The One Thing That Connects Us All

August 28, 2014

empathyI’ve taught emotional intelligence for 14 years now.  One of the most common emotional competencies we teach is empathy.  Empathy is perhaps one of our most misunderstood emotional competencies.  Most of our folks confuse empathy with sympathy.  They think that they are to be sympathetic to the other person on give in no matter what.  What we teach them is that empathy is simply being able to put yourself in the other person’s shoes.  To see what they see, to hear what they hear, to feel what they feel.

And when you can do that, you can make connections that are most profound.  And it is through these connections that you learn to find solutions that didn’t exist when you didn’t practice your empathy.  There is a great video from the Cleveland Clinic that illustrates this point well.   Watch it and see if you don’t gain perspective from the video.


I think the death of Robin Williams illustrates this point very well.  This man was funny, kind, smart, and very successful.  He had no money worries.  And yet, he suffered from severe depression.  The following quote has been attributed to many people:  “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”  So true.  So if we are all fighting these battles, empathy connects us all in a very profound way.  So today, take the time to truly listen and understand.  And if you don’t understand, ask questions, or just use the magic phrase, “tell me more about that”.

And if you want more methodology around your empathy, check out this Empathy Map:

It gives you some guidelines to follow to help you to work on your empathy skills.  Good luck!


Never Underestimate the Impact That You Have on Others

August 21, 2014


Recently I received the following in a Linked In message:  “Just wondering what you are up to these days. It’s over 11 years since our session in Callaway Gardens, which I still remember as fundamentally life-changing. Since then, I have faced many challenges, and I fall back on those lessons-learned fairly often (perhaps too often!)  Regards,  John”  The name has been changed to protect the person’s identity.

Wow!  That was 11 years ago and this person is still deriving value from our few days together in a program.  Those small life lessons, those kind words, those insights have stuck with him, and changed his outlook and responses to life’s ever-changing landscape.

The opposite is also true.  My wife, Andrea, was told by one of her teachers that she “wasn’t a science person”.  That stuck with her.  She never thought she was good at science and became a counselor.  Years later, she went to Life Chiropractic and became a chiropractor, and has been practicing for over 30 years. She is an amazing chiropractor and heads up the part of our leadership programs that focus on physical well-being and performance.  Chiropractic is highly technical and you have to remember minute details of human anatomy and physiology.  And she did it despite her teacher’s ludicrous proclamation.  Imagine if he had told her that with some hard work and effort, she could be amazing at science and that she could be anything that she desired to be?  What would the outcome have been?  Andrea overcame that assessment of her and has done very well.  But what about all of those people out there that have been beaten down by authority figures, parents, and teachers?  What untapped potential are we destroying with our words?

Words are very powerful.  Choose them carefully.  You can either build people up and set the foundation for a future that is full of possibilities or you can tear people down and set the tone for their life that diminishes their potential and who they are as human beings.  So, make up your mind today to take every opportunity to build people up and increase their potential.  Together, we can create a world where everyone is valued for their unique talents.  Together, we can help to unlock the limitless potential that is in every human being.

Struggling Sucks . . . or Does it?

August 14, 2014


There is a Twilight Zone episode where a low life gambler dies and goes to another place.  In this place, he has beautiful women, the finest of clothes, and lots of money.  He wins every hand of poker, he wins every round of roulette, he hits the cue ball to break for pool and every ball goes into the pockets.  He loves it at first.  Then he became bored.  He gets tired of not having to struggle and never being able to lose.  He finally yells at his host and tells him that he didn’t think heaven would be like this.  The host answers, “What makes you think you’re in heaven?”

I know in the midst of struggling, it truly does suck.  It is hard.  It is inconvenient.  You are struggling.  You are exhausted.  You are worried about health issues, about finances, about your job, about your loved ones.  I certainly understand those dynamics and struggle right along with you.  But when you move past those struggles, there is a sense of relief and happiness.  It’s as if you are forged in a furnace of struggles, and you emerge honed, annealed, stronger, more resilient.

There is a great TED talk by Kelly McGonigal on stress.  In that video, Kelly tells us that the FEAR of stress is what kills us.  In a study they did, the people who thought stress was bad for them had higher death rates than the group under a lot of stress that framed stress in a different way.  So now she teaches people to reframe their stress and struggles.  Look upon those as motivators, as blessings, as a way to learn new things and be different in the future.  It isn’t the struggles that are killing us, it’s how we react to those struggles.

Now this is not easy.  I understand that.  But try writing down all of your struggles you are presently dealing with, then writing down the positive aspects.  For instance.

Struggling with paying bills. Living paycheck to paycheck.   The positive thing is that this is forcing me to create a budget and stick to it.  When I do start making more money and getting these bills paid off, I will have the knowledge and skills to be able to really save and be okay financially.

Take care and let me know if you have any stories related to this.

Get Rid of Your SWOT and Create a Bright Strategic Future

August 7, 2014

I see many companies struggle with strategic planning.  Most of them do a SWOT analysis.  They analyze to death the four items:





I understand the logic behind this model.  It is typical for most technical people.  Find the problems.  Generate the solutions.  Unfortunately, I believe it doesn’t work very well and probably does more harm than good.

By focusing on the problems (weaknesses and threats) even in the context of finding solutions, you actually bring energy and life to those problems.  By focusing on problems, you intensify those problems and generate more problems. In fact, most of the time, the Weaknesses and Threats discussions turn into bitch sessions.  Most companies would be better off doing a SO analysis, focusing on strengths and opportunities.  Mother Theresa was asked if she would attend an Anti-War Rally.  She replied that when they had a PEACE RALLY, she would be there.  Do you see it’s simply a focus on the positive that makes such a huge difference in perception and energy?

There is a great process called appreciative inquiry, a very powerful, positive approach to strategic planning.  See the cycle to the left.  This is the process.  You start by asking these discovery questions, visualize the positive future, design that future, and how to sustain it.  This process creates provocative propositions.  In other words, you ask what makes us motivated and what are the things that we are doing extremely well?  Then you ask how can we replicate that energy and passion in all areas of the business?

Appreciative Inquiry cycle

Discovery Questions:

  1. Think back over your career, through all of its ups and downs and twists and turns. What do you consider to be the peak experience or “high point”–a time when you felt most committed, most connected, and most alive in your work?
  2. Without being humble, what is it that you value most about
    •   Yourself?
    • The nature of your work?
    • Your company?
  3. What do you consider to be the core factor that gives life to your company-that without it, your organization would be dramatically different?
  4. What three wishes would you make to heighten the vitality and health of your company?



Provocative Propositions

  1. Is it provocative? Does it stretch, challenge, or interrupt the status quo?
  2. Is it grounded? Are examples available that illustrate the ideal as a real possibility? Is it grounded in your company’s collective history?
  3. Is it desired? Do you want it as a preferred future?
  4. Is it stated in affirmative and bold terms?
  5. Is it a participative process?
  6. Is it used to stimulate intergenerational learning?
  7. Is there balanced management of continuity, novelty, and transition?

If you want to know more about this, just let me know.  I LOVE this subject.


Emotional Intelligence Return on Investment PROVEN!

July 31, 2014



I’ve worked with many companies over the years, and one thing I have come to expect is the initial skepticism.  My entire book is based on the premise that if you make your people better with emotional intelligence learning, you will increase your profits.  Now my friends at High Performing Systems, Inc. have published an article on some calculations on the return on investment for emotional intelligence training and what it does to bottom line results.  We can measure the results and have a very good method to do just that.  But people in the construction industry are skeptical.  They want the proof.

Here is a skeptic video that we created that explains it all:

Well, now we have it.

When we asked one of our good clients if they wanted us to start measuring the return on their investment, which is substantial, they declined.  They thanked us, but they said they KNEW that this was working.  They believe that their business has improved.  They can see the changes in their people and their projects.  Their employees’ emotional intelligence has improved, which has contributed to them winning more work and creating opportunities for future work.  The health and wellness of their people, which is an integral part of our programs, has greatly improved.  Their people have lost weight, starting exercising regularly, eat better, and better manage their stress, which makes them more productive and happy with their lives and work.  This all leads to an improved bottom line.

So, I can tell you all day about this work with emotional intelligence,  The reality is that THIS STUFF REALLY WORKS.  And what works, wins.  If you want to improve your people that will lead to better bottom line results, take a look into this work with emotional intelligence and peak performance.

Here is a link to the article:

If you want to know more about emotional intelligence and the positive impact it can make, contact me.


I Need Your Help and Will Send You My Book for FREE!

July 24, 2014

Hi Everyone!  It’s Christmas in July as I am giving a free PDF of my book, The People Profit Connection.  No strings attached.  Just email and she will send you the PDF of my book.  I am now working on a 4th edition, so any feedback would be much appreciated.  And if you are so inclined, please post a review on

The People-Profit Connection

The People-Profit Connection

Buy from Amazon


Congratulations to Jacobsen Construction in Salt Lake City!

July 17, 2014



We are very proud of our client, Jacobsen Construction Company headquartered in Salt Lake City.  They have just been named Contractor of the Year by Engineering News Record for the Mountain States.  We cannot think of any company that deserves it more.  The people at this company are phenomenal.  They are smart, caring people who value relationships and truly make the greatest of effort to thrill their clients.  We have been working with them for several years now, and have been amazed at the values that they exhibit every single day.

Here is the link to the article naming them Contractor of the Year:

If you want your company to excel, follow Jacobsen’s example.  Their motto is “We Own It”.  They are an employee owned company, which is the source of the quote.  But if you dig deeper, you’ll see that if there is a problem, they will be responsible and find a solution.  Owners are clamoring to engage Jacobsen to build their projects because they create meaningful relationships with all project stakeholders.  When you work with Jacobsen, the project will not only go well, but you may also find it fun and engaging.  This is what the industry needs more of:  collaboration, relationship driven projects where the process is fulfilling and everyone is satisfied with the outcome.

Congratulations to all of our friends at Jacobsen!

For a closer look, here is their website:



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