A Letter to President Trump About Leadership Skills

Dear Mr. President,

Thank you for creating the biggest increase in government interest and participation that I have ever witnessed. If that was your goal in making America great, you have succeeded far beyond any expectations.  I hope you will read this letter, because I do have some solutions for you along with my observations.

As an American citizen, a small business owner for over 25 years, and someone who teaches leadership and team building skills to corporate America, I felt especially compelled to write to you versus just my representatives (to whom I have also sent correspondence). In my business, we always advise people not to gossip and spread negative ideas about others behind their back, but to speak directly to those with whom you have issues.  So I am writing you about my grave concerns about your honest desire to unite this country and whether you are even able to do it.

I’m one of the millions who did not vote for you, but I am hoping for your success. I am not a hardline Democrat, but a Centrist, who believes in the greatness of the United States and our system of checks and balances that insures “government by the people.” I was disheartened that my candidate did not win the election, but I believe in the office of the President of the United States, and that we should all give you a chance. My Republican friends assured me that all your posturing, bullying and tweeting was just campaign rhetoric, and that you would indeed be a different and very “presidential” person that we could be proud of. I have been waiting patiently for this person to appear. But so far, since January 20th, I have seen a reality TV personality treat the presidency just like his other TV show. This is what I have observed:

  1. A rush to reverse everything that the last administration painstakingly put into place—without any pause to understand any of the details. This is extremely reckless and juvenile– not presidential.
  2. The immediate ban on immigration from seven predominantly Muslim countries, except for those where you do business. This ban caused chaos and fear nationwide. There was no plan, no explanation, no roll out. Those trying to follow your order were confused and not prepared at all. You claim that you needed to surprise people so we would not have a flood of immigrants before anything was in place. You further state that it was for our safety, which is your first priority. The terrorists who have staged attacks here did not come from any of those countries. Those involved in 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia, who is not on the list. You were not considering the safety of people who had green cards and Visas, nor their American families. I don’t believe you are even aware of what it takes to get a Visa to visit the U.S. People apply; spend hundreds of dollars, wait years. Many are denied, but go through the process again and again, because their families are here. This executive order is not only against everything this country stands for, but it was poorly executed without any thought or plan. Again—not presidential.
  3. Your modus operandi seems to be strong-arming everyone and every entity to agree with you or face the wrath of your tweets, bullying and negative comments, ignoring, banishing or firing. Yes, this works on reality TV, but the real work of governing the United States is not to get ratings. You seem intent on monopolizing the headlines—no matter what. Is any press good press? Like a bull in a china shop, you bellow and thrash about when unimportant things like the number of people attending your inauguration are reported. Are you doing this as a diversion? This tactic takes the focus off of other important issues, which perhaps you are surreptitiously working on. Maybe you hope you can just sneak some things through without anyone noticing, because we are so caught up in these other tantrums, which are definitely not presidential.
  4. Your Cabinet selections are for the most part senseless. Why pick people who have no expertise in some of these areas –like Betsy DeVos or Ben Carson? It appears that it is so you can easily manipulate them. Because, of course, you will just fire them if they don’t follow your lead to the letter. Your other picks clearly demonstrate your intent to weaken the Environmental Protection Agency, deregulate important safeguards for consumers, let big business have much freer rein, and along with your right hand man, Bannon, give discrimination a green light. You accused someone of “pay to play” during your campaign. Many of your cabinet picks seem to be just that as well.
  5. You appear to have a policy of isolationism. The time for that is long past. Everything, every issue is global. What we do affects every country. What other countries do affects us. You derided NATO as being obsolete and threatened to ignore our longstanding allies, then later reversed your position. This kind of behavior makes everyone uncertain. Is stoking fear your primary purpose? You keep bullying companies to bring manufacturing jobs back here. You talk about more taxes/tariffs on goods produced elsewhere. You certainly have not studied the total situation and do not have a grasp of the consequences of these actions. Automation has taken away more jobs than overseas factories. We cannot produce quality goods at competitive prices in many industries. If you impose taxes on things like autos made in Mexico, we Americans will be the ones to pay. Currently, what we get in dollar benefits from our trade with Mexico is nearly equal to what they receive from us. You make it sound very lopsided, and that is not true. We all depend upon each other—all over the world. It isn’t as black and white as you make everything out to be. But the fact that you took absolutely no time to study the situation or get advice from many sources—before making calls and decisions – is not presidential. You are acting like a Dictator.
  6. Your actions these first few weeks in office have been more divisive to this country than any president before you. The rallies, the marches, the protests… and yet you fail to hear your people. Instead you take a stand and make threats. A prime example is your threat to withhold federal funds from California. The State of California pays more to the federal government in taxes than the amount received back. Making idle threats does not endear you to Californians. In other instances, you are ignoring your own people; you are baiting them; you are inciting and inviting hate. What happened to your “promise” to unite the country? That should be at the top of your agenda. The fact that it is not is disturbing. You seem to be fueling fear, hatred and discontent: everything that drives the plot of a television show. “The Boardroom” is not the Oval Office. Not presidential at all.
  7. Making false statements. This is something that is very troublesome. As Commander in Chief, you should not be making claims that cannot be supported or can easily be proven wrong. As an example, your statement that many terrorist attacks go unreported or “under reported” –in order to shore up your claim that the media is against you: “You’ve seen what happened in Paris and Nice. All over Europe it’s happening. It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons and you understand that.” News organizations have reported extensively about terrorist attacks around the world, including the two in France mentioned. Neither you nor your spokesmen offered a single example of an attack that had gone unreported to support your accusation. This is a thinly veiled attempt to discredit the press that makes it seem like you are “grasping at straws.” This is just one of many instances in which you made quick, off-the cuff statements without any consideration for the truth. Your words do matter.

We are a nation populated and built by immigrants. Every success we enjoy is on the backs and sweat of immigrants. We are stronger if united. Your statements and plans serve far less than half of all Americans—and therefore undermine this unity. This can be substantiated.

It is impossible to please every single person, but it is possible to represent the majority of us on all issues. However, this means that the majority will not be the exact same group of people for every single thing. Just because you threw out a lot of campaign promises in your quest for the presidency, not every person wearing a red hat wanted every single thing you mentioned. And in fact, some Democrats were in favor of some of your ideas, though they did not have any details on how you expected to achieve them. The group of people that supports bringing jobs back is different from the group of people who supports repealing Obamacare, which is definitely not a majority. You cannot just assume that everyone who voted for you is totally in favor of every single campaign promise and that every campaign promise is backed by a majority of Americans. I guarantee that is not the case. Since your inauguration, you seem to be acting under that assumption—that you must fulfill every campaign promise immediately to keep your base cheering. The alarming rate at which you are signing orders is just raising more red flags about your ability as Commander in Chief.

You have time to change and become the president that I think you want to be—and the one our nation hopes for.                             Here is a short list for your consideration:

  1. Be open to critiques. Honestly, ask others who have worked with you how you can become a better leader; what are your strengths and weaknesses. Be clear that you are seeking their true opinions—not “oh, you are perfect.” Try to build upon the positive and work on the skills that you may be lacking.
  2. Do not make snap decisions—which you may regret later. When you have to reverse your decision, it just makes you look incompetent. Take time to get to know the people and the issues. Use the first months to assess everything. Talk to everyone. No one wants or expects you to turn everything upside down immediately. Doing so just creates wariness, insecurity and does nothing to build trust.
  3. Do not fail to reverse decisions that turn out to be wrong—just because you think that would be a sign of weakness to say you were wrong. It is worse to be wrong and not have the guts to admit it.
  4. Treat everyone with respect—and that includes people who do not agree with you or perhaps did not support putting you in a leadership position. Do not discredit or belittle those who challenge your ideas. The mark of a great leader is one who leads by example, works with others to achieve results, and ultimately turns naysayers into supporters –who will help. This takes time…
  5. Have patience. This may be one of the most difficult things to master and use effectively. Even if you believe you have the greatest solutions, if no one is following, supporting or listening, you’ll achieve very little results.
  6. Grow a thicker skin. As a leader, you will never please everyone. Those who oppose your ideas may not always communicate gracefully or well. Do not take it personally. It is not worth the time or effort and will only make you appear immature and vulnerable if you do.
  7. Show some humility and compassion. You consistently place yourself above everyone. You are human just like the rest of us. The time for honoring yourself will pass quickly enough. Your self-aggrandizement just makes people hope that time happens as soon as possible.
  8. Consult experts on the issues. There are people who know better than you, since they have studied for years and have expertise that you lack on a myriad of subjects. They are in the best positions to advise you and you should follow their lead.
  9. Don’t delete information that does not support your programs. A case in point is the information on Climate Change being stricken from the government website. This makes you look even more like a dictator and someone who ignores scientific, proven facts.
  10. Stop Tweeting. These reactive statements about anyone who appears to oppose you makes you look immature and does not help your image at all. Refrain from these knee-jerk reactions.

The world is watching. Most of your constituents will not take the time to offer suggestions to help you succeed. Yes, you will get “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” letters. Most of these will do you no good at all. I am appealing to you directly, which is the approach that we instill in all leadership classes.

 

Very sincerely,

Cynthia Shon

President, Corporate Games Team Building

This letter was sent to The White House on 2/8/17

Be a great boss to your team and set a good example. The holidays are a perfect time to reflect on being better…

  1. Create good will—not hate. It is up to all of us. This requires communicating—not isolation. “Peace on earth, good will toward men.” What does this really mean? Sometimes it feels like it means just to the people who are like ourselves—not everyone. Kindness doesn’t cost a thing, but unfortunately it is not always given freely.
  2. Remember that “Talk is cheap”—this is a positive statement as well as a negative one. You can use it for good or bad—it’s up to you. How often have you thought of something nice about a person—but failed to tell them? All the time. Why is that? Also—we are quick to recognize mistakes and slow to appreciate doing well. This is true at home as well as in the workplace.
  3. Whatever happened to just being happy to receive a gift? Now everyone is judgmental and returns things, exchanges things, etc. I can understand if the sweater does not fit, but the weird object d’art that someone chose for you—just graciously accept it and be glad they even took the time to think about you.
  4. Be glad that you are in a position to give. And remember that giving does not have to involve spending money. I feel sorry when I can’t give everyone what they would like to have at Christmas—including the expense expectations that I think they have. We all need to get over it. I should feel good about giving anything and not continue to figure out how much I spent or didn’t spend on each person. We can’t help it.
  5. We need to slow down. Too many fatal accidents and too many mistakes are made because we are operating at a faster and faster pace. This also increases stress and blood pressure. It would be a lot healthier if we gave ourselves more “cushion”—and not pack every day as full as possible.

Don’t Let Co-worker’s Behavior Sabotage Your Team

Co-workers walking on eggshells (from East Bay Times on 7/18/16)

DEAR AMY: I have worked closely with a co-worker for five years. She can be warm and generous, is a hard worker and is always the first to volunteer for projects.

She is also incredibly sensitive and thin-skinned and often perceives slights in benign comments. When this happens, she flies off the handle. She has stormed out of meetings in tears and snapped at coworkers. She recently said something hurtful about a colleague (presumably meant to be funny).

I have stopped defending her, but because I think her behavior is atrocious, now and then I still “run interference” in an attempt to prevent her from melting down and to protect others’ feelings.

She often wants to vent about how she has been mistreated and asks for advice about how to handle these imaginary insults, but she rejects any actual help and seems to only want to be told that she is right and others are wrong.

Colleagues and I are constantly walking on eggshells around this person, and we resent it.

Emotional Hostage

DEAR HOSTAGE: You have kindly run interference for your co-worker for years, smoothing things over for her, so that she will be shielded from the consequences of her actions. No doubt you have done this for her because you are a genuinely good person who wants to protect her and others from her actions.

Emotional bullies get the best of people by making others check their own reactions. Over time, this can make things much worse.

If she is acting out, don’t offer help or advice. Never “protect” her from a meltdown. If she is venting to you and asks for advice, tell her, “You ask for advice but you don’t seem to actually want it. I’m confident you can figure this out.” If her unhappiness and behavior at work interferes with her (and others’) ability to do your jobs, then it would be time for a supervisor to offer her a course correction.

Corporate Games added comments…

Notice this particular sentence: She has stormed out of meetings in tears…” This means that she is acting out publically at her own “team of co-workers.” There are probably many such meetings of the team—and why this behavior is not specifically addressed at the meeting shows a “fear of conflict.” If team members are uncomfortable with this behavior, they can do several things:

  1. Ask the team leader to set ground rules for the meetings that include appropriate behavior. For example: 1) Be respectful of each other. 2) Encourage different points of view but challenge the concept or idea—not the person. 3) We are all adults and emotional outbursts are not acceptable. 4) Be mindful of time. 5) Stay on topic. 6) Work toward resolutions not endless discussion.
  2. Address her previous behavior/outburst at the next meeting: “We want to acknowledge the breakdown that occurred at our last meeting. It is unproductive and uncomfortable for everyone. What can we all do to insure that this doesn’t happen again?”

The workplace is a team effort. There will always be problems. Team members should work together to find solutions—not shrink from adversity and retreat to the comfort of silence.

7 Essential Tips for Becoming a Great Manager

If you are new to managing a team or not good at managing your present team, here are some great tips to help you succeed:

1.     Pay Attention to the Culture of the company and blend with it. Observe how much people do or don’t socialize. The overall dress code- casual or suit and tie. Do people prefer emails or face-to-face conversations. Come in early and observe how people behave.

2.     Don’t be Arrogant and assume your way is the best way. Listen and learn. Take time to understand how things work before you start making changes.

3.     Be Visible and Accessible to your team. Some managers hide themselves away for a variety of reasons. Take time to build relationships with your colleagues and direct reports. Yes, there may be times to close your door, but make sure there are plenty of opportunities to see and talk to you. Walk around. Check in on people once in awhile.

4.     Clarify Expectations. When people do not know what is expected of them, it is hard for them to deliver. Be specific as possible. Prioritize. Let your team know what is the measure of success.

5.     Admit Mistakes. We are all human and no one is perfect. Just because you manage people, doesn’t mean you don’t make mistakes too. When you do, acknowledge it. Do not try to blame others or make excuses. Do offer and seek solutions.

6.     Ask for Feedback. This is especially true if your team has people who have been working there longer than you. This shows respect for their knowledge and builds a team that collaborates. Ask ALL your direct reports for their opinions when appropriate—not just a select few.

7.     Find Positive Traits in your team members. Don’t talk negatively about people behind their backs. Some find validation in confiding in others what they dislike about certain team members, but a manager should NEVER do this. It just divides people rather than brings them together. Work on finding and building upon your team members’ strengths. Helping people grow and succeed is what makes a great manager.  

A Team Activity that Helps Our Environment

Our latest newsletter featured this team project that helps save birds and marine mammals as well as reduce the trash in our bays and oceans. It’s easy and you can do this anytime of year. Below are the instructions on how to build a Fishing Line Recycling Bin that the Audubon Society will install at fishing areas around the S.F. Bay.

California Lost Fishing Gear Recovery Project: Monofilament Recycling Program

Bin Construction and Installation Instructions

Construction The monofilament recycling outdoor bin is made of 6” or 4” PVC pipe and fittings that can be purchased at just about any hardware store or plumbing supply house.  There are different grades of PVC and different colors.  We will use white pipe for this project.  Schedule 40 PVC is more expensive than 3034 (sewer grade) PVC; either grade is  Materials needed to construct one (1) bin:

  • Two feet (2’) of 6” PVC pipe
  • One (1) 6” elbow
  • One (1) 6” female threaded adapter
  • One (1) 6” threaded male plug
  • Hacksaw (or have hardware store cut the pipe for you)
  • Power drill with 1/4″ or 3/8″ drill bit
  • Sandpaper
  • PVC Glue
Fishing Line Bin

Assembly:

  • If the hardware store wasn’t able to cut your  PVC pipe for you: use a hacksaw. Use sandpaper to remove PVC “burrs” around edges.
  • Working in a well-aerated area and wearing protective gloves, apply PVC glue to the inside (non-threaded part) of the female adapter. With adapter sitting squarely on the ground, press the pipe down into the adapter until snug.  Note that PVC glue works by dissolving the PVC, then sets rapidly, so you don’t have a lot of “play” time with it.
  • Apply PVC glue to the inside of one end of the elbow (it does not matter which end). Press the elbow onto the pipe.  Try and make sure that any blemishes on the pipe end up on the backside of the bin.
  • Drill 2 holes (about 1/4”or 3/8”) in the center of the threaded male plug (this allows the bin to drain. Thread plug into adapter (hand-tight, and be careful not to cross-thread).

Important Contact Information-  The bins will be labeled and  installed by the SeaDoc Society. You should contact the Golden Gate Audubon before you start this project. This will allow them and you to determine the number of bins –and how they will get them from you.

Noreen Weeden
Golden Gate Audubon
510-301-0570 cell phone
nweeden@goldengateaudubon.org
www.goldengateaudubon.org

Have a GREEN Holiday Season

More waste is created between Thanksgiving and New Year’s than any other time.  Businesses as well as consumers can do their part to be environmentally friendly. Here are some great tips for your team to reduce waste, create good will and even participate in some fun team activities:

  1. If you are decorating your offices, use LED lights to save electricity and money. Use timers. Consider purchasing decorations from a Thrift Store. Donate good-condition, unwanted decorations to a thrift store.
  2. Consider e-cards. If you must send paper cards, purchase those with high recycle content. Reuse old cards to make gift tags or decorate wrapped gifts.
  3. When buying presents, shop locally (there is a lot of waste in packaging when items have to be shipped). Consider buying consumable products and services as gifts –rather than “things.” Donate items you don’t use. Give time or fun experiences, not stuff. Tickets to a play or the zoo are great gifts.
  4. Disposable shopping bags, gift bags and wrapping paper create a lot of waste. Instead use reusable shopping bags for gift bags. Recycle paper and bows. Use recycled card art, sprigs of live evergreen, newspaper or magazines—to make your own wrapping and decorative touches.
  5. Looking for charitable causes or socially responsible team events for the holidays?? Consider having your team volunteer at a foodbank or soup kitchen that serves holiday meals. Get your employees involved in a food drive. Work with Meals on Wheels to provide fun holiday items and decorations to those who are elderly and shut-in. Yes, you can always donate toys or build bikes for kids. But what about getting a bit more creative? For example, have a Santa’s Workshop where your employees make or finish toys. There are many fun projects that can be made from wood, clay, plastic and more! Your local craft shop sells kits if you are not handy.
For more ideas on Holiday Party activities, call or email us at Info@corpgames.com Tel: 800-790-GAME (4263).

Pirate Pandemonium Team Puzzle

Here’s an entertaining little puzzle that you can do by yourself, but more fun to do with a team or even two or more. See which team can get the most correct answers in 3 minutes.

Copy the image below and print it out in large format– it should at least fill a single sheet of 8-1/2″ x 11″ paper. Your challenge is to find the 10 differences between the first picture and the second. Look sharp and pay attention to detail! If you can’t get all 10, look at the Corporate Games Facebook page to see the answers.

Have fun and good luck!

Pirate Picture Pandemonium

How to Put People on Teams

Putting people on teams for a team building activity seems like the easiest thing in the world, yet we have seen some very well-meaning people make a mess of it. So– if you are ever in the position of having to designate teams for a group event, please take heed:

  1. ALWAYS give teams a number; not a name, or a color. This is the easiest way to facilitate a group. This is especially critical for larger groups (50+). Everyone can relate to numbers. For example: “Team #1 should stand here, followed by team #2, then #3 and so on.” This is clear and easy for everyone to understand and will require very little repeating. Whereas– if you give teams any other designation, you will have to repeat yourself many times: “The Blue Team is here, then Red, then Yellow…” There is no set sequence for colors like there is for numbers. You can give teams other names, but they also should have a number first.
  2. Teams should be as even as possible. Some people like to divide the group by department, but the departments are not all the same size. It is not easy nor fair for a team of 15 to compete against a team of 5. Most team building activities are designed for teams that are nearly equal in size.
  3. For groups of 50 or more participants, consider having the team building facilitators count people off at random. This is the easiest way to put people on teams. AND– if others come late, they are simply assigned to the next team. For example, if people were counted off, and the last person was on team #2 out of 10 teams, then the next person to arrive (late), would simply go to team #3. You wouldn’t have to count or look at each team to see who has more or less people.
  4. IF you must preset the teams, it is easier to organize everyone if the participants know their team number ahead of time. We experienced one instance in which the meeting planner handed us 80 color-coded name badges– to read off and hand out– one at a time. This was very chaotic (not everyone could hear or was present when we started) and took a lot of time. This means people are standing around waiting while this is being done. If you email participants in advance, they will know what team they are on ahead of time. At the very least, it is a good idea to post multiple lists of the teams so people can look at them upon arrival.
  5. Do not preset the teams if everyone will not be together at the start. If people are going to be trickling in, it is difficult to get the teams organized and started on the activity if you have preset the teams. That’s because team size will not be equal until everyone gets there, and you have a much higher risk of confusion as people arrive and start looking for their team. In this situation, you should either start the event later, when everyone is there– or have the facilitators randomly count off people to make teams.
  6. When in doubt, please ask your team building facilitator what would work best.

Do’s and Don’ts for Creating Your Own Team Activity

Some team activities are very simple in concept, and you might think “I can do that.” It’s fun and fulfilling to design “games.” So if you are considering creating an event for your company meeting, here are some helpful hints that we have learned in our 24 years of experience.

Do’s

  1. Know the people who will be participating, and plan an activity that would appeal to them. For instance, a young, active group would not be as interested in a sedentary activity as something more active and possibly outdoors. Also, some events appeal more to men than women (paintball is a good example) and vice versa. Consider what people like and what they are good at.
  2. Plan your activity to be no longer than about 3 hours. Something shorter is fine, but there have been some people who think an all-day scavenger hunt is fine. Your participants will be tired and ready to do something else after 2.5-3 hours.
  3. Keep it fun and engaging. You’ll lose momentum if people have to wait around “for a turn.” Try to design your event so that everyone can and must participate. That is what a team is about.
  4. Err on the side of being simple rather than too complex. Sometimes people who design events think “oh, everyone knows that ,” when in fact they don’t. For example, one of our clients wanted to create some improve scenarios for her group. She wanted people to converse using only famous lines from movies. Many people are not movie buffs. Additionally, when you put too many clever twists into an event, you must ask yourself whether or not you think your group can solve the clue or deal with the change. They must have some degree of success, or people get discouraged and your event takes a negative turn. When in doubt, test your game on a small group of friends or business associates.
  5. Run through every possible pitfall and create a failsafe for each one. For example, if you provide written instructions, make sure they are clear. If any part of your instructions can be interpreted in a way that is not what you are trying to communicate, rewrite it so it is clearer. Then, post helpers in key spots to make sure the participants are going in the right direction.
  6. Make sure everyone celebrates in the end. You want them all to leave on a high, energetic note.

Don’ts

  1. If you have created a puzzle or clue for people to figure out as part of your game, do not get freaked out if they don’t get it immediately. Part of teamwork is learning to solve problems together. Give them some time to work on it. If they don’t get it within a reasonable period, then give them clues. Don’t do it for them. That just makes it look like you don’t think they have the ability to figure it out—and it takes the fun and joy out of solving it together.
  2. Don’t change the rules midstream –especially if other facilitators are giving instructions too. This only confuses people and it makes you and your assistants look disorganized.
  3. Don’t take it too seriously. What keeps people engaged is when an activity is fun, interesting and entertaining.
  4. Fail to plan. Know what is supposed to happen at every part of the activity. It helps to write down a timeline (what are people doing when). For example, if the event requires people to build something—after two hours, where should they be in their construction? Nearly done?
  5. Fail to give yourself enough time before the event. Most team activities require some set-up. Make sure you provide enough time to easily bring in and set-up materials needed. If you have to post clues or post people in various locations, make sure you have more than enough time to do so—and that everyone is in the spot they are supposed to be in.
  6. Prizes. Everyone likes to win something. Even if it is a simple token like a gold medal. Bring prizes!

Lastly, if you have a good idea and what some help turning it into a great event, call us. We create custom activities for our clients all the time. We can take an Indiana Jones theme and weave a fun activity into those dry breakout session. This can enhance learning speed, make boring content memorable and the meeting a lot more enjoyable.

Anything is Possible!

We’ve had a number of recent requests for unique events that target specific educational content or allow participants to experience a new workplace in an entertaining way. That is our forte at Corporate Games– designing activities that are totally customized.

Recently we devised a “scavenger hunt” type of activity for one of our clients that features the sustainability aspects of their brand new workplace. The building features many materials from recycling, including beautiful indoor, wooden planters that were made from wood that was dredged up from the  San Francisco Bay in the building of a new Transbay Transit Center for the city. And that was only the tip of the iceberg.

So yes, anything is possible!