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Connect by Looking Up

Posted by Tom Smith on Tue, May, 29, 2018 @ 16:05 PM

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Thanks to Okta for bringing us Dr. Mae Jemison, Engineer, Physician and Astronaut, as the closing keynote speaker for Oktane18. In addition to being the first black female astronaut, she is principal of the 100-Year Starship Experience because thinking bigger results in greater progress.

 

Following are my notes from her presentation:

  • Pursuing the extraordinary tomorrow, provides a better today.
  • "The future doesn’t just happen, it is created" – William Gibson
  • I was fortunate to grow up at a time when out potential was unlimited.
  • We all have the right to participate and help make decisions in the world
  • Partnerships and collaboration are important -- "Even the sharpest knife can’t cut its own handle."
  • We are creating the future.
  • Maintain a perspective on science, technology, and society because they are interrelated.
  • The problem set we see is constricted by who is involved in solving the problem:
    • Datasets
    • Methods
  • If we don’t have the right people solving the then we’re going to miss something.
  • What we find is what we’re looking for - that's why it's important not to have preconceived notions.
  • Our ambitions color what we do.
    • They affects what we design, code, and do.
  • When they were trying to reach the moon we were trying to reach the village
  • Space exploration has resulted in tremendous leaps forward in technology = GPS, health, earth observations, social media.
    • The same algorithms used to show body in a magnetic field were used for remote sensing of Venus
  • It’s all about people pursuing the extraordinary
  • Let’s try something really difficult . . .interstellar:
    • Requires capabilities in 100 years.
    • It pushes what we know how to do.
    • It requires something fundamentally different than we used to get to the moon with chemical propulsion.
    • Scale of travel to another star.
    • The extreme nature of interstellar hurdles requires something different.
    • Radical leaps in humanity.
    • How do we get people to work together as teams when they are far apart (geographically dispersed workers).
    • The challenges around interstellar travel are not that different than the challenges we face today.
      • An inclusive audacious journey transforms life here on earth and beyond.
    • The pathway to the stars leaves footprints on earth.
  • Each generation must, out of relative obscurity, discover its mission, fulfill it, or destroy it.
  • It’s important for us to use our place at the table.
  • We have to do more than we trained for.
  • We have to work with the things that are common for us.
  • "Science has found no remedy for the worst evil of them all – the apathy of human beings." – Helen Keller
  • We have enough knowledge to be able to do incredible things but we don’t.
  • We’d rather spend more on defense than on the education of our children.
  • A major stumbling block is a lack of shared understanding of our connections across time and space.
  • How do we treat the earth in a way that doesn’t affect the environment to maintain our species?
    • With science and technology.
    • With generational activision.
  • For a truly extraordinary future we need a vision that endures across generations.
  • When the noise of things that separate up are louder than ever before.
  • LookUp
    • What is above us, actually unites us.
    • We can see ourselves by looking up.
    • LookUp is a project that asks people to look up and record what they see on August 28, 2018.
  • All the work we do will be for naught if we don’t figure out how we are all connected.
  • Each of us needs to be comfortable in our own skin.
  • Don’t take other people’s issues and make them yours.
  • Some issues are how others see you versus your own perception of yourself.
    • Do not tie yourself to someone else’s stumbling block
  • We’re all connected to the entire universe.
  • Be comfortable being any place with the universe – we need to connect with one another.

 

Tags: empowerment, vision, innovation, inspiration

President Obama's Views Post Presidency

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, May, 28, 2018 @ 16:05 PM

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Thanks to Okta for inviting me to Oktane18 and giving me the opportunity to hear President Barack Obama - truly a "life experience."

Todd McKinnon, CEO and Co-founder of Okta hosted the hour-long question and answer session.

Following are the points made by the President with the parenthetical notes my own:

  • We live in culture today where everybody feels the crush of information and collision of world’s in a way previous generation. haven’t felt.
  • Previous generations knew 100 or 150 people.
  • How many people do you know today? (Thousands thanks to social media and CRM systems).
  • Today, there are rural villages in Africa in which everyone has a phone.
  • We have the ability to absorb information in ways that can be confusing.
  • While there are a lot of questions around technology and social media, the U.S. had a head start in trying to figure it out because we’re a people that came from everywhere else.
  • We've had to figure out how to work together since the country was founded.
  • The challenge today is how to maintain sense of common purpose, how to join together as opposed to splinter and divide.
  • If we don’t figure it out it will be hard for our democracy to survive (just what the Russians are fomenting in social media).
  • There is a misperception that government doesn’t work, and people don’t work hard based on their experience of getting their driver’s license renewed (everyone laughed knowingly).
  • The public sector has extraordinary talent and does a lot of things really well.
  • There is a big gap in technology, especially with responsiveness and nimbleness. A lot of this has to do with government's antiquated procurement requirements.
  • In a host of areas, like taking government data and putting it out there so organizations can use to improve people's lives, we made real progress during my term.
  • We tried to create, re-architecture and replace legacy systems in the FDA.
  • There is a need for big data sets to achieve the promise of personalized medicine.
  • We made inroads in a few of those areas; however, the political system is not being as responsive as it could be (because we are divided rather than united).
  • Creating a framework that’s agreed upon and transparent, most people understand is a challenge we should welcome and approach it in a systematic and transparent way (however, little in Washington is transparent).
  • We need to be proactive identifying the questions we have to grapple, with the tools we have to protect information, and be transparent about what consumers are giving up (Google, Facebook, et al).
  • There is a big lag between how we’re thinking about the social organization and technology.
  • We underinvest in the IRS because no one likes it; however, it can be a great deal more efficient.
  • As a consequence of no one wanting to give up their write-offs, we discovered the basic IT infrastructure of the IRS is held together by string and bubble gum.
  • If you made no changes to the tax structure you could make interaction with the IRS more user-friendly, but it requires front end investment no one is willing to make.
  • Business identifies the essential problem and hires good people to solve business problem.
  • Government procurement requires you to identify the problem and allocate a budget up front. That's not how a successful business works.
  • We need a good conversation between the tech community and people in Washington for ongoing deliberation and exchange.
  • There should be bias towards making voting easier not harder, there’s a legacy that dates back to Jim Crow to disenfranchise voters and it is being perpetuated.
  • If we can secure the voting process, and there’s a paper record generated along side the electronic vote, I believe it will come to pass but it will take awhile.
  • Laws are structured to make it hard for people to vote.

 

How did you instigate change?

  • Change is hard in personal live, it's hard for groups, it's hard for institutions.
  • The U.S. evolved from an agricultural-based economy to manufacturing-based economy over a period of 120 years.
  • Today we're evolving to a technology-based economy in just 20 to 30 years and that's hard for everyone to accept.
  • Principles for effective change:
    • Talk to people whose lives will be disrupted so you appreciate who they are and insure they are heard before you instigate change.
      • Listening is a good starting point for change.
    • Every issue you are dealing has probabilities.
      • Get the best info available.
      • Have, and listen to, diverse voices around the table.
      • Understand the different perspectives.
      • Have people who can argue all of the sides of the issue.
    • I set up processes so that by the time I made the decision I could say, with confidence, I heard all the voices, had all of the information, and made the best decision I could.
    • Initiating change requires enough situations like that, even when there are disruptions. where you can anticipate the disruptions and be prepared to address them.
    • There will be disruptions with technology (There already has been and there will be a lot more).
    • People are going to be resistant if their jobs are threatened.
    • Anticipate this and be prepared to address the change.
    • Ask people “What do you think?”
      • I would catch people by surprise and they would tell me what they really thought, rather than a prepared answer.
      • Deliberately reach outside the bubble of obvious decision makers.
    • I had a good b.s. detector, if a question wasn’t answered with confidence I’d drill in until I learned what the person was really thinking.
    • Insist on people delivering on bad news quickly.
      • Part of the culture we tried to build, these are human enterprises, they’re going to be flawed when you do screw up or you can’t solve something bring it to me and let’s solve it together

 

How did you go about vetting and hiring people?

  • The government has two million employees or so, only 3,000 are political appointments.
    • The entire process during transition, gathering names, going through folks who have the qualifications we were looking for, as well as interest in the position.
    • Tech is where we had a problem because tech pays much better than the US government.
    • So, we set up US digital services – a SWAT team of amazing tech folks who, like the Peace Corps, would come into the US government for six months to two years to work on a particular problem – example of the need for more creativity of how we staff government and non-profits.
  • Think of creative ways for people to take leave and make an incredible contribution.

 

What advice did you receive going into office that was useful and what wasn't?

  • Advice not useful and slowed us down and hurt effectiveness early on was the sense that somehow now that you are president there are certain ways you should do things that had to do with traditions but were not effective.
    • During the campaign, we communicated in a way that was fresh and accessible. That changed when we moved into the White House – it made the team feel more conventional than we should have. We corrected this near the end of the first term. There were a lot of fires to put out immediately when we got to the White House..
  • The best advice a number of people gave us was to maintain your humanity. Michele and I, partly because we didn’t want our girls to get weird from being in a weird environment, were very focused on this. It was important to make sure we did not lose ourselves, that we stayed intact in what we believed in and how we treated people, expectations of ourselves, kindness, honesty, being useful, and taking responsibility
    • People given great responsibility, power, and wealth begin losing a sense of what’s important, who they are, and holding on to what they have rather than responding authentically. We did not lose that, we came out intact.

 

What are your greatest observations post presidency?

  • I don’t miss the trappings of the presidency.
  • I get more sleep now versus five hours a sleep each night for eight years.
    • That's what's required if you are going to stay up to speed on all of the issues and consider different points of view.
  • There is a physical and mental element to being president if you are serious about the job.
  • Everything now seems to move in slow motion.
    • Today it takes two weeks to set up a meeting rather than two hours.
What are you and Michele going to be doing with Netflix?
  • I would not have been president if I had not learned early on the importance of stories.
  • As a community organizer I learned instead of telling people what they should think, I needed to ask people about themselves and their stories.
  • If you listen, people will tell you their story.
  • Discovering those stories creates relationships and committed people.
  • I continue to believe if we are hearing each other’s stories and recognize ourselves in each other that our democracy works, if we don’t then our democracy doesn’t work.
  • We want to identify people doing amazing work and create platforms for them to tell their stories.
  • We have all these amazing story tellers and we want them to continue to tell the stories we think are important, lifting up talent to identify the connections that we have between all of us.
  • We want to train leaders around the world to tell their stories.
  • We’re all human and have basic needs, wants, and desires for our families, for our children.
  • The country can go in one of two ways: 
    • We can go tribal, go ethnic, pull in, push off, think "us versus them," think power-first, view life as a zero-sum game, and have a need to dominate.
    • Or, the other narrative is a more fragile, newer notion that we can think, reason, connect, and set up institutions based of the rule of law, dignity, and the worth of every individual based on science and facts. This narrative is one the human race has pursued, and America has been at the forefront of, since World War II.
  • We’ve made progress in all of these areas in "fits and starts." Now there’s a clash in the two alternative ways of seeing the world.
  • Part of the political polarization is if you watch Fox News and read the New York Times you are viewing two different realities (this is divisive rather than inclusive and not in the best interest of democracy).
  • Obviously, I believe the second of the two ways is we need to proceed if we are going to be united.

Tags: Trustworthiness, Ethics, transparency, trust, integrity, authenticity, listen intensely, empathy, inspiration, community, customer insights, big data

Vulnerability = Courage

Posted by Tom Smith on Sat, May, 19, 2018 @ 12:05 PM

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Great presentation by Dr. Brené Brown, Research Professor University of Houston during Nutanix' .NEXT conference in New Orleans on May 10. Dr. Brown has been studying vulnerability and courage and the soon to be published The Four Pillars of Courage.

Dr. Brown's Ted Talk on The Power of Vulnerability has more than 34 million views on YouTube.

Here's the gist of her presentation I was fortunate to see:

  • You have to be vulnerable to be courageous
  • Vulnerable = at risk, emotionally exposed
  • There is no courage without vulnerability
  • “Daring greatly” came from Teddy Roosevelt
  • Can we lay out the code for being a full-stack individual?
  • Shame is walking out of the room of people you know well and when you leave, and they speak badly about you
  • It’s not the critic who counts, the credit goes to the one in the arena who comes up short again, again and again. If s/he fails, s/he does so daring greatly.
  • If you’re brave with your life you’re going to get your ass kicked
  • Life is volatile you will know failure if you are brave with your work
  • We live in a comfort crisis – we believe we are entitled to comfort
  • There is nothing comfortable about being courageous
  • Vulnerability is the most accurate measurement for courage
  • If you are not in the arena being brave with your life I am not interested in what you have to say
  • When you’re brave there is pushback
  • The mean-spirited words from the cheap seats should hurt but you need to know who’s opinions matter – it’s not the people in the cheap seats
  • Know the people you can trust and listen to them
  • Shame, scarcity, fear, anxiety, uncertainty = vulnerability
  • Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy
  • Joy is the most vulnerable of all human emotions
  • We dress rehearse tragedy because we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop
  • Don’t squander joy
  • Don’t dress rehearse tragedy
  • Stop in the moment and be grateful
  • Vulnerability is the birthplace of: courage, trust, empathy, innovation, creativity, accountability, adaptability, inclusivity, hard conversations, feedback, problem-solving, ethical decision making
  • Set up a culture of no vulnerability you get no innovation, no risk-taking
  • The opposite of accountability is blame
  • If you don’t do discomfort you’re not a good fit for us
  • If you cannot have a conversation about a difficult subject (race, class, gender) you cannot be a successful leader – be willing to excavate conversations that need to happen because they’re getting in the way of good work
  • People are not willing to be vulnerable, brave
  • What are you doing instead of the hard conversations?
  • We’re not having hard conversations because we’re not willing to be vulnerable
  • Relational vulnerability – you cannot be brave or lead without it
  • It takes courage to have ethical decision making
  • When we’re in struggle we need a story for our brain – the story I’m telling myself right now is . . .
  • Myths:
    • Vulnerability is weakness
    • I can opt out
    • Let it all hang out
    • I can go it alone
  • Vulnerability, clarity of values, trust, rising skills = the four pillars of courage
  • What’s worth doing even if you fail?
  • Vulnerability doesn’t always work out but it’s better than ending your life asking what if I had showed up?

Tags: integrity, extreme trust, emotional connection, total radical transparency, empathy, inspiration

Engaged Employees Accelerate Sales

Posted by Tom Smith on Mon, May, 05, 2014 @ 10:05 AM

Employee engagement accelerates sales

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following is from presentations by Dr. Gary Rhoads, the founder of Allegiance, as part of the VoC professional certification program.

 

Engaged employees are good for your business on several fronts:

  • They stay longer than disengaged employees
  • They reduce training costs
  • They reduce recruitment costs by staying longer and recruiting people like them
  • They promote the company, its products and services to their family and friends
  • They demonstrate increased productivity and quality to internal customers
  • They are passionate about providing an outstanding customer experience
  • They are role models for less engaged employees helping to increase levels of engagement
Engaged employees are not just committed.
They are not just passionate or proud.
They have a vision for their own future that's consistent with the firm's mission and goals.
They are excited and in alignment using their talents and discretionary effort to make a difference in their employer's quest for sustainable business success.
An individual's degree of positive or negative emotional attachment to an organization or brand leads to, positive or negative,  discretionary effort.
Building employee engagement is all about generating emotional attachment.
The components of emotional attachment are head, heart and actions.
  • Head = "I believe" -- I believe in our company's products and services. They are the best in the industry and they will help to fulfill our customers' needs.

  • Heart = "I'm inspired" -- I'm excited by, and in alignment with, the vision, mission, values and strategic positioning of my company.

  • Actions = "I'll give discretionary effort." -- I will recommend our products and services to my friends and family. I will go out of my way to provide an outstanding customer experience to my customers.
Not everyone in the firm is totally engaged.
Firm focused employees are engaged with the company. They love the company they work for, the work they do, the products the company produces. However, they aren't necessarily focused on the customer experience. They're more interested in "managing up" than providing an outstanding customer experience.
Customer focused employees are those that are engaged with the customers they serve. They go out of their way to make sure the customer experience is exemplary. But they may not be concerned about the company they work for.
Are your employees backing their cars into their parking spaces? Do they want to get away from the office that badly?
To get your employees totally engaged:
  1. Recognize and reward the right behavior and effort

  2. Connect engagement to the vision, mission, values and strategic positioning of the firm

  3. Empower everyone in the firm to provide an outstanding customer experience and recognize them for doing do
     
  4. Whoever causes the pain should feel the pain -- identify the source of the problem and go to the source for the resolution
Employers are in the inspiration business -- it's only by inspiring people that you're able to make an emotional connection with them.
Empower Employees to Get Insights Download the Free e-book "How To Get Insights From Analytics" to Accelerate Sales

Tags: alignment, vision, mission, values, employee engagement, inspiration