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The Happiness Equation

December 2nd, 2019 // Tom Doescher // 0 Comments

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Recently, I heard author Neil Pasricha speak. I enjoyed his comments and decided to read his book, The Happiness Equation. In the book, he sheds light on why so many people today are unhappy. Here are my takeaways, plus a few editorial comments:

  1. The more physically active people are, the greater their general feelings of excitement and enthusiasm.
  2. None of us can control our emotions (Editorial comment: As a very emotional person, I found this statement liberating); we can only control our reactions to our emotions.
  3. In 1927, Paul Mazur of Lehman Brothers wrote the following in the Harvard Business Review: “We must shift America from a needs to a desires culture.” (Editorial comment: Wow, I would say Mazur got his wish!)
  4. Men and women in Okinawa live an average of seven years longer than Americans, and have the longest disability-free life expectancy on Earth. The word “retirement” literally does not exist in the Okinawan language. Instead, the Okinawan language has the word “ikigai” (pronounced like “icky guy”), which means, “The reason you wake up in the morning.” (Editorial comment: It’s their purpose, or their “why.”)
  5. Pasricha includes his (and also one of my) favorite quotes from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: “One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ was his response. ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.’ ” (Editorial comment: We use this quote when we’re encouraging clients to establish a purpose, or a “why,” for their life and/or business.)
  6. In 1889, the Germans created the concept of retirement to free up jobs for young people by paying 65-year-olds to do nothing until they died (the average life span at the time was 67). In 1880, 78 percent of American men over age 65 were still working; in 2000, 16 percent of men over age 65 were still working.
  7. When we’re presented with too many decisions (choices), we either do nothing or do poorly. (Editorial comment: 30 years ago, I was a member of Michigan Future, a think tank, and was blessed to spend time with some really knowledgeable, futuristic business owners. Referring to the auto industry, they would say that we’re moving from mass-production to mass-customization. In other words, the customer was going to be able to design their own vehicle to suit their personal preferences. Well, we’re still a ways from that in the auto industry, but one of my biggest complaints today is that there are too many choices among relatively insignificant products. I think this creates a lot of wasted time. I’m sure I’ve just offended someone, but remember this book is about happiness.)
  8. In 1955, the Parkinson’s Law was defined as follows: “It is a common-place observation that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” (Editorial comment: Here’s a practical application: Are all your major meetings routinely scheduled in one-hour blocks, or do you schedule 15- or 30-minute meetings? If you’ve accomplished the purpose of a meeting, do you adjourn the meeting early? Sadly, it wasn’t until the end of my first career that I started the practice of scheduling shorter meetings, ending meetings early, and even canceling meetings when there weren’t enough important agenda items. My partners were definitely happier!)
  9. Multitasking is a flawed concept. (Editorial comment: Yes, you can work on two things at the same time, but you do a disservice to both. There have been numerous credible studies that have dispelled the myth of multitasking.)

I was quite surprised to discover what topics Pasricha selected to mention in a book about “happiness.” And these aren’t just his opinions, as he references many studies, researchers, and other authors’ work to support his findings.

Pasricha’s Formula for Happiness: Want Nothing + Do Anything (for others) = Have Everything.

I believe it’s very similar to Adam Grant recommending that we be Givers vs. Takers.

Are You Looking for Career Advice, or Do You Regularly Give Career Advice?

September 9th, 2019 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

If your answer is yes, I would highly recommend reading Strategize to Win by Carla A. Harris, vice chair of Morgan Stanley. I try to be careful not to suggest too many books, but Harris provides some common-sense (or not so common) tips regarding jobs — or, as I like to say, careers. She’s a very good writer (or has a great ghost writer), which makes it a quick, easy read. You can tell she’s a consultant because she also offers some great checklists at the end of each chapter, and poses thoughtful rhetorical questions. Maybe the only caution would be that she’s a Wall Street investment banker, so for some her advice may not be as helpful. Here are my takeaways:

  1. Sadly (to me), she suggests people entering the workforce today should plan six to eight five-year modules at different companies. As a guy who spent 40 years at the same awesome firm, that’s hard to hear — but I understand.
  2. I think that much of Harris’s wisdom would be beneficial, even if you’re in a great place and intend to stay. In my experience, today’s workplace reminds me of a fast-forwarded video. There never seems to be enough time. Customers are more demanding than ever, and technology has sped up the way we receive and share information, but humans are still humans. Harris is very clear that you need to take charge of your own career.
  3. Harris is talking about the workforce (both leaders and associates), but I believe her advice applies to customer/client relationships, as well.
  4. Sorry to bring up introverts again, but Harris’s advice will encourage introverts to step out at times. Harris says she often hears people (probably introverts) erroneously say, “I don’t need to go out of my way to build relationships; I’ll let my work speak for itself.” This observation applies to both your company and your customers/clients.
  5. She also provides her spin on being a leader. According to Harris, a leader should have leverage; be efficient in communicating; be willing to act; be diverse; engage; and be responsible.

When I reflect on my daily conversations with owners and associates, I realize that Harris addresses so many of the common challenges faced today. If she lived closer, I would probably figure out a way to meet her, and would use her as an advisor. She has obviously experienced many different “real life” business situations and has an ability to simplify a lot of facts into some practical, logical action steps.

Let me stick my neck out. If you engage in business (as an owner or associate), I would highly recommend reading this book.

Is Your Employee Turnover Too High?

August 26th, 2019 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

In this historically low unemployment environment, many business owners are struggling to keep their people. According to the leadership coaching team Bliss & Associates, the cost of employee turnover averages 150 percent of the employee’s annual compensation. Wow!

In his book, The Dream Manager, Matthew Kelly offers some very practical advice. The book is a fictional story/fable, similar to Patrick Lencioni books, and it’s a powerful, quick, easy read. Kelly opens the book by quoting Thoreau: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined!” He goes on to quote statistics on the high level of disengagement by employees in the workplace today.

Kelly states that people generally do not leave because of money. Remember Marcus Buckingham’s Gallup results and his 12 Questions, now reduced to 8? (You can get a PDF copy of both the 12 and 8 Questions in the Resource section of my website.)

Most of the book is about “dreams,” but the fictional company owner reluctantly agrees to a one-question employee survey, recommended by his COO. Here’s the question: Why do you think so many people come and go from our company? It’s a very simple, but powerful, question, and although the results are shocking, they’re relatively easily dealt with. However, as my mentor, Ken Kunkel, used to warn me, “Be careful what you ask for.” By that, he meant that if you ask, you need to be prepared to do something, and not just “receive and file” the advice. You’ll probably be surprised, and it may cost some money, but do the math. How many people left your company last year? What was their average compensation? Multiply that result times 150 percent, and that’s what it’s costing now, if you do nothing.

Most of the book involves a revolutionary idea that may be more than you’re willing to take on at this time. I would still encourage you to read it; it may stimulate an idea or two that you can implement.

If you’re concerned about your high turnover rate, I would highly recommend you and your leadership team read The Dream Manager.

If you’re a financial/wealth management advisor and you’re looking for ways to use your skills and give back to your community, I would also recommend you read this book.

The Final Quest

June 17th, 2019 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

is a fascinating little book that has significantly impacted me for the past several months.

First, a disclaimer: It’s written by a Christian pastor about a series of dreams (visions) he had about the spiritual world. For that reason, you may want to skip this post.

Secondly, again as a Christian, he’s writing from his point of view of the Bible. Again, if that’s not something that’s to your taste, you may want to skip this post.

For those of you who are still with me, I would highly recommend this book, written by Rick Joyner. It’s a short, easy read. Whether the author’s vision of the spiritual world is “real” or whether he just has a vivid imagination, he’s able to paint a very realistic picture. In my three decades of being a Bible student, I’ve had limited exposure to the dark side of scripture. Joyner’s version of what could be or might be going on is very believable — to the point where I’ve thought of it almost every day since finishing the book. He has expressed a point of view that would explain experiences that I have daily.

As you know, the first category in the Doescher Advisors Executive Health Check-up is “Spiritual Health.” With that in mind, The Final Quest is something you may want to at least consider reading and reflecting upon.

What if what Joyner reports is true? How might it affect you?

What Is the Key to Leading a Healthy and Happy Life?

February 4th, 2019 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Believe it or not, for 80 years Harvard researchers have studied the question of what is key to a healthy and happy life. In 1938, scientists began tracking 268 Harvard students to try to determine the answer, and today the Harvard Study of Adult Development is still working on the project with the remaining 19 students, who are now well into their 90s. I will let the current study director, Robert Waldinger, share with you their surprising findings in this fascinating 12 minute TED talk.

The Advisor’s Corner

Tom DoescherYou’ll find stories from the trenches, business lessons, and pertinent questions to help you find inspiration, professional growth, and leadership savvy.

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