The Evolution of the Watercooler

The Watercooler still exists – the forum for idle chitchat that really serves no purpose except to highlight the ups and downs of company politics.

We might not physically gather around it anymore and instead do so virtually in Facebook, Twitter, SLACK and other tools that allow us to spend the day messaging on such topics.

It’s hard to resist that swirling vortex of negative energy and sometimes we don’t even know we have succumbed to it until it is too late.

But there is a way out.

The next time you feel it happening, record how long you spent in the vortex, 30 minutes, an hour, maybe more?

And ask yourself whether you want to continue investing in that part of your career or whether you want to focus your energies elsewhere.

The Watercooler will never go away, but what we choose to discuss by it, in it and around it can.

The Anatomy of a Good Quote

It motivates you.

It reminds you what you should be doing.

It makes you smile.

It provides a connection between you and everyone else looking at it.

Or perhaps it does nothing at all and you simply keep scrolling on by on your feed du jour.

Maybe you are sick and tired of quotes and all you want to do is turn them off, never to see them again.

But if something so small has the power to embolden, push, strengthen, empower and connect with you on such a profound level, in the span of 10 seconds perhaps the problem isn’t quite the message the quote is trying to deliver, perhaps the problem is that we are not executing on those emotions until we see the next one.


From Presenting to Storytelling

I’ve been toying with this idea for almost 6 months now and finally completed a Slideshare presentation on why I think we (all of us) need to start looking at transitioning from delivering presentations in our work to delivering stories.

It sounds simple, but a quick glance at the last presentation you gave might yield a different story (no pun intended) where the intended output was more facts and presentation (i.e., firehose) and less connection and message (i.e., have a drink from the garden hose).

Here are my thoughts on this this topic – How to Become a Great Storyteller

You Need to Shake Up Your Game

Pick your sport of choice today, now find your favourite athlete.

Now watch them, watch them closely – watch what they do when they are on offense, what they do when they are defense, watch how they react to the plays coming at them, watch how they run the plays with the rest of their team.

What do you notice?  What do they all have in common across any sport?

They don’t do the same thing over and over and over again.  Sure one might have a great jump shot, but it doesn’t mean they don’t try for the layups to shake it up and throw their opponents off guard.  Maybe they’re a goalie that always goes down to make a save, but on this play they are going to fake you out by dropping early and getting back up while you are mid-shot.

The really, really, really good athletes are the ones that have introduced versatility into their game – they mix it up to throw the other team off, shooting left (even though it’s harder) because they are expecting them to go right, going down low when they have been shooting up top all game.

Same goes for every professional, you need to be versatile, you need to have a bag of tricks where yes, they might not all be your best tricks but they are enough to impress and throw off the other side so they can see that you can make things happen (i.e., score) more ways than one.

Customers are more impressed when you bring that versatility to the table not because what is in your bag today, but because what can be in your bag tomorrow.

Clean Out the Clutter

Whether it’s the physical or mental – when we work in clutter – we never achieve our best work.

Think of an athlete, a soccer player, trying to pass on a field littered with garbage – they can’t setup a pass because the ball keeps bouncing off of a garbage can and going the wrong way.

Now think of your office, books and manuals strewn around the floor and on your desk while you try to focus on what is in front of you?  It’s a little hard when you have 17 sticky notes around your monitor with things you need to be doing when you are trying to focus on the current task now.

Now in your mind, how many different projects are you working on, how many can you keep separate without requirements on one not spilling into the other?  Is one project nagging at you the most but you don’t want to work on it because it’s going to take too long to get started on it?

Whatever the reason we want to use, one of the primary reasons for failing to achieve our goals is clutter.  We have too much going on and can’t focus on the one or many that we need to do to move forward.  Maybe we are trying to do too much in too tight a timeframe or maybe we are trying to do too much with the limited amount of resources we have.

There is a reason that so many of us look forward to “Spring Cleaning” – it’s the time of the year where we all commit to throwing the garbage, the clutter out, so we feel unencumbered and free to move forward and focus on what we really want to achieve.