There’s been much media handwringing these days about the lack of engagement among U.S. workers.

And just as many remedies are offered, from segmented programs for different generations to changing performance management models.

Yet a mere 80 years ago, Dale Carnegie solved the issue in How to Win Friends and Influence People.

It’s something none of us hear enough of.  It cost nothing and requires little effort.  Which, as Google’s Larry Page admitted, “Appreciation is the best motivation.”

Studies upon surveys prove the power of gratitude, from an increase in annual operating income (Harvard Business Review) to healthy heart outcomes (from the University of California/San Diego School of Medicine).  No one, though, pays much attention to how best to deliver the praise.  So here are a few of our guidelines:

  • Get real – and specific.  Generic thanks don’t work.  Be precise about the reason for recognition.
  • Deliver today, not tomorrow.  If the behavior’s to be repeated, try to give thanks immediately – or as close to the “you did good” event as possible.
  • Authenticity is the word of the decade.  Think sincere and spontaneous – and embed it in context.  Writing an email to the team?  Makes sense to include an “attaboy/girl.” 
  • Avoid exclamation marks – and OVER-superlatives.  [‘Nuff said!!!]
  • Pick the most appropriate vehicle … we favor the most impactful, i.e., face to face.

After all, World Kindness Day is only six months away.


In this year of unspeakable campaigning-for-POTUS tumult, there’s been lots of conversation around spin.  Who has it.  Who uses it well (and who doesn’t).  Why they say what they say – and the gurus behind it.  And, yes, if the public knows it’s being manipulated.

Get real.

First, know that spin – the deliberate crafting of words and images for political effect – has been around since the early Greek orators honed their rhetoric to arouse and persuade.  Since Kings and Queens took forever to decide on a particular portrait or silhouette.  And since Teddy Roosevelt’s primitive press conferences or séances, when he’d ask six or 12 reporters to join him over a shave and food.

Second, John and Jane Q. Public have a good sense of the inauthentic and the dishonest, the promotions and the scripted laugh lines.  Behind unreadable exteriors (despite what pollsters say), Americans have a terrific capacity to resist spin, seeking and trusting the agreeable in very logical reasoning.  

And sad but true:  We’ve become immune to spin, since it surrounds us daily.  Via advertising in all media.  Through content marketing that pretends to be impartial and not devoted to specific brands and companies.   Even inside companies, when executives run town halls and informal chats, the words don’t always resonate.

Do we need a 21st century Diogenes?


Graduation is a few months from now. 

Though commencement, for us, is a non-event, many of its rituals still ring of reality and, yes, authenticity. 

Like the actual live ceremonies, including the tasseled hat, robe, and well-printed diploma (notice:  It’s not an electronic replica).

As well as the speech, singular and plural, from the well-known and near-famous.  Who could forget Steve Jobs’ YouTubed advice:  “Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose.”  Or Tim Cook’s encomium:  “The sidelines are not where you want to live your life.”

And the new beginnings of it all, whether throwing Midship-person hats in the air or simply releasing balloons.

As many of our relatives, friends, and family start preparing for that day, we can’t help but draw parallels to work, and to its not-so-unceremonious endings.  Celebrating the good things in an office is something that, unfortunately, is done all too rarely.  Impromptu festivities aren’t necessarily the mark of many corporate cultures.  After all, work is serious stuff and heads’ down is the mantra. 

But wouldn’t it make sense to, say, get together with colleagues when a particularly arduous goal has been reached?  Or a change milestone accomplished?  Even a ‘degree’ in a specific course of study earned?

Graduation memories do bring out the sage in us.


Was Brian Williams’ demotion the death knell for anchorpeople?

Or does it symbolize (as we believe) how thin the claims of credibility and authenticity can be?

Think with us here.  Ever since Walter Cronkite earned the CBS anchorman sobriquet in the early 1950s, we used to regard our news readers as serious professionals, men (for the most part) who earned their authenticity in the trenches, reporting first-hand on serious and important stories.  That opinion continued to be fostered by the late Peter Jennings and the Huntley-Brinkley duet.  Fairly recently, though, the perception of anchor-folks waffled between entertainment and news; the buzz, in short, became more critical than the news.  And credibility zeroed out. 

In a sense, that TV contract of confidence between viewers and news readers is somewhat akin to the unspoken bond between employees and their corporate leaders.  Parallels abound:  Breaking news is a hard-won prize by skilled reporters.  Delivering information about workplace and corporate changes must also be a task assumed by the C-suite, provided straightforwardly yet with a sense of humane-ness.  Another:  We highly respect sector expertise, say, the political know-how of a David Todd or the late Tim Russert.  The same holds true for business chieftains who are not afraid to tell us the truth accurately, seriously, and relay what it means to us.

We could go on (and just might, later).  In your opinion, dear reader, which CEOs are today’s ‘most trusted (wo)men in America” – and why?