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June 3, 2011 / Astor ICS

Emotional Reactions and the Time Dimension

I used to worry about my strong reactions to things. Not everything that came my way, but the one’s that were shocking or made me feel anxious before their resolution. Like knowing that an agreement or a decision was going to come and it was not in my
own control. Waiting, worrying and then when it did happen or was completed, a sense (most usually) of some kind of relief.

After lots of these I thought that if I could just skip the worry and anxiety. So I did. I trained myself to realize that in a period of time it would be resolved. I could count on that as a sure thing. Not that it would always be resolved in my favor but it would be, and it was a guarantee, ended and I would move on from there, many times to forget that it ever existed.

So if I don’t even regard those times as important individual life experiences, why did they bother me so much?

I didn’t need to get into the why, but get at the ‘how’. How to eliminate that space of time between realizing something could be a problem (maybe a very big problem) and it’s final outcome. Restless and sleepless nights, stomach queasiness, a non-stop hyper speed train of dizzying thoughts were a few of the bothersome side effects that I became extremely tired of.

So I told myself to remember each time that it happens, the feeling I had when it was over, and try to remember it very very well. Then, I emphasized to myself that this feeling always comes. I said to myself that if it feels like a release and it always comes then all the anxiety was my own personal reaction due to lots of life experiences and those reactions were not actually truth and true, they were temporary and my own creation. I realized that I have a certain amount of control over myself and that I could develop different aspects as I please. So I worked on it.

The next time a problematic situation presented itself, I acknowledged that it was one of those sequences that I go through and told myself to calm down, realize that I would feel better when it’s resolved and that it was temporary, with sometimes more on the way. The real problem comes when more than one or two of these happen in the same time frame.

So with all this in mind I found a way, not all at once, but gradually to make the radical mood shifts calm down and it gave me added insights into how to resolve the situation because I was calmer and clearer.

Try it for yourself, but realize that it takes a few tries before it has its best effect.

It is really having a view, a sense and the will to confront your own emotions and their lack of effectiveness in the long term by using the time dimension to your benefit; realizing that in time it will resolve and that it takes a clear mind, body and spirit to get the best results while your constant state needs to be less extreme so you live with the purpose that life is not just a series of little experiences, but it’s also one long experience that can truly have an equilibrium and a balance of emotions and feelings that serve your best wants and desires.

February 28, 2011 / Astor ICS

Mini Monarchs, Power and Long Term Stupidity

We are emerging through a time where the needs of the group are fast outweighing the will of the individual. Management, governments and condescending so-called friends have long ruled single lives and families’ real needs and futures. But with events that we are witnessing in boardroom strategies, the North African and Middle Eastern populations and the sheer power of people around the world’s dreams, hopes and aspirations manifested, we may be fortunate enough to finally be able (or getting closer) to having a real chance.

This isn’t just the top 5% anymore. I’m not saying anything really new or present some new idea, but taking a longer view of time, the trend has been liberty, human rights and the pursuit of happiness.

So at work, we are seeing that logic and profits mix well. That respect, equality and encouraging innovation from every last person in an organization is what it takes for success in the world that’s emerging.

We are constantly being confronted by events that seem crazy and shocking. But put them all together and let them create their own pattern, you will see that humanitarianism is the best function of business and that business is moving farther away from autocratic and dictatorial behavior. In the U.S. behavior like that will get you sued and ostracized. It does exist and will continue to exist but it’s being moved over to the edges.

When I was young, I met some very, very rich men that were absolute tyrants and with all of their wealth and power, it was impossible to be around them and you were not allowed to be around them unless you submitted or were the few luck ones to be peers.

Things are changing. We are finding that it’s not productive to behave in a cult of personality anymore.  It’s all of our responsibilities to not support arrogance and pain producers anymore. No more long term stupidity, anymore.


February 21, 2011 / Astor ICS

Obstacle Illusions: The Clearing Skies of International Communication

The power of the present and the forces of the future have been converging ever since there was time. But now, in our world, we are seeing all humanity brought constantly up to date news, information and events that inspire some and get others very angry and defensive. That sort of reaction has been happening for years, but now it’s all out in the open.

As we grow closer, we are witnessing some very common threads in all humanity that many were sure existed, and now it’s been confirmed.

The idea being here that we were separated by impenetrable boundaries and ideologies that related like oil and water. But things are changing and they’re changing fast. How do we keep pace with these dynamics and what do we do?

Here are a few suggestions.

1. Accept everyone’s humanity and realize they are just as sensitive as you. Sound’s easy, but many have this almost sentimental sense that if we don’t see their faces and don’t know about them, they don’t matter. But now, we are seeing their faces, we are aware of their hopes and fears. It’s time that we stand shoulder to shoulder with populations. Leaders come and go, but the trend is that people want representation, everywhere. In the boardroom, in more flattened organizations, in the young generations need to really enjoy what they do and most of all, in countries that we thought could never change, the public has been saying, ‘We demand a voice in our destinies’.

2.Seek agreement. Be polite, non-judgmental (even a little) and ask. You don’t have to agree with everyone and you never will. OK. They won’t agree with you all the time. OK. This has a balancing effect that we can calm down and if we don’t agree or understand, we can ask the person about it. Find some common ground to work from. Don’t give up on this. When you sense resistance, there is resistance. But push through it with dialogue.

3.Be prepared to accept apologies and/or apologize. It’s common and easy to make mistakes and the trouble comes when we try to defend those mistakes (because of our own stubbornness and I can be guilty of this myself) we build the walls of separation even higher, and they’ll want to come down.

4.Encourage the moments, events and movements that bring people together. In the workplace there are events that have a unifying effect; congratulating a job well done, giving credit to others, helping the future of the organization, helping those below and above. If we don’t get in there and show our force of effectiveness and productivity, we run the risk of dividing what is actually one group, one team, one force.

We have so many illusions that divide us; nationality, gender, race, religion, football teams, etc. that we easily forget what’s happening in the world. People want the same things. Now the material things are in competition, but our sense of humanity, understanding, acceptance and happiness flow in the same currents.

We had better get on that boat if we want to succeed in business and life, because if we don’t, that boat may pass us by. It’s not easy sometimes, because of our own moods, but when you are in a calm state, try to examine how you feel about others and you’ll probably see that you and I have a right to be a part of the same connection.


February 17, 2011 / Astor ICS

Connecting Horizontally Through Better Communication

As organizations face these critically fast paced times of a more demanding need for innovation, they are becoming as Thomas Friedman has said, ‘flattened out’. Everything is becoming more connected; demographics are being recognized in more unique matrices and our abilities to communicate directly have put professional relationships in macro-mode. But do we really need to be everywhere at all times. Of course not. But it’s important to consider the horizontal nature of management as a reality and the vertical one as being a bit under pressure.

According to research, 72% of executives say that the horizontal boundaries and overlaps as their biggest challenge. It’s obvious that we all have been trained in the vertical boundaries of, ‘It’s not my decision or job’, but when it comes to collaborating, defining limits and effective productivity, it’s important to analyze some rules and advice.

Consider the words of a top-tier federal government R&D executive, “My organization consists of 8 functional units and 7 laboratories, in which more and more of our problems require interdisciplinary solutions. Unfortunately, each lab has its own management culture, and this causes real challenges in partnering. I have a mandate to attack this challenge.” If there are to be solutions to partnering they need to be implemented quickly. This way, innovation can bring about what the greater mandate demands.

Over 85% of executives polled by researchers say that collaborating across boundaries is essential and an astounding 6% say they do it effectively.

Here is some advice on how to activate the horizontal connections

  1. Bring leaders from other areas into your team meetings. Invite them to give ideas on organizational challenges
  2. Encourage conversations, casual discussions across each function of the organizations. Put different supplies like whiteboards, beamers, flip charts around to let the ideas be visual.
  3. Find and discuss the true and hidden sources of conflict between two divisions. Always be armed with two or thee solutions to every problem or challenge.
  4. Have ‘Possible Future’ discussions regularly about how the organization could look in five or ten years. Get the possibilities on the table and encourage all opinions openly and freely.

Astor ICS


February 14, 2011 / Astor ICS

What’s the Big Idea? You have It In You!

Many of us have great ideas, a lot of them. They ferment in our minds for months or years, or spontaneously emerge on impulse. Some people think ideas are like a great wind. They touch many people at around the same time and because of current conditions and the forces of logic, it’s imperative to move fast if you want to be the first. But ideas are also like beautiful and unknown seeds that if cultivated carefully and diligently, can emerge into a unique version of what many people may consider creating.

But the main idea is that ideas are an expression of the liberated mind and spirit that want to exist in some form; even if they remain ideas.

If you are in a position to have your ideas heard, manifest your own, share them with a team or any other form of making them real, it can be quite different to have them complete their cycle and go through all the motions to see them through.

Here’s a brief step-by-step to help you put the pieces of your thoughts together and have them bear fruit.

1. Keep thinking about it – It’s always great to have those first few thoughts of inspiration. But continuing in the thought process first allows you to do mental edits before you really begin. If you use your senses to experience the idea in your mind, you’ll get a strong image of what it will be like. Visualize, Feel, Sense and Imagine in a deep kind of meditation that is uninterrupted for a few minutes and stay focused. Let the thoughts come to you and also send your thoughts directly to the idea to work on it. It’s the push/pull of creative thought that can also do the editing.

2. Take some notes – Start and restart. let the first written form change and be changed. Don’t try to force your old and existing manipulations on this new idea. It won’t be new anymore. It will just slip into the old paradigms that you have always lived with. Use different forms of notes. Write in words, draw pictures, draw logic trees, start from the beginning, start from the end, write from the viewer/user or write from the creator. Be sure to write from some different perceptions. Get a 360 view.

3. Make a model version – Whatever the idea is, create a generic or general version of what you want it to be. You may be ready for the final product, but many times experienced pros make mock versions to get a sense of what it actually is before they commit it to its final form. Try it on, take a look, try it out. Realize that it will be adjusted.

4. Stop and be honest and critical – What’s right here, what’s wrong? This is another step that commonly gets left out. What did you want without compromise? Then go back to that. Your pure thought is usually the best. Stay aligned to that. have things changed from what you wanted? Ask yourself what about this is not what it should be. You’ll need to have patience and perseverance  if you want this thing to be the best it can be.

From there, you will really begin to do/make/create the near final form. This is not just for products or services. It’s for innovation of any kind. Just remember that everything is somehow connected to what came before it and make your great idea into that progression and evolution.

I know so many people who have had ideas that are very very amazing but never were able to bring them truly into this world. We are in a new and great age where the idea process can move faster into reality than ever before. We just can’t forget to use a real process. If we do we will make the next generation of innovation into mere mediocrity. You can gather up the forces and push your abilities into areas where we have never gone before and really make a great and positive difference in this world if you don’t give up and never say never.

Astor ICS

January 18, 2011 / Astor ICS

Soft Skills? Hard Facts, Tough Decisions and Emergency Change!!

There is an idea that analytic and customary behaviors are ‘Hard Skills’ and that professional relationships, career strategies and behavioral change are ‘Soft Skills’. This seems to have been accepted as the divisions of the two basic abilities and it needs to be revisited and changed.

One of them most difficult things to identify and change, are our own patterns that ultimately prevents us from the success we want. Most of the time we don’t realize what they are. We have created blind spots over the years that protect negative behaviors in a survival kind of way. We rationalize with self-justifying arguments that support our problem and reinforce it with accusatory and emotional charges outwards to other people. Everyone does this to a certain degree.

Don’t worry, realize! These aren’t little issues that just make us feel good about something if we agree, or anything like that. These are profound and call for decisive actions. It’s your survival and future and you must act. Try this.

  1. Isolate the behavior our attitude that is a problem. Ask some people that you trust. Put it in one simple sentence in your mind.
  2. Remember it. Your mind will deny and disassociate your thinking from it, so write it down.
  3. Find out what you need to do to correct it. Be creative and think of the outcome you want.
  4. View other people as sensitive and like you in the manner that they have issues too.
  5. Realize that if you help yourself, you help others .
  6. Make the change over a period of about 6 months and monitor yourself after that.

You’ll be amazed that this is not really easy and that it needs your constant attention.

These are not soft skills, by any means. There is nothing soft about finding what holds you back and engaging yourself to change.

It’s extremely powerful and it affects every aspect of your life. To me, a soft skill is something that is memorized. That’s not very difficult compared to fundamental change.

January 4, 2011 / Astor ICS

Engaging Your People To Produce

It’s commonly thought that if someone tells you what to do, you just do it and that’s the end of it. But over time, the real truth to came through, it just had to. People need to feel their work, not merely do it. They want to have a reason that compels their nature, goals, dreams and abilities.

This is where engaging and mobilizing comes in. There has been a lot of talk about how these are soft skills, but nothing could be further from the truth. The only thing soft about it is that it’s not dictatorial and tyrannical.

Think of it this way; you have a good job, but you just do it and come home. What happens is that it will be repetitive and not very inspiring and thus you will basically be asleep at the wheel. In today’s world, an organization must be dynamic, agile and highly inspired to move things forward and give the customer (everyone has a customer in this scenario) what they want and more.

Here it is in a nutshell; know your employees. Find out what they dream of, what they’d love to accomplish, what makes them excited, what you can do to be more of a resource and most of all you should care about what they are thinking of the whole picture. Without knowing the basic elements of who these people are and how you and your colleagues can help, you’ll end up having them sit and doze in their office. If you’d like to use fear and threats, then they will feel scared and threatened and look for another job.

You’ve got to try to keep your people. It’s not as difficult as it appears. It just takes a concerted effort on your part and talk about raising the standard of you company’s culture, you will see that bee hive really start to buzz.

It’s simple, but it must not be a one-time event. It has to be part of your overall internal strategy (external too) that livens up the daily routine. If your people come to the same looking office everyday and do the same things, you better get working on building their internal power and will to do great things for your organization. But you must really know them first; actively and emphatically know them.

This is not soft, but a continuous social resource sense that builds powerful relationships.

You may need some help with this so contact me at Astor ICS

December 29, 2010 / Astor ICS

Management of Professional Relationships – What they don’t teach you

When people earn business degrees of any type, they study principles, models, case studies and any number of writing practices. But there’s a crucial topic that is never taught, discussed or mentioned; How to get along and get the most out of professional social relationships with actual human beings.

You don’t need a psychology, sociology or any other type of degree to get this. They don’t really teach it either.

I remember a time in the 1980’s when some very enlightened individuals were complaining that we are never taught how to love. I think it’s a valid point that is in the same area that professional social relationships fall into.

So picture this; you’re working for a company as a high level manager and you can’t seem to motivate you’re staff and they aren’t being creative and productive. Also, you don’t seem to be able to be compatible with your superior. So what do you do?

That’s where learning and practicing today’s best management strategies come in. They are mainly hidden among the mediocrity and general advice that floats around the internet when you begin to look.

But go back a little further in your life and many of the answers are there, just for you. Getting along with people is generally based on being a resource and a friendly ear to others. If we listen carefully the other person can literally feel it and many times will be receptive to a few probing questions that are for their benefit and in turn, they will do the same for you.

In an international setting, we may believe that the problems are cultural, but that’s not necessarily true. Cultural differences are mainly reflected in language usage, customs and communication methods. But if we scratch below the surface, it is behaviors and intent that really matter.

Look into the way you communicate and want you really want from a situation and you’ll find that getting there is much easier if you give and take. Ask people what they need from you. Also ask them how you are perceived (if you’re brave enough) and you’ll have begun a great journey to a new level of success.


December 22, 2010 / Astor ICS

Meeting People and Your Success

When meeting people for the first time, are you comfortable? You should be. This one starting event can give you a unique picture of yourself and a powerful image to develop.

How do you come across? Friendly? Sophisticated? Stand-offish? Your initial contact with someone sets the tone for the future. It’s something that we should consider and develop, if we want to be effective and position ourselves the way that could work best for us in the future.

The first meeting begins a ‘personal branding’ process. We have begun to place ourselves in the mind of the other person and whether we can move to the next level with them.

My question to you is, what do you want? By this I don’t mean what things do you want or what things to you want them to do (or not do) for you. I mean, what do you want to set up?

To create a feeling in the other person of your excellent qualities you may want to consider a powerful balance of your behavior. Having a grounded yet outreaching style can give the impression of being interesting and interested. People enjoy being intrigued by new acquaintances and that’s what leads them to more desire for further contact.

I try to consider my words and their implications when I meet new people. Since they don’t know my style yet, it’s easy for me to be misinterpreted. I met someone recently who said, ‘I moved so much that I don’t make friends anymore, just business contacts’. Now, if my understanding of the word ‘friends’ is different than that of the speaker, then I could think that they are hard, cold, indifferent and closed to all friendship possibilities. That may be true, but may not be true. I could mirror their style back at them and the whole thing could end in one very large misunderstanding.

This is just a little example, but you probably see my point. It’s easy to be misunderstood at the first meeting.

What do you do to be clearer and more effective? It may be best to have a more center of the spectrum type of approach. No heavily extreme phrases that can be misconstrued. It’s also a good idea to have an open air about you so you can give the impression of being receptive to the words of the other person. Reacting to the moment is very powerful and shows that you are with them now and not programmed to behave in a way that makes them feel generic and irrelevant.

You may want to consider your ‘kindness level’. Having a friendly attitude and a pleasant tone along with your expertise and insights will bring you closer to a better contact than most anything else.

The question comes back to, what do you want.? If you examine it closely and honestly, you may be a bit surprised to realize that you are not always projecting that.

One must be careful not to be either deceptive or self-deceptive in these issues, because it will be discovered and a possible excellent relationship can be ruined and you may create a negative reputation for yourself that will prevent you from gaining the allies, tools and space that is needed for future successes.

And not just the future, your present happiness will find its way to a more somber and negative expression.

When you meet someone, really meet them and see how big your own personal universe actually is.

Contact me at Astor ICS for any help in first encounters that you may need.


December 14, 2010 / Astor ICS

Coaching is Measurable and Specific!

I was listening to a presentation by an academician on the topic of ROI in coaching. She said that there is very little information about exact amounts and that the jury was still out (undecided) when it came to the actual and tangible evidence of increased revenue, etc.

This is completely baseless, ignorant and more importantly misleading. In fact, the average ROI from coaching is five or six to one.

Let’s examine the process and the facts. A coach (ICF certified and extremely familiar with the industry) begins by speaking to the client, assessing their circle of people, discusses the findings with the client and then the measures and metrics begin. The coach creates a plan with targeted issues that are to be accomplished within a specific timeframe and monitors the implemetation.

This is where coaching is so powerful. The needs of each client are many times unique and special and a customized set of metrics are always needed to be put in place. It could be; increase profitability by 3% in one quarter, help me move up the organization, make the team function more efficiently, how to raise capital, increase employee engagement and mobilization. You get the picture. This is coaching; specific needs addressed in a timely and measurable manner that succeed in accomplishing the goal(s).

The concept of do-it-yourself all the way, everyday is noble but can be too slow, not wide enough and limited. The coach has powerful tools to enhance and bring out the talents of the client while offering perspective that helps eliminate blind spots and miscalculations. Managers and executives have very deep knowledge of their fields of expertise, but many times lack the single-handed abilities to carry them through in social and strategic settings.

We do everything from vision and mission to implementation and monitoring. To measure the great variety of coaching settings is truly difficult and that’s way there are so many fields within this industry, but to say that it is not possible to measure ROI is the sign of someone living in an academic bubble, supported by the fear of their students and needing to be the center of all knowledge. It sounds like that person needs coaching to get their perceptions into perspective and learn how to do better research without their ego getting in the way.

visit Astor ICS for more information on what coaching can do for you.