Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Art from the Hart

In this season of gratitude, the entire Rideau team is thankful for your friendship and support.

Wishing you a joyful present and a well remembered past.

Warmest thoughts for a wonderful holiday and a very happy New Year!

Monday, December 21, 2009

E Pluribus Unum

We have all seen the words… on the coins in our pocket, on paper currency, on the Seal of the United States.

Perhaps you know what these words mean, but I did not. (Apologies to my teachers… but five years of Latin just didn’t do it for me!)

I only recently learned what the words meant… E Pluribus Unum ~ “Out of many one”.

What a beautiful thought… especially during the holiday season.

For no matter where we live, what we look like, what believe in… we are all important and our world… our one world is richer because of it.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 18, 2009

My Friend Mark!

The compliment that helps us on our way is not the one that is shut up in the mind, but the one that is spoken out.
- Mark Twain: A Biography

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Recognition from the Hart: The Heart of Your Workplace

Employers Web published my new article on employee training. Click here to learn about how to leverage your employees' potential as well as increase employee engagement and loyalty.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Saying "Thank you" can be taught!

I recently had the pleasure of attending the first VPHR conference, an international recognition convention hosted by Christophe Laval, VPHR founder. Author Ruben Chaumont also attended and wrote this article (in French) in L'Expansion about a few interesting key points covered during the conference on the importance of recognition in the workplace.

Happy recognition reading!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Art from the Hart

Winter Walk by Peter Hart

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Building Social Capital

Want to learn more about how to build social capital in the workplace?

Join my good friend Steven Green on December 16th, 2009 for PollStream’s Real Engagement Webinar at 2pm EST. The theme of the session is Building Social Capital within the organization.

The speakers on the call for this session are USAA's Betsy Pasley and Best Buy's Ericka Webb. They will each share real-world examples of how they harnessed the Social Capital within their organizations and successfully enriched a culture that attracts employees and customers alike.

It is a great opportunity to hear how companies are using the same social software solutions that you are to engage, educate and inform your audience. I encourage you to attend. You may register here.

See you on the 16th!

Monday, December 7, 2009

What Really Killed Van Gogh?

A couple of years ago I visited the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.

I’ve visited many museums but this one was very special because I love Vincent Van Gogh and the magnificent, colorful works he created.

Van Gogh only painted for about ten years. During his lifetime he created about 2,000 works of art. He painted quickly and with great passion and most of his best-known works were produced in the final two years of his life.

Many of these masterpieces are on display at the museum and displayed in chronological order. You can actually see how his work became increasingly colorful as he moved towards his tragic suicide in 1890.

While browsing in the Museum’s bookstore I came across Martin Gayford’s book titled “The Yellow House: Van Gogh, Gauguin, and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Provence” and I bought it for my wife Francine who unfortunately wasn't on that trip with me. Both of us enjoyed it immensely. You can get a copy.

I later began to re-read the book which is something I often do that with books I’ve enjoyed... it’s like visiting an old friend.

While reading it, I started thinking about the lessons I’ve learned over the past few years about recognition from some very smart people.

One of the most interesting conversations I had was with Professor Jean-Pierre Brun in Paris last November. At the time, Jean-Pierre was the Chair of Occupational Health and Safety Management at Laval University in Quebec. He is currently working in Paris as the Executive Director of Stimulus, a French based company that deals with stress and workplace health issues.

Jean-Pierre’s research at the University of Laval has proven that the lack of recognition is the second-highest cause of workplace stress and burnout. During the course of our conversation Jean-Pierre went on to say that employers who withhold recognition from employees who deserve it are actually injuring them. (The verb he used in French was “blesser” which translates as "wound" in English).

In a previous post I stated my belief that recognition should not be limited to the workplace. It is something that should apply to our daily lives.

Now put this in the context of Vincent Van Gogh…

For most of his career, Vincent struggled in anonymity and his work was never recognized. Most accounts say he only sold one painting… “The Red Vineyard.”

Imagine that! Only one painting out of over two thousand that he created!

Vincent’s only real source of recognition came from his younger brother Theo. He supported him financially and through thick and thin. But Theo’s recognition only came in the form of letters: he lived far away in Paris and Vincent lived in Arles, in Provence. Vincent was truly alienated from most of society and alienation is the exact opposite of recognition.

Towards the end of his life Vincent suffered repeated bouts of mental illness. The most famous led him to cut off his own ear. Ultimately he took his own life.

I wonder what would have happened if Vincent Van Gogh’s work had been appreciated and recognized during his lifetime?

How many more masterpieces could have been in the Van Gogh Museum?

Friday, December 4, 2009

My Friend Mark!

The form of a compliment has nothing to do with its value -- it is the spirit that is in it that makes it gold or dross. This one was gold. This one was out of the heart, and I have found that an ignorant hot one out of the heart tastes just as good as does a calm judicial, reasoned one out of an educated head.
- "The Refuge of the Derelicts" published in Fables of Man

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Dan Pink - Rethinking Carrots and Sticks

One of my favorite websites is

TED stands for “Technology, Entertainment, Design.” The group started out in 1984 and has a loyal following because it organizes conferences that bring together some of the world’s brightest people who are challenged to make an outstanding presentation in 18 minutes!

Dan Pink, a lawyer by training and a former speechwriter for Al Gore is one of the bright people who accepted the TED challenge. He gave a TED talk last summer at Oxford University on “Rethinking the Ideology of Carrots and Sticks” in the workplace.

Everyone in the incentive field should watch the clip for no other reason than Dan challenges many conventional beliefs on workplace incentives. Basically, he says there is a huge mismatch between what social science has proven about extrinsic “carrot” incentives and what business practices. Dan states that carrots can hinder our abilities because we focus far too much on the incentive to the exclusion of everything else. In other words, extrinsic incentives can suppress and distort our innate intrinsic values.

You can expect to hear a lot more on this topic because Dan will be releasing a new book called, “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us”. It will be published in late December.

Dan believes that “Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose” are key intrinsic motivation drivers. I understand where he is coming from and think Dan makes some very valid points!

We need a new paradigm that goes beyond the traditional carrot and stick approach. One that will unlock employees' intrinsic drivers and create environments that allow them to grow as individuals, because when they grow, so do our companies.