Monday, August 26, 2013

The Eyes Have It

Although our eyes may not truly be windows into our soul, there is a significant amount that our eyes do tell and communicate to others.  The following list, all based in research, offers you a few insights into just how much our eyes give away!

  1. Thinking Hard.  The harder that your brain has to work (think) the more your pupils dilate.  The harder the task, the bigger the pupils get.
  2. Thinking Too Hard.  There is an overload point however.  When you hit about 125% of your mind's capacity your pupils constrict (get smaller), indicating your overload.  Likely this is where we describe someone's eyes as glazing over!
  3. Showing Interest.  Your pupils will dilate whenever you are interested in something.  Likely they will dilate at first when confronted by just about anything that is new - what's important is to see if they remain dilated... that shows ongoing interest.
  4. Sign of attraction.  Sexual interest also involves the eyes.  Both men and women's pupils expand when they are sexually interested.  And... an interesting side note... men tend to show interest in naked photos of women (using pupil dilation as the measure - and no... not a big surprise here!) but women do not show the same degree of interest in naked pictures of men.  This difference is hard-wired into our brains and is directly related to our past where the selection of a mate (by a female) was unconsciously based on propogation of the species, ability to feed and protect...  all decisions that needed to be determined and assessed 'live' and not through photos.     
  5. Sign of disgust.  And... the converse holds true.  When you are disgusted with something your pupils will constrict in size.  When shown pictures of injured children, people's pupils will dilate at first because of the shock and then constrict to try to avoid or limit seeing the images.
  6. Maternal Instincts.  Women's pupils tend to dilate when looking at babies.  Live, in pictures... doesn't matter.  This demonstrates their interest and also serves to help the infants bond with them.  Men's pupils do not tend to dilate as much.  This is more of a genetic predisposition based on times when the males were the hunters and were gone for long periods of time.  Women were the caretakers and home with the children.  Therefore it was more important for the infants to bond with the female since she would primarily be responsible for their care.  
  7. Building Trust.  We tend to trust people that spend more time looking at us than looking away from us.  To build trust with others therefore, we need to be able to maintain a certain level of eye contact. As an internal self-defensive move, research has also shown that we unconsciously spend more time working to remember the face of someone that we distrust than those we trusted.  Being memorable may therefore not always be a positive 'thing'!
And... just a note of caution to add to the mix.  Someone's medication can alter their pupil size, as can the lighting of the room.  Too bright a room and the pupils constrict.  Too dark a room and the pupils contract which is, by the way, why romantic dinners are typically held in poorly lit rooms or by candlelight.  The poor lighting makes the pupils open wide, making the other party look more interested/attracted.  This can, though, lead to the wrong signals being sent!  It is better to baseline for the environment you are in and watch for 'changes' from that state, based on the interactions.

Having said that though, it is typically very difficult to consciously detect changes in people's pupil sizes, although we are able to unconsciously pick up on those changes.  Just another element that tends to let our 'gut' know what's going on long before we are able to consciously identify it.

(Check out our  Beyond Words:  Your Body Language at Work program for a more in depth study and understanding of what your body language is saying to others and how to read theirs!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

And... the winner is...

A HUGE congratulations to Kris Juhasz, the lucky winner in our first-ever Great Book Giveaway!  I had a lot of fun with this and, judging by the responses, so did you!  You know I am constantly reading something, so look for future Book-Giveaway contests for you to try your luck with!

Monday, August 19, 2013

5 Top Productivity Tips from Start Ups

Those involved in Start Ups know that they have to make every minute count. Learning to be as productivewhen they get to market but even if they get there. Here are 5 top productivity tips that don't just work for start ups... they will help you increase your productivity as well!
as possible with the time available to them can make a significant difference in not just

  1. Outsource the mundane.  For start ups this becomes a necessity.  As they are wearing multiple hats to get things going, it is critical they put their focus on what is important for them to be doing and find others to take care of the daily 'chores' that need to be done but that don't require them to do it.  Certainly this is a key concept highlighted in Timothy Ferriss' The 4-Hour Work Week, but one you need to begin to take to heart.  Regardless of your level within a corporation, you likely could benefit from a part-time Virtual Assistant of some kind, if only to handle some basic clerical work for you.  Don't limit it to work-only activities though.  Consider grocery services, full laundry services, house-cleaning...  All of the activities that need to get done but don't need you - specifically - to do them.  Do the math.  Often these services cost less for you to hire someone to do them for you than they would cost you to do them personally.
  2. Book yourself into meetings - with yourself.  In these days of open calendars, you can get booked into meetings with others until your day has run away from you.  Ensure that you book blocks of time into your calendar that are for you.  Treat them as sacred.  Don't treat them lightly or trade them away too readily.  These are scheduled blocks of uninterrupted time that allow you to fully immerse yourself into a project, allowing your focus to be unbroken and you to surge ahead.  This time doesn't happen unless you make it happen.  Schedule it weeks and months ahead so that it's there waiting for you. 
  3. Don't create MORE mundane work for yourself.  In meetings we have a tendency to promise to send information, make a connection for someone, set up another meeting.  Don't add it to your to-do list...  do it then.  If it is something you are doing for the person you are with they will not resent your sending an email right then and there.  Now it's not an empty promise, it's a done deal... and it never made it onto a to-do list!
  4. Trim your meetings.  We have a habit of booking meetings in 1 hour blocks or, at minimum, in 30 minute increments.  Shave time off your meetings, adding them to your day, by booking what you need.  If you only need 12 minutes - book that!  Trim the excess up front so others know it will be a targeted meeting.  Teach others to be respectful of your time while you are being respectful of theirs.  
  5. Always take the networking meeting.  We all live busy lives with more to do than the time to get it done.  Therefore, we tend to put off networking meetings thinking we will get to when we have more time - which we never have.  Those in start ups know that networking with others is critical to their success.  In today's business environment it is critical to everyone's success.  Nothing is stable.  Building your network, keeping it apprised of what you're doing, helping others within it, are activities that WILL serve you well and is always time that you are investing in your future.  Don't go crazy but don't overlook its value.  Successful entrepreneurs and start ups don't, you shouldn't either!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Your Personal Tipping Point

In his book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell wrote about the magical moment when an idea crosses
some invisible threshold and goes viral.  It's the point at which this very shift takes place that people want to come to know, understand and replicate.  In business, this is an important and key concept, a way to grow your business astronomically.

There is for each of us as individuals a Personal Tipping Point though too.  We each have a invisible moment in time where the Longing for the life you imagine becomes Regret for the life you've let slip by.  Often, it feels as though this moment occurred in our sleep where, upon waking, we experience the sense that our dreams have passed, that the life we have dreamed of living is not going to happen. For many, tipping over from longing to regret seems uncontrollable and perhaps even inevitable.

The tip into regret changes our perspective on our life.  When we now are regretting the life not lived, the actions not taken, many then presume that the time to 'try' is past, that they have missed their opportunity.  For a few though, the feeling of regret serves to spur them on.  They recognise that this is not a feeling they want to continue to experience and use it as the impetus to get back on course.  Reversing the Tip is always an option, but it often proves a difficult one for many to manage.  Easier by far, is to prevent the Tip from happening in the first place.

There is a trick to managing this Tipping Point, a trick that we can use to prevent the Tip from ever taking place, ensuring that we forestall (forever) the experience of regretting the life we've led.  That trick?  Taking Action! 

As it turns out, regret is typically built upon the actions we failed to take more than on those we did.  Even if the action we took failed to take us in our desired direction, it took us out of the state of inertia and into a state of momentum.  We will always make some wrong moves, but if we're moving we can course correct.  Additionally, many of those 'wrong' first moves enable us to build a stronger plan for moving forward, often reshaping a 'better' future vision for ourselves as a result.

Action is not only the strategy that prevents us from tipping into regret, but the same strategy used to overcome it.  Wallowing in the thought of what never will be creates inertia.  To break from this you need to DO something, take some action, that will shift you from feeling that you have missed the boat to putting you back at the helm.

In this instance, even baby steps count!  One small step forward can be enough to begin to Tip the Scales back in your favour!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Giveaway - Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Chip & Dan Heath

Chip & Dan Heath
At a recent Conference, held here in Toronto, I had the opportunity to hear one of my heroes speak. Yes, Tony Robbins was there and was great as Tony always is, but I have to say I was more excited to hear Chip Heath. Now, the name may not ring as many immediate bells for you as Tony Robbins’ name may, but, together with his brother Dan, Chip Heath is the author of two of my favourite business books – Made to Stick and Switch. It was a pleasure then to hear him speak about their most recent book release – Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work.

We are bombarded daily with the need to make a multitude of decisions, ranging from the relatively inconsequential to those of significant import to our lives and careers. As the Heath brothers point out though, our decisions are influenced, typically unconsciously, by an array of biases, irrationalities, emotions, and information all serving to make our decision making process flawed.

The point of the book is, of course, to provide strategies and tools to help us to make better decisions. If this book serves only to help you stop agonizing over your decisions, or to establish better team and group decision-making processes, or assists you in breaking through those difficult personal decisions, it will be worth its price. Given that I am offering you an opportunity to get this book for free… it is beyond worth it!

Simply follow the directions below to get your name entered into the Great Book Giveaway! If you have read the book, I encourage you to leave your thoughts about it in the comments. The contest runs until August 20 when I will select a randomly drawn entrant. If you wanted to tweet the link to this giveaway, or post it to your blog or favourite social networking site, you will receive an additional entry for each. Just post where you have linked us in the comments section.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Getting Gritty to Get Ahead

One of my favourite movies when I was younger was True Grit, starring John Wayne as the irascible Rooster Cogburn.  Though the movie was recently remade, nothing touches the original 1969 version in my mind.  For me, the image of John Wayne in this role and Kim Darby as Mattie Ross come to mind whenever I hear the term Grit.  The movie revolves around a young woman looking to hire a man with 'true grit' to help her hunt down her father's murderer.  Throughout the movie Mattie continues to demonstrate that she has more grit than any of the men she was looking to hire.  Perhaps that's why the movie appealed so much to me, the thought that we may just discover within ourselves, that which we think we need to find externally.

Grit isn't a term that you typically hear others using.  Think of 'Grit' being a passion and perseverance for long-term goals.  It is persistence and tenacity, stick-to-itiveness and fortitude, it is living life like it a marathon and not a sprint.  So much contained within four letters.  Recently, the term Grit has been making a comeback within business circles.  New research being conducted has found that the number one characteristic that is the key predictor of Success is not IQ, not EQ, not even how charismatic or good looking you are, it's... Grit.

This begs the question of course... just how do you go about developing your grit?  There is no straight-forward answer to this but recent work from Stanford University on the Growth Mindset just may prove to be laying the foundation for the right path.  Their works highlights that you have the ability to grow and change your brain in response to challenges.  As you face new challenges and work to overcome them, you develop and strengthen your perseverance.  Those that give up... don't.

But this means that failure is required.  There is a need to face challenges in which success is not a given.  Grit is developed in those moments of failure.  If you let your failure define you, you're done.  Instead, grit requires you learn to recognise that failure is not a permanent condition.  The acceptance of this belief is necessary to persist, to push through.  You have to belief that there is better, that there are other alternatives to failure, and therefore you continue to push for the result you want.

Tenacity.  Perseverance.  Fortitude.  Grit.

As it turns out, these are the words forming the backbone of success.