What Makes a Successful Public Speaker? These 3 Key Points

Recently I had the pleasure of attending a networking luncheon hosted by my alma mater’s alumni association. While I always look forward to meeting fellow Flashes, I was particularly interested in hearing our city’s mayor speak.

Kent State University Alumni Association Akron Networking Luncheon

Yours truly (second from left) enjoying the Akron Networking Luncheon with fellow Golden Flashes. (Photo used with permission: http://bit.ly/2dxyTIs)

Mayor Horrigan was as good as I thought he would be, which made me think about what makes public speakers successful.

Start with Common Ground — The mayor was a Kent State alumni like the attendees, so he started off reliving his time at the university. As he was talking about a pivotal moment early in his college career, I found myself thinking back to my time at the school and the impact it has had on my life. By starting with what you have in common, you begin to develop a deeper connection with your audience.

Have a Conversation — While the person in front of the room is doing most, if not all, of the speaking, that doesn’t mean you have to be formal or talk down to your audience. Use language your listeners are familiar with, avoiding unnecessary jargon or technical terms. Interact with your audience as much as you can, given the environment, and leave enough time for a Q and A session. Oftentimes that is the most memorable part of the event due to the diversity of voices and ideas included.

Step Away from the PowerPoint — I’m a big fan of visual aids when appropriate, but the PowerPoint may be the most abused aid, or crutch, of all time. The next time you’re speaking to a group, forgo the PowerPoint and let your creativity take over. Use a giant notepad or wall size Post-It Notes to convey key points. Share a short video or photos to embed a special message or moment into your audience’s minds. Some of the best talks I’ve given and attended had no visual aids at all.

As I was kicking around this article in my head, I came across a fantastic article from Forbes on the same subject. It’s worth a read, Adele fan or not!

Public Speaking Spotlight

What tips would you recommend to a public speaker?

Do you take your audience into consideration when speaking or do you have a ‘signature style?’

What is the best talk that you’ve given and attended? Feel free to link to videos or transcripts in the comments!

Speaking on public speaking,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about public speaking, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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4 Retro Ways to Connect with Modern Audiences

Everywhere we look lately, from entertainment to business, what’s old is new again. Well established franchises are selling out movie theaters, the toy aisle is straight out of the eighties and businesses everywhere are turning back the clock to stand out in this fast-paced, digital world.

Clearly Conveyed Communications -- We give you a voice.

How can you go retro to connect with customers and grow your business today?

Make it personal with a handwritten note. When you receive a handwritten note, card or letter, it feels more personal. The recipient will appreciate that you took the time to put your thoughts on paper. The next time you want to thank a loyal customer or employee, don’t send an email. Jot down why you appreciate the recipient and how much you value the relationship, job he’s doing, etc. A little writing will go a long way!

How House of Cards is Winning the Marketing Game

Develop long-term relationships. Relationship marketing is a buzzword today, but the concept is straight out of a bygone era. Take the time to get to know your clients and employees, business partners and vendors. Let them know you’re in it for the long haul, not just a short-term sale. People want to do business with people they trust and that takes time to develop.

Give your audience your undivided attention. Viewers loved the alcohol carts in offices on Mad Men, but many of them missed the point. The ad men (and few women) would sit down and spend time with their clients when they stopped in. They weren’t too busy running from meeting to meeting to listen to their clients’ challenges and concerns. Many creative solutions were born over Old Fashioneds with no outside interruptions.

Mad Men: Master Storytelling In Any Era

Embrace paper in the digital age. In an age of email and the cloud, using paper is one way to grab recipients’ waning attention. Feature direct mail in your next marketing campaign, and reorder your physical business cards. In fact, go old school — embossing, engraving, bold lettering and colors set off with white space — to stand out from your competition. Going all digital removes your audience’s sense of touch, which limits their sensory experience while interacting with your brand.

In Summary

Handwritten notes, developing long-term relationships, giving your undivided attention and embracing paper will help you connect with today’s audiences. Don’t be afraid to be different, even if that means being inspired by a bygone era.

We’re grabbing our fedoras to head out for Old Fashioneds and Vodka Martinis with clients. Care to join us?

Embracing the future with help from the past,
Jaime

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Want Your Business to Flourish? Kill Your Sacred Cows

What’s holding your business back? Probably a sacred cow.

Death to all Sacred Cows: How successful businesses put the old rules out to pasture

Death to All Sacred Cows is a business book worth reading, no matter what business you’re in.

A what?! You’ve heard them before — those magical sayings in the business world that savvy businessmen and women everywhere regard as sacred.

The customer is always right. 
Teams create the best solutions. 
Always trust your research. 

Here’s the problem with sacred cows: always and never are rarely a good idea in the business world, a place which is constantly moving, changing and adapting.

“Businesses that only look to the past to guide their futures can be doomed to failure. In a rapidly changing world, anything dated tends to be dangerous.”

We’re not saying to forget your traditions or roots; they shouldn’t be the sole decision makers within your walls. You need to make decisions based on the current situation by looking at all of your options. Making decisions based solely on past successes can cause a company to be afraid to take risks or try new things. Success breeds success, until it doesn’t.

“The point is, in order to prepare for the future you need to unchain yourself from the strictures of the past. Let the past help and inform you; just don’t let it hold you back.”

Here’s one of our favorite sacred cows: the customer is always right. Don’t get us wrong; customers are critical to the success of your business. You need people to buy your products and services. We’re lucky to work with some great customers at CCC, but that doesn’t mean they’re always right. (Neither are we.)

Unless your business operates in an industry we’re not aware of, your customers are human beings. Human beings are fallible (yep, all of us), so customers are not always right. Of course, you want to provide the best customer service and experience in the world. You need to review each situation and understand when a customer is being unreasonable or is just plain wrong. (It happens, but if you work with great people, it doesn’t happen often. 🙂 )

“We’re just saying that slavishly kowtowing to the idea that the customer is the ultimate authority on how your business should operate is a surefire way to wind up with an inoperable business.”

In conclusion, use your brains. If you’re smart enough to run a business or be a successful businessman/businesswoman, trust your gut and decision-making skills. Don’t hide behind a sacred cow; it will kick you in the face eventually. (And read Death to All Sacred Cows for sound business advice and pure entertainment.)

Your Feedback
What is your favorite sacred cow to kill?
Have you read Death to All Sacred Cows? What’s your feedback?
What other business books would you recommend?

Eat, Pray, Love — In Business Too
Blink: The Power of Snap Decisions & First Impressions
Winning as the Underdog: Turn Your Weaknesses Into Strengths

p.s. I’m not being paid to recommend this book. I just enjoyed it that much!
p.p.s. No real cows were harmed while writing this article (or the book, to my knowledge).

Your favorite bookworm,
Jaime

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Awesome Marketing Concepts Your Small Business Shouldn’t Overlook

Cleary Conveyed Communications business card

Marketing a new company can be tough. You don’t know the best ways of reaching your audience in the beginning, and discovering the best promotional ideas involves a process of trial and error. While the digital landscape is a hot property, traditional marketing vehicles can still work in today’s high-tech world.

Business Cards

As the infographic below shows, business cards are (still) effective marketing tools. They help you make a good first impression, and ensure you stay top of mind with clients and prospects. Most people keep business cards they receive for future needs. While it’s tempting to go all digital, a well designed business card printed on quality stock can open up a world of possibilities.

Billboard Advertising

Admit it; we all look at billboards on the side of the road. Most people think advertising on one is expensive, but billboards (or outdoor advertising) is surprisingly affordable. In fact, you can usually get one for a few hundred dollars or less. Thousands of drivers could encounter your brand who otherwise would not, and it’s a great way to expand your local reach.

TV Advertising

Ten years ago, only the largest companies could afford to pay for TV ads, but changes in the industry have forced networks to lower their prices. Businesses can now advertise on TV for less than $5,000, depending on your market. The drop in price, additional time slots and regional availability have opened the door for small businesses to compete with larger companies in this popular arena.

These marketing concepts could provide a boost for your company if you give them a shot. If your business serves a niche market, remember to target your marketing campaigns accordingly. Think big, and your company will do amazing things.

Enjoy this Business Card Must-Haves for Effective Networking infographic, and feel free to share with your clients, co-workers and fellow business professionals.

Do you carry physical business cards?

What traditional (or old school) marketing technique has worked for you?

What’s your favorite way to network?

A (business) card carrying small business owner,
Jaime

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Infographic Designed By http://www.allbusinesscards.com/

Why Grammar Still Matters (Even on a Smartphone)

Does your email signature on your smartphone contain the following disclaimer?

Sent from [insert smartphone model here]. Please excuse misspellings, typos and grammatical errors.

Sorry, it won’t save you.

This post is being typed on a smartphone, but I don’t expect you to excuse any errors. In fact, I’m embarrassed when I spot an error, even a minor one, in an old post.

Today, even in our 24/7, hyper charged world, grammar matters. Why?

Great advice from Grammarly: Spellcheck yourself before you wreck yourself.

1) It impacts your credibility.

Want to be a thought leader or subject matter expert? That’s hard when people struggle to read your thoughts. No matter the subject, readers will judge you for misspelled words and missing punctuation, which will change the conversation from what you had intended. Keep the focus on your knowledge, so you can impress.

2) Bad grammar makes you look unprofessional.

Go ahead: submit a resume, cover letter or business proposal with grammatical errors. You probably won’t be receiving good news. Business emails, texts and letters also reflect on you, so take time to proofread. It could be the difference between a thriving partnership or career and a missed opportunity.

Read: The Power of the (Red) Pen

3) It screams “stop getting social with us.”

We live in a digital world, so businesses need to get social to survive — and thrive. Customers, fans and prospects won’t share your posts if they’re chock full of grammatical errors. Already this week, I’ve been disappointed to see major grammar gaffes in posts I wanted to share, so I refrained. Lost advertising and missed opportunities don’t help businesses grow.

4) Bad grammar is bad for business.

In a recent Grammarly poll, 63% of respondents said they would hesitate to buy a product with grammatical errors. Several respondents even gave examples of what products they have passed up due to poor spelling or punctuation. Think about it. Wouldn’t you wonder about the quality of a product if there was a noticeable spelling error or poor grammar?

But I’m not a writer, you say. The fact is that most business professionals write more than ever today for the company blog, your LinkedIn profile or even an online portfolio. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of emails, social media and other communication.

Read: 4 Quick and Easy Ways to Make Your Business Writing Better

So take some time to understand the writing process or find someone to handle it for you. Don’t laugh; it’s no different than taking your car to a mechanic to have it repaired or hiring an accountant to mind your business finances.

You’ve poured blood, sweat and tears into perfecting your craft. Don’t ruin it with bad grammar!

%$#^%#$&%

p.s. If you’re looking for a professional to craft your prose, or even spruce things up, we’d love to help! Not sure what you need? Let’s talk. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have on the wonderful world of writing.

A writing queen,
Jaime

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Is Gossip Good for Business?

"Gossip Girls" by Art G. via CC BY 2.0

Gossip is a dirty word. It’s condemned by parents, community leaders and business professionals the world over. Yet, here’s an interesting tidbit: it’s essential to our way of life. What?!

“Even today the vast majority of human communication — whether in the form of emails, phone calls or newspaper columns — is gossip. It comes so naturally to us that it seems as if our language evolved for this very purpose.”

In Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Harari, PhD, argues that Homo sapiens (that would be us!) survived and even thrived when other human species failed due to our unique language capabilities, including the ability to gossip.

It’s not as crazy as you may think. When you break it down, gossip is conversation about other people. Who to trust, who has the best fresh vegetables and who is unsavory. As a small business owner, I want to know about a customer of other businesses who doesn’t pay their bills or a potential business partner who doesn’t know what ethical means. That’s knowledge that may save me lost revenue, lost time and serious aggravation down the road.

“The new linguistic skills that modern Sapiens acquired about seventy millennia ago enabled them to gossip for hours on end. Reliable information about who could be trusted meant that small bands could expand into larger bands, and Sapiens could develop tighter and more sophisticated types of cooperation.”

It’s similar to the proverbial ‘water cooler’ in the office. You may not want to get involved in office politics but that decision can derail your career. How often do employees label a manager or supervisor aloof or out of touch when he or she doesn’t have a beat on the pulse of the office? You need to know what’s going on — to some extent — in your coworkers’ and employees’ lives. As a business owner, I would even extend that to business partners and clients. It allows you to understand a situation, show empathy and act appropriately.

Is Gossip Good for Business?

Are you familiar with the gossip theory (in relation to evolution)?

Have you been affected by office politics — positively or negatively?

Is gossip good for business?

p.s. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind is a great read for history buffs and business professionals alike. Want an inkling into what makes people tick? You’ll get it here. Both quotes in this post are from this book.

p.p.s. Love this post’s featured image? Learn more about “Gossip Girls” by Art G. here. It’s used under a CC BY 2.0 license.

Cheers,
Jaime

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4 Tips To Succeed In Business I Picked Up at Garage Sales

Coolest @Lamp Ever by Tojosan via CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Four years ago, my family and I decided to host a multi-household garage sale. It was a great opportunity to pass on some of our lesser used wares and get together (mostly the latter). Of course, I decided to dig deeper to get the most out of our time and efforts. I was surprised by what I found.

Are you a garage saler (or sailor)?

‘Garage saling’ (or sailing) is a thing. There are people who plan their weekends (or day trips) around hitting garage sales and discovering hidden treasures. (Note that I have various hobbies that people find weird, so I’m not making fun of anyone here.) As I dug deeper, I discovered that serious garage salers (or sailors) handle their business like a business.

Here’s what I learned from them that you can use to succeed in business:

  • Have a plan: Garage salers like to browse the Friday paper’s Classified section to form a plan. Are some areas hosting multiple sales? Are they looking for specific items? There are a number of websites that promote garage sales now too, although I’ve received a bigger return on investment advertising in the local paper.

Know where your audience is, so you can target your marketing efforts. You’ll receive a larger ROI for your efforts.

  • Trust your gut: While serious garage salers have a plan, they also improvise. Maybe they pass a sign for another sale (or great local cafe) and decide to make a detour. You never know what you’ll find when you open yourself up to new experiences.

Planning for your business is necessary, but so is adaptation and flexibility. Because life and business rarely go according to plan…

  • Know when to negotiate: People think that garage salers like to negotiate everything. Selling something for 50¢? They’ll want it for a quarter. That’s not true, at least from my experience. Serious garage salers know when to negotiate and when to save their time and energy. Antique furniture? Let’s talk. An almost-new travel mug for 50¢? Consider it sold.

Don’t be an amateur. Know when to negotiate! Think value, not cheap.

  • Get your timing down: I would love to steal a line from our garage sale ads for my business meetings: “No early birds, please.” While the early bird may get the worm, people who show up at garage sales during setup get a cold shoulder and a frown. No, we have no idea where the [insert item from ad] is right now, but we’ll know in a half hour when we open for business.

If showing up for a business meeting 5 minutes early is ‘on time,’ then showing up 30 minutes early is unprofessional, not impressive.

In summary, have a plan but trust your gut. Know when to negotiate and when to save your time and energy. Be on time but don’t be excessively early. It’s amazing what you can learn about business from life when you open your eyes and take a look around.

Are you a serious garage saler (or sailor)?

What other tips would you add for successful garage saling (and business)?

p.s. The Shine Family Garage Sale has become an annual tradition. If you’re in the neighborhood tomorrow, stop on by!

p.p.s. Learn more about the awesome featured image for this post here.

Garage Sale Hostess with the Mostess,
Jaime

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A Guide To Introducing Mindfulness Into Your Workplace

Meditation by Konstantin Stepanov via CC BY 2.0

“A number of Fortune 500 companies, including Google, AOL, Apple and Aetna, offer meditation and mindfulness classes for employees — and the top executives of many major corporations say that meditation has made them better leaders.”

— Carolyn Gregoire “The Daily Habit Of These Outrageously Successful People

In her article “The Daily Habit Of These Outrageously Successful People,” Huffington Post senior writer Carolyn Gregoire presents 10 influential business leaders who say meditation has helped them achieve (and sustain) a high level of success. The list includes Arianna Huffington, President & Editor-in-Chief, Huffington Post Media Group. Huffington has brought meditation into her company, offering weekly classes for AOL and Huffington Post employees.

Let’s take a look at some mindfulness practices that are being integrated into workplaces.

Jeremy Hunter’s Article

In this terrific infographic, “Your Mind at Work,” Jeremy Hunter teaches us “new ways to approach those niggling challenges in the office.”

Your-Mind-At-Work

Jeremy Hunter serves as Assistant Professor of Practice at the Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management at Claremont Graduate University. A PDF version of his article, “Is Mindfulness Good for Business?” may be downloaded here. The article first appeared in the premiere (April 2013) issue of Mindful

Breathing Exercises

Just-Breathe-Steve-Jurvetson

Just Breathe by Steve Jurvetson via CC BY 2.0 (https://flic.kr/p/7V8jKv)

There are a number of different simple breathing exercises that can be done virtually anywhere.

Here is one from the website of Dr. Andrew Weil:

The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath) Exercise

This exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.

  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
  • Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  • Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  • Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
  • This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.

This exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Unlike tranquilizing drugs, which are often effective when you first take them but then lose their power over time, this exercise is subtle when you first try it but gains power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day; you cannot do it too frequently. Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little light-headed when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.

Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens — before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension. Use it to help you fall asleep. This exercise cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it.

Watch a video of Dr. Weil demonstrating the 4-7-8 Breath.

Walking Meditation

Kinhin

Members of Kanzeon Zen Center during kinhin

In Buddhism, kinhin (Chinese: 経行; pinyin: jīngxíng; Japanese pronunciation: kinhin, kyōgyō; Korean: gyeonghyaeng; Vietnamese: kinh hành) is the walking meditation that is practiced between long periods of the sitting meditation known as zazen.[1] The practice is common in Chan Buddhism and its extra-Chinese forms, Zen, Korean Seon and Vietnamese Thiền.

Wikipedia

Walking meditation is one of the simplest meditation practices, and ideal for workplace breaks.

“Walking meditation is practicing meditation while walking. It can bring you joy and peace while you practice it. Take short steps in complete relaxation; go slowly with a smile on your lips, with your heart open to an experience of peace. You can feel truly at ease with yourself. Your steps can be those of the healthiest, most secure person on earth. All sorrows and worries can drop away while you are walking. To have peace of mind, to attain self-liberation, learn to walk in this way. It is not difficult. You can do it. Anyone can do it who has some degree of mindfulness and a true intention to be happy.”

— Thich Nhat Hanh, “A Guide to Walking Meditation

Meditation Freedom Podcast

The Meditation Freedom podcast contains “interesting interviews with long-time practitioners, teachers, authors, and other folks with longtime meditation and mindfulness practices.”

I highly recommend  “MF 26 – How to Easily Bring Meditation into Your Workplace!“. The author shows you “how you can incorporate ‘mini’-meditations and mindfulness at your place of work, without having to look weird, or needing a, ‘meditation room’.

Drew Hansen’s Guide

Forbes contributor Drew Hansen has given us a wealth of information in his article “A Guide To Mindfulness At Work“. Hansen has brought together ideas and resources from many different sources, and the content includes several useful links.

Introducing mindfulness into your workplace can be a simple, gradual process.

The benefits to the individual, the workplace, and humanity are immeasurable!

This is part two of a two-part series, Mindfulness in the Workplace, by Carol Preibis of Ahh The Simple Life. You can read part one here. If you’re a regular reader of the CCC blog, you’ll recognize Carol as a contributor. Thanks, Carol!

Carol Preibis

Carol is passionate about food, recipes and cooking.


Carol Preibis and her sister Michele value the Simple Life and want to help you shed the complicated nature of today’s world. They share insights on food, decorating, stress relief and living more simply, while actually enjoying day-in, day-out living. Looking for a scrumptious, healthy recipe? Trying to figure out how to have fun on a budget? Head to Ahh The Simple Life to start feeling better and getting more out of your life.

How To Improve Your Productivity With Mindfulness in the Workplace

Meditation Meditation by Moyan Brenn via CC BY 2.0

There has been rapid growth in workplace mindfulness programs, and there are some compelling reasons why this is a good thing!

“The enormous benefits of mindfulness at work are increasingly being recognized by employers as well as by employees. More mindfulness means more professional productivity and satisfaction, and less absenteeism, `presenteeism’ (where workers are physically present but unproductive), accidents, and workplace stress and the many psychological and physical problems that this causes. Mindfulness improves our work performance and enjoyment because it improves our decision-making ability, the quality of our working relationships, and our leadership.”
— Dr. Stephen McKenzie, author of Mindfulness at Work

What Is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness2

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn,”mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

You do not need to meditate to become mindful. Meditation is a tool to lead people to post-meditative mindfulness. However, as you’ll see, much of the research focuses on meditation.

How Does Mindfulness Work?

neuroplasticity

Mindfulness actually works by changing our brains! That’s what’s behind the impressive benefits of mindfulness!

Richard Davidson is the founder of the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A major aspect of the center’s research is neuroplasticity—the ability of the adult brain to change its structure or function in an enduring way. Specifically, 1) You can train your brain to change, 2) that change is measurable and 3) new ways of thinking can change it for the better.

If you’d like to learn more about neuroplasticity, see “What is Neuroplasticity?.

Benefits of Mindfulness in the Workplace

“The implications [of mindfulness in the workplace] are enormous. When you are mindful, you end up healthier, you end up happier. So, with an increase in mindfulness in the workplace, there is lower absenteeism, fewer healthcare costs and there is a reduction in accidents.”
— Ellen Langer, “The Huge Value Of Mindfulness At Work: An Interview With Ellen Langer

Health

Meditation has some substantial health benefits, including reducing blood pressure, pain response, stress hormone levels and even affecting cellular health. For a look at what it actually does to the body, see this Huffington Post infographic.

Emotional Resilience

Richard J. Davidson and Sara Begley co-authored The Emotional Life of Your Brain: How Its Unique Patterns Affect the Way You Think, Feel, and Live–and How You Can Change Them.

In her article “Rewiring Your Emotions“, Sara Begley discusses the idea of harnessing neuroplasticity to change how you respond emotionally to the ups and downs of life. She writes:

“I don’t know about you, but if I’m feeling miserable and someone tells me to just cheer up on the spot, I want to slug them.

Fortunately, the brain’s emotional circuits are actually connected to its thinking circuits, which are much more accessible to our conscious volition. That has been one of Davidson’s most important discoveries: the “cognitive brain” is also the “emotional brain.” As a result, activity in certain cognitive regions sends signals to the emotion-generating regions. So while you can’t just order yourself to have a particular feeling, you can sort of sneak up on your emotions via your thoughts.”

Begley continues with this example: “If the amygdalae is generating negative emotions, the left PFC sends inhibitory signals to the amygdalae, basically telling them to quiet down. As a result, the negative feelings generated by the amygdalae peter out, and you’re not mired in unhappiness or resentment.”

So emotional resilience depends on high activity in the PFC and a strong connection between it and the amygdalae. Begley prescribes mindfulness meditation as one way to strengthen the circuitry that supports emotional resilience.

Davidson_BodyMind

Happiness

Daniel Goleman, in his article “Want a Happier Brain? Try Mindfulness, presents solid evidence to back up that title.

Goleman’s discussion begins with some research done by neuroscientist Richard Davidson, whose work focuses on the emotional dynamics of the brain. Davidson discovered a correlation between left-to-right brain activity and emotional states:

“When we’re in a down mood — irritable, anxious and grouchy — our brain has high activity in the right prefrontal area, just behind the forehead. But when we’re in an upbeat mood — energized, enthusiastic, optimistic — there’s lots of activity on the left side of the prefrontal area.

Each of us has a typical ratio of left-to-right activity when we’re just at rest. And this ratio predicts fairly well our typical, day-to-day mood range.

There’s a bell curve for this ratio, like the one for IQ: most of us are in the middle, with some good days and some bad days. Those who are tipped to the far right are likely to have clinical levels of depression or anxiety. And those whose setpoint tips far to the left are able to bounce back quickly from upsets.”

Goleman goes on to describe a study led by Richard Davidson and mindfulness expert Jon Kabat-Zinn. This study concluded with good news — we can nudge our setpoint to the left!

“Jonny [Kabat-Zinn] taught mindfulness to a group of the biotech workers and had them practice about half an hour a day for eight weeks. Richie [Davidson] measured their brains before and after. The result: at first their emotional setpoint was tilted toward the right — they were, after all, on a hectic, 24/7 schedule. But after eight weeks, the mindfulness group on average showed a greater tilt toward the left.

What’s more, they spontaneously said that now they were in touch again with what they loved about their jobs, with why they had gotten into the field in the first place.”

Thus, the ability to “nudge our setpoint to the left” can make us happier with our work.

Focus

Meditation can be “an antidote for workplace ADD.” One of the biggest problems in the workplace today is what some have called “continuous partial attention.” Attention deficit can harm people’s ability to interact competently, impeding understanding and rapport. Lack of attention also negatively impacts individual job performance. A person’s ability to do his job is directly related to how well he can concentrate and focus.

Mindfulness meditation techniques can overcome workplace ADD by training our minds to focus on what matters in the moment and to resist distractions.

Decision Making

One aspect of good decision-making is the ability to avoid “sunk-cost bias”—our tendency to continue down a path because we’re already so far along. For example, you realize that your job is not right for you. But you don’t look for another job or go back to school, because your current position has consumed so much of your time and effort. In her Greater Good article, Hooria Jazaier, explains research conducted by Andrew Hafenbrack and colleagues. The research abstract states, “In the research reported here, we investigated the debiasing effect of mindfulness meditation on the sunk-cost bias. We conducted four studies (one correlational and three experimental); the results suggest that increased mindfulness reduces the tendency to allow unrecoverable prior costs to influence current decisions.”

In fact, “Close analysis of the latest mindfulness research, with Jochen Reb, Associate Professor of Organisational Behaviour at Singapore Management University, for the upcoming book Mindfulness in Organisations, suggests that mindfulness techniques can have a positive effect on all our widely recognised stages of the decision-making process.” In her article, “How Mindfulness Improves Decision-Making“, Natalia Karelaia lists the four stages of the decision-making process as:

  1. Framing the decision
  2. Gathering information
  3. Coming to a conclusion
  4. Learning from feedback

For each of these four stages, Karelaia explains how mindfulness can have a positive effect on that stage.

Leadership

Mindfulness is the essence of effective leadership.

The essence of effective leadership is mindfulness, which is also the essence of charisma. When you are mindful, you are present. When you are present, people notice it. When people experience you as mindful, they then see you as authentic and trustworthy.
— Ellen Langer, “The Huge Value Of Mindfulness At Work: An Interview With Ellen Langer

When we are mindful, we are fully connected to ourselves and to other people, and this connection allows us to lead ourselves and others from and to shared certainty, rather than individual confusion.

“Being mindful more of the time and mindless less of the time helps us be great leaders because it helps unite [us] in common goals and ways of achieving them, and frees us of our separate ideas about what needs to be done and how. When we experience mindful connectedness with the people we work with, we will be great leaders, whether we’re leading a sporting team or a hamburger shop or a multinational corporation. We are not great leaders regardless of the people we lead, we are great leaders because of them.
— Dr. Stephen McKenzie, author of Mindfulness at Work

Creativity and Caring

Mindfulness practice has been shown to draw out creativity and caring. In an interesting piece, “It’s Not McMindfulness,” Barry Boyce says, “[mindfulness practice] naturally leads to inquisitiveness about our own minds and examination of how we’re connected to other people, of the causes and effects of our actions. … Leaders touched by mindfulness may find innovations to solve real problems and help make a better life.”

The Greater Good

What matters in the workplace is what matters in our lives—using every moment to learn from experience so that we grow in insight, wisdom, and compassion.
Mirabai Bush, “Mindfulness at Work: An Interview with Mirabai Bush

I’ve saved the best for last! Expanding on the “caring” benefit, let’s talk about “the greater good.”

In a superb interview on mindful.org, Elisha Goldstein talks to Mirabai Bush about how mindfulness can make our work life more meaningful. Goldstein introduces Bush as “the author of Working with Mindfulness (MP3), a key contributor to Google’s Search Inside Yourself Program, Cofounder of The Center for Contemplative Mind and Society and so much more.”

The interview begins with a discussion of “right livelihood.” Here’s an excerpt:

Elisha: When it comes to the workplace, you have found a fundamental flaw in our minds when we think of work, like “Love is for home and discipline is for work.” One of the foundations to bringing mindfulness into the workplace is through an approach called Right Livelihood. Can you tell us more about that and the benefits?

Mirabai: I first heard the words “right livelihood” while learning to meditate in a Buddhist monastery. Meditation teacher S.N. Goenka said, “If the intention is to play a useful role in society in order to support oneself and to help others, then the work one does is right livelihood.” Other teachers expanded on that: Do work that is ethical and helpful to your personal development. Do no harm though your work. Cause no suffering to yourself or others. Use work to nourish understanding and compassion. Remember that all life is interconnected. Be honest, be mindful of what you are doing.

Other topics discussed are:

  • Mindful Listening: “a way of hearing in which we are fully present with what is happening in the moment without trying to control it or judge it.”
  • Walking meditation: “the practice of paying close attention to the ordinary action of walking, a helpful practice for people at work, who usually walk at least sometimes during the day.”
  • A compassion practice known as “Just like me” (“Just like me, this person has known physical pain. Just like me, this person has done things she regrets. Just like me, this person wants to be happy….” and so on)

I encourage you to read the full interview.

Are you ready to try minfdfulness at your workplace?

Watch for the companion article “Introducing Mindfulness into the Workplace” on Friday! 

This is part one of a two-part series, Mindfulness in the Workplace, by Carol Preibis of Ahh The Simple Life. Don’t miss part two on Friday! If you’re a regular reader of the CCC blog, you’ll recognize Carol as a contributor. Thanks, Carol!

Carol Preibis

Carol is passionate about food, recipes and cooking.


Carol Preibis and her sister Michele value the Simple Life and want to help you shed the complicated nature of today’s world. They share insights on food, decorating, stress relief and living more simply, while actually enjoying day-in, day-out living. Looking for a scrumptious, healthy recipe? Trying to figure out how to have fun on a budget? Head to Ahh The Simple Life to start feeling better and getting more out of your life.

How To Earn Your ’15 Minutes’ In Business With Style & Grace

“In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.”

-Andy Warhol (or not)

People often ask me what the hardest part of leaving the corporate world and starting my own business was. It was learning to promote myself, which may come as a surprise. Granted, I should have been doing that in the corporate world, but that’s always been an area of weakness for me.

Posing for a picture at a client conference

I’d rather run the show from behind the scenes, but I’ve had to learn to be more visible while running my business.

In the past, the old adage was to keep your head down and work hard. Today, that will get you nowhere. You need to work hard and let others know what you’re doing, in a positive way. How can you do that?

4 Ways To Earn Your ’15 Minutes’ In Business With Style & Grace 

  • Use social media to build your brand. Take advantage of social platforms’ tools, such as adding projects on LinkedIn and showcasing happy customers and successful projects on Facebook (milestones!) and Instagram. (Use a platform that your customers are on so you can tag them.) Prospects want to see and hear about work that you’ve done and happy customers are your best brand ambassadors.

Photos with faces get 38% more likes and 32% more comments on Instagram.^

  • Give credit where credit is due. If you collaborate on a project, give credit to others who contributed. When adding projects on LinkedIn, you can tag multiple people as contributors. Colleagues, customers and business partners will appreciate the recognition.
  • Be grateful. Remember to thank and recognize people who help you along the way. Whether someone acted as a sounding board, contributed to your business plan or came through in the clutch during a last minute project, let them know how much they are appreciated. Small gestures and kind words can go a long way.

Related reading: Stop Saying Thank You on Social Media & Say Something Meaningful!

  • Let others tell your story. When you follow the first three suggestions, people will be happy to spread the word about your work. Most human beings enjoy helping others, especially when they view others as deserving. Make sure you’re deserving and continue the cycle by thanking those who take the time to promote your brand. You never know when a casual mention will turn into your big break.

Related reading: How to Self-Promote Without Being a Jerk (on my reading list!)

On the topic of humble self-promotion, I’m excited that the CCC portfolio page is finally live! Feel free to browse some of our work, and let us know if you would like to discuss a project. (Perhaps how to build your brand on social media?) 🙂

Source:
^Georgia Institute of Technology & Yahoo Labs

Your reluctant self-promoter (and introverted business owner),
Jaime

Let’s chat (on self-promotion, building a brand or otherwise): 
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