Private Eyes Inc.



In this issue    
4 Essential Steps to Mananging Growth
How to Train Your Brain to Focus
Why Being a Nicer Boss is a Smart Business Move

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February 2012  

Message from Our President, Sandra James   


 The month of "hearts and flowers" has arrived and we now begin Sandra Black and White Standingto take note of all that is popping up on the year's horizon.  All too quickly we find the year just takes off and doesn't "wait up".  Our enduring companions change, challenge and opportunity all let us know they accompany endless possibilities the year already holds.  The team at Private Eyes appreciates your commitment and stands ready to serve both our new and longstanding clients as this year moves forward.          

4 Essential Steps to Managing Growth


A funny little thing happens on the road to success. Often the prosperity of the business can outpace the ability of the business to maintain that success. At this point most of you are probably wondering what am I talking about. Rapid success can lead to failure? Get real. But it can. And I have seen it repeatedly in all scales of businesses over the past few years.


How does it happen? Let's say you bring a product to

market. It is received well by the public. They begin to buy.

You begin to make money. All is good. You begin to advertise the product more and to different segments. Maybe you even diversify and offer variants of the original goods or services to capture a greater market share. You make more money. You are happier than ever. You spend more on advertising. More money flows in. The cycle continues.


One day you get a disturbing memo from accounting. It

seems the business is losing money. Not drastically. Not in leaps and bounds but slowly over time. Even though you are bringing in more money than you ever imagined possible there is a slow bleed causing your expenses to exceed, if ever so slightly, your revenues each month.


Your first reaction is typically one of disbelief and anger. Obviously, accounting has made an error. You explain to them your grand vision, how next month you are rolling out more products and services. How revenue has tripled in one year and will double again next year. The accountant looks at you with that blank stare and says the immutable truth of business and accounting: "Numbers don't lie."




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How to Train Your Brain to Focus   


Next time you are sitting in a meeting, take a look around. The odds are high that you will see your colleagues checking screens, texting, and emailing while someone is talking or making a presentation. Many of us are proud of Focusour prowess in multitasking, and wear it like a badge of honor.


Multitasking may help us check off more things on our to-do lists. But it also makes us more prone to making mistakes, more likely to miss important information and cues, and less likely to retain information in working memory, which impairs problem solving and creativity.


Over the past decade, advances in neuroimaging have been revealing more and more about how the brain works. Studies of adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) using the latest neuroimaging and cognitive testing are showing us how the brain focuses, what impairs focus - and how easily the brain is distracted. This research comes at a time when attention deficits have spread far beyond those with ADHD to the rest of us working in an always-on world. The good news is that the brain can learn to ignore distractions, making you more focused, creative, and productive.


Here are three ways you can start to improve your focus.


Tame your frenzy.


Frenzy is an emotional state, a feeling of being a little (or a lot) out of control. It is often underpinned by anxiety, sadness, anger, and related emotions. Emotions are processed by the amygdala, a small, almond-shaped brain structure. It responds powerfully to negative emotions, which are regarded as signals of threat. Functional brain imaging has shown that activation of the amygdala by negative emotions interferes with the brain's ability to solve problems or do other cognitive work. Positive emotions and thoughts do the opposite - they improve the brain's executive function, and so help open the door to creative and strategic thinking.


What can you do? Try to improve your balance of positive and negative emotions over the course of a day. Barbara Fredrickson, a noted psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, recommends a 3:1 balance of positive and negative emotions, based upon mathematical modeling of ideal team dynamics by her collaborator Marcial Losada, and confirmed by research on individual flourishing and successful marriages. (Calculate your "positivity ratio" at You can tame negative emotional frenzy by exercising, meditating, and sleeping well. It also helps to notice your negative emotional patterns. Perhaps a coworker often annoys you with some minor habit or quirk, which triggers a downward spiral. Appreciate that such automatic responses may be overdone, take a few breaths, and let go of the irritation.



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Why Being a Nicer Boss is a Smarter Business Move   


A debated question by many with management positions is, how should I interact with the people I am in charge of. Should one use the persona of a boss only, not friends, or should one act as an equal but still be authoritative when need be. The article below discusses why it is "smarter" to be a nicer boss: 



I've just returned from an offsite with our team at The Energy Project. As we concluded, I asked each person to take a few moments to say what he or she felt most proud of accomplishing over the past year.


After each of their brief recountings, I added some observations about what I appreciated in that person. Before long, others were chiming in. The positive energy was contagious, but it's not something we can ever take for granted.


Whatever else each of us derives from our work, there may be nothing more precious than the feeling that we truly matter - that we contribute unique value to the whole, and that we're recognized for it.


nice bossThe single highest driver of engagement, according to a worldwide study conducted by Towers Watson, is whether or not workers feel their managers are genuinely interested in their wellbeing. Less than 40 percent of workers felt so engaged.


Feeling genuinely appreciated lifts people up. At the most basic level, it makes us feel safe, which is what frees us to do our best work. It's also energizing. When our value feels at risk, as it so often does, that worry becomes preoccupying, which drains and diverts our energy from creating value.


So why is it that openly praising or expressing appreciation to other people at work can so easily seem awkward, contrived, mawkish and even disingenuous?

The obvious answer is that we're not fluent in the language of positive emotions in the workplace. We're so unaccustomed to sharing them that we don't feel comfortable doing so. Heartfelt appreciation is a muscle we've not spent much time building, or felt encouraged to build.


Oddly, we're often more experienced at expressing negative emotions - reactively and defensively, and often without recognizing their corrosive impact on others until much later, if we do at all.





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Sandra James
President, CEO
Private Eyes, Inc.