Four Ways Leading Virtual Teams Is Different

And How You Should Adapt

It wasn’t that long ago that the “workplace of the future” was a Jetsons image:  commuters going to work in flying cars. At the turn of the century, I worked with team members a few thousand miles away — most of the time via video conferencing, but still using once-a-month face to face meetings after 3 hour flights (in a plane, not in my flying car!). But, technology has taken us a different direction…enabling us to work together without physically being together with video conferencing from our phones, co-work and collaboration tools on our computers, and real-time work tracking.

For the past decade, I’ve worked with team members whom I see face to face perhaps only once or twice per year. Sure, virtual teams have advantages. The commute time can be turned into work time. But the effects of computer-mediated communication are not always great, and it’s certainly not true that virtual teams are always effective and productive.  A 2012 study from SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) found that brainstorming and generating ideas was the most successful task for virtual teams to accomplish, and that actually going through the processes of implementation was a bit harder.  The difference may be that team leads and executives haven’t adapted their leadership style to the unique challenges of virtual teams.

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Three Reasons You Should Wander Around

Sometimes it's not aimless

To wander is defined, by Meriam-Webster and by most of us, as “characterised by  aimless, slow or pointless movement.”  We think of wandering as lonely poverty (think of “wandering minstrels” and itinerant preachers, or the activity of men in the mall who are waiting on others who shop.)  If we’re describing more purposeful movement, we use words like “migration” (because ducks and geese and human migrants have a purpose in their movement) or “exploring” (because Cousteau and Hillary and Lewis and Clark had destinations to conquer). Is it always pointless to wander?

How I Learned I Needed to Wander

I’m the kind of person who thinks a lot.  About everything. Constantly.

When friends tell me (as they often do) “Don’t think so much…”,  my reply is usually something like: “Don’t assume it took very much of my time to come up with that…”  (as if “a lot of thinking” really equals “a lot of time spent thinking”.  The truth is, a tremendous amount of brain activity goes on in just a few microseconds.

I doubt that time spent is the point of those making the comment.  Instead, I think they were referring to my “monkey mind” — incessant brain activity that jumps from branch to branch, constantly chattering away with internal (and sometimes external) commentary about how things are, how they should be, what they could be, what they aren’t.

It wasn’t until I was invited to participate in a “Day of Wandering” that I realized just how incessant my thinking activity is, and just how much that keeps me from actually experiencing people and situations around me. That day I spent about 6 hours by myself walking the Mogollon Rim.

During the first five hours, my mind was actively plotting, planning, evaluating, deciding — which way to go, what process to use to quiet my mind, how to measure my success…and on, and on, and on.  Finally, in the sixth hour, I sat and closed my eyes and just listened, and increasingly found myself not evaluating.

After that, I was able to walk in a way that I can confidently call wandering:  I did not choose a path or a destination; I simply walked.  The result?  I experienced the world around me with a new appreciation, a new depth and a new connection that felt vaguely familiar to me.

Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe. –Anatole France

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Superstitions are hard to shake: The power of magical thinking

Do people really believe a jersey is lucky?

I admit that I often take the side of the underdog in when watching sports events, no matter how many fans of the opposite side are in the room. That sometimes gets me blamed for bad mojo, bad plays…

Sports fans are superstitious…When fans wear their lucky shirts on game day, they know it is irrational to think clothing can influence a team’s performance… But they do it anyway.

Researchers finds that even when people recognize that their belief does not make sense, they can still allow that irrational belief to influence how they think, feel and behave. The rest of the story


Obese kids young as age eight show signs of heart disease

Imaging tests of obese children’s hearts showed signs of heart disease, including kids as young as 8 years old. Obese children had 27 percent more muscle mass in the left ventricle of their hearts and 12 percent thicker heart muscles — both signs of heart disease — compared to normal weight children. Forty percent of the obese children were considered ‘high-risk’ because of problems with thickened muscle in the heart as well as impaired pumping ability.
The rest of the story


The Great Pumpkin – With Protein, Even

One of the things I love most about the holidays is the nostalgia of the foods that were on the table at my grandmother’s house, at my aunt’s house and on our own kitchen table.  Of course that had to include pumpkin pie! Over the years, I’ve added to my pumpkin-loving list: pumpkin cookies and, more recently, a pumpkin latte with a pumpkin spice bagel, or a wonderful pumpkin soup.  Of course, the primary problem with many of my “nostalgia foods” is that they aren’t necessarily all that healthy.

In my search for small things to do today that make tomorrow amazing, I came across this recipe for a Pumpkin Latte Shake (Tomatoe, Tomato – you say smoothie, I say shake!).

Here’s what you need:

Just mix

2 scoops of Vanilla Shaklee Energizing Life Shake (this is where the protein comes from)

8 ounces of Unsweetened Almond  or Cashew Milk

1 tsp instant coffee*

1 tbs pumpkin pie puree^

4-5 ice cubes

cinnamon & nutmeg to taste

Add dry ingredients to wet in blender, and blend all ingredients until smooth.

*Notes & Variations

Instead of Instant Coffee (who keeps that around if you drink coffee regularly??), try substituting a 1/2 cup of cold / room temperature coffee in place of the cashew milk.  Better yet, keep the cashew milk and use ice cubes created from your leftover, strongly-brewed coffee.

Pumpkin pie puree:  Sure, you can get a can of pumpkin pie filling and scoop it away a tablespoon at a time. But here’s a quick and easy way to have pumpkin puree around for just such occasions.  (If you use frozen puree, then use liquid coffee. )

That’s all there is to it!  I get the best of the old an new pumpkin classics — all in a healthy, protein-packed meal replacement!