Three Holiday Tips

I was watching Sheila wrap gifts yesterday as we prepared for our trip to see family. She was having a fun time cutting paper, tying ribbons and labeling gifts. She keeps a diligent list of what everyone is getting to make certain that the number of gifts and costs of gifts are kept even among family members. While shopping for gifts is far from simple, wrapping is pretty straightforward and automatic. The only thing left to do after that is to put them under the tree or in our situation, into the suitcase. As we approach the holiday time, I’m looking for two ways to keep my energy up and to enjoy it all. Keep it simple–Remember the 80/20 rule. Read More

An Evening of Literary Conversation or “The Inner Nun”

It’s the way I like to go to performances. Just show up 5 minutes before and see what tickets are available. That turned out to be the plan when my wife Sheila suggested we go to the Pittsburgh Literary Speaker Series the other night. The speaker was short story writer Gary Saunders. A McArthur Genius award winner, I couldn’t help but think that I can only benefit from being around smart people. However, it was really my wife, Sheila’s idea (actually another smart person) to go see him, in part due to her recently published book, Warrior Mother and her commitment to be around great authors. The evening looked like it would be fun. It was amazing. Saunders was immensely Read More

Environmental Resilience–Buses,Tadpoles and Mussels. Oh My!

Resilience comes in many forms and fashions but yesterday’s Green Building Alliance’s kick off Inspire Speakers Series speakers kicked off what looks like an amazing series of speakers who will be helping us better understand and help take back our environment. The GBA series includes a local speaker and national speaker and yesterday’s local leader was Robert Vagt, President of the Heinz Endowments. Bob spoke about The Breathe Project that is working to clean up the air in Pittsburgh. In what is today referred to as one of the world’s most livable cities, our air has gone from being the dirtiest and most disgusting air in the world (during the steel industry days) to just being pretty darn filthy  (284 Read More

Resilience Fashion

The “prepping movement” manifests the ultimate effort towards resilience. Preppers believe that there will be cataclysmic world events that will leave modern society in chaos. It will only be  through their preparation and forward thinking, that they and their families will survive. National Geographic runs a weekly TV series on their  cable channel on Preppers and their recent made for TV broadcast, American Blackout, portrayed a cyber terrorist event that took down the US energy grid for 2 weeks causing mass chaos in the US Lest you think that the Prepping Movement is for extremists, we actually  see signs of it all around us, even at some of our favorite stores. Costco offers both on-line and in-store products that are Read More

Karmic Resilience in Bean Town: Their Resilience Advantage

I have to admit I was rooting for Boston in the World Series. It may have been because the Cardinals defeated our Pirates in the ALDS or perhaps it was because my dentist, Dr Rob, is a raving Red Sox fan and I don’t want to get on his wrong side. But as I watched the celebrations the past few days, I recognized that I love a good resilience story and there wasn’t any better one yesterday than the team from BeanTown. Let me count them off…No home world series celebration since 1918, Big Poppi was batting over .700 in the series after they lost 96 games last year,  and even Neil Diamond made a comeback to sing Sweet Caroline Read More

The City of Bridges…Shut Down

There’s an old expression here in Pittsburgh about having to cross bridges or go through tunnels, both of which are central to the movement of people in town, which is “don’t do it!”. For the most part, its usually just a minor inconvenience, but yesterday at 5 PM after completing my day of consulting with my clients, I was ready to head home from East Liberty which is just a quick 10-15 minute drive across the Highland Park Bridge. As I got onto Washington Blvd, I couldn’t help notice that it was backup up all the way to Penn Ave about a three mile backup from the Bridge…oops I thought, I probably should go down Highland Ave…backed up there too…Negley…even Read More

Ask Better Questions

Its not enough to ask questions when you are wanting to understand more about what is important to  your clients, colleagues or employees. The questions must be better, more focused and build on one another. Good question: Why did you decide to take that action? Better question: Walk me through the steps you took to arrive at that decision? Good question: Do you think our product will meet your needs? Better question: Tell me more about what you need to achieve success? Good question: How’s the new product rollout going? Better questions: What’s working and what’s not working on your product rollout project? Oftentimes we’re too interested in giving our responses and ideas to folks and miss the opportunity to Read More

My 1% Learning

I had the opportunity for a small group meeting yesterday with Dan Pink, best selling author of the books, To Sell is Human, Drive, and Free Agent Nation at a Thought Leadership Conference sponsored by my mentor, Alan Weiss down at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach. Dan spent several a day with us and provided some amazing insights about how he develops his ideas for his books, his thoughts about the future of publishing and what he believes his readers want from his work; and none of that was the biggest take away for me during the day. Dan described himself as naturally curious and has a thirst for understanding cutting edge research from the lab and field. As Read More

The Essential Skills

“Oh , I don’t worry about those. They’re just soft skills” “Grrrr”, I went under my breath, as another person talked to me about using soft skills. Just in case you can’t tell, they’re talking about people skills the same way that Tea Party activist talk about the Affordable Care Act. With contempt. The implication is that hard skills like budgeting, financial planning, and other mathematically related activities are more important than is our ability to interact with one another effectively. But the research does not bear that out In one study of 358 randomly selected Johnson and Johnson managers, the best performing ones possessed significantly higher levels of self-awareness, self-management capability, social skills, and organizational savvy. Another study conducted Read More

Are You a Trustworthy Leader?

In conducting some workplace interviews recently several members of this organization told me that they did not trust their managers or theleadership of the organization. Their concerns focused on their bosses: Lack of transparency Shifting priorities that could never be nailed down. Lack of commitment to the overall mission of the organization. Not helping them develop as professionals The result for these staff members were that they did not feel very engaged or committed to the company and were planning their strategy of how to get out. A recent survey by Interaction Associates reported on trust in organizations and showed that High Performing Organizations (HPOs) which had high scores in trust and leadership outperformed Low Performing Organizations (LPOs) in everything Read More