18 Years Later, We Choose Life - Never Forget (9/11)

So hard to believe that it's been 18 (חי, chai) years.

It seems like it was just yesterday.

I was finishing prayers with my students in #Chicago when we were told to proceed to the gym for a special announcement.

I still remember who told me the news, what he said, and the facial expression he used.

How could I forget?

  • 😨The sheer terror and confusion.

  • 😨The loss and destruction.

  • 😨The sense of powerlessness and emptiness.

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8 Tips to Handle Workplace Absenteeism

Simply put, absenteeism is a big deal for business leaders. It costs a lot in terms of lost productivity and temporary labor costs. Add in weakened morale and the price of absenteeism grows even more substantial.

So, what can leaders do to address it? Here are some strategies to consider.

  1. Be proactive – Don’t let the problem go on for so long that you eventually react in anger or, in the interim, come across to others as unresponsive.

  2. Keep records – While you don’t want to be breathing down people’s necks, it is important to have accurate attendance data at your disposal. This will give you the information that you need to have corrective conversations.

  3. Demonstrate concern – When you notice a trend, approach the employee and demonstrate concern. Ask her what’s going on and what can be done to rectify matters. Approach the conversation with the assumption that the employee wants to be on time and reliable. See what you can do to be helpful.

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3 BLOCKS to Increase Productivity

Didn't have the week you wanted?

Some of us can look back at the outgoing week and smile, thinking about all that was accomplished.

Others, maybe not so much.

Here are some *BLOCK* tips that can help make your last day of the week the most productive:

  1. BLOCK out the past - What happened happened. No use in crying over spilled milk. 🥛

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Develop an Attitude of Gratitude

Corporate life has earned a well-deserved reputation as being cold, calculated and non-emotive. Bosses seem to have picked up that there is little room for emotions and connection behind their business suits and spreadsheets. This approach, an outgrowth of the “boys don’t cry” school of thought, maintains that work is work. It should be a place of logical, rational thought, where you don’t give into emotional thinking. And you certainly don’t display any emotions you do feel to those around you because it’s both not professional and leaves you too vulnerable.

A new school of thought, getting increasingly more traction, argues that emotions and vulnerability are part of who we are. If we want true authenticity and power at work, we need to be willing to feel and acknowledge our emotions in our everyday activities.

Of course, this does not mean that we can or should allow our emotions to seize control of situations and dominate our thinking. It simply offers us permission to acknowledge how we feel and use those feelings as a way of taking our emotional temperature and take proper action when we feel sad, anxious, stressed and the like.

But it would be a mistake to think of workplace emotions only from a negative standpoint, as in how to handle our emotions when we’re feeling out of whack. Positive emotions deserve more attention as drivers of workplace connection, collaboration, motivation and engagement. Leaders who learn how to channel positivity and infuse it into their teams will see significant results in such areas as creativity, productivity, and retention.

Such positive emotion often starts with gratitude.

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Learn to Tell a Great Story

In my work as a professional speaker, I seek to weave in stories whenever possible. The reason is simple. Unlike dry, technical information, stories deliver messages direct to the heart. They deliver immediate understanding and are remembered much longer than other information.

When I use words like, “Let me tell you a story,” the audience always becomes more alert and attentive. It’s like they’re thinking, “Okay, here comes the really good stuff.”

Good stories have a power all their own. They can make complex issues understandable. They can give people a sense of community. They can call people to action in ways they never imagined.

Storytelling is not just an important skill for speakers. Now more than ever, great leaders are great storytellers. Storytelling helps executives weave rich narratives that inspire their organizations, set a vision, teach important lessons, and define the culture and values. Perhaps most importantly, stories explain who you are, how you got here, and what you believe most deeply about your work and about each other.

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How to Reward Employees Without Spending Money

In a recent post we talked about gifting experiences instead of money. But sometimes, even experiences are not in the cards. Or perhaps you want to set a standard that not every good act needs a tangible What then?

Consider gifting privileges.

When I was a head of school, we introduced a behavior management program that was built around core values. Students who demonstrated behaviors and attitudes that were in line with our values (safe, friendly, respectful and responsible) would receive tickets that could be cashed in for prizes. Some of those prizes were physical rewards, such as a toy or slice of pizza. But many were privileges, like having lunch with a certain adult or becoming my personal assistant for a day. Students were able to choose what they wanted, and many chose the privileges over tangible rewards.

We all want to feel respected and important. And what better way to gift somebody that feeling than by fostering opportunities for them to be recognized and pampered?

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How to Receive Feedback Like a Boss, Part II

The next time that someone approaches you with some unwanted feedback consider the following:

  1. Listen to understand – Hear them out without interruption. Mirror back what you heard and ask questions for clarification. Also ask for examples so you know more clearly when and in what way this is happening. If there is something that you disagree with, hold it until the end. This way you validate them and open further lines of communication. It’s always best for the concern to come directly to you rather than to others. 

  2. Respond carefully – Try to avoid sounding defensive. Leave your ego to the side and accept warranted concerns as well as viable advice. If you are unsure about the validity of feedback or what to do with it, ask for time to respond. Make sure to get back to the other party in a timely fashion and with a real game plan (see below). And then ask for feedback about the plan.

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Focus on Experiences, Not Things

For the longest time, common wisdom held that, when it comes to happiness, things trump experiences. The logic was that if you pay for an experience, like a night out, it will be over and done with quickly. All you’ll have left is a fleeting memory that speedily evaporates into the ether. But if you buy a tangible thing, it’ll be around for a long time and can offer repeated opportunities for usage and happiness.

Yet, research makes clear that experiences make people happier than do possessions. Sure, owning a new gadget may be satisfying or even thrilling for a short while. But the thrill always fades as we become used to the (not so) new, shiny item and it fades into the backdrop. Soon, we find ourselves back in the same mental “place,” seeking our next purchase or gift to experience a new rush.

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5 Strategies for a Winning Mindset

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at a real estate training event. My talk was entitled, “Maintaining a Winning Mindset Through the Endless Grind and Hustle.” The topic was motivated by a simple reality that extends well beyond real estate.

As professionals and as people, we have better days and more challenging ones. Sometimes, we get so frustrated and experience such hardship that we just want to give up.

In my talk, I focused on 5 things that, if practiced, can help us push through to success even on the hardest of days.

They are:

  1. Stay Positive – It can be so easy to get down on ourselves and our situations when things get tough. But we also have the power to control our thoughts and think positively. Work to ensure that you feed your mind with positive thoughts by reading inspirational quotes, listening to positive messaging, and surrounding yourself with positive people.

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