Everyone wants to have happiness for themselves and their loved ones around the holidays. We wish people “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Holidays,” and “Happy New Year,” but rarely do we consider what really makes us happy during the holiday season and throughout the year. If you think back on past holiday seasons when you were particularly happy, you will likely discover it had more to do with gifts you gave, people you were with, and activities you enjoyed rather than something you received.
It’s the time of the year when you’ve most likely created a list of resolutions. You are determined that this time will be different. You won’t quit. You won’t get distracted. You’re going to stick with your plan for a new start. However, sadly enough the odds aren’t in your favor. According to U.S. News, approximately 80 percent of resolutions fail by the second week of February. What’s the common denominator? Excuses.
I run into a lot of leaders who mislead themselves—without realizing that’s what’s happening. Here’s how they do it. They say things like “My people aren’t creative—we need to get a creativity expert in here to talk to them.” Or: “My people aren’t great problem-solvers—they need to get better at problem-solving. Go find me a program that will help them improve their problem-solving.”
A month or so ago, I came across an article in the WashingtonExec about Dr. Sarbari Gupta, CEO of the technology company Electrosoft. In it, she says that Earl Nightingale’s Lead the Field audio program “literally changed [her] viewpoint on life when [she] first heard it in 1995 and motivated [her] to take bolder steps toward [her] goals in life.” Sound Wisdom recently published a beautiful print edition of Lead the Field, so I reached out to Dr. Gupta to learn more about how Nightingale’s work shaped her life and career. She was kind enough to chat with me over the phone, sharing many of her own success strategies as well as those that she gleaned from Nightingale’s audio program.
This week, I am—once again—enjoying the privilege of having one of my books being released into the marketplace around the world. I have written well over forty books, and all of them are special in some way. This title, The Art of Influence, is certainly no exception. This is the first book I have written since receiving the Napoleon Hill award for literary achievement. When you accept an award that bears the name of the greatest writer in your field, the only way you can put it into perspective is to consider it as a challenge to be lived up to in the future as opposed to deserved recognition for something you may have done in the past.
Recently someone shared a story about how a new employer gifted her daughter with a coveted Peloton bike as a “welcome aboard” present—something to energize her daughter’s new work-at-home routine. I was stunned by this extravagant act of generosity on the part of a small business owner. Immediately, I wanted to know what other employers were similarly using gifts and incentives as a way to make their employees feel valued and motivated. Below are some experiences shared by Sound Wisdom readers.
I have been involved in training, speaking, and consulting for 28 years, and the same issues have been present all along. In this article, I want to share with you the 11 main reasons why training fails. The shocking truth is there is a lot of money spent but tons wasted because of the barriers organizations have in place around training.
Do you ever feel stuck? Of course you do, and since life is full of obstacle courses, you will continue to face many throughout your life. What is a potent way to become unstuck and reach that next pinnacle of success? Well, one way is through repeat mental rehearsal, also viewed as intense visualization. I have witnessed the effectiveness of this practice for over twenty years and have developed some simple techniques of visualization and writing to help people get unstuck. A more expansive version can be found in my book, Stop Depriving the World of You.
For a leader, there is no such thing as “kind of” telling the truth.
If you are a leader, you are either fulfilling your personal commitment to tell someone who is counting on you the truth or you aren’t fulfilling that commitment. If you aren’t, then accountability within the relationship and the organization you lead is impossible, because you’ve already failed to be accountable to your team coming out of the gate.
Before I had kids, I never could have imagined how difficult it would be to try to build a career while parenting small children. As a very career-driven person, I also never anticipated the profound desire I would have to stay home with my children when they were young. This desire has often created a real tension for me, where I’ve felt a nagging pull between work and home. Luckily, I was able to find a work situation that enables me to join my two passions: parenting and working. Indeed, there are many opportunities in today’s work world for women to find part-time, remote, and/or project-based work—opportunities that help women develop their careers when they previously might have had to leave or hit pause on them.
There was an article circulating on my Facebook newsfeed the other day about what you’re really saying when you say, “I don’t need a mic” at a meeting or conference. According to the author, declining to use a microphone is a form of exclusion. It tells the audience that people who are not hard of hearing are valued over and above those who are—that it does not matter if people with hearing differences can comfortably listen to your presentation. In doing so, it not only devalues and ostracizes people who are hard of hearing, but in its baseline assumption about standard hearing and normative communication practices it also reinforces prejudices against those with hearing differences. In other words, it is an ableist behavior—it is discriminatory against people with disabilities.
Last week, I led a call for the social interest group for The Good Men Project. We are called “Creating Success with a Disability.” The topic of the conversation dovetails perfectly with National Disability Employment Awareness Month (to my mind, anyway).
Bringing awareness to the general population of people living with disabilities is a monumental task and that is mainly because this is a layered topic.
In our society, there is a constant, never-ending struggle for normalcy. We seek to fit in at all costs. The advertisers tell us what we should look like, feel like, and smell like, and there is not enough of a premium placed on becoming outstanding.
When we study the lives of overachievers, we find that many of them were faced with a disadvantage or a disability of some type that made it harder for them to be considered normal.
The sixth Convenience Principle in Shep Hyken’s new book, The Convenience Revolution, is Access. This principle is about “removing unnecessary friction from the typical customer’s day.” According to Hyken, the three factors that contribute to it are availability, communication, and location.
A large and growing percentage of the population has a disability, and these customers contribute greatly to the economy. However, many businesses do not make an effort to be accessible to customers with disabilities, which, on top of being unethical, can be really detrimental to their company. It’s important to consider how your business—and the businesses you support—make themselves accessible to their customers who have disabilities, whether visible or invisible, physical or mental. Using the three components of Access that Hyken mentions in his book as a framework for this discussion, let’s reflect on the various ways that companies can enrich (or harm) the customer experience of people with disabilities.
I’ve spent my professional career teaching companies and individuals how to provide amazing customer service and a customer experience (CX) that would keep customers coming back and help their businesses to grow and thrive. But today, customers expect more. They know what good service looks like and they expect it. And, they not only compare you just to your direct competitor, but to the best service they have ever received—from anyone. Delivering an expected level of service is now the baseline, and you have to find a way to differentiate yourself from the competition—because they are also trying to out-service you. I have found a way. It’s a concept that is being embraced by smart, successful companies to disrupt their competition, and in some cases, entire industries.
If you want to attract and hold on to the best people, redefine accountability in your organization.
I work with a lot of senior leaders of organizations. One of the major challenges these leaders frequently share with me is their difficulty in hiring and holding on to good people. They want talented people, and they don’t want those talented people going to the competition once they have been hired and trained! So they’ll ask me, “Sam, what’s the best way for me to win and hold on to the talented people that will keep our organization competitive?”
As a person who prides himself on giving great customer service, I learned three ways to create superb customer service after a recent experience I had with Delta Airlines. I made three observations:
It doesn’t matter what happens. It’s all about the recovery.
If you hear it, you own it.
Customer service is not a department; it’s a mindset.
In conjunction with the release of my book, Sick Success: The Entrepreneur’s Prescriptions for Turning Pain into Purpose and Profit, it’s important to address the sickly elephant in the room. Namely…that more people are sick and hurting than you think.
All of us want to be accepted and valued by those around us. This acceptance is based upon other people’s judgments. They can judge us on how we look, how we act, or how we perform.
Possibly the best way to judge and be judged came from Dr. Martin Luther King’s powerful dream that his children be judged based on the “content of their character.” This is a difficult judgment to make as it takes a lot of time, effort, and energy. Unfortunately, too many people in the world don’t make the commitment to honestly judge everyone, and therefore, they engage in the practice of prejudging or prejudice. This is highly inaccurate, fallible, and dangerous. At its best, prejudice is a lazy mental shortcut.
Recently, I purchased Lauren Smith Brody’s The Fifth Trimester: The Working Mom’s Guide to Style, Sanity, & Big Success After Baby (Doubleday, 2017). My husband and I just had our second child, and I was hungry for advice about how to navigate working motherhood with a new baby, even though I had done it once before. I really enjoyed all the practical wisdom, insight, and, most of all, the emotional support it offers. It contains advice on everything from how to pump on an airplane, to how to ask for a raise after being on maternity leave, to how to work at home and actually get stuff done—and it’s not just from Brody; much of the insight comes from the 700+ women who answered a 50-question survey she posted online (some of whom she then followed up with). The Fifth Trimester is for all moms, whether they work in an office, at home, or don’t work at all and just need some help finding confidence and feeling more like themselves again after giving birth and while taking care of a tiny human while running on fumes. I won’t detail all the techniques for being more productive while working at home, but I do want to highlight some of the advice Brody offers about navigating the emotional terrain of working at home after baby.