Archive for the ‘Newsletter’ Category

A Business Coach Is…

June 19th, 2018

“George, you throw like a girl!” rang in my ears as my Little League coach told me to throw like “a boy.”

Unfortunately, for many of us, that was our only exposure to coaches, the loud ones, ready to discipline and highlight your mistakes.

Decades later, I still don’t know what he meant. He never explained to me how to pitch a ball in a way that made sense.  I also didn’t givehim a chance to coach me further.

His shouting, his aggressive commands and the chaos at practice was too much for me to stay in the team.  I quit Little League and was done with sports for the rest of my life.  Don’t ask me whether the Lambs or Demons won the latest basketball championship, or which animal team won big at the Super Bowl. I don’t have a clue.

Fortunately, some of you have fond memories of sports.  You had enthusiastic coaches who encouraged and instilled sportsmanship in you.

That was my brother’s case.  He thrived in the structured and demanding world of sports. Being pushed and challenged was fun for him.  He thrived in competitive settings.

Although I didn’t stick to sports, I did establish myself in the business coaching field.

What is a business coach?

A business coach guides business folks into being the best they can be whether they are CEOs, business owners, executives, managers or employees.  The team is the whole company and the players are the employees.

At Raleigh Consulting Group, our clients are all the above…and sometimes, their family members, too.

The key to our coaching engagement is that the client must be willing and personally committed to be coached.  Remember my quitting Little League? I didn’t want it.

There was no one who could have forced me to continue.  And no one can force you to seek a coach, either.

To introduce clients to what coaching is, I first tell them what coaching isn’t:

  • It is not a performance evaluation before you get put in probation.
  • It is not a session to gossip, vent, and trash-talk your organization or coworkers, although that happens sometimes, I always bring it back to how are YOU going to manage this situation or person?
  • It isn’t a time to be chastised or be yelled at on behalf of a superior.

This is a typical business coaching session:

A coach gets agreement on the objectives of the coaching engagement.  Sometimes, bosses and/or direct reports might be initially included.  He/she actively listens and reflects what the client is saying. Aha moments come faster when there’s two minds problem solving.

At Raleigh Consulting Group, we always make sure that what-ever we discuss, personal and professional, will remain confidential.  Imagine having someone with whom you get non-judgmental help with on your big decisions; taking a promotion or leaving the company, as an example.

A coach offers self-understanding and helps bring out the best in people:
Most people have a good sense of who they are but in new situations, around new people, or in stress, we don’t act as well as when things are predictable, we don’t perform as powerfully as with those we already know.  We use assessment tools to quickly and efficiently offer a well of insight into your working style.  From there, we create a plan for your future performance.  Together, we identify what is missing, how to find resources and how to allocate time or money to obtain those tools that will help us work smarter.  Of course, we build on your strengths.

A coach offers ideas and resources not always solutions:
Often, people think that coaches have all the solutions and that they should offer them right away.  That is not the case with our style of coaching. (There are coaches who are Subject Matter Experts). We don’t know all the solutions for all the industries in the world. We offer a view of the bigger picture. Sometimes, as business owners, we’re too busy working in our business and forget to work on the business.  My 39 years of experience has helped me gain knowledge and wisdom and that has made it easier to identify patterns and offer guidance.

A coach guides through encouragement:
This is a quality shared among the best coaches.  Sometimes our clients are too self-critical. Their own expectations are too rigid. Sometimes, they feel like they must please everyone and solve everyone’s problems.  At times, their own sense of self is low, and they compensate by becoming work-acholic. In such instances, we amplify the great qualities their team recognizes in them.  We work on building their inner strength and rescilience. We sometimes are that buffer of support for when they are confronted with resistance to change. At such times, we are both their coach and cheerleader.

A coach helps you be accountable:
Who will help you track your goals and set expectations?  We don’t like spending time with clients who huff and puff about their ego and how good they are.  Everyone needs someone who will help them stick to their stated goals and the changes they promised to make.  Many clients come stressed when they’ve had it with a VP who constantly goes behind their backs and leads teams in a different direction than agreed upon, or when two business partners can no longer hear each other due to shouting and cancelled meetings.  We are there to remind them that our coaching sessions should stay in the calendar because sometimes neglect leads to recurrence of inter-personal conflict or self-sabotage.

We help people work more confidently and play better with others.  Our clients have said that their positive behavioral changes are noticed at home, too. Personally, that gives me great joy, to know that we could all work, play and live better together.

Who is the best candidate for coaching? It’s not the person who is under stress or who’s team or company is not getting along.  It is not just the ones who need coaching.  It’s the ones who want it.   Maybe I would enjoy sports now if I had found the right coach who’d encouraged and brought out the best in me.

Take care,

George Alwon

“Where are you from?” “What do you do?”

December 8th, 2017

“Where are you from?” “What do you do?”

These are the classic icebreaker questions that people pose at any event when they’re trying to meet new people and suss out information quickly and easily. (Perhaps too quickly and easily?)

I know I’ve certainly been guilty of going down this route. Growing up in a tightly knit Syrian/Lebanese community in Brooklyn, it was common to hear my relatives ask people where they were from. I guess they wanted to bond with folks from their region of the world and stay clear of others.

Today, things are different in our diverse world. I am still very tempted to ask people where they are from and what type of last name they have. But I hold back because some people get offended or defensive. Eventually over the course of a conversation, we get there. But now I have learned to hold back, get to know the person, and let my nosy, self-centered, inquisitive self find out the answers gradually…and without offending people who feel like they are from here-the U.S. or for whom the question is too complex to answer in a simple way.

This article from Inc. suggests better ways of breaking the ice:

The “What do you do?” inquiry is one that most of us have come to dislike, since it can come off as overly abrupt and not very warm.  And it’s a question we’ve been asked so often — especially in socially unfamiliar situations.  Networking expert Robbie Samuels writes, “In our attempts to engage others, we can really put them off, because we’re not thinking about what it feels like to be asked the same question all the time.”

Recently Samuels blogged about other kinds of innocently curious questions people blurt out upon meeting someone new. “Before uttering the first thought that comes into your head when meeting someone, check first to be sure you’re not asking merely out of curiosity. That usually means you’ve noticed something different about the person in front of you and you’re about to home in on that difference by asking about it. Since that likely happens to this person all day, every day, they’ll give you a pat answer that likely won’t lead to further discussion. You won’t make a great or long-lasting impression and you’ll miss the opportunity to really engage with them.”

So what IS the best way to start a conversation with a new person?

Samuels suggests paying a compliment about what someone is wearing: Sunglasses, scarves, jackets, or jewelry. Note that all of those items are what you might call peripheral gear: You’re respectfully not discussing the garments that are closest to someone’s body. Instead, you’re acknowledging a choice someone made. You are coming nowhere near the mentioning or acknowledging of a physical trait.

And if that approach fails, you can always resort to this safe question: “How did you hear about this event?” Samuels calls it a “can’t-miss opener.”

Have You Found Your Inner-Purpose?

October 10th, 2017

“I’m not enjoying my work.” “This is not motivating.”

I’ve heard these words so many times from employees, managers and even executives with whom I work.

“But if I leave my current position, I don’t know what to do.”

They, like all of us at some point in our lives, wonder: “What is my purpose?”  “What should I be doing?”

This Harvard Business Review article prompts 5 questions to ask yourself as you start the process of discovering your inner purpose. I encourage you to answer the questions yourself.  Finding what you’re passionate about may be a life-long process.  Now is the perfect time to begin.  As a consultant, I’ve learned to help clients identify what drives them.  And then we try to align their drivers with what they are good at and what they enjoy.  This creates a sense of purpose and flow.

Don’t be afraid to go deep and to be honest about what you enjoy. If you’re having trouble with what you’re good at, ask someone you trust. They will tell you.  Share your answers with those you’re closest to. It may strengthen your relationship.

Here are my answers:

1. What are you good at doing?

Listening to people. Growing up, I felt insecure about opening up to others.  Instead of speaking, I found it easier to listen.  People love to talk about themselves.  Eventually, I noticed that listening allows me to connect better with business owners to factory employees. Within this context, I can be supportive or a helpful coach.

2. What do you enjoy?

I love one-on-ones with people.  We can dig in and get to the root of who we are and what life is all about.  Often, we’re not mindful about our interactions with others. The question “How are you?” is too readily asked without waiting for a real answer or listening to the tone and noticing the body-language of a person.

We can all recall friends saying “I’m okay” without really sounding so.  Upon further inquiry, they explain that they are going through difficult personal times and that it is affecting their performance at work.  These conversations are hard to have in groups or in large spaces, that’s why I enjoy one-on-ones.

Another favorite is coaching others. I remember coaching someone who was complaining that his daughter dropped out of an expensive Ivy League college.  He was angry at her for wasting his hard-earned money.  Coaching helped him realize that it wasn’t the money.  He explained that he goes to a gym with several other men who graduated from Ivy League schools as did their children.  It forced him to address his working-class roots which he was hiding all along.  Once he recognized it, he was no longer angry at his daughter but more at himself for being so ashamed of his upbringing.  He then began to be proud of who he is and where he came from.

3. What feels most useful?

Positive feedback energizes me. Hearing from my clients that our interventions improve how people work and play together or that they made personal breakthroughs resulting in a more meaningful life means a lot to me. It guides my work and drives me to do more.

4. What creates a sense of forward momentum?

Photo of the pond in my backyard

Photo of the pond in my backyard.



Paradoxically, when I am sitting on my back porch surrounded by the sounds of nature and feeling the warmth of the sun, I get energized.  I’m constantly busy with colleagues and clients. Having quiet moments to myself during the day increases my joy and makes me feel alive.

5. How do you relate to others?

I choose to see the best in them.  Yes, I know there are some people who are mean spirited.  Until that is proven to me, I will give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Each person has a unique something about them.  I love finding that out.

So, what does all this mean? To me it means that I have found the right fit between who I am as a person and how I engage with the world around me.  In Maslow’s language, I feel self-actualized!  You can too!

-George Alwon

Poor Hiring Interviews

June 19th, 2017

I’m a horrible interviewer. In the past, when I’ve had a need to hire a person, I interviewed for personality only.  Did my own personality match well with the other person? Did we have an engaging conversation? Did I see them fitting into Raleigh Consulting Group? My first impression of someone usually didn’t predict future job success. I was going about it the wrong way.  This New York Times article “The Utter Uselessness of Job Interviews” confirms what I already knew, that unplanned interviews are not a smart or efficient way to find the best fit for a position.

“This is a widespread problem. Employers like to use free-form, unstructured interviews to “get to know” a job candidate” writes Jason Dana. He explains that in 1979 a study was conducted at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston to see if interviewers could predict future performance of medical school candidates. They could not accurately predict future performance or attrition.  Research that he and his colleagues have conducted shows that the problem with interviews is worse than irrelevance. They can be harmful. They can undercut the impact of other, more valuable information about interviewees.  According to this article, the key psychological insight here is that people have no trouble turning any information into a coherent narrative. So great is people’s confidence in their ability to glean valuable information from a face to face conversation that they feel they can do so even if they know they are not being dealt with squarely. But they are wrong.
What can be done?

From the article along with my suggestions based on the experiences I have working with my clients.

1. Conduct a Job-Related Benchmark: Understand what the job wants. Employ the help of subject matter experts in your company to find out what the position is accountable for accomplishing. Often, the owner or leader of the company think they know what the job wants, but the best people to ask are the top performing employees in the position you are seeking to hire.
2. Structure Job Related Interviews: Ask all candidates the same questions. This procedure makes interviews more reliable and predictive of job success. Once you’ve gathered information about the candidate’s credentials and skills, compare them to some of your top performing employees. Do they share similar qualities? Are they driven by the same things? Are they comfortable in the same work environment where they will be?

3. Create Job Related Simulations: Have candidates complete a simulation of the job they are applying for. I know that this is hard in some instances, so if you can’t physically have them complete a simulation, bring up real-life scenarios. Ask them how they would solve an issue with a customer, how they would mentor an employee or what they would propose as a leader of a business to move it forward. Hearing their ideas will give you insight into how they deal with people, pace and procedures.

It’s always worth the investment to search for the perf ect candidate. Most times onboarding the wrong person is detrimental to the organization’s culture, and you’re not doing a favor to a candidate who will eventually grow to dislike their work, dislike you and not perform to the best of their abilities if they’ve been selected for the wrong position. Fit is key.

To read the article yourself, click here.

For more information on how we benchmark, go here.

A Decision I Made 38 Yrs. Ago

April 12th, 2017


38 years ago, I decided to start my own business because I knew working for someone else didn’t feel right for me. I am too independent and at times don’t play well with others. More importantly, the inhumanity of some workplaces struck me when working with different companies. Working in sterile environments, shouldn’t mean having to be sterile, ourselves. Business consulting seemed to be a way for me to help people work better together and maximize their potential.

The person to inspire me to work for myself was my Aunt Yvonne. She had chronic arthritis. She was confined to a wheel chair. Yet, wrote a column for the local newspaper, sold cosmetics and Christmas cards all from her wheelchair. She inspired me to work independently. As a child, I sold cards at Christmas time with her.

I was nervous about starting my own business because I lacked money, a PhD and had yet to write a book. In my first year, I sought out the advice of a retired executive to help me. He was 80 years old. His approach annoyed the hell out of me because he kept asking “why?” Well, my answer was because I said so. My shallow response wasn’t satisfactory to him and he forced me to think about how our customers can benefit from our services.


So, I asked myself how selling Christmas cards as a teenager helped my then customers? The answer:– I made it easy for them, they didn’t have to sign their names and write their addresses on the envelops. It was printed.  Aha! That was my signature; make it easy for my customers!

My father was my role model for owning a business. My dad supported my family with Alwon Electric Co. He, like me, was just a good technician who worked for himself. He always had a small team helping him. He showed me, by example, how important it is to treat employees like peers and friends. His customers were loyal to him because he cared about them as people, not just as clients.

On the first stages of building my business I struggled because I didn’t know what I was selling and didn’t have confidence in my abilities. Yes, I could sell cards as a kid. But now I had to sell more complex and expensive products.

I wanted to quit when people weren’t buying. My biggest mistake was trying to sell to the wrong person–the gatekeepers: Personnel (these were the people who ran HR in the past). They listened, got excited and challenged me. Yet, no one bought anything! I had the wrong buyer and I didn’t know how to sell. What a horrible and depressing combination that was for me.

What motivated me was simple…I did not want to fail. Down deep, like my Aunt Yvonne, I knew that to succeed I had to have relationships. All I needed was a few solid business friends and things could take off. Not having kids or a husband to support made this easier for me. My Aunt Yvonne kept a happy face and remained persistent despite overwhelming obstacles. My dad built his business while supporting my mom, my siblings, and me.

I knew we could do good with the great leadership training and assessment programs we offered. So, my partners and I kept at it. With persistence, I began to find the right buyers. I prioritized getting in front of people who had the authority and budget to invest in their teams. These leaders (managers and business owners) also wanted someone they could confide in, a mediator to help with people problems, a coach who could help motivate and energize their staff. Yes, they wanted a consultant… like me. Business owners, as they’ve always been, were busy with building or selling and didn’t have time for the softer part of business. They liked our style. It worked!

For those wanting to start a business, I’d suggest you find your personal style, be persistent and genuine with those you work. My guess is that what you start out with may not be what you end up doing. If you listen to your customers, then you will find that as the market, technology and times change, so should you.

I watched my Aunt work on her phone from her wheelchair. She could hardly hold the phone, yet she spent many hours talking with people and building relationships that lasted a lifetime. And they bought from their friend Yvonne.

Without relationships, your sales are only transactional. With solid relationships, your impact can be transformational.

What Great Listening Really Means

September 8th, 2016

About 30 years ago, a manager of a manufacturing plant chastised me.  He said, “All you are doing is repeating what I said!” My intention was to make sure I understood. Yet, I was humiliated.   It hurt because it made me doubt my listening skills. From that moment on, I chose to engage clients further. I now do more than just listen and repeat. Exploring, questioning, sharing and building on their statements are my new tools.

For years we have been teaching and practicing active listening. In a recent Harvard Business Review article entitled What Great Listeners Actually Do, authors Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman share results of a new study and point out there is a lot more to it than just nodding and summarizing. These thoughts resonate with some of my own gut feelings about great listening.










Below are their excellent tips on what great listening means:

1. Good listening is much more than being silent while the other person talks.
To the contrary, people perceive the best listeners to be those who periodically ask questions that promote discovery and insight. These questions gently challenge old assumptions, but do so in a constructive way. Sitting there silently nodding does not provide sure evidence that a person is listening, but asking a good question tells the speaker the listener has not only heard what was said, but that they comprehend it well enough to  want additional information. Good listening is consistently seen as a two-way dialogue, rather than a one-way “speaker versus hearer” interaction. The best conversations were active.

2. Good listening includes interactions that build a person’s self-esteem.
The best listeners make the conversation a positive experience for the other party, which doesn’t happen when the listener is passive (or, for that matter, critical!). Good listeners make the other person feel supported and conveyed confidence in them. Good listening is characterized by the creation of a safe environment in which issues and differences can be discussed openly.

3. Good listening is seen as a cooperative conversation.
In these interactions, feedback flows smoothly in both directions with neither party becoming defensive about comments the other made. By contrast, poor listeners are seen as competitive — as listening only to identify errors in reasoning or logic, using their silence as a chance to prepare their next response. That might make you an excellent debater, but it doesn’t make you a good listener. Good listeners may challenge assumptions and disagree, but the person being listened to feels the listener is trying to help, not wanting to win an argument.

4. Good listeners tend to make suggestions.

Good listening invariably includes some feedback provided in a way others would accept and that opened up alternative paths to consider. This finding somewhat surprised us, since it’s not uncommon to hear complaints that “So-and-so didn’t listen, he just jumped in and tried to solve the problem.” Perhaps what the data is telling us is that making suggestions is not itself the problem; it may be the skill with which those suggestions are made. Another possibility is that we’re more likely to accept suggestions from people we already think are good listeners. (Someone who is silent for the whole conversation and then jumps in with a suggestion may not be seen as credible. Someone who seems combative or critical and then tries to give advice may not be seen as trustworthy.)
Check out the entire article for more info!

Doing What You Love Outside of Work

March 31st, 2016

“Do what you love in your life outside work.” It’s an idea that Roger W. Ferguson Jr. proposes in a recent Time article. He elaborates that “it’s helpful to see life-work not so much as separate spheres that must be ‘balanced,’ but as a continuum, each falling into and influencing the other.”

As someone who struggles with life-work balance, I find this idea comforting. It’s hard to remove your professional life from your personal life, especially when you enjoy seeing work colleagues and friends outside of work.

Ferguson offers some specific advice on what to love outside of work:


Work life Balance



Physically: “My exercise regimen gives me the energy and stamina to tackle whatever comes my way during the workweek.” Although, unlike the author, I do not exercise for an hour each morning, I have started to do push ups and sit-ups with the help of a handy app.

Intellectually: “My reading habits keep me on top of what’s happening in my industry, the economy, the markets, and the world at large — helping to inform my decision-making at the office.” I too love reading magazines, an online newspaper and scrolling through social media to catch the latest things that others in my circle are reading. Some of you probably have received forwarded articles from me.

Emotionally: “My involvement with outside organizations enables me to connect with all sorts of fascinating people— demographers, educators, social scientists, healthcare leaders — who have invaluable insights about trends with important business implications.” My best days are spent casually catching up with people. I truly believe that face-to-face time with others can be inspiring, motivating and fun. As much as my schedule allows, I try to meet up for lunch or coffee with people, because I know that this is the best way to build relationships.

The restorative power of doing what you love is invaluable. In an ideal world, you love your work and that is what makes you happy; but if not, find creative ways to stay stimulated and healthy outside of your work environment. Perhaps a yoga class, regular walks in local parks and trails, going out with friends for dinner where you are intentional about not bringing up work related stressors.

Try it! You’ll see that it will fill you with energy and positivity. And we all could use some of that throughout our week.

The 5 Pitfalls of Conflict Resolution

November 4th, 2015

Last year around this time, my friend and business partner, Rob Ferguson, published his book Making Conflict Work: Harnessing the Power of Disagreement, along with co-author Peter T. Coleman.

The book recieved excellent reviews.  Publishers Weekly described it as a “practical guide to redirecting energies from conflict toward the achievement of goals.” They went on to write: “Grounded in more than 15 years of research, Coleman and Ferguson’s findings offer insight into the strategies and skills necessary for managing work disputes and show how to make conflict work for you instead of against you. Full of valuable advice, this book will help readers develop better strategies for workplace disagreements.”

In honor of the book’s one year anniversary, we wanted to share with you the following excerpt. It’s about the pitfalls that can make workplace conflict resolution worse.

1. Treating all conflicts as the same.
Our research has identified seven distinct conflict situations, depending on how cooperative or competitive the parties are, who has more or less power, and how much they need each other to achieve their goals. The seven situations are Compassionate Responsibility, Command and Control, Cooperative Dependence, Unhappy Tolerance, Independence, Partnership, and Enemy Territory. Each situation requires a different approach, and diagnosing the situation correctly leads to the most effective strategy..

2. Ignoring power differences.
Most leaders (and consultants) overlook the full significance of how power differences affect conflict. Whether you have more power than the other party, or less, it takes additional skills to get to the real issues and achieve your goals. If you have less power, you risk overstepping your bounds or inviting abuse. If you have more power, you risk eliciting dishonesty or sabotage from your supervisee. Ignoring power differences, and lacking a strategy for them, can render standard conflict resolution methods ineffective.

3. Abusing the power you have.
Read any page of any history book and you see how monarchs, generals and presidents abuse power. But so do supervisors, middle managers, and team leads. You only need a little power to abuse it –– and thus make yourself less effective in conflict. Some of the most common power traps include: “The Bulletproof Trap” (you make conflicts worse by thinking you are invincible), the “Not-Seeing-the-Trees-for-the-Forest Trap” (you appear insensitive to your underlings by ignoring details because you only see the “big picture”), and the “Screw the Rules Trap” (you bend or break rules because after all, you’re special –– you’re the leader! This sets the stage for minor or major rebellions).

4. Neglecting the power you have.
When you find yourself in lower power in a conflict, you may fall into different traps. These include the “Keep your Head Down Trap” (you keep your aspirations so low you don’t even try to find better solutions), the “Powerlessness Corrupts Trap” (you succumb to cynicism or rage toward those in authority, turning to apathy or sabotage), and the “Victim Status Trap” (you wallow in a sense of oppression and victimhood, which ironically can lead to a sense of superiority and refusal to negotiate).

5. Misunderstanding power.
Don’t make conflict worse by acting passively. Even if you are less powerful than the person with whom you disagree, it doesn’t mean you have no power. Less power does not equal powerless. There are always informal ways to influence managers and leaders above you in the organization. And these methods do not show up on the org chart. They include actions such as appealing to the others’ interests, eliciting cooperation, creating positive relations with superiors, fostering reciprocity, rational persuasion, increasing their dependence on you, and more.

I highly encourage you to go buy the book! Happy reading!                            Making Conflict Work COVER

Avoiding Manic Mondays

September 24th, 2015

Generally speaking, I am a very organized person. Yet at times, I let things get behind. Once the awareness of my situation hits me in the face, I get into action quickly. It always surprises me how little time it takes to get back on track. However, we all know that prevention is the best medicine. That’s why these tips stood out to me. They can help all of us stay on top of the stuff that just builds up. (Making those Mondays not quite so daunting.) brings you these tips below to achieve a more relaxing start to the week:

1. Plan your week on Sunday.

If you wait until Monday morning to plan and schedule your week, it will not take long before you find yourself engulfed in daily business “fires” and adding tasks and meetings before you even finish your planning. Instead, consider planning your week on Sunday evening, when it is quiet and you have the time and space to concentrate. You will sleep better knowing the task is done and you can devote more time to a morning routine that eases you into the week.

2. Create a morning routine.

There is plenty of evidence that shows that getting out of bed a few minutes early, rather than snoozing your way through your morning, has tremendous benefits to your mental and physical wellness. If you have a tough time in the mornings, try getting up and taking a quick and brisk walk around your block, which will get your blood flowing and tell your body and mind that it is time to wake.

3. Purge that email.

Your email box can be incredibly intimidating on Monday morning, filled with unread emails from the weekend and the previous week, all of which will immediately make you feel like you’re behind. Instead of reading every old email, delete them. Start with newsletters–they are old news anyway–and then find the confidence to purge any email that was not important enough to answer immediately in the first place. Too many emails to really get through? Consider one of the many applications, such as Sanebox, that can help you get your email under control.

4. Connect with a friend.

On Monday, take five or 10 minutes to call a good friend or reconnect with an old friend, one with whom you can have a non-business conversation. These conversations often offer perspective to my life and typically end in a smile–and they help two people ease into the week.

5. Take one new personal risk.

There is a great deal of benefit to writing out your goals. I like to spend five minutes each day to review my ongoing goals and priorities. On Mondays, however, I make it a point to set one new and aggressive personal goal for the week, such as trying new exercise, reading a book, or learning a new song on the guitar. The point is to provide you motivation during your busy week to pursue an interest that you enjoy outside of work.

6. Make an “appreciation list.”

In addition to making out that extensive weekly to-do list, also take a minute to write down at least five things for which you are grateful. More than likely, they will be the same from week to week–your wonderful family is always a good thing to be happy about–but doing so will put life in perspective and the positive emotions you create could affect your happiness, optimism, and self-esteem.

7. Pay it forward with kindness.

Keep in mind that you are sharing this Monday with everyone on earth, so to help relieve the stress of the beginning of the week, consider an unselfish act of kindness during your morning, such as a compliment to a complete stranger or leaving a co-worker a kind note. It will make both of your days a little better. 8. Indulge in inspiration. If your week is starting off slow, consider allowing yourself the guilty pleasure of indulging in a little inspirational content. Something as simple as an inspirational quote or a lengthier article from UpWorthy or video talk from TED Talk can give you the boost you need to get over the Monday blues. Here’s wishing you a wonderful week ahead…

-George Alwon

When Emotion Gets in The Way

September 3rd, 2015






Photo July 2015 Newsletter

I learn my lessons the hard way. Twice in my career (maybe twice is good?), I let my ego and arrogance get in the way of being a good leader and supporter of my team.  Over 35 years ago, a consultant interviewed my team of twenty.  He gently pointed out that my emotional impulses were poisoning my team much like the article we refer to in this newsletter states.  Yes, I painfully learned my lesson and made changes to improve my awareness of myself and others.

In spite of what I learned, about 15 years ago, I found myself in the same spot.  Thankfully, it wasn’t as bad.  Today, at age 70, I am still working to avoid the poisons and improve my awareness.

From Harvard Business Review come these great tips on what NOT to do regarding emotions at work:

1. Forget your emotional intelligence (EI) and let your amygdala do the talking: Act on feelings and impulses, and don’t filter what you signal, say or do. Don’t let pesky things like social constraints or norms get in the way. Get really pissed off—and stay that way—when someone gets more than you do. Stereotype people who are different from you. Say what’s on your mind then excuse your behavior by telling people that you’re just honest and transparent, which maybe you are, but you’re also just being mean, and if it’s your direct reports, you’re bullying. Unfortunately, given the stress that people deal with at work today, an awful lot of people are walking around in a permanent state of amygdala hijack.

2.  Stick to your guns: Awful phrase. How about “My way or the highway?” Same idea. If you want to ruin a team, be rigid, single minded, and obsessive about your goals or how to get things done.

3. See the glass half-empty: If you want to mess with people’s minds and kill a team’s spirit, focus on everything that could go wrong. Scare people. Be cynical. Emotions are contagious; and negative emotions and the cynicism and biting humor that go with them kill the trust, creativity, enthusiasm, and happiness that are so important to group success.

4. Truly don’t care about people: I once worked with an executive who was, in fact, blowing up his teams­—and his family. He was at risk of losing the prize at work—the CEO job he’d been promised because he got results. The leaders of this company had, thankfully, figured it out. That this guy got results at the expense of every person and team he touched. Naturally, these results weren’t sustainable. When I asked him why he did this, he told me straight out: “I don’t care about those people.” “Really?” I asked. Underneath this total lack of empathy was a profound belief that his goals, and his way of accomplishing them, were more important. And he was smarter, so what those other people needed—well, it just didn’t matter. It wasn’t until he realized that he was blowing up his family—his wife was about to leave him and his kids had given up asking him to do things with them—that he understood why he was ruining every group and ultimately every part of the business he touched.

5. Don’t think too much—especially about your motives and feelings: Lack of self-awareness, whether conscious or not, is at the heart of pretty much all of the bad behavior I’ve seen in teams. Take the executive I mentioned above. When we really got down to it, the reason he was blowing everybody up was because he was scared. So, he got them before they could get him at work. And at home, he was scared of intimacy. Yes, he loved his wife and kids. But he just wasn’t ready for real intimacy—so he kept them all at bay.