All Things Workplace

Creative Talents, But What Kind?

Posted by on Apr 4, 2014 in All Things Workplace | 0 comments

 rp_2380543038_953ee03054.jpgInnovation and Creativity permeate the pages of business books and internet storytelling.Unlike Project Management skills or Financial Analysis, Creative Talents aren’t a homogeneous lump of artistic, business-oriented goo. (I haven’t the slightest idea where that line came from. It just flowed at the end of the sentence. Must have something to do with my own hidden, artistic goo).I know from my work with client companies that the cry for “Innovation!” and “Creative Solutions!” is a loud one. I’m not sure that everyone has the same definition or really understands the distinct subsets of Creativity that individuals can offer.

Here are 3 easy ways to spot creative talent:

 Creating. The inclination to form new associations among previously unrelated concepts, objects, or systems. These folks are continually experimenting with new ideas. You can observe this in any endeavor: office work, administration, sports, teaching, management…and, it doesn’t necessarily require much knowledge of previously developed methods.The gift here: creating something new out of what appeared to be unrelated, existing entities.

Imagining. Very different from creating and truly in the realm of the mind. Those of you with this innate talent will form new associations in your mind as a result of theorizing, philosophizing, daydreaming, and hypothesizing. This can extend to the development of story characters  and other entities that do not yet exist. In other words, the generation of something brand new.I believe this is what many organizations claim they are looking for but then stop people from  “doing” it because it doesn’t look like “work.”

Inventing. This is a way to distinguish those whose tend to produce physical creativity from those who live in the world of ideas and concepts. Inventors–for classification purposes– have a natural talent for developing new technical equipment and physical systems. One way to identify this kind of creative talent is to observe people who “act out” there ideas in tactile ways using substances such as wood, concrete, plastic, glass, etc.Real-life story About “Creative” Differences While doing consulting and coaching some years ago with executives at an energy company in Pennsylvania, I received a fascinating request: Would I meet with some of their almost-college-age children and do some “testing” to help the young people better understand their talents?So, I asked: “Why do you really think that’s important?” (Effective consultants, like effective counselors, never roll with the ‘presenting’ issue:-)The real pain was not with the off-to-college crowd; it was with the parents. These adults were all highly educated, highly trained engineers who saw the “real world” as a very physical place. They were unbelievably creative in their problem-solving as well. However, the youngsters involved were making noise about majoring in Theater Arts, Fine Arts, and Music. To the executives involved, even if their kid sculpted the next “David,” it wouldn’t actually do anything.From this brief description you could no doubt sit down with the parents and explain what was going on. However: these were engineer parents. So, I spent time doing talent assessments and interviews with the young people (thoroughly enjoyable) and then sat down with them and their folks. When the data were presented along with a list of actual talents and related careers–life at home became good again.These were terrific parents who cared enough to do something about:a. Changing some of the thinking of their children as a result of good informationb. Changing some of their own thinking as a result of good information

Thought for today: Begin to engineer your thinking about what it means to be creative. Take time to discern your own inclinations and those of your colleagues. When you begin to see that Creativity comes in different, useful forms, you’ll start using more of it.Create, Imagine, Invent. . .Create, Imagine, Invent. . .

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Fear: Success or Failure?

Posted by on Mar 6, 2014 in All Things Workplace | 0 comments

Lets be honest:  All of us have doubts that block us from doing things. It’s even socially acceptable to talk about some “fear of failure.”

But “fear of success?”

Success-FailureIt’s just as real. Being afraid to achieve the very things that we want.

How does it happen?

The Future/Change Factor: Personal

The good news is that when we experience this fear, it’s because we’re imagining a “better” future. We’re actually thinking about change.

But we don’t know what else that’s going to bring. Since it’s all about the future, we can imagine anything and everything about what might be. In the absence of factual information we fantasize, often negatively.

  • “I don’t deserve it”
  • “If I achieve what I set out to do, everyone will know that I don’t really deserve it”
  • “If I get it I won’t be able to sustain it. Why try?”
  • “If I am successful, someone will come along who is better than me. Then, what will happen to me?”
  • “If I am successful, the nature and equilibrium of my relationships will change and I’ll have to make new friends. My current friends would never accept a more successful (bigger, deeper, better, healthier) me.”

(Feel free to list your own and others you’ve hear in the comments section).

What happens as a result of this kind of thinking?

  • Self-defeating thinking leads to self-defeating actions. Here are just a few:
  • Doing the wrong thing even when you know the right thing to do. That way, one can avoid having to deal with success.
  • Minimizing your accomplishments so they are ultimately negated. Then, you don’t have to live up to being all that you really are.
  • Feeling guilty when you have a success. This creates a slowdown in momentum, hesitancy to act, and a self-fulfilling inability to move on to another success.

What you can do differently

Here are some suggestions that aren’t complicated but do place the responsibility clearly on our personal shoulders:

1. Act in a way that will genuinely help build a sense of self: Find ways to encourage and acknowledge accomplishments of those around you.

2. Get an accountability partner–or maybe a couple. These people have your explicit permission to give you feedback–positive and negative –about how they are experiencing your progress. This is a reality check. Honest, factual, periodic conversations will help you replace the unknown negative fantasies with reality-based information.

3. When someone compliments you, respond with a firm “Thank you!” No false modesty or additional talk. Simply hear the compliments and let them begin to influence how you see yourself.

In the next post, we’ll look at how this plays out at work and in organizational life. 

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Make A Difference With Differences

Posted by on Mar 5, 2014 in All Things Workplace | 0 comments

I’ve always been bothered by the seemingly well-intentioned books and workshops that fall under some variation of  “Managing Differences”.

Have a look at the graphic and we’ll continue. You  can click on it for a full-page view.

Deep Enough_Difference

Style vs. Substance


It would be safe to say that most “Differences” activities focus on issues of Style. These are attributes that we all see in each other and which become magnified when we try to work together in groups. It’s a good idea to become aware of one’s own inherent approach to these things and how others inherently go at them in a totally different way. I heartily endorse and, in my consulting business, practice that kind of understanding.

The Style issues reveal more about how you are. However, they’re only the tip of the iceberg and that’s not what sank the Titanic.



These are the “Why” questions of life. They tell people who you are and what you believe and value, personally and professionally. It’s the level of information needed to get past a surface relationship and into a real one.


Workplace rules and legislation exist to protect people from undue and ill-willed intrusion into some of these areas. At the same time, it’s pretty tough to be “engaged” with other people if we don’t know what they are really about. Taking time to find out hopes and expectations for teamwork; what each person values in interactions and task-performance; and some previous experiences that have led them to those concerns will go a long way toward deeper relational understanding without playing the “let’s spill our guts on the meeting table” gambit. However, you might just find that each time you learn something more of significance about each other, the willingness to have even deeper relationships will increase.

Thank You For Your Service. We are Deporting You.

A number of years ago I accepted a 2-year consulting and training gig in the Middle East. It was suggested that we develop a “Time Management” program for the executives. This raised a flag for me since, culturally, the notion of “managing time” showed up nowhere in daily experiences, personal or professional; and, I don’t believe in “Time Management.” Time is finite and unchanging; one has to be clear about priorities and manage those.

If you are anywhere close to the training and development industry, you know that certain eras produce “must have” programs whose related buzzwords  go unquestioned. And so it was with Time Management. A program was developed and then advertised in the company curriculum newsletter. Which is when we showed up on the front page of the local newspaper with a headline that I won’t fully repeat but which included the word Infidels (actually, a lot of companies would refer to their consultants that way) and other unflattering adjectives which had been attached to us by the Committee for the Preservation of Virtue and The Elimination of Vice.

Cut to the chase: Indeed, the notion of time management went much deeper than the typical “we move a bit more slowly in hot climates” type of thing. According to the Cleric who was the spokesperson, “managing” time was an affront to the god of their faith who was in control of all things related to time.

OK. We got it. No more Time Management. Instead, “Setting Priorities At Work” satisfied both parties’ underlying beliefs. And we didn’t have to pack up and head to the airport.

It wasn’t a matter of Style, it was a matter of very deep Substance.

What needs to happen where you are to float your corporate iceberg a little higher in the water?


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Ten Life Lessons From Business

Posted by on Feb 14, 2014 in All Things Workplace | 0 comments

I’m not usually a list kind of guy– and the title might lead one to expect thoughts on marketing, capital, or organization development. But business is part of life, not the other way around. So here are things that have emerged as important learnings for me over the past 30 years of organizational and consulting life:

%2210%22Ten Life Lessons From Business and Consulting

1. You can be in charge, but you’re never in control.

2. If you have a Powerpoint slide with a graph whose curve always points upward, you’re lying. Delete it.

3. If you look at people through your own eyes, you’ll judge them for who you think they are. If you look at them through God’s eyes, you’ll see them for who they can become.

4. You can’t be good at who you are until you stop trying to be all the things you are not.

5. Charge what you are worth. If you don’t, you’ll begin to resent your employer or client, even though you decided to take the assignment.

6. You can’t control circumstances. You can control your response to them. Those who learn to respond thoughtfully and peacefully are the ones who are accorded trust and power.

7. Overt displays of position power show weakness.  Genuine humility shows power.

8. All groups aren’t “teams”. Often they are just collections of people who work really, really well together. Leave them alone.

9. No one can know how to be an effective leader until they’ve toiled as a dedicated follower.

10. Knowledge is not wisdom. Wisdom is knowledge applied with discernment.

What Are Your Business Life Lessons?

Do you have life lessons from business that you would like to add? By all means, click on the comment box and contribute what you’ve learned. You’ll make an impact on other readers who are looking for real-life advice.

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What Makes Many People Successful?

Posted by on Feb 4, 2014 in All Things Workplace | 0 comments

What Do These Success Quotes All Have in Common?

Success Tree“I don’t know the key to success but the key to failure is to try to please everyone.” Bill Cosby

“A man is a success if he gets up in the morning and gets to bed at night, and in between he does what he wants to do.” Bob Dylan

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather to become a man of value. He is considered successful in our day who gets more out of life than he puts in. But a man of value will give more than he receives.” Albert Einstein

“The secret of success is constancy to purpose.” Benjamin Disraeli

“Success is the progressive realization of predetermined, worthwhile, personal goals.” Paul J. Meyer

I think the commonality is this:

1. Each person thought about what success meant to him

2. None of them defined it in terms of others’ expectations

Have You Thought About Success In Terms of Your Own Expectations?

If you haven’t, then maybe today is the day to start. If you don’t, you are at risk.Think about it. Without a clear sense of what a successful life means to you, then everyone else can control your time, your choices, and your career. You have no firm basis on which to make decisions. And no way to tell yourself “I’m doing fine!”

That means that others can tell you how they think you are doing. And what they think you should be doing. Wouldn’t it be nice to be clear about why they are so wrong?!

I believe that you already know what success means to you. The first moment you do something consistent with that will also bring the first sense of being the unique person you were designed to be.

Have a successful day life!


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Strengths, Weaknesses and Engagement

Posted by on Jan 27, 2014 in All Things Workplace | 0 comments



What engages you most, building on your talent or overcoming what you see as some “gap” in your inherent abilities?

Where do you get the bigger payoff?


I read through a Gallup Management Journal article that reflected these findings:

1. If your manager primarily ignores you your chances of being actively disengaged are 40%

2. If your manager focuses on your weaknesses your chances of being actively disengaged are 22%

3. If you manager focuses on your strengths your chances of being actively disengaged are only 1%


I think these factoids are powerful in their simplicity. They point the way to what managers and their people should be paying attention to if they’re really concerned with being engaged.

First: Managers would be wise to initiate conversation and discussion with all of their people. Otherwise, the numbers show that they’ll lose the active commitment of nearly half.

Note to employees: I know that you know that your manager is supposed to know this. Well, clearly they may not. If you aren’t getting attention, initiate a conversation with your boss about how important it is to you. Some people, by nature, don’t initiate those things. Then, if you find out that this isn’t a department or organization where you can flourish, you have some  solid information for making career decisions. And if you do make a difference by initiating the discussion and see it continue, you’ve helped at least two people.

Second: Here is a way to start thinking about where to invest energy: Building Strengths or Overcoming Weaknesses.

I’ll use a sales example:

Let’s say you are a sales rep who has a track record of getting appointments and a presentation with 60% of the people on whom you call.  But  your  ability to close the sale is  25%.  You have been a sales rep at different companies for 18 years.(Stick with me, I’ve been a sales manager).

What you now know is that you’re strength lies in building the initial relationship and being able to get in front of the client. No matter how hard you’ve worked at closing the sale, you’ve never gotten above 25%.

As your sales manager, I’d start thinking:

If I help you focus on getting appointments and presentations–and you improve just 10%–then I have someone who can get us in front of a prospective client 66% of the time. If I start focusing on your closing deficit and you manage to improve 10%, you still only get to a 27.5% success rate.

So I decide that I –or another “closer” with a high percentage of success–will come along to the presentations. You become the “star” door opener and we find another “star” closer.

I’d be crazy to spend my time and energy focusing on your weakness. It would be the same as telling Yo Yo Ma “You’re a phenomenal musician. I know you are a cellist, but we’re going to put all of our energy into making you a pianist.”

Let’s talk with people about about their “star power”–those talents we caught a glimpse of and that prompted us to hire them in the first place!


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