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BEST BOOKS FOR YOUR SMALL BUSINESS Summarized with skill-sets for your success
I'll read the book so you don't have to!

Today's book:
By Malcolm Gladwell c.2005.Little Brown and Company
(I know 7 pages seems long but it's a lot shorter than 277 pgs)



          Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking is Malcolm Gladwell's latest book for businesses. His most famous book, The Tipping Point is a staple in business schools and I encourage anyone running a business to buy and read it. It is very readable and works with a very important premise, i.e.; how to construct a word-of-mouth marketing program that will work for you. His premise is, it's not how many people you know to tell about your business, it's whom you know.

          In Blink, Gladwell deconstructs the matter of intuition, which for many of us psychotherapists and healers is like preaching to the choir. We know, depend upon, and utilize our intuition with our clients on a regular basis. Intuition becomes another tool to gather data. And by taking it out of the "psychic" realm, we can use our intuition about our clients with much certainty. We are trained to read our intuition by the mental, visual, and physical clues it manifests in us.

          In my early years a frustrated Supervisor of mine at a clinic asked me how I new the client was really scared.
          "Because I felt cold," I said.
          "Wendy," he replied with exasperation. "You can't just give that as an answer. You have to put more words to what you observed and experienced, and what the client said and how he said it!"
          And my Supervisor was right. I went on to teach and write and get a PhD where "I felt cold" was not a suitable statement unless my research was about the weather.

          Some people say that by the time you finish your PhD, you have spent so much time in your head you lose your intuition and empathy. Actually, my intuition put me into some kind of omniscient space where my whole dissertation came to me at once and all I had to do was write down what I was getting. I wrote and finished my thesis in record time because I had this map.

          All that time I wondered if I was losing my intuition (which would have been like losing a dear friend) and I did intuition exercises to keep my "muscles" in shape. One book that helped me a lot and I still use is, Awakening Intuition by Frances Vaughan, 1979:New York, New York.

          The pendulum is swinging. In big and small business today, there is so much that is uncertain; markets rise and fall, profits rise and fall. The old ways of decision making are well, old. Management and leaders want to learn how to develop intuition as a tool to count on for decision making. All of a sudden, what we know, they want to know.

          Gladwell might say therapists, healers, and coaches have trained their "bodily" intuition to work for them. He says business leaders and owners can train their "head" or mental intuition and first impressions to work for them.

          He then takes a long tack to site evidence and research that tries to deconstruct head intuition as a product of "thin-slicing" a deconstruction of a first impression. Thin-slicing is a way of shredding your first impression into small, transparent slices that give you tons of data. So it's not really a case of intuition, as it is more of learning how to read omni presently available pieces of data. Yet, as I said, he is talking to the choir. When intuition is a tool, I don't need to know how it happens; I just want to know how to stay open to channel it. This, of course is anathema to conservative business owners who have huge decisions at stake that involve millions of dollars. For them, there has to be a source of explanation and another term to use rather than intuition.

          I have coined the term, " earned intuition " to explain the entire experience of accumulating years of expertise in your field, having a level of exquisite attunement to very subtle and elusive (to others) details, and having the actual intuitive data that seems to channel itself through our minds and bodies.

          So, how do we small business owners make use of this book? Especially those of us who use our intuitions confidently?

          One way is to use our skills not just to help us with our clients, but to help us grow our businesses. All businesses have a rhythm or several rhythms. These rhythms reflect seasonal changes that we can predict from year to year. They reflect what the consumer might be thinking of in December rather than in May. There is a rhythm to business growth that doesn't just spiral up but moves back-and-forth laterally to expand. If we attune to the rhythm of business patterns we can position our businesses to engage in a sudden shift to a higher level of growth.

          The term, "spiral dynamics" comes to us from both social and evolutionary psychology and has the names Beck, Cowan, Graves, and finally Ken Wilber attached to it. Spiral Dynamics describes a natural series in developmental tasks that societies go through to evolve into a "higher" level, such as going from a primitive society to one that is bureaucratized. This system was most notably used by Nelson Mandela to help bring South Africa out of apartheid (read, Lynn Grodzki, 12 Months to Your Ideal Private Practice. 2003, pp. 191-212)

          Each level of society or business can be looked at as a stage or phase and as in child development theory and Eriksonian theory, there are several development tasks that must be mastered in order to move ahead. This is a natural course of growth but it can be interrupted easily because the developmental tasks towards mastery of each stage are often seemingly contradictory or paradoxical. Paradox is an elegant interlocking of the "tensions" between contradictory elements that can only resolve by moving up to a new level of a system which gets to rest for a while. Until the next set of tensions begin.

          In business this would look like the table below:
          Beige: Counter your fight or flight instinct to move beyond survival.
          Purple: Counter your beliefs of the powerful mysteries by developing personal fortitude.
          Red: Find a balance between your strong sense of Self versus the protectiveness of your ideas, referral sources. How to succeed when your feel territorial or constantly vigilant and envious?
          Blue: Finding a balance between organizing all your systems to promote internal stability versus going beyond your levels of competency, become more ambitious and take the risk of letting other professionals know all about what you're doing.
          Orange: Taking the risk from a stable blue to creating a new instability by becoming entrepreneurial. When you use energy and enthusiasm to define your goals , bringing your identity and your vision in direct interaction with a community that you must now see as less threatening and where you see competition as a good thing for business.
          In Green the successful business owners temper their entrepreneurial zeal with centered, quiet humanism and spirituality.
          In Yellow, the paradox is defined by taking your highly evolved sense of Self and trying something out of the box that will naturally bring chaos into your business. This time however, the mastery is about enjoying that.
          Finally, in Turquoise you would have a business operation that takes everything you've learned and mastered into account and it would just flow.
          To evolve from one stage to another it becomes apparent that there is a rhythm between the two opposite forces that moves you back and forth. Letting this happen naturally keeps you in the delicate discord until a paradoxical shift brings you to a new stage of balance.

This is often uncomfortable for all of us. We might do a lot of things to sabotage this kind of shift. Even unconsciously. So, we need to use our earned intuition to know when we're resisting or when we're in the dance so we can master the tasks and move forward. As business owners we are responsible for putting energy and growth on each end of the spectrum so it can evolve.

          The psychosocial model : An easier way to talk about the rhythm of paradoxical change is in Erik H. Eriksonian's psychosocial model of human development. Again, each stage of development comprises a set of task-masteries that are seemingly opposite. Both must be explored and worked through to achieve the shift to the next level. Much of this presents itself naturally in our society although for children; parents must sometimes encourage the exploration of one side or another. As adults, we're on our own. Once we have the map, we can use our earned intuition to make sure we stick with the back and forth.

Stage 1: Infancy-Age 0-1
To be mastered: Trust vs. Mistrust
Stage 2: Toddler-1-2years
To be mastered: Autonomy (Independence) vs. Doubt (or Shame)
Stage 3: Early childhood-Age 2-6
Task to be mastered: Initiative vs. Guilt
Stage 4: Age 6-12
Task to be mastered: Competence vs. Inferiority
Stage 5: Adolescence-Age 12-18
Tasks to be mastered: Identity vs. Role Confusion
Stage 6: Young Adulthood-Age 19-40
To be mastered: Intimacy vs. Isolation
Stage 7: Middle Adulthood-Age 40-65
To be mastered: Generativity vs. Stagnation
Stage 8: Late Adulthood-65-death
Tasks to master: Integrity vs. Despair

          So in business as in life, there are rhythms of growth. All businesses go through growth stages, and sometimes they are not linear. All business goes through an ebb and flow. The trick is to stay Centered and Solid as your business goes through these natural movements. We say, you are not your business. So letting your intuition help you stay confident that these "re-balancings" are vital can be one of the most helpful things you can do for business success.

          DANCE WITH ME
          There is even a dance to achieving and letting go. We encourage clients to make lists of what drains them or what they merely tolerate and take steps to get rid of these things when they can. Whenever there is any kind of stage shift or achievement, there is a new letting go list. If your intuition tells you this is right and natural, then you can do this without fear in order to ironically, keep your business strong at the core

          A chiropractor client of mine saw that he was in the Purple Stage of business. He didn't know how he was getting his clients. All of his attempts at marketing were experimental. Some were paying off and some were not. To build in his own ritual around business, he made sure that 1. His business affirmations and intentions were aligned completely with his heart and ethics, and 2. visualized sending "bright energy" to his office every morning. To build in a structure, he set up an marketing plan that was very flexible and took into account a budget that was informed by the ultimate success, after three repetitions each, of each marketing strategy. He knew it took 3-7 repetitions of the same strategy to bring a response from a customer. So he threw out a wide net that touched upon several good strategies. And he measured the outcome in terms of cost and return of each one.

In simple terms, he bravely and with cautious confidence, fleshed out both sides of the seeming contradiction. This took him into the Red Stage by the end of the year.

          Gladwell talks a lot about Gottman in his book, someone all of us therapist types just love. Gottman has a model that can predict, with 98% accuracy, whether or not a couple will stay together. He deconstructed Gottman's method with him, to prove that Gottman did not use simple intuition but one that was informed by thin slicing about what goes on in each couple. Gottman and his team "read" hours and hours of video tapes of each couple and calibrate all their language, tones, facial features, and body language into discrete measurements. Gladwell says that Gottman takes all of this into account and then combines it with his own "sense" before he makes his prediction.

          My mother had a doctor whom she adored twenty years ago. This was one of the first doctors in her area to really look at the body from a holistic point of view. This doctor was dead-on with her decisions about what her patients needed. She had a large following. After this doctor died, her associates found that they could not recreate what she did. They tried to put everything on computer and build a program about her decision-making patterns but this did not work. She had a certain something that died with her.

          YOUR LYIN' EYES
          I do a lot of clinical work with parents who are going through divorce. As many of you know, the pain and anger that these parents experience can result in allegations about the other parent that may be distorted by exaggeration, alarmist perception or outright lying. I also often asked their kids what it was like when "such and such" happened. I became very interested in learning how to tell when someone is lying. I knew the NLP construct about how the eyes move when one is recalling a real memory versus building a visual out of imagination. This helped me a lot.

          Once I read a magazine story about a Sergeant in a police force near Yosemite who went after poachers and could tell "immediately" when a suspect was lying. On a lark I tracked him down, knowing that he taught his skills to others in the force. When I reached him, he told me that he, too, used NLP. Gladwell talks at length about something close to my corner of the world, the acquisition of a statue by the Getty Museum in Malibu. This statue turned out to be a fake after receiving multiple tests and assessments from experts all over the world. The experts ranged from forensic anthropologists to renowned art experts.

          Many of the experts utilized their first impressions as a tool. Many immediately saw or sensed or "somethinged" that there was something wrong with the statue. At first sight, one expert had the word "fresh" pop up in his brain. He deemed the statue as a fake. Gladwell talked about other art experts who design their first impressions to take on the appearance of a surprise. They instruct the staff to have the object covered until they are ready for their first look, so they can record their first impression.

          Is this instinct or the by-product of years and years of expertise? Do I know when a parent or kid is lying or do I have a sense of it after years of studying human behavior?

          YOUR LYIN' FACE
          In my research I came across Silvan Tomkins work. He is a research scientist who has spent years cataloging every muscle variant the face can make, of which there are hundreds, and then when used in combination with every other facial muscle in all their variants, thousands of expressions to look at. He deconstructed every "emotional" expression by learning which muscle has to go which way in the whole face. So, he seems like a quick-draw when he tells you when someone is lying, but he is actually picking up on incredibly subtle clues that most of us would never notice.

          I got to see Tompkins' catalogue. Gladwell said there are two kinds of responses from people who try and learn from the thousands of pictures. "Genius but I can't understand it," and "Genius and I can follow it." I am definitely in the first group.

          The last newsletter had to do with buzz energy and abundance. We all want to manifest full practices, busy business, etc. How do we know when we're in abundance? What does it feel, look, smell like?

          Feeling all alone and struggling at your job? Feeling like you will never get enough clients? Is this manifested by you having critical or negative thoughts about yourself and your business? You are in danger of getting too distant from the rhythmic pulse of your business and the community it serves.

          Using earned intuition to re-enforce the rhythm is a winning formula for business.

          What do you do when you feel isolated? Ask your intuition. See if you can get one word or visual to come up. When it does, see what that can do to inform your evaluation of your marketing plan. Maybe something needs to be tweaked, or done right now, or maybe you're supposed to trust the spiral path of business building and just wait.

          Jane, a coach who worked with stress management in corporations, got many word-of-mouth referrals from one corporation to the next. She presented her material and exercises in one-day seminars to middle managers and employees. Her referral system began to slow down. We understood that she was no longer the "novelty" that human relation departments feed upon. She definitely felt out of synch when the usual requests did not appear at the beginning of the fiscal year and when she could not get much feedback from her contacts in the corporations.
          I asked her "what does your intuition say about this? Why do you think this is happening, other than the obvious?"
          She replied, "I feel powerless, like I'm begging. I know that this is a situation that asks for a new spin on the old subject. But that's not in alignment with my business vision. I want to keep growing, not just go out and flog an old workshop with a new name."
          She realized that the H.R. people only saw her one way. She wanted to grow into yellow. (See ,Spirals) The chaotic nature of yellow would be manifested by expanding to focus on those in higher positions than middle management-the senior managers and executives who are under just as much, if not more stress.
          How could she package and speak about this to H.R.? Especially in a corporate culture that might consider the need for these services a sign of weakness at the top?
          Joan used her business acumen and sense of the culture to come up with an online program, using a stress assessment to be taken in the privacy of one's own office. The results of the assessment and the personalized skill-sets were part of a new package that she offered to H.R. The skill sets were updated to match a CEO's complicated and sophisticated lifestyle. She priced this package higher, to underscore the need for this on the top levels. She has sold packages to three different companies, so far.

          So, when I'm talking about the weather, I can say, "I feel cold." And when I coach, I can say, "let me just go deep inside and see what's there" as my client and I search for what's true. When I want to be in abundance I have some tricks to do that. (See, last newsletter).

          Thin slicing? Earned intuition? You be the judge.

          If you Blink you might miss what's really important. Keep your eyes wide open!


Wendy Allen, Ph.D, MFT is a small business coach and psychotherapist. She coaches 1:1 private clients, group teleclasses, teaches and presents around the country and has been published several times about her Jump Into Your Best Life! Coaching Program. She also works as an associate with her sister, Lynn Grodzki and PrivatePracticeSuccess. They wote a book to be published by Norton in Summer of 2005, called The Business and Practice of Coaching.

c.March 2005.

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