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Posts from the ‘Leadership’ Category

Do First Impressions Last?

I heard John Maeda speak on Capital Hill one time. Frankly, he didn't impress me. Yes, he held the President's position at Rhode Island School of Design (or RISD)...

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A Sea Change Is Coming

With 5 generations in the workforce, it’s about time we looked at the values and differences that each person has to offer at work. It is time to change because the old way of doing things hasn’t worked.

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9 trends for 2014 and beyond

Who says enterprise IT is boring? Big ideas and bold new tech are shaking things up like never before, so it’s time to consider the long-term implications


How identity is the new security.

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Shannon Polly, MAPP, to Present at International Day of Happiness Conference Sponsored by en*theos ( | Positive Business DC

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Shannon Polly, MAPP Washington, DC — March 18, 2014 – Positive Business DC today announced that co-founder Shannon Polly, MAPP, was selected to pre

Marcia Moran‘s insight:

Today is UN International Day of Happiness. Don’t miss out on living a more fulfilling life. #happyday @positivebizdc @entheosdotcom

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Culture is key at Loudoun data center support company Intelishift |

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Marcia Moran‘s insight:

People say that culture eats strategy for lunch. This is how one colocation company does it.

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How to Be Relevant in Today’s Workplace

Few would argue that job functions have changed rapidly in the past several years. New technologies (like social media) have disrupted the marketing discipline. The push to do more with less has caused companies to merge job functions. The list of changes are seemingly endless.

Whether you’re a new college graduate, in mid-career, or even planning to leave the workforce in the next 5-10 years, you probably need to brush up your skill set in order to keep pace with the demands of your employer or potential employer.

A lot of people expect their companies to provide the training they think they need. While employer-provided training is useful, it’s only part of the story. According to Halelly Azulay, author of Employee Development on A Shoestring and founder of TalentGrow LLC, only 10% of professional training happens in the workplace. Another 20% comes from relationships and feedback, and the remaining 70% is on-the-job experience.

Hallely Auzlay

The employee-employer relationship goes two ways. Instead of looking to one’s employer to provide training, employees also have a responsibility to expand and hone their skill sets. After all, if the job requirements change dramatically (and in some fields they have), you must learn what’s required for the job function or risk no longer being the best person for the job.

As a columnist for Modern DC Business, I’ve gone to a lot of networking events over the past three years—which means I’ve overheard a lot of conversations. You might be surprised by how many people who are either out of work or struggling in their jobs overlook their responsibility to keep pace with their profession. A number of marketers have blatantly claimed they have no interest in social media. With that attitude, it’s no wonder they can’t find employment.

So, what can you do, then?

Azulay shared some of the secrets to Employee Development on A Shoestring at the Positive Business DC Meetup last night, and it’s not what you might think. If you’re an employer or manager, her insight could help you foster a dynamic, engaged, relevant workforce without breaking the bank. If you’re a job seeker or currently employed, her insight can help you not only stay at the top of your game or get a job, it can help you climb the corporate ladder.

Originally, I had planned to provide some of the examples and exercises Azulay had Positive Business DC members work through last night. But, on second thought, if you’re interested, I urge you to check out her book. And, if you’re really intrigued, there’s a 1½ day workshop March 13-14. Based on what I saw last night, the workshop will be killer. And, for those of you who are counting, the workshop falls within the 10% noted above.

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Marcia Moran‘s insight:

There are endless ways to improve performance and productivity, and they start with caring enough to deliberately deepen employees’ strengths.

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Amerca’s Self-imposed Creativity Deficit

Image of Tuscan Afternoon by Marcia Moran

Tuscan Afternoon

For the past several years, I have wondered why so many businesses seem to settle for mediocrity. Companies freely admit that one of the most sought after attributes they seek in job candidates is creativity. Executives know that in order for their companies to remain relevant in a challenging global economy, they need to inject creativity and innovation into the corporate DNA. For me, this has primarily been just a bunch lip service. We’ll get to why that is later.

The Death of Creativity

Enter Brené Brown, a researcher at the University of Houston who specializes in shame and vulnerability. According to Brown’s research, 80% of children are so traumatized by an event in school they develop an “art scar.” This trauma, or pain inflicted by a teacher is so shaming, they shut down and keep the creative things that come so naturally for humans bottled inside—sometimes for the rest of their lives.

You see, creative expression (developing elegant code, designing a bridge, painting or drawing) by its very nature means that you’re creating something that has never been seen before. That requires a person to be willing enough to put themselves ‘out there’ for public scrutiny.

You have to be brave enough to let your work be seen… knowing that other people will judge you—sometimes very harshly.

You also have to be willing to fail because when you’re developing something that’s never been done before, failure happens. Sometimes it happens a lot before you finally get the result you seek.

Demonstrating Resilience

So, what about the other 20%? What’s it like for those who don’t seem to develop these art scars?

I think I’m one of them, and I guess it’s just a matter of resilience. I received a lot of criticism, or shaming moments in school. They hurt. A lot. But they didn’t stop me from being who I am. These are three of the moments that stick out vividly in my mind.

“Those aren’t the colors in a stoplight, Marcia.” Kindergarten

Turquoise, pink, green, and purple don’t go together.” 5th grade

“You can’t draw. I don’t know what you’re doing in this class,” Bjørn Issacsen.

Okay. That last one’s a stretch. Bjørn said it in Norwegian and I don’t quite remember the terminology.

Bjørn’s criticism didn’t so much hurt as tick me off. Bjørn means ‘bear’ in Norwegian. I got even by drawing a really fantastic cartoon bear and taping it anonymously to his door at the boarding school I was attending in Sandefjord, Norway. Bjørn raved about the drawing but could not figure out who had done it. I finally told him it was mine the last day of school.

The truth is, most days I really can’t draw. I totally deserved that D my college professor gave. But sometimes there’s a spark of competence and something recognizable comes out the other end of the pencil. I can paint. And write. And know that colors other people wouldn’t put together actually go really, really well together. So what does it matter that I can’t draw?

Bottling Creativity Up Produces Disengagement

If I remember correctly, Brown says that 40% of people recover enough from their art scars to allow creativity to resurface. That leaves a whole lot of people tamping down a human need to be creative. This has a huge cost personally and organizationally.

As a sample of one, I can tell you that when an organization’s culture constrains my ability to be creative in the workplace, I go stir crazy. There are thousands of companies that don’t allow their people to color outside the predetermined lines. It leads to frustration… then anger… and then finally to disengagement.

Why Creativity Gets Lip Services

Now, think about all of the other people who don’t recover from their art scars. They’re distributed along an organizational spectrum, from hourly employees to the executive suites across the nation. I believe this is why many of today’s leaders talk about the need for innovation and creativity but can’t get there. They’re no longer capable of being creative themselves. They’re too afraid of what others will say.

Corporate culture filters down from the top. If, as a leader, you’re not able to put yourself on the line and be open to being wrong, making mistakes, and cultivating your own ability to innovate, neither will your people. Even if you have creatives among you, they’ll become inhibited because the first response is often to shut them down. Eventually, they give up and find a different outlet for their creativity. Under these conditions, a company is doomed to mediocrity at best.

Next time we’ll look at the creativity crisis from a different angle—one proposed by Harvard Business Review.

In the interim, please check out Brené Brown’s Ted Talk below. She tells a compelling (and surprising) story. Ideas in her book, The Power of Vulnerability, influenced the ideas that went into this post.

© 2014. All rights reserved.

How to Find More Creativity and Courage

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How to Find More Creativity And Courage


Marcia Moran‘s insight:

Feeling stuck personally and professionally? I took this program last year and it really did change my life. #wellbeing #courage #pospsych

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FRE to Profit from the Positive

For those of you who are thinking that there’s a typo in the title… it’s actually not a mistake. Margaret Greenberg and Senia Maymin shared insights on how to get more in done 2014 without working more hours in a webinar hosted by Positive Business DC. The webinar, entitled Profit from The Positive, took some pages from their book (same title, small pun intended).

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Mindfulness Increases Your Chance of Promotion

It appears as if social science and neuroscience are coming to the same conclusions about human behavior… at least in some instances.

In a Ted Talk entitled Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are, Amy Cuddy speaks about how adjusting your posture for two minutes will change hormone levels, which will either make you more powerful or less powerful. It's interesting, because the postures Cuddy highlights are clearly instinctive power or submissive moves. The hormones involved? Testosterone (the dominance hormone) and cortisol (the stress hormone).

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