How “Soft Skills” Can Save Your Company

I just spent the last 30 minutes on the phone with my cable-telecom provider’s customer (dis) service center.  The experience was awful.  I had a simple question about my bill that went unanswered, unresolved and left me unsettled.  

As a communication expert and business transformation keynote speaker, I pride myself on the ability to hold a polite, patient, and productive conversation.  And as it turns out, this “soft skill” — the ability to communicate clearly in a productive way — can make the difference between your company succeeding or failing:  A recent LinkedIn survey of 291 hiring managers found the lack of soft skills is limiting their company’s productivity. 

How to Listen with the Goal of Learning

Well Thanksgiving is over.  How’d it go — pants fitting a little tighter and wallet a little lighter?  What about all that time eating and talking with family, friends, and strangers?  Did you “tune out” everyone so you could dive into the turkey, or, find yourself constantly trying to get the attention of your favorite cousin because she was too busy doing the same to you?

I’ve seen this happen time and time again over the holiday season when family and friends get together.  And as a business transformation keynote speaker and executive coach, I’ve seen it happen repetitively in businesses across all industries and sizes — customers, clients, and colleagues don’t feel “heard” by their leadership.  And leadership can’t understand why their customers, clients, and colleagues are unhappy and unproductive.

Business Lessons Learned from Marine Corps Gas Chamber Training

During Marine Corps basic training, every recruit has to go through gas chamber training.  When I went through bootcamp, this is how it happened:  40 recruits lined up wearing gas masks and shuffled into a big bland building filled with thick yellow CS gas.  Once inside, we did a series of calisthenics to show that, thank goodness, the gas mask worked!  Then the Drill Instructors commanded us to remove our gas masks.  While still inside the gas chamber.  What happened next, is seared in my mind forever….

3-Steps to Make Better Choices Faster

I once put off making a very important decision about selling my house and moving for five years.  I bought a beautiful row house in a very trendy part of Washington, DC, moved in, and immediately hated the place.  The house was fine.  However, I didn’t have anything in common with my neighbors, I didn’t really care much for the nice yet boring neighborhood, and to be honest the house was just too big. 

Have you ever put off making a decision for a couple days, couple weeks, or like me, a couple years even?  We all do it.  As a matter of fact, think right now, what is one business or life decision you are putting off making?  What is keeping you up at night?  What tough conversation with a business associate or loved one are you avoiding?

How to Conquer The Fatal “Pike Syndrome” Decision-Making Trap

As a keynote speaker, I teach successful professionals how to make better decisions to leap their career, company, and community forward with balance — not burnout.  I often share the results of a fascinating experiment called “The Pike Syndrome”, to my audiences as an analogy for a fatal decision-making trap business leaders fall into:  one of historical bias and/or assumptions.

Most of You Hate Your Job (and here’s what to do about it)

Have you ever been at work uninspired, disengaged, and bored?  Time creeps by one agonizing second at a time.  Many years ago before I was a keynote speaker, I was in my cubicle at work and started to yawn.  Thinking it was almost lunch and lacking any motivation, I glanced at my watch.  9:17 AM.  What?!  It felt like I had been sitting in my little felt box for at least five hours.  Ugh.

How to Attract and Retain Top Talent

I recently delivered a keynote speech to a very successful high-tech company.  Their senior leadership was meeting for a two-day planning session which allowed them to also spend time together bonding and building deeper team relationships.

One reoccurring challenge I often hear from elite organizations is their never-ending struggle to make the right decision to help them attract and retain top talent.  And this business was no different.

A Spooky Halloween Decision to NOT Buy Google for $750K in 1999

In 1999, the number two search engine behind Yahoo! was a company called Excite.  (Other throwback search engines at the time were Lycos, Web Crawler, and Alta Vista.)  Excite had the opportunity to purchase a little start up called “Google” in 1999 for $750,000 and about 1% of Excite.  Turns out the founder of Google, Larry Paige, wanted to sell it so he could go back to Stanford and finish his PhD.

Five Leadership Lessons Learned from Battling Cancer

I had never been sick a day in my life until at age 34 I found “the lump”. I had testicular cancer. Less than 24 hours after my initial diagnosis, I had emergency surgery to remove my right testicle. 

Following three months of brutally aggressive chemotherapy, I needed one more procedure to be cancer-free: Surgery to remove half of my left lung. The surgery was successful. However, I was left confined to a wheelchair unable to do ANYTHING, including going to the bathroom by myself. 

Three Steps to Avoid the Fatal “Goldilocks Decision Making Trap”

As a keynote speaker, I often share the classic children’s fairytale, “Goldilocks and the Three Bears”, as an analogy for a fatal decision-making trap business leaders fall into — one of extremes.  This porridge is too hot, this one is too cold, this one is just right.  Goldilocks then struggles deciding between three chairs, three beds, and who knows what else.

In other words, Goldilocks suffered from the decision making trap of extremes:  Having too many options to choose from, or not enough.  Taking too long to make a decision (analysis paralysis), or not taking enough time (extinct by instinct).  Having too many chefs in the kitchen or not enough. 

In the business world, if you and your leadership team suffer from “The Goldilocks Trap”, it can be absolutely fatal.

How to Pursue Your Passion and NOT Become Successfully Miserable

Several years ago, I followed the common business advice of the day on how to pursue your passion.  First, find something you’re truly passionate about.  Second, pursue it obsessively.  And then third, become wildly successful and wealthy!  Easy, right?  All you have to do is work longer and harder than anyone else. Be smarter and stronger than everyone. Sacrifice everything to achieve your dream.