Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to unlock your CEO Mindset

Key Notes

When you subscribe to Key Notesreceive a special report "3 Secrets to Using the CEO Mindset For Business Success"

*I hate spam too! Your information will never be given, sold, or rented to anyone else. EVER!

Social Icons
The 3 Keys Coaching Process

Use Ability, Success, Growth to unlock you as CEO of your small business

Click to learn more

What do I do?

Learn more about coaching services and expanding in the US .
What People Are Saying
“Please allow me to express my appreciation for your excellent business coaching. As our company continues to grow and present us with new challenges and opportunities, we are grateful that you are there for us with insight and understanding as to how we can better succeed in our marketplace. I particularly appreciate your thoughtful listening, and your innovative comments and suggestions. Thank you for all the books, articles, and other resources you have brought to our attention that have helped us a great deal."”
- Andrew Lutts CEO, Net Atlantic Inc.

Have You Seen These KaizenBiz Posts?

Some of you may know that I lead a chat on Twitter called #KaizenBiz (It used to be called #KaizenBlog). But if you didn’t know, let me introduce you…

What is KaizenBiz?

In brief, we discuss (yes, in only 140 characters) various business topics every Friday at 5pm GMT/12pm ET/9am PT. This worldwide chat uses the concept of Kaizen while exploring business ideas. The mission of chat is to apply critical thinking to various business topics, enhance our skills and deepen our self-understanding. We do this within a community that enjoys connecting with one another through conversation online and off.

Come over and visit

These are our most recent posts so please read and share your perspective:

Please read, comment and join us on Fridays at 12pm ET on Twitter. If you would like an idea of what the conversation is like, here is the transcript from this past Friday’s discussion, “Why Doesn’t Everyone Have Effective Teamwork?” I hope you’ll join us soon!



What Is #kaizenblog Today?

#kaizenblogWhen I  joined the Twitter chat, #kaizenblog as co-host with Valeria Maltoni (@ConversationAge), I knew I was in for something that would stretch and engage me. Valeria and I share a passion for exploring ideas and wanting to discuss them with others to see what else we could discover. Another person, Caroline Di Diego (@CASUDI), was (and is) a key supporter as I accepted the role of chat host. Caroline is also passionate about engaging with people and ideas and urged me to step up. When Valeria passed the baton to me, it was the right time to make the chat my own.

But the chat isn’t just mine

It’s really stone soup. You know that folk tale? To be fair, the #kaizenblog community is a much easier and more generous crowd. I find interesting topics, intriguing guest hosts, craft discussion questions and then it all comes together during the discussion when people add their expertise and insights.

The underlying foundation Click here to read more »


Who Do Great Leaders Follow?

Great leaders and Mount RushmoreA while ago I participated in the Twitter chat, #leadershipchat. When I left the chat, this question stuck with me. Who do great leaders follow?

It’s so easy to talk about how leaders should get us to follow them. Or if you are a leader, you’ve got some ideas about how to get people to follow you. There are great questions about how much authenticity, vulnerability, and charisma are expressed by great leaders. We know great leadership when we see it. You can feel yourself rise up like boats rising when the tide comes in. You want to be with that person and even do what is asked or told to you. They have a way of bringing the best out of you.

So what about the personal experience of being a leader?

Recently someone asked  me what it would be like for me to be just a member of a team and not call the shots. It made me pause as I thought about what it means to me to be a leader and wonder if I could become a better leader.

Sure, being able to have final say is good. And creating a vision that excites other people to want to work with and for you is fulfilling. There is a certain cache to being able to say, “I’m Joe/Jane Schmo, CEO (president, owner) of XYZ Company.” People look at you differently. They have expectations of you. They depend on you. This feels pretty good.

Yet, some days don’t feel quite so gratifying. There are the days when you’re studying the financials and seeing how far you can realistically implement the strategic plan. Lately, this hasn’t been a satisfying experience for many business leaders. There are also days when you realize you are very alone with your thoughts, fears and imaginings of how your business can continue to function.

There is so much advice for leaders.

  • I did a quick search on to see how many books were listed on business leadership. Result=22, 795 books
  • So then I did a quick search on about business leadership. Result=44,500,000 hits

With all of these possibilities, it amounts to cacophony. Sifting through can be a consuming task. Most business leaders I’ve met and gotten to know have little time and patience for trying to figure out what would help them perform best. But that doesn’t mean they are not looking for inspiration and direction themselves. You may be indomitable nearly every day but it is a fallacy to think that great leaders don’t occasionally have doubts.  Being a leader means you’re willing to take on responsibility and be accountable. When things are tough economically or just within your organization, it feels like you’re slogging through the mud of the day. It might give you pause and then you get going again. This is natural. What is it about the great leaders that re-charges their inner fire? What can we learn from them?

So, who do great leaders follow?

I’m inviting you to add your observations here and in the Twitter chat, #kaizenblog, tomorrow at 12pm ET/5pm BST/9am PT. What can we learn from people we identify as great leaders? How are they different from good leaders?

I do hope you can join us on Twitter. Some questions to consider for thought and discussion:

Does having a mentor act as an apprenticeship to great leadership?

How do great leaders get support from their community? (Who is their community?)

What relationship does engaging with art, literature or film have with great leadership?

How do they sustain their belief system so it feeds their vision and keeps them connected to their followers?



#kaizenblog chat-“1st Quarter 2011 vs 1st Quarter 2010: Comparisons and Expectations”

It has been awhile since I’ve posted a recap or transcript for the Twitter chat #kaizenblog. Since then, our transcript service has shut down so I’m looking for a new service, system or volunteer who wants to create the transcript. The transcript for this chat was retrieved from Twitter Search so it took some time to clean it up so it is more accessible.

Please note that there are no time stamps and the posts are backwards, In other words, the last tweets are first and you’ll find the discussion goes backwards. If it is easier, go to the end of the transcript and scroll up as you read. The questions and the discussion will make more sense. As always, I didn’t edit anyone’s grammar or spelling.

This was  a great conversation and spawned some ideas for future topics such as how global events affect local businesses and how we handle unmet expectations.

Here’s the transcript: kaizenblog Transcript Quarter 1 of 2011 vs Quarter 1 of 2010: Similiarities and Expectations

Please feel free to add your questions, comments or suggestions.

*There is NO kaizenblog chat this week due to many people being on holiday or observing religious holy days. We will resume on Friday, April 29th at 12pm ET/5pm BST/9am PT with Neal Schaffer for Part 2 of his topic: “Experimentation and Social Media”.


Ideas From Formula 1 Friends-Finding Your Community in Social Media

In the world of social media, there is a lot of talk about connections and engagement. It can be daunting to learn the best practices of each site and identifying who you are “supposed” to connect with. And then there are questions about why you are engaging in social media. Lois Martin of Lois Martin Marketing took a different approach to connecting with others and shared her wisdom with us on our Twitter chat, #kaizenblog. To begin the conversation, Lois wrote this framing post, “The Entrepreneur’s Toolbox: Finding Your Community in Social Media”

Lois Martin

Allow me to introduced you to our guest host-Lois Martin has worked in advertising, marketing and public relations throughout her career and opened her own firm in Atlanta in 2008. Her clients include financial and professional services firms, retailers, authors, distributors and motorsports teams. In addition to developing and managing campaigns and training sales teams, she helps clients effectively use social media. An avid writer and blogger, Lois develops content for companies and enjoys sharing business and personal insights through her own blog at In addition she is on the editorial staff of Formula 1 Blog ( and host of the weekly #F1Chat for Formula 1 fans on Twitter.

We talked about “Ideas From Formula 1 Friends: Finding Your Community in Social Media” and you can learn more about all of the side threads and the full conversation here in the transcript Transcript for #kaizenblog – IdeasFromF1FriendsFindingCommunityInSM

We began our conversation by asking, When choosing a community, how do you connect with the individuals in groups? This may seem like a basic question but keep in mind that different groups have their own norms and, occasionally, there can be cross-cultural considerations. Since Lois is the host for the Twitter chat, #F1Chat, she has met several people that have resulted in personal and professional relationships. As a model for our #kaizenblog conversation, she used examples from her chat. She commented, “Q1 What’s worked so well in our community is that we share a genuine interest in the sport and it’s non-business. It’s a nice break in the day and by chatting about a more personal interest it’s easier to to begin to get to know ea other/form bond.” One of Lois’ points during the chat was to include your interests and hobbies when you are choosing a community. This makes it easier to develop that marketing truism about “know, like and trust” as well as friendships.

  • Patrick Prothe “Re: Q1 – First by listening, getting to know their interests, pains and finding ways to offer value”
  • Ken Rosen “Q1 Existing communities certainly have a flow. Learning that first is natural EQ on or off line”
  • Debra Leitl “A1: We look for communities where we can answer online marketing questions.”
  • Judy Gombita “A1 It’s important to recognize not all members of community want to be “active” and share lots of info, esp. in early days”

Judy’s comment sparked an interesting side thread about lurkers (an awful word for someone who is ‘listening’ to a conversation within social media). Patrick Prothe shared a statistic that 95% of participants are lurking. The consensus for this side thread was to invite but not force people to join in when they are ready. This certainly makes sense as we can send private messages or emails to someone we want to know more about or simply share what we’ve learned with others.

What interests or hobbies would you like to share and explore with others? Lois shared with us a brief explanation that she is a Formula 1 racing fan. Her interest led to developing the #F1Chat and the participants have created a community as a result. She also reminded us “Q2 Think abt how biz is conducted on golf course. Same premise — deeper connections may be formed thru a shared interest.” Amber Cleveland offered a great example, “A2 I’m open to sharing many interests/hobbies like reading, social media, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, wine, shopping…”

Since we have a number of non-US participants in our #kaizenblog community, I got curious about how engage with people in other countries through social media. I tweeted, “It’s not ususual to have participants outside of US participate in #kaizenblog. How does that affect convos?” Lois responded, “I have won and referred biz opps outside of US. PR and marketing projects went well via e-communication and Skype”

  • kerriereio “How 2 connect w/ppl in other countries: go where they go online…invest in them and try to understand them before you try to make them understand you!”
  • Chanelle Schneider “I think the dominant group tends to forget that certain words/phrases don’t have the same meaning”
  • Shashi Bellamkonda “Twitter is a great way to connect to bloggers from other countries”

To illustrate more clearly what finding your community could look like, we asked What are your success stories? Lois used herself as an example, “Q3 Sponsor as well as team management connection for the racing drivers I represent, plus addl biz opps for me and my firm”

  • David McGraw “A3: I am a success story. I lurked. I contributed w/o engagement. I changed the way I participated. Got more precise w/ lang.”
  • kerriereio “My success story is how I’ve met @LoisMarketing @StatesmanF1 @F1UnitedStates and grown @austingrandprix in 6 short months!”
  • Amy Canada “Q3 I am also a success story of #blogchat; when new, others welcomed me warmly. I learned from them & repeated”

To end the conversation, we wanted to know what sorts of resources or advice people need to find their own communities. So who would you like to reach and really get to know? Lois added, “Specific is good. Are there key influencers, authors, famous personalities, industry experts you’d like to meet? I’ve always felt the most effective in-person networking is to be specific — ‘I would like intro to…’ same as SM”

  • Judy Gombita “A4. I want to reach and really get to know people who AREN’T like me. Goodbye bubbles and echo-chambers in communities”
  • David McGraw “Honestly the lurkers in my tweet/blog stream”

It can be easy to overlook the simple ways to connect with people when we are thinking about our area of expertise. Lois provided us with a comfortable model that enables us to imagine the “who”, “what”, and “why of the communities we find in social media.

How do you answer the discussion questions?

What do you wish you knew more about?




Business, Gratitude and What Is In Your Heart

With the impending US holiday celebration Gratitude and Thanksgivingof Thanksgiving, I wondered what we might say about gratitude. Usually at this point in the week, I’m making sure the final pieces are in place for the Twitter chat, #kaizenblog. However, this week we’re not doing our usual chat but it would never do to just cancel everything. So, #kaizenblog community and all of my readers, please help me write this post.

With the end of the year coming up, it seemed a good time to stop and notice who or what made a difference to us this year. Who would you thank? And why? What delights you in your work, in your life? What makes you feel grateful?

Gratitude is an extraordinary emotion. It can be liberating, energizing and calming. We just don’t spend enough time noticing what is good, no, wonderful in our businesses and lives. No matter what is happening around us, there is usually something right in front of us that gives us our motivation, momentum and reasons to remain optimistic. My friend, Caroline (whose energy and support make me smile) pointed me to this post about feeling grateful for imagination, creativity and flow. How many of us notice these qualities? And yet, we are surrounded by the expression when we see innovative products or applications or even just relish how we provide something valuable to our customers. People are doing extraordinary things everywhere. Some of these things are big and change lives on a grand scale. Some of these things are small and change lives incrementally. The size of your contribution doesn’t matter. Everything counts!

For me, I’m noticing so many of the gifts I’ve received because of my business. While there is much in my personal life that I feel grateful for, it is in keeping with this blog and with #kaizenblog to keep our focus on business. If you are not familiar with this Twitter chat, I host a chat that takes the concept of “kaizen” which is the idea of continual improvement and all aspects of business to apply critical thinking, reflection and action. No matter if you participate in the #kaizenblog chat or not, take a moment with me to consider what 2010 presented to you. What do you most appreciate?

As I think of all the things that are going well in my business, it all comes back to people. There are so many people this year who have helped and inspired me. I thought for a moment of listing them but the list got very long so I’m going to have to do quite a few of those “People You Should Know” type of posts. From people who advised me while my site was re-designed to joining the Twitter chat as c0-host (and now host) to my mastermind group, the gifts of friendship, expertise and mentorship are priceless.

So, this is my feeble attempt to notice how I’ve been blessed this year.

  • My clients– These small business owners are just terrific people who are making the transition to a CEO-type role in their businesses. Their small businesses are growing in revenues and hiring people. My clients are deepening how well they manage their anxieties, communicate their expectations and aspirations as well as putting into practice all they’ve ever imagined their businesses could be. It is a privilege to coach them.
  • #kaizenblog-This Twitter chat has allowed me to engage with fascinating people on a weekly basis as well as ideas that illuminate various aspects of business. It brings me such joy when I read tweets going back and forth about a topic and none of them are directed to me. It’s thrilling to see a community forming! (Thanks, Valeria, for taking a chance on me!) Also a special thanks to Mary Ann Halford and Amber Cleveland for their help with Kaizen Act. You made our inaugural off-line conversation run so smoothly! Hats off!
  • Bloggertone-If you haven’t read a post from this site, you are missing out on valuable advice and ideas about running a small business as well as a warm community who love  a good conversation. Writing posts for this an up and coming resource is a fun and inspires me to write higher quality posts.
  • Mentors-Various people over the year have given me a wealth of wisdom about designing my site, engaging in social media and other ways I can provide additional and better service to my clients. Each conversation with people like John Reddish, Tom Gray and my mastermind group encourage me to improve and deepen how I show up as a coach and as a business owner.
  • Readers of this blog- I know you spend time reading my posts even if there are not a lot of comments. Thank you for your time, attention and feedback.

This is just the beginning of my list and perhaps I didn’t quite express everything adequately. Underpinning every one of the bullet points are people and their generosity. Who and what are on your list?

I invite all of you to share what is abundant in your life this year.

What are you grateful for?




Has Social Media Killed the Art Of Conversation-#kaizenblog recap

You hear a lot of complaining about how people’s writing skills have been ruined by texting or tweeting. But what about the art ofSocial Media and Art of Conversation conversation? What is the effect of social media on our ability to actually converse and connect with one another verbally?

Essentially the art of conversation is simply and easily talking with anyone about anything while projecting confidence and friendliness. Someone who is adept at the art of conversation also uses active listening skills so the conversation follows an arc as subjects are introduced and talked about.

The three stages to the Art of Conversation are:

1. Small talk-weather, location, event..basically anything that joins two or more people into the actual conversation

2. Subject matter-this is the business part of the conversation. There is more depth here as people explore a topic or the purpose of the conversation

3. Closure-the topic is wrapped up and people end the conversation in a smooth way that could include thanking one another for the conversation and even a goodbye

Since the #kaizenblog chat happens on Twitter, social media plays an important role for all of us who participate. In past conversations, participants have talked about developing relationships which would imply that conversations are taking place. But…what kind of conversations? Have we interrupted the process with limited space or speed or what?  You can read the transcript here Transcript for #kaizenblog – HasSocMedKilledArtofConvo

Ironically, during the chat, we noticed that Twitter and other applications (e.g. HootSuite, Tweetchat) were acting strangely so there were aborted tweets that somehow got published or simply had to be re-typed until they were successfully sent.

As our usual wont, we opened with a basic question so we could use a common definition. How would you describe the art of conversation? There are concerns that we’re less civil, more informal or even more likely to skip the first stage. Any of these are possible due to the thought that they are not important. And, possibly the biggest challenge to a conversation is feeling like there is enough time to fully engage in the topic together.

  • Laura Crum “A1: the art of conversation used to be fluid, pretty and intricate”
  • Parissa Behnia “A1: The art is understanding that there are many textures. sometimes it’s in listening & sometimes in 2 way exchange”
  • Richard Winter “A1: Being able to convey a message or position people see in their minds through the words you use”
  • Bruno Coehlo “A1 The art of Conversation is about listening, understanding and sharing. Hint: the order matters”
  • Michael Benidt “A1: Conversation has to include respect – someone has to be as interested in you, as you are in them”

Given the concerns about how conversation has become truncated, where does social media fit in? What is the intersection between social media and conversation?

  • Parissa Behnia “A2: SM is enhancement so I don’t see it as intersection so much as wonderful support to the right behaviors we should be doing”
  • Torrey McGraw “A2: Success lies in adding value. Thus more will be willing to drive down your street”
  • ASQ Baton Rouge 1521 “Q2: SM intersects w/ conversation when relationships are built. Genuine thought and opinion vs. announcements”
  • Ken Rosen “I think Ppl DO value artful comments & elevate those who are capable. But aesthetic changing. W/ SM as a force of change no doubt”
  • Suzanna Stinnett “A2 The intersection of SM and conversation is your brain. You choose who you follow and how you interact”
  • Amber Cleveland “A2. The intersection is us…people. Social media, traditional media, phone calls, emails, tweets…all intersect at people”

The conversation has some interested side threads about spelling, grammar and how people use social media in a way that would be very obnoxious if we were in-person. One thread even touched on how words are used and whether or not poetry can exist on sites like Twitter. Perhaps, at times, the conversation got a little myopic and the comments were centered more on Twitter use.

This seemed to open the conversation for the next question. How would you describe the effects of social media on conversation?

  • Amy Canada “…#SocialMedia is only a conversation for those who use it to converse (2 ways). Broadcasting is not conversation”
  • ASQ Baton Rouge 1251 “Many companies fail to engage. They think since the tools are free, strategic thought is not required.”
  • Bruno Coehlo “One of the major effects that  SM made on conversation is reducing our attention span and time perception”

The responses seemed all over the place during this question. Some people felt that social media has augmented conversations offline. It seems likely that the truth is not one thing or another as social media has so many faces. It would be interesting to see how the effects play over time.

What is the future of the art of conversation given that social media will exist in one form or another?

  • Parissa Behnia “insistence on keeping the trad’l ways of engaging while embracing new technology. symbiotic”
  • Bruno Coeholo “Q4 Conversations will continue to evolve across different channels because of our need to to share and learn”
  • Christine Dowers “Q4: I see more and more people realizing the importance of Twitter. Many people don’t know how to use it or why it is here.”

While most people were quite positive about social media, there were a number of side threads and comments that pointed out the drawbacks or limitations. If we are embracing a tool for our businesses, are we thinking critically about how it affects our organizations and ourselves? Social media can be a shiny toy. It is also a way for us to meet more people who are looking for what we provide. Consider this, nearly every week on #kaizenblog, we have participants from Europe, Canada and the United States. Occasionally we have participants from other parts of the world as well. This means that we have the opportunity to broaden how we understand our expertise and how others in the world engage in similar work. Maybe the art of conversation isn’t lost but has morphed into its next manifestation.

What do you believe about the art of conversation in social media? Is it really dead or something else?


Someone You Should Know

There is a lot of talk about what Twitter can do for us. Maybe it can make us money. Maybe it can make us famous. Maybe it’s just fun. Maybe it’s about the people…

Valeria Maltoni, Conversation AgentI’d like to introduce you to someone who deserves to be considered an influencer of the best kind. Everyone, meet Valeria Maltoni.

I met Valeria on the Twitter chat, #kaizenblog when I used to participate in the conversation. Actually, it was Caroline Di Diego who was kind enough to send me reminders about the chat as she knew how much I enjoy exploring ideas and seeing how they apply in real life. So, I joined in and became intrigued by the host, Valeria. At that point, I only knew her as @ConversationAge but she seemed to truly care that the chat, #kaizenblog and that the participants did more than just enjoy a conversation. This passion was refreshing and I wanted to know more.

Passion, intellect, curiosity and a thirst to connect with others are all characteristics of Valeria that are easy to see. She brings her whole self to everything. Perhaps this is because she is Italian but it’s probably more true that this is just how she is. Sure you can learn about her on her site but to truly get to know her, have a conversation. My first full-blown offline conversation with her contained references to Dante Alighieri’s The Inferno, social media and other philosophers. Nice and light, just like any “how to get to know you” kind of conversation should be.

 She is a Connector. Valeria thrives on getting to know others and hearing them think. There are two things that I delight in and deeply appreciate since we partnered up to be co-hosts on #kaizenblog. The first is that she has introduced me to interesting people like Tom Asacker , Taylor Davidson , Aliza Sherman and, of course, the core group of tweeps who come every Friday to explore “kaizen” and business. Her passion for connection isn’t simply for her own gain but to make the world more cozy and ready for a good conversation (with or without espresso).

The second thing that delights me is her reminders every now and then that I “should” do something. Having someone who gives an occasional nudge (or shove) to go beyond my regular way of operating is such a gift! She inspires me to see the world even more broadly, to explore other possibilities and to act according my grander vision. Since she is a marketing strategist, she can see what is coming two or three steps ahead. As someone who doesn’t inhabit that world primarily, her perspective fuels my imagination and my tendency to test how an idea can work in real life. It’s a cliche, I know, but Valeria does inspire me to bring my A game.

She nudges people on a regular basis. This is not a gift she has given just to me. When she founded #kaizenblog, it wasn’t good enough to explore an idea. Valeria wanted people to grapple with an idea, take it home with them and find a way to implement it in their work and lives. She continues to do this in her work with her colleagues, her clients, her blog, her Facebook page and on Twitter. As she reminded us in her last time on #kaizenblog, she’s not going anywhere!

Take some time to check out her Twitter stream, her Facebook page or her blog. Engage with her. It’s something that will be illuminating and valuable! Have a conversation with the Conversation Agent. After all, her message is “connecting ideas and people-how talk can change our lives.”



Managing Transition To Next Stage of Business or Career-#kaizenblog recap

This #kaizenblog chat was more than just our usual chat. We said goodbye to the chat’s founder and co-host, Valeria Maltoni. Valeria has created a chat on Twitter that goes far beyond the 14o “soundbite” and asks all of us to think a bit more about our ideas about business, social media and ourselves. Her passion for connecting with people and seeing where conversations can take a person are infectious and always an experience.

The real gift here is that Valeria is not really going entirely away. She will be around, as always for a good conversation full of big ideas, on Twitter. If you haven’t connected with her, you can find her on Twitter as @ConversationAge. Do connect with Valeria! Your world will become much more interesting!

In that vein, Valeria wrote a lovely post about Passing the Baton. Managing a transition to the next stage in your business or career often involves passing on the “job” to someone else. What is embedded in this process? To see the whole conversation, check out the transcript Transcript for #kaizenblog – ManagingTransitionInBizCareer_!

We spend time dreaming and working towards a vision of where our careers or our businesses can go. Another thing to keep in mind, as Valeria reminded us, “So many companines don’t have a succession plan, or traning to help you manage your career…need to have one for yourself.” How would you describe the a career or organizational change/transition/shift to a more sophisticated level?

  • Laura Crum “A1: I like the term “movement” but that’s pretty broad, too. Doesn’t necessitate forward motion.”
  • Parissa Behnia “a1: having direct honest communication about how difficult change is. be a bull in a china shop, kinda”
  • Lois Martin “A1 I think back to how my business and I have grown by “stretching” — taking on new, larger, more challenging clients, projects”
  • Jason Mikula “Sometimes you have to reach, take on something you’re afraid of & force yourself to grow”
  • Rob Petersen “Q1 Explain why change needs to occur and make everyone see what is value in their being  behind it”

There were references to how change can be uncomfortable so we asked, Given the ebb and flow nature of managing change, what makes change more complicated or simple?

  • Penelope Singer “It’s important to not overwhelm yourself with too many changes at one. That leads to paralysis”Growth and change in business and career
  • Tanja Ziegel “Frame of mind”
  • Laura Crum: “A1a : true change is never simple. t’s EASIER to stay in a bad situation than make move to a good one”
  • Jason Mikula ” ‘Voluntary’ change vs. ‘forced’ change — both can be complicated or simple”

The thoughts behind the comments about change and the process of managing change brought up an interesting idea. Often with change, good or bad, we feel a sense of loss. For big changes, it can even be grief. For example, entrepreneurs who put everything on the line to make their venture go and then have to close the doors, maybe even file for bankruptcy. Those with business partner may see friendships end. Certainly one’s identity depends partly on our roles. When I’ve talked with clients about their past business failures, it is not unusual for them to describe a stage of grief.

Now clearly, not everyone is going to be distresed to that extent but do we even recognize the feelings when they occur? However, we often resist change in the early stages. We fret over how things will be different or we will be different. This can happen even when the change is in our best interest. What would happen if we took the time to grieve what we use to have or do before the change started?

  • Mary Ann Halford “Who has time to grieve – have to focus on keeping up w changes”
  • Amber Cleveland “A2: I’d rather celebrate what I have rather than grieve it. When I left my last co, there was a nice partyfor me=felt good”
  • Ken Rosen “Q2 Maybe not grieve, but acknowledge. Chg adopted when anticipation overwhelms fear, uncertainty”
  • Penelope Singer “intermix your grieving with change by remembering past positives and linking to future positive change”
  • Lois Martin “A2 Grief and disappointment will happen. The loss of  a client. Learn from the experience and move forward. Don’t dwell”

So if we’re sensing that change is coming and (hopefully) noticing the discomfort, How do people know it’s time for a change?

  • Jason Mikula “Even if it looks like a -, find a way to leverage it, improve yourself, your life, your mind”
  • Parissa Behnia “Q2a: if they are in tune with their “gut” feeling, they will sense the need for change. our intuition is smarter than we are”
  • Tanja Zieg “It may be just a feeling of restlessness or being antsy…something quite “right’…pay attention to that”

Valeria Maltoni gave some great advice,  “to me, it’s about learning to listen to yourself Feel when the party is going great and you can make a gracious exit”

Certainly the question about grief touch a nerve as there was quite a discussion about acknowledging grief or permutating it into another emotion. This led to an interesting side thread about how emotions fit in and whether or not they are even appropriate to have them in the business world. Interestingly, there was no consensus as to what to do with these emotions. It’s worth reading the transcript and see where you land in the conversation.

As with most #kaizenblog conversations, we take the topic and take a look at how we engage with the ideas in the conversation. We ended the conversation with this question, What changes are you experiencing in your career or business?

  • Penelope Singer “A3 Full realization of need for clearer paths. Mores structure in some areas, less in others”
  • Parissa Behnia “A3: it’s hard but be content and expect change. your success depends on emotional maturity in dealing with it”
  • Elaine Rogers “I often find pushing myself out of my comfort zone empowers me to accept change and not fight it – hard work tho”
  • Rich Becker “A3 It’s becoming easier to be the content publisher than it is to guide clients toward becoming marketing-content publishers”

 Change is an interesting part of our life experience. Perhaps Thoreau is correct in his observation that there are those who lead lives of quiet desperation and are slaves to their work and their employers. Avoiding change is impossible. As we move along in our careers or in leading our businesses, let us take Valeria’s example and know when to leave a party graciously.


Is It So Hard To Be Kind? #kaizenblog recap

Kindness and human engagementWhy are we so surprised when we are treated with kindness? Ever since last Friday’s #kaizenblog chat, I’ve been thinking how sad it is that we are so moved by being treated with consideration and compassion by someone, particularly when we’re in a business environment. What gives?

We posed this as a discussion topic for the #kaizenblog community and what a conversation! Since we have some new members to the Twitter chat, #kaizenblog, it makes sense to explain in more than 14o characters what this chat is about. Valeria Maltoni (co-host and founder of the chat) explains the premise with this post. Continual improvement is a hallmark of successful business leaders and participants are encouraged to use “kaizen” in their business and/or work with the ideas explored in this chat.

It’s not always an easy process to use “kaizen” in one’s work since it requires one to be honest in asking tough questions and stay with the process. Staying with the process means acting on what one learns in every moment and not stopping just for the results. There is more to learn, to deepen one’s wisdom, knowledge and ability.

She wrote,

“Continuous improvement can be in the content and presentation, but also in the interaction – your ability to become more natural and conversational in tone. Take cues from the experience of being exposed to relationships with ideas and people on a consistent basis to observe and learn.”

Since the interaction is such a key piece to why #kaizenblog works as a conversation starter and thought provoker, this recap attempts to capture some of the ideas expressed by the participants.

That quote seemed so in keeping with the theme of kindness. The conversation starter with this was a post on the HBR blog iste by Bill Taylor (@practicallyrad) titled, “Why Is It So Hard To Be Kind?”. The focus was kindness in the business arena. There are some who would say that kindness doesn’t really have a place in business. Others argue that it is essential to smooth internal operations as well as good customer service. Are either of these true? See what everyone had to say in the transcript ****

We started off the conversation by asking, How is kindness or empathy viewed in the business world? This definitely produced a flurry of responses.

  • Amber Cleveland “A1: I think generally speaking (not my POV) that ppl take kindness as a weakness in business, when in reality it’s an asset”
  • Parissa Behnia “Q1 Often mistaken for being slow. gives impression that people can take advantage. however, giving to get always works”
  • Chanelle Scheider “From conversations I’ve had with others, they question (my) kindness and empathy. See it as ploy to get sales”
  • Sian Phillip “Kindness goes a lot further than being hard I believe. Treat others as you wish to be treated in everything”
  • Cathy Larkin “Q1 Kindness in business takes time, so many biz don’t take that step, but as saying goes – shortcuts=missed oppty”
  • Laura Crum  “kindness brings people back again and again. Hardness may get initial issue resolved”
  • Judi Yi “When one is secure/strong, easy to be kind. There is no mistaken notion that to give is to ‘lose’ rather than ‘expand’ “

The responses seemed to point more to how people let their insecurities run the business as well as how beliefs can be taken as norms. Is that what we’re really left with? Or perhaps doing business with a customer is always a win/lose proposition?

This seem to be a good segue into the second discussion question, Is it really a failure of the organizational culture or personal value system? Isaac Duke was pretty succinct with his response, “It’s both.” Other responses were either sure it was one or other. Do circumstances affect which values we choose to follow?

  • Joe Sanchez “If orgs/enterprises want 2 make kindness a “real asset,” it needs 2b embodied in “Values” & perpetuated via #storytelling”
  • Parissa Behnia “It’s both. org culture influences personal values and vice versa. chicken and egg problem”
  • Cathy Larkin “I could be wrong, but wonder if, in US culture, it goes bk to our “Protestant work ethic” founding”
  • Laura Crum “It’s a failure of personal values to influence org culture”
  • Bruno Coelho “When top management doesn’t support the customer focus attitude, then employee focus then turns to boss”
  • Judy Yi ” ‘Authority to be nice?’ Respect, consideration, empathy…these do not require Supervisor Approval, no?”

There was an interesting side thread about the movie “Up In the Air” and how firing can be held in a respectful and kind way. This is certainly a minefield if you have ever experienced it in a managerial role. How do you tell someone they don’t fit the organization?

Another side thread was the role of leadership and kindness. There were some very strong opinions about how leaders should demonstrate the organization’s commitment to kindness in customer relationships and employee relationships. Worth reading! Deb Ellis said “The kindest way to fire someone is to do it quickly w/ a clear explanation of the issues that lead to it” What do you believe a leader and/or manager should exhibit in terms of kindness or empathy? Does gender matter and if so, how?

There was another side thread about how money, kindness and our beliefs about both are intertwined. Do our emotions and beliefs restrict our ability to be kind or empathic?

Our last discussion question, How are we really creating a world in which we devalue human engagement? There were lots of responses to this question that debated whether things were devolving or evolving.

  • Patrick Prothe “Re Q3 – Via automation, depersonalization, focus on numbers over ppl. And the harder co’s try to rebound, the worse the cycle. Re: Q3 – But I think the pendulum may be swinging back a bit as many business forced to get more social, local and focused”
  • Debra Willis “by not pausing enough long enough to listen or think abt how what we do affects other”
  • Isaac Duke “A3-we naturally devalue hum engagement. Look at toddlrs. Biz helps us reverse that. Ppl don’t buy from us when we dnt share”
  • Amber Cleveland: “A3. we are not devaluing human engagement, I think values are being amplified using SM. Paradigm shift”
  • John Cloonan: “Look at current social media trends, they’re moving away from automation and towards engagement”
  • Judy Yi: “Q3: the sheer SCALE of business today emphasizes margins, but the tipping point is near: differentiation is human”
  • Bruno Coelho: “As technology use and reach increases, the value of analog human interactions also increases”

There seemed to be more optimistic views of how kindness, indeed more genuine and positive human engagement is on the rise. While there may be some preliminary research questioning whether narcissism is on the ascendant and empathy on the decendant , it is unclear how this is being manifested. Actually, is it even being manifested at all?

What really defines human engagement?

How could an organization interact with individual people?