What are you cooking up at work?

The Big Idea sign with clouds

My son, Josh, and I both love to cook. We also like watching TV shows about cooking. He recently recommended a Netflix documentary called Chef’s Table about chefs who change our perceptions of food and the way we treat the planet and ourselves.

One episode in particular got me thinking about you and work. The chef who was profiled is Dan Barber – the co-owner and executive chef of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns – and the author of the book, The Third Plate.

During the episode, Chef Dan shared that as a young chef a mentor told him, “If you’re not teetering on the edge of the tightrope, you’re not pushing the envelope enough.”

Of course, I immediately thought…”Am I teetering on the edge? Am I pushing the envelope enough?” But this isn’t about me, it’s about you.

“What would a person in your shoes do if he or she wanted to do the BIG thing? If he or she wanted to leave the BIG imprint on the person in front of him or her, then he or she would WHAT??

You might be thinking, “I can’t do the BIG thing, I’m just a (fill in your job). Or “How can I do something so impactful? I don’t have a BIG stage or the ability to make a difference.”

Not so fast my friend…the person you are with today – your coworker, customer, patient, boss, future customer, etc. is counting on YOU to do the BIG thing. That might be listening with empathy, finding a different solution or simply being kind. It’s not rocket science, but it has the power to change the world just like rocket science did.

As you wrap up 2015 and start to look towards 2016, chose to launch yourself, think BIG, stay on the tightrope, have fun, make a difference.

If not you, then who?

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Would you come to work if you weren’t getting paid?

My husband and I recently saw the movie “The Intern.” We settled in to watch Rober DiNiro in his role as a senior citizen intern at a tech start up. (Spoiler alert – I’m going to talk about a few things that happened in the movie – nothing that will ruin it for you – more background information.)

In the beginning of the movie, DiNiro’s character describes his life as the active life of a widower who gets up each day and gets out of the house. He is someone with lots of friends and a place to go to for coffee and to read the paper. He seems very comfortable money-wise so that doesn’t seem to be an issue.

Yet something is missing in his life. You guessed it – he goes in search of his very own Professional Paradise (my description – not the movie’s producers – haha). He misses the thrill of putting on a suit and doing the work. He actually misses it so much that he’s willing to go back as an intern despite his many years of successful experience.

And interestingly enough, on the flip side of this coin, all across the country many folks go to work every day and count down the days until retirement (literally – on calendars with big X’s). Are you one of those people? They long to trade in the constraints of work for the freedom of no schedules, lots of free time and no one telling them what to do.

Is this a simple case of one man’s need to find meaningful work or is there something more substantial to our connection to our jobs?

You can watch the movie, think about your own experiences with work and decide for yourself. This movie reminded me that it’s a privilege to go to work and serve others. It’s a privilege to create new ideas, solve problems and feel emotionally connected to your job. What a great reminder that when you purposefully connect to what makes you feel satisfied, energized & productive the benefits of work far out weigh the challenges.

Sure golf, lunch with the guys and leisurely reading the paper sounds like Paradise – but maybe we can find that same sense of Paradise at work right now. Click here to read the full article that was created by The Wall Street Journal, which in addition to the movie inspired this month’s topic of discussion.

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What Are Extraordinary Leaders Doing in Healthcare?

Be UncommonIt all started on a phone call with nursing leader, Anita Walden. Anita is the Chief Nursing Officer at Decatur Morgan Hospital in Decatur, AL. We were talking about best practices related to employee engagement and she shared a story with me about the president of the hospital, Nat Richardson. I was amazed!

Click here to continue reading the article in Becker’s Hospital Review…

Article appears in Becker’s Hospital Review (original producer).

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Let’s Do It Because We Care

There are many reasons to focus on employee engagement at work.  Recent research has shown that engaged employees are more productive, creative & safe. They offer better customer service. Financially the results are astounding. According to an article in Fast Company magazine, “Organizations in the top decile of engagement outperform their peers by 147%  in earnings per share, and have 90% better growth trend than their competition.”

The trouble is, most employees don’t give a hoot about employee engagement

(Perfect for tweeting @vickihess)

employee engagement

No one that I know, wakes up in the morning and says “I can’t wait to go to work to be engaged today.” In fact, according to a 2014 Accountemps survey, one of the most annoying business buzzwords is employee engagement. Yikes! Why do we keep talking about it if it’s so irritating?

Hopefully, because you care!

Whether you are thinking about engagement for yourself or you’re a manager and thinking about your team…being engaged (aka “to occupy oneself; become involved” – Dictionary.com) is good for YOU!

As a refresher, my definition of engagement is when you’re “satisfied, energized & productive.” When I ask participants at my workshops or keynotes about the benefits to individuals who feel this way, here are some of the most common responses:

  • More energy
  • More fun
  • Time flies
  • Less stress
  • Better teamwork
  • Sleep better

Don’t you want to experience all those things? I know I do!

Today, pay attention to the times when you feel satisfied, energized & productive. Notice how YOU benefit in many of the ways listed above (hopefully you aren’t experiencing the sleeping benefit at work – haha).

If you are in a formal leadership role, start asking about the personal benefits of engagement because you care.

If you are looking for ways to find those benefits yourself, find a way to connect directly to what makes you feel satisfied, energized & productive and pay attention while it’s happening. That’s the ticket to all those lovely outcomes.

I’d love to hear the benefits you experience when you are engaged at work. Feel free to post your comments below.


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What Kind of “Footprint” are You Making at Work?


Deepak Chopra Text Image

This tweet by Deepak Chopra says it well. We all have an energetic signature that we share every time we come in contact with someone.

The question is…are you consciously choosing your own signature?  

Your energetic signature is evidenced by the metaphorical “footprint” you leave behind after each interaction. Here are two footprints that I often see to help you ponder your own energy signature.

Prison Yard Footprint™

This footprint is left by Chain Gang Members everywhere. The Chain Gang Member has sentenced him or herself to Professional Prison. He or she chooses to be unhappy most of the time, regardless of what is happening externally. These folks are just plain yucky to be around!

I often ask my audiences what a Prison Yard Footprint looks like at work. Here are the most common responses:

  • Complaining     Muddy Boot Print
  • Negativity
  • Focus on problems – not solutions
  • Victim mentality
  • Gossiping


Now that’s a depressing list of behaviors…do you agree? These Chain Gang Members need to clean up their Prison Yard Footprint!

Paradise Footprint

Footprint in Sand

This footprint is left by the Chief Paradise Officers (CPOs). A CPO is someone who regularly connects with things at work that make him or her feel satisfied, energized & productive. These CPOs aren’t immune to a little complaining or an occasional bad day. They do, however, work to control their response to the challenges they encounter.

Here’s what the Paradise Footprint looks like:

  • Smiling
  • Support for team members
  • Genuine appreciation for others
  • Gratitude
  • And as Deepak says in his tweet…”positive feelings”

As much as you might think that these footprints are caused by what’s happening at work, that’s just not true. If you pay attention, you’ll notice that two people can have two very different responses to the same external event (think technology upgrade). One person chooses a Paradise Footprint while another leaves their muddy, Prison Yard Footprint all over.

At work, are you choosing a Paradise Footprint or a Prison Yard one or are you just stumbling along without any thought at all?

Don’t clean up your Prison Yard Footprint for your boss, your coworkers or customers. They will all appreciate it, but the most important benefit will be the one you see for yourself. You will feel more satisfied, energized & productive. Your stress will go down and you’ll feel better. The great news is that you don’t need any special skills. You just need awareness, willingness and a little effort. To get a head start, visit www.ProfessionalParadise.com to download free tools.

See you in Professional Paradise!

Vicki Hess


© Vicki Hess ALL RIGHTS RESERVED – May be duplicated for internal use only with all contact information.

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Goldfish Attention Spans (Yes…Really!)

This is a guest blog post from the incomparable Sam Horn. I’ve worked with Sam in the past and she’s a great resource for creating intrigue (and in a good way of course). Enjoy this blog post about her newest book, Got Your Attention? How to Create Intrigue and Connect with AnyoneRegardless of your job, this is potent information to have.

IntrigueQuote“A lot of times people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”  pioneer Steve Jobs

I agree with Steve Jobs.

That’s why, as soon as Intrigue Agency Project Manager Mo Sahoo discovered a startling statistic from Harvard Business School researcher Nancy F. Koehn, that goldfish YES GOLDFISH, have longer attention spans that we do (9 seconds to our 8), I knew it was, somehow, going to be featured on the cover my new book.

Why?  Because it illustrates the idea of the book.

Here’s what I mean.

Do you know the intriguing back-story behind the iconic cover of the book Jaws?

Read the rest…just click here.

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