Friday, June 23, 2006

Coffee In a Cardboard Cup - That's the Trouble

I listened to a Mandy Patinkin CD the other day and one of the songs on it is called "Coffee in a Cardboard Cup." If you haven't heard the song, its message is that the trouble with the world today is that everything is "hur-hur-hurry up." Our affluent society is drinking its coffee from cardboard cups, with plastic spoons and sugar packs. The song points out that we've got "Ready Whip, instant tea, Minute Rice, My oh Me" (after all, it had to rhyme!).

Do you find this to be true in your own life? Summer - when the living is supposed to be easy - sometimes seems to be as hectic as the rest of the year, especially with kids out of school and looking for something to do. Around here (North Dakota border town 30 minutes from "The Lakes") everything pretty much shuts down by Friday noon as people are frantically getting packed and ready to head to their lake places where they can cook and clean and mow and get the dock in and clean the boat just in time to pack up the car and head back to town to start it all over again.

I spent last week commuting to a Minnesota town about 90 minutes away where I was doing some training, and had the opportunity to listen to another Wayne Dyer seminar on CD. He talked in that one about how, back in the 1800's, Thoreau decided to pack it in and moved out to Walden Pond where he could live the simple life. He wrote that it was necessary to "simplify, simplify, simplify," to which his friend and teacher Emerson replied, "I think one 'simplify' would have sufficed."

But he had it right, didn't he?

Make a pact to give yourself five minutes sometime during the day to just BE. Get up from what you're doing and look out the window. Enjoy the sun (or the moon or the rain or the wind, whatever the case may be at that moment). If you have to, set an alarm that will remind you to get up and BE just for those 5 minutes. You'll be more focused and energized if you allow YOU to be part of your day.

And next time you stop by the coffee shop for a cup on the run, consider taking a moment to really enjoy the sights and smells while you're there.

Maybe next time you'll want to experience it in a porcelain cup instead!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Touchy-Feely Part 2

My, you're brave to come back for Round 2 of Touchy-Feely stuff!

I just watched a very interesting movie called "The Secret" - and I'm tempted to give it away to you here, but I'll let you find out for yourself. If you've seen and like "What The Bleep Do We Know" you'll love this one. Here's a synopsis:

The Secret reveals amazing real life stories and testimonials of regular people who have changed their lives in profound ways. By applying The Secret they present instances of eradicating disease, acquiring massive wealth, overcoming obstacles and achieving what many would regard as impossible.

The Secret reveals how to apply this powerful knowledge to your life in every area from health to wealth, to success and relationships.

One of the most interesting aspects of this documentary to me was how familiar I am with the people interviewed in the movie. I've met two of them in person (both of them have actually been in Fargo!), and another is a friend of a friend. One is someone I feel I know - he's the creator of TUT (Notes from the Universe) which I've told you about here before. Two of the others were also interviewed in "What The Bleep" and three others are authors of books I've read (see James A. Ray's book "The Science of Success" in my suggested reading list on the right-hand side of this blog).

I'm telling you this not to drop names, but to let you know that thoughts really do become things, and I'm seeing it for myself in my own life. How else could all these seeming "coincidences" keep showing up in front of me?

As long as I'm on the touchy-feely roll, I need to tell you about a great newsletter I subscribe to called Pure Heart, Simple Mind. The current issue talks about zen koans and their relationship to prayer. If you're not familiar with a koan, it is a Buddhist story or riddle that appears to have no apparent solution. Perhaps one of the most popular koans asks "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?"

This article tells story about an interview with Mother Theresa where the interviewer asked, "When you pray, what do you say to God?"

Mother Teresa replied, "I don't talk, I simply listen."

Believing he understood what she had just said, the interviewer next asked, "Ah, then what is it that God says to you when you pray?"

Mother Teresa replied, "He also doesn't talk. He also simply listens."

These questions may seem kind of odd. And, according to the article, if your brain automatically tries to come up with a logical answer, you may be missing the point of the koan, which is to get out of your typical mode of thinking in order to allow an "alternative truth" to emerge.

Where might you be searching for logical answers instead of listening for alternative truths? Maybe just thinking about that question will be enough to help you start thinking about things a little differently.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Caution: Touchy-Feely Subject Matter Ahead!

OK, maybe I'm a little sensitive, but I heard the "touchy-feely" comment earlier this week during the supervisory training class I'm conducting for a manufacturing client.

We were talking about the quote "They won't care how much you know until they know how much you care" as it relates to building relationships between the supervisors and the people they supervise. I was giving suggestions for getting opinions and feelings from the employees and one of the participants said that sounded a little touchy-feely to him.

So we started talking about how different management is today from even 10 years ago. It's almost painful for me to imagine a work environment where an employee is actually told: "You'll do what I say or there will be someone else to take your job who will do what I say." The person who shared that comment from his work experience acknowledged that that type of command and control "boss-ship" just wouldn't cut it today (thank heavens!).

Some of the participants in the class reluctantly admitted that they recognize that they get better results from their workers when they demonstrate at least some level of humanity and compassion. Reluctantly, I think, because it might force them into the fluid and ever-changing world of feelings and emotions.

There are a few books on this subject that I've found to be extremely enlightening. Perhaps the most striking is Leadership and Self Deception by the Arbinger Institute. In this book we learn, through the story of Tom & Laura, Bud, Kate and Zagrum Industries, that the problems they face at the company really aren't separate problems at all, but symptoms of the single problem of self-deception.

It's not easy to admit to anyone else, maybe especially to ourselves, that we are less than effective in our leadership - and that we might have to take some responsibility for the things that are happening in our lives (both "good" and "bad"). But that's the key to getting new results at work and at home.

Is it touchy-feely to talk about these "soft" skills? Before we judge, let's investigate and check out the bottom line - in areas like employee engagement, retention, productivity, complaints, and attendance. That's where the soft stuff can pay off in hard results.

What do you see in your work environments? Are there any results you can see from promoting or working in a love-based workplace as opposed to a command-and-control fear-based one?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Blogging Women - Why the Fuss?

I'm interested in all the talk recently - and even not so recently - about women and blogging.

Here's an article from last year, and here's another one from last year. Phil wrote about it earlier this year, and I noticed just this week that Marketing Profs' Ann Handley brought it up again.

I responded to Ann's question: "Why don't more women comment more on blogs...?" in response to the many previous responses she got to that question. I'm trying to be objective, but I sensed a definite defensive tone from some of the respondees. Among those with an attitude was this one (posted by a woman):

"I think maybe it has to do with the blog's subject matter. This blog (Marketing Profs) is about advertising and business, which is very much a linear world, logical, and therefore appealing to men. Plus it's traditionally been a male-dominated field. Perhaps if you blogged about how your 2 year old spit up on you, or about the next Carrie Underwood CD, women would be emotionally moved to post."

And this one (posted by a woman):
"Usually I scan the first paragraph and move on. I have too many other things to do (family, job, charities) then to spend hours reading blogs on the computer, and commenting on them."

And this one (also by a woman):
"Several of you hit the nail on the head. As a small business owner and mother of school-age children, I am far too busy either (a) doing actual work or (b) taking care of kids or (c) doing laundry or (d) three or four of 100 other things on my "to do" list to take time to find the blogs, read the blogs and post comments on the blogs. I tend to be more "answers-oriented" when it comes to blogs -- I only get on when I need to read others' opinions on an issue, whether it's marketing, advertising, business, breast cancer, parenting or other. Then I form my own opinion and deal with the situation as appropriate. I have many male friends who have nothing to do except blog while their wives clean up the kitchen and get the kids to bed. I would guess that's why you have more men than women.

"My networking with colleagues tends to happen face-to-face, another thing that's particularly important to the women I know."

And this one (that's right, another woman):
"As a woman in a leading marketing roll [her spelling], I don't have time to respond to blogs. I liken it to playing video games entertaining but really a waste of time.

"Granted there are exceptions where a strong comment is worth the effort. Yet, I have never had a client thank me for taking the time to blog.

"Why was I motivated to comment on this blog? Simple - I didn't want the squeaky wheels to get the grease without understanding why they were getting it."

And this one (again a woman):
"I hate to say this but I think some men have an innate need to make everyone listen to everything they want to say where women have learned the art of introspection and only sharing those key, important nuggets. This might go contrary to the popular stereo-type of women being chatterboxes -- but then again look at who proliferates that stereotype in real life. That's right...chatty men."

So all these comments about how women don't have time to waste blogging and commenting on blogs were made by women who for some reason made the time to respond to Ann's question.

I have found blogging to be extremely important to my business for many reasons; but maybe I'm not representing my gender accurately. I don't have a husband and I don't have children, so I apparently have more time to "waste" on the computer.

I've formed relationships with many people through my blog which have or will lead to business. In addition I've gotten support and ideas for completing my book, a goal I may never have achieved without the comments I've received on my blog - most of whom are male, by the way.

So I don't know the answer to the question "Why don't more women comment more on blogs...?" I just know that, like I commented there,

"I KNOW people of both genders are ready for non-gender-specific conversation and blogging - regardless of the gender of the blogger - is a GREAT way to connect!"

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Vote for the Oreo Jingle!

OK, as many of you know, I love barbershop harmony. I sing with an award-winning chorus in Minneapolis, and have sung in a quartet for several years. One of our coaches, Kim Hulbert, sings with a quartet called A Cappella Gold in San Diego and they are one of the 5 finalists for the new Oreo Jingle!

So I have a request: please go out to the Oreo website and vote for A Cappella Gold (if they're your favorite!). You can vote once a day today through July 17. Wouldn't it be cool to say a friend of a friend is singing the new Oreo jingle???

Click here to hear A Cappella Gold (and the other finalists). Tough not to tap your toe along with them dunking their Oreos!