Inclusion and Acceptance Completes Us

Kindness Organizational culture Respect


Tim Harris, the founder of, Tim’s Place, a restaurant in Albuquerque, introduced First Lady Michelle Obama as the keynote speaker at the opening ceremonies of the 2015 Special Olympics in Los Angeles. Tim’s known for serving up hot food with a side of heart-warming hugs. Tim has Down Syndrome, and is considered “disabled.”

He has always had the dream of opening up a restaurant and Tim has become famous for giving out over 72,000 hugs in his eatery over the four years it’s been open. He got a chance to share one with Mrs. Obama in front of 6,000 Special Olympians and guests this Saturday night!  “I’ve been always born a hugger,” Tim said. “A hugging machine, that’s me.”

On the previous Thursday, Tim got the chance to bring that hug to the White House at a Special Olympics dinner hosted by the President.  He gave the Commander & Chief a big bear hug. “It felt really awesome,” Tim said. “He wanted that hug ’cause his job is stressful and that hug says it all. Presidents need some encouragement once in a while, too. You know, that felt really good.” Tim’s philosophy in life and restaurants: “My favorite part of all is the people coming through the front door. My hugs are way more important than the food… The food is just food!”

In parallel, I read this Sunday’s NYT op-Ed by Ben Mattlin, author of “Miracle Boy Grows Up.” He is a lifelong wheel chair user because of a genetic condition. Mattlin is married, has two able bodied children, and is an accomplished author. He recalls being at Harvard in 1973 when he wanted to room with a so-called “able body.” He painfully recalls how a dean squashed his request for inclusion with an expressed concern how Mattlin’s disability might affect a “normal” roommate. As Mattlin now reflects, “How about how the sequestration affected him? ” Recently, 40 plus years later, his daughters came home from “Diversity Day” in high school. The theme was about being kind to people who faced difficulties. They obviously embraced kindness but what incensed Mattlin’s daughters, who have grown up with a father on wheels, was “there was almost nothing about respect, empowerment or equality.”

Recently I received a note from an executive who is playing a lead role in our companies LGBQT community  (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Questioning/Queer, and Transgender), asking me as Chief People Officer to reinforce our organization’s commitment to inclusiveness and diversity in the workplace. What makes me sad is that I still have to restate that we are totally committed to being a safe, inclusive, respectful, equal, empowering, workplace community. And I will relentlessly say and act that way until we no longer need the reminder. Inclusion and total acceptance of our entire community needs to be as authentic and as beautiful as getting a hug in Tim’s Place.

Character Moves: 

  1. We must be mono-cultural on the values of respect, accountability and abundance, (and perhaps others)? We need to also simultaneously be multi-cultural, totally inclusive AND accepting of ALL diversity. Acceptance, and empathy to all who do no harm to others makes us all much richer. Inclusiveness and embraced acceptance defines who “us” is and what “we” really stand for. 
  1. We need to remind ourselves that the way we personally view the world is only one worldview. Spiritual intelligence and maturity comes from recognizing that our “world view” is only one perspective and one not necessarily shared by others. It is not about being right or wrong. It is about being inclusive of our individual and collective beautiful complexity while accepting our most unique selves have a vital role to play.

Inclusion and acceptance in the Triangle, 


One Millennial View: I recently read an article that really intrigued me. It’s called, “You Didn’t REALLY Care About Gay Marriage.” (Who cringed? Did you cringe? That’s ok. Hear the concept out). The author’s main message is honest and important: He says, “There’s a difference between empathy and care. Let’s not confuse them.” His meaning is when we do something like become irresponsible social justice warriors behind a keyboard and post our outrages or agendas on OUR social media, we’re really just saying “Hey look at me! Look at me! Look how good of a person I am!” That post is for YOU, a pat on your own back. It’s inherently selfish. In reality, we probably didn’t REALLY do ANYTHING for the cause, besides agree. We probably wrote no Congressman, attended no meetings/marches, and certainly didn’t undergo any form of real sacrifice. Here’s an alternate idea: Embrace the beauty of inclusion to a point where you don’t NEED for it to be advertised. We’re at the point where acceptance shouldn’t be a shock. Everybody needs to feel welcome, SO welcome that drawing special attention to the idea that you have that standpoint should be weird. Of course you’re accepting. Everyone deserves the right to just “know” they’re cool, especially at work, and it would be ridiculous if they weren’t. Wouldn’t that be great?

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Get Micro Learning in a Hurry

Accountability Growth mindset Personal leadership


Key Point: Learning in bite size chunks, also known as “micro learning” is gaining both interest and traction for reasons that make sense in today’s content rich environments. This involves a new way of thinking about learning and delivering content in fast, short, (usually in one to 20 min max) multi-media chunks, that arrive for the learner, “just in time.” An analogue metaphor is Google’s “testing on the toilet;” where one page learning tips are regularly placed on bathroom doors so Googlers get on-going toilet training. (Ok, I thought it was funny).  

Micro learning offers a promising antidote to boredom by increasing a learner’s psychological engagement. Instead of a long, 90 plus minute delivery, learners are motivated to consume short, snappy yet meaningful content. Abreena Tompkins, instruction specialist, and this article, explains this more clearly: “Physiologically, your neurons are keen and alert for no more than 20 consecutive minutes. At the end of those 20 minutes, your neurons have gone from full-fledged alert to total collapse, and it takes two to three minutes for those neurons to be completely recovered and back to the total alert state. If you break longer than three minutes, you’ve redirected your attention.

Bite-size content is easier to digest, understand and remember. According to George Miller’s Information Process Theory, a learner’s attention span and short-term memory is limited to processing information in chunks. That’s why adherents of such theory suggest splitting up content into small, manageable sections, rather than simply dump never-ending chains of text. This technique makes learning more manageable and easier to integrate into long-term memory. Once it’s in long-term memory learners can remember it and transfer the knowledge to their daily tasks. It’s not just about learning per se. No more lengthy lectures and rigid schedules. People can now learn on their spare or just in time and learn only what they’re interested in.”

Character Moves:

  1. Challenge the value of long, classroom style content delivery in today’s environment. Become a student of  micro learning, and where it might work for you. 
  1. Combine chunk-style micro learning with unleashing people at ALL levels to participate as teachers. Allow your faculty and content to be developed and delivered by hundreds of experts in your own system. All team members and teachers become more effective learners.  
  1. Learn how to make this “burst type” learning effective by adding reference tools, using gamification and attention formulas! Then test and retest both the learning and system to determine effectiveness. 

Micro learning in the Triangle,


One Millennial View: This should be a surprise to NO ONE. Why should learning be so different than consuming entertainment? YouTube videos are best when short, our television is on-demand, Tweets are 140 characters and six-second Vine videos can go as viral as anything else. We want it now, and we want it quick. Even the term “tl/dr” seems to be teetering on “acceptable” in a professional environment. (It means “too long, didn’t read,” incase you haven’t sent something too lengthy before). And, if we click, it “better” be worth that 15 second advertisement or you’re probably going to get blackballed from future shares. It’s a tough, patience-lacking world out there folks, but instead of fighting it, if you learn to play the game well then everyone will get on your team.

TL/DR? – We get it in a hurry. Short and sweet lessons are best appreciated. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Leading with Springboard Stories

Communication Organizational culture Respect


Key Point: The elders of many indigenous tribes would likely smile, perhaps even smirk, at the newfound attention regarding the vital nature of story telling as a necessary trait amongst leaders in modern organizations. Story telling is the essence of behavioral guidance in many cultures. In some they actually refer to the word story as a verb rather than a noun.

Steve Denning is one of the leading experts regarding story telling in organizations. His latest book is The Leader’s Guide to Radical Management. He is also the author of The Leader’s Guide to StorytellingThe Secret Language of Leadership, and a regular blog on Forbes. Denning outlines different types of story telling for different purposes and I would like to highlight what he calls “springboard stories” within the context of sparking action and leading people to a more desirable future state. This is what Denning says: 

“Sparking Action. 

 Leadership is, above all, about getting people to change. To achieve that goal, you need to communicate the sometimes complex nature of the changes required and inspire an often skeptical organization to enthusiastically carry them out. This is the place for what I call a ‘springboard story,’ one that enables listeners to visualize the transformation needed in their circumstances and then to act on that realization. Such a story is based on an actual event, preferably recent enough to seem relevant. It has a single protagonist with whom members of the target audience can identify. 

Leading People into the Future. 

An important part of a leader’s job is preparing others for what lies ahead, whether in the concrete terms of an actual scenario or the more conceptual terms of a vision. A story can help take listeners from where they are now to where they need to be, by making them comfortable with an image of the future. The problem, of course, lies in crafting a credible narrative about the future when the future is unknowable. Thus, if such stories are to serve their purpose, they should whet listeners’ imaginative appetite about the future without providing detail that will likely turn out to be inaccurate.”

I have just been part of an organization story telling process involving 4,000 plus team members over a short three-month period. This experience reinforced for me that story telling can help develop rich understanding about stated values and how they ideally get translated into daily work. The challenge is to highlight memorable springboard stories, that are powerful enough to spring people into sustainable intentional action. Not all stories do that. 

Character Moves: 

1. Become more than a leader/storyteller, learn to become a master springboard storyteller. It’s as necessary of a skill in leadership as becoming digitally literate, a superb coach, a relationship builder and results executor. Invest in this skill. 

Springboard stories in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: There’s no secret to the value of a great story, told with good delivery by a gifted storyteller. (My profession is completely based on the demand for stories). Some may think this is skill reserved for entertainment purposes, a dinner table or some other “recreational” period. But there’s a reason we remember a good joke, or an inspiring tale. It’s the “story” element that keeps it memorable, and gives us the ability to reference it later. We grow up learning through key worded text books, which is just fine. It works. But, in the real world, I’m likely walking away from a meeting involving a “springboard story” with more comprehension, motivation and purpose than if the same message was delivered in bullet points. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Dancing with ‘Enough,’ and ‘More’

Abundance Growth mindset Personal leadership


Key Point: One element emphasized by the performance psychologists of Olympic athletes is this: If you weren’t good enough before you win the gold medal, you won’t be good enough after you win it. Winning to prove “you’re good enough” is a dead end journey. I have seen this with people at work quite often. I may have even behaved this way myself. The primary motivation connected to forward movement can sometimes be around the judgmental voice of our ego. We may say things to ourselves like, “If I get this promotion then I will finally be good enough,” “when I make this amount of money then I will finally be good enough,” “when I lose the 30 pounds then I will finally be good enough.” And of course, when they get “there,” it’s never enough . 

I recently discussed this notion with a very wise performance consultant and she talked about the conundrum and paradox surrounding personal contentment and development. She noted: “At a fundamental level personal acceptance is critical for wellbeing and high performance. No matter where we are on our life journey it is important to trust that we are whole – that we ARE enough, and ensure that our esteem not be determined by achievements. This reality, however, must coexist with another aspect equally present in people – the desire to grow, develop, aspire, be creative and curious about one’s potential. It thus begs a question… ‘How can I feel that I am enough AND want more out of life?’ It takes an open and reflective mindset to hold both as truth.” 

In my career, I have seen the most confident and humble people come from a place of deeply believing in themselves as “good enough.” However, these same people are relentlessly curious and adventurous . They come from an abundant place of always contributing, creating, building, adding,  and personally growing. They are content in the moment regarding who they are and yet relentlessly restless in giving to themselves and others the very joy associated with “more.” It is possible for “enough” and “more” to wonderfully co-exist. It is ok to be enough and not done. 

Character Moves: 

1. I am inviting you to join me in a recommended exercise if the above topic resonates with you in any way. On a blank page draw a line through the middle. On the left hand side, write “content and I am enough” as a heading. On the right side of page, write “more and not done yet.” Then for each side, ask yourself and write your reflections: 

When and in what ways do I feel content? When and in what ways do I desire more?

* How will I live in ways that reflect that I am content? How will I live in ways that acknowledge my potential?

* How will I communicate to others that I am content? How will I communicate my eagerness to develop and grow?

2. This exercise may help us better discover and live the dual path of contentment and more. At the root however, must be the belief: I AM enough! 

Relentlessly content in the Triangle 


One Millennial View: I’ve come to the realization that my least favorite phrase is likely one I’ve used before, but now diligently try to avoid. I dislike saying, “it is what it is.” To me, it’s a phrase that suggests stopping, being stuck, or unable to progress in a favorable direction. It’s a way to justify brushing a difficult issue under the rug. Not believing you’re “enough,” seems to lead to anticlimactic conclusions like “it is what it is.” 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Are We Really That Necessary?

Accountability Purpose Well-being


Key Point: Peter Bregman, highly regarded psychologist, author, and consultant, recently wrote the following in Forbes: “Many of us are unhealthily—and ultimately unhappily—tied to mattering. It’s leaving us overwhelmed and over-busy, responding to every request, ring and ping with the urgency of a fireman responding to a six-alarm fire. Are we really that necessary? Relevancy, as long as we maintain it, is rewarding on almost every level. But when we lose it? Withdrawal can be painful. As we get older, we need to master the exact opposite of what we’ve spent a lifetime pursuing. We need to master irrelevancy.” 

I write a lot about the importance of bringing value to others every day. It’s vital. However, if we define who we are and feel happiness exclusively by whether we matter to others or not, we will likely be setting ourselves up for a fall. It does feel good to be wanted by others and to really matter at work (and life). However, one day, for whatever reason, that will change. We will matter less at work and elsewhere. Then what? For those that thrive allowing whether they “matter” to be defined by others will, as Bregman states, “experience a lot of pain… Self doubt… Disappointment… Fear, and even depression.” 

It’s a challenging paradox because we need to matter more by mattering less. First and foremost we need to matter to ourselves. We need to accept that we are all “good enough,” while continuously advancing emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and physically. The purpose of self-advancement is about character development rather than being in perpetual self-judgment of being “good enough” to matter and be accepted. We need to accept being “good enough” and really matter to ourselves. In doing so, we can become better at mattering less to others. 

Character Moves: 

  1. Fully appreciate the value we bring to others, and be cautious about becoming addictive to “matter feedback” to confirm our necessity. One day we all become less relevant to someone. Like Bregman says, “How we adjust — both within our careers and after them — to not being that important may matter more than mattering.” Contentment may be most attainable when WE accept we really do matter, even when less relevant. 
  1. If you and I left work tomorrow because, let’s say, we won a big lottery, how long do you think it would take to replace us? I promise our former colleagues will say in a shockingly short time after our departure things like: “We miss ____, but (our replacement) brings a different approach that has its own unique value.” Let’s face it; we’re not as necessary as we like to think. It’s ok. Master irrelevancy. 

Not necessarily necessary in The Triangle, 


One Millennial View: Not to get into big hot topic issues, but sometimes I laugh when people I know say they are “worried” about the government “reading our texts,” or “listening to our calls.” Not because I necessarily agree the government should or not, but let’s just assume they are. In my mind, that means some poor NSA agent has to mull through your latest late night texts with so-and-so you met, or try to decipher your sports arguments from that group text with 100 inside jokes and funny throwback pictures from 2007. While that’s entertaining to you, you’re just not “that” important… No one is flagging it up. And if you ARE being closely monitored, well, you’re probably up to something extremely bad. In this case, guess what? You don’t WANT to be that important. Feeling valued and wanted is critical, but not EVERY part of everyone’s day is or needs to be Instagram worthy.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Do You Pay the Right Attention?

Accountability Contribution Productivity


Key Point: The ability to concentrate and focus attention is a vital skill for becoming a high performing contributor. Yet we do not assess for this capability as much as we should. The Attentional and Interpersonal Style Inventory (TAIS) is a very insightful self-evaluation tool. It is unique in that it incorporates concentration skills along with intra and interpersonal characteristics in its overall assessment of performance. To concentrate effectively, we need to be able to shift both the width and direction of how we focus attention in response to the changing demands of performance situations. The Attentional scales on TAIS measure two things: 1) Your ability to develop the different types of concentration required to perform effectively, and; 2) Your ability to shift back and forth between the different channels of concentration at appropriate times. Because TAIS measures the basic elements of concentration, scores from the inventory can be used to identify the specific skills individuals need to work on to improve their performance. The following are the key Attentional categories in the TAIS: [Editors note: High and low does not equate to good and bad].

1. Awareness

This scale measures an individual’s sensitivity to what is going on in the environment. Low scorers show little awareness of what is going on outside of their immediate task, and may fail to make adjustments to performance. High scorers on the other hand are aware of what is going on, even when focused on another activity. They are sensitive to subtle interpersonal cues.

2. External Distractibility

This scale measures how easily an individual can be distracted from what they are doing by external factors, such as noise, interruptions and other activities. High scorers find they are fairly easily distracted from their main task by interruptions and may be more comfortable in one-on-one interpersonal situations. They may also need to stay away from busy or chaotic situations. Low scorers are not easily distracted by interruptions, and are able to keep their focus on their main task.

3. Analytical/Conceptual

This scale measures an individual’s ability to engage in big-picture analysis, planning, and complex problem solving. Low scorers tend to react to events, rarely plan ahead and are uncomfortable when forced to use analytical abilities for sustained periods. High scorers on the other hand consider all aspects of a situation and are able to put current events into a bigger context. They enjoy conceptual and complex problem solving.

4. Internal Distractibility

This scale measures an individual’s tendency to be distracted by irrelevant thoughts and feelings. High scorers lose their current track of thought quite easily by focusing on irrelevant thoughts or feelings and may experience their own thoughts happening so fast they cannot keep up with them. Low scorers can keep a clear focus on their current task without irrelevant thoughts or feelings intruding.

5. Action/Focused

This scale measures an individual’s ability to narrowly focus attention on one thing. They’re able to discipline themself, follow through, and to avoid being distracted. Low scorers may not be able to pay attention to one thing for very long and may fail to follow through or adequately attend to details. High scorers can pay attention to one thing for sustained periods. They are dedicated and able to follow through on even boring routines and can be counted on to pay close attention to details.

6. Reduced Flexibility

This scale measures how likely an individual is to make mistakes because of narrowing attention too much, thereby either not noticing other relevant factors or focusing exclusively on irrelevant thoughts and feelings. Low scorers rarely make mistakes because they fail to shift attention from external to internal and vice versa. High scorers make mistakes because they fail to shift attention frequently enough from external to internal or vice versa and make decisions without adequate information. 

As the TAIS document notes: “It is important to remember that we humans have definite limitations in our ability to pay attention. Yet we forget our limitations. We try to talk on the phone and listen to someone in our office but no one can listen to two, brand-new, complex messages at once. Thus, we must make choices — choices between being aware of our surroundings, going inside our head to think, and following through on details.”

Character Moves:

  1. Understand your Attentional capability and ability to switch and adapt to the environment as needed. Overall we want highly aware people who rarely get distracted by external and/or internal factors, but are still in tune enough to do so if necessary. Increasingly, we want people who can fully manage complex problem solving, chaotic situations. And we like people who can get things done, have a bias to action, and follow through. How would your rate on these factors? 
  2. Understand your capability to shift your attention from external to internal and vice versa so you can stay close to having the most relevant information to apply high performance driven decision-making. Know how and when to concentrate! 

Paying attention in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: My position usually requires me to balance two to four tasks at once, and constantly prioritize them in real time. It’s something I very much enjoy doing, but occasionally it can lead to simple mistakes and/or that “I need to take a quick step away from my desk” headache. I’ve learned that as awesome as it is to be “the guy” that can seemingly do 400 things at once, I think most managers and bosses would appreciate you gathering the time it takes for that extra “double check,” that cool down, that “quick step away.” It’s better than a speed that eventually leads to those dumb little mistakes. Those small screw ups, while also rare and seemingly “no big deal,” do require extra work for someone else (at least in my case). Everyone keep it cool out there, you’ll go home happier.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis