Newsletter #553 – Keeping Fresh

cover-sub-tout-1113-1This week the renewal notice came from Harvard Business Review (HBR). Why would a psychologist, coach, counselor or ministry leader subscribe to a business magazine? Because reading contemporary books and magazines is one way I keep up with changes in my field, in leadership and the world where we live. Some HBR articles bore or confuse me. But successful business people must stay abreast of trends in order to survive. I want to know what they are thinking.

An example is the November 2013 issue focused on making decisions. I read the articles on making tough calls, emotional agility, and on avoiding the echo chamber. This is when decisions are made in isolation or when decision makers are surrounded by like-minded people who echo what each other thinks. Much better is what the article calls social exploration in which ideas and perspectives are solicited from a network of sources. “Social explorers…form connections with many different kinds of people and gain exposure to a broad variety of thinking.” One research example concerns traders who had a balance and diversity of ideas in their networks. They had a 30% higher return on their investments. The conclusion: the best decisions rarely come from “deep pondering in isolation.” They happen when people learn from and draw on the diverse experiences and perspectives of others. Do you agree that the God who guides through Scripture also leads through communities?

Then there’s an article titled “Dismantling the Sales Machine.” Last week a friend described the attitudes in his work place. Sales reps are told what to do, required to read scripts to potential clients and monitored on how much they conform.  This was big for many years but in an age of educated consumers, especially younger people, there is a much better response to reps who can use their personalities, judgment and creativity to engage callers and answer their questions. “Reps are most likely to succeed when they feel supported rather than directed.” My friend works for a college talking to potential students. When they are treated impersonally will they go elsewhere–where people on the phones are personally knowledgeable, warmer and more engaging?

Please leave a comment. Tell us how you keep up with trends.

Click on the comment button to see the magazines that I read regularly in order to keep in touch with change.


  1. WHAT I READ TO KEEP UP. I keep up by connecting on a regular basis with friends who believe differently than I do, are of different ages and ethnic/national backgrounds, in different professions, and have values, interests, and abilities than I don’t have. I also make a practice to read magazines, books and a few regular blogs like those from Fast Company, The Week, Christianity Today, Leadership, Books and Culture, Michael Hyatt and a few news sites. Magazines that I read (or at least skim) regularly include some professional journals plus
    APA Monitor on Psychology
    Christianity Today
    Fast Company
    Harvard Business Review
    National Geographic
    Psychology Networker


  2. I was at a talk yesterday on social media by a young blogger and author, Tsh Oxenreider, who happens to be the wife of Life Impact’s Operations Director as well. The stats of those on social media are astounding. i would think that any sales approach today that disregards social media as a field of connectivity, or the attitudes of the younger generation that are driving them would soon be out of business. Have you seen any articles on the impact of social media in sales?


  3. David, I completely agree. I have a young friend (a former coaching student) who has build an extremely successful coaching business. He is highly competent (that is important) and he has a much-in-demand niche, but he is not ICF certified. He does not have a business card or brochure, perhaps not even a web site. But he has more clients and waiting clients than he can handle. Last month I asked how he has done what so many others have failed to do. His answer surprised me: “I do all my marketing using social media.” He is an impressive example of what you write. I tell people that if they are not sophisticated in using social media (that’s me) they need to consider finding a social-media techie who can give them help.


    1. I heard from my friend who has built his coaching business using social media. Here is his response: Social media is powerful. And the comment is spot on in the importance of including it in any marketing campaign.


  4. I love the concept of “avoiding the echo chamber” , and think that very often there’s a danger of remaining fixed in one direction or path to the point of becoming obsolete. Within the church world as well as other organizations this is endemic. The way out I think is based on remaining curious and connected .


  5. Thank you Johnson. I think a lot of churches get to be echo chambers and, for this reason, they miss perspectives that are different and worth considering. Have you ever heard of groupthink? This was big in psychology maybe 30 years ago. As I recall the original research focused on politics and documented how elected politicians so often surround themselves with “advisors” who think like they do. Assume there is a high level meeting and everybody agrees with the leader. One person does not but he (or she) does not speak up. The person with the contrary opinion does not want to appear disloyal or might conclude “Everybody else in the room seems to agree so my opinion probably is wrong.” Imagine a situation where everybody really thinks that way but votes with the prevailing (often the leader’s) opinion. Scary!


    1. I think people in general and some Christians in particular are prone to groupthink because we dislike conflict or feel that to have constructive (as opposed to destructive) conflict is un-Christian.

      I’ve been looking at the 2nd Law of thermodynamics; which in simple terms says that in a CLOSED system, over time every thing becomes equal and grounds to a halt. So the only way to stop that happening is fresh input from different sources.
      That’s why I appreciate blogs that distill and condense ideas and information for us, so many thanks Gary.


  6. I want to take the opportunity to say THANX to you Gary. Your current Newsletter – as it is very often – is an Inspiration. You make it easier to trust the God who leads through scriptrue leading one through community 🙂

    I wish that “avoiding the echo chamber” was something that not just business, but also church leaders would be more aware of!

    Blessings Ulrich


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