FIGHT for Your RIGHT to be HAPPY

by Connie Podesta

For All Who Need It

When I wrote my book Redefining Happiness, I did so with so many people in mind. My clients. Audience members. Online followers. Friends. Family. Colleagues. I wrote it redefining-happiness-coverbecause I think in our sometimes crazy world we tend to put a lot of things on the top of our to-do lists and somehow happiness, joy, and celebration seemingly creep to the bottom more often than not. We get busy. Overwhelmed. Worked and worked some more. And here’s the crazy part – you won’t believe how many people feel GUILTY about being happy. About self-care. About having fun. About being “off the clock”. STOP.

Here’s the truth: There’s a lot that we CAN’T control in this world and the stress of that makes people so anxious and even fearful. My goal? Is to help people kick that stress to the curb and instead of fighting for their right to be SAD, or ANGRY, or WORRIED – they’ll instead FIGHT for their RIGHT to be HAPPY. Because I can tell you, as someone who speaks to thousands of people a year and who has counseled countless people as a therapist and human behavior expert – when you fight for your HAPPINESS as hard as you fight for status quo – your whole world changes. Your relationships improve. Your quality of life skyrockets. Your success level goes through the roof. It all starts with putting happiness first.

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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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The Best Advice From 2016 Commencement Speeches

By Vikram Mansharamani

Graduates

Graduation season is a wonderful time for celebration. Teachers applaud students, and parents praise their children. All eyes focus on the graduates, and rightfully so. After all, for many college graduates, commencement is well, just that: a beginning. And like most beginnings, graduation ceremonies are filled with a contagious optimism and energy.

I love graduations and am a commencement speech junkie. As a parent and educator, I am keenly interested in how best to advise young people. I also find the ceremonies inspiring, energizing, and renewing. So each spring I get my fix by reading or listening to dozens of commencement speeches.

We can all learn from the nuggets of wisdom shared during the proceedings. Here are five of the most valuable tidbits I’ve taken from some of the best addresses delivered to the class of 2016:

1. Get in the Way
Speaking at Washington University in St. Louis, legendary Georgia congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis urged seniors to be proactive—even if it means ruffling feathers. Noting inspiration from Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Lewis said, “I got in the way…I got in trouble…Good trouble, necessary trouble.” This lesson is as important today as it was in the 1950s and 1960s. As Lewis continued, “When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you must have the courage to stand up, to speak up, and find a way to get in the way.” The advice Lewis offers is as valid for working professionals as it is for ambitious and idealistic graduates. Convention and inertia are often impediments to progress. Get in the way to force change. The world may be better off because of it.


“When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you must have the courage to stand up, to speak up, and find a way to get in the way.”


2. Cherish “Uh-Oh” Moments

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor recounted to University of Rhode Island students an embarrassing story in which she choked during one of her first job interviews. These “‘uh-oh’ moments are worth cherishing just as much as ‘ah-ha’ moments,” she said. “Mistakes, failures, embarrassments and disappointments are a necessary component of growing wise.” The logic of learning from failure is not new, but Sotomayor’s reminder to embrace the “uh-oh” moments is refreshing in an era in which every corner of life has grown competitive and perfection is a ubiquitous expectation. When navigating the crosscurrents of global economic uncertainties, failure is almost certain at some point. Reframing setbacks as wisdom acquisition will empower and energize— precisely at the point when a boost is most needed.


Reframing setbacks as wisdom acquisition will empower and energize— precisely at the point when a boost is most needed.


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Change Management – It Begins With Me

By Mike Abrashoff

It’s tough out there today and no organization is safe. There are a lot of variables that many of us have absolutely no control over. It’s easy to feel like a victim and obsess over the uncontrollable. My advice to you is to forget about what you can’t control and obsess only over that which you can influence.

The most important mentor in my life once told me before I took command of USS Benfold, “Mike, no matter how hard you try, your ship is never going to be perfect. You are going to have disappointments every day. When you are disappointed in an outcome, don’t ever blame your shipmates first. Assume they want to do a great job. Look inward first and focus on the process. Did you clearly communicate the goals? Did you give your crew the resources to do a great job? Did you give them the training to deliver the excellence you were hoping for?”

You know what?  80% of the time that I was disappointed in an outcome, there was something I could have done differently to improve the outcome. This mentor caused me to constantly challenge our processes to see if we couldn’t do things a little bit better. That intellectual curiosity, always striving to improve, ingrained a culture that thrived on change and embraced it. It was implemented on terms that were favorable to us. Nobody became a victim of change and instead we led change.

I don’t have a crystal ball and I can’t predict what your industry is going to look like five years from now or ten years from now. What I can tell you, with great certainty, is that if you don’t foster a culture that celebrates and cultivates change, your best days will have been behind you.

Change management begins with your own attitude and how you show up at work. Embrace it and stay safe. Fear it and lose control of your own destiny. It’s all up to you. After all, IT’S YOUR SHIP!!!

Why You Must Morph to Stay Relevant

by Colette Carlson

colette-carlson-why-you-must-morpWhen visiting my parents recently to celebrate Dad’s 90th, I watched as he carefully pushed the phone buttons with his oversized, arthritic fingers to re-order his medicine from the VA. I smiled and told him what a rock star he was for adapting to technology. A Baby Boomer friend, who reluctantly learned to use her bank’s mobile app, is thrilled with how convenient and time-saving it is – far fewer bank visits. Yet she avoided the technology for a long time, telling herself and anyone who would listen, “I’m not tech-savvy.” To that, I say, “It’s time to step up and get in the game.”

It’s what we all must do, not only in our personal lives, but most especially on our career path.

It’s imperative that we be willing to #morph – or risk becoming irrelevant.

Just because something is not part of your current skillset, doesn’t mean you can’t learn. If your company is transitioning to a new software application or implementing new systems, you can balk and complain about the change – we’ve all seen colleagues choose that behavior – or you can get on board with your company’s evolution and take advantage of the opportunity to learn something new. Besides, it’s good for the neural pathways in your brain!

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Is The Sharing Economy About To Stop Sharing?

By Vikram Mansharamani

Today’s sharing economy has a cutting edge feel to it. It screams “innovation” and disruption. It’s seems futuristic.  We’re living in a world where the most valuable media company — Facebook — produces no content; the world’s biggest taxi company — Uber — owns no vehicles, and the world’s most valuable hospitality company — Airbnb — owns no hotels.

Network

Networks, it seems, are more valuable than the services they facilitate. And in some ways, this makes sense. They are enabling stranded assets liked parked cars or empty beds to be economically productive. The networks are valuable precisely because they connect those with needs and those who can help fulfill them.

There’s reason to believe, though, that the so-called “sharing economy” is a fleeting moment in economic history. Digital giants and upstarts alike are realizing that networks can be fickle, while ownership of and control over the services they facilitate hold the key to a sustainable advantage and long term profits.

Take transportation, for example. Uber is famous for being a giant, car-less taxi company, preferring to let its drivers supply the vehicles. In doing so, though, it has to give them a significant cut. What if it didn’t have to pay for drivers at all? That’s the promise of driverless cars.

As Uber founder and CEO Travis Kalanick told a tech conference in 2014, the service is more expensive than it should be “because you’re not just paying for the car — you’re paying for the other dude in the car. When there’s no other dude in the car, the cost of taking an Uber anywhere becomes cheaper than owning a vehicle.”

What happens to car demand in a world where it’s cheaper to take an Uber than own a car? Sure, it might shrink a bit as cars are more heavily utilized and meet more driving needs. But the more interesting fact may be that the network suddenly owns all the cars.

Last year, Uber launched a lab in Pittsburgh to facilitate the development of autonomous car technology. While Uber may be a car-less taxi company today, it has its sights on owning all the cars in the future.

It’s no surprise, then, that GM recently announced a $500 million investment in Uber’s main rival Lyft, building a network-manufacturer partnership that could compete with the prospect of a vertically integrated Uber. As NPR reported, “In the short-term, GM will rent cars to drivers. In the long-term, GM will build a self-driving fleet in which cars are owned by a company — not bought by individual consumers.” Meanwhile, Google plans on spinning off its driverless car unit into a standalone business later this year.

Uber

The “sharing economy” may eventually morph into the “platform owns everything” economy. Just consider what’s going on in the entertainment sector. Netflix, which has grown rapidly by connecting other people’s content to end users, is now focused on producing its own original content. In 2016, the company plans to produce 600 hours of original programming. Amazon is now producing original shows as well, and doing so quite well. Amazon’s “Mozart in the Jungle” recently won two Golden Globe Awards. At one point in early January, the top 5 TV shows, according to ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, were produced by either Netflix or Amazon.

While Facebook has not announced plans to produce news (which is not particularly lucrative anyway), it is getting publishers to host their content with them. Much more consequential, however, is its approach to virtual reality. Facebook bought Oculus in 2014…and drum roll please… Oculus has a studio of its own—Oculus Story Studio—which is funding original content. If the future of visual media is in VR, then Facebook will be one of its earliest producers.

Might Airbnb someday find itself wanting to scoop up some property of its own? It’s too soon to tell, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they did. One thing seems clear: we can’t assume that network owners will be content until they have control.

Leadership Lessons: Why “My Way or the Highway” Leadership is History

by Mike Abrashoff

The neat thing about what I do is that I get to meet and learn from all sorts of people from all walks of life. Whatever my experience, I realize that I don’t know everything and more important, that I still have tremendous opportunity for growth as a leader.

Last week, I was chatting with my seat-mate on a flight and it turns out, he is a highly sought-after television director in Hollywood. He says his phone is constantly ringing off the hook from TV executives wanting him to direct their shows. I asked him why he was in such great demand – thinking he had some technical ability few others possessed. He said that had nothing to do with it. Instead, what he is known for is his leadership ability on the set in dealing not only with the highly paid actors, but also with the people behind the scenes, the grips, the caterers, the a/v guys and the like. It seems they have so much respect for him that they have become a disciplined and cohesive unit that meets or beats the demanding deadlines because they work well together and get it done in one take.

I told him that my impression of a television director is one of a dictator that barks orders to everyone. He told me that there are many out there like that but that the ones who are most in demand these days are the ones who can execute on budget while delivering an excellent product. I asked him his secret and he replied: “on our set, you don’t have to do it my way as long as your way is just as good if not better. What I make sure I do is to create a climate whereby people feel free to tell me their ideas and a climate where I will give them a respectful hearing.”

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