The Top Soundview Live Webinars of 2015

In 2015 we have hosted 60 Soundview Live webinars with top business authors and leaders. So I went back to see which were our most popular. You may be surprised by those that made the list – or perhaps not.

Kory Kogon – The Path to Extraordinary Productivity: In this Soundview Live webinar Kory Kogon offers powerful insights drawn from the latest neuroscience and decades of experience and research in the time-management field to help you master your attention and energy management through five fundamental choices that will increase your ability to achieve what matters most to you.

Scott Eblin – Mindfulness Basics to Thrive in a 24/7 World: In this Soundview Live webinar Scott Eblin offers practical insights for the executive, manager or professional who feels like their RPM is maxed out in the red zone. By making the concepts and practices of mindfulness simple, practical and applicable, this event offers actionable hope for today’s overworked and overwhelmed professional.

Daniel Weiser – How to Become an Expert Negotiator: You may be a high-ranking CEO or a first day salesman, a service provider or self-employed. If you face encounters with your partners, clients, suppliers or employees, in which you want them to think differently at the end of the meeting and actually do what you want – this webinar is for YOU. The objective of this Soundview Live webinar with Daniel Weiser is to improve your negotiation skills and to move you one step closer to closing your deal.

Steve Shallenberger – How the BEST Leaders Ignite Energy and Fuel High Performance: In this Soundview Live webinar Steve Shallenberger will help you leverage the 12 principles that propel teams and organizations to the top! These tools and processes drive the kind of innovation that turns good teams and companies into industry leaders – all while living a well-balanced personal life. Steve will provide advice, tools and examples for turning your thoughts into action and bringing out the best in your teams and employees!

Daymond John – The Power of Branding: In this Soundview Live webinar Daymond John tells how four ordinary guys from Queens, New York, rose from street corners to corner offices and became the greatest trendsetters of our generation. He lays it all out on the line- his secrets to success, his triumphs, and his utter failures- to show what it takes to harness and display the power that resides in us all.

Marshall Goldsmith – How to Create Behavior Change that Lasts: In this powerful Soundview Live webinar, bestselling author and world-renowned executive coach Marshall Goldsmith examines the environmental and psychological triggers that can derail us at work and in life. Filled with revealing and illuminating stories from his work with some of the most successful chief executives and power brokers in the business world, Goldsmith offers a personal playbook on how to achieve change in our lives, make it stick, and become the person we want to be.

Ann Herrmann-Nehdi – Unlock the Power of Whole Brain Thinking: Filled with real-world examples and essential charts, exercises, action steps, and strategies, this Soundview Live webinar shows you how to rethink your business, prepare for the future, realign your goals, and reinvigorate your team — by putting your whole brain to work.

Neel Doshi & Lindsay McGregor- How to Build the Highest Performing Cultures: In this Soundview Live webinar Neel Doshi and Lindsay McGregor explain the counter-intuitive science behind great cultures, building on over a century of academic thinking. They share the simple, highly predictive new measurement tool—the Total Motivation (ToMo) Factor—that enables you to measure the strength of your culture, and track improvements over time.

Not surprisingly, six of the eight top events are about improving personal skills, rather than focusing on the business. Webinars are the perfect venue for personal development and that may have been their main attraction this year. If you had a favorite Soundview Live webinar this year, let us know by commenting on this blog.

Our Latest Summaries are Now Available

We’re finishing out 2015 with three great titles that demonstrate innovative business thinking it the areas of personal resilience, the collaborative economy and conversational intelligence.


Peers Inc by Robin Chase

A co-founder of Zipcar, Robin Chase, introduces the collaborative economy in which companies and governments are using the Internet’s ability to facilitate collaboration by leveraging expertise, assets and resources outside their sphere of control. A revolutionary transformation is occurring between companies and people. The new paradigm is called Peers Inc.

Stronger by Dennis K. McCormack, George S. Everly, Jr., Douglas A. Strouse
Personal resilience is the ability to bounce back in the wake of adversity. The authors share a set of five core factors that protect successful people against psychological distress and emotional injury. These factors that act like psychological body armor can actually help a person to grow stronger.
Judith E. Glaser presents a framework for understanding how conversations trigger different parts of the brain. By deciphering the neuroscience, Glaser offers strategies for learning conversational intelligence and developing the conversation skills that propel individuals, teams and organizations toward success.

If you’re a Soundview subscriber, check out your new titles in your online library today. And if not, click on a title to purchase it; or perhaps now is the time to Subscribe and get these great titles and much more to strengthen your business skills.

Preparing For The Unexpected

Preparing For The Unexpected

The information age is also the age of acronyms. Our friends and colleagues make us LOL. Or we might affix a humble IMHO to our suggestions. If there is one acronym that probably best defines the hypercompetitive, dynamic world of business today, however, it is VUCA.VUCA, as Pamela Meyer explains in her book The Agility Shift, stands for “volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity.” In other words, companies need to prepare for the unexpected because the unexpected is coming.

However, how does one prepare for the unknown, the uncertain, the ambiguous? According to Meyer, the answer is to shift mindsets and strategies from the status quo and complacency to agility and entrepreneurialism.

This is no easy task for many companies who have been successful doing what they’ve always done and operating in the world of the past. Success will not last, however, if companies do not become more agile. Studies show that agile companies are “more profitable, sustainable and innovative,” she explains. The real reason to pursue agility, however, goes beyond bottom line results. The “core dynamics” (interacting and interconnecting) of a shift to agility, she writes, “are the key to your ability to create and experience meaning, purpose and happiness.” Meyer puts meaning, purpose and happiness at the center of the agility shift because “it is essential to fostering and sustaining the level of engagement, commitment and creativity you need to respond effectively when the unexpected hits.”

The Relational Web

The agility shift, Meyer explains, is a shift in mindset from “the false comfort of a plan to achieving a state of readiness to find opportunity in the unexpected.” Such a state of readiness begins with a resource that already exists in most companies: the “Relational Web.” Agility exists, according to Meyer, when individuals, teams and organizations weave a strong Relational Web.

According to Meyer, a Relational Web is much more than another term for social networks. For example, in addition to active relationships with friends, colleagues and acquaintances, an individual’s Relational Web would include extended and/or inactive relationships; skills, knowledge and talent; other sources of ideas; knowledge and expertise; tangible and intangible resources.

Tangible and intangible resources can include anything from capital and raw materials to the brand reputation of the organization for which the person works.

Agile Shift Dynamics

The interconnections, relationships and resources of a Relational Web are not, in themselves, sufficient to ensure agile leaders, teams and organizations. Individuals and organizations must also adopt a mindset, strategy and practices that lead to what Meyer calls “the five agility shift dynamics”: relevance, responsiveness, resilience, resourcefulness and reflection.

Agile organizations are relevant, which means that they have a clear sense of purpose — a “why” for everything they do. Relevance, Meyer writes, aligns purpose and values with the success of the organization. The result is a workforce and leadership that is engaged and committed: an important requirement for agility.

Agile organization are also responsive: They don’t react to events out of fear or to protect or defend themselves but respond to take advantage of new opportunities, writes Meyer. Agile organizations are also resilient, able to “regroup, reorganize and renew in response to a significant disruption,” she writes, and resourceful — taking full advantage of resources. Finally, agile organizations are able to reflect on new developments, understanding which are relevant to their organizations, and demand a response.

An international consultant and professor, Meyer fills her book with case studies and precise how-to steps gathered under “Making Shift Happen” subheads. Thus, one of the Making Shift Happen practices for resilience is to “designate understudies” (a former theater director and producer, Meyer draws metaphors and stories from her show-business career). To designate understudies means to have redundant vital systems to ensure that the organization is not left short when the unexpected happens. Exploring best practices and the mindset for agility for individuals, teams and organizations, The Agility Shift offers practical and timely advice for managers and employees dealing with the challenges of the age of VUCA.

The Best Business Books of 2015 (Part II)

As promised, here are the other 15 titles that made our Best Business Book of 2015 list, including our December titles that were just released over the weekend.

The New IT by Jill Dyche – Jill Dyché provides a new business model for building and strengthening the role of IT. By using field-tested techniques to align your IT department with your corporate objectives, you can leverage the power of technology across the entire company.

Design to Grow by Linda Tischler & David Butler – David Butler and Linda Tischler share the successes and failures of Coca-Cola as this large, global company learned to use design to create both scale and agility.

Make It Matter by Scott Mautz – Scott Mautz reveals that fostering meaning at work by giving workers a greater sense of significance is the key to motivation and engagement.

The High-Speed Company by Jason Jennings & Laurence Haughton – Jennings and Haughton share strategies and practices demonstrated by businesses with proven records of creating cultures with strong purpose, trust and follow-through.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz – Ben Horowitz tells it straight as he shares insights gained from developing, managing, selling, buying investing in and supervising technology companies.

Learning to Succeed by Jason Wingard – Corporate learning expert Jason Wingard proposes that to keep ahead of the competition, organizations should shift to embracing learning across the ranks and become dynamic learning organizations.

The Lean CEO by Jacob Stoller – Many companies and CEOs are finding that to do more with less, that they can find solutions in Lean management techniques to deliver sustainable financial results, empower and motivate employees, break down internal silos and build solid partnerships with customers and suppliers.

The Good Ones by Bruce Weinstein – Ethics expert Bruce Weinstein presents 10 crucial qualities associated with high-character employees that can enhance employee satisfaction, client relationships and the bottom line.

The Attacker’s Advantage by Ram Charan – Ram Charan provides proven tools to help leaders embrace uncertainty and develop the skills to be better prepared to lead.

Persuasion Equation by Mark Rodgers – This insightful guide by Mark Rodgers reveals what drives decisions and introduces the persuasion equation –– a powerful combination of factors proven to speed agreement.

Team Genius by Rich Karlgaard & Michael Malone – Rich Karlgaard and Michael S. Malone focus on the critical role of Informal teams within the core of successful companies.

The Achievement Habit by Bernard Roth – Bernie Roth, co-founder of the Stanford, offers a guide for harnessing the power of design thinking to help meet life’s challenges and fulfill goals.

The Four Lenses of Innovation by Rowan Gibson – Rowan Gibson presents an innovation methodology for systematically stretching your thinking, discovering inspiring new insights and producing a portfolio of high-quality ideas and radically new growth opportunities.

Stronger by George Everly, Douglas Strouse & Dennis McCormack – Personal resilience is the ability to bounce back in the wake of adversity. The authors share a set of five core factors that protect successful people against psychological distress and emotional injury.

Peers Inc by Robin Chase – A co-founder of Zipcar, Robin Chase, introduces the collaborative economy in which companies and governments are using the Internet’s ability to facilitate collaboration by leveraging expertise, assets and resources outside their sphere of control.

What 2015 books have you found to be most helpful in your business and career over the past year? Post your choices to the blog.


How to Deal with the Irrational and Impossible People in Your Life

Prescriptions for Handling Difficult People

Perhaps the most universal challenge faced by any manager or employee at any level of an organization is dealing with difficult and even irrational people. In his new book, Talking to Crazy, psychiatrist Mark Goulston offers a counter-intuitive prescription to dealing with the irrational and the impossible: “Lean into the crazy.” Don’t argue or try to reason with these people, he writes. Instead, treat them as if they are rational, show them that you are not a threat and then “move them” to sanity.

talkingtocrazyHis prescription is based on what he calls the “Sanity Cycle,” which consists of six steps: “see that the other person is acting crazy”; “identify the other person’s M.O.” (such as extreme emotion, hopelessness, manipulation or martyrdom);“deal with your own crazy”; “go to the other person’s crazy”; “show that you are not a threat”; and “move the person to a sane place.”

The Man in the Pickup

In the opening chapter of his book, Goulston tells a startling personal story of road rage gone right that illustrates the Sanity Cycle in practice. After one of the worst professional days of his life, a preoccupied Goulston cut off the same person, a very large man in a pickup, twice. The second time, the man blocked Goulston’s car, emerged from his pickup truck in a rage, and started screaming and pounding on the window of the car. Goulston lowered the window and said, “Have you ever had such an awful day that you’re just hoping to meet someone who will pull out a gun, shoot you and put you out of your misery? Are you that someone?” Before long, the stunned other driver was trying to comfort Goulston, explaining to him that life really wasn’t that bad.

This story is an example of the “belly role” — one of the many techniques that Goulston offers his readers. The belly role is named after the habits of animals that indicate their submission to other dominant animals by lying on their backs and showing their bellies. In more technical terms, this is called assertive submission, an apt name — it takes a certain amount of assertiveness to say to a crazy person, “You’re right, do what you have to do.”

Apologize, Empathize, Uncover

Another of Goulston’s techniques is the A-E-U technique, whose acronym stands for Apologize, Empathize, Uncover. When the other person is being irrational, Goulston writes, you apologize for your own shortcomings, recognize how difficult it must be for them to deal with you, and then describe to the person what they may be truly feeling. For example, Goulston described a case involving a marital situation in which he told his client that as part of the uncover phase she must tell her spouse, “I’m guessing you’d like to get a divorce, but you can’t bear all the tumult that would cause. It wouldn’t even surprise me if, when I’m on a trip, you secretly wish I’d die in a plane crash, because then you’d be free without being the bad guy.”

Leaning into the crazy in this way may seem counter- intuitive, not to mention counterproductive. However, the A-E-U and other techniques in Goulston’s book reveal the power of his Sanity Cycle. One of the early steps in the cycle is “dealing with your own crazy” — that is, recognizing how you are contributing to the problems. Only then can you respond in ways that “show that you are not a threat” and that in the end “move the person to a sane place.”

At first glance, this may all seem nice in theory and completely unrealistic in the real world. Goulston, however, is not a New-Age spinner of good feelings but, rather, a practicing psychiatrist for decades who, as he puts it in the first sentence of the book, “knows crazy” — from the patient who jumped off a fifth-story balcony because he thought he could fly to “80-pound anorexics, strung-out heroin addicts and hallucinating schizophrenics.”

Goulston will be the first person to tell you that some people are too crazy to talk to. Early in the book, he separates irrational and impossible people from people with personality disorders (e.g., narcissists, paranoids, sociopaths). These are people from whom rational people should walk away, Goulston writes unequivocally. However, most conflicts in the workplace (or home) simply involve very difficult people who can make life miserable. Talking to Crazy offers much-needed guidance for those seeking a solution to these all-too-common conflicts.

From Outsourcing To Global Talent: Common issues

Our guest blogger today is Ernest Gundling, PhD, Managing Partner at Aperian Global, a consulting firm he co-founded in 1990, and coauthor of Leading Across New Borders: How to Succeed as the Center Shifts.


Many companies with established outsourcing operations have found that the talent picture is changing. Tens of thousands of employees in places like Bangalore, Hyderabad, Surat, or Noida were originally hired to crunch data overnight while their Western counterparts slept, or to write pieces of code that were parceled out by project managers located elsewhere. However, people who have been performing these roles for years now have become more technically adept and have greater business experience; younger employees are also entering the workforce with higher expectations from the beginning.

Employees in traditional outsourcing locations now often aspire to broader and more responsible roles: leading project teams, interfacing directly with customers, authoring entire reports, scoping and designing new systems. Firms that are able to meet these aspirations will retain their top talent; those that do not are likely to lose it. It is not easy to make the transition from existing outsourcing roles to a global talent approach that matches each employee’s developmental stage with the opportunities available around the world. Beyond simply placing an employee in a new role, there are often critical skill gaps that need to be addressed. Consider the mutually frustrating encounter between a Western manager and his Indian counterpart outlined below.

Example: The Report
Michael, a team leader for a pharmaceutical company based in Switzerland, comments,

“Two weeks ago, I sent a report along to our team in Surat with the raw data and information on the target audience. I followed up with a check-in call to make sure that Jas, the person in India assigned to this project, had gotten the documents and see if he had any questions. I told him that, ideally, I needed the report in two weeks, and asked if he was okay with that. He said, ‘sure.’

“Two weeks later, I got the report back and saw that while Jas had integrated the raw data, the implications had not been interpreted at all. The key messages were not clear and the nuances in the tone and language were just not right for my European audience. Actually, the report was unfinished in many ways. So it was now up to me to rewrite it, without any cushion time, which then impacted my deadline. I would say that this feels pretty typical of my interaction with the team in Surat, although they are supposed to be providing end-to-end report writing services.

“I expected Jas to take the data and interpret it based on his expertise. He should be able to discern which messages need to come across to the audience and then craft those messages in a way that will make sense to our audience and add value to me. It will be quicker for me to just do the rewrite now rather than spend so much time explaining all the changes. I expect another professional like me to be able to own the communication he is writing and deliver a product that is complete, on time, and reflects a deep understanding of the material. We don’t necessarily get that from our team there. If there is a question about something, I am always available. I am just an e-mail away. But those questions should come up early enough for me to address them, without impacting the deadline.”

Meanwhile, Jas, an Indian team leader based in Surat, expresses his own frustrations:

“The project with Michael could have gone better. When Michael called, I had not yet had time to look at the documents he had sent since I was working on a couple of other reports. So I didn’t have any questions at that time and figured I could rely on my team here in Surat to figure out any elements I didn’t understand. The thing is, I can constantly discuss and get help with my local team if I have an issue, but how can I do this with Michael? I don’t even know him. If I start out by asking a million questions, he will think that I don’t know anything and I will lose credibility with him.

“When I finally got around to looking through the materials that Michael sent, I realized that it would take a lot of time to write this report. By that time, I only had a week left to complete it. I worked late hours with other members of my team trying to finish this document to meet Michael’s timeline. I was hopeful that we could complete it, but we were only able to finish it to a certain level. Anyway, it’s better that I get Michael’s input on what we already have written and then make changes from there.”

Often they give us only a small amount of information and then get angry when we aren’t able to read their minds. I am just responsible for doing the work I am given, to the specifications which have been outlined. Our client stakeholders determine those specifications. I am not in a position to argue with that. If they would give me more information or be more readily available—or if we had a relationship—that would be different. But the work is still just thrown over the wall to me and then there is silence. I try to match the specifications they send, but they often want me to make things up out of thin air. It is not my place to be offering my opinions in this kind of paper. I am just trying to give them what they want.”

Key Competencies
This dynamic between Michael and Jas points to the core struggles in play as organizations try to reposition themselves for global relevance. Most organizations recognize the trends and are in the process of aligning themselves to benefit from the global economic shifts. But they have found that their internal talent management processes are unable to keep up with, much less effectively drive, the organization’s global growth. The transition to global talent sourcing, it turns out, is not just a matter of hiring more global workers. It requires a colossal mindset shift in the organization and new approaches to delegation, teamwork, employee engagement, knowledge transfer, performance evaluation, and developing the competencies needed to make all of these possible.

Accountability & Communication

There are many components to building an executive presence, including posture, dress, gestures such as the form of one’s initial greetings, and so on. The rules for these are largely unwritten and vary somewhat by culture. There are also important general skills required of employees who aspire to join the executive ranks in most multinationals. There are clearly things that Jas could do in the report scenario just discussed to make the interaction more successful. Becoming a full-fledged global team partner brings with it a higher level of accountability. He currently appears to be expressing a kind of passive/aggressive attitude that is unlikely to establish him as an executive peer. If he wants others to see him as a true global partner, he needs to take more responsibility and initiative, and step out of an outsourcing mindset himself. There is a danger that he will create a self-fulfilling prophecy: if he assumes that he is being treated as a second-class corporate citizen and acts accordingly, he may find that this is indeed the way that others treat him, even if corporate policy is to move away from outsourcing. How can Jas get a virtuous cycle going by altering his approach?

If Jas is unclear about his responsibilities, it’s up to him to reach out and request clarification from Michael while expressing his intention to get the job done. It is not helpful to his reputation to provide a half-baked response and feel resentful about his role, especially if he is assuming that the ultimate responsibility lies elsewhere. Jas also needs to cultivate a particular skill of distilling and communicating key messages. Inexperienced people in his position tend to provide large volumes of detail without sufficiently digesting or interpreting the information. The term “executive summary” highlights the expectations of leaders who are exposed to large volumes of information on a daily basis. They want to know the main points and to have the option to drill down for further detail as needed; likewise, they expect their peers to be able to both synthesize and probe.

Several familiar cultural patterns were probably in the background of the initial response Jas gave to Michael: deference to hierarchy, a preference for relationship-based interactions, and reluctance to draw direct conclusions for others who will make their own inferences. For Jas to be effective at higher levels in this organization, however, he will need to understand these patterns and take steps to flex his own style. It is neither possible nor desirable for him to become a Westerner, but his current mentality will not serve him well in a global leadership position. Jas may find that Michael is amenable to meeting him partway if he asks him for help and expresses an eagerness to learn new skills.

Developing Future Leaders

There is responsibility on both sides in this example. It is all too common for a person in Michael’s role to conclude that Jas lacks business acumen and other essential leadership capabilities,evaluating the report Jas has produced negatively while doing the work himself or steering it elsewhere. Michael can help to break the cycle of unmet expectations and critical performance evaluation by reaching out to Jas and learning more about his capabilities and developmental needs.

It may be that Jas is not the right person for the role, but it is more likely that he needs hands-on mentoring, exposure to best practice models, and constructive feedback that will enable him to grow into his position. Jas will feel more comfortable talking about his developmental needs if he feels that Michael believes in him and is actively involved in providing support. Michael will also be better able to target what he delegates, and to accurately anticipate and rely upon the work that Jas produces. They should get to know each other a lot better, and this is a worthwhile investment of Michael’s time in spite of the geographical and cultural distance that separates them.

Organizations committed to global talent development will make sure that Michael is also held accountable for enabling his global colleagues such as Jas to move to the next level of performance. Leaders who are consistently able to do this will in the long run add far greater value to their companies than they will by deliberately or inadvertently shutting the door to those who could learn rapidly with the right kind of guidance.

Global Talent: The Rewards
Moving from mutual frustration to effective collaboration is complex because it requires a level of self-awareness and conscious effort from everyone involved. Jas cannot do all the work himself, and neither should Michael. When enough key individuals do learn to work together in a way that combines their skills, however, the results can be quite powerful, including retention of vital personnel, greater employee engagement, mutual learning, and higher levels of performance all around. Companies that create the formula for this will discover a powerful accelerator to their global growth, and a competitive edge versus rivals that remain stuck in old outsourcing models.

To learn more about leading in a global economy, join Dr. Gundling for our Soundview Live webinar: Leading Across New Borders.

The Best Business Books of 2015 (Part I)

As we approach the end of the year, it’s time to announce our choices for the best business books of 2015. Our editorial board is continually watching the business books that are being prepared for publication, to choose those that we think provide new information, while giving principles and practices that can be put to immediate use by our subscribers.

Here are the first 15 of our 30 Best Business Book List:

Rookie Smarts by Liz Wiseman – Leadership expert Liz Wiseman explains how to reclaim and cultivate the curious, flexible, youthful mindset of a rookie.

The Reciprocity Advantage by Bob Johansen & Karl Ronn – Leading forecaster Bob Johansen and business developer Karl Ronn share a model for creating new growth for your business using the underutilized resources.

Overworked and Overwhelmed by Scott Eblin – Leading forecaster Bob Johansen and business developer Karl Ronn share a model for creating new growth for your business using the underutilized resources.

Good Leaders Ask Great Questions by John C. Maxwell – To be a successful leader, you need to be asking yourself and your team key questions in order to learn, grow, and develop better ideas.

Becoming Your Best by Steven Shallenberger – Shallenberger reveals the 12 principles you need to follow in order to reach your highest potential and drive the kind of innovation that turns good companies into industry leaders.

Bringing Strategy Back by Jeffrey Sampler – Strategy expert Jeffrey Sampler introduces four “strategic shock absorbers” that enable leaders to build resilient organizations that can withstand even the most unexpected global turbulence.

Low-Hanging Fruit by Jeremy Eden & Terri Long – Jeremy Eden and Terri Long have distilled 77 of their most effective techniques for generating real performance improvements drawn from their success working with major companies.

Stacking the Deck by David Pottruck – David Pottruck presents the nine-steps that leaders who are facing major change in their organizations can follow from the first realization that change is needed through implementation.

Anticipate by Rob-Jan de Jong – Strategy and leadership expert Rob-Jan de Jong explains how to develop the ability to see things early and incorporate them into the future of your organization.

The 5 Choices by Kory Kogon, Adam Merrill & Leena Rinne – The authors combine research and insights from FranklinCovey to redefine time management in ways that will increase the productivity of individuals, teams and organizations.

Thirteeners by Daniel Prosser – CEO mentor Dan Prosser shares how to transform an organization’s internal connectedness so it can achieve the next level of performance.

The Hidden Leader by Scott Edinger & Laurie Sain – Scott Edinger and Laurie Sain show how managers can recognize and develop these talented employees in order to deliver even greater value to customers.

The Power of Thanks by Derek Irvine & Eric Mosley – Globoforce executives Eric Mosley and Derek Irvine explain how a Culture of Recognition can boost employee engagement and loyalty, stronger teamwork and a more innovative culture.

Leadership Blindspots by Robert Bruce Shaw – Robert Bruce Shaw helps leaders to identify weaknesses, threats and other vulnerabilities that can impair effectiveness, results and even their careers.

Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith – Goldsmith details six engaging questions that can help us enact meaningful and lasting change in order to become the person we want to be.

Watch for next Monday’s blog to see the rest of the list.


How to Be Comfortable, Confident, and Successful in New Situations

Succeeding as a Newcomer

In an old commercial, a cattle rancher is asked when he last left the “county.” The look on his face reveals that he can’t remember. Cattle ranchers notwithstanding, most of us have lives filled with moves: to new places, new companies and new teams, not to mention new hobbies or new sports. We’re in unfamiliar environments, dealing with unfamiliar people and trying to accomplish unfamiliar tasks.

whattodowhenyourenewIn a new book entitled What to Do When You’re New, author Keith Rollag has written a manual to help us successfully navigate the unsettling experience. At the heart of the book are five actions that, Rollag writes, newcomers must master: introducing yourself, remembering names, asking questions, starting new relationships and performing in new situations. For each of these actions, Rollag explains why, as newcomers, we are reluctant to perform these actions, offers different strategies and techniques to accomplish each action effectively and finishes with ways to practice the techniques.

Is This a Good Time?

For example, Rollag writes, the first important step to integrate successfully into a new situation is to introduce yourself to others.

While this might sound easy, most people, Rollag writes, are reluctant to introduce themselves for a number of reasons, including the fear of interrupting people at the wrong time and place; introducing yourself to people who don’t want to meet you; or making a bad first impression, for example by doing something that annoys the other person. Rollag’s advice: Just do it. The social risk is in most cases much less than you think. To help readers take the first step, he lists the key parts of the opening conversation: Lead with a greeting, state your name, establish the introduction as an introduction (“I would like to introduce myself ”), state who you are and why you want to introduce yourself (including the fact that you are new), quickly ask for permission to continue (“Is this a good time?”) and be brief. If you are humble, respectful and show an interest in the person to whom you are introducing yourself, you will make a good first impression, Rollag writes.

Rollag offers equally practical advice for remembering names, asking questions, starting new relationships and performing in new situations. After explaining why the names of new people escape our long-term memory, for example, Rollag gives a number of techniques to remember names, including mentally attaching silly visuals to the face based on the name (Phillip Harper is imagined trying to play a musical harp with his lips).

Perhaps the most challenging action to take as a new- comer is to perform in front of others. Whether you have just been hired by a new company or are taking dance lessons for the first time, you are expected to perform in front of a group of critical quasi-strangers. Rollag presents some helpful psychological insight related to talent and performance. Many people believe that they have a pool of defined talent. Thus, when they perform for the first time in front of others, Rollag explains, they see the initial performance as a “big reveal” — in other words, “I have to be good because this is the best that I can do and will ever do.” In truth, Rollag writes, newcomers should reject the mindset of “being good” and adopt instead the mindset of “getting better.” This mindset lowers the expectation of the performance. You focus on the fact that you are new at this (or new here) and you will get better. Importantly, you realize that this is what others are thinking. Suddenly, the enormous pressure of trying to be a star from the first day disappears.

Over the past 20 years, Rollag has interviewed a wide variety of newcomers in a wide variety of situations both in the workplace and outside of the workplace. What to Do When You’re New is built on real-world experiences and research and offers readers a practical guide to succeeding as a newcomer.

Tips for Telling Compelling Stories When Training Leaders

Our guest blogger today is Dr. Paul White, author of Sync or Swim, continuing from last week’s blog on telling stories.

John was struggling with how to handle a difficult situation with a key vendor for the company. He went to his supervisor, Stephanie, and asked her advice on what he should do.  Rather than telling him what to do, or even giving her direct input, Stephanie replied, “John, let me tell you a story …”  She went on to tell a story about an experience she had early in her career and the   consequences of her decision over the years. When she was done, she paused and waited.  After a few seconds of silence, John smiled and said:  “Got it.  Thanks.”  He stood up and left the room, even though Stephanie hadn’t directly answered his question.

Throughout history and across cultures, stories have been used more than any other form of verbal expression to communicate foundational life lessons.   If you read the Greek philosophers, the wisdom literature from Asia, and the literature across the centuries designed to teach guiding principles for life – the “authors” used stories grounded in daily life rather than just stating the principle (or making lists of them, as most business books and articles do today.)

Tips for Telling Stories

Some people are natural storytellers – they just “do it”.  People listen to them, laugh, and enjoy hearing their stories.  For the rest of us, we need to work at it a bit.  Otherwise, our stories seem to fall flat with little impact on our listeners and sometimes there is just an awkward silence when we finish.  So here are some tips for learning to tell effective stories.

Where to Get Your Stories.  There are several sources for stories but the best one is your life.   You’ve gone through some situations that were challenging, hair-raising, and funny.  You were there so it is easy for you to remember. Some personal experiences and the stories that flow from that have to do with direct life experience.  You were there, felt the feelings, know what the dangers were, and how you felt when you got through the situation.  Other experiences are more indirect.  You were there but it was someone else going through the situation and you watched what happened (think about your parents while you were growing up, situations with your children, trips with friends).

A second treasure trove of stories are those told by others. This can include stories told by friends and family, stories told by authors in books, or the situations created and demonstrated in movies and TV shows. (By the way, movies are the modern cultural equivalent of orally told stories in past cultures.) YouTube videos also provide good visual short stories.  Note that trying to retell a story you’ve heard told by a friend can be difficult to tell effectively to others (especially if you only heard it once).

Practical Suggestions.  When telling a story, start by giving the context and setting (the “set up”) for what happens in the story is critical.  Some people start into a story without giving the listeners any clues either that they are telling a story or what the overall context is.  Next, share the main character’s perspective on what is going on – how did they see the situation?  What were they feeling?  This heightens the interest and energy level.  Then, make sure you get the sequence right. Not much “kills” a story more quickly than the storyteller having to go back and correct themselves (‘No, that’s not right.”) about what happened and when.  Clearly describing the challenge or dilemma (along with the person’s feeling response) is the next critical step.  Make sure your listeners know what the problem is that the character is facing, and their emotional response to the situation.  Tell what decision was made or the action chosen and then describe the result and its on impact you and the others in the situation.  Sometimes listeners “miss” an important part of the story or the context and need to be told exactly what happened and why it was important.  If needed, tell the lesson you learned.  In many stories, this is obvious, but sometimes the lesson you learned is important to delineate.

We all have interesting stories to tell. Sometimes we just need to stop and reflect, and then think about the best way to share the story in a way that will connect emotionally with others.

To learn more about communication at work, join Soundview and Dr. White for our webinar: Communicating Effectively Through Change.

Leadership: A Trend that Nevers Grows Old

From time to time, I like to set aside a blog to look at trends in the world of business books, just to see on what topics authors are focusing their time and research. It’s a great way to measure the hot button issues.

Although there are many topics I could focus on, today I want to return to that old standard – Leadership. This subject has risen above the status of a trend, to become a recurring theme necessary for executives to master.

Although what is said about leadership in these books may include some recurring lessons we’ve seen over the past decades, authors are also intertwining these common-sense lessons with a new twist, with perspectives that are being gained as the world continues to change. Leadership is affected by technology, culture, greater diversity, changing perspectives about how companies related to the outside world, and much more.

Here are a few recent and upcoming leadership books that epitomize how our view of leadership is evolving in a changing world.

4D Leadership by Alan Watkins – Watkins introduces a 4th dimension to leadership – the vertical dimension. Vertical development focuses on being able to think more complexly, systemically, and strategically, whereas horizontal development consists of learning new skills and knowledge.

The Heart Led Leader by Tommy Spaulding – Authentic leaders, Spaulding says, live and lead from the heart.  The values and principles that guide our lives and shape our ability to lead others is far more important than our title, or our ability to crunch numbers, or the impressive degrees we display on our walls.

Lead More, Control Less by Marvin Weisbord & Sandra Janoff – Lead More, Control Less describes eight essential skills for establishing a culture of autonomy and self-leadership. Using examples and case studies, Weisbord and Janoff describe how leaders can share responsibility, defuse group conflicts, show everyone the big picture, and more. With this approach, leaders truly gain more control by giving it up.

Unconventional Leadership by Nancy Schlichting – Unconventional Leadership is a style of leadership based on confronting reality and leading headlong through adversity. In this inspiring story, Nancy Schlichting, the CEO of Henry Ford Health System, reveals her unique strategies that drive success: maintaining a focus on people, creating a culture of innovation and reinvention, and embracing diversity as a key strategy for growth.

These are just four of the many leadership titles coming out in the last quarter of 2015, but they should give you a taste of the ongoing challenges to our view of leadership in this changing world.