Showing posts with label Emotions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Emotions. Show all posts

October 21, 2019

3 Types of Dumping

This was sort of a funny sign:
"No Dumping"

Dumping can refer to at last 3 different types of things and none of them are any good:

1) Dogs - When people are inconsiderate with the animals and they take a "dump" and people don't clean up after them (leaving the messy stink for you to step in). 

2) Trash - When people throw their trash in the dump or what they consider to be a convenient dumping ground and they make a huge mess of the surroundings (like the used mattress on the side of the road).

3) Emotions - When people dump their emotions and problems on others; they just sort of let it all out and while they may feel better (i.e. a nice catharsis), now you feel like sh*t!

Overall, I can't think of any good connotation to dumping, so maybe people should stop doing it--dogs, trash, and problems.  ;-)

(Credit Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 3, 2019

Video Of Video


We went to the art galleries in Rockville Town Center today. 

They had this video called "Neighbor" by Kanat Akar. 

It's about the life of a 13-year old refugee boy from Alleppo, Syria who migrated to Anakara, Turkey. 

The video is eerie and hypnotic as it walks you through the eyes of this little boy and the misery of his life. 

While to me it represents the dark side of life, there is so much to be explored and felt from it. 

You can't watch this without feeling like you are there on this dirty, squalor of a road to nowhere, but wanting desperately to know where it ends.  ;-)

(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 19, 2019

Stone Faces Hide The Heart

Some people are so cold and emotionally distant.

They go around with a stone face.  

No emotion seems to seep in or out. 

The face doesn't betray the heart in any way. 

You say something or do something, and they just sort of stare at you. 

No words, no outward response. 

Just a stone face like a poker face. 

You don't know what's behind it. 

But worse yet is a heart of stone--nothing impacts the inside just like the outside. 

Are some people this way because they have been so hurt in the past that they become hardened like a turtle's shell to protect from the outside world. 

...Ain't gonna let nothing hurt me again. 

Or are they great at using their poker face to fool, manipulate, and get what they are after. 

Perhaps the worst possibility is that they are simply a real psychopath--someone without conscience or empathy. 

Yes, that is scary because the unthinkable becomes thinkable. 

For most of us, reading verbal and non-verbal cues is critical to understanding other people. 

Hiding those cues can mean that the stone face is going to shatter someone's world and that won't be a pretty face at all. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 7, 2019

No One Cares How You Feel

So parenting is not always an easy job. 

But it is one full of love and helping your kids. 

Sometimes, I remember listening to my kids say that they feel this or that and seeing that it was holding them back from accomplishing their goals.  

Often, I would tell them that the only people that really care about how they feel is your mother and father--but generally-speaking, it a tough world out there, and: 
"No one [else] cares about how you feel."

I tried to focus them--not on being cold and unfeeling--but rather on being strong inside and focusing on the tasks that need to get done. 

Sure, feelings are important, but if you are getting held back from doing what you need to do--then there are times when you need to put the feelings in abeyance and go forward. 

Overall, there is plenty of time to feel what you feel, but don't let anger, fear, or anxiety get in the way of you accomplishing your dreams. 

In a book that I am reading by Amos Oz, "A Tale of Love and Darkness," he writes: 
'I want' and 'I don't want' aren't reasons, they can only be defined as self-indulgence.

Yes, it's a little tough love, but also it is out of true love to help the kids to be willing and determined to try their best and not get held back by anything in the pursuit of the destiny they choose to follow. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 9, 2018

Persuasion x 3

I liked this categorization of three types of tools of persuasion developed by Aristotle: 

- Ethos: Appeals to a sense of ethics, morals, and character. 

- Logos: Appeals to a sense of logic, reason, and rationality.

- Pathos: Appeals to a sense of emotion, empathy, and passion. 

I don't know about most people, but I don't get convinced easily. 

You need to show me, prove it to me, or convince me it's right. 

Some others, and I don't know why--it's like you can sell them the Brooklyn Bridge, as they say.  

I think that's dangerous!

Without critical thinking and evaluation, people can get led astray to do the wrong things...a perfect example is Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler (may his memory be forever cursed).  

Hitler appealed to the Germans people at the time:
- Emotionally to bring them back from the loss, destruction, and destitution that World War I inflicted and of course, to scapegoat the Jews, Gypsies, and political opponents and send them to the death camps. 
- Logically, that they were a strong and powerful people, the "Aryan nation," and they therefore, deserved to conquer and rule Europe and the World.
- Ethically--let's just say, this one didn't really apply to Hitler, probably the most evil and destructive man this world has ever known, except that even Hitler tried to fool his people falsely proclaiming, "G-d is with us!"

It's a war of good over evil out there, and we need to make our arguments to influence and persuade for the good, but we also have to be careful not to let others, who are not so good, manipulate us for their own selfish and depraved ends. 

Ethos, Logos, and Pathos--potent tools or weapons in the direction of mankind and civilization. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 11, 2017

Like Removing A Nail

So you always hear about the techniques used when people are being tortured...one of them being have their nails ripped off.

Ouch!

So this week when I had a ingrown toenail removed, I said jokingly to the podiatrist:

"Do you do waterboarding also?"

Ok, funny, not-funny.  Still got a chuckle!

But in removing the nail, the technique is really so amazing.

They inject the toe with a local anesthetic, but hey even the injections into a sensitive toe could be pretty uncomfortable. 

So before the injection, they spray you toe with a freezing spray, so you don't even feel the injections.

When he actually removed the nail and chemically destroyed the nailbed so it wouldn't come back, I didn't feel a thing.

I mean, I literally didn't feel a thing!

It was a wonderful feeling--whatever he did, however much it would've hurt--it didn't.

I thought to myself in a wave of anesthetic and freeze-numbed delight, this is absolutely wonderful.

No pain, not even a pinch. 

I could sense everything going on around me, take it in, think about it, even mull it over again and again, and just smile. 

In a way, I thought how wonderful life would be to have the ability to think in the head and feel from the heart, but have no pain or suffering in the body. 

Yes, there are plenty of damning and painful thoughts, memories, and heartaches, but for the body to be numb (even momentarily) to all the bad stuff that actually felt pretty good.

How would it feel if the mind and heart also felt no pain and only bliss--I smiled even more. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 24, 2017

Don't Push The Button

Thought this was a really funny quote about getting your buttons pushed: 

"Don't push my buttons without reading the manual."


- Gadgetmobile, Inspector Gadget


In terms of not pushing other people's buttons:


"Remember, you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudice, and motivated by pride and vanity."


- Dale Carnegie

 (Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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October 8, 2016

Content Filtering - Should We Restrain Ourselves?

So the Rabbi today spoke about thinking before you speak, and not letting your emotions overcome your logic. 

He mentioned, for example, how some people have so much rage--road rage, email rage, etc.--and you can't let your rage dictate your actions. 

People can certainly get under your skin--just look at the candidates for President doing that to each other.

But rather than just react and blurt out stupid or horrible things in a tit-for-tat, we need to stop and think.

The Rabbi recounted the old advice of counting to ten before saying or doing something rash that you will regret. 

The joke was about the one guy bullying another, and the victim counts to ten like he's supposed to, but then rather than take things down a notch or two, he surprises the bully when he hits ten by punching him right in the nose! (lol)

Another cute idea the Rabbi put out there was for marriage counseling--that husbands and wives should drink this "special water" that they hold in their mouth--this way when they are fighting, they have to pause and can't say anything provocative and aggressive to each other. 

The speak then turned high-tech to some of the new apps for content filtering that help you not to send emails or texts that you are sorry for afterwards. 

And I leaned over to my neighbor in synagogue and said that is so funny, because I just saw this 16-year Indian old girl on Shark Tank who developed this app called ReThink that does just that. 

When you write something negative like ugly or stupid etc., a pop up box comes up and ask whether you really want to say that--it gives you pause to rethink what you are saying and doing. 

She notes from her studies of adolescents that when given the opportunity from this pause, "93% of the time, [they] decide not to post an offensive message on social media."

I remember one colleague at work used to recommend, "write what you want [with all your emotions], but then delete it, and write what will be constructive to the situation [with your logic]."

Getting back to the election, a lot of what the candidates are saying now and from decades ago is stupid or shameful--"locker room banter"--maybe we need to have a filter on our mouths even when we think other people aren't listening. 

Realistically, we can't and shouldn't have to go around filtering every word we say and holding back on every deed we do--there is something to be said for simply following your moral compass in the moment and reacting naturally, talking and doing from the heart and based on instinct, inner belief, and passion. 

But if you are getting angry, then it is best to hit the pause button and filter yourself before someone else has to count to ten and pop you one in your big dumb coconut face. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal) 
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May 23, 2015

Feeling It All

Feelings are one of those things that make us oh so human. 

We feel love and hate, joy and sadness, hopeful and anxious, peaceful and distraught, and countless more emotions. 


While some people come across as stoic, others seem to take it all in (maybe even right on the chin). 


Hence, the perennial stone-faced poker player verse the person who seems to show every emotion and just can't hide it. 


According to the Wall Street Journal, about 20% of both men and women are what's called highly sensitive people (HSPs).


HSPs simply feel everything more!


These are the people who are crying at the movies and so on. 


They can also be extremely empathetic and caring--because they just almost intuitively understand. 


I think they are also deep thinkers, they are watchers of people, taking in the stimuli and processing it in terms of their feelings. 


I remember as a kid sitting with my sister and her friends who were considerably older than me--8 years--and I would listen to their "mature" girl conversations go on and on, and then at the end, I would just sort of say my sensitive two cents, and I think more often then not, I got a lot of surprise looks at a young boy who seemed a lot older and wiser than his age. 


In retrospect, I think that I was always just very sensitive to people, their plights, their hurt, the injustices in the world, and sought to understand it and try to make it right. 


The flip side is that one schmuck of a manager years ago said to me, "You need to get a thicker skin!"


But you know what, I like feeling, being very human, and deeply experiencing the world.


I would imagine (having never tried drugs, true) that perhaps people who get high either are running away from some feelings or running to others--but as a HSP, you just feel it all straight up. 


Being very sensitive to the world can almost be like extrasensory perception...sometimes you can see what others don't, but you also have to learn to cope with the firehose flood of feelings--sometimes even having to tune some of it out. 


Cut me and I bleed, caress me and I am comforted.  ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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October 14, 2013

Listening Beyond The Superficial

"I know you hear me, but are you listening to me?"

That's something one of my teachers used to say to the class back in yeshiva day school. 

The New York Times reports on a company that is pioneering the study of "Emotional Analytics."

Beyond Verbal is helping to "reach beyond the verbal" and listen for mood, attitude, and personality of the speaker. 

The point is that if you listen carefully, you can decode a person's mood--almost like a "human emotional genome."

Beyond Verbal can already identify "400 variations" of emotions not based on the words chosen, but rather based on the tone and frequency of use. 

For example, is the person telling you over and over again about a products problems--and are they getting annoyed that you aren't getting it!

Through a speech analytics engine that examines patterns of verbal use, we can classify whether a person is dissatisfied, escalating, and so on.

This can be extremely useful, for example, in call centers that service (perhaps some irate) customers.

Also, speech analytics could help us with uncovering deception from terrorists or moles in the government by detecting threatening or nervous emotions that the subjects are trying to hide. 

Potentially, this software could be helpful in our personal lives as well in terms of identifying the context and providing the E.I. (emotional intelligence) to understand what a person is r-e-a-l-l-y saying to us, rather than just perhaps the superficial words themselves. 

If we can not only hear someone else, but listen better and perceive more precisely what they are trying to tell us and what they are feeling, then we can problem-solve and resolve situations better and more quickly.

Software like this could definitely help keep me out of the doghouse at home. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 9, 2012

Feeling Groovy


Who_cares
It was interesting, I was reading about how humans have six universal emotions.

These emotions are considered largely involuntary responses to stimuli, and they are:
  • Anger
  • Happiness
  • Fear
  • Sadness
  • Disgust
  • Surprise
As I thought about these out of the six emotions, only happiness is the straight out good one. Hey, who doesn't want to be happy (maybe only an ascetic, but that's because they parodoxically get a type of happiness out of being unhappy)? 

Then, I thought about surprise and that is sort of a toss up--it can be a good surprise or a bad one. Most of the time, people don't like surprises and would rather have an element of control over what is coming, when, and how. So I would throw surprises in the you can keep it pile. 

And while the other four emotions--anger, fear, sadness, and disgust--may be helpful at times (in protecting us physically and emotionally), they all have negative connotations and implications. 

Anger usually means someone has hurt or slighted us. Fear impies that that there is something dangerous or scary to be feared out there. Sadness is the opposite of happiness, so it's a non-starter. And disgust is attributed to something vile or revolting and is usually something we want to get away from as quickly as possible. 

So, six primary human emotions and only one--happiness--makes us feel--happy!

Thinking about emotions as colors, we can feel blue (sad) or fiery red (anger), what about green (with envy)?  Uh, wonder why this emotion was missing from the list, but I would add it as number seven for universal emotions. 

Unfortunately, envy means we feel less than or jealous of the next person, so this is another one that doesn't make us feel very good. 

Maybe then expectations for how much happiness in life we should or can have should be tempered knowling there are six others to keep us busy and feeling--other things. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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September 13, 2012

Let People Feel

Dr. Ben Bissell has a terrific presentation on Managing Change and
Transitions.

Basically Bissell explains that when we face Significant Emotional Events (SEEs)--major life changes (personally in our lives or professionally)--we go through 5 stages:

- Shock (i.e. Denial)--I Can't Believe it!

- Emotions (e.g. Anger)--How could this happen to me?

- Bargaining--Do we have to do it today?

- Depression (i.e. grief)---I can't take it anymore!

- Acceptance--1) Intellectual--If that's what they want! 2) Emotional--Ride the train or be run over by it.

When we have major life change, we can experience loss in terms of control, influence, respect, freedom, security, identity, competence, direction, relationship and resources--in essence, we are forced out of our comfort zone and must transition.

Since according to Biseell "all change produces loss (and fear), and all loss must be grieved, it is understandable why these stages of transition track to the Kubler-Ross model of the 5 stages of grief.

Bissell explains that getting through these stages is not quick and takes a minimum of one and a half years to make it all the way through the 5 stages--during which time, it's normal to feel abnormal. 

The problem is when you get stuck in one of these five stages, then you either:

- Get burned out and quit

- Act out and get difficult

- Become sick, physically or emotionally (e.g. migraines, chronic depression, etc.)

Some ways we can help people get through changes is to:

- Recognize and accept that these stages are normal and necessary.

- Give people a safe place to vent their feelings (i.e. low morale = unresolved anger).

- Increase information flow--when people are undergoing severe life change, you need to counter the tendency for distorted perceptions and help them see where they are going and how they will get there.

- Maintain other elements of stability and familiarity in the person's life--this gives comfort.

- Protect your health--your body, your breathing, your pace of eating and living, and your sleep.

- Give yourself time and space to play, be silly, be foolish, unwind (or else you will pop).

Bissell recognizes that the pace of change is continually increasing and "technology is seeing to that."

Therefore, there is an increased urgency to help people deal with change in healthy ways--working through the stages of transition.

However, from my perspective, when people suffer huge losses in their lives, they never really get over it. The loss is always there, even if it's just behind the scenes rather than out front like the first year or so.

When it comes to loss, people can experience enormous pain, which gets engraved in their consciousness and memories, and we should not expect them to just get over it.

In other words, it's okay to incorporate feelings of loss and grief into who we are--it is part of us and that is nothing to run from or fear. 

Just like good events can having lasting positive impacts in our lives, so do severe disruptions and grief.

People will progress and continue to heal, but they will always feel what they feel--good and bad--and we should never take that away from them.

(Source Photo: here with attribution to LiquidNight)

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April 15, 2012

Beating Social Media Isolation

There is a debate called the "Internet Paradox" about whether social media is actually connecting us or making us more feel more isolated.  

I think it is actually a bit of both as we are connected to more people with time and space virtually no impediment any longer; however, those connections are often more shallow and less fulfilling.

There is an important article in The Atlantic (May 2012) called "Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?" that lends tremendous perspective on information technology, social media and our relationships.
The premise is that "for all this [new] connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier."

The article is very absolute that despite all the technology and communication at our fingertips, we are experiencing unbelievable loneliness that is making people miserable, and the author calls out our almost incessant feelings of unprecedented alienation, an epidemic of loneliness, and social disintegration.

Of course, there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that almost everyone can share, but there are also numerous studies supporting this, including: 

1) Study on Confidants (2004)--showed that our average number of confidants shrunk by almost 50% from approximately 3 people in 1985 to 2 people in 2004; moreover, in 1985 only 10% of Americans said they had no one to talk to, but this number jumped 1.5 times to 25% by 2004. 

2) AARP Study (2010)--that showed that the percentage of adults over 45 that were chronically lonely had almost doubled from 20% in 2000 to 35% in 2010.

Some important takeaways from the research:

- Married people are less lonely than singles, if their spouses are confidants.

- "Active believers" in G-d were less lonely, but not for those "with mere belief in G-d."

- People are going to mental professionals (psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, therapists, and counselors) as "replacement confidants." 

- Loneliness is "extremely bad for your health."

- Our appetite for independence, self-reliance, self-determination, and individualism can lead to the very loneliness that can makes people miserable. 

- Using social media, we are compelled to assert our constant happiness and curate our exhibitionism of the self--"we are imprison[ed] in the business of self-presenting."

- Technology tools can lead to more integration or more isolation, depending on what we do with them--do we practice "passive consumption and broadcasting" or do we cultivate deeper personal interactions from our social networks?

Personally, I like social media and find it an important tool to connect, build and maintain relationships, share, and also relax and have fun online. 

But I realize that technology is not a substitute for other forms of human interaction that can go much deeper such as when looking into someone's eyes or holding their hand, sharing life events, laughing and crying together, and confiding in each other.

In January 2011, CNBC ran a special called "The Facebook Obsession," the name of which represents the almost 1 billion people globally that use it. To me though, the real Facebook obsession is how preoccupied people get with it, practically forgetting that virtual reality, online, is not the same as physical, emotional, and spiritual reality that we experience offline.

At times, offline, real-world relationships can be particularly tough--challenging and painful to work out our differences--but also where we find some of the deepest meaning of anything we can do in this life. 

Facebook and other social media's biggest challenge is to break the trend of isolation that people are feeling and make the experience one that is truly satisfying and can be taken to many different levels online and off--so that we do not end up a society of social media zombies dying of loneliness. 

Social media companies can do this not just for altruistic reasons, but because if they offer a more integrated solution for relationships, they will also be more profitable in the end. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to h.koppdelaney)

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March 14, 2012

Sharing Some Laughter and Happiness

There are some cool articles in Mental Floss (March/April 2012) on laughter and in Harvard Business Review (January 2012) on happiness--hopefully an auspicious sign for us all. 

Some things to think about with laughter:

- "Babies laugh 300 times a day, while adults laugh only 20 times." --  Maybe we all need to be a little more babyish?

- Laughter is "used as a social lubricant; we use it to bond with others." -- This reminds me of something my father always said: "when you are with those you love, the joy is twice the joy and the sorrow half the sorrow."  In essence then, people help us deal with our emotions and our emotions help us deal with people--we all need one another. 

- Laughter is contagious, truly. "Hearing laughter activates the brains premotor cortex. preparing the facial muscles to smile and laugh in kind."  -- What a blessing to laugh and help others laugh as well. 

A brief history of happiness:

1776 -- U.S. Declaration of Independence declares right to the "pursuit of happiness."

1926 -- "Happy Birthday" song composed.

1963 -- Invention of smiley face. :-)

1977 -- Introduction of McDonald's "Happy Meal".

So it's only March 14 (National Pi Day 3.14)--and it already warm outside, the beautiful cherry blossoms are in bloom, and there is plenty to feel happy about, laugh at, and be grateful for in this world. 

Thank you G-d!

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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May 7, 2011

Beyonce Moves Us

This video is funny and enjoyable to watch; only 20 million views on line...am I late to this one?

Leadership lesson: some things are just primal (like music, song, dance...) and we can reach people on many levels through intellect, emotion, spiritual, and so forth.

People are not just one sided, but complex and you never know when even a baby will just get down and move to Beyonce.

Thanks to a colleague for sending this to me.

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October 24, 2010

Pain Points, More Potent Than Wish Lists

Organizations are all interested in what sells—what’s hot and what’s not!

Of course, as advertisers learned long ago, “sex sells.”

What else? Fear sells. All the basic emotions seem to selleverything from affection and anger to wonder and worry.

When people experience an emotional drive, their internal (biochemical) and external (environmental) states elicit a psychophysiological response that drives mood and motivation.

The result is that when effectively selling to people’s emotions, we address or meet their explicit or implicit “pain points.”

Fast Company (November 2010) has an interesting article called “The Felt Need” that differentiates wants from genuine needs.

A want is one thing, but a genuine need or “pain point” is something entirely different. Getting something we want may be satisfying a nice to have on our wish list, but getting rid of a pain point is something that we literally crave to fulfill from physiological and/or psychological motivations.

A good analogy to satisfying people’s wants versus needs is that it’s better to be selling aspirins than vitamins, because “vitamins are nice; they’re healthy [and people want to live healthier]. But aspirin cures your pain…it’s a must-have.”

Similarly, the article tells us that just building a better mousetrap, doesn’t mean that customers will be beating down your door to do business, but rather as organizations we need to figure out not just how to build a better mousetrap, but rather how to get rid of that pesky mouse. The nuance is important!

In technology, there is a tendency to treat almost every new technology as a want and almost every new want as a need. The result is vast sums spent on IT purchases that are unopened or unused that perhaps looked good on paper (as a proposal), but never truly met the organizational threshold as a must-have with a commensurate commitment by it to succeed.

There are a number of implications for IT leaders:

1) As service providers, I think we need to differentiate with our internal customers what their genuine pain points are that must get prioritized from what their technology wish list items that can be addressed in the future, strategy alignment and resources permitting.

2) From a customer standpoint, I’d like to see our technology vendors trying to sell less new mousetraps and focusing more on what we really need in our organizations. The worst vendor calls/presentations are the ones that just try to tell you what they have to sell, rather than finding out what you need and how they can answer that call in a genuine way.

In looking at the emotion, the key to long-term sales success is not to take advantage of the customer in need, but rather to be their partner in meeting those needs and making the pain go away.


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October 13, 2010

Customer Service Design

I really liked the article in MIT Sloan Management Review (Fall 2010) called “Designing the Soft Side of Customer Service” by Dasu and Chase.

The authors write: “Even in the most mundane [customer] encounters, emotions are lurking under the surface. Your job is to make those feelings positive.”

Wow! That is a pretty powerful statement.

Think about it. How often do you genuinely deliver on that positive experience for your customers versus how often do they come away feeling slighted, taken advantage of, maybe even cheated of the service they know they deserve.

Sometimes of course, there are justifiable reasons why we can’t make a customer happy—maybe the customer is simply being unreasonable or is a knucklehead or maybe even some sort of nutcase. We have to use good judgment when it comes to this.

But often there are other problems that are getting in the way of us delivering on that positive customer experience:

Problem #1: We get caught up in the policies, processes, personalities, and politics of a situation, rather than focusing on the customer and their satisfaction. We forget who our real customers are.

Problem #2: We don’t think like the customer. We don’t genuinely listen to the customer or try to understand where they are coming from or what they even want. We are too busy talking the “company line,” playing defense, or taking an adversarial role. We don’t put ourselves in the other person’s shoes, not even for a minute.

Problem #3: We often don’t put the customer first; we put ourselves first. We are more concerned with not making a mistake, getting into trouble, or maybe don’t want to even work “that hard.” In general, we should, but don’t go the extra mile for the customer, let along deliver on first mile.

The MIT article tells us that we can improve customer experiences by designing-in how we manage the customer’s emotions, trust, and need for control (ETCs), as follows:

  • Emotions—have empathy for customers and generate thoughtful interactions that limit negative customer emotions and accentuate positive ones, so that the customer comes away feeling joy, thrill, happiness rather than anger, anxiety and stress.
  • Trust—provide consistent performance, a high-level of engagement and follow-up, and clear and open communication. These contribute to building an enduring relationship.
  • Control—provide customers with ample information, so they feel “cognitive control” over what is happening to them, and provide customers with the ability to make significant service delivery decisions, so they experience “behavioral control.”

Designing for positive customer ETCs experiences will go a long way to resolving the problems of poor customer service, where we know and stay focused on who our customers are, can think as they do, and seriously deliver on their needs the way you would want your customer needs addressed.

I suppose if I have to sum it up in a couple of words, it’s about being professionally selfless and not selfish in all our customer interactions.

It takes some maturity to get there, but I think it’s why we are here to serve.


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April 25, 2010

Going From Peak to Peak

In life, no one has only peaks or valleys. Life is a continuous cycle, and we must traverse “The Wheel of Life” (an ancient belief of many cultures including Jews, Indians, and others) from happiness to loss, suffering, and then hope, and back to happiness again.

Why we go round and round as people and nations is an age-old question. While happiness all the time would certainly be more enjoyable and easier on us all around, it would defeat the purpose of life, which is to learn and grow. And unfortunately, there is profound wisdom in the adage, “no pain; no gain.”

No, that doesn’t mean we should become masochists, so that we learn and grow more! Rather, we learn and grow from difficult experiences and then we get to rest and restore ourselves to be able to apply those in lessons and take it to the next level in future circumstances.

So it was with interest that I recently read Peaks and Valleys, by Dr. Spencer Johnson (best-known for Who Moved My Cheese?).

The conventional wisdom is that if we’re not living at the top of the heap, then we’ve somehow failed. Johnson’s take is that both success and failure (what he calls “peaks and valleys”) have valuable lessons to teach us and are therefore important to experience. The book is about getting the most out of the peaks as well as the valleys of our lives.

Here are some thoughts that rung true—in my words and in Dr. Johnson’s:

#1 - How to handle the valleys:

  • Learn to manage adversity, which helps you to mature and reach your next stage in life: “Between peaks, there are always valleys. How you manage your valleys determines how soon you reach you next peak.”
  • Love and to give to others. “You get out of a valley sooner when you manage to get outside of yourself: at work by being of greater service, and in life by being more loving.”

#2 - Think strategically about where you’re going in life:

  • Envision where you want to be to advance your goals. “A great way to get to your next peak is to follow you sensible vision. Imagine yourself enjoying your better future in such specific believable detail that you soon enjoy doing what takes you there.”
  • Recognize the emotions that guide your actions (and that timing is key): “The most common reason you leave a peak too soon is arrogance masquerading as confidence. The most common reason you stay in a valley too long is fear masquerading as comfort.”

Overall, even though leaders may seem like they are always “above,” in fact everybody goes through regular peaks and valleys.

In addition, leaders have the added duty to find the way not only for themselves, but also to guide others through the “storms” of organizational life. This is a great privilege, but also a tremendous responsibility that necessitates that leaders lead with wisdom and integrity so that they help their organizations, and people, go capably from peak to peak.


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January 9, 2010

Architecting A Secure Society

Once again, we are confronted with the basic security question of how much is the right amount?

It’s a classic catch-22 that requires us to architect security to meet opposing ends: we expect security to be as much as necessary to stop the terrorists, but as little as possible to ensure efficient travel and trade and maintain people’s privacy and equality.

In the last decades, we have behaved schizophrenically, calling for more security every time there is an attempted attack, only to withdraw and demand greater privacy protections, speedier security processing, and only random checks when things cool down.

The Wall Street Journal reported in the January 9-10, 2010 edition that the U.S.’s handling of security nowadays is an ever-losing proposition. The article calls it a virtual game of “Terrorball,” in which we cannot win, because there only two perpetual rules:

· “The game lasts as long as there are terrorists who want to harm Americans; and

· If terrorists should manage to kill or injure or seriously frighten any of us, they win.”

Based on the above, I believe that we can only win the game by changing its rules. Rather than being reactive to every terror scare, we are prepared with one approach—one that delivers an optimal level of security based on the current level of risk.

I recall when Michael Chertoff was Secretary of Homeland Security. During that time, he was a strong advocate for a risk-based approach that was multilayered, strong yet flexible enough to accommodate changing circumstances. From that perspective, which I think made a lot of sense: security decisions are made on the basis of objective criteria. These include technical feasibility, maximum effect, cost-benefit analysis, and so on.

A risk-based approach, or what I call “optimal security,” clearly makes a lot of sense. Yet it is tempting, when a security situation actually occurs, to let emotions get the better of us. On the one extreme, sometimes hysteria takes place and everybody seems a potential threat. Other times, we get angry that anyone at all is subjected to scrutiny or questioning.

In order to save the most lives and change the terror game, we have to decide to become more rational about the threat that faces us. This doesn’t mean being cold and calculating, but rather rational and proactive in developing a security architecture and governance that seeks to protect the most with the least negative impacts—but not trying to plug every possible hole at all costs.

In optimal security: sure, there is the ideal where we want to protect every American from every possible threat. However, there is also the reality where, because of competing priorities and scarce resources (to address everything from the deficit, health care, education, social programs, energy, science, defense, and more) we cannot—no matter how much we genuinely want to—prevent every terror instance.

So the terror playbook can and should be transformed. We can recognize there will always be terrorists—enemies of the state—who want to harm us and given enough attempts, no matter how optimal our security, they will occasionally get a sucker punch in on us—and we must be prepared for this. Moreover, rather than “freaking out” about this the terror threat, we can grow and commit to doing the best we can and accepting that we will increase security when information is there to support that need, and we will relax when that becomes possible.

Bottom line: We must move away from hysteria and any other factor that prevents us from being objective and make rational choices to deploy protections that are most effective and simultaneously safeguard our liberty.

“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” captures the security debate well. We want to safeguard lives, but at the same ensure liberty and we want to be happy and not afraid all the time.

To accomplish this balance, our optimal security realization should be based on highly effective intelligence, supported by the very best technology, and a security platform that adjusts to threats in real time.

While our intelligence continues to strengthen and our technology continues to improve, the greatest challenge is our ability as a nation and as individual human beings to cope with the distress caused by terrorism.

We are ambivalent emotionally about the threat and what needs to be done to combat it. However, once we look inside and understand the emotions that this issue raises, and come to terms with reality we face, we will as a nation be more at peace and less likely to jump from one extreme to another in terms of our demands and expectations from those who protect us every day.


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January 10, 2009

Why We Make Bad Decisions and Enterprise Architecture

With the largest Ponzi scheme in history ($50 billion!!) still unfolding, and savvy investors caught off guard, everyone is asking how can this happen—how can smart, experienced investors be so gullible and make such big mistakes with their savings?

To me the question is important from an enterprise architecture perspective, because EA is seeks to help organizations and people make better decisions and not get roped into decision-making by gut, intuition, politics, or subjective management whim. Are there lessons to be learned from this huge and embarrassing Ponzi scheme that can shed light on how people get suckered in and make the wrong decision?

The Wall Street Journal, 3-4 January, has a fascinating article called the “Anatomy of Gullibility,” written by one of the Madoff investors who lost 30% of their retirement savings in the fund.

Point #1—Poor decision-making is not limited to investing. “Financial scams are just one of the many forms of human gullibility—along with war (the Trojan Horse), politics (WMD in Iraq), relationships (sexual seduction), pathological science [people are tricked into false results]…and medical fads.”

Point #2—Foolish decisions are made despite information to the contrary (i.e. warning signs). “A foolish (or stupid) act is one in which someone goes ahead with a socially or physically risky behavior in spit of danger signs or unresolved questions.

Point #3—There are at least four contributors to making bad decisions.

  • SITUATION—There has to be a event that requires a choice (i.e. a decision point). “Every gullible act occurs when an individual is presented with a social challenge that he has to solve.” In the enterprise, there are situations (economic, political, social, legal, personal…) that necessitate decision-making every day.
  • COGNITION—Decision-making requires cognition, whether sound or unsound. “Gullibility can be considered a form of stupidity, so it is safe to assume deficiencies in knowledge and/or clear thinking are implicated.” In the organization and personally, we need lots of good useful and usable information to make sound decisions. In the organization, enterprise architecture is a critical framework, process, and repository for the strategic information to aid cognitive decision-making processes.
  • PERSONALITY—People and their decisions are influenced positively or negatively by others (this includes the social affect…are you following the “in-crowd”.) “The key to survival in a world filled with fakers…or unintended misleaders…is to know when to be trusting and when not to be.” In an organization and in our personal lives, we need to surround ourselves with those who can be trusted to be provide sound advice and guidance and genuinely look after our interests.
  • EMOTION—As humans, we are not purely rational beings, we are swayed by feelings (including fear, greed, compassion, love, hate, joy, anger…). “Emotion enters into virtually every gullible act.” While, we can never remove emotion, nor is it even desirable to do this, from the decision-making process, we do need to identify the emotional aspects and put them into perspective. For example, the enterprise may feel threatened and competitive in the marketplace and feel a need to make a big technological investment; however, those feelings should be tempered by an objective business case including cost-benefit analysis, analysis of alternatives, risk determination, and so forth.

Hopefully, by better understanding the components of decision-making and what makes us as humans gullible and prone to mistakes, we can better structure our decision-making processes to enable more objective, better vetted, far-sighted and sound decisions in the future.


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