Future of Work Success Stories

We are pleased to share these stories about some of the organizations we have worked with. Contact us any time for a personal referral or introduction to any of our clients.

Mark LeBlanc and Henry DeVriesI’ve just returned from a life-changing workshop. It was the first annual “Indie Books International Family and Friends Forum,” organized by Henry DeVries and Mark LeBlanc (Mark’s on the left) for Indie Books authors (and future authors). Indie Books is my publisher, and I couldn’t be happier with our relationship.

Henry and Mark are two of the most remarkable people I know, and they produced an experience this weekend I’ll never forget. Not only did the various sessions inspire me (and my fellow authors) individually, but the most powerful outcome of the weekend was the creation of a community. I’m now part of a group of smart, caring writers and speakers who are committed to supporting each other in the best possible way.

There’s no way I can re-create the experience for you, or capture it in words. However, I am going to share just a few of the sound bites that stuck with me. Frankly, it’s probably going to sound trivial and obvious, but I can vouch for the power of each one of these principles.

There is deep meaning here if you take these ideas seriously. In the interest of time, I’ll just mention them briefly without unpacking them completely – but I can guarantee you’ll hear more about them over the coming weeks and months.

So – here we go.

Ken Blanchard with Jim WareFrom Ken Blanchard (of One-Minute Manager fame (newly revised, by the way), and a fellow Cornell University grad who I knew way before he published the first of his 60+ books – that’s Ken on the left):

Invest in Essence before you worry about Form or Process. In other words, get to know someone at a deep personal level before you commit to any kind of partnership or joint effort. Know who you are working with before you worry about how you will work together.

From Dean Minuto, the award-winning Vistage Keynote Speaker and author of The One-Page Sales Coach: Your Guide to Getting YES from Anyone, Anyplace, Anytime:

Make your message visual. The brain absorbs visual information up to 30 times faster than auditory information. You can say it, and they will hear it; but if they see it, they’ll understand it far better and remember it much longer.

From Dan Janal and Robin Ryan:

Become a local celebrity by reaching out to local journalists and TV/radio producers. Make it easy for them to print your ideas or to interview you. Focus your energy on becoming a “go-to” expert for local news, and eventually the national media will find you.

From Tim Gard, CSP, CPAE (NSA Speaker Hall of Fame):

Have fun, mostly for yourself, and share it when you can. Tim entertained us with travel stories, every one of which had a personal lesson. As Tim told his stories I laughed so hard it hurt. But I also learned to look at life with a sense of humor and a passion for the pleasure of a good laugh.

And, by the way, we also experienced a somewhat more serious “final rehearsal” of Karyn Buxman’s upcoming TEDx talk on the therapeutic value of humor. Humor isn’t just about a good laugh, it’s also in service of good health. And good leadership (Karen’s forthcoming book is called Leading with Levity)

My most inspirational moments, however, came from Mark LeBlanc, a former president of the National Speakers Association and the author of the classic book for entrepreneurs, Growing Your Business, as well Never Be the Same, the story of Mark’s 500-mile walk on the Camino de Santiago in Spain (he’s done it twice and is about to embark on his third walk).

Mark tells me I’m the first person to call him my Yoda, but even that doesn’t do him enough justice. Here are just a few of Mark’s most important messages:

If your strategy doesn’t work, it’s not the strategy’s fault.” In other words, strategic failures more often stem from a failure to execute than from a bad idea.

What you do every day is more important than what you do once in a while.” That’s why Mark advocates developing a daily routine in which you do things like make business development calls, or friendship calls, every single day, five days a week, without fail. Just like one-a-day vitamins, make the important tasks in your life into habits, not strenuous, difficult activities. Be disciplined.

Similarly, “Success is determined not by outcomes, but by momentum.” Are you moving forward? Are you paying attention, and adjusting your efforts to your current reality? What pace is right for you? Your momentum depends on how you feel, and how you feel depends on your doing your best today – every day. And if you fall down, pick yourself up and start over.

In truth, there was much, much more, and many, many powerful conversations with friends new and old. As I said at the outset, it was a game-changing weekend (at least I intend to make it into one). Stay tuned, and I’ll report on my own momentum in making these principles not just good ideas but a central part of my life.


Don’t face the future alone. Jim Ware works with organizational leaders who want to make sense of the future and transform its inherent uncertainty into opportunities for extraordinary success.

Contact Jim today to explore how his workshops, keynote presentations, and expertise in orchestrating powerful conversations can put the future to work for you.

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I recently had the pleasure of reconnecting with an old (not old – just long-time) friend and colleague – Teri Flynn, the founder and principal/design guru at Flynn Architecture, based in Oakland, California.

Teri and I first met back in the mid-00’s, when I was studying and writing about what I then called “business community centers” but which have since become widely known as “coworking” facilities.

She was the architect behind the Berkeley and San Francisco coworking centers known as The Impact Hub (both are thriving, and they’ve been joined by Teri’s third Impact Hub design, at The Hive, located on Broadway in the Uptown part of Oakland, and right next door to her own studio).

Teri and I met for lunch in The Hive neighborhood, at a delightful restaurant and brew pub (Drake’s Brewery) with an outdoor garden seating area that was enclosed by a delightful old brick wall but open to the sky on a mild January day (that’s not an oxymoron, we do live in California!). [click to continue…]

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Diverse Business People in a Meeting

Last week’s article/blog post, “Why Collaborative Leadership is Central to the Future of Work,” generated more attention and commentary than I have experienced in some time. I encourage you to reread the article and in particular to take a look at the online comments from Robert Buss and Bob Leek (below the article).

The article also led to an extended conversation with Steven Beary, a corporate real estate strategist and Principal/CFO at The Beary Group, whose insights I have always found enlightening.

Steven told me several directly relevant and highly compelling stories about his experiences with collaborative cultures that I want to pass on. His basic message: there’s one surefire way to build an organizational culture that values and practices meaningful collaboration: [click to continue…]

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Happy new year's puppy.

It’s that time of year; all of us are focusing on the future and defining new goals for the new year. If you are like me you want to use the start of the year as a platform for raising your sights and becoming more successful, more likable, healthier, and better looking (might as well include that while we’re at it).

But if you are like most people, a month from now you will probably be discouraged, depressed, and angry at how you’ve failed once again to achieve those lofty goals. Committing to and then not achieving New Year’s resolutions has become a rather unpleasant annual ritual.

Well, I have one overarching resolution this year (which I fully intend to accomplish):  it is not to make resolutions I won’t achieve. This year I’m focusing on being realistic; for me, getting half a loaf (or even a single slice of bread) is a whole lot better than going for the whole thing and ending up with nothing. [click to continue…]

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WORKTECH15-West-Coast-Marketing-Image2-720x305WorkTech is one of the best one-day opportunities you can find anywhere for learning the latest insights about the future of work and networking with fellow workplace futurists. And if you register at this link  as a friend of The Future of Work…unlimited you will get a $100 discount off the registration fee.

Phillip Ross and his Unwired Ventures team always assemble a mind-bending and eye-opening program filled with success stories, thought leaders, and provocative insights. [click to continue…]

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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…]

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Once Upon A Time

Last week I raised the question (and answered it) “Why are there so many bad meetings?” This week I focus more on the positive:  what good meetings feel like, and how some organizations are working to not only enhance meeting experiences but also to make meetings more effective and meaningful.

Recently a friend told me about how one clothing company has developed a culture of storytelling that dramatically affects the way its meetings work.

According to Mary, a director of workplace strategy at that company, its meetings are filled with storytelling, and the presentations are heavily image-based, with a minimum of words on the individual slides. So instead of boring bullet points and slides filled to overflowing with data, the presentations feel more like personal stories, with heroes and villains, crises and victories, and lots of emotional content. Presenters seek to influence and inspire through images, stories, and feelings rather than through “hard data.” [click to continue…]

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strength in numbers

Image: redbubble.com

Forgive me for this: I can’t resist.

I’m writing this note in the midst of San Francisco Bay Area’s giddy euphoria over the Golden State Warriors winning the National Basketball Association Championship for the first time in 40 years (Moses had nothing on us).

Yes, it’s a moment to gloat and rejoice. But it’s also an experience filled with lessons for business leaders. If there is one common theme running through all the newspaper columns and the speeches about the Warriors’ victory, it is how selfless the team members – and the coaching staff – have been all season long.

Yes, Stephen Curry was the league’s Most Valuable Player for the season. And he won the All-Star three-point shooting contest. He’s a genuine superstar – and he is certainly the team’s day-in-day-out leader on and off the court. But he is also genuinely humble. [click to continue…]

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Cornell_logo2-1s7ocw0I’ve just returned from a Cornell University class reunion that reminded me of several very important principles that have guided most of my work and my life since I was an undergraduate there fifty years ago.

Today I want to share one of many important insights that emerged out of three days of lectures, conversations, meals, and other on-campus experiences that are better left unmentioned. I have a deep and renewed appreciation that I am who I am today because of my seven years as a Cornell undergraduate and graduate student.

Cornell University is an unusual – and remarkably diverse – institution.

Cornell was founded in 1865 (shortly after the end of the Civil War) when Ezra Cornell created the campus by donating his farmland on the hills above Ithaca, New York, and bringing to life his vision of “an institution where any person could find instruction in any study.” [click to continue…]

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Living Room Conversations

February 9, 2015

LRC_logo

(htttp://www.livingroomconversations.org)

Several years ago my good friend Joan Blades co-founded a national nonprofit group called Living Room Conversations, or LRC, with the explicit goal of improving the level and quality of social discourse around public policy issues.

Joan, like many Americans across the political spectrum, is deeply concerned about the apparent inability (and unwillingness) of people with differing political views to talk to each other – and more importantly, to listen to each other. We all know how “broken” the US Congress is; its national approval ratings have never been lower.

But Living Room Conversations isn’t trying to reform Congress (except through grass roots public pressure); it is a movement aimed at bringing “ordinary” people holding different basic views together in their own living rooms to explore issues such as voting rights, prison reform, immigration, tax policies, health care, the Middle East, and other major issues that seem to divide us from our neighbors – and yet are fundamentally important to our collective futures on this planet.

In contrast, my professional focus is on conversations at work, and how they affect organizational performance and the workplace experience for individuals and teams. [click to continue…]

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