Helicopter Ride …


promo_02The cliche’ of the millenials is they want a trophy for just showing up. (And why not?  They have received trophies for that in the past.)” …

Apparently Dr. Joanie Connell has been listening in to my kitchen table rants, because the entire first section of Flying Without A Helicopter is a powerful and complete description of a situation about which I have railed often and loudly, although not nearly as eloquently or astutely as her observations, solid research, and clearly communicated perceptions.

Dr. Connell knows what she is talking about and how to explain it to us … 

… and she is not much for sugar-coating the problem, as shown toward the end of the book:

“imagine a generation of leaders who are living with their parents, who look to others to tell them what the next step is, who fall apart when they make a mistake or someone criticizes them, and who don’t feel comfortable interacting with their team face-to-face.  How prominent will our society be? How innovative will our industries be?  How strong will our economy be?” (p. 109)

This is not a “Bash The Millennials” book, but a serious attempt to call our attention to a real problem which our entire society must address.  At first, I thought this book was an academic discussion of the sociological dynamics of recent years which have affected our educational system, changed our parenting, and resulted in problematic attitudes and behaviors in current college students and entry-level workers.

“One thing they do not teach you in college is what you will actually be doing in a career of your choosing.”

Then as I moved through the book, I was treated to a good dose of career development counseling the way it ought to always be done.  The book ends with some excellent coaching for self-improvement through a solid set of strategies to develop characteristics that we may have let wither.

“The point is people are much happier and more succesful when they are in jobs that fit their personality and work style.”

Dr. Connell clearly and convincingly shows us why this topic is important for all of us regardless of age or generational identification, and  how we got to the place where her book is not just necessary, but essential.  After a rousing preface and introduction, we enjoy a deep and rich exploration of this issue, how it manifests in school, relationships, and at work, and finally what we can individually do change the situation for ourselves.

The heart of Dr. Connell’s book is what she calls REAL Life“, as defined by four characteristics essential for career success , along with five action strategies designed to develop or enhance those four characteristics.  If you read nothing else, check out pages 24-26 for the essential ideas.  Everything else in this book speaks to how each characteristic can help or hurt you, and how to move toward strengthening them through the strategies

Here are the four essential characteristics described:

RESILIENT is to stay engaged and maintain a positive attitude no matter what gets in your way.

EMPOWERED is to be liberated, independent, confident, and able to get things done.

AUTHENTIC is to be aware of yourself, know your strengths and your imperfections, and communicate genuinely and transparently.

LIMBER is to be flexible in mind and body, creative, resourceful, and able to switch gears quickly and seamlessly, as the situation requires.  (Connell, 2015, p. 25)

Here’s the first of the five strategies with some commentary from me:

Accept Imperfection:  Praise less and appreciate imperfections in yourself and others.”

Praise less” … now there’s a phrase you do not hear all that often, as we tend to relentlessly focus on themes like “Think Positive” and “Catch Them Doing Something Good“.   The point here is to engage in worthwhile praise for specific behaviors and accomplishments, rather than mindless praise phrases such as “Good Job”, which loses its effectiveness as soon as the person is potty trained, in my opinion.

Parents and bosses often use the vague type of “good job” praise because they mistakenly believe this is a coaching approach, showing they lack a strong understanding of what is effective coaching.

Here are the other four strategies, each of which I could easily say several paragraphs about, if space permitted:

Build resilience:  Take risks, make mistakes, and learn from them, while retaining positive energy.

Develop independence:  Make your own decisions and accept the consequences, take care of yourself, and initiate action.

Polish communication skills:  Listen actively, be present in the moment, manage your emotions, and be authentic when interacting with others.

Foster creativity:  Take time to reflect, let ideas flow on their own schedule, and let yourself have numerous bad ideas (failures) to inspire the good ones (successes). (Connell, 2015, p. 26)

The book contains three major sections:  Part 1 is an extended and rich discussion of the problem as the author sees it, expanding greatly on the points made in the preface.

Part 2 The Solutions includes a detailed treatment of the five strategies.  I dare you to read this section (in whatever order “floats your boat”) and fail to come away with some useful material for reflection and self-evaluation.

Part 3 follows naturally with a series of reflective questions and exercises for each chapter, to drive the learning deep into your mind.  This is the action part.

Once you have read the introductory material, you can start to dip into areas of particular interest and connect a section in Part 2 with the proper exercises in Part 3.  However, my bet is that you will end up reading the whole blessed thing … maybe not in linear order, but completely.  It’s that interesting and useful.

The Bottom Line?

The author specifically names “children, parents, educators, and managers”, which certainly covers a lot of folks.  However, I imagine even a self-employed single person of mature years might find value upon which to reflect and act in Flying Without A Helicopter .   In short, this book is useful for …

… Anyone in school at any level, with a child in school, or who works with people in school, especially if you want to help them succeed.

… Anyone planning to or already working, with relatives who work, or who works with other people, especially if you want to influence them.

Enjoying another excellent book that delivers far more than expected in the Heartland ….




promo_01Joanie B. Connell, Ph.D., is a talent management expert and career coach for people across job levels, ages, and industries. She works with companies to attract, develop, and retain top talent and she works with individuals to improve their success and happiness in their careers.

She has advanced degrees in psychology from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Harvard. As a professor, she has taught business and psychology students at the University of California San Diego, Alliant International University, and National University.

Her clients are from Fortune 100 companies, not-for-profit, government agencies, high tech, biotech, healthcare, finance, legal, and other industries. She draws inspiration from her daughter and support from her husband in San Diego, California.

When People Want Growth, But Not Change …

Written specifically for congregations and religious organizations, but nicely applicable to most organizations:

What To Do When People Want A Church To Grow…But Not Change http://careynieuwhof.com/2014/01/what-to-do-when-people-want-a-church-to-grow-but-not-change via @cnieuwhof

A Case Of Mistaken Identity …

One of my favorite Buzz Builders Buddies describes a leadership journey which began with a mistake.  Makes me wish I were so lucky as to be mistaken for someone else:

A Case Of Mistaken Identity Changed My Life http://leadchangegroup.com/a-case-of-mistaken-identity-changed-my-life/ #circleof trust #feedly

Sprinkle Some of This On Me …

promo_03In order to make a dish that connects your heart to your customer’s heart, you must put your whole soul into the presentation and presentation, not just your smarts and sweat.”  (p. 92)

Bottom Line:  Sprinkles: Creating Awesome Experiences Through Innovative Service by Chip R. Bell is not the first book I have ever read about adding some zing to our interactions with other people … However, it is one of the easiest to read and understand, and by far the most visually appealing.

I found myself with a serious case of the munchies while reading this book …

Ice cream tones, numerous cookie graphics, and repetitive stress on the metaphor of cooking, with words like “sauce” and “spice” are found throughout this book.

I was prepared to treat Chip R. Bell’s deceptively short book somewhat dismissively, since it had far less verbiage and way more pictures than I expected.  The darn thing did not fit with the other books on my shelf, which were mostly bigger and heavier from all the ink.  I should have remembered from past experience with this author that the value of his thinking has nothing to do with the size of the book or the number of words.

When you read this book (and you should read this book), you will notice several things about Chip Bell’s writing style:

Chip has a way with words and examples, using both to great effect without wasting space or time…

This book is one of the shortest I’ve read, under 100 pages and a squat 6 ¾ X 6 ¾ inches square.  It might be lost on a crowded bookcase among the larger and longer books with more “business-like” titles.  Do not dismiss this title as not worth your time, because it lacks many words and many pages.  The value is in what is said, not how much is said.

Missing this book would be a tragedy for anyone who cares about ramping up their customer service game and really having a blast serving others.

Chip uses diverse and engaging examples to make his points crystal clear …

His stories are drawn from all types of organizations, from giant corporations like Hewlett-Packard to a mom-and-pop hardware store, healthcare, retail, and fast food, from non-profit and profit, public and private,  providers of services and products.  No matter what environments you toil, you will find specific and positive examples of how to up your customer service game and stories which you will delight in retelling (with proper accreditation, of course).

Chip even draws customer service wisdom from watching a group of deer on a snowy morning, which resulted in this gem:  “Always give your customers woods at their back” (pg. 76) which relates to “accessibility” sprinkles.  You’ll have to read the book to learn more.

Chip likes Alliteration …

The “sprinkles” of the title are those specific enhancements to customer service that move us from simply great to “awesome”.   Here are the topics of every chapter in his book:    Appetizer (introductory comments), Amazement, Animation, Abundance, Ambiance, Adoration, Allegiance, Alliance, Accessible, and Adventure.  If these topics catch your interest, you will be even more engaged after you read the sections on each one.

In lesser hands, this effect might just be cutesy … when Chip does it, I appreciate the help in remembering each element of innovative customer service.

‘Sprinkles adorn, enrich, enliven, and excite.”  P. 11

Some ongoing themes in Chip’s message seem to include:

1) Unusual:   We now expect customer service to be great and when it is not, we vote with our purses and our feet.  Great customer service is not enough – we need to knock people’s socks off, then wash, pair up, and fold the customer’s socks for them.

Do what they do NOT expect us to do …

2) Unrequested:  If a customer requests special treatment, we are just meeting their expectations when we do what they ask us to do.  Ordering a particular flavor of ice cream is not awesome customer service.  Adding something special and different to the ice cream is unexpected.

Do what the customer will LOVE, not what they will ask for …

3) Inexpensive:  Awesome customer service is not about spending lots of extra money.  In a high-price hotel, customers expect to receive expensive treatment.   Awesome treatment does not need to cost more and it is not about throwing money at an experience.  Although it may take more time and work to identify and do, passionate customer is worth it.

Do what delights, not just what costs dollars …

A Few Words About  “Choice”  …

One of Chip’s stories is about a HP representative who could have stayed on script, but chose to go above and beyond to give really exceptional service.  The idea that we can choose to offer awesome service is essential to Chip’s message.

Consider your current situation.  If you can go above and beyond, then do so and amaze your customers.  However, if you are bound to a script and not allowed to deviate, even to surprise a customer, then you need to crank up your job hunt activities.

You always have a choice – if nothing else, the choice to stay or go.

“…. we remember service that comes with an experience that gives us unexpected pleasure.” (From the Introduction)

I could say much more about each part of Sprinkles, but I will spread my continued observations out through several upcoming blog posts.  This one is a keeper …

Enjoying yet another great thing in a small package in the Heartland ….


Disclaimer:  Received a review copy of this book before it’s public availability.  Imagine me sticking thumbs in ears and going “Nyah Nyah”.  Great book which needs no insincere hype from me to boost the value.

A Little Traveling Music, If You Please …

image_thumb.pngI am rather pleased with my recent post on SmartBlog on Leadership

In it, I used the metaphor of packing for a journey to go a little deeper into our leadership heads and focus not on how we lead others, but on how we lead ourselves.

Of course, how we lead ourselves is ALL about how we lead others …

The analogy is simple and easy to understand, but not as easy to apply, especially to ourselves.   We pack for our leadership journeys and include some things, while hopefully leaving other things out.  Our choices about what goes and what is left are key to healthy and effective leadership.

Click the link below to read the entire post:

Leadership and All That Baggage …

What do you think of my observations?

What important things to leave behind did I miss?

What can you do to become aware of those things that might otherwise “sneak” into your preparations for your journey?

Humming along, while I try to get the darn top closed on a very full suitcase in the Heartland …