Archives for May 2018

Looking On The Bright Side: The Real Secret To Success

Don’t Forget About The Silver Lining by JC Winkler on Flickr

[Part 1 of 2 – Next week: How to Infuse Optimism Into Your Culture and Your Life]

Optimism is a highly underestimated quality in workforce culture.

Optimism drives our global and national economy. It also drives our personal economy. Optimism increases the likelihood of success.

100 studies agree that optimism contributes to:

  • Improved problem solving
  • Enhanced motivation
  • Higher performance and productivity
  • Lower stress
  • Better mental and physical health
  • Longevity
  • Increased resilience
  • Better income

Lack of personal optimism leads to depression, illness, and addiction.

A lack of optimism, also known as pessimism, skepticism, or cynicism, is justified considering the widespread disparity between the world we want and the one we live in, which extends beyond our professional outlook and pervades all facets of our lives – health, financial, political, environmental, etc. However, it just doesn’t serve us to be more skeptical than optimistic, although there is critical place for realism, which you might think is the opposite of optimism, but it’s not.

The opposite of realism is idealism, and there is a distinction between idealism and optimism, but there is an application for both of them.

You can reverse engineer a better solution by assuming an ideal outcome is possible. Consider if Roger Bannister assumed he could not break the 4-minute mile just like all runners before him. Then consider how many after him aimed to run even faster, with well over a dozen succeeding.

Contingency planning, disaster recovery, cybersecurity professionals and other people in your workforce who assess and analyze risks, as well as those veterans in your workforce who have experienced prior failures can prevent future failures and losses. Every organization needs these people. However, our human nervous system was not intended to stay on high alert for prolonged periods of time. What an organization can do to protect the wellbeing of these professionals it to  train these employees on healthful stress management and to make sure give them ample time off. There also need to be protocols in place to make sure that, even in a culture of optimism, their expertise is tapped and considered during strategic planning and tactical execution. I will get more specific next week.

In an organization, a lack of optimism fosters an environment of distrust, which will inevitably leads to:

  • Interpersonal conflicts
  • Unmet obligations
  • Unproductive suspicions and drama
  • Micro-management
  • Lower morale
  • More instances of mild to serious illness
  • Increased turnover

Careful of optimism bias. If you are oriented toward optimism, you will naturally create a bias that this orientation is better than any others. If you choose only to hire those who are optimistic, however, you have a talent chasm, not just a talent gap.

You’ll find it much easier to hire if your talent strategy is more based on candidate coachability, values, and skills (in that order) and then imbue your culture with training and practices that promote increasing optimism among your workforce. [We will talk more about this in the next post.]

All the places where optimism is critical for proper engagement and retention of your talent:

  • Optimism that there is a future career path in the company
  • Optimism that your company’s services/products deliver what is promised to clients/customers.
  • Optimism that vendors will deliver
  • Optimism that performance will be recognized and rewarded
  • Optimism that the organization’s leaders are ethical, moral and making good decisions

I’m not an optimism elitist, and I’m not always optimistic. However, based on the science, which I didn’t cite in my usual style because 100 studies were too much to cite, but I can point you to Dr. Mark Waldman’s NeuroWisdom: The New Brain Science of Money, Happiness, and Success for a comprehensive compilation of such citations, I make optimism a practice and aim to be more and more optimistic and less and less pessimistic. I have been accused of being idealistic before, and it was assumed when I was a younger professional that I would grow out of it, as if becoming more experienced and wise means being more pessimistic. Again, based on science, this just doesn’t serve me.

It is because of Dr. Waldman’s book and the science he has promoted that I know that there are multiple mini-practices that you can promote in your organization and in your life that will strengthen neural pathways for optimism. I will share a few of them next week.   Until then, keep hoping!

<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/gGdGFtwCNBE” frameborder=”0″ allow=”autoplay; encrypted-media” allowfullscreen></iframe>

How to Deal with Trolls Now That You’ve Gone Viral

Image by Johnny Silvercloud via Flickr. Some rights reserved. https://bit.ly/2Gfznjz

Image by Johnny Silvercloud via Flickr. Some rights reserved. https://bit.ly/2Gfznjz

Some people prefer to stay private, and I can’t blame them; putting yourself out there makes you a target for hateful, argumentative people. And it’s 100x worse now to be visible and on social media than it was in the 2000s. The climate online can be downright toxic. That might legitimately stop you from using social media at all, let alone promoting yourself.

I know that I and probably many, many other branding experts and coaches are advising you to promote your thought leadership and expertise and to find ways to demonstrate your value online, but I also know that if you do that, the possibility exists that you may have to deal other people’s opinions about what you write, and that can be friendly and adult-like in nature or it can be downright uncivil.

Why would someone subject themselves to that?

Well, for any of the following reasons (and you may have your own – please share!):

1)     You have a mission. There is some big change you would like to contribute to and it requires sharing information that is new, in opposition to a dominant paradigm, and/or potentially scary, but the few that you reach are worth the potentially many who will protest and the high emotional fall-out.

2)     There is something you learned that can save many from pain and/or loss.

3)     You intend to be or are a speaker, thought leader, and expert who is sought out by others, and the desire to put your career on autopilot is worth dealing with others’ comments

4)     You are able to focus on the good that can come from it, and the people with whom you will resonate and connect. 

5)     The potential for income that can generate from online activity is worth it.

Like anything, the payoff has to exceed the pain or price.

If you have a friendly worldview, then the payoff is the people. You will love hearing from people and watching them engage in your content. You’ll naturally want to engage back with those who are friendly, but avoid those who are negative.

If you don’t, you will dread comments. You may be more apt to respond to and focus on the trolls than the people who were receptive to your content.

You could be in between, which is a balance worth achieving if you’re going to put yourself out there.

I have enjoyed several articles and a couple videos going viral, and have responded to various kinds of comments from grateful, to creepy, to friendly oppositions, to personal insults, to death threats.

Below are some policies I follow because they tend to enable me to continue enjoying sharing content with the world, even if it is a world divided:

  • Be intentional about what I want my audience to experience, and have it be something positive: Hope, relief, peace of mind, prevention, wisdom, fun, etc.
  • Stay in that emotional place when I write.
  • Re-read it from that same emotional place and edit anything that feels out of alignment.
  • Watch for immediate engagement, and thank, respond to each individual.
  • When the comments start pouring in, batch my time responding to them.
  • Thank those who have positive feedback or are sharing.
  • Engage those who left vague feedback – ask them to share more.
  • Engage those who left negative feedback – not from a confrontational place, but from a curious place – seek to understand before seeking to be understood.
    • If negative feedback includes personal insults, name calling, I either attempt to disarm the troll or I block the individual.
    • If the negative feedback includes threats or sexually-charged content, I report the content. I have even notified an individual’s hometown police department when one comment threatened suicide.
    • If engagement continues, aim to explain my point of view once in as few characters as possible.
    • Do not engage further. If there’s more to get off my chest, I write it down – only for me. I let it sit overnight and only consider sharing it if doing so supports my initial intention for sharing the content in the first place.
    • I don’t block or report individuals to be spiteful. I aim actually to avoid reacting emotionally to anyone’s negative posts. Bullies want an emotional reaction, because it gives them some sense of control/influence. I will weigh very carefully if I can disarm a troll.

You could say trolls are generally naysayers, small-minded thinkers, resistant and stubborn, miserable and just wanting to spread their misery to others.

Or you could accept that trolls are in some pain and need an outlet. Social media makes for easy targets. Hurt people hurt people.  One way to disarm a troll is actually to show them compassion.  I love the story of comedienne Sarah Silverman changing the worldview of the man who tried to troll her.

I may not always feel like I have the emotional fortitude to go down the rabbit hole with someone trying to spew negativity. I also haven’t got time for the pain. I could really let it get to me, but I spent far too many years letting what other people thought of me bring me down. I sometimes have to decide I’m better off not letting it in.

At other times, I feel invincible and impervious to letting other people bring me down. I’ll do what I can to help other people feel that good.

By all means, I resist the temptation to vilify someone else. Attempting to make someone else look bad doesn’t align with who I really want to be, and it just makes me look and feel worse. 

You may or may not be able to change some people’s minds, but you won’t change everyone’s mind. Know when to pull back your energy from the effort of defending who you are or what you think or feel. Consider re-applying that energy.

If you let trolls silence you, you are giving them that power. Far too many solutions are stifled by the fear of what others might think of them.  Nothing worth inventing was ever unanimously supported. You don’t need everyone to like you, and you don’t need everyone to “get it.”  If you’re going to leverage social media, it’s better to accept that not everyone will like you.

Social media may close the gap between you and people you wouldn’t want to know, but it also opens you up to the people and resources that can actually help you put your brilliance to work toward a meaningful contribution. 

Ultimately, if you choose to receive the benefits of the visibility a viral social media post or video can give you, there are ways to manage trolls.

Social media has the potential to make us or break us. Know what you want, and determine what you’re willing to endure to get it.  

If you do decide to share, you are taking on the responsibility of the responses it generates. Use these best practices:

  • Engagement is a good measure of good content, so welcome commentary and reward your audience with your acknowledgment. 
  • When you have a high volume of people respond, batch your time and prioritize comments to respond to based on your original intention.
  • If you have an emotional reaction, write out your feelings just for YOU first. Let that simmer for 24 hours and only include in your response what aligns with your original intention of what you want your audience to feel, learn or experience.
  • Do not engage with a troll past 2 responses – the first to understand, the second to be understood.
  • Digital responsibility means creating a safe space for people to share, so consider using blocking or reporting features if someone threatens the safety of your (or their) space.
  • Take the high road. Rarely does dropping the mic workout online. Someone always tends to pick up the mic right after you and keep the discussion going.
  • Leverage viral visibility by inviting people to engage offline.  

Peter Gabriel – Big Time

The official Big Time video. Directed by Stephen R. Johnson. The fourth single to be taken from Peter’s fifth studio album. The album was his first one to have a proper title and So was a watershed release in his career.

How to Handle Recruiters Wanting to Connect

Image by Jayne K. via Flickr. Some rights reserved. https://bit.ly/2I46fhg

Image by Jayne K. via Flickr. Some rights reserved. https://bit.ly/2I46fhg

(A follow up to: 4 Things You Can Do on LinkedIn to Attract Recruiters)

If you follow my advice from the last post, it won’t be long before you see people you don’t know, including recruiters, sending you invitations to connect.

So, should you accept them?

Here is LinkedIn’s recommendation: “We strongly recommend that you only accept invitations to connect from people you know. You can control who can send you invitations from the Communications section of your Settings & Privacy page.”

LinkedIn Open Networkers (LIONs) subscribe to the school of thought that more connections are better.  LinkedIn will cap you at 30,000 first-degree connections.

The choices you have for who can send you invitations include:

  • Everyone on LinkedIn (recommended).
  • Only people who know your email address or appear in your “Imported Contacts” list.
  • Only people who appear in your “Imported Contacts” list.

First, let me explain why LinkedIn recommends that you stay open to receive invitations from anyone, but only accept those from people you know.

The original intention of LinkedIn is to keep track of who you know, and who they know, and who they know.  The idea we are all separated by no more than six degrees of separation began in 1929 by a Hungarian author who wrote a short story about network theory. That later compelled social psychologist Stanley Milgram to conduct experiments in the 1960’s. And Columbia University experiments in 2003 confirmed the theory.  So, anyone you might want to meet in this whole wide world is no more than 6 introductions away.

Furthermore, researchers from Tufts and Stony Brook University concluded that while stronger connections are more likely to offer help, your weaker connections are more likely to actually help you land a job.

So, it’s not just who you know. It’s who they know, and who they know.

Notice the “know” part of that. What does it take to really “know” someone? Ask 10 different people, and you will probably get 10 different answers.

It’s up to you to determine what you would need to know or how long you would need to know a person before you really KNOW them. I recommend thinking of it this way: figure out what you need to know about a new connection in order to feel confident introducing them to VIPs in your own network.  This means asking new connections very meaningful questions.

Yes, that is my recommendation – get strangers on the phone and get to know each other before you connect.

When it comes to recruiters, some are transactional and some are relational.  A transactional recruiter wants you in their talent community either for a job requirement they are currently trying to fill or because they expect they will someday have a job requirement for which you might be a candidate. A relational recruiter may ask you to connect for the same reasons, but they get that you are a person, not just a candidate, and that building rapport and potentially a relationship will serve the highest good of everyone: themselves, you, your network, their clients, and their network. They see networking as an investment that enriches their professional experience and produces opportunities that can positively impact multiple lives.

Do either or both sound like people you might want to have in your network? A transactional recruiter may not produce as much value for you as a relational recruiter, but you still may land a job through one. 

How a recruiter is compensated and how their performance is measured may influence whether a recruiter works as transactional or relational. If job metrics dictate that they have to make 100 calls per day and interview 10 candidates in person per week, a metric I had previously as a recruiter, taking time to get to know candidates, especially those I can’t place NOW, seems like an unwise investment of time, even if that’s what I really want to do. Recruiters may flip from being transactional to being relational, and vice versa, when changing from one firm to another. Some relational recruiters will only work where the model supports investing time in building long-term relationships because they find transactional networking to be empty and unfulfilling.

So, once you decide what your standards are for people from whom you accept their invitation, the next step is to speak offline. LinkedIn removed the feature that allowed you to reply to all invitations, now you can only reply to those who have sent you a customized note (and if you read this at any point in the future, that may or may not be the case.)

Once you have decided you want to know a person inviting you to connect,  click on their name to visit their profile and message them, by clicking the “Message” icon just right of the “Accept” button. Send a message something along these lines:

“Hi. Thank you for the invitation to connect. Are you open to getting better acquainted offline? I’d like to understand what your mission is and what kind of invitations would be most impactful to you right now in fulfilling it.”

I include my number to put the ball in their court, but you may not be comfortable with that. Instead you can offer them 3 days/times you have 20-30 minutes free, ask them for their number and to confirm a time.

Not everyone who calls me is going to become a connection. If someone starts to sell me on something right away, I think twice.  I consider myself fairly intuitive, and I can feel a person out. My most important qualification for someone joining my network is if their values are aligned with mine. Meaning, will they be ethical, considerate and respectful?

Of course, when I receive an invitation that I’m going to consider, I check out their recent activity and see what they have been commenting on, liking, and sharing. I read their recommendations and see if they have given any. If they are generally adding value, I’ll be inclined to accept the invitation after speaking.

Notice, I still want to speak with them, mostly because I want to know they are willing to speak to and invest the time with me.  If they’re not, there’s a high probability this person will not prove valuable to my network.

When I speak with them I rely on my intuition and make the conversation organic, but to give you ideas of my thought process:  

  • I might ask them about something specific in their profile.
  • I’ll get their thoughts on a prevalent challenge in their industry or a current event.
  • I’ll ask them what they want most to happen in the next 12 months.
  • I’ll share something personal about myself and see if they reciprocate.

The questions you ask are best if they help you determine if the person meets the criteria you have established for making connections. I don’t necessarily need someone to think like me, agree with me, or share my worldview, though that’s great when that happens. Again, for me it’s really about feeling out how they would treat someone I care about if I were to make an introduction.

I set the intention for these calls that, if it seems like someone I’m going to add to my network, we determine right off the bat something we can do for each other – either an introduction, sharing an article or resource, or giving advice. Ask recruiters what is hot on their plate right now; what candidates do they need to present right now. Then, take at least one proactive measure to try to source that candidate in your network, if you don’t have a referral off the top of your head.

Creating this value right off the bat turns an acquaintance into a partner in success. When you have many partners in success, you don’t have to work as hard to achieve goals, so while the investment of time may seem heavy on the front end, it’s really a time and productivity hack.

Happy connecting! 

Connection

Provided to YouTube by Universal Music Group North America Connection · The Rolling Stones Between The Buttons ℗ ℗ 2002 ABKCO Music & Records Inc. Released on: 2002-01-01 Producer: Andrew Loog Oldham Recording Arranger: The Rolling Stones Author, Composer: Mick Jagger Author, Composer: Keith Richards Music Publisher: Onward Music Ltd.