Will you read as much as you want to this week?

Most leaders I coach and train want to read more books, they just don’t seem to have the time.

You’re in luck! I discovered a free resource I think you are going to like. Brian Johnson has created something called “Philosopher’s Notes” which I have now fallen in love with. The library of free YouTube videos he created on some of the best books for self-improvement is extensive.

He boils down the concepts in the books to 5 or 6 big ideas from them in about 10 minutes. The format is easy to follow and it gives you enough to learn from and wet your appetite if you want to read more by buying the book. The reason it is so helpful is that you can be getting ready in the morning or walking on your treadmill and quickly watch any of the videos.

There are 266 videos total – seriously – and they are all free. I like the newer ones way more than the older ones. When he stands in front of the chalkboard the technique is very effective at making the concepts “sticky”.

Here’s a link to The Art of Achievement by Tom Morris as an example.

Some of his others include:

Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy
Change Your Brain Change Your Life by Dr. Daniel G. Amen
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Introvert Power by Laurie Helgoe, PhD

He has a subscription service which I have not joined yet.


Try assigning one of these short videos to your team and having a lunch and learn discussion about the main concepts. Allow each team member to choose which main point they found the most helpful and explain why.



Will you create winning mornings this week?

If you’re not getting the outcomes you want you might want to start at the beginning…of your days, that is. How your day begins can be a predictor of how it may end.  Are your mornings chaotic or intentional? Energizing or dramatic?

You might need a new formula for your mornings.  No one else’s formula will work for you. Your circumstances, needs, and beliefs are what make you unique, so your morning formula needs to be, too. Making the effort to design your best morning practices will have a long lasting effect on the types of rich outcomes you are able to achieve. The formula doesn’t have to take more than 15 minutes to be effective.

Why how you start your day is important: Willpower wears out.

Anything can happen throughout the day that can mess up your plans to walk, run, get on that treadmill, lift weights, meditate, pray, write or whatever helps make you the best you that you can be each day. Planning to do the types of activities at the end of your day that lead to your long-term health and wellness can be risky. Consistently doing the activities as part of the way you start your day usually gives you more control over them.

I know, some of you have kids to get to school and tons of activities that seem to be required and out of your control early in the morning. It can be tough to change a household’s routine to allow you 10-15 minutes to focus on just you. Start with 5 minutes if that’s all you can create right now. Anything is better than nothing. 5 minutes done every day for one year equals 1,825 minutes or over 30 hours!

Who has morning routines they swear by: Most super successful people.

The type of people that others admire. The one thing that appears, from my research of countless biographies, thousands of articles, and coaching sessions with highly effective executives, is that successful people are intentional about their activities at the beginning of their day. Here’s a sample of what some of people you’ve heard of do in the morning: Click here.

Create your 5 morning keys

Start by determining what needs to happen before you get in the office that will set the tone for the rest of your day. Here is an example:

  1. Energize your body and brain (12 minutes is the amount of time Dr. Medina in the book Brain Rules recommends to kick-start your brain health)
  1. Wake up your mind with something educational or inspirational
  2. Create a mindful moment where you are completely present
  3. Be grateful for yesterday and set your outcomes for the day ahead
  4. Be of service to someone important to you

What are your 5 keys? What’s working in your morning routine? What isn’t? Do you need to add something tomorrow morning to create the best day possible?

The Miracle Morning, by Hal Elrod is condensed into a great video by a new discovery I’ve made: Philosopher’s Notes by Brian Johnson. This short, 10-min video, will give you the best take-a-ways from a wonderful book about the best way to start your day to build confidence and endurance.

Team Exercise:

At your upcoming team meeting ask each member how they start their day. Compare routines and best practices for what works for your best performers.

If someone has a consistently effective routine how did they develop that formula? What types of practices have led them to be so consistent with it?

What have been the results of doing it?

What would each member like to do differently, in the morning, to help make each day lead to more satisfying accomplishments?

Is there a key practice that needs to be added to the morning routine in your office to create the best outcomes possible for each day?

Will you develop your soft skills this week?

Soft skills: a term often associated with a person’s “EQ” (Emotional Intelligence Quotient), the cluster of personality traits, social graces, communication, language, personal habits, interpersonal skills, managing people, leadership, etc. that characterize relationships with other people.

According to Monster.com the six key soft skills that pop up in job descriptions these days are: Communication Skills, Teamwork and Collaboration, Adaptability, Problem Solving, Critical Observation, and Conflict Resolution.

To develop soft skills you might try these according to WikiHow:

  • Develop communication skills.

Practice things like making eye contact and monitoring your body language. Practice conversational and small group speaking and develop your writing skills.

  • Practice listening skills.

Listen from your heart, head and gut. See a past Launch List.

Additionally, you will want to paraphrase and ask questions more often, take notes when appropriate, try not to interrupt, and pay attention to the person’s body language.   If you’re listening, listen. Don’t check your phone or type on your laptop and pretend that you can listen fully to the person and type at the same time. It’s rude.

  • Build relationships

Learn to manage conflict in a healthy way. It’s unrealistic to think you will operate conflict free if you plan to have interactions with others, so learn how to deal with it. Create meaningful, intentional connections with people inside and outside your organization.

  • Practice leading

Look for effective communication skills of leaders you can mimic. Set the example by consistently maintaining a positive attitude, and practice leading small group discussions.

  • Take initiative

Strive to develop your technical skills and do things before you are asked. Continuous learning is mandatory for today’s workplace environment. Try to read something new each day that pertains to improving yourself, your job or your industry.

Which one of these skills, if you were to focus on improving it, would have the biggest impact on your desired outcome?


Distribute this article to your team members and at your next development meeting:

  1. Do a round to ask each member of your team which soft skill the team as a whole needs to get better at as far as your team culture is concerned.
  2. How about your organization? Which skill could be improved to better the overall environment?
  3. Ask each person to share what they would like help on improving and have them pick an accountability partner to ensure their success.

I just returned from a 3-day deep dive training session in Scottsdale, Arizona on new assessments that we can now offer through the company we represent – TTI Success Insights. I was able to spend time with the doctor who has been working on the latest brain science in regard to the DISC, Motivators (now called Driving Forces), Competencies and Stress Quotient. I even had lunch with the founder of the company. Geek heaven for me!

We now offer an assessment that will accurately measure your level of job related stress and that of your team’s. Stay tuned. Can’t wait to share all of what I learned in coming classes and through these weekly articles.


How will you handle conflict this week?

Yours is not the only workplace with conflict, although it might seem that way sometimes.  Almost all workplaces have conflict. The difference is what type of conflict they have and how quickly it gets resolved.

According to hrcouncil.ca conflict can stem from 6 different areas:

Values conflict: Involves incompatibility of preferences, principles and practices that people believe in such as religion, ethics or politics.

Power conflict: Occurs when each party wishes to maintain or maximize the amount of influence that it exerts in the relationship and the social setting such as in a decision making process.

Economic conflict: Involves competing to attain scarce resources such as monetary or human resources.

Interpersonal conflict: Occurs when two people or more have incompatible needs, goals, or approaches in their relationship such as different communication or work styles.

Organizational Conflict: Involves inequalities in the organizational chart and how employees report to one another.

Environmental conflict: Involves external pressures outside of the organization such as a recession, a changing government, or a high employment rate.

Then there are two basic dimensions:


These dimensions result in five different conflict behaviors. Each style can be an appropriate response. You want to learn how to be strategic when approaching the conflict. Which one of these have you defaulted to recently in a conflict?


Sounds like: “It’s okay with me, whatever you want.”


Feels like a win/lose.


Thinking: “I’ll worry about it tomorrow.”


Believes that “two heads are better than one”.


Action: Working with the other party to negotiate a deal.

Any of these approaches can be effective. We tend to default to a couple of them, though, whether they are totally appropriate for the situation or not.

A grid was developed to determine which behavior might be most effective.


goal high (most important) and relationship low = compete
goal low and relationship high = accommodate
goal AND relationship high = collaborate
goal AND relationship low = avoid
goal and relationship are equally important = compromise 

What conflicts are currently occurring on your team that need to be addressed? You might consider sharing this with your team members and discussing it at your next meeting. Take the lead on any conflict you have by using one of these strategies.

It’s important to note that team member conflicts fall into the “relationship high” category, which would mean that accommodate, collaborate or compromise top the list of behaviors to try first.

Will your team trust you this week?

Effective communication that leads to peak performance starts with trust. Trust is tough unless both parties feel safe.   When we don’t feel safe our internal “brain cocktail” consists of fear, power, uncertainty, being right, and group think. Whereas, when we are in the “CEO of our brain”, using our pre-frontal cortex, we are transparent, relationship focused, seek understanding, want to share success and feel comfortable telling the truth.

If you want to build and maintain a high performing team that is capable of solving challenging problems and effectively managing change, this information may be helpful to you.

One of the best books I’ve found regarding leadership and communication, based on the most recent brain science, was written by Judith Glaser, Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust & Get Extraordinary Results.

Glaser explains that “when we connect with others, our mind toggles through a series of five hardwired questions at a pace so rapid our conscious mind doesn’t know it’s doing it.” Depending on how our brain answers these questions determines how we will react and interact with the other person:

Question I:  Protect  How do I protect myself, and do I need to?

Question II: Connect  Who loves me, who hates me, and can I trust this person?

Question III: Belong  Where do I belong and fit in?

Question IV: Be strong  What do I need to learn to be successful?

Question V: Partner  How do I create value with others?

If you want to motivate and engage other people to their peak performance, they need to be able to answer these questions in a way that would make them feel safe and trust that you have their best interest in mind.

If you are currently struggling with a particular team member or peer, it’s possible they are answering one or more of these questions in a negative or unclear way. Maybe past experiences with you have made them feel like they need to protect themselves. It could be that they aren’t exactly sure of their role or how they fit in. Maybe they are wondering how they are bringing value to you and the team. It is possible that they simply don’t think that you like them.

conversational-intelligenceA short cut to building trust is to focus on appreciation. Seeking honest ways to intentionally recognize and appreciate specific talents or actions of others can establish safety quickly. Judith Glaser explains:

“When we receive public praise and support, we unlock yet another set of neurochemical patterns that cascade positive chemistry throughout the brain. Highly motivated employees describe the feeling of performing well as an almost drug-like state (because of the dopamine and endorphins released by these interactions, it is actually quite similar). When this state of positive arousal comes with appropriate, honest, and well-deserved (sincere) praise, employees feel they are trusted and supported by their boss. They will take more risks, speak up more, push back when they have things to say, and be more confident in their dealings with their peers.”

How people are effected by ways we communicate:

7 percent to words
38 percent to tone of voice
55 percent to nonverbal behaviors

If you have an unpleasant “resting face” you are going to have to work twice as hard to connect with others to make them feel safe with you. That unpleasant face that rarely smiles, doesn’t make much eye contact, and looks like you just don’t care that much when people are talking to you is working against you if your desired outcome is to inspire others to be their best.


At your next team meeting, discuss the following questions to help build trust and transparency:

  1. Which of the 5 questions does each team member struggle the most to answer with key people at work?
  2. How would they rank theirs and others “resting faces”? When they are talking to team members do they feel like they are being heard and understood by the way they are being responded to?
  3. How appreciated does each team member feel by other team members, you, and the organization?

How will you support your team member’s this week?

Discovering the best way to support each of your team members is a worthwhile endeavor that results in big dividends. Not every team member is motivated by the same thing. It’s your job to figure out how to engage those that your success depends on.  This is the one behavior, out of the 4 key one’s, that can give you deeply satisfying accomplishments.  Without it, hitting the bottom line may be the end of the line.

The payoff to your team member’s of you being appropriately supportive can be:

  • Satisfaction with work, job and supervisor
  • Increased commitment
  • Reduced stress
  • Increased self-confidence
  • Increased performance

There’s 8 days left for you and your team to download my new ebook, 4 Keys to More Effective Leadership Behaviors, for free. One of the behaviors that the research highlighted and the ebook goes into detail about, was being supportive. Here’s the quick self-assessment to see how you’re doing.

Read each of these statements and mark what you feel like your competency level is in each of these areas. Give yourself a ranking from 1 – 10. 1 would be saying that you rarely exhibit this behavior, 10 would be that you always, without exception, do.

_____ Friendly, informative and encouraging to your team

_____ Considerate and understanding

_____ Showing concern for your team member’s needs

_____ Empathetic of team member’s challenges

_____ Help others to build their skills and careers

Your scores will help you know which area to zero in on for your next step in developing effective leadership behaviors.

One of the best resources I could find to share with you on this topic was in SlideShare. CLICK HERE to view.

Some of the skills to work on to be even more effective in this area are:

  1. Learning how to listen so others feel fully heard.
  2. Listening from your head, heart and gut.
  3. Treating others as they would want to be treated.
  4. Building and maintaining trust.
  5. Exercising the art of appreciation and recognition.
  6. Communicating technical and professional competence.
  7. Giving and receiving feedback effectively.
  8. Being more focused on their success than your own.
  9. Coaching for peak performance.
  10. Knowing how your resting face and other body language is effecting others.

An exercise you can do with your team this week:

Be aware of how your mood might be affecting your team member’s. Do you walk through the office each morning with a pleasant look on your face?  Do you acknowledge others as they pass you in the hallway? What is your mood in meetings?  Have you taken at least a few minutes with each team member in the last couple of weeks to do a “pulse check” on how they are doing?

Your demeanor towards people who you are responsible for can make all the difference in whether they stay motivated and engaged or not. Make the time this week to recognize and appreciate team member’s for the contributions they make, on a daily basis, for creating the things that are going right in your organization.

You obviously care about others or you wouldn’t even have read this far.  I bet you are more supportive and encouraging than you think.  Just by being more aware and focused on this behavior you will improve it.  Know that you are a capable, smart, tenacious leader that your team member’s want to inspire them.




What will bad habits cost you this week?

Forbes magazine has identified “14 Bad Habits That Can Cost You Your Job” in THIS ARTICLE.  They include things like procrastination, lying, tardiness, and poor e-mail communication.  If you or your team have some of these I thought that helping you understand how habits are formed and the best way to change them could be worth your time.

“All our life is but a mass of habits,” William James wrote in 1892. “Most of the choices we make each day may feel like the products of well-considered decision making, but they’re not. They’re habits,” explains Charles Duhigg in his book, The Power of Habit.  In this first of a series of 3 articles, you’ll find out how habits are formed.  If you are not reaching the desired outcomes you want, it is probably due to habits you or your team have and may not even be aware of.

WATCH THIS:  A short, 3 min video, on how habits are created.  There are 3 parts to a habit.  A cue, a routine, and a reward.  It used to be that we focused on routines for behavioral change.  With the newest neurological research we now know that focusing on the CUE and the REWARD is more effective.

KNOW THIS:  Most of what we do is because of habits that we have that lead to the outcomes we are getting.  Creating new habits uses large amounts of physical, emotional, and mental energy (your brain works hard to create new neural pathways).  Finding and designing your formula for the right habits will make them automatic and your brain will literally have more time to devote to your organization’s more challenging and complex issues.  Forming the right habits now will affect your ability to innovate and grow next year.

TRY THIS:  Break your habits down into their components.  If you wake up every day and turn on the TV and find yourself stressed and overwhelmed by 10am, it might be the cue of turning on the TV to watch the news that may be causing your mind to be focused on what is going wrong instead of what is going right.  Books like Chip and Dan Heath’s, Decisive, talk about Trigger Points in the same way.  What action are you taking that triggers the routine or action that occurs after that?  What cue or trigger can you create that will trigger the action you’d rather take?

As a leader, your team and customers notice your habitsAre your habits ones that you want others to follow and create for themselves? 


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