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When It Comes To Company Perks We’re Asking All The Wrong Questions

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I still remember when one of the companies that I worked for reduced their weekly catered lunches to once a month and pizza only. No more catered cuisines were on the horizon. It was quiet on our first Thursday without catered lunch. People quietly went in groups to hunt for their own lunches. You could feel the change…odd isn’t it? It’s just lunch right?

Company perks are great. I’m all for it but it’s time that we evolve and think beyond the perks and the budget allocations. Perks are always susceptible to being either flung at people or taken away depending on a company’s budget. We have to start thinking about our organizational environments as an ecosystem. What happens when you drain the swamp or introduce a new species? Sometimes the impact is minor and other times it is the start of a slow and painful death to that ecosystem.

The workforce has changed! Organizations have to be more well-rounded in order to attract good talent. Millennials don’t want to just work. We want to thrive and be planted in a multifaceted organizational ecosystem, that cares about the world and its employees.

Instead of thinking about perks in terms of what we should add or takeaway, consider analyzing what it is that your organizational eco-system needs and how to evolve the many organisms that live in it.

What is needed in order to maintain and evolve your organization’s ecosystem?

So, let’s say that you agree with everything I’ve said BUT your company doesn’t have the budget for Whirly Ball, snacks or regular outings. First figure out where your funds are being allocated and consider this.

If you only have enough money to buy a healthy fish and a beautiful tank but no fish food, then you shouldn’t buy the fish at all.

Now I’m not saying to go out right now and pull money out of paying the office rent to buy nap pods. We have to make it a priority to put people first in our organizations. All that is required is authentic care of your particular ecosystem, no matter the size of your company or resources. You have to feed the fish and keep it healthy in order for it to survive.

Guess what, nurturing your ecosystem may actually cost you less money than planning a ping pong outing. It’s about tuning into what your team needs in order to thrive, feel planted and build community. It could be that you need to skip the happy hour and go out as a team to volunteer one month.

Food For Thought

What if you redesigned your company’s snack program? Free food is a great motivator but we need to take this a step further. Grabbing a granola bar and running back to your desk does not help to create community at work. We’ve lost the art of breaking bread together. Instead of cutting down the Twinkie spend, what if we bought foods that encourage community, exploration and rejuvenation?

 

5 Core Values That Launch a Successful Business

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Building your own business is not for the faint of heart. It can be a daunting task to embark on the journey of entrepreneurship. I often found myself wondering how I would be perceived and if people would take me seriously. I knew at that point that in order to ‘stay the course’, my business would have to be about much more than just revenue.

1. Define Your Mission and Connect Your Purpose

As a millennial and a woman of color, my goal is to encourage those especially in my peer group to find deeper grounding and vision in order to launch a meaningful and lucrative business of any size. My business platform is and always will be Service, Education and Thought Leadership. My business is founded on more than just revenue. It’s about serving and building up communities, leaving a legacy and influencing thought for the better. My journey into the world of writing and the launch of Tephra Miriam Publishing resonated very deeply, and started with a cause. My cause turned into my business, and my business gave birth to publishing the first book in my Clown Town Adventures series for youth and young adults.

I view business like an eco-system that requires balance; almost like farming. If you take from the earth and never plant seeds you will deplete your resources. As businesses we cannot only consume. We have to give back.

2. Make Your Own Path

After I decided on the direction my business would take, my next dilemma was to figure out what makes me different than other companies out there. I had to create my own value proposition that was unique to me. My value proposition is that I do more for less. Under my communications brand I do not only writing but graphic design, creative direction, photography, media, production and much more. I see it all as the way that brands and people communicate with their audience and I’ve learned to do it all.

There is a need to change the way people think about and utilize communications. Many times communications and PR initiatives are bulky….flashy; lacking of depth and detached from the organization’s mission and core values. What makes Tephra Miriam Communications a little bit different is that we understand how the business side works which helps us to reduce the ‘white noise’ and create impactful resources that organizations can utilize over and over. Here at TMC we view communication as far more than just the written word, which is why our services offered are so diverse. It’s about communicating your vision and mission through the written word, imagery and media.

3. Develop Metrics That Make Sense

It’s important to be able to measure the growth of your business in more ways than just revenue. Developing metrics that reflect your amount of exposure, reach and overall digital foot print is vital. For example, when I started TMC I wasn’t coming up when you Googled my business. Now I’m number one. That’s progress!

4. Paint Your Own Picture of Success

It’s difficult to gauge what success is in your business but as a business owner you have to have vision. A lot of times we consider a successful business as one that makes lots of money. In my case it wasn’t so clear cut. I could make a lot of money doing projects that I don’t particularly care about. For me that is not success. A successful business is one that allows me to engage in a holistic and meaningful way with clients, and work on projects that make the world a better place. This is my definition of success and we all have to create our own rationale.

5. Build & Innovate

Starting a company is like building a skyscraper. You start with the foundation and add from there. Once the frame is solid, then you can add walls and windows. From there you have to add plumbing, electrical and dry wall. Even after all that the building is not habitable unless you add paint, insulation, furniture, heat, air conditioning, etc. It takes endurance, vision and resilience to build something durable and tangible.

I’ve learned that resilience is highly underrated, yet it is necessary to stand strong in the face of endless disappointment and limited opportunity. It’s not about falling down, it’s about growing the resilience in ourselves to get back up.

10 Tips for Your Professional Survival Kit

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Half the battle is remembering to remember!

Here are a few tips and tricks to remember as you navigate your workday.

1.0) Focus on the war, not the everyday battles. It’s important to define the end result in your work life based on growth not promotion. It could be to take on more responsibility at work, specialize your duties, grow your skills in a certain area or to evolve your position. Once this piece is defined it becomes easier to strategically navigate the everyday battles.

We often forget that there is a time and place for everything and many times we have to shift in our workday. We have to shift from speaking to listening, leading to following, enforcing to understanding, to even just hunkering down and riding out the storm throughout our workday. Not every battle has to be a bloody one with casualties. Sometimes the best way to battle is to stay positive, calm, say “ok” and keep it moving. You don’t have to win EVERY battle in order to win the war. Choose your battles carefully.

2.0) Take the time you need to succeed. Don’t let other people rush you especially when you will be held accountable for the outcome and ask for what you need in order to be successful. Taking the time that you need to succeed involves defining your own terms of professional success and consciously celebrating your accomplishments, which brings me to my next point…

3.0) Develop interpersonal rituals to celebrate your accomplishments. As humans, our need for recognition fuels our productivity, which is all part of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

What happens if recognition doesn’t exist in our professional environment? Developing our own individual interpersonal rituals helps to feed our need for recognition without having to receive constant external value.

4.0) Admit when you don’t know something. One of the biggest things that we have to change in organizational culture is the ‘know it all’ syndrome. We must begin to value everyone’s strengths and weaknesses. In every organizational eco-system there are many different types of people and personalities as described in Ginny Whitelaw and Betsy Wetzig’s book ‘Move to Greatness‘. You have the movers & shakers, the knowledge junkies, leaders, followers and everything in between. Guess what, there should be a place for everyone but we have to understand each other and not try to put everyone into the same professional box. True accountability and success comes when we play to the strengths of those in our workforce and foster curiosity in our organizational culture.

5.0) Remember the bigger picture. Focusing on the bigger picture is as simple as remembering the why in what you do. Why did you choose the field of work that you are in? What drew you to it and excited you about it? Hold onto that and redefine it as you grow in tenure within your field.

I had a long journey from high school to attaining my master’s degree. I worked in the retail industry for a long time before going back to school and also while in school… it was tough. Retail is long hours on your feet and constantly dealing with relentless customers. Everyday I had to remember where I wanted to go and to learn as much as possible everyday. I wrote out a mantra and read it every morning before I went to work. Those words that I read everyday started to come true. I began to make true connections with people and guess what it impacted my sales numbers. I was able to start digging myself out of debt and put away savings. I ended up getting promoted, which looked better on my resume. I started to build my livelihood on this bigger picture and as I look back I see how far I’ve come and I’m grateful.

The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.

– Helen Keller

6.0) Take the time to ask questions. Never be afraid to ask questions because ultimately you are the one that’s going to be held accountable for the end result. Never let the ‘know it all’ syndrome hold you back. Growing your skills requires constant learning and interaction. Ask evolved questions based on what you’ve researched; that outline specifically what you know, what you don’t know and any gaps or obstacles that you are encountering.

7.0) Stay connected to the things that make you happy about your job. I love that new job feeling. You love everyone, you love your workspace and everything is good. It’s the ‘honeymoon’ phase. Revisit the glory days and what made you happy about your position when you first started. Use that coupled with gratitude to follow the yellow brick road back to happiness.

8.0) Don’t assume. We all worry to some extent or another what other people think of us. Some do it less and others more. It’s important to have a balanced perspective of external viewpoints. Sometimes healthy criticism from trusted sources can help us grow but if you’re driving yourself crazy trying to figure out what other people are thinking about you or your work either ask or move on. Don’t drive yourself crazy or make assumptions. Do a ‘pulse check’ if necessary and ask if a specific piece of work is meeting expectations and base your findings on facts not feelings.

9.0) Never be afraid to reboot even if it’s counter cultural. I had a friend that was afraid to go to lunch because no one in her office ever took lunch. Guess what it’s their loss! It is not a victory to work through lunch, work weekends or work late into the night. It’s defeat. Do what you need to do to in order to be at the top of your game.

10.0) Seek to inspire. Share your story and seek to inspire people around you. I’ve been doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for 3 years now and I usually show up to class pretty ‘shell-shocked’ after a full day at work. One week, my instructor told me a story about lobsters. Because a lobsters shell is hard it must shed its shell in order to grow. Between molts the lobster’s flesh becomes densely packed within its shell, and a new shell is laid down inside the old. It’s a painful and messy process that is necessary for growth. After hearing this I was inspired and reminded yet again of a powerful lesson… pain is necessary for growth. Inspiring those around you will in turn inspire you.

5 Devastating Truths Organizations Should Know About Sexual Harassment

 

There are many different company cultures in the professional sphere today. The technological boom has ushered in a new a new culture that has both benefits and disadvantages. One of my favorite books is The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni. I thought I would mix it up in this post and follow in the style of Lencioni by creating a fable in order to teach valuable truths.

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Angela stood in her closet looking at a slew of pants, shirts, dresses, blouses and everything in between. She loved pastels but she opted for a black sweater and slacks instead. She sighed as she looked in the mirror at the blandness of her outfit. She tugged at her pants and wondered if they were too clingy. She decided to try a different pair of black pants. She returned to the same mirror and stood there just staring although she knew she was late. She wondered if her boss would be in today. If he wasn’t she would feel ok wearing a dress. When her eyes fluttered open that same morning she contemplated calling in sick which was a thought that crossed her mind far too often. The blankets around her made her feel covered and safe which was the opposite of how she felt at her job. Angela got out of bed because she knew that she had to and because quitting her job wasn’t an option until she had lined up something else.

Angela was a strong, capable and outspoken person. Her personal and professional aspirations fueled her work everyday. Angela began to notice that she did not want to go to work which was unlike her. So much so that is was physically difficult to get there. Angela had trouble focusing and was constantly tired. She didn’t enjoy most things that she used to and began isolating herself at work and with her friends and family. The symptoms that she began to experience felt like cracks in a dam. Angela felt like everything was weighing on her and each new crack was one step closer to the entire dam falling apart. Her strength and pride almost worked against her in this situation. It was like an out of body experience that caused her to become two people.

Every time Angela’s boss complemented her clothes she politely smiled and said “thank you”. He made it a point to ask Angela if she was dating anybody. “You’re beautiful Angela. Someone should be taking care of you.”  Her boss’ sexually charged behavior had become a running joke among the staff which aligned with the laid back and informal atmosphere of the company. He was known as being “handsy” especially when drinking at office happy hours. Dirty jokes, leering, touching and leaning in for a kiss was a common occurrence. There were also the late night calls, the frequent invites to drink and invitations to his private home. Angela thought that each incident would be the last but it only seemed to escalate.

As Angela sat at her desk, she surveyed the situation as she did every morning. “Maybe less smiling today and less eye contact. Hopefully he’ll get the hint.” Angela had starting timing her bathroom breaks so that she wouldn’t have to see him. She checked the calendar and breathed a sigh of relief when she realized that he was out of the office that day. Every pinging sound that alerted her to a new Instant Message made her jump. Sometimes it would be him. “I missed you last night Angela”, he would sometimes say. Other times it would be, “I thought we could leave at 4:00 and have drinks?” In spite of it all, Angela smiled and said hi to her co-workers every day and did her best to perform her duties. Towards the end it seemed that every smile that she had to wear at work made her feel physically ill.

Angela remembered sitting in a hospital room years ago and giving her story to a police officer. He didn’t look at her and kept shaking his head at her every answer. She often had flashbacks to that moment whenever she thought about coming forward. Angela didn’t even know who to go to. Angela noticed more and more empty seats around her office. People seemed to disappear by the day and nobody talked about it. They all just tried to pretend that nothing was happening. Angela wondered if they would treat her any better. Angela sat with a couple of her girlfriends at a Friday happy hour feeling completely overwhelmed and alone.

“It’s like I see the devil everywhere now. I question everyone and everything and I don’t trust anyone I work with. The fear is crippling. This is my livelihood. Without this job I would be on the street. Without this job I wouldn’t have money for food. Even if I come forward I’ll have to sever all ties with this company and I still get the raw end of the deal no matter what I do.”

The 5 Devastating Truths Organizations Should Know About Sexual Harassment

The 5 devastating truths that organizations need to know are interconnected. The first truth is that sexual harassment happens more often than organizations think and it’s still happening! Sexual harassment claims such as the ones that surfaced at Uber are happening all too often. We often assume that if it’s THAT BAD a victim will say something. This leads me to the second truth which is that victims may block out instances and are often afraid to come forward. This flows into the third truth which is that there is  a lack of education in many organizations about what sexual harassment is and many harassers are often unaware that they are crossing the line. Organizations must teach their workforce about sexual harassment instead of just doing the bare minimum of having hidden policies in a handbook. Organizations must also educate there populace on why victims don’t come forward and teach people what warning signs may look like. Managers should be educated on how to probe correctly if they sense a problem and what actions should be taken as next steps. CNN reported on why it is that people are afraid to come forward even in extreme cases. 

  1. Fear of reprisals. For many in the workforce our jobs are our livelihood. Many don’t have enough income to support themselves while without a job. If the harasser is in a position of power in the company the perceived reprisals are even more.
  2. Emotional pain. Any person that reports sexual harassment must be prepared to burn a bridge and sever professional and personal ties even at the simple presentation of the claim. The victim loses even if their claim is founded and legally upheld.
  3. Fear of not being believed and being blamed. In these situations there is often valid questions on both sides but many times the victims story is trivialized in the process and both sides are not enabled to sit and resolve conflict because of legal mud-slinging. Sexual harassment attorneys that represent harassers may demonize the victim and twist the truth to fit their agenda.
  4. Lack of evidence. Truth and the law often conflict here because  sexual harassment cases often turn into what you can prove versus both parties sitting down and telling the truth. Often organizations are more interested in using the law to protect private interests, bully and intimidate versus really trying to get to the truth and heal their organization.
  5. They don’t want anyone to know. CNN Digital News Writer Emanuella Grinberg said it best. “The guilt, fear, shame and confusion may become paralyzing, making disclosure incomprehensible.”
  6. Affected by prior trauma. For those who have suffered from any kind of trauma, the emotional repercussions of these events can cause paralysis, fear and coping mechanisms that cause victims to doubt their own experiences in order to cope.

The last truth that organizations need to know is that sexual harassment is often the sign of serious organizational cancer. It’s the lone cockroach that warns you that there are millions more breeding in your walls. Organizational ethical deficits can be hard to see but blindness to issues can no longer be an excuse. Ethical deficits happen slowly and they begin when companies disregard basic human rights. It may look like dirty financial transactions, payroll issues, nepotism, sole focus on revenue, lack of investment in internal infrastructure and in-adherence to other general labor laws. I think of some parenting cases where one parent knows who their kids are dating, what their favorite food is etc. Versus the other parent that is checked out and is totally shocked when issues surface.

  • Responsible organizations do a pulse check FREQUENTLY.
  • Responsible organizations hold EVERY level accountable from the top of the organization to the bottom.
  • Responsible organizations create checks, balances and processes that ADVOCATE for peoples rights and don’t hide behind the bare minimum requirements of the law.

After all, the most effective weapon against sexual harassment is prevention. 

Intimidation, harassment and violence have no place in a democracy.

– Mo Ibrahim

Need help? Call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

The UFC, The Religion of Sports and The Tree of Life

On December 30, 2016 Cody Garbrandt defeated former champion Dominick Cruz for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 207 bantamweight title. Cody Garbrandt is the protégé of the now retired Urijah Faber aka “The California Kid”.

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 Cody Garbrandt and Dominick Cruz had been trading words and heated exchanges for months leading up to the fight. The “bad blood” between the two had been an overflow of the famous Faber and Cruz long time rivalry. Cody Garbrandt taunted Dominick Cruz relentlessly during all five rounds of their UFC matchup. Garbrandt danced around the ring, stuck his tongue out at Cruz, put his thumbs behind his ears and wiggled his fingers and even sprawled a couple times mid-round just to send the message to Cruz that he was just too slow. Up until now Dominick Cruz has had an astounding 22 – 2 record. The Urijah Faber led Team Alpha Male and Dominick Cruz feud has been burning brighter and hotter than ever before and as usual the UFC has been using it as part of its marketing platform.

There are a few things that we need to consider at this point and unfortunately this issue has many different “branches” that make up the tree that gives life to the religion of sports here in America. The question is:

Do we need to trim the tree or cut it down for the health of society and are we willing to do so?

Whose fault is it?

Finding fault is both a good and bad thing. It does allow for people to be held responsible for their individual actions but where it becomes muggy is when their is a level of fault on both sides. What then has to be determined is the degree of fault and what is defined as the action(s) definitive of fault.

In deciding whether to trim or chop down this “Tree of Life” it is important that we have a complete perspective at fault and the role it plays in the religion of sports.

Fault becomes warped when it comes to the religion of sports because sports is about winning. Heads tend to roll when people lose so this puts everyone into survival mode which triggers our primal tendencies to kill, conquer and feed. I want to take a second and revisit the Garbrandt and Cruz feud specifically. First of all, there was bad blood on both sides that started way before Garbrandt but since I have been following UFC I have never seen someone taunt a fighter in the ring during a fight specifically, as much as Garbrandt did to Cruz. Even Faber and Cruz seemed to have more respect for each other during their actual bouts. If their is any fighter that has acted the same or worse than Cody Garbrandt did in the ring, then they deserve just as much if not more criticism. Let me be clear. This type of behavior is not ok for ANYONE.

Now I am not bashing  Cody Garbrandt. Garbrandt won against Cruz fairly and demonstrated skill, precision and utter athletic glory in the cage at UFC 207. Garbrandt very humbly took off his belt and put it on Maddux Maple who is a fan of his that survived Leukemia. Not only did Garbrandt place the belt on him, Maddux Maple walked out with Cody and was in his corner. By doing this Cody did something that no fighter has probably ever done before (including Cruz) and for that he deserves major kudos. Unfortunately Maddux Maple has also seen Garbrandt’s behavior and I’m sure that he idolizes him. My concern is that this type of behavior is telling young boys especially that it’s ok to act in an aggressive, bullying and undignified manner as long as you’re the champion.

We cannot afford to be a society that condones a selective hatred mentality and we’ve seen this in our recent election. Selective hatred says that we can demonstrate hatred towards one thing, people group or way of life etc. but another seemingly greater action of “good” cancels out other acts of hatred. For example, we could basically steal or cheat as long as we volunteer at a soup kitchen. The problem here is where do we draw the line and who is fit to justify redeemable acts of hatred or violence?

Back to the “Tree of Life”

What about showboating, how harmful is it, and how do we measure the magnitude? Is it a branch or part of the roots? When do we know when showboating crosses over into unnecessary aggression, unhealthy conflict and bullying?

In every sport there is a certain amount of showboating and the NFL is probably the most proactive in its attempts to keep players in line. The National Hockey League (NHL) has also been known to use fighting as a draw to their events but they do have some rules and penalties that are applied to players that are severely out of line. The UFC not only glorifies showboating, they tolerate pure unadulterated bullying at times and there marketing teams take it to the bank. This behavior makes the sport of fighting look like a televised bar room brawl.

The type of behavior that both Garbrandt and Cruz displayed is just an example of many other past, present and future feuds among UFC fighters.

Does the Public Want This?

If there was no fighting in hockey, dancing in the end zone or stories of “bad blood” between our favorite UFC fighters or teams would ticket sales plummet? Is the public pushing for this type of behavior or are sports organizations manufacturing a gladiator type of cultural shift in our society? Are marketing companies just doing what needs to be done by highlighting all of this and jumping on the bandwagon? What does a heightened presence of male aggression in society mean for women and children? 

The truth is that I don’t have the answer to all of these questions although I very much wish that I did. I know that on a personal level I am starting to pull away from sports even though I truly love it. I’m simply not entertained by some of the things I see anymore. I try to mentally sort the good from the bad and celebrate the athletes that go unnoticed because they aren’t confrontational. Most importantly I make myself think about it. I have conversations with people that don’t agree with me and I think about it some more. Ultimately I worry very much worry about how women and children especially will suffer if we continue on this path of no advocacy.

There is something inside all of us that likes to see conflict and triumph….a victor. One of my favorite Professors once told me that as a society we are obsessed with hero’s and villains. For some of us it’s for pure entertainment and for others it’s a mirror into our own lives.  Some are immune and some are influenced. Some of us may think we’re immune but are really influenced and some may think we’re influenced but are really immune.

The ultimate question is, is it ok to be ok with it? Is it ok to never be bothered or at least think twice about it?

The answer is no. For us as spectators our small adjustments impact organizations. Maybe we decide to only support certain league’s, teams or fighters and avoid others. Maybe that’s the change we need to make. These changes impact organizations especially when they are collective and our voices can be heard.

The Religion of Sports

Sports has provided many men and women with opportunities that they have never thought were possible and this is especially true for Cody Garbrandt. Sports has the power to unite people from all walks of life under a common cause, uproot communities from poverty and influence people of all ages for the better.

I often think about the Cubs winning the World Series. It was a beautiful thing and I have to admit that I even found myself turning on the game for the final hours. When the Cubs won, fans flooded Wrigleyville for celebrations and Chicago was in flux. Many of my friends were consumed for weeks leading up to the world series. The crime rate in Chicago increased by 57 percent in 2016 and Chicago’s World Series weekend was also its deadliest of the year.

I can’t help but think about what would happen if every Cubs fans stood up against violence in Chicago? What if the Cubs made a statement against violence before every game? What if the Cubs invited community leaders to say a few words before every game that speak to people that suffer in the violent areas of Chicago? What if the cubs donated the proceeds of one game to community building projects? Would this help to remind fans about what is going on in the city and demonstrate responsibility? What if these small actions saved lives? 

As violence and hatred continues to escalate in our country we cannot afford to have influential organizations either creating or reinforcing a culture of violence. There are many ways for athletes to compete and still be role models even in fighting. Fighting actually doesn’t have to be a bloody sport. It’s up to the administration to determine when to stop a fight and to police the rules that dictate what’s allowed.

To answer my earlier question, I don’t think we should cut down the “Tree of Life”. I do think we should be willing to cut it down if we have to and we need to cut off the many dead branches. We can make the tree healthier by:

  1. Giving all athletes the tools that they need to be successful not only in their careers but in life. We should be helping them handle the pressure, manage their money and grow on a personal level.
  2. Provide ethics training for athletes and the organization as a whole.
  3. Stand up for social causes as an organization and challenge people to be involved more than we do now. Cody Garbrandt sent a big message of hope to those battling cancer and more athletes and organizations should take on the personal responsibility to do the same. 
  4. Create policies that deter bullying and advocate for those who can’t defend themselves.
  5. Stop using violence as a marketing tool.
  6. Educate the public on what it means to compete in a safe way.

All organizations of influence have a societal responsibility that transcend making money

 

 

 

 

The Corporate Culture Playbook

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80 percent of us are unhappy with our work, and that’s crazy. There is not enough play, passion, and love in our daily routine. If we don’t take the time to play, and learn to integrate it into our jobs, as Stuart Brown says, we face a joyless life lacking in creativity. The opposite of play is not work, it’s depression.

– Jessica Walsh, GOOD

The purpose of this resource guide is to:

  • Describe the issues that the absence of play produces
  • Define the benefits of play and provide perspective on its role in a corporate setting
  • Educate corporations on play strategies that can enhance, support and evolve internal communication programs
  • Demonstrate the overall value of incorporating play principles in a corporate setting
  • Explain what can be learned from engaging with play tools

What’s going on?

I was sitting in a planning meeting discussing an upcoming event that my company was sponsoring. In this meeting was the founding partner of my firm, two additional partners and the firm’s Director of Operations. We were discussing potential keynote speakers and pouring over budget projections. I commented on the importance of finding keynote speakers with a prominent digital footprint in order to be able to tap into their social networks. Myself and a project manager verbally debated over the validity of different costs within the budget. There was a brief pause until the founding partner mentioned that we should ask Donald Trump to speak as a keynote speaker and we all burst into laughter.

Why do I even mention this? I mention this because a brief moment of laughter even in a meeting refocuses energy and taps into innovative thinking.

Why is it that we have abandoned play and play strategies in the corporate world?  There are two principles that need to be put to rest IMMEDIATELY in the corporate world. The first is, “leave your problems at the door” and the second is, “work hard play hard.”

If I walked into my office Monday morning and pitched that the entire company should be allowed to play and then play harder I would probably not have a job come 5:00.

What if we always had a constant flow of innovation and curiosity…so much so that it fueled our productivity?

I’m talking about PRODUCTIVITY versus what we are required to do for eight hours a day. In order to fully utilize the resources laid out in this playbook we have to redefine how we manage people and link our management style to what the needs of the business are.

I challenge any and all readers of this playbook to abandon generic schoolyard principles in your corporate environment and find ways to inspire your employees to play.

Communications programs can be used to introduce and educate associates on play and have an InterPlay foundation that guides the content and platform strategy. Adding the play component to communications programs enhances the probability of overall effectiveness.

What is play?

When I talk about play I am referring to specific behaviors that release innovation and decrease stress. This involves many different techniques that carry us out of our comfort zone and turn us all into explorers.

When we walk new paths, we often stumble upon new gateways to unknown knowledge about our passions and the people around us. This means that we are cultivating high performing teams and a workforce made up of critical thinkers.

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Using Play Principles to Drive Engagement

With only 13% of people worldwide actually enjoying going to work, we are facing an engagement crisis worldwide (McGregor, 2013). My mantra has been and always will be that it is the organization’s responsibility to drive engagement. Incorporating play into corporate communication is a key method in driving engagement. Communication is linked to commitment, discretionary effort, and meaningful work, which are all factors of engagement (Hayase, 2009).

Coca Cola has led the charge in using digital play to drive engagement. Their primary play technique is storytelling not only domestically but across the globe. Coca Cola has also launched a full functioning multi-media blogging, video, editorial and news platform that is fully integrated both internally and externally. Director of Digital Communications for Coca Cola describes the new site as, simply put “fun” (Brady, 2012).

Why integrate play principles with communication?

Cisco’s Story

In 2008, Cisco started to examine its social media presence. Cisco knew that their brand was benefiting from social media, but it couldn’t prove it. The launch of a new router using only social media would provide the proof Cisco’s marketers were seeking.

The results surprised even the social media enthusiasts. With this single project, the company shaved six figures off its launch expenses and set a new precedent for future product launches. “It was classified as one of the top five launches in company history,” said LaSandra Brill, senior manager, global social media. “It was the crossing the chasm point for us in the adoption phase of social media and helped us get over the hump of internal acceptance.”

Cisco Router Launch: Promotion Through Play

Up to that point, a traditional product launch was executed as follows:

  • Fly in more than 100 executives and press members from 100 countries to headquarters in San Jose, California
  • Take a few hours of the CEO’s or an executive’s time to prep and present
  • Distribute well-crafted – but static – press releases to key media
  • Email customers
  • Run print ads in major business newspapers and magazines

For its Aggregated Services Router (ASR) launch, Cisco aimed to execute entirely online leveraging social media, and in doing so, engage network engineers in a more interactive, fun way. Cisco did this by meeting its audience where they were – in online venues and the gaming world. Cisco built a stage with big-screen monitors, chairs for the audience and palm trees for its flagship launch event – entirely in a Second Life environment. It then piped in video of executives presenting the ASR. Network engineers or the press could board their own “personal transport device” to surf through a virtual router. To generate pre-launch buzz, the team held a concert in Second Life featuring eight bands over seven hours. An executive presents the new ASR in a live Second Life event. A 3D Game – More than 20,000 network engineers learned as they played a 3D game, wherein they “defended the network” using the ASR. (Research shows that 17% to 18% of IT professionals play games online every day.) Top scorers went on to a championship round with the winner bagging $10,000 plus a router. “If they’re playing games, that’s how they want to engage and that’s who they are,” Brill said. “How do we make that applicable to what they do at work?” 

Cisco used YouTube, video conferencing, Mobile apps, Facebook, social media widgets, blogs and online forums to spread the news. The campaign lasted three months with the launch in the middle. During pre-launch, launch and post-launch, Cisco kept the audience engaged by encouraging discussion with and among its audience. “For every product launch, our formula starts with listening. We start a list at least a month before of buzzwords and challenges and then figure out the right tools,” Brill said (Hibbard, 2010).

Cisco’s story helps us understand how important it is to involve play in communication endeavors. Doing so accelerates basic forms of communication and addresses the human component of communication. The ‘plays’ laid out in this playbook should be used as tools to accelerate communications endeavors that are falling short and not engaging corporate audiences. These same tools can increase collaboration, enhance organizations members’ ability to communicate and strengthen relationships.

7 Communication ‘Plays’ for Cultivating Corporate Culture

Play I: Fuse Body Wisdom Principles With Leadership Storytelling

Henry Ford once enlisted an efficiency expert to examine the operation of his company. The efficiency expert shared his reservations with Ford, “It’s that man down the corridor,” he explained. “Every time I go by his office he’s just sitting there with his feet on his desk. He’s wasting your money.” “That man,” replied Ford, “once had an idea that saved us millions of dollars. At the time, I believe his feet were planted right where they are now.” (Leadership, 2016)

What is leadership storytelling?

Leadership stories are stories that are aligned with the organization’s mission and core values that are meant to engage, inspire and motivate an organizational community (Mackenzie, 2016). Leadership stories inspire members of an organization, set a vision, teach important lessons, define culture and values, and explain who the organization is (Schawbel, 2012). Fusing Body Wisdom Principles with leadership storytelling open up the capacity of a simple story, filter out any hint of propaganda and provide stories with the capability to resonate on a personal level with individuals.

Using Stories to Foster Organizational Play

In 1989, Phil Porter and Cynthia Winton-Henry conceptualized and began to develop the practice of InterPlay and grounded the practice within eight Body Wisdom Principles (Interplay, 2016).

Body Wisdom Principles

  1. Noticing
  2. Easy Focus
  3. Exformation
  4. Internal Authority
  5. Physicality of Grace
  6. Affirmation
  7. Incrementality
  8. Body Wisdom Practices

Organizations today face many challenges such as implementing new strategies, managing organizational transformation, advocating cultural inclusion and employee engagement (Smith, 2012). Leadership stories that trigger Body Wisdom Principles can inspire employees to act organically.

Leadership Stories Related to Body Wisdom Principles

Noticing I heard a story about a mother who brought her child to the Dalai Lama because her child was addicted to sugar. The Dalai Lama did nothing to help the women and asked her to return in one month. The women returned in one month and the Dalai Lama spoke to the child and warned him of the dangers of eating too much sugar. The child agreed to listen to his mother and refrain from eating sugar. The mother was furious and asked the Dalai Lama why he didn’t have this conversation with her son a month ago. The Dalai Lama responded, “ Because I was addicted to sugar one month ago”. The Dalai Lama noticed the pattern of his behavior and knew that he had to make a change before helping others to do so.
Easy Focus Leaders who take care of themselves physically and mentally. Have the capacity to perform at higher levels. Tom Morris (2014) talks about a high profile business founder and leader in his network that is one of the fittest people he has ever met. This business guru can out-walk almost anyone, hiking the Appalachian Trail or just striding down the street in his neighborhood. His home study is piled high with books, full of volumes of all kinds and not just leadership books but history, philosophy, religion, etc. He reads an amazing amount for a person in his position and he works hard to take care of his body and his mind. “What do you need that you’ve been neglecting? More regular exercise? Some leisure reading? Time with family or friends? Meditative, alone time? A spa visit? I’m not kidding. Take care of yourself, physically and mentally…” (Morris, 2014). Hold onto “Wheeeeee” moments in order to perform your best as a leader.
Exformation Two years into my bachelors degree I hit a wall. Working sixty plus hours a week coupled with school was starting to wear on me. I was constantly sick and having severe asthmatic episodes. I seemed to be doing all of the things that I needed to be doing but none of it was actually releasing any of the excess information that I had. My yoga practice was what finally brought this about in my life and helped me through my last two years of college.
Internal Authority Judge Lou Olivera sentenced a retired Green Beret to be locked up for a probation violation. What makes the story noteworthy is that the Judge knew that the parolee suffered from PTSD and a night in jail was going to be traumatic for him. Rather than removing the responsibility from the parolee, the Judge decided to spend the night in jail with him in order to help dispel his fear (Barnes, 2016). The story of Judge Olivera and his actions towards this individual represent the concept of internal authority strongly as the Judge uses his own internal guide to dictate his actions.
Physicality of Grace Many leaders do not know when to say “Uncle”. Richard Branson recently gave a keynote speech at Sage Summit 2016. Branson spoke about the early days of building his airline and what work/life balance looks like for him. Branson mentioned the benefits of working from an island, surrounded by his family and how this keeps his stress levels low. Bloomberg columnist John Ryan (2009) had this to say about how leaders manage stress. “Most of us lead busy but undisciplined lives. We have ever-expanding ‘to do’ lists, trying to build momentum by doing, doing, doing—and doing more. And it rarely works. Those who built the good-to-great companies, however, made as much use of ‘stop doing’ lists as ‘to do’ lists” (Ryan, 2009).
Affirmation CEO of JBCStyle, Brian Zaslow (2016) provides 37 ways for supporting motivating and encouraging employees. “A good job is hard to find, but every entrepreneur knows a good employee is even harder to keep. As an entrepreneur, one must ensure his or her company is staffed with people who look forward to coming to work every day for more than a paycheck.

Through the years, I found that it was easy to keep employees motivated – all I had to do was provide them with a leader worth following and tasks worth fulfilling. But after almost seven years in business, I still find myself searching for new ways to maintain productivity while providing each individual with the drive they need to perform to the best of their ability” (Zaslow, 2016). Zaslow (2016) advises employers to support new ideas, empower individuals, celebrate personal milestones and many more.

Incrementality My sisters and I were all homeschooled from Pre-K through High School. When looking to our future, all three of us knew that it was up to us to make our own way. I remember watching my sister Deborah through her time as an undergrad student at The University of New Mexico. To this day Deborah is one of those people that moves at their own pace and one step at a time. Deborah trekked through her undergrad years while working full-time and graduated Summa Cum Laude with a double major in Political Science and Sociology. From there Deborah went on to law school and is now the Assistant Attorney General for the State of Illinois. My sister Deborah is living proof of incrementality. We all have to operate personally and professionally with the pace of our own bodies. Doing so guards against burn out and adds long term benefits.
Body Wisdom Practices Ryan (2009) stresses the importance of exercise and says that anyone that wants to sustain their success as a leader over the long term should exercise. Research conducted by the The Center for Creative Leadership sampled executives from around the world and found that those who exercise regularly were rated significantly higher on leadership effectiveness by their bosses, peers, and direct reports than men and women who exercised only sporadically or not at all.

“Exercise can be a potent weapon against stress. It helps keep your emotions in check, relaxes you, and boosts your energy. It can be difficult to work exercise into a busy schedule. But if you’re not doing it already, find a way to carve out some time on your calendar. Your colleagues—and your family—will thank you” (Ryan, 2009). Exercise is a physical action that can be repeated and benefits yourself and those around you.

Paul Smith (2012) has studied human behavior and discovered some of the main triggers that organically drive human behavior. Smith (2012) provides insight into why storytelling is so impactful in changing behavior, attitudes and perspectives. The answer is actually rather un-complex. Storytelling is simple, timeless and demographic proof. Stories are timeless and transcend the boundaries of race, culture, creed and religion. They are contagious, easy to remember and inspire. Good stories stay with you and are easily passed on from generation to generation (Smith, 2012).

Smith (2012) tells a story of Jim Bangel who was hired by Proctor and Gambel many years ago. Part of Jim’s duties were to write a monthly memo that detailed the results of his memo over a thirty day period. After many years of producing this monthly memo, Jim decided to create a narrative with a main character that he named “Earnest Engineer”. The narrative involved short stories that included interactions between the main character and his boss and peers. The story ended with the lessons that were learned which in turn was the result of his research. Jim Bangel found a creative way to fuse play principles with leadership storytelling and revolutionized Proctor and Gamble’s organizational culture single handedly (Smith, 2012).

Play II: Create Highlight Reels That Display the Talents of Your Team

Creating highlight reels that display the talents of your team is a fun way to present the diverse talents of your team and help create avenue’s for team members to discuss and collaborate. If many on your team write books start an “Author Hour” section in your newsletter of intranet. Maybe you have many artists on staff. Create an art gallery in your office that they are able to display and discuss their work.

Play III: Produce Video’s That Inspire

Using video’s in your communication programs WILL increase engagement. It allows for people to gauge body language and see their leaders answer questions in real time. Remember Cisco’s story? Cisco’s “Future of Shopping” video received more than 3.3 million views in their external campaign. The same tactic can be used internally. Treat the members of your organization like your clients and satisfy them with an extensive play buffet of communication options that meet every individual where they are. 

Play IV: Utilize Comics & Cartoons

Playful images are a great way to catch people’s eye and tickle the funny bone! Associates can contribute by sketching their own comic strips about the organization or even their teams.

comic.png

Play V: Integrate Images That Affirm Your Corporate Community

Play V.png

Using images helps to add a visual component that helps to drive your message home to your audience. Images also include infographics and can involve fun facts that affirm your community and corporate culture.

Play VI: Create Traditions

Creating traditions within the workplace align the companies mission and help to foster relationships among associates. CEO of JBCStyle Brian Zaslow, has an annual around the event in order to participate and attend the event with their work family. “Every holiday season, we host a toy drive for a school in the Bronx. Employees from across the U.S. fly in to partake. Start a tradition and keep it going” (Zaslow, 2016).

 Play VII: Invest in Collaborative Spaces That Foster Play

Organizations must invest in creative spaces that associates can use for play. As a leader in technical innovation, Silicon Valley has been consistently known for its play habits. Companies are known to hand out excursions of all shapes and sizes to their associates and provide top of the line creative, play and rest spaces for their employees (Kaplan, 2014).


Combating Artificial Play

Organizations must be careful not to impose artificial play tactics in an effort to build morale or enhance culture. Artificial play programs commonly surface when:

  • Organizations implement blanket and disconnected solutions
  • Leader’s are not able to derive innovative solutions
  • Organizations look for quick fix or low budget methods to fix culture issues

In turn, associates look for ways to play that may create conflict in a culture that does not have an active play culture.

  • 74% of employees dislike participating in at least one of their company functions
  • 21% of employees say that getting away from their boss is a bigger reason for needing time off than getting away from the office
  • 34% of employees say they do not enjoy costume parties
  • 50% of employees prefer to work from home (Blanchard, 2012)

Closing Statements

Communications programs include verbal, print and digital mediums that demonstrate the organization’s mission and core values. Organizations must consciously orient play into communications strategies in order to reinforce the behavior.

Steps to Incorporating Play Into Communications Programs

  1. Develop your organization’s definition of play
  2. Develop a “play” mission statement
  3. Add a “play” component to the concept and strategy phases of communication planning
  4. Determine appropriate platforms to house “play” concepts and resources
  5. Appoint “play” advocates and/or a “play” committee to reinforce activities
  6. Seek out “play” sponsorship from the organization’s leadership

Organizations have the responsibility to consciously reinforce their mission and core values. Communications programs can educate individuals on play and lead positive organizational cultural shifts that promote creativity and innovation. In my organization we have a ping pong room but it we’ve never put out any type of communication on how play impacts our organization. Incorporating play principles into communications programs fuels corporate messages with the ammunition to engage employees. Internal communication programs have the power to rally members of an organization around a central mission, enhance collaboration, improve relationships by helping associates get to know each other and create a culture based on lively communication and transparency.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Barnes, G. (2016, April 21). Judge sentences war vet, then spends the night in jail. Retrieved July 31, 2016, from http://abc11.com/news/judge-sentences-war-vet-then-spends-the-night-in-jail/1303652/

Blanchard, D. (2012, July 19). Playing at Work Can Be More Stressful than Working at Work. Retrieved July 16, 2016, from http://www.industryweek.com/blog/playing-work-can-be-more-stressful-working-work

Brady, S. (2012, November 12). It’s the Journey That Matters: Coca-Cola Opens Up With Story-Based Web Refresh. Retrieved July 16, 2016, from http://brandchannel.com/2012/11/12/its-the-journey-that-matters-coca-cola-opens-up-with-story-based-web-refresh/

PHOTO CREDIT

Driving Performance and Retention Through Employee Engagement. Corporate Leadership Council.

Retrieved July 16, 2016, from https://www.usc.edu/programs/cwfl/assets/pdf/Employee%20engagement.pdf

Hayase, L. K. T. (2009). Internal communication in organizations and employee engagement (Order No. 1472414). Available from ABI/INFORM Collection. (305084217). Retrieved from http://ezproxy.depaul.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.depaul.edu/docview/305084217?accountid=10477

Hibbard, C. (2010, August 30). Social Media Launch Saves Cisco $100,000. Retrieved August 14, 2016, from http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/cisco-social-media-product-launch/

InterPlay: Unlock the Wisdom of Your Body. (n.d.). Retrieved July 31, 2016, from http://www.interplay.org/index.cfm/go/about:cynthia-winton-henry-and-phil-porter/

Kaplan, S. (2014, February 11). Tap Into The 7 Secrets Of Silicon Valley’s Innovation Culture. Retrieved August 14, 2016, from http://www.fastcodesign.com/3026220/tap-into-the-7-secrets-of-silicon-valleys-innovation-culture

Leadership Concept – The Happy Manager. (n.d.). Retrieved July 30, 2016, from http://the-happy-manager.com/articles/leadership-concept/

Mackenzie, A. Storytelling is at the heart of leadership.(n.d.). Retrieved July 30, 2016, from http://www.som.cranfield.ac.uk/som/dinamic-content/media/Praxis/Storytelling%20is%20at%20the%20heart%20of%20leadership.pdf

McGregor, J. (2013, October 10). Only 13 percent of people worldwide actually like going to work. Retrieved July 16, 2016, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/on-leadership/wp/2013/10/10/only-13-percent-of-people-worldwide-actually-like-going-to-work/

PHOTO CREDIT

More, T. (2014, May 21). The importance of Visual Content in your Marketing Strategy. Retrieved August 14, 2016, from http://thenextweb.com/dd/2014/05/21/importance-visual-content-deliver-effectively/#gref

Morris, T. (2014, January 10). The Top Three Things Leaders Do To Differentiate Themselves. Retrieved July 31, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tom-morris/the-top-three-things-lead_b_4577774.html

Ryan, J. (2009, January 09). Six Ways to Manage Leadership Stress. Retrieved July 31, 2016, from http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2009-01-09/six-ways-to-manage-leadership-stressbusinessweek-business-news-stock-market-and-financial-advice

Schawbel, D. (2012, August 13). How to Use Storytelling as a Leadership Tool. Retrieved July 30, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2012/08/13/how-to-use-storytelling-as-a-leadership-tool/#487147227ac9

Smith, P. (2012). Lead with a story: A guide to crafting business narratives that captivate, convince, and inspire. New York: American Management Association.

Walsh, J. (2013, August 11). How to Be More Productive and Creative at Work? Play More. Retrieved August 13, 2016, from https://www.good.is/articles/how-to-be-more-productive-and-creative-at-work-play-more

Zaslow, B. (2016). 37 Ideas for Motivating Your Employees. Retrieved July 31, 2016, from https://businesscollective.com/37-ideas-for-motivating-your-employees/

A Leopard Can’t Change His (Or Her) Spots?

imagesI stared at my math book at the tender age of 12 and the numbers seemed to blur together. At that age, I distinctly remember beginning to notice more and more what I knew and what I didn’t know. I remember my father yelling at me when I got a math problem wrong and the exasperation on my mother and sisters faces when they sat down to help me. While staring at my math book, I would often think of how it would be to sit in an actual classroom. Being homeschooled my entire life deprived me from the school experience and left me only with Disney channel renditions. As I grew older all I could think about was moving away as I wanted to explore and have the freedom to make my own decisions.

I moved to Chicago a few months after my eighteenth birthday with no idea what I was in for. I remember my mother telling me to smile all the time as a child and as one of my first jobs was a Flight Attendant position, that philosophy seemed to work for me and was all I knew. It was my “when in doubt just smile philosophy”. When I first got out on my own, I was surprised how people responded to me. I grew up being overlooked and pushed aside by many in my social circle and I never imagined that people in the real world would actually like me.

No one (including me) thought I was capable of much. I remember blindly being dragged along by life until I turned 19. It’s like everything that everyone ever said to me exploded and ignited a fire that drove me to change my life. At first it started as a vendetta to prove all those who doubted me wrong. Then I realized that being underestimated is not the worst that can happen to someone.

There are people all over the world who are truly suffering and are in need of an advocate. Ruminating in this realization evolved my definition of success.

I have to admit that I am a fan of idioms in general but “a leopard can’t change its spots” is one that I cannot wrap my head around. As human beings we are all capable of anything at any time. Yes, ANYTHING! A series of drastic and uncontrollable life events have the power to alter a person’s character forever and it’s up to us to decide who it is we want to be and pay that cost. The truth is that we change and change often but sometimes we don’t do it consciously. Our appetites change with age as do our priorities and the way we define success. This can cause us to live most of our lives as one breed then change into another.

In my lifetime, I think I have changed from a sloth to a fish, and then a sea urchin. Now for the first time in my life I actually feel like a leopard but I also know that I won’t always be and that’s ok. One isn’t better than the other; each is different and valuable in its own way. We can change who we are and our character can be gutted to the core, cleaned and refilled with a different substance. It’s actually rather simple. It comes down to our commitment to self-improvement.

I guess a leopard can not only change its spots; it can also become a different animal.

The knowledge of how people change and are affected emotionally, physically, spiritually, socially or economically is valid in communications. Our lack of knowledge of our own capacity to change and be influenced hurts us when companies use this information to mercilessly peddle products or services. What if instead we used this information to change the world for the better? What if we used this knowledge to spread the core values and mission of an organization that gives back to society?

In an age of abundant knowledge and technology that can profile consumers, we have the responsibility to use our knowledge of people responsibly and not for ill gotten gain.

 

Work Hard, Play Hard: Is That Right?

Many of us have heard the term “work hard, play hard” but where did it come from and what does it really mean? This phrase is often a premise for, ” FYI you will work your butt off but don’t worry we will take you to happy hour every other week”. Scientist Jessica de Bloom observed that the effects of a vacation wear off in just two to four weeks in a group of 96 Dutch workers that were surveyed. Is it possible that we need to work less and play harder to really be at the peak of effectiveness?

The American (over) work ethic was embedded into our society by our early puritan forefathers and has been reinforced by the concoction of the “American Dream”.  Science is currently telling a very different story and organizations are now trying to reconstruct the foundations of corporate culture.

Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets. – Ferris Jabr, Scientific American, 2013

The average person will spend approximately 90,000 hours working in their lifetime and research shows that 80% of people in the workforce are dissatisfied with their job. Overall it seems that Americans are working longer and harder than anyone else.

More than the English, more than the French, way more than the Germans or Norwegians. Even, recently, more than the Japanese and Americans take less vacation, work longer days, and retire later, too. – Dean Schabner, ABC News, 2016

My personal struggle to maintain work life balance has become more important to me as my knowledge of play grows. It is an active struggle that requires a vigilant assessment of my current state and needs consistently. It has been ingrained in me that long hours and hard work is what advances you and this was what guided me at the beginning of my career. Over the years, I have begun to see life for more than what money can buy, redefined my definition of success and have developed a passion for change.

I have observed that many people’s lives are in shambles, our priorities are often skewed and there are few people willing to champion a cause. Part of this is due to who we are required to be from nine to five in order to thriv900000e. Much of our corporate culture requires us to keep our heads down in servitude and is counter productive to who we should be as people and engaged citizens. This mentality is hurting our society and is pumping out a generation that is apathetic and disengaged.

The United States obsession with work is eating away at the quality of American lives and workaholism is named as a key contributing factor in divorce rates and stress related illnesses. The problem is that many organizations today focus on results but lack the infrastructure that supports human development. Change is on the horizon as scientific research has proven the positive impact of play.

As I learn moreculture about play, I am beginning to think about why and how I would integrate play into an organization. Changes in technology have advocated for a scientific perspective of human performance; from health and wellness to creating mindful and innovative spaces for people to work. The tech industry somehow has caught wind of the power of play and is taking the lead in transforming corporate culture. Fortune has named Google as the number one company to work for the seventh time in ten years. In an interview with Fox News, Stuart Brown invited his audience to think of play as a state of being and also noted that play is different for everyone.

Google has been insightful because they have a whole spectrum of play opportunities so employees can find the niche that works for them. – Stuart Brown, National Institute of Play,  Fox News, 2012

Play is not necessarily playing a game or doing a specific type of activity. Play is about finding ways to break away from tasks in order to unleash something more. Play is doing something that may not have a specific goal or rationale and is different for everyone. “If you’re engaged in it deeply, that’s play,” (Stuart Brown, Fox News, 2012). Creating a playful culture can be as small as starting every meeting with an ice breaker or even a quote of the day.

Begin to have a sense of richness from your own internal thought process, Stuart Brown said. Take mini- breaks, and think back to a time when you were more carefree, even to childhood; and visualize yourself doing something that was completely enjoyable. You may realize that something is missing from your life and re-introduce it. If you loved competitive sports, maybe you’d join a tennis league. If you loved photography, maybe you can bring your camera to work and take creative breaks. – Stuart Brown, National Institute of Play,  Fox News, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

References

Check Out 2016’s Best Companies to Work For. (2016). Retrieved June 26, 2016, from http://fortune.com/best-companies/

Jabr, F. (2013, October 15). Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime. Retrieved June 27, 2016, from http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/mental-downtime/

Shabner, D. (2016, May 01). Americans Work More Than Anyone. Retrieved June 26, 2016, from http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=93364

Shontell, A. (2011, February 24). 15 Seriously Disturbing Facts About Your Job. Retrieved June 26, 2016, from http://www.businessinsider.com/disturbing-facts-about-your-job-2011-2?op=1

Work hard, play harder: Fun at work boosts creativity, productivity | Fox News. (2012, September 15). Retrieved June 26, 2016, from http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/09/13/ work-hard-play-harder-fun-at-work-boosts-creativity-productivity.html

 

 

 

PODCAST 1.0 – What Knowing Yourself Has to Do with Leadership, Followership & Teamwork

 

OVERVIEW

THINK about leadership versus true leadership. Is leadership something that you want and when? Now? Tomorrow? 30 years from now?

images

Ask yourself…

Who are you? 

Get to know what your instinctive personality traits are without judgment. Are you outgoing, shy, do you like books or are you more visual? What about color? How does that affect you? The more we know ourselves the less likely we are to get in our own way. It’s simply about playing to our strengths versus our weaknesses. 

Why are you…you?

If you are outgoing how do you use this skill? Does it lead you to include anybody and everybody regardless of how that person looks, smells acts OR are you outgoing only to be liked? Whatever your reason ask yourself does this work for me? Does this fit into my personal and professional goals?

Sefl Management Strategies: Managing Me

Now that we know who and why we are; we now have to figure out how to “manage me” because all of us adults that wake up, go to work and have responsibilities have to first and foremost know how to work with ourselves before we can be effective leaders, followers and team members.

What is Leadership?

Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal. – Forbes

What can I do today to be a great leader?

Good leaders have good attitudes!

“A good leader can hold his or her emotions in check, especially in tough situations. For example, maybe you lost your best client, or a deal you’ve been working on falls through. Regardless, it’s important for leaders to guide a team through challenging times, encouraging them and remaining positive along the way. Team morale is heavily contingent upon a leader’s attitude.”

– David Moore, founding partner and regional vice president of Addison Group staffing firm 

 

Principles of Followership by Don Mercer

Initiative: Be a self-starter, just do it; look for problems to solve; look for new ways to accomplish the mission.

Imagination: An innate capability in all humans, share ideas daily to multiply their potential power; focus on the small stuff first as it leads to larger possibilities.

Integrity: Honesty; declare mistakes immediately; tell the truth without compromise, leaders cannot lead without it; prove to be trustworthy and you will be entrusted with more.

Inquire: Ask the “who, what, why, where, when and how” questions about everything to learn; leaders look for learners; teach others.

Inform: Keep the leader updated; no secrets allowed; share your tasks and ask for input.

Involve: Life and work is a team effort, join; participate in the whole organization; act beyond the job description.

Teamwork

“The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni 

Wrap Up

What do I need to do to change the world I live in?

Changing the world and changing yourself require the same strategy and it all starts with thought leadership.

The Cheese Stands Alone: Right Isn’t Always Right

rantI sat in my office on a Friday night at around 7:00 PM and I looked up from my screen for the first time since lunch. I blinked furiously in an attempt to regain consciousness as I swiveled around and stared out of my 28th floor office window. I can see most of the Chicago South side from my window and I often stop to look at the open sky as no other high-rise buildings block my view. This particular Friday I reflected on how I’ve landed at the place I am in now and I have to say a hunger for curiosity has taken me farther than I have ever imagined. What I didn’t know is that this is a common characteristic of an INTJ. We like to work…we like to learn. It’s a hunger that keeps us up into the wee hours of the morning to fill our craving to know and this craving to know is purely for ourselves.

My drive to get it done and get it done right has always been an instinctual characteristic for me, a survival method and even ingrained into my value system. The realization that I have been this way since I can remember occurred to me and as I researched the INTJ Myers-Briggs persona. Welcome to the life of an INTJ!

To say the least INTJs go all the way. The fact is that I am a fighter and always will be. Life is filled with opportunities and it’s up to us to find them. I’ve recently observed that few people, even those that are passionate about what they do, don’t go the distance to get what they want. The funny thing is that many times I want to take the path of least resistance but it simply does not agree with me. Going all the way causes me to absorb information like a sponge and I have realized recently that many times I know things without knowing that I know.

INTJs use their dominant function, introverted intuition — which is their main way of taking in and processing information — to form impressions and develop theories. This function works passively and subconsciously, which means INTJs often know something without really knowing why or how they know it. This results in sporadic “aha!” moments, as introverted intuition suddenly reveals an idea or connection to them, seemingly out of nowhere.  

– Dr. A. J. Drenth.

Though the INTJ type often stands alone and has a different perspective, INTJs have the capacity to cause and create revolution. This is because our ideas simply aren’t enough. We have to see them come to fruition in order to be satisfied. You don’t know how many times people tell me to “just smile” and to “loosen up”. The odd thing is that I really don’t consider myself to be a solemn person but yes when I am working and deliberating I am for lack of a better term “serious”.

Now, I am not sure if this is unacceptable simply because I am female and there is generally less acceptance of  stoic females  versus male  stoicism that is not only widely accepted but encouraged. Ultimately when I am pondering facts, events, Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 1.02.00 PMdata, etc. I am examining multiple data points of the information at hand. I am also looking at other contributing factors such as social, economic, political and even cultural relevance connected to information and this requires concentration. I’ve given myself the permission to be different and I now know that I simply want more than most people and guess what …it’s OK!

Screen Shot 2016-05-21 at 1.07.59 PM.pngAll of these elements are right in the world of an INTJ but can actually be horribly wrong in the eyes of other types. For example, I often spend long, isolated hours on completing projects whereas; other personality types enjoy working collaboratively. Even though INTJs by nature are perfectionists, I have come to realize that right isn’t always right. There are many different perspectives and methods that can be incorporated into projects that won’t derail them. This realization was a big “aha!” moment for me and I look forward to using my INTJ super powers for good.

Famous INTJs include Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Bill Gates, Dwight Eisenhower, Alan Greenspan, Ulysses S. Grant, Stephen Hawking, John Maynard Keynes, Ayn Rand, Isaac Asimov, Lewis Carroll, Cormac McCarthy, and Sir Isaac Newton.

Tips For Any Personality Type:

  1. Hunger for curiosity
  2. Go all the way
  3. Ideas simply aren’t enough
  4. Give yourself permission to be different

Resources:

12 TYPE SECRETS OF THE INTJ PERSONALITY