Point to Ponder

Vincent van Gogh 1853 - 1890

During his career he only sold 'one' painting.
"Van Gogh's finest works were produced in less than three years in a technique that grew more and more impassioned in brushstroke, in symbolic and intense color, in surface tension, and in the movement and vibration of form and line. Van Gogh's inimitable fusion of form and content is powerful; dramatic, lyrically rhythmic, imaginative, and emotional, for the artist was completely absorbed in the effort to explain either his struggle against madness or his comprehension of the spiritual essence of man and nature."
I toured the Van Gogh Museum in March while in Holland to speak at the PSA Holland convention in Noordwijk which is not too far from Amsterdam. My wife Irene has been 'introducing ' me to museums on our trips. Van Gogh was a tortured talent whose artistic excellence was not appreciated until well after his death. That did not detur him from expressing himself and capturing his vision on canvas during his brief and conflicted life.

"Vincent van Gogh, for whom color was the chief symbol of expression, was born in Groot-Zundert, Holland. The son of a pastor, brought up in a religious and cultured atmosphere, Vincent was highly emotional and lacked self-confidence."

"Between 1860 and 1880, when he finally decided to become an artist, van Gogh had had two unsuitable and unhappy romances. He worked unsuccessfully as a clerk in a bookstore, an art salesman, and unsuccessfully as a preacher in Belgium. He remained in Belgium to study art, determined to give happiness by creating beauty."
"In 1886 he went to Paris to join his brother Thťo, the manager of Goupil's gallery. In Paris, van Gogh studied with Cormon, inevitably met Pissarro, Monet, and Gauguin, and began to lighten his very dark palette and to paint in the short brushstrokes of the Impressionists.
"His nervous temperament made him a difficult companion and night-long discussions combined with painting all day undermined his health. Van Gogh then began to alternate between fits of madness and lucidity and was sent to the asylum in Saint-Remy for treatment.  In May of 1890, he seemed much better and went to live in Auvers-sur-Oise under the watchful eye of Dr. Gachet. Two months later he was dead, having shot himself 'for the good of all'."
Walking through the museum where millions have visited, it is hard to imagine labouring a lifetime without seeing any positive results, as well as struggling to keep your sanity. I was amazed at the richness, variety, and the vastness of his body of work.
Van Gogh definitely saw the world differently than his counterparts and countrymen. 
He painted with passion and abandonment and created a vast collection of art for those remain to view and ponder.
  • What do you do with passion and abandonment?
  • What do you do without regard of acclaim or recognition?
  • What can you accomplish in the world when you follow your passion and leave the results to the historians.
  • When will you unleash that passion?                                  
Until next month.  Keep following your passion. Amazing, we are now launching Year 6 of our Ideas @ Work ezine... who would have thought! We appreciate you being with us along the way and invite you to share this ezine with your friends and colleagues.

Portions of this note were adapted from a shortened version of Van Gogh's bio.
Pictures... 1) Sunflowers 2) Bob in front of Van Gogh and his bio.
Archives of past issues are available on our www.ideaman.net website.

My long time friend and fellow NSA member, Barbara Glanz is one of my chief cheerleaders... she is a delightful lady and continues to inspire me in her quest in "Spreading Contagious Enthusiasm"(TM)  around the world... as she does in the lives of thousands... This note came to me early April and, with her kind permission, I am thrilled to share it with you.  

"Happy Employees Create Happy Customers"
By Barbara Glanz

Have you ever seen a company with unhappy employees who had happy customers? I haven't!

Employees need managers who can empathize with their stress and pain and who honestly try to create an environment in which they feel valued and respected despite all the changes going on around them. Then they can be their best for their customers.
According to an article by Kenneth Kovach in "Employment Relations Today," when employees were asked what they valued most about their jobs, the top three things employees reported were:

(1) Interesting work
(2) Full appreciation for the work they've done and
(3) A feeling of being "in" on things

Each of these motivators relates to an element of the type of caring, spirited workplace managers can create for their employees.

1. COMMUNICATE with employees in regular and creative ways.

* Hold informal "grapevine sessions" to control the flow of the rumor mill. These open discussions can be held either on a regular basis or can be called by any employee. Managers must be prepared to listen and to be completely truthful and open. Even when they can't share specific information, they can honestly explain why and when it will be available.

* Spend time out in the field with employees. Ask them how you can help make their jobs easier. Work alongside them. Even let them teach you what they do. For example, Southwest Airlines has a mandate that every manager must spend 1/3 of his or her time indirect touch with employees and customers to create a stronger feeling of teamwork.

* Take at least one employee to breakfast and another to lunch each week. Ask them for their ideas to improve the organization and thank them for being on your team.

* Hold a voluntary "Good News Hour" once a week for 30 minutes before the workday starts. Everyone can share good things that have happened in their lives and work during the last week.

2. Create an ATMOSPHERE that makes employees enjoy being at work.

* Celebrate everything you can--meeting of short term goals, the end of the budget process, winning grants or new customers, extraordinary work, safety successes. We know that happy employees are more productive employees!

* Create some special places for employees. A group of employees at one organization stayed late one night and decorated an empty space all in black. When the rest of the staff returned the next day, a large banner over the entrance read "THE WHINE CELLAR!" They brought in stress toys, cartoon books, treats, and stuffed animals, and this became everyone's favorite place to go. You might also consider creating a "TIME OUT" place for employees who are over stressed. Because of a lack of space for this, one organization purchased a Porta-Potty!

* Encourage daily affirmations throughout the organization. Land's End and IBM have created small cards to thank one another internally. Other organizations use "Pass It On"(TM) cards with sayings such as "The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little EXTRA!" to give to both employees and customers. A pat on the back, a short note of thanks, or a voice mail message from a manager can refill employees' emotional bank accounts for weeks! A spirit of gratitude throughout an organization will raise the level of all interactions. Create a "Just Because" committee or an Attitude Support Team with volunteers who have a passion for the positive.

3. Treat employees with RESPECT.

* Sponsor a Family Day at work. The American Hospital Association holds an annual "Day for Play at Work" celebration at which families of employees can enjoy games, display, prizes, and a tour of Mom's/Dad's workspace. It is designed to teach family members what it is like to go to work and how important they are in supporting the employee.

* Establish a Code of Conduct listing the specific behaviors you will use in interacting with one another. Gain employee input and ask them to personally sign the Code if they agree to uphold it. Include in it such behaviors as "If I have a concern with someone in the organization, I will go directly to that person." Then, when one employee begins to gripe about someone to another, all the person has to say is, "REMEMBER THE CODE!" This will do wonders to uplift your workplace.

* Pass out their paychecks personally so you get to know all their names.

* Create a Human Level database. Collect information such as employees' hobbies; do they play an instrument, sing, draw, or speak a foreign language; special interests such as golf, bridge, tennis; favorite sports; books and movies they like; places they have traveled; organizations and support groups to which they belong. This becomes a terrific way to network internally. Informal classes, support groups, travel groups, and perhaps even a company choir or band will spring up. People can find others to help them with problems both at work and at home, and the company will discover resources it never knew it had. Best of all, employees are seen as whole persons, not just workers!

4. Be ENTHUSIASTIC about your work.

* Francis Likert said, "If a high level of performance is to be achieved, it appears to be necessary for a supervisor or manager to have high performance goals and a contagious enthusiasm as to the importance of these goals." Are you a contagiously enthusiastic manager? Are you helping your employees focus not on only a job description but also on their very important work? How is what they do each day making someone's life better? That new sense of purpose will boost self-esteem and add a depth of meaning for which they are desperate.

* Enjoy your employees. Help them to "lighten up" and not take themselves too seriously. Find ways to poke a little fun at yourself. Research shows that the most productive workplaces have at least ten minutes of laughter every hour. At Artex International the three owners of the company surprised employees at an all-company function by creating a skit. Since they were in the middle of a quality initiative, the owners demonstrated various quality tools to illustrate their varying degrees of hairlessness! It is something the employees will never forget. Have you ever worn a Halloween costume to work when it WASN'T Halloween? How about a dart board with your picture on it in the breakout room?

* Work on a community project. Care about the world outside your lobby. Martin Buber said that the fastest way to overcome depression is to do something for someone else. In organizations we often become so in-focused that we forget there is a needy world outside our doors. Work groups have helped rehab community playgrounds, built houses for Habitat for Humanity, cleaned up highway areas, and even cooked meals for the homeless. Not only is this a team building activity, but it also helps change perceptions about one's own situation.

Former Secretary of Labor Robert B. Reich said, "For six months now, I've been visiting the workplaces of America, administering a simple test. I call it the 'pronoun test.' I ask front line workers a few general questions about the company. If the answers I get back describe the company in terms like 'they' and 'them,' then I know it's one kind of company. If the answers are put in terms like 'we' or 'us,' then I know it's a different kind of company."

As managers, you can have a direct impact on the kind of company yours is. Listening to employees, caring about them and their families, creating an atmosphere that promotes joy, and presenting yourself as a human being will result in a workplace that can survive the changes, stress, and fear of the unknown . It will also result in delighted customers!

Barbara Glanz, CSP, works with organizations that want to improve morale, retention, and service and with people who want to rediscover the joy in their work and in their lives. As an internationally known speaker, trainer, and business consultant who has a Master's degree in Adult Education, Barbara lives and breathes her personal motto: "Spreading Contagious Enthusiasm(TM)." She has presented on all seven continents and in all 50 states since 1995. For more information, she can be reached directly at 941-312-9169; Fax 941-349-8209; email: bglanz@barbaraglanz.com; website: www.barbaraglanz.com .

 Last Minute News
May will be very busy...
Presented at D42 Toastmasters Convention in Edmonton on May 1st. It was great to reconnect with my TM family and see so many of my CAPS Edmonton Colleagues on the program.
Presenting a leadership program for a client on May 6th based on my Power of One program.
Bruce Steak night on May 7th.
Have a couple of client proposals to follow up on, including finalizing details of my Russian trip (June 9-19th). Need to prepare for a couple of programs the 1st week of June. As always, writing to work on and some new marketing ideas to fine tune.

Got started on one of our summer projects. Adding to the ground level deck we did last year so it will now wrap around to the house on the left. Resurfacing the upper deck and putting in stairs to connect down to the Mojito Deck. Then we will be redoing the rails and finishing off with a shaded area outside the bedroom. It will be something I can work on between trips and as a break from writing and client projects. We will also be expanding our garden areas on the north side of the house and putting laminate flooring in my office. Time permitting, creating an office for Irene as well.

What a wonderful family tradition we have created...
The Birthday Week.  Irene and I recently returned from my 2nd annual BD week, held this year in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico (15-22nd). I can hardly wait to see where we hold it next year.  Cuba last year, Puerto Vallarta this year....hmmm
Pic: This is so cool with the sunset in the background. I can see why they have a photographer at the resort to take these kinds of pictures. 
Lucky for me, Irene is great with her camera, as well as a Diva in the web-design field...and her clients tell her that!

Late breaking news
I told you about my experience in Holland where I pretended loosing my place and closing remarks and having to ask for help... well... it was recorded and is now on You Tube... follow this link to see my one and only international singing gig...
My mic was supposed to be muted as soon as I said my 'bridging' line... had I known it wasn't I might have been a bit quieter.... enjoy.

Thanks for reading

Bob 'Idea Man' Hooey would be pleased to be a part of your success team and to work with you to help make your conference, meeting, or training event a success. For more information about customized keynotes, professional and personal leadership training and coaching, or seminars/retreats, please visit  http://www.ideaman.net or call our Creative Office at:  (780) 736-0009 for availability.
Ask about a customized conference, coaching or training package to suit your specific career, company, or organizational needs.
Ask about our innovative leadership and/or sales leaders' motivational training programs.
Picture: The T-shirt says it all! Brought the T-Shirt back from our trip to Australia last January. Same shirt, different paradise (Mexico)... we need to embrace and enjoy each day to the fullest. Make life and adventure.  A speaker friend of mine wrote me recently, "You really know how to create a life". I am working on it for sure. 

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May 2010

                 What's New!
Enjoyed a very pleasant and relaxing Birthday Week with Irene in sunny Puerto Vallarta.

Here is a great customer service story for you: Irene asked for a 'little' coffee and a 'lot' of Kahlua, which is exactly what our waitress, Juventina delivered. 
My friend Lea Brovedani sent this card for my birthday.  I share its message with you as we celebrate our 6th birthday in serving you with this monthly e-zine.
"Because you enjoy life
Just think of the year ahead as a journey.
It's an old curvy road that's seen a lot of travelers, but never anyone quite like you.
So hop on.
Put a few miles behind you.
See all there is to see, and don't forget to stop for pie.
As long as you keep your tank full of wonder and your mirror full of memories it should be one sweet trip!"
I love its clear, positive message. We'll be working to make our ezine better each month including playing with the size of each issue.
For example, we might shorten the summer and Christmas issues to keep in touch but not add to much reading to your plate.
Bob, a fellow traveler on this road to adventure.

Now that we have 5 years of Ideas @ Work issues, I have an idea. 
What do you think about doing a best of e-book to gather some of the more impactful Points to Ponder?
Drop me a note and let me know what you think.


About Bob

Bob is a professional speaker, author, leadership, sales, and business success expert

Bob is a long time leader and professional charter member of Canadian Association of Professional Speakers, a member of NSA-Arizona, as well as the Global Speakers Federation.
He is proud to be an active professional member of these amazing groups of people dedicated to polishing their craft and to better serving their clients and audiences.
Bob is the co-founder and a past president of CAPS Vancouver, an honorary founding member of CAPS Sask., an honorary member of CAPS Halifax, as well as being an active member of CAPS Edmonton. He served as CAPS National Director (2000-2002).
He would be happy to discuss how he can work with you to equip and motivate your leaders, their teams, sales teams, or volunteers to grow and to succeed.
Call him today at 1-780-736-0009 to explore leveraging his innovative Ideas At Work with your organization.
Or, email him at: bob@ideaman.net
Ideas At Work!
10 Creativity Corner
Egremont, Alberta T0A 0Z0, CANADA