Leadership in the 4th Industrial Revolution and why purpose is more than appropriate business policies and practices

Business today is subject to the rapid exhaustion of constant change, and constant change seems to be affecting leadership to its limits. Windows of opportunity are shorter and companies are forced out of business quicker.

If we revisit the 1950’s, the average life of a company was just over 60 years. Today it is less than 20 years. According to a recent study by Credit Suisse, disruptive technology is the reason for the constant decline in company life longevity.

However, disruptive technologies are not a new phenomenon. The credit card, the microwave oven, transistor radio, television, computer hard disks, solar cells, optic fibre, plastic and the microchip were all introduced in the 1950s.

It is not technology that explains the failure and costly investments to business; it is less about technology and more about leaders’ failure to envision the future of their business as the world changes around them. It is the result of short-sightedness, an inability to see the future, adapt and lead a focused strategy with flexibility in a changing world.

For humans to be effective, productive and innovative, we must have great leaders who also focus on making trust, humility, accountability, experimentation, collaboration, digitization, innovation within a commercially astute context, a way of organizational life. Doing this ensures that their people and their company constantly deliver increased value for customers.
It also ensures that in the future of work, they drive success within their ever-expanding areas of influence and responsibility, to flow and flourish in uncertain times.

The purpose of a company is not just to make money but to pursue a just cause, we can all remember the words of Henry Ford when he said ‘A business that makes nothing but money is a poor kind of business.’


Purpose is the very reason to have the business. It’s not marketing. It’s not a recruiting tool. It’s not something you just write on your website. It’s not a corporate social responsibility program. It’s the very reason why you started the business in the first place, and it has nothing to do with money.

To be truly purpose-driven, the most senior leader in an organisation will still see themselves as subservient to a higher purpose not to another human being, but to an ideal. We are in service of those ideals, and although we will never actually achieve them, we will die trying, which is the point. It’s about progress, not just prosperity. Prosperity is counting what comes in; progress is counting how far we’ve moved down a purposeful path. The people who work at truly purpose-driven organisations feel like they have a belonging, that this is their calling and it has nothing to do with the business or the product.

Companies exist to advance, innovation, technology, quality of life or something else with the potential to ease or enhance our lives in some way, shape or form. That people are willing to pay money for whatever a company has to offer is simply proof that they perceive or derive some value from those things. Which means the more value a company offers, the more money and the more advancement the company will have for further progression.

Capitalism has to be more about prosperity, about progress.

We have all seen the increase in certain practices that drive stock price value in the short term, all these deals certainly sound ethically dubious. At a point of fact, laws, regulations and ethical conduct normally are an output of bad practices, not by policing them in advance of conduct.


The importance of business ethics reaches far beyond employee loyalty and morale or the strength of a management team bond. As with all business initiatives, the ethical operation of a company is directly related to profitability in both the short and long term. The reputation of a business in the surrounding community, other businesses, and individual investors is paramount in determining whether a company is a worthwhile investment. If a company is perceived to not operate ethically, investors are less inclined to buy stock or otherwise support its operations.

Technology companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google, certainly look like they are more relaxed at asking for forgiveness across ethical misconduct than leading the charge with a fundamental view of how they safeguard one of their most important assets; our private data. You could question how can these company’s operate without such an accountable and responsible view?

The responsibility of business is to use its will and resources to advance a cause greater than itself, protect the people and places in which it operates and generate more resources so that it can continue doing all those things for as long as possible. An organisation can do whatever it likes to build its business so long as it is responsible for the consequences of its actions.

Leadership is the lifeblood of an organization. When leaders create safe environments at work, everyone thrives and devotion is the natural response to those conditions. Toxic cultures breed cynicism, paranoia, and self-interest.

The responsibility of a company is to serve the customer. The responsibility of leadership is to serve their people so that their people may better serve the customer. If leaders fail to serve their people first, customer and company will suffer.

The management team sets the tone for how the entire company runs on a day-to-day basis. When the prevailing management philosophy is based on ethical practices and behaviour, leaders within an organisation can direct employees by example and guide them in making decisions that are not only beneficial to them as individuals, but also to the organisation as a whole.

Building on a foundation of ethical behaviour helps create long-lasting purposeful effects for a company, including the ability to attract and retain highly talented individuals, and building and maintaining a purposeful reputation within the community.


Running a business in an ethical manner from the top down builds a stronger bond between individuals on the management team, further creating stability within the company.

Finally, globally successful entrepreneurs are emerging as exciting, courageous and authentic new role models demonstrating many of the vital qualities required for effective 21st-century leadership and in the future of work.

This is because they are re-inventing how to engage in the art of applying entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship practices to harness potential and mobilize human energy towards creating a better future.

This suggests that 21st-century leadership learning programs are most effective when they focus on cultivating new mindsets, creative, critical and foresight thinking strategies. That develops the ability to anticipate, adapt and cultivate new behaviours and take intelligent actions.

As Klaus Schwab a German engineer and economist once said:

“Technology is not an exogenous force over which we have no control. We are not constrained by a binary choice between “accept and live with it” and “reject and live without it”. Instead, take dramatic technological change as an invitation to reflect on who we are and how we see the world. The more we think about how to harness the technology revolution, the more we will examine ourselves and the underlying social models that these technologies embody and enable, and the more we will have an opportunity to shape the revolution in a manner that improves the state of the world.”

The Truth About Why Our Real Connections Are Disappearing

In January 2019, I wrote a blog ‘Are we too busy to connect to real people? – this blog had more significant views than any single blog I have ever written in the last 7 years, and there have been a ‘few’: a total of 560 blogs across topics.

My engagement in the subject and some alarming statistics, not to mention mental health awareness, made me think that we all should start to understand the need for more human to human interaction and fulfilment from others, our work, our loved ones, our friends and importantly why we need to make time for each other.

A decade ago, smart devices promised to change the way we think and interact, and they have, but not by making us smarter. I now explore the growing body of scientific evidence that digital distraction is damaging our minds.

Today, it is estimated that more than 5 billion people have mobile devices, and over half of these connections are smartphones and it’s changing the way we do countless things, from taking photos to summoning taxis.

A recent report from Hitachi Vantara in collaboration with MIT, ‘From innovation to monetization: The economics of data-driven transformation’ cites the exponential growth in ‘big data’, arising from the multiplicity of data sources from sensors, edge devices and other connected devices. It cites expert estimates that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated every day, piling up to over 44 trillion gigabytes by 2020.

A statement from IDC on the same subject “150 billion systems and devices will be connected across the globe by 2025”

Smartphones have also changed us, culturally and in our behaviour – changed our natures in elemental ways, reshaping the way we think and interact. For all their many conveniences, it is here, in the way they have changed not just industries or habits but people themselves.

The evidence for this is research by psychiatrists, neuroscientists, marketers and public health experts. What these people say – and what their research shows – is that smartphones are causing real damage to our minds and relationships, measurable in seconds shaved off the average attention span, reduced brain power, declines in work-life balance and hours less of family and friends time.

They have impaired our ability to remember. They make it more difficult to daydream and think creatively. They make us more vulnerable to anxiety. They make parents ignore their children. And they are addictive, if not in the contested clinical sense then for all intents and purposes.

Consider this: In the first five years of the smartphone era, the proportion of internet and app users who said internet use interfered with their family time nearly tripled, from 11 per cent to 28 per cent. And this: Smartphone use takes about the same cognitive toll as losing a full night’s sleep. In other words, they are making us worse at being alone and worse at being together.

Ten years into the smartphone experiment, we may be reaching a tipping point. Buoyed by mounting evidence and a growing chorus of tech-world goliaths, smartphone users are beginning to recognise the downside of the convenient little mini-computer we keep pressed against our thigh or cradled in our palm, not to mention buzzing on our bedside table while we sleep.

With all of these statistics, and with the projected speed of 5G networks, simply said, 5G is widely believed to be smarter, faster and more efficient than 4G. It promises mobile data speeds that far outstrip the fastest home broadband network currently available to consumers. With speeds of up to 100 gigabits per second, 5G is set to be as much as 100 times faster than 4G, how will it affect us, humans?

More recently, researchers who study the relationship of mobile phone use and mental health have also found that excessive or “maladaptive” use of our phones may be leading to greater incidences of depression and anxiety in users. according to The Mental Health Foundation, the following statistics apply:

  • 1 in 4 people experience mental health issues each year
  • 676 million people are affected by mental health issues worldwide (2)
  • At any given time, 1 in 6 working-age adults have symptoms associated with mental ill-health (3)
  • Mental illness is the largest single source of burden of disease in the UK. Mental illnesses are more common, long-lasting and impactful than other health conditions (4)
  • Mental ill-health is responsible for 72 million working days lost and costs £34.9 billion each year (5)
  • Note: Different studies will estimate the cost of mental ill-health in different ways. Other reputable research estimates this cost to be as high as £74–£99 billion (6)
  • The total cost of mental ill-health in England is estimated at £105 billion per year (1)

https://mhfaengland.org/mhfa-centre/research-and-evaluation/mental-health-statistics/

Nowhere is the dawning awareness of the problem with smartphones more acute than in the California idylls that created them. Last year, ex-employees of Google, Apple and Facebook, including former top executives, began raising the alarm about smartphones and social media apps, warning especially of their effects on children.

Chris Marcellino, who helped develop the iPhone’s push notifications at Apple, told The Guardian newspaper that smartphones hook people using the same neural pathways as gambling and drugs.

Sean Parker, ex-president of Facebook, recently admitted that the world-bestriding social media platform was designed to hook users with spurts of dopamine, a complicated neurotransmitter released when the brain expects a reward or accrues fresh knowledge. “You’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology,” he said. “[The inventors] understood this, consciously, and we did it anyway.”

Peddling this addiction made Mr Parker and his tech-world colleagues absurdly rich. Facebook is now valued at a little more than half a trillion dollars.

Global revenue from smartphone sales reached $435-billion (U.S.).

Now, some of the early executives of these tech firms look at their success as tainted.

“I feel tremendous guilt,” said Chamath Palihapitiya, former vice-president of user growth at Facebook, in a public talk in November. “I think we all knew in the back of our minds… something bad could happen.

“The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works,” he went on gravely, before a hushed audience at Stanford business school. “It is eroding the core foundations of how people behave.”

Business leaders are grappling with the issue, too. In a recent blog post, Bank of England analyst Dan Nixon argues that the distraction wrought by smartphones may be hurting productivity. It takes office workers an average of 25 minutes to get back on task after an interruption, he notes, while workers who are habitually interrupted by e-mail become likelier to “self-interrupt” with little procrastination breaks.

If we have lost control over our relationship with smartphones, it is by design.

In fact, the business model of the devices demands it. Because most popular websites and apps don’t charge for access, the internet is financially sustained by eyeballs. That is, the longer and more often you spend staring at Facebook or Google, the more money they can charge advertisers.

To ensure that our eyes remain firmly glued to our screens, our smartphones – and the digital worlds they connect us to – internet giants have become little virtuosos of persuasion, cajoling us into checking them again and again – and for longer than we intend.

On some level, we know that smartphones are designed to be addictive. The way we talk about them is steeped in the language of dependence, albeit playfully: the CrackBerry, the Instagram fix, the Angry Bird binge.

But the best minds who have studied these devices are saying it’s not really a joke. Consider the effect smartphones have on our ability to focus.

But John Ratey, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an expert on attention-deficit disorder, said the problem is actually getting worse. “We’re not developing the attention muscles in our brain nearly as much as we used to,” he said.

In fact, Prof. Ratey has noticed a convergence between his ADD patients and the rest of the world. The symptoms of people with ADD and people with smartphones are “absolutely the same,” he said.

A recent study of Chinese middle schoolers found something similar. Among more than 7,000 students, mobile phone ownership was found to be “significantly associated” with levels of inattention seen in people with attention-deficit disorder.

Maybe studies like these have gotten so little attention because we already know, vaguely, that smartphones dent concentration – how could a buzzing, flashing computer in our pocket have any other effect?

But people tend to treat attention span like some discrete mental faculty, such as skill at arithmetic, that is nice to have but that plenty of folks manage fine without.

Researchers at Cambridge University showed recently that eye contact synchronizes the brainwaves of infant and parent, which helps with communication and learning.

Meeting each other’s gaze, Ms Sandink says, amounts to “a silent language between the baby and the mom.” That doesn’t mean breastfeeding mothers need to lock eyes with their children 24 hours a day. But while Ms Sandink emphasises that she isn’t trying to shame women, she worries that texting moms may be missing out on vital bonding time with their babies.

While email and mobile technology have greatly accelerated the way we do business, Leslie Perlow argues that the always “on” mentality can have a long-term detrimental effect on many organisations. In her sociological experiments at BCG and other organisations, Perlow found that if the team –- rather than just individuals – collectively rallies around a goal or personal value, it unleashes a process that creates better work and better lives.

Leslie Perlow is the Konsuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership at the Harvard Business School and author of the book, “Sleeping With Your Smartphone”

See below her video: “Thriving in an overconnected world”

Harvard University research suggests that, in a way, the mere presence of our smartphones is like the sound of our names they are constantly calling to us, exerting a gravitational pull on our attention. If you have ever felt a “phantom buzz” you inherently know this.

Attempts to block or resist this pull takes a toll by impairing our cognitive abilities. In a poignant twist, then, this means that when we are successful at resisting the urge to attend to our smartphones, we may actually be undermining our own cognitive performance.

Are you affected? Most likely. Consider the most recent meeting or lecture you attended: did anyone have their smartphone out on the table? Think about the last time you went to the movies or went out with friends, read a book, or played a game: was your smartphone close by?

In all of these cases, merely having your smartphone present may have impaired your cognitive functioning.

Data also shows that the negative impact of smartphone presence is most pronounced for individuals who rank high on a measure capturing the strength of their connection to their phones that is, those who strongly agree with statements such as “I would have trouble getting through a normal day without my cell phone” and “It would be painful for me to give up my cell phone for a day.”

In a world where people continue to increasingly rely on their phones, it is only logical to expect this effect to become stronger and more universal.

We are clearly not the first to take note of the potential costs of smartphones.

Think about the number of fatalities associated with driving while talking on the phone or texting, or of texting while walking. Even hearing your phone ring while you’re busy doing something else can boost your anxiety. Knowing we have missed a text message or call leads our minds to wander, which can impair performance on tasks that require sustained attention and undermine our enjoyment.

Beyond these cognitive and health-related consequences, smartphones may impair our social functioning: having your smartphone out can distract you during social experiences and make them less enjoyable.

With all these costs in mind, however, we must consider the immense value that smartphones provide. In the course of a day, you may use your smartphone to get in touch with friends, family, and co-workers; order products online; check the weather; trade stocks; read Harvard Business Review; navigate your way to a new address, and more.

Evidently, smartphones increase our efficiency, allowing us to save time and money, connect with others, become more productive, and remain entertained.

So how do we resolve this tension between the costs and benefits of our smartphones?

Finally, Smartphones have distinct uses. There are situations in which our smartphones provide a key value, such as when they help us get in touch with someone we’re trying to meet, or when we use them to search for information that can help us make better decisions.

Those are great moments to have our phones nearby. But, rather than smartphones taking over our lives, we should take back the reins: when our smartphones aren’t directly necessary, and when being fully cognitively available is important, setting aside a period of time to put them away — in another room — can be quite valuable.

With these findings in mind, students, employees, and CEOs alike may wish to maximise their productivity by defining windows of time during which they plan to be separated from their phones, allowing them to accomplish tasks requiring deeper thought.

Moreover, asking employees not to use their phones during meetings may not be enough.

I have suggested in the past that having meetings without phones present can be more effective, boosting focus, function, and the ability to come up with creative solutions.

More broadly, we can all become more engaged and cognitively adept in our everyday lives simply by putting our smartphones (far) away, or as Leslie Perlow has already demonstrated, perhaps we all should concentrate on a balanced life of “predictable time off” (PTO) from our smartphones to increase efficiency and collaboration, heightened job satisfaction, and better work-life balance with our relationships.

As Robin S. Sharma once said:

“Cell phones, mobile e-mail, and all the other cool and slick gadgets can cause massive losses in our creative output and overall productivity.”

Predictions for the start of 2020

2019 was definitely an interesting year!

As Abraham Lincoln once said: “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”

It’s hard to imagine that we’re living in the year 2020. Though we’ve seen plenty of impressive technological advances, like artificial intelligence and phones that unlock by scanning our faces, it’s not quite the world of flying cars and robot butlers people once imagined we’d have by now.

As crazy as these all seem, the world is on track for some spectacular innovations in 2020. Privately operated space flights, self-driving taxis and increases in cyberwarfare would have all seemed like science fiction a few decades ago, but now they’re very real possibilities.

So, let’s have a look at some of the expectations for 2020:

Space Travel
Humans living on other planets is a staple in sci-fi, but it’s growing closer to reality thanks to private space travel initiatives.

As greater advances in space travel are made, the media’s interest will be revitalised. Those private companies will likely capitalise on that attention, which could lead to opportunities to bid on government contracts. Jobs will be created. Auxiliary innovations will be developed. And our chance to become a multiplanet species will (infinitesimally) increase.

Self-Driving Cars

Ride-hailing services are already part of everyday life, but self-driving cars are set to cause seismic changes to the industry. Once safety concerns are addressed, many passengers might find that they prefer being driven by a computer rather than a nosy human. And implementing a network of self-driving cars will be crucial in order for these platforms to finally make a profit.

Companies may adapt to self-driving cars as well. Autonomous transport obviates the need for large fleets of corporate cars. Transportation costs for employees could be drastically reduced. The company could get depreciating assets off the books. And energy efficiency would increase. It’s a win-win-win.

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity continues to grow in importance as more of our information moves online. Unfortunately, we’ve seen how woefully unprepared even trusted sectors like finance and government can be when it comes to keeping data safe.

No one wants their credit card information appearing on a hacker’s forum, so cybersecurity is crucial for any company doing business online. Cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated, but fortunately, innovation in countermeasures has surged forward as well. Going into the next year, the cybersecurity industry will likely grow, assisted by cutting-edge technology like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

We are amidst the 4th Industrial Revolution, and technology is evolving faster than ever. Companies and individuals that don’t keep up with some of the major tech trends run the risk of being left behind. Understanding the key trends will allow people and businesses to prepare and grasp opportunities.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the most transformative tech evolutions of our times. Most companies have started to explore how they can use AI to improve the customer experience and to streamline their business operations. This will continue in 2020, and while people will increasingly become used to working alongside AIs, designing and deploying our own AI-based systems will remain an expensive proposition for most businesses.

For this reason, much of the AI applications will continue to be done through providers of as-a-service platforms, which allow us to simply feed in our own data and pay for the algorithms or compute resources as we use them.

Currently, these platforms, provided by the likes of Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, tend to be somewhat broad in scope, with (often expensive) custom-engineering required to apply them to the specific tasks an organization may require. During 2020, we will see wider adoption and a growing pool of providers that are likely to start offering more tailored applications and services for specific or specialized tasks. This will mean no company will have any excuses left not to use AI.

The 5th generation of mobile internet connectivity is going to give us super-fast download and upload speeds as well as more stable connections. While 5G mobile data networks became available for the first time in 2019, they were mostly still expensive and limited to functioning in confined areas or major cities. 2020 is likely to be the year when 5G really starts to fly, with more affordable data plans as well as greatly improved coverage, meaning that everyone can join in the fun.

Super-fast data networks will not only give us the ability to stream movies and music at higher quality when we’re on the move. The greatly increased speeds mean that mobile networks will become more usable even than the wired networks running into our homes and businesses.

Companies must consider the business implications of having super-fast and stable internet access anywhere. The increased bandwidth will enable machines, robots, and autonomous vehicles to collect and transfer more data than ever, leading to advances in the area of the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart machinery.

Extended Reality (XR) is a catch-all term that covers several new and emerging technologies being used to create more immersive digital experiences. More specifically, it refers to virtual, augmented, and mixed reality. Virtual reality (VR) provides a fully digitally immersive experience where you enter a computer-generated world using headsets that blend out the real world.

Augmented reality (AR) overlays digital objects onto the real world via smartphone screens or displays (think Snapchat filters). Mixed reality (MR) is an extension of AR, that means users can interact with digital objects placed in the real world (think playing a holographic piano that you have placed into your room via an AR headset).

These technologies have been around for a few years now but have largely been confined to the world of entertainment – with Oculus Rift and Vive headsets providing the current state-of-the-art in videogames, and smartphone features such as camera filters and Pokemon Go-style games providing the most visible examples of AR.

With so many changes to our technology coming so fast, it can be hard to grasp the sheer scale of innovation underway. The list above highlights some of the more interesting developments, but is far from exhaustive. Whatever happens, 2020 will be an interesting year for major tech companies and budding entrepreneurs alike.

2020 will be a year of reckoning for those that have held on too long or tried to bootstrap their way through transforming their business.

Simply put, the distance between customer expectations and the reality on the ground is becoming so great that a slow and gradual transition is no longer possible. Incrementalism may feel good, but it masks the quiet deterioration of the business.

Whether CEOs in these companies start to use their balance sheet wisely, find new leaders, develop aggressive turnaround plans, or do all of the above, they and their leadership teams must aggressively get on track to preserve market share and market standing.

Purposeful Discussions cover

Finally, 2020 brings ‘Purposeful Discussions’ which is now my fifth book in a series of books that provide purpose driven outcomes in support of some of the most talked-about subjects in life today. This book demonstrates the relationship between communications (human 2 human), strategy and business development and life growth. It is important to understand that a number of the ideas, developments and techniques employed at the beginning as well as the top of business can be successfully made flexible to apply.

As Swami Vivekananda once said:

“Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.”

A True Christmas and New Year Message

May peace fill all the empty spaces around you, your family and your friends and your colleagues at this special time of year, and in you, may contentment answer all your wishes.

Raise a toast to yesterday’s achievements and tomorrow’s brighter future.

May comfort be yours, warm and soft like a sigh.

And may the coming year show you that every day is really a first day and a new year.

Let abundance be your constant companion, so that you have much to share.

May mirth be near you always, like a lamp shining brightly on the many paths you travel.

Work with the best of your abilities in 2020 and show to the world your power to create wonderful and superior things.

New Year 2020 may turn out to be a year when you are put on the road to everlasting success and prosperity.

Be the change that you wish to see at your workplace and take initiatives to make things better.

Wish your tomorrow is more prosperous, happy and successful than yesterday and today.

Looking forward to another year with hunger and passion to exceed at work and you are sure to meet with success.

Let new beginnings signify new chapter filled with pages of success and happiness, written by the ink of hard work and intelligence.

May the New Year bring us more wonderful opportunities for success.

HERE’S WISHING YOU THE GIFT OF PEACE AND PROSPERITY THROUGHOUT 2020

Why emotional intelligence is leadership, team spirit and company culture

As all leaders experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, you will know you have been tested in ways that you never expected. And yet, somehow, we all prevail. Despite the frustrations, anger and fear, you will have learned a lot about yourself. You will be forced to recognise your own weaknesses and eccentricities, and discover reserves of strength that you had not known existed. In the process, you will become less judgmental and more accepting of yourself and of others.

No matter how large or small a company is, teams are vital to businesses these days, allowing them to maximise productivity and profitability when operated effectively. As such, it’s absolutely imperative for employers to nurture team spirit in the modern workplace.

That being said, employees should make the effort to connect with their team as much as possible as well. A genuine sense of camaraderie not only improves the morale and general mood of each individual member of staff but similarly helps them feel like an integral part of the organisation.

A united team’s greatest strength is undoubtedly the combination of skills present in collaborative environments with engagement into the company vision and mission. With a broader range of abilities and knowledge at the employer’s disposal, businesses can be more flexible, taking advantage of the greater number of opportunities open to them as a result. Close-knit teams are also better equipped to deal with individual shortcomings; for instance, if during the course of a project it emerges that a team member is lacking in a particular area, a strong bond makes it easy for the individual to simply defer to a colleague for support.

Likewise, working in a collaborative environment alongside trusted companions makes it easier for employees to discuss any ideas they might have for improving the firm’s operating practices, or even ask for assistance if they’re struggling personally or professionally.

Team spirit often produces a healthy dose of friendly competition; not in the sense that each individual is trying to outperform their colleagues, rather, as the group contribute to the overall success of the company, team members will work assiduously to avoid being seen as the weak link in the chain. Conversely, innate trust in a co-worker’s abilities enables one to concentrate fully on one’s own tasks and responsibilities, without fear of interruption.

Contented employees that are able to participate in traditional team-building exercises tend to be less stressed than more isolated workers, resulting in increased productivity, and a tighter connection between individuals; understandably, these effects are amplified if regular social outings are arranged. In addition, office disputes will be easier to resolve when team members feel able to communicate their grievances with each other openly, especially when there’s a professional and personal association.

From a practical perspective, cohesive team units often correlate with low staff turnover rates, saving the business money in a number of ways. For starters, as these employees are much happier in their work, businesses are spared the hassle of replacing staff on a regular basis; often a costly and time-consuming process. Furthermore, with fewer new starters each year, the company can save money on training staff and reduce the impact such transitional periods tend to have on productivity.

Company culture is an integral part of business. It affects nearly every aspect of a company. From recruiting top talent to improving employee satisfaction, it’s the backbone of a happy workforce. Without a positive corporate culture, many employees will struggle to find the real value in their work, and this leads to a variety of negative consequences for your bottom line.

According to research by Deloitte, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct corporate culture is important to a business’ success. Deloitte’s survey also found that there is a strong correlation between employees who claim to feel happy and valued at work and those who say their company has a strong culture.

There’s a reason why companies who are named as a Best Place to Work see so much success. These organizations tend to have strong, positive corporate cultures that help employees feel and perform their best at work. Research gathered by CultureIQ found that employee’s overall ratings of their company’s qualities – including collaboration, environment and values – are rated 20% higher at companies that exhibit strong culture.

But why is corporate culture such an important part of a business?

The culture factor – 8 types of company culture

The 8 Types of Company Culture

A great quote we have all heard time and time again is: ‘No man is an island’, especially in a business organisation. Everyone in the organisation needs someone else’s help sometime or another, either as part of the regular workflow or during emergencies.

Whether it’s the CEO or the cleaning lady, every person in an organisation has to consider himself or herself as part of a team in order for a business to function smoothly. The moment a “That’s not my job!” attitude appears, you have the makings of a dysfunctional organisation and a decline in team and company performance

What Creates a Team Environment?

Creating a team environment in a company does not come easy. To effectively build teams, it is important to remember that:

Teamwork is based on a company’s culture. Companies that encourage open, honest communication and foster employee interaction are in a better position to have good teamwork among employees.

Team spirit comes from the top. Building effective teams with the right attitude emanates from the highest levels of an organisation. Only by flattening the traditional organisational pyramid can one expect to instil the right team culture.

People must fit the culture. Some people are team players and some are not. It’s partly a question of personality and partly a matter of training. One person in the team with the wrong attitude can undermine the effort of the entire team. Hiring only people with the right traits for teamwork is crucial in building effective teams.

Leaders that develop great teams around them have two things that they do well:

• they have a lot of emotional intelligence and
• are able to provide a clear vision for the team.

Well, you are probably wondering what the team members need to have:

The team members themselves also need to possess high emotional intelligence so that they interact with each other with the least amount of friction.

The importance of teamwork is essential in today’s multidisciplinary world. In the past, during the industrial era when most jobs were represented by people on a manufacturing line doing one thing all day – teamwork wasn’t as important as it is today.

When emotional intelligence first appeared to the masses, it served as the missing link in a peculiar finding: people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time. This anomaly threw a massive wrench into what many people had always assumed was the sole source of success—IQ. Decades of research now point to emotional intelligence as the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack.

Emotional intelligence is the “something” in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behaviour, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results. Emotional intelligence is made up of four core skills that pair up under two primary competencies: personal competence and social competence.

At a recent World Economic Forum it was stated in a report named ‘The Future of Jobs’ that in 2020, the core skill sets in highest demand will be complex problem-solving skills and social skills, including emotional intelligence.

In today’s knowledge economy, most of our jobs involve interacting with others that are not even in the same line of profession. The need for effective teamwork is critical for any business.

The ability to simultaneously perform as an individual and together with your colleagues or employees in effective teamwork is key to attaining growth and success.

In every aspect of a business, the diverse skills of teams are needed for reaching success. Make use of every opportunity you have to engage in teamwork so you develop effective communication skills.

Steve Jobs changed the whole pattern of living with his innovative and creative mind. However, without his team of hard-working professionals and their abilities, his innovations would not have reached the hands of so many people around the world.

In effect, teamwork is important and essential in order to accomplish the overall objectives and goals of an organization.

The following 5 reasons summarise the importance of teamwork and why it matters to you:

• Teamwork motivates unity in the workplace

A teamwork environment promotes an atmosphere that fosters friendship and loyalty. These close-knit relationships motivate employees in parallel and align them to work harder, cooperate and be supportive of one another.

Individuals possess diverse talents, weaknesses, communication skills, strengths, and habits. Therefore, when a teamwork environment is not encouraged this can pose many challenges towards achieving the overall goals and objectives. This creates an environment where employees become focused on promoting their own achievements and competing against their fellow colleagues.

Ultimately, this can lead to an unhealthy and inefficient working environment.

When teamwork is working the whole team would be motivated and working toward the same goal in harmony.

– Listen to our teamwork fundamentals audio course:

• Teamwork offers differing perspectives and feedback

Good teamwork structures provide your organization with a diversity of thought, creativity, perspectives, opportunities, and problem-solving approaches. A proper team environment allows individuals to brainstorm collectively, which in turn increases their success to problem solve and arrive at solutions more efficiently and effectively.

Effective teams also allow the initiative to innovate, in turn creating a competitive edge to accomplish goals and objectives. Sharing differing opinions and experiences strengthens accountability and can help make effective decisions faster, than when done alone.

Team effort increases output by having quick feedback and multiple sets of skills come into play to support your work. You can do the stages of designing, planning, and implementation much more efficiently when a team is functioning well.

• Teamwork provides improved efficiency and productivity

When incorporating teamwork strategies, you become more efficient and productive. This is because it allows the workload to be shared, reducing the pressure on individuals, and ensure tasks are completed within a set time frame. It also allows goals to be more attainable, enhances the optimization of performance, improves job satisfaction and increases work pace.

Ultimately, when a group of individuals works together, compared to one person working alone, they promote a more efficient work output and are able to complete tasks faster due to many minds intertwined on the same goals and objectives of the business.

• Teamwork provides great learning opportunities
Working in a team enables us to learn from one another’s mistakes. You are able to avoid future errors, gain insight from differing perspectives, and learn new concepts from more experienced colleagues.

In addition, individuals can expand their skill sets, discover fresh ideas from newer colleagues and therefore ascertain more effective approaches and solutions towards the tasks at hand. This active engagement generates the future articulation, encouragement and innovative capacity to problem solve and generate ideas more effectively and efficiently.

• Teamwork promotes workplace synergy

Mutual support shared goals, cooperation and encouragement provide workplace synergy. With this, team members are able to feel a greater sense of accomplishment, are collectively responsible for outcomes achieved and feed individuals with the incentive to perform at higher levels.

When team members are aware of their own responsibilities and roles, as well as the significance of their output being relied upon by the rest of their team, team members will be driven to share the same vision, values, and goals. The result creates a workplace environment based on fellowship, trust, support, respect, and cooperation.

Final thought, without the ability to effectively work in a team environment, you could delay the success of developing, formulating and implementing new and innovative ideas. The ability to problem solve is reduced, as well as the attainment of meeting goals and objectives, in turn, limiting the efficiency and effectiveness of growing a successful company is hindered

No matter how much they want to be part of the team, some will always find it difficult to work collaboratively, whether that’s due to a lack of confidence, a clash of personalities, or simply that an individual prefers working alone.

Fortunately, most people – even those who’d describe themselves as shy – can succeed in a team environment given enough time, enjoying the benefits of a happier and more fulfilling working life.

One of the most important roles a leader has is creating a positive culture. Be sure to cultivate a positive culture that enhances the talent, diversity and happiness of your workforce. Building a unique, positive culture is one of the best – and simplest – ways to get your employees to invest their talent and future with your company.

As Paul Ryan once said:

‘Every successful individual knows that his or her achievement depends on a community of persons working together.‘

Tequila and a very Meaningful Conversation with Michael

tequila

Tequila has never been a good friend to me and to be honest with you I have never really understood the drink, only to say occasionally an ice-cool margarita can be very inviting especially in hot weather.

If you’re anything like me, early memories of tequila drinking bring back foggy images of high school house parties a la Tom Cruise in “Risky Business.” Some of you might remember staring at the lifeless worm floating sadly on the bottom of a bottle, and wondered, who would drink that? Many of you still wince and cry, “It burns!”

On a recent visit to Oregon, my business partner and good friend Mark Herbert, decided to introduce me to Michael Bailey, who frankly is an expert in tequila. We arrived at Michael’s house, deep into the Mohawk Valley, where he showed us around his vast tequila collections, where this tequila cannot be purchased, my curiosity did get the better of me, there was no Patron tequila in his collection, not even Patron ultra-premium, no salt and no lime, just tequila.

Also, tequila does not have a worm in its bottle. The worm, or guano, is associated with mezcal. In the 1940s, a few brands started a marketing ploy attributing aphrodisiac and magical qualities to the worm and the person shooting it. As you can probably guess, ingesting the worm has no effect on desire, nor are fine bottles of either tequila or mezcal sold with a worm in it.

The word tequila comes from the Nahuatl (Aztec) language and translates to “the place where plants are harvested,” or possibly “the place where a lot of work is done,” according to Jose Maria Muria in his book, “A Drink Named Tequila.” And that pretty much sums up the sentiment behind tequila: A plant, a place and the people who make it, Michael believes that the word Tequila has a translation of ‘The Stone That Cuts’.

Michael started to discuss the subject of Hollywood actor George Clooney and his recent investment into tequila, ‘when George Clooney and Rande Gerber’s tequila company, Casamigos, sold for $1 billion last year, it begged the question: that there really so much money in tequila.

In the Guadalajaran skies, desert heat, verdant blue-green leaves, distilled down via an ancient recipe into a crystal-clear, power-punch of a spirit. The roots of our most beloved, hangover-inducing inebriant go all the way back to the 13th century.

Agave was an important part of life in pre-Hispanic Mexico: the dense fibres were perfect for mats, ropes, possibly wigs, but people also had another use for the plant: they loved to booze around with agave juice.

Pulque was their favourite drink, a fermented, milky coloured, yeasty agave juice concoction that pre-Aztec civilisations had the good sense to distil. North American fascination with tequila began during prohibition, and surfaced again in the Second World War when European spirits were hard to come by.

Agave – The Cultivation of the Tequila Tradition

The History of Tequila

The town of Tequila was founded in 1656 in what is now the Mexican state of Jalisco. It didn’t take long for tequila to be produced throughout the country and Jose Cuervo was the first to commercialize the product. The late 1800s saw the first exports to the United States and the following Mexican Revolution and World Wars added to the international popularity of tequila.

Tequila can only be made within particular regions of certain Mexican states. They include 124 municipalities of Jalisco (including the town of Tequila and the majority of modern tequila production), 8 municipalities in Nayarit, 7 municipalities in Guanajuato, 30 municipalities in Michoacan, and 11 municipalities in Tamaulipas.

Mark and I were hugely curious, sipping gently on our first Margarita, ‘so Michael how is tequila made?’

Good question guys, tequila is made by distilling the fermented juices of the Weber blue agave plant with water. The agave is a member of the lily family and it looks like a giant aloe vera plant with spiked barbs on the tips. After seven to ten years of growth, the agave plant is ready to be harvested and used in the production of tequila.

Underground, the plant produces a large bulb called a piña, which looks similar to a white pineapple. The agave’s spiky leaves are removed and the piñas are quartered and slowly baked in steam or brick ovens until all the starches are converted to sugars. The baked agave is crushed in order to extract the plant’s sweet juices, which are then fermented.

100% Agave vs. Mixto: According to Mexican law, all tequila must contain at least 51 percent Weber blue agave (Agave tequilana). Really good tequila, like the one you are drinking, is 100% Weber blue agave and will be clearly marked that way on the bottle. The law also requires them to be produced, bottled, and inspected in Mexico.

Tequila that is not 100% agave is called mixto (mixed) because it is blended with sugar and water during distillation. Mixto tequilas can be produced outside of Mexico. Until around the turn of the 21st century, mixtos were the main tequilas produced. Today, the majority of the tequila you will find is “Tequila 100% de Agave.”

Tequila is distilled in either pot or column stills until it reaches around 110 proof. The result is a clear spirit with a significant amount of congeners. These congeners are by-products of alcohol fermentation that are often thought of as impurities which may lead to more severe hangovers.

Some tequileros (tequila producers) re-distil the tequila to produce a cleaner liquor. Before bottling, the distillate is cut with water to obtain the bottling strength, which typically is around 80 proof, or 40 percent alcohol by volume (ABV).

Some tequilas are clear and are called blanco or silver tequila. Others take on a brown color due to one of two possible sources. Gold tequilas often get their colour from the addition of caramel or other additives. Reposado and añejo tequilas obtain their golden-brown colour from barrel ageing. Some tequilas are flavoured with small amounts of sherry, prune concentrate, and coconut, though these are not “true” tequilas, but “tequila products.”

The recipe for tequila is startlingly simple. All you need is agave, yeast and water, a few years for your crops to mature, oh, and a donkey or two. Jimadores (agave farmers) harvest the piña (heart) from the centre of the huge Weber blue agave at the perfect point in its life cycle (by all accounts, a rare, almost esoteric skill passed down through generations).

The piña is chopped up and gently steam-baked in a brick oven for a few days (or in an industrial pressure cooker for shorter cook time) and – slowly – the heart softens as the starch turns to sugar. The cooked piña is shredded like pulled pork, then crushed (often on a stone wheel, sometimes by donkeys) to extract the aguamiel, or juice, which is poured into heated wooden tanks.

The nectar ferments for a week or two – the yeast found naturally in the leaves of the agave plant is traditionally used to speed up the process – and then it’s distilled two to three times, water is added and it’s aged in wooden tanks or vats.

Each producer’s distillation process, ageing time and vessel give the tequila its unique flavour notes and aroma. It takes between 14 and 21 days to create the perfect white, clear-as-crystal tequila, while ageing the spirit for two months creates a pale gold tequila, drawing in some of the flavours and hues of the wood. Ageing the spirit from two to 364 days creates reposado (rested) tequila, and one year and beyond is known as anejo or aged tequila (and it’s delicious).

Before I make you both another Margarita, we are going to try all the 5 types (Tipos) of tequila, so you can fully understand the variables in taste, colour and quality of tequila, they are:
Blanco, Silver, or White Tequila (Tipo 1): Blanco tequila is a clear spirit that can be either 100% agave or mixto. These tequilas are “aged” — more like “rested” — no more than 60 days in stainless steel tanks, if they are aged at all. The unaged blancos give the drinker the rawest taste of agave available and have a notable earthy flavor that is distinctly tequila. If you have not tasted a blanco, then you are missing out on the pure taste of the agave plant.

Silver tequila is primarily used for mixing and is perfect for almost any tequila cocktail and often smoother than the gold tequilas shots. If you are looking for a quality, affordable, all-around tequila to keep in stock, a blanco is your best option.

Joven or Gold Tequila (Tipo 2): Joven (young) or oro (gold) tequilas are the ones that many older drinkers are familiar with, particularly if you spent any time doing tequila shots in the last few decades of the 20th century. Gold tequilas are responsible for many bad tequila experiences and were the most widely distributed in the U.S. during that time.

These are often unaged tequilas that are typically mixtos and have been colored and flavored with caramel, oak extract, glycerin, syrup, and other additives. While many gold tequilas leave something to be desired in comparison to the other classes, there are now a few decent bottlings available. If you are going to drink a gold tequila, stick to heavily flavored cocktails or (if you must) shots.

Reposado Tequila (Tipo 3): Reposado (rested) tequilas are aged in wood casks for a minimum of two months and many are aged from three to nine months. The barrels mellow the flavors of a pure blanco and impart a soft oak flavor to the agave as well as giving the tequila its light straw color. It has become popular for distilleries to age their tequilas in used bourbon barrels, which adds another dimension to the finished taste.

A little more expensive than blancos, reposado tequilas are the middle ground of the three main types found that are now pretty standard in a brand’s tequila line-up. They are versatile enough to be used in a great number of tequila cocktails, particularly those that have lighter flavors like the margarita or tequini. Reposados also make great sipping tequila.

Añejo Tequila (Tipo 4): Añejo tequila is “old” tequila. These tequilas are aged, often in white, French oak or used bourbon barrels for a minimum of one year to produce a dark, very robust spirit. Most añejos are aged between 18 months and three years while some of the best can spend up to four years in barrels. Many tequileros believe that aging longer than four years ruins the earthy flavour tones of the spirit.

Añejo tequilas tend to be very smooth with a nice balance of agave and oak. You will often find butterscotch and caramel undertones, which makes these perfect for sipping straight (chilled if you like) or for those really special cocktails.

You can liken an añejo to a high end brandy or whisky. Try these tequilas in a snifter to get a real sense of their aromas and flavours. As might be expected, añejo tequilas are some of the most expensive on the market, though there are many reasonably priced options available.

Extra-Añejo Tequila (Tipo 5): The change in the tequila market of recent years has led to the creation of a fifth type of tequila, which is labeled extra-añejo or muy añejo (extra-old).

These tequilas spend over four years in barrels and have a profile that rivals some of the oldest whisky you can find. Logically, the price of these tequilas reflects their extra time in the barrel and these are ones that you will want to save for straight sipping, enjoying every second of the experience.

Mark and I finished our last tequila with Michael, thanked him for a wonderful afternoon of tequila, home-made Margarita’s and phenomenal learnings, thankfully our taxi was on hand to drive us home.

So, what did I learn, one hundred percent agave tequila is made for sipping and savoring from a snifter, like a good scotch. No lime or salt is necessary to mask the flavor. (The more aged a tequila is, the more mellow the flavor, so opt for darker-colored añejo or reposado.)

After every sip or two you can dip a wedge of lime into a little salt and suck on it if you want to, but if you’re drinking mezcal skip the lime and opt for an orange slice instead.

If you find yourself at a great tequila bar that really means business, you can see if they have any sangrita, which is the only real “chaser” that Mexicans drink with tequila. It’s a sweet and spicy mixture of citrus juices, hot sauce, and sometimes tomato juice and/or Worcestershire.

It’s served in a small glass alongside the tequila, and when sipped in between sips of tequila, it cleanses the palate and highlights the tequila’s peppery and citrusy taste.

And if you’re looking to drink tequila in a cocktail, do as the Mexicans do and mix it with grapefruit soda (like Fresca) to make a refreshing Paloma.

Michael’s Margarita was super easy, delicious and possibly the best Margarita, I have EVER tasted, one part juice made from fresh oranges, one part juice made from fresh lemons, ice, Michael’s special tequila, ice and for taste coriander – AMAZING!

Statistics show that the United States is the largest consumer of tequila. In addition, the US demand for tequila is increasing year by year. Spain and Chinese demand for tequila are increasing at a very high rate.

Tequila has very strict requirements for raw materials. A mature blue agave requires a minimum of eight years, which limits the total production of tequila.

In 2017, the global tequila market size was 4.660 million US$ and is forecast to 6.360 million US in 2025, growing at a CAGR of 4.0% from 2018

Michael believes that tequila is a fine drink that enchants us all from the very beginning. It needs to have that certain ’WOW’ effect. It was very hard work, but at the end of the day there are many tequilas with an incredibly smooth finish. Like alchemists, you need to search for a tequila that when first sipped you will experience a magic moment.

As Rainbow Rowell, an American Author once said:

“Drinking tequila is more about the journey than the destination.”

Purposeful Driven Discussions with Mark Herbert

Every year, I travel to Oregon to visit my business partner, Mark Herbert, to discuss cross border challenges and to hold meetings with his team, my relationship with Mark and his team is a good example of a ‘special relationship’ that has grown from strength to strength over the last decade. We always discuss US to Europe and the effects on business and personnel who hold office.

Mark and I had quality time to discuss many subjects and in particular working in an increasingly fast-paced and ever-changing world, and the rationale behind my new book ‘Purposeful Discussions’.

Mark Herbert

We decided to take a road trip to the beautiful town of Brownsville, originally known as “Calapooya” after the area’s original inhabitants, the Kalapuya Indians, or “Kirk’s Ferry”, after the ferry operated across the Calapooia River by early settlers Alexander and Sarah Kirk.

When Linn County was created from the southern portion of Champoeg County on December 28, 1847, the Provisional Legislature named Calapooia as the county seat. Brownsville was named in honour of Hugh L. Brown, who settled there in 1846 and opened the first store. In the mid 1980s Brownsville assumed a modicum of international notoriety as the location set for the film ‘Stand by Me‘, directed by Rob Reiner. The film was shot in and around the community in June and July 1985 (and Richard Dreyfuss, whom I blogged about 2 weeks ago, plays in it).

It was a hot day driving through some of the back roads in Mark’s Porsche convertible, I started to ask Mark about purpose-driven outcomes in business, to which he responded: ‘Great subject Geoff, you could question to wonder too openly, or intensely, about the meaning of life sounds like a peculiar, ill-fated and unintentionally comedic pastime. It isn’t anything an ordinary mortal should be doing – or would get very far by doing. A select few might be equipped to take on the task and discover the answer in their own lives, but such ambition isn’t for most of us.

Meaningful lives are for extraordinary people: great saints, artists, scholars, scientists, doctors, activists, explorers, national leaders…. If ever we did discover the meaning, it would – we suspect – in any case, be incomprehensible, perhaps written in Latin or in computer code. It wouldn’t be anything that could orient or illuminate our activities. Without always acknowledging it, we are – in the background – operating with a remarkably ungenerous perspective on the meaning of life.’

I responded by saying ‘it is my belief that an important part of empathy is the ability to trust and be trusted. When your employees feel that you care, then you have earned their trust. If they trust you, they will take more risks with you and be more open with you. People will talk openly with you only when they trust you. As trust builds, there will be more sharing of information, feelings, and thoughts. The more you share, the easier it is to relate to one another. Building trust is something that takes time and effort. It involves both you and the other person in the relationship. The level of trust is what makes each relationship unique.

So how do you build a trusting relationship with someone?

Mark answered by exercising five ways to build trusting relationships:
1. Learn to trust others
2. Earn the trust of others
3. Share information, thoughts, and feelings
4. Show weakness and take risks
5. Be personable

It is true, if you want to develop your organisation’s culture around purpose, it’s hard to imagine anything more critical to your success than trust. Yet, unfortunately, trust is sorely lacking in workplaces in the US and Europe, if fact across the globe, reflecting society’s growing distrust of business, government and other vital institutions.

How big is the trust gap? I recently read The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer, which found that just 37% of respondents find CEOs to be credible spokespeople, down 12% compared to 2016. Trust in employees is also falling. Edelman found that 48% of respondents found employees trustworthy, down from 52% in 2016. In fact, for the first time, a majority of global respondents say that they no longer trust “the system” – government, media, business and institutions – to work for them.

It’s clear there’s a crisis of trust brewing. Yet, there’s hope for companies that pursue purpose transformation, for it is only by being trustworthy that we can gain the trust of employees, customers and others who are invested in mutual success. In my continuing series of interviews around culture and purpose, I spoke with five experts on workplace relationships who shared their ideas on why trust is integral to purpose transformation.

Mark went on to say ‘organisations, values play another vital role’. “Values prevent teams and individuals from giving into that short term, numbers-oriented mentality, which is so prevalent in many publicly traded organizations,”. “We have to give up the notion that it’s okay for work to be unsatisfying; that it’s simply an obligation versus something we feel fulfilled and passionate about doing. We as individuals have to change our beliefs; that’s what really changes the organisation.”

The ability to trust your team to embody your values is the foundation for a successful purpose transformation. After all, you can expend a lot of energy defining purpose and values, but if you can’t rely on your team to embody them, then it won’t impact how teams interact with customers and each other, and it won’t impact how business gets done.

Values should drive decision-making, especially around hiring and retention. Organisations must hire people who believe in the organisation’s purpose, and who embody the values you want to see in the organisation.

I continued to question, ‘so how do you build a trust-based workplace? Mark responded, inspiring trust is about walking the talk and great storytelling, “As a leader, you build trust by making yourself available, listening to questions. You have to listen to your customers and your people, and recognise the questions people have.”

Final thought, it might not seem like trust would be such a crucial component of building a purpose-driven organisation. But in truth, it’s trust – between employees and managers, managers and executive leaders, and customers and those within the organisation – that gives purpose and values the power to transform.

To be successful in today’s dynamic business environment, leaders must work toward building relevance, managing business fundamentals with a balanced approach and guiding employees through open, two-way communication. Those leaders who leverage opportunities to adapt, innovate and learn can make ever-changing times invigorating and advantageous for themselves, their employees and their organizations.

A great quote by Howard Schultz sums up our thinking on this incredible roadtrip, when he said:

“When you’re surrounded by people who share a passionate commitment around a common purpose, anything is possible.”

The extraordinary life of Richard Dreyfuss and why the need for a human interaction

Richard Dreyfuss

I had the great fortune to see Hollywood legend Richard Dreyfuss at the Cadogan Hall – Chelsea, London recently and what a huge inspiration this incredible man is, he is so much more than his accolade of movies from Jaws to Daughter of the Wolf.

This close encounter with Dreyfuss was billed as an intimate evening with a living legend. This opportunity to see Richard Dreyfuss, the engaging actor known for his roles in the Spielberg films ‘Jaws (1975)‘ and ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)‘ (and a hundred other films).

At just thirty-one, Dreyfuss already has been seen in three of the biggest-grossing films of all time: ‘American Graffiti (1973),’ ‘Jaws’ and ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind.’

He has always wanted to be an actor, and has always been, according to nearly everyone he’s ever known, geared for success. Now he is all but synonymous with the word. After only seven features, he received his industry’s highest accolade when he won the Oscar for Best Actor of 1977 (over Richard Burton) for his performance as Elliot Garfield in ‘The Goodbye Girl (1977)‘.

Video bio of Richard Dreyfuss:

Dreyfuss noted that he enjoyed working with Spielberg, “who understands the acting process.” Not every director does.

But within a minute, the conversation turned unexpectedly to Dreyfuss’ true passion these days: the need for civic education in America.

We have managed to disconnect education from preparation for the rest of your life. We are addicted to immediate gratification, removed from the necessity to take time for decision making, for rumination and contemplation, thinking things through. Under the Bush administration, Bush said: ‘Thinking things through is for sissies.’ Education is horrible in the United States.

Dreyfuss’ passion is such that he recently spent four years studying at Oxford, to prepare for his project to instil civic education in American schools. Already he was speaking to schools in Texas and California, to propose his civic-centric curriculum, entitled “The Fourth Branch”, which includes American history, the importance of dissent and debate, and civic clubs, for the purpose of reinforcing Enlightenment values.

An incredible and extraordinary man to see, earnest and modest at the same time, with his famous laugh coming to the surface ever so often, Dreyfuss himself interestingly enough had no formal education after high school, clearly an issue for him, as he came back to this point often.

“Why did I become an actor?” he said. “Because it is not one of those artistic professions that requires training. You do it spontaneously, in the present. You can’t go to class and learn to become a better actor. Plus with acting you are saved the frustration of making mistakes on paper, then ripping the page from the typewriter,” he imitated, in his lively way, a hand pulling out the ream.

Dreyfuss perceives a distinction between the gift for expression on paper and that for live expression. As a child, aged nine, he already had the confidence that he had the latter gift. “I was certain I would become a successful actor,” he stated firmly. “Certain. 100 percent. I didn’t want to be one, I was going to be one.” He grinned and gestured to his chest. “I was built for the hunt!” Already, in his family, he always liked be the “spectacle,” vying for this position with his siblings and cousins.

Dreyfuss continued to reiterate the need for better human connection, to the point of using film as the medium for accomplishing this fact.

Richard Dreyfuss

Humans are born wired for connection – it’s in our DNA, as strong a need as food, water and warmth. And if you look at a new-born baby, that makes sense. Unless babies successfully attach to their mother, they won’t be able to survive – human infants are born completely helpless, so we are entirely reliant on our caregivers. A loving, secure relationship is literally a matter of life and death for babies.

So, in our brains is an ‘attachment system’, which gives us a magnetic attraction to others – (usually) first mum, then dad, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, school friends, teachers, adult friends, colleagues, mentors and later romantic partners and our own family, when the whole cycle starts over again.

Jeffrey Young, the founder of schema therapy, understood this need for attachment – that’s why it is one of the core developmental needs he identified in all children (along with the need for safety and protection; to be able to express our feelings and emotions; spontaneity and play; and boundaries/being taught right from wrong).

Another psychotherapy pioneer to understand this fundamental need was psychoanalyst John Bowlby, often called the ‘father’ of attachment theory. Bowlby realised that all children (and adults) need a secure attachment to their caregivers, especially mum. If we are lucky enough to develop this secure attachment in infancy, this ‘attachment style’ will remain constant throughout our lifetime and help us form strong, stable, loving relationships with friends, romantic partners and then our own children.

A strong culture is one where there’s trust, connection and belonging, among more. Without trust, you don’t connect with colleagues and without connection, it’s only a matter of time before any sense of belonging to that employer dissipates and you start looking for a job elsewhere — likely with a competitor.

One of the best ways to gauge whether there’s connection or not is to look at your meetings. Do the right conversations take place during those meetings, or, do people wait for the meeting after the meeting so they can get “real work” done? If it’s the latter, then you might want to consider strategies for building trust.

The Value of Human Connection—Unplugged | Kim Gemmell | TEDxChilliwack

Dreyfuss is an incredibly extraordinary individual, one that has an astute purpose in life and one that will continue to be transparent with the truth any why.

Final thought, I really love films. From science fiction to drama, almost all kinds of genres and sub-genres. However, the best aspect, which encompasses all forms of art, is the ability to create meaningful social connections through a shared experience, which as an author has been my mantra for writing.

Richard Dreyfuss

This is the power all art has and almost all art strives for. Art has been the glue that has held various human beings and various cultures together. Film has the power to express a culture’s ideals and shape them. Art, especially film, is important because it gives us the ability to form lasting human connections through by letting us share our experiences with each other, something that Dreyfuss shares in every film he has ever made.

In a world full of people, what can be more fulfilling than knowing how to form healthy relationships and establish deeper connections with those around us – to feel socially connected, especially in today’s increasingly isolated world.

A great quote by Richard Dreyfuss:

“We need to get back to reasoning and thinking things through. The future generation is being brought up in greed and without a true understanding of civics. There is no more emphasis on knowledge and time. As a society we need to process ideas and understand what certain principles.”

Determination and Perseverance: Keys to fulfilment

Determination and perseverance were a way of life for me growing up, some of you may of read my first book, ‘Freedom after the Sharks’. Each of us is, to some extent or other, a reflection of the experiences of our lives. However, whether and how we succeed is determined at least in part by how we cope with those experiences and what we learn from them.

Everyone has a story, despite difficulties in family life and professional setbacks, the journey to success is the learnings we all have, we all possess the determination, drive and skills to create a successful and happy life, the bigger question is if we choose to use these skills…..for the great of good.

Change has a funny habit of teaching you much about yourself; it goes to the core of your own weaknesses, strengths and eccentricities. Leadership forces you to stay true to yourself and recognize times when you are at your best and worst; the key is to stay focused and to make decisions that will look at continuous improvement. Even though this may be small, incremental change, it is positive change you can build upon even though you may be in quicksand.

Business has taught me much about life, learning and sharing knowledge and life stories with my employees and associates. My hopes, fears, beliefs, values and dreams were tested to the limit. I learned that only the difficult things in life truly bring satisfaction, and that achievement is proportional to the struggle needed to get there.

There is a great quote by Lao Tzu: “A tree beyond your embrace grows from one tiny seed. A tower nine-story high begins with a lump of earth. A journey of thousand miles starts with a single step.”

Taking the first step or leap of faith is hard. It involves risks, learning of new things and getting to know new people. Making sure the direction is right can also be trying. But when there is no step, your vision or dream will not come true.

Once you have made up your mind, take the first step, however small the first step is.

Each of us thrives on being successful and in doing so we often forget the difficulties lying in the path to success. We set targets and want to achieve them right away, but we are humans and may fall short on those goals.

Failure at the start can lead to frustration, and it shatters the self-confidence you had at the beginning. You might consider giving up on your dreams because you don’t feel like you can ever succeed in life.

Most of us are ambitious. We have hopes and dreams. We have big goals and fantasies of success. But there are not just big ideas and empty words. We work towards these dreams on a daily basis.

We fight, we struggle, and we make progress day-by-day. It’s not easy, but there’s value in what we are trying to achieve.

The problem is, we tend to lose steam as time passes. We start to falter in our devotion to a project and we arrive at a cross-roads where we consider giving up. This happens for a few reasons.
Success, despite the popular belief, is not a one-way path or a straight line.

It is a muddled road with various ups and downs, and you should navigate it with popular care. You might fall or get lost in your way. However, if you keep going, you will eventually reach your destination.

Have you ever wondered how some prominent personalities achieved great heights of success? What did those individuals do that set them apart from the rest of us? How did they stay positive, when faced with failure?

Determination and perseverance can be summed up to mean you are committed to your goal. Additionally, it enhances the goal’s value for you and intensifies your motivation level. It leads you to wonderful findings and broadens your knowledge about yourself and your goals.

It is a well-established fact that success is not achieved overnight. There is no such thing as getting rich fast successes in the world. The road to success is a slow and quite precarious journey at times. It takes hard work and time to build up and makes you solely responsible for your progress.

Determination and perseverance is a trait to the key to a successful life. If you keep determined long enough, you will achieve your true potential. Just remember, you can do anything you set your mind to, but it takes action, determination, persistence, and the courage to face your fears.

There are no guarantees in life and certainly not in success. The number of factors at play when determining success cannot be controlled. Things like luck, timing, people, and so on, are often out of our hands and that’s OK. Success shouldn’t be measured by the external value we gain from our endeavors, but instead on the internal benefit we receive from actually delivering on what we set out to do.

A quote from Theodore Roosevelt comes to mind when I think about the individuals who struggle for what they believe in:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

For any endeavor that you may start, always remember why you started, and use that to fuel your determination and perseverance to finish it. Whether it ends in victory or defeat, the simple act of trying, of not giving up, is what makes our work worthwhile.

I had the very fortune of learning more about myself by being put into adverse circumstances than I could ever have learned about myself from a psychometric test or a new Oxford business book; it was reserves of inner self and energy that made the journey possible.

The question is always: “How much do you truly want your dream and do you have the courage to pursue it?”

Is rhythm the human connection of happiness!

I read a very interesting book recently called ‘J.S.S. Bach’, by Martin Goodman – the book was twenty years in the making, a subtle novel that treads delicately around identity, values and life purpose. Otto Schalmik is a world-famous cellist and composer; Rosa Cline is a young musicologist researching his biography. Yet underlying this ostensibly professional relationship lies a web of bonds that have shaped their lives. Otto and Rosa have both, in different ways, emerged from the Holocaust. Otto is a former inmate of Dachau and Buchenwald, while Rosa is grandchild of the Nazi administrator of these same camps. Musician, musicologist and Nazi are joined by a shared love of classical music that transcends history.

There’s little question that humans are wired for music. Researchers recently discovered that we have a dedicated part of our brain for processing music, supporting the theory that it has a special, important function in our lives.

Listening to music and singing together has been shown in several studies to directly impact neuro-chemicals in the brain, many of which play a role in closeness and connection.
Now new research suggests that playing music or singing together may be particularly potent in bringing about social closeness through the release of endorphins.

There is a wonderful quote in the book ‘The magic Mountains’ by John E. Woods (1924) “Time is the element of narration… it is also the element of music, which itself measures and divides time, making it suddenly diverting and precious.”

Some time ago I wrote a blog ‘Music is emotional communication… explained’, where I discussed whether music makes you happy or sad. One of the fascinating things that has become clear is that people from very different cultures and backgrounds will often agree on whether a piece of music sounds happy or sad – making it a truly universal form of communication.

In another context Nelson Mandela drafted his memoirs while jailed in the notorious maximum security prison of Robben Island, where he spent 18 of the 27 years he was jailed by the Nationalist Party for his part in fighting for racial equality and the eradication of apartheid.

In prison, where the different pillars of, and approaches to, struggle interlaced – mass local protests, underground struggle, armed military units, and international demonstrations – music transcended political, tribal and linguistic differences to unite an oppressed people against a common enemy.

The prisoners also set up a choir in their isolation section, conducted by Joshua Zulu – a music teacher, with about ten members, including Mandela, and Selby Ngendani who was well-versed in popular music.

The prisoners also enjoyed a daily music programme played by the warders over the intercom system, including musicians such as Miriam Makeba, Harry Belafonte, Joan Baez and Nat King Cole.

Music has also been linked to dopamine release, involved in regulating mood and craving behavior, which seems to predict music’s ability to bring us pleasure. Coupled with the effects on endorphins, music seems to make us feel good and connect with others, perhaps particularly when we make music ourselves.

But music is more than just a common pleasure. New studies reveal how it can work to create a sense of group identity.

In a series of ingenious studies, researchers Chris Loerch and Nathan Arbuckle studied how musical reactivity — how much one is affected by listening to music — is tied to group processes, such as one’s sense of belonging to a group, positive associations with ingroup members, bias toward outgroup members, and responses to group threat in various populations.

The researchers found that “musical reactivity is causally related to basic social motivations” and that “reactivity to music is related to markers of successful group living.” In other words, music makes us affiliate with groups.

It is not just music that connects people, with music you also have dance. Footloose is a 1984 American musical comedy-drama film directed by Herbert Ross. It tells the story of Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon), an upbeat Chicago teen who moves to a small town in which, as a result of the efforts of a local minister (John Lithgow), dancing and rock music have been banned. The film is loosely based on actual events that took place in the small, rural, and religious community of Elmore City, Oklahoma.

Footloose

From the film Ren McCormack (Kevin Bacon) even quoted from the bible:
‘The oldest of times, people danced for a number of reasons. They danced in prayer or so that their crops would be plentiful or so their hunt would be good. And they danced to stay physically fit and show their community spirit. And they danced to celebrate. And that, that is the dancing that we’re talking about. Aren’t we told in Psalm 149: ‘Praise ye the Lord. Sing unto the Lord a new song. Let them praise His name in the dance’?…It was King David. King David, who we read about in Samuel, and, and what did David do? What did David do? What did David do? ‘David danced before the Lord with all his might, leaping, leaping and dancing before the Lord.’ Leaping and dancing! Ecclesiastes assures us that there is a time to every purpose under heaven. A time to laugh and a time to weep. A time to mourn and there is a time to dance. And there was a time for this law, but not anymore. See, this is our time to dance. It is our way of, of celebrating life. It’s the way it was in the beginning. It’s the way it’s always been. It’s the way it should be now.’

One of the most captivating shows full of emotion that I have ever seen is Frankenstein at The Royal Opera House in London, Love, grief and the desire for power over death fuel a tragic spiral of events in Liam Scarlett’s ballet adaptation of Mary Shelley’s masterpiece.

Below is a link with an excerpt of the show.

A long time ago, when dance was expressed by simple dynamic movements of human, music was just the sound that made by the collision between pieces of woods or other simple objects. From there, music and dance go together and develop together until today. From the rudimentary musical instruments, people invented many other types of musical instruments which can make many different sounds.

With those types of sounds, the dancers feel the music and create new movements. We can say that music is the inspiration of dance. Therefore, dance cannot be without music. For example, the dancers got on the stage to perform a dance without music and without any other sound, the movements of dancers would not follow any rhythm then the dancers couldn’t connect to each other to follow the same rhythm. All the audiences saw on the stage was a bunch of people running and jumping around. However, it will be a huge difference if the dancers dance with music. Music will give the dancers the rhythm that can connect them together to make the same movements at the same time.

Music is like a director who is telling the dancers what to do, when to do, and when to stop. Not just like a director, music also give dancers the feelings when they are performing. With the connection between music and the movements, it will bring to the audience a feeling about the dance. While watching the dance, music is such an important letter that is written down with a lot of emotions by the writers who are the dancers. Therefore, music plays an important role in dancing. Once again, dance cannot be without music.

Not just music affects to dance but dance also affects to music. Dance is a way to express the music as well as to feel the music. There are lots of types of music with different rhythm and emotions. With that rhythm, dancers create the dances follow the rhythm to make the music, songs more emotional and it will be easier to touch the audients’ hearts. Each rhythm has different dance. For example, with fast, funny, and happy rhythms, the dance will be quick movements with some funny and definitive movements as well as the happy emotion on dancers’ faces. However, for slow and sad rhythms and music, the dance will be slow, smooth combine with emotions which are expressed from inside out of the dancers. Therefore, a different music has different type of dance to express the true meaning and emotion of the songs, music. Thus, dance is a main way to express and feel the music as well as bring that feeling to the audiences.

Follow the appearance and developments of countries in the world, each country has its own culture, festival, or religion. In the culture of the countries, there is an indispensable activity is dance. That dance is also the traditional dance which is always danced in the big festival. Each dance has its own music. Therefore, music becomes a sign of traditional dance. For example, when a song is play, by listening to the rhythm and the beat, people can know which type of dance that music belong to or that music belong to which type of dance. Music and dance develop beside each other and play the important roles in each other as well. Nowadays, many famous dances such as Samba of Brazil or Cha-Cha dance of Cuba are one of the inspiration for the composers to write their songs.

There is not just a relationship, music and dance become an insightful interrelationship. In many religions, it is one of the most sacred and considered as one of the biggest, most special forms of connecting to a deity. The Native American believe that the rain dance will connect them to the deity and send their message and petition to the deity. They believe that after seeing the dance which is also the symbol of the petition, the deity will make rain and give them a healthy life and successful crops.

The relationship between dance and music is very profound. They go together as one cannot miss the other. Dance cannot be without music. Without music, dance is just like some funny actions of dancers on the stage which is running and jumping around without a meaning, emotion, or feeling. Dance needs music to help to bring the emotion and the soul of the dance to the audience also help the dancers on the stage to connect to each other like an invisible string. Music needs dance to express the emotions that the composers put on the songs or music. Dance is also an inspirational for some of the most world-class composers to compose their music.

Especially, when dance and music come and connect, it is something more than a relationship. It is an interrelationship between people and deity. In their religions, there is a belief in music and dance which is they will bring and send the petition of people to the deity to bless them a successful crop and a healthy life. Relationship between dance and music is one of the special and indispensable relationships.

Finally, as I stated at the beginning of this blog, research has also shown music helps release dopamine, the neurotransmitter often referred to as the “happy chemical” associated with our brain’s reward system.

It’s why we get that ostensibly inexplicable “chill” during that moment when a song really speaks to us (think the guitar solo in “Earth’s Cry Heaven’s Smile by Santana). As it turns out, this sensation can be explained by the way music interacts with our brain chemistry.

Robert J. Zatorre and Valorie N. Salimpoor, both neuroscientists, have conducted extensive research on music’s impact on the brain. As they explain it:
When pleasurable music is heard, dopamine is released in the striatum, an ancient part of the brain found in other vertebrates as well, which is known to respond to naturally rewarding stimuli like food and sex and which is artificially targeted by drugs like cocaine and amphetamine.

Simply put, our brains are programmed to be happier when we listen to music. It speaks to us and affects us in ways we can only begin to fathom.

Music is an indispensable gift, and we should never take it, or the happiness it produces, for granted.

In the same way that music is beneficial to our health and overall outlook on life, happiness helps improve productivity.

Happiness isn’t something that is naturally bestowed upon people. It takes effort, and a willingness to focus on positive thinking, but your hard work will pay off.

As Teresa Amabile, a professor at Harvard Business School, and Steven Kramer, an independent researcher, contend in the New York Times:
‘Employees are far more likely to have new ideas on days when they feel happier. Conventional wisdom suggests that pressure enhances performance; our real-time data, however, shows that workers perform better when they are happily engaged in what they do.’

Along with greater rates of productivity, teamwork and creativity, research also suggests happy employees lead to increased profits.

Interestingly enough, there is also a link between listening to music and efficiency. A study found that nine out of 10 workers performed better while listening to some tunes.

There was also a correlation between efficiency and the type of music they listened to. For example, classical music has shown to aid in work that involves numbers. So if you’ve got math homework, Mozart might be your best friend.

This all goes to show that music is the secret ingredient to both happiness and productivity.

In other words, music is arguably the root of all that’s positive in this world, or as Mark Twain once said:


“Sing like no one is listening.
Love like you’ve never been hurt.
Dance like nobody’s watching,
and live like it’s heaven on earth.”