Most CEOs Make Themselves Available

The good news in this week’s poll was that most respondents have easy access to their CEO. If they have something to say, 66 percent said they could make an appointment or just bump into the CEO in the hallway.

The bad news was that 16 percent said they  don’t have access to their CEO.

This week’s Good Question was: If you wanted to talk to your CEO, you would:


0% said, “Go through someone else”

33.33% said,”Bump into him or her”

33.33%  said, “Make an appointment”

16.67% said “Email the CEO”

16.67% said, “No access to CEO”

If you voted, thanks for playing. And if you didn’t, please look for Monday’s question and share your vote.
Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

What’s Your Take: What Emails Do You Automatically Delete?

 We all get too many emails. We also can’t resist checking our email, over and over, all day long. Some people feel stressed just looking at a full inbox, and become obsessive about answering or deleting every message as quickly as they can. Others are quite comfortable letting things pile up. Many business people do a quick cruise through, deleting all emails that are not from someone they know.

Richard Branson says he actually looks at every email he gets. He finds it rude to delete emails just because he doesn’t know the sender. In a recent article on, he says, “Recalling a time when I was just starting out and needed advice, I try to respond to as many reader emails as I can. I read through the list every morning and dictate quick answers to my assistants, pass some to colleagues, and usually write a couple of longer, more detailed responses myself. This is the most effective way of dealing with my inbox, and while doing so, I learn about trends that may affect Virgin businesses or about problems that need my attention.”

How about you? Everyone has their own personal methodology for weeding through that inbox.

Here’s this Friday’s question: What emails do you automatically delete?

“Hi Sam Sam”

For most of my childhood, every year and summer while I was away at camp, I received a post card from Uncle Fred. These cards were sent from all over the world. I don’t have an Uncle Fred. I don’t even have a close family friend that my brothers and I call Uncle Fred. In fact, I don’t think I even know a Fred at all.

In reality my dad is the king of pranks. He owned his own business with a Hallmark store next door and whenever a customer mentioned they were going on vacation, he would run next door, write out a card, and have them mail it from their destination.  My mom, uncles and grandma were in on it as well. For years we believed we had an Uncle Fred that was too busy traveling the world to ever come visit.

When Elizabeth’s 11-year old son, Sam, was going away to summer camp for a whole month, I instantly thought of Uncle Fred. My dad’s love for pranks is one of the many things he has instilled in me.  Seeing other people laugh in surprise, makes me happy. Thanks to Facebook I was able to contact friends living in other states that I hadn’t spoken to in years. I asked them to send a postcard to Sam at camp with “Hi Sam Sam,” my little nickname for him, and no signature. A friend out in Colorado that I hadn’t spoken to since eighth grade replied enthusiastically that he would send one. He said he was glad that I hadn’t changed at all.

With the help of my amazing friends, Sam got 57 postcards during the four weeks he was at camp from all over the country and world. I believe it is the little things that can brighten someone’s day and it inspires me to laugh with them along the way.



5 Low-Cost Recognition Tips for the Workplace

Everyone likes to feel appreciated and the workplace is no exception. When employees are recognized for their efforts and see their performance is valued, they will continue to do well. It will also build their confidence in their own work.

Everybody wins with recognition. “When you take the time and make the effort to extend sincere, timely appreciation, you create the perfect win-win situation,” says Dr. Alan Zimmerman, renowned speaker and founder of Zimmerman Communi-Care Network. “The other person feels great receiving your appreciation, and you feel great for giving it. And the atmosphere is positively charged for greater amounts of cooperation and productivity.”

Instilling a recognition program in the workplace might seem daunting, not to mention costly, however, there are a few low-cost, easy suggestions that you can implement without going to the board of directors for approval.

1. Recognize standout individuals at a regular meeting. Set aside five minutes of your weekly or monthly team meeting to spotlight an individual or individuals who deserve it. Consider opening it up to anyone on the team who has an individual they want to recognize, it doesn’t have to be the manager only.

2. Create a recognition item that can be passed on to others. The item can be a trophy, button, medallion or a cool rock – whatever fits your culture. The idea behind it stays the same. Give it to someone when they deserve to be recognized and let them know why they are receiving it. It is up to the receiver to pass it on to another employee who deserves acknowledgment next.

3. Provide a special treat to recognize employees’ contributions. This could be a quarterly lunch, breakfast or snack to recognize the value they add to the company. If not a meal for employees, a small gift or token goes a long way to making them feel appreciated.

4. Spotlight outstanding employees once a month or quarter. Consider an employee of the month program or a spotlight section in a newsletter or internal publication. Again, it helps to be specific why the employee is being recognized. Others will read why this person was selected and work harder so they can be chosen in the future. This area also serves as a great reminder of your company’s best practices since the selected team member is putting them into effect.

5. Say thank you. This is quite possibly the easiest and most meaningful way to recognize someone. It could be a hand-written note, phone call or face-to-face, but it will go a long way to let someone know they are appreciated.

With all of these suggestions, it is important the thought is sincere. Equally important is giving a specific reason for acknowledging someone. Also, it is key for managers and leadership to set the example for recognition, but it is just as significant for praise to be peer-to-peer as well. When others see someone recognized for their efforts, they will feel more compelled to give acknowledgment as well.

And remember, it doesn’t have to be a grand gesture that is recognized. Sometimes the smallest thing someone does can make the biggest difference for someone else.

Shifting Employee Passion to Passion for the Company

Regardless of the industry, the success of any company is defined by its employees. You may have all the resources and processes in place to be successful but at the end of the day, it’s the people executing them that separate a company from the competition. To this end, it goes without saying that any company should look to hire the most talented and capable candidates possible. While it’s important to have a keen eye for identifying talent, it’s also just as imperative to know how to harness their talent and use it towards the good of the company.

Typically, employees will possess a certain set of skills they have developed a passion for prior to starting with your company. They enjoy what they do and they are good at it; otherwise, they wouldn’t be in the position they are today. This passion is what drives them as they look to advance their career. As their employer, it’s your responsibility to determine how to translate this passion for what they do as an individual to a passion for the company. Talent will only take an employee so far; it’s what they do with that talent that is going to determine how they impact the company. You may have been lucky enough to find the best candidate possible for your open Art Director position but if they don’t buy into the goals and direction of the company, it may not matter.

The first step is to ensure that each employee is in the right position. Any person involved in the hiring process should not only look at a candidate’s talent and experience but also determine if they constitute a good “fit” for the position. If an employee feels as though they are able to truly use their skill set in their work, they will be more motivated and engaged. The flipside to this is that employees may rebel or feel disinterested if they are not doing what they expected. During the hiring process, be as upfront as possible and make sure that the candidate understands what they will be working on and how their skill set will be utilized.

Next, identify opportunities outside of their typical responsibilities that they would have an interest in. Regardless of the position, motivated employees are always looking for new challenges and additional ways to use their skill set. Allowing them to use their talent for tasks outside of their normal role is the easiest way to show that you notice and appreciate what they bring to the table. In their mind, anyone else in the company could have been asked but they were chosen because of their expertise in the area.

Finally, show how their work is positively impacting pre-determined goals and objectives. If an employee believes they have the ability to truly make a difference, they are going to become more engaged and feel like a part of the team. Make it a point to recognize individual achievements while still keeping the focus on a “team” environment. By recognizing individual work, other employees will come to realize how each of their co-workers provides a certain set of skills that together, creates quality work and a positive bottom line for the company. If all employees share this passion for providing quality service, it will resonate in all work that they do.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Build Productivity By Improving Your Power Of Concentration

Being able to focus your concentration is a powerful advantage in productivity. When you can turn a laser-beam focus on what you’re doing, particularly if what you’re doing is writing, you can amaze even yourself with your brilliance. Unfortunately, many of us have to go through a ritual of procrastination before we can flip on that laser focus. We hem and we haw, check our email, grab another cup of coffee, get sidetracked by a colleague in the break room, remember something we have to tell someone down the hall, settle back in at our desks, take one quick peek at Facebook, check email again, just in case something urgent has come up.

Is it a personality thing? Are some people just naturally better at concentration? In a Slate post titled Slowpoke: How to be a Faster Writer, Michael Agger bemoans the fact that he writes more slowly than some. He describes William F. Buckley whipping out a book review in one short cab ride. He quotes Buckley describing Trollope’s prolific habits: “He had a note pad that was indexed to indicate intervals of 250 words. He would force himself to write 250 words per 15 minutes. Now, if at the end of 15 minutes he hadn’t reached one of those little marks on his page, he would write faster.”

Can you build your power of concentration? Some recommend concentration exercises, like counting backwards from 100 to one, doing math problems in your head, or counting the words in a paragraph or an entire page of a book. One article I found online suggested the “going camping” game. You’ll remember this game from summer camp or particularly tedious babysitters. One person starts by saying, “I’m going camping and I’m going to pack a ____.” Then the next person repeats that sentence and adds their own item, and so on and so on until the list of items going camping exhausts the memory of the players.

Others recommend meditation. Since meditation involves clearing your mind from distraction, it builds your ability to direct your focus to just one thing. It also helps to create clarity of mind, which certainly can’t hurt.

You can also focus your attention at the point between your eyebrows. This is said to be the seat of will in the body, and thus also the place concentration begins. This tip came from the Swami Kriyananda, who also offered this little chestnut: “Deep concentration is possible only in a state of relaxation. For as long as one tries to concentrate, he will not be able to concentrate really effectively.”

So, really, it’s not that complicated. Just count backwards from 100 and count the words in this paragraph while solving a few math problems in your head. Meanwhile, make certain that you are both focusing your attention on the place between your eyebrow and also maintaining a state of complete relaxation. After all that, writing a Powerpoint presentation will be a snap.

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Welcome to the New World! Too Bad About All Your Stuff

Sometimes it’s easy to think we’ve got it harder than the generations before us. We have this illusion that life was simpler and somehow easier back in the olden days.

A shipwreck off the coast of Maine in 1635 reminds me otherwise, thanks to a recent article in the Bangor Daily News. My uncle John Cogswell mailed me the clipping, the headline of which was “Trunk That Survived 1635 Shipwreck on Display at Colonial Pemaquid.”

Another John Cogswell, our long-ago ancestor and the first Cogswell in America, was the original owner of the trunk from the shipwreck. That John Cogswell, born in 1592, was from a family of textile mill owners in Wiltshire, England. In 1635, the story goes, he sold the textile mill he’d inherited in Westbury Leigh, Wiltshire and loaded his wife, eight children, servants, livestock, furniture and barrels of goods aboard the Angel Gabriel, an English galleon bound for the New World.

After a couple of months at sea, the Angel Gabriel reached the coast of New England on August 15, 1635, and anchored offshore at Pemaquid, Maine. The Cogswell family, along with other passengers, spent the night onshore. Just before dawn, they were surprised by a colossal storm that is still said to be the worst to ever hit the coast of Maine. It’s often called the Great Colonial Hurricane.

At first light, they could see that the Angel Gabriel was in splinters. Most of what the Cogswell family had brought with them for their new life now rested at the bottom of the sea, including the £5,000 proceeds from selling the textile mill.

“Well, shit,” I like to think my esteemed ancestor said. Instead of arriving in the New World with all his material goods and a nice nest egg, John Cogswell was now starting his new life with not much besides the clothes on his back – and that monogramed horsehair trunk, which floated ashore later in the day.

But what can you do? One minute you’ve got it made. Then bam! You’re staring out at a shipwreck. The good news was that they had survived the night. Those who slept onboard were not so lucky.

So John Cogswell scrounged around for whatever he could salvage from the shipwreck. He and his family camped out on the beach for a while. Eventually, he was able to get a boat to take him and his family to Ipswich, Massachusetts, where they settled and eventually managed to thrive. He died at his log house in Ipswich in 1676, at the ripe old age of 77.

His horsehair trunk is now on display, along with a ship’s model of the Angel Gabriel, in the museum of the Colonial Pemaquid State Historic Site in New Harbor, Maine — just a few hundred feet away from where that trunk first washed up in the New World.






Built on Values by Ann Rhoades

At Tribe, we know that a successful, engaged culture is key to attracting and retaining star talent, which leads to attracting and retaining loyal customers.  We realize that in order to have a strong culture, everyone from the front line to the C-level suite needs to understand the company’s values and feel empowered and comfortable enough to act on them.

Built on Values provides a strategy for leaders to create a winning environment enabling their employees and company to thrive.  Ann Rhoades clearly illustrates that companies that can build or improve value-based cultures become higher performers financially and will improve customer and employee survey results.

Stephen R. Covey foreword supports Ann’s efforts in stating, “By aligning all of your processes- hiring, rewarding, leadership, metrics and communication- with values that are meaningful and profound for your people, you can reinforce the idea that your people matter and their actions matter.”  Ann shared a great framework for building and maintaining a winning culture.  Three highlights from the book include:

Takes a team.  Successful values and culture can’t be built in the corner office.  In order to create a culture that resonates and will be sustainable, employees from all levels need to be invited to join your Values Team.  Ann recommends a group no smaller than five employees and no larger than 30.  Also, using outside agency support as part of that team helps move the process along and provides objectivity.

Hire and depend on A-level talent.  No matter if you already have an outstanding culture or are working to build one, A-level talent is imperative to the process.  A-level talent should be invited to be on your Values Team. In addition, you should develop hiring criteria based on your values so that you only attract and hire A-level people.

Communicate Up, Down and Backwards. Companies can develop really great values but if you don’t communicate them to your employees and customers they won’t move the needle.  Utilize your Values Team and agency to develop a long-term comprehensive communications strategy to ensure your employees not only understand your values but also feel confident to act on them during their daily interactions with customers and other employees.  You can’t assume a great launch day will change your corporate culture – you need to have sustaining programs in place.

Enter for a chance to win a free copy of “Built on Values” by emailing [email protected]

Elizabeth Cogswell Baskin

Instead of Multi-Tasking, Try Doing Just One Thing At A Time

To hell with multi-tasking. Doing multiple things at once means your energy is scattered and your mind is pulled in different directions and in a state of tension, rather than flow.

Here’s a crazy idea: Do just one thing at a time. Fully focus on that one thing, and then calmly move on to the next. In “Slowing Down to the Speed of Life,” a brilliant little book by Richard Carlson and Joseph Bailey published way back in 1997, the authors write of how paying attention to just what you’re doing at any given moment can create an experience of time slowing down. If you can do that, they suggest, you’ll not only feel less stress; you”ll also actually get more done.

This inner calm is much more productive than rushing around like your hair’s on fire. “To our surprise,” the authors write, “as the two of us have learned to live more in the moment,…we have found that although we have the experience or feeling of time slowing down, the truth is that at the end of the day we have accomplished more than we used to when we felt rushed and frantic.”

How Accessible is Your CEO?

Each Monday, we ask one multiple-choice question regarding internal culture or employee engagement. On Friday, we’ll post a summary of the responses.

This week’s GOOD QUESTION: If you wanted to talk to your CEO, you would:

A: Go through someone higher than me

B:  Make an appointment with the CEO

C: Wait until I bump into the CEO in the hallway

D: Email the CEO

E: I don’t have access to the CEO

Submit your anonymous response and check back on Friday for the results.