Thinking Harder and Smarter!

Accountability Growth mindset Personal leadership


Key Point: Having a growth mindset is vital to successfully embrace continuous transformation. However, we need to be sure that we understand what a growth mindset really is. Note the following by Eduardo Briceño, the Co-Founder & CEO of Mindset Works, which he created with Carol Dweck, Lisa Blackwell and others to help people develop as motivated and effective learners. 

“When we ask people to tell us what the growth mindset is, we often get lots of different answers, such as working hard, having high expectations, being resilient, or more general ideas like being open or flexible. But a growth mindset is none of those things. It is the belief that qualities can change and that we can develop our intelligence and abilities. The opposite of having a growth mindset is having a fixed mindset, which is the belief that intelligence and abilities cannot be developed. The reason that this definition of growth mindset is important is that research has shown that this specific belief leads people to take on challenges, work harder and more effectively, and persevere in the face of struggle, all of which makes people more successful learners.”

One aspect of mindset research that intrigues me is the following: “Students often haven’t learned that working hard involves thinking hard, which involves reflecting on and changing our strategies so we become more and more effective learners over time, and we need to guide them to come to understand this. For example, a novice teacher who sees a student trying very hard but not making any progress may think ‘well, at least she’s working hard, so I’ll praise her effort,’ but if the student continues to do what she’s doing, or even more of it, it’s unlikely to lead to success. Instead, the teacher can coach the student to try different approaches to working, studying, and learning, so that she is thinking more deeply (i.e. mentally working harder) to become a better learner, and of course the teacher should do the same: reflect on how to adjust instruction. ‘It’s not just about effort. You also need to learn skills that let you use your brain in a smarter way… to get better at something.’ (Yeager & Dweck, 2012.)”

Leaders in organizations can learn from this insight. People at all levels in companies are asking for more meaningful coaching and often well intended leaders do appreciate and recognize hard work. However, if you want to be a great coach, as noted in the research above, help people learn how to think harder and better! Ultimately coaching is aimed at improving performance. And learning how to think harder and better changes the mistakes we accept and make. Too often organization leaders (in the same spirit of encouraging learning), suggest that mistakes are always “good,” and this can confuse learners, as not all mistakes are the same. As an example, the people at Mindset Works are encouraging folks to start distinguishing stretch mistakes, sloppy mistakes, aha-moment mistakes, and high-stakes mistakes



Sloppy mistakes are connected with sloppy thinking and both the intentionally and learning outcome is low. So, accepting those mistakes does little for anyone. Stretch mistakes are the highest in both of learning opportunity and intentionality. There is much to be learned from stretch mistakes.

Character Moves:

  1. Remember the definition of a growth mindset. We ALL can grow intellectually, emotionally and by capability. Massive social transformation requires each of us to have a growth mindset. If you are stuck in a fixed mindset, then enjoy staying in that position.
  1. Having a growth mindset requires thinking harder and better rather than just working harder. Yes, we can further develop our intelligence and capabilities. But, it requires thinking differently along with doing differently. Challenge yourself about how you are developing as a thinker!
  1. Not all mistakes are created equally. Learn more about what a stretch mistake is versus other mistakes, and relevance to accelerating a growth mindset.

Harder and smarter in The Triangle 


One Millennial View: Not only are growth mindsets extremely appreciated and crucial in the workplace, but fixed mindsets are transparent. It’s very obvious to workers when their leaders aren’t thinking hard, and just going through motions. It makes us feel equally stuck, and wonder “how can this place ever progress if our leaders aren’t willing to?” A leader’s lack of a growth mindset isn’t only keeping him or her stuck, it can negatively impact the whole team.

– Garrett Rubis

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

I Love Purple Chicks!

Organizational leadership Respect Transformation


Key Point: Innovation and even disruptive ideas are often right in front of us; just not in plain sight. The trick is to find ways to set these ideas FREE. Too often, they’re hiding in the wonderful minds of ALL the people around us. 

What would you do if predatory hawks were continuously eating over half of your baby chicks, the essence of sustaining your life as a chicken farmer? That was the recent experience of African chicken farmers. Raptors had come to treat their farms like an “all you can eat” chicken buffet. So these Tanzanian farmers, somewhat at their wit’s end as what to do, sat with an open mind to hear what their tribal elders might suggest to solve this big time problem. And what did these sage folks come up with as a solution? Hide the chicks in plain site! Huh? Yup, they brilliantly recommended painting the chicks with a bio degradable purple dye, thereby confusing the birds of prey. 



So the deal is hawks cannot recognize anything purple as edible to them. They can literally land in front of a purple chick and see something moving, just not lunch. The strategy had been very successful for the farmers. From losing 80 percent of their chicks they are now saving 80 percent; a huge turnaround and literally life changing (for both the farmers and baby chickens). 

This story was told by Terry O’Reilly after a customer dinner our company hosted this week. Terry is widely known as an advertising guru and the host of the hugely popular CBC radio show, “Under the Influence.” His soon to be released book “This I Know,” is a guaranteed best seller. Terry’s message in the purple chicken story was to stress the importance of ensuring psychological safety in all organizations so people at any level can freely propose ANY idea. This needs to be coupled with modern organization leadership, encouraging and expecting employees to unleash their own “purple chicken” ideas. Then leaders need to be open to receiving those ideas and putting that creativity to work. It is unacceptable to open up and promote more creativity with no way of executing. Painting the chicks was a great idea AND the farmers had to get the paint and then do it! 

Terry’s closing question to the dinner audience was: Imagine if you were the person in your tribe with the unorthodox proposal of painting the chicks purple. Who would really listen? Would people be open or would you get ignored and/or thrown out of the tribe? How does your culture really support innovation as a way of life?

 Character Moves:

  1. When it comes to finding solutions the best ones can be right there in the most obvious places; hiding like purple chickens right out in the open. We just need to be present enough to find and receive them. How good is your organization in tapping into your entire employee community for innovative solutions? How do you know? What evidence do you have? How do you do it? Improve on it? 
  1. Most of us are living in a world where the metaphorical hawks are circling above and happy to eat us for lunch. We actually do need innovation to come from outside and to assign people to help with that task. However, the biggest opportunity is INSIDE and finding ways to have people at every level think and act like there is no box. What can you do to better set ideas free? How many of your personal ideas have been executed on? How many are still hidden and out of sight? 

Painting purple in the Triangle, 


One Millennial View: One of my favorite components of working in digital media is the ability to try, adapt, and try again. Thanks to low overhead, a failed idea or project doesn’t always cost much in digital. It can also be improved upon in real time… Look at your favorite podcasts, YouTube channels, and other digital productions. They’ve likely changed format, evolved, dropped some segments, adopted others, and responded to user feedback. As far as I’m concerned, that’s just chicken feathers turning purple over time, and fortunately no hawks get to gobble up the entire coop in the process. It’s gratifying when we know feathers can change colors.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Not Alone With Zoey Miller

Abundance Growth mindset Well-being


Key Point: I’ve never personally met Zoey Miller, but I like her. She is the main editor of The Babble Out, and describes herself as, “A woman from next door with problems and joys of her everyday life. I know that the more I give, the more I’ll be given, so this blog is firstly for helping more and more people, couples and singles and hopefully it will do good to me, too. We wanted The Babble Out to be different. As such, we don’t talk about problems in general and end up with the most popular answer. Instead, we share our real-life experience, the knowledge we gained and solutions which helped us to make our lives better and happier. We do this even though it may sometimes be hard to read.” 

Miller notes a Fortune magazine figure stating that in 1970,11 percent of people said they were lonely; in 2010 this was 45 percent.

She goes on to say, “I don’t know how this happened, but I want to change it. I’m convinced that solitude is one of the worst feelings in the world. If I can help only one person, then it was worth starting this site.” 

Zoey is an abundant person and her purpose is to change this loneliness trend. She knows giving to others will better her too and understands the value of being real, authentic and vulnerable. Zoey understands how to really help because she’s travelled through her experiences with evolving self-awareness and by extension, well-developed emotional intelligence. 

A recent Zoey blog included a great summary on emotional intelligence (EI). I have blogged about the importance of EI several times. The following includes two elements of emotional intelligence this Babble Out article highlights that I want to emphasize: 

“Controlling Our Emotions:

It is an idea that surprises some of us, but everyone controls their own emotions. How we choose to interpret events decides our emotional reaction to those events.

As an example, let’s say that you’ve worked hard to become very good at making spaghetti sauce, and are proud of this skill. You serve your best effort so far to a group of friends, expecting praise, or at least recognition of this excellent sauce.

But one of your friends makes a suggestion, rather than offering unqualified praise. ‘If you had added just a dash of cayenne and a cup of Chianti, this sauce would be phenomenal.’

You have a choice in how you react, depending entirely upon how you choose to view this suggestion.

My sauce isn’t good enough for them. This will understandably lead to feelings of being rejected or attacked.

They’re trying to help me be even better. This will likely lead to feeling that the friend is on your side, encouraging and helping you.

These would be two very different experiences, based upon the same event. The one that you experience depends entirely on your interpretation. We choose these interpretations every time. Many people choose based upon unthinking habit, others consider the options and make a conscious choice. The ability to intentionally decide how to view events, to steer ourselves toward the most effective emotional reaction, is a valuable skill in improving our EI.

Helping Those Around Us to Re-frame:

The skill of deciding how to view an event before you react emotionally to it is called framing. If you experience a negative emotion, going back to choose a different interpretation of an event in order to experience an emotion that will lead to a more positive outcome is called re-framing… Skill at doing so will enable you to help optimize the outcome for your group, whether that group is a team at work, part of your social circle, your primary emotional relationship, or the Little League team that you’re coaching. It is a skill that can have a positive impact on almost every aspect of your life.”

In my many years as a formal leader in organizations, I’ve come to understand that much of the distracting drama in the work place (and life) stems from the “my sauce not being good enough” response to feedback, and poor skills in knowing how and when to consciously frame or re-frame an event before responding emotionally. 

Character Moves:

  1. Consider joining Zoey Miller in her mission to fight loneliness and feeling like we are isolated. Accessible and responsible sites like Zoey’s help us authentically connect and realize we are far from being alone if we connect as a community.
  1. Please invest in learning more about and practicing the skill of framing and reframing. This ability puts us in control of situations that otherwise control our emotions and us. Consciously practicing and applying these skills develops our emotional intelligence and propels us forward in our relationships (and even being less alone).

Going Zoey in The Triangle,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: Abundant is right! I believe Zoey is a fellow Millennial, and I certainly admire her efforts to start this blog and connect, learn and spread the value of EI. Controlling emotions and re-framing situations is crucial to every element of our personal and professional lives… Before we fire off that Tweet, or clog everyone’s Facebook feed with an emotional opinion, some good, abundant self-control and re-framing is always beneficial. Maybe even read over Zoey’s blog for a refreshing outlook to find some zen.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Be Exponential and Ignite an MTP

Abundance Organizational leadership Transformation


Key Point: Todays leading and often disruptive organizations have a Massive Transformative Purpose or MTP! They are indeed exponential organizations. The term “Exponential Organization” was first introduced and defined in 2014 by Salim Ismail, Michael S. Malone and Yuri van Geest in their book Exponential Organizations: Why New Organizations Are Ten Times Better, Faster, Cheaper Than Yours (and What to Do About It). They define it as:

“An Exponential Organization is one whose impact (or output) is disproportionally large—at least 10x larger—compared to its peers because of the use of new organizational techniques that leverage accelerating technologies.”

Some real examples of Exponential Organizations that have successfully increased their results, at least 10x with respect to their competitors or other reference companies are: Google, Valve, Github, Netflix, Tesla, Airbnb, Uber, etc. These companies have not only achieved unbelievable growth ratios, they are also transforming the industries in which they are positioned and are forcing their competitors to completely reinvent themselves. Every industry is vulnerable. Look out, banks! And as a leader in one, I feel this sense of incredible responsibility and urgency to become part of an Exponential Organization than to be replaced by one. 

So what kind of leadership is required in these types of companies? According to the authors, one needs to embrace all the classic and expected elements we’ve learned about leadership to date, plus the following traits:

  1. “Be a visionary customer advocate; become totally involved in every aspect of the customer experience.
  1. Be a data driven experimentalist; apply the lean startup approach to everything and use of data to create order out high-speed chaos.
  1. Be an optimistic realist: Recognize that most people find transformation disconcerting, and build confidence through recognizing reality with optimism.
  1. Be extremely adaptable; you better be continuously reinventing yourself as a leader. You first, before anyone else. 
  1. Be radically open; invite channels of transparency and openness to and from everywhere. Learn how to differentiate important signals from noise.
  1. Be hyper-confident; have the courage to always do what you believe is the best for the organization over oneself; must be willing to be fired, have the ability to disrupt yourself and the organization continuously.”

Character Moves:

  1. Learn about Exponential Organizations (ExOs), study what they do, how they did it and how it might apply to you personally. Both mature companies and startups are capable of being ExO disrupters! Everything is a process, including becoming an ExO! 
  1. Explore the behaviors underlying the six leadership traits above. Learn about the leaders of these ExO companies. They have a personal leadership process too. What is it? And, know they can’t do it alone! 
  1. Learn about the craft of developing an MTP (Massive Transformative Purpose). It is much more than a vision and simple mission. It’s bigger than an audacious goal.

Exponential in The Triangle,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: I love the Gary Vaynerchuk quote that says, “The thought, and nature of people saying, ‘Well America is an entrepreneurial paradise,’ is the same conversation that’s happening within America of like, ‘to be great in tech, you need to be in San Francisco.’ And let me just remind everybody, that Facebook was invented in Boston.” It’s common for kids to grow up wanting to be superstars on an athletic field. Those dreams can die with an injury, or the inability to sink a basketball shot. But who really says you can’t make up your own rules and your own scoreboard to win big in your own industry? That seems like a playbook everyone has access to at least open.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Simply Complex

Accountability Organizational culture


Key Point: Recently, there has been much political rhetoric suggesting that going backwards will somehow help us go forward; well I’m sorry to upset your rice bowl, but we can’t. Yes, nationalistic platforms like Brexit or “Make America Great Again” may rally an emotional response and outcome. However, it is impossible to go back to the romantic notions that baby boomers and others remember of the 50’s/60’s or other decades. Why? We are becoming even more global whether we like it or not, AND borders cannot effectively stymie the flow of information even though some dictatorships try. According to recent NYT article, “the American economy is inextricably linked to the global economy. It’s estimated that one-fifth of jobs here are now tied to international trade. Moreover, many of the world’s major challenges — climate change, instability in financial markets, food and water insecurity, infectious diseases, migration, war and terrorism — are complex, interdependent and borderless. And with 40 million foreign-born residents, the United States is itself a global society with deep emotional ties to many nations and cultures.”

Organizations around the world are microcosms of this increasingly connected global world. Turn on CNN and watch for just a few minutes. There is so much work we still need to do regarding more respectfully understanding each other. It makes me wonder how we can do a better job in organizations to appreciate the full global diversification that define the full fabric and rich tapestry of our work cultures today. If we do not better understand the world around us, and it’s many perspectives, how can we lead ourselves and companies accordingly? Quickly test yourself on the following:

1. In which of these countries is a majority of the population Muslim?

a) South Africa

b) Armenia

c) India

d) Indonesia

2. Which language is spoken by the most people in the world as their primary language?

a) Russian

b) Mandarin Chinese

c) English

d) Arabic

3. Which country is the largest trading partner of the United States, based on the total dollar value of goods and services?

a) Canada

b) China

c) Mexico

d) Saudi Arabia

4. Approximately what percentage of the United States federal budget is spent on foreign aid?

a) 1 percent

b) 5 percent

c) 12 percent

d) 30 percent

e) 40 percent

5. Which countries is the United States bound by treaty to protect if they are attacked?

a) Canada

b) China

c) Japan

d) Mexico

e) North Korea

f) Russia

g) South Korea

h) Turkey

6. True or False: Over the past five years, the number of Mexicans leaving the United States and returning to Mexico has been greater than the number of Mexicans entering the United States.

*Answers, with percentage of respondents who gave the correct answer.

1. d (29 percent)

2. b (49 percent)

3. a (10 percent)

4. a (12 percent)

5. a (47 percent), c (28 percent), g (34 percent), h (14 percent)

6. True (34 percent)

The above quiz, which appeared in the same NYT article noted above, is obviously presented through an American lens. However, the message applies to all of us. And as noted in the wrap up of the editorial: “The world has changed in such profound ways that developing an understanding of complexity is paramount. Whatever the policy, the idea that things are simple, or black and white, and we can’t put a blanket on them and feel that it’s going to have the desired impact — that idea can become very dangerous.”

Character Moves:

  1. How much do you know about the various cultures and viewpoints in your organization? Get engaged and regularly put yourself in the shoes of someone or group who is different than you. This ranges from small gestures like eating the food of other nationalities, to participating in more advanced initiatives to build understanding. One thing for sure, the narrower or more homogeneous the lens we look through, the less likely will we be able to innovate and solve complex problems. We do need common values around treating each other with love and respect AND the richness of embracing diverse ideas and viewpoints that evolve from our global community. 
  1. Ask yourself “why?” if you scored poorly on the above quiz. (Even if you’re not American, I believe you and I should score 100 percent). Frankly I believe every elementary school child should know the answers to these kinds of questions. How can you and I participate in a conversation solving complex issues if we don’t know what’s going on globally and know how to determine the real facts versus “fake news.” To be an effective leader today, we need to be proactively holonic: Global and local at the same time! Acting on this paradox leads to better organizations and I believe, ultimately a more respectfully connected and advanced world.

Simply complex in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: This sure is a complex issue! I’ve never been accused of having all the answers, and I certainly won’t pretend to. We ideally all have a pretty good grasp on what’s right, and what’s wrong, and it’s up to us to uphold the great values we’ve hopefully been taught. As Millennials, sometimes we take all our information from headlines or 140 characters, then follow a crowd to selfishly go to the “like farm,” where we get 100+ approval notices on social media. That’s no way to live either. Research, be smart, and stay educated… As a trained journalist, I know there is a ton of “fake news” out there, and we have to have the diligence and patience to filter and be better than that.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis