Tag Archives: Business

Can Emotional Intelligence Be Taught?


This is part 1 in a series on how to create the perfect team.

One of the fastest growing areas in business psychology and sociology right now is emotional intelligence. EI refers to a person’s ability to observe, relate to, and accurately discern the social and situational cues around them – and to react to and utilize those variables constructively. If this is a new term for you and you are actively in the business and/or leadership development business (and honestly – who isn’t?!), you need to spend some time learning about EI! Many leading experts on EI – such as Daniel Goleman – have linked EI to a person’s social, professional, and leadership success.

Forward-thinking businesses are beginning to actively seek out employees who have a high EQ. This can be done through group interviews (versus more traditional individual interviews), scenario-based questions, and active coaching around EI traits. Almost gone are the days where someone could achieve a position in a company based solely on their academic prowess…which brings me to the purpose of this article.

Many people are beginning to ask “Can EI be taught.” And – if so – how can we increase this in the people around and underneath us? The NY Times has recently published a very respectable article on this. 

Clearly EI is a big deal and is something we all need in order to succeed. What do you think? Can EI be taught? And, if so, how?


Filed under business, communication, leadership, observation

The 2 Keys To Success In Leadership


I am working towards my next promotion at work. In preparation for this, I’ve been spending time going through mock interviews. Recently, one interviewer gave me this question: “As a manager, it is often said that you can influence 10% of change. Where would you focus this effort to get your maximum impact?”

So…where would you focus? Whether you’re looking at being a retail manager or coach or entreprenaur or whatever… where would you focus?

My mind raced at the sound of this question… there are so many things that are important to a business! I could respond with visual merchandizing, progressiveness/change management, forecasting, marketing… so many hugely important things… but I stepped back for a second and listened to my gut…” people.”

The most important step in leadership is investing in your people. You are only as good as your people. As a leader, your success needs to be measured by the success of your people. Being an advocate, a developer, a teacher, a friend, a coach, and a motivator – these are contagious behaviors that create a culture of success in any leadership position – and it is perpetuating. People helping people (cheesy youtube video – beware!).

The other key to success as a leader is having a growth mindset. This includes believing that people can becoming better, more, stronger, and that people have a limitless capacity. Even if people struggle with growing – this will set you up for the best way to invest in those around you as well as yourself. Think about athletes: Athletes are always training to improve. They do not simply tell themselves “my muscles simply cannot get stronger.” That fixed mindset is so limited. They continue to strive for betterness. 

So, fellow leaders: Strive for more, invest in your people, and believe in those around you. Grow your people, be an advocate, and be good to everyone around you. And have fun doing it! Everything else can come out of these two qualities. Lives are being changed and you’re driving your metrics and success simultaneously. People helping people.


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Filed under change management, communication, leadership, motivation

Stop Complaining and Go Make Something Of Yourself


A month ago, a friend of mine (we’ll call her “Fran”) mentioned how she “has not been given an opportunity to grow” in her current role. Fran has been working in a small company role in sales for awhile and has seen other people chosen over her for the next role up. Fran confessed to me that she has “waited and waited and waited” for a superior to pluck her from obscurity and to commend her on being a “steady contributor” to her company. Fran is still in her role and isn’t going to leave that company just yet – but she feels frustrated.

Fran made me feel frustrated.

The world does not promote people who are “good.” How many baseball teams win world championships with players that are “good?” Likewise, how many AAA (minor league) ball players complain they’ve never been given a chance? Trust me…if someone is hits 50 homeruns for a minor league team in one year, it will be awfully hard for a team in the big leagues to not love the idea of having them on their team.

Don’t wait for your “opportunity” or for someone to “give you a chance.” It just doesn’t happen that often.

Instead, you determine your destiny. You are in charge of where you go in life, be it with a job, sports, social situations, whatever. If you are a leader, LEAD! Take control of your situation and earn your reward. Make yourself an unstoppable and amazing force that a higher-up in a company cannot help but lavish further responsility upon. Don’t aspire to be “good enough” – aspire to be the most amazing whatever in the world.

Our biggest blockade in growing or being successful is apprehension towards harnessing our potential.

If you want something, go get it. Don’t you dare give up until you’ve made it…. and when you get whatever you’re working towards, remember what happened and how amazing you proved yourself to be during that process…and how much more amazing you will continue to be as you grow.


Filed under communication, leadership, Uncategorized

7 Reasons Why Customers Should Be #1


Ilya Posen put up this cool article on LinkedIn yesterday. It is written primarily to customer serving folk but I believe his ideas on what persuades people in this article are universal. Give it a read!

The customer is king. Believing otherwise will likely drive your business into the ground.

Here’s what I mean: Far too many businesses are stuck on perfecting their ideas, products, or services, when the real focal point should be pleasing the customer. Those businesses and brands who do cater solely to their user will always win in the end. But transforming your company to better serve your customers may not be as simple as it sounds.

To get more proactive insight on putting your customers first, I spoke with John Tabis, the founder and CEO of TheBouqs.com, an LA-based cut-to-order online flower delivery company. After recently receiving a $1.1 million seed round of funding, it’s clear their focus on improving the overall customer experience hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Here are a few tips from John to get you on the fast-track to putting your customers first:

1. Define and focus. Before your can begin to improve the overall experience for your customer, you must first understand who they are and what they really want. Toss out the idea of having a broad audience and hone in on the specific target market most relevant to your business. Research their basic interests, wants, and needs and begin transforming your business to better accommodate these aspects.

2. Keep it simple. If you’re really looking to stand out, simplicity will be your saving grace. Far too many businesses think their customers want fancy features and end up overbuilding their products to the point of no return. In reality, your customer craves a simplistic experience with no unnecessary features, “extras”, or gimmicks.

For example, Tabis knew a stealthy, no-nonsense ordering process mattered to the target audience of TheBouqs.com. They created a straightforward, honest, and simple way to purchase their product that involves one flat fee, only 40 bouquet options to choose from, no hidden fees, and just three clicks to checkout.

3. Tout your personality. Who says simple can’t be fun? Make your brand more memorable by injecting it with a level of personality. TheBouqs.com may have a simplified ordering process, but their website and online presence boast a youthful and engaging level of personality. From their bouquet names to their use of photography, one click-through of the website gives customers a taste of the energetic personality of their brand.

4. Find what’s missing in your market. This mixture includes equal parts of knowing what customers in the market want and understanding what your competitors aren’t doing right. By fixing this disconnect and filling a void, you’re not only going to stand out from your competition, but also have a chance at changing the market in the process.

In the flower industry, many businesses have completely forgotten about the buyer by throwing in hidden fees, spamming marketing materials, and trying to sell non-bouquet extras in the purchase process. TheBouqs.com got to the heart of this big market-related issue, which also positively transforms the customer experience as a whole.

5. Develop a pleasant experience. By making your customer’s interactions and experiences as efficient and effective as possible, you’re ensuring their return. Streamline interactions and processes to cut the fuss and put your customers at ease. This means providing fewer clicks at the point of purchase and keeping fees as transparent and standard as possible.

6. Show them respect. Giving your customers an unmatched experience is only possible through respecting their time and inbox. Don’t spam your customers with marketing materials or hit their inbox too often. Too many businesses believe this is a way to keep their customers “in the know” when it’s actually working to push them away. At TheBouqs.com, they send out one email a week. For your customer, twice a week or daily might be best. You need to customize your marketing to match your customers wants and needs.

7. Play to your user’s values. Sure, you may doing your best to give your customers what they want in terms of experience, but keying in on their values will show them you really care.For instance, TheBouqs.com knows their customers value social-responsibility. They built their business foundation on this value through partnering with eco-friendly, sustainable farms that respect the environment and their farmers.

When it comes to your customers, giving a little will get you a lot in the long run. Put your customers first and you’re sure to come out on top.


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Filed under business, change management, motivation

How Do You Define Success?


Once upon a time, I had a conversation with a friend. We talked about his work. I remember asking him “Do you meet your numerical goals?” and they responded with “I am not sure – I don’t know what my goal is.”

The manager inside me shrieked in terror upon hearing that.

Friends, employees, leaders, managers – how often do we get frustrated when people aren’t doing what we hope for them to do? However, instead of feeling frustrated, perhaps we should turn the focus on ourselves.

Have we defined what success looks like for the people around us?

It can be a number. It can be a qualitative goal.

If we define and validate what success looks like to those around us, life will be much easier… and we will become more successful.

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Filed under communication, leadership, motivation

5 Questions With Mark Keating



Mark Keating

Mark Keating

Singer Songwriter (TMG)

Think back to when you were extremely motivated by a boss, leader, or teammate. What did they say or do that motivated you so much and why did it work?

The sense of motivation came through a couple different ways. There was the opportunity aspect and the prospect of a challenge. The best example of this that I can think would be a situation with a band I used to play with. I started acting with them when I was 17 and the more opportunity I was given to do different songs the more I rose to the challenge and grew as a musician.

When have you been very unmotivated by a boss, leader, or teammate? Why did it create a feeling of un-motivation to do your job better?

The circumstance in which there was a lack of motivation came from a different boss, one that I also no longer work for. The obvious displays of favoritism and being passed on for opportunities for advancement played a key role in that. Self-motivation can only get you so far when a manager creates an environment without incentive. You don’t motivate the worker who is being treated less favorably because their efforts reap no fruit and it spoils the others into not striving for anything.

What is one characteristic you look for in an effective leader?

I look for honesty in a leader. If a manager or boss can’t look honestly at a situation and make the best decision based on facts instead of opinion or favorable feelings then the company or group will suffer. This includes being able to honestly discern the employees’ skills and capabilities.

When have you motivated another person to better themselves or to be more productive in their job?

I go into any sort of leadership position, however big or small, with the same attitude. Treat an employee or a student with a sense of respect. Actually expect something of them but give them the tools and opportunities to do succeed. I have done that with music lessons with my students by having shows in which they can demonstrate what they’ve learned and feel proud of it. I’ve done in more normal job settings by training people then letting them do it. I don’t constantly hover over them waiting for a mistake. If a mistake is made I offer help but allow them to try and remedy the situation themselves.

What is one piece of advice you’d give towards aspiring leaders?

My piece of advice would have to be warning against the destruction of micro managing. No employee exceeds expectation while being micromanaged. No employee grows as a leader themselves if they are not delegated some responsibility. You end up with a team of well-trained yes men and that does not for a good company make.

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Filed under leadership

Leadership Is Climbing the Mountain – A Trade with Strategic Monk

I love being original and keeping things fresh with this website. My friend, Greg, over at StrategicMonk.com came up with a cool idea: trade posts. So… I’ve posted on his website, StrategicMonk.com, and his entry with the same title is posted below. Enjoy!


The gently rolling hills of Wisconsin, smoothed by glaciers so long ago, are a great place to be born and raised. They did not, though, teach me many lessons about climbing mountains.

Mountain climbing was a purely theoretical exercise for me. There were pictures of mountains in books. They brought to mind exotic names of distant places like the “Alps” or “Himalayas.” They were far removed from my everyday life.

The first time I ever saw a mountain was from the window of an airplane. It was majestic, but still did not give me any practical insights into mountain climbing.
In the same way, leaders were not people with whom I recognized having any real connection. They were pictures in books or on television.
Now I live in a place where I can see mountains from my front window. I have climbed mountains, and have a tangible appreciation for what it takes to climb them well.
The key to climbing mountains, and to leading, is taking the next step. It is good to have the right equipment, but you would be amazed at what you can improvise. It is good to have experience and information, but analysis can also stop us from doing what we need to do.
Each step is significant. Each step determines what comes after it. Each step informs you about your own resources and insights, and helps you see your true self more clearly. Each step is a journey of its own.
As we take each step into the unknown future, we turn potential into reality and possibilities into results. We learn the lessons each step has for us, and we transform the exotic into the everyday.
What mountains are you climbing today?
Where will your next step take you?
You can read more of Greg’s reflections on leadership at his website, StrategicMonk.com, or follow him on Twitter at @StrategicMonk.


Filed under change management, leadership, motivation