Speaking of ‘Whoops!’: Episode 12 Reposted

Podcast Resilience


Hey Lorne Rubis blog fans! 

I made a big “whoops” myself and posted the wrong podcast episode when it was originally supposed to launch late Sunday/early Monday morning, so here’s a proper repost to make sure all you readers get the proper notification. 

Please enjoy the latest episode of The Culture Cast podcast to help you get you in the best mindset to start off the week! 

In this podcast, Lorne and Lynette unpack the blog entitled, “I’m Burying My Husband Today,” and discuss rebuilding gratitude and confidence after dealing with loss and change in our personal and professional lives. 

It will be available on SoundCloud and iTunes too! 

You can expect Episode 13 to be available Monday, May 22. 



Calm is Contagious

Abundance Resilience Well-being


Key Point: I think all people in leadership roles could benefit from training as biathletes. Why? Because learning how to become calm in stressful situations is contagious. I like the way Tom Weede, a former editor of Men’s Fitness, describes being a biathlete: “A man with an Anschutz .22-caliber rifle slung securely across his back swiftly cross-country skies through rugged Alpine terrain, churning his legs forward and back as fast as he can, his heart rate pounding out 200 beats per minute. Suddenly, he pulls up, unslings his weapon, and in the space of a few seconds, slows his heart enough to steady his hands and mind and take aim at a tiny, unsuspecting target 50 meters away. He fires rapidly several times, the bullets tearing into their mark. His objective realized, he immediately takes off again, quickly pushing the lactic-acid levels in his legs back up to dangerously critical levels.”

These superb athletes can lower their heart rate from 200 beats per minute to 50 beats or less in about 20 seconds. They can get calm, literally on command. 

Former SEALS commander Rorke T. Denver knows something about being calm in positions of leadership. The former 13-year Navy SEAL claims the best leadership lesson learned in military training was simple: “Calm is contagious.” As a keynote speaker, according to an article in Business Insider“Denver tells the story of his final training exercise as a Navy SEAL, where students in training have to plan, organize and execute a mission all ‘under the watchful eye of the lunatic Navy SEAL instructor.’ His team was behind the clock, and they were in trouble. He recounts how his ranking officer (also a student in training) was ‘screaming his head off like the Tasmanian devil… The fevered pitch level of everyone’s behavior was just unsustainable.’ Amidst the chaos, the master chief petty officer, the senior ranking enlisted man in the United States Navy — who Denver said is out of central casting and a basic training “god” — came over and told all the officers to gather. His commanding message to the Seal officers in training, according to Commander Denver, was as follows: 

‘As officers, at a minimum, the boys are going to mimic your behavior. In our line of work, based on our personalities, they’re probably going to amplify your behavior, and athletes are the exact same way. As leaders, as captains, as officers, if you keep your head, they’ll keep their head. If you keep it together, they’ll keep it together. And if you lose it, they’ll lose it.’ So I’m going to share with you the best thing I learned as a master chief when I was a new guy from a master chief in Vietnam: Calm is contagious.’ And as he walked away, Commander Denver heard him say, ‘Because if you keep your head in our line of work, you keep your head!’ Denver emphasizes that this advice can be applied to any leadership situation. ‘You can supplant any word you want for ‘calm’ — chaos is contagious, panic is contagious, stupid 100% is contagious,’ he said. ‘So we like ‘calm’ because it lets you keep your head, it keeps you focused on the mission at hand.’”

I really resonate with Denver’s message and want to combine it with the lessons learned from high performing athletes. Under stress, we need to clam our mind and lower our heart rate to put teams and ourselves in a position to win; to stay focused on the mission at hand. Too often I see leaders (and I have been susceptible to this as well), creating more of an environment of chaos versus calm. Yes, we want a winning pace, sense of urgency, and top-notch results. However, uncontrolled speed, or a sense of panic, gets in the way of a winning outcome. The following guidelines can help.

Character Moves:

  1. Learn your stress/panic triggers and how to control your heart rate and breathing to help you “calm down.” One needs to know when to, “Pause, concentrate our breathing for four seconds, and then course correct.” That’s the advice of highly respected author and psychologist Peter Bregman in his book “Four Seconds.” Yup, according to Bregman’s research, we can get in a better, calmer zone in just four seconds if we pause and breathe.
  1. Be aware of your pace and the impact. Like the biathlete, there is the time to sprint and time to slow right down to hit your targets. The correct balance is the key to winning. Go out too fast and you exhaust yourself… Go too slow and you never get across the finish line, or end up last.
  1. Timing is everything, of course, but often the ability to use humor is exactly what you and your team needs. The great calming effect of a laugh helps the team focus on purpose, and reinforces the belief that it’s “going to be OK!”

Calm in the Triangle,


One Millennial View: I’ve brought up the “Sunday Scaries” before. It’s a very “Millennial” thing. Check out this link to the tongue-and-cheek examination of this phenomenon where users send pictures of their “Sunday Scaries Panic Rooms.” (On Sunday nights, Millennials convert their living spaces into “panic rooms,” which is equally eye-roll and smile inducing). It’s funny because of its ridiculousness, but it’s a real thing! Many console their dread with food, wine, coconut water, premium television, fireplaces, the company of pets, scented candles, and much more; all to calm the storm of tackling the next week (clearly no one is truly in panic). By laughing at and sharing these overreactions, Millennials get a sense of calm… For us, that’s contagious.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

Juice it Up!

Accountability Resilience Teamwork


Key Point: I detest playing “not to lose” versus “playing to win.” The mindset difference between the two positions is as wide as the Pacific Ocean. It’s been a while since I’ve written about this, and the U.S. election just fired me up on the topic again. I do not want to over simplify a very complicated political situation, but from my perspective, Hillary Clinton (after having a double-digit lead just weeks before the election) went into a “prevent defense,” (playing not to lose), while Donald Trump left “nothing left on the table,” to win. 

Just several days earlier, the world observed Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon take enormous risks. He might have been run out of town if the Cubs lost, but he played to win. As an example, he used his relief and closing pitchers against conventional thinking, and risked losing the series on a questionable, suicide bunt call. You may not know baseball, but trust me; he let it all out. He played to win rather than avoid losing. As most of us now know, the Cubs ended a 108-year drought by winning the 7th game of the World Series in extra innings. Cubs fans are still celebrating.

According to a 15five.com article, the difference between playing to win versus playing “not to lose” is often a matter of knowing how to reframe threats as a challenge. This is more than silly semantics. Based on the article, the following is the difference:

“A threat situation alters the way the brain sensitizes to risk and reward. The amygdala, deep in the limbic system, is highly attuned to fearful stimuli. The risks of a situation become prominent in the mind. Meanwhile, the brain’s reward center–though activated by the opportunity – is still the lesser partner. All this changes in a challenge frame of mind…

‘In a challenge state, you’re NOT expected to be perfect, and NOT expected to win, but you have a fighting chance to rise to the occasion. You’re free to take risks and go for it, which activates the gain-orientation system. A cascade of hormones is released that suppresses l-TPJ activity, and the brain gets comfortable, as if everything is familiar. Decision making shifts back to automatic mode. The hormones dampen the amygdala, making you fearless, and they juice up the reward networks, making you highly attuned to the spoils of victory. Competitors breathe freely, feel energized and approach opportunities…’

Based on this knowledge, creating a threat situation greatly impacts your ability to perform. Think about how often we create our own ‘threat’ situations. We sometimes think or expect the worst, and mistakenly, feel it’s a way to avoid failure – hoping to be pleasantly surprised rather than disappointed by dreaming too big.” 

Character Moves:

  1. Think BIG and frame up desirable opportunities as a challenge. When we think challenge versus threat, we often find the capacity to win. Juice up the reward networks and become fearless.  
  1. The idea of bringing heat will never ignite when our orientation is just to “get through the day.” Competitive fire will flourish when long-term goals are high, and when it’s accepted that risks and mistakes go hand-in-hand, and we are free to let ambition reign. Let it #%%} go! 
  1. Believe in yourself. Give it! Bring it! Leave it all on the field, and you owe it to yourself and others to play to win. Focus on the challenge versus the threat. If you do lose, it’s an opportunity and challenge to win next time.

Juicing up in the Triangle,


One Millennial View: Well, with the election being literally the most important story in the whole world, how could we not touch on it? But ALL political opinions aside, please, I bet we can see the point here together: It’s not over till it’s over, and you have to run till the whistle blows. Whether it’s gunning to lead the free world, win the World Series, or closing that next big deal… Play to win it.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

‘Hey Lucky!’ Yeah That’s You!

Abundance Resilience


Key Point: Members of my family have accused me of having “parking luck.” I go to parking areas that are supposedly full and often a space pops open. My passengers, filled with “parking envy,” then spew out the “lucky” phrase. Well family, haha, it turns out that there is science behind the phrase, “good to be lucky.” Dr. Richard Wiseman is a professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire and the bestselling author of The Luck Factor. (YouTube channel is here.) Wiseman studied over 1,000 people. According to his research, some people are very unlucky and the good news is, that with intentionality, luck can be influenced. According to the author:

“What the work shows as a whole is that people can change their luck. Luck is not something paranormal in nature. It’s something that we are creating by our thoughts and behavior.”

Wiseman conducted a series of experiments he called “Luck School” to teach unlucky people how to act more like lucky people do. As noted in his book:

“In total, 80 percent of people who attended Luck School said that their luck had increased. On average, these people estimated that their luck had increased by more than 40 percent.” 

As a bonus, after Luck School, test results showed attendees were also happier. Ok… We all want more luck and happiness, so here is what the research suggests:  

  1. Create and Maximize Opportunities.

Just let go and friggin try stuff. Do not wait until “when.” Do it now.

Wiseman wrote: “Lucky people create, notice, and act upon the chance opportunities in their lives… They just try stuff. Unlucky people suffered from paralysis by analysis. They wouldn’t do anything until they walked through every single angle and by then the world had moved on. They don’t gain the benefits of learning through doing. I’m a big fan of starting small, trying lots of projects, seeing what works and what doesn’t, and iterating based on feedback.”

  1. Trust your experiences and Listen To Hunches.

Lucky people act on their intuitions across many areas of their lives. Again according to Wiseman:

“Almost 90 percent of lucky people said that they trusted their intuition when it came to personal relationships, and almost 80 percent said it played a vital role in their career choices… About 20 percent more lucky than unlucky people used their intuition when it came to making important financial decisions, and over 20 percent more used their intuition when thinking about their career choices… What intuition seems to be most of the time is when you’ve got expertise in the area, that somehow the body and the brain have detected a pattern that you haven’t consciously seen… When we were talking to our lucky people they would often say, ‘If I get a gut feeling about something I stop and consider it.’ Even when unlucky people got those feelings, they didn’t follow them because they didn’t know where they came from. They were anxious about the world.”

  1. Be Positive and Expect Good Fortune.

Negative oriented people expect things will likely turn out poorly. People with a high positive quotient are more likely to try new things, follow through on opportunities and believe they will work out for the better, one way or another: 

“On average, lucky people thought that there was about a 90 percent chance of having a great time on their next holiday, (and) an 84 percent chance of achieving at least one of their lifetime ambitions…Lucky people are buying into positive superstitions. In studies we’ve seen that good luck charms do improve performance, whether it’s physical skills like playing golf or mental skills like memory tasks…  The researchers found that by activating good luck beliefs, these objects were consistently able to boost people’s self-confidence and that this up-tick in self-assurance in turn affected a wide range of performance. Lucky thinking, it turned out in this study, positively affected people’s ability to solve puzzles and to remember the pictures depicted on thirty-six different cards, and it improved their putting performance in golf! In fact, people with a lucky charm performed significantly better than did the people who had none.”

Rubis Note: I have “lucky underwear” I wear for important occasions… Just saying, haha.

  1. Turn Bad Luck Into Grit.

Of course lucky people aren’t always lucky. However they handle adversity differently than unlucky people.

Per the Luck Factor, “When things get tough you’ve got two choices: You can either fold or you can keep going. Lucky people are very resilient. I remember talking to one lucky person that had fallen down some stairs and broken his leg. I said, ‘I bet you don’t consider yourself quite so lucky now.’ He said the last time he went to a hospital he met a nurse and they fell in love. Now the two of them are happily married twenty-five years later. He said, ‘It was the best thing that ever happened to me… So, yeah, things can look bad now, but the long term effect of this might be very, very positive.’ That’s a very resilient attitude. Lucky people tend to have that sort of approach.”

I hear people at work often describe others as “just plain lucky.” Of course timing and other factors have a big impact on luck. At the same time, it is encouraging to note that we really can influence how overall lucky we are: 

Character Moves:

  1. Create and Maximize Opportunities: Keep trying new things. Don’t wait. Do it NOW (Character Triangle: Chapter 1).
  1. Trust and Listen To Hunches: Trust your intuition and remind yourself that your experience collects and sorts data. Verify… Use data AND listen to your inside voice. 
  1. Be positive and Expect Good Fortune: Be positive and optimistic. Honesty and realism is different than skepticism. Think YES first. Anybody can start with NO. 
  2. Turn Bad Luck Into Grit:Crappy luck will happen and this is an invitation for learning and practicing grit. Put bad luck to work for you. Learn and do more. 

P.S. Follow up to our previous blog on Charisma, Wiseman noted that people who feel they are lucky are more charismatic. It felt good to be around them:

“Through doing countless interviews with lucky and unlucky people, I found you could tell within seconds which type of person you were about to interview. The lucky people were more engaging and upbeat… We have some research coming out which shows that one of the major factors is not how you yourself feel, but how you can make other people feel. It’s very closely related to charisma.”  

Lucky in The Triangle, 


One Millennial View: I love this. It’s no secret that in today’s world, when a successful person reaches the top, there are many people who can’t wait to bring them back down. I see this in my industry on a daily basis. Unfortunately, people feel like the success of others is symbolic of a status level that they’ll never achieve, so they revel in the idea that it should be taken away from them. That’s nonsense. Instead, we should be happy for the luck and fortune of others, and learn lessons from their path. There’s no shortness of luck out there. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

You Can’t Skip ACT 2

Accountability Authenticity Resilience


Key Point: Every great story, as noted by the geniuses at Pixar, has an ACT 2. This is when the protagonist is confronted with the biggest challenges,  “darkness” and usually the “lowest of lows.” The lead character usually realizes, “Holy crap, finding my way to a ‘happy ending’ is going to be tough.”

I remember working for a Fortune 50 company where I was one of seven people reporting directly to the Chairman/CEO. For a number of reasons, including timing and luck, I had a mercurial rise from director at a subsidiary to VP on the company’s top team. Then, after one celebrated success after another, I ran into a major “S#!% Storm.” I felt alone, unsure, a loss of confidence and I could feel myself losing support. The “Golden Boy” wasn’t as shiny. While I was always sure footed and believed I could navigate anything thrown my way, I found myself becoming afraid. Rather than running at my fear, I looked for a “way out” and took it.

Upon much reflection, I realized I tried to “skip Act 2.” I have given that situation a lot of thought over the years and here is the big “a-ha” that may not be so big for you but it has been to me… You can try, but one way or another you can’t really skip Act 2! Furthermore, you can’t just go to Act 3 without playing out Act 2. That middle “darkness” is always waiting for you. It’s only a matter of time and it’s never just once. Geez! If this is a truism in life, what does that mean to each of us?

The great news is that all the pain, hurt, frustration, disappointment, sense of failure (yup, it’s a full emotional buffet), is where the ultimate “magic” comes from too. This is where we need to park ourselves and really learn. There are many lessons in the darkness and when we take the time to shine a light, important lessons emerge that help us navigate Act 3 and better equip us for the next second act. Isn’t that a great thing?

Character Moves:

  1. Do not think you can skip Act 2 in life. And there is no sugar coating the experience. It usually just sucks. Like the researcher Brene Brown notes, there is no real authenticity in just bragging about “golden grit;” where you pump your chest and only describe the happy ending. Most times, Act 2 involves a fall and it feels like landing in a bucket of dung.
  1. Rising up, dusting ourselves off, being resilient and moving forward is everything. However, it also involves investing in self-awareness that requires the courage to undertake an honest self-assessment and confront the stories we make up in our heads. It’s this process that brings wisdom and the changes that allow us to live richer lives, personally leading others and ourselves in much fuller ways.

Loving Act 2 in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: Upon speaking and reconnecting with friends over the holidays, I realized that many people feel like their “movie” isn’t necessarily as short as they may have expected. I don’t know if I’ve reached an Act 2 yet, but sometimes I think it’s common to feel like you’ve just paused the story, and maybe it’s more difficult to “press play” because you know an Act 2 is likely the next scene. Act 1 can’t last forever, either.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

The Gift of Failure!

Accountability Authenticity Resilience


Key Point: Set yourself free by accepting your imperfection. At our company we have an important precept: “People have a right to great leadership. Leaders have a responsibility to be great (not perfect). ” One leader recently noted to me that by publicly stating that we as leaders do not expect “perfection,” it gave her permission to “make mistakes and continuously learn.” Why would we rob ourselves of the beautiful gift of failure? 

In the first pages of Being Wrong, author Kathryn Schulz writes, “In our collective imagination, error is associated not just with shame and stupidity but also with ignorance, indolence, psychopathology, and moral degeneracy.”

Somehow parents, educators and employers have created this cultural fear of messing up. Let’s stop it!

Ron Carucci is the best-selling author of eight books, including the recent Amazon No. 1 Rising to Power. In a recent HBR article, Carucci noted: 

“Many driven executives struggle to accept that flaws and mistakes are part of being human. And when you act is if you are, or should be, perfect, you eventually expect it of others as well. The followers on whom those unfair standards are imposed typically revolt and withdraw their support. Starved for acknowledgement, such followers wait to pounce on any hint of (hypocritical) deficiency, leaving no room for executive missteps. Executives, fearing criticism and exposure, work to perpetuate the illusion of infallibility — and perfectionism becomes a self-perpetuating prison. Sixty-seven percent of our respondents also struggled with micromanagement, a common symptom of managerial perfectionism. 

Followers need assurance that leaders know they themselves are flawed, and will in turn be understanding of other people’s slip-ups… A leader’s greatest source of credibility is, ironically, their vulnerability. Owning imperfections wins trust; hiding them doesn’t.” 

Character Moves: 

  1. Recognize that teammates want most of all to know that we authentically and genuinely care. I have a hard time remembering someone being fired for making a mistake when others believed that the right intent and care underscored the miss. Celebrate mistakes. Acknowledge, learn, and move on. 
  2. Failure is a gift! Give yourself the gift of imperfection and failure this holiday season! Make it a New Year’s resolution. 
  3. Do not micro manage!!!! It’s a symptom of perfectionism. 

Gift of imperfection in the Triangle, 


One Millennial View: I think we’re our own biggest critics in a lot of ways, and however nice it is to always just “nail” the tasks we perform, we’re going to have our screw ups. Just last week I published a piece with the typo “Green Back Packers” in the TITLE… It was fixable, but a pain in the butt to remedy, and embarrassing. Having your boss yell, “Who are the Green Back Packers?” is a “fun” gut check (not really). But, a lot of everyday things in life are like a baseball game. If you’re consistently making positive contact, you’re doing great. Sometimes you’ll hit a home run, but now and again, you’re going to swing, miss, and strike out.  

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis