Cook kneeding dough

How Mindfulness Makes Risk-Taking Easier

Whatever the outcome, our confidence grows from taking risks. 

That sounds nice, and it may have benefited people like Elisabeth Moreno, CEO of Lenovo France, who spoke about this in her interview.

But is it true for ME and YOU?  How can I find out…safely?

For Your Action

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” — Benjamin Franklin

Many of us take in insights with the “FYI, For Your Information” mindset.

It’s like reading a cooking recipe.  And stopping there.

Moreno invites us to go further.  “For Your Action” and “For You to Transmit.” 

That’s like rolling up your sleeves, getting fingers in the dough, and kneading…and kneading some more.

In a work setting it’s about sharing the passion for excellence, the engagement that comes from connecting with another person, and the pride in a job well done.

This process of learning to transmit is (somewhat) straightforward with hard skills.  Turn the heat to 180° and bake for 30 minutes.  (Although, in France, I discovered recipes which instruct “Cook until done.” Huh?!)

What about with soft skills like risk-taking?  The steps-to-success for getting out of one’s comfort zone vary from individual to individual.

Mindfulness Makes Risk-Taking Easier

That’s why it’s helpful to be mindful of our specific behaviors and attitudes which help us grow.

We pause.


Bring back into our memory a past risk that worked out well.  Revisit it through a benevolent lens.  What worked?  What did I learn?

Then recall a risk that did not turn out as desired.  What did I learn about myself?  About others?

Step back again.

What did I gain from this reflection?

Sticky dough

Confidence-Building Worksheet

Try this worksheet to guide you through the process.

Here’s an example of ways I have grown through professional challenges.


Click here to download the pdf.

Confidence-Building in Personal Life

You and I take risks at work and in life.  Here’s an example from my situation as a wife and mother of teens.


Click here to download the pdf.

For Your Action

It’s your turn!

Click here to download a blank worksheet for YOU.

Share this worksheet with a friend, family member, or colleague.  It’s a powerful discussion starter!

Jumping across rocks. Risk taking.

How to take risks with confidence – Insights from Elisabeth Moreno, CEO France of Lenovo

We all need role models, people who have tread the path we hope to travel and who came out alive thriving.

Elisabeth Moreno, CEO Lenovo FranceElisabeth Moreno, CEO of Lenovo France is such a person.  Lenovo is a $43 billion global technology company and a leader in the PC market.  Moreno, a black woman from Cap Vert who immigrated to France as a child and was brought up with little means, has risen to the top in the fast-pace, male-dominated world of high tech.

Moreno recognizes the significant role self-confidence and risk-taking have played in helping her achieve this success, and seeks to transmit these qualities to her team, her family, and to you and me.  It’s a delight to interview her.

As a CEO, my duty is to transmit.  It’s how we prepare the next generation of leaders.

“I took a risk…”

Interview with Elisabeth Moreno
CEO Lenovo France

Denise Dampierre (DD): “Welcome.  Let’s dive right in. Tell us about some of the risks you took in your career.”

Elisabeth Moreno (EM): “Hello.  Risks are like finding yourself at the bottom of the pool.  Either you sink, or you swim.  I swam.

A professional turning point in my career was when I accepted to launch an initiative in Morocco for a company I worked for in the past.  No one believed I could overcome the social, racial, and religious differences.  Yet, when you must rely on yourself, you discover qualities deep within you.  I consider my two years in Morocco as among the best of my professional experiences.

Another risk was also to join Lenovo. When they came knocking I was in my comfort zone and could have stayed there for years.  And yet…my flame was flickering.  Lenovo, a Chinese company, represented opportunity and the unknown.  I took the risk to be vibrant with life.”

Build confidence: Try. Dare. Make Mistakes. Fall…and get up again.

DD: “It seems that risk-taking is integral to your life-paradigm.  Where did it come from? Were you born with it?”

EM: “I was scared of everything as a child!  I feared doing wrong.  Dreaded not understanding or not being understood.  I was scared to try.  And the more I focused on my fear, the more it grew and the less I dared anything.

I learned to embrace risk by facing challenges and realizing I overcame them.

When confronted with the kinds of situations, “If this should happen to me, I’ll die,” I came out of them alive.  Those fears were in my head!  When I realized these were fears I created, I sought out counseling and coaching and embarked on some thorough soul-searching and soul-healing.

Confidence is like a flower needing daily watering.  It is a muscle to keep in shape with daily exercise.

When we take a risk and it works, we grow in confidence.  It nurtures more confidence.

Even if the risk does not work out as hoped, we still grow in confidence.  We learn from every trial.  And even in failed attempts, something worked. If that one element succeeded a first time, there is a high probability it can generate positive results again.  Our society depends upon risk-taking.

Once we gain in confidence, then we need to learn to maintain it.  Confidence is like a flower needing daily watering.  It is a muscle to keep in shape with daily exercise.”

DD: “You speak of changing yourself.  And yet many people resist change and risk-taking because they believe the problem lies with someone else.”

EM: “We only see in other people something that resonates with us, be it positive or negative.  Everyone is not sensitive in the same ways.  One person can be transported by a piece of music whereas his tone-deaf neighbor finds the noise discomforting.  One person will leave a conference feeling ecstatic and uplifted and someone else deems it was a waste of time and money.

It’s so much easier to believe the problem lies in the other person.  People do not change against their will.  If they want to evolve, they will.  The only person on whom you have real power to change is yourself.

We reap what we sow.  Sow hate; reap hate.  Sow discord; reap discord.  Sow love; reap harmony.

I spend a lot of time transmitting. There is no magic wand to extract change in someone else.  And yet, I can create circumstances which favor change in others.  First, to be a role model, which I practice in both my personal and professional life.  Next, to be authentic.  When I am genuine with others, I invite authenticity from them.  When you are sincere, 50%—no, it’s more like 80%—of your contacts will respond with sincerity.

We reap what we sow.  As a junior manager, I believed success lay in being tough.  I reaped fear and distrust.  Then I took the risk to trust my team.  Trusting anyone renders one extraordinarily vulnerable.  When I trusted, positive results abounded.

Life is like a mirror which reflects what we give.  Sow hate; reap hate.  Sow discord; reap discord.  Sow love; reap harmony.”

DD: “How do you transmit a desire for risk-taking to your team, to your young employees, and to your daughters?”

EM: “As a CEO, my duty is to transmit.  It’s how we prepare the next generation of leaders.

Our youth seek meaning in life and in work.  Purpose comes from the heart, not from the intellect.  We focus our training on knowledge-building; we need to build know-how.

Creating learning experiences implies accepting our vulnerability as people.  By doing, and through interaction, we face our humanity straight on. Unfortunately, today’s education in France focuses so strongly on the intellect, and we find ourselves disconnected from our own humanity. I wish our youth had more opportunities to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.

Parents are obsessed with grades and, with the best of intentions, raise children to become test-taking machines. I don’t blame them; we all want to protect our children and do the best for them. Unfortunately, many parents respond out of fear.

And yet, our children will, and need to, confront their own fears.  This is how to prepare them for taking risks and for success in life.

Purpose comes from the heart, not from the intellect.

For a long time, we have been taught that leaders should manage with their intellect.  Reasoning reigns.  I have learned that leadership also relies on your heart and your gut.  As parents, we are called to use our brains to find ways to connect meaningfully with our children and to help them develop grit.”

DD: “What do you want your employees and daughters to believe about risk?”

EM: “I want my daughters and everyone to dare to take risks.

Risk does not avoid danger.  The fear of risk will not keep bad things from happening to you or me.  In fact, it is a good thing to recognize the riskiness of a venture.  It will guide you to keep a safe distance from the edge of a cliff.

Only our fears are often exaggerated. The outcome is often less serious than we dreaded.

I want my girls to have confidence.  Let them try.  Let them dare.  Let them accept making mistakes.  They will fall…and pick themselves up again.

I want my daughters and my young employees to know they are marvelous and a wonderful life awaits them when they embrace it.

Too many people today no longer dare to risk.  If they don’t succeed on the first try, they are ashamed.

If you or I do not take risks, we might distance danger, but we will forget to live.  We end up like the walking-dead: biologically alive yet without a life inside.

The more risks you take, the wider you open your arms to life.” It need not be a big risk, even the small ones can open fantastic opportunities.

DD: “Are there risks you did not take and wished you had?”

EM:  Laughter.  “No.  Of course, there must be some.  However, I do not live looking in the rear-view mirror and harboring regrets.  While I am still alive, I can still embrace those risks.”

DD: “Thank you.”

Thank You

Elisabeth Moreno gave us food for thought.  May we feed on it wisely.

  • To clear out the fears in our head
  • To dare and learn
  • To nurture our confidence daily
  • To lead with humanity

Stay tuned as, next week, I’ll share exercises to put these insights into action.

P.S. I’m writing from my orange Lenovo PC.  My husband recommended it for the technical qualities and value for money.  I fell in love with the color; it makes me happy to begin work every day.

Cover photo by Sammie Vasquez from Unsplash
Fanny Smith Ski Cross Olympics 2018

Time Optimization Tips from the Olympics

Time management matters when nanoseconds make the cut for an Olympic medal.

That’s the case with champion women’s skicross Fanny Smith, from Villars-sur-Ollon, who won the bronze medal in the Olympics at PyeongChang.  Our children learned to ski in Villars and I too felt that thrill of the locals when she earned her medal.

Fanny Smith Bronze Olympics 2018

On our local slopes we don’t see these; they are prevelant at the Olympics.  The blue lines on the slopes.


Optimize Time with Success Lines

These markers help racers and coaches trace the optimal path to follow.  It’s literally their time-optimization guide.  Stay within the lines to go faster.

How do you track the optimal path and reach your goals fast?  For your life?  For your work? For your relationships?

Time management is an issue for many of us.  Few of us can afford hours retracing our steps.  And yet many of us do so with relationships.  Building positive rapport between people takes time…and it takes even longer to clean up after the s*@! hits the fan. 

Too far off these blue lines and the skiers crash and forfeit the race.

If you find yourself impatient or frustrated or repeating yourself, it’s time to consider.  Might something be out-of-focus: either your goal or the path to get there?

Save Time & Fix your objective

I begin many workshops with an activity* to bring our goals into clear focus.

Step 1—List the Time Consuming Challenges

What zaps your time and energy in relationships?  We clear out what blocks our vision by naming these challenges.

For a workshop for managers of Millennials, we wrote down “Challenges Working with Millennials.”

Participants chime in: resistance to rules, attached to the phone, in need of perpetual feedback, (too) high view of his (untested) capabilities, and even spelling mistakes.

Maybe you don’t work with the Gen Y.  Then tweak the question to match your work dynamics:

  • Challenges of working with off-site teams
  • Challenges of working in Finance/Legal/Marketing in an industrial group

This process of listing difficulties creates a positive group dynamic and opens communication.  Everyone realizes we sweat and worry over similar predicaments.  In expressing these shared relationship challenges, we give ourselves and each other the permission to be human and to learn.

Expressing the negatives has the effect of letting dust settle.  The atmosphere is lighter and we are ready to clearly focus on the positives we seek.

Step 2—Identify the Team Skills to Build

We then create a separate and complementary list to bring the leadership goals into focus.  These are the skills managers seek to transmit to their teams to create a motivating and performing work environment.  We enumerate them under, “Qualities of our Team’s Culture.”

Of course, you seek to develop technical capabilities: mastery of financial analysis or digital marketing tool.  You ALSO aim to build communication and soft skills:  trust, mutual respect, learning from experienced team members, learning from youth, seeking excellence…

Step 3—Assess

Once the two lists are completed, we step back to review them side by side and invite comments from everyone

Some participant are motivated: “I had not thought of myself in the leadership development business.  How inspiring!”

Others balk: “What pressure.  I don’t master all those soft skills.  How can I pass them on to my team?”

Many have questions: “Do I have to do all of them at once?” and “So, what is the link between the two lists?”

Step 4—Use Time Optimizing Success Lines

Success lines help us identify where we are and where to aim.  They’re like a GPS.

These lists represent our leadership GPS.

The challenges point to our present situation.  “You are here.”  This is where we have arrived using our current leadership style.  This is also where you will stay by continuing with your actual managerial tools. 

The qualities represent our desired destination.  Like when your team members jump out of bed in the morning with enthusiasm to get to work and engage with a dynamic team.  Or when colleagues seek you or your employee out for greater responsibilities.

Focus, Focus, Focus

But you may wonder, “It’s just a list…”

Correction.  It’s a lens. 

You get what you measure.  When your bonus is set on profit, you’ll likely avoid high volume, low margin customers.

“Human systems grow in the direction of their deepest and most frequent inquiries.” – David Cooperrider, founder of Appreciative Inquiry, Case Western University

Our leadership focus is what we generate in our team. Your and my focus matters because it changes our actions.

“The act of looking for certain information evokes the information we went looking for—and simultaneously eliminates our opportunity to observe other information.” – John Wheatley, quantum physicist

When we talk, model, clarify, and encourage the qualities we seek in our team, we create clear success lines. And that saves tons of time…and money, and energy, and good spirits.

Positive Communication Tools

A clear focus is the first among many tools to build the qualities in your Leadership GPS.  Check out the workshops to discover others and how to develop them in your team.

Leadership GPS Works In Life too

This optimizing GPS applies in personal relationships as well.

When our four boys were young I embarked on a husband-improvement-program.  As a woman, I KNEW how to be a great dad!!!

Every day for one month I noted one helpful behavior my husband did for the family and let him know my appreciation.  “Honey, thanks for having done the dishes. It’s really nice to finally relax after having put the kids to bed.”

I anticipated behavioral modification in my husband.  This process changed me. 

My previous focus lay on the mountain of chores to be done and how my husband did not do his part.  My tone of voice often sounded critical.  When focusing on his contributions, I became more enjoyable to be around.  Maybe he became more involved or my company became more pleasant; either way, we ALL (sons included) do chores.

Ranking high on the list of “Dampierre Qualities to Groove Together” (our family GPS) you’ll find:

Everyone in the family helps.

Food for thought

  • How many times a day do you focus on what is going wrong? On what is going right?
  • How time effective is your critique?
  • Your critique is welcome here. What do you disagree with in this post?

Tell us in the comments.  Thanks.


Cover photo from

Gold Medalist Virtue and Moir

Win-Win Relationships – When 1 + 1 = MUCH MORE

If you and I would be in a room together, three of us would be present.  You.  Me.  And our relationship.

It’s been Olympic season, which made me wonder, “What does a gold medal relationship look like?”

Gold Medal Relationships On Ice

Gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (ice dancing) swept me off my feet.  Figuratively, that is (although I am writing with a sore knee and bruised thigh having fallen on ice!)

In the rink, we find Tessa and Scott AND their “je ne sais quoi”, that is, their win-win relationship.

Here are comments from and about them:

 “Better together.”

“Trust empowers them to dare.”

 “What a privilege to work with an exceptional athlete and person like you!”

Gold Medal Relationships On Water

It’s more than a male-female thing.

The team of nine Americans who won the 1936 U.S. men’s Olympic eight-oar rowing competition experienced this too.  In the book Boys in the Boat, one of the team members, Joe Rantz, describes the feeling of flow when the eight men rowed in power to the rhythm set by their savvy and demanding coxswain (navigator).

It’s like they were flying across the surface of the water, in total unison, all as one.

On Olympic racing day, one of their rowers ran a high temperature, and the coach recommended they replace him with their backup man.  The other eight men in the boat insisted on competing as the original team.  They performed better together.

Winning Relationships In Outer Space

Such an intense win-win relationship goes beyond sports and youth too.

Space Cowboys

In the movie, Space Cowboys, a retired NASA engineer, Frank Corvin (played by Clint Eastwood), agrees to rescue a threatening Russian satellite only if accompanied by the team he trusts: his fellow retired cohorts, especially William “Hawk” Hawkins (Tommy Lee Jones) who passes flight-worthiness despite being diagnosed with late stage cancer.

Together, they’re better.

How would you describe your personal and professional relationships?

Relationship Test

One of my workshop activities reveals how we view “winning” in relationships.

Participants are paired and placed across from each other with a string of yarn between them.  The instructions are

  • No talking
  • No touching
  • Winning is when the other person crosses the line between the two of you.
  • Go!

This activity comes from Positive Discipline by Dr. Jane Nelsen and Lynn Lott.


I first tried this activity with groups of parents.  The room overflowed with creativity.  Some folk got on their knees, others pretended to have found something so hilarious the other person should come and check it out, even others pulled out money from their pockets to bribe.  The room buzzed with good humor.

In the debrief, I ask which pairs had a winner (a few), which had no winner (most), and which had two winners.

The “Aha! Moment” came when the two winners demonstrated their double success:  they each cross to the other side at the same time. 

Participants realize how ingrained they are in the win-lose paradigm.


On another occasion I attempted this activity with a group of professional women, all from different organizations.  Upon hearing the instructions and the “Go” a few of them made minor attempts to connect with their partner. Within seconds the room was silent, and no one budged. The cost of losing outweighed the benefit of winning.

Win-Lose Relationships at Work

Too many of us come to work expecting win-lose relationships.

You might recognize these behaviors, either in yourself (!) or in colleagues.

The Attention Seeker

  • Sentences begins with “I”
  • They attend and speak in meetings that do not involve their work

The Controller

  • “When I want your Opinion, I’ll Give it to You”
  • “Do it My Way”

The Power Monger

  • For them to look good, others have to look bad
  • It’s vital to be first, no matter how

The Poisoner

  • “Why are you trying so hard? Management does not care”
  • They spread gossip

The Incapacitator

  • They don’t give you a chance to grow.  It can even sound nice, “Don’t worry.  I’ll just do it.”  The hidden message remains, “You’re not good enough.”
  • They don’t delegate

Breaking Free from the Win-Lose Paradigm

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Imposing change on others is like pressing down on a ball.  As soon as the pressure is removed, it bounces back to its previous state.

We can, however, change ourselves.  It’s POWERFUL.  It’s like changing the surface against which a ball bounces.  If we acted like a spongy texture (absorbing stress) and replace it with a sturdy, bouncing-off surface, the conversation will fall differently.

Check out the workshop “Communicate Positively Even Under Stress” which brings insights and skills to change your own response in ways to build win-win relationships.

What About You?

What are some win-lose relationships you face at work or in life?  How would you describe them?

Let’s hear the same about the win-win relationships too!

Please share in the comments below.

Happy Hour with Ollia

On the Air with Happy Hour with Ollia

Super excited to be a guest on Happy Hour with Ollia. on radio IDFM98 on Tuesday, March 6 from 7-8pm (10am in L.A, 1pm in New York, 6pm London).

Work + Life + Balance

Join us to hear a live discussion about succeeding in work and life simultaneously.  We’ll talk about finding our own personal balance by building healthy relationships (connection AND boundaries) through positive communication.

Knowing myself and Ollia, we’ll be launghing too.

Questions You Want Answered

Let us know what issues you want addressed.  Write them in the comments below.

Join Us

Tune to 98.0FM if you’re in the Ile de France region, or via the website and click on the top left hand button “Ecoutez IDFM”  (next to blue arrow)

Les Langages de l’Amour au Travail

Avez-vous déjà essayé d’encourager un collègue et cela a échoué ? Vous avez offert des chocolats (parce que vous aimez recevoir des cadeaux) et le destinataire semblait mal à l’aise. Lors d’une réunion vous avez félicité un collègue ; il est venu vous voir pour clarifier qu’il n’avait pas besoin de votre aide pour le défendre.

Cela arrive souvent affirme Gary Chapman, auteur de la série Les 5 Langages de l’Amour.  Chacun reçoit l’amour d’une manière personnelle ET s’attend à ce que le reste du monde reçoive et exprime son appréciation de la même manière !  Ceci complique les relations.  Une personne fait un geste bienveillant vers autrui et cet effort est non-seulement peu apprécié, parfois il est rejeté.

Chapman applique ces Langages de l’amour aux relations personnelles.  Et s’ils s’appliquaient dans les échanges professionnels également ?!

Après tout, nous recherchons des employés engagés.

Les Employés sont Appréciés et Apprécient leurs Collègues

Selon une étude de Deloitte, l’engagement des employés repose sur la confiance dans le leadership, un entourage humain, un environnement inclusif et un apprentissage avancé (c’est-à-dire la possibilité de faire des erreurs et d’être encore apprécié).

Factors of employee engagement

Avec un léger changement de paradigme, il suffit de remplacer le mot « amour » par « appréciation », les principes de Langages de l’Amour/Appréciation s’appliquent à toute relation de confiance fondée sur une communication ouverte et une estime mutuelle.

Les MULTIPLES Langages de l’Amour/Appréciation

Selon Chapman (qui a vendu 11 millions d’exemplaires de ses livres traduits en 50 langues), l’amour et l’appréciation sont communiqués de façon multiple et distincte. Chaque personne a son langage de l’amour préféré et y réagit fortement.  Lorsqu’elle reçoit un encouragement dans cette langue, cela favorise la connectivité et la coopération. Inversement, une critique lancée dans ce langage est ressentie plus fortement.  Cela nécessite un plus gros effort pour regagner son attention et la motiver.

Nous avons tous tendance à considérer que les autres pensent comme nous.  Cette croyance erronée crée une source de frustration. Tout comme un anglophone peut ne pas comprendre un collègue qui parle en français, la même déconnexion peut se produire entre des personnes qui « parlent » différentes langues de l’amour.

Selon Chapman, il existe cinq manières de communiquer l’appréciation

  • Paroles valorisantes
  • Services rendus
  • Cadeaux
  • Moments de qualité
  • Toucher physique

Les Implications des Langages de l’Amour/Appréciation au Travail

Quels impacts peuvent avoir ces multiples modes de connexion sur le travail ?

1. Sensibilisation et compréhension

Je vis à Paris. Quand de très jeunes enfants français m’entendent parler anglais, ils se tournent vers leurs parents et remarquent : « Elle parle drôlement.  Est-ce que quelque chose ne va pas chez elle ? » Ils viennent de découvrir la notion de langues étrangères.

Avant de comprendre une langue, il faut savoir qu’elle existe. Vous venez de découvrir la notion des langages de l’amour.

2. Conscience de soi et expression des préférences

Peut-être que vous vous sentez peu apprécié au travail.

Lorsque vous découvrez les différents langages de l’amour et votre préférence, vous pouvez encourager les membres de votre équipe à reconnaître vos contributions de la manière la plus significative pour vous. « Quand vous arrivez avec un sourire et une boîte de chocolats, je sens que ma contribution compte pour vous.  C’est très motivant. »

3. Créativité dans les styles de communication

Dans un monde idéal, nous pourrions identifier les Langages de l’Amour de chacun des membres de notre équipe (et de notre famille) et adapter notre communication en conséquence.

Nous vivons dans un monde réel et international.

Dans une communauté internationale, un outil, pour bien se comprendre, est de communiquer la même pensée de multiples façons.  Commencer avec « Quel est votre objectif ? » suivi par « Décrivez votre solution idéale. » Vous serez compris quel que soit votre accent.

De la même manière, vous pouvez élargir votre style d’encouragement en utilisant plusieurs Langages de l’Amour simultanément.

4. Engagement personnalisé

La relation avec un employé (ou un patron) est particulièrement délicate ? Observez et découvrez leur Langage de l’Appréciation.  Cet effort vous rendra plus empathique et votre communication sera plus efficace.

L’impact des Langages de l’Amour au Travail

Jetons un coup d’œil sur chacun de ces styles de communication et de leur mise en pratique au travail.

Vous pratiquez sûrement déjà certains de ces gestes.  Tant mieux ! Souhaiteriez-vous en essayer d’autres ?  Et avec qui ?

Paroles Valorisantes

Nous faisons tous des erreurs.  Nous réussissons tous également.  Partager des paroles valorisantes implique de prendre le temps de remarquer ce qu’une personne fait de bien ET de le lui communiquer.  Evidemment, afin que les paroles soient valorisantes, la personne à qui elles sont adressées doit pouvoir s’y reconnaître.  Il faut dire la vérité.  Parfois, il faut chercher le point positif.

On pourrait dire à son conjoint, « Chéri(e), tu planifies d’excellentes sorties en famille ! »

Voici une parole valorisante auprès d’enfant : « Tu es responsable de tes devoirs et j’apprécie de ne pas avoir à vérifier ton travail systématiquement. Les résultats le démontrent. Tu devrais être fier(e) de toi. »

Et pourquoi pas ceci au travail :

« Votre rapidité nous a permis de recevoir la présentation en avance et de bien préparer notre intervention. Du coup, la présentation était fluide et nous avons pu soumettre notre proposition avec confiance. »

« Vous débordez de joie de vivre et cela stimule la créativité de tous.  Vous êtes un atout pour l’équipe. »

La valorisation permet d’identifier les conditions qui favorisent le succès, et donc, comment les systématiser pour progresser davantage.

Un autre outil de valorisation consiste à reconnaître une compétence transversale afin d’encourager un collègue.

« Vous êtes rigoureux dans ____ (type de travail).  Je suis confiant, vous pouvez réussir ce nouveau challenge en y appliquant votre rigueur. »

Evitez des phrases bateau tels que « Bon travail. » « Belle équipe. » Elles sont agréables à entendre…et ne veulent pas dire grand-chose.

Services Rendus

Ces gestes grands et petits démontrent une bienveillance réfléchie au service d’autrui.

À la maison, cela peut signifier prendre une corvée supplémentaire pour soulager votre partenaire particulièrement fatigué.

Au bureau, considérez ces gestes

Enseigner des astuces pour maîtriser un logiciel

Mettre des gens en lien et écrire un email d’introduction

Aider à installer la salle de conférence

Apporter le café…sans oublier la pointe de lait et les deux sucres

Demander, « Comment puis-je aider ? »


C’est la pensée qui compte. Le cadeau est considéré comme la preuve d’une pensée bienveillante.  Ce n’est pas la valeur du présent qui compte, c’est la pensée et le geste.

Cela pourrait être une photo imprimée de l’événement professionnel que vous avez organisé ensemble.

Et si vous arriviez avec un macaron pour rendre son café gourmand ?

Collez un Post-it avec un message encourageant sur l’écran de son ordinateur.

Moments de qualité

L’essentiel est de le faire ENSEMBLE.

Prenez la pause-café ensemble. Sortez déjeuner tous les deux.  Jouer au foot avec les collègues.

Qu’en est-il d’une sortie after-work ? Soyez prévenant. Si votre collègue a un engagement familial ou personnel, vous pourriez être en train de lui enlever de bons moments qu’il aurait souhaité partagez avec ses proches !

Toucher physique

Selon Chapman, les hommes expriment et reçoivent la valorisation par le contact physique. Pensez à la poignée de main chaleureuse, même avec deux mains.  N’avez-vous pas remarqué la main paternelle sur l’épaule ?

Pour ceux qui préfèrent éviter le contact physique au bureau, voici d’autres manières de se connecter physiquement :

Asseyez-vous du même côté du bureau

Regardezles bien dans les yeux


Valorisez l’humain. 🙂

Quel est VOTRE Langage de l’Amour ?

P.S. Essayez les Langages de l’Amour à la maison également !

Love Languages at Work

Have you ever tried to make someone feel appreciated at work and it backfired? You offered chocolates (because you like to receive gifts) and the recipient gave you a wierd look. You publicly complimented a colleague who then informed you they don’t need your help defending them.


This is a common misunderstanding asserts Gary Chapman, author the the 5 Love Languages series. Each person is internally wired to receive love in a preferred way AND expects the rest of the world to receive and express appreciation in the same way. Chapman applies these Love Languages to personal relationships and uses the term “love.”

Aren’t we also people at work?

Engaged Employees are People who Care and Feel Appreciated

According to a Deloitte study, employee engagement banks on trust in leadership, a humanistic entourage, an inclusive environment, and high learning (a.k.a. the opportunity to make mistakes and still be appreciated).

Factors of employee engagement

With a slight paradigm tweak, Love Language insights apply to any trusting relationship seeking open communication and mutual appreciation.

The MULTIPLE Love Languages

According to Chapman (who sold 11 million copies of his books translated in to 50 languages), love and appreciation are communicated in multiple and distinct ways. Everyone has a preferred Love Language.  Appreciation expressed in this favored language encourages connectivity and cooperation. Conversely, disproval communicated in this preferred language further distances the parties; greater effort is required to “retrieve” the one who received critique to regain their attention and to motivate them.

People often assume that every other person shares his same method of expressing appreciation. That mistaken belief creates a source of frustration. An Anglophone may not understand a colleague who converses in French, and the same disconnect can occur among people “speaking” different Love Languages.

According to Chapman, there are five ways communicate that they care

  • Words of affirmation
  • Acts of service
  • Receiving gifts
  • Quality time
  • Physical touch

Implications of Love Languages at Work

How could these varying modes of connection impact your and my life at work?

1. Awareness and understanding

As an Anglophone living in Paris, I come across very young French children who hear me speak English.  They turn to their parents and ask, “Why does she speak so funny? Is something wrong with her?”

That’s when these tykes discover the notion of foreign languages.

Before we gain the ability to decipher these Love Languages, it helps to know that they exist.

2. Self-awareness and expressing preferences

Maybe you feel unappreciated at work. As you discover the various Love Languages, you also uncover your preferences. Your newfound awareness allows you to encourage team members to recognize your contributions in a way that is most meaningful to you.

When come in with a smile and a box of chocolates, I feel that you recognize my contribution to our team. It means a lot to me.” (Love Language = Receiving Gifts. Read below for more details)

3. Creativity in communication styles

In an ideal world we might identify the Love Language of our team members (and family members) and communicate accordingly.

We live in a real world…and a global one at that.

To ensure comprehension among internationals, it is helpful to communicate the same thought in multiple ways. “What’s your goal?” followed by “Describe your ideal solution.”  Who knows, they might not understand your accent!

In the same way, expand your Love Language vocabulary; try using Words of Affirmation AND Acts of Service with the same person.  It won’t hurt them AND you will grow.

4. Personalized engagement

One employee (or boss) particularly challenges you? Spend some time observing them to discover their Love Language.  In the process, you will grow in empathy and understanding AND communicate more effectively.

Impact of Love Languages at Work

Let’s take a peak at each of these communication styles and identify how to apply them appropriately in the workplace. Some ideas you will find familiar; you’re doing them already.  Do you do so with every colleague or selectively?

What new approach would you like to adapt today?

Words of Affirmation

Everyone makes mistakes AND everyone does at least one thing right.  This language focuses on identifying and naming those strengths.

With a spouse it can sound like, “Honey, great job organizing this family outing. It’s so much fun.”

With a child, one could say, “You are reliable with your schoolwork. I really appreciate not having to check up on your homework all the time. You should be proud of yourself.”

And at work:

“Thanks to your timeliness in preparing the presentation we practiced well. It helped us speak fluidly in front of the customer and present our ASK with confidence.”

“You bring good humor to our meetings which stimulates creativity for everyone. You’re an asset to the team.”

Affirmation helps identify the conditions which favor success…which we can then replicate for continued growth.

Affirmation can also reduce the risk of a new challenge by helping the individual recognize a transferable skill.

“You are rigorous in ____ (type of work), I’m confident you can apply that rigor to move us forward in this new domain.”

Affirmation is more than non-committal phrases like “Good job.” “Great team.”  These provide candy to the ego yet lack the consistency to generate a vibrant sense of belonging and feeling of contribution.

Acts of Service

These big and small gestures demonstrate an intentional kindness for the benefit of another person.

At home it might mean taking on an extra chore when your partner comes home exhausted.

How about these for the office:

To help someone with a software or a technology issue

To connect people and smooth the way with an introductory email

To help to set up the conference room

To bring the morning coffee just the way you like it (with the two dashes of cinnamon and the squirt of honey)

To ask, “How can I help?”

Receiving Gifts

It’s the thought that counts, like showing that you thought of them when they were out of sight. The size of the gift matters less than the having a present to offer.

It could be a photo of the professional event you worked so hard to organize together. A print of the two of you together or an image sent specifically to them, especially if they cannot be there with you.

Does the person enjoy a delicacy with her/his coffee?

Stick a post-it message of encouragement on their screen as you pass by.

Quality Time

The key concept is TOGETHER.

Going for a coffee break together. Inviting a colleague to grab lunch just the two of you. Playing of the company soccer team.

What about an after-work outing? Be considerate. If your colleague has a family or other personal commitment, your offer may be taking quality time away from his loved ones!

Physical Touch

According to Chapman, most men express and receiving caring (and rejection) through physical touch.

Think of the hearty handshake, even a double-handed one.  Notice those paternalistic pats on the shoulder.

In a workplace, one can create a sense of physical connection without touching.

Sit on the same side of the desk

Secure eye contact


So….what’s YOUR Love Language? 

P.S. And when you get home, remember those Love Languages too!


Biker in Paris in the snow

How Snow in Paris Taught me about Diversity

It’s snowing in Paris.  A layer of white flakes changes what is visible and how things previously hidden, now appear.

Snow, more specifically comparing the sun-filled and snow-covered view of the same scene, provides a visual image of benefits of diversity.

Switching Paradigms – the Positive Perspective

On my walk to the Metro, I pass by a patch of unkempt, sprawling nettles.

Today, with a dust of snow, these weeds appear just as delicate and ethereal as the flowers caringly planted that grow beside them.

It’s quite refreshing, both literally (!) and figuratively.  How do you feel around a person who always finds faults?  Whose company do you seek:  the shoe salesman who goes into the jungle and asserts, “No one wears shoes.  There is no market.” or the one who discovers, “No one wears shoes.  What opportunity!”

It is energizing to observe what is good and admirable.  When looking out for the mishaps, we miss the qualities.  We find what we seek.

Noticing the Unseen

What surprised me the most is not what the snow covered…but what it revealed.

The size of the tree trunks.  The wire fence.

Paris in 1919 in the snow

Tree Trunks

On a sunny day, when I look at a tree my eyes focus on the network of branches and the promise of leaves.  These branches covered in white blended into the light grey sky.  It’s the tree trunks that stand out, a blotch of dark standing out like a sore thumb.

A friend is launching a start-up.  She has product characteristic without being sure of her market.  Oops!  It’s time to step back and get the big picture. Her mentor shared, “You have beautiful leaves.  Now grow the tree!”

Intellectually, this made sense.  Yet it remained head-knowledge.  Today as we walked in the snow and the white branches faded into the light gray sky, the tree trunks loomed larger than usual.  She “got it.”  Without the tree trunk (understanding the market need), the leaves (her company’s specific solutions) don’t matter.

The snow uncovered the fundamentals.

Wire Fence

It’s the wire fence that surprised me the most.  I rarely noticed the slender cross wires.  Now each wire measures 1cm high with snow.  What used to be a quazi-transparent barrier is now quazi-opaque.

It’s like the H & M “Coolest Monkey in the Jungle” hoodie worn by a black boy.  The campaign did not register with the all-white board of directors until The Weeknd cancelled his marketing contract.  (How many lost weeks and dollars went into seducing him and then negotiating and signing the agreement?!)  Negative press abounds.  Good-will took a dive.

The snow revealed how something that seems innocuous to one group could be restrictive to another.

Diversity MATTERS and has consequences.

Diversity MATTERS and has consequences. Click to Tweet

Diversity Accelerates Competitiveness

Amy Edmondson, Harvard Business School professor and author of Teaming: how organizations learn, innovate, and compete in the Knowledge Economy, reminds leaders that although most incentive and promotion packages are based on individual performance, teamwork remains the essential ingredient for success. In the speed-driven Internet economy, the organizations that prosper are those that create teams that learn together faster.

When everyone thinks the same way, learning suffers.  Less surprise.  Fewer questions.  Less conflict.  Fewer solutions.

Which brainstorming session would you prefer attending?

  • The meeting in your corporate auditorium with people you regularly work with all dressed in their customary suits
  • The session beginning with surprising trust-building exercises, led by junior members of the team…

“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”
Albert Einstein

Diversity Reduces Risk

Diversity is like investing in a portfolio of stock vs. solely in one company or industry.  The advertisement campaign may go sour in one organization; it’s unlikely that all competitors make the exact same decisions.

Edmondson asserts that high-learning organizations (companies, families, classrooms…) allow risk-taking and its corollary, failure.

They systematize learning as of the beginning of the discovery process and at every step along the way to catch bloopers while the stakes remain small.

It’s easier to change course at 500 meters into the journey than 20 km into the hike.  In addition to less backtracking (and the related negative emotions), finding the “wrong turn” and getting on track is more expeditious.

Diversity Brings Discomfort

A client spoke of their corporate culture: new hires with potential integrate the “Fast Track” where both they and the company invest in their managerial development.  It’s an intense program which generates elite graduates with ambition and proven grit…who also think alike.

When the company merged with a previous competitor, the newly created organization was led by a “Fast Track” graduate.  Over the next year, all of the professionals from the previous company resigned from the new organization.

The stock price of the parent company also took a deep dive and management announced massive job cuts.  Is there a relationship?

Discomfort of diversity now could save from the greater pain and cost of job loss later.

Be Diverse in your Diversity

Your workplace is more traditional?  Start by actively cultivating diversity at home.  We are each responsible for our own learning.

Try one of these:

    1. Connect with your teen by doing an activity that’s in their comfort zone.
      Have you tried an Escape Game together?  A stand-up comedy show?
    2. Explore different cultures through food.
      It’s a great way to explore diversity with kids.  This week try Black Ink Risotto.  Next week how about Curried Tofu. So what if the kids don’t like it.  It’s one meal…and a conversation that can build over weeks.
    3. Do you work with numbers and pride yourself in rational thought? Take a MOOC on emotions or a drawing class.
      Or if you artistic, sign up for a logic-driven coding course.
    4. Get inspired by Keith Ferrazzi, entrepreneur and author of Never Eat Alone, and co-host a dinner party.
      You invite half the guest and your friend invites people you do not yet know.  As you mingle and linger in the comfort of a home, you grow your network and your comfort zone.
    5. Build empathy as a family and volunteer for a food drive.
      Listening to the stories of the guests challenges one’s stereotypes.

You can be a catalyzer for diversity in your office.  Practice at home makes diversity easier to implement at work.  You’ll have intriguing stories to share at the coffee machine and become a resource and encouragement for others seeking ways to add spice to the team.


Stay tuned for upcoming insight on management inspired by the Paris snow storm.


Photo from Maleva.& Salut Paris

Teen jumping horizon

Pour les Ados – Développer les Qualités que les Employeurs Recherchent

RSVP workshopPour les adolescents et les pré-adolescents

Les parents mettent de la pression?

Vos parents font-ils pression?

  • “Que fais-tu à propos de ______!?”
    (tes examens, tes décisions d’études, ton utilisation du téléphone, ta vie sociale … ta chambre en désordre)
  • “Quand va-tu________ !?”
    (commencer à travailler, être responsable, parler avec respect …)

Ces décisions ne donnent pas envies, donc il est plus facile de vouloir les éviter … et pourtant elles ne disparaissent pas.

Comme l’a dit un adolescent: “Maman, papa, c’est comme ça: être un enfant, c’est amusant, être adulte c’est du travail.  Moi, je veux m’amuser.”

Hummm …

Est-ce vraiment vrai? Est-ce que chaque adulte fronce les sourcils? (Probablement pas 🙂 )


Donnez-vous des Choix pour Votre Avenir

Prenez votre futur en main

Do something great sign
(Faites quelque chose de génial) Commencez aujourd’hui

Savez-vous? VOUS pouvez rendre votre vie pleine de sens, excitante et “fun!”  Et le meilleur moyen est de commencer maintenant.

Dans cet atelier, nous vous aidons à imaginer la personne que vous voulez être et de prendre les premiers pas pour y arriver.

Ce que vous obtenez:

  • Des outils pour soulager vos parents (pour les aider à avoir confiance en vous)
  • Espoir pour l’avenir et pour votre avenir
  • Étapes à suivre pour devenir la personne que vous voulez être

Apprentissage autour de Pizza … et à travers des jeux

Nous démarrons l’atelier autour de pizzas lorsqu’on se présente.

Ensuite, on embarque dans un brainstorming (toujours avec les pizzas en main).

Nous jouerons une version de poker … et nous parierons sur des capacités pour réussir sa vie (perso) et pour gagner sa vie (travail). Vous choisissez une ou deux compétences de vie que vous voulez “gagner” cette année.

Nous créerons un plan d’action “Parents-Ayez-Confiance-en-Moi-&-Laissez-Moi-Grandir.”

Vous Repartez Avec

  • Une vision positive pour votre avenir
  • VOTRE Plan pour développer une ou deux compétences clés pour s’épanouir dans la vie
  • Un plan pour bâtir la confiance des parents et vous donner de l’espace pour grandir
  • Des indications pour vérifier tout au long de l’année que vous atteignez votre objectif

Que vais-je dire aux parents?

Notre but est que vous ET vos parents grandissent. OUI.

La croissance bénéficie de quelques ingrédients clés:

La Confiance

Vous pouvez avoir confiance que ce que vous partagez sera honoré et respecté.
Vos parents peuvent avoir confiance que leurs enfants reçoivent des encouragements sages et positifs.

Certaines informations sont partagées avec les parents:

  • l’agenda
  • les sujets de discussion

Certaines informations restent privées: qui dit quoi. (****D’une importance vitale****)

Certaines informations que vous pouvez choisir de partager (nous en discuterons en groupe):

  • Les compétences recherchées par les employeurs chez leurs nouveaux employés
  • Vos forces
  • Vos objectifs

Une Ouverture d’Esprit

Nous jouerons à des jeux (un Pokemon Go revisité, un Poker adapté) et participerons à des activités interactives.  Vous allez apprendre sur vous-même, sur vos parents, et sur votre regard sur le monde.  C’est une ouverture d’esprit rafraîchissante et motivante.

Vos parents pourront également profiter d’une perspective rafraîchie. J’invite tous les mamans et papas qui veulent en savoir plus sur le processus, la philosophie et la psychologie scientifique derrière nos activités à assister à l’atelier la semaine précédente. (Cliquez ici pour en savoir plus sur les futurs ateliers)

À propos de moi

Je suis Française et Américaine, diplômé d’un MBA Harvard, et j’ai 4 garçons.  Suite à une carrière dans le marketing chez l’Oréal et dans le conseil en management de changement, je me suis certifiée en plusieurs méthodes de psychologie positive pour suivre ma passion de travailler avec des familles.  Je suis formée en Discipline Positive (une approche pour construire des relations coopératives et respectueuses) et l’Appréciative Inquiry (une méthode pour aborder le changement par la construction sur les forces).

Et encore?

Vous m’intéressez.  C’est toujours un grand plaisir d’avoir de vos nouvelles et d’apprendre comment vous avancez sur votre plan. C’est à vous de décidez si vous voulez me tenir au courant.  Ce serait mon plaisir!

Teen waiting

Showing up is not enough.  Get Grit.

What happens when things don’t go as planned?

A. You send messages to superman/woman to save you

B. You figure what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

Success in Failure

A recent episode with high school students brought this question to the fore.

My first reaction was to be mad, to blame and find fault.

Then, I stepped back and realized this mistake presented a learning opportunity for me and for these aspiring adults who will soon be our colleagues.

Where is this pearl hidden behind a very apparent failure?!

The Mess Up

Our local high school organized its first public speaking competition and 27 students signed up.  Parents, myself included, volunteered to coach the youth.

I arrived prepared for my group coaching class on Friday… none of the students showed up!

No one knocked … or tried opening the door … or sought another way inside … or even tried to contact me by email to inquire.

Later, students told me they had been waiting outside in the hallway in front of a closed door.  Waiting.

Had they walked 10 more meters, they would have found the classroom’s SECOND DOOR wide open with me inside.

Teen girls hanging out

Open shop sign

A random group of seniors (not involved in the competition) were hanging out in front of the closed door.   Did the younger students assume these older kids knew better and so they simply waited?

When we finally connected over email some forty minutes later, some of the students sent apologies and requested the opportunity for a replacement session.

The Dis-service of “Being Nice”

“Please, can we have a ‘Do-over.’” 

It sounded like my children’s explanations of their video games.  “I died, Mom, but it’s OK.  I have three more lives.”

For a moment I almost acquiesced to the students’ request.  After all, I could have poked my head out into the hallway and inquired of the students whether there were new arrivals and were they looking for the coaching.

But these are high school students!  They’re almost adults.  Coddling them neither respects me nor them.

With regards to myself, I had showed up prepared and on time.

In pondering how to respect the youth, I refocused on the over-reaching goal

  • To spark their commitment to defend a position with fervor
  • To ignite the desire to explore the topic from a variety of angles,
  • To encourage persistence and keep their flame burning to ward off discouragement

A “do-over” sounds nice…but might it really be mean? 

It’s stealing a valuable learning opportunity from the youth.  Or force feeding kids who are not hungry.

Can giving a second chance (being nice) really be mean? Yes, when it keeps one from getting stronger. Click to Tweet

Being Firm with Kindness

Instead I wrote them all the following note:

Dear All,

I am sorry about the mix up yesterday and understand the frustration of some of you when you feel you were at the right place and we did not connect.

This may not feel like the kind of coaching you were expecting … keep reading.

Some of you suggested that I reschedule.  I won’t…because this is also life and possibly the best coaching for us all in 

  • how to handle the unexpected and
  • how to show our determination to succeed

Here are some ideas for the future

Send an email – Try to connect

Send an email if you have questions or cannot reach us…we might be wondering the same thing!  And I learned that I could have sent you all an email prior to our meeting with my phone number so that you would have been able to call.

Overcommunication is better than missing out.

Knock (bang) on the door

I led a seminar to teach teens life skills and one of our guest speakers had her entire speech about knocking and pushing on doors she thought were closed.

Showing up is good…and not enough. 

Getting the job, getting the _____ (whatever you want) requires more.  Show your commitment to opening up the door.  GO FOR IT!!!

Avoid excuses

We all have a part of responsibility.  I could have gone out into the hallway and checked out the situation instead of staying in the room.  You could have knocked on the door, emailed or….


I realize this might not read like the note you expected.  It might even sound like “sermoning.”  Please know that this note is the coaching!

What the jury wants to hear in your speech is your PASSION, your CONVICTION, in all facets of your talk

  • in your logic
  • in your choice of words
  • in your tone of voice
  • in your posture

So we messed up with getting together on Feb 2.  Some of our best lessons we learn through mistakes.  This is a small one.  No big deal.  It becomes a big deal when there is no learning.

So, guys, go out there and show the jury your belief in yourself, your determination to do well, and your readiness to learn and bounce back.

BON COURAGE.  Wishing you each VERY WELL.

Sincerely, Denise

Motivating our Loved Ones

My own son also entered this public speaking contest (he’s in a different coaching group).  I wonder how to help him get grit too.

Often the most impactful way to motivate my own teen is to share experiences of every day life.  We discussed this episode around the dinner table.

He changed the topic of his discourse to speak on first impressions!


Photos from Unsplash.  Cartoon from Fotolia.