Monthly Archives: December 2012

Sound Advice or Self-Promotional Noise?

A colleague of mine sent along a recent posting from the Last Word business advice column from Inc. Magazine today.  It was written by Steve Tobak, a coach and consultant from Silicon Valley who enjoyed success with a couple of IPOs during the heyday of the tech boom.  In his latest column, Mr. Tobak declares why employee engagement is not important and should be, basically, ignored.  In his opening paragraph, he asserts that employee engagement is simply a rebranding of employee satisfaction and goes on to state that these surveys don’t do any good.  The first comment either lacks a fundamental understanding of the difference between engagement and satisfaction, or is simply dismissive of the concept.  The second comment appears disconnected and, quite frankly, a bit of nonsense. In what way does a survey ever resolve anything?

Mr. Tobak goes on to comment that some experts don’t believe there’s a correlation between employee engagement and business performance.  His evidence for this is provided in a link to another coach-written article from two and a half years ago that is cursory at best, and goes on, when the author is citing a study from the American Psychological Association, to actually contradict himself.  Mr. Tobak provides another link to an additional opinion piece to support his perspective that employee engagement is a racket.  Not coincidently, this piece also focused on surveys and not on initiatives.  At no point did Mr. Tobak reference the seminal study published in the Harvard Business Review® that demonstrated companies that engage both their associates and customers, on an emotional and cognitive level, enjoy a 240% improvement in financial performance.  Nothing was cited from studies from the fields of affective neuroscience, contemplative neuroscience, social neuroscience or applied behavioral economics either.  Each of these fields have clearly demonstrated the biochemical affect that connection, engagement and emotional well-being has on an associate’s state of coherence, psychological flow and entrainment; all key biological states of being that support creative thinking and higher, cognitive processing.

The piece goes on to focus on the anecdotal, failed execution of managerial initiatives which we’ve all been witness to in the past.  Just because an enterprise fails to execute on an idea doesn’t mean the idea, in and of itself, was false.  It simply points to poor execution.  Mr. Tobak closes his argument against employee engagement by describing a mock (his word, not mine) interview he conducted with one of his executive clients he is coaching.  Yes, a sample size of one.  He asked his client, out of a list of four groups, who’s interests should he serve first.  He shared his client’s priorities: 1. Customers, 2. The Boss, 3.) Internal Customers, 4.) The Employees.  While I sincerely agree with placing the customer first and foremost, is it any wonder this executive is in need of coaching?  So, using a shifting set of examples that never addressed engagement (a focus on surveys and an obviously biased set of assumptions) and the opinions of two columnist and one coaching client, we have the results.  According to Mr. Tobak, employee engagement doesn’t matter.

A bit stunned by disbelief (I assume Mr. Tobak is a bright, competent individual), I looked into some of his other columns.  What became readily apparent was the sound-bite nature of his work.  Everything is written as a list of superlatives or dangerous perils we must avoid.  After reading several columns, and one in particular in which he also dismissed Emotional Intelligence as another fad (the science has been rolling in for nearly twenty years on EI and its impact on organizational fitness, so I’m not sure you can still call it a fad), it became obvious that Mr. Tobak writes for sensationalism and positions himself as the contrarian as a point of differentiation.  It’s easy to knock down progressive thinking and continue to wave yesterday’s management banner.  It is simple marketing 101.

When disingenuous writing is used to drive traffic to a site a funny thing eventually emerges; the contrarian contradicts themselves.  On Mr. Tobak’s website, he quotes Lao Tzu:

He who knows men is clever;

He who knows himself has insight.

He who conquers men has force;

He who conquers himself is truly strong.

Sounds an awful lot like self-awareness and self-regulation to me; the first two tenets of Emotional Intelligence.

© 2012, Terry Murray.

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Leadership 2030 ~ A Vision for Mindful Leadership Development in Young Girls

The Just For Girls Academy, the Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy and Performance Transformation, LLC™ collaborate to create the first Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning program in the United States to be adopted as part of a charter school’s core curriculum.

466805_461139157257072_1200375813_oLast Friday, I had the privilege to appear on Patricia Raskin’s Positive Business radio program.  Co-hosts Patricia and MariAnn Snow inquired about our new, collaborative educational development program, SMART Girls.  During the first segment of the show, we explored the emotional, psychological and behavioral benefits a relationship-based approach to Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning can deliver for young girls.

Yesterday, with the seamless support and leadership of Gail Clifton, Sam Toomey and the remarkable, heart-centered volunteers at SMART, (Bradenton, FL), we conducted our second workshop with the young ladies from the Just For Girls Academy.  Dr. Jennifer Rosenboom, the principal of the academy, members of their teaching staff and Becky Canesse, the CEO of Just For Girls, were also present, providing their support, guidance, and leadership  for the girls experiencing yesterday’s workshop.

Shortly after watching a girl in second grade set a soft and respectful boundary with Jazz, a quiet paint mare at SMART, I started thinking about the world these girls will be inheriting.  In 2030, these girls will be matriculating out of school and finding their places in the world.  When I try to look forward seventeen years, I struggle to even begin to imagine what the pace of change, constraints on resources, technological advancements, and hopefully a few social advancements will have done to shape their lives.

When I look back seventeen years, to 1996, I see a much different world.  Remember when you’d lose the digital signal on your StarTac and the battery would drain in a matter of minutes running on analog?  Remember the screech of modems connecting over a phone line?  Remember Netscape?  Daniel Goleman’s book, “Emotional Intelligence” was a best seller alongside “The Dilbert Principle”.  Gas cost $1.23 a gallon and unemployment was at 5.6%.  So looking forward, to 2030, it is difficult to visualize what things will look like, but I sense ambiguity and rapid change are unlikely to dissipate.

This is why we are so excited about the work our unique collaboration (of public/private, nonprofit/for profit organizations) is doing to educate and develop what Ms. Canesse and Dr. Rosenboom refer to as educating the whole girl.  Each and every girl is developing mindful leadership competencies based in compassion, authentic empathy and the connection and presence that emerges when one is being of service to others.  The challenges these young women are likely to face demands nothing else.  Mindful adaptability and being secure in one’s intrinsic values will greatly serve these young people as they step out into the world of 2030.

It is the same world we need to consider when we train our next generation of business leaders as well.  In the second segment of the program, we discuss the neurophysiological dynamics of our approach to leadership development and the positive impact this has in today’s multi-cultural, multi-generational, rapidly changing, global workplace.  We discuss how the introduction of novel, experiential learning, supported by an educationally-based approach to coaching, cultivates organizational fitness and mindful leadership capable of driving engagement, creativity and innovation through the fog of an ambiguous landscape.

You’re welcome to listen in to the podcast below:

© 2012, Patricia Raskin.

© 2012, Terry Murray.

Photograph courtesy of SMART.

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Filed under Diversity & Inclusion, Experiential Learning, Leadership Development

Speak with Author Terry Murray Live on Patricia Raskin’s Positive Business™ Radio Show

For Immediate Release

Entrepreneur, Author, and Business Strategy Architect Terry Murray will be appearing live on Patricia Raskin’s nationally syndicated, call-in radio program, Positive Business™, today, December 7th at 4:30 p.m., E.D.T.

New Cover 2:18:11Terry Murray, author of “The Transformational Entrepreneur ~ Engaging The Mind, Heart & Spirit For Breakthrough Business Success”, is scheduled for a live interview with renowned radio talk show host Patricia Raskin, this afternoon at 4:30 p.m., E.D.T.

Terry’s book provides a step-by-step approach for creating and sustaining breakthrough performance in today’s volatile world.  Looking beyond conventional wisdom, Terry re-examines his entrepreneurial experiences to examine the human elements that consistently drive creativity, innovation and success.  The book was recently cited in the March, 2012 edition of the academic Journal For Economic Literature.

“We’re well past the Industrial Age, and in fact we’ve moved beyond the Information Age.  We now live in the Idea Age,” adds Terry.  “In today’s global economy, intellectual property is the driver of value creation.  The source of commercially viable ideas are people.  Highly engaged, talented, passionate people.  Human beings, and our remarkably creative and adaptive abilities, are the raw material for business in the 21st century.  The traditional, Industrial Age approach to leadership, strategy and organizational culture must also evolve in parallel with this evolutionary shift.”

Listeners are welcome to call into the show at (888) 345-0790.  The program is syndicated throughout the United States and will stream live at http://www.790business.com.

Ms. Raskin has interviewed more nearly 2,000 guests on her show.  Her past guests include such luminaries as Dr. Mehmet Oz, Maya Angelou, Gay Hendricks, Debbie Ford Dr. Ravi Rao and Dr. Andrew Weil.  In addition, she has written over 700 newspaper articles and produced and hosted 500 television programs and documentaries.

A podcast of the program will be posted on Terry’s blog site shortly after airing.

© 2012, Performance Transformation, LLC™.

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Filed under Diversity & Inclusion, Experiential Learning, Health Care, Leadership Development, Organizational Culture, Team Building

Are You Leading for Emotional Competitive Advantage?

In his new book, Emotional Business – Inspiring Human Connectedness to Grow Earnings and the Economy, Dr. Ravi Rao provides a concise, reflective and highly pragmatic approach to understanding the role human emotions play in commerce and how, as business leaders in the 21st century, embracing and engaging in emotional competitive advantage is a strategic imperative.

f_3dI recently enjoyed the opportunity to appear on Patricia Raskin’s Positive Business radio program with a distinguished gentleman by the name of Dr. Ravi Rao.  I came away from the interview sincerely impressed with Dr. Rao’s insights.  Having just read his book, my impression has escalated to distinct admiration.  Dr. Rao knows of what he speaks.  His educational background includes an M.ED. in early childhood development, a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, an M.D. from the University of Virginia Medical School and he received his neurosurgeon training at Harvard Med.  In 2000, he left medicine to join a leading business consulting firm and now runs his own company helping companies and organizations understand the critical nature of human emotions and the role these emotions play in driving or derailing success.

His book is neither a scholarly treatise filled with regression analysis nor is it an anecdotal collection of success stories.  It is very much a pragmatic, exceptionally useful and grounded guide to the human emotional landscape, offering clear guidelines as to how the lessons from social neuroscience can deliver emotional competitive advantage for businesses operating in today’s Ideas Economy.

Emotional Business is a highly accessible read, breaking down the applications of Dr. Rao’s insights from real world experiences into distinct, operational applications.  He describes the seven emotional needs of customers and how organizations must strategize and choose which customers they wish to resonate with and how the tradeoffs of these decision may effect performance.  He goes on to apply social neuroscience to team dynamics and explains how managing the emotional vigor of the team must be primary and ongoing for cohesion and achievement.  Moving into organizational strategy, Dr. Rao discusses how successful organizations apply a mix of nine emotional constructs into every phase of the enterprise’s endeavors.  The book goes on to explore scientifically grounded approaches for conflict management, addressing a disfunctional culture, nimble and empathetic listening, dealing with stress and the critical importance of gatherings to cultivate shared values, vision and passionate engagement.

Dr. Rao’s last chapter resonates with a philosophical message we both share.  Get the emotions right and you’ll get the business right.  Get the business right and we can change the world!   I often say I don’t know how to change culture, but I do know how to change business culture.  This is the key to driving positive change in our society and world, fore the experiences we all encounter in our daily work resonates into our personal lives.  Business has the power to drive positive, social change.

Our firm has delved into the neuroscience literature for more than four years.  In our programs and workshops we leverage the lessons we’ve garnered surrounding  coherence, psychological flow, entrainment, Core Mammalian Emotional Systems as well as lessons learned through research and actual experiences employing Applied Behavioral Economics.  Dr. Rao break’s down much of what we’ve learned and continue to apply into an easy-to-read, concise collection of step-by-step methodologies to enhance emotional engagement, creativity and performance in today’s rapidly shifting economic landscape.

I highly recommend this book!

© 2012, Terry Murray.

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Filed under Diversity & Inclusion, Health Care, Leadership Development, Organizational Culture, Sales Training, Strategic Planning, Team Building

An Example of Collaborative Leadership Delivering Innovation in Education

Our firm had the privilege last week to be a part of something truly important and remarkably innovative.  We were a part of the first Equine Facilitated Experiential Learning program in the nation to be adopted into the core curriculum of a charter school for at-risk girls.  This was the result of a collaborative effort of a unique consortium of entities.  The pilot program could not have come together without three organizations and their leadership pulling together to spark this vision into reality.

The leadership team from the Just For Girls Academy in Bradenton, Florida displayed courage and an innovative spirit in sharing this vision with us earlier in the year.  Becky Canesse, the CEO of Just For Girls, and Dr. Jennifer Rosenboom, the school’s principal, took the first steps to usher this progressive idea into reality.  Leadership of a charter school seeking fresh, meaningful approaches for educating, in their words, the whole girl.  None of this could have happened without another noteworthy community leader coming in to the consortium; Gail Clifton, the volunteer Executive Director of SMART (the Sarasota Manatee Association for Riding Therapy, also in Bradenton), a 501(c)(3) that has been supporting the needs of children in the community for over 25 years.  Gail graciously provided the facilities, the exceptional horses, curriculum support and a team of heart-centered volunteers to make this all happen.  Yet another leader from our organization, Sarah Murray, Director of Business Development, worked with Gail and Dr. Rosenboom to co-create and align the curriculum and finalize the schedules for the series of workshops.

I find this breathtaking.  A public/private collaboration that drew upon the talents and resources of a charter school, a private charitable corporation and a for-profit company coming together to benefit the lives and futures of nearly 90 young girls in our community.  A collaborative effort that introduced a truly innovative approach to educating our children.  An approach that is focused on experientially imparting the emotional intelligence skills, sense of self, healthy boundaries, and empathy for one another that are so critical to success and wellbeing in the growing complexity of our contemporary times.  Success based upon intrinsic values, not the extrinsic values these young people are bombarded with by the mindless media that simply wants to drive consumerism and amplify divisiveness.  Intrinsic values that transcend the superficial differences of our multi-cultural, global community.  Values that celebrate and take joy in personal development, authentic relationships and being of service to others.

The courage and leadership these second graders displayed was humbling.  I personally watched these wondrous children face their fears and muster the courage, with only the adults holding the space for them and providing a safe environment, to face their fears and walk right through them.  I watched as these polite, charming young ladies held each others’ hands as they did so, providing peer support to one another with love and respect.  I watched as they engaged in their emotions with remarkable self-awareness, allowing themselves to feel the full spectrum of their emotional landscape that ran the range from anxiousness to joyousness.

This is what can be accomplished when diverse groups of leaders collaborate to deliver positive change.  This lesson transcends organizations and organizational objectives, as it is a lesson in the capabilities of the human spirit.

I encourage you all to visit the websites of these two organizations and open your hearts at this time of year with your generous support.

© 2012, Terry Murray.

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Filed under Diversity & Inclusion, Experiential Learning, Health Care, Leadership Development