Archive | April, 2013

Tech Day’s 3 Questions

26 Apr

Trade shows are like Halloween for adults:

You walk in, are given a bag, and then go booth to booth for a treat – seemingly unlimited handfuls of refined sugar.

Orange Tech Day bag along with a Silver Red Bull - to get me through the day

Orange Tech Day bag along with a Silver Red Bull – to get me through the day

The trick:  Talking to the right people and/or getting to the right booth at the right time.


NYC’s Tech Day event inside Pier 92 was decidedly Pacific Northwest:  casual and hip. My intro to Tech Day was through Crowdzu which is a one-stop crowdsourcing site which will revolutionize crowd funding and sourcing
My intro to Tech Day was through Crowdzu which is a one-stop crowdsourcing site which will revolutionize crowd funding and sourcing

There were few card-carrying AARP members, or even people over the age of 35.

I had a great conversation with the techies here!

I had a great conversation with the techies here!

Does the tech world belong to the young?  Maybe.

Weened on Facebook and the wonder of ‘thumbs’ (vs. ‘tongues’) communication which I’ve written about, technology is part of their DNA.


A bit overwhelmed by the energy and buzz of 151 vendors and their admirers, 3 questions came to mind:

1.  How far will technology go in changing our lives?

Cell phones alone have revolutionized communication – how much more can we and will we do from the palms of our hands?photo-41

Technology facilitates shopping ordering food,  making travel arrangements, and finding love, making our life easier, right?

But I wonder what we lose inphoto-39 that ease.  There’s the obvious: no more spontaneous conversations with strangers, no challenge (and satisfaction) in planning a trip and poring over a half a dozen travel books, and no opportunity to touch and feel a new clothing purchase.

Societally, how will this change our interactions with people and products?  As many have noticed, customer service skills are missing:  and I’ve noticed it’s not only service workers unable to converse with customers, but many customers don’t/can’t connect back.  I miss this social ‘kindness’, do you?

There are lots of ‘apps’ that connect us which is great.  But what about the depth of the connection:  how much thought and feeling gets lost in 140 characters or on a face book page?  Are we becoming more or less lonely?

And, is society driving technology, or is technology driving us – like sheep?

2.  Does technology reflect people’s values?

No matter the need or want, chances are there’s an app for that.  Or there will be soon – if it’s profitable.  That makes sense, right?   ‘Build it and they will come’ as Kevin Costner said in ‘Field of Dreams’.  And there’s money in those apps, with an emphasis on fast and efficient from specialty chocolates to real work improvement like echo time (tracking work flow efficiency) and crowdzu for one-stop crowd sourcing.,

Social media - the new 'being social'?

Social media – the new ‘being social’?

Yet at this ‘progressive’ event – there was no recycling.  Not convenient or not on people’s radar?

Orange 'swag' bags and hydration refuse. And recycling is the easiest of all environmental actions.

Orange ‘swag’ bags and hydration refuse. And recycling is the easiest of all environmental actions.

Is it true our values follow the money trail?  

If it’s not profitable – or quantifiable by an app, will our core needs defining our humanity also become non-recyclable throw-aways?

Climate change is real – as real as the devices we hold in our hands

We need clean air and water more than gadgets – don’t we?

April 20th was Earth Day, and the environmentalists had their own trade show.  Why can’t hipster techies and hipster environmentalists be the new peanut butter and chocolate?

green festival nyc

3.  What ‘tongue’ communication skills do people need?

Differences between communication styles parallel age differences.  As a communication coach I am beginning to wonder if this new generation needs, wants or



even expects those basic communication skills we used to take for granted:  two-way conversations, asking open-ended questions, ability to talk to strangers, listening, and of course customer service niceties.

I’m talking about the ‘grey’ areas in talk beyond the black and white facts of daily life that are easily captured on Facebook and twitter.  The grey areas that make our photo-44

My favorite image- from google ad words!

My favorite image from google ad words!

conversations and lives more colorful.  I think…

There’s an awful lot of ‘noise’ competing for our time and attention these days.  Including all of us who blog, begging web surfers to listen and acknowledge us (thank you!).  Does this count as listening?

And as we evolve in seeming milliseconds versus millions of years will natural selection prove ‘thumb’ communicators as winners?

Change happens – I just hope we all know what we are doing.

Celebration to Terror: Boston 4/15/13

16 Apr

Unplugged for most of tax day, news of the Boston marathon bombing popped up during a search last night.

I immediately texted my cousin (she was safe) and a runner friend in Portland who had friends running there (they were all safe).

But I knew so many weren’t safe and how scary it is to wait – and to contact a loved one, not knowing.

For all my running-addiction friends!

For all my running-addicted friends!

When I hear news of bombings, I  shake my head, as if to reset my thoughts, or what I’ve just heard.  Like those first few moments after I heard of the Twin Towers attack, and could see them on fire from 5 miles away – it felt unreal, unimaginable.    We’re VERY lucky here in the U.S.  How do people get used to these attacks?

A bombing is a hate crime, regardless of who, when, where.  Hate can be the only reason people would want to destroy people physically and emotionally and turn one of Boston’s most famous celebrations into a shared grieving.

Once again I raise the question:  what causes people to hate so much to bomb, commit genocide, hate crimes, bullying?  As I compile 6 ways (I think) we can prevent genocide, the larger question continues to taunt:  WHY?

Do you know?  

One thing I do know, is that the memory of yesterday’s bombing will remain in people’s conscious and unconscious memories for a long time to come.  They will remember the bombing as they gather for any celebration or fair, when they get on the T, and, likely when they see someone bruised.  I hope we can all remember to be supportive and nurturing for the individuals affected – and in fact, to all of us.  Hate hurts.

Life doesn’t stop and neither should our drive to enjoy and love every minute we have.

We can never have too many reminders to hug those we love - often!

We can never have too many reminders to hug those we love – often!

Stay safe!  Take care!

5 Leadership Characteristics: The Raoul Wallenberg Effect

16 Apr
London Memorial

London Memorial

The story of a hero and a leader.

The BBC’s report on Raoul Wallenberg achieving honorary Australian citizenship this morning told of a remarkable man’s accomplishment.  Or of a man making

Raoul Wallenberg

Raoul Wallenberg

the best of all his knowledge and being and ‘stepping’ up in times of need?

Raising the question are leaders born or made?

This question gets raised when leaders are identified and scrutinized.   If it’s the latter, (and most of us believe it is) we can all adopt the ‘Wallenberg Effect’ and become the leaders we are meant to be in our everyday life.

A little background:  In 1944, Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat was sent to Budapest to ‘save’ this Jewish community.  You can imagine the challenge:  the Nazi’s were in a hurry to ensure Budapest’s 700,000 Jews followed in the footsteps of millions of other murdered Jews in Europe.  Wallenberg was only  33, and had no real diplomatic skills.  He was rich,  He had connections and his family name offered protection.  Mostly, he had chutzpah, conviction, and, courage.  Taking extraordinary and audacious actions, he managed to save close to 100,000 Hungarian Jews.  In one story he jumped on top of a cattle car to hand fake Swedish passports to people  on the way to camps.  He took people out of death march lines, ‘reminding’ them of their Swedish backgrounds.  On more than one occasion he convinced the Nazi’s NOT to shoot people after round-ups.  In sad irony,  when the Russians ‘liberated’ Budapest in January 1945, they placed Wallenberg in jail and he was never heard/seen again.

Budapest plaque

Budapest plaque

But his strength in action, lives on.  And after hearing the story this morning, I was reminded of the why and what of the  ‘Wallenberg Effect’.

The 5 characteristics attributed to Wallenberg are easily matched with basic leadership professional development we’ve all taken and/or taught.  And it’s always good to take a moment and remind ourselves (and others) of how to be our best:

1.  Knowledge:  First and foremost, leadership is based on self-knowledge, or what Daniel Goleman called Emotional Intelligence (EQ).  Leaders know their strengths, their (communication) style and how they can effectively apply this style to motivate others. Wallenberg took 100% responsibility for ensuring (the Nazi’s) heard his message by meeting their ‘WIIFM’s’ (What’s In It For Me) or motivation which was to be strong and secure.

How do you define your EQ?  How do you support and develop this knowledge in others?

2.  Objective:  Leaders have clear goals and vision and take action based on their values.  Wallenberg acted on what he thought was right (values) and “walked the talk” when it came to saving the Hungarian Jewish community.

What are your top 5 values?  What actions do you take on a daily basis that support your beliefs?

3.  Ingenuity:  Leaders are able to work through and around situations.  To be sure Wallenberg had great connections, but he also used his knowledge of the Nazi’s love for extravagant detail when he supervised the creation of fake Swedish passports.  I’m sure his ingenuity, along with his EQ came into play as he ‘created’ 30 safe houses to hide people.

How do you know when things aren’t working and what steps do you take to identify a new win-win solution?

the 9-dot puzzle:  think outside the lines!

the 9-dot puzzle: think outside the lines!

4.  Confidence:  Chutzpah anyone?  Leaders feel they can do anything if they are doing the right thing.  Wallenberg made full use of his ‘charisma’ to stand up and ‘direct’ the Nazi’s in a way no-one else had.  Certainly his conviction and confidence swayed the Nazi’s to let him pull people out of death march lines.

How do you act when you are 100% sure of your conviction (versus when you are not)?

saw a guy on the subway yesterday in a superman costume... didn't take a picture... this from

saw a guy on the subway yesterday in a superman costume… didn’t take a picture… this from

5.  Courage:  Leaders take action regardless of the repercussions.  On the BBC this morning, I heard Wallenberg acted with, ‘No fear of death’, focused on the end result.  He was shot at while he was on top of that car handing out fake passports, and certainly could have been killed by the Nazi’s at any point in time.

When do you stand up for yourself and others even when you know you ‘are going against the grain’?

An icon of courage!

An icon of courage!

Surely being in remarkable circumstances brings out the extraordinary in all of us.

But why wait?  If not now, when?

I think there are important small, quiet and safe times when we can stand out and develop ourselves to be our best.  Hopefully, most of us will never be in the position Wallenberg was in.

We can all take small steps that lead to giant saves.

a Budapest monument

a Budapest monument

Tel Aviv Memorial

Tel Aviv Memorial

Sweden Memorial

Sweden Memorial

Lessons from a Comedian: 4 Beliefs to keep you on stage and in the spotlight

11 Apr

Last night I went to a one-man show – an off-off-Broadway deal.  And it was…. a bit ‘off’.

For about 90 minutes our ‘host’ huffed and smiled and sweated as he told his story, attempting to pull laughs, guffaws, or at least smiles from the audience.

I’ve done stand-up, I know how nerve-racking it is.

Now this guy wasn’t particularly funny or noticeably talented – which he admitted as part of his ‘shtick’.

I almost felt sorry for him.  To me, it felt painful.  But that had more to do with my beliefs than his. Obviously.  Notice I was sitting at his feet while he had the spotlight.   He had his own show.  ON STAGE with people paying to come see him.

Hmmm… who should feel sorry for whom here?

I realized:  he may have lost last night’s laughter’ battle’, but it was obvious he was winning the ‘war’. The war of life.

He reminded me:  “You can convince anyone of what you’re doing as long as you’re also completely convinced.”

For all of us who think we aren’t ‘enough’ and don’t have what it takes to put ourselves out there, this guy BELIEVED – in himself.

Humor has power.  Remember Romney and Obama's night of comedy?

Humor has power. Remember Romney and Obama’s night of comedy?

Here are 4 lessons on belief I learned (without laughing) last night:

1. (Someone Else’s) Unconditional Belief:

This guy’s mother believed in him 1000% percent.  She took him to acting and dancing lessons as a child after he expressed interest, told him how wonderful he was (even when he wasn’t), and always repeated how much she believed in him.   We all need someone who believes in us this strongly – no edits, no ‘yes, buts…’.  (Parents:  take note!)

2.  ‘It’s not personal’ Belief:

You know the saying:  it’s not you, it’s THEM?  (Or something like it?)  This guy learned early on that not everyone needs to laugh.  His ‘mentor’ was a comedian who never got laughs on stage, but got huge, great acclaim on the big screen.

Failure happens:  people love his stuff, people hate his stuff (like last night) – oh well….  He believes he’ll find the audience who loves him.  He believes he’ll be successful.

I have a feeling he’ll be talking about this ‘bad’ show in future shows – and then get great laughs.

I know I can learn if something isn’t clicking one place, I just need to change my environment and it WILL work someplace else – or another place, or….

3.  There’s always another stage or ‘location, location, location’ Belief

No matter how many failures this guy seemed to have, he picked himself up and found another stage to get on.  Perhaps there were years of despair and depression – we didn’t hear of that.  Bottom line, this guy always found a place to recreate himself, always believed there was a place for him to shine.

And you know, he’s right.

Go get yourself a

Go get yourself a little…

4.  Fear gets you nowhere Belief

I wish I could remember his exact words because they were brilliant, but the idea was fear is failure.  I may fail if I get up on stage.  Oh well.  I can also take action on my belief I can just get up on a whole new stage and do it all over again – and become the ‘next great thing.’  I like the sound of that…   But if I’m afraid of even getting up there,  failure is guaranteed.

My mantra to get past the fear.  Thank you Nike!

My mantra to get past the fear. Thank you Nike!

Thinking about this:  I worked with a woman YEARS ago who had major conflict with her boss.  And I mean MAJOR, great dislike, etc.  She found another stage- in another department – and they LOVED her and she loved them.   It wasn’t personal – she was in front of the wrong audience.

I can accept the fact that every time I get out there I have a chance of ‘bombing’.  What I like – what I have to – no – WANT to believe – is:

  • that someone believes in me,
  • that I believe in myself – 
  • that there is an audience who wants what I have, and,
  • if  something isn’t clicking, I should go find myself a new stage to ‘perform’.

I’m starting to think this show will turn out to be one of the best performances I’ve ever seen!

What keeps you laughing?

Which of your beliefs help you get back out there and ‘perform’ again (especially after you’ve crashed)?

Spring Gardening’s 6 Steps to Weed out anger Tammy Faye style!

8 Apr

Got anger?

Willing to admit it?

I’ve been laying a bit fallow all winter, rejuvenating myself and hoping fall’s seeds have been planted where they root as the world ripens into sunnier days and warmer afternoon.  As I dip my toes into the shallow end of spring (buds on the trees here in NYC – finally!), I’m taking stock of my potential bounty.

There are lots of things that kill off new growth – literally and metaphorically.  Our bumbling economy challenges even the most gifted rainmaker to survive the job drought.  Not having the right pollinators doesn’t help either  I realize, viewing my ‘connections’.  Fertilization is an ongoing need.  Memo to self:  ‘work’ those LinkedIn connections and stay vigilant on Twitter.

Cyberspace is important, but it’s our real space internal garden where we need to fend off weeds and other invasive species that keep us from growing.

Recently, I’ve noticed an overgrowth of anger.  And once it roots it is tenacious!

Anger sucks up all the oxygen and  nutrients that should be better spent on a blossoming new project, including having fun.  But anger, like weeds and invasive species – appears to have no predators.  Anger takes over other emotions.  Memo to self:  it’s hard to differentiate the weeds from the flowers.

Anger is like a carnivorous plant:  hungry and dangerous.

Remember the movie:  "Little Shop of Horrors" and the carnivorous plant's 'feed me'?

Remember the movie: “Little Shop of Horrors” and the carnivorous plant’s ‘feed me’?

Turning from a gardening metaphor, Tammy Faye (Baker) says it best:  from the movie “The Eyes of Tammy Faye”, Tammy Faye sits and bats her mammoth false eye

Tammy Faye:  Read her quote and watch her movie and remember to never judge a book by the cover again!

Tammy Faye: Read her quote and watch her movie and remember to never judge a book by the cover again!

lashes before sharing great wisdom:  “when you’re angry at someone it’s like you are carrying a decaying person around on your back”

A reminder that brilliance comes from unexpected sources.  (the movie is great!)

Decay is great for the literal garden.

For my internal garden, I’ve shrugged off anger in a weeding frenzy with:

Six Steps to Weeding your Anger

Step 1:  Spot that weed:  Feel that anger rising in you?  Sit and luxuriate in spring’s new blooms while jotting down the focus of your anger.  Note the name and issue that is sucking up the nutrients in your mind’s rich soil.

Step 2:  Assess:   how much of that anger is directed at yourself.  Yes, really.  A lot of times when we’re angry at someone else, we are really angry at ourselves for allowing that person to get under our skin, to make us feel a certain way or keep us from getting what we want.  In Tammy Faye’s words, you are carrying your weight on your back in addition to the source(s) of your anger.  (Note to self:  this is why you’ve got bad posture!)

Ask yourself:  Why do I hold onto these energy-suckers?  What does it/she/he provide me – or how does being angry ‘protect’ me from dealing with ‘new growth’?

Step 3:  Commit to weed and dig deep:  Focus on forgiving:  YOURSELF.  Forgive yourself for what you’re feeling, for your anger, for what you haven’t done, for what you have done, for allowing someone else to mess with your head.  This of course it harder than it sounds, after all weeds grow back, right?


Step 4:  PULL out that anger with your forgiveness and kill its roots by telling yourself you can’t control someone else, but you can control your own emotions.

Step 5:  Plant new seeds:  Create a ritual where you declare yourself anger-free and commit to preserving your energy and joy.  Ask yourself:  What can I do and SAY differently to myself to remind myself I deserve to have joy?  Leave out judgmental words that weigh you down including obligation and fault.  Identify a plant or flower that reminds you of your weed-free mind and keep a picture or an actual plant around you.


Step 6:  Nurture your new growth:  Look at your plant or flower regularly and remember you’ve forgiven yourself AND the person at the root of your anger.  Remember that person is no longer in your garden when you see them.

Stand up straight and feel the freedom in your back!  

What makes you angry?

How do you forgive others and/or yourself?