Make Work Happy

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On a recent business trip, I was reading Work Happy at breakfast.  A server walking by noticed the book’s title and said, “I’m all for that!  Who doesn’t want to be happy at work?”  Then we started talking about what makes a great workplace.

The author of the book is Jill Geisler.  She leads the management faculty at the Poynter Institute.  She has one of the most popular management podcasts, “What Great Bosses Know,” with over seven million downloads on iTuneU.  When I read her book, Work Happy: What Great Bosses Know, I was thrilled to find so much excellent management advice packed into a single book.

I didn’t just read the book; I put it to immediate use.  For instance, I recently followed some of her advice on giving feedback.  It was remarkably well-received, and I credit Jill for that.  In another example, how do you answer an employee who stops you and says, “Got a minute?” when you truly are swamped and don’t have 20 seconds.  Jill offers tips that I have already used. 

Why didn’t you write this book much earlier in my career?  You could have saved me from making many mistakes!  What inspired you to write it?

Skip, you and I apparently share the same goal: to help managers avoid the mistakes we made as bosses!  Your blog is a great contribution to that end, and for my part, I’ve been teaching, coaching, writing columns and producing podcasts on leadership and management in my faculty role at the Poynter Institute. But the book’s inspiration came from discovering that my “What Great Bosses Know” podcasts on iTunes U have been downloaded millions of times by people all over the world.  It was evidence of an unsatisfied hunger for credible, practical help among men and women on the frontlines of leadership. That’s why I wrote this workshop-in-a-book. 

How Hard Is It to Be Honest?

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The New York Times bestselling author Dan Ariely has a new book, The (Honest) Truth About Dishonesty.  As a fan of his previous books Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality, I was excited to delve into his new area of research.  That new area of research is all about dishonesty, and I guarantee you that it will open your eyes.

It’s easy in today’s society to point to others who are unethical or liars.  Watch the news and you can’t miss the new corporate scandal or some form of corruption in government.

 

Dan’s research shows why we may think it’s okay to lie or cheat.  It shows how one lie can build into another, and affect others around us.  It shows that none of us can claim perfect honesty.  The research then shows what we can do to improve honesty for ourselves and our culture.

About Dan Ariely


Dan Ariely is a Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University.  He holds two PhDs, one in business administration and the other in cognitive psychology.  His work has been featured in numerous publications from The New York Times to The Wall Street Journal.  He has also been a keynote speaker for TEDTalks.

What sparked your interest in dishonesty?

I first became interested in dishonesty after Enron. And the basic question that I asked myself at that point was, what’s a better description of the Enron catastrophe—is it that there are a few bad apples who plan and execute and create some terrible, economic devastation, or is it better described by lots of wishful blindness that is created by lots of sort-of good people.

And the reason I thought this is an important question is because dealing with these two very different types of dishonesty is very, very different. If you think that dishonesty is mostly created by bad apples, then you basically want to change hiring procedures and make sure you won’t hire bad apples. 

Michael Hyatt’s Advice on How to Get Noticed in a Noisy World

In a previous post, Michael Hyatt talked about leadership.  After that discussion, we talked about his new book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.

The subtitle of the book sums it up well:  “A step by step guide for anyone with something to say or sell.”  It’s a book for small business owners who need to increase their visibility.  It’s a book for aspiring authors who want to publish and sell their book.  It’s a book for anyone who needs to differentiate a product or service and stand out using modern technology.

Michael wrote it because, as a publisher, he would turn away excellent work because the prospective author didn’t have a platform.  Where “Content is king,” he says, “A platform is queen.”  He wanted to write a book that would help people build their own platform.

In the book, five directives are outlined:

1.  Start with wow.

Michael Hyatt on Leadership

Michael Hyatt is the Chairman of Thomas Nelson.  In addition, he is a New York Times best-selling author, a speaker, and a personal friend of mine.  He also runs a hugely popular leadership blog, which consistently is ranked among the top in the world.

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to talk with Michael about what he has learned about leaders from his storied career and his social networking experiences.

5 Characteristics of Authentic Leaders

1.  INSIGHT

2.  INITIATIVE

3.  INFLUENCE

4.  IMPACT

5.  INTEGRITY

Michael explained the five characteristics of authentic leaders:

1.  They have insight.

2.  They demonstrate initiative.

3.  They have true influence.

A Small Town’s Shot at Forever

 

An Improbable Story

In One Shot at Forever, Sports Illustrated writer Chris Ballard tells the improbable story of a small-town high school baseball team from rural Illinois that defied convention, inspired by its coach, Lynn Sweet, an English teacher with no coaching experience.

What brought this story to your attention in the first place? When did you decide to write the book?

Basically, I got lucky. Two and a half years ago I received an email from a Sports Illustrated reader named Chris Collins. He told me the story of a small town high school baseball team and its unusual coach. He mentioned a Cinderella run, and kids wearing peace signs on their hats, and players who went on to be drafted into the majors. I was intrigued enough to talk to Chris on the phone and, when that went well, fly out to meet the coach, Lynn Sweet. All it took was an afternoon with Sweet for me to fall in love with the story. Here was a man—complicated, charismatic, controversial, kind, good-hearted—that I knew readers could root for. Then there was the tale itself, redolent of Hoosiers and full of natural drama.

The resulting SI story was titled “The Magical Season of the Macon Ironmen” and it ran in June of 2010. We were blown away by the response. Something about that team, and Sweet, really struck a nerve. For weeks, the letters poured in—more than I can remember for any feature story at SI in a long time. People nominated Sweet for “Sportsman of the Year,” and wrote of re-reading the story on tear-stained pages. Many wanted to share their own stories of coaches and small towns and long-forgotten teams. Within weeks, a half a dozen film producers had called. It was overwhelming.

It was about two months later that I decided to write the book. It just felt like there was so much more to the story than I was able to get into the 10,000-word magazine story: themes of loss and hope and coming of age. Plus, I genuinely liked the people I was writing about, which is crucial with a book like this that is so tied to the main characters.

Coach Sweet somewhat unexpectedly arrives in Macon, Illinois. He sweeps into town and is a completely different type of person. What was he like and how did the town react?

Sweet was the son of an Army Sergeant who had, in his words, “broke the other way.” He’s this 22-year-old liberal-minded English teacher who’s exploring life and embracing the changing times. Macon, on the other hand, is a town of 1,200 in the middle of Illinois that remains stuck in the Eisenhower era. Short hair, unquestioned patriotism, conservative values. The clash was almost immediate. In particular, the principal and school board had no idea what to make of Sweet, who arrived in town in a red Mustang. He frequented the local bars, threw out the entire English curriculum, refused to engage in corporal punishment and grew out his hair to complement a killer Fu Manchu mustache. If it weren’t for the fact that the students loved him – and for baseball – he would have been fired within a matter of years.