Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

Purple Rain, Productivity & You…really?

April 27, 2016

With the sad and sudden loss of Prince comes a lesson in the power of passion.Prince purple rain (215x240)The child of divorced parents, Prince ran away from his mother’s home to live with neighbors at a young age due to issues with his step father. He was subject to epileptic seizures as a child and was teased by his peers.  He was only 5’2″ tall and compensated by being flashy. Strike Three? Not!

At age 7 Prince taught himself how to play the piano, followed by the guitar at 13 and then the drums at 14 years old at which time he joined a band called Grand Central.  Not bad for a kid without a teacher. His passion for music led him to develop other talents of singing, dancing and playing multiple instruments to produce a demo tape at age eighteen that ended up in the hands of a local Minneapolis businessman who negotiated his first contract with Warner Bros.

And so a star was born………kinda sorta.

In his efforts to express and establish himself as a recording artist, his music was limited in air play due to his erotic approach resulting in controversial popularity. After experiencing his first big success with Little Red Corvette in 1983 it was not until the album Purple Rain was released in 1984 that his career catapulted into stardom.

Why should YOU care?

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-image35353888

If you’re sitting at a desk all day wondering how/when you’re going to be happy, take a tip from Prince’s life: get happy NOW. Find things to love about your job NOW. Make a list of benefits you receive from your work and look at it every day to motivate you to do a great job versus just a good one. With employee engagement being at an all time low of 32% you need to fall in love with your company because just like Prince, passion + persistence pays off.

Bringing your A game to work every day results in a habit of excellence that super charges productivity up to the sky.

And we all know what falls from the sky………..purple rain, right?Purple rain falling on lovers (133x200)

 

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The Power & Profit of Nice

March 16, 2016

Nice guys finish last. (Translation: they don’t get the hot girl)
She has a nice personality (Translation: bow wow)
It’s a nice movie (Translation: snooze fest)
Nice has become a four letter word.
It’s a well known fact that people join companies but leave bosses. Why? According to a Harvard study on the top Fortune 500 companies in the US, the main reason employees leave an organization is because they feel unappreciated. They feel like their opinions don’t count and they’re not valued.
Ouch! Not nice.  
                                       
 
With employee engagement at only 32%, leaders need to wake up and smell the power of nice. What is the cost of being approachable, encouraging and supportive of a worker’s career goals vs having to replace him/her? Errrrrrr………
A few months ago I was the keynote speaker at a Customer Service conference for a company in Dallas. There were over 500+ employees in the organization yet the staff turnover rate was nearly 0% for over 20 years. How?
Everyone I asked said the same thing – they felt valued. They felt like part of a big family with a common purpose because from the top leadership down they were treated with courtesy, respect and appreciation.
Simple stuff, huge results. 
And for any of you naysayers that think ‘nice’ is politically correct term for ‘pushover’, read about these two women from the Bronx that built a billion dollar advertising company around being nice. Clients chose them over others because ‘they liked them’ www.thepowerofnice.com   
Cha ching!

Keys to Employee Engagement

February 23, 2016

In my recent research as a motivational speaker preparing for an upcoming conference, I came across an astounding fact:  52% of US employees are not engaged at work. (Gallup poll January 2016)

That’s a whole lot of unhappy people, let alone an enormous loss of productivity.

Distracted employee

Gallup categorizes workers as “engaged” based on their ratings of key workplace elements that predict important organizational performance outcomes, such as having an opportunity to do what they do best each day, having someone at work who encourages their development and believing their opinions count at work.

Traveling across the country speaking to corporations and associations, I’ve heard a lot of whining in the workplace about one thing in particular: bosses. Bosses that don’t listen, bosses that manage with rigid rules, bosses that play favorites and bosses that take all the credit. What I’ve found is that people join companies but they leave bosses.

Cartoon happy peopleIn my speeches on super-charging productivity, I emphasize the power of nice. Having the right attitude of being humble, likable and teachable wins fans and influences people – even bosses. Business is all about building great relationships. Nurture team relationships by being the ‘go to’ guy who is always ready to help, offer constructive suggestions to your manager in a non-threatening way, volunteer to work on a project, be innovative about learning new things and share with team members.

Nice gets noticed in a good way. Whining – not so much.

If you’re a boss reading this, here’s your essential takeaway: never underestimate the value of appreciation. Praise and encourage employees for their efforts regardless of Book by Marcus Buckingham (153x230)success rate. Management expert/author/speaker Marcus Buckingham conducted a survey of the top Fortune 500 companies in the USA and said the #1 reason people leave companies is because they feel unappreciated. I spoke to a company in Dallas that had 500 employees with almost zero staff turnover in the past twenty years. The reason? Each employee said they felt like part of a family with a common purpose because they were treated with courtesy and respect from the CEO on down. Great relationships.

Being engaged at work means staying focused. Staying focused requires liking what you’re doing. If you’re not doing what you like, ask. Ask your boss to work on projects that utilize your best skills. Most managers will take advantage of a win-win situation whereby the employee experiences more job fulfillment and the company gains with improved productivity.

Employee engagement: it all starts with YOU!

Finding the Funny in Days of Drama

October 15, 2014

Last week saw me on the road to Corinth, Texas to speak to CoServ audienceemployees of CoServ – an electric co-op 30 miles outside Dallas.                              The drive was stress-free and took five hours thanks to my GPS gal Samantha who gave clear concise directions for a change. Her robot voice was silent for the 233 mile hike on I-45 except when she chided me for stopping for lunch.   Have you ever apologized to your GPS?

Having arrived safely at my hotel, I called the client to arrange a sound check and set up my piano keyboard on site at the company where I was the closing speaker for their customer service conference.  the following morning. The sweet woman gave me directions saying “it was about a mile from the hotel”. 20 minutes later I called her lost and  Cartoon image - woman driver stressed outconfused. Apparently her estimate of a mile was a little off. She meant a few hundred yards and I had flown by it.

The sound check was a nightmare. Every outlet I plugged my keyboard into blew the circuits (Ironic? We’re in a freakin’ electric company!) Two hours later we’re all sweating buckets thinking the problem was my keyboard.
CoServ playing keyboard - small(175x240)The 30-something-year-old meeting planner was texting everyone she knew looking for a back up piano with no luck. Suddenly a light bulb went off in one of the staff’s heads: try plugging the keyboard into another room. It worked. WHEW!!!

Back at my hotel I was soooo drained I turned the lights out at 9 p.m. Alas however, sleep was not on the agenda. The a/c unit was circa 19th century and sounded like a freight train next to my bed. Although my presentation wasn’t until 9 a.m. it was being videoed, so I got up at 5 a.m. to take extra time for my makeup to be camera-ready. Flipping on the bathroom light the image in the mirror would have scared small children. The lighting was a very Cartoon_of_Tired_Woman_With_Rollers_in_Her_Hair_Looking_in_the_Mirror (120x140)unflattering fifty shades of grey. Oh swell. Now I look like an Ebola patient.

Breakfast in the dining room was a self serve deal with very strange food-like dishes. There was a smooth shiny bright yellow turnover that was apparently someone’s idea of an omlet. The sausage links were downright sugary. The ketchup packets wouldn’t open.The other diners were part of a religious convention so everyone  was giving a “Hallelujah!” to everyone else.  All I wanted was a miracle to make some edible loaves & fishes appear.

Stepping out into daylight I realized my makeup resembled a remote tribe of red Indians, the temperature had dropped 20 degrees overnight and I had no jacket. Grrrrrr!!!

CoServ audience doing chicken dance

Doing the YMCA thing

The good news? The CoServ group were the most fun folks of all time.  They responded enthusiastically to my motivational message of influencing people by being extraordinary on the job. They laughed, they learned.  They rocked!

POINT:  I’m still laughing. After all, if everything went perfectly all the time, where would we find the funny? 

Why Failure IS an Option

September 15, 2014
I just read a blog on ‘Embracing Failure’. Sounds weird, right?

Not so fast….          

One survey found  the happiest people are often those who have learned how to fail.  They’ve learned how to pick themselves back up after being knocked down, reflect on the experience, grow from it, and push on. The net result  is that people are paying more and more attention to the process instead of just the outcome.

Taking a systematic look at the process that has led many to their success, one of the common elements among them is the resilience they exhibited when things weren’t going their way.

How resilient are you? Do you give up too soon?

Failure becomes a problem when people are too afraid to take risks because they dread consequences that  may not ever happen.

And so they stay stuck. Stuck in a job they hate, a relationship that’s toxic or an unhealthy lifestyle.

Organizations that encourage innovation and calculated risks end up success stories like Apple and Virgin Air.

In my motivational speeches I use an example of making mistakes (some in front of celebrities like Andrew Lloyd Webber – see video HERE) and what I learned from the embarrassing experience. CROPPED Photo shoot The Forum Jan 2014 034

Using major mess ups as life lessons and stepping stones is key to success.  In my case it resulted in touring the world solo on a piano bench ending up here in the good ‘ol US of A (yay!)

Instead of allowing fear of failure to be an obstacle, I used it as motivation to survive. 

C;mon. What’s stopping you from taking a leap into the unknown? You never know …… you may just like it.

Got Summertime Sluggishness? Wake Up and Try This!

July 23, 2014

With temperatures soaring, days lengthening and folks posting pics Summer season - two chairs on beach of cool vacations on FaceBook, productivity takes a 20% dive in the average workplace this time of year.

So how do you avoid the seasonal sluggish thing in these lazy hazy crazy days of summer?

Some professionals are taking time out to regroup and refresh. Tackling to-do lists that get ignored in busier times such as updating websites, creating a plan for better work/life balance, catching up with friends, exercising (tennis anyone?), host dinner parties, sharpening skills with further education, trying something new to be revved up for fall. As a motivational speaker I’m taking time out to create new programs and networking with peers.

Cartoon - yoga

You can do this, right?

One company in Florida uses summertime to boost teamwork and collaboration by closing at 1 p.m. on Fridays, catering a two hour lunch on Thursdays and having the whole staff take a yoga class once a week.

A single Mom entrepreneur takes a vacation with her daughter that would not be possible any other time. She packs a journal because she says “with rest comes creative ideas” for business.

So what are YOU going to do to beat the summertime blues?

I’m thinking about dance classes……….Cartoon image - couple dancing tango
in between tennis, of course.

How to Come Back to Work After Vacation without being Miserable

July 16, 2014

Folders work pileWork after a long vacation is like Monday on steroids.
Here’s how to tackle the work that’s piled up–even your overflowing inbox.
Vacations are great, but they exact a price. You come back to such a pile of work that you wonder if going away was worthwhile.The answer is probably yes, but even so, there are ways to make re-entry less traumatic.
1. Plan ahead.
Managing the post-vacation plunge starts before your vacation does. You may be tempted to pile on meetings and projects as soon as you get back to make up for lost time, but a better approach is to stagger the catch-up work over a longer period. At least don’t aim to do it all on the first day. Accept your limitations. A lot of stuff can wait.
2. Set boundaries you can live with.
I work for myself, so no one ever “covers” for my vacations. That’s why I don’t see anything wrong with working for a few hours, especially over longer trips. If you really need to get away, or if vacation work upsets the people you’re vacationing with, then disconnect. If that doesn’t describe you, then maybe every other day you get up early, and work for half an hour on only the most urgent matters. Then you disconnect for the next 47.5 hours. That trade off can make the post vacation plunge less plunge-like.
3. Come back before you absolutely have to.
If you’re going away for a week (or two!), there’s a lot to be said for returning Saturday instead of Sunday. Not only do you get a chance to unpack, catch up on the laundry, and sleep off jet-lag, you can do a few hours of work on Sunday night. Getting a grip on the week’s schedule, and triaging your inbox, can help you feel more on top of things.
4. Keep the out-of-office message on.
Speaking of that inbox, if you’ve created an out-of-office message for your vacation, keep it on for an extra workday. Sure, the people sitting next to you know you’re there, but there’s no need for the world to figure that out. An extra day gives you space to get things sorted out without new expectations piling on. Of course, you can also just . . .
5. Delete everything.
This technique is only for the brave, but you could just make a quick skim of the inbox stack-up, flag a handful of messages you do want to read, and delete everything else. Chances are, if it’s still important, someone will follow up with you. And if they don’t, you can just miss an opportunity. Getting to take a real vacation may be worth the trade off.
6. Schedule something fun after work.
The first day back can feel like a slog. Plan something you genuinely enjoy for that first post-work evening–even if it’s just watching a favorite TV show–so you have something to look forward to. It’s not quite as good as a vacation, but it’s not a bad way to end the day, either.
Written by Laura Vanderkam nationally known writer and blogger for Fast Company.

 

Why You Need to be Like the World’s Favorite Clay Boy

July 9, 2014

Who doesn’t love Gumby? Gumby with arms in air
Children love his adventures,
adults love the art form and
people everywhere love his kind heart and good nature.

Flexibility and Gumby are synonomous.

Last week I got a call at 9 a.m. from a distressed man who said the motivational speaker he had booked for his company’s quarterly executive meeting was stuck on a plane in Mexico and couldn’t make it. Could I fill in for him and deliver a 45 minute keynote after lunch that day? And by the way, we can’t afford your full fee.

No worries, said I.

With no time to prep or customize we lunched together so he could brief me on his organization Uchi Restaurants and explain the purpose of the meeting. The group consisted of managers, chefs and corporate executives from Austin and Houston.

Piano cartoon mouse playingWe talked about HOW TO RAISE THE LEVEL OF WORK PERFORMANCE using the same principles that it took for me to master the piano:  Passion, Persistence, Attitude, People, Focus and since I included the company’s core values the young (and very cute) guy that booked me was over-the-moon happy. Whew!

 
In today’s competitive job market we need to be flexible with a ‘can do’ attitude and a willingness to help out.

AHA Indiana - Theresa acknowledging audience applauseBeing a GOOD team member is about collaboration. Being a GREAT team member means going above and beyond what you’re asked to do. Why does it matter?

Effective teamwork is crucial to any organization’s success.

And let’s face it, the bottom line is what pays YOUR bills.

Gumby is one smart piece of clay.

I wonder if he’s single…..?

Are You Willing To Make A Difference?

June 11, 2014

Being a professional motivational  speaker has its ups and downs just like any otherAHA indiana - audience job……but unlike other jobs there is one MAJOR plus to speaking in front of audiences like these 450 attendees at the Go Red for Women luncheon in Merrillville, Indiana recently:

Instant gratification.

My program was “Fifty Shades of Red: Keys to Living Life Large!” and one point is about taking risks to experience new people and things to live a vibrant healthy happy life. The audience consisted of stroke survivors, people with heart disease, their friends and families, together with supporters of the American Heart Association who hosts this annual fundraiser.                                                                     AHA Indiana - Theresa acknowledging audience applause

Long after I left the stage in a state of high energy exhilaration from the enthusiastic response, a woman approached to talk to me alone. Her demeanor was somewhat shy and hesitant as she said:

Thank you for making a difference in my life. Your words seemed like they were meant especially for me. I suffer from panic attacks when I have to be around a lot of people and I nearly didn’t come today. But I made it. And now I know why. I was meant to hear what you said about being fearless in taking risks to live fully and be happy. I’m so glad I came.” There were tears in her eyes.

And that’s why I do this.

You may not be so lucky as to reap immediate rewards for your work but you CAN make a difference in someone’s life.

You can reach out, uplift, encourage, praise, compliment, help, smile at one person each day. You may never know how much they needed something nice right at that moment.

Making a difference is a win/win deal…..you reap what you sow.

Change your Tune, Change your Life!

May 19, 2014
Speaking in Chicago last week made me grateful
for the four seasons in Texas: Nearly summer, summer, still summer, Christmas.
Lady Gaga with her foot on piano?
No, me.
The people up there have had six months of horrific winter that left them stir crazy and ready to laugh ‘n’ learn from my program on Change. 300 ladies attended the annual Women’s Initiative Forum hosted by Itasca Bank and they were a hoot!

We talked about discovering your passion to live life on purpose; to view change as opportunity and grab it fearlessly; to learn new things,

Theresa Behenna?
 No, Lady Gaga..

to persevere and connect with other people to help realize your goals/dreams.

I demonstrated how I’ve had to keep current to stay employed as an entertainer…..learning to play music by Lady Gaga copying her style with one foot up on the piano was a bituva stretch – in more ways than one (aaaargh!)

NSA logoUpon deciding to become a professional speaker back in 1998 it was a HUGE change that I knew I couldn’t do by myself so I joined the Houston chapter of the National Speakers Association where I met people that became my mentors, coaches and teachers.     

In order to make changes in your life, ignore the negative tune in your head that says “You’re not good enough” and replace it with an “I can do that!” attitude. Surround yourself with people that can help you take one small step at a time.

What’s the song in YOUR head? Is it “Crazy” (Patsy Cline) or the theme from “Rocky?”