Insights from the Behavioral Science Guy: Next time you feel nervous…

Joseph-Grenny21Imagine you are applying for the dream job of your life. You’ve got five minutes to explain to two interviewers why they should pick you over 100 other smartly dressed candidates. As you make your presentation, the interviewers stare at you unblinkingly like a bank teller with a lobotomy.

No expression. No indication of interest. They simply watch as you pour out your pitch.

Harvard social psychologist Amy Cuddy designed this nightmarish torture session to provoke profound anxiety. She wanted subjects to be tested to their social-apprehension limits in order to test a surprisingly simple tool you and I can use when the pressure is on. So stay tuned.

It’s a terrible irony that when it matters most, we often do our worst. More often than not, our emotions undermine our performance in the most crucial moments of our lives.

  • You’ve got five minutes to present in front of the senior executives of your company.
  • You’re walking into an upscale restaurant for the first date with someone you’ve heard great things about.
  • You’ve finally decided to speak up about a difficult subject with your husband or wife.

Research shows that feelings of stress, fear and anxiety show up in our body language during moments like these in a way that undermines our influence. Think back to the last time youwere knotted with anxiety prior to a high-stakes encounter. What happened to your body in that moment? Did you cross your arms? Did your stomach muscles tighten involuntarily, causing you to shrink, close down, get small? When you’re in the middle of a stressful conversation or presentation, do you look down, cover your mouth with your hand, turn away from those you’re addressing or play with your hair?

Stress and fear wiggle their way up through all our attempts to conceal them and reveal our feelings in predictable ways that others can discern. These little gestures telegraph feelings of weakness and damage our credibility.

Similarly, those who feel powerful behave markedly differently as well. For example, I watched one fascinating video study of nonverbal behavior on the U.S. Senate and House floors. When the video was sped up, you could immediately spot the powerful. They would stand still like a queen bee in a hive while clouds of underlings scurried about them, touching, bobbing and bowing frantically. We telegraph our feelings of both power and powerlessness all the time, and those little messages either bolster or weaken our influence.

That’s why Cuddy’s research is so important. Where many before her have offered advice about what to do with your body during a presentation, Cuddy wanted to test whether a remarkably modest intervention just prior to the stressful session would improve performance.

Her first subjects were asked to spend one minute in a “low-power” pose: for example, standing the way you would if you were wearing a straight jacket — one foot crossed in front of the other and arms clasped protectively across the front. A short time later they resumed a normal posture and made their pitch to the aforementioned HR zombies.

By contrast, the second group spent a minute posing like Wonder Woman: hands on hips, feet apart. They, too, resumed their normal posture, then faced the interview gauntlet.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Their presentations were videotaped before being judged by neutral coders — people who had no idea what the researchers were up to. When asked whom to hire, they almost invariably chose the Wonder Woman subjects. The differences in “hire-ability” ratings were striking — more than 20 percent better for the power-posers.

But it gets better. The simple posing routine did not just influence presentation quality, but it also showed up in chemistry. In other words, changing your posture doesn’t just “psych you up” — it juices you up. It isn’t just others who are influenced by our nonverbal communications, we are too. Body language affects not only how others see us, but it also appears to change how we see ourselves.

So, next time you’re feeling nervous about a high-stakes encounter, find a closet, bathroom stall or phone booth — and do what Wonder Woman does.

It could change your life.

Source: Desert News

71-JoCQKbHLAbout Joseph Grenny – Speaker on Communication, Leadership and Change in Business:

Over the past twenty-five years, Joseph Grenny has taught and advised thousands of leaders on every major continent from the boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies to small communities in Nairobi, Kenya. He has advised CEOs and senior executives on more than a dozen major change initiatives – receiving credit from Lockheed Martin Aeronautics’ President as a key factor in helping the organization win the $200 billion Joint Strike Fighter program. Joseph teaches organizations how to communicate best when it matters most. His experience and research into the best practices of leaders and influencers has made him a leading industry expert and speaker in communication, change, leadership, organizational effectiveness, and corporate culture.

Joseph is coauthor of four New York Times bestsellers, Change Anything, Influencer: The Power to Change Anything, Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking when Stakes are High, and Crucial Confrontations: Tools for Resolving Broken Promises, Violated Expectations, and Bad Behavior. An expert in topics ranging from influence and leadership to organizational change and effectiveness, Joseph has been cited in dozens of newspapers including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. Joseph also writes The Influential Leader, a regular column on He has also appeared on more than one hundred radio and television programs including ABC News, CNN, Bloomberg, CNBC, and the Today Show.

For more information on Joseph Grenny, please visit: The Sweeney Agency

“Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation,” New Book from Tony Seba

Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation: How Silicon Valley Will Make Oil, Nuclear, Natural Gas, Coal, Electric Utilities and Conventional Cars Obsolete by 2030

Tony Quad StanfordWe are on the cusp of the most radical transformation in energy and transportation in a century. Exponentially improving technologies such as Electric Vehicles, Autonomous (self-driving) Cars, Solar, electricity storage, sensors, Big Data, Mobile Internet, the Cloud, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, Mobile Internet, and the Internet of Things are turning the industrial-era energy and transportation industries upside down and making the gasoline vehicle and the whole urban transportation infrastructure obsolete.

Tony Seba’s work focuses on market disruptions caused by exponential technology improvement, business model innovation, and disruptive product design enabled by this convergence. Tony Seba’s new book “Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation” projects that by 2030:

  • All new energy will be provided by solar or wind.
  • All new mass-market vehicles will be electric.
  • All of these vehicles will be autonomous (self-driving) or semi-autonomous.
  • Up to 80% of parking spaces will be redundant.
  • Up to 80% of highways will be redundant.
  • Taxis as we know them will be obsolete.
  • The concept of individual car ownership will be obsolete.

This is a technology-based disruption reminiscent of how the mobile phone, Internet, and personal computer have swept away many industries such as landline telephony, publishing, and film photography. Just like these previous technology disruptions, the clean disruption is inevitable and it will be swift.

As they ponder infrastructure investments, policy-makers, urban planners, and long-term investors cannot assume that the future will be like the past.
The disruption of energy and transportation will leave trillions of dollars in stranded assets and create new economic opportunities for those who anticipate and lead it.

About Tony Seba – Author and Speaker on Clean Energy and Technology:

Tony Seba is an entrepreneur, educator, author, speaker, executive, management consultant and business architect. Seba speaks frequently at clean energy, clean tech, entrepreneurship and high tech conferences and company events. He has been featured in Business Week, Investors Business Daily, Forbes, Fast Company, Success and other media and holds entrepreneurship awards such as BridgeGate’s Top 20 Difference Makers.

Tony Seba is the author of Solar Trillions – 7 Market and Investment Opportunities in the Emerging Clean-Energy Economy and Winner Takes All – 9 Fundamental Rules of High Tech Strategy. He is a lecturer in entrepreneurship at Stanford University where he teaches clean energy, cleantech and high tech strategy and finance. He has created and taught Clean Energy – Market and Investment Opportunities, Strategic Marketing of High Tech and Cleantech; Finance for Marketing, Engineers, and Entrepreneurs; and Business and Revenue Models Innovation. He teaches at top business school around the world such as The Auckland University (New Zealand) Business School and in-company at some of the world’s top high tech companies such as Google, Inc.

For more information on Tony Seba, please visit: The Sweeney Agency.

Clean Disruption of Energy and Transportation: How Silicon Valley Will Make Oil, Nuclear, Natural Gas, Coal, Electric Utilities and Conventional Cars Obsolete by 2030 is available for sale on Amazon

Determine What Gets In the Way of Mid-Level Performers Becoming Great

C.Brennan PicManagers can be consumed by the mid-level performer; possibly minimizing the time they should be spending with a top performer or the new hire with the prospect of vast potential.

To assist the mid-level performer to become better managers need to:

  • be more effective with balancing their time between performers;
  • know how to “coach-up” the mid-level performer; and
  • reduce the stress and drama associated with the mid–level performer without implication.

Most mid-level performers are unable to anticipate their customers or colleagues responses, comments and reactions. As a result of this, their performance suffers. Most remarks are predictable and expected. The mid-level performer does not foresee these responses or pre-determine how they will reply.

Mid-level performers need to improve their ability to:

  • anticipate a person’s opening comments and respond with an effective and manageable answer to minimize the possibility of rambling;
  • engage a person at a higher level of relevant conversation to create meaningful dialogue;
  • manage a difficult conversation in a positive direction;
  • minimize their word count and maximize their customers or colleagues; and
  • conduct a series of conversations that are more productive and insightful.

Top performers demonstrate the ability of “always knowing what to say next!” In addition, they do not display hesitation or confusion during their conversations.

Knowing how to effectively open and control a conversation, engage in meaningful dialogue and how to achieve a pre-determined goal at the end of the conversation is what separates the mid-level performer from the top.

About Charles Brennan Jr. – Author and Speaker on Advance Sales Training:

716iw9Z-t8L._SL1500_Identified as one of the best trainers in the country and author of McGraw Hill’s Take Your Sales To The Next Level, American Management Association’s best selling paperback book Sales Questions that Close the Sale and award winning book, Proactive Customer Service, Charlie Brennan brings a unique blend of innovative skills and real world application to his presentations. His core competencies are focused on advancing interaction, dialogue and accelerating decisions.

His techniques have been featured in many leading publications and called a breakthrough approach in sales development. He is a veteran of over 2,500 presentations. His concepts are the primary training format for many Fortune 500 to mid-sized companies. His knowledge of adult learning enables him to conduct interactive, challenging and memorable presentations.

For more information on Charles Brennan Jr., please visit: The Sweeney Agency

What the future of work looks like


While workers are becoming more and more mobile and entrepreneurial, traditional organizations are becoming less appealing. Here are seven powerful models for work that aim to redefine the traditional organization.

There is a lingering notion in the world of business and beyond that organizations are things with four walls, that employees are people who report to work inside them every day for years on end, that work is a matter of executing on defined “key performance indicators,” and that success is a product of climbing ladders and exerting an ever-greater span of control.

But the fact is, we’re in the midst of a great reshuffling of the talent deck.

Today, some 35% of workers in the United States are “contingent” — freelance, temporary, part-time, contractors — and that figure is expected to rise to 40% or 50%, depending upon which report you read. The members of the next generation of workers are expected to change careers at least 10 times before the age of 40, while solo businesses are already popping up at the rate of about half a million a year. Meanwhile, more than 70% of workers in the U.S. — and 87% of workers worldwide — report that they are not engaged at work.

In other words, while workers are becoming more and more mobile, entrepreneurial, creative, and free, traditional organizations are becoming less and less appealing. No matter how many nap pods, “hot desks,” and free lunches companies provide, most still can’t seem to shake the factory mentality that put flesh and blood, freethinking human beings into the straightjacket of institutional obedience at the dawn of the industrial revolution. To this day, the ruling management model promotes efficiency over every other goal and conformity over every other human virtue. It’s called bureaucracy — a highly effective approach … if your company’s goal is to achieve efficiency at scale. If you’re after anything else—such as adaptability, innovation, or unleashing passion—then you’re out of luck.

In this creative, disruptive economy, your share of profits is a function of your share of differentiation, which is a function of your share of creativity — just how deeply, how broadly, and how systematically you can unleash human potential — wherever it exists.

That’s a two-part challenge: organizations and leaders today must focus on designing environments and systems for work that inspire individuals to contribute their full imagination, initiative, and passion every day — and on taking advantage of new social, mobile, and digital technologies to activate, enlist, and organize talent across boundaries. We launched the Unlimited Human Potential M-Prize to unearth the most progressive practices and boldest ideas around those two challenges. Today, we are delighted to announce the winners of the M-Prize, selected from over 100 entries from every kind of organization and every corner of the world.

Zero hierarchy, maximum collaboration

The old question was: How do we get people to serve the organization’s goals? The new question is: How do we create a sense of community so compelling that people are willing to bring their greatest gifts to work every day?

The answer to that question for Mario Kaphan and his colleague at the Brazilian e-recruiting company is a singular design for a radically open, free, and entrepreneurial organization. In his winning entry, Horizontal Management at, Kaphan describes the company’s 15-year experiment in managing without managers. has no hierarchy, no titles, and no formal rules. Individual “members” enjoy a remarkable degree of autonomy and collegiality (the mantra is “individuals are empowered to do whatever they want BUT everybody has everything to do with that”). All work is done in small, self-managed teams, and decisions are made via reasoned debate and consensus — an initially laborious process that all members practice daily and that yields powerful results.

At Vagas, every management process — from performance reviews and rewards to strategy — is highly participative. Rather than rigid planning and budget cycles, the rhythm of the organization is set on a rolling two-week management cycle — each team meets fortnightly to review progress. The result is a fast-growing, entrepreneurial organization.

Shared values was the starting point for Wellington, New Zealand-based Enspiral, a path-breaking collective of professionals and social enterprises driven by the desire to change the world. As an entirely new kind of organization — a collective of individuals with a common ideal working on different problems with radically distributed resources, information, and control — the Enspiral team found itself tackling and disrupting just about every core management process, from decision-making and direction setting to budgeting.

Alanna Krause’s winning M-Prize story, “Collaborative Funding: Dissolve Authority, Empower Everyone, and Crowdsource a Smarter, Transparent Budget,” recounts the development of Enspiral’s approach to collaborative budgeting. Krause not only describes the development of a visually engaging and flexible approach to budgeting — an app called Co-Budget that started out as a shared spreadsheet — but also the resulting increased transparency and surprising generosity that emerges when you involve everyone in deciding on where and how to spend resources. Just as important, it offers a short course in launching a low-risk, high-impact experiment in even the most high-stakes realm — prototype a solution with low-tech tools, test it, measure it, improve it, and repeat.

All work is social

Unsurprisingly, many of the entries in this challenge focused on using emerging digital, mobile, social, and analytics tech to redesign work. Toronto-based Klick Health, the world’s largest digital health agency focused on equipping providers and patients with insight and information about care, reinvented its culture and approach to work with an organizational operating system called “Genome.” Chelsea Lefaivre’s winning story, “How We Harnessed Big Data and Social Technology to Empower and Engage Employees,” unpacks the workings of this “social environment.”

All Klick employees start their day by logging into Genome and spend their day connecting via its many features, including: “tickets” or tasks; project homepages and wikis; the “gene sequencer” program, which creates a personalized plan and support for any individual starting a new project; and dynamic dashboards to help individuals set, prioritize, and track goals on a moment-to-moment basis. Every aspect of Genome is designed to give the right information and tools to people at the moment they need them. At Klick, work in progress is shared and visible, which allows people to step in and offer help to colleagues. Crucially, Genome evolves with the organization — some 70% of its features have been suggested and developed by employees, and anything that doesn’t get adopted enthusiastically dies off.

Lukas Masuch’s winning hack, “Enterprise Knowledge Graph—One Graph to Connect them All,” offers a design for a powerful platform to structure, simplify, and render immediately accessible all the relevant knowledge and data so often dispersed and hidden across large organizations. Using the latest Big Data and graph technology, Masuch imagines a platform that sits on top of existing corporate wikis, document sharing systems, and social networks, with a rich menu of possible applications. One example: “enhanced enterprise search,” which immediately assembles a total view of related content, experts, and connections for any query.

While Genome and the Enterprise Knowledge Graph seek to switch people on, connect them together, and extend autonomy and accountability to the far edges of an organization, Andrew Jones’ Nomatik Coworking hack aims to build community and connection beyond the walls of any particular organization. Nomatik is a clever social platform designed to extend the spirit of coworking beyond actual coworking spaces, to engineer productive matches between individual talents and organizations, and to reimagine the boundaries of the organization in the process.

Jones’ approach acknowledges that no single organization will ever be able to directly employ all of the relevant, talented people who could make valuable contributions. And, just as important, that colleagues aren’t necessarily the people who sit next to you at work, but rather the people who are working on the same problems with the same passion that you have. The organizations and leaders who figure out the most clever and compelling ways to connect those people and organizations will be the real winners in the creative economy.

Big company, individual impact

Now, it’s one thing to cultivate a culture of innovation, participation, and collaboration in an organization. It’s another thing entirely to make that journey as an older, bigger, more entrenched organization. Global IT consultancy Cognizant took on this challenge a few years ago. As Shyam Sundar Nagarajan recounts in his winning story, “Incubating Intrapreneurs to Revitalize Customer Business,” the leaders of the practice sought to equip individuals across its 9,200-person organization to act as innovators and entrepreneurs.

Cognizant’s “InsuranceNext Premier League” challenge was modeled on cricket’s Indian Premier League, with a competition for a championship title. The initiative utilized every innovation tool in the book — from storyboarding to prototyping to role play to app building — to engage every single employee, produce 88 viable business ideas from some 968 “players,” and ultimately offer 10 fortune-flipping business concepts to some 40 different customers.

While the Cognizant InsuranceNext initiative represents a sweeping approach to encouraging entrepreneurial behavior across an organization, Accenture’s Clare Norman’s entry, “Developing Tomorrow’s Talent: A Girl, A Blog, and 30 Days to Business Impact,” advocates for a purposely narrow, tactical approach: rethinking “people development” as a continuous project that’s woven into the fabric of everyday working life rather than an isolated process that only the HR department handles.

How? The deceptively simple “30 Day Challenge” — a program of 30 “micro-actions” that can be integrated into daily work and take less than 10 minutes to accomplish. These tasks are intentionally micro — from writing a short note of acknowledgement to a colleague, to introducing yourself to someone new, to stepping back to write down three things that went well this week — the 30 Day Challenge activities had an immediate and widespread impact at Accenture, with some 8,650 direct participants interacting with 61,000 colleagues. Participants reported long-term positive effects and changes in behavior, and the 30 Day Challenge has since resulted in a series of spin-offs, including a coaching challenge, a culture change challenge for a client, an on-boarding challenge for new recruits, and a learning challenge, among others.

Source: Fortune, May 29, 2014

polly-labarre-innovation-bookPolly LaBarre is a bestselling author, speaker, and entrepreneur who has worked for nearly 20 years to embolden and equip leaders in every realm of endeavor to make their organizations more resilient, innovative, inspiring, and accountable. She is an inspiring and provocative voice on the big ideas and important questions that will shape the future of organizations, work, and success. In her speeches Polly showcases her brilliant storytelling ability and takes audiences on an inspiring journey – bringing to life the people, organizations and ideas on the fringe that are creating the future.

For more information on Polly LaBarre, please visit: The Sweeney Agency