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Five Ideas to Improve Happiness, Success, and Performance at Work

Many of us have been told that if we work hard, we’ll be successful, and once we’re successful, then we’ll be happy. But decades of scientific research have proven that this formula is backward. Happiness makes us smarter and more efficient-it actually fuels our success. Shawn Achor, Harvard Professor and host of our new program, The Happiness Advantage has a whole set of strategies that you can use to do this. Here are five:

  1. Practice random acts of kindness: Every time you perform an act of kindness, however small, your brain enjoys a spike in happiness. Write a thank-you note, compliment a colleague’s tie, or drop coins in a stranger’s meter.
  2. Invest in your social relationships: Your social support network (friends and family) are the best predictor of success and happiness. Remember to invest in your social support networks!
  3. Exercise: You know about the physical benefits of exercise, but don’t forget the mental ones: just 30 minutes of exercise can act as an anti-depressant. Another study found that executives who started a regular exercise routine experienced a 70% improvement in their ability to make complex decisions.
  4. Start with small, manageable goals: When you fell stressed and overwhelmed at work, don’t panic. The best way to get control of the situation (and improve your happiness) is to start with small, manageable goals. This helps you gain confidence so you can gradually take on larger and larger tasks.
  5. Avoid Multitasking: We live in a world that almost demands that we multitask... And we can do it: the only problem is, when we attempt to multitask, our brain actually decreases our success rate on both of those tasks. So focus on one task at a time!

These are just a few ideas that you’ll find in our new release, The Happiness Advantage. Our customers have already told us they love the program and are using it in the workplace. We think you’ll agree! Take a look at the free preview and see for yourself.

The Happiness Advantage Training Video

Posted under Best Sellers, What’s New, Training Ideas, HR and Training, Leadership, Management, Corporate Strategy, Shawn Achor, The Happiness Advantage by Stewart on Apr 13, 2011 | Comments: 0 | Comments Off

The Importance of Getting Buy-In...

Dr. John Kotter Book Buy-In

I was lucky enough to read John Kotter’s new book a few weeks ago. It’s called "Buy-In: Saving Your Good Idea From Getting Shut Down."

As many of you know, "Communicating for Buy-In" is step #4 in Dr. John Kotter’s 8-step process of change. No change effort can succeed unless your entire team buys into the process. Buy-in is essential, but it can also be the biggest roadblock.

This is a terrific book if you want to have more productive meetings and presentations and obtain "buy-in" from everyone.

In this book, Kotter uses a simple and straightforward way to discuss the obstacles that can occur when you try to get Buy-In. He also provides a wonderful prescription for addressing the most common attacks that you might encounter when you’re trying to pursue a good idea.

The first half of the book tells a theoretical story about a town that needs new computers in their library and initially the resident making the presentation gets shot down. But her brother-in-law, Hank comes to the rescue by using common sense and ingenuity.

The second half of the book features 24 attacks that are often typical responses used to kill new or different ideas and they are grouped in 4 strategies:

  • Fear Mongering
  • Delay
  • Confusion
  • Ridicule (or character assassination).

We have all heard them before..."it’s worked before so why change it" or "you’re abandoning our core ideals." The authors provide methods to help you counter the naysayers.

That alone is a good reason to take a look at this book. But what I love the most is that John and his Co-Author Lorne Whitehead have delivered this message in a fun to read format. I enjoyed reading the book - and I got a lot out of it...

Give the book a look. I think you’ll like it.

To purchase a copy of this book at Amazon.com, Click Here.

Posted under What’s New, John Kotter, Management by Stewart on Jan 26, 2011 | Comments: 0 | Post a comment»

Lessons from Toyota

The recent spate of problem with Toyota caused me to think. While the news is still coming out, it does seem that the folks at Toyota were not as forthcoming as they could (and should) have been about the problem with the accelerator pedals. It is also clear that the company may have been so focused on keeping costs down that they may have lost sight of their strong commitment to quality. No matter what, I do think we can learn something from the Toyota experience... Here are some of the things I’ve learned.

Worry about complacency. Complacency is your enemy. When things seem to be too good to be true, that may be when you need to be most on your guard. I think Toyota was complacent and that allowed them to become lazy about their legendary quality and customer standards. It is interesting that both Tom Peters and John Kotter also speak about the perils of complacency (in a number of different videos, book and articles). You need to be on your guard and always be asking yourself, "Are we living up to our highest standards - and upholding our reputation?"

The bottom line isn’t the bottom line: The true bottom line is the customer. If you don’t have customers, you don’t have anything. I think that Toyota may have become so focused on keeping costs down that they may have compromised quality. The American car companies had this problem in earlier decades (and we know what happened to them). It is important to focus in the bottom line, but you also need to be equally committed to maintaining your standards. If you compromise your standards for short-term gain, you will suffer... eventually. It might take some time, but the problems will arise.

Reputations are hard to build and easy to lose. Toyota has taken a big hit in the press. For decades they worked very hard to maintain the highest standards. They had an iron clad reputation. And the barrage of problems with car mats, accelerator pedals, and runaway acceleration (compounded by the reporting delays) has hit them hard. They are the butt of jokes on late night television. Sales are down and people are concerned. All of this happened in a matter of weeks. Think about it: Decades to build a reputation and weeks to damage it. Toyota may (and most likely will) regain its reputation, but it will take the company a while to do it.

Posted under Miscellaneous Thoughts, Leadership, Management, Corporate Strategy by Stewart on Apr 16, 2010 | Comments: 0 | Post a comment»

Tom Peters New Book: The Little BIG Things!

The LIttle BIG Things by Tom Peters

More great book news! Tom Peters book "The Little BIG Things: 163 Ways To Pursue Excellence" is now available. As many of you know, Tom Peters has been consolidating a lot of his best ideas into "Success Tips" for his blog. These tips distill so many of the ideas that Tom has developed through his practice.

After accumulating hundreds of these ideas (over several years), Tom decided to aggregate the best of these into a book. In it, you will find ideas for improved customer service and leadership. Tom also shares ideas on innovation, excellence, and organizational strategy. I particularly like Tom’s advice on improving your communication abilities, and honing your leadership skills.

These are 163 great ideas... and they are motivational, insightful, fun to read, and eminently useable (and, for that matter, sensible). If you’re interested in Tom’s new book, click here to see the link on Amazon.com.

As many of you already know, Tom has also put a lot of these great ideas into a training video series. We shot over 90 of Tom’s "Little BIG Things" over three fun and fascinating days. I confess that we spent as much time chatting and laughing as we did shooting Tom’s segments. Free previews are available here: The Little BIG Things DVD series.

Posted under Best Sellers, What’s New, Customer Service, Tom Peters, Leadership, Management by Stewart on Mar 10, 2010 | Comments: 0 | Post a comment»

Lessons from my favorite Christmas movies!

I love Christmas movies. Every year I watch them with my family... and every year I still love them. But did you know that you could actually use these movies to help with your leadership, management, and customer service? Well you can... Here’s a sampling:

Miracle on 34th Street

Everyone seems so focused on the "commercial" from Mr. Macy and Mr. Gimbel all the way throughout New York City... But Macy’s Santa, aptly named Kris Kringle (and wonderfully played by Edmund Gwenn) really gets it. He helps customers get what they want - even when it’s something that Macy’s doesn’t carry. Customers are so delighted that they become loyal customers of Macy’s. Now that’s customer service! Couldn’t we all learn from Macy’s Kris Kringle? Give it a try!

Love Actually

I love this newer Christmas movie. In it, we hear a lot of stories about love, the holidays, and people. But it is the opening of the movie that gets me. In it, we hear the voice of the Prime Minister of England (played by Hugh Grant) saying, "Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow airport. General opinion makes out that we live in a world of hatred and greed. I don’t see that. Seems to me that love is everywhere. Often it’s not particularly dignified or newsworthy but it’s always there. Fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, none of the phone calls from people on board were messages of hate or revenge, they were all messages of love. lf you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that love actually is all around."

It’s a great quote, but it also got me thinking of the interview I had with Herb Kelleher (for the film "The Excellence Files.") Herb said, "We’d rather be a company motivated by love than fear." You don’t often hear CEOs speak of love, but it is hard to argue with success. Herb Kelleher built the most successful airline in the world. And he did it by empowering, respecting and valuing (or even loving) his employees. Maybe it is all about love! (By the way, if you watch this movie, make sure to watch the deleted scenes, they’re funny and heartwarming).

It’s a Wonderful Life

OK, there are so many wonderful lessons in this movie it’s hard to focus in on one. The one I like the best is that you can’t do it alone. As many of you already know so well, George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) is in a pickle. He thinks he has to solve the problems on his own and even considers suicide... But the town comes to the rescue and helps George out. I love the scene at the end when everyone from Bedford Falls gathers in George Bailey’s living room to show support. I also love it because it reminds all of us that we can’t do everything alone. It is the collaboration of groups that make a difference. Teamwork really does matter - at work, at home, and in the community. It’s a nice lesson to remember at work - all year long.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer

Rudolph doesn’t seem to "fit into the crowd" because he has a red nose. In fact, there is an entire island of toys that seem to be ignored because they don’t fit in. But, as we know, Rudolph’s nose turns out to be a huge asset to Santa during the "Storm of the Century." Well, we know through research that diverse teams perform better than the teams that are all made up of the same kind of people. Maybe we should be looking for the "misfits" and the Rudolph’s for our next team at work. You never know, it might make the difference in your next project.

So, next time you watch your favorite Christmas movie, remember: There may be more to the movie that you love than you think!

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and I hope that the New Year brings you much joy and success.

Posted under Customer Service, Miscellaneous Thoughts, Training Ideas, Leadership, Management by Stewart on Dec 17, 2009 | Comments: 0 | Post a comment»

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