Filtering by Tag: leadership

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:


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.


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. 


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.


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.


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:


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:


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!


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. 


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.


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. 


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).


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! 

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! 


Success is Not Just About You

You know how sometimes you're relying on someone else (or yourself)  to do something and then they flake (or you mess it up)? This particularly gets under my skin when it involves food. There's nothing worse than forgetting to buy eggs the night before. I can be a sorry sight staring into the empty refrigerator door wondering what I'm going to do for breakfast.

It's easy to get angry and frustrated by this, but the fact is we all struggle with varying degrees of integrity and accountability. Sometimes we forget the eggs AND the bacon gets burned.

Personal power makes a difference for everyone around you

It takes a team

Making a stand for yourself is not just about you. You change the world around you by setting an example, and you change your own life when you observe yourself following through with your goals and dreams. This can be scary. What if you fail? What if something gets in your way? What if you get hurt?

Think of the alternative, If you were to walk around life afraid to take a risk and shy away from making a stand for yourself, and what you believe in, it's hard to ask others to do the same. In fact, you're liable to begin to talk yourself out of your greatest passion just before your greatest success. After all most people give up when they are the closest to their biggest win.

Your integrity and alignment with your true desires, combined with your dedication to pursuing them to the ends of the earth are a reflection of your power. Are you willing to do what it takes to see your dreams come true, and thereby help others do the same? Or are you afraid to stand up to what you really want?

Failure to perform is an opportunity to improve

Hold yourself with compassion but be real with yourself. Pull your power back inside. Feel it in your body. Power isn’t just in your mind. When you step away from your power, or go against your word, you can truly feel it. You either did what you said you would do, or you didn't. The person you were relying on either pulled through, or chose another road and flaked. Did you hold that person accountable? Do you hold yourself accountable? The bottom line is it feels good to be accountable.

If this happens to you, and you flake out,  recognize your failure not as chronic but temporary, and make a new promise. If it's someone else, make a request. It all starts with accountability and the desire to evolve and grow.

Now think about those eggs. Even if you have to walk back to the store and buy them in the morning, it’s worth it. You’ve stayed true to your word, and everyone loves a good omelette.

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!

Power + Authenticity = Accountability

I've been working on a new formula.

No, not like a baby formula for grown-ups (although there's more and more talk of babies around my household recently)! That would be a protein shake. Add blueberries, they're good for you.

By formula I mean, something easy to remember that adds a valuable tool to your leadership toolkit.

As always, I get the best inspirations from the people I know the best—my coaching clients!

Here's the draft version:

Power + Authenticity = Accountability

By power, I mean personal power—the power of your word, the power of your results, the power of your impact on others.

By authenticity, I mean truth—are you being who you really are?

By accountability, I mean being responsible for producing powerful results in alignment with purpose.

I know, that's a bit of a jump, but in the next few posts, I'll go into more detail on the dynamics of this formula—how it's constructed, how it works in various contexts, and what it means for today's dynamic, innovative leaders.

Comment below to let me know what you think!

How to act like a baby and get ahead…

No, you can’t throw a temper tantrum in the middle of the office.  In fact, you still need to use big, important sounding words. So what’s this got to do with a baby, you ask? EVERYTHING.

Babies observe.

Right about at the low point of your work, you might begin asking your yourself, “What the heck is going on here?” Time to think like a baby. Start following your nose. Close your mouth and start seeing what’s going on.

Often things get worse before they get better. I have a nose for what stinks and I love to observe people. Observing like a wide-eyed infant provides an early warning system for you to see earlier than most what’s coming down the pipe.

Babies communicate.

Make a noise, cry out ‘Aha!’, let someone know what you see and ask if they see the same thing. Babies are excellent signalers (my 20 pound cat is as well).

Babies respond instantly.

Most importantly, don’t be afraid to act. When you see what’s not working, do something about it!

Many executives are in their roles because of their strategic thinking, broad perspective, and uncanny ability to predict disasters right before they strike. Act like a baby to take small actions now that can lead to big, culture-changing results later.

Now if we could only get more people to act like babies!

“See as a child sees—the joy, the wonder, the hope.”

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!

From Portland to Shanghai

Gazebo in Yu Yuan

As I open my eyes to what’s possible since adopting our company’s mission to ‘create teams that thrive’, particularly in cross-cultural environments, I see the important integration of old Chinese traditions (Confuciunism, Utilitarianism, “For the greater good”, etc.) with Portland-style living (accountability, sustainability, social good).

I see that as I’ve become more integrated into the Asian community of Portland, I’m reminded of how deep traditions can go, and the power of tradition as it survives—even a transoceanic journey.

We can find similar elements of Chinese culture show up in Seattle or London as we would in Beijing or Shanghai. The ‘distance’ between these cities is decreasing. Portland will soon need to respond to this opportunity, and this is an exciting time to become a part of this expansion.

Portland is the West Coast’s fourth largest freight gateway for international trade. Will the deeply humanistic, family-oriented traditions of China translate to the needs of a modern regional trading hub?

The future is simple, though at times we perceive it as complicated. Community is something that is understood internationally. Thus, this is a magical time to harness the potential of global community for our internationalized future. Let’s get ready together!

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!

What makes a leader?

Call me a dork, but I love researching noteworthy leadership information that I can translate to the lay person in a meaningful, actionable way.

My recent search, however, raised more questions than it answered. I guess that's appropriate since leadership as a research topic only became popular about 40 years ago. There are still many unanswered questions about what leadership is (i.e. a set of actions, an innate trait, and mental perspective?) and what it affects (i.e. role, influence, productivity, etc.)

What do you think makes a leader?

One of the most important questions, I feel, in the leadership research is the impact of emotional intelligence on the performance of leaders. We were just beginning to the ask this sort of question seriously about 15 years ago (Brown et al. 2005, Boyatzis et al. 2002). Now whole research teams are organized to answer the question of how emotion plays a part in our leadership performance (see Richard Boyatzis' work as an example).

The inquiry is drawing interesting connections, baffling synchronicities, and uncovering the hidden patterns that communicate 'leader'.

What do you think makes a good leader? And what traits do you think a powerful and effective leader should have? Inquiring minds want to know, please leave your comments below or share with me on LinkedIn.

Matthew Koren is a team management and leadership consultant and executive coach based out of Portland, OR. To learn more and receive great, useful content each month, sign up for my email list here.


1. F. William Brown, and Dan Moshavi, "Transformational Leadership and Emotional Intelligence: A Potential Pathway for an Increased Understanding of Interpersonal Influence," Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26, no. 7 (2005): 867-871, (accessed January 13, 2014).

2. Richard E. Boyatzis, Elizabeth C. Stubbs, and Scott N. Taylor, "Learning Cognitive and Emotional Intelligence Competencies Through Graduate Management Education," Academy of Management Learning & Education, 1, no. 2 (2002): 150-162, (accessed January 13, 2014).

How to lead while putting out fires

“Leaders must have … an armor of confidence in facing the unknown — more than those who accept their leadership. This is partly anticipation and preparation, but it is also a very firm belief that in the stress of real-life-situations one can compose oneself in a way that permits the creative process to operate.”

-Robert K. Greenleaf in "The Servant as Leader"

It’s 9:10am and you have a meeting in 20 minutes. Two huge issues came into your email.

You punch out a few responses basically stalling until you read the other 60 unread messages. Panic strikes. You’re sure one of those 60 emails has something useful, but finding it is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

Leaders push up against this kind of situation in two ways: the first is severe anxiety bordering on panic attacks, the second is to get quiet, get curious, and get creative.

Good News: Your Brain Is Stronger Than Your Think

There’s an area of our mind that subconsciously processes all the information available to us, and it’s so much stronger than our thinking mind. This is the area that can hold all the various decision points one can make given the (usually limited) information available. You can literally  ‘feel’ the right answer. Yes, I said ‘feel’. It’s not a conscious process and this area of your mind communicates to you through your emotions.

Get quiet

Find a place to detach from the direct impact of the situation. This will permit enough mental space to allow for creative problem solving. Create an environment devoid of distractions so you can ‘think’ and ‘feel’ at the same time.

Get curious

Ask yourself the burning question that you need an answer to. So often, we don’t know what question we’re trying to answer. Once you have the right question, write down any thoughts that come to mind for the first two minutes. (Don’t go check your email if you draw a blank for a few seconds. You and I both know your mind is constantly going.) Look deeper into those ‘blank’ spaces, you might ‘feel’ something significant. Try to translate what that feeling means and write it down.

Get creative

Once you have your list of thoughts, start piecing the puzzle together. All you have to do is move this thing forward the best way a human knows how. Remember, just because someone else is armed with an email account and the ability to rapid fire messages at you does not mean they’re getting stuff done. Leaders do their best work by being patient, remaining calm and understanding their feelings and their thoughts in order to come up with the best solution.


Ferrazzi says "Throw out the small talk!"

I attended a presentation by Keith Ferrazzi, author of “Who’s Got Your Back”, on building trust and more intimate relationships with your virtual team recently. I was watching the live stream on my computer while the speaker connected with his “live” audience. Kind of ironic, I know! But I’ll redeem myself by saying that the whole thesis of his talk was from his research on the New People Rules in a Virtual World. He said,

“Relational and collaborative behaviors were the behaviors that needed to be changed the most in order to unleash value.”


Ferrazzi is a major champion of rediscovering relationships as the primary drivers of business and a great inspiration to anyone that wants to see their business grow.

We know relationships are important, but it’s easy to lose sight of this in the ever expanding virtual world. So I ask, what are you really doing to develop deep, trusting ones in your business?

Look around you. How connected are you to your own colleagues? Are you curious about what drives them? What is it that brings them back to work every day?

Well if you don’t know, ask. You might find out something unexpected.

It’s a scary thing to ask. You have to give up the expectation of the answer, and begin to want to know everything about why Fred is the way he is, or that you know what Jane’s going to say even before she says it.

This idea is this: put your assumptions to the side for a moment and engage in a genuine open conversation with your colleagues. You’ll be excited to see what develops.

At the very least, take Ferrazzi’s advice and to a quick check-in before your meeting begins. The weather is soooo yesterday’s news.

Have you experienced relationships being deemphasized or replaced by technology in your workplace? Comment below to share your story.

Matthew Koren is a team management and leadership consultant and executive coach based out of Portland, OR. To learn more and receive great, useful content each month, sign up for my email list here. 

Being Bad is Good for Business

Do you ever think,  “I don’t really make the best employee because I always think I can do it better?” Watch out, your ego just walked in the room, and it’s feeling a bit stuffy…*gag*

I mean, who would want to hire someone who just said that in an interview? The thing is, your organization may just need a rule-breaker to stir things up and inspire some change when problems seem intractable. It’s called ‘positive deviance’. When your team members can ‘deviate’ with positive intent, the impact on your organization and team can be transformational at best, or just innovative at its most benign level. Excellence is good. Genius is better.

You might find these team members in your younger generation. See my recent blog post on Millennial Innovators on Causeit’s blog earlier this year.

Recently I attended an online summit initiated by Peter Vanderauwera organizing the “Corporate Rebels United” group, one of the many groups picking up on this particular corporate cultural meme. We’ve developed a list of principles that guide our rebellion which include ‘love’ as well as ‘passion’, ‘integrity’, and other ideals. I call it a manifesto. The point is, you can shake things up without being a bad person. Email me for more info on how to get involved. Your organization is depending on you!

How can leaders create an environment that allows for positive deviance?

  1. Tell your team that it’s OK to fail—commit to either backing them up when they fall over a cliff or letting them know when they’re venturing too far away from the comfort zone.

  2. Encourage them to question your thought process or decisions—there really are no stupid questions. When you can be transparent to your team, they’ll trust you more and take more risks on your behalf.

  3. Expect feedback—join me in this practice: once a week ask a team member to rate their working relationship with you on a scale of 1-10 (10 being stellar). When they say their number, ask them what would make it a 10 (if they said 10, reinforce #2).

Matthew Koren is a team management and leadership consultant and executive coach based out of Portland, OR. To learn more and receive great, useful content each month, sign up for my email list here. 

Hello World. Let’s Do This!

I often ask myself,  “Who do I want to be?” It’s been on my mind for a while. Just like you, I’ve gone through many options: lifeguard, day camp coordinator, yoga teacher, that call center guy, entrepreneur, sales guy, manager, coach, consultant, etc. I even traveled the world and back. You’d think something would stick!?

Hint: what you think you’re looking for is typically no further than your own backyard. In my case, it was nestled securely inside my heart between fear of success and self-consciousness.

Who Do You Want To Be?

I always wanted to be a computer programmer because I loved strategy games (that was after I decided being an astronaut would require too much math.) Then, I thought being a psychologist was the closest major in college to what I wanted to do. I wanted to figure people out and help them, and unlike astronauts, I didn’t need to take lots of math to be a psychologist =  Bonus!  

However, psychologist wasn’t my true calling but I learned that I love working with people and helping them make sense of what seems to be a crazy new world. This new world is a wonderful place to play, thrive, and live your dreams, but we often forget how powerful we are due to so much information coming at us. I’m here to help you sort through it all. My passion is your passion: creating a great life and feeling good Yes, it’s totally possible.

Today I’m announcing it to the world, to you, and here it is:

Over the next few weeks on this website you’ll see my thoughts and videos on topics related to my new work. I’ve worked with over 30 corporate clients and many more individuals doing team management and leadership development, and after six years being in the thick of it myself and with my clients, I realize I have the gifts necessary to deliver increased profitability and employee engagement which help executives develop their unique leadership style, and the high-performing, globally distributed, culturally competent teams they need to support them.

I hope you’ll get inspired, share my content, and enjoy the ride. Of course, let me know what you think by emailing me at I’ll be in touch again soon!

Matthew Koren is a team management and leadership consultant and executive coach based out of Portland, OR. To learn more and receive great, useful content each month, sign up for my email list here.