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Whether you’re a CEO, an intern, or anywhere in between, It can be difficult to stay motivated at work. There are priorities, challenges and distractions. There are people who help you – and perhaps people who hinder you. There are office politics, layoffs, and lost clients to contend with. Even if you have an inspiring boss, mission, and culture, it can be helpful to have your own tools to drive you and inspire you. Here are eight ways I’ve found to get myself in a good place to be productive, at work and in life, when I’m in need of some inspiration:

1) Read a book.

There are thousands of great, time-tested books available for inspiration and motivation. I wrote on LinkedIn about nine great books that have inspired me and changed my life here. I’m currently reading another amazing, timeless, inspirational book that is having a profound impact: How to Win Friends and Influencer People by Dale Carnegie.

2) Write a blog post or letter.

Reading can be very valuable, but writing requires more thinking, and so it can be even more valuable. Write about something you’re passionate about – write about how to solve a problem, or write an article about your business that you wish you had read yourself a year ago. You don’t even need to publish it for writing to be effective. But if you do want to publish it, here’s how to become a better writer.

3) Exercise.

Sometimes you just need to get the blood flowing. Go for a walk, or a run, or a workout. There are two great advantages of exercise: First, it’s healthy for your body. Second, it forces you to spend time thinking – time when you can’t be on your smartphone or otherwise distracted. As little as 15 minutes of movement can burn some calories – and set your mind on fire with new ideas and inspiration.

4) Write a thank you note.

Not a thank you email, or a thank you text, or even a thank you phone call – a physical, hand-written thank you note. Tony Robbins said, “Gratitude is the antidote to the two things that stop us: fear and anger.” I have found that is impossible to feel upset and grateful at the same time. So every morning, I start out my day by writing three thank-you cards. Here’s more about my thank-you card routine.

5) Perform a random act of kindness.

The ironic and amazing thing about acts of kindness is that they end up being kind-of selfish, because you feel SO great after doing them. Open a door for people leaving it for awhile. Help an elderly lady cross the street. Buy a homeless man lunch. Retweet a bunch of people. Whatever you do, take your mind off of yourself and your problems and focus on helping another person. You’ll come back feeling rejuvenated.

6) Read inspiring quotes.

Reading a book or even an article can take more time than you have to spare sometimes. So it’s worth looking at inspiring quotes from great leaders, writers and thinkers of the past. Google makes it easy – simple search for “Inspiring quotes about [whatever it is that’s on your mind],” and feel better within seconds. Here are 25 of my favorite inspirational quotes for leaders.

7) Listen to music.

Plato said, “Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue.” Looking to educate your soul? Or perhaps just to let off some steam and feel better about the work before you? Turn on your Itunes, or Spotify, YouTube, or even the radio, to elevate your mood through music. Here are 21 songs to inspire you at work– favorites from 21 entrepreneurs I know.

8) Watch an inspiring video.

As inspiring and uplifting as music can be, video can be even more inspiring. Whether it’s your favorite movie, or, if you don’t have time, a short video you find through a quick search on YouTube, you can get in a good mood in just a few minutes. Here are two of my favorite inspirational videos on YouTube, courtesy of “Facing the Giants” and Britain’s Got Talent respectively:

Whether it’s through reading, writing, music, video, or your own virtuous activities, inspiration is absolutely within your reach, anytime you seek it. Whatever challenges lie ahead for you at work, and in life, I hope you’ll embrace these tools to inspire yourself when needed.

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Now it’s your turn. Which of these tools do you use to inspire yourself? What are your favorite inspirational books, songs, quotes, and videos? Which of these tools will you try the next time you’re in need of some inspiration? Let me know in the Comments section below, and please do share this article with your network if you feel so inspired.

 

Source: https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130611015532-15077789-8-simple-ways-to-inspire-yourself-at-work?trk=mp-reader-card&_mSplash=1

Three things determine a company’s adherence: Focus, competence, and passion. Multiply them together, and you’ve got a measure of a company’s stick-to-it-tive-ness.

Plant in Hand of Values

At Inc.’s Leadership conference in San Diego this week, co-founder of The L Group and author Lee Colan challenged his audience to rethink the factors that lead to business success.

He said that while the temptation to tweak one’s product or strategy may be alluring, one thing separates the decent performers from the elite: adherence. In other words, the ability to stick to your plan and execute, day in and day out.

Three things determine a company’s adherence, said Colan: Focus, competence, and passion. Multiply them together, and you’ve got a measure of a company’s stick-to-it-tive-ness. And because adherence is a multiplicative function–not an additive one—a zero in any one of those three areas means the company can’t stick to anything at all.

Here’s how Colan exhorted his audience to improve their scores in all three areas:

Focus

This is the area that Colan said was hardest for entrepreneurs. They start out doing one thing, but then a big client asks for something else, and pretty soon they’re all over the map. “Find the one thing that, if you get it done, means your day is a victory no matter what else happens,” said Colan. “Not everything has equal value. I guarantee you there is one thing. If you identify that it will bring tremendous clarity to you and your team.”

Colan also said there is a filter between your conscious and subconscious mind that decides what to bring to the fore. Once you’ve decided on your “thing,” it’s important not to keep it a secret. Talk to people about it, and research it. Colan said it’s not that you get back what you put into the universe – it’s that focusing on your “thing” encourages your brain to make sure you notice related information and opportunities.

Competence

Everyone in your company should have a scorecard, said Colan. And it doesn’t have to be high-tech or wait for your next ERP implementation. Use scratch marks on a wall if you have to. The point is that each employee should know, when they take an action, that it’s going to change the numbers on their scorecard.

A big part of competence is accountability, said Colan. And “ambiguity is the Achilles heel of accountability…. We have to be way more specific than we think we need to be.” He demonstrated this by asking the audience to fold a piece of paper, tear off a particular corner, fold it again, tear off another corner, and repeat. Even though his directions seemed clear, most people’s papers looked nothing alike at the end.

Even a simple sentence such as “I’ll get right back to you,” needs to be more specific, said Colan. Is that “I’ll get right back to you after this call?” After my next meeting? After lunch? Before the end of the day? Specificity needs to become a habit,” added Colan.

Passion

Here is where entrepreneurs thrive, said Colan. “This is the ‘Why?’ question and it’s the most important one you can ask. It’s the motivator.”

Rituals are key to igniting passion, said Colan. And every company has rituals, whether the management realizes it or not. What time to people come in and leave? Who eats lunch with whom? Do you have daily huddles or weekly meetings? For leaders, the goal is use to ritual “to build a bridge between today’s task and a brighter tomorrow. You can’t do rituals for rituals’ sake. They have to have a purpose.”

“People need to understand the difference they’re making,” said Colan. “How do we improve? Why do we exist? The ‘why’ question is much harder to answer than the ‘what’ question.”

 

Source: http://www.inc.com/kimberly-weisul/3-keys-to-entrepreneurial-success.html

At Johns Hopkins Medicine, as at many organizations, we take nurturing the next generation of leaders very seriously. But we’ve found that some people who seemed promising as up-and-coming leaders didn’t turn out to be effective in that role, despite what had been stellar careers up until then.

To be sure, this is an unusually demanding environment for leaders, not only because of our high expectations for performance, but also because we expect most of our leaders to have an impact on multiple realms, including health care delivery, research, education and administration—including health care environments outside the U.S.

Plus, having raw leadership potential is by no means a guarantee of success—it just earns a position in the starting gate. In most cases where we found leaders running into trouble, they were actually wrestling with particular challenges that are unique to leadership roles.

The good news is that these challenges can be overcome, especially for organizations and would-be leaders who learn to anticipate these potential traps. Here are the five biggest leadership traps we’ve identified:

1) Focusing on technical skills instead of leadership skills. Candidates for leadership positions often come to the fore by virtue of being very good in some sort of specialized role. At Johns Hopkins they are usually outstanding clinician-researchers or administrative managers, but they could be from any part of the organization. Those skills can continue to come in handy in a leadership role, but they’re not the key skills needed to succeed as a leader. Effective leaders have to loosen their reliance on the skills that have gotten them this far, and develop a new set of skills, such as setting a vision and inspiring others to drive toward that vision, needed to effect organizational change.

2) Not seeing the forest for the trees. Being the leader of an organization requires confronting what might be a large set of challenges, each of them associated with a great deal of information, be it related to operations, finances, marketing, organizational structure, and much more. It’s easy for managers who are moving into leadership roles to be overwhelmed by trying to deal with all of them. Successful leaders take only the most important information from all of the components and synthesize them into the big picture that is the proper focus of a leader.

3) Jumping in too quickly. When someone has earned a leadership position, his or her first instinct is often to act. Jumping right in doesn’t always fail, but it often does. For one thing, people are typically apprehensive about what a new leader might do, and might be apt to view any immediate action as abrasive and ill-thought-out. For another, understanding the true nature of the challenges facing an organization, and of the people who will be implementing the solutions, usually requires time. It’s worth taking that time, and easing into decisive action rather than leaping into it.

4) Trying to get everyone to think the same way. A leader sets the vision, and picks the team to implement that vision. It might seem that the best team is one in which everyone has the same style, approach and understanding of the problem as the leader. But in fact, a team’s strength often comes from a diversity of these elements. If the team perfectly reflects the leader’s thinking, then he or she will be much more prone to going down the wrong path with no one to point it out or bring to bear different approaches and perspective.

5) Not playing the long game. The team has to get measurable results in a reasonably fast time frame, and part of a leader’s job is to hold the team to that. But leaders have to be much more patient with their own progress. If they’re doing their jobs as the setter of organizational vision and driver of significant change, it might be many months or even years before they see the real results of their efforts—and things may well get worse before they get better. That can mean that in the short term many people think they’re not being successful, and become impatient with the apparent lack of results. If the right vision is in place, leaders need to be thick-skinned and trust their decisions, or no one else will. It doesn’t mean the vision is right, but if it’s wrong, it’s trouble no matter what—so faith is important, even during those times when others hesitate to offer it. It’s one of the qualities that separate leaders from followers.

Source: http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130613154406-37102839-five-traps-effective-leaders-avoid?trk=tod-home-art-large_0

Did you snap at a colleague who didn’t get her work done? Or did you miss an important deadline, messing up a coworker’s project timeline? When your mistake affects someone else, here’s how to make amends:

  • Admit that you were wrong. Own up to what you did — or failed to do.
  • Show you understand the repercussions. Don’t assume you know what your coworker feels or thinks, but acknowledge that you know you’ve negatively affected him.
  • Tell her what you will do differently. Reassure her that you won’t behave the same way in the future. Be specific about what you will change.

Source: Harvard Business Review – Management Tip of the Day

The role of professionals in society, like the role of companies, is shifting. As professionals, we are increasingly aware of the critical role we play in society and the responsibility to ensure our talents are accessible not only to those that can afford them. It is time that in addition to assessing the responsibility of companies, we take a hard look at professional social responsibility.

To that end the Taproot Foundation has generated the first ever professional social responsibility (PSR) ranking for “office” professions (e.g. not doctors or teachers).

TAPROOT PSR RANKINGS BY PROFESSION

The PSR by profession provides broad insight into the relative responsibility of professions regardless of their employer or employment status. Professionals on average donate five hours per year with lawyers leading the pack at over 25 hours.

  1. Legal
  2. Management
  3. Art, Design, Entertainment, Sports & Media
  4. Architecture and Engineering
  5. Business & Financial Operations
  6. Computer and Mathematical Science
  7. Sales and Related

This ranking is created based on US Census data on hours of pro bono services provided per member of each class of profession.

TAPROOT PSR RANKINGS BY PROFESSIONAL SERVICES FIRMS

One of the best ways to measure the responsibility of professionals is by measuring the commitment to pro bono service by professional services firms. These professional services firms set the expectations for their profession.

Tier One (5%+)

Design Firms

Tier Two (2-5%)

Law Firms

Architecture Firms

Management Consulting Firms

Tier Three (1-2%)

Advertising Firms

Public Relations Firms

Tier Four (0.5 – 1%)

Technology Firms

Human Resources / Talent Development Firms

Market Research Firms

Tier Five (Under 0.5%)

Accounting Firms

As there is no consistent and reliable data on pro bono service at firms, Taproot has generated these rankings based on our over a dozen years working in the field. The numbers associated are the estimated average percentage of billable hours done on a pro bono basis.

Source: http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130517124003-201849-2013-professional-social-responsibility-rankings

When it comes to being interviewed, many candidates naturally are nervous, thinking over what questions they’ll be asked and making sure they are selling themselves in the interview. And similarly, the people doing the interviewing often forget that they not only need to be sold on the candidate but they also need to sell the role they’re hiring for. I’ve found more often than not, candidates neglect to “interview the company” they are meeting with and find out whether the organization is a good fit for them.

The fact is, our greatest and most valuable asset is our human capital. The way we invest that capital is up to us, and it is a responsibility we should not take lightly. Why invest your greatest asset in a company that won’t give you the best return? This is not about compensation at all; it is about the ability to do one’s best work and grow as a professional. A bad decision on investing one’s skills can lead to the biggest loss, which is unrecoverable – lost time! My grandfather used to remind me always that “time and tide” wait for no one. The opportunity to do great work that is lost because of a bad decision is too big to not take seriously.

In the end, you have to manage your career objectively. When you go on an interview, you need to interview your hiring manager and assess the company you are about to bet on, just as seriously as they’re interviewing you. Then very thoughtfully make the best investment of your talents.

Taking a new job always presents a risk – you are coming out of your comfort zone where you presumably have a certain level of security and influence. But a new role often presents opportunities to stretch yourself, make new connections and expand your knowledge. And most importantly, contribute to your industry at a greater level. When you face these decisions you have to have a clear vision on how you want to invest your stock.

To find out how the potential employer will invest in you, ask questions that get at the heart of what you’re looking for in your next role. Determine if the hiring manager has a clear and specific vision for the role. Is there consistency around the true north of the organization amongst all the people you are talking to? Is the company or team structured in a way that you can learn and grow? Are they asking insightful questions, or regurgitating generic interview questions that don’t really let them know what you’re about? You have to dig deeper about the role and structure to find out if this job will make your stock rise over time.

And don’t forget – the interview starts the moment you arrive in the parking lot. Look around – are the people engaged? Excited? Are you seeing employees passionately discuss topics, or are they closed off? Pay attention to the little cues you see while you’re there to get a sense if this would be a place that will raise your stock. And always research the company in great depth before you make your final decision. Read analyst reports, browse their job site, look at age of open jobs, find those in your extended network who may have insight into the company culture. Just as you wouldn’t invest your money in a stock without researching it in great depth, don’t invest your human capital in a company without a lot of due diligence.

Learning the skill of interviewing a hiring manager will in the end net you the best opportunities in your career.

Source: http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20130514133743-10904058-how-to-interview-your-hiring-manager

How can you get any work done when you’re in meetings all day? You can’t. But instead of griping, be more discerning about which meetings you go to. Before saying yes to invitation, ask yourself, “If I was sick on the day of this meeting, would it need to be rescheduled?” If you answer “no,” then decline the meeting and try one of these less time-intensive alternatives:

  • Get an agenda. Ask to look at the agenda ahead of time so you can pass on your comments to the meeting organizer to share on your behalf. (Bonus: This may force him to actually make an agenda!)
  • Delegate. Send someone else from your group to communicate your team’s perspective.
  • Ask for notes. If someone is going to share important information but you’ll just be listening, request a copy of the meeting notes after the fact.

Source: Management Tip of the Day, Harvard Business Review

employee engagement

Every manager wants a team of dedicated employees. And yet, many bosses fail to do their part to make this happen. Here are two things you can do for your employees to earn their commitment:

  • Put their needs before yours. Treat them justly and do what’s right for them and the organization, not just what works for you personally. Give them opportunities to excel, and provide support if they fail. Be willing to take personal risks for the right employee. This will generate loyalty for years to come.
  • Give them autonomy. Freedom can exponentially increase an employee’s excitement. Make sure their passions align with the organizational direction, and give them some high-level boundaries, resources, and introductions to make it happen. Then remove obstacles and help them handle challenges. Most importantly, always give them credit for their success.

Source: Management Tip of the Day, 17 December 2012

Stick to this list and your employees will be committed to their jobs, as well as your company

Company CultureBuilding a company culture of engaged employees takes years and requires consistent execution.  I boiled down our culture strategy into 10 essential components I call the “10 Cs of Culture.”

1. Core Values

I used to be very cynical about “core values.”  I thought these were just mottos written on plaques hanging on the wall.  But when we implemented our values strategy at Beryl about 10 years ago, I began to see how they guided everyday decision-making and how employees referenced them in meetings.  I came to realize they are essential guideposts when developed, communicated, and executed in a consistent manner.  Values are those behaviors that will never change no matter how the company changes.  Today, our values are not only painted on the walls, but also discussed from the first day an employee joins Beryl.  We start every big meeting with a conversation about values and tell stories about how our coworkers live by those values on a daily basis.

2. Camaraderie

Camaraderie is about having fun.  It’s about getting to know colleagues not just as colleagues, but what they’re like outside the office.  To do that, Beryl hosts dress-up days, parties, games, and events all the time.  We have annual traditions like family day, the Gong show, March Madness, the fall festival, and a holiday party.  We include not only employees, but also their families.  We publish a bi-monthly full-color magazine called Beryl Life that is sent to the homes of co-workers.  Kids of our employees compete to design the t-shirt for our annual family day and families even participate in our talent show

3. Celebrations

You can’t underestimate the importance of recognizing your team.  While it may be important for your people to hear from the CEO, it also feels great for them to hear from peers.  At Beryl, we developed a program we call PRIDE (Peers Recognizing Individual Deeds of Excellence).  This allows coworkers to recognize others for living up to Beryl’s core values.  We also have quarterly contests for people who have received PRIDE certificates.  We go out of our way to celebrate personal successes too, like baby showers, sports accomplishments, or educational milestones.

4. Community

Part of the fabric of a successful company culture is connecting with and giving back to the local community.  Even though Beryl is a national company serving national customers, we have dedicated countless hours to community service in Bedford, Texas (where Beryl is based) to help those in need.  This not only helps the organization’s Beryl support, but brings great pride to staffers.

5. Communication

At Beryl, I encourage formal and informal communication consistently and at all levels of the company.  I hold quarterly Town Hall meetings, which includes six meetings over two days.  This is a challenge since Beryl is a 24-hour call center; we make money being on the phone, not off it.  Yet I also have informal “chat and chews” where I bring in lunch for 12 to 15 people and just ask one question–How’s it going?–to get the conversation started.  I send a monthly personal letter to the staff with pictures of my family, and set up an internal website called “Ask Paul” for anyone that has a question not easy to share in a group.

6. Caring

Show your employees you genuinely care about them in the totality of their lives.  To do this at Beryl, we set up a program called BerylCares.  Any manager can explain a situation on an internal website that identifies a coworker, and lists what’s going on (birth, death, injury, wedding, among other things).  That submission generates an email to me that is my trigger to send a personal notecard, make a phone call, or visit someone in a hospital.  We also provide behind-the-scenes financial help to people who need extra assistance.

7. Commitment to Learning

Show your employees you’re committed to their professional growth. This can be done in small, incremental steps. You might set up a book club, say. But it can become more formal over time by subscribing to online learning programs or developing management training courses.  

8. Consistency

Culture is based on traditions.  When you come up with great programs or events, make them regular events and do them consistently. One-time efforts to improve the culture will feel disingenuous.  This can take years, but makes a profound difference, that pays off when employees enjoy where they work and genuinely like their colleagues.

9. Connect

Don’t isolate yourself at the top.  Connect with people at all levels of your company.  Get out of your comfort zone.  At Beryl, I’ve starred in funny videos that put me in uncompromising or embarrassing positions.  If the staff plans a dress-up day or ping-pong tournament, I participate.  I laugh and cry with employees, too.

10. Chronicles

Does everyone in your organization know how the company started?  Do they know the personal stories of the founders and what led them to build a sustainable business?  People want to know they are part of something special and unique.  Greet new employees by telling the history of the company, and impart stories that led to current culture and strategies.

Source: http://www.inc.com/paul-spiegelman/great-company-culture-elements.html

Why aren’t U.S. businesses leading the global economy to recovery? Erratic capital markets, systemic risk, tax policy, and regulatory uncertainty have all been offered as culprits, and all play their parts. But another factor is lurking that may eclipse the rest and, if left unaddressed, will continue to put the U.S. at a severe global disadvantage — the great mismatch between skilled jobs and the talent needed to fill them. The failure to find and nurture this talent is preventing U.S. companies from innovating their way to competitive advantage.

This problem is alarmingly widespread and not limited to start-ups: According to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ 15th annual CEO survey, released at last January’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, nearly 50% of CEOs from all sectors and all corners of the globe say that this skill gap has become more difficult to fill.

How is it possible that finding talented employees is a problem for U.S. (and European) business when unemployment rates remain so stubbornly high? Why are CEOs having just as much trouble finding talent now as they did in tighter job markets?

The problem is that the financial meltdown that has swelled the unemployment ranks is dwarfed by the on-going effects of the digital transformation of world markets. This transformation was taking place well before the financial crisis, but while other trends ended or shifted gears, the transformation to digital economies kept on going, with very little interruption.

An interesting thing happened on the way to the future. Innovations like smart phones and the ease of transporting financial data through mobile technology are having a more immediate positive effect on emerging economies than on developed ones; demographics are on their side, and there were few legacy industries that needed to be supplanted or creatively destroyed. They skipped over the heavy capital expenditure required to put infrastructure like wires in the ground and went straight to mobile phones.

Companies and industry sectors in the West are only just beginning to realize the promise of the digital revolution and to understand its profound impact. As one bank CEO interviewed for our survey put it, “Our future competitors will not be traditional banks, but large technology companies.”

The paradigm shift at work here is just now becoming apparent. Manufacturing companies are beginning to regain their competitive edge through new applications of technology in the production process. Consumer goods companies are trying to figure out how to sell directly to customers. Retailers, long viewed as mostly domestic players, are stretching their reach globally by becoming “omni-channel” retailers.

Traditionally, such transformations create skills gaps that are temporary. But a transformation of this scale will take a lot longer than such shifts have in the recent past. That means the mismatch between talent and demand for constant innovation will likely remain high on the agenda of CEOs of businesses in both the East and the West long after the financial crisis resolves.

Already, 75% of the U.S. CEOs and 70% of global CEOs in our survey say they are investing in training to ensure a future pipeline of qualified employees. Such training will likely need to be on-going, as the digital revolution plays out in continual technological innovation. However, companies can’t do it alone. As we work our way out of the greatest recession in 80 years and into this burgeoning digital economy, CEOs are looking for a partnership with government. In fact, 57% of U.S. CEOs said creating and fostering a skilled workforce should be a top priority of governments. So while the appetite to invest is there, U.S. CEOs are looking to forge more public-private partnerships, to fully embrace the challenges and opportunities of the digital transformation that in turn will help restore competitiveness.

But beyond that, for U.S. companies to become and remain competitive, they will need to find people who are not just trained in, familiar with, or comfortable with these ever-transforming technologies, but also those with the entrepreneurial drive to conceive of practical, productive — and profitable — uses for them.

Source: Harvard Business Reveiw