Archive | April, 2013

“Heroine” Makes Me Feel Embarrassed

April 17, 2013 -  The first thought is “Joan of Arc” and the burning piles of twigs at her feet.  To be honored as a “Heroine” for doing something that has been fun for 30 years has a certain, uncomfortable feeling of disconnect.  My feet are not hot, or even warm.

Screen Shot 2013-04-17 at 1.00.17 PM I happen to enjoy teaching people skills that they can use to improve their lives.  This makes me feel good.  Some of them argue with me about some of the concepts, and the challenge of answering these people with ideas I’ve adopted is a turn-on.  Also every class I teach is different, and this unknown quality makes each class an adventure. You can learn from people who disagree with you.  Each class is different.

And I am not referring just to the classes I’ve taught in Budapest, in Novasibirsk, in Stavanger.  I mean the classes in San Jose and

Atlanta and New Jersey.  People think differently from each other, so when you are stirring up their thinking processes, all sorts of new things turn up.  As an instructor of adults, you seldom, or never, receive the same question.  This keeps you on your toes.

This blog is about the experience of being honored as a “Heroine” along with four other entrepreneurs in an event coordinated with the Conscious Capitalism Conference in San Francisco.Screen Shot 2013-04-17 at 12.53.39 PM

The males were designated “Heroes”, of course.

Tom Serres is CEO of Rally.org.  He is a leading thinker on social giving, digital fundraising, and has helped millions of supporters connect with nonprofits and charities.

Ben Rattray is CEO of Change.org, the world’s largest petition platform, which empowers 30 million people to create the change they want to see.

Saad Khan is a Partner at CMEA Capital where  he invests exclusively in bad-asses, such as people behind Zaarly, Blekko, Luminate, Jobvite, MediaSpike and Evolution Robotics.

The other Heroine, Margot Fraser, the Founder of Birkenstock USA, was comfortable in her role at the mic as she talked about giving company stock to her employees because it seemed to her to be the right thing to do.

While not officially designated a “Heroine”, Deb Nelson, Executive director of SVN.org, fit the criteria as she spoke in her role as Master of Ceremonies.

Screen Shot 2013-04-17 at 2.05.14 PMIt surprised me greatly to see and hear Raj Sisoda at this evening gathering, as he had earlier given two separate speeches at the Conscious Capitalism  Conference.  Conscious Leaders must have reservoirs of energy.  All you ordinary leaders might take note of this.   Another good reason to become Conscious.   Raj is one of the Founders of ConsciousCapitalism.org, which spearheaded the Conference.

As Richard Sharp, another pioneer, pointed out “The honorees were pioneers in conscious business well before the 2008 meltdown when we started to notice  how vulnerable our economy is to too big to fail banks and a form of capitalism that only focuses on risk taking and bottom line profits, rather than a balanced business approach of higher purpose, contribution to people, planet and profits.  These heroes and heroines focused on enabling a more human view of business practice and decisions long before it became a hot topic of debate.“

My own experience:  I prefer arguing philosophy with dissenting adults to being honored as a heroine.

All five of us have been demonstrating the qualities that this group hopes to instill in business people so they become Conscious Leaders.  The key concept, in my opinion, that connects my work to   Conscious Capitalism is the concept of win-win + creativity.  I had been teaching this to large audiences long before I heard of Conscious Capitalism.

 

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How The CEO Lost His Job

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According to the NY Times, “His pedigree seemed impeccable.”  Yet, after 17 months, Ronald B. Johnson, is out of his job at J.C. Penny

Reading the Times account of the 17 months he spent in his new position, from my viewpoint, it is obvious that  he neither knew nor practiced the skills  of a Conscious Leader.  If he had, he would not be reading the Want Ads today.

The easiest and most important Conscious Leader skill is named Win-Win for all stakeholders.  What this means is that a Conscious Leader must be aware of and include in all business  decisions, each group involved.  He must be aware of and seek out the opinions of the investors, the vendors, the customers, and the board.

It looks as if  Mr. Johnson neglected to ask the Chief Financial Officer about the fake snow, light show and flowing liquor at his welcoming party a year ago.  He may have ignored the Fashion Manager when he ordered the European style men’s suits, and he overlooked asking anyone if his swagger was offensive.

Silicon Valley and Texas have different atmospheres. If you move from one to the other, you need awareness, questions, flexibility, and people skills to establish rapport.

It would seem that at Stanford University, Harvard, Target, and Apple, Mr. Johnson would have picked up the absolutely necessary skills for business today. Here are the key ones his behavior did not include.

Rapport:  How to create enough trust for the shared tasks the two of you must complete together.

Outcome  Setting:  How to know what you want and hope to accomplish in see, hear, and feel terms.

Outcome Elicitation:  How to create enough rapport for the other person to let you know their outcome.

Win-Win:  Finding an outcome big enough for both of you to obtain what you want.

Awareness:  Using your eyes, ears, and  subtle body feelings to gather enough information to know what the score is.  Fake snow in  Plano, Texas means something different than fake snow in San Jose.

Creative Thinking: Be adept at “ Enlarging the Pie” and use the 13 new ways to problem solve with your brain,* until they are intuitive.

Listening:  This cannot be taught, only practiced.

Lawsuits:    AVOID  (Especially with Martha Stewart.)

*“Influencing with Integrity,” the book, explains 13 ways to find a solution with your brain.

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An Essential Skill for a Conscious Culture

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The seminar I was overseeing was to certify a Trainer to teach the “Excellence” seminar I had designed on Communication.  The location is Poughkeepsie, New York, and spring is beginning.  Our classroom could have used more heat.  Our students could have used more “Buy In”.

The seminar was proceeding fairly well, except for a few skeptical engineers who thought they already knew everything worth knowing. These two engineers already knew how to communicate with their computers, and people skills didn’t really have much to contribute to their work day.  At least this is the message their facial expressions were sending to me and to the novice trainer.

Kay, the Provisional Trainer, was feeling their resistance more than I was. I had experienced this attitude from engineers before and knew there was a good chance they would turn around before the three days were over.

At noon break on the second day, one of the two resistance experts stopped me and asked, “Do you think this stuff would help me with a problem I’ve been having for months …er..and… months with a colleague in Japan?

“I don’t know.  Tell me the problem and we’ll see what we can do.”  The questioner was a Visual, so I used a word, “see”, from his native language.  “Tell” is an Auditory word, but sometimes useful when you are not positive of the key perceptual system of a new acquaintance.

“I’ve seen lots of  world wide web messages from this person, but never met him. I have no idea if he is Visual, Auditory or Kinesthetic.”

“Good” I thought.  “You have been listening, even while discounting the importance of these skills.”

I needed more information.  “Why do you need to know what he is – VA or K.?”

“Because for ten months we’ve been trying to see eye to eye on which company to select to beta test a new product.   We see this differently.  We cannot agree on a company.  He is difficult. This has been going on so long that IBM is losing money over the delay.”

“Do you have copies of his written messages?”

“Of course.”

“Bring me copies.”

He did, and in two minutes it was obvious the Japanese IBMer was Auditory. His messages were sprinkled with “hear”, “tell”, “talk”, “noisy”, “loud,” “tone”, “discordant” and similar Auditory words. We counted 15 Auditory words.   I marked these out in a red pen, and the answer to the situation  was instantaneous. My questioner was Visual, of course.  Visuals and Auditories  not only speak different languages, but also live in different worlds.  These different worlds are created from data of the preferred system of each  person.  To seek agreements, translating is necessary.

We quickly composed an answer to his latest message, with al the reasons the Japanese IBMer  should go  with the company that my new “convert ” wanted. The reasons were  expressed in Auditory words.

We had an answer back before the end of the day, agreeing to our proposal. I had the winner recount all this to the class.  We passed around the winning message. The remaining  Resistant Engineer capitulated as soon as he heard the tale.  We suddenly had two verbal advocates for the third day of the training.  And a class full of engineers who wanted to learn this magic in sensory language. Communicating with people is harder than communicating with machines.

If you are working on building a Conscious Culture, you need skills for creating rapport and understanding between people  with different perceptual preferences. Such as, all of  us.

In order to create a culture of cooperation, you must learn to speak the others’ languages, whether Visual, Auditory, or Kinesthetic (feelings and actions). Otherwise, they can hear you, but they will never agree with your world view because their perspective and the data they’ve collected over a life time  is so different.   The cultures of Japan and America were not the problem.  The problem was all in the perceptual preferences and the differences in viewpoint that these preferences create.

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Why The Principles Of Conscious Capitalism Lead To Success

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I was training corporations in the principles of conscious capitalism long before I had heard of it. That’s because I knew these  ideas worked in my life, and had found they worked in other people’s lives as well.  Also, because many corporations were willing to pay me and Certified Trainers of my seminars  handsomely to teach this to their employees.

One of my more interesting clients, a giant telephone company, trained more than 1,000 employees in our “Influencing with Integrity” skills because they discovered their sales increased as their people learned our conversation/sales  skills.  What did we teach them?

One of the key ideas was to listen to the customer and find out the customer’s needs before offering a product.  When we began we heard admiring stories of telephone sales people who sold a two person business a system that would handle 20 employees.  The commission was larger for the bigger system of course.  Since many telephone sales people’s wages are based on commission, this seemed like a smart move.  Except the customer couldn’t have been too happy when they eventually discovered they had been “snookered”.

Once our trainers introduced “dovetailing”, lots of sales pitches changed.   “Dovetailing”  has three steps:

1. You know your outcome: to make a sale

2. You find out your client’s outcome: to purchase something they need

3. You find a solution that perfectly matches both of your outcomes.
This sometimes requires creative thinking skills which pay off  in increased business, trust, and referrals in the long run.  Pretty obvious, once you think about this.

The extra dividends from dovetailing are:

1. Retention rates go up because people feel good about their jobs

2. Job satisfaction is increased

3. More humor is seen/heard in the workplace

4. Sales call/close ratio increased by 25%.

Conscious Capitalism’s  focus on  Purpose, Stakeholders, Leadership and Culture is another way of implementing “Dovetailing”.  Comforting to have other people agree with us.

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