Do’s and Don’ts for a Human and Humane Holiday Experience

by Joseph Michelli

Over twenty-five years ago I used to speak about managing the stress of the holidays. Those speeches were loosely based on the book Unplug the Christmas Machine: A Complete Guide to Putting Love and Joy Back into the Season. In it the authors, Jo Robinson and Jean Staeheli, essentially focused on four main themes:

  • Prioritize gift-giving to those who truly need your gifts.
  • Engage in activities (across a well-paced holiday season – not just a day) that connect with your deepest personal values.
  • Seek to be a peacemaker among friends and family.
  • Commit to spiritual growth.

Over time, I’ve come to believe we don’t need to, and quite frankly can’t “Unplug the Christmas Machine” – that machine will run even if you or I were to find a way to unplug it.

I suspect our efforts would be better spent focusing on how to create humanity-rich experiences this time of year. To that end, I offer some thoughts which I’ll lovingly call “do’s and don’ts” for the season. These thoughts are targeted in the context of both business and personal life, as they relate to each of these relationships:

Customers

Team Members

Family and Friends

Customer Do’s and Don’ts:

Do: Smile. During the holiday crunch a smile and genuine graciousness can stand out and comfort customers.

Don’t: Confuse this Customer With the Last One. When the pace picks up, it’s easy to get into a groove where people blur into “transactions.” You may be doing your 50th identical transaction of the day, but that transaction involves a person and for that person, this is likely their only interaction with you today. Honor people – their visits and their business.

 

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Is America’s Military Losing Its Edge?

By Vikram Mansharamani

The United States spends more money on its military than any other country in the world. The American defense budget of almost $600 billion is more than four times that of China’s. In fact, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) notes the US spends almost as much as the next fourteen countries – combined.

But rather than simply leave the interpretation of this data to readers, IISS warns this large budget does not necessarily buy sustainable US military superiority.  In February of this year, John Chipman, director general of IISS, noted that the proliferation of military-relevant technologies has large strategic consequences that appear to be undermining Western might.

This point was driven home during a recent talk at the Harvard Kennedy School by former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy. She explicitly stated “our military technological edge…is no longer a given, because many of the technologies we rely on are becoming ubiquitous.”

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Every Moment Matters – Taking Your Conversations to the Next Level

by Stacey Hanke

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The mistake most individuals make in building relationships is assuming that influence is a one-time event. We sprint through life, running from meeting to meeting, shooting off email after email and ending our days wondering, “What just happened?”

I refer to every conversation as The Approach.  During every conversation you should ask yourself: “What do I need to do and say to influence this relationship three days, weeks, months and years from now?”

Think about every conversation having influence from a wider lens by asking these powerful questions:

  1. What perception do I leave with my listeners after every conversation?
  2. What questions can I ask my listeners to better understand where they are now with my topic compared to where I want them to be?
  3. How do my listeners prefer to communicate with me – face-to-face or a phone conversation, email or text? This question is critical to ask early in the relationship to honor your listeners’ time and to communicate through a medium that works best for them. You can’t take the relationship to the next level without frequent communication.

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Three Big Mistakes Leaders Make When Managing Millennials

by Geoff Colvin

And how to fix them.

Millennials have become the largest demographic in the workplace. But managers of all ages have struggled to find the best way to connect with a wave of twenty- and thirtysomethings who do most of their typing with their thumbs, work wearing earbuds, and claim they can hold meaningful conversations while monitoring five open browser windows. Many leaders have fallen back on stereotypes about the generation (see the previous sentence), only to find that they’re neither true nor useful in managing.

So now what?

It’s time for Managing Millennials 2.0, based on finer distinctions derived from years of experience and current data. Three helpful insights stand out:

 Different Generations Aren’t Different Species.

On many important dimensions, millennials are remarkably like Gen Xers and baby boomers. Contrary to stereotype, in a recent IBM IBM 0.59% survey only 18% of millennials said “managing my work/life balance” is one of their top two career goals, vs. 22% of Gen Xers and 21% of baby boomers. Millennial employees are less likely than Gen Xers to use personal social media accounts for work purposes, says the same research. And millennials’ preferred method of learning new work skills is—brace yourself—face-to-face contact.

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The Five Trends Shaping the Future of Cities

by Jack Uldrich

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The science fiction writer William Gibson once wrote: “The future is here. It just isn’t evenly distributed.” It’s a powerful insight because it implies that savvy business people, farsighted political leaders and even average citizens can discern the future if only they heed today’s emerging trends. Five current trends, in particular, appear poised to transform the cities of tomorrow.

In February, Amazon introduced “Echo,” a new artificially intelligent platform that allows users to access the Internet using nothing other their voice. That same month Facebook unveiled its new “Chatbot” platform which similarly uses artificial intelligence. The developments are noteworthy because soon schools, businesses and city hall will be able to create artificially intelligent agents that can serve students, customers, and citizens in a variety of accessible, affordable and innovative ways.

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Microsoft Can Now Talk Better Than Humans And Other Small Business Tech News This Week

by Gene Marks

Here are five things in technology that happened this past week and how they affect your business. Did you miss them?

1 – Microsoft says its speech recognition is now as good as humans.

Based on a study it did, the software giant put its speech recognition technology up against professional transcriptionists. The result? Humans made more mistakes than the software. (Source: VentureBeat)

Why this is important for your business:

According to the VentureBeat article, Microsoft has called this a milestone in human parity and believes that it will have “broad implications for consumer and business products that can be significantly augmented by speech recognition.” I don’t doubt that.

2 – Facebook announces new features to help small businesses sell more products and services.

The social media leader has released updates so that restaurants can receive orders and service providers can accept appointments directly on their Facebook pages and have them land on Microsoft’s new Bookings app that will soon be included with Office 365. It’s also enhanced its ability to make buying recommendations when users ask a question. (Source: Recode and Microsoft Office Blogs).
Why this is important for your business:

All these enhancements are free and are designed to not only make it easier for your Facebook customers to do business with you, but to receive new business through recommendations, too.

3 – You will soon be able to receive customer texts directly from a Google ad.

Google says that advertisers will soon be able to allow recipients of their ads to send texts with questions directly to the advertiser. (Source: VentureBeat)

Why this is important for your business:

When customers see your ad now and they have a question, they have to go searching for ways to contact you – with many losing interest in the process. Allowing them to quickly text their questions right from the ad will solve that problem and hopefully keep customers buying. Continue reading

Choosing the Right People for your Team

By Coach Jim Johnson

Are you picking the right people for your team?

When deciding on team members, how do you decide who is the best fit?  Is it the best overall talent or are you looking for specific characteristics that will fit best into your current collection of individuals?  Over the years, I have compiled some helpful tips on how to choose your team.  Below are some of my favorite things to focus on when putting together your team of all-stars.  Make sure you comment below on what I missed or tips you use.  Enjoy.

  • Great work ethic. Someone who has the drive to be the best is someone I want on my squad. This person will be able to develop into many different things with your guidance.  Do they have what it takes?  Do they have the intangibles?
  • Being coachable means having the ability to adapt to what is being asked of you.  This shows they are putting the team first and are willing to make sacrifices for the betterment of the group.  Coach-ability is also one of the key factors of a growth mindset.
  • Find people that care. This seems simple, but it is crucial that you are able to find people that will have the same core values as the group.  Do they care about their own success or the success of the team?  They also must have a tremendous amount of care for the other team members.  Are you someone who cares about the group?

Life Tip# 85:  Instead of competing with people, look to complete people