Archive for the ‘Moxie for Work’ Category

Forget WIIFM. Focus on WSIC.

Thursday, October 1st, 2015

Everyone wants to know What’s In It For Me (WIIFM). But WIIFM is ephemeral. When the “what” is gone, so is your drive.

Shift your focus to Why Should I Care (WSIC) and you’ll transform your impact and your results. WSIC is like the north star – it never disappears. It’s your passion, it’s your purpose, it’s the reason you show up.

Some examples of “why should I care” ….

  • :: because your team needs a courageous leader
  • :: because your leaders are starved for new ideas
  • :: because your clients need better solutions to their problems

When you help others shift their conversation from WIIFM to WSIC, you will trigger their need to make a difference. This results in self-motivation – more powerful and resilient in its impact than any gift card, bonus, pizza party, or company tchotchke.

When people know the purpose, feel the importance of that purpose, and recognize how they can make a difference in fulfilling that purpose, then they care. And when people care, they become unstoppable.

At the core of every remarkable result is a remarkable person, team, or leader who shifted their focus from WIIFM to WSIC.

The Eureka of Participation

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

People support that which they help create.

In behavioral economics, this is called “Participatory Bias” – people are more inclined to support decisions they help to make and solutions they help to create, even if the end result is not theirs.

Having participated, they are more willing to defend the outcome. Their ego won’t allow them to support the process and oppose it at the same time.

The opposite is also true. When we don’t include people in decisions, projects, or solutions, they are more likely to resist, oppose, and even sabotage the end result. Knowing this, why wouldn’t we go out of our way to create opportunities for people to participate, even when we don’t need them to?

We cannot ignore the enormous influence participation has on human behavior.

The simple act of including someone…

  • helps that person feel valued, recognized, and appreciated
  • increases their engagement and patronage
  • fosters their effectiveness through understanding, learning, and discovery
  • encourages their creativity and innovation

Easy ways to create participation:

  • Solicit suggestions for improving the team, the meeting, a project, or a process
  • Ask someone new every week for their perspective on an issue
  • Seek advice on solving a problem from someone not involved with it
  • Request a your team’s help in generating new ideas or approaches
  • Nominate people for a task force, a committee, or a development program

If we want to be great leaders, we need to intentionally provide people with the opportunity to participate, contribute, and make a difference.

Why We Should Listen to Xerox CEO Ursula Burns’ Mom

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

Where you are is not who you are. 

Ursula’s mom preached these words to her daughter while raising her in a tough, drug-infested ghetto in New York City’s Lower East Side. She lectured Ursula about education and hard work being the way up and out of the ghetto.

Today Ursula Burns is CEO of Xerox Corporation, a career she started in 1980 as an intern after completing a Master’s degree in mechanical engineering. She became the first female African-American CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

What power did Ursula’s mom give her? The conviction that our circumstances do not define us …unless we let them.

We can apply this wisdom to any circumstance:

  • What you did is not who you are. A mistake, an error, a bad decision does not define you. You have the power to learn a lesson and act differently going forward.
  • What you said is not who you are. A misspoken word, a short temper, a negative moment does not define you. You have the power to apologize and speak differently going forward.
  • What you are called is not who you are. Your title does not define you. You have the power to contribute and make a difference regardless of what your business card says.

Ursula’s mom taught Ursula to write a different story for herself instead of following the one dictated by her circumstances.

Are you and your team allowing circumstances to define you? Maybe it’s time to write a different story.

Lower Your Expectations

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

Lower your expectations.

I first heard this advice at RAGBRAI, the annual bike ride across Iowa held the last week of July. When my friends and I arrived at camp to start the adventure, the head of our outfitter, Pork Belly Ventures, welcomed us with the following, “This is going to be a great week. But here’s the reality: It’s hot. You’re sleeping in a tent. And you’re riding with 10,000 cyclists into towns built for 400 residents. Just lower your expectations.”

Brilliant. Most employed advice of the week. Whenever anything was about to cause an upset (like the mid-week downpour and tent-flooding), we would look at each other and say, “Lower your expectations.”

When our expectations are high, we easily get disappointed, angry, and upset. In fact, conflict is merely the result of missed expectations. One person’s expectations are higher than another person’s. That gap produces the conflict.

If you’re like me, however, you’re suddenly looking at an entire career rippled with high expectations of people. You cannot fathom lowering them for fear of breeding complacency and mediocrity!

But here’s why we should heed the advice from RAGBRAI and apply it to work:

  • >>We can have high expectations of things we manage: time, money, budgets, deadlines, and projects.
  • >>We get in trouble when we place high expectations on things we do not manage and therefore cannot control: weather, traffic, airlines, family, and people.

We manage things and we lead people. Expectations are things to be managed. People are not.

So what should we do with those high expectations we have been dumping on people? Exchange those expectations for aspirations.

As leaders, our commitment is for people to be wildly successful. So we need high aspirations for them. And only through leading can we contribute to and influence their success with those aspirations. We influence aspirations. We control expectations. 

New Rules

  • >>If you cannot control it, then lower your expectations around it.
  • >>Exchange those high expectations of people with high aspirations for them.
  • >>Then influence the success of those aspirations by relentlessly leading and contributing.
  • >>Lower your expectations. Raise your aspirations.

Caveat: Lowered expectations does not mean no expectations. You must have minimum standards of expectations for every role.

Try on this perspective this week! Let me know how it looks through the kaleidoscope.

One Vote Determined the Eatontown Mayoral Race… Does it matter when you show up?

Thursday, November 20th, 2014


I  love small town politics. I know the candidates. I know the issues. I go to the polls and I state my opinion with my vote. I never vote party line. I vote based on what matters to me and my town. And in that experience, I know that my vote matters to the candidates.

This year every voter mattered in the mayoral race in Eatontown NJ. When the polls closed, the longtime Mayor Gerald Tarantolo had won by one vote. When the five valid provisional ballots were counted the next day, he had officially lost by three votes. Mayor Tarantolo went from winning because one extra person showed up to losing because three other people showed up.

Irrefutably, every person who decided to vote in Eatontown NJ made the difference. It mattered that they showed up.

Do you believe it matters when you show up? Do you RSVP to parties? Do you show up late to meetings? Do you return calls and texts? Do you respond when people reach out? Do you vote?

We only matter if we make ourselves matter. We only make a difference when we show up.


I want to create a culture like Red Robin

Friday, January 18th, 2013

Random acts of kindness… at a burger joint?


Apparently it’s in the recipe at Red Robin Gourmet Burgers.

Founded in 1969 with 32,000 “team members” serving “guests” at 450 restaurants, they insist they’re not in the burger business.

They’re in the people business, serving burgers.

But this team takes even that unusual perspective to a whole new level.


Unbridled Acts

Red Robin team members regularly and intentionally bestow random acts of kindness on their guests. They’ve named these above-and-beyond deeds and gestures “Unbridled Acts.”

They’ve even dedicated a section on the company website called “Unbridled Acts” to showcase and spotlight these random acts of kindness, and to gush about how the Red Robin team members make a difference, not just serve burgers.


165 Stories and Counting

Here are just a few of the more than 165 stories spotlighted so far:



Why are hourly employees at Red Robin voluntarily and unabashedly scattering kindness?

Because they can. Because it makes their work matter. And because bosses all the way to the top are applauding them vociferously for doing so.

And why are leaders at Red Robin encouraging this kind of behavior?

Because it makes customers want to come back again and again. Because it makes employees want to keep showing up. And because they get it – we reap the culture we sow.


We can create a culture like Red Robin

Aren’t we all in the people business?

Regardless of what our organization sells, we all serve people. We serve people with our products and with our services. We serve employees with a job. We serve each other
with our leadership and collegiality. We wouldn’t be in business if it weren’t for the people.

And don’t we all reap the culture we sow?

We cultivate the environment that we then have to work in. Like Newton’s 3rd law of motion, what we put out comes back in equal force.


Our culture choice

So like the insightful leaders and the enthusiastic team members at Red Robin, every day we get to choose …

1. create a culture riddled with complacency and mediocrity


2. cultivate one rippling with unbridled acts of generosity and scattered kindness.

Dump the New Year’s Resolutions! Change Happens Only with Influence, Mentoring, and a Battle Cry

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

50% of New Year’s resolutions are broken by January 3.


Because the whole ritual is all about fixing something broken.

The most popular resolutions each year: lose weight, stop smoking, and stop spending.

Wow. That’s exciting. You can imagine how thrilled people are to bound out of bed each morning on Jan 1 and Jan 2 to stop doing the 3 things they love most: eating, smoking, and shopping! Yes, sign me up for a whole year of that, they’re thinking. By January 3, they rightly decide that it’s not working, so they give up.

People have the same visceral reaction to Performance Reviews, Performance Improvement Plans, and all other documents drafted to describe what’s wrong with them. Who wants to come running into the office to fix their weaknesses? That sounds uninspiring, dismal, and miserable.

This is the day! You are officially allowed to dump all of those inane exercises on January 3!

You may be mentally protesting. But think for a moment. Has it ever worked? Have you ever changed your behavior or someone else’s by designing a plan to fix what’s wrong with you or them?

No! So, in the words of Bob Newhart from a MadTV skit, “Stop it!”
(Check out the hilarious skit on YouTube.)

So now that you’re done flagellating, thrashing, scolding and berating yourself and others, what is left to help us create change this year?

3 powerful game-changers:

  1. Influence
  2. Mentoring
  3. The Battle Cry


You can influence change in yourself and others by understanding what makes us tick. Two major influences drive action and inaction in every human being: the need to matter and the fear of rejection. Remember only those and you’ll never need resolutions or performance reviews to make the new year a watershed year.


There is no greater tool for transformation than mentoring. One person who has been-there-done-that shares institutional, tribal knowledge with someone who wants to go-there-and-do-that. The sharing of knowledge, wisdom, and lessons learned inevitably accelerates the success of the other person.  It’s brilliant. It can be a strategic advantage to individuals, teams, and organizations. However, it is often overlooked and then becomes a missed opportunity.

The Battle Cry

If you do nothing else after you dump the New Year’s Resolutions, declare a Battle Cry for your year. What will get you excited to jump out of bed each morning? What will have you excited to run into the office to start working? What will have your team jazzed about showing up?

A battle cry is bigger than a goal, a mission, or a vision. A battle cry has goals and it aligns with missions and visions, but it’s more than those. A battle cry is the deep-seated, heartfelt, emotional reason we show up big.

Some examples of a Battle Cry:

  • * to constantly surprise and delight my boss with my contributions
  • * to make every moment with my kids a fun learning opportunity
  • * to be the company’s innovation expert
  • * to shock and awe my doctor at each visit with my great health
  • * to form partnerships with each of my colleagues and my clients
  • * to be kind without exception to everyone I meet

Without a battle cry, your resolutions and performance improvement plans are designed for demise. And without the power of influence and mentoring, your battle cries will become sad, wistful whimpers.

It’s January 3.

What resolution are you throwing out the window today?

In its place, what will be your battle cry for the year?

And how are you going to leverage influence and mentoring to drive that battle cry and make 2012 a game-changing year?

10 Influencing Tenets that Drive Us

Saturday, September 10th, 2011

There are 10 Influencing Tenets. Each one is hard at work influencing our behaviors, our actions, and even our failures to act.

Sometimes they drive us to success, sometimes they drive us to distraction, othertimes they drive us crazy, but they are always driving us.

Master these and you’ll master people – the ones at the office, the ones at home, and the one in your shoes.

10 Influencing Tenets

1. We all think the world revolves around us.

2. We desperately need meaning in our lives and our work.

3. We are dying to make a difference.

4. We want to win, not lose.

5. We crave control.

6. We urgently want to feel as though we are important.

7. We have an insatiable appetite to be respected, appreciated, valued, and heard.

8. We are at risk of succumbing to the herd.

9. We allow our beliefs and thoughts to dictate our ambitions and perseverance.

10. We dreadfully fear rejection.

You can read more about these in my new book:
Moxie for Managers: The Secret to Evolving from Manager to Leader

The Moxie Behind the Mocha Frappuccino – Howard Schultz

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

It was unprecedented. It was controversial. It was risky. It was unexpected. It was unwarranted. It was grounded in passion, and it was moxie leadership at its finest.

The Letter

On September 2, 2011, Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks Coffee Company, emailed a letter to the hundreds of thousands of diehard coffee drinkers on his mailing list. And his letter had nothing to do with the coffee.

Schultz wrote a letter expressing his disappointment in Congress for the partisan gridlock that he believes is cementing the recession. [Click here to read the Letter.]

The Challenge

In the letter Schultz also shared the challenge he has presented to other business leaders to join him in urging the President and the Congress to take action immediately. More than 100 leaders joined him in signing a 2-part pledge:

(1) “to withhold political campaign contributions until a transparent, comprehensive, bipartisan debt-and-deficit package is reached that honestly and fairly sets America on a path to long-term financial health and security,” and

(2) “to do all we can to break the cycle of economic uncertainty that grips our country by committing to accelerate investment in jobs and hiring.”

The Invitation

He finished the letter by inviting the diehard coffee drinkers to join him on a national call-in conversation on Tues. Sept 6 hosted by “No Labels,” a nonpartisan organization dedicated to a more effective government centered around issues, not labels.

The Moxie

Starbucks is wildly successful. Schultz does not need Congress or the President to help his company continue to thrive. The company has done superbly well over the past 40 years of crazy politics and erratic economies. He did not need to send this letter. And many business leaders and politicians probably think he’s foolish to do so. So why did he? Because he passionately believes he can make a difference and he is willing to make that difference in the face of disagreeing people, situations, and circumstances. It takes guts. It takes determination. It takes tenacity. It takes perseverance. (Can you imagine the pushback from some risk-averse advisors?!) It takes moxie.

Making a Difference

The belief that we can make a difference, and the action we take to start making that difference in spite of what others think of us, is what distinguishes a moxie-leader from a managing-leader. Schultz sent the letter, rallied other business leaders, and promoted a nonpartisan conversation because he believes he can make a difference and he is taking action to do just that. Schultz is no different than the rest of us. We all just want to make a difference with our work and our lives. That’s the only reason we will ever show up big instead of just show up to fog a mirror.

Manager-Leader vs. Moxie-Leader

Being a Manager-Leader is like coloring in the lines in a color-by-number book. Simply follow the instructions, use the right colors, and don’t draw outside the lines. Being a Moxie-Leader is seeing the whole picture, discovering that Crayons just released 10 new colors that would make the picture pop, ascertaining that the picture could use a different shape, and then applying those new colors and new shape to create a superior picture.

Moxie Leadership Inspires Moxie Followers

Schultz is using his prominent position to contribute to others, to make a difference, to drive a bigger vision. When we act with moxie, like Schultz, we influence the people we lead to lead similarly. That’s the amazing ripple-effect of moxie-leading. It’s no wonder Starbucks is as successful as it is. Schultz is inspiring moxie-leadership with his own.

Are you too busy managing in your leadership position? Is it time to make a difference instead? What have you done lately to moxie-lead instead of manager-lead?

Trying on Super Bowl Rings Helped Green Bay Packers Act Like Champions

Monday, February 14th, 2011

The night before the championship game, Coach Mike McCarthy had each player and coach fitted for a Super Bowl championship ring. The next day the Green Bay Packers won Super Bowl XLV.

Did Coach McCarthy predict it? Or did the fitting somehow make them win the game? 

The Coach’s Moxie
While other coaches are busy navigating football superstitions and encouraging “one day at a time” mindsets, McCarthy’s moxie is a breath of fresh air

By putting those Super Bowl rings on their fingers, Coach McCarthy was leveraging some cognitive biases that nfluence every human being. In doing so, he evolved from a manager of a football team to a leader of people. Let’s explore these so you too can leverage them and influence champion behavior.

(1) Diagnosis Bias
We listen to what other people say about us, especially people we admire, respect, and value. They are diagnosing us. We then tend to mold our behaviors to match their diagnosis, which then confirms that diagnosis and makes it our own.

By fitting the players with Super Bowl rings, the Coach was diagnosing them winners before they even walked out onto the field. The players then molded their behavior to be that of Super Bowl champions.

Green Bay Packers guard Daryn Colledge said of the fitting, “It just set that mental mindset that you’ve got to go out there and you’ve got something to accomplish.”

(2) Framing Effect
We approach the same situation differently depending on how that situation is presented. In effect, we’ll make inconsistent decisions when presented with the same situation just framed differently.

Coach McCarthy could have said, “The game is going to be tough. I’m proud of you. Just go out there and do your best.” But more likely he said, “You guys are champions! In fact, let’s go try on your rings so when you win tomorrow, you are ready to wear them.”

Linebacker, A.J. Hawk said of Coach McCarthy’s brazen move, “It made things real for us.” Of course it did. Coach McCarthy was framing the situation for the players.

(3) Spotlight Effect 
We all think that people are closely watching us to see what we do. And when we think people are fixated on us, we conform to what we think those people expect of us.

By putting those Super Bowl rings on their fingers, Coach McCarthy was ingeniously reinforcing for the players that millions of people would be paying close attention to them at the game the next day and that those people expected the players to win.

Coach McCarthy was also communicating his expectations. “We respect the Pittsburgh Steelers and the way they play. But we fully expected to win this game. This is our time.”

Your Turn to Influence Champion Behavior 
Are you ready to apply these cognitive biases to influence champion behavior in others? Some ideas to experiment with:

  • Hand out great big titles, better yet, ask them to write their own
  • Dish out juicy, audacious challenges and opportunities to contribute in big ways
  • Discover what people are passionate about, then let them work on a Passion Project
  • Ask everyone’s opinion in meetings
  • Invite people to participate in a task force to help you solve a problem, even when you know the answer (they may think of something you haven’t)
  • Put people in front of your best customers
  • Make people try on success – tape their name on a plaque or on a top producers list, have them research the vacation they’ll pay for with their commissions, employ vision boards
  • Introduce them with a flattering comment
  • Gush about them as if they’re not there
  • Call them winners

You may be concerned that these ideas will fuel people’s overconfidence, pride, and superiority. But rest assured, it is much better to peel people off the ceiling than to pick them up off the floor.

What Ideas Do You Have for Tasting Success? 
What ideas have you implemented for having people taste success as they head out to achieve it? Share them with us on our facebook page or on this blog.