The Mentorist


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Where Never Is Heard an Encouraging Word: Frontiers of Motivation

Think your performance would soar, if only you heard a few more words of encouragement from your boss?  Well, the Gershwin brothers had it right:  ‘It ain’t necessarily so….’

The latest Harvard Business Review (July–August 2013) reports some eye-opening results from a study designed to measure the impact of encouragement on performance levels.

In the study, subjects were arbitrarily assigned to three groups, then asked to do two sets of ‘plank’ exercises.  (Those of you who don’t know what these are, please look in the direction of your stomach. Can you see your toes?) Continue reading


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How to Work a Room When You’d Rather Fall Through the Floor

My favorite New Yorker cartoon shows a worried, middle-aged man about to walk into a cocktail party.  The thought bubble above his head reads, ‘Yikes! Grown-ups!’

Exactly.

I loathe cocktail parties — and any other gathering that requires dealing with crowds of strangers from a standing position.  Nonetheless, these sorts of ‘mingle fests’ are a fact of professional life.

If hosted by your employer, showing up is tacitly understood to be mandatory.  (Company holiday party, anyone?)  Even if your paycheck has nothing to do with the event, you can often stand to benefit professionally by going:  Future clients, referrals, job offers and board invitations can all stem from what’s known as ‘working the crowd.’ Continue reading


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Can’t Take My Eyes Off You: Dressing for the Office

Had they called each other that morning to coordinate outfits?

I walked into the conference room and, for a moment, thought I’d caught the second act of Jersey Boys.  There stood our CEO, surrounded by members of the company’s executive team –- four of whom were wearing virtually the identical outfit as our leader.

I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about this if I’d walked into a meeting at my old law firm:  Pinstriped suits and rep ties were worn by everyone of the male persuasion.

But the dress code at my new company was decidedly ‘free range,’ allowing people to wear most anything that wasn’t nailed down.  (Oh, the dot.com days!) Continue reading