles Duhigg dubs your “automatic pilot?”  This may seem childish yet you’re most likely to make a big change permanent by abiding by two powerfully simple notions. First picture your very specific and compelling reward for succeeding. Then picture other rewards for each small step along the way.

Plus picture what boring, unpleasant or fear-provoking task or person you will be able to view in a more comfortable light or no longer have to experience at all.

Warning: “What gets in the way of being great is being good at something” ~ Jim Collins, From Good to Greatlife meant to liven

Here are seven steps that have proved fruitful for me — when I’ve actually followed them.

1. Find Your True North to Become More Joyful?

First be clear about choosing a goal that rings true. Forget “should” or adopting someone else’s goal for you.

2. Picture Being Your Hero?

Forbes1-150x1502-2Afraid you will fail? See the rest of the column over at Forbes.

Be The Holiday Gift They Are Gratified to Get

Adversaries1846369-124x150-1Yes the holiday is rushing towards us and many face it with mixed feelings yet thewreath8.10-150x150there are small, priceless ways you can foster a festive spirit with others.

Be the wreath that encircles others with genuine warmth, and more.

1. The Taylor Swift Touch: Vividly Praise Others In The Presence of Those Who Matter To Them 

Taylor Swift graciously accepted her CMA Pinnacle award by thanking her country music friends George StraitTim McGrawFaith HillKeith Urban and Brad Paisley by name. She turned and looked at each one, then specifically, self-deprecatingly said what she had learned from each music star. For example Taylor said, “Brad Paisley, who I toured with for nine months … I sat on a speaker by the side of the stage and watched him every single night and he was funny, and I’ll never be that funny.”CMATaylor-Swift-Free-150x150

2. Be a Go-Giver: Adopt the Attitude You Want Others To Have

“A two-year old falls down unexpectedly. He isn’t hurt but instinctively knows he wasn’t supposed to fall,” writes Bob Burg in his idea-packed new book Adversaries Into Allies. “He looks at Mom and Dad for an interpretation of what happened. If they laugh as though it’s funny, he’ll probably laugh. If they panic and act upset, he will most likely begin to cry. In either case, Mom and Dad unintentionally set the frame that led to the outcome,” suggests Burg.

Humor-to-nudgte-good-behavior-4557_n-150x150We make that framing choice, consciously or not, many times everyday in our interactions with others. For example, the owners of this business positively framed their request by using unifying humor in the language on their outdoor sign you see to the left here.

Since more people report feeling down more than up during the Christmas holidays, why not be a gift this year? Each time you meet someone in person or virtually, consider that you may be the only angel in their life right now. Set the situation for them to feel cared for, in that moment.

Also you can even “re-set” someone’s upset reaction towards you, as Burg did when driving in a parking lot and inadvertently almost hitting a man. By quickly waving his hand in friendly apology Burg shifted the man’s mood from anger to acceptance of the “waved” apology.

Holiday Hint: In every interaction this holiday, remember that healthy, happy marriages, according to John Gottman, usually have a “magic” 5:1 ratio of positive to negative interactions.   Why not attempt to exceed that standard in all your relationships, beginning this holiday? Practice affirming their positive side and letting negative comments or behaviors slide. Be their soft shoulder.

3. Be Like Them: Brash Friendliness Pushes Us Back Yet Warm Geniality Pulls Us Inburg-footer-150x150

A warm smile tends to beget a smile in return. Yet an effusive, over-the-top laugh and wide grin, for example, may cause an introvert or someone who has just gone through a trying time to back into their shell. So bring out the friendly, expressive part of you that’s close to the energy level of the person you are with. Then you are more likely to close the gap of connection rather than widen it.

4. Make Your Welcoming Expression a Comforting Gift: Avoid The “Screen Face”

As we increasingly look down and focus on what’s on our phone, our faces tend to look serious or even dour or dismissive. Unfortunately we often maintain that “screen face” expression when we look up to engage with others. Since behaviors create moods and moods are contagious we are setting up an unfriendly “frame” for the rest of the interaction.

Holiday Hint: Adopt the Golden Golden Rule. Treat others as they want to be treated

5. Start Now:  Be The Gift They Are Happy to Receive

You’ve noticed by now that some people… See the rest of the column over at Forbes.Forbes1-150x1502-2

Evoke Humor To Befriend, Defuse Tension And Have Fun

child laughteresHumor sometimes requires a target. If you make a bulls-eye out of someone weaker, particularly if you initiate the attack, you look like a bully.  target nTake aim, instead, at the powerful. Or, rather than getting upset, consider yourself lucky when someone makes you a target first.

Because, as Isaac Asimov observed, “For a humane person, the put-down is most satisfactory and most easily greeted with pleasurable laughter when the person being put down has done something to invite it – in other words, if he has attacked.  Then it is lunge-and-riposte and at the riposte we can laugh with a clear conscience.”

Defuse Anxiety

“Those oxygen masks on airplanes? I don’t think there’s really any oxygen. I think they’re just to muffle the screams.” ~ Rita Rudner

monks laughteresStick To Unifying Humor So We Can Stick Together Around Our Better Sidesfriends laughingges

Examples of unifying humor that tap into the universal “us” can pop up most anywhere:

• After a mad cow scare, a subscriber to my blog sent me this bumper sticker: “Montana – At least our cows are sane!”

• Commenting on the human condition: “God pulled an all-nighter on the sixth day.”

• I saw this emblazoned on the tee shirt worn by a man who ran into the open door when rushing out of a San Diego beach shop: “The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.”

For inspiration on stating the obvious, look at some newspaper headlines:

• “Study Finds Sex, Pregnancy Link”  ~ Cornell Daily Sun

• “Lack of Brains Hinders Research” ~ The Columbus Dispatch

• Lily Tomlin said, “Nobody is here without a reason. … I like a huge range of comedy but I always wanted my comedy to be more embracing of the species rather than debasing of it.” At my Forbes column see the rest of the ways to pull others closer and bring out their better side (and yours) using humor. Forbes1-150x1502-2unifying les

 

Attract More Respect and Affection

Compelling Peole 49It’s probably no surprise to you that we most admire those exude the right balance of strength and warmth, even if the notion runs counter to Machiavell’s famous view that, “It is much safer to be feared than loved.”

Like to learn how?

If you’re a woman or non-white this capacity is especially vital according Matthew+KohutCompelling People co-authors John Neffinger and Matthew Kohut. For example, they discovered that Hillary Clinton, “has been the butt of more jokes than any other human being, living or dead.”

1. How Do Public Leaders Rate on the Warmth/Strength Scale?

Enter the name in the search box. Then you can rate that public figure’s combination of strength and warmth, and also see their overall rating.

2. The Same Behaviors Make Men Look Caring And Women Seem Angry

• Often the media exhibits sexism in telling stories according to Joanna Coles, Cosmopolitan‘s editor-in-chief, on Morning Joe. “Male congressmen, male senators are always described as ‘stating’ something in the House. Women senators and congresswomen are always described as ‘complaining.’ Women are emotional; men are somehow stoic,” she said.

• Anger helps men attract people in a room, but often has the opposite effect for women.

• A man is perceive as becoming angry because he cares, while a woman’s anger is seen as a lack of control.

• Women and men project lower status on angry female professionals than on angry male professionals. “Women’s emotional reactions were attributed to internal characteristics (‘she is an angry person,’ or ‘she is out of control’) while men’s emotional reactions were attributed to external circumstances,” according to Yale psychology professor, Victoria Brescoli.

• Men who get angry actually attract more respect, status, better job titles and higher pay. Yet women are more likely to need to look calm to be seen as rational.

Forbes1-150x1502-2 “It’s not up to women to conform by replacing strength with warmth, but rather to increase their expression of both,” suggests Neffinger and Kohut. See the rest of the column at Forbes.

Be A Successful Quitter Sooner Rather Than Later

QuittersresIronically when I was hastily hired, as an outsider, to lead a team at a company, my titular boss had placed bets with his colleagues about how long I’d last. Little did he know of the unexpected bond that naturally formed in the first meeting with my team. You see, they were all ex-military officers and I’d been a journalist. We’d lived by deadlines.  A pejorative term both professions sometimes used, in frustration, when discussing individuals who did not keep deadlines was “civilians.”

Together we would reverse engineer our end goal, set priorities and deadlines, then make what Peter Sims dubbed Little Bets, iteratively experimenting towards our goal.

None of those behaviors would have been possible, however, without the key trait that Nick Tasler cites in Why Quitters Win.

mark_zuckerberg_posterPerhaps The Most Dangerous Leadership Flaw Is Indecisiveness

Feeling overwhelmed by choices makes us slower to choose and less satisfied when we do, discovered The Paradox of Choice author, Barry Schwartz. Indecisiveness can be corrosive for us and for others in all parts of our lives. It robs of us of our time, dilutes relationships and stifles an organization’s capacity to solve a problem or to seize an opportunity.

Sure some leaders make faulty snap judgments. The key to making smarter decisions sooner is to prioritize, then to actually stop pursuing many of the projects and ideas that don’t serve the top priority. Dropping projects is actually one of the hardest things for us to do for many reasons, including behavior trip-ups such as Sunk CostConfirmation Bias and Shiny Object Syndrome.

Here are four quick takeaways from Tasler’s book that may entice you to read it:

Nick Tges1. Being a Decider Begets Greater Success For You And Those You Lead

Decisiveness is the single most important success factor for people in today’s information-saturated environment…exponentially true for leaders who must navigate a team in that environment,” discovered Tasler.

2.  Quit Some Things Sooner

“At the heart of strategic thinking is the ability to focus on one strategy while consciously quitting the pursuit of others.”  This isn’t just about stopping multi-tasking in real time, but, over time, to focus on a core strategy and to then force yourself and those you lead to let go of anything that does not add value to that strategy. Tasler cites Steve Jobs as an extreme example, referencing Walter Issacson’s book about Jobs where, in a 90-minute meeting soon after returning to lead Apple, Jobs quickly cut many products, with the focused goal to “make four great products.”

This rapid pruning is always easier when a clear, concrete top goal is in place first – another opportunity to be decisive in choosing what it will not include. As a journalist, one way I discovered who had a clear strategy was how quickly, succinctly and clearly they could describe it. It was top-of-mind for them. Those who were adept at that characterization also tended to be more decisive and confident, and better able to listen and respond directly to questions. They had cleared away much of the underbrush in their brain. Learn two tested methods, in Tasler’s book, for facilitating that pruning by imagining alternative futures: Foresight Bias and Gary Klein’s Premortem Analysis.

3. Create a Non-Action Plan

A major fallacy in our reasoning, according to Tasler, is that, “if we just get really clear about what we want, then all the other stuff will naturally evaporate from our consciousness.” Yet guess which reminder was most effective in helping those in a psychologist, Peter Gollwitzer-led study fend off distractions:

“Whenever the distraction arises, I will increase my efforts at hand!”

“Whenever the distraction arises I will ignore it!”

The second sentence works much better because choosing to ignore something takes less mental effort than choosing to focus. Writes Tasler, “Even overachievers have a finite amount of mental capacity.”  That’s why Tasler advises us to become more productive by devoting our prime thinking time to our prime priorities….

Read the rest of Tasler’s insights over at my column on Forbes.Forbes1-150x1502-2

How Millennials Feel About Friendship, Work and Having Children

stewwnWhat most shocked me in the often-startling twenty-year study of Wharton College graduates was that only half as many now plan to have children. Both women and men, in equal numbers, felt that way, yet their reasons are different, according to Baby Bust author, Stewart D. Friedman. Whereas millennial women, at least at Wharton in 1992, felt “motherhood fulfilled their need to help others” more now believe that they can serve the greater good by succeeding at work.

On the other hand, for millennial men, “doing good” is increasingly connected to creating greater BabyBustCover+NoBorder-662x1024balance and harmony between work and family. They have become more egalitarian in relationships, including at work, and are less likely to think of themselves as the sole breadwinner, not surprisingly. Yet those of both sexes who wanted to be parents feel that they, “don’t see a clear path toward it,” discovered Friedman.

Sleeping withT+c-L._AA220_What Are Some OF Their Top Worries?

They are more burdened by college debt, believe that work is more competitive today, and that they are less likely to attain their career goals than Gen Xers so they are more focused on job security. Plus the recognize that they’ll have to work about 14 more hours per week than 20 years ago.

Consequently they more willing to accept what Friedman dubs “extreme jobs” and to job hop to get ahead. No wonder Dan Schawbel’s Promote Yourself is selling so well.

Following Their Passion Through Work Feels Farther Off

Want To Be More Influential? Become The Glue That Holds Diverse Teams Together

IllicitwnAfter seeing the anonymously sent photos of frightened women packed in the bottom of a freighter, destined for sex slavery, an ex-diplomat hastily assembled our team. We were intensely dedicated to find out who was profiting from the human trafficking – and to expose them. Three countries wanted to find out and so did my newspaper. Ironically, conflict soon cropped up within our team, as we followed the money trail, and almost sabotaged our work. Yet the ways we ultimately got on sync and succeeded may hold lessons for any diverse team. Our group also included a former computer hacker, ex- counterintelligence officer and an international banker.

The problem was that no one acted right, like me. And we all felt that way. It wasn’t just our diverse talents but our different temperaments that got in the way. Amongst us we had introverts and extroverts, fast and slow thinkers, and pessimistic and optimistic mindsets. And we’d been recruited to this project so we began as strangers to each other. Yes we did find and expose the illicit network. While that was nine years ago, it remains a vivid memory to this day. Thriving in diverse teams is key to accomplishment and meaningful work in our increasingly complex yet connected world. Why not be a connective leader, the invaluable glue that holds such groups together? Here are some methods that helped us:

Make Your Differences Work For Each Other

1.    Agree on Explicit Rules Of Engagement

To create a common ground on which we get more done with less friction we agreed upon a few simple rules including that we could change the rules as we went along.  Since so much of what a team does is new together, it helps to have boundaries to ground a team, and thus leverage the comfort of those boundless times of co-creating or collective decision making. Here were some of our rules:

Thinking 26_SCI_thinkingFastSlow.jpg.CROP.original-original2.    Meet And Decide in Conversation And In Writing

Slow and fast thinkers can be equally smart. Fast thinkers flourish in conversation and slow thinkers benefit from time for deliberate thinking then writing as Daniel Kahneman famously describes in Thinking, Fast and Slow. A smart team provides for both needs.

Further, introverts thrive with adequate alone time and deep relationships with a few friends, as Quiet author, Susan Cain explains. Extroverts prefer to be engaged with people more often, and enjoy having wider circle of friends. Thus introverts also need down time to think and make gain faster support from their close friends. Extroverts still get the face time they want to get things done and make be better able to tap the wisdom of crowds for insights because they have a wider group of contacts.quiet-book

Learned optimismown3.    Consider Both Best And Worst Case Scenarios

Optimists often tend to view situations through a rosy lens, minimizing or ignoring possible obstacles yet tending to be more tenacious in overcoming them.  When a problem arises pessimists are more likely to see it as permanent (it will always be this bad), pervasive (everything, not just this problem, is bad) and personal (it affects me the most).

While they are inveterate doubters, they are also, according to some research more realistic in their view of a situation than optimists.  Thus discussing both extremes of what might happen, when choosing a course of action, can lead to smarter, collective decision making. See the rest of the column over at Forbes.

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with Kare Anderson

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