Who are the Real Influencers at Work?

Mel Greenberg was a key influencer. In the newsroom of the Philadelphia Inquirer during its heyday, however, Mel wasn't someone you would have initially identified as a person of influence.  He rarely met your eyes in conversation, rocked maddeningly from side-to-side as he talked--usually in a low mumble sprinkled with a lingo of his own making--and propelled himself on his rounds with an odd, head-first gait. Mel had a strange passion for the statistics of women's basketball at a time when no one else realized the sport existed. His title was "editorial assistant"--a fairly low spot on the totem pole. Yet Mel was the go-to guy at the Inquirer for forty years. He delivered the all-important Pulitzer Prize nominations to New York every year, created mix tapes (when they were still tapes, nothing electronic about them) for office parties. He was once dispatched to Paris, first class, on a moment’s notice to deliver a black velvet painting of John Wayne to an editor in hiding--all key contributions to the newsroom zeitgeist. Mel's passion for women's basketball elevated the sport to national importance and landed him in the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame as guru of … [Read more...]

Dead Bodies: How Leaders Can Combat Workaholism

The first time I saw a dead body in a street was outside my Tokyo office. He, "the body," was dressed in a smart business suit; he looked to be in his 30s. Cause of death? Workaholism. In Japan, workaholism is called "karoshi"—death by overwork. Karoshi is estimated to cause 1,000 deaths per year and nearly 5% of that country's stroke and heart attack deaths in employees under age 60. Known as "leisure illness" in The Netherlands, according to one study an estimated 3% of the nation's population is affected. Elsewhere, workaholism is often called "the respectable addiction": Canada. One-third of Canadians consider themselves workaholics. United Kingdom. Full time employees in the U.K. work the longest hours in Europe and a British Medical Association report found that 77% of consultants work more than 50 yours a week and 46% more than 60 hours. United States. While the 40 hour week is generally accepted as “normal,” adults employed full-time have reported working an average of 47 hours each week. North America and U.K. 1 in 6 employees now work more than 60 hours a week. In a recent interview, singer/songwriter Alanis Morrisette spoke about how easily we can … [Read more...]

7 Ways to Lead Like An Ass(umer)

Assumptions. We all make them, all the time. Or at least I assume you do because I do. "When you assume you make an ass out of you and me." You've heard that expression a thousand times. The ever-practical Ellen DeGeneres explains the expression: “You should never assume. You know what happens when you assume. You make an ass out of you and me because that's how it's spelled.” Got it, Ellen, funny. How often do you lead like an ass(umer)? Assumptions can be dangerous. If you don't realize how dangerous assumptions can be, look no further than Lemony Snicket's guidance: Assumptions are dangerous things to make, and like all dangerous things to make -- bombs, for instance, or strawberry shortcake -- if you make even the tiniest mistake you can find yourself in terrible trouble.” -Lemony Snicket, The Austere Academy Think about the last assumption you made. Was it the strawberry shortcake variety of assumption where you landed in a sticky little, lopsided mess? Or, did you make a whopper assumption, the bomb kind where something really threatening happened? Leaders may assume employees know exactly what they want. Family members may believe that others in the family … [Read more...]

Want a Healthier Workplace? Sing!

The power of singing became apparent to me in Nepal. My friend Clare and I got lost hiking in the Kathmandu Valley. We stumbled upon a Nepali army outpost and were surrounded by soldiers who aimed their machine guns at us. Long—true—story short, we sang our way out of it. Thinking back, I still cringe at our stupidity, our illiteracy. I marvel at the kindness, and the singing, of Nepal's soliders. They even taught us a Nepalese marching song. It involves stomping one’s feet and yelling something like “Denah, denah, denah haah.” Tramping around Nepal alone isn’t recommended (in fact, I believe it may be illegal). The key thing I learned is that you can, indeed, sing your way out of trouble. “If everyone started off the day singing, just think how happy they’d be.”— Lauren Myracle, Shine We have abysmal employee engagement rates in the U.S. according to Gallup research. In a 2013 Monster.com study, more Americans said they hate their jobs than other developed nations’ workers. We need—pun intended—concerted action: we need to sing. I’m not talking about the irritating guy on the other side of the mouse-maze of florescent-lit cubicles, the one who won’t stop humming “What … [Read more...]

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