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You folks know so much about how to increase the productivity of learning. Something old, something new, something small, something larger… for the most part, you Continue reading

Six topics for the price of one

I’m spending the first quarter of the year learning experientially by walking around and trying new things.

This blog is turning conversational. It’s me to you. Informal. Personal. I’m returning to the impromptu, stream-of-consciousness style I used when I began blogging a dozen years ago.

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10 most popular posts of 2012

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Google Analytics tells me these are 2012′s greatest hits on jaycross.com.

 

pinkDan Pink’s new book

Dan Pink has written another best seller. (The book won’t be released until December 31 but is already in its third printing.) The U.S. Government reports that one worker in eight is a sales person. Dan disagrees. He thinks we’re all sales people, even though a lot of us are engaged in “non-sales selling.” Instructors, lawyers, doctors, bankers, and you and I spend a lot of time persuading, influencing, and convincing others to do something even though it doesn’t ring the cash register.

 

Learning by Doing

 

Sitting Kills

eamesThe science is still evolving, but we believe that sitting is harmful in itself,” says Dr. Toni Yancey, a professor of health services at the University of California, Los Angeles.

 

 

The Coherent Organization

Organizations and their people are members of many different types of networks, for example, communities of practice, the company social network, and close-knit collaborative work teams. You need to optimize participation in all of them.

 

A Puzzler

What do the following people have in common?

(They did not graduate from college.)

 

Formula for Happiness

Here’s the overall prescription.

  • Relationships. Nurture your connections. Be compassionate. Express your gratitude. Love others.
  • Flow. Enjoy peak performance by doing what you enjoy. Seek appropriate challenges. Apply your signature strengths. JFDI.
  • Mindful. Pay attention. Count your blessings. Savor the good stuff. Be open. Express your joy in life. Favor positive emotions over negative.
  • Calling. Embrace a noble cause, something bigger than yourself. Take note of your progress. Don’t let the bastards get you down.

 

Giving My Computers a Break

Could my outbursts against the computer be stressing me out? Nobel prize winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman has demonstrated that the slightest emotional transaction can color one’s mood for hours. And I was swearing at my computer whenever I hit a glitch, which translates into one rant every fifteen or twenty minutes throughout the day.

Would it make me happier if I stopped griping about the machine? I decided to find out. (It’s working.)

kleenex

Nothing Personal

What does the phrase Don’t take this personally bring to mind?

Being fired?

Not being selected for the new project team?

Being assigned a task you don’t want to do?

Who’s kidding whom? These things are very personal.

 


Why Corporate Training is Broken And How to Fix It

The world of business is undergoing a profound shift. Workers are making more of their own decisions. They don’t want to be told what to do. They want to learn but they don’t want to be trained. Learning is shifting from top-down to bottom-up and sideways. Collaboration is replacing command and control.

It’s not that training departments have started screwing up; it’s that the world around them has changed. Training departments push training, while workers search and ask for the information they need. Both just want to get the job done, but they’re operating in different eras. The disparity creates a power struggle that the workers are destined to win.

 

Flipping Corporate Learning
More important for learning outcomes, the time spent in class can be put to more productive use. Learners convene to get answers to questions, discuss examples, put what they’ve learned in context, debate, explore, and extend their knowledge. Instead of passively listening to an instructor, they actively engage the material. Instructors, freed of the need to mouth the words of lessons, focus on helping learners understand things and coaching individuals. These activities can take place online, and people can learn from one another in virtual communities and support groups.

Dan Pink’s new book

pink

Dan Pink has written another best seller. (The book won’t be released until December 31 but is already in its third printing.)

The U.S. Government reports that one worker in eight is a sales person. Dan Pink disagrees. He thinks we’re all sales people, even though a lot of us are engaged in “non-sales selling.” Instructors, lawyers, doctors, bankers, and you and I spend a lot of time persuading, influencing, and convincing others to do something even though it doesn’t ring the cash register.

If I say selling, what words pop into your mind? Most people come up with negative terms — pushy, smarmy, yuck, difficult, annoying. The reason is that sales people have had an unfair advantage: they had more information than buyers. The internet changed that. Now car buyers come to the dealership knowing exactly what a car cost the dealer. Caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) has become caveat venditor (let the seller beware). When everyone’s got the same information, selling becomes a more sophisticated game.

Dan describes the old school: the last Fuller Brush Man, Joe Girard (an over-the-top car salesman), and the movie Glengarry Glen Ross. In the movie, the insulting young sales manager says all it takes is ABC – Always Be Closing. For Dan, ABC means Attunement, Buoyancy, and Clarity.

Attunement? Mimic the buyer. Like what she likes. Take her perspective. Do like Jeff Bezos, who pulls up an empty chair at meetings for an invisible customer. Buoyancy? How well will you bounce back after adversity? Do you have a positive or negative outlook? Do you catastrophize? Clarity? Find the right problem. Ask good questions. Frame things right.

Dan attends a workshop on improv with Cathy Salit. It so happens that I’ve taken the same workshop. Dan draws a lot of lessons from it. Sad to say, I’ve forgotten everything but saying “Yes, and….”

To Sell Is Human is not as memorable as Drive but it contains many good lessons. It will be fun catching sales people mimicking your behavior or delivering a sales pitch that rhymes.

Selling ain’t what it used to be. Thank goodness. When I sold mainframes for NCR, I was required to memorize a sales pitch and deliver it to the other sales people in my branch. None of this personalization stuff.


Read the first six pages.

Anybody who orders the book — hardcover or e-book, from any bookseller — before December 30, 2012, will receive the following:

1. A free 20-page PDF workbook, based on To Sell is Human, giving you a two-week plan to get better at selling and a head start on those who won’t have the book until January.

2. A free New Year’s Day webinar – with an exclusive look at the ideas, people, and publications I’ll be watching in 2013 along with a chance to ask me questions. (We did this for the launch of Johnny Bunko a few years ago – and it was one of the best-received events I’ve ever done.)

3. A free customized Field Notes memo book – my favorite notebook of all time, printed in a (very) limited edition batch commemorating publication of the book.

4. A free To Sell is Human bookplate, signed and numbered, to slap inside your book.

5.  A free audio download of a one-hour special edition of Office Hours (which won’t be available anywhere else) featuring exclusive interviews with Robert Cialdini, author of the classic book, Influence, and Adam Grant, the Wharton professor whose not-yet-published study is one of the biggest pieces of news in To Sell is Human.

THE INSTRUCTIONS
Once you pre-order the book, or if you’ve done so already, just forward your receipt in any form to [email protected]. We’ll verify it and then send you instructions on how to access your goodies when they’re ready.

 

 

 

Your social wishlist

How will you take advantage of your in-house social network?

Use networks to create services and share collective intelligence

Your company will install an in-house social network. The only question is how soon. Wise Chief Learning Officers are thinking about how social networks will augment learning & development.

Imagine that a Senior Executive in your company returns from Thanksgiving weekend having read white papers from IBM that say social business is the next step in the overall evolution of business. Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Fast Company had already told him that brainpower has become the engine of innovation. It’s inevitable that businesses will construct networks that connect everyone in their ecosystems to co-create and deliver services that delight customers and share collective intelligence. Social business is the flavor of the day in the C-suites of the Fortune 500.

The allure of social business is captivating. McKinsey, MIT and others report that companies that embrace social business models:

  • reduce time to market
  • increase the level of innovation
  • speed up access to knowledge
  • reduce operating costs
  • make in-house expertise easier to tap
  • increase employee satisfaction

The social business juggernaut has arrived and the time to get on board is now. Front-running companies are installing social networks like Chatter, Jive, Connections, Socialcast, Yammer, Socialtext, Sharepoint, Ideo, and HootSuite like there’s no tomorrow.

The exec secured a mandate from the executive committee to experiment with social networking in three areas of the company, international sales, manufacturing resource forecasting, and learning & development.

You’re Chief Learning Officer. You’ve been doing your own research on “Enterprise 2.0” and learning networks. You appreciate that social business — connecting everyone in the organization in networks makes sense. You’ve also sensed a groundswell in the learning and development community favoring social, self-directed, “pull” learning.

You recently read a compelling argument that people in knowledge organizations learn three to four times as much from experience as from interaction with bosses, coaches, and mentors. And they learn about twice as much from those conversations with others from in classrooms and formal learning programs.

Social business is the flavor of the day
in the C-suites of the Fortune 500.

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You could deliver a much bigger bang for your training buck by greasing the skids to make experiential learning more systematic, coached, and attractive.

The senior exec called you to his office and explained, “We’re going to experiment to find out how in-house social networks might strengthen our L&D and a few other areas in the company. Several vendors of social network suites have offered us incredibly deep discounts if we make up our minds in the next two days. I know it’s a sales gimmick and they don’t think we can do it. I need you to give me a one-page list of the capabilties you require from social software to make the most of social learning and carry out your vision of what we need to do. It’s an outrageously short fuse request but do your best.”

Let’s test your skills and ability. What functions would appear on your list?

Close the magazine, take out a sheet of paper, and jot down your requirements. What features would you need and why?

Here’s an example

Mobile access – Half of America’s workforce sometimes works away from the office. Smart phones have surpassed PCs for connecting to networks. More people Tweet from their phones than from their computers. If we don’t have mobile capabilities, we’ll lose more than half of our audience.

Jot down what you need. Turn to page ____ to check your list against the nine features on our wish list.

EDITOR.* This answers section goes on a page further back in the book.

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Requirements for in-house social learning network

Profiles – for locating and contacting people with the right skills and background. Profile should contain photo, position, location, email address, expertise (tagged so it’s searchable). IBM’s Blue Pages profiles include how to reach you (noting whether you’re online now), reporting chain (boss, boss’s boss, etc.), link to your blog and bookmarks, people in your network, links to documents you frequently share, members of your network.

Activity stream – for monitoring the organizational pulse in real time, sharing what you’re doing, being referred to useful information, asking for help, accelerating the flow of news and information, and keeping up with change.

Wikis – for writing collaboratively, eliminating multiple versions of documents and email, keeping information out in the open, eliminating unnecessary email, and sharing responsibility for updates and error correction.

Virtual meetings – to make it easy to meet online. Minimum feature set: shared screen, shared white board, text chat, video of participants, ability to record. Bonus features: persistent meeting room (your office online), avatars.

Blogs – for narrating work, maintaining your digital reputation, recording accomplishments, documenting expert knowledge, showing people what you’re up to so they can help out.

Bookmarks – to facilitate searching for links to information, discovering what sources other people are following, tracking down experts.

Mobile access – Half of America’s workforce sometimes works away from the office. Smart phones have surpassed PCs for connecting to networks. Phones post most Tweets than computers. Google designs its apps for mobile before porting them to PCs.

Social network – for online conversation, connecting with people, and all of the above functions.

Search – for locating needles in haystacks.


* Note: This is the version of the article I submitted to CLO under the title H0w Will You Take Advantage of Your In-House Social Network? The article that appears in the magazine was edited by CLO editors. The edited version is always close but rarely the same as what I send in.

#itashare


Positive emotions

This afternoon I finished reading Barbara Frederickson’s delightful and utilitarian book, Positivism. I am glad I did. Here’s a glimpse of what she (and I) believe in:

Frederickson is rare among psychologists for sharing what to do about downers while dispensing great advice on what to do for uppers. She was forced to look at both sides because balancing uppers and downers in at least a 3:1 ratio is her success formula. It is so, so simple. It is elegant. I plan to spend a lot of time with this book.

Reflecting back on my recent intellectual journey of three months of reading and research, I realize I’d become a zealot for applying positive psychology.  Every nail looked like disenchanted, unhappy people and I had the positive psychology hammer in my back pocket to solve all ills.  Frederickson helped me snap out of that and appreciate how much more is out there.

What had hooked me into looking down too narrow a tube was Marty Seligman.  I probably would not be alive today were it not for his Learned Helplessness helping lift the gloom of depression from my shoulders. Unlike the helpless dog who doesn’t realize the glass atop his box has been removed and never hops out, Marty shows how to break the imaginary glass we thought was covering our own boxes. Marty and I have only met once; he wouldn’t remember. I feel kinship because we were both Princeton undergrads in the mid sixties.

When I finished Marty’s Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment, I tried to sell all my friends on the concept that happiness is a choice. A few made the right decision. I put it on the back burner.

Flourish rekindled my interest in the field known now universally known as positive psychology. I’ll be writing more about Marty’s findings and how to apply them in the enterprise. But now, back to Barbara Frederickson.

Barbara and Marty are friends. She was at the birthing ceremony of the positive psychology movement. They are fellow pioneers. Positivism didn’t so much knock Marty off his pedestal as lead me to put Barbara right by his side. I expect to continue to learn from both of these visionaries. The two have different ways of looking at things and they are both absolutely right.

Anyone game for a Google Hangout to talk about this in the next few days?

 

 

Crowdsourcing a design from 99designs

Internet Time Lab needed a logo for its iPhone app to measure emotion. At my partner’s suggestion, I turned to 99designs.com, “the fastest growing design marketplace in the world.” Their site says they’ve conducted 174,000 design contests and paid out $1.4 million to designers last month. I’d never heard of them.

Nine days ago, I posted a spec for what I wanted, put $149 on my credit card, and began receiving design options. 23 designers submitted a total of 62 entries. 3 withdrew their designs. 3 designers made my short list. I selected the winner last night.

Here’s the winning icon:

Look for it at Online Educa Berlin.

99designs also does brochures, web pages, t-shirts, banners, and book covers. I’ll be back.