Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Smart Creatives and 5 Ways to Keep Them

Earlier this month, Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman at Google, published something on Slideshare that made my heart beat faster than usual. It was not a research report, nor a business education book, but something much more powerful --- an insight into how Google ensures its profitability and sustainability for the future. Acknowledging the fast pace of the modern-day world, instability and dependency on human capital, Eric explains how "smart creatives" bring innovation and fluidity into the organization. Go ahead and check his presentation:

So, here's Eric's formula:




I have come up with 5 ideas on helping the smart creatives thrive and stay with the company longer.

1. Cross-pollinate.
  • Innovation comes from combination. Instead of encouraging silos, make sure that employees from different departments, geographies, business units, etc. share openly and try things out together. Make diversity work. Collaboration should not be a value on the wall but a way that the organization thinks and lives.

2. Do not underestimate deep expertise.
  • It is a natural tendency to spend money and other resources on developing broad professionals (think MBAs). Fair enough: growing general managers for your business is a dire need and it will be even more acute in the future. Yet, balance investment into Hi-Potentials with that into High-Professionals. Technical knowledge does not appear out of thin air: it needs to be cultivated, retained, transferred, taught. You need it to create really great products (think Apple). 

3. Reward honest mistakes.
  • Honest mistake does not equal failure. It means that you have tried and learnt. It means that your brain has worked in a new way, since, had you been following the instructions, you would not have made that mistake. Yes, well-done, you have tried novel methods! One never knows which idea will be the next Uber or Netflix

4. Teach coping with failure.
  • Success lies not in avoiding failures, but in quick recovery after something bad has happened. Encourage people to try. Make sure they learn the lessons and move on. See the previous point. 

5. Change the business for the talent you need, not vice versa.
  • As Daniel Pink said in his book A Whole New Mind, unless you work with the right side of your brain, soon your job will not only be outsourced, it will be automated. Computers can follow algorithms, but true creativity and innovation comes from humans. Those skills will become more and more valuable. Those professionals will be less and less loyal. So, don't try to hold them to fit your company, as they'll flee places where they don't feel at home, but rather change your workplace to attract and keep the smart creatives.

Monday, October 13, 2014

5 Songs to Boost Your Resilience

Stress is a natural part of our lives, just like sleeping, breathing and wasting time in traffic. It's even good in small doses, as it increases our performance. When there is too much stress, there is anxiety, burnout and problems. That's bad stress. There is also a ton of information on the internet of how to recognise when you are stressed and what to do to avoid and/or cope with it. I will talk only about one small but powerful technique: music.

Music engages the right-hand side of your brain and works on levels that we do not consciously control or maybe even have awareness of. Right now, there is a lot of neuroscience research coming out about the different chemicals that get released when certain things happen. I am certain there is a paper somewhere proving that listening to some type of music releases those chemicals that help you cope with stress and boost your resilience.
Resilience - the ability to bounce off, not to give in to your stressors, overcome difficulties without overspending your emotional resources.
Those of you who are familiar with the concept of anchoring in NLP, may see these songs as powerful anchors: they activate the same brain areas as when you felt on top of the world, loved, strong, resilient - and make you re-live those moments, giving you the boost that you need.

Music is a very intimate experience. So, the list below is only me sharing with you a few songs that mean something to me personally: take it as an idea, but for everyone this list will be different.

Here we go, starting from number 5 on the list...

#5 Alaska (Fangoria) - A Quien Le Importa

Not very well-known outside of Spain and sung only in Spanish, this is basically a version of "I Am What I Am" (from the great La Cage Aux Folles), and if we translate the title literally, it would be something along the lines of "Who cares?" A celebration of individuality and beating your own drum.

#4 Bon Jovi - Livin' On A Prayer

An all-time karaoke favourite, this is a rock answer by John Bon Jovi to Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" and similar we'll-make-it-happen hit songs.

#3 Shirley Bassey - This Is My Life

Of course, it's Dame Shirley Bassey. The unmistakable voice of so many James Bond soundtracks, this is one of her earlier songs, the one that she Shirley brought along with her through her entire stage life.

#2 David Guetta - Titanium

It just gives you that extra kick in your step when you need it. A presentation? A tough conversation? First date? A must-have on your playlist.

#1 Cher - You Haven't Seen the Last of Me

The epitome of resilience... coming from the latest movie with Cher "Burlesque":

Now it's your turn. Post your top resilience song in the comments ---------->


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