How to work with eccentric people and not go crazy.

How to work with eccentric people and not go crazy.

About 2% of the population is considered “gifted”. We don’t hear this term as much when referring to adults. Instead we hear odd, eccentric, weird.  

And while their numbers are small, I am sure you have come across someone who could be described this way.

If you happen to be their boss, you know they test you like no one else.

If you happen to be their colleague, you know that they can amaze, bewilder and, possibly, annoy you. 

At your first meeting, you knew there was something different about them. It could be that they dressed without concern for convention. It could be that when they talked, it seemed they had ingested the whole Internet. Perhaps they didn’t like to talk and they always seemed sullen and removed until it was “ShowTime”.  

And then, when you saw their work, you were amazed and all was pretty much forgiven because they were just so darn good at what they do. 

While their competence may help your company’s bottom line results, it doesn’t necessarily help your day-to-day because you still have to figure out how to work with eccentric superstar employees. 

How To Be a Pro at Your Office Holiday Party

How To Be a Pro at Your Office Holiday Party

The trouble with office parties is that they are a bit like a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Looking at it from the outside, you see a group of people who, for the most part, are pretty familiar with each other, a group of people who may spend more time together than they do with their families. 

Yet this familiarity can lead to a false sense of security.

It may lead people to believe they can really let their hair down like they would with a bunch of close friends on a trip to Vegas. 

The Holiday office party is not the same as going to Vegas with friends.

It's an event where you have to be a pro and here's why...

Should you be hiding from your new boss?

Should you be hiding from your new boss?

Here’s an interesting statistic:  According to a study done by PwC, CEO turnover at the 2500 largest companies in the world rose from 14.3 in 2014 to 16.6% in 2015 – a record high.

And it’s happened to all of us at some point.  You’re just going about your business doing your job like you do every day and in comes a new boss.

You might not know this person or it might be someone who you knew was shortlisted but workplace conversation turns quickly to “hey, what do you know about the new boss?”  

Very rarely does a new boss come in and continue the status quo. New bosses have new ideas and often want to make their mark. 

For some this is a breath of fresh air; for others it causes fear and anxiety. 

So how will you react?  How will you deal with the change coming down the pipe?

A lot depends on what type of person you are, or more to the point, what type of person you choose to be.

How to stop competition from ruining collaboration.

How to stop competition from ruining collaboration.

Imagine going to a music concert and, during the performance, each instrument section (or individual player) tried to outshine the others.  

It would be awful to watch and probably even worse to listen to. That’s because you expect this group of people to be working together to reach their outcome - not trying to outshine each other. 

Yet this is what happens in many work places.  

There is competition between departments and between people inside departments. Often, the dark side of competition also creeps in - withholding information, internal politics, and sabotaging other people’s efforts. 

How can organizations make use of the spirit of competition but try to keep out the destructive parts? If only there was a way. 

Ah, but there is.

How to be more resilient to change!

How to be more resilient to change!

If you were like me, as a kid, you faced change head on and did so pretty often. 

Every year, you’d get a new teacher, were put in a new class or sent to various lessons, played on new sports teams. In summer, you’d go to camps with new kids and group leaders.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever remember being asked, “Hey Paul, would you like to do this or that?” I just remember ending up in a lot of new situations. It just happened and I had to deal. 

We may not have realized it but, as kids, change was around every corner and yes, sometimes it was scary. But you know what? We dealt and I don’t ever remember complaining about “change”.

We had resilience. 

So now that we’re all grown up, where did our resilience go, and more importantly – how can we get it back?

When you work with people who drive you nuts.

When you work with people who drive you nuts.

You know who I’m talking about: they clip their nails at their desk, they air out their smelly feet right next to you, they lick the lid of their Tupperware container in a lunch meeting, they seem to know nothing about personal buffer zones. 

Like me I am sure you have been to more than one dinner party where you’ve heard people complaining about a colleague who simply drives them nuts. 

It’s a problem that comes back time and time again because people are people and gosh darn it we’re sensitive creatures… well except for “those guys”, right?

Sometimes, we can’t put our finger on why someone really irritates us. Sometimes, we could make a list a mile long.  

Does our tendency to find some people around us very irritating make us bad people?  No, it makes us very human. The question is, what we can do about it?

How I learned to lead by being at the back of the band

How I learned to lead by being at the back of the band

When I was kid, I never aspired to be the leader. I was quite happy to not to be the kid who got to choose all the players for the pick-up soccer game at recess. 

I’m not sure why. Maybe I was shy, maybe it’s because I wore glasses that could have been props in Revenge of the Nerds, or I didn’t fit into my view of what I thought a leader should look like: muscular, square-jawed, cape, tights and a cool utility belt. 

I never liked sitting in the front row or raising my hand first for something. I always liked to assess the situation before diving in.  This strategy worked very well for me. Very well, that is, until I became a drummer. 

Once I started, I was addicted to how great it felt - the power, the physicality - but what I didn’t expect from drumming is what it would teach me about leadership.

Simple secrets that will help you smile more at work

Simple secrets that will help you smile more at work

Like many of you this time of year, I just got back from a summer holiday. I hope yours was as wonderful as mine. No alarm clocks, a lazy schedule, some fresh air and some new sights. 

One of the constants for our family while on holiday is eating in restaurants. My wife is a bit of a foodie and is always looking for a great place to go. (I actually think she could open a side business consulting on the latest and greatest).

Aside from the food, I find restaurants to be a great place to see engagement and collaboration in action all built around the biggy – customer service. 

We went out several times, but one night, a particular place stood out for me, not just because of the great food but because of the amazing service. The place was jammed! Every table was filled with people and piles of food.  It was bustling, lively & exciting. It wasn’t just a meal but an experience! We spent a fortune and frankly, I wished I had worn stretchy pants. (Sorry, TMI). 

But by far the star of the night (other than the food) was our waiter. Supremely confident, knowledgeable, and obviously unflappable. I couldn’t help but notice how happy he was. I would see him carrying piles of food to tables of 2, 4, 6 or even 10 people. He was laughing, smiling and carrying on, having great interactions with every table. He seemed to have boundless energy. I had to know how he got through these nights and more importantly I had to know his secret to being so happy at work.  

5 ways to become a better listener

5 ways to become a better listener

When I first started on my path to becoming a professional musician I didn’t realize that being able to listen well was going to be my survival skill.  

I didn’t realize that it didn’t matter how many notes I could play on whichever instrument. 

I didn’t realize that I could make or break a rehearsal or performance by how much I used my listening skills, thereby lengthening or shortening my career. 

Fortunately for me, I learned to listen and listen well. And when I really think of it now, over the years, I have listened more than I have played, and that’s a good thing. I'll repeat that - I have listened more than I have played. Many thanks to my teachers and colleagues for telling me ( No, yelling at me) to "LISTEN!".

How about you?  How many times have you thought about saying it to a colleague or employee: “I wish you would just listen more?”

How to get out of your own culture bubble.

How to get out of your own culture bubble.

The other night I took my kids to a large destination park and I was struck by how many different cultures there were in that one place. I hadn’t been there for a couple of years and that night I was truly amazed at what an amazing cultural mosaic Canada has become. As I stood there looking at all the different faces around me, it made me realize I don’t know as much about the world (and its people) as I probably should.  

I’ve always had a strong interest in the different cultures that inhabit our world (especially their music) but sometimes I have trouble keeping all the details straight. For example, I sometimes forget what religion is dominant in a certain area of the world, or I can’t recall what might have happened historically in a particular region or what the native language might be.  (I knew I shouldn’t have blown off history class in high school). 

Why does that matter, you ask?