Archive for June, 2009

Jeff Immelt’s Top Lessons

The top lessons Jeff Immelt says he learned over the last year are:
1. Be incredibly open
2. Be an aggressive listener
3. Develop a business model that works in the worst case scenario

Immelt’s top goals for America in the next decade:
1. Energy security by 2020
2. Be net exporter within a decade
3. Renewal of American leadership

Watch the conversation with Charlie Rose here

© Aviv Shahar

To Be Free Use The Exclude – Include Discipline

Do you go with the flow or do you follow structure?
What do you include and what do you exclude?

Depending on the nature and focus of your endeavor, a different discipline may be required.

Take an honest look at your life: what would help you increase effectiveness and creativity? Do you need more structure? Do you need greater freedom?
To run the 100 meter dash at the Olympics, or to play Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto in Carnegie Hall, you have to have total concentration. Concentration is focusing on what you do to the exclusion of all else. Your ability to exclude everything else is essential in certain roles, functions and situations. In fact, your ability to progress and succeed depends on your ability to concentrate – to exclude all other things.

There are other situations and functions where your ability to include and to facilitate engagement and cooperation of all parts is what wins the day. When organizing a family gathering, managing a complex project or producing a large event – your capacity to include all aspects and details and engage every person is the recipe to success.

You may have seen Usain Bolt doing his “dance” before his wins in the 100 and 200 hundred meters at the Beijing Olympics. There were complaints that his behavior was disrespectful. Some thought it was showmanship. Others felt he was just a little strange. Here is what we think – he was keeping himself free, fully present in the moment, deflecting all the nerves and noise, defying the rules, maintaining complete and total relaxation inside. His dance was the act of excluding all else, to be in the moment, in touch with his inner rhythm.

Freedom and structure come together. Chris Rock and Jon Stewart are examples of the complete spontaneity of an in-the-moment comedian. What provides them such freedom? They are able to be free, in the moment, because of their practice and form, an inner structure, a template and cadence they know. To be free you have to have a form, a structure that can contain and support your being in the moment.

In your life and in your work too, you can find a golden point, where what you exclude provides you freedom to include a great many things; where the structure and practice of form gives way to the freedom of spontaneous emergence.

Reflect on these questions:
1. What helps you concentrate and exclude all else?
2. In what aspects of your life and work do you need to bring greater structure? Where do you need to work on your form?
3. In what situations are you able to “go with the flow” and be highly productive? What can you learn from these situations?

To be free, more productive and creative, discover the exclude and include disciplines.

© Aviv Shahar

We Are 20 Percent Up

“We are 20 percent up on last year at this time” said Michael the manager at the gym where I exercise when I asked how his business was doing.

“What’s the secret” I asked. I always look for anecdotal evidence. It often brings new insights.

Here is what Michael said:
First, because people are not spending on a new car or vacations, they invest in themselves more in order to feel good.
Second, we improved our customer service and personalized our offerings to a greater extent.
Third, it’s all about word of mouth and referrals.

There you have it, key trends and elements for success in this economic environment.

1. People invest in themselves, in fitness, well being and growth to help them counter challenges.
2. Personalized customer service is king.
3. Referrals are the gold mine.

How can you apply these three elements to your business in new ways?

© Aviv Shahar

ASTD Published The Consultant 3.0 Manifesto

The American Society for Training & Development (ASTD) published in its Consulting Newsletter the Consultant 3.0 Manifesto by Aviv Shahar.

Listen to The Consultant 3.0: How to Thrive in Consulting in a Scary, Brave New World podcast:

“Who cares about having too many toys in your sandbox? Develop your core services and continue to expand to new fields. Let the market teach you what it wants and needs from you. Use every opportunity to create your material.”

From the Press Release:
“In Consultant 3.0: How to Thrive in Consulting in a Scary, Brave New World, Aviv, who created and delivered leadership and talent programs to Fortune 500 companies and coach CEOs, demonstrates how he turned a casual conversation with an astronaut at 32,000 feet into workshop firepower and leadership development IP. In this podcast Aviv explores the five dimensions of whole practice growth, or in NASA speak, the five engines of a thriving practice”

“The strategic imperative shifted,” explains Aviv. “When the unthinkable is the norm and the unpredictable is happening daily, the strategy imperative is not in discovering ’how to respond‘ and ’what to do‘. It is in articulating what capabilities are to be developed to meet the requirements of these alternative and uncertain futures.”

© Aviv Shahar

Coaching In The Crucible Of Change & The Chrysalis Moment

“I feel stuck,” Maria said. “I know I need to re-invent and renew myself but I don’t know how. It’s as though I do not have energy to move forward, to create a new next step. I feel like I’m walking under water. It’s heavy and it’s not clear.”

As a CEO Coach I am often called to address phases in the client’s life where the next step is not clear. A wide range of personal and organizational reasons can cause sub-optimal functioning and effectiveness. Not all of these reasons fall into the “bad” bucket. In this coaching session with Maria it became clear that her “feeling stuck” was a symptom of a bigger transformation underway. Here are some of the comments that surfaced in our conversation:

1. Do not suppress or try to escape the feeling. It is okay to feel stuck. Feeling stuck is often a symptom and a herald of change. For the caterpillar to transform and become a butterfly, it needs to spend time in the crucible of change where it feels painfully stuck.

2. Allow for time in the chrysalis. A transformative process needs containment. The chrysalis allows and protects this miraculous process. The egg, the womb, the chrysalis – why are they designed this way? What is the message? Transformation and birth need a period of confinement and containment where nothing escapes and where the totality of the system must surrender to the process.

3. Your “feeling stuck” is potentially a chrysalis moment. When something feels inescapable the process of change begins.

4. The caterpillar looks in the mirror and sees what it can no longer be. To melt and shed its previous form it needs to produce huge intensity, energy and internal heat. The chrysalis is a mirror of change and a frying pan.

5. To change and transform you have to allow yourself time in the chrysalis. For as long as it takes. You are meant to be inside this experience. To use it. To listen in. To listen out. To discover a new you.

6. Make room for it. Clear debris. Take the time to create a new uncluttered space.

7. Engage with good companions and friends. Some will bring you insight and energy for change. Be selective.

8. Keep a journal. Write about your insights and experiences and about the changes you are making:
– What will it allow?
– What do you want the change to bring?
– Why do you want it?
– What are you becoming?

9. Do not rush. Nothing is just what it seems. There is always more to it. Remember the story of the man whose horse ran away (ask me if you don’t know the story).

10. The old is shedding and leaving. This is the visible part. The invisible part is the new that is forming. Do not identify with the visible. If you do, you reclaim what is being left behind. Let it leave your system. Look for and live into the new that is emerging.

11. Exercise. Stay in a good physical fitness. Make dietary changes to be in the optimal energy zone.

12. Use this time to clear the deck. To do a great scrub. What are you carrying that you no longer need?

13. Meditate and journal: what do you give yourself over to? How do you stay intact? How do you sift through your experiences and stay clear? How do you live on purpose?

14. It’s a great time to melt separations. To forgive. To heal. To make peace.

Think about the evolution of astronomy. There was a moment when we were suddenly able to see into a black hole instead of empty space. We now understand that a black hole is a dimensional shift. As with galaxies and the universe out there you can also experience a dimensional shift. Feeling stuck is often the entry point of such a shift. The black hole of a crisis is that moment just before the breakthrough; but the brilliance that awaits you on the other side can only be won by going through the transformation. Embrace your chrysalis moment and the crucible of change. In that black hole your universe curves into new possibilities. You begin to discover a greater brilliance on the other side.

© Aviv Shahar

Polarity Mastership

The better it is, the worse it becomes.
The worse it gets, the greater the opportunity.

The more complex it is, the simpler the thinking must be.
The simpler it seems, the greater sophistication is required.

The faster it shape-shifts, the slower you must be to decipher its code.
The slower you get the more you accelerate your perception speed and the greater the power.

When you change the way you look at things
the things you look at change.

© Aviv Shahar

Bounce Forward

Discover the two natures of resilience.

© Aviv Shahar

The Most Powerful Prayer

The most powerful prayer in the world is the action of what you hope to cause.
Your action becomes the conduit of realization to the object of your prayer.

Find here more about when to pray.

© Aviv Shahar

The KEY: Dear Ms. CEO – A CEO Coach Letter

Apologies: I messed up. Our last KEY was titled Mr. CEO and I failed to say Ms. CEO. Here it is reproduced with Ms. CEO

Dear Mr./Ms. CEO:

Coaching CEOs is like getting a front seat to a good thriller. As a CEO coach, I facilitate and help realize an exciting vision. What I see from this front seat today is that you are called to gather your courage. You are called to move forward with confidence and conviction, and to help the people around you create the future. This KEY is a personal letter to the CEO from a CEO Coach.

Did you pass the stress test? Great! It’s time for a vision test. A quiet revolution is sweeping through your company and through corporate boardrooms across the nation. Yesterday’s solutions do not work. Disruption is the norm. The power equation has shifted. The prowess of the capital markets has proven highly efficient at self-destructing. Cause and effect have become counter intuitive. “The whole world is a nail because I have a Hummer” (Detroit) rationale is now over!

What do you do, Mr./ Ms. CEO? How do you focus and marshal energy and resources?

To move from being a victim of market conditions to a victor of your opportunities you need to transform. An essential part of this transformation is learning to ask the questions that will take you and your organization to where you need to go next. As your CEO coach, our first work with you would be to reframe the questions:

If you only think “How do we get out of this mess?” you are looking backward. To look forward you must ask:

* “What do we want to be as we come out of this?”
* “How and with whom can we partner and collaborate to create a new future?”
* “What do we want to be known for in the future?”

If you are not focusing on these questions, you are missing the opportunity of your life and failing the vision test.

CEOs that fight the last war miss an opportunity. This is not a financial or economic crisis. This is an existential moment, an epochal realignment. The game has changed. The fight is not to survive what happened; it is to thrive in a world beyond formulas. It’s a world you cannot map – it is a world that changes as you draw the map. The quiet revolution begins with the few executives that pass the vision and the resilience tests.

To lead wisely, to lead well, Mr./ Ms. CEO, you have to create transformational conversations and engagements. You foster open collaborations and innovations; manage uncertainties and risks and fashion opportunities. You create adaptive and agile culture and embrace the impossible. To thrive in the new emerging paradigm, your organization must generate value, help clients and stakeholders meet their needs and transform their work and life.

You are more than the PR and sales CEO. You are more than the coach CEO. You are more than the Decider CEO. Your role as a CEO is to connect the dots inside and outside your organization. You are the Connector- and the Integrator-in-Chief. New dots appear every day in this rapidly shape-shifting world. You are the chief artist. You create a space for new dots to show up on your screen. You assimilate and connect the picture and frame meaning, opportunity and vision. Your mindset, narrative, focus and communication is the place where the complete organizational picture can be integrated. You are the context maker – context that provides meaning and direction for committed execution. You are the Picture Maker-in-Chief, the storyteller of the organizational future.

Sounds daunting? Yes. But you are not alone. You gather the best talent around the table; the innovators, visionaries, storytellers, problem solvers and the committed and disciplined implementers. And you bring up in them the confidence and courage to change, develop, innovate, collaborate and create a future.

Turn the Key. Create the vision and resilience test for you and for your team. Create a future worthy of your best. Thank you.

© Aviv Shahar


Resilience is the ability to bounce back, pick yourself up and go on.
It is the power to self-heal, renew and to
always be taking the next step forward.
It is in reconnecting to the line of your life and endeavor,
joining it where it has moved to now, not where you left it last.

Resilience has the quality of robustness;
it is the capacity for spontaneous recovery.
The repair, replenishment and recharge
are generated by the will to live and to go on,
and by the determination to take the next step, to proceed forward.
It is the regeneration of all that can be.

Resilience is another name for life itself
and for the power of nature to recreate itself.
It is more than coming back to previous equilibrium, much more.
It is the ability to embrace change and be made new in it,
to seize the new opportunity it brings.
You have seen a toddler moving from crying to smiling to laughing in seconds – that’s resilience.
You’ve seen the people devastated by an earthquake or a Tsunami,
how they pick up and go on – that’s resilience.

You have seen yourself coming to the end of your rope, the end of your strength,
reaching a point of despair; to then find a new start and discover a new day,
to move forward again in a new way and with a new power – that’s resilience.

Resilience knows no end. It has no limits and no boundaries.
It is the fountain of life and living;
the absolution that spring brings to winter;
the unstoppable vine of growth, of love, of beauty and of purpose.
It is the hope passed on from one generation to the next,
and the covenant that there shall always be a new day,
and that you, too, can always make a new start.

Let us resilient on.


Tele-seminar opportunity: The Five Dimensions of Resilience
Discover how to build your resilience and bring renewal to your life and your work. In this rare tele-seminar you will find out why some people thrive when faced with challenge and how you can build the power of resilience. You will identify the stress traps and how to avoid them. We will share with you the ten practices used by innovative leaders to turn setbacks into momentous breakthroughs and explore practical strategies to help you develop the five dimensions of resilience. Join our next tele-seminar “Breakthrough Mindsets for Tough Times” on Friday, June 5th.

© Aviv Shahar

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