What kind of feedback do people want?

In a study, people were told that their efforts would be compared with how well hundreds of others had done on the same task. They then received praise, criticism, or no feedback on their performance. 

Rank self-confidence with a score of 1, 2, or 3 after receiving praise, criticism, or no feedback

The highest ranking came as you’d expect – after praise. But the second highest ranking came from receiving criticism. The lowest ranking came from getting no feedback.

If you’ve been waiting to give criticism that is needed, wait no longer. You’re hurting more by withholding feedback than giving that negative feedback.

PS – Leader Quest is now completely revamped and updated with the latest research! How can we unite our people and rally them to a better future? How can we empower people in every position to lead? Click here to start transforming your team.

Posted in Purpose, Leadership | Comments closed

How much money have Jimmy Cobb, John Coltrane and the other musicians made from Kind of Blue?

Kind of Blue is the best-selling jazz album of all time. It is also the most heralded, and most influential. Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly, Cannonball Adderley, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb – these are all titans of the jazz world that came together for one perfect album. Even if you’re completely unaware of jazz, or thought you hated jazz, if you listen to this album, you’ll probably really like it.

So what (play on words intended for those of you who know the name of the first track) kind of riches have the musicians who helped Miles create this masterpiece made financially over the years? Here’s a photo of the payments from the first of two sessions for the album.


Each performer made $64.67. Chambers and Jimmy Cobb had to bring more gear so they got an extra two dollars each for ‘cartage’. 

That’s it. No royalties, no more money. $64.47.

This was just one day in thousands of sessions and gigs for these great men. And the pay from each session and each gig all added up (hopefully) to enough money to live a life doing what they loved. (Stay tuned for more on that at the end of this article.)

Contrast this with CEO pay – $7.4 million a year average in 2018. (Median worker pay was $77,000.) 

It doesn’t seem fair, does it? 

Do you do good work, have you helped, have you been of use? Do other people seem more successful, have more money, people you don’t think deserve it…not like you?

What if the mark of success isn’t money at all? What if it’s what intangible gift you give others, what lives you change by being you? What if a life live quixotically guided by your inner muse that looks downright weird to others is success?

What if we’ve been looking for success in the wrong place this whole time?

PS: Jimmy Cobb is the last man standing from the Kind of Blue recording, still drumming at 92. He says of the Kind of Blue session, “It must have been made in heaven.” 

He, however, is in poor health and could use your help. Here’s a GoFundMe campaign started by his daughter to help pay for his health expenses. 

I’m skeptical of many GoFundMe campaigns (those ‘pay for my trip to -fill in the blank- ones especially). 

This is not one of them – it’s the perfect use of this tool. Let’s help Jimmy as thanks for helping us. 


Posted in Passion, Music | Comments closed

Is effort a bad word?

It takes more effort to play a song than to listen to one.

It takes more effort to play a song than to watch TV.

It also takes more effort to read an article than to watch to TV.

It takes more effort to read a book than to read an article.

It takes more effort to write an article than to read a book.

It takes more effort to write a book than to write an article.

So, is effort a bad word?

It depends on what you want contribute to the world. 

And it depends on the percentage of joyfulness in the effort…even if the joy is just at the end.

Posted in Play, Persistence | Comments closed

What if you can’t start with the CEO when you build a strengths-based culture?

According to Gallup, there are five steps to building a strengths-based culture. 

  1. Start with the CEO or it doesn’t work.
  2. Require every employee to discover their strengths.
  3. Build an internal network of strengths coaches.
  4. Integrate strengths into performance management.
  5. Transform your learning programs.

But what if you can’t start with the CEO? What if he or she isn’t bought in yet, is suspicious of the strengths concept, or is too busy to care?

Gallup recommends that you start with a team, a division or a department. Create a strengths-based sub-culture in the organization. Treat these sub-cultures like test cases to demonstrate ROI. If you can demonstrate that ‘the proof is in the pudding’, then you’ll get the CEO on board.

Start with yourself and your team and as Gandhi said, ‘be the change you wish to see in the world.’ Or in this case the change you wish to see in your company’s culture.

(data from It’s the Manager book by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter) 

PS – StrengthsFinder is now completely revamped and updated with the latest research! Gallup’s online assessment of unique top five strengths. Learn your team’s strengths and learn how to put them into action. Click here to start transforming your team.

Posted in Strengths, StrengthsFinder | Comments closed

Who do the most engaged employees and the least engaged employees talk to?

Who do the most engaged employees and the least engaged employees talk to?

According to Gallup, engaged employees spend the least time working alone. Instead they spend more time communicating with their manager. That’s great!

The least engaged employees spend the most time with their customers. Uh-oh. That’s not who you want to have talking to your customers. Emotions are contagious. Engaged customers lead to increased sales, increased revenue, increased stock prices – it’s the Gallup Path. Least engaged employees? They’re not helping with any of that.

If you were wondering how important engagement and the quality of managers were, here’s your answer. Want more of the juicy good stuff like increased profit and higher stock prices? It all leads back to engaged employees using their strengths every day, extensively guided by great managers.

(data from It’s the Manager book by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter) 

Posted in Passion, Strengths, StrengthsFinder, Strong management | Comments closed

The collaboration walk and tele-coffee: two collaboration ideas from ‘Stop Talking, Start Asking’

Jean Marie DiGiovanna has a great new book out called Stop Talking, Start Asking. Jean Marie is a friend that always lifts me up with her enthusiasm and exuberance. And those two qualities shine through in every chapter. I particularly enjoyed the collaboration chapter in Jean Marie’s book (mentioned above). Here are two ideas to help you and your team collaborate more:

The collaboration walk with someone from a different company

Jean Marie gives the example of Juwi, a wind and solar energy company headquartered in Germany, taking an innovative approach to encourage collaboration. Employees are partnered up with employees in a different company. The other company is not a competitor and within walking distance. Once a month the collaboration partners meet up for a walk and talk to learn and inspire each other. 

This can of course be done inside your company with people from different departments. That’d be great. But what a leap of daring to go beyond the company walls!


“You grab a cup of coffee. I grab a cup of coffee. And we get online for a chat,” Jean Marie says, “This is perfect for those who are not collocated.”

Almost every team I work with has at least a few people that work virtually. Some teams are entirely virtual. The common denominator I’ve found is that these teams desperately need to have more of a personal connection with each other. Tele-coffee (or my preference tele-tea) is a great idea. Thanks Jean Marie! Her book is full of great ideas and enthusiastic wisdom. Stop Talking, Start Asking is available on Amazon here.

PS – Virtual Team Quest – is now completely revamped and updated with the latest research! Examine the unique pitfalls virtual teams face and learn how to overcome them in a series of interactive challenges. Click here to start transforming your team.

Posted in Team Building, Quest Stories | Comments closed

What percent of millennials access the internet from their smartphones?

What percent of millennials access the internet from their smartphones?

First, how big is the millennial workforce?

In 2020, fifty percent of the U.S. workforce will be made up of millennials, the largest segment in the workplace. They will be 75% by 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

So, basically everyone. That makes it worthwhile to pay attention.

Now back to our question: What percent of millennials access the internet from their smartphones?


Again, basically everyone. If you want to engage your millennials you need to find them on their phones. Job search, web sites, even employee reviews, if you get it to look good and be usable on their phones, they’ll engage with it.

(data from It’s the Manager book by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter) 

Posted in Team Building, Generations | Comments closed

The snow fort and the sidewalk

When it snows, do kids prefer to build a snow fort or shovel the sidewalk?

What’s the difference?

One of the differences is enthusiasm. Enthusiasm provides energy, while lack of it sucks energy out.

If you’re having trouble persisting at something that matters to you, or even harder something that doesn’t matter to you, find the kernel of enthusiasm for some aspect of the work. Or some kernel of enthusiasm for the purpose for the work. Everything you do potentially contributes something to someone, even if it just contributes to you having food on the table and a roof over your head. 

It’s not all sidewalk, there’s a snow fort in there somewhere.

Posted in Play, Purpose, Persistence | Comments closed

The two part formula for flextime

According to Gallup, the ideal outcome of flexible work is two parts.

  1. Autonomy
  2. Accountability

This aligns with knowing your people’s StrengthsFinder strengths. Using our strengths to get the work done is an extremely personal process. No one can chart that course for us, because no one really knows what it’s like to be us. Great managers define the end zone, but not the path to get there.

And accountability is easy if we’re using our strengths. We get things done faster and more efficiently if we’re using our strengths. 

If you’re a leader experiment with increased autonomy and increased demand for accountability.

And if you’re a worker hoping for more autonomy, you first need to demonstrate that you’re accountable. Then ask for more autonomy.

(data from It’s the Manager book by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter) 

Posted in Passion, StrengthsFinder | Comments closed

Why is flextime so important?

Why is flextime so important?

According to Gallup, it’s because people deeply crave freedom. They want to be in control of their own lives. 

This lines up nicely with happiness and depression research. Lawyers (especially first and second year lawyers) and ER nurses are the unhappiest workers. What’s the connection with these two occupations? Their work is high stress, low choice. 

We crave choices (but not too many choices). And we sometimes don’t notice the door of the cage is open. Psychologists call this ‘learned helplessness’. If flextime is important to you, grade yourself on how well you identify and enjoy your current level of flextime. For example, lunch is built-in flextime. How free are your lunches?

(data from It’s the Manager book by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter) 

Posted in Passion, Happiness, Positive Psychology, Leadership | Comments closed