3 Ways to Improve Business Relationships

When my friend Jane decided to get back into dating, she started with some research. A self-professed science nerd, she looked for books that could help her learn about best practices for successful dating. And when all she could find were books that described ways to trap and manipulate men, which is definitely not her style, she decided to write her own.


In Keys to His Heart: How to Attract a Man and Find True Love Using 3 Scientific Keys that Work Like Magic, Jane describes an approach that includes the concept of “highest intentions.” One of the ways she recommends transforming the dating experience, making it enjoyable and effective, is to begin by holding the highest intentions for everyone involved, including yourself. What a beautiful concept!


As I thought about this more, I realized how “holding the highest intentions” applies in business relationships as well. This could be the key to improving all your relationships. Here are three specific ways you can approach some common business scenarios:


  1. Seeking the win/win.   In any business negotiation, are you starting with the premise that for one of you to win, the other has to lose? Or, are you approaching it with “we both win or no deal.” Your initial mindset about the outcome will determine the result that you get. You can use “either / or” thinking or “both / and” thinking. And when you are clear up front about creating a double win, solutions emerge that you would not have seen while focused on just you. Very often, you will find that third option that brings a smile to everyone’s faces.
  2. Taking the high road. When faced with a choice, how do you decide? I’ve always believed that taking the high road works best in the long run. For one thing, there’s definitely less traffic there! In business, everything that goes around comes around. Sometimes, that takes a very long time. But consistently doing the right thing helps you sleep better at night. Now, if you’re saying: “But Cheryl, I don’t always know which is the high road,” I contend that you do know. And after all, just how do you want to be thought of or remembered?
  3. Approaching crucial conversations with [explicit] positive intent. We all have those moments of truth when we have to face someone with bad news or a difficult message and we’re worried about their reaction. And so, we put it off. And of course, the problem gets bigger. And we’ve also had more time to imagine how badly the conversation will go. What works really well here is starting the conversation by expressing your positive intentions, your concern or respect for the other person and your desire for a positive outcome. Positioning the discussion in this way provides a place to return to if the exchange goes awry. And it helps to keep you grounded in the process.


I realize that the more cynical among us will have difficulty with some of these approaches. They do require some faith in the human spirit. Full disclosure: I’ve been told that one of my biggest problems is always seeing the best in people and situations, i.e. not being critical enough. But I’ve made a conscious decision to be that way anyway. It feels like the right thing to do.


You might be wondering what happened to Jane. Well, if you believe in happy endings, you’re going to love this one. And if you don’t, you’re not going to believe it anyway, though I can vouch for its truth: Jane wrote her book, following her own advice each step of the way. And, just after she finished the first draft, she met the man of her dreams and the love of her life. They fell in love on their first date. They are so happy, planning their future lives together. And I couldn’t be happier for them.


So, if you are looking to attract your true love, read Jane’s book. And even if you’re not looking, read Jane’s book. It contains many more great gems in addition to holding the highest intentions.

Why Jon Stewart is My Hero

You may not like his politics, or appreciate his sense of humor, or agree with his point of view on the world situation, but one thing is clear about Jon Stewart. He is a leader of leaders, an especially rare commodity in the entertainment world.


As a person who has studied leaders and leadership nearly all my life, I contend that very few meet the ultimate measure of success. The so-called “level 5 leaders” are able to create a legacy based on the quality of leaders they develop, encourage, support and then “let go.” No one in the entertainment field today has done a better job than Jon.



  • Rob Cordry, creator of two-time Emmy Award-winning Childrens’ Hosptial, now in its sixth season;
  • Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, now in it’s second season on HBO. Oliver also did a fabulous job filling in for Stewart when he took a sabbatical from the show to make a movie;
  • Larry Wilmore, host of The Nightly Show, with a fresh new format for taking on today’s tough and controversial issues with humor and diverse perspectives;
  • And of course, the great Stephen Colbert, creator of The Colbert Report and Colbert Nation, soon to become host of The Late Show.


Each has gone on to create a show with his own unique voice and style. This is a tribute to the style of leadership that inspires the genius that exists in each of us, rather than trying to make people in his or her own image. We can all learn a lot from this approach.


And while these examples are perhaps the most well known, there are multiple others. And, every time you think, “how can the show survive without X?” Jon brings in more talent. And he always expresses genuine pleasure and pride in the success each of his protégés, though I’m sure the more cynical among us see that as “part of the act.”


So, hats off to you Jon Stewart! You have a lot to be proud of in the legacy you’ve created during your run as host of The Daily Show. I don’t know what’s next for you or the show, but I will truly miss watching you operate at the top of your game.


And, for the record, I do appreciate that you make me laugh every day with your take on the state of politics, the world situation and the media. Thank you for that; daily laughter is part of my mantra. And, I also share the concern expressed by former President Bill Clinton: “Just where will we get our news now?”

Womenomics, a Rising Global Impact

1149607_women_color_4Womenomics: Driving Success and Social Change was the subject of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce Women in Business event held last week. Featuring Jackie VanderBrug, Senior Vice President and Investment Strategist for U.S. Trust, it was a fitting topic for women’s history month.


“The history of women is written in invisible ink,” said Jackie, who led the development of the emerging field of gender lens investing. She has made it her mission to increase the level of awareness on just how powerful an impact women have on our global economy and I certainly applaud her for that. After all, gender equality is smart economics.


She identified four key intersecting areas in which improvements have been notable but where the gender gap is still quite wide globally: access to education; social status and rights; employment; business opportunities and financial services. A sample of statistical data tells the story:

  • There are 33 million fewer girls than boys in primary schools and women comprise 2/3 of the world’s illiterates;
  • While 125 countries outlaw domestic violence, there is a 1 in 3 chance that women will be victims within their lifetimes;
  • Though 115 countries guarantee equal property rights, less than 20% of women are landowners;
  • Sexual harassment is against the law in 117 countries; yet, over 300 million women are without this legal protection;
  • Women are the primary bread winners in 40% of U.S. households, even though they earn only 80% of what men earn.


When it comes to giving, saving, spending and investing, women also make different choices. For example:


  1. They give both money and time to organizations that are effective, efficient and know how to get things done, especially those that support women and girls.
  2. Eighty percent of their earnings are spent on human resources—largely their families and communities–compared with 30-40% for men.
  3. Women make more of the purchasing decisions and they know the socially responsible behavior of the brands they buy. Issues like fair trade pay, who is making our clothes and what ingredients are in the products we use—matter to women. And they are more likely to buy products and services from a woman-owned business.
  4. Today, women are creating more of the jobs, and are on their way to controlling more of the personal wealth than ever before. And, they are keenly aware of the social and economic impact of their investments.


The idea of investing with a gender lens is to see more clearly how to make better decisions that will create more opportunity. Three areas that could benefit from this focus include access to capital, products and services and workplace equality; these are all areas with plenty of upside opportunity.


Research tells us that organizations with more women in decision-making roles are more profitable, provide a better return on investment and have better safety records, among other benefits. With roughly a billion women, known as the Third Billion, looking to join the global economy as consumers, producers, employees and entrepreneurs, this represents an emerging force bigger than India or China. And when you add in the belief of the millennial generation that the primary purpose of business is to improve society, I can’t help but wonder if the time has finally come in women’s history to level the playing field once and for all.


What do you think? I’d love to hear your comments and questions. Please like or share this content and reply with your thoughts.


#womeninbusiness #womenomics #womeninvesting #genderlens

Special Interview with Cheryl Liew-Chng

I am so pleased to bring you this special interview with Cheryl Liew-Chng, award-winning work / life coach, who is recognized as a global thought leader in the field of women’s leadership and personal development.

Cheryl is my very good friend. We share a special mentor, Brendon Burchard, and have been part of his exclusive mastermind group together. She lives in Singapore, though her impact and influence spreads far beyond that part of the world. She has consulted with some of the biggest international companies and coached thousands of women on how to live a “life most excellent.”

Today, Cheryl launches her book – it’s bound to become a best seller!
The 24 Hour Woman: How High Achieving, Stressed Women Manage It All and Still Find Happiness. When you order it here, you will also be able to participate in her 10-week course and join her on-line community, which includes women from all around the globe.

Once you watch the interview, I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions. Please share them below. Share the link to the video as well, with my compliments.

Give Yourself Permission

permissionOne of the things I’ve noticed in my years as a business leader – first as a senior executive for a large financial services organization and then as a coach, trainer, and teacher to entrepreneurs and executives—is that people often seek permission when it’s not really necessary.


I’m sure you’ve heard the advice: Instead of asking for permission ahead of time, ask for forgiveness after the fact, and that mantra has served me well many times. In fact, in taking risks, I found I rarely had to ask for either. People actually like it when someone takes the initiative, even if things don’t work out perfectly. We admire the courage it takes to move forward during periods of complexity or uncertainty. And have you noticed we live in an age of increasing complexity and uncertainty?


Courage, therefore, is more important than ever. And courage is not something that you’re born with; it’s something you generate in the moment. Just because you decide to act with courage, doesn’t mean you’re not afraid. It just means that you decided. You gave yourself permission.


Over the years, people have asked me for advice when I think what they really want is permission. I believe that, most of the time, we already know what we should do, and we just want validation or reinforcement. Imagine giving yourself that gift, instead of looking outside of you.


Most of us have a sixth sense and we’re just not tuned in to it. Imagine the difference in your life if you could learn to feel it and learn to depend on it.


Learning to hear your inner guidance – and to trust it – takes some practice and it is definitely worth the effort. Just notice your physical reaction to the things that give you pause. Is there an underlying excitement or underlying fear? Where in your body is it showing up? Tightness in the your throat or chest, a feeling in the pit of your stomach or sweaty palms? Pay attention. Become aware of the patterns. Notice what happens when you follow your instinct. And notice what happens when you don’t.


Ask yourself today: what do I need to give myself permission to do, to be or to have? And then, go for it.


Let me know how this works for you. Like this post, leave me a comment, and share it with others.



#leadership #courage #permission #womeninbusiness