Will you give the gift of knowledge this week?©


People ask me frequently what the best book for them to read is.  I consume books, learning videos and articles about business and leadership like it was chocolate or something.  I’m lucky because it’s usually a client that asks and I know enough about what they want as far as their outcomes to suggest a book that will keep them moving forward on their path.

I thought I would throw out a few varied suggestions if you’re trying to think of a gift for yourself or a team member.

A subscription to Harvard Business Review.  Ask for this for Christmas!  If you want to know and use the latest research by the smartest people on the planet regarding leadership, order this subscription or beg a loved one or your boss to gift it to you.  I use this magazine constantly as a resource for the best research to create my launch lists, ebooks and course content.

How Google Works is a new one by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg, Alan Eagle.
I’m about half way through it and already have 3 launch lists I want to write about it and definitely is one of my favorite audiobooks of the year.  I haven’t finished it because I stop it like every 10 minutes to take a bunch of notes.  It’s not just a sort of bio on the company itself but it is kind of guide written by leaders that help build Google to what it is today.  So far, it has dissected Google’s hiring process in detail which explains how they recruited and developed such great team members.  It’s a book about how they built their culture and the methods you can steal to get the same results with your team.

10% Happier by Dan Harris
This book just makes you laugh the entire time.  In the audiobook version it is narrated by the author and it totally cracks you up!  It is the cynical and enlightening journey of Harris’ path to discovering a method of relaxation that he believes made him 10% happier.

Any of these books by Malcolm Gladwell are super interesting and good reads.
Outliers (my favorite), blink, The Tipping Pont, David and Goliath.
If you haven’t heard of him here’s who he is:  CLICK HERE.

Conscious Business, How to Build Value Through Values, by Fred Kofman.  It focuses on unconditional responsibility, unflinching integrity, authentic communication, impeccable commitments and right leadership.

The Power of Full Engagement, Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal.  This is a great one to read over the holidays to start your new year right!  Full of practical ways to focus on managing your energy which will help you optimize the time you want to invest towards your desired outcomes.

I wish for you the gift of grace this week.  Give grace to yourself for all that you do to serve others – whether you always demonstrate it perfectly or not.  Grace to those that are wanting to please and serve you.  They don’t always get it perfectly either.  Grace to those you love and care about.  Family relationships come with way too much history to get it right every time.

Merry Christmas, my friend.  You are a reason why mine is so very, very joyful this year, as I have received more grace from others than I could possibly every measure.


Will you schedule a power hour for you and your team this week?©

In my new ebook entitled Time Mastery: 7 Simple Steps to Richer Outcomes I discuss the process of planning and executing a Sprint for you and your team.  These are 2-week long periods in which you hyper focus on a major deliverable that you want to accomplish.  These can be highly effective if you have defined the outcomes you want to achieve, have the authority to properly execute them and stay accountable the results you obtain.

As the holidays approach, you may find it helpful to schedule some Power Hours that are like mini-Sprints.  These microbursts of productivity, packed tightly into one hour of time, can help you and your team enter the holiday season with a clear task list and mind.

Here’s how:

  1. Schedule an hour of time this week that you are able to “rope off” completely.  If need be, you can let your team members know so that they can make arrangements to find assistance elsewhere during that hour.  An option is for you and a set of team members to schedule the Power Hour at the same time.  That way you are working in unison to get as much accomplished in one hour as possible.
  2. Determine which activities or tasks have been lingering around for days, weeks, or months that really need to get completed and haven’t. Things like clearing my inbox, scheduling health maintenance appointments, filing, running multiple small errands, and any number of things that have sat on the “side” of my desk fall into this category for me.  Which tasks do you have that you never seem to get around to doing, but that are not going to go away?  That’s your list.
  3. Schedule the hour for a time of the day and week that gives you the best chance at successfully executing it. When are the phones the quietest?  When do you have the least amount of interruptions?
  4. Celebrate when you have completed your Power Hour. Doesn’t have to be big.  Eat a Hershey’s Kiss if you like chocolate.   Declare to the world with fists in the air “I rock!”  The important thing is that you anchor the positive aspect of getting something done that you really didn’t want to do…and you had the discipline and fortitude to do it ANYWAY!

These Power Hours can be fun.  Put in your headphones and listen to music from the best times you can remember.  Challenge yourself to see just how many of the items on your list you can blast through with the laser focus of a Jedi warrior.

Will you plan for what you want in 2019 this week?©

Nope.  Not a typo.  I meant 2019.  I’ve learned from multiple sources and have come to experience it myself.  You can accomplish less in one year than what you think you can and much more in 3.

2019 imageSo, what do you want your outcomes to be in 2019?  Best to start thinking about it right now.  When you take that perspective you can release the pressure of needing everything to happen quickly and allow yourself to dream big and take the right baby steps necessary to get there.  If you want a better culture in your organization it will probably take longer than you think to accomplish, but the payoffs will be much bigger than you can probably predict.  If you want truly satisfying accomplishments, you need to think longer term otherwise you’ll be hitting tons of goals but they won’t mean that much in the long term.

Try asking yourself and your team these questions this week:

  1. What one or two small habits can you change that, over time, will create a big impact if done consistently for the next 3 years?
  2. Who do you need to deepen a relationship with that will result in an important mentorship or collaboration in the future?
  3. How will you plan each day, week, month and the next year to ensure that you are using your energy and talents optimally?
  4. Why do you want something different than what you have right now? Establish a strong reason that ignites your passion so that when things get tough you remember why you are making the changes and sacrifices in the first place.






How will you manage silos in your workplace this week?©

Silos are naturally and necessarily created in work environments to house team members into groups that form departments and that are designed to lead to the alignment of authority, responsibility, and accountability.  Silos allow for executives to manage smaller teams that allow for them to create communities that focus on areas of expertise and specific work product creation and implementation.

All sounds great, right? Yep, until you need to innovate or become customer centric and organizationally focused.

A silo mentality can be defined as: A mind-set present in some companies when certain departments or sectors do not wish to share information with others in the same company. This type of mentality will reduce the efficiency of the overall operation, reduce morale, and may contribute to the demise of a productive company culture.


Three aspects to consider in the organizational silo barrier are:

  • Non-aligned priorities
  • Lack of information flow
  • Lack of coordinated decision making across silos

When these aspects are occurring it will be difficult to make the changes necessary to remain competitive and get the ultimate results you may need to achieve.

What's your strategy?

In the Harvard Business Review Article, The First Two Steps Toward Breaking Down Silos in Your Organization, Vijay Govindarajan makes the statement, “Companies don’t change because they want to. They change because they are forced to by customers, by competition, by advances in science and technology, and by government regulation. Only when change is being forced upon the enterprise will people seek, give, and accept help.”

So if you need team members who currently operate in silos to begin operating in a way that will lead to the results you want to achieve, you’ll need to:

  1. Make a compelling case for why innovation is necessary to the organization and for each of its members. It will need to be an interactive experience for the leader and team member’s that occurs in as many different forums and formats as possible. Change can’t be “someone else’s” job or need to happen because it was posted in an email or there was one tell and sell group gathering that happened. Nope, you are going to need to lead the campaign throughout the organization and take some serious time to connect with other leaders and their team members to make the message and vision stick.
  1. Create an agenda that develops a step-by-step guide that team member’s can follow to reach the vision you will communicate. You need to not only communicate the vision for better communications you need to demonstrate it by clearly articulating, in multiple ways, what you want to see in the culture of your organization. You need to be the catalyst by being the change you want to see. If you don’t start crossing the silo lines by being more transparent with information that can be shared, being inclusive in your mindset and more effectively interactive in meetings, don’t expect others to execute what you aren’t doing yourself.

TEAM EXERCISE this week:

Before your next team meeting, distribute these questions so that your team members have an opportunity, as do you, to consider their answers. When you get together do a round and allow each member to comment on the one that they think is affecting your organizational progress the most.

  1. What priorities do you or your department have that are not aligned with another’s?
  1. Put yourself in the place of the other silo—what would make that silo realize that your need was a priority?
  1. What information do you or your department have that could be useful to others?
  1. What information or assistance do you need from another silo that you are not getting?
  1. In what areas would increased collaboration and giving up some autonomy be more beneficial for the company than maintaining your individuality?

(Questions excerpted from How Excellent Companies Avoid Dumb Things by Neil Smith with Patricia O’Connell. Copyright © 2012)

Will your brain be on dopamine this week?©

It’s hard to ignore (well, I guess you could if you wanted to) the mounting brain and other research that is proving that appreciation, recognition and gratitude increases workplace engagement, motivation and retention.

One study from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania found this:

“Researchers randomly divided university fund-raisers into two groups. One group made phone calls to solicit alumni donations in the same way they always had. The second group—assigned to work on a different day—received a pep talk from the director of annual giving, who told the fund-raisers she was grateful for their efforts. During the following week, the university employees who heard her message of gratitude made 50% more fund-raising calls than those who did not.”

 The part of the brain that is affected by appreciation and gratitude is the hypothalamus which controls dopamine – the “reward neurotransmitter”. Basically, when we show appreciation or receive it our brain make us feel good. 

Here are some ideas I found from a Forbes article entitled, 25 Low-Cost Ways to Reward Employees:


  • Just say thank you for the effort a team member as made recently.
  • Throw a pizza, cake or hummus (ha, I added that one) in their honor.
  • Grant a long lunch break, extra break or comp time.
  • Post a thank you note in the lobby with their name on it.
  • Have the entire team sign a framed certificate of appreciation.
  • Have the whole team give them a standing ovation at the beginning of the next meeting.

If you really want to know what will ring the appreciation bell for someone that you care about, try asking your spouse, child, friend or other family member to take the 5 Languages of Love free assessment. It will help you understand which of these 5 languages make them feel the best when they receive it:  

  • Quality time
  • Gifts
  • Words of Affirmation (that’s mine!)
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch

It was incredibly helpful to our family when we realized that each one of us had a different language of love, but were constantly trying to give what we wanted to get from the other. I wanted words of affirmation so I gave those all the time whereas my daughter was happy with the most minor gift (even a cup cake counted) and my husband Allen, we found out, was all about quality time and couldn’t give a hoot about acts of service. The knowledge we got from one another, after taking the assessment, helped us more effectively give and receive appreciation to one another.

Gary Chapman’s book, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace could be just the right gift for yourself and your team this holiday season. 


How will you stay focused this week?©

Okay, folks. There’s only 7 weeks left of 2015. You still have time to make things happen for you and your team, but you are going to need to stay focused on the most important action steps that will help you arrive at the desired outcome you set for yourself this year.

Maybe you have reached that 2015 outcome already. Woohoo! Congratulations. It’s smooth sailing from here. Enjoy the holiday season and rest up for an amazing 2016. A relaxed brain discovers all kinds of amazing solutions.

If there are still a few things you want to accomplish, or that you are required to, you might find helpful a video from Brendon Burchard (about 12 minutes long). It points out some key ways to remain focused.

  1. Make fewer decisions. You want to be sure to remove any decision making from your plate that you can. Are there small decisions that are you making everyday that you can take off your plate and off your mind?   He points out that “mindlessly browsing consumes an incredible amount of brainpower; every new link and every new piece of information to pay attention to eats up your mental energy and reserves.” Save your brainpower for the highest-level thinking that really matters.
  1. Define mission. This one goes back to always start with the end in mind. What is your desired outcome today? This week? This year? 3 years from now?
  1. Say NO to everything immediately, as a first response, from now on. Rather than saying, “sure”, perhaps you could answer with, “That sounds great, but I need to check the other commitments I’ve made and get back to you tomorrow with an answer.”

The amount of binging and dinging that goes on in our world is endless, it seems. I don’t think Steve Jobs created some of the coolest technology every invented so it could control us. In fact, I’m quite sure it was so that we could use it to reach our best outcomes. What distractions can you remove tomorrow that will allow you to focus on the things you know that matter most to you, your team, and your organization?


At your next team meeting you could do a few rounds where each person discusses these three items:

  1. What decisions are they making everyday that they don’t need to be?
  2. What is their desired outcome for the coming year?
  3. What do they keep saying yes to that they need to be saying no to, instead?

Another good reference on this topic is an article from Harvard Business Review entitled, Train Your Brain to Focus.


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.

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