Intimacy at Work

Accountability Community Organizational culture


Key Point: People mostly appreciate when I’m authentic and vulnerable as a leader. In some ways, I find that surprising and counterintuitive to the mythical “strong, silent” leader type. And I recognize that we all want to be loved and experience intimacy, including at work. Hmm. I realize I might be causing some discomfort for some of you. However, as work and life becomes fully integrated, it is logical that love and intimacy are fair game topics.

If we’re honest, we accept and recognize that we as humans all want to feel close and connected to others. (For obvious reasons, I’m excluding physical intimacy at work as part of this blog). I’m talking about the emotional connections and required vulnerability that is part of deepening relationships. 

Most of us think about what is defined as “other-validated intimacy,” – the kind where we feel close or connected with someone else through shared experiences, beliefs, ideas or feelings. There are inherent flaws with relying exclusively on “other-validated intimacy” though.  At work, like in different parts of our lives, we are going to run into people or moments where we just don’t “get” each other. If other-validated intimacy is the only kind we know, then we are likely going to end to up feeling disconnected. Therefore, relationships can become shallower instead of deeper. 

So some psychologists are encouraging us to be aware of and apply another type of intimacy: Self Directed. Jodie Milton is an intimacy coach, writer, speaker and Co-Founder of Your Primal Essence. She has published a thought provoking article on the matter. The following are her key points:

“Self-validated intimacy is created when you reveal yourself to someone. It’s the very act of revealing that creates the intimacy. The response of others, whether they agree or disagree or are completely ambivalent, is not what matters. It’s that you’re choosing to share yourself, warts, beauty spots and all, with another. It’s your vulnerability, your courage and your openness that creates the intimacy…

Self-validated intimacy requires you to validate yourself. To know that regardless of whether or not your experiences, thoughts, feelings or ideas are shared, that they are indeed still valid. That you are valid. It means holding onto yourself as you strip down and bare it all, so that you may be more fully and completely known. And then continuing to hold onto yourself no matter what the response… We must reveal ourselves as a powerful statement of self-appreciation, whilst also opening ourselves to the possibility of truly being known.”

The reason I’m putting this on the table is that the thirst for authenticity in the work place is higher than ever. I’m not talking about everyone running around bleating out all kinds of personal, “crazy” things that may be best left unsaid. However, there are those moments when in order to deepen the relationship we need to take our own self directed step towards intimacy with teammates and others.  

Character Moves:

  1. Intimacy and authenticity as the path to deepening relationships deserves some personal reflection. Think about how, and when you might reveal a little more of your authentic self at work.
  1. Milton provides examples of topics to practice to get you started:

The thing I’m most scared of right now is…

What I most want you to know about me is…

The biggest challenge I’m facing in my life right now is…

The point as Milton emphases is, “If you want to go deeper in your relationship, this is the perfect place to start. Feel into an area of your life where you want to be seen, and then go ahead and reveal yourself.”

  1. Be aware: If you’re going to take a step in the self-directed area, do not necessarily expect reciprocation. This is being self-accountable and self-accepting of you and how you feel.

Self-Directed Intimacy in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: Haha, y’know it’s tough enough for me to find someone at work I’d like to go to Happy Hour with, let alone dispense a bunch of personal information to. However, I’m certainly envious of those who do work in more tightly knit environments with co-workers they can also refer to as friends. Sometimes I long for a bonding work trip, or required retreat, but that’s not a reality where I work. One day in the future, I hope that changes for me. And I don’t mean that as a “boo-hoo” story, my team is just very small and we all lead extremely different lives. That’s ok too! But, if you can work with a band of buddies, I can only imagine that is ideal. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Watch Out for ‘Happy’ Guilt

Abundance Community Well-being


Key Point: “Why am I not as happy as everyone tells me I should be?” That’s a self-reflective question I hear people I care about rhetorically ask from time to time. On a scale of one to 10, rate your personal happiness. That’s what about 500,000 people from across the globe were asked to do. The results are presented in the recently released World Happiness Report. This happens annually as part of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. The release preceded UN World Happiness Day, and is the fourth such report by a group called the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (A multidisciplinary team of experts from academia, government, and the private sector). The assessment team ranked 156 countries on their happiness and well-being. 

In addition to the survey, a country’s happiness is measured in terms of a number of factors: GDP per capita, life expectancy—including the number of healthy years, social support in times of trouble, trust in the system (freedom from corporate or government corruption), the ability to make one’s own decisions, and overall generosity.  The majority of the topmost happiness positions were once again taken up by Scandinavian countries. The U.S. ranked 13th, Canada 6th, and UK 23rd.

At a personal level, the three most important aspects according to researchers are income, social support, and healthy years. Anyone who wants to cultivate a fulfilling life, according to the report, should invest in their education to earn a proper income, live a healthy lifestyle, and strengthen their relationships with friends, family, and their partner. However, the definition of personal “happiness” really involves a very unique definition. Daniel Kahneman, highly regarded as one of the most knowledgeable academics on the matter concludes:  “The word happiness does not have a simple meaning and should not be used as if it does.” My conclusion: Yes there are trends and conditions that provide a base for happiness. However, whether you or I are happy is very unique, a personal condition and subject to self-interpretation. No judgment by any one else qualifies. We are the sole determinants.

What we do know is that in much of the western world, depression and stress related diseases are on the rise. Even though Canada ranks as the sixth happiest country in the world, it has a very high rate of suicide compared to the rest of the planet. And the province I reside in, Alberta, has the highest rate in Canada. Mental wellness is something we all need to invest in, so I want to share a great summary of actions (backed by good science) that each of us can apply to our betterment. As a system of connected actions, they will certainly contribute to our well being and perhaps even to our assessment of personal happiness . 

Character Moves:

  1. Find someone you can talk to. Someone you really connect with, trust, and feel safe around. I’m a big fan of working with a coach. A coach will help you move forward versus keeping you stuck in your current story.
  2. It is so important to eat healthy. Avoid sugar and processed food. And take your vitamins.
  3. Go for a brisk 45-minute walk, 4-5 times/week. According to research it has been known to have more positive effects on the mind and combat depression better than the strongest anti-depressant.
  4. Do three gratitude’s per day, and record them. Do this for a minimum of 21 days.
  5. Meditate
  6. Do something creative; paint, sing, dance, play an instrument, create something.
  7. Dream; imagine yourself doing something that lights you up.
  8. Stick to the facts of what’s happening. Don’t start creating a story around the facts. A wondering mind is a dangerous mind. Stay in the moment.
  9. Find your inner flow. Find activities that put you in the moment and allow you to lose track of time.
  10. Choose carefully when selecting those you spend time with. Decide to be around people who complete you and inspire you to be better.
  11. Get proper sleep.
  12. Plan something to look forward to.
  13. Volunteer. Give to others.

 This is a list from Karen Judge, health and happiness coach and founder of A Happier Mind.

 Live Well (even Happy) in The Triangle 


One Millennial View: I don’t know many truly unhappy Millennials, but I’d say our career content comes from a sense of comfort, excitement and future security. Are we making enough money to be comfortable? Does our routine still motivate us? Does my current position have room for growth? If I could always answer those questions with confidence, my work happiness will likely sustain. 

– 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

More Fellowship and Civilized Leaders

Community Courage Respect


Key Point: This weekend’s horrific and evil terrorist acts in Paris pierced and frayed the nerves of all civil people worldwide. Civilized humanity is sick, frustrated, and angry… You pick the emotion. What can you and I do about this situation? I want to share a viewpoint by Gianpiero Petriglieri from a Harvard Business Review blog. He is Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior at INSEAD. He also has a medical doctorate and a specialization in psychiatry. Petriglieri states:

“Fostering civilization means cultivating our curiosity to recognize substantive differences, and our commitment to respect them—within and between groups. For that, we need not more effective but more humane leaders. More conflicted, less conflicting ones. Leaders who can hold on to their voice, and help others find theirs, when it feels riskier to do so… There are plenty of good tribal leaders already. We need more civilized leaders instead… And come to think of it, what we really need is not more leadership as much as more fellowship. The sentiment, that is, of sharing a common predicament even if we don’t share the same history, experience, or fate. A sentiment most necessary precisely when fragmentation and fundamentalism are far more common. Fellowship is an antidote to both, an alternative to otherness that does not imply sameness… It is easy to remain speechless, scream, or strike when words do not suffice. But talking is what we need now; especially about what might be hard to hear… We cannot win a war on intolerance. We can only respect each other out of it.” 

Character Moves:

  1. In our personal spheres, however small or large, we can all foster and promote inclusiveness. We all share in the same predicament of being human.  We must remember that our personal view of the world is only one view. It is not about being right or wrong. It is about genuine compassion for each other.  
  1. Remind ourselves that fellowship like Petriglieri emphasizes is an alternative to otherness that does not imply sameness. We must keep our voice and help others find theirs. Recognize that sometimes (often even), this is risky. However, throughout history courageous people have tenaciously allowed for human inclusion to progress. One only needs to appreciate how much in the last few years the civil world has progressed on a variety of human rights (LGBTQ, etc.) to recognize that advancing inclusive humanness is possible. Calling all civilized leaders to step up. That’s you and me! 

Respect each other in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: What a time… Sure, we may believe things are progressing, but it depends who you ask. Even in the last month, college campuses across the U.S. are exploding with protests and student groups making demands and even holding “hunger strikes” against supposed inequality. To some, the University of Missouri or the University of South Carolina campuses are the most welcoming places on the planet, and to others the very same classrooms are unsafe establishments that harbor hate… Most of these protests are aimed to advance a conversation. They can still be unnerving to a degree. However, it becomes a whole heck of a lot more threatening when a group decides to protest/communicate with AK-47’s instead of words. Tragedies like Paris make us really come together and ask what’s truthfully important, what’s sincerely worth standing up against, protesting, arguing and fighting for. I agree that “talking” is the preferable weapon, and it would be great to “respect each other” out of something as jarring as war… In civilized places like U.S. college campuses, we have the appropriate networks and patience for that. However, some people would argue that the best words leaders used this weekend are the “From Paris, with love” notes scribbled on the bombs used to retaliate against ISIS. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Race Together!

Community Organizational culture Respect


Key Point: Culture is about who you are, what you stand for and how you act. Many of you may have caught up with Starbucks‘ latest campaign on race relations. Their intention is to have baristas start a conversation with customers on the topic of “inclusion” by writing, #RaceTogether on the Starbucks cups. Do they really expect this to work while the barista is frantically churning though a line up of coffee drink orders? Why? Apparently this idea emerged from internal company discussions on the recent racial tension in Ferguson, Mo. (and elsewhere). The overall message of course, is one we all know, but don’t always represent; we’re ALL human beings. 

I’m sure Starbucks executives thrashed this #RaceTogether campaign over and over with all their internal and external advisors (advertising agencies, communication/P.R. experts and more) before launching. And guess what? Many in the Internet world have expectedly clobbered them, to the point that their VP of Communications deleted his Twitter account, apparently overwhelmed by vicious abuse and negative talk. “How dare Starbucks do this?” “How trivial!” “How ignorant!” “Superficial!” “Self righteous!” etc. What’s most interesting to me though, is that this conversation is exactly who Howard Schultz is and what the Starbucks brand stands for. Starbucks took a position to pay for all employees health care when many similar organizations ran the other way. They have been vocal about supporting gay rights and are explicitly against gun violence. So this is not about whether Starbucks is right or wrong. It is about being consistent with their brand. And they believe the Starbucks brand stands for conversation, respect and inclusion. You might sarcastically say inclusion means rich, white liberals? Frankly, I’m not writing this blog to argue whether Starbucks is right or wrong (although I personally love their courage and conviction to stand for human equality and respect. And people who know me understand that I’m a big Starbucks customer). What I’m applauding is the idea of genuinely living up to your brand; whatever it is. It’s not that baristas are expected to be experts in race relationships. This is about the conversation… “Good morning sir. Enjoy the Americano. What are your thoughts about #RaceTogether?” Starbucks has always been more about the extension of the family kitchen or living room than simply caffeine, or the best coffee selection. Starbucks has very much been about the betterment and connection of human kind, while also making a ton of profit selling arguably, overpriced java. Yet we go there in throngs around the world because it’s more than just coffee. We go because it’s Starbucks.

Garrett and my blog readers, thankfully represent all parts of the globe and most of you followers know I work for a financial institution. (Garrett’s day job is as a producer/reporter for a news agency’s media department). My company has the “outrageous” belief that it will reinvent banking for people. We want to reimagine all of our products and services in this context. And in the end, we are committed to the happiness of our customers. Cynics may snicker about this… The thought of “bankers making banking work for people? Their happiness? Haha, how dumb!” Well guess what? Just like Starbucks, that’s who we are! And everyone who works for us must believe this and act accordingly.

Character Moves:

  1. Know what your organization stands for and be explicit about what that means. Recognize that phrases like “customer service,” “quality,” etc. are mostly insufficient. If that’s what defines you and your organization, you will be bland.
  2. Be clear about what behaviors distinguish you from every one else, and hopefully better than your competition. Why would your customers pay a premium (like Starbucks) to buy from you? What role do you play in that regard? At Starbucks, it may be the cashier or barista that writes, #RaceTogether on the cup. And yet, as it is with every great company, it takes an entire system of people end to end, to define the culture.
  3. Please remember that most customers buy on emotion and a brand relationship is more than just price. McDonald’s specialty coffees have beat Starbucks on numerous blind taste tests worldwide. Yet, customers flock to Starbucks and pay a premium for their coffee. It’s not because we’re dumb, it’s because we support the brand AND also buy/enjoy the coffee taste/experience.

Race Together in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: I read a compelling article on the subject that essentially argued this: Customers are up in arms that when they’re predictably in a hurry (and btw, in herds that “haven’t had their morning coffee yet”), they would be interrupted by barista-strangers asking specifics like, “how many (insert alternate race) Facebook friends do you have? How many (insert alternate race) people’s houses have you been to recently?” When many may not want to “talk” that morning at all, why would Starbucks expect people would want to discuss these topics? The intention is good, but boy oh boy, how could a P.R. team or marketing crew not predict that droves of trolls would attack this? Unfortunately, the open-ended execution just set this up for a massacre. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong either, but just like many of the #(corporate campaigns) we’ve seen before, they just don’t seem to work yet. They bring out the worst of the disgruntled, the most vindictive of the victimized, and the jerkiest of the instigating crap-starters. Definitely not the Character Triangle types. Starbucks may be all for human rights as a corporation, that’s awesome, but when people can’t even tolerate their names being spelled wrong on a $4 dollar cup of coffee, it might be best not to encourage what they talk about. Just like coffee, sometimes you gotta know when it’s too damn hot to touch. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis