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The Rock or the Rebel? How Learning Agility Can Make or Break Your Company

Businessman Climbing a Staircase of Books

Your company is expanding into India, and you’ve got to hire a CEO to head up the new branch. What qualities do you look for?

Do you select the candidate with the solid academic credentials, proven track record and cautious yet consistently successful approach? Or do you go with the wildcard—the rogue leader who questions authority, circumvents convention and takes risks, even though they may fail?

A recent Harvard Business Review article by J.P. Flaum and Becky Winkler says you should go with the rebel.

Why? Because the sure thing may not turn out to be so sure when thrown into an unfamiliar context. Leaders who easily achieve success with known variables may find their formulas don’t work so well when those variables change. Unaccustomed to failure, they may react defensively, sending the company into a tailspin while struggling to cope with the unexpected.

The wildcard, on the other hand, embraces challenge. She’s not afraid to take strategic risks because she doesn’t fear failure—instead of crumbling, she bounces back stronger, learning from her mistakes and adapting accordingly. She may be harder to govern, but she listens to her team, reflects, and recalibrates when circumstances demand—and this learning agility is the bellwether of success.

Traditionally, corporations have opted for the kowtower over the renegade—a pattern that frequently produces catastrophic results.

Case in Point: Apple

Take Apple, for example. Go back to 1985, when the Board is faced with a choice between Steve Jobs and CEO John Sculley, who had been specifically directed to “contain” Jobs and his cavalier tendency to lavish resources on new product ideas. The Board chose Sculley, and 13 years later, Sculley left the company $200 million in debt. Sure, Apple still had $2 billion in cash, but their reputation was on the decline along with profits, and it wasn’t until they brought Jobs back in 1997 that Apple’s brand, stock prices and profitability began to soar again.

What the Board had feared in Jobs is precisely what made him such a triumphant leader: he was daring, original, flexible and resilient—in other words, he was learning-agile.

What Is Learning Agility?

Researchers at the Center for Creative Leadership and Teachers College, Columbia University say learning-agile leaders are “continually able to jettison skills, perspectives and ideas that are no longer relevant and learn new ones that are.”

Flaum and Winkler summarize the findings on learning agility as “a mind-set and corresponding collection of practices that allow leaders to continually develop, grow and utilize new strategies that will equip them for the increasingly complex problems they face in their organizations.”

The researchers found that the single defining characteristic of non–learning-agile individuals is defensiveness. People who fear change, resist new experiences and respond negatively to critiques or challenges lack the resilience necessary to grow and, subsequently, learn.

Learning-agile leaders, on the other hand, solicit feedback and evolve to integrate what they’ve learned. This kind of emotional intelligence requires listening skills, empathy, imagination and humility.

See the white paper Learning About Learning Agility for more details.

Key Behaviors

Four key behaviors are associated with learning agility:

  • Innovation: People who think different are the revolutionaries who will change the course of your company’s history. You want the wave-makers and the earth-shakers—they’re the ones who are going to launch your organization to success.
  • Performance: The learning-agile cope marvelously with stress, adversity and uncharted territory. They don’t shatter when failure occurs but instead respond with elasticity and grace, deftly changing tack and perfecting a strategy based on what they’ve learned.
  • Reflection: This, again, is where emotional intelligence comes in, specifically self-awareness, according to studies by Green Peak Partners identifying this as the top predictor of success in executive leaders. This quality enables the learning-agile to self-assess, seek feedback and modify their behavior.
  • Risk: Learning-agile individuals don’t take foolhardy risks, but they also don’t let fear or caution prevent them from seizing opportunity. They welcome new experiences and constantly seek out ways to stretch themselves and their team. They court failure, knowing they will always learn from it and do better in future. Like the phoenix rising from its ashes, the learning-agile person grows more confident, resilient and astute with each stumble.

The Connection Between Emotional Intelligence and Learning Agility

In their 1990 article “Emotional Intelligence,” Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer define EI as “the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.”

Flaum and Winkler suggest self-monitoring and managing your emotions both require learning agility, making it crucial to emotional intelligence. They also connect it to superior listening skills.

Do You Want to Become More Learning-Agile?

A coach can help you learn how to innovate, perform, reflect and take risks that will stretch you as well as showing you how to shed obstructive qualities like defensiveness.

Contact Chris Cook at 541.601.0114 or chris@capiche.us to explore how her leadership coaching services can hone your learning agility, emotional intelligence and effectiveness as both a leader and a human being.

Tuesday
23
June 2015
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“Let Me Not Die While I Am Still Alive.”

Stormy Sky Clouds
And other lessons from an untimely death.

I think I have a lot in common with 391,833 other Facebook users. I don’t want anyone to miss the essence of Sheryl Sandberg’s message from June 3 sharing her feelings and realizations from the 30-day religious mourning period following her husband’s unexpected death.

My thoughts keep going back to her Facebook post on losing her husband, Silicon Valley entrepreneur Dave Goldberg. What she shared can make us all stronger, more emotionally intelligent and better parents, children and friends.

She now understands the one-line prayer, “Let me not die while I am still alive,” shared by her childhood friend, now a rabbi.

She understands that “when tragedy occurs, it presents a choice. You can give in to the void, the emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even breathe. Or you can try to find meaning. These past thirty days, I have spent many of my moments lost in that void. And I know that many future moments will be consumed by the vast emptiness as well. But when I can, I want to choose life and meaning.”

And empathy—Sheryl shines a new light on the power of empathy. In the past, she would have thought exhibiting empathy would look something like trying to reassure someone things would get better or—as many of us do—to put a silver lining on it, “Well, at least you had a great marriage for 11 years,” or “Thank goodness you have your children.”

Sheryl says it’s all about truth. “Real empathy is sometimes not insisting that it will be okay but acknowledging that it is not. When people say to me, ‘You and your children will find happiness again,’ my heart tells me, yes, I believe that, but I know I will never feel pure joy again. Those who have said, ‘You will find a new normal, but it will never be as good’ comfort me more because they know and speak the truth. Even a simple ‘How are you?’—almost always asked with the best of intentions—is better replaced with ‘How are you today?’ When I am asked ‘How are you?’ I stop myself from shouting, ‘My husband died a month ago, how do you think I am?’ When I hear ‘How are you today?’ I realize the person knows that the best I can do right now is to get through each day.”

She also learned that resilience can be learned. Her friend Adam M. Grant taught her about the three components that create resilience: “Personalization—realizing it is not my fault. He told me to ban the word ‘sorry.’ To tell myself over and over, This is not my fault. Permanence—remembering that I won’t feel like this forever. This will get better. Pervasiveness—this does not have to affect every area of my life; the ability to compartmentalize is healthy.”

Thanks for sharing, Sheryl. We’ve looked up to you as a highly successful female executive and bestselling author. Your book, Lean In, inspired us women to get out there and claim our place in the world of business. Your recent Facebook post inspires us and teaches us how important it is to choose meaning and life, impart empathy and learn to be resilient. How are you today?

Links to other articles and blogs on Sheryl’s post can be found at The New York Times.

Tuesday
09
June 2015
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What’s the Best Blend of Mentoring and Coaching?

Mentee Artwork (Orange Fields Green Mountains with Lamb)

All artwork by a girl Chris mentored for five years as part of the Soroptimist Strong Girls Strong Women program

Coaching and mentoring are close to my heart. Now a certified coach, I am fortunate to be in contact with a mentor I have had since my senior year in college over three decades ago. A retired journalist and professor, she is an author, a woman of great wisdom—and still my mentor.

Because of my experience in mentoring, coaching training and work with leaders related to emotional intelligence, I have been asked to lead a workshop at the University of New Mexico’s Mentoring Institute Annual Conference this year. The topic is “Developing Excellence in Leadership and Coaching—for Mentors.”

This blog post features an interview about that workshop.

Interview with Chris Cook

In this edition of Mentoring and Coaching Monthly, you will find an interview with 2016 Pre-Conference Workshop leader Chris Cook. Her workshop, “Developing Excellence in Leadership and Coaching—for Mentors,” is sure to have something for everyone.

Mentee Artwork (Girl in Mixed Media)Q: Can you describe your background? How did you get into mentoring?

A: My background includes 30+ years in marketing for professional services, higher education, nonprofits and other businesses. A few years ago, I earned a master in management degree, and in the process I found positive psychology. I loved it! I found a way to mesh marketing and positive psychology in work that focuses on helping organizations develop and live their brand. There’s a lot of coaching involved—and some mentoring.

For coaching, I trained at the Coaches Training Institute (CTI) and at CRR Global, and I am certified by the International Coaches Federation. I work with a variety of individuals and organizations.

I am both a mentor and a coach. Actually, coaching and mentoring are very close. There is a distinction though. Mentors work with mentees who want to learn the skills and knowledge their mentors have developed to further their life goals. Coaches work with clients to help them discover their greatest purpose, passion and values and to help them lead/live intentionally—in resonant choice.

As a mentor and a coach, I’ve found there are times in which you need to be one and not the other. Part of this workshop is to help mentors learn how and when to use skills that come from the coaching profession to augment their mentoring skills.

Mentee Artwork (Bird Collage)Q: What else can those attending your workshop expect?

A: They can expect 3+ hours of hands-on, experiential learning. I will share tools I have used over the years, and we will practice and talk about ways to use them in different situations. I expect the participants will learn as much from each other as they will from me!

Q: Without giving too much away, can you describe the co-active coaching model and the relationship systems model?

A: The co-active coaching model was developed by Karen Kimsey-House and Henry Kimsey-House—two pioneers in the coaching world and cofounders of the Coaches Training Institute. It emphasizes a partnership between the client and the coach, and it also promotes a combination of deepening understanding (co) and forwarding the action (active).

The relationship systems model I use is based on work by Marita Fridjhon and Faith Fuller, the cofounders of CRR Global. The premise is that we are all in relationship—with ourselves, our partners, teams, organizations, etc. Here we coach the system, not the individuals.

Both coaching methods have been used around the world and in nearly every type of organization with nearly every kind of person.

Mentee Artwork (Composition in Yellow)
Q: Do you believe that everyone has the potential for creativity?

A: One of the most basic premises of coaching using these methods is that we believe the people/systems are naturally intelligent and creative and resourceful.

Q: What constitutes an effective leader/coach?

A: There are several skills that are critical—mostly based on having highly developed emotional intelligence. The good part is EI can be learned. It can be developed. It’s not like IQ, which you are born with a level and that’s the level where it remains.

Q: Is an effective leader born, or can anyone learn to lead effectively?

A: I believe people can learn emotional intelligence, and, with that, they can learn leadership skills and tools. The competencies of EI—self-awareness, self-regulation/motivation, empathy and relationship awareness—are the foundation to all relationships. Leaders set the stage for how the relationship—or organization—will work together.

Q: What is one piece of advice you would give to those entering into a leadership position?

A: Find a mentor and get a coach. There’s nothing like having someone help you through a transition, help you grow in a new role and help you develop your own leadership style. Plus, it’s true when they say, “It’s lonely at the top.” A mentor and a coach will be your ally, and they will hold you accountable to take the steps to maximize your potential.

Thursday
28
May 2015
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A Walk Down Memory Lane: Or Why I Love Positive Psychology

Sunshine Yellow Flower

My students in the Working with Emotional Intelligence class at Southern Oregon University recently presented on an emotional intelligence (EI) topic they wanted to know more about. I was delighted at the number who picked a positive psychology topic. That’s what I chose four years ago when I took an EI class as part of my Master in Management program. That got me thinking back …

Here’s how my thesis began: Previous business bestsellers (e.g., One Minute Manager, Who Moved My Cheese, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) may have offered good advice, and while much of this advice is intuitive, it was not based on research.

PsyCap

Research has demonstrated that specific psychological states contribute to an organization’s success. Developed by Fred Luthans, the premise of Psychological Capital (or PsyCap) is that a company can enhance its leadership, employee development and performance by developing four psychological states in its employees: hope, confidence [efficacy], optimism and resiliency. PsyCap is something that can be cultivated and can have a profound effect on an organization’s bottom line (Luthans, Avolio, Avey & Norman, 2007).

PsyCap is an individual’s positive state of psychological development characterized by the four constructs of:

  1. Hope: persevering toward goals and making adjustments along the way to succeed
  2. Confidence [efficacy]: taking on and putting in the necessary effort to succeed at challenging tasks
  3. Optimism: feeling positive about succeeding now and in the future
  4. Resiliency: the ability to sustain and bounce back from problems and adversity to attain success (Avey, Luthans, Smith & Palmer, 2010)

PsyCap is made up of the combination of all four states because together they can predict performance outcomes more accurately than any single one (Avey, et al., 2010).

Outcomes

Through his research, Luthans confirmed that these states can be learned and the outcomes measured. He worked with a well-known Silicon Valley high-tech firm, where 75 engineering managers participated in PsyCap training. After subtracting the cost of the training and the engineers’ time, the calculated return on investment was 270% (Hope, Optimism and Other Business Assets, 2007).

Increasing Your PsyCap

I appreciate my students pointing me back to my PsyCap roots, and I love that I am able to use this research to help people and organizations around the Rogue Valley and beyond. If your organization would benefit from greater PsyCap, give me a call at 541.601.0114. Let’s see how successful you can be!

References

Avey, J., Luthans, F., Smith, R., & Palmer, N. (2010). Impact of positive psychological capital on employee well-being over time. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 15(1), 17–28. doi:10.1037/a0016998.

Hope, optimism, and other business assets: Q&A with Fred Luthans. (2007, January 11). Gallup Management Journal. Retrieved from http://gmi.gallup.com.

Luthans, F., Avolio, B.J., Avey, J.B., & Norman, S.M. (2007, Autumn). Positive psychological capital: measurement and relationship with performance and satisfaction. Personnel Psychology, 60(3), 541–572. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6570.2007.00083.x.

Thursday
07
May 2015
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What I Like About You

What I Like About You Notes


Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well. —Voltaire


How important is it to let people around you know what you value about them? Why would you bother? Why take the time?

A quick Google search offers about 615,000 reasons.

My answer: It’s essential if you are looking to energize, motivate, develop or lead.

In my Working with Emotional Intelligence class at Southern Oregon University the other night, we did a little exercise called What I Like About You. Yes, it was performed to the music of The Romantics, and the students loved it.

Here’s how it worked: everyone had a piece of paper taped to their backs. Students made their way around the room and wrote a few words on each of their fellows’ backs. The messages focused on what they like or appreciate about each other (only one “kick me”—written in jest, of course, as these guys have great senses of humor and camaraderie).

Why this exercise? Self-awareness is a key component to emotional intelligence, and sometimes it helps to check in with others. We don’t always see what others see in us. Usually, we see our warts and feel slow and earthbound, while others see the glimmer in our eyes and notice our ability to come up with creative ideas.

And don’t forget that recognizing the good in someone only strengthens your own happiness.

Next time you have the chance to tell someone something you admire or appreciate about them, don’t be shy. You will both be better for it.

SOU’s Working with Emotional Intelligence class is part of an exciting new program called Innovation and Leadership. It’s a degree completion program for working adults.

Thursday
16
April 2015
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Why Businesses Fail—and Succeed

Adam Cuppy Presenting
Above: Adam Cuppy speaking on leadership (photo by Jim Craven; courtesy of The Southern Oregon Edge)

Why do most businesses fail? Is it lack of resources? Poor marketing? Untrained employees? Or perhaps it’s their location—the company’s too far away from the epicenter of their industry, too under the radar to get noticed.

None of the above, according to Coding ZEAL co-founder Adam Cuppy. He thinks it’s because “their leadership is very poor.” His fellow founders Sean Culver and Trever Yarrish agree.

Drawing a diagram of a snow-capped mountain, Adam explains, “Leaders tend to think they need to … stand on top of the mountain. Reality is,” he continues, “they’re the one holding it up.”

Instead of being on a power trip, leaders should practice humility and service. By switching from proclaiming to listening, managers learn valuable truths from their employees, customers and the community.

Leaders can get stuck in a circular loop, asking and then answering their own questions. This is when stagnancy occurs.

The leader who stands on the top of the mountain “always has the answer.”

Coding ZEAL turns that model upside-down. “As leaders, our responsibility is to ask questions constantly,” says Adam. “The problem is that if it’s the same person that’s answering the question, you run into a dilemma because it’s not giving an opportunity to the other people in the organization to help you answer that.”

At Coding ZEAL, every new employee becomes a partner in a way. The structure is not flat, but it’s agile and encourages creative collaboration.

Hire for Culture

The three founding partners agree culture is crucial to their success. “We hire for culture fit and we hire for empathy and we hire for capacity,” says Adam. “You don’t hire for current talent necessarily. That actually becomes an added benefit.”

Coding skills and algorithms can be taught; empathy, zealotry and excitement must come from within.

We’ve blogged about the centrality of culture to authentic branding in past articles such as Creating Your Brand from the Inside Out: Why Your Culture Comes First, and Coding ZEAL is yet one more successful example of this principle in action.

Growth

“We are only limited by our perceived constraints,” says Adam.

That optimistic philosophy has paid off. “We’re at a point now that is super exciting and fun,” says Adam. “It feels we’re constantly bursting at the seams. We’re always in that catch-22 of capacity being maxed out and needing to hire more people.”

Good leadership involves finding that sweet spot between too many and too few employees. You don’t want to grow so quickly that the culture becomes diluted, nor do you want to grow so slowly that your employees become overworked.

Pair Programming
Above: Coding ZEAL developers pair programming (photo by Jim Craven; courtesy of The Southern Oregon Edge)

Pair Programming

Guided by Kent Beck’s extreme programming (XP) principles, Coding ZEAL developers practice pair programming. Not only does this allow veteran programmers to mentor newer employees, but when two minds focus on a task, they can spot and resolve problems far more quickly.

“Randy is bringing his expertise to the table, Sean’s bringing his expertise to the table, and where they overlap, greatness happens,” says Adam. “Where they don’t overlap, the other one’s learning.”

By investing in skill-building and education, Coding ZEAL is laying the groundwork for happier, and thus more productive, employees.

Code Occasions

“People are everything, you have to rock everybody’s world,” says Adam.

Knowing how mentally taxing coding all day is, Adam notes, “It’s imperative that there be developer happiness.”

Coding ZEAL leaders recognize that for their programmers, “much of that happiness has to focus around … mental space,” Adam says.

That is why they came up with the idea of code occasions. Coding ZEAL actually pays for its developers to go off and play, to create and imagine and implement their own ideas in a fresh and stimulating environment with one or two coworkers.

“It’s the inspiration, that cross-pollination,” says Adam, “that’s huge in everything we do.”

Employee Happiness

Coding ZEAL T-ShirtWhen you have happy, fulfilled employees whose creativity is stretched and nourished, the company flourishes, too.

Driven by a superhuman enthusiasm, Coding ZEAL developers gladly devote hours of intense focus to deliver products that exceed customer expectations. For them, this isn’t a job; it’s a calling.

By cultivating employee happiness, Coding ZEAL leaders enjoy unbridled loyalty from their programmers, whose emotional connection with the company results in sentiments like, “I will show up on the weekends if I have to. I will do what I have to because I have this vision driving my ambition,” explains Adam.

If poor leadership is why businesses fail, Adam’s, Sean’s and Trever’s empathetic leadership is why companies succeed.

To read more wisdom from Coding ZEAL founders, see our last article on the secret to exceeding customer expectations.

Wednesday
18
March 2015
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The Secret to Exceeding Customer Expectations

Coding ZEAL Leaders
Above: Trever Yarrish, Sean Culver, and Adam Cuppy (photo by Jim Craven; courtesy of The Southern Oregon Edge)

What do coffee, code, and marketing have in common? For Adam Cuppy, Trever Yarrish and Sean Culver—founders of the wildly successful Coding ZEAL based here in Southern Oregon—it doesn’t matter what they have in common. What matters is the experience customers have while enjoying your product and interacting with your company.

“It’s not about the product you think you’re selling,” said Adam in a recent interview I conducted with him for The Southern Oregon Edge. “It really is about the relationships.… Ask yourself what is the experience you’re going to provide to the people that are going to consume it.”

In 2007, Yarrish and Cuppy left their stint as Dutch Bros. marketing and creative directors to create a marketing company in Grants Pass. Six years later, they partnered up again—this time joined by Sean Culver—to found a superhero-flavored development company in Medford.

Guided by the principle of zeal, the founders sought to “create an amazing experience.” Discussing the origin of the name “Zeal,” Adam says, “What I love about the name was I looked it up and it said ‘gross unadulterated enthusiasm.’ What’s more amazing and audacious than that? What says nothing about programming and everything about the experience? ‘Zeal’ does.”

Sure, the quality of your product matters, but what matters more is how you answer the question, “What am I going to do to blow people’s minds? What am I going to do make raving fans?”

And Coding ZEAL has done just that. With clients ranging from Mavenlink.com to Oregon Shakespeare Festival, SilverCloud to Scratch-it.com, the company has seen 1400 percent annual growth since its launch.

Agility is at the heart of their success. “We’re an agile agency,” says Trever, “so when technology changes, we move where we need to move.”

This fluidity allows the company to focus on not only satisfying customers but on wowing them.

Coding ZEAL Customer Expectations Versus RealityTo illustrate this concept, Adam draws two columns, one representing customer expectations and the other reality, each with a scale ranging from 1 to 10. The customer relationship begins when expectations meet reality.

A customer usually starts by expecting an average experience—a 5, say. If you give them what they expect, no lasting impression will be made. If you give them a 4 or worse, you’ve not only lost the opportunity to build brand loyalty, but that customer may go on to complain publicly, leading to the loss of other potential customers.

“So instead what we’re going to do is they come in and they get a 7. They come in and we’re going to take an opportunity to blow their mind somehow, some way,” explains Adam.

But that’s just the beginning. Now that they’ve had a 7 experience, their expectations will change, and they’ll want a 7 again next time. So what do you have to do as a company? You up the ante. You give them an 8.

With each new interaction, you deliver an even better experience. Once a relationship is built, you just have to sustain that level of service. Even if a bump occurs along the path, the customer is going to be more forgiving because of the positive relationship you’ve established.

Using this model of expectation dilemmas, a company that consistently achieves between an 8 and a 10 discovers “this wonderful, wonderful thing,” says Trever. “Right there is the secret to success in forming loyalty.”

Empathy is key to continually exceeding customer expectations. “We are trying to always understand where you’re at, what you’re needs are, what’s most important to you,” says Trever.

At Coding ZEAL, questions drive the conversation. They don’t assume they know what customers want.

“As leaders, our responsibility is to ask questions constantly,” says Trever. “One of those questions can be, ‘So how can we speak to our customers more clearly? Where are our customers? Who can we service better every single day?’”

In the end, it’s all about that fundamental connection between two people. The company, the product—those are ephemeral. What the customer will go away remembering, what they will feel and think and what will impact their future buying decisions, occurs in that magical moment of interaction.

For Cuppy, Yarrish, Culver and their happy employees, zeal “is not just a word and it’s not just a logo. The excitement and energy that’s wrapped around our brand is real and authentic and we mean it,” says Adam. “Every day, it’s about waking up and feeling that level of excitement and reaching out with that intention, with the intention that we’re going to connect with our clients. We’re going to connect with each other. We’re going to connect with our culture, our environment.”

Our next post will explore Coding ZEAL’s insights into leadership and employee happiness.

Wednesday
04
March 2015
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Ever Wonder About the Value of Marketing?

Oregon Vineyards
Ever wonder about the value of marketing?

Well, you’re not alone.

Last week, I saw an example of best marketing practices in action—at the Portland, OR, airport. We were in between flights from Medford to Spokane with some time to enjoy. We happened past the Made in Oregon store, where there was a wine-tasting in progress.

We tried some terrific wines and developed a nice rapport with the person pouring wine—I’ll call her the brand ambassador. She told us she had earned her bachelor’s degree at Southern Oregon College (now Southern Oregon University). A self-described hippie, she loves Ashlandand she would be happy to come to our house and do a full-blown wine-tasting event!

“WOW!” we said. “You’ve got a deal.”

Waiting for the connection to Spokane, we spent 20 minutes coming up with the perfect guest list. Let’s do it when my parents are visiting from New York. That would be fun. Who do we want them to meet? Who do we know that loves wine? Hmm … it’s an easy list to make.

Then we started thinking about marketing. And how powerful a brand ambassador can be.

This brand ambassador is going to travel from Eugene to Ashland to entertain and delight a party of wine and food aficionados. She will probably pour six bottles of wine during the tasting plus another six during the meal. We will pay for some of it. She will leave the party with orders from our guests—maybe up to 20 cases of wine. Not much of a return for the cost of it all, you say? Well, think about the lifetime value of a customer.

I’ve learned a customer’s value should be measured over their lifetime. That’s calculated by initial purchase, subsequent purchases and influence on others’ purchases. This is a little hard to measure, but it’s important to attempt a rough estimate. And don’t forget the concept of brand loyalty. You know what it is. You have it. We all do.

Think about this: our new friend Shelley, the brand ambassador from Willamette Winery, will travel to our house from Eugene and pour wine for 20 of our foodie friends to get an initial order of possibly 20 cases and 20 new customers, who will tell their friends and become like brand ambassadors themselves.

To me, that sounds like good marketing. What do you think?

I love examples of good marketing practices in action. What’s your favorite? Please share here and visit Capiche’s Facebook page, too.

Tuesday
17
February 2015
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Who’s the Boss of Work Engagement and Happiness?

Time to Focus
Try a new perspective: Instead of asking what your employer is doing, check in with what you are doing.

Whose responsibility is it to create employee engagement, happiness and thus, results?

According to most old-school employee engagement assessments, the employee is treated as a passive participant. Questions like, “My employer encourages work/life balance” or “My manager gives me opportunities to set goals” take control from the employee and put it squarely in the hands of the employer.

Coaching guru and thought leader Dr. Marshall Goldsmith is working on a book based on research he and his daughter, Kelly, are doing on personal responsibility toward engagement and results at work. Kelly has a PhD from Yale in behavioral marketing and is now a professor of marketing at the Kellogg School at Northwestern University.

The Goldsmiths found that the employee has direct control over his or her own happiness, productivity and engagement. Engagement and results are a joint responsibility of the employee and the employer. As I see it and as the book portrays, the employee has more to do with the outcomes than the employer ever will. The results of their research flies in the face of most HR programs, which put the responsibility for engagement and results on the employer.

The results so far have been intriguing. Marshall shared his process and findings in a podcast with Dr. Cathy Greenberg and Dr. Relly Nadler. The podcast aired in January 2015 on the Leadership Development News. I happened to hear it recently while in the San Francisco Bay Area assisting with a workshop on relationship systems coaching through CRR Global.

As relationship systems coaches, we believe the quality of relationship systems is based on the emotional intelligence, social intelligence and relationship intelligence of the participants in each system. In other words, the individual is largely responsible for his or her own engagement, happiness and results.

The Goldsmiths’ research hinges on six questions:

  1. Did I do my best to be happy?
  2. Did I do my best to be kind-meaning?
  3. Did I do my best to build positive relationships?
  4. Did I do my best to set clear goals?
  5. Did I do my best to make progress toward goal achievement?
  6. Did I do my best to be easily engaged?

People evaluate themselves every day with this new paradigm. Instead of asking, “Is the company motivating me?” they now ask, “Did I do my best today to make progress toward goal achievement?” Rather than asking, “Do I have a friend at work?” they ask, “Am I doing my best to build positive relationships?” And so on.

So far the Goldsmiths have conducted 41 studies with 1,710 participants. According to Marshall, “We asked people to just answer these questions, and we give them a challenge every day: ‘Did you do your best to …?’ Then, two weeks later, we asked if they had become happier, is your life more meaningful, etc. What we found is, so far, 30% of the people said, ‘I got better at everything.’ All six items go up. 59% said 4–6 went up, 86% said something got better, 14% said no change, and nobody got worse at anything.”

The results are exciting. It’s more proof about the adaptability of the brain and new developments in neuroscience—what you attend to and focus on becomes prominent and is more malleable. In this case, focusing on doing one’s best to increase engagement, happiness and progress pays off.

Marshall’s 35th book, Triggers, will be published in May 2015. The promo reads, “Drawing on his unparalleled experience as an international executive educator and coach, Marshall Goldsmith invites us to understand how our own beliefs and the environments in which we operate can trigger negative behaviors, or a resistance to the need to change. But he also offers up some simple, practical advice to help us navigate the negative and make the most of the triggers that will help us to sustain positive change.”

Need some help getting started on the path to positive change? Contact Capiche’s Chris Cook to see if performance coaching is right for you. Call 541.601.0114 or email chris@capiche.us.

Wednesday
28
January 2015

What a Year It Was—What a Year It Can Be

New Years Fireworks

With the holiday season wrapping up and a new year on the horizon, this is the time of year we reflect on the past and set our intentions for the future.

I have a series of reflections I use with my coaching clients as well as for myself. Try them out! Answer where you can from both a personal and professional stance.

Looking Back on 2014

  1. What was one defining moment in 2014?
  2. In what way(s) has 2014 shaped you for the better?
  3. As you reflect on 2014, what are you grateful for and what are you appreciating?
  4. Overall, how would you rate 2014 on a scale of 1 to 10?
  5. What would have made 2014 a 10 out of 10?

Looking Ahead to 2015

  1. As you look ahead to 2015, what excites you?
  2. What are your key goals and objectives for 2015? (or as the book The 4 Disciplines of Execution asks, “What are your Wildly Important Goals?”)
  3. Where and how do you want to stretch yourself in 2015?
  4. What will make 2015 a 10 out of 10 year for you?
  5. What is a possible theme for the year that could serve to lock in a resonant 2015? (Maybe a song, a sports team or a movie—old or new—as long as it resonates with you.)

You may find this is a fun way to spend New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day with loved ones. I believe sharing these reflections deepens their meaning. And sharing your goals and dreams with those you care about provides more of an incentive moving forward.

Let me know if there’s a question you like to reflect on that’s not listed above. This is a process I have been evolving for some time now, and surely there are other reflections that would enhance the process.

Time to Get a Coach?

Perhaps this is the year for you to get a coach. People with coaches are seven times more likely to achieve their goals because of the accountability a coach requires and the support and positive motivation a coach provides.

Give Chris a call at 541.601.0114 or email for a sample session to see if coaching is right for you.

Read our other blog posts on coaching:

Why Coaching, Why Now

The Wall Street Journal reveals that executive coaches report steady demand for their services despite the recession. As the economy begins to bounce back …

Leadership Coaching

As a leader, you want your organization to succeed. You work hard to create a culture of high-performance. You encourage your employees’ happiness because …

Personal Coaching for Leaders and Organizational Development

Personal coaching supports and challenges leaders to maximize their potential, which ultimately maximizes the potential of the people they lead. Our coaching goals are to …

What’s Holding You Back from Reaching Your Potential? How to Find a Coach Who’s the Right Fit

Do you have a goal you want to reach by the end of the year—either career-related or personal? Is there something you want to improve or …

This Is for All the Lonely Leaders: Why Partner with an Executive Coach

Think back on your life. As you were growing up, who nudged you toward greatness? Who gave you gentle support while simultaneously …

Tuesday
30
December 2014
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