Category Archives: Careers

The Most Important Question You Can Ask

 February 9, 2012 by Tony Schwartz

Why are you here? It’s arguably life’s most important question, but is it one you ask yourself?

I recognize it’s a question some people might view as self-indulgent, while others would see it primarily through a religious lens. But is there any part of an answer we could all agree on?

I’ve found a very simple one for myself, and it’s provided me in recent years with an increasingly powerful sense of clarity, inspiration and even joy. It’s this: I’m here to add more value to the world than I’m using up.

I use up resources every day — the gas I burn driving my car, the heat and electricity for my house and office, the food I eat. So how do I put more back into the world than I take out?

I spent the first 45 years of my life accruing value — trying to earn enough money to feel financially secure, sufficient success to feel respected, and enough relationships to feel safe and loved. I’m not especially proud of that, but I also know that some of my motivation was practical and human. Some of it, sadly, was compulsive.

To the extent that I felt I didn’t have enough, I didn’t imagine I had a choice about how to live my life. I was operating from a sense of deficit and I felt relentless hunger to fill that void, both financially and emotionally.

I was externally successful, as a journalist, but I didn’t feel particularly good about the work I was doing. Eventually, and fortunately, I finally hit a wall — a point at which I was so unhappy with my life that the desire to do something I deeply believed in eclipsed the fear of starting over in a completely new career.

Today, I resonate deeply with the parable of the faithful servant, from Luke 12:48, which ends this way: “To whom much is given, of him much will be expected.”

I have yet to meet any person who gets lasting satisfaction from earning way beyond what he needs. Accumulating more and more eventually, and invariably, delivers back less and less. It’s literally self-defeating.

I had the benefit of a comfortable upbringing, a great education, parents who modeled hard work and serving others, and people who believed in me along the way, even when I didn’t always believe in myself. I stood on the shoulders of many people, including ones who enjoyed far less good fortune than I did.

I believe in the law of reciprocity. Much was given to me. The reason I’m here, now, is to give back.

For more than a decade, I’ve had the amazing experience of waking up every morning excited to get to work. Partly, it’s that I have the freedom to do what I do best and enjoy most, and to keep getting better at it. Beyond that, it’s that I get to use my talents in the service of helping people build better lives and decrease their suffering.

The advantage I have is that I run my own business. What if you work at a job that doesn’t allow you to do what you do best and enjoy most, and that isn’t intrinsically inspiring?

At a company I frequently visit, there is a woman who works at the entrance and hands out the tickets for valet parking. She’s worked at her job for years. When I pulled up a couple of days ago, it was freezing outside, and she was all bundled up. Even so, when I got out of the car she greeted me effusively, as she always does.

She called me “Sweetheart,” she gave me a huge smile, and her energy lifted me up. As I was walking into the building, I heard her do the same thing for the next driver, and she sounded just as heartfelt.

This is a woman knows who she is, and why she’s here. She adds value in the world. She doesn’t for a moment let the limits of her job stand in her way.

I’m inspired by her. She reminds me that knowing why you’re here, and who you want to be, isn’t a part-time job. The challenge is to live out what you stand for, intentionally, in every moment.

I fall short, frequently. Who doesn’t? When that happens, my goal is to notice, as quickly as I can, to take responsibility for whatever I’ve done, and to make amends. I know why I’m here.

Reprinted from

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4 Signs a Sales Manager Can Recognize an ‘A’ player in an Interview

Posted by Dan Perry on Sun, Jan 29, 2012

One of the most challenging things to do as a sales manager is to determine if the person sitting across from you in an interview will be an ‘A’ player. Will he or she be the next superstar? Can this person ‘make it rain’? Can I rely on them to exceed their quota?

Sales Managers consistently ask me what tips or tricks they can use in an interview to ensure hiring an ‘A’ player. Since SBI has started measuring ‘Ramp to Productivity Failure Rate’ (aka: how many of your people hit their quota vs. how many fail and leave the company), it has slowly been increasing. Our median rate 9 years ago was 42%. It is now 52%. This means 52% of all new hires FAIL. This means over half of all new sales hires don’t make their quota in year one. Ouch.

The only true way to hire ‘A’ players is to have a robust Talent Management Program. This includes 5 major components: Talent Definition, Acquisition, Evaluation, Selection and Development. A good TM program will attract, select, retain and develop ‘A’ players.

Talent Management

But what happens when you don’t have a TM program? What happens when you are actually in the interview asking questions and listening to the candidate’s answers? What do you look for at the ‘moment of truth’?

4 Sure Signs that indicate an ‘A’ player:

#1 – Sense of Urgency. ‘A’ players have a high sense of urgency. They need to get it done NOW. Whatever it is; the longer it takes to accomplish the more frustrated they become. They are ‘A’ players because they challenge the customer. The build trust with the decision maker, not just a ‘good’ relationship. Challenging customers results in increased sales. The challenge comes from the need to expedite the sale. Thus, urgency is the opposite of compliance. You don’t want your sales people to be compliant.

TIP: Look for answers around impatience and 4th quarter comebacks. (Aka: Eli Manning and the New York Giants)

#2 – Enthusiasm. ‘A’ players are passionate about their work. They get up and stay excited all day. They love to sell and go through brick walls to do it. They have a real passion around selling and enjoy the hunt. (We call these wolves)

TIP: Notice answers around work ethic matched with excitement. Passion is a key differentiator between ‘A’ and ‘C’ players. If they mention how great they form relationships, kick them to the curb.

#3 – Keep it Simple. ‘A’ players have mastered the fundamentals. They don’t look for the next big product to help them make their quota. The sales process is used in every opportunity. SPIN selling is tattooed on their forehead. They actually use call plans on every client meeting. Simply put: They are professionals.

TIP: Ask questions around how they interact with their customers and how they prepare for sales calls. Listen for the use of these fundamentals and how simple they convey it is to sell. (We know it’s not).

#4 – Show me the money. Yes Jerry McGuire coined the phrase and almost everyone uses it (including us at SBI). It means to be money hungry. ‘A’ players want to make money. And the more money they make the better. Don’t ever think an ‘A’ player wants to ‘please his customers’. He wants to please them because it means more money.

TIP: Ask what his W2 was last year (what he made last year). He will know it to the penny.

Why should you spend the time weeding through average sales people to get one that’s an ‘A’ player? They exceed your ‘B’ player quotas by over 3x! This difference can set you up to make your bonus and get you promoted.

Below is a Quota and Talent Assessment we performed for a large organization whose stock price has risen 35% in the past 6 months. Notice all the ‘A’ players. The VP of Sales here has a strict Talent Management Process including the 4 steps mentioned above. The results are impressive.

Interviewing sales candidates is tricky. They are sales people and their job is to sell you on themselves. If they can’t sell you on themselves, what will they do with your customers? Make sure you look for these top tips to uncover ‘A’ players in your interviews. Your success is critical to hiring the top talent. These answers to your questions will tip you off on how successful they could be.

What are some other tips in spotting ‘A’ sales reps? Leave a comment for all to get these valuable tips.

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Three Skills Every 21st-Century Manager Needs

HBR Article – by Andrew L. Molinsky, Thomas H. Davenport, Bala Iyer, and Cathy Davidson  – Jan – Feb 2012

The world of work has changed dramatically over the past decade. Companies are more global and employee groups more diverse than ever before. Organizational structures are less hierarchical and more collaborative. And today’s networked offices are full of technological distractions that would have been unimaginable to the 20th-century manager.

We asked experts in cross-cultural communication, information networks, and the science of attention what specific skills executives should cultivate to tackle these new challenges. Here are their answers.

Skill 1: Code Switching Between Cultures

To work well with foreign colleagues, you may have to risk feeling inauthentic and Andrew L. Molinsky

Marco, the Italian COO of a technology company in Mumbai, can’t motivate his Indian employees. Anat, an Israeli management consultant working in the United States, struggles to give “American style” feedback. Seungwoo, the CEO of a Korean software firm with a new Shanghai office, has trouble retaining Chinese staffers. All three of these executives should be successful in their respective cross-cultural contexts. They all have what Mansour Javidan, of the Thunderbird School of Global Management, calls a “global mind-set”highlight “global mindset”; link: They are seasoned managers who appreciate diversity and have international work experience. They also have specific cultural intelligence: Marco knows that Indian workers are accustomed to leaders who are more authoritarian than those in Italy; Anat knows that most Americans prefer criticism couched in kindness over the blunt feedback she might ordinarily give; and Seungwoo knows that Chinese bosses tend to be more paternalistic than Korean ones. These three leaders are motivated to use this knowledge; in fact, their professional success depends on it.

So what’s holding them back? I’ve spent the past 10 years studying hundreds of savvy business professionals who were thrust into unfamiliar cultures or who work with foreign colleagues, and I believe that what Marco, Anat, and Seungwoo lack is a very specific skill I call “cultural code-switching”, the ability to modify behavior in specific situations to accommodate varying cultural norms. Code-switching requires far more than the right mind-set, information, and motivation. It requires a capacity to manage the psychological challenges that arise when someone tries to translate cultural knowledge into action.

Executives often feel inauthentic when their behavior conflicts with their ingrained values and beliefs, and doubly uncomfortable when others assume that it is a true reflection of who they are. They may also feel incompetent, anxious and embarrassed about acting in a way so far outside their comfort zone. Deeper down, they may feel frustrated and angry that they had to make changes in the first place. After all, managers don’t usually have to adapt their behavior to the needs of their subordinates; most often it’s the other way around. Together, these feelings can prevent executives from making a successful code switch, thus imperiling their careers and their companies’ success.

The good news is that it’s possible to overcome this problem. The first step is to diagnose the challenges you face. In Marco’s case, a deep belief in empowering subordinates was preventing him from embracing the top-down, often harsh leadership style that his Mumbai team seemed to need in order to meet deadlines. Whenever progress was so poor that he had to yell out directives, he felt guilty (“I shouldn’t treat employees this way!”) and ineffective (“I sound ridiculous!”).

The second step is to adapt your behavior to reduce your distress. That means making small but meaningful adjustments that are both appropriate in the new setting and true to your own values. It may mean electing behavior that blends elements of both cultures. Marco was able to find a middle ground between his participative European management style and the more authoritarian kind expected in India. He could be significantly more hands-on and assertive without yelling. Anat was able to give feedback better tailored to an American audience while retaining some of her direct, demanding Israeli style.

The third step is to fully appreciate the value of code-switching. One way is to focus on how the desired outcome aligns with your personal goals and values, even if the behaviors themselves do not. Marco knew that adapting his style in India would help him become a more effective global manager, which was very important to him. Seungwoo was able to ease up on his Chinese employees when he reminded himself how important the Shanghai operation was to future growth.

Another way is to view your code-switching from the perspective of the other culture, rather than exclusively through your own lens. Once Marco came to see that his employees actually valued his new management style, it became far easier to practice. Similarly, when Anat learned to appreciate the reasons for giving American-style feedback, her colleagues were hurt and demotivated by criticism delivered without praise, she could more easily change her approach.

Being culturally fluent means being able to enter a new context, master the norms, and feel comfortable doing so. In situations where executives perceive a serious threat to their competence and identity, they often show a strong psychological resistance to appropriate behavior. Learning to be effective at cultural code-switching is the key to becoming a truly global leader.

Skill 2 :  Weilding Digital Influence

As companies become less hierarchical, the effective use of online networks will be crucial to Thomas H. Davenport and Bala Iyer

Dharmesh Shah, the founder and chief technology officer of HubSpot, a web marketing company, has an impressive online network: He runs a 216,000-member LinkedIn group for entrepreneurs, hosts a Q&A community for start-ups on Stack Overflow, and has more than 98,000 Twitter followers. But even more enviable than the size of Shah’s network is how he uses it. During a recent hiring push at HubSpot, he tweeted about the company’s need for talented engineers and quickly received referrals for hundreds of candidates, several of whom he hired. On another occasion, while wrestling with an error-prone program for a new product, he asked his online followers for help. Within hours he received many suggestions, and one person provided instructions for debugging the program.

Most managers today understand how to use online tools to build and expand their networks. It’s easy to reach out to industry contacts and colleagues through LinkedIn and Facebook, to follow and be followed on Twitter, and to actively participate in corporate social media initiatives. Less well understood is how managers can use these networks to gather information and wield influence in an increasingly interconnected, collaborative, and less-hierarchical workplace. Shah provides a perfect case study, offering lessons that will help even executives outside the technology industry.

To build an effective online network, you need to focus, as Shah does, on three things: reputation, specialization, and network position. As in the real world, reputation is currency, it’s how you get people you’ve never met to seek you out, give you information, and collaborate with you. In the virtual world you build your reputation by offering interesting content, drawing attention to your web presence, and motivating others to circulate and act on your ideas. Reputation can be assessed using services such as Klout, Identified, PeerIndex, and Empire Avenue, which score you on the basis of how many people you influence, how much influence you wield, and how influential your contacts are. Shah has a Klout score of 80 (on a scale of 1 to 100).

He and other successful online operatives enhance their reputations and expand their networks by focusing on key areas of expertise. Shah’s are technology and entrepreneurship, topics that are central to each of his web ventures. Yours might be sales or HR or nonprofit management. Take Barry MacQuarrie, an accountant who set up acommunityon LinkedIn with the goal of understanding how social media could be used in his profession. It now has 1,800 users, who advise MacQuarrie on that subject. And prospective clients have found him and his firm through the group. Specialization involves demonstrating deep knowledge, establishing links with other experts both inside and outside your organization, committing to learn from them, and being willing to offer relevant information and referrals to others. Google+ and similar tools allow users to create “circles” or communities with shared interests; LinkedIn is fragmenting into specialist groups as well.

Although focus is important, the best online networkers also position themselves as bridges between otherwise unconnected groups. This can increase your influence, because it gives you a chance to identify potential collaborations or conflicts and to accumulate superior information. Shah, who graduated from the MIT Sloan Fellows Program, has access to MIT’s student and alumni networks as well as his start-up network. He can act as a broker between student ventures and VCs or between start-ups and talent, and can even find his own angel investment opportunities.LinkedIn MapsandTouchGraphenable users to visually examine their networks for connections, clusters, density, and redundancy.

Good networkers use their contacts as a source of quick feedback on, and even solutions to, work challenges of all sorts. We know a manager at an IT company who took advantage of internal social-networking technology to crowdsource reviews of a contractor he was considering. He discovered that the man had done sloppy work on a few recent projects and so chose not to hire him. If your network is strong, you are connected to well-placed colleagues, suppliers, customers, and fellow executives in your field, a host of experts who can help you at a moment’s notice.

Shah’s debugging challenge is one example. Consider also Michelle Lavoie, an enterprise community manager at the IT services company EMC, who used her internal blog to tackle an even bigger problem: how to cut costs during the 2008 financial crisis. “Constructive Ideas to Save Money,” her 430th post to the network, requested a moratorium on complaints about a controversial change in the vacation policy, offered five positive suggestions, and encouraged colleagues to contribute their own. A year and a half later the post had gotten more than 26,000 views and had generated 364 responses with cost-saving ideas, many of which were implemented. Lavoie gained visibility at every level of the company and ensured that getting EMC through the crisis was an all-hands initiative rather than a top-down edict.

You can also use your network to test proposals and strategies, inside and outside your organization. Float an idea and see how many “likes” it gets. Or direct certain groups of people to an online survey. The feedback might help you persuade a reluctant boss or client to come around to your point of view. These methods of exploiting strong virtual networks are only the beginning. Newer techniques, such as engaging your online contacts in work“games”so that they happily take action in your or your company’s behalf, are now coming to the fore.

Soon, we expect, organizations will begin to seek out employees with demonstrably strong online connections and a track record of wielding influence through them. The best networkers will become even more highly valued.

Skill 3 :  Dividing Attention Deliberately 

Instead of battling distraction, embrace your brain’s proclivity for Cathy Davidson

Seven IBM employees, each in a different location, are on a conference call. As two of them talk over the telephone line, two others chat about the conversation via text messages; another accesses a spreadsheet, trying to answer a question posed earlier in the call; still another Googles a potential competitor; and the last taps out an e-mail to a colleague who is not on the call. Are these employees distracted by 21st-century technology? Or has 21st-century technology empowered them to pay attention in a new, perhaps more natural, creative, and productive way?

We all know the story of contemporary distractions. In the past decade the world has gone from a total of 12 billion e-mails a day to 247 billion, from 400,000 text messages to 4.5 billion, from an individual average of 2.7 hours a week online to18 hours.We may still sit in offices or cubicles designed to shut out the external world, but the center of our work life is a computer that keeps us connected to that world, to colleagues, customers, clients, family, community, entertainment, and hobbies; to everything we know we should be doing and everything we know we shouldn’t.

Gloria Mark,a professor at the University of California, Irvine, has shown that modern workers switch tasks an average of once everythree minutes.Once their focus on a given task has been interrupted, it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to it. Some say we should try to eliminate those distractions. But I think today’s managers are capable of coping with and sometimes even thriving on them.

Mark’s research also shows that 44% of the switches cited above are caused by “internal” rather than “external” sources of distraction, meaning that our minds simply wander. We can’t blame technology for our failure to focus, because our brains are built to multitask. Close your eyes for five minutes and notice how your thoughts stray, jump, zigzag, and double back. Success in 20th-century factories and offices may have required paying strict attention to systematic tasks and taking those tasks to completion, but that is not a natural way for humans to operate. Perhaps our 21st-century connectedness gives us the freedom to acknowledge this.

Why should we make undivided attention an ideal and cling to it in an environment where it is so hard for us? Why not “unlearn” that skill, as the futuristAlvin Tofflerputs it, in order to let our brains work the way they do naturally? In my research on attention, I’ve come across many tools that help managers eliminate distraction. A productivity application calledFreedomlets you block the internet for a specified period, andConcentrateis a service that makes available only those programs you need for a specific task. The former Apple executive Linda Stone, who coined the term“continuous partial attention”to describe our habit of constantly scanning the horizon and never fully focusing on a given task, suggests simply turning technology off.

Such controls on information streams do help some people in some situations feel more focused and productive. But it’s not clear that their feelings reflect reality.A study of 300 workersconducted at the University of Melbourne shows that although people who use the internet at work for personal reasons assume it makes them less productive, it actually increases their productivity by 9%. That isn’t true for internet “addicts” who use social media to excess. But for those whose minds simply wander between work and play, a break to surf the web can provide a cognitive refresher that improves their performance when they return to the task at hand. This even has its own acronym: WILB, for “workplace internet leisure browsing.” Maybe managers will learn to embrace it as a positive distraction that relieves stress and boosts creativity.

Another productivity-enhancing strategy is to deliberately divide attention and harness it, just as those IBM employees did on their conference call. Charles Hamilton, an e-learning strategy leader at IBM, explains that his managers are more engaged in their virtual meetings because of the simultaneous text messaging (which they call “back chatting”) that has become standard practice; in fact, when the feature isn’t turned on, they start to worry that someone isn’t being heard. By encouraging these multiple conversations, managers marshal wandering minds. They also promote more-equitable participation in group calls, people can respond without interrupting, and ensure that the entire conversation flows in an interactive and productive way. Attention is “distributed” more evenly and fluidly, rather than being dominated by one or two loquacious participants who leave everyone else disengaged and distracted.

At the individual level, a good example is the software developerAza Raskin,formerly of Mozilla and now the CEO of the start-up Massive Health. Raskin knows he can’t spend all day, every day focused on only the most important tasks. But he sets limits on his divided attention by using two computers at his workstation and another down the hall. The work he must accomplish is loaded onto the first, most prominent device, with no internet connection. Off to the side is a machine that offers access to e-mail and the web. The third, a short walk away, is linked to Twitter and his blog, with a flashing reminder of the “real” work he needs to do back at his desk. His strategy is to make procrastination difficult but not impossible, because complete focus is beyond his reach, and not necessarily even desirable in today’s workplace. Raskin’s three computers help him program interruption and mind-­wandering into his day.

Not everyone has the same style or requirements for attention, so a good 21st-century manager needs to figure out how to let multimedia work to everyone’s advantage. Gazing aimlessly out the window is as important to creativity as logging on to Facebook to view the latest photo of your young nephew and then returning to work in a better, lighter, more productive mood. Research shows that accident, disruption, distraction, and difference increase our motivation to learn and to solve problems, both individually and collectively. The key is to embrace and even create positive interruptions.

In the future, continuous partial attention will perhaps be seen not as a problem but as a critical new skill. And maybe we won’t call it multitasking, we’ll call it multi-inspiring.

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The Happiness Dilemma

The Riddle of Experience vs Memory

Widely regarded as the world’s most influential living psychologist, Daniel Kahneman won the Nobel in Economics for his pioneering work in behavioral economics — exploring the irrational ways we make decisions about risk.

Using examples from vacations to colonoscopies, Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman reveals how our “experiencing selves” and our “remembering selves” perceive happiness differently. This new insight has profound implications for economics, public policy — and our own self-awareness.


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I dare you…..

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Let’s Get Started! Success here I come!

The Resolution
Making New Year’s Resolution is the easiest thing on earth but how do we keep them when the celebrations are done and the rebooting has begun? A new year begins with great hope, another shot at success ……. Caught up in the enthusiasm of a fresh start we throw ourselves with wild abandon at a vast list of goals ….. to upgrade our knowledge, our health, our relationships and our motivations… we want to stay in the game ….. even get ahead of the game ….. we know we have so much untapped potential …….. we get excited with the anticipation of this awesome journey of self-discovery and progress …. We have a chance to refresh our capabilities and reinforce our confidence so that we can boost our efforts in getting where we want to be……… and we know the secret to any triumph is to get started. This time we will stick to our plan ….. yes we will!

The Problem
BAM … very soon, in fact as soon as we get back to work, the backsliding begins, and we fall into our old habits of thinking, feeling, being and doing….. and very soon all our goals are thrown out the window …. Our goals are doomed because we don’t give them enough time to move us into new landscapes, physical, intellectual, social and psychological landscapes. We decide that our goals are too big, our delusions of grandeur too punishing, and our resolutions too daunting. We prevent our friends and those who believe in us to give us support and even get angry when we are reminded of our resolutions. The new journal we bought to record progress sits empty. The list of rewards we have compiled become the consolation prize rather than a celebration for reaching a milestone. And the unearned pampering reduces our self-esteem….
We are constantly wailing and winging ….. and neglect even simple goals such as updating our cv, or going to the gym twice a week ….. Instead we climb onto the treadmill of ‘musts’ and ignore our ‘wants’.

The Solution
Follow me on twitter @FKazan, and I pledge to keep you motivated so that you can get started and learn new habits to keep going, because there are two mistakes that we make along the road to victory …. not going all the way, and not starting…… And the reasons we give …. ‘I don’t have time…,’, ‘I don’t have money …….’, ‘I don’t know how …’
I will share with you ways to stay on track long enough to shift your thinking and to gain the skills to grow your career and your life that will cost you no money and very little time – wwo minutes a day will keep you moving forward ….

If you are not progressing it is because you do not want to take the first step ….

Only you can make the decisions …..

You have to decide that you are not going to stay where you are, that you want to get somewhere in life ….. the second step will be to decide to get started, to overcome your inertia and just begin …..and the next step is to follow me on twitter …. So that you can do great things with your life….
I will help set achievable goals, accept that not succeeding is not the same as failure, eliminate excuses and keep you on track all year so that you can do what you know you need to do to get where you want to go ….

Remember that you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great!

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How to Reboot your Groundhog Day Existence

The time has come to revel in the successful accomplishments of another year because no matter how stressful the year has been, we have had many wins….and we should salute the glory ….. and continue on our road to prosperity and progress, elevating our human spirit…

Goal Scorecard – Satisfied or Unsatisfied?
It is also the time to review our current situation, qualitatively weighing our scorecard – comparing our sense of progress against our sense of achievement … resulting in the net evaluation ….. Are we dissatisfied (unhappy and frustrated) or just unsatisfied (driven to achieve more)???? Those who make things happen will feel unsatisfied whereas those who watch things happen will probably feel dissatisfied and discouraged…. and those who wonder what happened? …. Well who knows how they feel…. Perhaps they feel nothing at all………………….

I vacillate between being dissatisfied and unsatisfied ……

Groundhog Day-
Every year this time the movie Groundhog Day comes to mind. Phil (Bill Murray) an egocentric, calculating,  Scrooge like  weather forecaster is caught up in a time loop of limited consequences, which means that no matter how he behaves, hedonistic or even suicidal, he is condemned to wake up to the same day over and over again. Until he is prepared to allow his suffering and the fear of near death encounters to be felt deeply, he remains stuck living semi-automatically, in a looping day. Phil is a man exiled from his feelings, arrogant, sarcastic and totally absorbed with his own discomforts, cut off from others, unable to learn and grow from any type of feedback because he believes that he is a plaything of fate. The only way he can liberate himself from a looping day is by converting from a negative reactor of fate to becoming a positive pro-actor of change. He eventually learns how to do this, becoming a more compassionate, authentic self in which intimacy and creativity come naturally and thus is able to get out of his loop of despondency.

It is only recently that I began to realise how many of my limiting beliefs are keeping me rooted in my Groundhog Day … what about you??

Adapt to changing or die!
Are you living your own Groundhog Day, refusing to adapt to a rapidly changing world? Are you ignoring the consequence of global competition to your survival and ultimately to your success? Today getting a job is easier than keeping it, therefore performing at your best at all times is as important, if not more important, than ‘who you know’ or ‘what you know’. Hence you need to work from a position of strength, from your core or natural abilities, reinforced with learning, and adapted into an offering or a work related identity, which must be redesigned periodically to remain in tune and in touch, holding life-long relevance, or else you are dead in the water!

Your job, my job, everybody’s job exists purely because a customer need has surfaced and someone has to satisfy it – directly through sales, or indirectly through accounting. Adapting to the new products and new technologies that pop up continuously is of paramount importance in our effort to satisfy customers and to continue to prosper… and for that we need feedback… from customers, from managers, from peers……

Feedback – Your Weapon of Mass Sensation – Feel the Feelings!
Feedback is a powerful tool that when used correctly can improve performance by allowing you to evaluate your delivery. Heeding advice, criticism, and the views of those you respect, is a necessary pre-requisite to learning – and true learning can only be created when feelings are allowed to respond fully to feedback. These feelings, pain and pleasure, are the navigators into unchartered waters. Having the courage to feel your own suffering and discomfort can transform you to a new state to transcend the repetition, the looping of your Groundhog Day. Don’t be afraid to laugh, to cry, to walk the walk of shame…. That is the only way that you can change your paradigm, to grow out of the unending cycle of pain and misery, to stop running on the same spot over and over, again and again, and to get to where you want to be.
Have the courage to respond appropriately to your world, to fully experience your feelings, to allow your sensations to become conscious. Feelings are your software and once you have brought them to the surface, once you have fully felt them, you need to reboot…..

Mental Nudge – Reboot or Rewind? What is the Difference?
We all need a mental nudge to turn our focus on empowering activities. A do-over is something we all want, a second chance, to start over, hopefully more consciously, more awareness, do things better and faster. We can’t go back in time because in the words of Heraclitus, ‘no man can walk into the same river twice, because he is not the same man and it is not the same river’, everything and everyone changes. Getting a second chance means taking another shot, learning from feedback and applying new learning in the new circumstances with new hope for success, in other words rebooting, rather than rewinding that is, doing the same things and expecting a different results

Although rebooting and rewinding sound the same they are substantially different. Rewinding means we are playing the same thing over again, even though the circumstances change, without changing the self, not factoring our lessons learned from experiences and feedback, responding in a way that keeps us looping into a Groundhog Day existence. Rebooting on the other hand, means we restart but this time our experiences, both painful and pleasurable, are absorbed, modifying our knowledge and beliefs, aligning new learning, adapting our actions, and getting unstuck from our Groundhog Day, and moving forward. Rebooting aligns any conflict between body and mind, heart and soul, often the cause of inaction, preventing you from breaking the unending cycle of the status quo. In contrast, rewinding or repeating our anticipated stance does not work as we continue to repeat our inappropriate response to the circumstances in our life…..
Although a reboot does not recharge your batteries it certainly allows them to work more efficiently.
And the best time to reboot is NOW! This time of year between Christmas and New Year is the rebooting season, filled with all its rituals of rebirth, focusing on compassion for others, and a more altruistic existence, is a perfect time for renewing ourselves. Feedback in the form of confession was very much part of this ritual, has fallen away, very much conspicuous by its absence. It is not surprising that without the guidance of meaningful feedback so many people focus on superficial changes like getting fitter, acquiring more education, building better networks, which are certainly important, but contribute little meaningful change to their lives. Rebirth requires more than changing a few habits or acquiring more skills, it requires changing our mental filters, our limiting beliefs, our self-centred stereotypical view of others; it means assisting fate in giving us what we need in order to get what we want.

We all want to be given another chance to respond more appropriately to the condition of our life however unless were are willing to feel our disappointments and our hurts, the second chance becomes a rewind rather than a reboot, stuck in the past, allowing a recursion of time, and rehashing the same results. A rewind does not improve anything, just repeats what went before, whereas a reboot allows you to operate at a faster, clearer, more energised manner and renewed effort, realigning your aspirations, refresh your offering, and redesigning your strategy to get to where you need to be.

Everyone needs to reboot, whether you are aging into the formal workplace or aging out of it.


The new workplace is tough, unrelenting, and requires having a grip on what is important and of paramount concern to all of us. The most important items in your career toolbox are competence and desire for performance excellence. Nothing is more powerful on a CV than a proven track record of brilliance. As a productivity evangelist, I would like to suggest that 2012 becomes the year of Excellence in South Africa. We are ALL collectively and individually responsible for building this country, we should therefore pledge our commitment to work hard, to do our best and to do it with a sufficient thrust to make a real difference. Let us accept feedback without playing the race, or gender card. Let us get out of our Groundhog Day and move forward. Let us reboot and change the way we look at ourselves… from ‘having’ to ‘doing’- from having ‘paper qualifications’ to ‘delivering excellence’, on time, every time…. From having a title of leader to doing what effective leaders do and build and energise teams ….. Whether in government or private sector, teaching or street sweeping, young or old, black or white, each person can make a difference… that is the true spirit of peace on earth…..

May we all have a prosperous and performance excellent year……

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