GRATITUDE REALLY IS BEST

We all know that emails can be concluded with any kind of wording or signoff the composer desires. However, it turns out that some signoffs elicit better response rates than others. At least that is the conclusion of a recent Boomerang survey (“This Is the Only Way You Should Sign Your Emails.” Money. November 2017, p. 26.)

After assessing more than 350,000 emails with varied signoffs, here are the top three for recipient response rates:

  • Thanks in advance. (65.7%)
  • Thanks. (63%)
  • Thank you. (57.9%)

Regardless of the signoff, many factors can color how we interpret any individual email. Nevertheless, it seems that a touch of gratitude is what makes a palpable difference for most recipients. Gratitude appeals to our shared humanity. It moves us toward our common good and it invites our better angels. We often can imagine seeing that person eye-to-eye, all just from that written word of thanks. We somehow realize all that is behind the expression of gratitude, and it is that connection that often prompts our positive response.

As important as all this is purely from a communications and business perspective, it also relates to the holiday we now approach. Just as gratitude has a positive effect in the business world, it also has a positive effect in our personal lives. Simply pausing daily to reflect on all the things for which you are grateful is soul cleansing and exciting. It tends to improve all aspects of our lives.

As you celebrate this Thanksgiving Day, I trust that you will genuinely take time each day to be thankful. You may soon find that a new sense of gratitude infuses your life.

Happy Thanksgiving!


KNOWING YOUR BEST ROLE

All of us have different roles within different contexts. You might be a leader in one context and a follower in another, the CEO in one world and a worker bee in another; the big-picture person in one universe and the bean counter analyst in another. Although we are often defined by our roles, they are not the only things that define us. How we approach our roles is equally if not more important to what defines us.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects about our roles is knowing what our best role is in any given situation. If you step into the wrong role, then bad things can happen. If you are in the right role but at the wrong time, then bad things can happen. But if you can step into the right role at the right time in the right way, then marvelous things can happen.

Knowing your best role can be tricky. We don’t always want to face up to painful or embarrassing truths about ourselves. However, failure to do so can rob us of the success we genuinely desire. The winning combination materializes when we understand our best role and we can enter into it at the right time and in the right way. The proverbial “now is the time” declaration rings true.

In looking at tech entrepreneurs, we find that some of them struggled with finding their best role or the right timing for that role. Some did not want to admit that the role or the timing may not be right as Austin Carr explains (“Uber’s Driving Lessons: What the Fastest-growing Startup in History Has Revealed about Silicon Valley” FastCompany. September 2017, pp. 25–27):

Steeped in a tradition dating back to Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard creating HP in their Palo Alto garage, tech entrepreneurs are taught that they are the true innovators. And anyone who gets in their way (boards, investors, bureaucrats) is shortsighted, the small-minded naysayers to visionaries like Steve Jobs. So founders today hold tightly to control, leveraging their super voting shares to tilt power away from boards or investors.” (p. 27)

Situations can arise in which the tech entrepreneur is right and everyone else is wrong—or it could be the opposite. However, the reality is not usually quite that simple. More often the truth is somewhere in the middle. To whatever extent both sides can consider that “middle” we have opportunity for growth. The circumstances could lead to a personal, professional, and leadership growth experience for everyone. And sometimes that means paradoxically the best way to fulfill your role is to sacrifice your role. Carr clarifies:

The reality is, sacrificing the CEO title can be in the best interests of both the company and its founder. Larry Page and Sergey Brin stepped aside so longtime tech executive Eric Schmidt could steer Google through its IPO during the 2000s. Page studied under Schmidt for roughly a decade before taking back the reins. Jobs, too, took nearly this same amount of time to mature as a CEO before returning to Apple.

Whatever your role might be, what is most important is that you recognize it and that you choose to use it at the right time and in the right way. This is how we maximize our value to our organization, colleagues, customers, and ourselves. Know your best role.


PURSUING A HOLISTIC HEALTHCARE

Healthcare has come a long way. And it still has a long way to go. I don’t think anyone will argue that point. That is why I am relentlessly pursuing a holistic healthcare. I believe holistic healthcare will do more good for more people under more conditions than any other approach.

Doctors have incredibly intensive, specialized training and experience. They are very intelligent and extremely good at their jobs. However, with any area of specialization come specialized risks. This is true of any discipline and the medical discipline is no exception.

Someone once observed that if your only tool is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail. I discovered this firsthand with an orthopedic surgeon many years ago. Having experienced an unusual and prolonged pain in one of my toes, I was referred to the surgeon. After a relatively fast examination, he explained to me that I needed surgery to correct a bone calcification/deformity condition.

Having never gone under the knife, this was obviously a decision that I wanted to take some time to consider carefully. In that consideration period, I consulted with my chiropractor, Dr. Bruce Rippee with the Chiropractic Life Center. Dr. Rippee took one look at the situation and correctly diagnosed a dropped metatarsal head. With some manipulation and adjustment work, he rectified the problem. I have been ever grateful that his approach saved me from an unnecessary surgery. Perhaps you have a similar story.

For holistic healthcare to work at its best, you need three components:

  • Patients that want holistic healthcare.
  • Holistic healthcare practitioners.
  • Conventional healthcare practitioners that understand, trust, and support holistic healthcare.

When these three components come together, holistic healthcare can operate efficiently and effectively. I have had conventional healthcare practitioners refer me to holistic healthcare practitioners and vice versa. When each practitioner understands and respects the other, then they become partners in patient care. This partnership brings the greatest benefit to the patient.

On another level, simply the partnership between the patient and the healthcare practitioner tremendously supports a holistic healthcare approach. Dr. Corey Iqbal with the Overland Park Regional Medical Center explains the concept (Andy Marso. “With Patients Having More Say in Treatment, When Do Doctors Say No?” The Kansas City Star. October 15, 2017. p. 12A):

I think one of the mistakes we can make as a health care provider in any capacity is when we decide to take a paternalistic approach and (say) ‘This is what it’s going to be,’ as opposed to looking at the patient-doctor relationship as a partnership. . . . My job is to impart expertise, make them experts on the condition, and then they can make an informed decision.

Dr. Iqbal emphasizes that as a doctor, he must remain open to alternative approaches to the patient’s condition:

I want to fix what’s going on with [patients]. . . . I want to have answers for them and if I don’t have the answers, I want to find innovative ways we can solve those problems.

I deeply appreciate the fact that Dr. Iqbal admits he does not always have all the answers. That is why he is open to alternative approaches. That attitude can only enhance the quality of his patient relationships because his patients know that he is willing to look in other directions.

Dr. Rippee also addresses the importance of that doctor-patient relationship as an essential component to successful holistic healthcare. He genuinely wants to be his patient’s partner. He summarizes his commitment to helping the patient focus on specific goals while exercising a holistic approach (personal communication on file, 10/26/17):

I have always focused on goal-based healthcare that takes into account what the patient would like to see from the next 1, 5, and 10 years. Then I apply the four pillars of excellent movement, nutrition, sleep, and positive thoughts to the end goal that I am given.

Dr. Iqbal and Dr. Rippee are just two examples among many. Increasing numbers of healthcare practitioners are awakening to the fact that healthcare intrinsically demands a holistic approach. Healthcare, by definition must be holistic. Genuine healthcare understands that a hammer is not the only tool. And the more tools we have in our toolbox and the more we use them, the happier, wiser, and healthier we will all be.

Let’s keep pursuing a holistic healthcare!


KEEPING UP WITH TECHNOLOGY

Whether we are talking about you, a home office, or a major corporation, a constant question is how far do you go to keep up with technology? Given the speed of technological change, the pressure to be on the cutting edge, and the need for return on investment, this is an increasingly critical and complex challenge. What company (or individual) wants to be branded as a dinosaur? And these days you earn no medals for being one!

When considering a technology upgrade, finding the perfect timing is the difficult part. Upgrade or adopt too soon, and you run the risk of unintended consequences and exorbitant costs. Upgrade or adopt too late, and you run the risk of decreasing profits and unexpected breakdowns and inefficiencies.

Of course budget and planning cycles must be considered too. Whether in the corporate world or in the home office, to everything there is a season. We have to be smart about technological timing in the context of the big-picture.

Do not underestimate the costs of disruption. Too many business owners do. Sometimes it just makes more sense (and cents) to maintain the technology status quo while certain production schedules are met per contract instead of disrupting productivity just for the sake of the technology upgrade. However, at some point, the disruption if carefully planned, will become the answer to move the organization forward by making it leaner and meaner. The point is that the disruption can and should be carefully planned.

A significant source of insight are your frontline employees. They are usually the people facing the good results or the bad results that are directly driven by the technology. It is amazing how often the frontline agents can see the obvious technology-driven chaos while the oblivious company leadership sits silently in its silo.

These and many more factors must be assessed to identify the ideal timing for a technology upgrade or adoption. Even more important than any single technology move is that you are constantly observing the technological landscape. Technology is always changing. As much as we might hope for that day, a “set it and forget it” approach won’t work with technology. If you keep your eye on it, then you’ll know when to take action!


TECHNOLOGY CHANGES VERSUS QUALITY

Artificial intelligence fulfills many roles today to handle customers. Nevertheless, the ongoing question of how AI affects the customer experience remains an open debate. We have been through good and bad technological transitions in the past and we have survived and sometimes thrived. Nevertheless, some of those technological changes have enhanced the customer experience while others have harmed it.

In the early days of the Internet, I can remember my wife reacting to multiple radio and TV commercials by exclaiming, “everything is www this and www that!” She was not happy with so many resources being available on the Web when those early Web days did not always provide the most stellar customer experience. Today she is all over the Web. Obviously, she, like most of us, adjusted and it has been for the good.

Simultaneously, I have some big questions. How will we end up adjusting to AI at the core of our customer experiences or will we? How much will the sense of being passed off to an inferior being insult our intelligence thus causing us to reject the AI element? To what degree will AI degrade the quality of the customer experience? These are all vital questions that have yet to be answered. Time will reveal.

In answering the above questions, we must never forget that ultimately a company does not decide if its products and services are passing the quality assurance tests. That right genuinely belongs to the end user. Customers decide whether a company’s products and services pass the QA test. And it will be the customers that determine whether AI passes the QA test too.