All collaborations are a love affair

51p0mziztfl._sx329_bo1204203200_We fall in love with a creation, a work of art, a song, a poem, or piece of code. We’re floored. Just gagging. There’s something about it that we couldn’t have ever possibly concluded. Like Einstein and the Theory of Relativity.

We want to know what genius was behind it. What nurture/nature paradox produced the human being that thought this up? How audacious! How tenacious! How did they think so clearly and elegantly? How did they put such a novel spin on it?

So we google them,we watch their videos on YouTube, and we follow them on Instagram. Then we retweet their posts about Reactive Native because everyone needs to know about this right now because I’m really feeling this and I want to be the first one to recommend it to my friends.

In “The Culture Code – The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups,” Daniel Coyle explains that successful collaborations are like triangles. Stable. Three-pointed. Elementary.

“To live comfortably in a triangle, it seems to me that certain feelings about oneself have to be in effect. The individual has to feel good about himself and be able to stand on his own two feet without having to lean on someone else. He can be temporarily odd-man-out without feeling bad or rejected. He needs to be able to wait without feeling he is abused. He needs to be able to talk straight and clearly, and let the others know what he is feeling and thinking and not brood and store up his feelings.” – Daniel Coyle

Choose the wrong advice to follow and the triangle breaks down. The collaboration tanks. It’s barely noticeable but then the more you look at it, the more you realize it’s actually happening. The work doesn’t sing anymore. The paint starts to peel. The communication gets rough, like someone bumped up the elasticity in the physics world. The rice starts to taste sour. The gears rust and the collaboration seizes up.

“Pain instructs.” – Benjamin Franklin

This weekend I talked to my friend Larry on Zoom. First we talked about the new widgets at WWDC. Then we tried to figure out exactly how long the new laptop batteries could theoretically last with Apple Silicon. Then we started to talk about how the stay at home order has affected our moods and productivity. That’s when the conversation really got interesting.

Larry and I both work out. Not a lot. But we have “set it and forget it” routines that keep us fit and active. The spike in infections in California and Hawaii made us both reconsider how wise it is to run outside, and now we’ve both stopped running.

We’re both noticing our moods tanking. We have goals we’ve set for ourselves. And now that we’ve postponed them. We don’t feel good. Literally, we don’t physically feel good because we’re not coming through on the promises we made to ourselves.

“Self esteem became hooked more easily when a person had not really developed a solid, appreciative sense of his own worth. Not having his own, he would use an other’s action and reactions to define himself. If someone called him green, he would agree with no checking and take the other’s comment as one fitting him. He was green because the other person said so. It’s easy for anyone with doubts about his own worth to fall into this trap.” – Daniel Coyle

Larry and I discovered that getting things done contributes so much to our self-worth and actual feelings of well-being that we need to reassess our goals to set new metrics to gauge our success.

Sticking to the old goals leaves us feeling bad. Because we’re not coming through on what we said we were going to do. That’s the reason we’re so immaculate with our words.

“The single most crucial factor in understanding how an initial love relationship flourishes is the feeling of worth each has for himself, together with how he expresses it and what demands he makes of the other, and how each acts toward the other as a result.” – Daniel Coyle

All collaborations are a love affair. Even the collaborations you make with yourself. Keep the relationship from tanking by building up your own self-worth.

The way to keep your self-esteem high is to come through on the things you say you are going to. Be immaculate with your word. But also understand that these changing times may require you to take a moment and assess how you’re doing. Do you need to take a look at the script? Maybe it needs a rewrite? Maybe it needs some new characters?

Are you living your life from an old script?

“If humans never find their sameness, they will never meet; if they never meet their differentness, they cannot be real or develop a truly human and zestful relationship with one another.” – Daniel Coyle

Keep your collaborations on point and take care of your self-esteem. Did this post raise any questions for you? Contact me I’d love to hear about it.

When you want to change someone’s mood, tell a story

Today I finished reading the book “Thank you for Arguing” by Jay Heinrichs. Heinrichs uses historical figures like Cicero and Homer Simpson from fact and fiction to illuminate the art of argument.

The book is written in a hilarious tone with lots of asides for pro tips on how to argue more effectively.

I had a hard time deciding what to post because there’s so much good content in this book. Today I want to focus on the topic of persuasion.

“Persuasion can attempt to influence a person’s beliefs, attitudes, intentions, motivations, or behaviors. In business, persuasion is a process aimed at changing a person’s attitude or behaviour toward some event, idea, object, or other person, by using written, spoken words or visual tools to convey information, feelings, or reasoning, or a combination thereof.” – Wikipedia

Persuasion gets a bad rap because of all the negative attention it receives. Books like The Hidden Persuaders and Influence shine a negative light on persuasion. They talk about how it can be used to compel people to do things they don’t want to do or that could even harm them.

Each of us uses persuasion on a daily basis. We need to use persuasion to communicate our needs, assess the needs of others, and work together to create win win situations like Stephen R. Covey talks about in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

In order to persuade someone, you need to sound like him.

“You persuade a man only insofar as you can talk his language by speech, gesture, tonality, order, image, attitude, idea, identifying your ways with his.” – Heinrichs

The audience only cares about three things. Have you prepared? Do you know what you’re talking about? And what do you have to offer me?

“Persuasion doesn’t depend on being true to yourself. It depends on being true to your audience.” – Heinrichs

Heinrich encourages readers to keep the three parts of the proposal firmly in mind as you are persuading:

“Every proposal should have three parts – payoffs, doability, superiority. Describe the benefits of the choice, make it seem easy to do, and show how to it beats the other options. You might even keep your audience in suspense, not telling them your choice until you have dealt with the alternatives. Rhetoric is most effective when it leads an audience to make up their own minds.” – Heinrichs

Don’t think you’re getting through to the person you’re trying to persuade? Are they expressionless in the face of your crystal clear valid points? You might need to change up your strategy.

“When you want to change someone’s mood, tell a story.” – Heinrichs

Finally here’s one of the pro-tips Heirichs shares in the sidebar of the book. The idea is to show the audience that you are just like them. It’s called the Pratfall effect:

“Reveal a weakness that wins sympathy or shows the sacrifice you have made for the audience.” – Heinrichs

How do you persuade in your work and life? Have any horror stories of taking persuasion too far? Contact me I’d love to hear about it!

When you fall in love with the process you can be satisfied anytime your system is running

What have you been doing to de-stress? My go to de-stressor has been running. During high school I slacked off in gym class and frequently ran 13 minute miles. We’d walk when the teacher couldn’t see us. Now I’m running 5 miles every other day.

In this blog post I’m going to discuss how the habits in James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits, have helped me re-frame running. Now running is a fun activity that I really enjoy and even look forward to.

I’m surprised that I’ve latched on to this hobby as much as I have. I’ve been running 5 miles around Kapiolani park every other day for weeks now.

Why do I run? I love it. Not the run, but my ability to get my shoes on, get outside, and start running.

“When you fall in love with the process rather than the product, you don’t have to wait to give yourself permission to be happy. You can be satisfied anytime your system is running.” ― Clear

I’ve set the goal to get downstairs every other day. The run runs itself. I just have to take the smallest action then I can hang back and just let it happen.

“Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.” – Clear

I read online that we should be taking this opportunity to form new habits so we will be even better off once the Corona virus situation has concluded.

“You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.” ― Clear

As long as I’m downstairs with my shoes on in the morning I consider it a win.

“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” ― Clear

What kinds of habit systems are you developing during this forced downtime? Contact me I’d love to hear about it!

The situation calls for us to become increasingly better improvisers

We’ve all had to wear a number of different hats over the past 3 weeks. I’ve had to learn how to wear the “making breakfast for my daughter” hat under the “attending a website-accessibility webinar” baseball cap under the “washing the dishes” top hat under the “researching live chat solutions for our website” fedora.

That’s a lot of hats.

It’s not so much the number of new tasks that need to be taken care of as the pressure of doing all the tasks simultaneously with the same quality and care as they were done before Covid-19.

The situation calls for us to become increasingly better improvisers.

Keith Johnstone, the father of improvisation describes why perfection is so difficult to achieve through improvisation:

“If you improvise spontaneously in front of an audience you have to accept that your innermost self will be revealed. The same is true of any artist. If you want to write a working class play then you’d better be working class. An artist has to accept what his imagination gives him, or screw up his talent.” – Johnstone

We’re good at tools when we’ve become experts. It takes a long time to master a tool. How long will it take you to master Zoom?

It’s hard to write this blog post because my daughter is crying in her pack and play next to me screaming that she needs “more wah bah” before she takes her nap for the day.

Maintaining focus is the hardest thing. There is no option to work at the coffee shop. There is no, “I will work on this when I have some time to myself.”

We need to work with each other in new creative ways because we need to keep our composure to retain the peace we need to survive.

“One who excels in employing others humbles himself before them. This is known as the virtue of non-contention; this is known as making use of the efforts of the others. To know, yet to think that one does not know, is best … the sage does not hoard.” – Johnstone

We need to be the first to apologize.

“The actor or improviser must accept his disabilities, and allow himself to be insulted, or he’ll never really feel safe.” – Johnstone

Think about that. Really think about that. We need to allow ourselves to be insulted or we will never truly feel safe.

Covid-19 requires us to relate to each other in new ways that may have felt uncomfortable or unsafe before. We need to get better at solving challenges together. We need diverse collaborators.

“What matters to me is the ease with which I free associate and the skill with which I reincorporate.” – Johnstone

But we can’t take too long to take action.

“I don’t deny the importance of thinking, inventing, or planning, but if you have to improvise on the spot, and that’s exactly what we have to do, you must act and not think. It’s action we must have – wise, foolish, or naive, simple or complicated, but action.” – Johnstone

We have to improvise. New tech is a dance of improvisation. We’ll have to find the steps and incorporate them into our daily rituals before we can truly learn to dance.

My nephew used to get down on himself at baseball practice. He’d compare himself to the other kids who had been playing baseball for years.

I’d keep telling him, “Don’t worry about not being good with it now. The only difference between you and the kids who do this well is experience. They’ve had 100 at bats. They’ve just done it more than you have.”

The best way through improvisation is over-communication.

Over-communicate to let your colleagues know you got their email. Open yourself up to new ways of communicating your solidarity through this tough time.

Virginia Satir is a well-known psychologist who’s written many books on people-making. She stresses the primary importance of communication:

“Once a human being has arrived on earth, communication is the largest single factor determining what kinds of relationships he makes with others and what happens to him in the world about him.” – Satir

During these tough times, it can be easy to write people off and focus on how their communication style clashes with yours. The important thing to remember is that it “takes the whole city to raise a child.”

We need to find commonalities and focus on our similarities to develop the relationships we desire:

“If humans never find their sameness, they will never meet; if they never meet their differentness, they cannot be real or develop a truly human and zestful relationship with one another.” – Satir

We need to rely on each others strengths right now. We need to allow for differences. We need to recognize that we are in this together and use this opportunity to reconnect and rediscover our shared humanity.

Contact me if you have any stories about how you pushed through difficulties to over-communicate and thrive during these Covid-19 times.

If you want people to do the unexpected, you go first

Covid-19 is a lot to deal with. The entire world is stressed out. When people are this stressed out they don’t show the best version of themselves.

This week I wanted to discuss the de-escalation techniques I learned in Mark Goulston’s book, “Just Listen.”

During these chaotic times you will have to deal with agitated people. Use these tactics to understand the situation, keep your calm, take care of yourself, and get what you need while staying safe.

Taking care of yourself and your loved ones, keeping your cool, and phrasing your words in ways that are effective and get you what you want, when you want, from whom you want are the most important skills you can have right now.

“You will deal, every day, with people who have mirror neuron receptor deficits because the world isn’t giving back to them what they’re putting out. Understanding a person’s hunger and responding to it is one of the most potent tools you’ll ever discover for getting through to anyone you meet in business or your personal life.” – Goulston

It’s easy to keep your cool when the problem doesn’t affect you personally. But when bad things like this happen they affect everyone.

“When bad things happen, if you resist the temptation to do anything that will make matters worse, you will discover valuable things about your company and yourself that you would never have learned had you not taken the hit.” – Goulston

How do you deal with panic?

“One absolutely crucial element in moving your brain from panic to logic is to put words to what you’re feeling at each stage.” – Goulston

Get the person to talk out how they feel. Have them talk through their feelings. Make them feel felt. Above all refrain from coming across like you are attacking the person.

“Every time you protect yourself from being attacked, the other person feels as if you’re on the attack.” – Goulston

Why are people being so mean right now?

“The greatest single cause of dissonance is the fact that people behave their worst when they feel most powerless.” – Goulston

So how do you calm someone? Do something unexpected. Listen to them.

“If you want people to do the unexpected, you go first.” – Goulston

Above all stay calm.

“When you stipulate a potential problem or flaw, do it in a confident and unselfconsciousness way. The more relaxed you are, the more relaxed the person you’re communicating with will be – and the easier it will be for both of you to focus on your message.” – Goulston

Unfortunately there is no fast track from pain to calm. The only path is through.

“The more we allow people to have their feelings and become sad or angry, the quicker it passes.” – Goulston

So what can you do now?

“The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” – Agatha Christie

Set yourself apart by staying calm.

“If you’re the one who stays in control when everyone else is falling apart, you’ll earn the respect and confidence of the people above you.” – Goulston

According to Goulston, here is the step by step process to calm people when they are angry:

  1. Say, ” Tell me what happened”
  2. Then say, “I need to make sure I heard you right.” And summarize what they said.
  3. Wait until the person says, “Yes.”
  4. Then clarify by asking, “And that makes you feel angry/frustrated or what exactly?”
  5. Follow up with with a leading question, “And the reason it’s so important to fix this or make this better now is…”
  6. Lastly, now that you’ve allowed them to vent their frustrations and understand that you are on the same page, illuminate the path out.

Now that you have the 6-step plan in mind go ahead and start putting it into place with people facing challenges.

“Make people feel interesting, make them feel important, and above all, make them feel felt.” – Goulston

Has this post change how you deal with people? Contact me if you have any questions!

Dispense with success and failure altogether and just get on with it

Today I wanted to do a cross-disciplinary blog post. We’re a bunch of marketers. Let’s open the door and wade into the water. Let’s discuss how music can teach us about marketing.

There’s a jazz pianist from New York named Kenny Werner. Kenny was a child prodigy in New Jersey. He played the piano so well that he was accepted into Julliard, the most famous music school in all of America, while he was still a kid.

But when Kenny got there he was shocked. Everyone could play as well as him. Some could even play better! Kenny lost it, left school, and never returned to music.

No, that would be a very sad story! Kenny did return to music, but it took him a very long time to get back.

At Julliard, Kenny learned that he wasn’t as special as he’d thought. It ruined his playing and made him hate music. His innate talents set him apart as a kid. But when he went to Julliard and confronted the reality that all the kids were great, he completely lost sense of himself and fell into a crisis of identity. If he wasn’t the best musician who was he?

Kenny went on a  long spiritual quest to Tibet where he learned Zen disciplines and slowly learned to love music again.

“The easiest way to do art is to dispense with success and failure altogether and just get on with it.” – Werner

Werner would let his thoughts about the music interfere with his playing of the music.

“Thought overheated loses its power. Reason gives birth to doubt, which destroys the thought-power before it is able to fulfill its destiny.” – Werner

Conscious thought interrupts all kinds of art. Even the Impressionists knew this.

“Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.” – Edgar Degas

Werner believed he was better than everyone else. His confidence crumbled when he found out it wasn’t true. And he lost the ability to play.

“Enslaved by ego we are encased in fear.” – Werner

Sometimes musical concepts need to be broken down to their essence for the real lesson to shine through.

“Improvisation is the courage to move from one note to the next.” – Bobby McFerrin

What’s the difference between love and fear?

“In fear we expect, in love we accept.” – Werner

After years of searching, Werner found a guru in Tibet. His guru guided him back to a path of rediscovery.

“You always want to do well, but the recurring paradox is that you have a much better chance of doing well if you let go of the anxiety and just get on with it.” – Werner

The artists way is full of difficulties. Self-doubt looms large.

“Artists often have trouble getting out of their own way, and they must therefore struggle. They are often swept away by a river of mental and emotional activity. They are drowning in feelings of inferiority, inadequacy, and anxiety – the battle is mistaken for a holy war and romanticized.” – Werner

Is the struggle worth it?

“When a person acts with confidence, even for insane purposes, it fills a void in us.” – Werner

Kenny regained his sense of self once he let go of his conscious control of the music. How do you go from freaking out to effortless mastery? Do you need to travel to Tibet, climb Mount Everest, and find a guru? No way, read Effortless Mastery to learn how 🙂

Contact me if you have any questions!