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The Power of The Personal

Panera Bread Story - Brandon and Theresa Cook

So much of what we speak about boils down to the basics.  Treat customers as you'd like to be treated.  Listen to the good ideas of your people.  Keep a positive attitude and your attitude will spread to others. 

Often we get so tied up in the day to day business, that we forget these basic lessons... Here is a great story about a simple act of kindness... One that had a huge impact for Panera Bread.  CLICK HERE TO READ THE STORY

Remember, the small stuff really matters!

Here's more on this great story from AdWeek!

Posted under Customer Service, Miscellaneous Thoughts, Corporate Strategy by Stewart on Sep 12, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Comments Off

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 Fish Philosophy and the Science of Positive Psychology

We’ve been working on a new training video with Shawn Achor. Shawn is the author of the forthcoming book called, "The Happiness Advantage." The other day, we filmed Shawn in New York in front of a live audience. Shawn’s message is based on the latest scientific research in the area of Positive Psychology coupled with anecdotal stories. We’ll have a lot more on Shawn, his amazing ideas, his forthcoming training program, and fun sense of humor soon. But Shawn’s lecture got me thinking about the "Fish Philosophy."

Many of you know about the "Fish Philosophy" and about the video "Fish!" If you don’t, the program follows a group of employees who work at the fish market in Pikes Place in Seattle Washington. Despite working long hours, getting up VERY early, and working in a job that some might consider unpleasant, this team is positive, enthusiastic, and energized by their work. Their enthusiasm is also infections.

The core message of Fish is that you can build a workplace that is fun and engaging if you have a positive attitude and willingness to see work as enjoyable. It is a powerful message, and has swept the business world by storm.

In some ways, the research that Shawn discusses in his book (and video) shows in a concrete manner that the message behind "Fish" isn’t just fun, it has a scientific basis. Fun and attitude are infections. You can "choose your attitude," and you can work to improve your outlook about work.

We will have a lot more on the "how" and "why" in our new video as the production progresses... Stay tuned!!!

Posted under Leadership, Corporate Strategy, Fish Philosophy, Shawn Achor by Stewart on Jul 07, 2010 | Comments: 0 | Post a comment»

Once again... The Problems of Complacency

I’ve written blogs in the past about the problems with complacency. I know that Tom Peters and John Kotter speak about this all time in their writings and speeches. Well, the terrible news in the Gulf of Mexico brings the issue of complacency to mind again.

I don’t think there is any doubt that one of BP’s problems was complacency. Since there hadn’t been any problems in the past, why should they think there would be problems in the future? BP was suffering from a bad case of complacency... Maybe, the managers thought, they could even push the envelope a bit regarding the strictest safety standards... complacency again! Even when the leak started, they seemed to put all their eggs in one basket - the first "cap"... they didn’t seem to have a comprehensive set of back up plans ready to go. Once again they were complacent.

Companies, like BP can get complacent. Government agencies can get complacent, too (think of the Challenger Disaster for NASA and of Katrina). Toyota got complacent about its standards of quality.

We all need to work against complacency. How do you do this? Part of the answer is awareness. Part of it also requires a regular review of processes and procedures. Part of it falls on leaders who need to be aware and willing to challenge the status quo. Human nature tends to fall on complacency. We become comfortable and unwilling to challenge assumptions. But in order to avoid real problems, leaders, managers, and all employees need to try an overcome this natural impulse...

Posted under John Kotter, Tom Peters, Leadership, Corporate Strategy by Stewart on Jun 14, 2010 | Comments: 0 | Post a comment»

Thoughts on Fortune Magazine's "100 Best Companies To Work For"

I love the annual Fortune Magazine issue that celebrates the "100 Best Companies To Work For." I always learn new ideas about excellence, service, leadership, and success when I read the article. Year in and year out, I find that there are a few enduring lessons that emerge from these companies... Here are some:

1) Great customer service starts with motivated and positive employees. You simply can’t have excellent customer service if your employees feel disempowered and discouraged. Moreover, it is very difficult to deliver consistent service when you have a high turnover rate. As Herb Kelleher used to say, "Pay attention to your people and the customers will be happy... and ultimately the shareholders will benefit."

2) These companies all work hard at internal communication. One of the critical components of a "Best Company To Work For" is communication. Senior leadership knows this and works hard at it.

3) Listening is a critical skill for leadership. The corollary to communication is listening. This skill is critical for successful leaders, managers, and supervisors. Listening is a skill that can be developed and improved and all of these organizations work on listening skills.

4) The Leaders at these companies seem to understand that it’s not all about them. These days we seem to be barraged by leaders who receive huge bonuses. Some leaders seem to feel that they are the only people that count. At the best companies, the opposite is true. Leaders know that it is the success of the entire organization that matters. These leaders are for the most part more responsive, engaged, and more humble.

5) Low turnover, loyal employees, and an open organization are good for the bottom line, which is why these companies are so successful. Even in a tough economic environment they are able to outperform their competitors. How? The investment in their people pays off in higher productivity, willingness to work on creative solutions, and commitment.

As many of you know, we have filmed at a number of these companies over the years, profiling different aspects of excellence. You can learn about the success strategies at The Container Store and Deloitte in the program Re-imagine. USAA and Whole Foods Market are featured in The Excellence Files. Tom Peters speaks about Deloitte, Stew Leonard’s, FedEx and others in a number of his programs. And yes, it is still all about the people!

Posted under Corporate, Customer Service, Tom Peters, Corporate Strategy by Stewart on May 27, 2010 | Comments: 1 | Post a comment»

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