Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

As the Paradigm Shifts #P: Power

by Rosie Kuhn on August 3, 2011

In my first book, Self-Empowerment 101, I devote the first chapter solely to the subject of power. The reason is that through power and the energy that generates power, every event since the Big Bang is a result of that power. Regardless of how power is used – whether in alignment with evil or good intentions, to look small and helpless or to be a superpower, all is generated from the same source.

Power is often synonymous with force; taking against the will of the other, be it from sentient or non-sentient beings, for the sole purpose of gain. Gaining is a reward that spurs us to generate unreasonably creative uses of power. Some of it seems absolutely ridiculous, like the guy in Norway who used his power to devastate the morale of a whole country, in order to gain recognition for his disdain for the rights of the people he hated. Other people use their power to stay under the radar, thinking this gains them freedom to ignore certain responsibilities taken on by those above the radar. Using power to stay small also gains invisibility from potential harm. Too many of us use our power to gain immunity from rejection, abandonment or betrayal, gaining invulnerability for the sake of avoiding the experience of losing control over the situation, other people and themselves.

At the same time that we may be using our power to gain what we interpret as control, safety and invulnerability, we are also using it in the service of good and truth. Extraordinary creations are making their way into our reality every day that makes this world a better place to live. More and more people are utilizing their personal power to empower others. It’s a beautiful thing to witness.

All of us want a sense of control in our lives and we engage our personal power to do whatever it takes to make that happen. We use power to appear and feel disempowered, allowing ourselves to be victimized in ways that seem to be out of our own control, but really isn’t. Yes, the individuals killed in Norway by this crazed individual were victims and they were totally vulnerable to the circumstance they found themselves in. It important to distinguish when we use our power to create self-victimizing circumstances and when we are just plain out of control and all we are left with is a Big-Fat-Be-With. Even in such circumstances we can still use our personal power to be-with what is in the best possible way. It may not save our own life or the lives of others, but we can at least step into a more empowering interpretation.

Power and Empowerment

For some reason I find the notion of empowerment far more helpful and available than talking about changing your use of power. It’s essentially the same thing, but for me something changes with that one little em. Embodying, owning, self-governing, self-referencing, choosing to infuse oneself with the ability to self-regulate based on the outcome you are wanting – that’s empowering.

I’m working with a client in Israel. He is the owner of his own successful business. He rules based on control and domination. He uses his power to disempower others so he feels more in control. He is always looking for reasons to make others wrong so he can feel righteous. By feeling righteous he feels in control and powerful. At the same time, his use of power doesn’t allow him to have a sense of connection with his employees, and its contributing to a sense of dissatisfaction in all parts of his life. He sees that his GM has a great relationship with the employees because he leads differently, and he’s happier. What my client is wanting to gain from our coaching relationship is more fulfillment in his personal and professional life. He is beginning to understand that he experiences a greater sense of fulfillment when he allows himself to dismantle his current use of power. To empower himself to have more fulfillment more consistently has him willing to practice how he uses power in his business, and, he’s finding that it means shifting how he uses power in his personal relationships as well.

What brought my client into coaching was, though he had power and success he didn’t have a sense of fulfillment. He realizes that this is far more important than power and control. The invulnerability that he gets from the way he’s been using his power up until now isn’t satisfying. He’s considering the alternatives and is cultivating awareness by noticing what’s going on around him, how he impacts his environment and the consequence of that both professionally and personally. He’s becoming fascinated with the mechanisms that are influencing the results showing up in his life and in his business.

He gets now that he doesn’t have to give up one iota of power to have fulfillment. He gets that he can use his power to make different choices maintaining the sense of personal power he had when he yelled at everyone. Nothing is taken away. The belief that people won’t respect him if he doesn’t yell will be tested. He is willing to experiment – because he has something at stake that is greater than his fear of being vulnerable and out of control. Fulfillment has become a big enough goal that he’s willing to risk some pride – all be it, false-pride.

As the paradigm shifts, it becomes obvious that our business-as-usual mentality is causing incredible dis-ease in our work environments. Using power to maintain control in an environment where control itself is disempowering to the organization and its employees begins to be crazy-making. As a culture we are beginning to experience the requirement for less use of power as a manipulative force and more use of power to empower others to empower themselves and others. Enjoy the exploration!

As the Paradigm Shifts #L: Loneliness

by Rosie Kuhn on June 29, 2011

You probably thought that since we are talking about spirituality in business that love would be the L word for this week. No. Everything we’ve discussed and much of what we will be discussing engages and exercises the muscles of love. No need to go there today.

Though we spend hours with our cohorts, colleagues, team members, rarely do we engage in such a way that we feel heard and seen for who we are and for what we really bring with us to the office.

Loneliness is a spiritual crisis for every individual on this planet. It is isolation from ourselves, our highest truth and our highest good. It’s self-abandonment and self-deprecation that shows itself by the company we keep and the companies we work for.

We can’t blame anyone for this malady from which we all suffer and to which we all contribute. All we can do is to begin to cultivate the awareness that each of us can contribute to the resurrection of the Self through conscious and thoughtful connection with everyone at work.

It isn’t hard to cultivate connection– we’ve been discussing it all along. It’s just a matter of deciding what you are committed to. You heal others and the reward is you heal yourself at the same time.

Time to Google

There was a part of me that was unsure how accurate I was regarding the degree to which loneliness permeates our corporate cultures. Not every company or corporations is afflicted with employees that suffer from loneliness but there are enough.

I googled Loneliness in Business and found one website in particular that shared many views of loneliness and how sometime the loneliness and isolation experienced in the working environment led to depression, illness, stress, lack of motivation and the reality that nobody really cares!

Emily White, author of Lonely: Learning to Live with Solitude has a blog site on Loneliness & Work. It is an open invitation for those who experience loneliness at work to write and share their experience. Here are a few comments that I found valuable to share:

“I feel invisible at work more and more. I’m a manager and my job is to promote the great work my staff does, which they do, but I find myself feeling sad that the people in our organization don’t come to me for questions and the like.”

“I used to work for a small advertising agency and in the beginning, I felt it would lead to more friendships, but it didn’t. … there were also the usual stresses of personality conflict and turf battles in the office. Plus, the … already well-defined cliques …”

“I work from home myself and the isolation and loneliness can be overwhelming. I do have to go to meetings occasionally, and I meet people for lunch every week, but it isn’t enough.

HR regulations that ignore the fact that in many cases we spend more time with the people from work than we do with anyone else in our lives. Regulations in our lawsuit-fearful, spineless management work lives are imposing isolation – not alone-ness – on all of us. We become so fearful of lawsuits or invasions of our private lives by corporate attorneys claiming that associating in our private times with workers is the company’s business that we avoid making meaningful relationships or even attempting.

A Lack of Shared Values

I asked a friend of my, Jen, about her experience of loneliness while she worked in the corporate world in Silicon Valley. She expressed that she had a lot of friends at work but found they didn’t share the same values. This gave her a sense of disconnection and isolation. As she spoke about it today, eight years after leaving her job, she realized that she was unaware of the degree to which she felt disconnected from those with whom she spent the majority of her days. She didn’t have the awareness or the language to even know her own feelings. Her current lifestyle fulfills her requirements for connection and for solitude, which she says is so important to her.

Bringing awareness to the quality of life we live within ourselves and within the environment within which we not only work but create most of our significant relationships and with whom we spend the greater part of our day – this can only begin to break the barrier of silence we’ve created within ourselves and those around us. It means interfacing with vulnerability – as is always the case when growing ones spiritual intelligence.

Residuals of childhood patterning too often are the foundations for the choice-making process we enter into to create the social and professional environments we find ourselves in. Choosing to choose intentionally what it is you are wanting to create for yourself and others regarding your work environment will contribute in phenomenal ways to the actualizing of such a place. The question to ask is — What is it you are wanting?

Spirituality in Business: As the Paradigm Shifts

by Rosie Kuhn on April 6, 2011

If I were you, perched on the edge of your seat, curious enough to click on the topic of Spirituality and Business, I’d be readying myself for what – I’m not quite sure. I know I’d have a couple questions in mind.  I’d be curious about the philosophy or beliefs of this individual. I’d also be curious about what this topic has to do with me, personally. I’d wonder if this is going to be some righteous, woo-woo individual who’s going to preach some dogma about what’s right and what’s wrong in the corporate or business world. Is she going to tell me to meditate or pray before, during and after every meeting? That’s what I would be wondering if I were you.

Spirituality in Business

My beliefs and interpretations regarding spirituality and more specifically, spirituality in business emerged through my own personal experience of exploring the edges of my comfort zone, and also through the empowerment of many individuals who’ve felt the need for a thinking partner as they began to bushwhack a spiritual path of their own. My perspective is pretty simple; Regardless of the context, be in personal or corporate, I define spirituality in the most foundational and pragmatic terms possible. Spirituality is living in faith; faith not as religion but faith as in practicing trust. Shifting from what you know to what you don’t yet know, letting go of what you may be firmly attached to for something that may be tenuous at best, takes faith. I say a leap of faith is the essential and most fundamental practice of spirituality. That’s it!

For me, what’s required to even consider the possibility of engaging in life from a spiritual perspective is the willingness to be curious about who you are and how you be you. It’s being willing to consider cultivating awareness by exploring how you choose to choose what you choose. This practice of being curious leads to self-realization, which leads one along the continuum of enlightenment, one degree at a time. Another aspect of spirituality that’s just as important is the practice of actualizing your self – taking actions in the direction of how you want to be – maybe even who you want to be in the world.

Practice

You can hear that I am emphasizing the concept of practice – exercising and developing the muscles required to be curious and cultivate awareness, and to exercise the muscles necessary to put this newfound awareness into action. Both practices take faith and the implementation of our faith leaping muscles.

Here’s a good example:

Research shows that only one person in five find fulfillment in their work. What that means is that to some degree, most of us are unhappy and unfulfilled with our jobs! Is that a spiritual issue?

Let’s say that you are one of those who are unhappy in your job; how does your unhappiness impact on a) your relationship to the work you are doing; b) your relationships with your co-workers, managers, bosses and direct reports; and c) your relationship with yourself, your family and your friends?

When you are unhappy, what’s the quality of that experience? How do you be unhappy? Seriously! Everyone’s answers will be different, but more often than not I hear the following: I am withdrawn; withholding; shut down; unavailable; and numbed out. My creativity disappears; I eat more; exercise less; and I waste a lot of time at work. So what’s that got to do with spirituality?

Here’s another question: If you are one of the unsatisfied, what is the source of that unhappiness or that lack of satisfaction. What is it that creates that lack of fulfillment?

Again, each of us will have our own unique list of responses to this question, and what I hear quite often is: I really don’t care about the product or service of my company; the company treats its employees like we are robots; This place has no soul; I’m here for the money and the prestige of my position but I have no passion for what I’m doing; No one listens to my ideas; I’m not being challenged in the way that was promised; I’m afraid that if I leave my current position I’ll never have the stability or security I now have; I can’t make the kind of money I want doing what I’d really like to be doing, so I’m stuck.

Being stuck, unhappy and unfulfilled actually are choices we make based on our wants and desires. Too often we have more than one desire that wants fulfillment, and through the practice of choice-making we have to priorities our desires. Listing our hierarchy of desires will give us a good picture of what has us choose to choose what we choose.

It doesn’t matter if you are an individual, a small business or a large corporation; on an ongoing basis you will be choosing to choose what you choose in service to your hierarchy of desires. The questions is: Is your choice-making process currently working for you? If it’s not working for you, would you consider seeing things differently in service to having more fulfillment?

You can say no, I’m not willing to see it different. That’s good to know. However, I may ask another question: what has you say no – what has you not willing to see it differently?

Faith

Our commitment to limiting ourselves to only what we know keeps things just as they are. Just the willingness to consider possibility takes faith. It causes change and disruptions. Most of us would like a change but we don’t want the disruption that comes with change. For many of us, maintaining invulnerability is at the top of our list of priorities. Exploring, experimenting, expanding our comfort zones requires a willingness to take risks, to be vulnerable. All new beginnings require vulnerability and a leap of faith.

Research and statistics indicate that kindness and compassion within the work environment is profitable; people are happier, more creative and are more likely to stay longer with their current company. Great! With all of this being true, how does an individual, a business or organization begin bringing spirituality into the work place? From my perspective it’s best to start with the practice of being curious about how you be and what you do. Enjoy the adventure

Editor’s Note: This is the start of a new Series “As the Paradigm Shifts” by Dr. Rosie Kuhn, who will be taking you on a Spiritual journey in the land of Business, in her subsequent articles.

Photo Credit: Missy McDonald Sauer

Leader driven harmony #1: Communication by Handshake

by Mack McKinney on December 3, 2010

Introduction to This Series

This Series is about life and business.  We will discuss tips and techniques to enhance your business; reduce your stress level; simplify and strengthen your relationships with work colleagues, family and friends; in short we are going to show you ways to smooth out your business life.

Our family has lived and worked in a lot of places in the US and Europe.  In the US we have lived in the northeast, the mid-Atlantic and the south. We have also lived in Germany and I have spent lots of time in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates.  I have done business with people from the US, Europe (western and eastern), Asia, South and Central America and the Middle East.  We have worked in small villages, medium towns and large cities.  From these places and the people I’ve known and worked with, I will be bringing you world class, time-tested, practical business tips and techniques.  We have cherry picked only proven, best-of-breed techniques from successful business and government professionals.  And we will concentrate on timeless lessons and tips that span multiple cultures and are applicable now and for many years to come.  Our first topic should be of interest to anyone doing business anywhere – – – the business handshake.

Communication by Handshake

Studies have shown that people decide how they feel about you – – – basically what kind of person you are and whether they will trust you – – – within the first fifteen seconds of your first meeting.  One study found that this decision is often made within the first eight seconds!  Wow.  Think about that.  In less time than it takes to read this sentence, a person you have only just met will judge your trustworthiness and character, based on . . .  well . . . what?  On the flimsiest of “evidence” that’s what.  Let’s see what information you are “telling” people about yourself during those initial seconds.  What can they possibly experience about you in those few seconds?

Studies of interpersonal dynamics estimate that communication between individuals is 70% non-verbal and only 30% verbal.  Humans have extremely heightened senses when first meeting other people.  We primarily use four organs to stream information to the brain:  Our eyes, ears, nose and skin.  What decisions are people making in those first few seconds?  In addition to the trustworthiness decision mentioned above, people often reach almost instantaneous conclusions about your personal hygiene, general health and level of fitness, honesty, self-confidence and friendliness.  What gives a person the cues they use to make these decisions about you?

  • Handshake
  • Body posture
  • Body odor
  • Personal appearance (clothing, shoes, appearance of teeth, breath, hair, make-up, skin condition, facial hair)
  • Eye contact (or lack thereof)
  • Smile (or lack thereof)
  • Your spoken words (content, delivery, accent, pitch and grammar)
  • Physical distance you put between people

We’ll discuss each of the above “messages”, what each communicates and how to manage them all, in upcoming weeks.  But let’s start with one incredibly important “transmission” that you can change, if needed, right away – – – your handshake.  Once you know what you are communicating with your handshake you can easily change what it says about you.  In fact, the handshake is probably one of the easiest impression-makers to change.

But first let’s dispense with two common myths especially rampant among Generation Y-ers (aka Millennials):

  1. “Handshakes are for old guys.  They don’t really matter these days, not like they used to anyway.” Wrong.  They matter very much in the business world, especially in the US and Western Europe.  It is true that handshakes were recorded in ancient Egypt but even today business is still based upon trust.  And handshakes can communicate trust.  Gen-X-ers, Baby Boomers and Traditionalists take handshakes very seriously, many of them without even realizing they do so.  If you don’t think your handshake matters to others, it probably won’t.  Because YOU won’t matter much to others.
  2. “My handshake is _______ [fill in the blank yourself – strong, quick, etc.] but it is just my style. And I like it that way. It reflects my unique personality and sets me apart from others.” Wrong.  If your handshake is odd in any way, YOU will be seen as being odd and odd people don’t get much cooperation in the business world, which is still based fundamentally on trust.  Let your excellent work or your conversational skill or something else set you apart, not an odd handshake.

A predictable, firm handshake is an important tool in business, in fact, in life, in general.  A handshake is over in a few seconds yet it helps us reach a number of conclusions about the other person.  We tend to take our own personal handshake style for granted, not giving it much thought.  Yet surveys of thousands students attending Solid Thinking’s Concept Development and Project Dominance courses over the years paint a very different story:  About a third of the handshakes we have experienced from course attendees since 2004 are … well… odd.  They are memorable, which is not good.  You do not want your handshake to be remembered by the people you meet.  Your handshake is part of the entire impression that others get when you meet them.  It is part of a person’s overall impression of you and you do not want it to be remembered any more than your teeth, body odor, hairstyle, tie color, cut of your suit or anything else.  In our courses we critique each attendee’s handshake style, what it “says” about them, and then we correct it as needed.  (And we do it in such a way as to be non-threatening and without causing embarrassment).

People draw several conclusions about you just from a brief handshake:

  • Too strong a grip is often interpreted as you trying to prove your strength.  Savvy business people also recognize that a too-strong grip can mean just the opposite as well: a weak person disguising their weakness behind an artificially strong grip in a handshake.  So a weak handshake can signal either of two things, both opposites and both bad.
  • Too weak a grip (offering the limp-fingered “fish” handshake or not wrapping your fingers completely around the other person’s hand) indicates you are a weak person.  In the US, Western Europe and the Middle East, this weakness can be perceived of men or women, young or old, from any culture.  And don’t think that appearing weak is just a good negotiating ploy, encouraging the other person to underestimate you.  It doesn’t work – – – the impressions a handshake provides are often subliminal.  People don’t even realize why they have a certain impression of a person after the handshake, just that they do.  Don’t risk being labeled weak or ineffectual from a limp handshake.  (More on the woman’s handshake, both giving and receiving, a bit later).
  • A handshake that lasts too long is interpreted as a sign the person will be “clingy” in any upcoming relationship (business or personal).  When you feel the other person let go, let go.
  • A handshake that is too brief often says the person isn’t interested in a relationship with me (wants out of here).  People expect a handshake to last a minimum of 3 seconds unless there are several people shaking hands in which case 2-3 seconds is acceptable.
  • A person who rotates his hand over mine, with both our hands going from vertical to horizontal, is saying that he is probably going to be difficult to deal with (at best overly dominant and aggressive and at worst pathological)

We want a “normal”, predictable handshake because that tells others they will be dealing with a normal, predictable person:  a firm handshake is perceived as belonging to a reliable person who “offers no surprises”; the right duration (3-5 seconds) tells us the person is interested in us but not overly so; direct eye contact means the person is more likely than not to be honest and sincere; and a sincere smile indicates a friendly person.

In the next post we will describe the eight simple parts of a solid, professional handshake and how to fine-tune yours.  We will also talk about hugging and cheek-kissing in place of handshakes, including when (and how) to do them without embarrassing yourself; the special rules for shaking hands with ladies and much more.  After reading the upcoming second half of this article you will have much greater confidence when meeting people and, with just a little practice, you’ll have a new tool in your social skills toolbox!

Copyright: Solid Thinking Corporation

Neutral business valuation is typically part of any Collaborative divorce, and has a number of important advantages over each spouse hiring his or her own expert, including:

  1. Much less costly.
  2. Assuming the manager-spouse provides the necessary data on time, much faster.
  3. In a Collaborative divorce, the objective is to deliver an opinion on which the spouses can agree, understand, and believe is fair. Therefore, there is no need to “defend” the firm’s opinion from withering cross-examination.
  4. Instead of the ill feelings that inevitably flow from an adversarial valuation process, a neutral process can provide the basis for a more collaborative atmosphere for the resolution of other financial and, even, non-financial issues.  After all, if the couple can come to an agreement on a nettlesome problem like the value of the business, they should have a good shot at successfully negotiating other matters.

Effective Referrals

Relative unfamiliarity with the specific business in question, and with financial matters in general, will typically cause the non-manager spouse to fear that s/he is severely disadvantaged.  The manager-spouse, on the other hand, often believes that the non-manager spouse views the business as some kind of money tree.  “On the contrary,” s/he thinks, “without me, the business is worth nothing.”  It is critical that a competent and trusted business valuation professional keeps the burner under this volatile emotional stew on Low.

The referring professional, such as an attorney, should ensure that the individual s/he selects has the following qualities.

  1. A reputation for honesty, integrity and impartiality, including in court, where the line between expert and advocate is so easily crossed.
  2. Experience in neutral business and professional firm valuation, especially in the context of family law.
  3. A keen understanding of, and feel for, the human relations aspects of divorce in general, and business value negotiation in particular.
  4. A commitment to the Collaborative divorce process, as evidenced by training, group membership and active participation in fostering the growth of Collaborative Practice in his or her community.

First Meeting

The first meeting can include respective counsel and/or the neutral Financial Specialist, but there is a cost associated with enlarging the meeting, and that is generally not necessary.  For both spouses to embark on a calm and productive valuation process, certain key elements must be established from the outset.

  1. The expert’s credentials (experience, expertise, publications, etc.) impart a sense of confidence in this individual’s technical competence.
  2. The manager-spouse must feel that “reality” will be front and center in this process – especially, that value will constitute what it is worth to the manager-spouse to own the community’s entire interest in the business (rather than his or her community property half) and not what it is worth to some hypothetical outside buyer.
  3. The non-manager spouse must believe that the valuation expert will control the flow of information and analysis.
  4. The expert is, in truth, totally impartial.  Making it clear from the outset that the expert will not be available to perform consulting assignments for the company down the line will go far to cement this critical impression.
  5. The process will be transparent and approachable to all concerned, including both spouses and all advisors.  If, at any time, either spouse wants the expert to look at an issue, talk to an individual and/or review a document, the expert should do so, irrespective of whether such an investigation promises to be productive.
  6. The parties must receive a firm fee quote, rather than a request to sign up for some open-ended hourly commitment.  Divorce is stressful enough without having to worry about how much the next coffee break is going to cost.
  7. Finally, the expert must confirm the impression that s/he has no ego in the game.  The best way to accomplish this is to have the report be “Preliminary” in nature.  If any party to the process can make a convincing case that revisiting any aspect of the valuation process could have a significant impact on the expert’s opinion, s/he should do so without objection or delay and, then, furnish a Final Report in due course.

Conclusion

Collaborative divorce is a splendid out-of-court process that can assist the spouses to communicate more effectively and to negotiate more productively.  If the parties make the necessary commitment to the process, they have a much better chance to maintain human decency, protect their children, and to help the entire family to get on the other side of the divorce decree in one piece.

It is well worth the effort.


This article has been contributed by Steven D. Popell CMC (Certified Management Consultant.) Steve has been qualified as a business valuation expert since 1974, and has published extensively on this topic. CMC, a certification mark awarded by the Institute of Management Consultants USA, represents evidence of the highest standards of consulting and adherence to the ethical canons of the profession. Steve was a 2007 winner Collaborative Practice California Eureka Award for contributions to Collaborative Practice in this state and is a Senior Partner in Popell & Forney, with offices in Los Altos Hills and Pleasant Hill, California.

Look at the image of black squares in rows and columns, and count how many black spots you see. While there appear to be many, in fact there are none. When we focus on the figure, we easily ignore the ground. In this optical illusion, the intersections appear to be sprinkled with black dots, which pop in and out and shift about the image with a dizzying effect, purely as a figment of our imagination.

If you calmly focus on any one of the white dots, you can clearly see that it is white, and that the black and grey dots are an illusion. If you focus on the central white dot, and gradually let your field of peripheral vision expand, you may be able to see an expanded range of dots as they are white, without any flickering dots on the screen. This is a challenging shift in focus, because it requires you to see comprehensively the big picture, the details, and the relationships all at the same time.

Easy to get lost in business

The lack of comprehensive vision causes confusion. This happens to many people who enter the world of business. Whether you are an executive or someone on a career path, if you don’t know where you are and where you are going, you may easily find yourself lost in the cross winds.

The flickering mentality leads to a pursuit of short-term profits without regard for consequences. Large organizations and governments which engage in short-sighted or greedy behavior can wreak havoc on the economy and the environment. The pursuit of the flickering dot mirage creates stress, and over time the process tends to chew people up and spit them out.

Itoh Motoshige, Professor of Economics at the University of Tokyo, says that to understand economies today we need a flexible focus, the ability to shift appropriately from the bird’s eye Macro view, to the insect’s eye Micro view for detail, and to the fish’s eye for changes and interrelationships. This is precisely the power of the Mandala Chart, which enables you to shift perspective and focus with ease.

A world of opportunity

The Mandala Chart can help us regain our bearings by seeing our business comprehensively, and what role we want to play within it. It also helps us refocus on the interfaces and spaces between things and people. Because the majority of people are too busy pursuing the mirage to really recognize reality, this is where the opportunities are.

What is typically presented as a good opportunity in business, is often actually an opportunity to be part of somebody else’s business plan. Most of these so-called opportunities are so easy to duplicate, that they lead right to the red ocean of competition for slight edge advantages and dwindling profit margins. If customers are unable to distinguish between brands or quality, they will naturally gravitate to the lowest cost option.

True opportunities are never obvious, because they exist in the spaces between. They represent the world of possibilities and new combinations, and come to life when an entrepreneur or enterprise recognizes and fully engages their potential. This is why so much innovation happens at the leading edge of technology, through interdisciplinary collaboration at the edges, and through networking and mastermind groups.

An ancient principle

The Principle of Comprehensiveness is the second of eight principles in the Framework of Wisdom for the Mandala Chart. Two concepts which help define it have roots in Buddhism, particularly the branch of Esoteric Buddhism which introduced the Mandala to Japan.

(), meaning empty as the sky, which in fact is full of stars, galaxies, and infinite possibilities. In Japanese painting, architecture, traditional and martial arts, space is a powerful entity. It is also an essential idea in Buddhism, often mistranslated as emptiness, but more accurately representing the infinite potential of that which is without form. The realization of this potential depends on the second concept, which is how you engage with this potential.

(en), meaning edge or relationship, which can also mean the opportunity which is abundant in the intersections where people and ideas meet. It may also be thought of as the present moment and space, which is where the past transforms into the future. Think of how often things have developed according to the people you met and the decisions you made at the time. Yet this is an ongoing process, not a final verdict.

The Mandala itself has roots in India, Tibet, China, and Japan, where it was introduced in the 9th Century by a Buddhist Priest named 空海 (Kūkai). From the sixty-four frame (8×8) structure of the Diamond World Mandala, a National Treasure from 9th Century Japan, it is easy to see the roots of the Mandala Chart. The imagery used then represented the iconography of Esoteric Buddhism, as a graphical way of looking at the Buddhist universe with flexible focus.

Back to business

How then do you apply this to business? Once you understand the importance of flexible focus, once you learn how to look at things comprehensively, then you need to fix your eight compass points for business, and place them in the framework of the Mandala Chart.

How you determine those points depends a great deal on your type of business, your role in the business, and the field on which you play. To get you started, try downloading the PDF template Refocus Your Business, which gives you eight coordinates likely to apply to any business:

  1. Mission
  2. Current Projects
  3. Profit Plan
  4. Markets & Products
  5. Organization
  6. Human Resources
  7. Meetings & Communication
  8. Management Strategy.

Jot down some key words for each which apply to your business, and spend some time trying to see your business comprehensively, looking for new opportunities in the spaces between, for new ways to connect and integrate each of these elements.

The next time you find yourself getting tired, confused, or stressed by your job or business, look at your Mandala Chart. See if you can take your mind off of the flickering dots illusion, and refocus on the substantial opportunities that exist in the spaces between. Be sure to write your insights down. What you discover will calm your mind and benefit your business.

Social Media BRANDing – 5 tips to make it work

by Deepika Bajaj on February 25, 2010

Digital branding in the new internet marketing age is creating the need for marketers to understand how they can measure social media interactions with their brand, how to measure social brand loyalty and create social brand equity. Companies are more and more interested in learning how to make social media work. There are many assets on the internet that a company can create using Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and many other such channels. And then this creates a need for them to manage their digital presence and brand.

Here are some channels that companies have frequently started to build:

1. Facebook Fan pages
2. FB Connect
3. Twitter Channel
4. SEO and Ad Targeting
5. Social media enabled company web sites

But the HOT question still remains – What next? How to set goals and identify gaps?

Here are some of my recommendations:

1. Revenue Growth: The social media activity needs to have a strategy to increase revenue. It is important to choose social media tools and tactics that align with increase in engagement to ultimately drive revenue growth. This is a distribution channel to leverage information you develop daily. Don’t be afraid of social networking or Twitter. Virtual Goods and Gaming are huge opportunities as are fun quizzes and polls and other lead generation activities.

2. Know your customer: Social Gaming and social media are NOT for teenagers only. It is important to know your customer. Millions of people visit FB and Twitter daily. It is important to know where to find your customer or draw their attention if there is something you feel might of interest to them. Don’t limit yourself based on what you know, try to find out who your customer is and how easy it is for them to find you where they are.

3. Content is KING: Content is still relevant to draw the attention. If you have something that people value, they will be drawn to learn more. If they find it meaningful and relevant what you have, then they will come back for more. Eventually, you will build credibility and they will purchase – take us back to point #1.

4. Mobile: Be on TOP of your mobile strategy. My iPhone is my mini computer and I don’t go anywhere without it. So, If I am your consumer, you want me to have access to you while on the move. The cool iPhone Apps that allow you to check in to airlines, pay bills and order pizza are examples of how companies are finding ways to be close to the customer.

5. Build Relationships: Cannot emphasize on this enough. If you have strong relationships, competition will find it hard to break in. Response to customer queries is critical and don’t forget if one customer praises you – you will be making GOLD. So, do whatever it takes to keep your customer happy. I say give them such a incredible experience that they never switch to your competition and become your unpaid, voluntary brand ambassadors online and offline

social media relationshipsThe new year is coming on us and as we say good bye to 2009, which for most industries was a challenging year, we need to keep our eyes on the future. By far, 2010, will be the year when social media marketing is going to get really SERIOUS. You may ask, what does that mean?

For most part, like every maturing industry, here is what we can expect:

1. Consolidation: All the companies that support features and functions for Twitter and Facebook will see some consolidation.

2. Metrics Matter: For those managing marketing budgets, will start to put practices and metrics in place that will help them analyze social media spend and ROI.

3. More Adaptation
: The MarketingSherpa report also notes U.S. marketers plan to increase budgets, cites eMarketer. Retail and e-commerce marketers are more likely to increase social media marketing budgets next year, 79%, followed by publishing and media at 63% and computer hardware and software companies at 55%.

Here is a small twist: It is true that 2010 will make ‘social media’ more serious and that brings us back to SOCIAL in social media.

Whatever we might do in terms of setting policies, metrics and practices around quantifying and qualifying social media, we can be rest assured that PEOPLE and RELATIONSHIPS will rule the space of social media.

Here is what we can do to become more competent contributors and users of social media:

1. Are you listening? : If you really think that there is someone  (other than moms) interested in what you ate for dinner, you can forget about it. As a contributor ( company or an individual), you will have to bring “quality” to what you have to say… and even more important than what you have to say, is what you listen. If you have the competency to listen on social media, there is good news. A new career is shaping up, people who can listen on social media will be valued and compensated. This is where new ideas, fresh perspectives and solutions will be created.

2. Are you giving good help? : For a decade, the business world had a nice ride telling what consumers should buy. With social media came a new revolution, where a consumer was able to make informed decisions based on help from people he/she trusted. The real question is “Is your customer service responsive?”, “Are you keeping the promises you make to your consumers?”, ” Are you willing to break some traditional and outdated rules that hurt your consumers?”

3. Are you building long -term relationships?
: We have to give up our instant gratification mentality. Patience and perseverance – TWO KILLER APPS to WIN OVER MANY. Building long-term relationships means, you will have to first invest and nurture in those relationships – without getting anything out of them. And this means, to give a lot of help, a lot of value and a lot of time. Your content, your customer service and your response time – need to be impeccable to RULE the SOCIAL MEDIA Kingdom.

Welcome to 2010. I can’t wait to begin the ride….


The Power Thank You

by Mark Goulston on September 11, 2009

thank-you-by-vernhart“Nine-tenths of wisdom is appreciation.”

—DALE DAUTEN, NEWSPAPER COLUMNIST

Clearly, there’s nothing wrong with simply saying “thanks” when someone helps you out. In fact, that’s usually the right thing to do. But if you stop there, your communication is merely transactional (you did something nice for me, so I’ll say something polite to you).

Take Note: It’s polite, however it doesn’t touch the other person or strengthen the relationship between you.

That’s why if you’re deeply grateful to someone who’s done an exceptional favor for you, you need to express that emotion by going beyond the plain words “thank you” and instead offer a Power Thank You™.

When you do this, your words will generate strong feelings of gratitude, respect, and affinity in the other person. Here’s my favorite version of the Power Thank You™.

It was inspired by Heidi Wall, filmmaker and co-founder of the Flash Forward Institute, and it has three parts:

  • Part 1: Thank the person for something specific that he or she did for you. (It can also be something the person refrained from doing that would have hurt you.)

  • Part 2: Acknowledge the effort it took for the person to help you by saying something like: “I know you didn’t have to do _______” or “I know you went out of your way to do_______.”

  • Part 3: Tell the person the difference that his or her act personally made to you.

Here’s an example of the Power Thank You in action.

Donna, a manager, speaking to a subordinate: Larry, do you have a sec?

Larry: Sure. What’s up?

Donna: Nothing. I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for handling the Bennett account so well when I was out of the office for my emergency surgery.

Larry: Hey, no problem. I was glad to help.

Donna: Actually, I’m sure it did create some problems for you. I know you were counting on taking your kids to the soccer semifinals and I heard from your coworkers that instead you spent the whole weekend in the office boning up on the details of the account. I don’t think many people would have rearranged their schedules so willingly—and I doubt that most people could carry off a meeting with Bennett as brilliantly as you did.

Larry: Well, thanks. I was a little worried about it all, but I’m glad we pulled it off.

Donna: Don’t kid yourself. You pulled it off. You made both of us look good, and you made a big score for the whole department. I’m very grateful, and so is the rest of the team.

Donna could have simply said “thanks” in this situation, and that’s what most managers would do. If she had, however, Larry— although he’s an awfully nice guy—would have felt a little cheated.

Why? If a person performs an extraordinary act of kindness or assistance and all you say is “thanks,” you create a mirror neuron receptor gap because emotionally you’re not giving back as much as you received. Saying “thanks” is better than nothing, but it’s not good enough.

Donna’s Power Thank You™, however, made Larry feel totally mirrored. She didn’t just express appreciation; she also acknowledged Larry’s kindness, intelligence, commitment, and willingness to make a sacrifice to help other people. As a result, she strengthened her bond with Larry and gave him even more incentive to come through in tough situations.

Notice, too, that the Power Thank You™ doesn’t just make the other person look good. It also makes you look good to everyone involved by showing that you have empathy and humility and that you care. It also shows that you can be trusted to give credit where it’s due—something that can win you important allies in a corporate world where people too often get burned by disloyalty.

To make this an even more effective approach, offer your Power Thank You™ in a group setting if you can. The larger the audience for your words, the more striking their effect will be.

Now that you know how to deliver a Power Thank You™, learn how to make a Power Apology™ – or give yourself a Jerkectomy™ …

Book Links: Website: Just Listen | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Borders

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goulston picture 2a

Mark Goulston, M.D., is a business psychiatrist who through his early career intervened with suicidal and violent individuals. This eventually led to his training of hostage negotiators for the police and the FBI. From this experience he developed an uncanny ability to get through to virtually anyone, and the methods he used form the basis of Just Listen

Dr. Goulston currently resides in Los Angeles, CA.

Click here to follow Dr. Goulston on twitter

Image Courtesy: Vernhart on Flickr

7 Kinds of Relationship to Social Media

by Rajesh Setty on August 24, 2009

Everyone does not view social media with the same lens. Different people have different stands about social media. For some people it’s a nuisance and for others it’s their life.

I have grouped the kinds of relationships people have to social media in seven categories. You may be able to identify yourself in one of them or somewhere in between. You will notice that the investment you make and the returns you get are directly influenced by the approach you take.

As you can see, only in the last two kinds of relationships can you expect reasonable ROI from social media.

So, here are the seven kinds of relationship in detail:

7kinds-socialmedia

1. Despise

You hate social media and social networking. You might even think it’s a nuisance. You think it’s artificial and you just keep thinking about the old days when people could really meet and talk. This new kind of building relationships seems so fake to you. Some of you may think that this is a fad that’s going to go away sooner than later. So why bother?

None of you in belonging to this category have any plans for participating in the social media. Some of you may question the intelligence of others who are participating in social media. Obviously, you can’t expect to see any returns from social media with this attitude.

2. Distant

You don’t hate social media but you don’t love it either. You are standing at a distance and watching all the action. You are sometimes amused, sometimes surprised and sometimes shocked with what’s happening there. When you read a success story you are encouraged to begin your journey but you stop yourself saying that you may not be ready to make that BIG commitment of time, energy and mindshare into this without being fully clear about the return on that investment.

Some of you in this category may be afraid that you might abandon the ship prematurely if you are not fully equipped before you start. Whatever be the reason to keep the distance, you can’t expect any returns from social media with this stand.

3. Dream

You are more open to participating in social media but the right time has not come in yet. You know what you will do when you finally start engaging in social media. In your mind, you have a grand plan but the time to execute has not come yet. Even here, your ROI from social media is not much for you as the marketplace rarely places a premium on people’s dreams. Dreams are important but action is even more important.

4. Deal

You are someone that had no choice but to jump into social media. Someone posted about you or your company on a blog. Someone tweeted about you or your company on Twitter. You are now forced to respond, especially if you feel the article or tweet was not backed with facts. You jump into the social media to set the record straight. This is a reactive approach rather than a proactive approach. However, you can still benefit from dealing with the situation on social media. People appreciate that there is human touch from the company. You might decide to engage proactively from now on or you might again go back to the sidelines and come back whenever there is a need.

5.  Dabble

You are definitely on the social media side of the fence. You are experimenting on various tools, techniques and tactics albeit without a clear strategy. You act as if the latest tools that surfaced were the missing piece in the puzzle. You embrace new tools with vigor but you don’t follow through with the same vigor as new tools in the marketplace continue to distract you.

While you may not get a long-term return using this approach you do see some benefit as you start making and building relationships on the web.

6. Dedicated

You are committed to participate and engage in social media. You are active on various networks, ask and answer questions and do everything to engage with community. People know you as not only competent in your domain but also as a “nice and helpful” person and probably will reciprocate back when you are in need. You are on the path to building long term relationships that matter.

This is where you start seeing serious returns from social media.

7. Dance

This is social media mastery at display. You know what it takes to “dance” in the social media. You not only help – you ensure that your help is “valuable.” You not only give away stuff but you ensure that what you are giving away is “SIGNFICANT.” Whether it is an article, eBook or a tweet, when you talk people listen and they are thankful that you are there in social media and you are accessible. You change lives via social media and make things happen.

Your returns from social media skyrocket with this stand.

If you are not engaged in social media, I urge you to start engaging with the view to “dance” someday. That’s where all the magic is.