Guest Post: Shelley Row, author of “Think Less, Live More”

Think Less, Live More - Shelly RowJohn: Today’s guest post is by Shelley Row, whose new book, Think Less, Live More, just squeezed its way to the top of my very crowded reading list.  

Read on for some evidence of why I shuffled my order:


The 1996 Summer Olympics were approaching fast. Atlanta hummed with construction. I was part of a team that designed and built the Transportation Management Center or TMC. The work engulfed the city, all of the surrounding counties, the state department of transportation, federal transportation agencies, MARTA (the transit operator) and a significant quantity of consultants as well as many independent contractors.

We needed unprecedented cooperation to achieve the goal: to complete an operational TMC by July 19th for the opening ceremony. The goals was SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound), but this goal had something going for it that many other SMART goals did not have: it was intrinsically motivating.

SMART goals are practical, logical, rational and…sometimes, lackluster. Complete the proposal by September 1, launch the app by January 1, write a blog by Monday. Well, okay this one is for real.

The statistics on the success rate for achieving goals is dismal. According to the University of Scranton, only 8% of New Year’s resolutions are realized. It’s no wonder enthusiasm is lacking if the goal has no link to your natural motivations or self-identity. Goals that are too much from the head need conscious, concerted thought to push them forward. And that means mental energy – a scarce resource. On the other hand, goals that are connected to deeper meaning are more self-motivating. How can you as a manager and leader, tap into this strong motivational force? Here are three ways you can make that connection.

Intrinsic individualized motivation. Dr. David Rock and Elliot Berkman, who are researchers in the neuroscience field have a theory of goal pursuit called AIM (Antecedent, Integration, Maintenance). The Integration element includes a method to find and link to intrinsic motivation. It has to do with asking, “why.” Here’s how it works.

Start by stating the goal. For example, complete the TMC for the Olympic opening. Then ask “why.” My answer may be: “It feels as though I’m part of something bigger; I feel pride; I feel important and successful when working on this project.” Notice that the “why” answers speak to an internal motivation that, in my case, connect to my value system. This type of goal is self-motivating because it comes from inside.

Now consider another goal: Launch a new product by September 1. Again ask “why.” The corporate response might be to make more money or be the first to corner this market. That is intellectually understandable but not very emotionally compelling. As a leader, help individuals connect this company goal at a deeper level. As a further example, keep asking “why” until you find the intrinsic motivator. Examples of intrinsic motivators include:

  • Status – I feel important working on this product launch
  • Success – I feel successful to achieve this big goal
  • Charitable – I’m contributing to something that will help others
  • Creative – I love using my creativity in a new way

Intrinsic motivators are part of an individual’s value system and can be linked to how they self-identify. Once you have that connection, the company goal is more likely to be sustainable and achievable because of increased meaning.

Approach or Avoid Alignment. Goals can be stated to be either approach oriented or avoidance oriented. For example:

  • Approach: Meet the product launch date
  • Avoidance: Don’t miss the product launch date
  • Approach: Make my husband happy
  • Avoidance: Don’t upset my husband (ok…so this one is real, too)

Research shows that individuals have a natural preference to either an approach or avoidance framing. Stating a goal so that it is congruent with the natural preference can make the goal more motivating. In my case, I am approach-oriented for big, audacious, life goals; however, for many day-to-day goals I am avoidance-oriented. Which of these approaches are your preference?

As an exercise, write down a goal in both formats and notice which one feels more motivating for you. There is no right or wrong answer. One way may simply work better for you than another. Once you know which one it is, consider addressing the goal that uses that phraseology. While it is straightforward for you, it may be difficult to discern it for others.

I tend to lean toward an educational approach. Educate staff to understand the neuroscience behind approach and avoidance goals. They will quickly understand the difference between the goal statements and they are likely to grasp the differences in motivational intensity and see the value. Once you understand this approach, use congruent approach or avoidance goal statements.

Cut through the clutter. Lastly, when goals are aligned with intrinsic motivators people tend to notice new opportunities that align with the goal. Research shows the more important a goal is to a person’s self-identity, then it follows an object that is in alignment with the goal has higher perceived value. Subsequently, when bombarded with daily, on-the-job distractions, the opportunities aligned with the intrinsically motivated goal will stand out from the crowd. And conversely, you are less likely to notice situations that are not in goal alignment. This is good news because this tendency assists with focus in an era abundant with distractions. Plus, you are more likely to recognize opportunity when it comes.

In retrospect, we achieved our goal of opening the TMC in time for the opening ceremonies. That goal created a bond between all of us that still endures. Each time I bump into one of the team at conferences, we smile at the memory and because it feels good all over again. Now, that’s a powerful motivator.

 This post was originally published at  on 8/2/15

Shellly Row shotShelley Row, P.E. is a high-energy, engaging speaker and coach working with top managers and leaders in data-driven fields who must make fast, insightful decisions using their infotuition®- the intersection of business pragmatics and gut feel. Find out more at

Three Mistakes With Talent Mindset …

promo_02“The people you surround yourself with in your organization make or break your success.” 

You know the book is good when my inclination is to simply and literally reproduce as much of it as I can in a blog post and say “First, read this excerpt … Second, buy the book and read some more … Third, Go live out what you have read.”

Yes, Talent Mindset: The Business Owner’s Guide to Building Bench Strength by Dr. Stacy Feiner is just that well-written and useful.  For starters, I found seven PAGES of useful quotes from this book as I read it.  The ability to clearly and directly explain concepts is not a natural state for all authors, but Dr. Feiner has the gift.

“Self-awareness is a critical first step to launching Strategic Talent Management – we’re talking about the capacity to acknowledge your impact and influence on others and the environment.”

Early on, Dr. Feiner nails the business owner by emphasizing the importance of self-awareness.  Owners and leaders who believe they can influence from afar or remain aloof from the machinery of their business will be challenged to think differently about how they impact employees and the business.  Even a decision to be “hands-off” has impact.

The book is organized so that you first get a good feel for the entire process of Talent Management. The point is made early on that Talent Management has nine distinct, but interlocked elements which Stacy describes as Centers of Excellence, which she organizes carefully into three “corridors”:  Acquisition, Development, and Deployment. 

I have not experienced a clearer description of the people management process …

Dr. Feiner then goes into rich detail, not about how to actually do each element, but what we should be trying to achieve in those elements and how it all fits together.   Her examples are carefully chosen, not to be duplicated, but to illustrate the points she makes about the goals for each element.

“Training is an enterprise-wide campaign that sets the tone for your expectations of employees’ performance … creating an environment where interactive, progressive learning happens.”

Sharing what ought to drive our decisions at each point is more valuable to most of us than the prescriptive approach taken by some other business titles, where we are told to do what apparently worked at another organization, usually a much bigger one.  

My experience is that even the best ideas have to be adapted somewhat to your unique organizational situation.  The trick is to do so without surrendering to the current culture, which will resist change.  Dr. Feiner gives us powerful help to accomplish this.

I made three big mistakes while reading this book:

1) I assumed that, since the subtitle aims directly at business owners, I would find little value in the pages.  I was wrong …

This is a book about how to do every important element in the people process for a business.   While it aims at middle-sized companies and their owners/leaders, I believe that even very small and very large businesses will learn valuable perspectives and practices which they can use. 

2)  I thought this book was just about the process of finding and developing people.  I was wrong …

Talent Mindset does cover the process of Talent Development very well, but goes on to outline a business leader philosophy which goes way beyond just talent.  Like other truly valuable titles, this one looks at the topic from a strategic viewpoint and moves from being a “How To” to a “Why Do This” approach.

3)  I focused on the Talent Development section, since I live in the world of Training, Performance Management, and Leadership Development, while assuming the other sections would be of little nterest to me.  I was wrong …

Based on a quick skim, I would have been just as pleased with the other two major sections on Selection and Employee Engagement.  Probably little in this book is really new to those of us who have worked in organizations, but Dr. Feiner clearly shows us how the process can work and the connections between those nine centers as we gain, grow, and help employees succeed 

Bonus Point:

Coaching is integral to the Leadership Development process because we need the foundation and beams from a practiced professional to rise up.  Coaching is also crucial to this Center of Excellence, and the entire Strategic Talent Management continuum, because the process requires such deep, personal reflection that we can’t expect to do this in an honest fashion without some outside perspective.  It requires a coach; someone who will rigorously challenge the status quo, provoke self-examination, and provide the business analysis tools to create a stronger, more sustainable culture that becomes a breeding ground for uncommon talent.  (p. 120)

This book emphasizes coaching throughout for the business owner and leader, but especially in the area of leadership development.  That one point alone is enough to convince me that once again, a book can provide value and help you grow as a leader.

Bottom Line:

“The Strategic Talent Management process is not complicated, but it does require sweat equity.” 

If you care about making your Talent Management system drive the business success of your organization while also meeting employee needs and addressing core business challenges, you will read and use Talent Mindset to make your desires into reality.

Loving this addition to my working library in the Heartland ….


Disclaimer:  Received preview copy of this book.  Loved it anyway.


promo_01Dr. Stacy Feiner is an executive coach for the middle market. Stacy brings psychological strategies to business owners helping them improve their performance, advance their organizations, and achieve the success they want and deserve.

Stacy addresses complex dynamics within owner-operated companies, family businesses, management teams and boards. Her methodology solves people problems, clearing the way for driving strategy, growing profitability, and eventually transitioning to the next generation.

Dr. Feiner earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from the Illinois School for Professional Psychology, MS from Northeastern University, and BA from Hobart & William Smith Colleges. Stacy is a licensed psychologist, executive coach, author and national speaker.


Great Leadership ~ Guest post by Frank Sonnenberg

Book shotGreat leaders achieve success by setting the bar high, encouraging teamwork, promoting win-win relationships, and demanding everyone’s best effort. Great leaders win the support of their constituents by earning their trust and respect. This is achieved through powerful ideas, personal expertise, and impeccable integrity rather than through their position or by “pulling rank.”

Great leaders set the tone from the top. They espouse a visible and meaningful vision that promises a better future than the prevailing conditions. The vision may be precise or vague, it may be a specific goal or a dream of a better future — but it must be attractive, realistic, and believable. A compelling vision provides direction, promotes excitement, and inspires commitment. Creating a vision, however, isn’t enough. The vision must be brought to life and rooted in the culture. Great leaders never miss an opportunity to lead by example, serving as positive role models and reinforcing the beliefs and values of the organization.

Great leadership also means making hard choices, overcoming difficult challenges, and encouraging constituents to embrace change. Great leaders are not afraid to take a firm stance and accept responsibility for their decisions. In so doing, decisions are never made to win a popularity contest or to placate everyone by being all things to all people. Precious resources are allocated in areas where they provide the greatest good while carefully balancing short-term performance with long-term success. And, while you may not always agree with a real leader’s decision, you’ll always know that every decision was made in an honest, fair, and objective fashion. You’ll never have to second-guess a real leader’s intent; you’ll know what he or she stands for.

All great leaders, whether in the public or private sector, make people feel proud of the institution they represent and realistic about the future. When a great leader promotes a common end, people begin to work as a team rather than at cross-purposes with one another. Self-interests wind up on the backburner, while individuals begin working together for a higher purpose — the common good. And that, my friend, is what great leadership is all about.

HeadshotThis is adapted from Follow Your Conscience: Make a Difference in Your Life & in the Lives of Others By Frank Sonnenberg © 2014 Frank Sonnenberg. All rights reserved.Frank is an award-winning author. He has written five books and over 300 articles. Frank was recently named one of “America’s Top 100 Thought Leaders” and nominated as one of “America’s Most Influential Small Business Experts.” Frank has served on several boards and has consulted to some of the largest and most respected companies in the world. Additionally, FrankSonnenbergOnline was named among the “Best 21st Century Leadership Blogs.”

Frank’s new book, Follow Your Conscience, will be released November 2014. © 2014 Frank Sonnenberg. All rights reserved.


Curiosity and Learning …


I am combing through an extremely long list right now on Goodreads

The list is of all the authors listed on this site … the list has around 4300 pages.  I am on page 43.  It’s a lot of people who have written books.

If a way exists to filter the authors by genre, I have not yet found it. 

My purpose (and yes, I do have a purpose other than idling await my Saturday morning) is to follow all the authors I have found special value through over the past few years. 

Most of these are folks who have affiliated with Weaving Influence, so are leadership or personal development related, but I also have a healthy selection of people who write in other areas, and whom I know of through other experiences.  

As I tried to categorize the people and titles that are “popping up”, I find myself noting the broad range of topics which my natural inquisitiveness has brought me … and I am pleased.

I see titles in leadership and learning, but I also see spirituality, technology, critical thinking, creative thinking, humor, and even a dash of thoughtful fiction:).

A healthy curiosity, combined with some passion around a mission, seems a strong combination.   While my authors naturally group around some general themes, they are not all of a type and the topics range magnificently from the deeply personal to the global and sweeping. 

Passions, in this sense, are those things we do for which we may or may not be paid, for which we may or may not receive recognion or appreciation, but which we feel we must engage with.

Curiosity is that nagging suspicion that something exists which you do not yet know , but want to learn about a particular thing, which motivates you to exert energy and effort in the finding and understanding of that thing.

With the above two operational definitions in mind …

What are your passions ?

How have your passions informed your curiosity?

How has your curiosity informed your passions?

Wondering just how long I will be scrolling and clicking today in the Heartland ….


I Already Knew That …

Button and SignatureBill Treasurer was the keynoter at the ATD ST. Louis Conference held yesterday.  He is also the author of a powerful leadership development book: Leaders Open Doors

I already knew the stories …

I knew that Speedos would be discussed, since I know Bill’s diving background , although I was not ready for the video that reminded me of something Bill and I share:  a fear of heights. 

I hoped that he should share the story of how his son inspired the title and direction of his book and he did so.  

I expected to hear about his daughter and how her courage drives him … but I did not expect the reward of a video showing her courage and spirit, which made me mist up just a little.  

Sometimes the smallest among us are the most courageous and insightful.

I already read The Book

I knew that trust would be lifted up as an essential ingredient of positive leadership interactions.  

I knew that Bill would talk about the strongest opportunities and greatest change coming from when we are uncomfortable, as people and as leaders.

I knew that the point would be made and remade that we exist as leaders to help others survive, grow, and thrive.  He never uses the phrase “servant leadership”, but he talks it with every sentence.

Okay, I learned a little something …

I knew Bill was smart and humorous, but I did not know how enjoyable his presentation would be.   I have experienced other best-selling authors, whose delivery in person was … shall we say “restrained”.  Okay, let’s be honest and just say “boring” and on one occasion “stultifying”.

I learned that Bill understands how to create energy through sprightly pacing and interaction with his audience. He makes the time pass without effort and the learning just flows, almost without being noticed. 

What I got from hearing Bill Treasurer speak in person: 

A little blue button that says “Be Courageous”, a nice note on a page in The Book, and an abiding respect for his ability to speak from the heart, engage effectively with others, and bring real value to us.

Possibly the highest compliment I can pay Bill Treasurer is that I took few notes and tweeted only once or twice at the beginning of his presentation.  My usual mode is to busily share on various social media networks while taking copious notes of pearls of wisdom being dropped by a speaker … Bill motivated me to just stop what I was doing, listen to him, and soak it up. 

I believe I got more out of doing exactly that than my normal mode … do I detect a behavior change coming?


If you ever have the opportunity to hear Bill speak, take it in a heartbeat.  Change your schedule, break open the piggy bank, take a sick day if you have to, but do not miss the opportunity to breathe the same air and interact with him.

I guarantee you will not regret it.

Still feeling smug about a morning well spent (even with traffic) in the Heartland ….





Leaders Open DoorsBill Treasurer is chief encouragement officer (CEO) of Giant Leap Consulting and the author of Courage Goes to Work, an international best-seller that introduced the new management practice of courage-building.

For over two decades Treasurer has designed leadership and succession programs for clients such as NASA, Saks Fifth Avenue, UBS Bank, CNN, Hugo Boss, the CDC, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the U.S. Veterans Administration. Prior to Giant Leap, Treasurer was an executive Accenture, a $29 billion management consulting firm. He became Accenture’s first full-time executive coach.

Treasurer is a former captain of the US High Diving Team, a cancer survivor, and the father of three children. He is a champion for the rights of people with disabilities, which includes his daughter.