The correct answer to this week’s quiz is number 3) because sales rose 8% compared to 2019 book sales. That’s the “good news,” as people were generally stuck at home while the pandemic raged. The bad news, if you’re a bookstore owner or employee, is that bookstore sales were down 23% versus 2019 given that they were either shuttered or often had limited operations. The bigger picture “bad news” for the book industry is that the percentage of people who read a book on a typical day has declined from 26% to 19% from 2003 to 2017. In comparison, TV / streamed viewing is an activity consuming 10x more of people’s time than cracking open a book. The fear that books may become less relevant in a world driven by TV et cetera was, Joanna Scott says, one of the underlying concerns motivating her latest book, a collection of short stories about the often blurry line between fact, fiction, and the fantasies that play in our heads.
Joanna Scott is the author of 12 books, including Arroganceand Various Antidotes, both PEN-Faulkner finalists, and The Manikin, a finalize for the Pulitzer Prize. Her awards include a MacArthur Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She teaches at the University of Rochester.
Nelson Johnson is a retired New Jersey Superior Court Judge and the author of four previous books including Boardwalk Empire, which inspired the HBO series about Atlantic City.
Musical tourism in Memphis was a $4 billion annual industry prior to Covid-19 and is likely to be even bigger once the pandemic subsides. Memphis has seen such troubles before. Yellow fever epidemics after the Civil War caused wealthy whites to flee in large numbers, leaving the city open for the rise of the South’s first millionaire: an African-American businessman named Robert Church. The two local heroes on which the local music tourism depends, however, consist of W. C. Handy, the father of the blues; and Elvis Presley coming along 45 years later. It was in Sam Phillips’ legendary Sun Studios on a hot July evening in 1954 that Presley recorded “It’s All Right Mama” and rock and roll took off. For a decade starting in the 1960s, Memphis became the 3rd largest center for recording music in America. No wonder Dusty Springfield came to town to record Dusty in Memphis; you had to be there!
David Less has studied Memphis music for over 40 years, including work done for the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Gibson Guitar Foundation. He’s been published in Rolling Stone and DownBeat, among other places.
On May 7, 2021, Omnivore Recordings is releasing Boogie Shoes: Live on Beale Street. The CD/LP features Memphis legend Alex Chilton (The Box Tops, Big Star) backed by the Hi Rhythm Section that backed Al Green, Ike & Tina Turner and others. The liner notes come from David Less. To learn more, visit the OmnivoreRecordings.com web site.
The number of Covid-19 cases is rising quickly again in America. If Donald Trump’s post-election shenanigans mean he’s serious about running for President again in four years, then it’s time to prepare for the political equivalent of Covid-24. No wonder so many Americans feel uneasy.
Anxiety is rooted in a feeling that you’re not up to handling the circumstances you face. That sensation can trigger profound, prolonged sadness (depression) because your situation feels hopeless.
Fortunately, the topic of my podcast this week involves seven habits people can foster to help them cope with adversity. Depending on your personality type and existing interests in life, you may gravitate to one or more of the following habits:
Three ways to make physical connections: by 1) exploring nature, 2) by having a household pet, and 3) by listening to your own body through breathing exercises like those yoga teaches.
Three ways to enhance your cognitive appreciation through: 4) enjoying the power of laughter, 5) music, and 6) stories.
The final habit is 7) spiritual: using prayers and meditation to anchor in something you do control, your own values and sense of being.
Dr. Christophe Morinhas received multiple speaking, publishing, and research awards during his career. He holds an MBA from BGSU, and both a MA and a Ph.D. in Media Psychology from Fielding Graduate University. The episode focuses on three transformational steps: better understanding your personality and motivations, practicing self-love, and finally choosing among seven habits those that may best help sustain you and bring you more inner calm.
Propelled in part by Covid-19, all sorts of changes are afoot in today’s workplace:
70% of companies are offering full-time workers the ability to work from home.
Workers are relocating outside of major city-centers to feel safe, save money, and have more space, now that they don’t have to be in centralized offices and can work remotely. 83% of employees are in favor of relocating and 20% have done so in 2020.
Over 72% of workers favor a hybrid workplace model, allowing for structure and sociability (the office) while also enabling independence and flexibility (the home).
Combine these trends with the need to upgrade skills as Artificial Intelligence makes inroads, and what do we see? In the future, workers will be more on their own than at anytime since the shift from farms to factories over a century ago. In navigating change, keeping your eyes open to learning (curiosity) is going to be vital to surviving and thriving on the job.
Making Robots Our Friends, Not Our Overlords
Released today: episode #27 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight,” featuring Jamie Merisotis, the author of Human Work in the Age of Smart Machines. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.
Merisotis is a globally recognized leader in philanthropy, education, and public policy. Since 2008, he’s served as the president of CEO of Lumina Foundation, an independent, private foundation dedicated to making opportunities for learning beyond high school available to all.
In this episode, the topics range from why and how the economy is rapidly becoming people-centered, to why the power is shifting from employers to workers as part of the 4thIndustrial Revolution. The role that academia can adapt in providing more practical, flexible life-long learning is also covered.
Two plays have most defined how we see salespeople. One is shown here, from the original staging on Broadway of Henry Miller’s classic Death of a Salesman. There’s rage, but most of all there’s sadness in a drama in which Lee J. Cobb (playing the broken-down salesman Willy Lowman) moans: “The only thing you’ve got in this world is what you can sell.” In vain his wife, played by Mildred Dunnock, tries to comfort him.
What’s the other play? It’s David Mamet’s Glengarry Glen Ross. Again, rage plays a role but really the key emotion is the fear that gets instilled in a crew of salesmen. From the film adaptation that added the character of Blake, played by Alec Baldwin, here is the movie’s most famous moment: “We’re adding a little something to this month’s sales contest. As you all know, first prize is a Cadillac Eldorado. Anybody wanna see the second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives. Third prize is, you’re fired.”
Let’s broaden and update the picture. As Daniel H. Pink pointed out in To Sell is Human, we’re all salespeople. Something like 40% of our time on the job is devoted to cajoling—persuading—selling others on what we would like to see happen.
What’s the real key emotion of effective sales nowadays? It’s surprise: eyes-wide-open curiosity. As Colleen Stanley points out in this week’s podcast, a salesperson who’s constantly learning about prospects, their needs, their hopes, their fears, and how to better connect with them, including online during Covid-19, is who you actually want to hire. Yes, steak knives are for losers but not in the way Blake meant. Serving up spoonfuls of comfort and hope would be more like it.
What size work team is most efficient? Hint: the number of fishermen in this 19th century painting provides the answer. Tom Peters has suggested that teams shouldn’t be bigger than what two large pizzas can feed (about six to seven people). Along those same lines – a listener should ideally be within five feet of a speaker to hear well. Sitting almost shoulder-to-shoulder, that precept limits a group to no more than seven members.
In a year where Learning Pods are sprouting up as private tutors offer in-person learning to small groups of children, I’m following suit. Forget anonymous-feeling webinars; I prefer to foster a sense of community and intimacy, through a highly interactive experience. Until a safe vaccine arrives to save us all, I’m launching EQ Learning Pods capped at six participants each.
The content will cover six areas:
Manager-led Workplace Culture
Customer Experience (CX)
The insights presented in these pods arise from my 20+ years of research studies conducted for over 50% of the world’s top 100 companies, plus the information contained in my eight books, speeches, books I’ve been influenced by, and what I’ve learned from hosting great authors on my podcast. The pods have been distilled into 45-minute select portions of content to spur questions and discussion. To learn more, go to www.sensorylogic.com for details, and to enroll. EQ Learning pod sessions are limited to six persons at the cost of $25 a person. I look forward to being your guide!
Deep Listening & Seeing, Deeper Learning
Touching the Soul: Musical and Psychoanalytical Listening
Researchers who study chimpanzees have found they will forgo food, if need be, to maintain a clear view of their leader’s face. Survival depends on knowing how your boss is feeling. Is now a good time to seek a favor? Or is it best to hide and stay out of harm’s way? Human beings are genetically 99% the same as chimpanzees, and we behave similarly. For us, too, palace intrigue provides both entertaining gossip and vital survival tips.
Let’s start with the entertainment. Anybody who watched the final night of the Republican National Convention last Thursday was treated to Melania Trump revealing her true feelings about Ivanka Trump. Melania’s forced smile turned to lip-curling scorn and a glassy-eyed stare the moment Donald Trump’s favorite child passed by the First Couple to join them at the podium. A jealous rivalry for the president’s affection and attention underlies the moment. That the Donald finds his daughter attractive enough to have basically lusted after her on an episode of Howard Stern’s radio show is an open secret.
As to survival, we’re all screwed if the Donald has his way. The second photo shows Food and Drug Administration (FDA) director Stephen Hahn apologizing for hyping the benefits of a Covid-19 plasma therapy the day after Trump bullied Hahn into doing so. Hahn’s forehead wrinkles make his concern transparent. Add in other shenanigans like preferring not to test asymptomatic people (to hide the dimensions of the pandemic), and you’ve got a serious case of Trump trying to have the government protect his re-election interests over our health interests as citizens. Welcome to the jungle.
$3.3 Trillion Dollars of Greed, Fear & Inertia
Released today: episode #17 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight” podcast series, featuring Paul Offit, the author of Overkill: When Modern Medicine Goes Too Far. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.
Why Do Unnecessary and Often Counter-Productive Medical Interventions Happen So Often?
Offit is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania and the director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. A prolific author, he’s also well known for being the public face of the scientific consensus that vaccines have no association with autism.
Topics covered in this episode include:
The degree to which opportunities to make money and avoid law suits drives the behavior of doctors, though inertia and unwillingness to accept advances in knowledge are also common explanations for being at times too active in treating patients.
How the marketing campaigns of pharmaceutical companies can warp treatment plans.
The conclusions from countless studies that in at least the 15 common medical interventions covered in this book, many patients are better off with more basic, common sense approaches like eating well, exercise, et cetera.
In The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce, there’s the entry: “ALONE, adj. In bad company.” On the packaging of this mock Fisher-Price product offering, the despair of a crying baby is a burden wine promises to relieve. While “Covid-19” will win hands-down as 2020’s Word of the Year, being “remote” from colleagues, from happiness, and from one’s other numbed feelings, should be on the runners-up list. Look at the upside: at least this parody product isn’t cross-branded with Clorox to include ingesting some bleach to solve your woes!
A World of Zooming and Zapping
Communicating Virtually Is Like Eating Pringles Forever
Released today: episode 16 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight” podcast series, featuring Nick Morgan, the author of Can You Hear Me? Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.
How can we protect ourselves amid the emptiness and treachery of virtual communication?
Morgan is one of America’s top communication theorists and coaches. He’s written for Fortune 50 CEOs as well as for political and educational leaders, and coached people for events ranging from TED talks to giving testimony to Congress.
Topics covered in this episode include:
What’s the likeliest way to lose the trust of others during a conference call, and how can you best hope to restore it?
Why are most online webinars a disaster and what kind of format improves them best?
If powerpoint presentations are no longer the way to go in selling to prospects in online calls, what’s the alternative?
Lately, I’ve been obsessing over how anger and fear are often two sides of the very same coin: fight-or-flight responses to danger. I got there, first, due to the three-headed monster of Covid-19, the resulting economic tailspin, and the justified civil unrest ignited by the murder of George Floyd. In every case people feel uncertainty, a sense of circumstances beyond their control. Where things get emotionally complex is that fear can turn into anger. That’s because the anxiety that comes with uncertainty can—in an emotional sleight-of-hand maneuver—be “resolved” by anger that offers relief from danger by compelling us forward to take charge of our destiny. (See my earlier blog, Anger Management: Emojis Cloud the Picture)
So I started my obsession by seeing how fear and anger intertwine around the issue of control. Then I started looking more broadly at another intersection: between ambition and a desire for control. That step brings me today to China’s leader Xi Jinping and to the U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.
I can’t think of anybody more ambitious on the world stage right now than Xi. From the crackdown in Hong Kong, to almost daily military incursions into the waterways and air space of Taiwan, to suppressing the birthrate in the Muslim province of Xinjiang, China is on the march. And that’s just a part of Xi’s goal of overturning the previous century of Western domination. Look at Xi’s facial expressions and the one constant is low-grade smiles tightened by the presence of anger. And yet underlying that anger is concern about whether China’s Communist Party can maintain its control over its vast population.
Turning to America’s home front, DeVos’s facial expressions on national TV this past weekend were a study in fear. How to justify sending students and teachers back into the classroom this fall with a pandemic raging and no meaningful federal government response? From Fox News to CNN, DeVos dutifully made the media rounds: angerly supporting Donald Trump’s threat to cut off funds to school districts that don’t comply by opening up again soon. At the same time, however, that DeVos’s words ran hot her face betrayed anxiety whenever she was challenged by a news anchor to explain how this will all work. Open-eyed looks and rising eyebrows did nothing to convey assurance that this will all work out as not-planned. What didn’t waver was DeVos’s long-cherished goal of challenging the validity of public schools, given her faith- and class-based preference for “saving America” with more private, parochial schools.
This week’s new podcast is also to no small degree about fear, anger and ambition. My interview of novelist Siri Hustvedt concerns the character of S.H., who moves to New York City to become a writer and must cope with isolation, self-doubt and slights, large and small, from various men –culminating in a guy attempting to rape her. That scene falls at literally the midpoint of the novel, with half its pages still to follow. And there at the heart of the book occurs a change of heart, as S.H.’s greater assertiveness is manifested most clearly in the pocketknife that she begins to carry around with her for self-protection.
Now, not everyone carries a knife (or a gun). But in every case, anger can become a virtual weapon—perpetuating harm—or a benign source of self-empowerment. The choice of how we utilize anger lies at least somewhat within our conscious powers of control. Stay tuned: anger and fear aren’t going anywhere. Those two emotions will undergird almost every major news story you read for the rest of 2020. Of that much, I can assure you.
Coping with Danger: How to Build Up Your Resiliency
Mysteries of Time & Memory
Released today: episode 10 of Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight podcast, featuring Siri Hustvedt, the author of the novel Memories of the Future. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode.
How Do We Write Our Personal History at the Same Time That It’s Written for Us?
The Literary Review (UK) has called Hustvedt “a twenty-first-century Virginia Woolf.” She’s the author of seven novels, four collections of essays, and two works of nonfiction. Hustvedt has a PhD in English literature from Columbia University and lectures in psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. She is also the recipient of numerous awards, including the European Essay Prize.
Topics covered in this episode include:
What it can mean to be a heroine instead of a hero, including in regards to which emotions might conventionally be considered “off-limits.”
The role that the author’s over-a-dozen drawings play in this novel.
Musings on what the roots of ambition might be, and how ambition and shame, as well as memory and imagination are often intertwined.
Yes, there are people who consider happiness a “trivial” emotion in the business world. “Back to your desk and get to work.” Those might be the words of a domineering, old-fashioned boss. But truth be told, happiness is essentially about embracing others, yourself and new ideas. It’s an emotion that grows the pie. I’ve been thinking about the power of happiness this week because the country’s boss-man, Donald Trump, decided it would profit his campaign or simply his id to attack NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace in a tweet. Wallace’s response: “Even when it’s HATE from the POTUS. Love wins.”
The noose found in Wallace’s stall at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama by his race team led to NASCAR in general and racing legend Richard Petty in particular embracing the sport’s only full-time black driver. Due to Wallace’s cap and Petty’s sunglasses, I can’t say for sure. But given their expansive, inviting smiles, I would bet big-time that both guys are actually exhibiting joyous, true smiles, whereby the muscle around the eye tightens and creates a twinkle in the eye.
Happiness is also on my mind this week because, for my podcast, I interviewed a cheerful Caroline Stokes. One of her book’s best ideas is that a new hire would benefit from a small support team meeting at the end of that person’s first week on the job, and again at the 50- and 100-day mark, to help the new hire navigate without “crashing”. Such assistance made me think of Wallace and his 43 team yet again because doesn’t a support team function in effect like a NASCAR pit crew? Change the tires, refuel the tank, and you’re quickly on your way. If only the Trump administration’s response to covid-19 could function half as well.
Getting Up to Speed in a New Job
Released today: episode 9 of “Dan Hill’s EQ Spotlight” podcast, featuring Caroline Stokes, author of Elephants Before Unicorns. Listen to the clip below and click on the image to get to the new episode. And if you like what you hear, please subscribe, and give a rating and review on iTunes.
How does avoidance of conflict ultimately create more conflict in the workplace?
Stokes is the CEO of FORWARD, and the podcast host of The Emotionally Intelligent Recruiter. She is an award-winning leadership coach and thinker, partnering with global leaders throughout their career and leadership cycle.
Topics covered in this episode include:
The emotions that inadvertently inspire the behavior of both push-over and bully bosses, and the likely emotional responses of their direct reports.
How the risk of employee disengagement can get short-circuited before it happens.
What are steps that can ensure a better on-boarding experience for the new employee, including CEO’s (whose turn-over rate is 50% within the first 18 months on the job).