The Power of One

What can one person do?

We often ask this question when faced with insurmountable odds or unfathomable injustice.

In recent years, many are asking themselves that question around how to combat climate change, homophobia, gun violence, or healthcare inequity – you can actually pick about a hundred given the state of our world today.

When I start to lose hope, I remind myself that many of the world’s most successful movements, non-profits, and social enterprises were started by ordinary people. Usually by one person, maybe two people,who saw a need. 

People like….

Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action (gun control)

Candice Lightner, founder of Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Saint Teresa of Calcutta, founder of Missionaries of Charity

Ian and Brittany Bentley, founders of Parker Clay

Oprah Winfrey (yes, she was once just an ordinary news reporter)

Sojourner Truth

Greta Thunberg, climate activist

Nelson Mandela

And many more individuals I have recently been reading about in the amazing book, Citizens: Why the Key to Fixing Everything is All of Us (highly recommend!)

But then….

This person or those people connected with others to make their vision a reality. They were able to rally like-minded individuals and start a movement.  That is the power of a team.

This is why I am committed to helping every single person understand that their voice matters. When you speak up, you are a magnet for those who see the world the way you do and want to join together with you to solve complex problems. 

If no one person speaks out, others who believe the same thing can’t find each other and make change. (TWEET THIS!)

I have long dreamed about creating a movement called One Dollar DIfference. Donating $1 might not seem like enough on its own to benefit anyone. But what if you can inspire  800,000 people to all donate $1 to cause at the same time? Or each donate one hour of time to a community effort? That is an impact!

Empathy is what enables us to connect and engage each other. To solve these tough problems together. To make a difference. 

Never be afraid to stand up and act as “just one.”. In truth, you rarely are ever alone. You just have to connect with others to have the impact you desire

If you want your team to more effectively bring the ideas of “just one” to life, I can help! Let’s chat about an empathy workshop or talk to boost collaboration, innovation, and performance – and make magic happen!

Photo credit: Guardian ng

3 Ways to Be a Role Model and Influencer

Mother and Child looking at a book

Quick. Name an influencer or role model you adore. Someone you follow on social media, or listen to their podcast, or read every book they’ve ever written.

You may think you are so far from becoming that influential. And you’d be dead wrong.

My dear friend, coach Jamie Greenwood has said in the past that we get to be culture makers and culture changers. And my book The Empathy Edge was all about being a role model for success within your own sphere of influence.

You impact many more people than you realize. Your family, friends, colleagues. Those you interact with at the coffee shop or grocery store. Those you volunteer with. Those you run into on the street.

You don’t have to be some famous influencer to impact change. Here are 3 ways you can be a good role model:

  1. Motivate with love: You can ditch the old “command and control” methods and show how positive motivation far outweighs punitive action. How do you parent, lead a meeting, manage others? Examine which gets you better long-term results, engagement, and loyalty.
  2. Treat yourself with compassion: When you model that you are gentle with yourself, you show others that they can be gentle with themselves as well.  This does not mean you lower standards. It means you minimize negative self-talk and give people permission to take risks, make mistakes, and get things wrong so that they can learn and  improve for next time.
  3. Prioritize fluidly: Do you set the right boundaries and model to others that this is a path to success? Being able to prioritize differently as life comes at it is what we should strive for – not perfect balance that does not exist. Sometimes you work late when there’s a deadline. Other times, you don’t schedule meetings at 3 pm because you have to pick up your kids. When you perform and achieve while being clear on priorities, you show others what’s possible.

You have the power to define success differently. To manage your work differently, to behave differently, to love yourself differently. 

We get to be culture makers and culture changers. There is immense power in being a positive role model within your own sphere of influence. However big or small. However many Instagram followers you have! (TWEET THIS!)

More like this:

Use Your Platform for Good

How to Redefine Success with Empathy

How to Break the Rules of Success

Photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash

Do you know how to make the “Switch?”

Think you don’t have the power/budget/influence to make change happen on a large scale? Think again.

I absolutely devoured Chip and Dan Heath’s latest book, Switch. I was a huge fan of their book Made to Stick, which presented a framework for how to create messages that people remember, engage with and act upon. Switch kind of does the same thing for change: it provides a framework for how to make lasting changes in our companies, in our communities, and in our own lives. It is such a hopeful book if you have any cause, movement or even corporate change you are trying to influence – no matter how much power or budget you have.

The conflict, they claim, arises in the conflict between our analytical brain, AKA “The Rider” and our emotional brains, AKA ”The Elephant.” The book gives example after example of how  “…everyday people—employees and managers, parents and nurses—have united both minds and, as a result, achieved dramatic results.”

From the book:: “If you want to change things, you’ve got to appeal to both. The Rider provides the planning and direction, and the Elephant provides the energy. So if you reach the Riders of your team but not the Elephants, team members will have understanding without motivation. If you reach their Elephants but not their Riders, they’ll have passion without direction. In both cases, the flaws can be paralyzing. A reluctant Elephant and a wheel-spinning Rider can both ensure that nothing changes. But when Elephants and Riders move together, change can come easily.”

Direct the Rider

The Heaths talk about how your analytical brain needs to have clear, concise direction in order to move forward. Ambiguity is not the Rider’s friend and the more precise you can be, the better the Rider can get going. For example, they talk about how malnutrition was improved in a third world country by “finding the bright spots” – the places where things seem to be going right – and adopting one specific behavior across villages in the entire country.

You also need to “Script the Critical Moves” and “Point to the Destination". These are all appeals to our Riders.

Motivate the Elephant

This is something we try to do with clients. All the facts and figures may not be enough to convince someone to make a change. But if you also appeal to emotion and can bring the change to life for them, you can more easily ease resistance.  Sometimes people need to see, feel, and touch something before they will buy into it. Sometimes they won’t like a particular product name we recommend until we can bring it to life in a logo concept, or show it emblazoned on a t-shirt.

One example from the book is about a mid-level manager who kept trying to convince higher-ups that the company was spending way too much through too many different suppliers and needed to cut costs. No one heeded his spreadsheets. So he tackled one specific problem (Directed the Rider): safety gloves. He had an intern collect gloves from all the different manufacturing departments and find out how much each had paid for them. He then labeled each pair with the price tag – and often found the exact same pair cost one department triple the cost because of lack of centralized purchasing power – and dumped them all on a conference room table. he invited management to a meeting and when they arrived, they were met with the sight of over forty pairs of gloves with varying price tags on them. It was emotional and powerful. And with that one action, he was able to move through the costs savings measures he had proposed..

The book talks about this step involving “Finding the feeling”, “Shrinking the Change” and Growing Your People.”

Shape the Path

The last step is to shape the path, or the environment, to make the change go down easier. This also involves making habits easier to adopt and using positive peer pressure as motivations. One book example talked about improving some horrendous customer service scores at a call center. The company decided to remove the automated voicemail pick-up system, which meant call center employees HAD to pick up the phones and help customers.  Seems obvious, but it worked. By changing the environment, they enabled people to step up and make the change they needed and service scores improved. I loved that the book mentions this concept that we judge people and things by the environment they are in: “My employee is lazy because he won’t fill out his expense reports” or “Jane is rude to customers so she’s horrible with people.” But sometimes, when all you shift is the environment, things are not always what they seem and people seem to magically transform. It’s why we love shows like Supernanny and Dog Whisperer – because it seems like magic that they can instantly transform a “bad” dog or a “bad” child with just a shift in a few external elements.

The book breaks this down into “Tweak the Environment”, “Build Habits” and “Rally the Herd.”

If you sign up their website, you can have access to tons of free resources, including a great Switch one-pager that delves into each of the 3 steps of the framework mentioned above. I highly recommend this one, folks. It’s another awesome read.

Do you have a healthy real-time culture?

If not, you’d better, according to Jay Baer. He wrote this great post about five signs that your culture is fit for prime-time in the new order of things.

Biggest takeaway? The need for speed. Having an aligned culture that embraces diversity, failure and new ideas means you fail fast, fail often and succeed even more. The most successful entrepreneurs I know constantly beat this drum: Fail fast, fail fast, FAIL FAST.

He also talks a lot about ensuring the culture permeates the organization. At the speed of business today, you don’t want to be taking a “time out” to correct employees who don’t understand the company brand, vision or reason for being. They need to embrace it and live it from Day One. I’ve often talked about brand being more than just “marketing’s job” and it’s never more true than in today’s business world. Think about it. Does a general on the battlefield really want to take the time to teach soldiers how to drive the tank, who the enemy is, and the mission’s purpose -  right as bombs are exploding all around? Heck no. Everyone needs to be primed before the mission even starts – and all marching to the beat of the same drummer.

Jay’s post also talks a bit about rewards. This is the delicious topic of Dan Pink’s book, Drive, and I highly recommend you pick it up if you have employees – or even partners you treat like employees. Money is not the only reward lever at your disposal and people are motivated in different ways, depending on their function. A real-time culture is all about efficiency and aerodynamics: the more you know about the best way to motivate different employees, the less time you can waste of rolling out incentives that get you nowhere fast. And with today’s complex jobs, more often than not incentives like autonomy, input and creativity are more striking and effective than a holiday bonus. I mean, no one pays contributors to Wikipedia yet people spend hours with no pay updating entries. For some roles, it’s about solving puzzles, doing things in a new way and getting credit.

Do you think your business is able to keep pace with today’s rate of change? If yes, why? If no, what one clear action can you take in 2011 to move a little closer to “real-time”?