Monthly Archive: October 2014

Guest Blog Post – OMG! Emotions in the Office!

linda hillsLinda Hills is a seasoned Learning & Organizational Development practitioner whose mission is to help leaders, teams and organizations create emotionally intelligent transformational change. Over the past 20 years, she has designed, developed and delivered learning and organizational development interventions while working in software, financial services and the not-for-profit sector. Linda has a Master’s degree in Adult Learning and is a certified Emotional Intelligence, and Vital Signs Assessor with Six Seconds, a certified Change Practitioner through Connor Partners CIBC program, and is also certified as a Strengths Deployment Inventory (SDI) Facilitator/Coach.  She is currently an Executive Director in the not-for profit sector, leading her organization through an emotionally intelligent transformational change.

Linda will be offering The Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Assessment (SEI™) at our upcoming course, Leading Process Change, in Toronto Nov 5 & 6. Find out more about that and about Linda HERE.

Linda over to you:


OMG! Emotions in the Office!

I’m with Linda North on this one:  Process isn’t my favourite thing.  But there are two other words in the title of Ruth and Nicole’s upcoming course (Leading Process Change) that strike a chord with me:  leading and change.  Why?  Because both of these concepts are deeply rooted in human emotion, and helping people build emotional intelligence is my “raison d’etre”.

We first heard the term “emotional intelligence” in 1995, when Daniel Goleman wrote his groundbreaking book of the same name.  Since then, much has been written, many versions of it have come along, and yet it remains largely conceptual, if not absent, in most organizations.  Emotions are still seen as soft and disruptive, and are unwelcome in a professional environment.

And yet therein lies a critical misunderstanding about emotions.  In a work setting the word conjures up images of someone losing their temper and yelling at colleagues, or storming out of a meeting.  These are perfect examples of emotions that have not been managed, and that fuel the aversion to them.  So in the business world, we prefer to “leave emotions out of it”.

This couldn’t be more wrong!   Emotions are assets.  They give us information and energy1. Not to mention they are automatic and pretty hard to hide2 (even when you think you are doing so masterfully, that twitching eyebrow gives you away :).  Think about fear for a moment.  It is seen as a negative emotion, but what is it telling you?   If you guessed that it’s telling you that soEmotional Intelligence Imagemething could go wrong, you’d be right.  And how might that be a good thing?  It can protect you from dangerous situations.

So what is emotional intelligence?  The model I use was developed by Six Seconds, so named after the amount of time it takes for the chemical reaction in our brains to settle down after we react to something.  The model comprises eight competencies that allow us to use thinking AND feeling to make optimal decisions.   These eight competencies are divided into three main categories:

  1. Know Yourself:  This is about awareness.  It’s being aware of your emotions, and recognizing the patterns of behaviour that they produce
  2. Choose yourself:  This is about management.  It’s navigating your emotions, thinking about the consequences of your actions and behaviours, exercising optimism and engaging internal (vs. external) motivation.
  3. Give yourself:  This is about direction.  It’s developing empathy for others, and pursuing a “noble goal” – a purpose greater than yourself.

These are easier said than done!  It takes reflection and effort to build these competencies, but they can all be learned!

If you aren’t sold on emotional intelligence, consider this:

  • Harvard Business Review called it the “key to professional success”3
  • Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella says that “…in the long-run, EQ trumps IQ…”4
  • At the US Army Training Centre, the saying is that “…Leadership is a lifelong journey of just 18 inches – from head to heart…”5

And if that isn’t enough, take a look at the bottom line stats:  when leaders practice emotional intelligence the impact on outcomes is clear; it is predictive of6:

  • 46% of Customer Service
  • 28% of Performance
  • 45% of Retention

With the last Gallup Engagement survey (2013) showing that 63% of employees worldwide are not engaged, and 24% actively disengaged7, it’s time for leaders to up their game.  And that means developing EQ to (at a minimum!) match their IQ.

Looking forward to seeing you on November 6th!




1At the Heart of Leadership:  How to Get Results with Emotional Intelligence, Joshua Freedman, Six Seconds, San Mateo, California, 2007

2Vital Organization Field Guide, Joshua Freedman and Massimiliano Ghini, September 2014

3 HBR “Breakthrough Ideas for Tomorrow’s Business Agenda,” April 2003

4 Times of India, “Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella tells students, fall in love with what you do,” October 1, 2014

5 The Vital Organization Field Guide, Joshua Freedman and Massimiliano Ghini, September 2014

6At the Heart of Leadership:  How to Get Results with Emotional Intelligence, Joshua Freedman, Six Seconds, San Mateo, California, 2007.

7, retrieved October 22, 2014.

Guest Blog: Process and Public Relations

Linda North Linda Bio Picis the founder of North Public Relations.  Starting her career at Hill + Knowlton Strategies, she worked with Motorola Canada to launch their Twitter and Tumblr presence. Later at Venture Communications she learned from leading brand strategists and creatives, big ideas went from from conception to execution. After discovering her true passion for entrepreneurial companies, she moved in-house to the forefront of the connected home revolution, ecobee – makers of the world’s first smart thermostat.  NorthPR strives for creative and new ideas, embracing new media, challenging the status quo and achieving outstanding results. One of her international clients at already the top of the map, outperforming all other countries in media coverage results – and that was in the second month working with them.

Linda will be speaking at our upcoming course, “Leading Process Change” in Toronto on Nov 5 & 6. Find out more about that and about Linda HERE.

Linda over to you:

Process and Public Relations

I’ll be honest, I hate process. I’m not good at it, and I have ‘no’ time for it. Case in point, I currently have 5,757 emails in my in

I could be the perfect archetype as the person who needs to go through process improvement training. But then I think, oh no, I’d have to sit through 2 days and just feel guilty because I actually won’t change my ways. But I wish I could because I’d serve my clients, colleagues and vesocial-keyndors a lot better.

Here’s the thing. Once you’ve gone through all the trouble of improving your processes – spending hours researching, finding and collaborating with right experts, and getting to the hard work of implementing process change – you deserve to yell about it from the rooftops. Your stakeholders need to know what you’ve done to improve your relationship with them.

Communicating and PR’ing your process improvements may be the last thing that comes to mind when you’re putting together your full process improvement plan, but it’s a very important step to consider. The reasons you’re going through these changes are so you can serve someone or something better.

While writing this blog post, I did a quick Google News search and came across these two articles:

Peace Corps improves application process

Evolving consent processes improve patient satisfaction

Both of these stories are sharing news about a significant change within an organization to makes things more efficient and better for their stakeholders.

So how should you share your process news? A few ideas could be:

  • issue a press release
  • organize meetings with key reporters
  • send out a customer newsletter
  • create a video case study
  • social media (e.g. LinkedIn)

But most importantly, make sure you get your story and angle right.

No one cares about the intimate details about how you improved your process (well, process geeks Nicole and Ruth do, but they aren’t your typical people). Your story isn’t going to be about YOU, it needs to be about THEM.

Better yet, did your process improvement really, truly innovate your company culture, programs, products, etc.? If so, you may be able to go beyond your niche and become a true thought leader in the space of innovation and leadership. Don’t undermine the massive improvements you are creating within your company.

The world needs more people like you who are willing to embrace change to create a more efficient and productive world. So start sharing your story!


Join us on November 5 & 6 to learn more about sharing your process improvement story.


Guest Blog: The Process of Strategy

We are excited to have a guest blogger this week!

Leyla Razeghi is a consultant for Business Strategy and Optimization, with expertise in business modelling, strategic planning, tools for a customer centric business, metrics and process efficiency. She has helped more than 50 brands and business work on their strategy and grow.

Leyla will be speaking at our upcoming course, “Leading Process Change” in Toronto on Nov 5 & 6. Find out more about that and about Leyla HERE.

Leyla, over to you:


Do I Really Need a Formal Strategy?

As a solutions provider for small and medium size businesses, I always make sure my clients understand the importance of setting up the right strategies in their business; without clear goals and tactics, you might be able to subsist, but you won’t go far. (Click to Tweet) You need to prepare to face your competition and make sure your customers will prefer you and recommend you.

I started my business to help small and medium sized businesses be more competitive and grow, and I believe that the biggest obstacle they have is that they don’t focus on their strategy – a lot of them make decisions “on the go” and don’t think of the future. In addition, I have encountered many businesses that invest in branding and marketing but don’t really work on business modelling and strategic planning. Some  think that planning is something that they can do in the future, while some simply avoid it because it sounds overwhelming.

Setting up an executable business strategy is of vital importance for entrepreneurs and managers, since a strategy is a plan for success! It answers the questions “where do you want to go?” and “how will you get there?”

It’s a Process!

First, strategy requires clarity, and starts with setting up a mission statement and a vision statement, both of which should be based on a “why” and a “purpose”. (Why am I doing this? The answer to this question explains your motivation and your reasoning behind the company or business.)

  • A mission statement shows how things would look in the near future where you are satisfied with the results.  It is something attainable that you can demonstrate easily.
  • A vision statement shows the destination. It is where you see yourself ultimately and ideally. It is something close to your final goal.

Second, you also need the right engagement from all key stakeholders. Engaging people early in the process (perhaps even as a first step!) will ensure that:

  • The strategy gets translated to each department in a way that resonates with their unique needs,
  • Each department, partner, and employee is clear on how they influence the strategy and impact business success. (An employee that finds his/her work meaningful and impactful will be more satisfied, will work harder, and will stay at their job longer.)
  • Each employee and partner is motivated to work towards the strategy, and
  • Your customers understand your strategy and what makes you different.

Third, you need the tactics, actions, and timelines that will deliver on your mission and vision.

  • What has to happen, by when, and by whom?
  • What are the metrics that will show you’ve reached your goals?
  • What is your process for checking in to ensure you’re not straying from the path, or if you are, you’re doing so deliberately, and with due consideration of the consequences?

If you don’t have a defined business strategy, I encourage you to get on it -now! It is your path to success – it needs to be customized to your business and environment, and it must not stay on paper. Great leaders ensure its flawless execution, which is, of course, an entirely different subject!

Good luck, and I hope to see you on Nov 5 & 6 at Whiteboard’s course!


You Should Come to This Course. Yes, You.


Our regular readers will know by now that Nicole and I are upbeat, positive people and we get excited about a lot of things. So, when I tell you that we are SUPER EXCITED about our upcoming course in November, please trust that it is not hyperbole.

Why are we so over-the-top and ridiculously excited?

Well, because we believe this course is innovative, and innovation is a good, positive, wonderful thing.

You’ve heard us talk about The Whiteboard Way© before (click here or here). We believe that our method of Process Improvement is what organizations need in order to take the first step into a Process Improvement culture. Often organizations hear about the buzz words – continuous improvement, process improvement, Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma, TQM, etc – and they go bananas implementing a new program.

And so many of them fail. I’ve seen it happen in three major organizations in both the private and the public sectors.

They fail because they haven’t set themselves up to succeed – they have not considered the importance of change management, culture shift, and stakeholder engagement. It’s as bad as if someone all of a sudden decided they want to be a farmer, and so they bought a big field and started sticking seeds in the ground, without tilling the soil, removing rocks, adding fertilizer, and ensuring the earth is rich and ready to receive the seeds.

Enough of the analogy. You get what I’m saying, and hopefully many of you are nodding your heads and saying, “yup – been there, done that.”

Our new course, Leading Process Change, offered Nov 5 & 6 in Toronto, examines the intersection of Process Improvement and Leadership Principles and enables the learner to influence change and develop a process-based culture. Everyone can benefit from this course, especially if they are responsible for, or thinking about, process improvement in their organization. (Click to Tweet)

You need to come to this course. Yes, you.

What? You don’t think you’re at the right level in your organization to attend? To that I say, pfftrespectfully, PFFT.

Whether you are an employee on a team in an organization who wishes you knew how to influence change so people would listen to your ideas, or a VP trying to figure out why you can’t make process improvements stick, (or somewhere in between), this course is for you.

We have designed the course in two modules, so that people can come to one or both.

  • Module 1 – is all about The Whiteboard Way©, and focuses on the basics of Process Improvement without getting all fancy shmancy and needing expensive software or textbooks.
  • Module 2 – examines essential skills in making sure that change sticks. We have expert speakers on how to communicate & promote your change initiative, how to work process improvement into your strategic planning, and how to be aware of your own emotional intelligence and its impacts on others.

More information is here in this link. I encourage you to read it, and then sign up and bring anyone else who needs to be there (which is everyone, so…). We have discounts for Earlybirds (before October 18th), former students, members of BNI or Verity, and employees of the OPS. And discounts can be combined!

I hope to see you at our course. I promise it will be fun – our past students have rated our training consistently in the top box! (Oh, and the lunch will be fantastic!)


PS – if you have any questions, just shoot us an email at

3 Steps to Better Networking

We do quite a bit of networking for business here at Whiteboard.  It can be alot of fun, and it can be draining and frustrating.  Networking is a great way to build your business. An even more profound way to look at it is to imagine the people you meet as your sales team!  Instead of trying to sell YOUR product or service to everyone that you meet, what about learning about ways that the both of you can act as referral partners for one another?

BadNetworking-199x300It is painful to see how poorly networking can go if not done properly. Someone is selling you something you aren’t interested in, AGAIN! How do you find the RIGHT people to network with, and most importantly how do you break the ice with that person? (Any APP developers out there? I have a genius networking app I’ve been dreaming about…..)

Ruth and I consider Whiteboard to be that sweet spot between process improvement and leadership.  The same self-discovery coaching principle we teach to leaders and managers applies to networking. Good ice breakers help build the right connection, without you “selling” to them before you’ve built a relationship.  Networking is like coaching.  Get your network partner to self-realize that you are someone they should do business with.

3 Steps to Becoming a Power Networker

1. Tell me about…/Tell me more…

So often we get so excited about our business that we just go wild. Use these first two phrases to learn and discover more about the person you are talking to.  One of our WORST networking experiences is 3 days after we’d just gotten a new website, we met with a website developer who started an hour-long networking session telling us about how we should re-do our website.  Let’s just say Ruth had her director face on. She was not happy.  Or last week, when the divorce attorney asked us both within 30 seconds if either of us were married. Yuck.

Tell me about/ Tell me more about:your business, your clients, how you got started, your business partner, your employees, your personal life.

What ever YOUR angle is, get people to start talking! Pick a specific “nugget” and get them to tell you more. Actively listen for more nuggets so you can ask more questions.

2. That sounds a lot like XYZ….

images (6)Use this information to tell a SHORT brief story about how something in step 1, happened to you. Don’t go on-and-on.  And despite your brain DYING to tell this person how your business, idea, product will be perfect for them, take some time to go to step 3.

I’ve had a similar experience. Can I share a similar story with you?

You are building a RELATIONSHIP.  Not a buyer and seller interaction – but a real relationship with this person!

3. LEVERAGE & Ask more OPEN ended questions.

What are open ended questions?  Any question that does not yield a yes or no answer.

  • How is XYZ working for you?
  • What kind of feedback do you get on XYZ?

Take your nuggets and get them to ask you more.

This is also a great time to set the stage for a followup conversation (especially when you are at a networking event and want to speak to more people):

  • I would love to know more about you/your XYZ, When do you have some time next week to chat?
  • You’ve really got me thinking about you/your XYZ, and I’d like to pick your brain about it some more. When are you available?

Wait, Nicole got blogitis again, and  she forgot to tell me about the part where I get to pitch my business.

No, I didn’t.  You don’t get to pitch your business.  GASP. In fact, I’d like you to wait until they ask you the open ended questions about you and your business. Remember that people learn coaching techniques and networking techniques by observing others.  Be their role model.

And even when I am talking about our business, I’m still asking more questions that they may be a little more self interested in, like:  Tell me about process improvements that you have worked on? Tell me about how it worked? Tell me about the types of training that your company offers/delivers/has done in the past? How did it go?

And because we are like that, I made you a quick little Networking Planning Checklist so you can prepare for your next event. Good luck!

Networking horror stories? Did these tips help?  Let us know @whiteboardcons #Networking.

Stay tuned as we feature the speakers in our Leading Process Change Course for the next few weeks.  Learn more about the special expertise they bring to the table!

Until Next Time,