Filtering by Category: Leadership

Netflix debuts new documentary ‘13th’ on the mass incarceration problem in the USA

The point is if you haven’t seen this documentary, you’re still not doing enough to end institutional racism and support the equal rights of all people. Everyone needs to take 2-hours to search for ‘13th’ on Netflix and understand why Ava DuVernay is currently the biggest mass media contributor to the conversation on racial justice and #blacklivesmatter in this country.

Fortunately, it’s now easy to see such an incredibly honest and straight-forward look at a very complex national issue. If you don’t have Netflix, find a friend, hold a viewing party, but get this out there!

As Americans we’re are still dealing with the impact of slavery generations later, and no matter how you sugarcoat it, the black/white divide in this country is still present and continuing to take on different forms of oppression, both personal and institutional.

It’s O.K. to cry. It’s O.K. to mourn. Ignoring what we’ve done by turning a blind eye only makes the issue worse. If you want to help, educate yourself on how slavery is still present in the US today. Watch ‘13th’ on Netflix.

While I think it’s important to acknowledge both sides of a complex issue (thanks to all the police that make our streets safe!), it’s hard to have compassion for a system (as opposed to people) that abuses human rights by taking advantage of slave labor via incarcerated individuals—and while 40% of them are black males, they’re not the only ones being abused by the slave trade that is the prison-industrial complex.

Let me know your thoughts on the documentary!

 

The 7 Books of Highly Effective People

What if a pivotal book that once inspired you was only a launchpad?

 

If you’re like many professionals and go-getters, you’ve probably read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. This book has served as a beacon for countless aspirants trying to reshape their lives. It plucks eternal principles and serves a feast for those who dare to succeed.

The beautiful feature about 7 Habits is that it combines a top-down with a bottom-up approach—in other words, it clearly tells you why you should do something, while also telling you how to do it. It’s motivational and practical.

The book is packed with gold. Yet, despite this, it’s still possible for readers to struggle applying the principles. I remember how challenging it was for me to execute Habit 3, after going through it multiple times. I’d even run out and bought Covey’s special planner! But I felt so overwhelmed. Was there something missing?

There’s only so much you can put in one book. 7 Habits is an excellent intro to personal management and interpersonal skills. After devouring it, though, you might get the question, as I did, “What next?

I’ve outlined a fantastic list of books, one for each Habit, that explores these powerful principles more in depth. You’ll be blown away, and Covey’s material will take on way more meaning than you may have seen at first.

 

Habit 1: Be Proactive

Awaken the Giant Within by Anthony Robbins

Though this book covers many of the principles Covey discusses, its main focus is on how we respond to external circumstances and take control over our internal conditions. Robbins introduces a practical, step-by-step system for getting back in the driver’s seat.

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

The Passion Test by Janet and Chris Attwood

Unveiling your purpose might never have been this simple. The Attwood duo make an entertaining, motivating, and actionable book that helps you get to the heart of who you are more easily, and follow what ignites your soul.

Habit 3: Put First Things First

Getting Things Done by David Allen

What a lifesaver! Allen explains so clearly and so comprehensively how to streamline everything. It really gives skin and bones to this ghost we call “time management.” Just following a few of his tactics will boost your productivity significantly.

Habit 4: Think Win/Win

The Bond by Lynne McTaggart

McTaggart gives an alternative to the traditional paradigm of “survival of the fittest” and “might makes right.” She explains that in deepening our social connections and awareness, we thrive the most. This clarifies and broadens Habit 4, helping to integrate the essence of it more wholly.

Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood

How God Changes Your Brain by Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman

Don’t let the title mislead you. This book, though giving fascinating insight into the neuroscience of spiritual practice, also presents systematic exercises for something the authors call Compassionate Communication. Raising the bar with listening, and speaking authentically and tactfully, are cornerstones of this program.

Habit 6: Synergize

The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill

Ever heard the term Master Mind group? Napoleon Hill, who also authored the classic book Think and Grow Rich, coined the word and was one of the first people to flesh out the concept to a large audience. As he points out in this book, the Master Mind is the bedrock of his success philosophy. Of course, he talks about several other principles, yet synergy is the core theme.

Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

The Art and Science of Raja Yoga by Swami Kriyananda

There are so many ways to “sharpen the saw.” Any number of books could have been listed here, but I felt the best that I have personally read is Kriyananda’s comprehensive, yet easy-to-understand, masterpiece. Though he comes from a background in Indian spirituality, the exercises and practical advice in this book make it invaluable for any person. Mind, body, spirit, and emotions are all dealt with here!

Even if you haven’t taken the 7 Habits journey, you will undoubtedly find all of these books have powerful lessons to propel you further on your road to success. If you have read Covey’s work, you might return to it and digest it at a much more profound level. You’ll surely be a force of nature in the world!

Which books have you read that helped you the most to succeed? Please share below!

What it Takes to be Tomorrow's Entrepreneur

How much has the world changed in the past 15 years?

 

Let’s take a walk back in time...

  • Cell phones were sporadic and bulkier.
  • Chubby laptops were the way to take computers with you.
  • Businesspeople carried Palm Pilots.
  • The Internet was taking the world by storm (though no major social networks, yet).

All of this, only 15 years ago. With everything evolving so quickly, what will society resemble in the future?!

 

The Trends

If you’ve seen Facebook inundated with venture capital and webinar ads, you’re not the only person. Some are calling this the Age of Entrepreneurship—it has never been easier to start a business, gather resources, and educate yourself in the history of time.

After so many layoffs during the Recession, many people lost faith in job security and took matters into their own hands. No longer feeling they could rely on employers, a new wave of entrepreneurs took up arms. This trend has only grown, even with the Recession fading out. Add to this that more Millennials are maturing and saturating the workforce, bringing their values for meaningful work and expression.

According to the 2015 Global Entrepreneur Indicator, 90% of US entrepreneurs are open to starting a new business today and 86% expect a revenue increase over the next 6 months.  The attitude of society right now is extremely hospitable to emerging entrepreneurs.

Technology is also fertilizing the soil. So many sophisticated tools are available to the average person now that weren’t 15 or 20 years ago—anything from CRMs to online team management systems to an array of creativity suites.

You can use Elance to find partners and use Fiverr, Etsy, or Amazon to set up shop. Social networks can be useful in marketing strategy. And portable devices and Cloud computing allow for the ability to work anywhere, anytime.

 

What can we predict about where entrepreneurship is headed?

 

These trends will only become stronger. Here are some specific changes we will likely see, though.

 

Build Community

Many entrepreneurs believe that communities of entrepreneurs will become more common. Steve Case, Co-Founder of AOL, says, “The next generation of companies will…require more partnerships.” With bigger problems to tackle and heightened competition, working interdependently will be essential. Of course, technology will aid this process, but in person interactions will also be important.

You can prepare for this by networking with people in your field with diverse skills and talents. Instead of seeing them as competitors, see them as allies working for the same causes and toward similar goals. They can offer valuable insight, camaraderie, and support. Be willing to provide these, as well, in a spirit of humility and generosity.


Embrace Millennials

The youth are the future. Millennials will one day be running things, so seek their vision and help. They might have different values than you—that’s okay. Reflect on what those values are, how they might be important, and how you can embody some of them in your business. If you are a Millennial, remember to collaborate with multiple generations to gain different perspectives, but also stay true to your ideals.

Keep in mind that the newer generations are more committed to doing work they love and are not strictly bound to any one job. If you have younger employees, see how you can help them build and utilize their strengths. Appreciate them, but don’t hold onto them desperately, because they will pursue another avenue or a higher position in another company if they feel it is right for them.

Future entrepreneurs will have adaptable and malleable teams in a constantly changing world, and they will seek to empower their employees, because that will be the hot ticket to finding great team members.


Loosen the Reins

Forbes predicts 50% of all business employees will work remotely by 2046. This, among various other factors, means the old hierarchy is going to need a eulogy. You’ll be ahead of the times if you open up to some of your employees telecommuting. Also, attempt to make the actual workplace a bit more fun, personalized, and welcoming. Google is an excellent example of this strategy.

Instead of being the commander, invite feedback and constructive criticism from your employees…and really listen! Trust and develop them more, taking away superfluous layers of management. Help them to organize their own teams and support each other, and don’t be afraid to “walk amongst” them. Businesses in the future will be a lot more fluid and employee-friendly.


Keep an eye on the trends. As an entrepreneur, it is absolutely vital to stay current if you want to stay afloat. It’s even better if you have an edge. The world is changing quickly. If you close your eyes for a minute, a whole new environment could await you when you open them. 

The Corporate Mosaic: Being Effective Through Cross-Cultural Understanding

We all know we live in a world where cultures collide everyday. It is unavoidable, unless you happen to live in a small village. We are so connected, and yet people continue to make ethnic faux pas, sometimes leading to tension and frustration. This is especially true in business. The wrong handshake, gesture, or slip of the tongue could be the first domino in bringing down an important deal. 

These mistakes are easily correctable. All it takes is a bit of education. Each culture has a different way of expressing respect. By knowing the basic differences, you will be able to navigate the cross-cultural terrain fairly smoothly and with confidence. While the following points are meant to be rules of thumb, it is essential that you study a bit about the culture you intend to interact with beforehand. 

PERSONAL SPACE

What is considered a comfortable distance between two people varies from culture to culture. In America and much of Europe, personal space is usually a few feet with strangers and business associates. In China and many Asian countries, it is somewhat less, but with strangers there is a definite taboo with touch. So no pats on the back. In much of Latin America and the Middle East, personal space is the least distance, and even strangers tend to be physically close. 

RELATIONSHIPS

Not everyone enters business deals the same way. In the Middle East, Latin America, and Southern Europe it is common to first take time to build the relationship before even discussing corporate affairs. Eagerness to jump into a deal may create resistance. Spend some time getting to know your potential partners - take them out to lunch, talk about family and common interests, and be genuinely curious. In many parts of Asia, such as China and Japan, respect and composure are big. It is expected in such places to be humble, modest, and relatively stoic in business. You will be considered foolish if you boast. Also, don't be too friendly, at least starting out; simply be polite and agreeable. 

In North America and Northern Europe, business relationships are very cut-and-dry. It's less about building the relationship (in comparison to other regions) and more about committing to an objective and following through. Concern yourself more with being reliable and competent than being the life of the crowd. 

Time

North America and Northern Europe are the most time-oriented. Punctuality is vital and tardiness is a sign of disrespect. Business in general is very procedural, with a focus on efficiency. If everything is not done in a timely manner, you will end up frustrating the other party. Some Asian countries have been adopting Western views on time, but business may still feel slower. India has a double standard - they expect you to be punctual while they are likely to be late. Latin America is the most laid back. It's a general rule to show up to any event about 30 minutes after the designated time. 

Communication

Many Asian cultures are very roundabout in communicating. In being polite, they may agree with you, even if there is internal disagreement. They are also skilled at not revealing too many emotions, so you won't always be able to tell what they really feel. This is all meant to smooth the social interaction. Asians tend to also be fairly reserved and quieter in business than other people. North Americans and Northern Europeans are typically more loud and direct.

Sometimes less tactful than the Asian cultural mind, they want to get down to business and keep communication open. There is a sense of hierarchy, though, and so respect to those higher in power must be taken into account. Latin Americans are some of the most easygoing and conversational people. Communication may become informal quickly. Just go with the flow. There is less focus on you as a representative of a business, and more on you as a person.

Keep these tips in mind, and you will be able to adapt to many different countries with greater ease. It is becoming harder today to stay isolated in business, as nations interact more with each other and cultures intermingle. This will only increase over time. It is a wise approach to learn the customs of other societies so you can work with them effectively, and build mutual respect. Good luck!

Kong Ren Consulting unleashes the leadership potential in your people so teams can thrive. To learn more about our programs, click here. To receive great, useful content each month, sign up for our email list here. To discuss how we can support you, your organization, and teams, contact us today! 

Oooh, Listen to the Music!

We're giving you an excuse to listen to your playlist at work - it helps you be productive!

Do you have any tasks that are repetitive and grueling? Checking emails might be one thing many people grunt about. What about data entry? Paperwork? Editing and review? If you've done a specific task for a long enough time, your brain starts to yawn and you might lag. But studies are showing that music can have a great effect on your work.  The University of Windsor, Canada released the results of an experiment which "indicated that state positive affect and quality-of-work were lowest with no music, while time-on-task was longest when music was removed." In other words, music can help you be more efficient.

The benefits aren't just in efficiency. The right song can also spur your creativity - if it's not too loud! The Journal of Consumer Research announces that "results from five experiments demonstrate that a moderate (70 dB) versus low (50 dB) level of ambient noise enhances performance on creative tasks and increases the buying likelihood of innovative products." It's probably something we've all suspected, but the data brings it home. Adapt your music for the mood most appropriate to the work at hand (energetic or contemplative?) and keep the volume at a moderate level - neither too low or too high. 

As a general rule, if you need to focus (and the task is not repetitive and requires more mental exertion) avoid an abundance of lyrics and stick to music you're familiar with. This limits the distractor factor while still stimulating you. 

As a last note, some people talk about the "Mozart Effect," a phenomenon that supposedly increased the IQs and learning potential of young children when they listened to Mozart. There was a lot of controversy over this, and what it is really based on are studies showing temporary learning improvement in adult brains. However, further studies have indicated that Mozart's music isn't the only kind that can help peak your brain - it seems that many different kinds of music that strongly resonate with you can help your cognition. 

Take these tips, and experiment with them in the workplace. With a little rhythm and beat, your "engine" should run more smoothly. 

Kong Ren Consulting unleashes the leadership potential in your people so teams can thrive. To learn more about our programs, click here. To receive great, useful content each month, sign up for our email list here. To discuss how we can support you, your organization, and teams, contact us today! 

How to Market for a New Age of Consumers, Tenet #3

TENET #3: OFFER REAL VALUE

A core concept of marketing philosophy is to emotionally engage your target audience and make them feel that they need your product or service. But here is an important question to pose:

Does my business have something of real value to offer?

If you have an empty product or service, you SHOULD NOT be marketing it, plain and simple. It is your responsibility as an entrepreneur to reliably and accurately test your offering. Anything less is unethical.

Rather than limit your business, however, thorough testing can be your leverage point. In the right context, statistics, research, and testimonials do impress people. This is why many companies show “experiments” in their commercials, or have a person in a lab coat referencing data. Many of these commercials are misleading, and this is where they do damage – the stated value is not congruent with the actual value. And so people end up buying dubious medications, lackluster cleaning supplies, and ineffective weight loss pills.  By providing real value, and citing accurate research or honest testimonies, you plant seeds of trust that can only grow and grow. In the long-run, trust will be your marketing.

Kong Ren Consulting unleashes the leadership potential in your people so teams can thrive. To learn more about our programs, click here. To receive great, useful content each month, sign up for our email list here. To discuss how we can support you, your organization, and teams, contact us today! 

How to Market for a New Age of Consumers, Tenet #2

TENET #2: EMPOWER YOUR CUSTOMERS

This may not apply to every business, yet should be a general principle that you may want to refer to every time you create a new product or service. Some companies bank on the idea of chaining customers to something they may not need long-term (e.g. some pharmaceuticals). Other companies try to get people addicted (e.g. using MSG and other chemicals in fast food). Their advertisements reinforce these strategies. Business should not be about enslaving people. 

One of the greatest kinds of value you can give someone (or, rather, help them achieve) is self-empowerment. Providing a prosthetic limb to a soldier who's lost her leg is empowering. Giving therapy or a drug to temporarily help a widow overcome depression is empowering. Creating healthy and affordable fast food for busy people is empowering. Just as your business should align with an empowerment paradigm, so should your marketing. There are many psychological maneuvers used to suck people in, and they typically instill the thought "You need us! How can you live a good, happy life without us?" Is it any wonder we live in such a consumerist, materialistic society? 

When you market, be honest, express the real benefits your product or service offers, and don't sell life-support. Sell value. 

Imagine a world where people think for themselves, where communities support each other, where progress and harmony direct money, and where we try to build each other up rather than tear each other down. Does your business, and your marketing of it, align with this vision, or opt instead for a broken and slowly dying system? 

Kong Ren Consulting unleashes the leadership potential in your people so teams can thrive. To learn more about our programs, click here. To receive great, useful content each month, sign up for our email list here. To discuss how we can support you, your organization, and teams, contact us today! 

How to Market for a New Age of Consumers: Tenet #1

TENET #1: HAVE EMPATHY

Empathy should be the foundation of all marketing approaches. It is your greatest asset. What empathy means is entering the minds and hearts of your target market and discovering what they truly care about and need. It is also feeling them as part of an integrated whole - it is not you on this side of the line and your target market on the other, but both of you co-existing in a large, unified system, like organs in a body. Deep empathy is knowing that your customers are a part of you. You would never hurt them, cheat them, or abuse them. 

Click here for a great exercise to develop empathy and its corollary, loving-kindness. Learning this is not just about being moral, although that is something important in and of itself; it also strengthens your flexibility of mind, allowing you to shift perspectives and more easily meet your customers' yearnings. 

Kong Ren Consulting unleashes the leadership potential in your people so teams can thrive. To learn more about our programs, click here. To receive great, useful content each month, sign up for our email list here. To discuss how we can support you, your organization, and teams, contact us today! 

Think Your Way to the Top

Do you know how powerful your mind is? A lot of us might take for granted what it can do. Maybe we shouldn't. 

Visualizing yourself doing a task, called mental practice, has been studied rigorously over the past couple decades, and the research reveals that it enhances your skill level, whether you're a surgeon or a basketball player. A meta-analysis (cross-examination of almost all available research) published in the reputable Journal of Applied Psychology concludes "results indicate that mental practice has a positive and significant effect on performance.” Even neuroscientists are making headway, showing that the brain and muscles activate in areas associated with the imagined task.

We’re going to discuss the steps involved in mental practice, but before we do, let’s talk about the potential uses for it beyond sheer performance. This may be a pretty big paradigm shift.

The Power of Intention

Princeton University had a long-standing department (called PEAR) that probed a peculiar aspect of the human mind – namely, how it interacts with the world around it directly. In its own words: “Nearly three decades of intense experimentation leave little doubt that the anomalous physical phenomena appearing in the PEAR studies are valid.”

One example of these experiments consists of asking participants to affect a Random Event Generator (basically, an electronic “roll of the dice”) by focusing on a number, in the hopes that the chosen number will repeat more than others. PEAR found a noticeable effect. The neuroscientist Mario Beauregard further attests to this when he says “looking at 832 [Random Event Generator] studies conducted during the last decades showed odds against chance beyond a trillion to one.”

Numerous other experiments are outlined by Lynn McTaggart in her book The Intention Experiment. Nearly all of them point to the possibility that our minds have some influence outside our bodies (an effect known as psi). This is a radical idea for our current way of thinking, but has existed for millennia, often wrapped in cultural superstition.

Perhaps because of this, and of careless researchers and psychic charlatans being put in the limelight, psi is often disregarded. Yet, as we’ve just discussed, legitimate research exists that paints a remarkable picture. If you're interested in more of these studies, please visit this list of articles featured on consciousness researcher Dean Radin's website.

Mindcraft

If this is hard to swallow, you can still use the exercise below for mental practice. It can be applied before interviews, board meetings, networking events, or any workday to boost your performance. But if you have an open mind, you can experiment with this skill to test what else you can do. Try visualizing a fat paycheck, receiving an award, hot new deals, a surprise vacation, your sales going up and more customers coming in – don’t be bashful! Consider yourself a lay researcher and pioneer of possibility.

Steps

1) Clarify. Figure out your intention, and be specific. The more detail you can add to the visualization, the better.

2) Relax. Use a familiar meditation exercise, or you can find one in this blog under "Surfing Brainwaves for Creativity." In short, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and release tension. 

3) Emote. Emotions are powerful, so use them to your best advantage! They will help flesh out your visualizations. Recall a time you felt a particular feeling strongly, then transfer that mental state to the new experience you are creating. Confidence, love, courage, focus, peace, joy, enthusiasm - each is a valuable ingredient. 

4) Immerse. Use all of your senses to find yourself in the desired situation. Feel it as vividly as possible, as if you were literally there. Experience it in first person, not as a spectator looking at yourself. If you are training in a skill, go through all the moves and gestures. This takes practices, but make the best effort you can to really feel it - and smell, taste, hear, and see. 

5) Predict. In real life, you could run into any number of challenges. In your mind, experience these. Think of anything that could arise to deter you, and face it gracefully. Use this as an opportunity to embed countermoves. 

6) Recite. You may want to add verbal affirmations before, after, or even during the exercise. Make these specific and positive statements. For example, instead of saying "I don't get nervous in meetings" you could say "I confidently interact with people in every board meeting" or even just "I am confident and comfortable around other people." 

7) Return. Open your eyes, smile, and feel an inner conviction that what you just imagined is real. Go about your day with this calm conviction. No need to obsess, no need to forget. Try to experience gratitude alreadyAlso, you should act in ways that maximize your success. If you visualize yourself speaking like an expert, physically practice, too. Go to the mirror and work it! And give yourself opportunities to get up in front of an audience. Like the investment brokers say - diversify. If you've done the exercise right, you should see yourself progressing efficiently. 

Note for Extended Intention

If you are going to practice affecting something "out there," Lynn McTaggart says it is a good idea to be precise. If what you want is quantifiable, use a specific amount ("I earn $3 million a year" as opposed to "I am rich"). Set an exact deadline, including month, day, and year (but give a reasonable amount of time - don't say you are going to be a millionaire tomorrow).

You may notice that these guidelines apply to goal-setting in general. The whole conclusion of psi research is that our minds seem to be able to influence probability. So see this as raising your odds; and, in theory, the more you practice, the better you get. 

Check out this video featuring Jim Carrey.

Kong Ren Consulting unleashes the leadership potential in your people so teams can thrive. To learn more about our programs, click here. To receive great, useful content each month, sign up for our email list here. To discuss how we can support you, your organization, and teams, contact us today! 

Head in the Cloud

Did you know that 84% of businesses sampled by CWD Tracking Poll are now using the Cloud? This internet storage system has become wildly popular and is even making entry into small businesses. Some entrepreneurs are hesitant to adapt, but it truly serves its users well. Here are some reasons why:

Money

First off, the Cloud saves money (and, in connection, time). Many Cloud services are priced at reasonable rates. Even if you choose to purchase a physical device to house your own personal Cloud (e.g. My Cloud), costs are still fairly low.

Amenities

Most companies that offer Cloud hosting provide a range of tools that come with the service. A professional suite is a common add-on, which includes some form of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Syncing is another asset, which makes life so much easier by allowing you to bring up important documents or presentations on your computer, laptop, tablet, or phone. 

Ease

Telecommuting is a growing trend, and the Cloud definitely helps enable this. You can literally access information anywhere and anytime, as long as you are logged in. This allows unprecedented levels of sharing and streamlined collaboration. And with speeds that are virtually instantaneous, there will be no time wasters.

Flexibility

One of the more overlooked benefits of using the Cloud in business is its scalability. A company that expands can add more data capacity in increments. This is easy to do on most Cloud services, and is economical.

Security

Despite some publicity, the Cloud is generally safe. You just have to use common sense when using it, like with any other secure program. If you’re concerned about security, there are many password generators that can help you produce rock solid codes. Here are some password generators:

PERSONAL CLOUD

Having a personal Cloud was mentioned earlier, but what can you expect? It costs about $150-500 for you own Cloud hardware, depending on the brand and data capacity. A small business with a team of 8 could buy this and give each member 1 gigantic Terabyte of data. Yet it's a toss-up. You would save money in the long run, but would miss out on the many benefits that the hosted Cloud services offer.

Check out this list of the big shots in professional Cloud hosting:

To grow your business and keep up with the times, it really pays to have your head in the Cloud!

Kong Ren Consulting unleashes the leadership potential in your people so teams can thrive. To learn more about our programs, click here. To receive great, useful content each month, sign up for our email list here. To discuss how we can support you, your organization, and teams, contact us today! 

Words Make Us One: The Magic of Communication

One of the top skills employers across the board value is communication. And yet, this is something that isn’t thoroughly taught in school and is severely lacking in many firms. The staffing agency Accountemps conducted a survey that reveals the number one problem CFOs identify is lack of communication within the company. Also, the Chairman for Hewlitt-Packard, Ray Lane, mentioned, “This [business] is 90% about leadership, communications, and operating execution.” 

Radiologist and neuroscience researcher, Dr. Andrew Newberg, has been investigating the process of communication from behind the scenes - in the brain. Distilled from his explorations with advanced scanning technologies, such as fMRIs, Dr. Newberg has developed a method called Compassionate Communication, which improves understanding, empathy, problem solving, peace, and content recall between people engaged in dialogue.

Here is a breakdown of the technique that you can use in myriad situations, including the workplace:

Relax

This is the most important factor throughout the whole process. Tense each muscle group, hold for a few seconds, and release. Take slow, deep breaths. Close your eyes for a moment, if you need to. Dr. Newberg recommends yawning - it physiologically helps you to relax. Now you have an excuse!

Visualize

It’s been demonstrated repeatedly that mentally rehearsing an activity before doing it improves performance. Communication is no different. So vividly imagine your ideal interaction - see, feel, smell, touch, even taste, if you can. Immerse yourself in first person. In addition, reflect on something you really like about the person you’re about to speak with. If this is challenging, then relive a general moment of bliss, some past experience you supremely enjoyed. 

Soften

Smile warmly and use friendly eye contact. Open with a sincere compliment. Speak in a slow, calm voice. These actions will all contribute to creating pleasant flow. Humans are wired to neurophysiologically sync with each other (called isopraxism). If you are relaxed and warm, the other person will likely mirror you, even unconsciously.

Chunk

Try to remember the last full conversation you had, in every single detail. Unless your memory is exceptional, there are probably many gaps. Our working memories can only store a limited amount of information (about 7 “chunks”), and they maintain it for 30 seconds at a time. Because of this fact, it would be wise to keep your words brief and direct. Rather than detracting from the conversation, this will actually enhance it by teaching you to be more selective and mindful with what you say. As you become more adept at Compassionate Communication, this rule can be loosened a bit. 

Surrender

Let go of your ego and immediate desires. (Are you still relaxing?) Listen patiently and alertly to the other person. Feel the words being born, and the emotions behind the words. Give him or her enough time to speak. When it’s your turn, allow yourself to speak from deep within you, almost spontaneously. See this as an exercise in observing where a conversation leads, rather than trying to force it.

When you can step aside in your own mind and speak freely (yet compassionately), the most important underlying concerns may arise. In Dr. Newberg’s experience, problems approached this way tend to be resolved in less than an hour. He also reports that after about 30 straight minutes of empathic, mindful dialogue, boundaries between speakers dissolve and they feel unified (which is actually observable by decreased activity in the parietal lobes).

Practice

Since this is a skill, it’s vital to ease into it. The best way to practice is to start with situations that are less stress-inducing, such as with a friend. Romantic partners might be tricky to do this with on your first few attempts. As you feel more confident and comfortable, go ahead and step it up. Also, when you start Compassionate Communication, it may feel “fake” or “not right,” but you are literally retraining your brain. Work through the discomfort, it may take a handful of times to begin feeling natural. By then, you will have given yourself an ENORMOUS advantage in business and in life.

Kong Ren Consulting unleashes the leadership potential in your people so teams can thrive. To learn more about our programs, click here. To receive great, useful content each month, sign up for our email list here. To discuss how we can support you, your organization, and teams, contact us today! 

From Ping-pong to Post-Modernism

Intention and interpretation are the vital leaps in communication we make to bridge the gap left by the symbolism of our words.
— Matthew Koren

Intention

You speak and have intention. I listen and have interpretation. How do you know that I know what you meant? 

In our last post, we talked about communication ping-pong and some strategies to get out of it when you find yourself 'in the game'. Boy, did I opened up a can of worms!

And I've always wanted to write more about these concepts, so here we go. So let's start simply: what do we mean by meaning?

Meaning

I have an Albert Camus quote next to my desk that says, among other things, "meaning, a growth in experience as a result of receiving the communication, requires the hearer supply the imaginative link from the hearer's fund of experience to the abstract language symbols the speaker has used." I couldn't agree more.

Unless I pump you up with voltage-sensitive dyes (VSDs) and point a CCD (charge-coupled device) camera at you, I can't actually see any neural growth or changing activity. The rest is just inference. Said another way, blind faith that you understand me.

The hearer is taking the symbols of my words and matching them with symbols in her head. In even the best case scenario, this is like mixing apples with oranges.

So how do we know we've been heard? We listen to the symbols given back to us, and they aren't always words.

Are they of the same nature? Do they reflect understanding in the way we expected? If not, then what?

As we explore this concept over the next couple blog entries, do me a favor? Let me know if you get my drift? Thanks.

Matthew Koren unleashes the leadership potential in your people so teams can thrive. He is based out of Portland, OR. To learn more about his programs, click here. To receive great, useful content each month, sign up for his email list here. To discuss how Matt can support you, your organization, and teams, contact him today! 

3 ways to avoid communication ping-pong

Had you ever had an argument that didn't get anywhere? Don't be shy, my hand's up too.

Communication Ping-Pong

Oftentimes I see communication cycles that look like ping-pong tournaments. There's motion back and forth, but we're getting nowhere fast. The ball bounces off one head, and then off the next. It's clear that the meaning of the words (aka ball), isn't penetrating. The ball keeps on bouncing like that's the object of the game.

If that's not the object of YOUR communication game, then try some of the strategies below to avoid the trap.

Try these strategies:

1) Try to repeat the last thing you heard. Verbatim.

2) Acknowledge what you're afraid of, and then listen.

3) Ask an open-ended question that you really don't know the answer to—people tend to hate leading questions.

How about them ping-pong balls?

Matthew Koren unleashes the leadership potential in your people so teams can thrive. He is based out of Portland, OR. To learn more about his programs, click here. To receive great, useful content each month, sign up for his email list here. To discuss how Matt can support you, your organization, and teams, contact him today! 

Cooperation Wins. Again.

The ancient traditions are starting to penetrate the corporate organization, and with good reason. 

I'm starting to see calls for longer-term vision, rather than fighting quarter to quarter for that elusive edge over the competition and a continually tighter profit margin. I 'liked' a recent blog post on giving up on the endless march towards greater productivity—and I can't even find it now due to information overwhelm. 

Long-Term Thinking

In their recently released book The Alliance, the authors (one of them co-founder of Linkedin, Reid Hoffman) note, "A business without long-term thinking is a business that's unable to invest in the future." They encourage us to "think of employment as an alliance: a mutually beneficial deal" so that companies and people thrive together.

In fact, Darwin is well-known for the meme 'survival of the fittest' but "evolutionary theorist Peter Kropotkin pointed out in his landmark 1902 book Mutual Aid, evolution is driven by cooperation as well as by competition." If you read the book, you'll find that Darwin spends more time on this element of social behavior than competition.

I believe this thought of mutual caring, compassion, and commitment as an access to success is not so new. 

Communities have been operating this way tacitly since the beginning.

So what's the message? Cooperation wins. Again.

 

Matthew Koren unleashes the leadership potential in your people so teams can thrive. He is based out of Portland, OR. To learn more about his programs, click here. To receive great, useful content each month, sign up for his email list here. To discuss how Matt can support you, your organization, and teams, contact him today! 

 

How to get your people to express your brand

Yesterday I walked by a man downtown that, I swear, said the exact words "My needs as a human being were not being met." I'll spare you the details of his tirade, but he went on to describe an unfortunate circumstance in his organization. I was just passing by, but it made me a little depressed.

Having worked with top level executives, I know that they usually value two things above all else in their organization: their BRAND, and their PEOPLE.

So if people are such a top priority, why are they less than valued in our organizations? The #1 reason people leave their job is that they do not feel appreciated (U.S. Department of Labor). 

"Recognition is an important psychological need." says Gallup Organization's "State of the American Workplace Report". "Employees who know that they will receive recognition for acting on a brand promise will have a strong incentive to do so."

It's time for leaders to do something about this sad state of affairs. If you don't have enough time to treat your people like people, then don't expect them to stick around for long, let alone stick to your brand promises.

Appreciate your people

That's an active verb, not a passive one. Here are a few ways to show your appreciation, pulled from Connect, a booklet about how to create the culture of appreciation in your organization:

  1. Handwritten notes—Leave a note of appreciation for colleagues you feel are deserving of praise. This can be done anytime, anywhere, and can be anonymous.
  2. The Tribute Wall—Hang a large bulletin board in a conspicuous location. Colleagues are free to add notes which highlight what another colleague has contributed, specifying how she has been especially helpful to the author of the said note.
  3. Marvelous Mentor—After a new employee has begun, ask them who mentored them the most. Have them give a short speech to the mentor along with a lightbulb or candle representing how they lit up their way.

Matthew Koren unleashes the leadership potential in your people so teams can thrive. He is based out of Portland, OR. To learn more about his programs, click here. To receive great, useful content each month, sign up for his email list here. To discuss how Matt can support you, your organization, and teams, contact him today! 

How stress can be grounding

Your body has an incredible intelligence just waiting for you to tap in. How do you get into conversation with your body?

Executive energy level is a big driver of business success, yet no one teaches us how to manage our own bodies and the incessant stress which work places on us. To be clear, I like how stress urges us to improve and develop. Body changes indicated by stress are an excellent starting point for grounding into your body and serve as a reminder that we are united mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiriturally.

What kinds of challenges inspire stress in you?

What are you doing to ground into your body at work, when you play, or when you dream?

Matthew Koren unleashes the leadership potential in your people so teams can thrive. He is based out of Portland, OR. To learn more about his programs, click here. To receive great, useful content each month, sign up for his email list here. To discuss how Matt can support you, your organization, and teams, contact him today!

The P Word

In this series of posts, I’ve been working my way backward through the Power + Authenticity = Accountability equation.  I left power last because we all have different definitions of the word. It’s as hard as talking about success. Success means different things to different people.  

Power is often a personal journey.

What I’m really talking about is personal power— the generative, creative power that we all harness. We harness it by to placing our awareness on our goals and choices.

For me, it's easy to sugar-coat this word, or dress it up so it looks nice. I often use 'empowerment' in this way. But in short, it's really just power. Do I have the power to change things in my life? Are the results of my efforts worthy of the power I'm expending?

In this equation, I'm defining personal power through the lens of choice and awareness and what affect it has on my self esteem and those around me. We all have choices and choices determine outcomes. Do I hold myself accountable as well as speaking up and holding others accountable? Are the effects I'm producing powerful for me and others? Do I feel, viscerally, the impact of my own agency?

Although this concept can seem elusive, I'm going to try and simplify it by just telling you what I believe—that power is self-generated, self-defined, and manifests in all sorts of different guises. The tricky one is the self-critic that can undermine our power if we let it dress up our mind with negative thoughts. How are you dressing up your power?

In short, you get to define your personal power for your own use, but it’s important to know what it is you want and what effect you want to have. If you're not stepping up to the plate, or if you are not staying accountable to your own desires and goals, what generative or motivating force is missing? What can help you become more aware so that you build your personal power, versus deplete it?

Three tips for harnessing your own power:

  1. Own everything you do fully—if you have to apologize, you’re not owning it.

  2. Communicate your intention lest others create their own idea of what you’re doing.

  3. Establish clear boundaries and hold yourself to them, flexibly—the point is that you know when to stop and question whether what is happening is in alignment with what you’re creating.

If you asked yourself what truly matters to you, what motivates you to get out of bed everyday, and what this would inspire—I'd say you've found your personal power.

Matthew Koren unleashes the leadership potential in your people so teams can thrive. He is based out of Portland, OR. To learn more about his programs, click here. To receive great, useful content each month, sign up for his email list here. To discuss how Matt can support you, your organization, and teams, contact him today!