RHB Convocation Address
I look around today and I see excitement and hope in many eyes.
But I also know that some of us, well along into our lives and into our careers, will sometimes will swipe a cynical brush down a young and fresh canvas.
I am 51 years old and have held a number of positions in many different industries. I've had great successes and I've had a few failures and heartbreaks.
Perhaps this life then has given me a little perspective.
So this is what I wish to pass onto this year's graduating class.
When the celebrations die down, put a list together of what you imagine would be your ideal job. Seek out people who do now you may want want to do someday. Politely ask them for a few minutes of their time. Ask them:
- what they enjoy about their job
- what they do not enjoy about it
- how their industry has changed since they began
- what they wish they knew when they started down their road
- what their dream job would be right now
- what advice they would give you as you are just starting out
- who they might be able to introduce you to
- what they do for fun in their spare time (we often reveal our true nature when we reveal our passions)
- ask them how you can help them in turn (then try and do exactly that)
Remember that the opinion you receive is from one person only. You need to have a statistically valid sample size before drawing conclusions about an entire profession or an industry. Often when people talk about "the good old days" the days weren't golden, they were.
Practice the art of communication and leadership, join Toastmasters; an amazing organization that looks good on a resume and will provide confidence and feedback you will never get from a classroom or a textbook.
Practice this question "If I could do one thing better, what would it be?"
Practice this question “What is it I did right that you valued?”
Keep your word. If you say you are going to do something, then do it. Or apologize.
Most people treat networking like dieting. They only do it when they have to, and they stop immediately upon reaching their goal. Instead, you should stop dieting and adapt a healthy lifestyle of adding value and staying in touch with people.
Your destiny is often determined by the people you associate with so you should surround yourself with good people who have your own best interests at heart (enough to give you a kick in the butt when they think you are making bad decisions.)
Disassociate your efforts from an expectation of immediate reward. Your reputation should be the results of your action, not the focus of them.
Heartbreak is a part of life. Cynicism is not. Hearts get stronger after being broken. Cynicism builds a callous on our soul. I would rather have friends who loved and lost than people around me who were tired and cynical.
Above all, each of us is responsible for what paint goes on our canvas.
Congratulations class of 2010!
We are pleased to announce the new online RHB eCourse will be launched June 2011. This online program will allow a company to generate a culture based on intrinsic reward and ultimately achieve a RHB "3rd gear certification".
Feedback from Paresh Mistry, President of Down Syndrome Awareness of Peel
Down Syndrome Awareness of Peel is focused on increasing awareness around the challenges that face individuals with Down Syndrome in our communities, in hopes of creating a future where our children can reach their full potential as human beings with unique strengths who bring value to society.
We were seeking an international speaker to attract, inspire and entertain a large audience at our first annual fundraising gala. After much searching we finally decided to hire Dave Howlett. Dave’s uplifting message of Real Human Being was perfect for our needs. Not only did he incorporate our vision into his talk, he made the audience laugh and think. You could actually see the light-bulbs turn on as they made both a personal and professional shift from narrow self-interest towards “do the right thing” behavior. I have no doubt the RHB approach will continue to impact attendees and help us solicit their support as we grow. I would recommend Dave Howlett to any association that wants to reward sponsors or generate new supporters.
Feedback from William Buzzeo, Senior VP of Cegedim
With a presence in more than 80 countries, Cegedim Relationship Management combines its global expertise with a deep understanding of local markets to help Life science clients promote and market their products in the most efficient, compliant, and cost-effective manner.
We interviewed a number of potential trainers for our annual internal sales conference. Dave Howlett customized his RHB material to suit the needs of our audience and leveraged real-world applications of the RHB behavior modification process. In fact, our president said that she had never witnessed a presentation that actively engaged participants at this level during a multi-hour period. I would recommend Dave Howlett and RHB to any company that wants to attract new clients and strengthen their existing relationships.
A long ride in 1st, 2nd or 3rd gear.
This week the Globe and Mail newspaper featured a wonderful article by a Globe reporter and photographer as they traced Mao Zedong's famous "Long March" through China.
A few years back, when I was lecturing in Hong Kong, one local citizen advised me "many of our citizens are in 2nd gear." [external reward] She explained that dress and appearance would often determine how people were treated by local merchants. I imagine this isn't unique to China. She also said that China had replaced religious-based morality with state socialist morality but now many people were searching for a new moral compass. A compass that allowed people to seek wealth and power but promoted generosity and empathy. The RHB 3rd gear concept was quite well received, especially when I flashed up a photo of Chinese characters. I had asked a local calligrapher to draw the phrase one would use to refer to someone possessing good character, reliability and honesty.
Two paragraphs in the Globe article struck me as emblematic of 3rd gear [do the right thing] and 1st gear [narrow self interest behavior.]
Moment that gave me hope for China’s future Meeting Bao Xianbing, a 34-year-old bureaucrat in the city of Lanzhou. Every day, he sticks an air quality monitor out his window and posts the particulate matter recordings on his Weibo account – alongside a picture of the city’s always-hazy skyline taken from his 14th-floor office – so netizens can compare his measurements with the official data published by the local government. He also showed me how he gets around China’s infamous Great Firewall of Internet restrictions so he can use Facebook and Twitter and read BBC news – all on his government computer.
Moment that made me despair The same day I met Mr. Bao, I met another bureaucrat in Lanzhou, this time in one of the city’s Tibetan-themed bars. This official was just as friendly to me as Mr. Bao, but insisted on ruining a nice conversation by constantly talking about the need for China to fight a war with Japan. He admitted to being a “so-called corrupt official” and claimed to be outrageously wealthy as a result.
If China is looking for a moral compass, perhaps its citizens should try to steer their course away from narrow self interest and towards intrinsic reward. There are many good guys and amazing women worldwide who would connect with them in 3rd gear.
PS One behavior typical of 1st gear is the need to identify an enemy.
You just might find, you get what you need
Last week I had the opportunity to visit one of my very favorite cities. New York always seems full of an energy declaring that all things are possible if you are willing to work hard and be persistent. I spent some of my time there people-watching, connecting with some old friends and visiting museums.
I was wandering through the cemetery of St. Paul's Chapel, St Paul's is the oldest continuously used public building in the city. Some headstones date back to the 1700s and were so weathered they were indecipherable. This always reminds me of the temporal nature of life. In an era of digitization, how quickly will our Facebook statuses and tweets be weathered away?
A service was in progress and I stepped in to hear the final few words of a sermon. The Reverend Emily Wachner was referencing the Connecticut shootings. She was quoting the words of a teacher to her frightened young students – how she loved each one of them. Rev. Wachner told her congregation that being told that you were loved might not be the worst thing final thing you heard if death was around the corner. She then urged her parishioners to think about the need of gun control and universal health care in the United States. As a Canadian, I had never heard such political directness coming from the pulpit.
After the service, I introduced myself and briefly explained about RHB Nation. I tried to define it as "a group of people who connect based on behavior, not necessarily on a belief in God." To me, RHB is a link between people of all faiths (and non-faith) who are willing to see beyond narrow self-interest and towards the greater good. The only way we will get past an impasse is to understand that character cannot be labelled by tribe. For example, there are good guys and amazing women who own guns and there are non-gun owners who fit the same 3rd gear description. If we can just get people past 1st gear tribalism (pro-gun control fighting pro-gun) and work towards either 2nd compromise or 3rd gear "do the right thing" – all things are possible. Emily seemed to understand, especially when I explained how tribalism existed everywhere, even in companies. Most people have a choice to pick "the gear" they want to live in and we can't classify them by their religion, race, politics or nationality.
I'm glad I stuck around and had that chat. As Brian Williams from NBC said last night, "There's no shortage of nice people in this country, we just need to keep on telling their stories."
P.S I noticed Emily's voice was a little strained. Upon inquiry, she confessed she had been singing with the Rolling Stones the previous night. Only in New York!
Why RHBs "assume everyone is intelligent"
Have you ever asked someone for their opinion? And watched a shocked look come over their face?
This week I had a coffee with Roger Eacock. Roger is one of those stereotype-busting individuals from the 1%. He has been president of a few firms, but he doesn't seem arrogant. He also volunteers to speak on climate change. Guys like Roger usually don't have a lot of bandwidth to chat so I took full advantage to ask him "where do you think great company culture comes from?"
Roger thought for a minute, "When I ran a company, I remember walking down onto the plant floor and talking to some of our workers. These people may not have worn a suit to work, but don't kid yourself, they were very smart people. I'd ask them for their ideas on how to make things better and they would look shocked. Shocked because no one in management had ever bothered to solicit their opinion before. Often we would end up implementing some of their ideas and it was great to see the pride they exhibited when they knew they were part of making a difference."
For the 2 out of 10
A while back, I had the opportunity to speak to a group of CEOs at a TEC Canada chapter in Toronto. You don't generally get to the C-suite without being intelligent, driven and (at least somewhat) able to manager others. But there is a 4th element of what I term being a good guy or an amazing woman. That is the ability to move beyond external reward (2nd gear) and towards intrinsic reward behavior (3rd gear.) Using the RHB highway analogy, I explained the concept of intrinsic success; how money and fame are the after-effect and not the focus of what a leader does. One CEO put up his hand, "I don't know about everyone else, but I do what I do for money." One other individual agreed with him. That left 8 others who were silent.
Today, I saw a clipping in the Globe and Mail newspaper titled "Happiness lies within"
“Richard Ryan, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester in New York, studies human motivation and how it affects psychological well-being,” says The Wall Street Journal. “His work has shown that people who pursue extrinsic goals, such as money, image and fame, are less happy than those who focus on goals that they define for themselves, irrespective of what society may say. The happier ones have decoupled their own sense of self-worth from material possessions or recognition. And, says Ryan, it’s harder to be in a relationship with someone who is focused on money. ‘If you’re somebody who finds wealth and material goods really important, probably you’re putting less emphasis on intimacy and closeness with others,’ he says. ‘And the people around you may be less satisfied in their relationship with you.’"
It would be interesting to discover how metrics of employee engagement are affected by a perception that their leader is in 2nd or 3rd gear.
A proud Republican and a RHB
I had checked in with Mike last week to see what he had retained after a year. He'd sent me back an email:
Dave – Your session hit home with me and I continue to practice many of the behavior techniques. I shared with my family upon returning home and very often my children and my wife will remind me…."3rd Gear"!
Of course I had to pick up the phone and call Mike. Many people teach the RHB code to their children and then find their kids end up being the moral guardians of 3rd gear. I recalled Mike was a Republican so I was curious how he was reacting to yesterday's US elections. Mike confessed he and his family were disappointed. But then Mike told me that "I take pride in not letting a lot of things always affect my emotions." (True 3rd gear good guy behavior means not instantly attaching your emotional state to events or people around you.) That's a refreshing attitude in an era of "24 hour news cycles" where voters seem to be constantly riding an emotional roller-coaster. We had a great discussion on how partisan politics relied on easy labeling and stereotypes to generate votes. That all Republicans were greedy, rich, pro-gun, religious-crazed simpletons and all Democrats were lazy, entitled, elitist, tree-hugging, do-gooders.
"I teach my kids that people are more alike than we realize." said Mike. "For example, I live in a small community where there is a support system that revolves around neighbor and church. But in a big city, people often don't have that local support system, it's the government system that fills the need in a big city. So I try to understand why people behave and act the way they do, why they would vote a certain way."
2nd gear (external reward) incentives often explain an individual's party of choice. And often 2nd gear rewards creates 1st gear entitlement (ask anyone with a spoiled child.) Entitlement exists among the wealthy and the poor. As Bill O'Reilly says "It is not easy to cut entitlements once the folks have received them."
It's easy to throw around labels and stereotype folks by their tribe. It's much more difficult to look past the label and try to understand the situation. The USA (and many countries) are dealing with massive debt. Canadian Prime Minister Stephan Harper "worries fear of a “catastrophic event” is restraining the global recovery and spurring increased protectionism."
Stress will drive us all back to narrow self-interest and protectionism.
3rd gear for a politician means getting past party, politics, and personal ambition and concentrating on "the big picture." 3rd gear for a voter means resisting being manipulated by marketing campaigns, not using easy labels, being skeptical about negative ads, critically examining issues and supporting a politician who will exemplify 3rd gear collaboration, cooperation and "good-guy-ness."
Thanks Mike. I always tell people there are good guys and amazing women in every camp. You proved my point.
Still fighting – 2013
Canada celebrates Remembrance day on November 11. Every year I edit and re-post my "What I fight" blog. Given the media-declared "battlefield" of the Presidential Election race and the win-at-all-costs partisanship that is upsetting many Americans, I think this post is timely.
During the Obama/Romney debates, much attention was focused on when and how often the terms "terror" and "terrorists" were used after the attacks on the US Consulate in Libya. And yet I have seen the same term used online to explain US Drone strikes in Pakistan. My brother has served twice with the Canadian military in Afghanistan. Some terrorists-who-were-Afghans have attacked and killed US soldiers, but not all Afghans-are-terrorists.
Some people tell me that everyone in a uniform is a hero. Last year I was aboard a flight where the pilot announced some US servicemen were aboard and everyone applauded. I attended at a hockey game where the announcer mentioned that some Canadian military people were present and everyone cheered.
Other people tell me that everyone in a uniform is a villain. I read about UN Troops encouraging the slave trade and prostitution of young women in Kosovo. Colonel Russell Peters has been sentenced to two life sentences and other time for first-degree murder, sexual assaults, forcible confinement and burglary.
Mitt Romney concluded the third US Presidential debate by declaring [The USA] "is the hope of the Earth." In other countries, many people strongly disagree with that statement.
So who is the hope for the Earth? And who do I fight?
Wait a minute – I know.
In 1973 I was 13 years old. My dad was transferred to a Canadian military base in West Germany as part of Canada's NATO commitment. Growing up in a military family that relocated every 2 or 3 years, I had grown accustomed to a transient lifestyle.
A week after we arrived in Lahr, my family went for a drive through the local countryside. It was a beautiful sunny day and I brought along my camera.
We parked the car and our family made its way down a lane way that ran beside a German cemetery. The flowers were beautiful and the grass was nicely clipped. My mother commented how much she admired the way Germans tended their graveyards (we had lived in Europe 10 years before.) We wandered on a little further and came to a hillside. These gravestones were in disrepair, many overgrown by grass and weeds. I remember Mom expressing her surprise.
In rusty German, she asked a boy in a nearby field why this graveyard was so badly tended.
He answered briefly.
Mom looked at us, "It's a Jewish graveyard."
I believe that Real Human Being Nation started at that moment.
Humans have a tendency to act out of narrow self-interest. (RHB's know this as First Gear Behavior ) Companies see first gear manifested among their employees as entitlement, not-my-job-ism and "us against them" behavioral silos. Societies see first gear exhibited as racism, bullying, homophobia and ageism.
One key aspect of first gear is often the need to seek out an enemy. Sales hates marketing. Marketing hates Finance. Finance hates HR. And no one can stand head office.
George Carlin used to say " have you ever noticed that everyone driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone driving faster than you is a maniac?"
When Adolph Hitler wanted to create solidarity in his country, he had to identify a common enemy. And so, 40 years later, my family came across a graveyard with no one left to love and remember and care for the graves of their relatives.
Perhaps we should stop assigning first gear (narrow self interest) behavior to a tribe or a nationality or a religion or a political party. First gear exists within all of us.
Second gear is external reward or punishment. Many Germans were anti-Semitic because of 2nd gear incentive systems (peer pressure, desire for promotion and status, fear of punishment).
Third gear is intrinsic reward. Some European citizens resisted external incentives and tried to do the right thing.
It seems throughout history there have always been a few people who saw the big picture and decided not to go with the 2nd gear flow. Here's a Soviet submariner who refused to start WWIII.
There are Muslims in third gear who try to do the right thing and there are Muslims in first gear who use their religion to justify oppression of people.
There are Christians and atheists in third gear who remain nonjudgmental and their are Christian and atheists in first gear who use social media to demean each other.
A US medic who tries to do the right thing has more in common with an Afghan woman who is in 3rd gear than either do with a soldier who is in 1st gear and enjoys bullying or brutalizing the local populace.
There are Democrats and Republicans who have passion for their cause but who try to cooperate and communicate based on mutual respect. That's third gear. And there are Democrats and Republicans who must ridicule the other party to make their point. That's first gear.
So what do I fight?
I fight long-term, entrenched first gear behavior.
You can stay in your tribe and continue to be proud of your company, family, religion or political party. But third gear means you respect the beliefs and values of other people. The true definition of a hero is someone who is embarrassed when they get a medal. A medal is 2nd gear reward. Heroes don't do what they do for an external reward. They do it because that's the person they are trying to be.
That's why RHB Nation was founded on a summer's day in 1973: to connect the people who know the difference between first, second and third gear.
If you must fight something, fight the racism, sexism, intolerance, arrogance or any of the other 1st gear behaviors that plague us all.
The hope of the earth lies in the good guys and amazing women who try to do the right thing.
(and here's the end of the story. When we returned a week later, the grass in the graveyard had been neatly clipped. Please see the photo. Sometimes just asking the question can make a difference.)
Now interviewing for PR Assistant
Time Sensitive: Submit before Dec 1, 2012
The Real Human Being philosophy is a language of likeability that allows us to break through self-imposed barriers and achieve personal and business success. Companies, associations, and non-profits use RHB to create corporate culture, knock down internal silos, create employee engagement and increase sales through word of mouth and reputation.
Title: PR Assistant Location: Virtual Office
Roles & Responsibilities:
As PR Assistant for Dave Howlett, you will be solely responsible for maximizing both proactive and reactive opportunities to represent Dave Howlett and Real Human Being Inc.
Your primary responsibilities include, but may not be strictly limited to:
• Subscribing to various PR lists (Help a Reporter Out, etc) and screening daily for appropriate queries
• Research for outreach to bloggers, journalists, podcasters, potential joint venture partners, etc
• Keeping track of any news articles, blog posts, etc that Dave sends you to follow up on
• Forward a list of appropriate queries to Dave for a yes or no, on a daily or every-other-day basis.
• Quick communication with Dave to craft a query letter.
• All query letters are saved in a database – after a while, less work will need to be done
• Promotion of blog posts, interviews, etc to appropriate outlets
You are looking for an exciting, engaging experience utilizing your experience and expertise in the following areas:
• Proven and demonstrable persuasion skills
• Persistence combined with “3rd gear” diplomacy and tact, to pursue opportunities
• Demonstrating a ‘hunter’ mentality with regards to opportunities
• Organizational and time management excellence
• Highly flexible, adaptable and agile to address ever-changing business needs
• Ability to hear and correctly interpret the needs of clients, thereby turning needs into marketing opportunities for RHB
• Social Media experience is a requirement
• Familiarity with Office Suite is a requirement
• Experience utilizing online CRM (Salesforce, Maximizer, Sugar etc) is highly desired.
You are an RHB yourself, and are able to demonstrate the following traits:
• Entrepreneurial mindset
• Keen sense of urgency and commitment to being a good guy or amazing woman.
• Available approximately 3-5 hours a week
• Ability to keep on-task with minimal supervision and many irons in the fire at the same time.
• Nothing bothers you more than not following up with someone when you said you would.
The first 30-60 days of the position are on a trial basis to see if we’re a good fit. At the end of the day, this is a results based position and the expected outcome is more PR for RHB, Inc. eventually, it could become a commission job, based on any speaking engagements booked as a result of the PR work.
If you’re interested in this position and feel you embody the traits listed above, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “RHB PR Assistant.”
In the email, please let us know why you think you would be good for this position, three potential media outlets you would pitch RHB to, an RHB example from your personal life (eg 3 gears or the Code) and of course, please attach your resume.