Author Archives: Kit Prendergast

The Happiness Advantage

The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance, by Shawn Achor, Random House Publishers, New York, New York. (2010)

I found this book fascinating because it clearly shakes up our old cultural beliefs that first we need to find external “successes” before we will find “happiness”. Achor takes us along his research path – starting first with Harvard University freshman – and then into the wealth of studies in positive psychology over the last several years. I’m convinced! My time and energy is best spent on ensuring that I maximize my positive emotions to benefit both my professional and personal life.

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The Business Case for “Happiness”

So which comes first? Success or “happiness”? It’s ingrained in our American culture that if we work hard, we will become successful and once we are successful, then we will be happy. But is this really true? As we learn more about what really motivates people and how positive emotions influence all facets of our lives we see that this formula is actually backward.

Don’t believe me? Think about it . . . if success brings happiness, then each time we get that new job, new promotion, find that ideal husband, new house, new car or lose that five pounds we would be happy. But often something very different happens. We start thinking that this isn’t enough – we push out the criteria for our happiness even further. We are always waiting, waiting, waiting to really be happy.

So this is what the hard science tells us . . . in the last 10 – 15 years there has been an abundance of research in the area of positive psychology or “happiness”. And the results are clear . . . positive emotions engage and motivate us to stretch, grow and perform at our very best. We see the world clearer, especially the possibilities that we could tap into. And from that foundation of personal confidence, resiliency and creativity, we make ourselves available for opportunity. Success then seems to find us – almost falls in our laps.

So here’s the ROI of happiness . . . People do business with people they know, like and trust. We all like to be around positive, energetic and optimistic friends, family and work colleagues. We even do business with companies that project that positivity – think of highly successful Southwest Airlines. And we have total control over our own emotions – negative and positive. I vote for putting my time and energy into where I’m going to benefit the most and that is in my own “happiness”.

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How to Develop Self-Confidence & Influence People by Public Speaking

How to Develop Self-Confidence & Influence People by Public Speaking, Dale Carnegie, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 2011 Edition.

This book was originally written in 1926! It was titled Public Speaking and Influencing Men in Business and, interestingly, was actually Dale Carnegie’s first book. Of course, Carnegie later became best known for his book How to Win Friends and Influence People. But this first book (edited by his wife, Dorothy Carnegie, for today’s audience) is a gem. It contains many wonderful references to the world of business in the mid-1920’s but also excellent tips on how to master the art of public speaking. I loved the chapters on developing courage & confidence; how to improve your memory and tried & true ways to open and close your presentations. Pick it up!

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Key Questions: The Who, What, When & Why of Your Audience

This is a hard lesson to learn. But ask any experienced public speaker and they will tell you a story (or several) of a presentation that flopped because they didn’t know the real needs of the audience or maybe even who the audience was going to be. Sound familiar?

We can’t skip this step ever. Even if the organization asking you to speak is in a hurry and tells you “just talk about anything” don’t do it! You must know who will be listening to you, what their needs are and what they are expecting from you. Here are the classic Who, What, When & Why questions to ask about your audience.

  • Who is the audience? (numbers, professions, age/gender)
  • What outcome does the audience (and the organization) want to walk away with?
  • When is the presentation? (time of day, over a meal, with other speakers, or?)
  • Why is the group meeting? (entertainment, learning, continuing education credit, or?)

Once you know these answers, you can begin designing your presentation with confidence. Need more? Check into my upcoming tele-seminar starting in January. Love to have you!

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Emotional Intelligence: Use It or Lose Your Career!

You may think I’m exaggerating but it’s true. The #1 reason professionals stumble in their career advancement is because of their lack of social and emotional intelligence. They may have all the knowledge, skills and even years of experience but they have earned a reputation for not being able to get along with their colleagues, direct reports or even their bosses.  In short, their own self-awareness; empathy for others and ability to manage their own emotions is limited or nonexistent.

These folks (are we talking about you?) are just known for being difficult – they don’t listen, are confrontational, unpredictable and even arrogant in their beliefs. They may be in a supervisory or middle management position because they have been with the company for so long but now their career is on thin ice and they wonder why.  But others know why . . .

So what exactly is “social and emotional intelligence”?  Here is a excellent working defination from the Institute for Social & Emotional Intelligence (ISEI), Denver, Colorado.

  • “Social and emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of our own emotions and those of others, in the moment, and to use that information to manage ourselves and manage our relationships”.

I’ve been giving workshops on emotional intelligence (EQ) for years – it’s truly my favorite topic because it impacts every aspect of our working and personal lives.  I’m delighted now to be in an intensive coach certification course (October – November) through ISEI with my Australian coaching colleagues to learn even more.  I’ve already started to pull new ideas and tools into my training courses and with my individual coaching clients.

So let’s remember that 80 – 85% of our career success at the upper levels depends on our ability to connect, communicate and collaborate with others. Our own personal work experiences confirm that research.  We have all known industry leaders who have those qualities – they inspire, motivate and engage their teams and employees resulting in people working harder with energy, creativity and greater flexibility.  The result? Less employee turnover; higher productivity and greater profits for the company.

This is emotional intelligence competencies in action. Let’s be known as one of those leaders!



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