What Women Want From Men

What Women Want.jpeg

So I was talking to this nice gentleman.


He was telling me that he lost his wife of over 27 years to cancer–this happened over 15 years ago. 


And since then, he had a girlfriend who recently broke his heart and married someone else. 


I felt really bad and sorry for this nice man–who is always so friendly and intelligent.  


He says to me:

“Over the years, I’ve learned what women want from men.”


I ask him inquiringly:

“And what is that?”


He’s obviously glad that I asked, and he proceeds to tell me:

“Women want two things: curiosity and security.”


Not understanding what he means by the first one, I ask:

“What do you mean curiosity?”


He looks intently at me and says:

“Women want to talk, and they want to know what’s going on.”


He explains to me that if you talk and be a good listener to women and provide (your part) materially in a stable relationship with them–they will be happy and you will be happy. 


This is sort of the “Happy wife, happy life” idea that I’ve heard before. 


Listen, even at this stage in my life, with a wife and two lovely daughters, I can still learn something about what makes women happy…teach me the pearls of wisdom and I will learn it well. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Death To PowerPoint

Death By PowerPoint

Ok, we’ve all heard of “Death by PowerPoint” (well, I’m advocating death to PowerPoint). 


It’s the unfortunate occurrence that happens when a speaker presents a wad too many slides (OMG, some people seem to go on and on forever –get them off that podium)!


Or when they present too much information, too little information, or just don’t know what or how to present at all. 


Their (slide) presentations leave the audience basically wanting to just kill themselves, if not the inconsiderate S.O.B. speaker.


But aside from lousy speakers, you have a crappy presentation mechanism, which is PowerPoint slides.


Hello out there, tell the truth…


Can any of you remember much of a darn thing that anyone has ever conveyed to you by PowerPoint?


Think of webinars, conferences, and meetings galore with slide after slide of 2-dimensional boredom.


Is your head hurting you yet or are you just glad you can’t remember any of it–natural selection of memory saves you the pain…why thank you.


Then consider what someone has told you in great thoughtfulness, confidence, or with genuine passion, caring and sincerity.


– Perhaps, the wisdom of a parent or teacher who took you aside to tell you a life’s lesson.


– Or a Rabbi or Priest who shared with you something spiritual and uplifting to guide you on your path.


– How about someone in the office who was passionate about an idea or project and who motivated you as well.


Most of the communication between people that really means something never makes it to a PowerPoint slide.


Imagine for a moment, if something meaningful was conveyed to you by slide presentation–you would think, how ridiculous it is to use PowerPoint for that?


– I love you–will you marry me?


– We’re having a baby, how wonderful. 


– Just got that promotion, yes!


– So and so is sick or just passed away, how terrible. 


PowerPoint just doesn’t happen here in real life–thank G-d!


And no matter how much organizations such as TED would like to make a (show)business out of presentations using PowerPoint…(ah, nope).


Real communication happens when one person talks from the heart to another person who receives it in their heart. 


The greatest orators in history…never used a slide presentation.


Other presentation products like Prezi tried to take slides to the next level with a storytelling format using a virtual canvas, but that didn’t pan out to well either…see many Prezis lately (and without getting dizzy)?


PowerPoint slides, and the like, are for distraction…now I don’t have to pay that much attention to the rambling, numbnut speaker anymore.


The bottom line…we don’t listen with our eyes!


Rather, we hear words of wisdom and see when someone is genuine, sincere and worth listening to.


The rest is PowerPoint… 😉

Playing For The Meal

Playing For The Meal

I love this guitarist on the corner with the sign that says, “To eat for today one must play for the meal. You Pay. Thank you.”

Five communication lessons I had reinforced from this:

– Be direct–he is right to the point…he plays, you pay–that’s the deal.

– Be clear–the writing is large, the letters are distinct, and easy to read…you get it!

– Be concise–the message fits on a small cardboard…no rambling placards, just the message next to the guitar case for collecting the money.

– Be purposeful–he states the reason for his being there right up front…he’s hungry and is willing to work for it!

– Be courteous–he ends with a nice thank you that is set off to the side in script.

If his playing is half as good as his message…he’s earned his meal. 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Leadership Lessons In a Pie

There is an interesting exercise that examines and trains leaders on strengths and weaknesses.

In the exercise, there are 8 primary skills written on the floor in a pie shape taped off into slices.

People are instructed to step into the slice where they think they are the strongest.

For example, some stepped into slices labeled visionaries, others into change catalysts, team building, or communication, and so on.

Then the group of people from each slice takes a turn and explains to everyone else how to become good at that particular skill, where they are the experts.

Then the exercise is reversed and the participants are asked to find and step into the slice that is the most challenging for them.

In this second part, the group of people in each slice then explain to the rest of the participants what makes that skill in their slice so challenging for them.

This is a thought-provoking and helpful leadership exercise that gives people an opportunity to examine and discuss their strengths and weakness and learn from each other.

While I wouldn’t say that they all slices had the same number of people–they didn’t, some had more and some less–each slice did some people to represent that skill.

Some thoughts on this pie exercise:

– By having to choose only one key strength (i.e. only one slice to stand in), it is humbling to realize all the other skills where you aren’t as strong, but seeing other people in spread across those slices too–let’s you know that it is possible.

– Also, by having to identify your most challenging leadership skill, the one where you need to focus the most attention on, it is comforting to see other people in the same slice–you are not alone.

– Seeing and hearing about the multiple leadership areas for people–both strengths and weaknesses–points to the importance of diversity of people and skills in the workplace–everyone can do something, but no one can do everything perfect.

– It is healthy to take a self-accounting of your strengths and weaknesses and learn where you can help others and where you can learn from others–thus, teamwork in leadership is just as critical as what is expected in the proverbial “rank and file.”

– Leadership skills are generally not something that you are born mastering–although some are labeled “born leaders” (or maybe “born with a silver spoon in their mouth” in more appropriate)–the vast majority of people learn and grow their leadership skills over a lifetime–and that is a good thing, so stick with it! 😉

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Don’t Communicate Like A Dump Truckity

Do_not_push
I don’t know a lot about huge dump trucks.

But I wondered what this meant when it says on the back of this multi-ton vehicle–“Do Not Push”.

Don’t worry, I won’t! 🙂

In life, we often communicate things that either we aren’t really clear about, don’t mean, or end up being misunderstood for.

In fact, probably one of the toughest “soft skills” to learn is communication skills.

I don’t know why they call it soft, since when you communicate poorly, you can get hit over the head–quite hard.

One of the biggest issues is people who talk too much (i.e. they dump on others), but aren’t very good at listening. Hey, they may as well be talking to themselves then, because communication is a two-way street.

Good communications skills include the three C’s: clarity, conciseness, and consistency, and I would add–last but not at all least–a T for tact.

Communication skills also overlaps with the ability to effectively influence, negotiate, and create win-win solutions, so actually communication is at the very heart of what we need to do well.

When communicating, don’t be pushy and don’t be pushed around (i.e. get dumped on)–and don’t get hit by that over-sized dump truck–communicate early, often, honestly, and with passion.

(Source photo: Andy Blumenthal)

What’s Relationships Got To Do With It

Professional_networking

It is said that one of the key differences between leaders and staff is that leaders are supposed to spend significantly more time on relationships, while staff tend to concentrate on the task at hand. 

A number of professors from the University of Virginia indicated that leaders who didn’t spend at least 50% of their time and effort on relationship building, tended to be much less successful professionally. 
According to them, there are 3 areas of professional competence–i.e. necessary skill-sets:
1) Technical–what you need to know in terms of subject matter expertise to do your job (e.g. finance, engineering, sales, etc.)
2) Cognitive–these are the information-processing abilities to reason and problem-solve (e.g. perception, learning, judging, insight, etc.)
3) Relationship–this is interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence (e.g. teaming, motivating, resolving-conflict, influencing, etc.)
As you role changes from staff to supervisor and to manager, so does your time spent:
Staff:  Technical 60%, Cognitive 20%, Relationships 20%
Supervisors: Technical 40%, Cognitive 25%, Relationships 35%
Manager: Technical 15%, Cognitive 35%, Relationships 50%
In others words, as you advance from staff to management, you job changes from being the “technical expert” to spending more time solving specific problems and building relationships. 
Additionally, managers who delegated, supported, trusted, and empowered, and didn’t micromanage the tasks–we’re the kinds of managers/leaders that people wanted to work for and would give more of themselves to.  
So leaders who excel at building meaningful professional relationships, benefit not only from developing important and trusting networks of people around them, but also from actually developing a more satisfied and productive workforce. 
Relationship building is much more than the proverbial “3-martini lunch,”–although 1 or 2 don’t hurt :-)–rather it means:
1) Identifying and surrounding yourself with people that are smarter than yourself–relationships are most fruitful and enjoyable with someone that can challenge you.
2) Reaching outside your “normal” boundaries (organizational, functional, industry, geography) to diversify the sphere of influence–new ideas and best practices are not limited to any one domain. 
3) Ensuring that integrity and trust are cornerstones of any any relationship–there is no compromising values and principles for any relationship!
4) Giving of yourself in terms of self-disclosure, assistance to others, and our most precious resource of time–relationships are not built on thin air, but involve work by both parties; it’s an investment. 
Finally, while relationship-building is critical to leadership success, it is important to surround ourselves with the “right” people as Harvard Business Review (July-August 2011) states this month: Bring people with positive energy into your inner circle. If those around you are enthusiastic, authentic, and generous, you will be too.”  
So choose your professional network as carefully as you would choose your friends.
(Source Photo: here)