Just Say Thank You!

November 23, 2015

Fall colors galore!

(image of fall colors courtesy of Cindy Ware)

This is Thanksgiving week in the United States – a reminder to slow down, pause, spend time with family and friends, and be thankful for our blessings.

It is a tradition that goes all the way back to that first autumn when the Pilgrims (North America’s original immigrants) harvested their crops, supposedly shared their bounty with the native American Indians and got ready to hunker down for the winter.

While some aspects of that first Thanksgiving are no doubt mythical, we have made the holiday into perhaps the quintessential American celebration. [click to continue…]


Team CollaboratingLast week I asked my readers to complete a brief survey to help me understand the kinds of meetings you participate in and how you feel about them. Many thanks to those of you who responded and shared your experiences.

While the number of participants is too small for me to claim any statistical validity, I nevertheless believe the trends and patterns are interesting, and I want to share a few of them here, along with some thoughts about what they mean.

For starters, it appears that this group is generally representative of middle to senior managers. The respondents were predominantly HR and Facilities functional leaders, based in the United States, and averaging a bit over 50 years old. The group is evenly split between men and women. The age and seniority data suggest that these are experienced people, presumably with significant leadership responsibilities. [click to continue…]


People in a Meeting

I have been studying and writing about meetings and other corporate conversations for many years.

My understanding of how meetings work and my “rules” for leading meetings that matter are based on a combination of personal experiences (both good and bad) leading and attending hundreds of meetings, lots of formal research, and many insightful stories I’ve heard from colleagues.

But now I want to refresh my understanding of what is actually going on. The digitally enhanced and richly interconnected world we live in today creates new challenges and new opportunities for designing effective meetings.

While I don’t question for a minute the value of all those personal stories I’ve heard and the wisdom other experts, I want to enhance our collective understanding by compiling and sharing a wider range of stories and of actual data about what meetings are like in 2015 and how effective they actually are. [click to continue…]

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I may be celebrating prematurely, but permit me just a bit of shameless self-promotion.

As I have mentioned many times previously, I’ve been working for the past year on this book about corporate conversations and, in particular, the settings in which most conversations take place: formal meetings.

The book is now in the hands of my publisher, Henry DeVries of Indie Books International; it’s due to be published in early January 2016. I can’t wait!

There’s lots of work still to do to make the book worthy of your attention, but I’m now concentrating on the second big job any author has: creating “buzz” and visibility. Writing the book is challenging enough, but getting the word out about it is just as important.

I’m going to be very upfront and open about that process, because I’m learning as I go, and I have this core belief that you will find the process as interesting as I do. I hope I’m right! [click to continue…]


MultitaskingLast week I wrote about the challenges of living in a “boundaryless” world – one in which we can (and do) bounce back and forth between work and non-work activities.

It is now common to communicate with colleagues and friends all over the world, to take care of personal needs in the middle of our work days, and to engage in work-related activities at all hours of the day and night.

(see “In a Boundaryless World, Peak Performance is More Difficult Than Ever”)

How many times have you been part of a global conference call at 4 or 5 AM local time, or completed a work memo and emailed it off at 10 PM? [click to continue…]


I’m just back from a whirlwind two-day unplanned trip to New York City. I was invited to join a small group of entrepreneurs and futurists in a wide-ranging conversation about the future of work.

Our host, the Chief Marketing Officer of a Fortune-50 company, asked us to help him understand not just the way work is changing, but what kinds of challenges individuals and teams are experiencing today. He’s interested, for obvious reasons, in focusing his organization’s service offerings and value proposition on ways to help address those challenges and enhance his clients’ performance possibilities.

While there is no way I could even begin to summarize our high-energy, two-hour conversation, I was struck by one theme that came up several times:  [click to continue…]


Each of us approaches problems and relationships with a particular style, or from an individual point of view. There are dozens of personality and interpersonal style models (DISC, Myers-Briggs, and so on).

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 9.42.25 PMHowever, my favorite individual style model is based on the Clifton StrengthsFinder© assessment first defined by Marcus Buckingham and Donald. O. Clifton of the Gallup Organization. Two of the many books describing the model and how to apply it are well worth getting and devouring: Now, Discover Your Strengths (Buckingham and Clifton); and StrengthsQuest (Clifton and Anderson).

The StrengthsFinder model identifies 34 core talent themes that each of us has in some degree. More importantly, it assesses individual strengths and tendencies within each of those 34 dimensions, producing an individual talents profile.

The most important insight that Buckingham and his team brought to the search for peak performance [click to continue…]


Distributed MeetingOn the eve of IFMA’s annual World Workplace conference, which I am attending this week in Denver, it seems appropriate to think for a moment about meetings that don’t take place in a “place.” I’m thinking of course of meetings where everyone is somewhere else – what most of us call “distributed” meetings.

One distributed meeting practice I hold very dear is this [New Rule]: Do not schedule a “mixed meeting” unless there is absolutely no alternative.

A mixed meeting is one that includes two or more people in the same place plus one or more others calling in from somewhere else.

I’ve almost never seen a mixed meeting go well; some organizations actively prohibit them – if anyone is participating remotely, everyone calls in, even when some participants are located close together. [click to continue…]

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Just Do It – Right Now!

August 24, 2015


Recently Kent Reyling,  Director of Market Education at Kimball Office, forwarded me a thought piece that re-awakened a life lesson I seem to forget all too often. It comes back to me over and over again, in different forms but always with the same core message:

Today is all there is.

Here’s the message that Kent actually forwarded to me:

Be what it is you want everyone else to be; do what it is you want everyone else to do.

(That advice comes from Sam Parker, the author of 212: The Extra Degree and dozens of other motivational and inspirational books).

That thought reminded me of something I struggle with all the time: the importance of moving from ideas to action. [click to continue…]


Agenda!It may not feel cool, but…

Do you realize what a cool tool a meeting agenda is? An agenda is not just a wish list or a way to tell people what the meeting is intended to be about. When used right, your agenda is the most critical tool you have to ensure that your meeting is worthwhile, covers the right topics, and accomplishes its stated purpose.

An agenda is powerful way to avoid bad meetings (see “Why Are There So Many Bad Meetings?” for more on that painful topic). And in combination with the right meeting mindset (“Building a Meeting Mindset“) an agenda can be a multi-purpose tool for creating memorable meeting experiences.

I recently spoke with Bill T., a senior program manager at a well-known high-tech company, about his meeting management techniques. He uses the agenda for his weekly one-hour design review meetings as a primary planning tool as well as a way to enable 20+ software engineers to make quick decisions on a number of critical design issues. [click to continue…]