An article this summer in The New York Times quoted extensively from a research study conducted by Silicon Valley psychologist Stephanie Brown which refers to our collective fear of slowing down. Brown found that people who are alone with their own thoughts for more than a few minutes become agitated and seek any kind of stimulation they can find in order to avoid thinking.

“There’s this widespread belief that thinking and feeling will only slow you down and get in your way, but it’s the opposite,” she said.

Case in point: A study by Benjamin Baird and colleagues at the University of California, Santa Barbara, shows that daydreaming and fantasizing unleash fantastic amounts of creativity and allow people to problem-solve because they feel free to look at problems and challenges without deadlines and outside pressures.

Have you had a creative daydream lately? Would you like to? Here’s how to get started. (read more…)

I’m a big fan of old movies, and I especially like the dramas that focus on men and women who beat the odds. We say those characters have moxie.

Moxie sums up the guts and gumption a leader needs to succeed when times are tough and the circumstances are daunting.

Leaders with moxie are do-ers, enablers and achievers. Individuals with moxie are those who seek to make a positive difference in their own lives as well as lives of others around them.

Leaders with moxie are those with the courage to be counted, the get-up-and-go to take action, and the desire to get recognition for their teams as well as themselves.

John Baldoni is chair of leadership development at N2Growth, is an internationally recognized leadership educator and executive coach. In 2014, Trust Across America named him to its list of top 100 most trustworthy business experts. Also in 2014, Inc.com named Baldoni to its list of top 100 leadership experts, and Global Gurus ranked him No. (read more…)

You cannot have a best-in-class call center without a rock star director.

This may sound extreme, but I assure you it isn’t. I’ve seen centers with solid potential downsized and closed far to often when they could have been salvaged with better leadership. I’ve also seen the amazing turnarounds happen in just a few months when the only dynamic that changed was the leader.

If you’re serious about results, invest in finding and developing the very best center leader you can and then have her work tirelessly to build a strong bench of leaders underneath her who could step in at any time.

Signs your leader is not ready for prime time

Before we get into the definition of “rock star” let’s start with signs of trouble. Perhaps you’ll recognize a few of these characters.

  • Cara is deeply invested and extremely stressed. You’re pretty sure she’s sleeping at the center. You see toothpaste and mascara hidden behind the toilet paper in the bathroom.
  • (read more…)

SmartBrief is talking directly with small and medium-sized businesses to discover their journeys, challenges and lessons. Today’s post is a Q-and-A with Erik Severinghaus of SimpleRelevance, which works with companies to “pull in and normalize your current data, then use predictive analytics to recommend the best email marketing approach for each customer. ”

Are you a small-business owner and would like to share your story? E-mail me jdasilva [at] smartbrief.com.

View the Small Biz Q-and-A series, and sign up for our free e-mail newsletters on small business and entrepreneurialism.

What does SimpleRelevance do, and what led you in 2011 to say, “I need to start this”?

SimpleRelevance is the first true machine-learning platform for digital marketers. We take in tremendous amounts of data and leverage predictive analytics to significantly improve the efficacy of digital marketing campaigns. For instance, if we’re optimizing a company’s e-mail program, we will automatically ensure that e-mail is sent with the best subject line, content, and at the right time of day to each individual customer. (read more…)

When I was young and new to a corporate position, my manager, Karen, gave me an assignment that involved translating a confusing government regulation into a benefit that would be available for our employees. She was expecting a proposal from me that would detail what needed to be done and then to lead the implementation of the benefit.

At first, I struggled to understand the regulation and had difficulty grasping how this could be put to use in our company. Karen refused to let me off the hook by giving me the answers (that I was pretty sure she had); she simply trusted that I would figure it out. She checked in from time to time to see how I was doing, spoke encouraging words, and left me alone to work out the details. Her tactics eventually resulted in a proposal and the implementation of a significant benefit for our workforce. (read more…)