This holiday season, don’t be Bridget Jones!


It’s that time of year again…already. Thanksgiving Thursday morphed into Black Friday bringing us to Cyber Monday!  What’s next?  You guessed it…the company holiday party.  Holiday parties by the very essence of their timing – i.e. before the New Year – are well placed for end of year statements which you can use to your advantage.

A dear friend of mine worked for the happiest place on earth (figure it out) in Anaheim, California.  He had been repeatedly passed over for promotions and he thought that perhaps it was because he was single and not considered a stable, committed professional.  One year, he invited me to his company party with intentions of being seen dressed professionally and with a date.  By chance, we happened to be waiting in line with the Vice President and his wife and after briefly greeting and laughing with them, we merrily moved on our way.  The next day, my friend was called into his manager’s office and offered a promotion including a new title and salary package.  To this day, he feels it was this chance meeting at the company party that magically (pun intended) transformed his career trajectory.

You too can help your career at the holiday party. However, holiday party gaffs can do an equal and opposite effect.  Be mindful of the image you project. My top three holiday party etiquette tips to help you survive and succeed in the company party are:

  1. Dress the part. That “dress for the position you want” advice applies here. Dress per the event dress code and/or (if no dress code) dress for the level you want to be.  Management will be at the holiday party so let them see you as you would like to be seen! If you are looking for promotion opportunities, dress for the position you are seeking. Avoid making a slinky outfit or cool fashion statement, particularly if you work in a conservative field. Ladies: if it is décolleté to your navel or slit past your hip bones, don’t wear it.  Men: Unless you are a rap star or his manager, consider where your belt line rests.
  2. Avoid the office gossip.  Yes, this is a company party, but spare the office talk.  Holiday parties are a company gift (although they often feel like an obligation). Use this opportunity to socialize and relax with your colleagues. Be an ice breaker.  Ask about your associates’ families, their travel plans, favorite sports/teams…anything but the status of their project or the latest office politics!  Do NOT be the office fling! It is unprofessional, disrespectful, embarrassing and career-limiting!
  3. Don’t be Bridget Jones.  Limit your alcohol (and or $#%!^*!).  It is still a professional function.  Many (many many many!) years ago, at a company holiday party, I learned (the hard way) that scotch, sake, and Asahi don’t make for a great next day. Thankfully, there was no Karaoke machine at the function!  Take my advice, don’t be Bridget.

Bridget Jones office party

Do you have any tips or funny/cringe-worthy holiday party stories to share?  I would love to hear them!

If you like my writing here, please check out my blog  I welcome your comments and advice for future topics.

Communication Skill Building: Listening


Without doubt, listening is the number one skill to improve both your emotional intelligence and communication skills.  For me, listening and not interrupting has been a huge challenge that I have attacked over the past few years.  I am happy to say that I have made great strides, but I also know how much more improvement I need.

I want to dispel the notion that people who interrupt are rude and don’t care what you have to say.  On the contrary, I usually interrupt during a conversation because I am so excited to communicate a point that I fear I will forget what I want to say.  Yes, fear. And, forget.

I used to think that this was just my failing, a lingering symptom of an illness I suffered. However, I learned from Mark Robert Waldman, a leading expert on communication and author (with Andrew Newberg) of Words Can Change Your Brain: 12 Conversation Strategies to Build Trust, Resolve Conflict, and Increase Intimacy, that recent studies show that most everyone has a window of attention of 4 to 7 concepts or about 10 words in a conversation.  Wow.  So it is not just me.  It is everyone! Our brains have a capability of remembering about 10 of the last few words in a conversation.

Moreover, the speed of conversation affects comprehension.  Faster speech reduces communication. The take away here is SPEAK SLOWLY and allow breaks for your counterpart to respond timely.

Luckily, there are many techniques to improve your listening and, hence, communication. One mantra I use to control my interruptions is, “listen to learn not respond.”  Mark Robert Waldman recommends using his 10/10 method for communicating important points with brevity.  In the 10/10 method, each person gets 10 words – one per finger (!) – to communicate their point. By raising a finger counting each word spoken, your brain is forced to slow down and select the most succinct word to communicate your point in the allotted 10 words.  This not only slows down the pace of communication, increasing comprehension, but also reduces unnecessary verbosity to brief points.

Remember, emailing and texting are inferior communication mediums as there are misinterpretations due to the absence of facial emotion cues, tone, disposition, and body gestures. Next time you are in a conversation, practice listening.  Or, talk to your partner about trying Waldman’s 10/10 exercise.

Self Management


An important part of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is self management, using your awareness of your emotions in controlling your actions. Sounds easier than it is!  Although there are many aspects of self management targeting techniques to identify and and manage your emotions, for increasing emotional intelligence, the three motivating strategies for success that I like are:

  1. Make your goals public.
  2. Visualize success.
  3. Focus on the positive.

Making your goals public is a powerful motivator. For the fear of failure alone, putting yourself out there and taking ownership gives you a strong sense of accountability and helps defeats procrastination. Being in the public eye pushes you out of your comfort zone and, hopefully,  into a growth and performing phase. Cherish this transparency and learn to love the discomfort. Once you recognize the uncomfortable emotions, fear, shame, sadness or anger, you are able to better address them and control them while pursuing your goal.

There are many philosophies and studies, both secular and nonsecular, on the manifesting powers of thought of which I won’t cover here- but do yourself a favor and look into it.  Now, however, ask yourself this question, “If you can’t see it, how can you accomplish it?”  Visualizing yourself succeeding trains your brain to focus on new beliefs which creates new habits which translates to new skills.  Skills that will help you succeed. Take a lesson from great athletes who envision successful training events and picture your success.

Focusing on the positive and remembering your successes keeps you both happy and better in tune with your goals. Why remember your limitations or failures? This isn’t just to be the happy Ned Flanders.  Staying positive, while improving the outward emotional balance around you, also improves your outlook. Positive thoughts reduce stress and the resultant cortisols and chemicals that interupt thought processes. So do your brain a favor and couch everything in the positive!

Intentional Living

As many of my closest friends know, five years ago I started on a spiritual journey to change my life into a life of intention of my creation.  Along the way, certain beliefs (many bad, many just wrong), people, and interests fell away while new ideas, knowledge, and people entered my life opening me to reach new levels.

This Corporate Culturology blog is just a small part of sharing old experiences (with the hope of helping others) and new beliefs.

If I can help you, please reach out. If this can help others, please share.  Stay tuned!

The Tao of Design. AKA: It’s all about the cup holder.

Often trial by error, the design of products and processes is a complex procedure resulting in ‘disruptive’ product commercial success or mediocre abyss. However, companies like IDEO, started and run by design savants David M. Kelley, Bill Moggridge and Tim Brown, and Apple, founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak and lead now by Tim Cook, have used Stanford University professor and design and innovation company IDEO guru David M. Kelley’s, ‘design thinking’ process of iterative divergent brainstorming and convergent problem solving to create and improve products with society altering success. The design thinking process has taken the competitive field to a new level. Marketing anthropologists, designers, and scientists using design thinking all share three simple rules.

First, the “basics” better work. In competing for customers, you cannot risk losing market share if your basic functions or processes don’t work well.  Consider this an #EpicFail. Consumers simply will not tolerate defective designs. With everyone doing ‘design thinking’ in product development, being the first product to hit market is no longer a sure recipe for success.

Second, Steve Jobs, notable among others, changed the world and made Apple a multi-billion company ($710 Billion with a B!) by proving ergonometrics and coolness were required attributes for a product or process. User-experience or user-centeredness is core to product design. Long after Jobs’ foresight that a personal computer (and custom mouse) would sit on everyone’s desk, the ergonometric iPod product, using the renamed SoundJam MP media management system Apple acquired in 2000, changed both consumers use of electronics as well as the music industry.  Now Apple TV is taking on TV entertainment in what will affect the future of cable, dish and network television.  Be sure, products will forevermore be judged in this manner.

Third, your product or process should address human wants, needs and concerns with elegant design. Remember, it’s all about the cup holder. When developing or improving a design or a process, particularly a complex product or process, don’t forget about the little things. Little things matter. Little things can make or break you. For instance, a couple years ago I bought a new car. I won’t disclose the manufacturer, but I will say this import car met all my needs in a vehicle. It had great gas mileage; it had room for lots of teenagers; and it had ample room for my two 100 plus pound Beagle Labradors (don’t ask). The only thing the vehicle did not have was a decent cup holder design. The cup holder cup diameter to height aspect ratio was wrong. The cup diameter was grossly oversized, larger than any Big Gulp sold – think Double Gulp! However the height allotted to this large diameter wouldn’t allow a Big Gulp cup to fit due to the short clearance to the dashboard. As a result, any small cup of coffee or soda fountain drink would slide back and forth, spilling over as I drove. This one little detail has made me hate this vehicle. I will not purchase another vehicle from this company.

So after you’ve completed your design, make sure it’s cool and make sure it works, then step away and look at the cup holder.