Author Archives: Stephen Shapiro

It is Okay to Marry Your Work (Part 2)

Last week I wrote an article for American Express about marrying your work. Unlike the “ball and chain” picture that tends to pop into our heads, I espoused the merits of loving your job, just like you would marry a spouse you love. Be sure to read that article before reading on. I’ll wait. OK, now that you read the first part, here is, as Paul Harvey would say, the rest of the story… I’m on vacation this week in Mexico and I just had an epiphany. Tonight while cooking up some steaks on the barbeque, I looked through the window and saw everyone else on their computers working. In fact, all day long while I relaxed in the pool with my Kindle, everyone else was busy working away. Admitted, I work a lot, but I love what I do. I truly do. Regardless, I have not taken a “real” … Continue reading

Posted in Management, Psychology | Leave a comment
Why We Crave Goals

As many of you may know, my second book was called Goal-Free Living. Although it was originally going to be a book on how to be more creative, it morphed into a manifesto for a counter-cultural way of living. In fact, the “goal-free” philosophy will be featured in a major newspaper early next year. Stay tuned for that. Someone once asked me why people crave goals. It is a hard question to answer. But an interesting point of view was sent to me by Antony Woods from Australia, and I wanted to share it with you… He quotes a renowned 20th Century Burmese Meditation Master: “The fourth protection for your psychological benefit is to reflect on the phenomenon of ever-approaching death. Buddhist teachings stress that life is uncertain, but death is certain; life is precarious but death is sure. Life has death as its goal. There is birth, disease, suffering, … Continue reading

Posted in Psychology, Strategy | 1 Comment
Why Change is Hard

I am someone who loves change. In fact I sometimes change things simply for change sake. But I recently learned a powerful lesson on why change is difficult, even for someone like me who loves to stir things up. I bought a MacBook Pro a few weeks ago. Friends have been prodding me to buy Apple after a number of technical issues with my Windows-based machine. I have to admit, I really liked my PC. But for a variety of reasons, it was time for a change. I was excited. As I said, I love change. But what I discovered quickly was that I did not love my Mac. To be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with my Mac. It is just different than Windows. I am so used to my old PC that I could do things so quickly with hotkeys. From my perspective, nearly everything was …

Posted in Apple, Psychology | 4 Comments
How to Motivate Innovators

Organizations use a variety of tools to motivate employees to participate in their innovation efforts. The most common form of motivation involves compensation via a points system. When you contribute an idea, solution, comment or vote, you get points – much like American Express Membership Rewards points – that can be used to buy a variety of items: company T-shirts, mugs, and other “exciting” things. For some reason this reminds me of the arcade games like skeeball where you would win tickets that could be exchanged for wonderful items like fake vampire fangs or rubber spiders. Some companies have taken the concept a bit further and allowed people to accumulate points that can be used in auctions. Once a month the company holds an auction for a trip to, say, Tahiti. Anyone with points can join the bidding. This encourages people to earn and save as many …

Posted in Innovation, Leadership, Management | 4 Comments
Do You Know Why You Are Successful…or Not?

I just gave a presentation on “Happiness at Work” in Norway. I started with the following question: “True or false – People with more money are happier.” 100% of the audience believed that the statement was false. In reality, the statement is true. Researchers have shown that people with more money are happier. When people hear this, they immediate assume that money makes people happy. That is NOT true. The researchers found that money did not make people happy. Instead, happy people attracted wealth into their lives. I was on a radio show recently and a woman cited a study that said: “Women who wear lipstick make 80% more money than women who don’t.” She used this as an example of why women should wear lipstick. She seemed to imply that if you wear lipstick, you will make more money. But again, I am confident that the causation is backwards. … Continue reading

Posted in Innovation, Management | 1 Comment
Opposites Don't Attract

I remember a project I worked on many years ago. I was leading a large team and had a very large budget. I chose John to co-lead with me because we got along so well. I am a creative, spontaneous, and enthusiastic person and John was pretty much the same. The team loved working with us. We were fun, engaging, and motivating. And the project was a huge waste of money. The problem was that John and I got caught up in the novelty of our work. We were too focused on developing new ideas and making sure people were happy. But we never got any work done. We were a total failure. In hindsight, this failure probably could have been predicted. Our styles were too similar. In fact, if you look at any group of people who effortlessly work well together, odds are the individuals share a lot in … Continue reading

Posted in Headlines, Management, Psychology | 1 Comment
Don't Do The Wrong Things When Things Go Wrong

No company is perfect. Something will eventually go wrong, even if you have the greatest Six Sigma or quality program on the planet. And it is how you handle these problems that can determine your relationship with your customers. For example, I needed a taxi from my hotel in Paris to the airport. According to the front desk, it was supposed to take only seven minutes. After ten minutes, the woman apologized and walked outside to see what was going on. The police had blocked the road and no cars could get down the street. She walked with me to the corner to see if my taxi was waiting there. It was not. She had me wait at the corner while she ran back to the hotel to call for another taxi. Given the road problems, they would not send another car. Instead …

Posted in Psychology, marketing | 5 Comments