From September, 2015

7 Hard-Earned Lessons In Leading A Dysfunctional Team

My most brutal adventure at work was also most brag-worthy. I was in charge of turning around a team that was highly talented but consistently, and mysteriously, underperforming. High turnover rates and missed deadlines were problems we tried to address with different leaders over a span of three years. At the end of 36 months of trial and error, I was offered the opportunity to take a fresh perspective on this puzzle. Among others, my challenge, however, was that this department operated outside my area of expertise: I led business designers and product managers, and this was a team of…

What Fifth-Graders Can Teach Us About Problem-Solving

“Have you ever invented anything for people who have nothing?” a fifth-grader asked me at the end of my presentation on how to design new businesses. Half-touched, and half-surprised by the probing question, I choked as I offered an answer to my audience, the elementary school students of P.S. 56 in Brooklyn. It was my first day as one of the mentors who participated in Big Idea Week in May. Schools in Brooklyn and Queens had invited product people from New York-based tech shops — including General Assembly, Etsy, Facebook, and Pensa — to coach their students on entrepreneurship and problem-solving. As an instructor…

Tension at Work? Maybe You Should Hug It Out

On national hug day – yes, there is such a thing, it seems appropriate to visit the touchy subject of invading a colleague’s personal space. Conflicts at work not only mess with our heads but also our immune systems —making us easy targets for infections during these stressful times. Researchers have accumulated substantial evidence to back this theory (increased stress= increased risk to your immune system). At the same time, they have found that people who feel supported during periods of strain are protected from its negative impact on health. And yet, what behaviors demonstrate care and concern? Dear huggers, you may be onto…

Your New Rules of Personal Branding

I had the incredible opportunity to interview, Sally Hogshead, the author of the #1 WSJ Best Seller of How the World Sees You. She generously offered tips on how to discover our natural strengths to captivate others at work and play. Her unexpected insights on why some people succeed emerged from decades of advertising for the world’s most well-loved brands. If her career in advertising conjured images of Mad Men and ad-women smoking cigars and sipping whiskey, you were wrong. Hogshead was knee deep in data from a study that had nearly half million participants when I spoke with her.…