Showing posts from July, 2011

Chasing Balloons

To the surprise of many, New Jersey has a lot going for it, including the annual Festival of Ballooning, held in the Summer from Solberg Airport in the rolling hills of central NJ.

My wife and I got up early today for the chance to see the balloons take off. Driving from where we live in New Brunswick to Whitehouse Station did not take long. Using our GPS, we found our way to a field near the airport just as the colorful flotilla was taking off.

Then, along with many others, we gave chase! With my eyes on the winding country roads, and Joan's eyes on the balloons, we raced along through the farmlands, stopping here and there to snap pictures.

Soon, most of the balloons had landed in yards, in fields, and in farm pastures.

A few kept going, floating off toward Rt. 206, somewhere beyond the trees.

Posted by Terrence Seamon on Saturday July 30, 2011

Does Your Team Have A Visionist?

I met a visionist this week.

Teaching "Building Productive Teams" for one of my clients this week, I gave them several team projects to undertake that would translate back to their work in the organization.

One of the assignments was the classic "team shield" exercise. The task was to create a shield that depicts the team's mission (what we do), vision (what we aspire to), and values (what we stand for). They were free to use words and pictures.

In one of the four teams, an Operations member named James stepped up to the task of drawing the team's ideas on a flipchart. To everyone's surprise, James had a talent, a real visual flair, both in printing letters and in drawing images such as a sword, a bow and arrow, a mountain range, and a sunrise. His drawing reflected the input of his whole team, but the end result stood apart from the other three teams in visual splendor.

You could see that he felt very good about what he had contributed. And his team posit…

Take Good Care of Your Self

Because of the stress many are experiencing these days from the recession, work overload, and uncertainty of the times, I am frequently asked to teach Stress Management to my client organizations.

If you (or someone you know) are stressed out, let me suggest an outline for your consideration, adapted from Dr. Kathleen Hall's wonderful book A Life In Balance.

Dr. Hall recommends that you take good care of your SELF:

Serenity, Slowness, and Sleep - To protect yourself from rising anxiety, seek out your daily dose of serenity. There are many pathways to consider. Find one or two that work for you. Maybe meditation or yoga. Maybe a walk or listening to music. Perhaps prayer.

And if you find yourself rushing around and running short of breath, recognize the value in slowing down. Just as there are times for urgency, there are also times to take it slow. Slow down with eating, for example. You'll enjoy it more. (For more great ideas on taking life slower, see this TEDtalk by Carl Honore…

Make Something Happen

Today, at the Professional Service Group (PSG) in Somerville, NJ, I had the great opportunity to be their guest speaker. My topic, "Jump Start Your Job Search," was a hit.

But not because of me. It was the spirit of the group!

I was so impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of the people there, most of whom were north of 50 years old, and who had every right to be glum about their situation. But they were anything but gloomy. Quite the contrary, they were ready to make something happen!

I shared a quote with the group from a NJ job hunter who said, "Today is going to be the day that something is going to happen." That's optimism, for you! And a positive attitude.

What I recommended is that they take it one step further and approach each day with the attitude "Today I am going to make something happen." Even if it's just a tiny little step forward. Great oak trees come from tiny acorns.

Here are several ideas that surfaced for making something happen e…

Changing the Culture On A Big Scale

Lately, there is a lot of chatter in the blogosphere about changing corporate culture. Much of it is good, such as this piece by Peter Bregman.

But every so often, someone comes along and says he is going to lead a change in organizational culture on a very big scale. The person I'm thinking of is Lowell McAdam, the newly named CEO of Verizon Communications.

In many news articles yesterday (such as this one), the announcement was made by current CEO Ivan Seidenberg that McAdam would come over to Verizon after a highly successful run as the head of Verizon Wireless. McAdam said: "We will definitely try to bring that entrepreneurial culture from the wireless side into the wireline side." Why? He said that Verizon must adopt a more "entrepreneurial culture" in its shrinking land-line business.

There it is, the Big Scale Culture Change Project: How to bring the entrepreneurial culture from the wireless business into the wireline side, Verizon Communications, to cou…

Spirited Disobedience

What a synchronistic morning! The daily newsletter from Richard Rohr contained this line:

~ " order to hold the new wine, we need new wineskins..."

What is the new wine, you ask?

Opening the NY Times, my wife said, "Listen to this." And she proceeded to read to me the front-page story, titled "In 3 Countries, Challenging the Vatican on Female Priests," about spirited disobedience in the Catholic Church. Here are the three fronts in this spirited movement:

- In the USA, over 150 Roman Catholic priests have signed a statement supporting a fellow priest who ordained a woman as a priest.

- In Austria, more than 300 priests and deacons issued a "Call to Disobedience" with a seven point pledge that includes support for ordination of women and married men.

- In Australia, the National Council of Priests defended their Bishop who said he would ordain women and married men as an answer to the shortage of priests.

How is the Vatican taking this? Not well. …

Using Your Power for Good

In the Star Wars films, young hero Luke Skywalker learns about The Force from his mentors Obi Wan Kenobi and Yoda. The Force is an invisible but real super-natural energy source that can be harnessed and focused by those adept enough to use it. Luke learns that the Force can be used for good (like Obi Wan) or for evil (like Darth Vader).

In the real world, there is a potent force too. One that we wield all the time, though most of that time we are unaware of it and of its impact on others. I'm referring to the power of influence.

In Success magazine, writer Jennifer Reed does a nice job of addressing the question, Are you using your power of influence for good or for evil? She writes:

"Scientific studies prove the power of influence. A 2007 Harvard University report found a person’s chance of being obese increases 57 percent if a friend becomes obese, 40 percent if a sibling becomes obese, and 37 percent if a spouse becomes obese. A 2009 Stanford University study found that …

Ich Bin Ein Neandertaler

My lifelong fascination with prehistoric stuff just got a major jolt with the headline that early Humans did indeed inter-breed with Neanderthals. So much so, the experts say, that many of us, myself included, carry Neanderthal DNA in our makeup.

Here's an excerpt from Discovery News:

"If your heritage is non-African, you are part Neanderthal, according to a new study in the July issue of Molecular Biology and Evolution. Damian Labuda of the University of Montreal's Department of Pediatrics and the CHU Sainte-Justine Research Center conducted the study with his colleagues. They determined some of the human X chromosome originates from Neanderthals, but only in people of non-African heritage.

'This confirms recent findings suggesting that the two populations interbred,' Labuda was quoted as saying in a press release. His team believes most, if not all, of the interbreeding took place in the Middle East, while modern humans were migrating out of Africa and spreading t…

Today's Time Challenge for Training

Recently, Gena Taylor from maestro e-learning, interviewed me for her Training blog, Training Spotting (which is a nice take-off on the title of a UK film called Trainspotting).

In the structured interview that she conducted, Gena sought my perspective on the greatest challenges facing providers, and customers, of Training nowadays. In my view, that greatest challenge is Time. Here is an excerpt from the interview:

Gena: What have you found to be the greatest challenges in the training profession today?

Terry: Time is so precious, and in such short supply, that people do not have time for training. Even those who admit they really need the training, can’t break free to attend a class. Because of the time issue, as well as the issue of having workers deployed in many different locations, some companies are turning to e-learning as a solution. E-learning is an important new channel for delivering some types of training...

In this fast-paced world, people need to learn things on-the-fly w…

The Spiritual Manager

Can a manager manage spiritually?

This is the question that is forming in me on a beautiful Sunday morning in July as I sit on my porch with a cup of coffee, watching the red and yellow finches land on the bird feeder in my yard, and the baseball players gather for their game in the park across the street.

I suppose the answer to the question lies in the question itself. What does it mean to do anything spiritually?

Here are a few aspects that occur to me this day...

Serenity - Having peace of mind stems from a peaceful heart. Sounds good, but it's difficult to attain and keep. There is so much pain in life, so much inner conflict at times.

Mindfulness - Cultivating a non-judgemental awareness of the Self, including the thoughts, the feelings, and emotions that arise within, is the first step toward serenity. With mindfulness, you can learn to calmly let go of anxiety and stress.

Identity - Do you know Who You Are? Knowing your true self will help you discover what you are called to do.

Live Your Goals

The women on the World Cup Soccer teams wear a patch on their shoulders that says "Live Your Goals." It's part of a campaign by FIFA to encourage the spread of women's football around the world. The aims of the campaign include:

"to spark excitement about women’s football;
to inspire more young women and girls to play football;
to increase the popularity of the professional game."

Judging by my recent experience in Germany, where I attended three World Cup games, this campaign is succeeding.

Yesterday, via ESPN, I watched the game in Dresden between the US and Brazil, described by the press as "dramatic" and "epic." That it was.

But for me, watching these teams play with such ferocity and intensity, I thought of the recent publication by Dr. Heidi Grant Halvorson on the characteristics of successful people. Dr. Halvorson is establishing a "science of success" by studying what successful people actually do.

She says that "succes…

Dr. Paul Marciano and Employee Engagement

What does it take to increase employee engagement? That's what organizational leaders want to know.

The good news is, It's not rocket science. In fact, the levers for moving the needle on employee engagement were summed up by author and consultant Dr. Paul Marciano. You can read about his model here.

If you want to learn more, the Rutgers Center for Management Development is hosting a special program featuring Dr. Marciano on July 26 and 27. During this 2-day workshop, participants will learn how to maximize the ROI of an organization’s most powerful resource – its people – through Dr. Marciano’s powerful RESPECT™ model for increasing employee engagement.

The event will be held at 94 Rockafeller Road in Piscataway, NJ. Registration is $975 and includes continental breakfast and lunch. All attendees of the program will also receive a copy of Dr. Marciano's book, Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work.

For more information:
Call: 1-848-445-5543
Visit: …

Travel Is Good for the Soul

After my first trip to Europe years ago, I realized that travel changes you. It stretches you. It is good for the soul.

In our latest voyage to Europe, we managed to visit both Paris and Berlin in the same trip! Imagine that? Thanks to our friends who live in Germany, we did. And more besides, visiting Heilbronn, Stuttgart, Bad Rappenau, Bad Wimpfen, Mainz, Heidelburg, and even attending two Womens World Cup Soccer games at the new Neckar-Rhein stadium in Sinsheim.

Our humorous tour guide in rainy Berlin took us for an informative 1 hour ride. When we came to Check Point Charlie, he told us about the rabbits that were trapped when Berlin was divided and the wall was built. Did they mutate into a larger and stranger breed? Unknown. A Berliner style urban legend?

As I said up top, travel is good for the soul. Especially this sort of travel, where you leave your comfort zone far behind. You learn things about human nature, such as the amazing ability we have to communicate even with those …