Books, Fascination, and Even a Love Boat Reference

I read constantly. It is one of the great passions in my life.  I’m a Bibliophile. I collect books and to the chagrin of all who travel with me, am known to spend hours in book stores.   The Strand on Broadway and 12th;  The Tattered Cover in Denver;  Powells in Portland; City Lights in San Francisco;  Foyles in London – I’ve spent days of my life in each. I even own my personal Holy Grail of books – a signed and inscribed first edition of Norman Maclean’s A River Runs Through It. If not a collectible, I like to abuse my books. I highlight them, write in the margins, fold pages, take notes in a separate notebook and never travel with less than three different books. On the flip side, the statistical probability stemming from the sheer volume of the books I consume ensures that I also encounter the profoundly craptacular. Therefore, when I recommend a book to my inner circle, they usually take note.

One of the most enjoyable business books I’ve read this past year is Fascinate by Sally Hogshead.  This very cool book looks at the seven universal triggers of fascination and shows how people and companies not only understand themselves better, but also how they are viewed by others and subsequently how to put these triggers to use. When I took the simple Fascination test (also found at www.sallyhogshead.com) my primary trigger turns out to be Rebellion, (which my sixth grade teacher Sister Ruth from Rev. George A. Brown Grammar School in Sparta, New Jersey would clearly attest to.)   My secondary trigger was Power.  (Oh Yea.)

The Rebellion score indicating that I’m:

  • Innovative
  • Independent
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Edgy
  • Unpredictable (Yes indeed. That sounds like me.)

While the Power score indicates:

  • Confidence
  • Goal-Oriented
  • Influential (Once again, spooky-accurate.)

Some well-known Rebellion trigger Leaders include:  Andy Warhol, Stephen Colbert, Eminem, Anais Nin, David Bowie, Charles Darwin.   (This brought great hilarity to our household as I have more in common with Isaac the Bartender from The Love Boat, than I do with Eminem.) Continue reading

Three Team-Building Activities that Aren’t

According to this Forbes article, there are three team-building activities that are actually bad for your business. And believe me – they’re the ones you wouldn’t expect given that they’re so widely used.

  1. The Trust Game
  2. The “Being Blind” Game
  3. Two Truths and a Lie

The author, Deborah Sweeny, looks at each game individually. Trust games can be difficult to coordinate because of the diversity in employees’ physical attributes, and not to mention a myriad of technological distractions that may cause the “trust” to fall with a crash instead of “falling into a safe cocoon.”

The “being blind” game has obvious pitfalls- because it is a two- way street and each person in the partnership has to be blind, it is hard not to be influenced by the first run, and there are often opportunities for revenge. And let’s face it, revenge usually isn’t pretty.

Lastly, two truths and lie may make everyone too comfortable with lying- and that in itself makes us uncomfortable.

So what’s a great team-building activity? Warm, intimate dinners are one of our favorite team-building activities at Ferrazzi Greenlight. Keith likes to push teams past the small-talk by asking them questions like, “Share a challenge that has shaped who you are today” – a great way to frame conversation so that it can go deep without going too negative.  He gives everyone “permission to be intimate” and sets the tone upfront by answering the question first himself.

What are the best and worst team-building experiences you’ve had?

Ritu Walia is myGreenlight’s Member Coordinator.

This is Your Brain on Facebook. Any Questions?

There’s a link between the size of certain parts of our brains and the number of friends that we have on Facebook, according to recent studies reported in this article.  This discovery only indicates a correlation however, not a cause-effect relationship. It’s hard to say, reports Reuters, whether “having more Facebook connections makes particular parts of the brain larger or whether some people are simply pre-disposed, or ‘hard-wired,’ to have more friends.”

Online social networks are so novel that it’s hard to say what kind of effect they have on us. Four parts of the brain were discovered to be larger when a person had more friends – but interestingly enough, “the thickness of grey matter in the amygdala was also linked to the number of real-world friends people had, but the size of the other three regions appeared to be correlated only to online connections.”

Could that be an indication our online relationships cause different reactions in our brains than the real world ones? What do you think? Do you treat online friendships differently?

Ritu Walia is myGreenlight’s Member Coordinator.

Yes, Successful Selling IS About Relationships

As the sales leader of a company that empowers both organizations and professionals to enhance their relational capital, my jaw dropped recently when I read the title of very interesting HBR Blog post: Selling Is Not About Relationships. Judging by how quickly the blog approached 200 comments, authors Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson clearly struck not just my nerve by challenging the role of relationship-building in successful selling.

However, upon review of the article we are a lot closer to agreement than the provocative headline would ever suggest.

Each week I speak with a handful of Sales VPs, as well as multiple C-Level executives across the Fortune 500.  A common denominator of those discussions is the importance of establishing meaningful connections both within an organization itself, and of course externally with influential professionals across an entire value chain – clients, prospects, suppliers. Whether analyzing a new-hire’s speed to efficacy during the onboarding process, long-term employee retention, or the quantifiable impact on a sales person’s job performance, one’s ability to establish meaningful relationships translates into success.

So what to make of this study? Having examined 100 companies and 6,000 reps, Dixon and Adamson conclude that every sales professional falls into one of five distinct profiles and is characterized by a specific set of skills and behaviors that highlights the rep’s primary mode of interacting with customers. Those falling into the Challenger category dominated the list of high performers while Relationship Builders came in last.

And it is right at this point that my position actually aligns with theirs. Relationship Builders as defined are those who “focus on developing strong personal and professional relationships and advocates across the customer organization.” While Challengers “use their deep understanding of their customers’ business to push their thinking and take control of the sales conversation. They’re not afraid to share even potentially controversial views…” Continue reading

Gratitude: The Relational Elixir

Very skilled social capitalists often receive attention for the really clever, grand activities they incorporate into their work life, everything from the organizational systems they implement to the fancy parties they throw. In the context of these elaborate strategies talk of something like the power of expressing gratitude can seem so small and so overblown — until you read the research.

Want a quick booster shot to immediately improve a relationship? A minor thankful gesture, according to the following study, has a transformative impact:

This research was conducted to examine the hypothesis that expressing gratitude to a relationship partner enhances one’s perception of the relationship’s communal strength. In Study 1 (N = 137), a cross-sectional survey, expressing gratitude to a relationship partner was positively associated with the expresser’s perception of the communal strength of the relationship. In Study 2 (N = 218), expressing gratitude predicted increases in the expresser’s perceptions of the communal strength of the relationship across time. In Study 3 (N = 75), participants were randomly assigned to an experimental condition, in which they expressed gratitude to a friend, or to one of three control conditions, in which they thought grateful thoughts about a friend, thought about daily activities, or had positive interactions with a friend. At the end of the study, perceived communal strength was higher among participants in the expression-of-gratitude condition than among those in all three control conditions. We discuss the theoretical and applied implications of these findings and suggest directions for future research. (Source: “Benefits of Expressing Gratitude, Expressing Gratitude to a Partner Changes One’s View of the Relationship” from Psychological Science.)

Gratitude doesn’t just immediately improve a relationship, it can make it more productive. Bob Sutton, author of Good Boss, Bad Boss, covers another study on the power of “thank you” in the workplace:

The simple act of having a boss come by and offer a public thanks to one group, and but not the other, really packed a wallop.  These fundraisers were paid a fixed salary, so Grant and Gino compared the number of phone calls made be each fundraiser before and after the “thank you” intervention.  The results were pretty impressive, as while there was no change in the average number of calls made by the group that was not offered thanks, the folks who heard a warm two sentence thank you from a boss made an average of about 50% more calls during the subsequent week. (Source: “A Little Thanks Goes a Long Way: Explaining Why Gratitude Expressions Motivate Prosocial Behavior” from Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.)

Piling up daily small interpersonal wins with seemingly trivial gestures is the social capitalist’s bread and butter.

Tahl Raz is the host of myGreenlight’s Social Capitalist Series.