Are You Ready for Service Excellence?


Organisations Exist to Serve. PERIOD.In December I had a problem with a well known ‘new’ UK bank. In their flagship local London store, my cards were cloned and overnight, all my money was extracted in Guatemala and Honduras. Their USP claim is that they don’t have traditional bank rules and poor service. It was a car crash of system to get my money back; I was on hold for 3 hours. Consider Howard Schultz talking about Starbucks,

At our core, we’re a coffee company, but the opportunity we have to extend the brand is beyond coffee; it’s entertainment.

It’s 2015 and we really do live in a service economy. In most western countries, service accounts for more than 75% of GDP, a share which will continue to increase. Service is therefore important for all types of companies, because they now compete primarily on the service that they provide.

So why is there so much bad service? Why do so many companies struggle to deliver even the most basic services let alone give great entertainment (except in not doing what they claim is their USP)? If all companies effectively compete on service, the key differentiator then lies in the service management model and the ability to execute it. The key reasons why a service company fails to deliver excellent service are:

  • The Knowledge Gap. They don’t know or understand what the customer expects.
  • The Design and 
Standards Gap. They don’t have the right service designs, processes or systems to execute a plan.
  • The Performance Gap. They are not delivering to its own service standards and rarely show Excellence, always.
  • The Communication Gap. They are not matching performance to service promises – expectations and values are not explained.

So what is the basis of service excellence? Leadership and culture now play a greater role in effective service organisations today than ever before. Many claim to have cracked this particular problem. Some suggest that excellent service is where service is:

  • reliable
  • timely
  • personalised
  • memorable
  • unnoticeable
  • remarkable

The trouble is that this has such a narrow focus on how service is delivered (the internal processes ) or on the service itself. It is also very short sighted and exists in a world that no longer exists. Service Excellence can be understood by this simple function (taken from Service Management 3.0 – the next generation of service by Morten Kamp Andersen and Peter Ankerstjerne)

Excellent Service Customer Perception minus Customer Expectation

When customers evaluate a service they will compare their perception of the actual delivered service to what they think it should be. This process is often done at a sub-conscious emotional level. So try this de-stilled formula (with help from Tom Peter’s Excellence Paper ) and apply a small droplet of wisdom:

  • Excellence, always. From now on do nothing less than excellence behaviour. The small stuff matters and you can change everything with this philosophy.Don’t forget to tuck the shower curtain into the bath tub. Conrad Hilton
  • Great Execution of the Emotional Signature Do more than is required, and remember Drucker’s view on great leadership: They do … ONE BIG THING at a time. 
  • Positively Engage with your customers at every opportunity. Your plan for engagement is meaningless without excellent execution.

Execution is strategy —Fred Malek

  • First Class Communication is vital because your customers want to feel valued and respected. They’re also looking for peace of mind that they can trust you will deliver what you promise
  • Understand Your Market and anticipating your customers’ changing needs will enable you to think and stay ahead of the competition. Monitoring the wider economy and analysing how changes will impact your customers. They should be your number #1 focus always.
  • Get Current Feedback from survey and asking great questions so you get an honest assessment of your business from the people that matter – your clients.
  • Flexibility and Innovation so your clients get exactly what they want, in their way, every time. Exceed expectations and make their lasting memory amazing.
  • Mentoring encourage staff members at all levels to mentor newer team members. Not only does it give them pride and drive to unlock other people’s talents, it develops stronger teams.

If you want staff to give great service, give great service to staff —Ari Weinzweig

  • Have an Amazing Training Programme so that staff can see how their development will progress step by step. Service companies who desire to be excellent, do not only have great people, they also have great processes for how to induct, introduce, train, manage, develop and promote these people.They have a system and a culture of processes which are founded on a great respect for human character and a belief that an individual can do wonders if he/she is just provided with the right tools and management processes.

Believe the difference the little unexpected extra can make. It can come in different shapes and forms, such as a smile, a positive and fun remark, random acts of kindness or the additional effort by the service professional going the extra mile. The old models of service are are no longer sufficient. Their future focus should be on the service delivery system and the power of the human touch. Frontline service employees should be empowered to create appreciated service moments and through their service performance influence and preferably leverage the purpose of the customer organisation.

Maybe take on board Tom Peter’s wonderful formula:

K = R = P (Kindness = Repeat business = Profit.)

EXCELLENCE. Now. EXCELLENCE. Always. Thanks Tom.

Be Amazing Every Day.

Hospitality: Just a Beer Light to Guide us?

If you own or run a restaurant, bar or hotel and you’re not already thinking about the next generation technology, you’re already too late.

Believe it or not hospitality is already technology-driven and if you don’t have it, you’re not doing smart business. Whether you like it, or not, technology is moving faster than you can move.The effective use of this technology can either make your business faster, leaner and ultimately, it can help you deliver a guest experience they’ve never had before.

New advances in technology pervade nearly every aspect of our society, and hospitality is certainly no exception. Eating out is already undergoing a digital revolution with 70% of restaurants due to accept mobile phone payments in 2015. We are already surrounded by computerised point of sale, bar management, hotel reservation and front office, energy management, menu scoring, and accounting and inventory systems, along with computer-controlled cooking equipment as friers and digital microwaves.

New technology is here to stay, and it’s high time the hospitality industry moves along with it. To be able to do this efficiently and effectively, however, we need to understand the reasons why difficulties presently exist and how they may ultimately be resolved. So what’s the best way to integrate technology into a restaurant, hotel or bar? I have been looking in detail at the current state of technology in restaurants, bars and hotels and the changes that are on the near horizon. While future scanning (see also super forecasting) is very tricky there are some undeniable trends in innovation, from the internet of things / internet of everything to the way we train staff to be Excellence, always. Here are some key waypoints to start you thinking:

  • Just a Beer Light to Guide Us. Websites and social media are the biggest drivers to restaurants, bars and hotels. If they can’t find you fast they go elsewhere. Local footfall needs a great big digital sign: Enter Here. What is your digital strategy to highlight your establishment? What are the next generation location finders that will keep the customers coming?
  • Training Gets Smart. Training is a critical issues for hospitality particularly if there are multiple sites. I have seen some attempts at introducing systematic training with eLearning – most of which are clunky and very last generation. Mobile learning is the way ahead. World Manager® is I believe, the first all-in-one corporate communications platform allowing CEO’s to train, track and communicate with every employee in the world, by the minute. Currently it is use in over 22,000 business locations in 51 countries. In 2013, according to BRW, over 25% of the fastest growing companies in Australia are using World Manager®. Companies such as Billabong, G8 Education and Goodyear Dunlop Tyres use World Manager every day and their teams can access World Manager from their Smartphones, Tablets or Desktops, on both Apple and Android operating systems. It effectively delivers online training, face to face recording, policy sign-offs, manages live workshops and tracks national training stats. It has job ready and vetrack integration, tracks and report staff completion of topics and enhances and sustains trainer messages. Cool and very smart.
  • Back-end Gets Smarter. Scheduling and inventory management control systems. Technology is needed because restaurants will eventually become a paperless system, eliminating things such as credit cards and payrolls. The use of next generation stock control and the Internet of Things will require more broadband and better software.
  • The Age of Accessible Data. As long as the value exchange is enticing enough, consumers are more willing than ever to allow hospitality brands access to their data.
  • Fast Free Wireless Access. If there’s no Internet connection, there will be no repeat business. It’s all about bandwidth. Businesses need a bandwidth plan.
  • The New eMarketplace. eMarketing, sales, public relations and advertising are some of the key elements that are changing rapidly. However, this approach seems to be insufficient with the introduction of digital marketing trend, to generate leads and improve online customer experience.
  • The ES Customer experience. The emphasis should be on delivering excellent customer care throughout the buying process. So simple things like apps letting you know your table is ready eliminate the need for restaurant pagers, which are limited by distance. Digital measures of the emotional signature and metrics helping the design of excellent service. See alsoHospitality Must Change.
  • Smart Technology Branding. The immense growth of mobile world (smartphones and tablets) is s quickly surpassing the age of desktop, laptop and personal computers, which enabled hoteliers to create a cohesive brand experience across all the mobile devices taking into consideration content compatibility with limited screen resolutions.
  • TMS (Not test match special)…Table Management Systems that track turnover and available seating, help keep tabs on customer flow. From the art of being the Host who gets flow and turnover, to the science and algorithm of management and peak flow.
  • Mobile phone payment. Fast food chains are currently the main place where mobile is accepted as payment, with many restaurants still relying on cash or wifi enabled electronic-point-of-sale (EPoS). 68% of restaurants planning to accept the payment next year via Near Field Communication (NFC) . Credit card security is a major issue for hospitality. Customers can pay right at the table without ever losing sight of their credit card.
  • Swipe it Now. Tablet-ready menus, as opposed to paper menus, can be updated immediately and in real-time. Customers’ ability to customise or change their orders via apps eliminates the need to chase down waiters or waitresses.

In the hospitality industry, it is important to be vigilant and on the move and aware of the fast change environment and technology out there. There is a need to be agile and continually trying to explore new territory with fast evolution and adoption rates.Innovation with purpose and authenticity. Consider these quotations and compare them to the cost of moving forward with your technology:

  • If you make guests unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell 6 friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.
  • If we don’t take care of our guests, someone else will.
  • One Guest, well taken care of, could be more valuable than £ 10,000 worth of advertising.
  • There is only one boss. The Guest. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.
  • A Guest is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependant on us, we are dependent on him.
  • There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.
  • Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten.
  • Guests may forget what you said but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.
  • The purpose of a business is to create a mutually beneficial relationshipbetween itself and those that it serves. When it does that well, it will be around tomorrow to do it some more.
  • Guests don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong.
  • Our greatest asset is the guests! Treat each guest as if they are the only one!
  • Treat every guest as if they sign your pay cheque, because they do.
  • Guest complaints are the schoolbooks from which we learn.

Finally, here is a simple but powerful rule – always give people more than what they expect to get.

Be Amazing Every Day.

Engage Sceptics, Fire Cynics

Engage, hire and develop sceptics; don’t feed the cynics. I think you may agree that we live in very cynical times. There is an increasing distrust of those in leadership and management positions. Indeed many doubt their basic honesty, integrity and authenticity (see also: very low approval ratings of politicians globally).

So what can the new generation of ‘leaders’ do about this? I believe that if you anticipate it and have strategies for coping with it, leaders can learn to turn the cynics into believers. Really. Well we can try to understand how we could effect such a change. In my experience, there is usually a sceptic or cynic in every group, every organisation and each audience. Sometimes, in large groups, there are both and there are lots of them. I have encountered cynics who disguise themselves as sceptics and I find that the difference is very important. One demands evidence before embracing change, while the other resists it at all cost. [By the way, skeptic and sceptic and interchangeable spellings].
The modern definition of cynicism certainly doesn’t have any positive connotations. But the word has an older (and perhaps more innovation-minded) meaning originating with the philosophy of Diogenes and his ancient Greek colleagues. Diogenes refused to do anything out of ‘convention’ or because it was the ‘norm’; for example, it was uncouth to eat in the marketplace, so he ate in the marketplace. This idea of a cynic as contrarian, not pessimist, is something that modern workplaces could benefit from more of. Diogenes’s tradition is alive and well with several modern visionaries.

I have written before about the careless and inappropriate use of words by companies. Some engage in overtly positive statements. Positivity seems to be one of the most valued traits in modern companies. At Whole Foods, the core values areWe Satisfy, Delight, and Nourish Our Customers. At Coca Cola, values includeintegrity: be realpassion: committed in heart and mind, and collaboration: leverage collective genius. All these things are great, but as the New York Times‘ Adam Bryant says,

if there’s a gap between the values you profess and the actions you take, people start shutting down, rolling their eyes, and getting cynical’

My journey towards understanding cynics and sceptics in organisations, has taken a long time. By helping clients, across many professions, towards this one conclusion:you should listen to the sceptics and avoid the cynics when making crucial decisions enthusiasm for the reform of the day. This mean you need to do the following:

  • During meetings, listen patiently to sceptics, cynics and anyone else with an opinion.
  • Engage sceptics, encouraging action research and systematic analysis of the evidence.
  • Sceptics want to be effective educators and seek evidence to support or oppose proposed new policies.
  • Cynics are uninterested in inquiry or research, as resistance to change is part of the change process.
  • Change in any system means a loss of previously accepted practices and challenges to prevailing wisdom.

There are of course, lots of self-help cynics out there. Those who have become totally disillusioned with anything associated to personal development. Until they can see the point why would they change? Of course they wont ever see the point. They feel the entire field is a sham populated by scammers and charlatans. Cynics don’t subscribe to the idea that people can actually change by conscious intent. They are who they are, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

As opposed to a cynic, a skeptic is doubtful but still open-minded and logical enough to consider new input. Sceptics primarily seek truth through the process of asking questions. Sometimes the real truth cannot be pinned down so easily, so the skeptic must learn to live with ambiguity and uncertainty much of the time. For the cynic, however, the mere existence of doubt is immediate cause for labelling an entire field as erroneous. If you try to engage a cynic about his/her beliefs, you’ll usually receive some emotional and very close-minded arguments but little logic. So leaders need to adopt a strategy to turn the cynics and recommend the 6-point plan:

1. Who are you really? A key to credibility is the knowing who you are and what you stand for. It gets back to the fundamentals of having a set of values that guides your behaviour. Be consistent in communicating your beliefs and values. Mixed messages and signals weaken credibility. The Simon Sinek application of Starting With Why?

2. Do What You Say You Will Do. Authentic action is the bedrock of trust, and leaders are frequently reminded to have consistent words and actions.

3. Listen, Listen, Listen (don’t make it any worse). It always sound easy, yet is hard to do. It’s the key to having insights into followers and understanding their needs. Engage in a conversation where you learn what others value.

4. Build a Real Community. To avoid the spread of cynicism in the workplace, leaders must work to get everyone working towards the same vision. Leaders are an integral part of the community. When they stand outside of it or, even worse, seeking to control it, it weakens their credibility

5. Be an Enabler. Credible leaders are open to sharing authority with others and allowing them to be part of the change process. By inviting their followers to take on leadership roles, confident leaders give everyone a stake in the success or failure of projects.

6. Life Long Learning. Here’s another reason why leaders need to always be learning to demonstrate their awareness of what all staff are going through, and to offer compassion when needed. We’re all going to fail at some point. Leaders need to be a part of it, and to do what they can to right the wrongs and to learn from the mistakes and improve.

There aren’t many (any?) great leaders who are cynics, at least not publicly. Leaders have to believe in something, and cynics are too cool to believe. Leaders have to create community, they have to work with their enemies, they have to love and be committed to people, and they have to convince people of their ideas. I find that many cynics are often bullies that don’t see any problem with their verbal attacks on others. If someone doesn’t like what he or she is saying, that is the other person’s problem. While sceptics are reserved about their opinions and very matter of fact, they tend to be very respectful and courteous.

Engage Sceptics, Fire Cynics.

A to Ze of Productivity

There is a ‘element’ that can help in improving productivity, that has been around since 1927; it is called Ze. I believe the biggest barrier to success is just getting started. I have been coaching some clients recently about being more effective and more efficient. It involves re-programming their brain (in a nice way), challenging their beliefs and changing their routines. In today’s busy world, we seem to be obsessed with the idea of productivity and life / work hacks. It’s easy to see why this has become so popular. Being able to get more done allows us to get ahead in life, and even gives us more time to do the things we love outside of work.

There is a body of people out there that believe we should toss productivity out andlive life more in the flow. It may sound irrational, but I bet a lot of you actually avoid doing any work at work—but not on purpose. You might be simply struggling with motivation, or you might just be overdosing on the caffeine. Whatever the issue, getting focused takes lots of time and effort.

The productivity of work is not the responsibility of the worker but of the manager.
– Peter Drucker

There’s a notable distinction between being busy and being productive. Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being productive. Being productive is less about time management and more on managing your energy. It is the business of life. We need to learn how to spend the least amount of energy to get the most benefits. Sometimes, working less can actually produce better results. Additional research in this area surrounding theZeigarnik effect (Ze), suggests that we’re prone to procrastinating on large projects because we visualize the worst parts and thus delay in getting started.

One of the simplest methods for beating procrastination in almost any task was inspired by busy waiters. We remember better that which is unfinished or incomplete. Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik found in 1927 that waiters remembered orders only as long as the order was in the process of being served.When we are holding things in short-term memory, we have to rehearse them otherwise they disappear, like a light going out. This requires cognitive effort, and the more things we are rehearsing the more effort. The waiter’s trick is thus to keep spinning the plates of the open orders whilst letting those which are completed fall. A similar effect also happens over a longer period as we worry about those things in which we have not achieve closure. Thus I might keep thinking about a problem at work over a whole weekend as it keeps coming back to haunt me.

Almost sixty years later Kenneth McGraw and colleagues carried out another test of the Zeigarnik effect (McGraw et al., 1982). In it participants had to do a really tricky puzzle; except they were interrupted before any of them could solve it and told the study was over. Despite this nearly 90% carried on working on the puzzle anyway. What these examples have in common is that when people manage to start something they’re more inclined to finish it. Procrastination bites worst when we’re faced with a large task that we’re trying to avoid starting. It might be because we don’t know how to start or even where to start. What the Zeigarnik effect teaches is that one weapon for beating procrastination is starting somewhere…anywhere.

Productivity is being able to do things that you were never able to do before.
-Franz Kafka

So here are my rules for being super productive:

  1. Breathe. Slow Rhythmic and Even for 3 minutes, every day. Close your eyes and just let breathing change your physiology. Let eustress help.
  2. Read your BAED Motivational Card. Be Amazing Every Day [31 seconds].
  3. Use The Ze. Don’t start with the hardest bit, try something easy first. If you can just get under way with any part of a project, then the rest will tend to follow. Once you’ve made a start, however trivial, there’s something drawing you on to the end.
  4. What is Your Why? (The Hardest Question) Your purpose, your goals for inspiration to act (if you don’t have any, create some today!). Write a personal mission statement, and use it as a guide to set goals. Ask if each goal or activity moves you closer to achieving your mission. If it doesn’t, eliminate it. Periodically review and revise your mission statement.
  5. Wake up Earlier. Add a productive hour to your day by getting up an hour earlier — before everyone else starts imposing on your time.
  6. Most Important Tasks (priority 1-5). At the start of each day (or the night before) highlight the three or four most important things you have to do in the coming day. Label them from 1 -5 in terms of priority. 1’s get done. Do them first. If you get nothing else accomplished aside from your MITs, you’ve still had a pretty productive day.
  7. Backwards Planning. A planning strategy that works from the goal back to your next action. Start with the end goal in mind. What do you have to have in place to accomplish it? OK, now what do you have to have in place to accomplish what you have to have in place to accomplish your end goal? And what do you have to have in place to accomplish that? And so on, back to something you already have in place and/or can put in place immediately. That’s your next action.
  8. Eliminate distractions. Close email programs, switch, off email notifications. In fact, switch off the phone when you are trying to get important work done.
  9. Smash The Big Rocks. The big projects you’re working on at any given moment. Set aside time every day or week to move your big rocks forward.
  10. Zero Inbox Rule. Decide what to do with every email you get, the moment you read it. If there’s something you need to do, either do it or add it to your to do list and delete or file the email. If it’s something you need for reference, file it. Empty your email inbox every day.
  11. Write it Down / Ubiquitous Capture. Always carry something to take notes with — a pen and paper, a phone, tablets- whatever.. Capture every thought that comes into your mind, whether it’s an idea for a project you’d like to do, an appointment you need to make, something you need to pick up next time you’re at the store, whatever. Review it regularly and transfer everything to where it belongs: a to do list, a filing system, a journal, etc.
  12. 80/20 Rule/Pareto Principle. Generally speaking, the 80/20 Principle says that most of our results come from a small portion of our actual work, and conversely, that we spend most of our energy doing things that aren’t ultimately all that important. Figure out which part of your work has the greatest results and focus as much of your energy as you can on that part.
  13. Effective Batch Process. Do all your similar tasks together. For example, don’t deal with emails sporadically throughout the day; instead, set aside an hour to go through your email inbox and respond to emails. Do the same with voice mail, phone calls, responding to letters, filing, and so on — any routine, repetitive tasks.
  14. Handle Everything Once (Full Stop *). Don’t set things aside hoping you’ll have time to deal with them later. Ask yourself what do I need to do with this every time you pick up something from your email list, and either do it, schedule it for later, defer it to someone else, or file it. Make a black star every time you pick up a bit of paper.
  15. Be in the Flow. The flow state happens when you’re so absorbed in whatever you’re doing that you have no awareness of the passing of time and the work just happens automatically. It’s hard to trigger consciously, but you can create the conditions for it by allowing yourself a block of uninterrupted time, minimizing distractions, and calming yourself.
  16. Simplify. We like to think of ourselves as great multitaskers, but we are not. What we do when we multitask is devote tiny slices of time to several tasks in rapid succession. Since it takes more than a few minutes (research suggests as long as 20) to really get into a task, we end up working worse and more slowly than if we devoted longer blocks of time to each task, worked until it was done, and moved on to the next one.

From the moment you wake in the morning to the time you close your eyes at night, you spend the day fulfilling responsibilities, completing tasks and working towards goals both big and small.

It is time to stop learning and start doing. Ask yourself what one thing could you do this week to get you closer to your personal success. What one thing have you been procrastinating on that will have a major impact when complete?

It’s time to finally get things done.

The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity. -Tom Peters

Be Amazing Every Day.

You say you want a revolution?

There is a revolution coming, if Googles chairman Eric Schmidt is to be believed. Not the sort that Russell Brand hankers after (or as the Guardian puts it rather well:The comedian’s desire to lead a global revolution is undermined by his smug, shallow manifesto).

But a revolution none the less. At Davos 2014, Schmidt warned that the constant development of new technology will put more and more middle class people out of work. Before you through down your laptop, smash your tablet and trash your smartphone, (and have a glass of Sancerre) it’s worth remembering that human workers survived the earlier industrial eras of steam, electricity, the telegraph, micro-chips and globalised media. We continued to work because with every new level of automation, new jobs are created that replace those that are lost.

You say you want a revolution, well, you know / We all want to change the world / You tell me that it’s evolution, well, you know / We all want to change the world / But when you talk about destruction / Don’t you know that you can count me out / Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right..

Seth Godin once said that if you can’t describe your position in eight words or less, you don’t have a position. Tom Peters’ version is R.POV8, which stands for Remarkable Point of View in 8 Words or Less. Tom Peters & Seth Godin try this:

Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right ?

Peters’ discusses the need for organisations to declare their position in the market in simple, clear and compelling terms . His R.Pov8 is really Excellence, always and only needs one symbol – a Pantone #032 (red) exclamation point. I think it fits him perfectly.

Here is my R.POV8: Inspiring people to be amazing every day. But here is the big problem – we are just not satisfied. Not satisfied with life, our jobs or our technology. Certainly not with the technology we have at work. Recent figures show only 39 percent of employees in Germany are satisfied with the technology that they are provided with at work, according to a recent Forrester survey. The picture is only slightly better in the UK with 53 percent satisfied. It is this technology expectations gap that is leading not only to disgruntled employees, but lost customers across of lots of industries. Tom Peters often uses the phrase ‘white collar revolution’ (WCR). Like so many of his predictions, the idea of a revolution transforming the world of the white collar worker, in much the same way as blue collar work had been in the preceding decades, has now become a mainstream concept. So how does this work?

Let’s look at something else that is amazing: your smartphone. However if you ask it to do something and it doesn’t have an ‘app’ for and it just sits there. Just plain dumb. The smartphone up until this month needed programmers to write apps. The WC revolution I am talking about is the one inspired by Google’s secretiveDeepMind. DeepMind Technologies to be exact, is a London-based artificial-intelligence firm acquired by Google this year for $400 million. It revealed last month that it is designing computers that combine the way ordinary computers work with the way the human brain works. Excellent as I am a huge fan of neuroscience and technology and this smells of convergence. They call this hybrid device a Neural Turing Machine (NTM).

Turing is of course back in the news again, with the new film staring Benedict Cumberbatch. Here is the film’s R.POV27:

Genius British logician and cryptologist Alan Turing helps crack Germany’s Enigma Code during World War II but is later prosecuted by his government for illegal homosexual acts.

The ‘Turing test’ is the test of a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. In the original illustrative example, a human judge engages in natural language conversations with a human and a machine designed to generate performance indistinguishable from that of a human being. The big ‘hope’ with the new NTM is it won’t need programmers and will instead program itself. DeepMind’s solution is to add a large external memory that can be accessed in many different ways, which Turing realised was a key part of ordinary computing architecture, hence the name Neural Turing Machine. This gives the neural network something like a human’s working memory – the ability to quickly store and manipulate a piece of data.

DeepMind’s breakthrough follows a long history of work on short-term memory. In the 1950s, the American cognitive psychologist George Miller carried out one of the more famous experiments in the history of brain science. Gorge Miller I have written about often as his ‘Law’ inspired the ‘my toaster talks to me’ problem about capacity to examine ‘what something might be true of..’

Miller was deeply interested in the capacity of the human brain’s working memory and set out to measure it with the help of a large number of students who he asked to carry out simple memory tasks. His conclusion was that the capacity of short-term memory cannot be defined by the amount of information it contains. Instead Miller concluded that the working memory stores information in the form of chunks and that it could hold approximately seven of them.

Neural networks, which make up half of DeepMind’s computer architecture, have been around for decades but are receiving renewed attention as more powerful computers take advantage of them. The idea is to split processing across a network of artificial neurons, simple units that process an input and pass it on. These networks are good at learning to recognise pieces of data and classify them into categories.

The longer term impact of DeepMind could be massive, prompting some doom-sayers and non rational observers to warn (again) of job destruction at a faster rate than new jobs can be generated with mass middle class unemployment leading to social unrest. As Google’s leader notes, the rise of automation as nothing short of a second industrial revolution. He believes the way work is conducted will be radically different in the future as many human tasks are automated by algorithms and computer services.

Schmidt’s call for a debate is a timely reminder that all these things also have the potential to create new levels of human value and better lifestyles for people. Technology replaces humans in many ways but new opportunities are created to exploit these technologies too. The White Collar Revolution is coming. Whether your country’s economy is now recovering from the global recession or is still bumping along the bottom, or slipping back into the gloom, the WCR gives a new perspective. A remarkable point of view, that could change the world. A new era of work is upon us and new types of work will emerge to exploit the new technologies that we will use.

Bring on real Excellence and the White Collar Revolution!

Don’t you know it’s gonna be all right .

Be Amazing Every Day.

10 Reasons Why Hospitality Must Innovate

I vaguely remember the time when travel, hotels and hospitality were lots of fun, very glamourous and really memorable. My parents took me on the original Queen Mary liner to New York when I was 10; that was really amazing. Stickers on my luggage reminded me for years of that joyful trip (although I think there was a hurricane and there is some super 8 footage somewhere of my toy boat going overboard). The stellar experience for travellers and the prestige of staying in a first rate hotel is part of the long-term customer experience. As travel became more common and hotel companies morphed into enterprises where size and scale were critical, hotels became less distinctive, less fun and less centred around the guest’s experience.

At times of economic uncertainty it is essential for hospitality operators to ensure that they stand out from competitors. This means not only having all the basic requisites of a welcoming environment, top-notch product and exceptional service in place, but also taking steps to innovate and create something extra special.

Let’s start with some amazing statistics:

  • The tourism industry is emerging as the world’s largest industry in the past decade by creating 200 million jobs worldwide and accounting for 11 percent of the world’s total gross domestic product.
  • Smart phones account for over 55% of global overall handset sales in 2014

  • According to recent survey, 45% of hotel guests travel with two devices and 40% with three or more.
Operating Systems with Android OS accounting for around 80% global market share

  • Social networks users: Facebook 1.15+ Billion; Twitter & Google+ 500+ Million; LinkedIn 238+ Million

  • More than 23% of marketers are investing in blogging and social media

  • There are over 1 billion unique monthly visitors on YouTube

Those are truly amazing and should stimulate a rapid adoption of state of the art technologies and improving the overall guest experience from good to great.. Hoteliers and owners have heard it all before of course. The hotel industry used to be ahead of the curve when it came to technology, attracting guests with TVs and other innovations they couldn’t dream of having in their own homes. Now the opposite is true: Travelers are familiar with the advanced technologies they have in their living room and are often disappointed when hotel rooms don’t meet needs or expectations. Business leaders across multiple industries understand the need for innovation. Innovation as a human expression of creativity and smart thinking, is not the result of economic development, but rather the source of sustainable economic and social progress. The best definition I have found of innovation is:

Innovation causes significant positive change.

There is a process by which any organisation can systematically become more ‘innovative’. The secret of the success of any technology or innovation is in the execution of the process. There is an opportunity to restore the enjoyment and personalisation of hotels from the past, while retaining the low cost structures and enhanced conveniences that suit the needs of the modern traveler.

Hospitality industry and entertainment service is evolving into a more competitive and complex environment. Staying in hotels and eating in restaurants is not always a necessity, therefore businesses need to consider that, while the bottom line profit is vitally important, they must also generate special emotions and memories for their guests and customers, which will encourage them to come back time and time again. Such things can be difficult to quantify, but talking to clients and understanding and taking on board their desires is the starting point.

Your customers’ expectations are changing the hospitality industry and the entertainment experiences they want to live. They count on custom and high-quality standard services.With customer-driven strategy wholly new offerings are possible, and the innovative. There are innumerable ways that an innovative hospitality company can deliver customer-driven innovation. The following are only a few of the examples:

  1. Better guest connection: The critical elements which make a huge difference to the guests’ experience of a hotel or restaurant visit are centred on finding ways of exceeding their expectations. Hotels need to make it easier for their most frequent customers, both individual and corporate, to do business with them. This means going beyond creating large data warehouses containing basic information about travelers habits and preferences. Hotels should create an environment where the hotel maintains and leverages digital notes from meetings, schedule and contact information and any other information which is valuable to those frequent customers.
  2. Service and information: customers (and all of us) want to feel special; they want to feel that they are genuinely cared for by a hospitality. To do this hotels will need to extend their brand to services, so that hotels can offer customers a stream of branded products and services while still maintaining, or even strengthening their own brand. A hotel can apply the concept of web portals, which has resulted in astronomical valuations for many internet companies, and become the business services portal for the frequent business traveler. In addition to the traditional front desk experience, the Hyatt Regency Chicagooffers check-in via a lobby ambassador holding a special iPad. Guests can also use a nearby kiosk to select a room, inquire about an upgrade, and obtain an RFID key. These are the latest card key with a fancy chip inside, so it can’t become demagnetised, saving you those frustrating calls/trips back to the front desk.
  3. Guests are their own concierge: The new Radisson iConcierge app (launched early April on Android and iOS) allows guests to access a wide variety of services including the ability to order room service, book a spa appointment, set a wake-up call, get your luggage picked up, and grab a taxi.
  4. Needs and preferences: Hotels should provide services tailored to their most frequent customers.Too many guests work in their rooms while sitting on their bed or battle with many other meeting attendees for a single phone line.
  5. Connect and charge guest’s gadgets: It starts with two adapter-friendly electrical outlets plus two USB ports, to flexibly power your devices. Then you’ve got HDMI, VGA, RCA, and S-Video ports, so you can view images from a computer, camcorder, or any other video device through your room’s TV. Likewise, you can pipe audio in through a standard 3.5mm jack or a docked iPod/iPhone connection. And in case you don’t feel like going wireless for whatever reason, there’s also a wired Internet port.
  6. Training and development of staff: To provide an exceptional guest experience, staff education and training – plus the benchmarking of customer service – are essential. Using technology (like World Manager) to deliver training to all staff seamlessly will be the key to future development and innovation.
  7. Benchmarking and value: Defining, quantifying and benchmarking service levels are also essential to the achievement of outstanding service. Compare your business against competitors and what you were doing last year, as well as analyse guest feedback and mystery shopper visits. More than ever, people want to feel that they get value for money – so the most important thing is to deliver what they expect. It all depends on what area of the market you are in, but whatever your promise is you’d better be true to it – nobody wants to feel they wasted their money in times like these.
  8. A great customer experience: Customers are increasingly demanding an experience from their visits to hotels and restaurants, in addition to a quality product and service. The result of this means hotels and restaurants really need to start understanding: a) what experiences are and how they work and b) how to manage the innovation that is driving the experience
  9. Remote control everything: Can your guests can use free companion app on their own phone or tablet to power the TV on/off; change the channel; browse, order, and control in-room movies. When you first enter your room you’re greeted with lights automatically turning on, the curtains parting, and your TV turning on to display all your control options. From there, you can use the special remote or one of the room’s conveniently located interactive touch displays, to operate the TV, lights, air conditioning, and motorised curtains from pretty much anywhere in the room. The system has a few one-touch options for quickly setting the mood. You can even have an alarm wake you up not just at a specific time, but also with your desired temperature, curtain position, light intensity and music playing. Mmmmmm – nice.
  10. New solutions for old problems: Some solutions for entertainment service using the right technologies: Digital signage, Multimedia Entertainment Program Guide
 and social networks hot spots.

Innovation is vital to the hospitality industry because businesses must compete with new ideas in order to meet the constantly changing needs of customers. This industry creates a competitive environment in each of its divisions, causing businesses to continuously look for unique ways of improving their reputations and attractiveness to consumers, all while attempting to cut costs and increase their profits. Be successful by providing not only a superior on-location experience but at the same time find new ways to interact with your customers before, during and after their holidays.

I have built the model, now I am waiting to get on the real QM II. Maybe.

Be Amazing Every Day

Big Data and Winning the Lottery

Big Data and Winning the Lottery

There is no rhyme or reason. If there is no rhyme or reason why something happens, there is no obvious explanation for it. Imagine you had to randomly select one person, from a giant database of everyone whom has ever lived on earth. I know this is unlikely but bear with me. What are the chances that person is Steve Jobs?

The answer is a very big number: 1 in 107,600,000,000 .

So, now imagine being able to pick the 6 numbers of tomorrow’s lottery: the chances are one in 13,983,816. Not too bad?

So consider this real event and think about the chances of it really happening. On September 6th, 2009, the Bulgarian lottery randomly selected as the winning numbers 4, 15, 23, 24, 35, 42.

On September 10th, the Bulgarian lottery randomly selected as the winning numbers 4, 15, 23, 24, 35, 42—exactly the same numbers as the previous week.

  • Fix?
  • What are the odds?
  • Could a massive fraud have been perpetrated?
  • Had the previous numbers somehow been copied?
  • More on this later.

For a long time, economists, scientists and science-fiction writers alike have pursued the question whether you can accurately predict the future from the past given sufficiently large groups, big data, historical information and computational power. In one of science-fiction’s classics books the Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov, introduced the fictional scientific concept of Psychohistory. The essential idea in psychohistory, is that while one cannot foresee the actions of a particular individual, the laws of statistics as applied to large groups of people could predict the general flow of future events. Asimov used the analogy of a gas: an observer has great difficulty in predicting the motion of a single molecule in a gas, but can predict the mass action of the gas to a high level of accuracy. Maybe that is the future.

You may have read the book by Nassim Taleb on the black swan theory. It is an excellent and still relevant example of understanding data. Worth watching him explain it here. It is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. The theory was developed to explain:

  • The disproportionate role of high-profile, hard-to-predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations in history, science, finance, and technology.
  • The non-computability of the probability of the consequential rare events using scientific methods (owing to the very nature of small probabilities).
  • The psychological biases that make people individually and collectively blind to uncertainty and unaware of the massive role of the rare event in historical affairs.

Black Swans are events that can totally change the course of history, sort of like the unexpected appearance of a mutant with psychic powers in Asimov’s Foundation, except that they occur far, far more often. As examples of such Black Swan events he cites the rise of the Internet, the personal computer, World War I, the 9/11 attacks, and our ongoing financial meltdown.

Models based on analyzing historical data are very good at accurately measuring the risk in a portfolio under normal market conditions, the kinds of markets that explain 99 percent of events and follow the familiar bell curve or normal distribution. But, every so often, say one percent of the time, improbable events happen that are way outside a normal distribution. Such market events are totally unpredictable, that is, the future could not have been predicted based on past behavior, because the improbable event is something that has rarely, if ever, happened before.

But there is a massive neuroscience and psychology problem called cognitive biases. These are tendencies to think in certain ways. Cognitive biases can lead to systematic deviations from a standard of rationality or good judgment, and are often studied in psychology and behavioural economics. To give you my two of my current favourites (I have already dealt with Gamblers Fallacy and the God of Gaps).

Firstly the rhyme-as-reason effect is a cognitive bias whereupon a saying or aphorism is judged as more accurate or truthful when it is rewritten to rhyme. Yes truly. Researchers looked at people who judged variations of sayings which did and did not rhyme, and tended to evaluate those that rhymed as more truthful (controlled for meaning). For example, the statement ‘What sobriety conceals, alcohol reveals’ was judged to be more accurate than by different participants who saw ‘What sobriety conceals, alcohol unmasks’.

One of the most famous examples of this persuasive quality of the rhyme-as-reason effect, see ‘If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit’ the signature phrase of Johnnie L Cochran, Jr. in the O.J.Simpson trial.

The second joyful example of a cognitive bias is the so-called IKEA effect. It is a cognitive bias that occurs when consumers place a disproportionately high value on products they partially created. The IKEA effect is thought to contribute to the sunk costs effect. It occurs when managers continue to devote resources to sometimes failing projects they have invested their labour in. Have a watch of this brilliant Dan Ariely talk on What makes us feel good about our work? –

Back to the Bulgarian lottery result. It was unusual in that the duplicate sets of numbers occurred in consecutive draws. But the law of truly large numbers, combined with the fact that there are many lotteries around the world regularly rolling out their numbers, means we shouldn’t be too surprised—and so we shouldn’t be taken aback to hear that it had happened before. For example, the North Carolina Cash 5 lottery produced the same winning numbers on July 9 and 11, 2007. The lottery is a six-out-of-49 lottery, so the chance of any particular set of six numbers coming up is one in 13,983,816. That means that the chance that any particular two draws will match is one in 13,983,816. But what about the chance thatsome two draws among three draws will match? Or the chance that some two draws among 50 draws will match? There are three possible pairs among three draws but 1,225 among 50 draws. The law of combinations is coming into play. If we take it further, among 1,000 draws there are 499,500 possible pairs. In other words, if we multiply the number of draws by 20, increasing it from 50 to 1,000, the impact on the number of pairs is much greater, multiplying it by almost 408 and increasing it from 1,225 to 499,500. We are entering the realm of truly large numbers. How many draws would be needed so that the probability of drawing the same six numbers twice was greater than one half—so that this event was more likely than not? Using the same method we used in the birthday problem results in an answer of 4,404.If two draws occur each week, making 104 in a year, this number of draws will take less than 43 years. That means that after 43 years, it is more likely than not that some two of the sets of six numbers drawn by the lottery machine will have matched exactly.

As our world becomes increasingly integrated, fast changing and unpredictable, we expect large improbably disturbances or black swans, to occur more frequently, not only in finance but across business, government and society in general. Mathematical models, information analysis and fast computers will continue to be extremely valuable tools, critical to the smooth functioning of our complex systems. But, when the going gets really rough, no machine or model can ever make up for the wisdom that only comes from human judgment and experience. As long as you understand your bias!

Be Amazing Every Day.

Some Non-Obvious Advice on Authentic Leadership

Be an Amazing Leader Every Day.Leadership is behaviour, not position.

The perceived wisdom about Authentic Leadership is confused and dull; many so-called ‘consultants’ and ‘gurus’ have tried to tell us the ‘right’ answer. The current plethora of articles on ‘Thought Leadership‘ is astonishing. I have read, researched and evaluated (ingested, digested, absorbed, assimilated and egested) a huge collection of material on Leadership (from different cultures, writers and traditions) and tried to distill this knowledge into a small droplet of wisdom.

I have a lot of time for Rand Fishkin’s original blogs (co-founder of Moz and his thoughts on ‘thought leaders’,

‘I don’t particularly like the phrase “thought leader” or “thought leadership” for two reasons: 1) just *thinking* about something doesn’t make you a leader, nor does being a leader enable you to simply think about things AND 2) the term has pretentious and sometimes negative associations. When I hear people describe me that way, I have a viscerally uncomfortable reaction. I kinda wish the terminology would go away.’

Apart from some poor use of English, I think he is spot on. Leadership is not a theoretical concept. Tom Peters is one of my main leadership influencers. His clear observation, that:

the best leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders

seems to be one of his finest assertions. It is also not something that is assumed by a position, salary or access to executive facilities.I embrace the idea that ‘Leadership is Behaviour, not Position’ (possibly coined by Tim Longhurst and even he is not sure where he sourced it) and it sums up the concept of leadership nicely.

Peter Drucker conjured up a thousand images on leadership with a very astute observation:Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things. The role of Managerand leader are such completely different, although people often use the terms interchangeably. Managers are the facilitators of their team members’ success. Leaders are the ones who take responsibility for making decisions and bringing change. Leaders are the ones who empower people to discover and use their greatest potential. People are the ones to choose their leader.

If you do a standard Google search on the topic of Leadership, the termauthenticity jumps up and is everywhere. Value Leadership and thought leadership gets more attention when researchers want to explain the effectiveness of management. Isn’t authenticity a principle that anyone with clear conviction and focus intuitively operates from? The question arises whether authenticity in the context of leadership should be invisible. As a leader you should always behave in a manner that is consistent with your beliefs. Authentic Leadership does not come from your title or from the size of your bonus or salary. This form of leadership comes from your inner being and the person that you are. Consider the words of Gary Hamel and Polly LaBarre in the Harvard Business Review article:

‘…too many leadership experts still fail to distinguish between the practice of leadership and the exercise of bureaucratic power. In order to engage in a conversation about leadership, you have to assume you have no power — that you aren’t ‘in charge’ of anything and that you can’t sanction those who are unwilling to do your bidding. If, given this starting point, you can mobilise others and accomplish amazing things, then you’re a leader. If you can’t, well then, you’re a bureaucrat.’

The roots of Authentic Leadership come from ancient Greek philosophy that focuses on the development of core, or virtues.. Ancient Greek philosophers stressed authenticity as an important state through an emphasis on being in control of one’s own life and the ubiquitous admonition: know thyself. Authentic leadership as we know it today evolved from the history of these terms. Recently, authentic leadership has garnered more attention among scholars and practitioners because of publications from many Gurus and led by Harvard professor and former Medtronic CEO Bill George. The past decade has seen a surge in publications about authentic leadership, producing new models, definitions, and theories.

The ancient Greek traditions have reminders for those seeking leadership excellence. They spoke of Leadership having 4 pillars:

  • Prudence (fair-mindedness, wisdom, seeing all possible courses of action),
  • Temperance (being emotionally balanced and in control),
  • Justice (being fair in dealings with others), and
  • Fortitude (courage to do the right thing).

In my opinion, the greatest leaders are those who lead primarily by their example. The most effective form of leadership is born out of the sincere desire and proven ability to make a positive contribution. Those who lead best are those for whom leadership itself is not the primary aim. Most leaders want to get the best out of their team. Instead of telling your team members what to do, show it to them by your own example.The greatest leaders are those who lead not only with their words and ideas. They don’t ask others to do what they are unwilling to do themselves. Instead, they lead by example.Lt. Col. Hal Moore is a great example of this. Famously depicted by Mel Gibson in the movie, We Were Soldiers, Lt. Moore told his troops, before leaving for Vietnam,

‘We are going into battle against a tough and determined enemy. I can’t promise you that I will bring you all home alive. But this I swear, before you and before Almighty God: that when we go into battle, I will be the first to set foot on the field, and I’ll be the last to step off. And I will leave no one behind. Dead or alive, we will all come home together, so help me God.’

For leaders to grow they have to know that their followers are following them each and every moment. Practice what you preach, and the results will astonish you. Be an amazing leader every day. When conditions are tough, when chances to give up are very big, you should be the one who faces obstacles with confidence and determination towards success. Be sure, that they will do the same and stand by your side. By showing personal values, moral behaviour and ethics a manager earns trustworthiness for effective interpersonal relationships. These are the foundation for working together within a company and for employees to reach common goals.

My distillation process for all this ancient and modern knowledge is well underway (having taken a lifetime so far); the result is a small drop of wisdom that contains some non-obvious advice about Authentic Leadership. It is my passion to try to live these mantras every day:

  • More Self-Awareness: The knowledge of self allows leaders to lead from their heart. This is a prerequisite for being an authentic leader; know your own strengths, limitations and values. Knowing what you stand for and what you value is critical. Self-awareness is needed in order to develop the other components of Authentic Leadership. Business is about people; leadership is about people. The best leaders wear their hearts on their sleeves and are not afraid to show their vulnerability. They genuinely care about other people and spend their days developing the people around them. Try to exude passion in all your do.
  • More Authenticity: You have to speak your own truth. This involves being honest and straightforward in dealing with others. An Authentic Leader does not play games or have a hidden agenda. You know where you stand with an authentic leader.In business today, we frequently ‘swallow our truth’. We say things to please others and to look good in front of the crowd or play out their own drama. Authentic Leaders are very different. They consistently talk their truth. They would never betray themselves by using words that are not aligned with who they are. Speaking truth is simply about being clear, being honest and being, yes, authentic.
  • More Dreamers: It starts with the courage to dream. Einstein said that, ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge.’ So true. When we dream we have to be open. An effective Authentic Leader solicits opposing viewpoints and considers all options before choosing a course of action. But it is from our imaginations that great things are born. Authentic Leaders dare to dream impossible dreams. They see what everyone else sees and then dream up new possibilities. They spend a lot of time with their eyes closed creating blueprints and fantasies that lead to better products, better services, better workplaces and deeper value.
  • More Doing the Right Thing: An Authentic Leader is courageous andhas an ethical core. She or he knows the right thing to do and is driven by a concern for ethics and fairness.It takes a lot of courage to go against the crowd. It takes a lot of courage to be a visionary. It takes a lot of inner strength to do what you think is right even though it may not be easy. We live in a world where so many people walk the path of least resistance. Authentic Leadership is all about taking the road less traveled and doing, not what is easy, but what is right. Try also the path of Mudita and celebrate success in others.

I believe that these patterns of behaviour are associated with the concept of great leadership. But it is not a secret that more talking and less action has nothing to do with effectiveness. What peoplesee and witness affects them significantly more than what they just hear. It is interesting to review other sources on Leadership; a previous post on Mudita (the concept of celebrating success in others) was taken from the values of Buddhism. These are also known as the 8 Paths to overcome suffering and they can apply equally, I believe, to Authentic Leadership:

  • Right, skilful view (right knowledge, understanding mainly your own intentions)
  • Right, skilful thought (free from ill will, cruelty and untruthfulness)
  • Right, skilful speech (no lying, no harsh or abusive language, no idle chatter, no gossip or threatening
  • Right behaviour, skilful actions (no killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, and no drinking intoxicants, so self control, not obstructing the law)
  • Right, skilful livelihood (no selling of weapons, liquor, poison, slaves or livestock, no bribery or fraud; in general earning a living that doesn’t create suffering or harm to oneself, others and the environment)
  • Right, skilful efforts (avoiding and overcoming unwholesome states of mind while developing and maintaining wholesome states of mind; in general no greed, hatred and illusions, not wanting too much, no laziness)
  • Right, skilful mindfulness (the unbiased observation of all phenomena in order to perceive them without emotional or intellectual distortions; in general to understand how our mind works)
  • Right, skillful concentration (complete focus on a single object).

Lots of excellent content within this tradition and while the detail and judgemental elements are sometimes frustrating, there is merit in the execution of this form of Authentic Leadership. Becoming an Authentic Leader is not easy and no human being is ever perfect. No leader can ever be the perfect leader. Every single one of us is a work in progress. Authentic leaders commit themselves to Excellence(always) in everything that they do. They are constantly pushing the envelope and raising their standards. They do not seek perfection and have the wisdom to know the difference. It takes a great deal of self-reflection, getting to know oneself and the courage to do the right thing.

Behave consistently. Deeds, not words, best show your authenticity.

Be Amazing Every Day.

10 Rules for Better Office Politics

Nov 6 2014

Here is a new word for you or your office:Mudita.

‘D’ja ever clap when a waitress falls and drops a tray of glasses?’ and ‘Don’tcha feel all warm and cozy, watching people out in the rain?” That’s schadenfreude.

These lines are taken from Avenue Q, the musical based on Sesame Street; there is a brilliant song called (funnily enough)schadenfreudeMost people have heard of the term schadenfreude, where pleasure is derived from the misfortunes of others. Some say it is a global office sport. A New York Times article cited a number of scientific studies which it is defined as, ‘delighting in others’ misfortune’. Many such studies are based on social comparison theory; the idea that when people around us have bad luck, we look better to ourselves.

There is another way to find happiness – being able to be happy for someone else’s success. It has a name too:Mudita. Gaining pleasure in life illuminates our own feelings about success and happiness and also the possibilities of our own success and happiness. Some would call this altruistic (unselfish) joy. It is amazing and could revolutionise your office.

Have you ever felt upset for no reason at all when a friend achieves something you have always wanted? If someone else’s happiness or achievements bother you, even when it has nothing to do with you, you’re probably experiencing jealousy. In one way or another, virtually everybody dreams of standing out, being admired, acclaimed—even, well, applauded. To be viewed and to view ourselves, as merely average or adequate really doesn’t do very much for us, or rather, our ego. This may be all the more so because we live in a meritorious society that refuses to celebrate or lavish praise on individuals unless they’re judged exceptional.

This circumstance explains why we may experience a certain envy when we hear drums bang for someone else. Secretly, we long to hear a drum roll beating for us. Although we might be jealous of someone’s accomplishments, we may have a different yet very equal set of achievements. Similarly, we might find happiness and success in different roads that can never be compared, but are still equally as important. We can be jealous of somebody’s life and admire them at the same time. We can be happy for them without compromising our own happiness.

We can still reach higher and higher whilst helping others achieve their dreams too. Jealousy is inevitable but will blind you and force you to spend hours fantasising about circumstances that’ll never materialise. You’re still going to be the same person you are now even after whiling away hours or days in jealous thoughts and ideas. Understanding how to stop being jealous can help you control your own life and live better.

Which makes your own recognition all the more important. More often than not, people don’t—or won’t—acknowledge you for your contributions and accomplishments. Which may seem a little strange since almost all of us have hopes for such recognition—one reason, perhaps, that the expression fishing for compliments is so well-known. But though it might seem intuitive that people would be more than willing to give what they would greatly appreciate getting themselves, this typically isn’t the case. When complimented, we’re likely to glow internally. Praise from others whose authority we respect serves to verify our sense of inner worth. Such external approval is especially important for those still plagued by self-doubt. If someone does tale the time to be positive and compliments you, remember to say, ‘Thank you. I appreciate that.

10 Rules for Office Mudita

  1. Start by becoming aware. It is helpful to examine the consequences of jealousy and envy. Be honest with yourself when you notice your thoughts and feelings heading down a negative path. Usually jealousy comes from fear. What are you afraid of? Almost always, jealousy stems from a deep fear that you may never achieve the same thing. The more you are jealous, the more you are convincing yourself that you will be no good. Turn that jealousy into determination, without ever giving up and you will definitely stop being jealous all the time.
  2. Look for success in others. When you see another person’s win as a loss for you, you pave the way for discouragement and resentment to set in. Instead allow other people’s success to ignite hope for the success coming in your time of harvest.
  3. Stop comparing yourself. In this world where everyone’s lives are open for all to see through social networks, it’s easy to constantly compare yourself with your peers and competitors. In the office this canlead to believe that youa re not as good as someone else. This triggers theschadenfreude impulses.
  4. Your own achievements matter. Celebrate your own achievements, however small they may be. Rome wasn’t built in a day. You can’t hate someone else because they’re famous or earning a lot more than you are. At some point, they were in the same place as you.
  5. Make more opportunities to be happy. Rejoicing with others creates an opportunity to multiply the good times you get to celebrate. By seizing every chance to sincerely congratulate other’s on their success, you are creating an atmosphere for others to be willing to celebrate your successes.
  6. Passion for life. Love yourself and respect your own life. If you’re not happy, choose a new career path that you love. When you respect yourself, you won’t get jealous anymore. You may be envious, but not jealous because you believe in your own capabilities.
  7. Start with the people you love. It might be difficult to get instantly excited about the lives of strangers. However, you can start by focusing on the people closest to you. For example, cheer with enthusiasm when your cousin wins an award, your friend gets a promotion, or a BNI colleague successfully closes a deal
  8. Stop wishing you were someone else. You are not. You will not become someone else with wishful thinking. Unless you consciously work towards achieving more, you’ll spend the rest of your life bitter and fragile because your happiness doesn’t come from your own success, but from watching someone else’s downfall.
  9. Shine a spotlight on someone else. Keep in touch with what is going on in the lives of the people around you. Others may be bashful about mentioning their own victories but still appreciate having their efforts recognised. Super power time.
  10. Be Amazing Every Day. Be confident and pursue your own dreams. Jealousy is a way of accepting failure. Why are you jealous? Don’t you think you are capable of achieving the same pleasures as the object of your jealousy some day? Jealousy is your mind’s subconscious way of giving up and whining about how unfair life is. Don’t succumb to it. Instead, go out there and prove that you are better. Be Amazing Every Day.

So what do you do when you see someone thriving with the opportunities, recognition, clients and wins that you want for your life or business? Mudita! You can learn to celebrate other people’s success. If you master generating genuine happiness for other people, not only will you find a cure for the envy, which can sabotage your success, but there are additional benefits as well. The words of the Buddha are powerful reminder of the power of Mudita,

Here, O, Monks, a disciple let’s his mind pervade one quarter of the world with thoughts of unselfish joy, and so the second, and so the third, and so the fourth. And thus the whole wide world, above, below, around, everywhere and equally, he continues to pervade with a heart of unselfish joy, abundant, grown great, measureless, without hostility or ill-will.

Be Amazing Every Day

New Superpower: Appreciative Intelligence

New Superpower: Appreciative Intelligence

Appreciative IntelligencePraise them like you shouldRecognition and praise are the rocket fuel for the soul; the basis of a new superpower.

We've come a long, long way together, Through the hard times and the good. I have to celebrate you baby, I have to praise you like I should. – Fat Boy Slim

You may remember the story of a President Kennedy’s visit to the NASA Space Centre in 1962. Allegedly he noticed a cleaner carrying a broom (seems unlikely, but let’s continue with the metaphor). He interrupted his tour, walked over to the man and said, ‘Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?’

Well, Mr. President,’ the cleaner quickly responded, ‘I’m helping put a man on the moon’

I love this story because (even if it isn’t true*) it highlights the true team ethos that was developed by NASA. The cleaner understood the importance of his contribution. He truly felt he was a valuable part of something bigger than himself and his attitude created a feeling of self-confidence in his mission. He wasn’t merely a cleaner; he was a member of the 1962 NASA Space Team. Certainly the details are likely apocryphal, but sometime in the 60's at the Space Centre in Houston was a cleaner, or receptionist, a cook, or a purchasing agent who felt as though their small effort was part of the larger team contributing to something phenomenal.

It turns out that great leaders (including JFK) all have (had) a superpower: Appreciative Intelligence. They have the rare ability to see the mighty oak in the tiny acorn. Successful leaders and innovators I have met, see more than a acorn that some of us might just step over.They see the possibilities for a strong, healthy tree with future generations of oaks and acorns.

Leaders often talk of the challenge of motivating and inspiring people in their business, organisation or company. However there is new research highlighting the way ahead for all business leaders. When we receive an authentic compliment, we all experience an inner glow (some people cannot accept compliments, but that is another story). It's a warm, magical feeling that makes us break into a smile. It makes us want to go the extra mile for the person who bestowed that sincere compliment. It is an ability to give praise that is interesting scientists.

Researchers Professor Tojo Thatchenkery and Carol Metzker, found that individuals with Appreciative Intelligence can reframe situations quicker, appreciate the positive in others (and give praise) and see how the future works from the present moment. Their brilliant book is called “Appreciative Intelligence: Seeing the mighty oak in the acorn".

You may have heard of Emotional Intelligence and Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. In a way, Appreciative Intelligence is the first cousin of Emotional Intelligence and Appreciative Inquiry. Appreciative Intelligence and Appreciative Inquiry are not the same things, although they both focus on what is valuable or positive. Appreciative inquiry is a model for analysis, decision-making and the creation of strategic change.

Appreciative Intelligence has widespread potential to be amazing, powerful toolfor both large and small businesses. Tojo’s research demonstrated four consistent traits of AI leaders:

  • Persistence,
  • Belief and actions matter,
  • Tolerance for uncertainty, and
  • Resilience.

The 2104 entrepreneurial environment has begun to facilitate the full expression ofAppreciative Intelligence. Seeing a situation from multiple perspectives allows the tuned-in entrepreneur to deal with obstacles with courage and resilience. They quickly reframe situations and recognise opportunities and act decisively to transform their dreams into reality.

They can see how their desired future will happen, which gives them the capacity to face future adversity with resilience. High-level Appreciative Intelligencepredisposes leaders to see the bigger picture and make the connections between diverse elements. That was the legendary ability of Steve Jobs to ‘join the dots’. He actually said,

‘You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.’

Those like Jobs, with strong Appreciative Intelligence seem to display the following skills or qualities:

  • The ability to reframe quickly – seeing situations, people or things in a new way – so that something good is visible and can be encouraged.
  • The ability to see what is good now it can grow into a great future (see also Edit and Amplify).
  • The ability to appreciating what is good in an individual or situation and telling them so (praise).

What I love about this model is the beginnings of a science of appreciation; authentically telling people, so they know that their work, no matter how far removed they are from the top of the pyramid, are important to the organisation (remember the NASA cleaner from earlier). It is about making everyone feel like an owner and helping them understand how their work contributes to the overall purpose of the company.Studies have proven that your brain lights up when it hears your name and some praise. If you start to use people’s names not as a greeting, but in the middle of your praise message, it becomes more personal and less likely to be ignored.

Appreciative Intelligence acknowledges that there are some powerful words that have a massive impact on others. These work by directly inspiring and motivating your staff or team. You could use this as part as your journey to Excellence, always.

You (note it’s use in this paragraph) by the way, is one of the most powerful word in the English language and probably, (when translated) the most powerful words inevery language.

Then you should introduce in to your language of praise, the word because, which always precedes a proof point. It means you are backing up what you have to say with concrete facts, which makes it more credible and more powerful in prompting repeat behaviour.

Now you can be really old school and actually say thank you. You may be surprised how few people actually use the word thanks, or thank you.

Finally use the word results. Using this word shows that the action your employee did something that had a measurable impact and that you recognise their hard work in pursuit of that outcome. Try prefixing praise statements with these great AI words (and yes they can be repeated):

Great Words for Praising Effort

Passionate, resilient, resourceful, powerful, focus, outstanding, determined, overcome, achievement, generate, develop, design, accomplish, discipline, creative, triumph, complete, stunning, proud, masterpiece, conquest, initiative, delivery, powerhouse.

Great Words for Praising Quality

Excellence, always; curious, innovative, unique, passionate, powerful, challenging, brilliant, exceptional, striking, aware, brilliant, elegant, eloquent, intuitive, strong, outstanding, talent, distinctive, enabler, curator, stylish, editor.

Great Words for Praising Attitude

Passionate, positive, persistence, tenacity, thoughtful, inspired, responsible, creative, energetic, enthusiastic, motivated, dedicated, innovative, vibrant, wisdom, flexible, versatile, consistent, considerate, commitment, confidence, compassionate, teacher.

Great Words for Praising Leadership

Passionate, appreciative intelligence, courageous, caring, exceptional, capable,entrepreneurial, awareness, collaborative, extra-ordinary, innovative, strategy, planning, delivery, communicative, visionary, charismatic, dynamic, impressive, involved, above and beyond.

By using this powerful language, taking time to praise and appreciating others we change everything. Using the framework of Appreciative Intelligence it will develop new leaders. It provides an exciting answer to what enables successful people to dream up their extraordinary and innovative ideas. Why employees, partners, colleagues and all stakeholders follow them, on different, innovative paths to new goals; how they achieve these goals despite obstacles and challenges. It begins to explain why authentic praise works.

Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

People with Appreciative Intelligence are realistic and action focused. They have the ability to identify positive potential and to devise a course of action to take advantage of it.

Appreciative Intelligence is a mental ability found in top leaders throughout history. Imagine if all leaders in an organisation proactively and mindfully practicedAppreciative Intelligence and praised people? What would be the profound impact that this would have on an organisation's culture? Such a culture could skyrocket employees' motivation and inspire innovation. It is all about practicing Being Amazing Every Day and the skills of Appreciative Intelligence. Excellence, always involves everyone.


Be Amazing Every Day


*Snopes saysDoubtful. The is an old story, re-told; from Christopher Wren and St. Paul's Cathedral, but the story probably goes back to the pyramids or maybe a Sumerian ziggurat. It is unlikely because cleaning crews work late at night, when there are fewer people around, and areas can be closed off for cleaning. I imagine NASA never really sleeps, but trying to get things done in the middle of a Presidential visit seems a little futile to me. In fact, I would think the cleaning would have been done before the President got there.Secondly, nobody cleans a floor feverishly. If you care anything about the job, you clean the floor methodically. That's why you're not going to see a janitor moving quickly while cleaning a floor. It just stirs up the dirt and makes you miss areas…..

I have to celebrate you baby, I have to praise you like I should. – Fat Boy Slim