Category Archives: Business 2.0

What’s the best that could happen?: Why Risk Analysis is only part of the story

Often, we keep ourselves from trying new things, going out on a limb, or putting ourselves out there by focusing on the worst possible outcome.

“Oh, I could never ask him out, what if he says no and laughs at me?”

“We aren’t ready to have a Twitter account for our business, what if people say bad things about our products?”

“I can’t meet with the Dalai Lama because China would get pissed off.”

Future Is Yet Unmade. (courtesy @paulg_)

The thing of it is that we can’t predict the future.  Our minds close us off to new experiences (by predicting disaster) in order to keep things as they are, but things are always changing.

Therefore, if we can’t predict the future anyway, why not try flipping the script a little to keep things in perspective.

Next time, just as an exercise, try asking yourself “What’s the best that could happen?”  What could be the best possible outcome for asking out that guy, or creating that facebook page for your business, or meeting with whomever, or going to that party, or taking that chance.

Everything is always changing.  If you think of things in a positive way instead of a negative way, who knows what could happen. Do a reward analysis, not just a risk one!

Is “Paying Your Dues” dead? The rise of GenY’s Participatory Requirement.

I’ve noticed many blog posts lately about Millennials / GenY / etc in the workplace and their ‘sense of entitlement‘ or ‘not wanting to pay their dues‘, and it’s a bit confusing to me.

I am not a Gen-Y-er (though being born in 1979, I’m not technically a GenX-er either), but I’m not sure what value is brought by expecting talented people (they are talented, that’s why they got hired, right) to immediately suffer through menial tasks that do not allow them any responsibility, encourage them to contribute, or include them as part of the team.  What kind of lesson does that teach? It seems like needless discouragement to me.

I would say that if you have a Gen-Y-er on your team, a better strategy would be to include them in meetings, allow them to offer suggestions (even if you may think they’re dumb questions, it is your job to help them refine their thinking to come to a more workable idea), and generally value their contribution.  If you meet all these needs, then you create an atmosphere where they want to get you coffee to show appreciation, rather than it being a chore to be resented.

Also, do this with everyone.

On compassion.

When we are quick to judge others, people or companies that may not be communicating honestly, that may be scared of having people gossip, or spread untruths, or being perceived inaccurately, we are creating an ‘me vs them’ space for ourselves, which is fear-based and can make us feel very constricted and small in our definition of ‘ourselves’.

Bodhisattva and Compassion
Image by Tony the Misfit via Flickr

Today (whenever you may be reading this), try to remember that each of us, as individuals, employees, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, friends and lovers, strangers and enemies are doing the best we can at this moment.  We all want to love and be loved, to be understood, to be happy.  We each struggle to get past our fears and our thoughts in order to achieve this goal.

Even you.

Even me.

We’re all in this together.

[inspired by Teresa Basich’s wonderful manifesto, and the first decent conversation I’ve had with my father in  years.]

Life happens whether you pay attention or not.

People will talk about you, some will say nice things, some will complain.

Life Lessons from Ferris BuellerConversations will happen that you could be a part of, that you could bring value to.

Someone out there wants to hear from you. Someone out there wants to make a connection.

This will happen online and offline, with friends and strangers.

You can choose not to pay attention, but all this will continue regardless, and all you will be is alone and suffering.

Isn’t it better to listen?  Just for a little while?

What’s the best that could happen?

The Toxic myth of ‘us vs. them’.

Last week, I and a few others in my group gave a presentation to the NYC office of Waggener Edstrom about digital storytelling, social media and findability. One of the points I made sure to focus on was the gradual decline in ‘us vs. them’ thinking. The same isolating fear-based separation that leads to war, depression, loneliness, and a lot of the suffering that goes on in the world is alive and well in business.

Historically, it was very easy for business folks to think of their customers as ‘them’. “how do we get them to buy our product,” people would say, and the answer would often be tactical guesswork, and not lead to particularly effective results.  By beginning the strategy by specifically excluding ourselves and everyone we know, we find that we don’t really leave ourselves with anything to base our strategy on.

In the time when you could safely assume that a significant portion of the country was tuned in to a single piece of entertainment (The Tonight Show, etc), putting a message, any message in front of people would get some return. The talk-to-everyone-to-reach-a-few days are gone, and good riddance.  They’ve been replaced by endless permutations of clusters of people passionate about an endless combination of things, each making their passions known and eagerly anticipating the opportunity to connect, share, get and give value.

The true power, the true awakening, the most effective conversations, marketing, communications, PR, interactions come when we realize and recognize the simple fact that there is no ‘them’. It’s never been more apparent in the history of the world that across geographic, cultural, language, economic and all other barriers, what we all seek under all of our pretense, suffering and assumptions is connection, support and compassion.

Those that realize that we’re all in this together and keep that fact in mind when looking at ways to connect with those around them, to truly listen and engage with people, to provide value, and to empower people will exist happily for a long time.

In spiritual life this connection to the world is essential to feeling at peace.  Different religions suggest different methods of achieving this, from giving to charity, to loving thy neighbor as thyself, to what the Dalai Lama calls Wise Selfishness.  If you’ve ever been depressed, you may remember a distinct feeling of ‘not feeling like part of the world’, isolation, distance from people who care about you.  You may also find your focus turned exclusively inward, unable to include others in your day-to-day life in conversations about anything other than how awful you feel. This is a horribly lonely place to be, and does not result in any kind of engagement with you being at all inviting. It may be valuable to compare this state of mind with business practices of a company you work at or are interested in.

In the same way that feeling like part of the world leads to our personal successes, it is such with business as well.  Even in the distant past, some of the most successful campaigns on behalf of business happened when the company was able to focus outward.  Avon and Tupperware built their empires with this mindset.  Being inclusive and thinking of all individuals as people who could potentially rally around a common cause connected to making their lives better is the only way to succeed.

In other words, there is no ‘them’.  There is only ‘us’. That’s the secret.

[Science backs me up on this, by the way: There’s a whole school of thought on what’s called “ingroup favoritism

Header Credit: Strangling Statues by David Sim