Losing The Weight

Superman

So when I was young, I may have aspired to be Superman.  


Now, I am a little more realistic in my dreams and understanding of my capabilities. 


Since my hips started deteriorating almost 3 years ago, and I had the 2 hip replacements, it has been challenging at times with mobility and of course, weight gain. 


But as I continue to get back to myself, some people have been particularly encouraging and inspiring to me.  


One is a terrific doctor that my wife had recommended, and she told me straight up to just lose the weight. 


She told me about JuicePlus pills–which I found a cheaper version with JuiceFestiv that are capsules for organic fruit and vegetables that energizes and also fills you up. 


She also told me simply what her principle has been, “Eat half!” 


Next, I am grateful to my friend, Jacob Elbaz, who told me how he wants me around a long time as a friend and with my family.  


He also had good advice, “Just one pound a week…how hard is that?”


Finally, I am grateful to my wife who in a most caring way is cooking the right foods now and making me lots of healthy mush–some of it even edible.


With G-d’s help, I believe that I can do it!  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

How To Give Employee Feedback

Poop Free Zone
Finally some realism about how to conduct employee evaluations…



The Wall Street Journal reports that in the past employees could expect that “we would bring them in and beat them down a bit.”



But now, managers are expected to “scrap the negative feedback” and “extol staffers strengths” (accentuate the positives).



Companies are realizing that negative feedback does “more harm than good.”



– You tick off the employee and ruin any positive relationship and trust. 

– The employee feels unappreciated, hurt, and in jeopardy. 

– Employees project their hurt feelings and accuse you of being the problem. 

– The deteriorating state makes them fear that you are working against them and they become unmotivated to try to do better.

– Instead, they spend their time working against you (and the company), and looking for another job. 



There is an old saying that you don’t sh*t where you eat, and so it is with employee performance evaluations.



In over 25 years, I have never seen negative employees reviews produce positive results!



However, I have seen that sincerely praising everyones’ best efforts, leveraging their strengths, and being thankful for what each person contributes makes a high performing team where people are loyal, want to work, and contribute their best. 



Everyone has weaknesses and problems, and frankly most people when they are being honest with themselves, know what their issues are. Pointing their face in it, doesn’t help. (Have you ever told a fat person that they need to lose a few pounds?)



One idea that I did like from the Journal is called “feedforward,” where you ask “employees to suggest ideas for their own improvement for the future.”



This way each person can be introspective and growth as they mature and are ready, but not under threat, rather with support and encouragement. 😉



(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Never Thought I’d Be Up There

Parasailing

Somewhere between 600-1000 feet up in the air. 

Suspended by a parasail wing (like a parachute).

Teethered to a moving speed boat. 

With a birds eye view of the beaches, hotels, ocean, clouds, sun, and more.

I had always thought of myself as afraid of heights, but I guess it turns out I’m really not. 

It was calm–peaceful up there–like sitting in G-d’s very hands. 

Before we went up, I asked my daughter if she was scared. 

She said to me: “No Dad. I am fearful of G-d. He is all powerful. But I have faith that He will protect me.”

I appreciate her faith and adventurism, but while encouraging her to learn new things and have fun, I also caution her to be careful and use good common sense.

I guess that’s the balance in life that I strive for and that I try to teach my kids–push yourself past your comfort zone to learn and grow, but not too far that you fall on your face (or in the ocean)!

In the end, it is probably my wife and kids that challenge me to be “more”–they’ve gotten me to do things that I never thought I would–and this was one of them.  Believe it or not, blogging is a close 2nd!  😉 

Anyway, we’re already talking about (and looking forward) to the next adventure–please G-d it will be wonderful as well.

See Yourself In The Future

Old_and_young

Now seeing how you will look in the future is not just theoretical anymore. 

Merrill Edge (Merrill Lynch investing + Bank of America banking) has an online digital program that shows how you will look aged over time. 

They developed this as tool to encourage people to save more money for retirement by bringing home the message that you will not be young (and beautiful) forever. 

The Face Retirement tool asks for your age and gender, takes your picture, and then displays snapshots of how you will look over the course of your lifespan. 

I tried it and my smiling face was quickly tranformed into an old man with sagging skin, wrinkles, and more. 

My wife seeing those pictues says to me (even though we already save for retirement), “We better really start investing seriously for retirement!” — gee, thanks! 😉

And thanks Merrill Edge, you scared us straight(er) by looking at our own mortality, face-to-face. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Judy Baxter)

Big and Small–Who’s Who?

Father_and_son

Yesterday, I go into a store with my daughter to shop for a new iPhone case.

A clean-cut kid–maybe 13 years old–comes out from behind the counter and asks me what I’m looking for.

I chat with the boy for a few minutes about their products and the prices of the various items–and I was genuinely impressed with this kid’s “business savvy.”

Sort of suddenly, a larger man emerges, whom I assume to be the boy’s father.

Making conversation and being friendly, I say to the man, “Your son is a very good salesman.”

The father responds surprisingly, and says, “Not really, he hasn’t sold you anything yet!”

Almost as abruptly, he turns and stumps away back behind the counter.

I look back over at the kid now, and he is clearly embarrassed, but more than that his spirit seems broken, and he too disappears behind the counter.

My daughter and I look at each other–shocked and upset by the whole scene–this was a lesson not only in parenting gone wrong, but also in really poor human relations and emotional intelligence.

As a parents, teachers, and supervisors, we are are in unique positions to coach, mentor, encourage, and motivate others to succeed.

Alternatively, we can criticize, humiliate, and discourage others, so that they feel small and perhaps as if they can never do anything right.

Yes, there is a time and place for everything including constructive criticism–and yes, it’s important to be genuine and let people know when they are doing well and when we believe they can do better.

I think the key is both what our motivations are and how we approach the situation–do we listen to others, try and understand their perspectives, and offer up constructive suggestions in a way that they can heard or are we just trying to make a point–that we are the bosses, we are right, and it’ll be our way or the highway.

I remember a kid’s movie my daughters used to watch called Matilda and the mean adult says to Matilda in this scary way: “I’m big and your small. I’m smart and your dumb”–clearly, this is intimidating, harmful, and not well-meaning.

Later in the day, in going over the events with my daughter, she half-jokingly says, “Well maybe the kid could’ve actually sold something, if they lowered the prices” 🙂

We both laughed knowing that neither the prices nor the products themselves can make up for the way people are treated–when they are torn down, rather than built up–the results are bad for business, but more important they are damaging to people.

We didn’t end up buying anything that day, but we both came away with a valuable life lesson about valuing human beings and encouraging and helping them to be more–not think of themselves as losers or failures–even a small boy knows this.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Allen Ang, and these are not the people in the blog story.)

Innovation: Leaders vs. Liars

Innovation

There’s a big difference between doing something and saying you’re going to do something.

Or as I learned early on–words are cheap, but actions speak loud and clear.

The Wall Street Journal (23 May 2012) reported this week about how many companies (and even academic institutions) overuse the word innovation–“the introduction of something new.”

It’s practically become cliche–“chief innovation officers, innovation teams, innovation strategies, and even innovation days.”

So is innovation just the buzzword du jour or is ultimately something more?

Of course, the more we use something like the term innovation, the greater the chance to dilute its meaning.

– “33,528–times [innovation] was mentioned in quarterly and annual reports last year.”

– “255–books published in the last 90 days with innovation in the title.”

– “43%–of 260 executives who said their company has a chief innovation officer.”

However, innovation is not just a word to throw around and use lightly–innovation is our bread and butter in this country; it is what differentiates us from our global competitors (i.e. its one of our main competitive advantages) and is a source of our economic strength.

Not all innovation is created equal–there is “innovation lite” (my term), where we take something and make it better, faster, or cheaper, and then there is “disruptive innovation”–where we really bring something new to the market.

“Everybody’s innovating because any change is innovation,” but not every innovation is transformative.

We can’t afford for innovation to lose its meaning, because leaders and companies that abuse it and dilute it–and don’t ultimately deliver–will end up losing their jobs and ultimately the companies themselves.

Real innovation is like condiments, use it sparingly and it can pack a huge punch–pour it on indiscriminately, and you might as well just throw away the whole dish.

What we need are innovation leaders that don’t just mouth the words and buy the toys, but champion it, invest in it, and empower and encourage their employees to make it happen.

Innovate or die is our reality–so be a true innovation leader–don’t lie to yourself if it isn’t the real thing. 😉

(Source Photo: herewith attribution to Seth Waite)

Making Change Probable

One_foot_in_front_of_the_other

An article this week in the Wall Street Journal (15 May 2012) called us “a nation of whiners.”

 

The national insult aside, what was more important was that the author lamented that whining doesn’t help, but problem-solving does!

 

According to the article, whiners can be treated therapeutically by:

 

1) Mirroring–letting people see/hear themselves in this state of learned helplessness.

 

2) Challenging–confronting whiners and asking them what they are going to do about their situation.

 

3) Encouraging–providing positive reinforcement when people make positive steps to taking control of their lives.

 

Similarly, there are those who get stuck in a sort of professional rut, complaining about the status quo, but they have trouble working incrementally to try and change things.

 

A strong leader can help their people move on from the status quo, applying the therapeutic techniques above, but also by doing the following:

 

1) Inquire–talk with your people and find out what they think is working, isn’t, and how things can be improved.

 

2) Envision–together, set a vision for a better future that addresses people’s genuine concerns in the aggregate.

 

3) Empower–delegate specific actions so everyone can be a part of the solution; give them the authority along with the responsibility to make change possible.

 

4) Observe–monitor progress and review whether the changes being made are having a positive impact and where adjustments in strategy need to be made.

 

These are really fundamental leadership skills, but applied to people who are feel helpless, hopeless, or are just plain resistant to change, the key is how we exemplify forward momentum and help others feel they too can make a genuine difference.

 

Bad situations are generally not life sentences, if we can but imagine positive change, break it down into incremental steps, and then put one foot in front of the other, and we are on our way.

 

(Source Photo: herewith attribution to Rifqi Dahlgren)

 

>Raising the Bar By Aligning Expectations and Personality

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I always love on the court television show Judge Hatchett, when she tells people: “I expect great things from you!”

The Pygmalion Effect says that when we have high expectations of performance for people, they perform better.

In other words, how you see others is how they perform.

While behavior is driven by a host of motivational factors (recognition, rewards, and so on), behavior and ultimately performance is impacted by genetic and environmental factors—“nature and nurture”—and the nurture aspect includes people’s expectations of us.

Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, people live up or down to expectations.

For example, studies by Rosenthal and Jacobson showed that if teachers expected enhanced performance from selected children, those children performed better.

When people have high or low expectations for others, they treat them differently—consciously or unconsciously—they tip off what they believe the others are capable of and will ultimately deliver. In the video, The Pygmalion Effect: Managing the power of Expectation, these show up in the following ways:

  • Climate: The social and emotional mood we create, such as tone, eye contact, facial expression, body language, etc.
  • Inputs: The amount and quality of instruction, assistance, or input we provide.
  • Outputs: The opportunities to do the type of work that best aligns with the employee and produce that we provide.
  • Feedback: The strength and duration of the feedback we provide.

In business, expect great things from people and set them to succeed by providing the following to meet those expectations:

  • Inspiration
  • Teaching
  • Opportunity
  • Encouragement

Additionally, treat others in the style that is consistent with the way that they see themselves, so that there is underlying alignment between the workplace (i.e. how we treat the employee) and who the employee fundamentally is.

Normally people think that setting high expectations means creating a situation where the individual’s high performance will take extra effort – both on their part and on the part of the manager.

However, this is not necessarily the case at all. All we have to do is align organizational expectations with the inherent knowledge, skills, and abilities of the employee, and their individual aspirations for development.

The point is we need to play to people’s strengths and help them work on their weaknesses. This, along with ongoing encouragement, can make our goals a reality, and enable the organization to set the bar meaningfully high for each and every one of us.

>It Pays To Think Big

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As a kid, I remember being encouraged by my role models, who taught me to “reach for the stars”. They said things like: don’t be afraid to think big, work hard, put your best foot forward, and so on.

And I learned that in American society, it is a fundamental tenet that if you work hard, you can achieve your dreams. This is “the American dream.”

Sometimes as adults we feel that our dreams don’t matter. We work hard, but our hard work doesn’t guarantee success. We see that many factors determine success, including: talent, whether technical or leadership; a willingness to take risks; personal connections and networking, and sometimes even “just plain dumb luck.”

Nevertheless, our ability to envision success ultimately does affect our achievements. As Sheila Murray Bethel puts it in the national bestseller, Making A Difference: “Big thinking always precedes big achievement.”

It all goes back to: Think big, try hard, put yourself out there, and you can achieve great things.

Wired Magazine (December 2009), in an article titled, “Hiding In Plain Sight,” states that “Today’s tech giants all have one thing in common: They tried to change the world.” For example, look at the mission of the following organizations:

· Google—“to organize the world’s information.”

· Microsoft—“a computer on every desk and in every home.”

· Facebook—“the social graph of the planet.”

· eBay—“to create an entirely new global marketplace.”

Of course, while we know that there are real life constraints and that not every child who wants to President can be and not every company that wants to be Microsoft will be, it is still thought—imagination, big thinking and vision—that creates the foundation for greatness.

We should not only teach our children to dream big, but allow ourselves to do so as well.