Author Archives: Terry Williams - The Brain-Based Boss

Seek & You Will Find (Don’t just be open to feedback, seek it, expect it, demand it)

Happy New Year! A great time to think about getting better results this year than last. (Shouldn’t be too hard – thanks 2020).

I’m running a new programme now called ‘Accountability Builder‘. There’s a lot of good stuff in it around how our results are driven by beliefs and some practical things anyone can do to reshape beliefs and thus achieve new and improved results. It’s focused on ownership and positivity. One element that’s creating a few strained expressions on people’s faces as they get their heads around the concept is…

… asking for feedback.

My participants have no problem with feedback per se. They understand and agree how it benefits everyone to know what’s expected of them and how they’re doing in moving towards those expectations. It’s like the scoreboard in sports, or laughter when telling a joke (or the absence of laughter). It’s useful information upon which to adjust or maintain our course.

My participants are already at a leadership level and many are senior and experienced. They have zero problem delivering feedback TO OTHERS.

There is a smaller but still reasonably sized subset of folks who are totally open to feedback FROM others. It might feel uncomfortable but you don’t rise to their level in organisations without doing more of the good stuff and less of the bad. Feedback from others is gold really and, if others felt inclined to provide it, they’re ready to listen.

A tiny fraction of people have a routine and habitual practice of regularly seeking feedback from others. They INITIATE and ASK. Sure, they frame it a bit the first few times so it’s not too weird. Because for many people, both parties, someone actually asking for performance feedback at work, is weird. But, with practice, it feels less weird over time, and with improved performance thanks to that feedback, the incentive to continue kicks in soon enough.

It’s just those first two or three times.

If you can model this yourself and bring your team along for the ride, you will accelerate your development and your performance improvement.

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More at www.terrywilliams.info

The Bits In-Between

For my first degree, I majored in History. (This was the late 80s. There was less history then). It was all wars, revolutions, and crises. Probably for the same reasons as HBO mini-series re-enact those bits of history. TV loves drama. So does study.

But most of history isn’t crises. It’s the bits in-between. Fifty years ago wasn’t entirely Woodstock, moon landings, & Vietnam. Maybe your grandparents were there, but mostly probably not. They were trying to make rent, live a life, & get ahead, in spite of whatever they faced.

Fifty years from now, showrunners and historians will focus on the obvious blerghh events of this year. Fair enough. Someone should, probably sooner. Those willfully ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it and drag others down with them.

I raise this as it’s a new year and the tendency is to look back in review before looking forward to plan. Yeah nah. I’m going to look back at the bits in-between. Family. Friends. Re-inventing work. Cooperation. Resilience.

What are your 2020 ‘bits in-between’?

#resiliencetraining

Side-Hustle Blues

hate the work you love

The screencap of a tweet above is a short story from someone in a creative industry about someone else in a creative industry who made their passion into a job. Who wouldn’t want to do that? Yet it is a cautionary tale. That guitarist ended up hating the thing they loved.

OK, it’s not quite a Stephen King screenplay, nor an episode of ‘The Twilight Zone’ but it is LinkedIn-scary.

Builders who love building, cooks who love cooking, and so forth, all face that risk. Many small businesses start out as a ‘side-hustle’ with a dream of leaving the ‘day-job’. Few anticipate the nightmare of ending up in another day-job of their own making, but now without the activity they once loved and found creative comfort in.

That doesn’t have to happen but how can you stop it from happening?

I train, speak & coach. Enjoy it. Always have. Still do. As much by good luck as by good management, from the get-go of my side-hustling days, I had a notion. (Let’s retro-fit this notion with a label 20 years later; let’s call it my ‘strategy’). I knew there would be elements of a business I wouldn’t enjoy so I WOULDN’T DO THEM.

Crazy, right? Now, the strategy has worked but there is a 2nd important, often overlooked element…

SOMEONE ELSE HAS TO DO THEM.

Find that someone before you sign anything.

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These posts will resume Jan 18 2021 as I’m taking a break this kiwi summer. Stay tuned.

More at terrywilliamstrainer.com

First Impressions

dentist

One of the courses I run is on business writing. Sure, there’s some grammar and syntax in there but ultimately it’s about being reader-centric, efficient and effective in conveying MEANING, and maintaining or enhancing people’s perception of your professionalism.

So, how would you feel if you received your dental appointment confirmation email and the font was comic sans? I like this dentist. They do good work etc. Does anyone really care about their font? But, what if this was my first interaction with them as I was considering which dentist to go with?

Best I put off making an appointment until I’ve thought this through….

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terrywilliams.info

Mental Shortcuts In Our Decision-Making

fat burger

Mental ‘ticks’.

Our brains are really into shortcuts, especially when it comes to making decisions like what to eat and whom to trust.

Subway displays and promotes detailed nutritional information. This is to their credit and for this they wear a ‘health halo.’ A study by Brian Wansink assessed the recall of Subway customers versus McDonalds customers on nutritional information and their perceptions of how much they’d eaten, then compared their perception to how much they’d actually eaten.

3x as many Subway customers recalled seeing nutritional information but only a tiny fraction could recall specifics. All they remembered was that Subway displayed it. People tend to remember and perceive such things as black and white. It’s either healthy or it is not. Our brains aren’t into ‘less bad’: Subway’s display of nutritional information gives them a psychic tick and once there, most people order whatever they want cart blanche because ‘everything’ gets the mental tick.

Tom Hanks has done some lame movies but I will watch every Tom Hanks movie.

At work, what shortcuts do you or your people have that enable tick-shortcuts in their decisions? How valid are they? Even if they were once on-point, are they still? How defensible are they?

Learn more at brainbasedboss.com

Pull The Trigger On Change

tiny habits

How can we enhance our #personalproductivity, an essential skill in uncertain & volatile economic times? One approach is to deliberately develop your #selfdiscipline ‘muscles’ with selective ‘triggers’.

We act on triggers all the time already. We see a red dot with a number on our email app icon and we check our email. Someone reaches out their hand and we do too to shake. It’s conditioning & could be voluntary or imposed, accidental or deliberate, personal or societal, helpful or hindering (particularly that email trigger!).

To be more effective, we need more of the voluntary, deliberate, personal, & helpful.

We need to start small, in the target zone in the diagram below – barely outside our comfort zone where it’s not quite easy & we’re barely motivated enough. Through practice & repetition, the behaviour becomes embedded.

There’s obviously a lot more to it, too much for a LinkedIn post. But the ‘When I –> Then I’ll…’ technique has certainly helped my #personaleffectiveness, especially when I piggyback desired new behaviours onto existing ones that are already embedded.

Learn more from my books at terrywilliamsbooks dot com

To be or not to be (Authentic, that is)

staring at film

Not too long ago, I scored 3 significant (by my standards) business opportunities in quick succession. In conversation with all 3 of those clients, it arose that part of their assessment of me was checking me out online, particularly LinkedIn.

As they mentioned this, the film editor part of my brain was frantically reviewing clips of the stuff I’ve posted that might not portray me in a super businessy light. For example, using the word “businessy”.

I asked if my writing and speaking about business, work, and leadership through a humour lens put them off. They said no, quite the opposite, it helped make complex and challenging info more accessible, and particularly now at a time when a lot of people could really use some lightening up, it set a positive tone.

So, I chose to accept feedback that what I was doing was working. I do pause to reflect on my bias here. I don’t and won’t hear from potential clients who ARE put off by it. I’m not going to change and I probably wouldn’t enjoy working with such folk (nor they me) but I might if it meant tripling my income.

How rigorously do you edit your online activity in terms of how it might attract or repel clients to your personal style? #authenticity #networking

Creativity: Repurposing existing ideas

When opinions differ i always refuse to agree to disagree 2

There’s an unprecedented use of the term ‘unprecedented’ to describe these times we’re in.

It would be cool if we could magic up some new ideas. I’ve been delivering a virtual presentations in recent months around re-purposing existing ideas. I delivered it yesterday and people found it useful. Kind of a kiwi number-8 wire vibe but with ideas not just physical resources. Think McGyver.

For example, a company whose business was providing partitions for events no longer has events. They now use those same partitions for retailers wanting to support the separation of staff and customers. Old idea + new application = neat.

However, we shouldn’t abandon efforts to come up with new ideas but a lot of people say of themselves, “Oh but I’m not creative”. Even creative people aren’t creative ALL THE TIME so they come up with mechanisms to generate creativity until the inspiration pixies get back from their break.

I recommend Edward DeBono’s book ‘Serious Creativity’. He basically skimmed the world of joke writers etc, then created academic models & processes to apply to production, marketing, etc. Force-fitting 2 unconnected concepts is one such technique (as illustrated in the joke pic above).

innovation creativeproblemsolving creativethinking

Compared To What?

steven adams resort

I try to be a professional speaker but I’m bush-league compared to this guy.

Kiwi NBA star Steven Adams when asked how he’s coping with life in the NBA bubble: “Let’s be clear, mate. This is not Syria, mate. It’s not that hard…We’re living in a bloody resort.”

Perceptual contrast is an effect with which we’re all familiar. What we’re feeling right now is greatly impacted by what we were feeling immediately prior. Walk from the cold outside into a cool room and it’s ‘warm’ to you. Had you walked from a sauna into that same room, it would be ‘cold’ to you.

Adams isn’t comparing his current situation to his recent sport-celebrity ones; he’s comparing them to perhaps his own no-frills life growing up, or looking beyond himself, reading the room and comparing to many lives doing it hard.

A useful question in many workplace conversations is some form of, “Compared to what”?

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More at www.terrywilliams.info

Put Your Willpower Where Your Goals Are

dont feel like it

To succeed at self-discipline, you must observe yourself and discover where you fail. Kelly McGonigal says we need to learn to “observe ourselves with curiosity, not judgement”. A lot of her students are trying to quit smoking, lose weight, save money, and achieve many of the things we all sometimes struggle with – thanks to willpower scarcity.

Roy Baumeister moots self-control as a metaphorical muscle that we can exercise and strengthen. Matthew Gaillot sees it as energy management. There’s only so much willpower to go around. Wang and Dvorak suggest that our brains treat energy like banks treat money. They’ll let us have it for things we don’t really need, but when we really need it they hang onto it for themselves.

We have plenty of self-control until we need it. Use it on something meaningless and there won’t be enough left when you really need it. If you’re forcing yourself to avoid chocolate all day, don’t be surprised when you scream at your kids after work with less provocation than usual. It’s a scarce resource – put your willpower where your goals are.

#accountability #selfdiscipline #results #focus

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