Sounding Board for Ideas

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A friend of mine called me to share some ideas. He was giving a team building workshop with some high school athletes and wanted to share his ideas on the workshop with me. Even though I had a semi-busy day, I made time to talk with him. It is an honor to have someone wanting to share their thoughts with you and to hear your perspective. Many people keep things like this to themselves, not wanting to let secrets out or be judged. It takes an understanding of trust and comfort for someone to share and I was happy they felt that with me.

It is good practice to listen to someone when they are talking with you. Too often people are busy thinking what they will say next instead of completely placing the focus on the content being delivered. This can be amplified if you feel obligated to share input. What helps me in these situations is reminding myself that this moment is about the other person and their thoughts. I need to dial in my attention to them.

As my friend told me his thoughts I listened and offered some quick words as per normal conversation while then allowing him to continue. After he was finished, he prompted me by asking my thoughts and as I took a breath to think it over, I could recall the information he told me with clarity. I was able to provide a couple solid pieces of feedback, mostly in the manner of praising his approach as it seemed effective per usual.

In the past, I would get excited to hear the ideas and want to explain why something was so exciting and how it connected with other concepts or ideas. This could be problematic as it then becomes too much about me and my thoughts when the objective was to have the focus on their ideas. The key is to realize if someone is reaching out to you as a sounding board or brainstorming. Depending on where they are in their ideation process, it may require a more involved or passive role on your end.

I enjoy being able to hear ideas which then lead to more ideas for myself, especially when it took minimal effort on my part. It is good to realize I should utilize this sounding board approach as well so both parties can get something. There have been times in the past I didn’t tell anyone because I figured they wouldn’t really care. Now I know it prevented me from ironing out some unseen wrinkles and from them getting a learning experience from hearing what I would do.

I encourage you to make yourself available as a sounding board to those you are close to. Keep in mind your role in this moment and I hope you can both reap the benefits.

-Jeremy

Book Summaries with Jeremy

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Brain Rules by John Medina 

Summary:

There are 12 brain rules to help people in their daily functions. The book is presented 1 rule at a time, with corresponding research, anecdotal evidence and possible suggestions of how to implement the new information. 1) Survival, the brain evolved just as we did as a species. It is quite large and continues to grow. 2) Exercise, getting cardio helps our capillaries in our brain to open up, allowing more blood flow. The basic recommendations help brain function of nearly every type. 3) Sleep is very important for key mental functioning. There is a system working to keep us awake and another to get us to sleep. They are constantly in flux, and some people tend to be night owls and others morning. 4) Stress was critical as we evolved but today it lingers longer, leaving cortisol to have negative effects on us. Gaining control of our lives is the best thing to do. 5) Wiring our brains literally rewrite itself. People’s brains grow, develop, and store information differently. 6) Attention can only be one thing. We shift attention but don’t multitask. 7) Memory is strengthened by encoding more information at the time of learning. When we recall information it is a mix of new knowledge and past memories. The best way to have a good memory is to repeat it in timed intervals. 8) Sensory information is how we acquire information and transfers it into electrical signals to the brain. Working the senses together is much more effective. 9) Vision is by far the most important sense using half the brains resources. 10) Music is still being researched a lot but formal training improves intellectual skills in cognitive domains. They are generally able to detect emotion in speech. 11) Gender is dependent on the male. Females are genetically more complex due to 1,500 genes per X chromosome they have. Women use left hemisphere of the amygdala and remember emotional details of stress, men use the right side and recall the gist. 12) Babies show that we learn from experimenting to see how things are with all of our senses. We can learn things throughout our lives.

Influence on me:

It was very informative and there are certain skills that can be applied immediately. Things like using a hook to get interested during a presentation. Looking to utilize emotion to help the material stick better by those in the audience. The book is full of a great amount of information. The potential issue is that it is difficult to retain all that is presented with it. I feel that each chapter needs more time and focus to be fully applied to life in order to maximize the information presented. It would be a good book to refer back to occasionally or perhaps pick one rule to understand and implement during a period of time. It can be a good source of reference for individuals that show a great interest in knowing more about how the brain works. As I learn and present information going forward, I can refer back to the book to add to my understanding.

Check out more books summaries here. Share with us books you have read lately and the impact they have had on you. Email us at rawrnonprofit@gmail.com

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I’m Right, You’re Wrong; You’re Right, I’m Wrong

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Most of us would agree that robbing a bank is a bad thing to do. Right? Well not everyone. How we perceive things is a huge influence on our beliefs, upbringing, environment, etc. There are many factors in our lives that help mold who we are and our perception on life. This doesn’t make our way of thinking wrong. As much as we want to argue with someone about a topic because we feel we are right and they are wrong can be an endless debate. You are both right and both wrong. All depends on your perception of the topic. See where I am going with this?

I was going to give a really ‘messed up’ scenario that I would hope most of our readers would agree is bad and should never be done. But I will hold my tongue and just let your imagination run wild. So, whatever your thinking about which is probably really bad and socially not excepted is something you feel is wrong. But on the other hand, the person and/or people doing the act feel that they are right. In their mind, what they are doing or saying is right because their perception on the issue is good, not bad.

When we run into a situation where you find yourself arguing about a topic because you feel it is right and the other person is wrong, take a moment to ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is this person’s background?
  2. What is their key argument?
  3. Does this subject define this person?

Questions like this will help you have a better understanding of why this person has these perceptions of the subject. In the end, it comes down to respecting their decisions, whether you are for it or not and understand that they may have the same feelings about you. You may engage in debate, but make sure you are asking the right questions and listening to the person to understand them completely. Respect what they have to say and take this opportunity as a learning opportunity to understand about someone else and their opinions.

-Sean C.

Book Summaries with Jeremy

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The Power of 100! by Shaun King

Summary:

The Power of 100 is based around setting 100 goals, with some of them being outrageous. The term used is Your Outrageously Ridiculous Goals. The point of this is to truly push yourself beyond normal conviction. The people through history who have done amazing things had some vision for moving forward and without it, they would not have had the same impact. With the goals, King encourages making some within each of the following seven areas: generosity, health and fitness, career and finance, spiritual and emotional, travel, friends and family, and accomplishment and experience goals. There is a good amount of overlap between the seven and it is likely that working towards one will help to move you closer to another. Additionally, this can help to make sure there aren’t large gaps and omissions from one’s life. Beyond the premise of setting goals, King provides personal and anecdotal stories of people overcoming adversity and reminders in being motivated towards goals. This may include going public with the goals and telling everyone you can. A benefit is that a connection of a friend may be able to help you and you would not have that resource without doing so. This will also help with accountability.

How it influenced me:

Goal setting is nothing new to me. One day I taught over 800 people about goal setting and another day it was over 600 all in person. Even with my experience teaching others and setting my own goals, I wanted to read this book to see what it could offer. Before reading it, I had some ideas brewing in my head and had made some goals for the year but was lacking more long term goals. I think reading the words of someone else helped me to stand back a moment and reflect on what I was working on and what I should make sure to pursue with more intention. I have picked a goal and made it semi-public to certain people, knowing that my brother will make sure I keep working on it. An added benefit is getting to work with him on this process. This book was a nice break from the research-intensive books I have been working through and helped to encourage some existing thoughts I’ve had and added a few new perspectives as well that I will take with me.

Check out more books summaries here. Share with us books you have read lately and the impact they have had on you. Email us at rawrnonprofit@gmail.com

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Need more EI

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I recently came across Daniel Goleman’s 1996 Harvard Business Review’s article “What Makes a Leader”.  The article highlights that leaders must have high levels of technical skills, IQ, and emotional intelligence. Through studies, Goleman found that while all three are important, emotional intelligence is nearly twice as important than the other two factors when identifying the high performing leaders.

Emotional intelligence is broken down by self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill. The first three are focused within the self. A leader must have a good understanding of who they are and how they react to the world around them. Upon this understanding, they must regulate as necessary for the situation. Motivation is key towards personal growth and in moving others into action.

Empathy and social skill pertain to others. Goleman mentions that empathy is a word that is nearly unthinkable in a business context, yet encourages us to reconsider that perspective. Through empathy can we work to understand those we lead and enable them to be fully involved in the process of daily activities helping the team to grow. Social skill acknowledges part of a leader’s job is to connect with others and while this may be apart from normal job duties, it is critical in forming relationships that can achieve high levels through future years.

What stands out most notably to me regarding this article is the fact that I thought it was rather recent. I purposefully hadn’t looked at the date as to prevent any previous judgments. I would’ve guessed it was written from the 2010-2014-time frame, simply since I knew it wasn’t a recent edition I was viewing. The content is relevant today. Occasionally through an article, or featured section, or video we hear one example of a leader who operates with such emotional intelligence; however, it is not the norm. These types of articles always seem to applaud this forward-thinking approach. Focusing on people more than bottom line. Looking within for growth and integrating such efforts within a team.

It has been over 20 years since this article was published. It is time for people to swallow some humble pie, accept that effort and a feeling of being uncomfortable must be sacrificed for the good of their career and those they lead. It should seem inexcusable that integrating emotional intelligence is not the common practice. This should not stand out anymore, rather it needs to be demanded. It leads to stronger leaders, employees, and organizations.

Regardless of the position you are in, there are ways for you to look within and experience growth and then strive to work with others, whether they are formally within your ranks, peers, or other workers in departments. This experience will make a change day by day, often unnoticeable in the moment, but through consistency progress will be made. Who knows, potentially one day a formal position will be offered to you to put all this practice into action and have an even greater impact.

-Jeremy

Fun Five

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Just finished the book, Do Cool Shit, by Miki Agrawal. There were many things I took from this book that I am applying in my daily life now. The book engages you with questions that help dig deep down to discover certain things in your life that need to be addressed. In the final chapter, the author asks five questions of, many well-known authors, actors, entrepreneurs, etc. to discover any similarity in answers.

The five questions are:

  1. What does “doing cool shit” mean to you?
  2. What cool shit are you up to? And what cool shit are you planning in the future?
  3. What was the most important lesson you’ve learned about doing cool shit in business?
  4. What is the best life advice you can give to help someone else do cool shit?
  5. What was the moment in your life that made you realize that you could stray from the norm and do cool shit?

 

I want everyone reading this to answer these questions and share with us. Also, go to www.docoolshit.org and share with Miki. Here are my answers to these questions:

What does “doing cool shit” mean to you?

“Doing cool shit” means doing something that is making an impact on people’s lives and the community that surround them or yourself. You know when you are doing this because when you tell others they will respond, “That is amazing,” “that’s some cool shit,” “awesome,” or anything to this degree. “Doing cool shit” doesn’t have to be a big monumental affair. It could be building a garden in your backyard to grow veggies. This little task makes an impact in your life, the people that surround you and you are working on an awesome weekend project.

What cool shit are you up to? And what cool shit are you planning in the future?

This blog! Ha. There are a few things I have going on currently. At work I am focused on creating an environment that empowers people to grow and take pride in their work. While the company I work for is large, our store is smaller in size, but we are making a huge impact in our community and the people we work with each day. Second, I am the Marketing and Design Manager for a lifestyle apparel brand a buddy and I started. This is giving me great experience in business, social media, marketing, etc. Finally, RAWR is the coolest shit I am doing these days. This organization challenges me daily to be the best me. I am reading and writing more. I am applying everything we teach on a daily basis. Some cool shit I have planned for the future is starting a consulting company that works with action sport athletes. During grad school my thesis and focus was on action sport athletes and I would like to continue to help with their performance. Also, there is a few books on the way!

What was the most important lesson you’ve learned about doing cool shit in business?

Be true to yourself. Don’t let others influence the way you want to lead. All you can do is hope that what you are doing is contagious and others follow and strive to be the best that they can be. Focus only on what you can control and roll with the punches. Shit happens. Learn and move on. Tomorrow will come and today will be fine. Be honest with yourself. Surround yourself with a team that has many strengths. If someone else is better at something, like accounting or organization, then let go of your ego and let that person shine. Two things will come from this, you are allowing that person to grow and teach you something new, and second your organization will be better for it. It is okay to make mistakes. Mistakes allow us to grow. If we were perfect all the time we would never learn. Never let a day go without learning something new.

What is the best life advices you can give to help someone else do cool shit?

If you are so passionate about something that in ten years you have more passion than now about it, do it! The years in life are short but the minutes are long. Saver each moment. Create lasting memories and develop deep relationships.

What was the moment in your life that made you realize that you could stray from the norm and do cool shit?

When I made people smile.

 

These questions were a lot of fun to answer and I would love to answer them every few years to see what things are similar, what differ, what cool shit I am doing at the time or have planned for the future. Again, answer these five questions and please share!

– Sean C.

 

Book Summaries with Jeremy

 

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The Adventures of an IT Leader by Robert Austin; Richard Nolan; and Shannon O’Donnell

Summary:

This is a fiction book about Jim Barton who transitions from the head of loan operations to Chief Information Officer (CIO) even though he lacks any IT knowledge. He struggles to understand his new position and how IT differs than typical programs. The revenue comes from in-house billing and really it is their job to make things as secure as possible within the provided funding. This is difficult because it means acknowledging risks are always possible, but working to mitigate the largest is key. There is only so much funding to be had and they need to make sure the right ratio is spent on existing infrastructure and systems and the rest on new technologies. This is difficult as there is no right answer necessarily. He must also work to understand how his managers don’t fully have a thorough understanding of what their employees do because the technology advances so quickly. In board meetings he needs to convey information in such a manner others can understand it. There was an attack and Jim had to work with his team to provide the best possible plan of action for the CEO to determine what to do. His ability to manage and lead within the year lead to two great opportunities at the end.

Influence on me:

First, it provided information on what a CIO is and does. Then the relationships between the executive leadership and next level managers could be seen. There was mention of the doctrine of completed staff work. This is beneficial to me because I need to keep in mind that as I progress in my career it is my job to present issues and best possible solutions to my superiors. This enables them to make the decision and move on. Additionally, throughout the book, Jim is humble and seeks growth throughout. He is more than aware his lack of knowledge can make things harder than they need to be and he does a great job trying to learn as much as possible. He also speaks with a variety of people to get their take on various scenarios. This helps him make effective decisions and tap into the expertise that other people have to offer. Having a solid network such as this is critical to be as successful as possible.

Check out more books summaries here. Share with us books you have read lately and the impact they have had on you. Email us at rawrnonprofit@gmail.com

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