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Michael’s Sign Language

What needs to be repaired today?

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GWI Redux: Julia Sloan & Michael Mauboussin

Being strategic is one of those buzzwords in corporate life. So many companies seek to become more strategic without really knowing what it means or if all the stakeholders are defining it in the same way.

Can people really learn it? Is it one of those things that you either have or you don’t?

Here are two Great Work Interviews designed to help you hone your strategic thinking skills

Julia Sloan

Julia Sloan is author of Learning to Think Strategically. She’s also an expert in teaching executives and global leaders how to do just that. In this Great Work Interview, Julia and I discuss how strategic thinking is like positioning a lighthouse, the difference between “complicated” and “complex”, and how a state of disequilibrium can produce innovative thought.

Listen to my interview with Julia Sloan.

Michael Mauboussin

No one likes (or plans to!) make bad decisions, but we all do it from time to time. Michael Mauboussin is the chief investment strategist at Legg Mason Capital Management as well as the author of Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition and what he has done so brilliantly in his book is point to some of the systemic errors in our mistakes and say that we can actually develop our ability to make better decisions.

In this interview, Michael and I discuss what separates great investors and business people from the average ones (it has very little to do with mathematical ability.) You’ll also find out why 80% of us think we’re better-than-average drivers, and how this overconfidence gets in the way of making better decisions.

Lastly, get ready to embrace the checklist: the humble yet effective tool, and the 3 keys to having a checklist that works.

Listen to my interview with Michael Mauboussin.

 

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The Name the Ninth Contest: The Winners!

Thank you to everyone who helped us mark the 10th anniversary of the launch of the Eight Irresistible Principles of Fun that started it all, by creating a ninth principle of fun.

(NOTE: Winners, if you haven’t yet, please mail me with your mailing address and phone number so we can send goodies your way.)

The 10 inspiring winners in no particular order…

9th Principle: Show and Tell

John M.
Remember in grade school, when your opinion took center stage, and you were given the freedom to convince everyone just how awesome it really was?
It ain’t no fun if the homies can’t have none. - Snoop Dogg

9th Principle: Forgive

Susan P.
Forgive those who may have done you wrong in the past. It will free your soul. Forgiveness allows you to go on with your life without holding grudges and brings you great peace! Forgiveness removes the obstacles that bind you and frees you to do so many things you thought you could not!
To forgive is to set a prisoner free and realize it was you. – Lewis B. Smedes

9th Principle: Live Intentionally

Isaac G.
Great work, teams relationships success and service are never accidents. They come from intentional effort. Setting your mind to something and doing it is FUN!

9th Principle: Give Life a Smile

Jose Manuel S.
Be grateful. Be Thankful.
Reflect on all the good in your life (people, opportunities, things).
I’ve never seen a smiling face that was not beautiful. - Unknown author

9th Principle: Find Your Flow

Larry H.
As in Csikszentmihalyi, discover that state where time stands still, you are challenged but competent, and effort is effortless. Articulate that to whoever pays you, and try to “work” in that state as frequently and for as long as possible.

9th Principle: Let Go of Expectation

Kimberly C.
Let go of how it should look…and how it should go. When we focus on outcomes, rather than action items, we open up a world of potential and possibility that doesn’t exist in our tiny little sphere of “I know best.”

9th Principle: Give It Your All

Richard A.
When you’re standing at the plate you just never know whether it will be a home run or not, but swing like you know it will be, every time.

9th Principle: Stay Present

Paul G.
Savour the moment, the sensations, the beauty of nature, permit yourself to be vulnerable and connected to the many special people who are in and flow through your life, and allow yourself to be open to new possibilities.

9th Principle: Stop Thinking Everyone Else Has It All Figured Out

Linda D.
They don’t. Be willing to make mistakes, ask for help, and laugh at yourself.

9th Principle: Get More Sleep

Allison C.
You can’t appreciate or participate in the sparkle of life, if you’re crabby.

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Teaching as a Powerful Tool for Engagement

JenLoudenYou might have heard (or read) about my “Brain Trust” – a group of smart, savvy people that talks regularly and meets up once a year for a retreat.

They are my sounding board and help me reflect on who I am, what I’m doing and what patterns I’ve fallen into. I think everyone should have their own Brain Trust – it’s one of the most critical tools I’ve had in terms of personal and professional growth.

One of the Brain Trust’s original members is Jen Louden. She’s written a gazillion books, including The Woman’s Comfort Book,  The Life Organizer, and  The Woman’s Retreat Book just to name a few. One interest that we share is teaching, learning and change.

Jen has a terrific program called TeachNow. If you’re a teacher, facilitator, trainer or coach, you’ll want to take a look to see how it can help you better engage and inspire those you work with. Here are the details.

Even if you aren’t in a typical “teaching” role, you can benefit from using teaching skills to engage those around you – managers, employees and peers. There’s a preview class tomorrow, and you should really check it out.

Visit Jen Louden’s TeachNow to sign up for the preview class and program.  I highly recommend it.

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Help for First-Time Managers

What are you doing tomorrow? If you can spare an hour at 2:00pm EST, this webinar designed for new managers is a must. 

Today’s managers must be able to do more than just a good job; they’re expected, and often required, to get work done by motivating others to deliver. This can be a challenge for anyone, but first-time managers are often at a loss as to how to light a fire under their staff. The task gets even harder when you’re asked to manage people in other locations.

I’m a part of NetSpeed Learning Solutions webinar series that focuses on leadership. The series kicks off with Transition to Management: The Other Side of the Desk, led by NetSpeed Learning Solutions President & CEO Cynthia Clay.

Cynthia presents five Leadership Guidelines to support new managers in making a successful transition from competent contributor to inspired leader.

Check out this webinar if you want to hone in on how to:

  • Identify specific leader behaviours linked to the Leadership Guidelines
  • Stay balanced and on track in the face of shifting priorities and unpredictable challenges
  • Lead with confidence in a virtual world

Learn more about and sign up for Cynthia’s webinar, Transition to Management: The Other Side of the Desk.

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Twofer Tuesday: You’re Not THAT Busy (So Listen to Some Podcasts!)

It’s Tuesday –and perhaps you need to stop, look around and evaluate exactly how busy you really are. And, while you’re at it, enrich your work life by listening to a few podcasts.

You’re not that busy. (Please repeat that after me.)

Busy has become a badge of pride, hasn’t it? “How are you?” they ask. “Busy,” you say. “But a good busy.”

But I do think that “busy” often means you’ve just given up and given in to Good Work. In fact, I think it was Tim Ferris who said that Busy is just a form of Lazy because you haven’t worked out what matters.

 All provocative stuff, I know.

This article is a useful twist on the whole debate, not least because it challenges the usefulness of telling yourself you’re busy. Claim spaciousness, and more things get done, it seems…

Definitely worth a read. Do squeeze it in to your busy schedule…

Read: Overwhelmed and Our Epidemic of Busyness

How do you listen to your podcasts? (5 cool alternatives)

We’re mighty proud of the Great Work Interview series at Box of Crayons. In the last little while I’ve spoken with Bob Sutton about his new (and terrific book) Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More without Settling for Less, Rich Sheridan who runs a tech company in Ann Arbour underpinned by joy (hence the title of his book, Joy, Inc.,) and Dave Heath of Bombas who’s created an amazing Buy-One-Give-One about good socks.

So, I hope you’re turning in to my dulcet tones as I talk to these smart people.

And, to make sure you’re getting the best experience, here are five recommendation from Fast Company on cool (and free) apps you can use to enhance your podcast experience.

Read: Five Free Apps for Catching Podcasts

Continue the Conversation

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Great Work Provocation

What has this inspired for you today?

Get provoked daily. Sign up our Great Work Provocations.

Like a shot of espresso in the morning without the caffeine.
Feel free to share – Blog it, Facebook it, Pin it…anyway you like.

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The Three Contradictory Secrets of Fun

You could do with a little more fun in your life, right? Just like fire requires three elements to burst into life, so too does fun.

Inspired by the 10 year anniversary of The Eight Irresistible Principles of Fun, this short video covers war games, punk bands and mould all on the way to explaining the three contradictory elements of fun.

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Posted in self-management

Rich Sheridan, Joy, Inc.

rich_sheridanThis month I’ve really been thinking about the general sense of fun and joy within organizations. So when I noticed a book called Joy, Inc., it got my attention. The book is written by Rich Sheridan, who’s the CEO of software company Menlo Innovations, and it’s all about how to build a workplace where joy is a fundamental concept.

I’m really excited to talk to Rich today about what Menlo Innovations has done and how other organizations can implement tactics and strategies to deliver Great Work, with more joy.

In this interview, Rich and I discuss:

  • The correlation between pairing and joy in the workplace
  • Why the culture of the individual hero is unsustainable
  • The benefits of continuous learning
  • How index cards can help eliminate ambiguity and foster creativity
  • How organizations of all sizes can achieve clarity and joy
  • The importance of engaging clients throughout project development

(Scroll down for more in-depth podcast notes.)

Listen to my interview with Rich Sheridan.

0:00:00: Rich introduces the concept of pairing in the workplace. He explains that it contributes to joy because it enforces knowledge sharing and enables organizations to produce better deliverables, leading to satisfaction during and after the work process.

0:05:15: Michael asks whether co-workers mind giving up individual control in order to work in pairs. Rich points out that pairing entails active collaboration and facilitates learning how to get along well with others. He notes that the superhero model of business success is outdated and that today’s complex software necessitates teams of human beings working together.

0:10:04: Michael comments on Menlo’s commitment to continuous learning, and he and Rich discuss its importance to remaining competitive in today’s business world. Next, Rich explains why his organization uses index cards: the act of writing by hand forces team members to think clearly about their project requirements, reducing ambiguity.

0:15:15: Rich elaborates on how an unambiguous system leads to success and fosters creativity. Michael then asks whether larger companies than Menlo would be able to incorporate some of the principles outlined in Joy, Inc. Rich points out that all organizations are made up of smaller departments, and that business leaders should focus on improving local functions within their organizations as a whole.

0:20:03: Rich explains his company’s unique approach to client relations, emphasizing the importance of involving the client throughout the project’s development process rather than waiting until project completion.

0:24:00:Michael concludes by directing listeners to menloinnovations.com to learn more.

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