Be First, Be Best, Be Nowhere

Accountability Transformation


Key Point: The title of this blog is one of the key messages from a “hot off the press” IBM global research project, where they interviewed 5,247 C-Suite executives  from 21 industries representing 71 countries. In summary, this extensive research identified three key initiatives to ready one’s company for the next level of competition:

  1. Prepare for digital invaders.
  2. Create a panoramic perspective.
  3. Be First, Be Best, or Be Nowhere.

So if this is what the C-Suite needs to be ready for, what are the implications for you and me?

In spite of taxi protests and some regulatory controversy, the fact is that Uber (founded in 2009) has more of a market cap than the top worldwide rental cars combined and they don’t own one car. They are an app! Airbnb has a market cap more than the entire value of the Hyatt Hotel chain, and they do not own any properties. These companies are digital invaders that seemed to come out of “nowhere.” They were not traditional competitors trying to compete by improving current products and services. They changed the whole darn business models for “getting rides” and “staying away from home.” Subsequently, our jobs are also subject to digital invasion. How will the digital invasion impact your role? As an example, the idea that financial advisors being anything but face to face personal advisors is being challenged. So called “robo-advisors” are becoming a reality, and based on big data algorithms and cognitive computing, some believe they might give investors better results than traditional financial advisors?

A panoramic perspective involves the top five percent performing organizations (IBM defines these companies as “torchbearers”) applying a keen acumen for looking sideways as well as outwards. The IBM research states that torchbearers are better able to discern future trends because they adopt an “eco centric, rather than ego centric perspective.” This panoramic principle applies to you and me. If we want to be at the top of our game, we have to have an owl-like perspective: our head on a swivel. This is a matter of knowing where to self-invest, in addition to survival. A little paranoia is healthy.

Being first is sometimes considered too risky in business. Adapting as a fast follower is often preferred. And becoming the best is usually only aspirational. But not for torchbearers. Their view is: “Be first and one of the best, or be nowhere.” Invade the invaders! Translating this to you and me involves our mindset of thinking BIG… Being BIG. What happens when we personalize the idea of being first, being the best or being nowhere?

Character Moves:

  1. Think about how digital technology might invade our role/job/expertise and do something about it!
  1. Be a scout… Send yourself out on trend missions regarding your current expertise and let the “trends be your friend.”
  1. Be first and best, or nowhere. Be humble yet be very confident at committing to being the first and best. This mindset makes us more indispensable. Maybe even a personal “torchbearer.”

Torchbearers in the Triangle,


One Millennial View: Ideas like Uber, Snapchat, Airbnb, and other game changers are not impossible to conceptualize, especially when it seems Millennials spend time thinking about how to trendset and “invade the invaders” on a regular basis. In fact, “Be first, be best, or be nowhere” might be some of the most common advice Millennials give other Millennials, but rarely follow through with themselves. It’s often too scary, too expensive, too risky, too “career ending”, too (insert 1,000,000 other reasons). But, it’s up to us to get over the hurdles and deliver solutions, because “Be first, be best, be… Nahh, I’ll do it later” is just the same as being nowhere.

– Garrett Rubis

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis.

Why Charisma Matters

Abundance Empathy Growth mindset


Key Point: Charisma is absolute presence and it’s a learnable skill you and I can master. If we want to be successful at work or elsewhere, we have to continuously practice to get better at it. While charisma is not discussed that often in a business sense, it is very important in a world that is very hungry for authentic personal connections. 

Think about an experience meeting with anyone who fidgets incessantly, their eyes are downward or darting elsewhere, their face mostly frowning, asking few listening questions, showing little understanding of your views, appearing distracted by worry. Well, there isn’t much of a personal or meaningful connection. 

However, if we meet someone who is completely attentive and actively engaged in the conversation, we are much more likely to find them likable and interesting. When they are confidently calm, with their smartphone off to the side, relaxed, looking at us directly, listening with attention, then they make us feel like we’re the only person that matters in the moment. Often, this sincere presence is very much the path to a very meaningful personal connection. 

According to Stanford Ph.D., Emma Seppala, a charismatic person is able to exert significant influence because he or she connects with others in meaningful ways. In her recent book, The Happiness Track, she introduces Six Ways To Increase Your Charisma: 

  1. Empathy—the ability to see things from another person’s perspective and to understand how that person is feeling. You can only be empathic and place yourself in another person’s shoes if you are fully attentive to them.
  1. Good listening skills—the ability to truly hear what someone is trying to communicate to you, both verbally and nonverbally. If you are distracted or thinking about what to say next—not truly present—you are not truly listening.
  1. Eye contact—the ability to meet and maintain someone’s gaze. Eye contact is one of the most powerful forms of human connection. We intuitively feel that when someone’s gaze shifts away from us, their attention has also shifted away. This intuition is backed by neuroscience research, which has found that you use the same brain regions when your gaze wanders as when your mind wanders. 
  1. Enthusiasm—the ability to uplift another person through praise of their actions or ideas. Enthusiasm is difficult to fake because it is such an authentic emotion. It can only occur when you sincerely engage with what someone else is doing or saying.
  1. Self-confidence—the ability to act authentically and with assurance, without worrying about what other people think. Many people are so busy worrying about how they appear that they end up coming across as nervous or inauthentic. Their focus is on themselves rather than on the other person. When you are fully present, you are focused on others rather than yourself. 
  1. Skillful speaking—the ability to profoundly connect with others. It is essential to know your audience if you want to make an impact. The only way to do so, however, is to tune in to them. When you are 100 percent present with your audience, you are able to understand where they are coming from and how they are interpreting your words. Only then can your words be sensitive and appropriate. When you speak skillfully, you will be truly heard.

Character Moves:

  1. Self-confidence is so important. Work from the belief that people want your presence. Find out by giving your absolute, total in the moment attention. It is both respectful and abundant. Stop worrying about what they think of you. A wandering mind gets you lost.
  1. Become great at charisma by consciously practicing all six. Take Emma’s research and put it to work. It’s a lifetime skill. Charisma is learned and practiced. It’s magnetic when authentically applied. And what’s more important than to make sincere, deep connections with people we really care about (that includes the people you work with)?

Charisma in the Triangle,


One Millennial View: All Millennials should be aware of the significance of self-confidence and charisma. Especially with the distraction of technology and social media, we need to be reminded of the importance of personal presence. Whether you’re making a sale or trying to become the next YouTube star, it takes charisma, and if you don’t have it, then why should anyone else buy or click on your product?

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Workplace Narcissism Versus Compassion

Empathy Respect


Key Point: Compassion is good for the bottom line. There is a battle taking place between narcissism and compassion and it is very evident in the workplace. I view narcissism and compassion as the opposite ends of a continuum. Research clearly shows that compassion should be the obvious winner but narcissism is no slouch and seems to be gaining ground. Where are you on the continuum? Do you really know how to observe the difference?

Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, wrote an interesting article on what may be a narcissism epidemic in the Feb. 14, New York Times:

“In their book ‘Narcissism Epidemic,’ psychology professors Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell show that narcissism has increased as quickly as obesity since the 1980s. Even our egos are getting fat…This is a costly problem. While full-blown narcissists often report high levels of personal satisfaction, they create havoc and misery around them. There is overwhelming evidence linking narcissism with lower honesty and raised aggression…

The 18th-century French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote about ‘amour-propre,’ a kind of self-love based on the opinions of others. He considered it unnatural and unhealthy, and believed that arbitrary social comparison led to people wasting their lives trying to look and sound attractive to others.

This would seem to describe our current epidemic. Indeed, in the Greek myth, Narcissus falls in love not with himself, but with his reflection. In the modern version, Narcissus would fall in love with his own Instagram feed, and starve himself to death while compulsively counting his followers…”

Hmm… And fighting in the other corner…

In her wonderful new book, The Happiness Track, author Emma Seppala describes compassion as being profoundly “other focused” rather than “self-focused.” Compassion is defined as the emotional response when perceiving suffering and involves an authentic desire to help. It includes empathy AND a compelling sense of wanting to alleviate the suffering of others. As a business concept, it is somewhat foreign but exceptionally relevant and meaningful in the workplace.

Kim Cameron and his colleagues at the University of Michigan have studied the effect of compassionate practices in the workplace. Cameron defines these compassionate practices as:

A. Caring for, being interested in, and maintaining responsibility for colleagues as friends.

B. Providing support for one another, including offering kindness and compassion when others are struggling.

C. Inspiring one another at work.

D. Emphasizing the meaningfulness of the work.

E. Avoiding blame and forgiving mistakes.

F. Treating one another with respect, gratitude, trust and integrity.

In a research article published in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, Cameron explains that when organizations institute these practices, their performance levels dramatically improve: “’They achieve significantly higher levels of organizational effectiveness — including financial performance, customer satisfaction, and productivity.’ He adds that the more compassionate the workplace, ‘the higher the performance in profitability, productivity, customer satisfaction and employee engagement.’”

Character Moves:

  1. Take the Narcissistic Personality Inventory and pause to reflect a little. Ask, “Is this the person I want to be?” Do I want to score higher on the narcissistic continuum? Or?
  1. Read (at minimum) the last chapter of The Happiness Track, and note the latest science and research on compassion. Take the time to reflect. Do I want to score higher on the compassion continuum? Will you consciously strengthen your compassion muscle? Do you know how to? 

Compassion KO’s Narcissism in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: It would be a flat out lie if I said I didn’t both understand and appreciate the importance of “likes” on an Instagram or Facebook post. It’s social currency these days, and us Millennials are obsessed with it, right? Well… That shouldn’t automatically make someone narcissistic; it’s just 2016 being 2016. What happened to the value of compartmentalization? I can enjoy a “like” on social media AND be compassionate at work/in life. Here’s something interesting: “Narcissism Epidemic” author Jean M. Twenge has no easily Google-able social media presence, while her co-writer W. Keith Campbell has a measly 117 Twitter followers (not great for an author referenced in the Sunday New York Times)… Compassion author Emma Seppala has 58,300 Twitter followers and nearly 9,000 likes on Facebook. So who’s spreading their message further? Good thing compassion KO’s that one too.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Just Business, Not Personal?

Abundance Community


Key Point: The idea that something is “just business” and “not personal,” is about one of the stupidest phrases ever coined. Frankly, that’s what business is. It’s very personal. In a world where it is easier to become impersonal, the most effective leaders and businesses are becoming even more personal. In order to create value for others you have to really see them, and know them.

Consider the following checklist on the degree you could really know a customer or teammate as highlighted in Brian Solis’ great new book, X. Can you answer these questions about the people you deeply care about?

Persona: Who am I? Who I aspire to become?

Expression: What do I say?

Publication: What do I share?

Profession: Where do I work? What do I do?

Opinion: What do I think and believe?

Details: How and where could you join me?

Reputation: What do others say about me?

Hobbies: What am I passionate about?

Certificates: Can you verify my identities?

Purchases: What do I buy or intend to buy?

Knowledge: What do I know?

Avatars: What represents me?

Audience: Who do I know?

Interests: Who do I connect to and what interests bind us together?

Values: What do I align with? Stand beside? And what’s important to me?

Location: Where I go.

Trends: What my peers and I are investing in regarding the horizon.

Experiences: What have I experienced and shared with my peers?

A few other categories:

Love: Who I deeply care about… Love all in.

Purpose: What I believe I’m on this Earth to do.

Joy: What makes me laugh.

Cry: What saddens me.

Ok, you get the point. It takes tremendous listening and attention to really understand another – not just to simply to sell or market to them, but more importantly contribute to what’s exceptionally significant to them… To generously give them something of yourself that they really care about. That’s the business of life, and frankly the life of business.

Character Moves:

  1. Remember that all business… Indeed, all of life is intensely personal. Abundance involves generosity of spirit and caring enough to deepen relationships. A tribe in South Africa has a beautiful greeting; “I see you!” And the other being greeted answers, “I am here.” Touchingly beautiful. What if this thinking permeated all work places? Why not?
  1. Always start with yourself. If you can’t answer your own questions regarding the above, well… How can you really observe and connect deeply with others?

It’s personal in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: I think we can all understand how separating “business” from “personal” became a popular norm. It’s just a façade to save face, a mask to limit accountability and an easier way to “rip off the Band Aid” if need be. But it’s great to see a more abundant, honest approach emerging within today’s most successful companies. It may be a more difficult route, but I think it’s filled with merit, honor and the value of personal connection.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Your Personal Brand Experience

Abundance Community Organizational culture


Key Point: Category leading organizations often attract a huge following, achieve superb financial results, and become “cult” brands based on their ability to deliver a deeply engaging customer experience. They stand for a purpose that connects a community of active ambassadors and fierce loyalists. I was at a conference where the CEO of car2go described what happened during Winter Storm Jonas, which hammered the eastern seaboard. In Washington D.C., available car2go vehicles were dwarfed in their parking stalls by overwhelming snow banks, making it impossible for customers to access the cars. Who came to the rescue? Customers of car2go believe so much in what the company stands for, they crowd sourced and shoveled out the cars: The company offered 60 minutes of drive time to whoever was willing to shovel one out. 

This is a metaphor for many of the new (or renewed), emerging, and perhaps even disruptive brands like Airbnb, Uber, Netflix, Starbucks, Lululemon, Converse, REI, etc. These brands have such loyal customers, they rarely advertise. They do, however, find a way to make very emotional connections with their customers. And their followers establish a community that embraces the purpose of the cult brand they endorse, share, and rally around.

I think this evolution to seeking and providing extraordinary customer experience applies to each of us in the workplace. Our value and advancement is no longer primarily about our technical skills or even results. Stakeholders want us to make a personal, emotional connection and provide a memorable experience. They will remember us more for how we made them feel than what outcome was achieved. Obviously, getting personal results is important. However, establishing a brand, with ideally a “cult following” is well beyond. When you are that valued of an employee, people will fight for your participation and contribution, because they actually connect emotionally. They want the “brand experience.” They will actually become cult followers… Your ambassadors… Your loyal community.

Character Moves:

  1. Consider what you might do to evolve from a good employee to a contributor with a “cult” following. How would that happen? What service/relationship experience would distinguish you? Make you a “stand out?” Why would people working with you rave about you and follow you?
  1. How do you make people feel when they interact with you? Is it memorable? Remarkable? Why? Why not? When the stormy world “snows you in,” will others come to “shovel you out” because they want to and admire who you are?

Cult brand in the Triangle


One Millennial View: Peyton Manning mentions “Budweiser” in place of the noun “beer” after winning Super Bowl 50. Lululemon’s popularity has bloggers buzzing about a clothing style called “Athleisure” to describe the trendy workout gear you see people running errands in. “Like” it or not, everyone’s paying a lot of attention to you, your brand, and formulating opinions because of it on social media. What else is there to do while standing in line, buying Bud, wearing our “athleisure” gear in 2016? 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Alphabet of the Heart

Collaboration Respect


Key Point: Dr. James R. Doty, a Stanford neurosurgeon and director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, has written a book entitled “Into The Magic Shop.” It profoundly stimulates the reader’s thoughts and feelings. I’m going to send copies to our children and read key parts of it to our 8-year-old grandson. The book presents a compelling story (including convincing science), as a road map for living life to its fullest through harnessing the power of BOTH the brain and the heart.

“When our brains and our hearts are working in collaboration—we are happier, we are healthier, and we automatically express love, kindness, and care for one another,” he writes. “I knew this intuitively, but I needed to validate it scientifically. This was the motivation to begin researching compassion and altruism. I wanted to understand the evolution of not only why we evolved such behavior but also how it affects the brain and ultimately our health”. 

Science is helping us understand that the heart has its own intelligence system. When you think about the heart having its own “brain,” well that’s a “WOW.” In fact, the heart sends more signals to the brain than vice versa. The neural net around our heart plays a huge part in informing our reasoning and thinking. As Dr. Doty points out so wonderfully, our individual happiness and wellbeing depends on the brain AND heart working together as a system. The brain knows an awful lot but as the research in the “Magic” book illustrates, it knows exponentially more when it joins the heart. 

Many of us need practice and a framework for prying the heart open. I certainly do. In fact, data shows that many of us are impoverished for meaningful connection. In Doty’s work, he notes that 25 percent of Americans state they do not have anyone close enough to share a problem with. We have work to do here. Hence a the following summary of Doty’s “Alphabet of the Heart.” (For a richer outline, please read the book).

C for Compassion.

Open your heart for yourself and others.

D for Dignity.

Recognize the dignity of every human being.

E for Equanimity.

While acknowledging the ups and downs, try to find an even keel.

F for Forgiveness.

Seek forgiveness from those you have failed and those who have failed you.

G for Gratitude.

Keep in the front of your mind gratitude for all that you have.

H for Humility.

Remember that you are no better and no worse than others you encounter.

I for Integrity.

Value honesty and integrity and use it to guide your actions.

J for Justice.

Acknowledge your obligations in context of social justice.

K for Kindness.

Be kind to yourself and to others.

L for Love.

Let your heart be open to love from within yourself and from others.

Character Moves: 

  1. Open your heart up at work. Life and work are one. We need to practice connecting our hearts and brains in every part of our life; especially in the work place. It is time that the “heart” gets equal billing with the “brain.” We are learning that enormous organization value and a “cult” brand (hence profitability) depends on authentic emotional connections (the heart) between employees and customers… A fully integrated community. 
  2. Doty’s site offers exercises for us to help the brain and heart connect and work as a system. Just reading about this integration means little if we don’t practice. Like anything else of sustainable value, there is no easy path. It’s a “Magic Shop,” but any good magician requires hours of practice to become magical. 

Opening the Heart in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: There’s a reason we hear those sad but sometimes beautiful stories of elderly married people dying within hours of each other, with no perfect explanation other than a “broken heart.” It’s a thing. As Millennials, our “heart” is sometimes the last thing we let cross our minds… It’s supposed to be healthy, ticking and can be an afterthought. I’m interested in learning more about how the heart and brain connect in all aspects of life.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis