Category Archives: General Observations

Oops. There it is!


Life is filled with so many interesting moments that I decided to create a regular conversation starter around the more entertaining observations. What’cha think?

How often do you stop and observe your surroundings?

Walking down a busy NYC street recently, I stopped to look at a lovely seating arrangement in the window of a high-end antique-auction house. Against the white fabric, was a dark spot. What is that? OMG. A large bug of some kind.

Laughing to myself, I went in to the store to find someone to share my observation. Surely, this could influence the bid price of the items. bug for blog

The staff member and I laughed at the situation. The large bug was a fat fly that had flown in from the street. The seating arrangement had already been sold. Both updates were positive.

The staff thanked me for taking the time to tell them of the bug and for taking the time to notice their window display.

How often do you stop and observe your surroundings?


A Smart Shopper Asks Questions with a Smile

A Smart Shopper Ask Questions with a Smile

Regardless of the subject, the smart customer asks questions, and the smart customer service representative considers the best way to handle the inquiry themselves or to refer the request to a supervisor.

Let me share a great example of this:I have been looking to lower the annual premium on an insurance policy for many years. Every year, I get my bill. I cringe. I call. No change. Yes, the psychology of fear around your insurance coverage. This year, I call and am asked a few additional questions. Turns out there is a product that I qualify for that will give me more coverage for less money. REALLY!”How long has this product been offered” I ask. “Uhhhh. A while” says the representative sensing where this conversation is heading.

With a big smile that can be felt across the telephone, I ask: Can you see if a supervisor can  review my  files. It would seem that I have been eligible for a product that was never offered to me, even though I have been a loyal customer for many, many years and call you annually about options to reduce my premium.
honeybee 2
Soooooo, what do you think happened next?
A Smart Shopper Ask Questions with a Smile -:)

Red Light Green Light


Life is filled with so many interesting moments that I decided to create a weekly conversation starter around one of the more entertaining observations made during the previous week. Nothing too complicated — fun to see how people answer the question.

Let me know what you think.

It is that time of the year and NYC traffic congestion is everywhere; the traffic guards working extra hard to move the traffic in an orderly fashion. The following story represents a great glimpse into human behavior: WTF.

Imagine this scene: The traffic guard was directing cars with every ounce of her voice and gesturing hands. A traffic light was also available to guide the activity. So when the traffic light changed color and the guard kept moving cars forward in the direction of the red traffic light, confusion appeared and impatience erupted. The horns were pounded and the car windows opened as drivers yelled at the traffic guard who was not facilitating the traffic flow in keeping with the traffic light colors. For what seemed like forever, I watched the traffic guard in a pseudo-aerobic exercise dance as she persevered in maintaining the traffic flow as she saw fit.traffic-jam

And then, it became obvious! Twelve black Escalade vans appeared, driving in the same direction that she was indeed facilitating movement. There was logic to her actions and the override of the traffic light messaging. For a nanosecond, the car horns and driver obscenities subsided. WTF?

Was there a small smirk on the face of the traffic guard as the caravan came to a close and she turned her attention to traffic flow in the opposite direction?

How often do we assume that someone is doing something wrong or stupid because it breaks from what we expect to experience?


The Gig Economy: Top Talent in a Temporary Role

balancing act photoPer a McKinsey and Co. report titled Independent work: Choice, Necessity, and the Gig Economy, some 162 million people in Europe and the United States—or 20 to 30 percent of the working-age population—engage in some form of independent work. Also known as freelancers, contractors, members of the gig economy or the contingent workforce, this employment style is real and it is here to stay. On November 15, members of an NYHRPS Forum discussed the impact this work model is having on the HR function and the workplace dynamics.
Technology is Enabling the Growth of the Gig Economy
Managing complexity. Being agile and able to quickly respond to change. A wider variety of workplace skill sets than needed in previous years. Companies of all sizes are looking at ways to maximize the blending of a traditional employee workforce and non-traditional working relationships. Technology is a big enabler in creating the gig economy, however, these workforce changes are no longer a nuance to the technology functions. Rather, technology is creating platforms by which to acquire, engage and keep track of the work requirements and work deliverables.
Appropriate Cultural Changes will Ensure the Success of a Contingent Workforce
Key to making such a culture successful is understanding the scope and requirements of the work to be done. From there, leaders can determine how to hire such talent and “the time to competency” for such hires. Competency, however, is not enough. In a team-based organization, the culture is equally critical and the ability of the team to truly succeed is based on levels of trust that encourage creativity as well as an understanding of the corporate brand that will resonate in the work output.
Talent Development – Who Owns What?
The Disney Corporation was mentioned as a company that devotes a lot of time to the orientation and on-boarding of all staff and all contractors. As such, they have achieved a level of consistency in their ability to deliver customer happiness, superior customer experience, and a global brand.
In an environment where job descriptions quickly become obsolete and new specialty areas are demanded, where can members of the contingent workforce be trained? Within the concept of hiring top talent for temporary roles, should people be hired for their aptitude or their proven experience? And, as talent is brought into the business for varied periods of tenure, how does the employer capture and preserve the corporate knowledge that has been transferred in the process? In other words, who owns the training and development functions for temporary talent?
The Evolution of the Workplace
As leaders, we acknowledged that never before has the creation of a workforce planning discipline been more important; the requirements of the work to be done can be approached in such a broad variety of ways. Likewise, never before has the team culture been more important with the C-suite serving as the chief cheerleader of the culture and the facilitator of a team focused on an aligned purpose.

The NYHRPS Forums aim to deliver industry knowledge and thoughtful business considerations to be taken back for debate within our employer and client circles of influence. In closing, we walked away from the Forum thinking about four major categories of conversation that will improve the integration of a contingent workforce.
1. The concept of good work vs good jobs expands the horizon for – who- delivers the outputs. (See John Boudreau article on the Employee vs Contractor Debate
2. A holistic concept of individual aptitude and time to competency presents new options in delivering a truly diverse workforce.
3. “Garbage-in Garbage Out” applies to the onboarding process of today’s contingent workforce. Embracing the contingent worker with the same level of orientation and an understanding of the company ethos is critical to getting the best outputs. Consideration should be given to what, if any, differential is made in the onboarding of employee vs a contractor.
4. Delivery models for health insurance, long term savings and overall benefit programs are changing; while the individual need for these programs remain strongly intact.

I invite you to keep the conversation going by responding to this post and telling me what you are doing to maximize your relationships with those working with you in a gig or contractor relationship.

Not Yes. Not No.

Life is filled with so many interesting moments that I decided to create a weekly conversation starter around one of the more entertaining observations made during the previous week. Nothing too complicated — fun to see how people answer the question.
Let me know what you think.

Life is not always a yes or no decision. And, sometimes it is not even one of three-four specific choices. A multiple choice question forces your answer into a pre-determined category. Are you more comfortable with structured or unstructured types of answers?

What does that say about your thinking style? feedback

How do I Know What I do Not Know?

This question can have a pivotal impact across any aspect of our lives. If only, I had known that? Why didn’t someone tell me? Can I backdate it?

“Knowing everything” is impossible however creating an infrastructure of information/data which heightens your awareness of issues that are applicable to your situation can be improved. Here are six ways to increase your chances of asking the “right questions” to ensure that you are getting more of the “right information” coming your way:

question marks

1. Ask incident related questions vs general questions.
Instead of asking: How is it going today? Or how is business, start asking more specific incident-related questions:
• Tell me about the last new piece of business you closed
• Tell me about the last employee you hired
• Did John give you an update on the five client requests made during the March 10 meeting

2. Ask the same question more than once to different people.
Did you ever call a utility company or insurance company and receive completely different answers to the same question — from two different people within the same 60 minute period of time. It happens every day and it goes beyond the quality of the service training. It reflects the experience and the empowerment levels of the person handling your request. Hang up the phone and call back if the answer is important enough to you!

3. Let me tell you what I am going to tell you, and then tell you what I told you that I would tell you.
Creating awareness and interest is a never-ending marketing challenge, Studies show that making an impression on someone can take anywhere from 7 to 20 exposure points across multiple channels of influence.
In addition to telling your story multiple times and in multiple ways, remember to stop and ask questions that are as specific as possible. In small discussion settings, pull from your knowledge of the participants history to open up the dialogue. Whenever possible, the goal is to understand how someone else handled a situation. Are there insights that would help you ask different questions?

4. Can I prevent this from happening again?
We all have situations that annoy the heck out of us, especially since they keep happening again and again. We come up with a plan to remedy the situation so that eventually we are less annoyed and more adept at handling the situation. However, have we truly resolved the core reason behind the incomplete transaction, the never-ending disruptions, or the repetitive errors that need to be corrected?
The application of: How do we know what we do not know in this situation is to make sure to let others know how a problem was solved. This supports continuous improvement in work flow and case management so that the root cause of the situation can be adjusted!

5. Ask someone who really cares.
Some people give their heart and soul to specific causes. Find those who have walked in your shoes. Others devote their lives to providing the support services to the situation you are seeking answers. Ask someone who truly cares, as their answer will point to both the emotional and functional issues that are pivotal to your success.

6. Having the courage to take a leap of faith.
The amount of information in our domain is doubling within brief periods of time. Analysis-Paralysis is no longer possible. A smart pilot program can mitigate the risk. Small changes that can be seen in a conservative culture as acceptable iterations to the process……..move the process forward.
Former NY Mayor Ed Koch created an environment of wanting feedback by including his famous “How am I Doing” question with every appearance. How do you know what you do not know? Start by taking an inquisitive nature to life, always looking for new ways to make the questions you ask more insight.

In keeping with this philosophy, I ask you to share a question with me that you now ask on a regular basis that has made a difference in your life.



Let’s Get Specific #agreesharon


Life is filled with so many interesting moments that I decided to create a weekly conversation starter around one of the more entertaining observations made during the previous week. Nothing too complicated — fun to see how people answer the question.

 Let me know what you think.

Dealing with a high-stress situation a few years back, I shared my woes with a friend who responded in generic terms about how everything would work out and “this, too shall pass”. Anxious for assistance and simultaneously scared to put “labels” on the situation at hand, the generic nature of my friend’s response infuriated me. I had no doubt in her desire to help me; it was obvious that she did not want to overstep any undefined boundaries in the friendship.

Instinct took over. I found myself getting pretty specific in defining the resources that I required. I then took it another step further and defined the people in her own network that I wanted her to call — on my behalf. A series of phone calls, emails and text messages soon followed — on my behalf. By better defining what I needed, I had empowered my friend to help me solve the problem. And, she was as excited as I was when the puzzle pieces starting coming together.

Did you have a situation this week where you clearly defined what you needed from another person?


Perspective On It’s Side


Life is filled with so many interesting moments that I decided to create a weekly conversation starter around one of the more entertaining observations made during the previous week. Nothing too complicated — fun to see how people answer the question.

Let me know what you think.

Perspective, defined as an attitude, a way of regarding something or a point of view.

For years, both business and psychology articles highlight the importance of looking at life through the eyes of another….stopping to consider the perspective of the customers, patients, clients, staff or any other constituents. And, as we know, doing this successfully leads to good personal relationships and good business outcomes.

Walking through an upscale department store, I took notice of a floral arrangement that put flowers on their side in very ordinary glass dishes. Such a simple example of displaying something familiar in a non-familiar manner to make people stop and take notice.

The presentation, at a main store entryway may well have been designed to create a subconscious influence of how people will shop.

flower side
When was the last time you turned something around, upside down, or inside out to allow for an alternative perspective? Try it today.

Puffery or Misleading #agreesharon


Life is filled with so many interesting moments that I decided to create a weekly conversation starter around one of the more entertaining observations made during the previous week. Nothing too complicated — fun to see how people answer the question.

 Let me know what you think.

rose colored glassesPuffery – OK……Misleading statements – NOT OK

This proclamation came up in a recent business meeting. Unfortunately there was not enough time to discuss the specifics around the criteria for these two categories of information. Wikipedia defines puffery as a promotional statement that is subjective vs. objective in nature and as such….no “reasonable person” would take literally.

Hmmmm. Take a look at any recent newspaper, news feed, TV or radio commentary – How ya’doing differentiating fact from fiction these days? Puffery? Misleading statements?

As a reasonable person, where are you getting your information these days?share-twet-post

Let Me See What You Got

Life is filled with so many interesting moments that I decided to create a weekly conversation starter around one of the more entertaining observations made during the previous week. Nothing too complicated — fun to see how people answer the question.
Let me know what you think.

The power of suggestion is all around us.
In just a few city blocks, I took note of how many storefronts ensure that their services are out-front and easily visible for all to see. Playing with animals, casual dining or sit-down tablecloth dining – the experience is as much about the product as it is the ability to share it with others.doggie care

magnolia bakery

starbucksWhen was the last time you grabbed a cup of coffee or a snack because you walked by the storefront window, saw it and thought “Yeah, I would like one of those!”


The power of suggestion is all around us. What will you spontaneously pick up later today?