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Are You Emotionally Intelligent?

 At a MeetUp that I attended last night in the town that I have lived in for 18 years, a young woman in the group said not once, not twice,  but FOUR times in her 5 minute intro/elevator pitch to our group how much she wanted to leave our town as soon as possible.


For quite a few of us in attendance we have lived in our town for 20+ years.  How little emotional intelligence this young woman demonstrated by insulting the town we all lived and/or worked in is problematic of many people. Which got me to thinking: “Do people really realize/care what impact their behavior has on the people around them?”
What have to ask ourselves just what is “Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?
EQ is the ability to recognize and regulate emotions in ourselves and others through four (4) elements:
1. Self Awareness: do we have a proper grasp on how we are feeling?
2. Self-Management: Do we know how to control our feelings and behaviors esp. in times when we are placed in extreme pressure/duress?
3. Social Awareness: are we aware of the people around us and how they are feeling? Do we genuinely care about the people around us?
4. Relationship Management: do we understand how to form, grow, nurture and maintain productive, constructive working relationships?


Emotional intelligence (EQ) entails obtaining information to gain self-awareness ands revolves around a person’s ability to:
–Perceive emotions in themselves and others,  understand the meaning of these emotions, and be able to regulate/control one’s emotions.  Emotional intelligence is critically important because there is an extremely strong correlation between a high level of EQ and career success.
An excellent resource for a primer on EQ is the “Six Seconds EQ Model” which entails a 3-step process to acquiring emotional intelligence:
1. Know Yourself gives you the “what” – when you Know Yourself, you know your strengths and challenges, you know what you are doing, what you want, and what to change.
2. Choose Yourself provides the “how” – it shows you how to take action, how to influence yourself and others, how to “operationalize” these concepts.
3. Give Yourself delivers the “why” – when you Give Yourself you are clear and full of energy so you stay focused why to respond a certain way, why to move in a new direction, and why others should come on board.
EQ matters because it affects every aspect of your personal and professional lives including:

  • Your performance at work.
  • Your physical health.
  • Your mental health.
  • Your relationships.

Here’s how you can achieve emotional regulation/control over your life, feelings, and relationships:

  • Identify and modify the emotions you feel.
  • Surface Acting: putting on a face to play a role even /especially when you do not actually feel that way.
  • Venting: open displays of emotion may serve a purpose but should be used with extreme caution.
  • Research shows that people in good moods make better decisions, are more creative, and help in motivation.
  • Emotional states affect employee levels of customer service.
  • Increasing use of “happiness” coaches in organizations.

What do you think?
Here’s to your continued professional and career success as we head into the holiday season.
– Ethan

The Future of Work…COLLABORATION

The future of work is sharing.  We are now in the era of workplace collaboration and collaborative communities, the Open Source Movement.
The days of hoarding information, developing proprietary intellectual capital that is selfishly held under organizational “lock and key” is so…20th Century.  In today’s era of Big Data, mobile processing, cloud computing and virtual work teams, organizations that embrace collaboration gain lasting competitive advantage.
Successful organizations understand that in order to maintain their competitive advantage, they have no choice but to collaborate their way to lasting success.
Steve Jobs Inspired Collaboration at Pixar

Steve Jobs famously redesigned the offices at Pixar, which originally housed computer scientists in one building, animators in a second building, and executives and editors in a third.  Jobs recognized that separating these groups, each with its own culture and approach to problem-solving, discouraged them from sharing ideas and solutions. (

Perhaps the animators could introduce a fresh perspective when the computer scientists became stuck; and maybe the executives would learn more about the nuts and bolts of the business if they occasionally met an animator in the office kitchen, or a computer scientist at the water cooler. Jobs ultimately succeeded in creating a single cavernous office that housed the entire Pixar team, and John Lasseter, Pixar’s chief creative officer, declared that he’d “never seen a building that promoted collaboration and creativity as well as this one.”
These days, even business competitors are forced to work together…”co-opetition” between such traditional adversaries as Google, Microsoft, Apple…is the new normal.   Samsung and Sony’s successful collaboration in 2006 to jointly produce LCD screens.  (Co-opetition: If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.)   These firms have found a way to work with one another in certain industries, evolving technologies and new product ideas, and yet still compete in other areas.   Organizations that truly understand the power of sharing and collaboration encourage their people to share.
Consider Linux.


The computer operating system Linux powers 98% of the world’s supercomputers, most of the servers that keep the Internet humming, and tens of millions of Android mobile phones and gadgets.  As an open-source system, Linux relies on the collaboration of programmers from around the world.  (Chad Caydo “Lessons From Linux: How to Foster Collaboration at Meetings and Conferences.”)



Google encourages its people to collaborate within and across teams by aligning Objectives & Key Results as developed by John Doerr.  If OKRs are done well when they are (1) connected to top line company goals (2) shared openly- so anyone can see anyone’s goals and why it matters to the company and (3) cross-functionally aligned so dependencies across teams are clear from the get go as part of planning process.   (How does Google foster collaboration among teams with non-overlapping OKRs)

Wikipedia has achieved such wide scale success as a platform driven by mass user content contributions where people freely share their own intellectual capital.
In the 20th Century, organizations that controlled the platforms to disseminate information (the media) controlled the message and the very nature of conversation.  Today’s sharing organizations facilitate the free flow of information to enable the sharing of ideas by enabling individuals talk to the world via the Internet and social media.
We can now collaborate online, work productively in virtual teams with members all over the world, and disseminate radical, even revolutionary ideas that spark movements to change the world like the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street.
Organizations that dominate their respective industries are the ones that most effectively leverage their people’s talents and unleash their employees’ full, untapped potential.  They do this by developing learning organizations where they coach and train their people to use creativity and innovation in project-driven teams.  They foster friendly competitions within their organizations and within their industry through professional associations.
How does your organization foster workplace sharing and collaboration to create a learning organization?
Here’s to your continued success in 2016.

Become Future Ready Now

In today’s turbulent times, only innovative organizations that embrace change management can thrive during times of chaos and uncertainty.  Most organizations do NOT know how to seize opportunities and avoid threats, by leveraging their greatest competitive advantage…their PEOPLE.  Following are actionable tactics that you can leverage IMMEDIATELY to build a highly innovative culture that will enable you to succeed in ANY climate of uncertainty.
Embrace Distance-Based Learning.
With advances in employee training technologies like video conferencing and Skype, the power of training employees on their terms one-on-one becomes more critical.
You need to be able to tie training into employee performance management plans, in order to quantify the impact of skills development for each employee using measurable metrics to quantify your organization’s return on its employee development investments.
Virtual Team Collaboration
With today’s geographically dispersed work forces the reliance on freelance and contract-based workers to supplement your full-time workforce, the importance of tapping into a global candidate talent pool working in a geographically dispersed fashion successfully drives the need for more collaborative efforts.  To create a powerful virtual team, you need stronger leadership skills, better teamwork, and communications.
Improved collaboration technology enables even small firms to leverage employees and contracts based overseas.
Some freelancer websites for you to source talent from include:

  • eLance
  • TopCoder
  • Upwork
  • Toptal
  • Freelancer
  • Guru
  • 99designs

There are many team collaboration tools available to you and your team:

  • Chat Gape
  • Sqwiggle
  • Campfire
  • Redbooth
  • ActiveCollab
  • Huddle

Other tools you and your people can leverage include:

  • Meeting Tools You Can Take Advantage Of:
  • Video Conferencing Tools
  • Video & Audio Conferencing Tools
  • Instant Messaging
  • Document Co-creation Tools
  • Social Network Tools
  • Scheduling Tools
  • Virtual Team Games
    • Prelude
    • VuirtuWall

You can source talent from a broader geographic range while also lower compensation costs and have flexibility by sourcing freelancers. Hiring people globally means they can help you to build your organizational brand internationally.
Co-opetition Is the “New Normal.”
Given rapidly evolving technological innovations, it is often advisable to partner with key players who possess expertise (and intellectual capital) in certain spaces, and compete with others (and some times those very same strategic partners) in other technological areas.  Firms that embrace co-opetition are often leaders in technology and include the likes of Microsoft, Google and Apple.  They partner in some areas, and compete in others.
Vendor / Supplier Strategic Partnerships:
Your vendors and suppliers possess an expertise your organization may lack,  thus the need to form more strategic and value-driven relationships with them.  Rather than attempting to squeeze/negotiate the most favorable terms from them, why not consider them an asset and nurture your relationships to maximize your relationships as a lasting competitive advantage.
Treat Your Employees Like Clients, and Clients Like Employees:
Organizations claim they value their employees, but often do not follow through on such grandiose claims.  One way to value your employees is to treat them like clients.  Strive constantly to determine how you can best serve their needs, and consider assigning key (human resources dept.) staff to specific (groups, Departments) of employees, to learn their needs and deliver exceptional service.
Treating your most valuable clients like employees means sharing often hidden information in full transparency to disclose their account information, work with them directly to see how you can best serve their needs.

Innovate or Die: Bridging Your Today to Tomorrow

Innovation is the lifeblood to any organization’s continued success.   It helps overcome the many challenges we face. Here’s why:
Organizations face challenges EVERYWHERE, from global competition to rapid changes in technology, changing demographics, an aging population, etc.  Too big to fail is no longer a realistic survival reality.  Huge organizations are becoming extinct at a faster rate of attrition than ever before.   Here’s the 1958, the average life span of an S&P 500 company was 58 years.  Today it’s less than 18 years.
In fact…

“The success of corporate R&D is on every C-suite agenda.  Yet wide disparities persist in how well innovation investments actually pay off. As a consequence, R&D is often seen as a black box, where large sums of money go in and innovative products and services only sometimes come out.” (Global Innovation 1000, 
We need to infuse our organizations with a creative spirit to achieve innovation.
So…What’s “Creativity?
Creativity means looking at the same information as everyone else, and seeing something different.
 Okay, but what is ‘Innovation?’
Innovation entails turning creative ideas into action.  It’s all about what’s NEW, BETTER, NEXT.
Got it. So, why is innovation so critical to your organization’s very survival?


Challenges are everywhere, from global competition, rapid change in pace of technology, changing demographics/population composition, aging population, etc.  The PERVASIVENESS of software means technology around us demands constantly assessing how we can be more innovative.
China’s rise as THE global innovation powerhouse  is forcing other nations to adapt and respond QUICKLY.   Too big to fail is no longer a valid protection.  As a gauge for the rapid change of transformation driving our need for innovation, n 1958, the average life span of an S&P 500 company was 58 years.  Today, it is less than 18 years.
Following are actionable steps that you can take NOW, to foster a culture of innovation in your organization:
Have a mission that truly matters, that inspires others by making emotional connections with them.
You need to plan…and PLAN TO FAIL. Innovative organizations don’t just happen, you need to plan for it.  It is crucial that you understand that innovation entails trial and error.  Therefore, you need to not only to be willing to FAIL, but to see failure as exploration and success, NOT as failure.   This is often difficult to accomplish when your organization invests significant time, effort, and resources you would normally invest in current operations, products, and services.
Thus the critical imperative of seeing continual innovation as an ongoing pursuit and not a destination to reach.
Create an IDEAS program for your organization and include everyone.  Set aside a cross-functional team to meet on a recurring regular basis to review all ideas that you actively solicit from all of your people, and decide which ideas will be funded/pursued based on their ability to help you achieve your short and long-term business objectives.
You MUST have passion!
The positive is that MANY organizations have already embraced innovation, and have set the lead for other organizations to serve as proof of what it takes to be GREAT at it.
1. Google’s culture of “8 pillars of innovation” actively promotes/embraces BLUE SKY thinking.  They have employees dedicate 20% of their time on innovation, by giving them INNOVATION TIME OFF.
2. Adobe offers a KICKBOX campaign in which it gives its employees a box filled with creativity tools including a $1,000 prepaid credit card to spend on any new innovative pursuits.
3. An Amazon key principle is “Invent and Simplify.”
4. Intuit has a CEO Leadership award that is gives out to executives who help to create start-ups inside the company.
How can you become truly innovative in everything you do:
 It helps to know that there are no silver bullets or magic lists to follow.  Only environments where innovation is MORE likely to occur. So by developing a culture that fosters creativity and innovation, you will be more likely to BE innovative.  Sound simple…?
Always talk to and observe your customers, with a singular focus on solving their problems:
Dan Buchner who was the head of Proctor & Gamble’s product development team had his team spend time in customer homes watching them, which led to the development of the Swiffer product line.
Record all of your ideas and thoughts about problems. You need to be diligent in tracking all of your inspirations and committing them to writing.
Most people settle on the most promising approach based on our past experiences and we tend to exclude other options as we work within a clearly defined direction towards the solution.  BREAK THIS PATTERN OF BEHAVIOR! (From an interview with Michael Michalko.)  You and your Team can cultivate your collective creativity by implementing the following 2 approaches:
(a) Constantly try to improve your idea, product, service.  This is important because your early ideas are usually not true (your best) ideas as they are only partially formed “baked”; and
(b) Challenge your assumptions – To test an assumption, reverse it and try to make the reverse work.

  1. Sketch your ideas: 99U talk from Twitter creator Jack Dorsey.
  2. Use “lateral thinking skills” as Paul Sloane, visionary creativity problem-solver notes this entails looking at things in an entirely NEW way.
  3. Employ “wrong thinking.”
  4. Mix different ideas together to see what new and interesting combinations arise as outcomes.
  5. Follow Einstein’s EIGHT-step SCAMPER process to improve a system, process, product, idea…:

You can and should re-frame the challenge you face, by looking at it in another way.  Here’s how:
1. Ask powerful questions.
2. Challenge your assumptions.
3. Foster multiple perspectives.
Change the parameters you are faced with:
Think of a parameter in your market as being different then it currently is today, and then imagine the products/services that would best serve that different reality.  This gets you thinking down a different path. Some examples how to change your parameters to change your reality:
(a)  Ex. A vehicle currently requires a driver to navigate it.  Imagine removing that requirement altogether, and you are left with a vehicle that DRIVES ITSELF. (Hello, Google!)
(b) Ex. How might you design a store IF…you were able to identify exactly who each visitor/patron was and all of their past purchase behavior as soon as they entered?

  • Solve a PARADOX: Ex. Apple set out to get a bigger screen for its iPhone by reducing the size of the device.


  • Find CONNECTIONS: the Wright brothers watched birds in flight, to better understand and ultimately solve manned flight.


  • Elevate “ASKING QUESTIONS” to an art form.



Experiment: Gain invaluable experience by watching, and/or making something yourself.  This entails “tinkering.”   Follow your natural curiosity as far as you possibly can.

  • Instead of taking a PROBLEM –SOLUTION approach, use a SOLUTION-PROBLEM approach.  This means you find a solution first, then go in search of problems the new solution addresses.


  • Use the following five step process:

(a)  Define your problem clearly.
(b) Throw out any constraints.
(c)  Ensure that those people working with you to solve a problem are passionate.
(d) Ideate in small teams. “Design thinking process.” Jeff Bezos at Amazon feels it should only take 2 pizzas to feed a team. Keep the team SMALL to maximize the likelihood of a successful team working experience.
(e) Have competitions and give prizes for the best innovation.

  1. Measure your learning and NOT outcomes. Ex. You want to keep track of the number of customers that you interviewed, NOT your results.

Ask powerfully enlightening questions such as:
(i)   What did you/we learn?
(ii) What don’t we still know?
(iii) What are the limits to the metrics that we are using?
You get what you measure!
Follow the THREE HORIZONS Model outlined in: “The Alchemy of Growth” by Mehrdad Baghai, Stephen Coley (
Horizon 1: Sustaining innovation entails investing in established products and services to maximize sales and revenue streams from your existing business. Examples include adding new products to your menu, rolling out new product features, additional service offerings, store expansions, etc.
Horizon 2: Adjacent innovation: Ex. Mercedes develops electric fuel vehicles. The market is experiencing rapid growth, and Mercedez does NOT want to get “left behind.” and;
Horizon 3: Disruptive innovation: Mercedes Benz invests in Car2Go, allowing customers to “rent” a Mercedez where ever they are to travel very short distances, ideal for major metropolitan areas for target segments with extremely high disposable income..
4.  Resources for you to evaluate/consider/leverage:
Clay Christensen, “The innovator’s dilemma.”  DISRUPTIVE innovation versus sustaining innovation.
Stephen Johnson, “Where good ideas come from.”
Scott Anthony, “The little black book of innovation.”
Michael Michalko, “Thinker toys: A handbook of business creativity.”
Linda Hill, “Collective genius: the art and practice of leading innovation.”
The PWC Global Innovation 1000 Research Study
Here’s to your continued success in 2015 and successful planning for 2016.
 It’s time to unleash your and your Team’s significant untapped creativity and innovation potential!
– Ethan
Learn more about my organizational productivity services at

They Laughed When I Got Up to Dance

When I’m meeting someone for the first time and I have to describe myself, I say I’m a cross between Spanky and John Belushi.  Or, I’ll say it’s not easy being follicly, vertically, and circumferentially challenged.  So, when I head out to the dance floor I always get a few stares once I hit my groove and bust a move.  Then, I’m more like Re-Run from the 1970’s sitcom ‘What’s Happenin’.
re-run dancing
This takes me to my point:
Before you ever open your mouth (and start dancing) people will form opinions about you.  It’s inevitable.  We make snap judgments about others.
So, it’s critical that you realize how your communication (your actions and behavior) set the tone for how people form that ever important first impression of you.  Specifically, we communicate the following three ways:
1. Verbally;
2. The written word; and
3. Non-verbal / body language
Following are some simple yet often overlooked strategies you can begin implementing, to be seen as a professional “rock star” to make a positive first impression and build a strong brand right from the get go.  While you may consider these strategies for personal etiquette (and I’d agree) these are also effective for building trust in people you wish to work with/for.
1. Honor Your Commitments: The other day, I invited an acquaintance to speak at an upcoming panel I am hosting for my MeetUp.  I needed a prompt response and they committed to give a reply by yesterday.  I did not hear back so, I had to call and leave a message.  NOT GOOD.
2. Say “Thank You:” Last week, I made an email introduction between two leaders of separate and competing business networking groups I have been involved with.  I thought they might benefit from doing a cross-group networking event.  One of them responded that he was not interested, as he felt it was a conflict of interest.  When I explained I understood but was also introducing them on a more direct personal level, there was no response.  REALLY NOT GOOD.
It’s a really great practice to get into.  Send a handwritten Thank You note to people for doing things for you.  It’s a lost art.  No one sends notes so this will really distinguish you.
3. Avoid the “Hi, How Am I”: When you first meet someone at an event, does it bother you when that person spends the entire time speaking about themselves?  It’s rude, self-centered and a MAJOR turn off.   You want to be able to tell them just enough about yourself but also ask questions.  As my wife tells me all the time, people LOVE talking about themselves.  Be sure to ask pointed questions that show you’ve done research about them in advance and show you’re listening.  They’ll come away with a very positive first impression if you ask questions about them and show a genuine interest in their challenges and needs.
4. Speak Thine Thespian Self: Nothing is worse than coming across as uneducated.  Don’t speak in slang.  Use proper grammar, avoid slurs, and try not to speak negatively about others.
5. Dress The Part: Understand your audience and dress UP or DOWN based on the situation.  Wearing a suit (dressing ultra conservatively) may work for a group of attorneys or accountants, but not for artists and designers.  Sure there’s a saying: “To thine own self be true” but it’s even more important to set people at ease.  It’s the fashion equivalent of applying a “mirroring” technique.  Let your professionalism and subject matter expertise set you apart and convey your Unique Value Proposition.
Speaking of setting yourself apart…

purple cow

To learn how to set yourself apart from the pack (Herd) see Seth Godin’s PURPLE COW.
6. Look At Me!:  One of the rudest things you can do is look away from others while you’re speaking to them.  Maintain eye contact at all times.  This will show you care about them and what they have to say.
So just a quick checklist.   What do you think?
Here’s to your continued success in 2015.
– Ethan

Why Recruiters Are Hated So Much

First, allow me to begin by saying I began my career as a recruiter working for a national staffing agency based in Washington, DC.
Further, this is not meant to demean recruiters.  Rather, I’d like to challenge the industry to shift their focus (and approach their jobs) differently by considering the needs of the job seeker when they match candidates to the clients they are recruiting on behalf of.
Now that I have spent six years as a career coach and executive placement professional helping 12,000 job seekers find employment, I would like to share my observations and personal experiences on why recruiters are hated and fast becoming an obsolete service.
It begins with the fundamental role that recruiters serve…they build bridges between two parties with opposite and often conflicting needs and interests.
wooden peg game
Recruiters are engaged by and compensated by organizations that pay them to find candidates.  A recruiter thus has a vested interest in finding the right candidate(s) to their client for the right position.  They take a wack-the-peg -in-the-hole approach.  Remember that game we played as kids?  Wooden peg board, different shaped holes you had a hammer and tried to hammer each shaped peg into the matching shaped hole.   When you try to force the wrong peg into the wrong hole, you scrape your fingers, the peg gets stuck, you break the hammer, and end up throwing the board away in frustration.
They do not make much if any attempt to understand and work towards the career aspirations, goals, wants and needs of the candidate.  If they can find three qualified candidates to send to their client, that is fine.  If they can find SEVEN qualified candidates, then the more the merrier.
The end game is for recruiters to look as good as possible to their clients.  After all, it’s the client that pays the recruiter…not the candidate.
Nowadays, recruiters make almost NO effort to understand the needs of candidates, nor do they care at all if the candidate’s work preferences, values, and needs are fulfilled by the organization they send the candidate to.  Then there is the small matter of recruiters hardly ever getting back to the candidate, to let them know what the status of their candidacy is once the client decides they are NOT interested in the candidate.
I have received hundreds of emails from recruiters informing me of a position that does not match my career goals, needs, or where I am at this point in my career. They always request that I forward their job posting to any people I might know that would be ideal for the position.  So, in a very real sense recruiters are abrogating their job by asking job seekers to do their work for them.
Further, many recruiting functions are being outsourced to foreign workers. How insulting is it for a long-term unemployment job seekers to receive a call from someone who works overseas and barely speaks English as a second language on behalf of a client?  With the Internet and social media clients can accomplish much of the same candidate vetting and hiring processes that used to be handled by recruiters.
If you are a recruiter I strongly suggest you go back to the drawing board and understand that the candidate – that other side of the matching equation —truly matters and although they do not pay for your services, in the long run will determine how happy the client is that you send these candidates to.