Business „out of the box”. How to Convince Extraordinay People to Work With You, Even if Not For You

Mar 22, 11 Business „out of the box”. How to Convince Extraordinay People to Work With You, Even if Not For You

Posted by in Books, Business, Thoughts/Ideas

William Taylor is a writer, antrepreneur and founder of one of the most forward thinking magazines in the US – fastcompany.com – a magazine dedicated to business innovation and to out of the box business practices. In time, Taylor interviewed hundreds of managers from companies whose creative and counterintuitive approaches to business have managed, in several cases, to set new standards for excellence in their respective industries. The most outstanding case studies are comprised in his books, “Mavericks at Work” and “Practically Radical” – both fascinating journeys through a universe where business is fun and colorful, where extraordinary ideas come from the most unusual places. Reading his books I realized, once more, how worryingly often we get caught in the thinking patterns of our own jobs, companies or industries and lose sight of amazing opportunities of finding new and valuable ideas. One of the examples offered by William Taylor in “Mavericks at Work” is particularly worth sharing, since it comes, unexpectedly, from one of the most conservative industries one might imagine – mining. „Gold mining is an old industry, a tired industry. The pace of change is glacial. Traditionally, mining companies have worried about how strong your back is, not how big your brain is. We wanted to do something that no one in the industry had done, to tap into the intellectual capital of the whole world.“– Rob McEwen, Former Chairman and CEO, GoldCorp INC. Rob McEwen a revolutionized the gold mining industry in a moment of, I dare say, despair. For more than 5 years, GoldCorp had been trying to win a dangerous bet – they had acquired a mine in Red Lake, Ontario, in an area famous for its rich gold deposits. That particular mine however, had a sad history – low productivity, failed investments and union problems. Still, McEwen refused to give up the idea that the mine had potential and, for 5 years, he invested over 10 millon USD in experimental drills – all that money for a hope!...

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Three Great Lessons Children Teach Businesspeople

Feb 07, 11 Three Great Lessons Children Teach Businesspeople

Posted by in Thoughts/Ideas

During the years I’ve been training hundreds of people from various companies I noticed a pattern that seems emerge every time when a group of 12 adults or more are brought together to learn something new, regardless of subject. People seem to have an urge to play that they fight very hard to keep under control, because apparently it’s not “professional”, but which seems to wait for just the right opportunity to manifest itself. For example, I always give my seminar participants something to keep their hands busy while their minds are immersed in learning – an anti-stress ball or a funny pen, or, the star of the show – colored molding clay. The joy these small toys create and the creativity that is unleashed when given the opportunity to mold bear no connection with the status of the participants. People of all ages and professions seem to enjoy playing just the same – that is A LOT! I have proof of this in the form of two gorgeous cherries molded out of clay by a CFO, which sit proudly on my desk, alongside a cute green cappuccino cup created by a 20 something IT whizz. So what if people like to play with molding clay? What’s the point in writing about this? – You might wonder just about now. Actually, the point is that this “hunger for play” and the extraordinary creativity people exhibit when given the chance might actually be harnessed for more “serious” and “business like” purposes. This whole thing got me thinking about all those childhood joys that we seem to lose somewhere on the way to becoming grown-ups and that we later in life reject as “not befitting an adult”. Maybe there is a reason why we behave a certain way when we are small and maybe, just maybe, it’s wrong to leave all that behind when we grow up. Is it possible that holding on to some of that “childish” stuff might actually have tangible benefits? Learning from...

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What’s the connection between a Rider, an Elephant, New Year’s Resolutions and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part 1

Jan 03, 11 What’s the connection between a Rider, an Elephant, New Year’s Resolutions and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part 1

Posted by in Books, Mindfulness

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope this year, even more than the last, gives you the chance to learn, grow, visit interesting places and meet people that change your lives for the better. As it always happens in the last days of a year and the first of the new one, people reflect on the year that has passed and make plans for the one ahead. Although these New Year’s resolutions are often forgotten by the first of February, still, it’s an important ritual that many of us hold dear. I find it very interesting that these resolutions tend to revolve around a few themes, which all converge towards one great theme – the pursuit of happiness. Whether people set career goals (I want to get that promotion), plan on kicking off a bad habit and starting a good one (I want to lose weight/quit smoking/take up sports), make money plans (I want to buy a house/save money for a rainy day), wish for improved relationships (I will socialize more this year/I will hopefully meet my soul-mate) or set personal development objectives (I want to learn a new language/travel to Paris), all New Year’s resolutions are about increasing happiness in some way. The question that comes up is – even if we were disciplined enough to accomplish all our New Year’s resolutions, would that be enough to make us completely happy?  And what is the “pursuit of happiness” anyway – is happiness some sort of prize that  life, like a sort of Santa-Claus, will bring us if we are really good and do all things right? In the past years science has dug deep into the issue of happiness and, as it turns out,  “the pursuit of happiness” may be a deceiving choice of words – what if there is nothing to pursue after all and the prize is in the journey? If I seem a bit too cryptic, let me take a step back and introduce you to one of my favorite authors...

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Mirror mirror on the wall…or why Dorian Gray couldn’t handle his cognitive dissonance

Dec 08, 10 Mirror mirror on the wall…or why Dorian Gray couldn’t handle his cognitive dissonance

Posted by in Neuroscience, Psychology

Thinking about the SCARF model I was writing about in my previous post, one specific situation comes to mind where the impact of messing with the “S – status” component of the model is very harsh. It’s something we’ve all encountered when we are trying to influence those around us to change for the better. I am talking about good old feedback and how people react to it. We all know people who say they welcome feedback and are open to improve and even invite those around them to share their opinions and make suggestions. When they do receive the feedback however, their reactions are anything but constructive and open. In line with “take care what you wish for, you might actually get it”, people receiving unflattering feedback seem to be taken aback and very often have a hard time dealing with it, even if they themselves had asked for it. So why is that? In my experience with giving or facilitating feedback from subordinates to managers or in-between teams, I’ve seen two very different types of reactions. The first type is the denial/justification loop that many tend to enter once they have “looked in the mirror” and, like Dorian Gray (if you don’t remember his story, you can find out more here), saw an old ugly face instead of the young unblemished appearance they had expected. The second type of reaction takes a lot of courage and is about a much healthier process – awareness/acceptance/change. For a very long time I’ve tried to understand why people tend to take the “denial/justification” approach when they don’t like what they hear about themselves. From a neuroscience point of view we might say that negative feedback is a direct threat to our sense of status, lowering our self-worth and leading to, among other things, a discharge of cortisol (a stress hormone) in the brain. This makes people anxious and prone to less than rational reactions. From a cognitive psychology perspective, there is the story of a very interesting mechanism...

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Beginning

People say beginnings are hard, and they often are, but I love them! I love that moment of insight, the second a new idea is born, when a new project starts to take shape, a new connection is made.  Still, with all my passion for new beginnings, I’ve put off the idea of starting a blog for quite a long time. Why? Maybe because I find it much easier to articulate my thoughts in front of a live audience, where I get immediate feedback on my ideas, instead of just writing them down nicely and orderly on a white canvas, be it a virtual one, hoping that someone, someday will read them. It may seem strange, since so many people are afraid of speaking in public and would rather convey their thoughts in a less  direct way, but to me a room full of faces is nothing to be feared, on the contrary, nothing is better than to see people’s faces light up in interest when the subject captivates them. I find this inspiring and, unfortunately, it’s something one can’t get from interacting with a computer screen. So why now? Because I have a feeling that this is the time I can share something valuable with others, something that is worth the time and effort of a reader, whoever they may be. It is my belief that one should start a private journal if their only intention is to speak to themselves. If you decide to start a blog, then you must have something to say to the world and to me this moment has been a long time coming. So what am I sharing through this blog? I’ll be drawing on my experience as a learning and development consultant, working with hundreds of people from many companies, coming from different cultures and industries and walks of life and on the lessons I’ve learned in the past years about how people think, what motivates them and what drives them to change for the better....

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