At Capstone Consultants, Inc., we believe the success of a company is in direct correlation with the success of every individual that makes up its workforce. We value integrity, professionalism, and a good work ethic because these factors are the driving force of a thriving company.
Our hands-on training approach has allowed these individuals to grow into the leadership roles they have today.
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In our fast-paced world where we have more to do than time to do it and the pace of everything is increasing, we’re all looking for the magic potion that will make us simultaneously more productive and happier at work. Well, the magic potion exists, and it’s not a recent invention; in fact, it’s been around for as long as we have. And although it’s not a beverage, it does require you to use your mouth.
So what’s the simple action that will yield these sought-after benefits?
Sounds way to simple to be true, right? Well here’s the science behind it.
Every time you smile, you create a powerful chemical reaction.An articleby Sarah Stevenson in Psychology Today explains how it works: “When you smile, neuropeptides that help reduce stress are released. These neuropeptides send messages to your entire body when you’re happy, excited, sad, or depressed. The feel-good neurotransmitters — dopamine, endorphins and serotonin — are all released when a smile flashes across your face. This relaxes your body and can also lower your blood pressure and heart rate.”
Smiling shouldn’t feel difficult or foreign. It’s a simple biological reflex. Jeff Guo inhis piece in the Independenttells us, “Babies practice smiling as soon as they are born, their bodies rehearsing this essential human gesture.” And Ron Gutman in hisTED Talkadds that “babies are actually born smiling.”
Fake It ‘Til You Feel It
In hisForbes post“Why Faking a Smile is Good,” Roger Dooley says, “Pasting a smile on your face, even if it is inauthentic, can improve your mood and reduce stress. We think of our face as reflecting our internal emotions, but that linkage works both ways - we can change our emotional state by altering our facial expression.”
Build Stronger Relationships
Relationships are the currency of business, and they’re built on trust. In apaper published in the National Institutes of HealthLibrary of Medicine, K. Schmidt of the University of Pittsburgh says, “Facial attractiveness is associated with a variety of positive social characteristics including trustworthiness. Variations in smiling have likewise been linked with positive judgments of trustworthiness.” Ron Gutman’s TED Talk cited a Penn State Study that showed “when we smile we not only appear more likable and courteous, but we’re actually perceived to be more competent.”
Improve Your Productivity
In hisarticle“Seven Ways Smiling Makes You More Productive,” Chris Bailey cites a study from the Cognition & Emotion Journal, which found that “participants who wore Duchenne smiles were able to manage their attention better and were better able to step back from the work they were doing to focus on the bigger picture.”
The benefits of putting a grin on your face at the office don't begin and end with a mood boost; that dose of happiness can help make you a more productive employee as well. In 2010, a team of economic researchers found that happiness has a significant and causal effect on productivity in the workplace. And just as the positive emotions prove invigorating, negative ones are equally draining.
Smile For The Camera
Smiling works in the two-dimensional world of pictures too. Inan article in Psychology Today, Wendy Patrick, Ph.D., says, “Good photographs are important communication enhancers during the initial information-gathering phase of a relationship. When choosing pictures for an online profile, consider the impact of selecting photographs depicting a neutral expression, versus pictures showing positive emotion—such as smiling or laughing.” When it comes to LinkedIn profiles, the headshots that feature beaming smiles come from professionals in the fields of health, fitness, wellness, HR, recruiting and healthcare, according to a study on LinkedIn headshots. Dr. Patrick adds, “Apparently, your photo selection can quickly define your online desirability—or lack thereof. Even if you are incredibly handsome, a straight-faced photo might look more like a mug shot than a glamour shot.” Clare Jones, Founder of Clare Jones London, hassome advice for showing that perfect smilein your pics. “Close your eyes a couple of seconds before you know the picture will be taken, then open them and slowly draw up the corners of your mouth. This can help to offset nerves and reset your state.”
Create Contentment Contagion
Here’s the extra bonus: Smiles are contagious. In the article “The Mirror Neuron Revolution: Explaining What Makes Humans Social” in Scientific American, Neuroscientist Marco Icaboni says, “The way mirror neurons likely let us understand others is by providing some kind of inner imitation of the actions of other people, which in turn leads us to simulate the intentions and emotions associated with those actions.” You’ve likely noticed that when someone enters the elevator you’re on, if you smile at them, they’ll likely smile back. “When I see you smiling, my mirror neurons for smiling fire up, too, initiating a cascade of neural activity that evokes the feeling we typically associate with a smile. I don’t need to make any inference on what you are feeling, I experience immediately and effortlessly (in a milder form, of course) what you are experiencing.”
Make It Happen
Convinced that smiling is your magic potion for success and happiness but concerned that your busy schedule will distract you from taking action? No worries, there’s an app for that. The Stress Coach’sCalmCast apphas a mindfulness reminder feature with options like “Take a Break,” “Stretch,” and yes, “Smile!” So download the app, set the reminder, and watch your mood (and the moods of those around you) elevate.
What is the single best way to stay motivated and energized every single day? How do highly successful people maintain their motivation—and continue to chase their toughest goals—through an entire year?
A reader named John recently contacted me with a similar question. He wrote, “I'm currently working in investment management, a challenging job and a competitive environment that requires extra hours. Also, studying for the CFA–an average of two to three hours a day for six months. This is doable without any doubt, but how can someone keep the same energy and motivation?"
At this time of year, you may be asking a similar question. Perhaps you’re reflecting on the past year and wondering why you weren’t able to stay focused on your goals from 11 months ago. Or perhaps you’re planning your New Year’s Resolution for 2017 and wondering how you’ll stay motivated long enough to actually accomplish it.
Watch on Forbes:
Many Ways To Drive Motivation
They say, “success leaves clues” and I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with many self-made millionaires, Olympians, Marine Corps generals, Fortune 500 CEOs, Navy SEALS, Congressmen, and countless other high achievers. But before I reveal the single most effective motivation technique, let me acknowledge that there are many things that can help you drive and maintain motivation. For example:
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• Goal Setting And The Goldilocks Rules—goal setting is one of the most powerful psychological tools we have, but the trick is in setting the right The great thinker and writer James Clear calls this the Goldilocks Rule. If your goal is too hard, it will lose its power as you consciously or unconsciously determine it’s just unrealistic. If you set your goal too low, it will also lose its power as you will assume you’ll hit it no matter what. As Clear writers, “humans experience peak motivation when working on tasks that are right on the edge of their current abilities. Not too hard. Not too easy. Just right.”
• Higher Purpose—Despite the innate power of goal setting, a longer lasting fuel for motivation is having a higher purpose. Simon Sinek has popularized the concept of knowing your “Why.” It’s your true purpose or belief that inspires you. Whether your motivation is to lose weight, stop smoking, get out of debt or launch a new business, ask yourself “why” you want to do that. In fact, ask several why’s in a row and you might be surprised at your answer.
• Accountability Partner—who can help you to keep your commitments? It’s easy to break a promise to yourself, but far harder to admit your failure to a friend or colleague. Ideally, your partner is on the journey with you. Perhaps a running buddy who meets you in the park at 6:00 AM, or a fellow writer who tracks her daily word counts. But even an “independent observer” can sway your behavior. I have my assistant ask daily, “Did you work out? How many clean meals did you eat? How many hours did you write? How many thank you notes did you send out?” She actually tracks my data on an Excel spreadsheet and shares back the results and trends each month.
The reality is that you live inside your body. Motivation, a mental state, is influenced by environment. And the environment of your mind is your body.
Think about it: how motivated do you feel when you have a high fever? How motivated do you feel when you have stomach flu? How motivated do you feel when you have a migraine headache?
Motivation can only be maintained when you feel energized physically.
Four Ways To Maximize Physical Energy
First, focus on quality sleep not quantity of sleep. Just yesterday I was watching a Facebook Live video from fitness guru, Joe Wicks. Someone asked what he thought of pre-workout energy drinks (many hardcore workout folks drink high caffeine energy drinks to maximize their effort during their work outs). Wicks answer, “The best pre-work is a good night’s sleep.” For my productivity book, I interviewed 13 Olympic athletes about their productivity routines and almost all of them talked about sleep as “recovery.”
Yes, ideally you should get eight hours of sleep but for most of us, that isn’t just realistic. But you can improve your deep sleep, which is the sleep cycle that is most restorative. You are likely waking up many times throughout the night without realizing it. Think of your bedroom as a sleep sanctuary. What can you do to make sure the temperature is just right, and that it’s as dark and quiet as possible? Room darkening blinds are ideal, but a good sleep mask can do the trick, too. Telling your partner to keep the TV off in the bedroom is a must, and don’t forget to tell your teenagers when you are going to bed so they can keep it down too.
Second, drink a lot of water. When you wake up you are already about 1% dehydrated, and most of us never fully hydrate. Studies show that even mild dehydration leads to loss of focus, decision making, creativity and yes, energy. You'd be surprised at how much water you need to keep your mind at its best. Remember the phrase, “half you hydration.” This means you should take your body weight (in pounds) and divide it in half, and that’s the number of ounces of water you should take in each day. I weigh 170 pounds right now, so I divide that by two, and get 85. I drink 85 ounces of water a day. That’s a lot of water! To help, I use a Nalgene water bottle and throw a few lemon slices and cucumbers in for a bit of flavor. On the weekends I’ll just carry a gallon jug of water with me throughout the day with the goal to empty it.
Three, don’t skip meals. Your new mantra: Food is fuel! There is probably nothing more controversial in the health and fitness world than what and when to eat. High protein diets, vegan diets, bullet proof coffee for ketosis, fasting days, so many options! For myself, if I want to optimize for motivation and energy (not rapid weight loss) I consume five small slow-carb meals a day. I used to skip breakfast thinking I was saving time and calories, then I’d binge lunch of a sandwich or slice of pizza, and wolf down a big dinner of whatever. What I experienced was wild swings of glucose—the fuel for your brain—as I’d go from waking up to low glucose to flooding my body with carbs, and then the inevitable carb crash. I’m at my best when I’m eating similar to a Body for Life plan or a Tim Ferriss slow-carb diet plan.
Fourth, daily exercise. Don’t panic, just move! You don’t have to become a hardcore Crossfit’er (although kudos if you are). You don’t have to spend an hour a day in a gym (although that would be awesome). You just need to move in a way that gets your heart beat way up for twenty minutes a day. For most people, a vigorous walk around the neighborhood or on the treadmill each morning does the trick. A yoga session or after work pickup basketball game is great. This isn’t for long-term health benefits, although there are. You are moving for 20-minutes a day for same-day energy and clarity. Research is clear, 20-minutes of cardiovascular activity increases blood flow to the brain and gives you an immediate boost of energy, clarity, focus, and creativity.
Whether you are just trying to power through long days of work and family, or you are trying to crush your New Year’s resolution, to maintain mental motivation, focus on your body.
There is a fascinating study done by Dr. Adam Grant and his colleagues who worked with call center employees at the University of Michigan. These employees had the unenviable task of cold calling alums to ask for money. One of the groups in this study was able to meet a scholarship recipient and talk to him first hand. The scholarship recipient talked about how much the scholarship had changed his life, and he thanked the people in the call center for their hard work. Once the call center workers realized how their work had an impact, they became motivated to work harder and the group’s weekly revenue increased an amazing 400%.
In another study, when nurses assembling surgical kits met the health-care practitioners who would use their kits, the nurses worked 64% more minutes and made 15% fewer errors than those nurses who did not meet the “end user ” (Belle, 2013).
In national surveys over the past three decades, the vast majority of Americans have identified meaningful work as the single most important feature that they seek in a job. One of the easiest and most powerful ways to imbue a sense of meaning in work is to put employees in touch with the end user.
For example, Deere & Company invites farmers who are buying tractors to visit the factories with their families. Assembly line employees get to meet the farmers, hand them a gold key, and watch them start their tractors for the first time.
At Olive Garden, managers share with the staff letters from customers describing how they chose to celebrate meaningful events at the company’s restaurants.
Great leaders know that people are intrinsically motivated when they understand why they are doing something, and the best leaders put the correct conditions in place to ensure people gain this deeper connection.
According to Dr. Grant, a face-to-face meeting has the strongest emotional impact on an employee, particularly when the employee does not normally interact with the end user.
A Microsoft lab manager interviewed by researchers Michael Cusumano and Richard Selby explains that after seeing an end user, developers “immediately empathize with the person. The usual nonsense answer; ‘Well, they can just look in the manual if they don’t know how to use it,’ or ‘My idea is brilliant; you just found ten stupid people’ just goes out the door.” Grant adds that “a face-to-face connection with end users appears to elicit empathy among the developers, motivating them to design software with users in mind.”
As a leader, ask yourself “What are the ways I can engage end users with our employees?” One start up in Silicon Valley invites current and potential clients to a monthly happy hour event with employees.
Another solution is to harness some of the information you may already have. If you have letters from satisfied customers, positive feedback, gratitude, or even data showing the impact of your products and services, share this information broadly in your organization. As Bonobos CEO Andy Dunn shared with me in an interview, “There are no diminishing returns to specific positive feedback .” It’s a free, unlimited resource that many leaders are not leveraging as well as they could.
Another option is to turn employees into end users. Encouraging employees to try the product for themselves is the easiest way to create this conversion. Not only does the company receive additional feedback on its products, but the employees have a better understanding of the user experience.
Sending employees out into the field is another way to connect them with end users. Chris Hendriksen, the CEO of healthcare company VRI, says he spent his first few months at the company riding in the truck, visiting end users, and participating in the actual customer experience.
Regardless of the specific approach you take, the research clearly demonstrates that a simple yet powerful way to decrease burnout and greatly increase the motivation and satisfaction level of your team is to give them a “why” to believe in. And one of the easiest ways to do this is to connect your employees with your end users.
Mobile 5G Becoming a Reality in 12 Cities with Rapid Enhancements to Follow as the Ecosystem Evolves
On Dec. 21, AT&T* will be the first and only company in the U.S. to offer a mobile 5G device over a commercial, standards-based mobile 5G network.
We’ve worked closely with our technology suppliers to reach this mobile 5G milestone. While the initial launch starts small and will be limited, as the 5G ecosystem evolves customers will see enhancements in coverage, speeds and devices.
“This is the first taste of the mobile 5G era,” said Andre Fuetsch, president, AT&T Labs and chief technology officer. “Being first, you can expect us to evolve very quickly. It’s early on the 5G journey and we’re ready to learn fast and continually iterate in the months ahead.”
Our standards-based mobile 5G network is live today in parts of 12 cities: Atlanta, Charlotte, N.C., Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Fla., Louisville, Ky., Oklahoma City, New Orleans, Raleigh, N.C., San Antonio and Waco, Texas.
In the first half of 2019 we plan to deploy mobile 5G in parts of these 7 additional cities: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Nashville, Orlando, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif.
“As the ecosystem evolves, this technology will ultimately change the way we live and conduct business,” said Mo Katibeh, chief marketing officer, AT&T Business. “We expect that our initial adopters will be innovative, growing businesses. They’re the starting point for what we think will be a technology revolution like we’ve never seen before.”
Early adopters will be the first to experience the NETGEAR® Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot on our mobile 5G+ network. 5G+ is built to provide a mobile 5G experience over mmWave spectrum, offering users a faster mobile experience than standard LTE. 5G+ will start out in dense urban areas, but if you’re outside of 5G+ network coverage you’ll be able to access the nation’s best network and 5G Evolution in 385 markets on the NETGEAR Nighthawk 5G Mobile Hotspot.
Through an initial offer, we’ll deliver select businesses and consumersour first mobile 5G device plus 5G data usage at no cost for at least 90 days. Next spring, customers will be able to get the Nighthawk for $499 upfront and 15GB of data for $70 a month on a compatible plan and no annual commitment.1