Barry Moline of the California Municipal Utilities Association: “Always offer feedback to make someone better”

Always offer feedback to make someone better. Have a positive intent. When you are giving feedback, and particularly feedback that can be perceived as negative, if people know you want them to be better, they will be more open to what you have to say. You want to put it that way, simply. “John, I […]

Thrive Global invites voices from many spheres to share their perspectives on our Community platform. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and opinions expressed by Community contributors do not reflect the opinions of Thrive Global or its employees. More information on our Community guidelines is available here.

Always offer feedback to make someone better. Have a positive intent. When you are giving feedback, and particularly feedback that can be perceived as negative, if people know you want them to be better, they will be more open to what you have to say. You want to put it that way, simply. “John, I want you to be the best supervisor you can be. That’s why I’m giving you feedback about the interaction between you and Sarah at the staff meeting.”

As a part of our series about “How To Give Honest Feedback without Being Hurtful”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Barry Moline.

With 25+ years as a CEO, Barry has learned a lot about management and leadership. He leads the California Municipal Utilities Association, where he and his team work with publicly owned water agencies and electric utilities to keep the water flowing and the lights on for 40 million Californians. Barry is constantly on the lookout for new ideas, and recently wrote a book divulging the secrets that help teams get along better and quickly collaborate. In his spare time he plays hockey, which keeps him fit, youthful, and sometimes, a little pushy.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I started out as a high school teacher, and always thought I’d rise up through the ranks and be a department head, then school administrator, like a principal. My parents both had the “gift of gab,” and passed that on to their three children, who all became teachers. After two years in the profession, I got laid off in a teacher union negotiation, and making lemonade out of lemons, went to graduate school. Imagining I could do almost anything, I picked a topic I liked — energy — and sought to learn everything I could. So out of adversity — losing a job — I changed career paths and stayed on that track for the rest of my life. I met my wife in graduate school, and after getting married, we decided to work overseas before having children. It was a pie-in-the-sky dream, because we had no idea how we would do it, where we would go or what we would end up doing. We pursued three options, and figured we’d go with the one that came in first. Working in Paris was our #1 choice, but the offer that came in first was serving in the U.S. Peace Corps in Guatemala. That experience taught us a lot about adversity, because Peace Corps basically trains you, sends you to a small community and connects you with a local, and then wishes you good luck! Of course, they provide some support, but 99% of your success depends on the effort you put into it. There’s no boss telling you what to do. You have to develop your own projects and make your own success. That’s where I got a full dose of initiative, because it was either that or go home. Not everyone thrives in this kind of environment, and it taught me that the key to self-motivation is simply taking the first step. Plan the trip, stay on the road, keep walking, and you’ll accomplish a helluva lot. When I sat down to write the book “Connect!” a few year ago, I had no idea if I’d ever get published, but I just kept working on it. Now it’s done, and I feel a great sense of accomplishment. So much, that I’m working on my second book, about the keys to leadership. After Peace Corps I got a job in energy with the American Public Power Association working with publicly owned electric utilities, and I’ve been in that world now for 30 years. I feel lucky to have found a lifetime interest where I can help many people, engage on a stimulating topic, and continue to innovate.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We know why we exist, and our mission is crystal clear. That motivates us to do a great job. Plus, a big part of our work is helping the people across California who need water and energy to live, and want it clean, renewable, continuous and affordable. Our team stands up before the California Legislature and the state agencies for the little guy, the consumer, and that’s a huge responsibility and motivator to us. We can evaluate every action we take in terms of moving closer to or further from that mission. When a new idea pops up, our clear mission helps us narrow the focus and achieve greater results.

A few years ago I learned — the hard way — the importance of hiring people for their “get-along-ability” rather than raw skill. I used to hire “the most qualified” person, but then hired a series of people in succession who were well qualified, but didn’t relate well to other people in the office. There was significant workplace strife, and I had to spend a lot of time managing conflicts. It was totally draining, and took me away from the real work I needed to be doing. We needed to change the way we hire. Subsequently, whenever we had a job opening, our interview team asked candidates multiple questions about how they would respond in a variety of stressful office interactions. Our goal was, and continues to be, to hire people who, when they have differences of opinion, are assertive and go directly to the person or people they are disagreeing with. We don’t want gossip or passive-aggressive behavior. As a result, we have not always hired the best-trained person, but we feel we’ve always hired the best team player with excellent communication skills. The result is fewer internal conflicts, better brainstorming and strategizing, a staff that’s easy to get along with, and better results for our member utilities, their communities and their millions of customers.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

There are so many stories that I never imagined I’d be involved in, and I feel honored to be a leader in our energy and water industries. I feel pretty humbled by being quoted in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, writing a book about how people can get along better, and appearing on national news shows. This may sound like humble bragging, but I’m really just a regular person who tries to do a good job, elevating others, and standing up for the public interest. There is one story however, for some particular reason, I think is kind of amazing.

A few years ago I was working in Florida on hurricane restoration. When a hurricane strikes and you see images of utility trucks on the road heading to Florida, I was one of the people in charge of making that happen. It’s an awesome responsibility, because it’s vital to coordinate with a lot of people and agencies to mobilize a huge force to restore electricity. One hurricane hit Tallahassee, Florida, my hometown. The only place that had electricity was the state emergency operations center, and I was practically living there. A few hours after the hurricane hit, the utility evaluated the damage and asked for reinforcements to assist from all over the country. We immediately got hundreds of commitments mobilized, with labor, equipment and trucks. However, because of an unusual political storm brewing on social media between Florida Democrats and Republicans, rumors were flying around that the Tallahassee Utility was turning away workers, saying they were not needed. At about 8 p.m. on Friday night, the first day after the hurricane struck, my communications director called and told me to check out some social media pages where the fake news was being reported. It was extensive and disconcerting. I was the one doing the work, and people were literally making up stories saying the workers were not coming.

I didn’t really think much of it, because I could still do my job even with the rumors flying around. But our communications director really wanted us to set the record straight. So I got on the social media site and told everyone who I was, where I was working (the State Emergency Operations Center), and what I was doing (coordinating the restoration and bringing in lineworkers from around the country). There was a little pushback and snide commentary, like is this really you, Barry? But within 15 minutes or so, everyone shut up. I went so far as to publish my cell phone number online, and literally dared anyone to call me, telling them that for every call I took, there would be a delay in restoring power. Thousands of people saw the post, and my cell number… and no one called! When someone continued online suggesting a rumor, I wrote “That’s false, and I’m not going to write anything further. But if you want to call me and delay the restoration of power to your fellow Floridians, I’ll take the time to explain it to you.” It still amazes me that no one called. What I learned was a bigger lesson. When you confront lies with the truth, and challenge people to give you evidence, the rumormongers back down. The experience helped me in the advocacy work our team does. Rather than just present arguments because they benefit our side, it’s better to present arguments that benefit real people and society. If you can prove that, you can confront lies and smoke out those people and organizations who are self-serving. Plus, you sleep better at night!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I laugh a lot at work, and I’ve made plenty of mistakes, that hopefully I’ve learned from. I don’t take myself too seriously, but I take the work very seriously. I’ve worked in the world of advocacy for more than three decades. On one occasion after the beginning of my 21-year CEO tenure in Florida, I was in a legislative hearing, and the people testifying for our side were just getting trounced. Every argument our team made was ineffective. The other side was well prepared, and also had developed some good ideas. In the middle of the hearing, one of my senior association members leaned over to me and said “Gosh, we’re getting creamed here. Someone needs to stand up for us!” I thought to myself, “Ya, someone ought to do that!” Within a few seconds, I realized — duh — that “someone” was me. After that experience, I took the responsibility and never looked back. Now I make sure our team is always prepared, has great arguments, and is up to the challenge of making it happen — whatever the task is. I’m kind of a stickler about it after experiencing that “duh” moment, which is a good motivator, because I think about it often!

What advice would you give to other CEOs and business leaders to help their employees to thrive and avoid burnout?

First, at the macro level, understanding your connection to making the world a better place is a tremendous motivator. It’s vital that you make sure your staff knows how their work helps real people. When you understand your connection to the world, to improving the lives of individuals, it’s easier to stay motivated and avoid burnout. Second, at the micro level, talk to your staff about why a deadline is when it is, and describe the timing of the task, how it fits into the broader project and why it’s needed. If a project is urgent, tell people it’s urgent; and if it’s not urgent tell people honestly when you need their output. Tell them why and your trust will grow. Staff want to please the leader and be uber responsive, so avoid creating false urgency when it’s not needed. That creates unnecessary stress and accelerates burnout.

Early in my career I had a boss who gave regular, short deadlines without explaining the reason why. Nearly every day there was a new urgent deadline, and work was like a constant fire drill. As I left that job, I swore if I ever became a boss, that I would clearly explain why we need to get a particular task done by a certain time and how it fits into the broader project. It’s easy to do, but you must commit to communicating. Employees love knowing how their work supports the broader effort, and it gives them an important sense of accomplishment.

Finally, make goals attainable, and help your staff accomplish them. People get stressed by goals and obsess about achieving them. Your mission as the leader is not to set unattainable goals and be surprised when people reach them. I understand the reason why we create BHAGs — Big Hairy Audacious Goals — but it’s also important to establish achievable goals so people feel good about the work they do. Set reasonable goals, work with your people to accomplish them, and celebrate the wins. Their achievements are your achievements. Achieve them together.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership is motivating people to act and achieve a common goal. In a business setting, this can mean directing workers and colleagues with a strategy to meet the company’s needs. On a sports team, it’s getting everyone working together to execute the game plan.

The leader provides the inspiration and is the director of the action. It’s not so much that they must inspire others to act, but rather, they primarily need to help people understand the reason why they need to move in a certain direction, and then encourage others to take that action. Leaders must posses the communication skills to help others want to follow their direction, but recognize the inspiration comes from everyone understanding and committing to the goal.

Sometimes “leadership” and “management” are used interchangeably, but they are not the same. Management is breaking down the project and working with the team to get the tasks done.

Leadership, however, requires traits that extend beyond management duties. Leadership also requires communicating, strategically planning and inspiring people to see beyond the horizon.

In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?

Prepare, prepare, prepare, and then get a good night’s sleep beforehand. There’s nothing that builds confidence like being prepared. It calms nervousness, but not all nervousness. I like to be a little nervous. It keeps me sharp and alert. Getting a good night’s sleep is also important because we under-value sleep in general. A rested mind and body allow you to consider options, stay positive, and focus on outcomes.

I still remember, with great clarity, my first professional presentation. I was a nervous wreck. I was well-prepared, but I was speaking before a group of PhDs who were going to evaluate everything I did. I thought they’d be critical, but they were positive. They really wanted to learn what I had to teach them, and they were totally engaged. Before the presentation began, the first person to enter the room noticed I was nervous. He said “Barry, you’re among friends. We all want you to succeed.” I took a deep breath and calmed down. I got better at presenting, and now, after making thousands of presentations, I’m much more comfortable. The same is true about confidence. Keep going. Act. Get feedback. Evaluate. Improve. Over time, you’ll get better. Still today, when I’m about to speak before a large group, a little voice inside me says “Barry, you’re among friends,” and it calms me.

Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Can you briefly tell our readers about your experience with managing a team and giving feedback?

It’s vital to have a defined mission, with work tasks that directly support what the organization does. Once that is established, engage individually with everyone so they fully understand the mission. Get to know staff so they know their roll, feel your support, and want to do the job. Feedback is simply understanding the mission, strategizing to get it done, taking action, and evaluating the results. It either worked or didn’t. If it worked, celebrate. If it didn’t, or could be improved, value the advice and fix it for next time. Embrace after-action reports. That’s where the feedback comes in. If you embrace and love feedback and don’t judge, your people will be comfortable with you offering ways to improve, because they’ll know your purpose if not to ding them for screwing up, but rather, to make adjustments that help the team do their best.

Sometimes feedback can be circuitous, where an outside person provides feedback to the leader about a certain staff person. This is tricky. I believe that nearly every management mistake I’ve made was due to collecting incomplete information. That is, I heard something, went to the person accused, and then got the full story. As a result, I’ve changed my approach. Instead of moving quickly to offer feedback or correct some accused behavior, I hold judgement until I get the full story from multiple perspectives. In these situations, the goal is to understand what happened, then identify new behaviors and responses for everyone involved.

Managing people is a bit like being a ringmaster in a circus. Everyone is talented and should know their part, but sometimes the clowns disrupt the trapeze artists, and the juggler distracts the baton twirler. While we are all trying to do our jobs as best we can, other stuff goes on that may conflict with or distract us from our task. It may be the way someone talks to us with what sounds like an “attitude.” It may be someone’s lack of coordination that wastes time and the work has to be redone. Poop happens regularly when you’re dealing with people and personalities. When we talk about occasional frustrating interactions between people, unless you are actively involved in the situation, or drama, the description of what happened almost always sounds silly: “I can’t believe Donna said that about your office being a mess!” “What was Jerry thinking when he told Simone that you were not concerned about the deadline?” Sometimes I lament that it feels like many of our co-workers never advanced emotionally beyond the 6th grade.

The first step of giving people feedback is to recognize that the process of engagement may feel awkward. While it feels awkward to you, it’s also awkward for them. It can also be frustrating when you want to get a project done, and instead you have to switch gears to help someone learn how to talk with others, or get along better in a group. Seriously? Wait, I thought I went to school to be a nurse, engineer, accountant, dietitian, linguist, scientist, or some other specialty. Yes, I’m a manager, but now I have to be a counselor too? The answer is yes, now you have to be a counselor too. It’s gonna feel pretty silly at times. But — and this is really important — if you take this seriously, your people will grow to trust you, and then trust each other. Your engagement with them will be positive, and they will learn how to work together with each other. Once your team is engaging professionally and with respect, it will leave open the quality time you need to lead more and manage less.

One more thing about dealing with people, and particularly, conflicts. I’ve made mistakes in my career, but I can attribute nearly all of them regarding management to not gathering enough information before developing a conclusion and taking action. That is, someone comes to you with a problem, and your natural tendency is to believe them, and then act. My advice is to slow down. Take a complaint, or concern, as a first step or call to action to examine further. When you investigate, ask the participants to simply tell you what happened. Don’t pre-judge. There will be lots of behind-the-scenes relationship interactions you won’t know about or understand, so dig, and seek to understand everyone’s opinion. You will be amazed when you hear a different story from multiple perspectives. There’s no magical way to resolve people problems, except for one: make sure everyone is working to accomplish the mission of the organization. In fact, ask them if they think their behavior is moving in the direction of accomplishing the mission. If that’s not happening, you have a place to start, getting everyone focused on the same goal toward a resolution.

In one company I led, our staff wanted to develop a list of Communication Guidelines that we all agreed on and would seek to follow. We framed and put up the list in everyone’s office to serve as a regular reminder. It helped significantly. One interesting “conflict” was over the use of “please” and “thank you.” This was vitally important to one staffer, who tended to be more formal. Younger staff objected, as they were more accustomed to saying what was on their minds without the niceties. Ultimately, we all agreed, and as a result of that one suggestion, our team got nicer. Here is the list we developed:

  • We value everyone and their input
  • Communicate assertively, with respect and honesty
  • Be conscious of the messages you’re sending with tone and body language
  • Email has its place, but discuss issues face-to-face when possible
  • It’s Ok to respectfully disagree with one another
  • When you disagree or have concerns, talk it out constructively between only the involved parties or a supervisor
  • Extend common courtesy by using phrases such as please and thank you
  • Treat each other’s time with courtesy — limit interruptions during conversations and meetings
  • Give others the benefit of the doubt
  • Do not gossip
  • Have a positive “How can I help you?” approach to communications

Ultimately, people started to get along better, and when they did, the number of conflicts subsided.

This might seem intuitive but it will be constructive to spell it out. Can you share with us a few reasons why giving honest and direct feedback is essential to being an effective leader?

Giving feedback is not insulting. Your people need to know your goal is greater effectiveness, greater productivity, and better service to customers and each other. If you always turn to that as your motivation, it’s tough to argue with, and makes it easier to act. These motivators dovetail perfectly with being a leader, which is simply inspiring people to act and achieve a common goal. From this perspective, every behavior — good or bad — can be encouraged or changed to help the organization meet its common goal. That’s why it’s vital to be straightforward in your delivery of feedback.

One of the trickiest parts of managing a team is giving honest feedback, in a way that doesn’t come across as too harsh. Can you please share with us five suggestions about how to best give constructive criticism to a remote employee? Kindly share a story or example for each.

  1. Always offer feedback to make someone better. Have a positive intent. When you are giving feedback, and particularly feedback that can be perceived as negative, if people know you want them to be better, they will be more open to what you have to say. You want to put it that way, simply. “John, I want you to be the best supervisor you can be. That’s why I’m giving you feedback about the interaction between you and Sarah at the staff meeting.”
  2. Try to understand their position. Steven Covey famously said, “Seek first to understand, then be understood.” This is the first commandment for effective communicators. Before you provide feedback, ask questions. Learn everything possible about the perspective of the person to whom you are giving suggestions. If you’re offering feedback in response to a particular incident, first try to understand everything about what happened before reaching a conclusion. Be slow to judge and provide advice, and when you do, make sure you do it in a calm, professional manner.
  3. Tie the feedback to the mission of the department and organization. I find it easy to focus outcomes to the destination of the organization, that is, the mission and purpose. Does the behavior you’re discussing move the organization closer to or further from the goal? Answer that, and the feedback becomes much simpler. We always want to be moving closer our organization’s goal.
  4. If it’s not working, the person may not be a good fit in your department or organization. Sometimes people have a tough time getting along, and they don’t want to address their role in the friction or try to fix it. Even if two people are part of an incident, it’s likely that both have some responsibility, even if it’s not equal. If someone refuses to understand their part, and then refuses to be part of the solution, that’s not the kind of player you need on your team. I like to show colleagues the situation — the pros, cons and potential outcomes — and let them understand why I’m making tough decisions. One time I told two staffers “If we can’t resolve this, then my boss will fire me, and my replacement will fire you both. So let’s see if we can find a solution.”
  5. Remote feedback is not ideal, so make it a priority to provide it visually (e.g., Zoom), by phone, or as a last resort, by email. Almost every form of written communication is not just worse than video or audio, it’s significantly worse. Make an appointment and let your colleague know what you want to discuss. Don’t surprise or ambush them. Give them the opportunity to collect their thoughts and be prepared. There is a role for the written word in feedback — documentation. After you complete the conversation, understand all sides, decide on a plan of action and share it with your colleague, document it in an email. State that you met on a certain date, the topic of the conversation, the perspectives on all sides, your conclusion, and plan of action. Depending on the outcome of the discussion, share it with human resources and the people involved. I once gave someone private feedback about an unconstructive statement they made in a staff meeting, and I wanted their behavior to change. We had a good conversation about it, and then I sent him a nice email about the discussion and what we decided would be a plan of action going forward. It served as a clear reminder of what I wanted to see changed, and also let him know I would be keeping an eye on his behavior going forward. I also blind-copied myself and copied the email to my files, just in case I needed to raise the incident in the future or show a pattern of behavior and my effort to provide constrictive feedback. Nevertheless, sharing of the documentation depends on the severity of the situation, and the nature of the feedback. What gets measured gets done; if people know they are “on-notice,” they usually improve their behavior.

Can you address how to give constructive feedback over email? If someone is in front of you much of the nuance can be picked up in facial expressions and body language. But not when someone is remote.

How do you prevent the email from sounding too critical or harsh?

Email is terrible for delivering feedback related to behavior, but extremely good for giving precise feedback on document edits and directions. For behavior, while you should limit email feedback as much as possible, sometimes there is no other option. In this case, be precise with your words, as they will be analyzed in detail to determine their meaning. Emotions are easily misinterpreted in writing, so try to be neutral. If you need to show emotion, state your emotion, and still be specific. If you are happy, say “I’m happy you drafted that memo for me. It got the creative process moving.” If you are angry, say “I’m disappointed you said ‘That’s a dumb idea’ in the brainstorming session when responding to Nathan today.” Don’t just write angry words; since emotion is difficult to convey, be clear about your concern. If you think something is important, say it’s important. Likewise, if another issue is less important, say so as well. People will always expand the significance of negative feedback and minimize the impact of positive feedback.

Follow the same process identified above when giving constructive feedback. Focus on improving the situation, reaching the project’s goal, making someone better, and achieving the mission of the organization. If you stay on this track, everything becomes easier as it’s not a conflict between you and the person you’re dealing with but rather, the focus is on accomplishing the joint goal and achieving the standards of the organization. If you need to give feedback on behavior, state the policy and procedure if they are known. Then turn to what the person did and what you’d like them to do differently, to improve. Say “here’s what happened; and here’s what I’d like you to do. Can you do that?”

Finally, remember your written words will live on forever. Be careful what you write. Be fair. Reread your draft several times before sending to make sure your meaning is clear. If this could lead to an employment action, ask human resources to review your email before sending. I have a verbose manager friend who frequently says “Use extra words.” What she means is explain, use examples, and analogies if they fit. Try to paint a picture with your writing so the person receiving feedback has a good idea of what they did and what needs to be changed.

In your experience, is there a best time to give feedback or critique? Should it be immediately after an incident? Should it be at a different time? Should it be at set intervals? Can you explain what you mean?

If there’s urgency, like a staffer insulted a customer, step in and provide feedback immediately. However, if there’s been a lesser incident or conflict, and you have the opportunity to schedule time to offer feedback, make it a priority, hopefully the same day if possible. Collect your thoughts and get organized. Nearly every mistake I’ve made on personnel issues is related to acting too quickly before having all the necessary information. So even though you want to act quickly, it’s better to be slow down and be methodical. Recently I received a work product from a staffer that was not up to par, and I was unhappy when I reviewed it. I almost responded immediately, but I knew I was unhappy, so I went out to run a 30-minute errand before responding. When I returned, my head was clearer, the issue was smaller than I first imagined, and our discussion was significantly more constructive.

Praise publicly and criticize privately. If the feedback is positive, provide it quickly and if others are around or you can copy them on a short email, do it. Use the 10 to 1 concept. Make 10 positive comments to each negative one, or at least try. Negative comments stick with people more strongly than positive ones. When someone send me a work product and it’s on target, I let them know. I want them to feel good about even the smallest tasks; because if I need to make a correction, I want them to know I’m on their side, helping them to be better.

For constructive feedback, at a quiet moment but still close in time to the incident, let them know you’d like to discuss the incident. Then follow the feedback process outlined above. Focus on doing what’s best for the organization and helping them be better.

In our office we have an annual performance evaluation process, which I think is the absolute longest timeframe in between formal evaluations. We also have an annual workplan with specific tasks identified, as well as the people and teams responsible for each task. Each person knows their role for each goal. We review our progress as a team on a quarterly basis, which turns out to be a positive group effort, as we all discuss where we are, what we’ve accomplished, and what we need to do to achieve our goals.

How would you define what it is to “be a great boss”? Can you share a story?

A great boss helps employees accomplish their personal goals. Hopefully the goals of the employee dovetail with the goals of the organization. However, not all individual goals are consistent with the organization. Many people want to advance in their career, and there’s not always opportunity at the organization where they currently work. A good boss takes the time to get to know each employee, what’s going on in their lives, and understands their challenges and aspirations. Then she helps that employee get what they need to meet those goals, which include education, training, mentorship and the right experiences. When a boss does this — sincerely helping staff accomplish their goals — they will be devoted to the boss and the organization. Perhaps they won’t stay forever, but for the time there, they’ll do the absolute best they can.

I once had an employee who came to us as a temp. We needed someone to help us out for a few months to organize files. An employment agency sent over a young African American woman who had few office skills, no college degree, but was pleasant and showed up motivated to work and learn. When the project was complete, we liked her so much we found other work that needed to be done. That went on for a few months until we decided to hire her to be our all-around assistant. At that point we started talking about what she really wanted to do in life, which was to become a computer expert. So we got her some training, and she became able to manage the office computer network. You can imagine the rest of the story. Information Technology exploded, and we kept giving Denise more training and responsibility, to the point where we sent her to undergraduate school for IT. Today, she’s the company chief IT professional, plus she’s the videographer, video editor, and creative manager. It all followed by having a constant conversation about Denise’s goals, what she wanted to accomplish, getting educated, and then offering her the opportunity to keep advancing.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

There are two things, one societal and one personal, that everyone can adopt immediately. While I wrote a book on teamwork and how to quickly get along with others, I’d like us to go a step further and get to know the “Other.” That is, people who are different from us, from other races, income levels, religions, and political parties. When it comes to knowing each other, society is moving in the wrong direction, where we are shrinking into our own tribes and avoiding people different from us. There is growing misunderstanding and that’s why we’re not solving important societal problems. Getting to know people is not difficult, but we have to learn the successful techniques and then do it regularly.

On a personal note, I’d like everyone to do something really simple. As often as possible, say “Thank you, I appreciate that.” Saying thank you is an easy action we can all take on the road to being grateful. And when we are grateful, we become happier. Every time you say thank you it’s like giving someone a birthday gift. They beam — plus, you feel great. In improving attitudes, I’ve found it to be a game changer when it comes to happiness. Saying thank you is good; when you go the extra mile and add “I appreciate that,” it’s icing on the cake. People will feel better about themselves and love you for it.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Nothing in the world takes the place of persistence,” which is attributed to President Calvin Coolidge. It’s been the main driver in my life. As a thought leader, I try to connect a lot of dots, and many times my ideas have been ahead of others and they don’t see the same future I see. When I tell others about the direction I’d like our organization to go, I’ve found I have to come back to the concept multiple times for people to get a clear picture. Visionaries can get frustrated when others don’t understand them. Don’t fret when others are not seeing the future the way you do. Just be persistent. Timing is everything, and you might need to wait for circumstances to change, personnel to change, or leadership to change. Jot down your big ideas and where you want to go, then come back to it when the timing is right. (I make a note in my phone.) Do some research in the meantime. The road to success is littered with people who give up. Be the driving force that persists and you’ll be amazed what you accomplish.

How can our readers further follow your work online?




Thank you for these great insights! We really appreciate the time you spent with this.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


Barry Moline: “Understand your core mission”

by Ben Ari

“Feedback must be delivered with a positive, constructive intent.” with Rob Sullivan

by Penny Bauder, Founder of Green Kid Crafts

Jasmijn Bol: “Leadership is all about listening and connecting to your team”

by Ben Ari
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.