US-Japan Baseball

Through our sponsorship of US-Japan Baseball (www.usjapanbaseball.com) we support an organization that shares the Outfluence passion for helping teenagers prepare for life and work. On August 17 we attended our first baseball game which took place at the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy in our nation’s capital. We had the honor of meeting Japanese and American leaders of US-Japan Baseball including Takehiro Shimada, Minister | Public Affairs of the Embassy of Japan in the USA. We are excited about our connection to US-Japan Baseball and we thank our friend John Flood, the President and Founder of the organization, for opening the door to our participation.

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Harvard Recognizes AACPS Signature Program

Outfluence, LLC received the some exciting news from Signature Coordinator Linda Lamon at South River High School in Edgewater, Maryland this week:

"An exciting example of how our Signature Programs impact students' futures: Megan Rutkai, a Global Communications & Public Affairs Signature Certificate bound student, just received record breaking news that she was granted early admission to Harvard University!!! Megan attributes her success in school, and her acceptance to Harvard University, to the opportunities offered through the GCPA Signature Program.

"Megan called me yesterday, besides her family she wanted me to be the first to know. She said Harvard chose her due to the Signature experiences on her resume and she wanted to thank me. The reality is she is an incredibly deserving young woman, and it has been an honor to work with her."

The Outfluence Team, which has been an active part of the Signature Program since its inception five years ago, applauds Megan's great achievement, and wishes her the very best in her bright academic future! Ms. Lamon, the administrators, and others in the business community involved in AACPS have been remarkably committed to the development of the Signature Program.  It is exciting for us to see their dedication so beautifully rewarded. 

Congratulations again to Megan, and to the Signature Team family!

Keep Your Career on the Tracks

90% of communication occurs silently.

So many people don't understand this, which is why we often see careers derail like a speeding train, full of passengers, ideas, and dreams. Everything inside is destroyed.

Naturally we don't want that to happen to us. 

What we read, what we watch, the people with whom we associate, the organizations to which we belong, the neighborhood in which we reside, the clothing we wear . . . everything we do and say, in other words, sends a message about who we are.  Outfluence identifies this form of communication as Constant Messaging®.

One aspect of Constant Messaging® involves sensory gateways and how they function in communication.  As individuals approach us at a network gathering we first observe their general appearance, and we make a judgment.  Then as they get closer, we see their facial expressions, and we make a judgment.  The final gateway is the greeting, when we hear and possibly experience their handshake, and we make a judgment.  We often know at the conclusion of the sensory gateway process whether this initial meeting will develop into a relationship.

Other components of Constant Messaging® are active and passive listening, message interpretation including bias in interpretation, feedback, barriers to communication, intentional and unintentional messaging, and more. 

Kay Betz, MBA, is a recognized expert in the subject of Constant Messaging®.  It has been a part of her curriculum as adjunct faculty at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland for the past 20 years.  On September 27th, 2016, Kay will be a Featured Speaker at the Outfluence Fall Workshop Series. 

Her presentation yields necessary communication tools to ensure that your career and your business stay on the tracks to success.

Register today atwww.outfluence.com/fallworkshop.     

(Three mornings - 9/27, 10/12, 10/27 - Westminster Conference Center, Westminster, MD.) 

Perspective From Higher Ground: Business and Problem Solving

I remember as a kid always talking to ankles and knees when an adult approached to greet me.  And then there was that awkward look up to try to see his or her face.  As an adult I'm sensitive to that moment, so I bend down to get at eye level with a youngster. 

Recently I visited the Gettysburg Battlefields and I felt a little bit of that looking at the ankles feeling as I looked at the base of large trees that surround portions of the grounds. 

As we got to Cemetery Hill, we found ourselves atop the tree line, overlooking the battlefield, and what happened there became very clear.

As I reflected on the moment later, it got me thinking about how some of us conduct business today.  You know ... a few years ago the "big thing" movement  in business was to think outside the box.  The battle cry was if you want to advance in your career, don't do what you've always done.  That will just get you what it's always gotten you.  You must think outside the boxif you want to move your business forward.  So, business men and women began to look increasingly to technology for creativity in leadership and for new ideas in communication and in management.  And now as we move to higher ground and we review where thinking outside the box has led us, we find that what's happening outside the box isn't all good, and in some significant areas.

For example, communication has grown exponentially digitally.  Voice mail, email, text messaging, video conferencing, while great tools, have left younger entrants into the business world lacking in face-to-face communication skills.  Leadership sometimes delivers bad news digitally, coldly, mercilessly to save difficult face-to-face moments.  Teamwork is conducted in less than a civil manner often initiated by carelessly crafted e-mails.  Here are some other thoughts about outside-the-box thinking. 

A website called Lateral Action states,"The research evidence suggests that thinking outside the box fails to produce the expected creative solution. And far from being a hindrance, past experience and training can actually be the key to creative problem-solving."

So, before you think outside the box to create new solutions to age-old problems in business, take a look from a higher perspective.   Like experience maybe?  Training is a good idea, too.  It just so happens that Outfluence is conducting a 3-part series this Fall in Westminster, Maryland that will address this question:  What did we leave behind when we began thinking outside the box?  Visit Outfluence.com in a few weeks when we will begin publishing information about the series.  It begins in September.

This event occurred in the Fall of 2016.


Will Robots Need the Soft Skills, Too?

I read an article this morning about robotics.  It is estimated that 30% of the workforce in Europe will be replaced in the next 20 years.  The United States will face the charge of the robotics brigade, too.  A number of restaurants are already considering the move to robotic servers.  Even lawyers are not immune to robotics entering their world.  This article will tell you more.  You can also find it here,  http://bit.ly/1YZ3zUa.

If and when this move to robotics occurs in what I call the regular workplace, in other words the middle class, opportunities for humans may become limited, and those opportunities that are available will demand ever-increasing amounts of skills.  No longer will humans be able to climb the ladder from entry level positions to higher-paying positions over a number of years.  In the future humans will need to advance their skills and look sideways for advancement.  This will require excellent communication skills and inspired performance every day. 

I listened to the McDonald's robot accepting a service order from a customer.  The robot was polite and helpful, and even had a smile on its face.  The robot's designers seem to have built into the robot soft skills very often found lacking in their human counterparts.  I must say I was pretty impressed by what I was seeing from this early version.  What could possibly be next?

My grandchildren, your grandchildren, and possibly some of your children will be facing robotic competitors in their workplace.  Some humans are already sharing the workplace with robots.  The jobs the robots take will likely be gone from human attainment forever.  So where does that leave us?  It leaves us with a highly technical, very competitive workforce.  Skills such as effective communication of all kinds - oral, silent, written, body language - and inspired performance that gains an advantage for its practitioner - as well as the Outfluence form of teamwork called The Silent Storm will be sought after by employers.  The unprepared, uncaring, disinterested employees of today will not, are not now, being tolerated.  The move is afoot to change.  

Many park benches, seaside lounges and oceanfront arcades will be filled with unemployed citizens who ignored the call to action this article is calling for.  It's time to train yourself and your young family members communication and performance skills that will be needed to compete in the years ahead.  Outfluence is offering community-based small group training to help you prepare for the changes that are arriving as you read this article.  Contact us attraining@outfluence.com for additional information.

Business Owners: Who Are We Listening To?

If you are a business owner, you most likely receive a lot of unsolicited advice and unwelcome comments.  You may also receive advice that you pay for.  Who do you listen to and who do you ignore?  I listen to all of them.

Here's why:  The unsolicited advice and the unwelcome comments keep me motivated.  Not too long ago I ran into a guy who went into business a few years after I began Outfluence.  He took on a lot of debt and constructed an impressive facility for his business.  He got off to a great start.  The visuals were excellent.  But now the doors were closed and litigation was looming.  As we spoke, he asked me how my venture was doing.  I told him we were still "climbing the mountain."  He laughed and commented about how long we had "been at it."  I chose not to incur outside debt in my venture but instead chose to invest time and personal funds to gradually improve my product and slowly position my company.  I was still climbing while he had been derailed by debt. 

Another person told me that his friends told him that my business would not succeed because I didn't have the ability to make it work.  Now, how many times have you heard stories of successful people of whom similar comments were made?  Oh, he'll never be able to do it; or, she's too weak to withstand the pressure.  I chose to listen to successful people who were encouraging me to keep going, people who were leading me to resources that would support me, people who were where I wanted to be.  Why would I listen to someone who was going south when I wanted to go north? 

I have written before about my friend who counseled me that it sometimes takes 10 years for a business to reach maturity.  I am in a business that requires others to make a commitment to change.  Change does not occur quickly.  It took us six years to reach maturity in our business.  Most businesses fail in the first three years.  Had Ilistened to the naysayers, I may have ended my business journey too soon. 

Remember that clear vision you had for your business in the early days?  Chances are your vision has been changed by circumstances, or opportunity, or market conditions, or knowledge gained over time.  Listen to the marketplace, listen to your customers, listen to your heart, and persist.  Never quit.  Be open to change. 

Listen to everyone but listen most intently to people who are where you want to go.


Happy Mother's Day

My mother grew up on a farm.  She completed the 6th grade.  She went to work in a textile mill.  She was proud when she told me that she earned $6 an hour, and that her boss said that she could produce more than almost anyone else on the floor.  After 25 years working in the mill, standing on a concrete floor, breathing in dust and fumes, she has COPD and pretty severe spinal issues. 

All my sister and brother and I ever saw was dinner on the table every single night of our lives, a very clean house, and the tastiest pastries made from what she learned while watching our Austrian-born grandmother bake for decades before we were born.  She supported us in our endeavors and always took pride in our accomplishments.

Recently she spent 2 months in the hospital.  She was struggling to breathe.  The family gathered around because we thought at 86 she wouldn't have the strength to win this battle.  It was nip and tuck for a few days but then she began to come around.  We knew that she would make it when she said, "I want to get out of here.  There's nothing wrong with me.  These doctors are just keeping me here so they can make more money."  

My mother is a very simple woman.  She enjoys being around family.  Everything she did for us was done with love.  She, and my dad, sacrificed comforts in their lives to enable their children to have better lives.  That's what their generation is known for, and that's what they did.

If you can't be with your mother on "her day" this Sunday get with her soon.  She could care less about the holiday.  She only cares about seeing you. 

(Happy Mother's Day from your friends at Outfluence, LLC.)

10 Old Ideas, For a New Generation

 

Stay close to your family. Silent communication principles of Outfluence can help to translate family dynamics before emotions get in the way. Silence is not just nothingness. There is meaning in silence. Stay close to family situations by learning to read silence.

Read often.  Reading=knowledge=perspective=understanding=opportunity.

Make a friend. Smile, extend your hand, say hello.

Dream and pursue. Positive aspirations underwritten by strong belief and supported by hard work will bring dreams to fruition.

Respect your country. Perfection doesn’t live here but you and I do. Love, fight for, and respect your country and its citizens. Put your country and your neighbors first.

Build your foundation. Outfluence principles enable you to develop the intellectual, physical, and emotional strength to create a vision for your life and then build that life for you and for those you love. Stabilize your life by building a strong foundation.

Mentor someone. Use your life experiences to ignite another person’s passions.

Be a positive force. You reap what you sow.

Inspire your performance. “Be so good that they can’t ignore you.” - Steve Martin

Have faith. Believe that Outfluence behaviors and principles will energize your life and the lives of those around you.


How Our Children Will Achieve in the Workplace

In my opinion, we don't succeed in the workplace.  We achieve in the workplace.  Success implies that we have reached the end.  We don't want to plant the idea in our mind that one success is the ultimate, that we have reached our capacity for success.  We determine that we have succeeded when we are ready to end our workplace journey.  At that time we can look back and determine our level of success.  Until then we want to continue to achieve new things.

Dr. Ben Carson, author of  Gifted Hands - The Ben Carson Story,  writes that "Success is determined not by whether or not you face obstacles, but by your reaction to them. And if you look at these obstacles as a containing fence, they become your excuse for failure. If you look at them as a hurdle, each one strengthens you for the next.”

To achieve in the workplace you must continue to meet your employer's or your customer's expectations in four areas:

    1.  Performance - find ways, large and small, to inspire those around you as well as to be a champion at your job.

    2. Trust - every action you take should deepen your employer's reliance on you.

    3. Consistency - be aself-starter, someone who understands the mission and knows what to do every second of every day.

   4. Deliver peace of mind - be great at 1, 2 and 3.

The great actor, writer, comedian and musician, Steve Martin, when asked how to achieve in Hollywood, said, "Be so good that they can't ignore you."  That's what an inspired performance is all about.  Learn as much as you can about your job, expand your knowledge, become a leader by setting a good example and make yourself invaluable.

Prove that you can be trusted by silently communicating your core.  Your employers and your customers will watch you carefully, just as you observe them, and they will determine by your actions whether you will earn their trust.  Outfluence coined the term "Constant Messaging" which references the fact that everything we do sends a message to anyone within our sphere of influence.  Learning to control your message while also being aware of the incoming messages of others is at the foundation of trust. 

How can we consistently demonstrate our commitment to mission?  Let's look at it from the perspective of an employer evaluating the value of a prospective employee.  In my book Outfluence, the Better Way to Influence, I describe how NBA scouts assess a college player's assets.  Here's what I wrote:  NBA scouts have an interesting method of assessing a player’s assets. They ask five questions about a college basketball prospect:

1. Does he have a weapon? For example, the “sky hook” that Kareem Abdul Jabbar had in his day.

2. Does he have a position? Can he play either guard, center, or forward so well as to leave no doubt as to what position he should play?

3. Can he get his own look? In other words, can he work the court in order to get a shot at the basket from his highest percentage spot on the floor?

4. Can he defend his position? A player has to move his feet quickly in order to stay in front of his opponent and keep him from scoring, or at least to make it difficult for him to score. It takes commitment to play good defense.

5. Does he “get it”? Can he lead? Does he have a work ethic? Is he responsible? Will he be a team player?

You can make the same assessment about yourself. A prospective employer will want to know the same things about you that the basketball scout wants to know about a player. When making your personal assessment here are a few basic questions you will want to address:

1. Do you have a weapon? What makes you nearly impossible to replace?

2. Do you have a position? What’s your specialty?

3. Can you get your own look? Are you self-sufficient? Are you a self-starter?

4. Can you defend your position? Do you know your stuff? Can you express yourself?

5. Do you “get it”? Are you a responsible individual? Are you a team player?

These five questions get right to the heart of the matter, don’t they? To begin your assessment, make an honest determination of your attributes. Next, evaluate the requirements of the position to which you aspire. Finally, formulate a plan to fill in any gaps between your current attributes and the requirements of that position.

Peace of mind is what every employer wants every employee to bring to his or her business.  Peace of mind can only be delivered by an individual who has developed a strong set of personal ethics, a person who is confident, aware, educated and is able to communicate well in any circumstance.  The Outfluence program You Are Here . . . Now What? teaches high school students how and why to develop those attributes.  We teach them how to persist in pursuit of their goals and we teach them the skills needed to complete the pursuit.


Psst... Pass It On.

"HE WHO ANGERS YOU OWNS YOU ." FATHER OF DOC RIVERS, NBA PLAYER AND COACH.

My wife and I were grocery shopping. A young boy was standing idly in front of a customer ticket-generating machine we wanted to access. My wife, in a gentle, friendly manner said "Excuse me, sir, may I sneak in front of you for a second?" The little boy looked up at her as he stepped aside, and she said "I like your hat." The little boy smiled and said thank you.

Now, this was a perfectly innocent exchange. The little boy learned how to interrupt someone in a positive way and he had a nice moment with an adult. The two adult women with him didn't see it that way. They looked at my wife with daggers in their eyes and, as the saying goes, if looks could kill . . .

This event occurred weeks post-Ferguson and days post-New York City, both locations having experienced police-involved deaths.

25 years earlier a similar incident happened to my wife in a grocery store. Two young children were shopping with their mother. My wife struck up a conversation with them. Their mother accurately interpreted the silent communicators of friendship and sincerity and she used her life experiences in a positive way and chose to recognize an opportunity for friendship. Those two children eventually graduated from college and became life-long friends of our family.

What are we passing on to our children? Are we passing on the mistakes of our predecessors or are we teaching them how to build on the blocks of success that have been achieved in the midst of fits of violent disharmony?

In our program for high school students titled "You Are Here . . . now what?" we teach communication from the perspective of the sender of the message as well as from the perspective of the receiver of the message, and we spend time discussing the art of crafting a message. We meet with the students for one hour per week. Communication is taught over an entire semester each of the four high school years. We cover communication in great detail, all types of communication, and we bolster it with activities. When we are finished, students are armed with the tools needed to accurately interpret messages and they are able to respond appropriately.

I will never forget a lesson learned early in life. An elderly gentleman told me, "Son, you will always get exactly what you're looking for." What he meant was if you are looking to pick a fight with someone you will find a reason to fight. If you are looking to overlook imperfections and make a friend, you will find a way to make a friend. The youngest among us are looking to adults as examples of how to live life. We are certainly not perfect examples. We make mistakes. Our children will learn our lessons, good and bad, as we pass them on.

For additional information about Outfluence, LLC or to learn how to bring You Are Here . . . Now What? to your high school, visit our Contact Page, and drop us a line.


"False Sense of Security" in MD's Educational Needs

YESTERDAY'S ARTICLE IN THE WASHINGTON POST TELLS THE STORY OF SCHOOL SYSTEMS THAT ARE COMING TO GRIPS WITH FAILURE AND ARE TAKING ACTION TO GAIN CONTROL OF WHAT OUR STUDENTS ARE LEARNING.  THE OUTFLUENCE PROGRAM "YOU ARE HERE . . . NOW WHAT?" IS ON TRACK TO SUPPORT THE EFFORT TO PREPARE CHILDREN FOR COLLEGE OR CAREERS.  THE PROGRAM FOCUSES ON PERSISTENCE AND COMPLETION, AND IN 24 90-MINUTE SESSIONS OVER TWO SEMESTERS, PREPARES STUDENTS FOR SUCCESS. 

From the Washington Post:

"EDUCATION OFFICIALS in Maryland and the District had pretty similar responses to the release of test scores showing that most high school students in the two jurisdictions are not on track to graduate ready for college or careers. “Obviously, this is a cold shower. There’s a lot of work to be done,” said Maryland Board of Education member Chester Finn. “These results are not easy to see, and certainly we have a lot of work to do,” said D.C. State Superintendent Hanseul Kang. As sobering as the results are, they also must be seen as a credit to efforts to require new rigor in Maryland and D.C. classrooms and provide honest assessments of what students have learned.

The first results of testing on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC — geared to the heightened academic standards of Common Core — were released Tuesday. In Maryland, only 31 percent of studentsmet proficiency standards for Algebra I and 40 percent of students met the standard for 10th-grade English. In the District, 27 percent of students were proficient in 10th-grade English and 12 percent met standards for geometry. The dismal first-year results mirror the experiences of other states that switched to PARCC and had been anticipated by officials who nonetheless recognize the value of tests that accurately measure college or career readiness."

“Why are we here?” Maryland’s interim superintendent of schools, Jack R. Smith, asked. “Because we raised expectations considerably.” That inflated scores from previous state-administered tests did not reflect what graduating students need to know could be seen in the large number of students required to take remedial classes before they could enroll in credit classes at Maryland community colleges. And, as Maryland officials ruefully learned this week with release of scores on another national test, gamesmanship with the assessments does great disservice to the educational needs of students. Maryland was the only state to have falling scores on the Nation’s Report Card in both reading and math and in both grades tested; one factor cited was the exclusion in previous years of high percentages of students with disabilities or English-language learners who would lower scores.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) spoke about “a false sense of security” that was created by exclusion of these students. He could just as easily have been talking about how inflated scores from undemanding tests allowed students to coast through school and graduate without the knowledge needed for life. Maryland and D.C. officials are right in setting ambitious new goals for students, and these first-year test results, while disappointing, should not discourage those efforts.