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October 2012

Your Unlearning Curve

The flow and pace of change around us is mind boggling and some would say turbulent. It's like sipping out of the firehose--one of my favorite metaphors. We can only drink so much and so fast, otherwise we drown.  Sipping from a firehose

Here's how I have decided to deal with the relentless spray of information and new stuff. First I accepted that "change" and chaos were the natural state of things. And my greater awareness of "change" makes it easier for me to adapt. If you can't beat em join em!

Chaos is a friend of mine.  Bob Dylan

Any resistance to change is like fighting gravity. Useless, painful, frustrating, and ultimately distracting from the work we want to do and where our lives could go.

Surrendering to change provides you with so much more information, options, and ideas. I am telling you we are sipping from a firehose and yet what is flying by our senses is amazing, scary, and fantastic.

The curious thing is that with these exponential changes, so much of what we currently know is just wrong. So many of our assumptions are wrong. As we move forward, not only is it going to be a question of learning it is also going to be a question of unlearning.  John Seely Brown

Almost everywhere I go, every meeting I am in, this subject of change is discussed. Change that is forcing people to learn new ways of thinking and doing things. Part of adapting to change is the ability to "unlearn" things. I believe unlearning is as critical a survival and success skill as learning. Unlearning is literally and figuratively deleting "files", forgetting the past, abandoning assumptions, then learning again, by starting over.

I first heard this verb more than three decades ago when Marc Nathanson, one of the pioneers of the modern cable tv business, said he wanted to hire me because I had less to unlearn. He told me he was worried about that experienced cable tv professionals, people who knew cable tv, would bring their frames of reference--in other words a load of Samsonite that was not relevant. He said, "We don't have time for people to unlearn things." He predicted nearly all of the changes in that industry and knew that the future was not going to be like the past. So knowing nothing about cable tv made me eminently qualified! :) 

In a forest of change we add bits of knowledge, like decorating a Christmas tree. You collect and show off bright and shiny ornaments. Each year you add more and you feel better about your tree. Unlearning is understanding that the tree is obsolete and the ornaments are irrelvant. 

Unlearning is breaking off your rear view mirror and focusing on the new landscape in front of you and seeing it for the first time.

When any real progress is made, we unlearn and learn anew what we thought we knew before.  Henry David Thoreau

There have been some jokes about an etch-a-sketch brain. But this is where it is useful!  Etch a sketch

Unlearning changed my perspective on my own prospects in life. There is so much I do not have to unlearn! :) Seriously, this view of change gives me the energy, permission and confidence to cross sectors, platforms and worlds more fluidly. If I spent less time and energy trying to fight the flow of the firehose and more time riding it, then life is so much more productive and fun!

Past used to be prologue.

Strategic planning has to become zero based processes. Meaning starting from scratch--with a blank slate. Can't take the last 5 years results and tweak them. The market, the consumer, the competition, the global context, the needs and wants have evolved and are evolving.  Again more than you know. Engaging new sources of knowledge, information, and feedback that shape a clearer view of reality. It is crazy what we don't know that others know. 

This Tedtalk is a head rush. Obeng contends that "all of the rules" were changed without our knowledge and that's why nothing works any more. He makes a compelling case.

His brief discussion about laminar vs turbulent flow is fantastic. 

Laminar is when the water moves in parallel sheets through the tube, but once it reaches a certain speed the water goes crazy and the flow is chaotic, swirling, and unpredictable. Obeng asserts that we have not noticed the change from laminar to turbulent flow. How could we? We are in denial. We are stuck in our ways of trying to make the world conform to our needs and tolerances. We like certainty. It is a warm and fuzzy place, but boy is it naive. Laminar vs turbulent

The people I meet who are succeeding in all fields have adopted unlearning as a way of life. How will you make money in the financial markets? How will diseases be cured? How will we transform education? How will we level the playing fields of poverty? There is no way it will resemble the past or even be a distant cousin.

Lean into the change. Saddle the turbulence. Embrace the chaos.  Continue to sip, but enjoy the flow. Unlearn to learn.

Thanks for reading. John


The One Percent/Degree Solution

Most of us work so hard. We are engaged with our lives and our work. We show up and put in the time.  And we are at our limits. We have little if anything else to give. Time, energy, brain cells--we are at capacity.  Seems inconceivable to do any more than we do. Right?

When will we pursue those "other" goals in our lives? Those things that we long to do, have to do? 

Was with a good friend this week and he was discussing his three new side businesses he is launching and pursuing. Three! He has a full time job, two kids and a labrador! He has little money, but puts in the sweat equity and engages his network. He is trying to build his future, keep his mind fresh, and make some money. How does he do it? He manages his time through his priorities. Is he stressed out? Nope. He is fully engaged in his life. Funny thing, he has other irons in the fire. And he thinks he is just an "average" guy!

If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it. The more you do the more you can do. Lucille Ball. 

If you are human, then you waste so much time. C'mon admit it. There are times when you are just distracting yourself, biding your time, all the while your ideas/causes/dreams just wait and get older. Be honest!

It is trite and maybe irritating to hear, but you have to take small steps. Give one percent more--one more degree of effort. One percent! Everyone has one percent to give. One percent more in time, money, effort, and energy. Yes you do!

If you give that one per cent to something you have always wanted to do. Something you care about. Like your talent, your art, your dreams. You will feel good about yourself.

Don't fall behind on your bills and your dreams.  Les Brown

And, when someone says, "Hey what's new?" You can say something interesting! And those conversations will lead to new connections!

Now networking and mentoring have a purpose. To meet people who are doing what you are interested in. Getting advice about these special things. These pursuits will be treats in your life. Sweet and delicious moments for your personal gratification of understanding your larger role and purpose. These times that are not chores but times you will look forward to. And guess what happens, the one percent expands because it is so important to you.

Look if you have the perfect balance in your life of challenge, growth, and fulfillment, then please stop reading. 

For the rest of us, we are so close to what we want you can see it. But our inertia, doubts, resistance, and plain ole laziness prevent us from what we want.

Watch this video. 

One more degree of effort. We give up too easily in the pursuit of what is important to us. One percent more time and attention.

One percent of your time is  like 30 mins a week. What if you scheduled 30 mins during every week to reconnect with someone you have lost touch with. Put it on your calendar. Do it every week. Be discipined about it. Use the time to e-mail, telephone, Google people.

This is even more productive and fulfilling if you are reaching out to people about your idea, cause, or dream. To compare notes, pick brains, to learn, and to be inspired. To be inspired every week! Wow. 

Persistence, consistency, and building the habit of making time for what you want. It is simply amazing when you do something consistently.

You will regret not using this time--now. Over time you will get busier! And these special thoughts get shelved and predictably--absence will make the heart grow fonder. Neglect makes these lost opportunities more precious and more bitter regrets later.

Start by doing what's necessary, then what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.  St Francis de Assisi

I guarantee if you don't exert the one percent or the one degree of extra effort, nothing will happen. 

Little efforts lead to bigger ones. Small steps lead to bigger strides. Commit yourself to connecting your ideas with others and unexpected things will happen.

 Thanks for reading. John


Mentor First: Pay it Forward

The most popular radio station in the world is WII-FM. WII-FM is shrill and repetitive. WII-FM is What's In It For Me. We have to  turn down the volume and listen to the real music of our lives--Your heart, your mind, and the people around you. Yes you have needs, but you still have much more to offer. We all want and need things but the best way to receive is to give. That's correct, your mom was right again! Same goes for mentoring.  Pay_it_forward_
Almost everyone I talk to wants to find a mentor, the "right" mentor, a "better" mentor. They crave advice and counsel to help them advance their lives. Most people expect this new improved and very special mentor to point them in the right direction and provide them with the answers. Those of us who mentor others know that's not what usually happens . Mentoring is a two-way conversation that helps one another discover the truth--the truth that lies within. So that's why everyone should be mentoring others as much as they seek mentoring. Once you put others before yourself. Once you practice what you preach. Once you teach, you understand the role of the student.  The world comes into focus as you are not waiting for a mentor but helping someone else. You take control again. You drive instead of waiting to be picked up. That's why I advocate a lifestyle of mentoring. It is not passive or dependent. It is pro-active and direct.
Choosing to mentor is to choose to help others, to engage others, thereby helping oneself.
 
So think first to mentor, then to be mentored.
 
Always give without an expectation. That is the cardinal rule of this lifestyle of mentoring and networking. And the returns to you will be plentiful.
  • A cousin seeks your advice
  • A friend's daughter wants to discuss college options
  • A long time colleague at work needs your help, but has never asked for it
  • One of your best friends is stuck in life
  • A former employee has a friend that wants to discuss careers

All of these are warm sources of need. Make the time to help, mentor and share your wisdom. 

No matter what stage you are in your life, there is another you can mentor. Someone you care about who could use your perspective. Someone you are going to help be accountable to themselves. Accountable to their own goals and dreams. A mentor is not the source of all knowledge, they have experience, perspective and the will to be candid.  Not just kind and encouraging. Not just helpful and sensitive. Not the type that winces and cringes on the  inside and smiles on the outside when we hear others say crazy things. Not phony nice. We need to be a bit more intolerant of the BS and the loose language that comes from people we care about. We need to help others rein in their weak plans and weaker efforts. Most of all we need to be truthmeisters.

My best mentors reflect me, my words, my goals like an HD mirror. They show me the good, the bad and the ugly that I emit. I get to see and hear myself like never before with much better clarity.
 
The mentor always gets the most. Because to mentor is to tell the truth and to tell the truth is to learn the truth. Mentoring is the hard work of listening and reflecting. It is not about answers. It is about understanding. And that's why it is the most rewarding.
 
Articulating advice and doling out the truth is not credible or relevant if you don't live by it. That's why the mentor always gains, because the act of advising another reinforces your values, your behaviors and your goodness. Mentoring is about vulnerability. Mentoring is not the coach who says "do what I say and not what I do." Mentoring gives the mentor  the courage to tell the truth and to open up and discuss how they are overcoming their weaknesses and foibles. And the mentee musters the courage to hear the truth, confront their own weaknesses and discover themselves.

Still doubt the mentor is rewarded more?
Recent research now shows that those that mentor achieves far greater benefits. Mentors make substantially more money, are more successful and the mentees are more likely to help others--mentoring creates more mentoring.
Mentors pay it forward.
 
A quick review of the benefits of mentoring: 
  1. You always get more--including pay and promotion!
  2. The mentee benefits
  3. The mentee helps others
  4. The world benefits from people more connected that help one another

Any questions? :)

Mentoring is not a service YOU provide--it is the human act of helping one another that advances YOUR life. 

Mentor first, then seek mentoring. Pay it forward and it will always come back to you.

Thanks for reading. John


Psych Yourself Up! The 5Ps of Networking

It takes a lot of energy to meet people, engage in conversations, listen carefully, give your attention and to be "on".  Some people are naturally comfortable at it. Most people struggle to do it. Like all things that you do and want to do well, you have to psych yourself up for the task. You have to get yourself prepared and in a positive frame of mind. Nothing good happens when you are unprepared AND have a negative or uncaring attitude. Very rare when great things happen when you "wing it". When you do nothing to prepare yourself for something you find difficult. In fact, it is more likely you not only disappoint yourself and leave some lost opportunities along the way. 

When I was younger I used to think Robin Williams was great at ad libbing. He could do magic in a moment. I also used to think that some people were born with the ability to speak extemporaneously. I also used to believe the myth that some people had the DNA to network and meet people. I have learned these are all fallacies. Of course, some people have more confidence, presence, and the gift of gab--but ANYONE can learn these things. Robin Williams is a very bright performer, after all he went to Julliard! But his routines are well rehearsed and planned. His gift is revealing them as if they weren't. 

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.    John Wooden

Networking is no different. Rocky

Here are some quick proven steps to boost your confidence, readiness, and ultimately your performance (this is beginning to sound like some of the spam we all get:) Stay with me! 

1. Plan and Prepare: You are going to yet another event, reception, cocktail party, company function, conference, seminar and you want to network well. 

  •  Visualize what you think networking success would be. Begin with the end in mind. What are my goals? Do I want to just take some small steps to increase my confidence? Is there information I am seeking? Expertise I need? People from particular orgs or companies I want to compare notes with?
  • Google people you want to meet to find commonalities and interesting facts. This will arm you with a way of breaking the ice. 
  • Think about people who can introduce you to them. Being introduced is the most credible, simplest and stress free way of meeting people. 

Being well prepared, even partially prepared will give you focus and more confidence.

2. Psych Yourself Up!: Before the event, start to get yourself in the right frame of ;mind to be your best self. Other people don't care about the bad day you have had. Get ready to make a good first impression. You need to be on--only you knows what that;feels like.You attract to your life whatever you give time, attention, and focus—positive or negative. I would add, and physically manifest. 

  • Look your best. If you look good you will be more confident and more comfortable.
  • Energize yourself. This is why getting into better physical shape makes a difference, but for now you need to use your nerves or anxiety to be channeled into your focus and personal excitement for the challenge.

3.  Power Pose!: Immediately before the event, take some advice from Harvard        researcher, Amy Cuddy. She has shown that your hormones shift with your physical        presence. Your anxiety and your confidence levels change with your body language. Your internal chemistry mirrors your posture. In other words, when your body is open  and tall, so is your energy and presence. When you fold yourself--arms and legs-- and become smaller, more fetal like, you come off weaker and less impressively. Here are two poses that you can do to boost your energy! Just 2 minutes will positively change your hormonal chemistry. Do these exercises privately :) --they help me before I give a big speech. Lynda_carter_as_wonder_woman

  • Raise your hands above your head in a victory pose. Even blind people who have never seen this pose use it to express their joy and success. 
  • Hands on hips like superman or wonder woman. 
4. Perform: Not telling you to be someone you are not. But we all have "party manners" when we are on our best  behavior. When we       are concious of making a       good impression. 
  • Relax and slow down. Nothing worse than feeling rushed or in a hurry. Try to enjoy the event and the conversations you have. Don't let your goals get in the way of your experience and the attention you give to others.
  • Smile. I know it is obvious, but look like you are happy to meet people. Just the act of smiling will make you feel better and warm others. 
  • Body language is positive. Don't fold up and unintentionally look unapproachable.
  • Be interested and then become interesting. Listen. Let the other person lead. Ask them questions. Engage them then tell your story or make your pitch.
  • Remember names and ask to continue conversations where appropriate.

5. Post-mortem: Critique your process, progress, and performance. Appreciate what you accomplished and make notes on how to improve. Follow-up on the people you met, ideas you gathered and commitments you made.

  • Make notes to yourself. People you met that require follow-up or for future reference. Use the back of the business cards or enter into contact database.
  • Send e-mails. For those you want to continue the conversation, send them an e-mail.
  • Send out information you promised. Every good networker provides as much info and help as they get. Mail or e-mail what you promised or suggested. 

Develop your networking confidence by practice and preparation. Like everything you want to improve upon, invest your time and energy--and psych yourself up! 

Thanks for reading. John


Psych Yourself Up to Network! The 5Ps of Networking

It takes a lot of energy to meet people, engage in conversations, listen carefully, give your attention and to be "on".  Some people are naturally comfortable at it. Most people struggle to do it. Like all things that you do and want to do well, you have to psych yourself up for the task. You have to get yourself prepared and in a positive frame of mind. Nothing good happens when you are unprepared AND have a negative or uncaring attitude. Very rare when great things happen when you "wing it". When you do nothing to prepare yourself for something you find difficult. In fact, it is more likely you not only disappoint yourself and leave some lost opportunities along the way. 

When I was younger I used to think Robin Williams was great at ad libbing. He could do magic in a moment. I also used to think that some people were born with the ability to speak extemporaneously. I also used to believe the myth that some people had the DNA to network and meet people. I have learned these are all fallacies. Of course, some people have more confidence, presence, and the gift of gab--but ANYONE can learn these things. Robin Williams is a very bright performer, after all he went to Julliard! But his routines are well rehearsed and planned. His gift is revealing them as if they weren't. 

Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.    John Wooden

Networking is no different. Rocky

Here are some quick proven steps to boost your confidence, readiness, and ultimately your performance (this is beginning to sound like some of the spam we all get:) Stay with me! 

1. Plan and Prepare: You are going to yet another event, reception, cocktail party, company function, conference, seminar and you want to network well. 

  •  Visualize what you think networking success would be. Begin with the end in mind. What are my goals? Do I want to just take some small steps to increase my confidence? Is there information I am seeking? Expertise I need? People from particular orgs or companies I want to compare notes with?
  • Google people you want to meet to find commonalities and interesting facts. This will arm you with a way of breaking the ice. 
  • Think about people who can introduce you to them. Being introduced is the most credible, simplest and stress free way of meeting people. 

Being well prepared, even partially prepared will give you focus and more confidence.

2. Psych Yourself Up!: Before the event, start to get yourself in the right frame of ;mind to be your best self. Other people don't care about the bad day you have had. Get ready to make a good first impression. You need to be on--only you knows what that;feels like.You attract to your life whatever you give time, attention, and focus—positive or negative. I would add, and physically manifest. 

  • Look your best. If you look good you will be more confident and more comfortable.
  • Energize yourself. This is why getting into better physical shape makes a difference, but for now you need to use your nerves or anxiety to be channeled into your focus and personal excitement for the challenge.

3.  Power Pose!: Immediately before the event, take some advice from Harvard        researcher, Amy Cuddy. She has shown that your hormones shift with your physical        presence. Your anxiety and your confidence levels change with your body language. Your internal chemistry mirrors your posture. In other words, when your body is open  and tall, so is your energy and presence. When you fold yourself--arms and legs-- and become smaller, more fetal like, you come off weaker and less impressively. Here are two poses that you can do to boost your energy! Just 2 minutes will positively change your hormonal chemistry. Do these exercises privately :) --they help me before I give a big speech. Lynda_carter_as_wonder_woman

  • Raise your hands above your head in a victory pose. Even blind people who have never seen this pose use it to express their joy and success. 
  • Hands on hips like superman or wonder woman. 
4. Perform: Not telling you to be someone you are not. But we all have "party manners" when we are on our best  behavior. When we       are concious of making a       good impression. 
  • Relax and slow down. Nothing worse than feeling rushed or in a hurry. Try to enjoy the event and the conversations you have. Don't let your goals get in the way of your experience and the attention you give to others.
  • Smile. I know it is obvious, but look like you are happy to meet people. Just the act of smiling will make you feel better and warm others. 
  • Body language is positive. Don't fold up and unintentionally look unapproachable.
  • Be interested and then become interesting. Listen. Let the other person lead. Ask them questions. Engage them then tell your story or make your pitch.
  • Remember names and ask to continue conversations where appropriate.

5. Post-mortem: Critique your process, progress, and performance. Appreciate what you accomplished and make notes on how to improve. Follow-up on the people you met, ideas you gathered and commitments you made.

  • Make notes to yourself. People you met that require follow-up or for future reference. Use the back of the business cards or enter into contact database.
  • Send e-mails. For those you want to continue the conversation, send them an e-mail.
  • Send out information you promised. Every good networker provides as much info and help as they get. Mail or e-mail what you promised or suggested. 

Develop your networking confidence by practice and preparation. Like everything you want to improve upon, invest your time and energy--and psych yourself up! 

Thanks for reading. John