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How to Fail Forward

success-failureLet’s face it, everyone makes mistakes. How the mistakes are handed is what sets us apart, what determines if we will fail or succeed. By quickly and effectively addressing the mistake, you and your company can rebound from the problem and likely become stronger because of it. Most errors can be remedied.  It is important to view mistakes as growth opportunities, learn from them and move forward.

Remember that most companies and people are judged more by how they handle a crisis than how they conduct day-to-day business.  So how can your company bounce back from an embarrassing mistake?

Get Focused

Mistakes can make you feel embarrassed, angered and anxious. The first thing to do is to get your emotions in check. Then, you can take a few moments to analyze the situation, gather your thoughts and assess the damage. Keeping your cool will not only allow you to think more clearly but will also set the tone for those around you.

Own the Mistake

The worst thing you can do in a crisis situation is to make excuses. As a business leader, you are responsible for anything and everything that happens in your company.  When mistakes occur, take responsibility and offer an authentic apology for your misstep. Read the rest of this entry »

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Susan Cain: The Power of Introverts

Susan Cain recently published the best-seller, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking,” and since then has been shaking up people’s perceptions of introverts. In this TED Talk, she highlights some of the key reasons why our society currently favors extroverted people, and what we as a society are losing from that favoritism. She has some particularly insightful ideas on how businesses can benefit by catering to their more introverted employees. Introverts are not simply shy people, with nothing meaningful to say. In fact, they can often be the source of some of our most creative work and ideas. Watch this video and decide if you’re getting the most out of those that are quietest in your office:

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Five Tips to Make Your Desk Space More Efficient

Picture 2Day in and day out, many of us spend our time sitting at a desk. This little space consisting of a desk, chair, and perhaps a cubicle wall or two is where we are expected to do our best work; where we are to create, solve problems, and keep ahead of deadlines. Even if you have your own corner office, at the end of the day it’s often the desk area itself where you spend most of your time. Here are a few tips to make your workspace as effective as possible.

Keep it Clean

It’s difficult to get work done when your mind is cluttered, and a desk is often a projection of what’s inside our minds. Cleaning off your desk doesn’t mean magically accomplishing all of the work that’s piling up, but it does neatening up all those piles. Get a filing cabinet or a shelf to sit things on. No matter what it takes, keep your desk area, and your mind, as clean and uncluttered as possible.

Rethink the Desk Chair

While some people may find sitting in a chair ideal, it isn’t the only way to be at your desk. Maybe you would be more alert if your raised your desk higher and stood instead? Maybe sitting on an exercise ball is the best way to get your creative juices flowing. Even if a traditional chair is right for you, make sure you have a comfortable one that gives good back support – there’s nothing like an aching back to take away your focus.

Add Color

Few things add energy like a few bursts of color. Pick colors that inspire you, and add them to your workspace in any way you can. If you aren’t able to do something dramatic like painting the walls, adding some colorful accents to your desk, or a bright painting to a wall. Color will brighten up a boring space and get those creative juices flowing. Read the rest of this entry »

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Daniel H. Cohen: For Argument’s Sake

Is there any benefit to arguing? Are we more successful if we prove our point, or if we learn something in the process? These are the questions that Daniel H. Cohen ponders in his TED Talk, “For Argument’s Sake.” Daniel makes the case for the benefits of argument, but clearly defines the parameters in which disagreements make us better, and when they hurt us. Watch this video, and the next time you find yourself in an argument during a meeting or family reunion, do your part to ensure that everyone comes away winning, or learning, from each other.

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How to Spot a Leader

One of the most critical mistakes made in business is promoting the wrong people into a leadership position. While manager roles are often used as rewards for hard work, those promotions often ends with managers that are working beyond their skill set, and employees frustrated with an uninspiring boss. Leadership roles in a company are not rewards to be offered  to just anyone – they require a certain type of person with specific skills. Here are a few characteristics to look for in a potential leader among your team:

Takes the Initiative

Being a leader often means taking chances and working independently.  Leaders have to make decision and be willing to try different approaches to a problem; the fear of failure cannot stand in the way of action. Employees who take iniative to solve problems without being asked and who aren’t afraid to take a risk are best suited for leadership positions.

Cool, Calm and Collected

When your team is sitting for an hour long meeting, check to see how they handle themselves. Who’s got their leg jiggling under the table, staring off into space and who’s upright and focused? Leaders are present and in the moment, not day-dreaming or itching to get out of the room. Anyone who is focused and committed to the project at hand shouldn’t be able to think about anything else.

Engages with People

A software developer has to be comfortable working with a computer, otherwise they would be considered ill-equipped to do their job. The tool of the trade for a manger is people. A leader needs to be comfortable talking to, engaging, and relating with people. An employee who is more comfortable emailing and rarely initiates actual conversation probably isn’t going to be the best choice to lead a team. In meetings, look to see who is staring into the screens in front of them (laptop, smartphone, etc), and who is actually focused on making eye-to-eye contact with those in the room. Read the rest of this entry »