Changing The Way We Mourn 1

How do you go from world traveler to funeral counselor the span of one phone call? In her talk, Laura Prince explores the transformative power of grief , death, and her passion for changing the way we as a society approach death.

While studying Gerontology and working with elders who where close to their own death, she became inspired to celebrate life and live as passionately as possible. Later while working on the National Geographic Expedition ships, a tragic unexpected death in her close circle led her inadvertently into a career in the death care industry. To this day, it has been the most passionate time of her life. She is currently working on an organization called Good Mourning offering death education, holistic grief counseling, and funeral planning services. Laura stresses the importance of properly honoring the those who have died, as well as our resulting grief. By becoming closer to the reality of death, we can live more present, passionate lives.

University Professor Creates Lie Detecting Test Reply

By Rich Scinto, New Haven Register

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Time is of the essence for law enforcement immediately after a large crime such as the Boston Marathon bombing or the mass shooting at the New Orleans Mother’s Day parade. Hundreds of witnesses have to be screened, and some may be hiding pertinent information.

But now, Southern Connecticut State University associate professor Kevin Colwell has developed a forced-choice test that can allow law enforcement officials to scan a group of 30 witnesses within 10 to 15 minutes. It works on the premise that those telling the truth tend to add more details to a story if questioned properly. “Liars don’t, they keep telling the same story in the same order because they don’t want to screw it up,” Colwell said.

The same principles can be applied to test whether someone is attempting to feign incompetence to stand trial or amnesia.

There is usually plenty of time to question a single witness during a questioning session, Colwell said. The forced-choice test is usually between 20 and 40 questions and can be completed when the last person finishes answering all questions. The only manpower needed is someone to administer the test. His studies so far have a 90 percent accuracy rating, he said.

“If you know a little bit of information and have one or two trustworthy witnesses, you use their information for a test to weed out those that are attempting to deceive,” Colwell said. Although he couldn’t give away all the details, lie detection is based on mathematics. “With a pool of people, it quickly becomes evident who is trying to deceive,” he said. “Math lets us know who is hiding information. It’s fairly simple and it works well.”

As the Boston bombings have shown, the quick use of multiple investigative tools can lead to better success, said John DeCarlo, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of New Haven in West Haven. “Things have really changed considerably over last 10 years with the proliferation of technology in field,” he said. Cameras mounted throughout city streets and smartphones can act as virtual eyes after an investigation. Psychology and its deception detection branch also are powerful tools. “Kevin is taking it to a whole other level,” DeCarlo said. “The whole area of deception detection holds much promise (in law enforcement).”

John Jay College of Criminal Justice associate professor and lie detection expert Maria Hartwig is familiar with Colwell’s work, and said his new test seems promising. “It’s a very sound and simple test, and in all likelihood a reasonably effective technique. It does lend itself well to suspect elimination,” she said. “All it requires is a person is corporative and they take the test, but that’s true for all lie detection tools.”

Many law enforcement techniques for questioning people aren’t backed by empirical science, Hartwig said. “As far as I know, there is no research on suspect elimination techniques, which is quite interesting, I think, because it seems to be a fairly frequent situation where a pool of people has to be narrowed down,” she said. “I’m glad to hear someone is doing systematic work on it.”

She wasn’t familiar enough with the exact methodology of the test to comment on whether it screens for people who are deliberately deceiving versus those who unknowingly withhold information. Colwell said the mathematics behind the test help tell the difference between the two.

Graduate student Brian Gavigan and Cheri Anisman, a professor of psychology at the National University in La Jolla, Calif., helped develop the test.

The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center approached Colwell two years ago and asked him to develop the test, Colwell said. The test is built on the prior work of Colwell and Anisman on assessment criteria indicative of deception, also known as ACID. “It’s nothing utterly new because we’ve been using this in forensic assessment and clinical assessment since the ’80s,” Colwell said. But the technique should eventually trickle back to local law enforcement, Colwell said. Federal officers have to go to training at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and take both basic and advanced courses.

Between Venus and Mars: 7 Traits of True Leaders Reply

By Leigh Buchanan | Inc. magazine

Control is a mirage. The most effective leaders right now–men and women–are those who embrace traits once considered feminine: Empathy. Vulnerability. Humility. Inclusiveness. Generosity. Balance. Patience.

What a perfect day to meet up with John Gerzema for a conversation about leadership styles. I have come to the Manhattan offices of Young & Rubicam to discuss Gerzema’s new book, The Athena Doctrine, which argues that traits classically considered feminine are essential to effective leadership today.

By coincidence, the two weeks since I scheduled the appointment have kicked up a dust storm of news about female leaders behaving “like men” and male leaders behaving “like women.” Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook exhorted women to power up the career ladder with the same obduracy as men. Marissa Mayer weighed empathy against a full parking lot at Yahoo and chose the latter. Andrew Mason reaped kudos for the candor, humility, and vulnerability expressed in his resignation letter from Groupon. He even made a joke about his weight.

You’ve seen the studies about companies with gender-diverse boards outperforming male bastions, and about women hedge-fund managers trouncing their male counterparts. In 2011, the leadership development firm Zenger Folkman surveyed more than 7,200 business people about leaders in their organizations. Women were rated as better overall leaders than their male counterparts. The more exalted the position, the wider the gap.

So, sure, more women leaders would be great. But this is not a story about women leaders. It’s a story about good leaders. And our understanding of what good leaders do is being shaped by a number of new studies, the most intriguing of which comes from Gerzema, Young & Rubicam’s chief insights officer and executive chairman of Y&R’s BAV Consulting division.

A few years ago, Gerzema and his collaborator, Michael D’Antonio, wrote a book called Spend Shift, which described a postcrisis economy fueled by values rather than greed. As Gerzema made the public-speaking rounds, his audiences pointed out that the entrepreneurs, business leaders, and others profiled in the book evinced traits commonly considered feminine.

Gerzema manages the world’s largest database of consumers, and so is uniquely positioned to kick theoretical tires. Intrigued by the observations about gender, he surveyed 64,000 people in 13 countries on how they felt about government, the economy, and the (mostly male) leaders pulling the levers. Substantial majorities waxed critical of institutions and pessimistic about their quality of life.

Two-thirds said the world would be a better place if men thought more like women. Gerzema also asked consumers to characterize 125 traits as male, female, or neutral and to indicate those most desirable in modern leaders. Topping the list of most desirable traits were patience, expressiveness, intuition, flexibility, empathy, and many other traits identified by respondents as feminine.

The Holy Grail in business today is engagement: employees’ energy, enthusiasm, and commitment to their companies. Engagement has a powerful effect not only on productivity but also on profitability and customer metrics, numerous studies show. But it’s not something you can buy. The most recent Towers Watson Global Workforce Study identifies as key to engagement an employer who “promotes physical, emotional, and social well-being.” At a time when CEOs are demanding more from diminished, anxious work forces, they must make employees feel part of something and demonstrate their personal concern and support.

“Whether you’re talking about corporate America or Silicon Valley, it’s still a man’s world with masculine structures and women conforming to those ideals,” says Gerzema. “Feminine traits and values are a new form of innovation. They are an untapped form of competitive advantage.”

We have progressed from command-and-control (roughly through the 1980s) to empower-and-track (the 1990s to mid-2000s) to connect-and-nurture (today). Increasingly, the chief executive role is taking its place among the caring professions. It takes a tender person to lead a tough company.

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The Most Common Leadership Model – And Why It’s Broken 2

Mike Myatt, Contributor –

When organizations’ hire, develop, and promote leaders using a competency-based model, they’re unwittingly incubating failure. Nothing fractures corporate culture faster, and eviscerates talent development efforts more rapidly, than rewarding the wrong people for the wrong reasons. Don’t reward technical competency – reward aggregate contribution.

Any organization that over weights the importance of technical competency fails to recognize the considerable and often-untapped value contained in the whole of the person. It’s the cumulative power of a person’s soft skills, the sum of the parts if you will, that creates real value. It not what a person knows so much as it is how they’re able to use said knowledge to inspire and create brilliance in others that really matters.

We live in time that has moved well beyond competency driven models, yet organizations still primarily use competency-based interviews, competency-based development, competency-based performance reviews, and competency-based rewards as their framework for doing business. It remains the best practices mentality that rules the day, when we’re long overdue for a shift to next practices. It’s simply not possible to change current behaviors by refusing to embrace new paradigms.

Sure corporations know the right buzzwords – they pay lip service to things like character, trust, passion, purpose, EQ, collaboration, creativity, etc., but they really don’t value them in the same way they value competency.  One of the problems is competency is predictable and easy to measure, and corporations like predictable and easy. However just because something is easy to measure doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to measure, and certainly not when measured in a vacuum.

Competency should represent nothing more than table stakes – it should be assumed. Having the requisite level of competency to do your job is not to be rewarded – it’s to be expected. The train is really off the tracks when being technically and/or functionally qualified to do a job makes you a high potential.

The value organizations should be cultivating and curating in people is their ability to align purpose, vision, values, character, and commitment with demonstrated competency.  Competency isn’t the entirety of a person’s worth, and it certainly shouldn’t be the gold standard of their measurement. It’s a small part of the equation, but in many cases corporations treat it as if it’s the only thing that matters.

Here’s the thing – you can possess the greatest technical wizardry under the stars, but that doesn’t make you a leader.  If you don’t care, aren’t collaborative, can’t communicate, fail to take input and feedback, and allow your hubris to overshadow your humility, you might be intelligent, but in my book you’re not very bright. The really sad part of this story is how often this type of person is rewarded in a competency-based system.

We must recognize competency-based leadership models simply don’t work. They are deeply rooted in the foundations of command and control structures, and they’ve outgrown the value they afforded organizations as nations moved beyond the industrial era. Competency based models simply create alignment gaps at every level – organizational gaps, talent gaps, leadership gaps, cultural gaps, diversity gaps, positional gaps, value gaps, operational gaps, execution gaps, and the list could go on. A leader’s job is to close gaps – not create them (the subject of my next book – Hacking Leadership due out this Fall).

If you want to create a true culture of leadership, it’s necessary to actually lead. Smart thinking and acting must start to take precedence over soaring rhetoric. It takes more than paying lip service to a few soft skills on a performance scorecard to get the job done. It will take a cultural shift in actually understanding, recognizing and rewarding what we say we value. The bottom line is this – the people who spend the most time complaining about the lack of talent are the ones who don’t recognize talent to begin with – don’t be that person.


Using People’s Irrationality To Do Good 2

By Professor Leslie John, Harvard Business School

Identifying effective obesity treatment is both a clinical challenge and a public health priority. Can monetary incentives stimulate weight loss? Leslie John presents a study that examines different economic incentives for weight loss during a 16 week intervention.

Leslie John presented at the “The Science of Getting People to Do Good” research briefing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, co-sponsored by the Center for Social Innovation.

The Secret to Never Getting Blindsided 1

How to Anticipate a Person’s  Actions

By Chris Simmons

One of the biggest obstacles sabotaging our personal and professional lives is a failure to understand and apply what I call “The First Rule of Human Nature:  Self-Interest Trumps Everything.” A major reason for this confusion is that too often, we confuse self-interest with best interests. The two terms are NOT synonymous.

We know what’s in our best interests, but we intentionally choose not to do it. If we did what was in our best interests, obesity would be non-existent, everyone would go to the dentist, we’d all go to the gym at least three times a week, tobacco products would not exist, alcohol would be drunk only in moderation, and no one would abuse drugs. Best interests are irrelevant, because as humans, we see them as fact-based and devoid of any emotional connection. That’s where self-interest takes over.

We follow our self-interest not frequently, or even most of the time, but virtually ALL the time. Every decision we’ve ever made and ever will make is based exclusively on our self-interest. Tied to our self-image, values, and identity, self-interest is emotionally laden. As such, it is the best evidence of our true desires. We tell ourselves we will drop weight, exercise, and do everything our doctor and medical science has proven we SHOULD do, but then we don’t do it. Instead, we place a higher priority on satisfying our self-interest.

Because self-image occurs in our mind’s eye, self-interest can be self-destructive and even fatal in amazingly contradictory ways. The negative component of this phenomenon is often medically-associated. People suffer from anorexia and bulimia, for example, because they perceive themselves as overweight. At the other extreme is the positive component, which is often crisis-triggered. For example, a soldier jumps on a grenade to save his friends or a firefighter who loses her life saving another. In these situations, the individual’s self-image gave them no alternative but self-sacrifice.

It is precisely because we overlook the emotional foundation of self-interest that we are so often surprised by another person’s behavior or actions. Maybe we expected them to follow their best interests or perhaps we “mirror-imaged,” superimposing our values and emotional biases on their circumstances. Regardless of the reason, think of how many times you’ve had an interaction with another person and walked away thinking, “Wow, I never saw that coming.”

You should have. Most people do not hide their self-interest. They broadcast their intentions every day in a hundred different ways. We’re just too caught up in our lives to pay attention to everything they are trying to tell us. And the tragic part of this? You don’t have to invest a lot of time and energy to figure out what someone sees as their self-interest.

People are amazingly consistent and predictable creatures. As such, an individual’s high-frequency past actions and behavior are the best predictors of their near-term conduct. When one steps back and strategically reviews another person’s deeds and performance, the motives (i.e., self-interest) reveal themselves. With these new-found insights, you will be able to anticipate and then accurately predict what they will do in similar situations.

Psychologist Jeff Hancock on “The Future of Lying” 1

Who hasn’t sent a text message saying “I’m on my way” when it wasn’t true or fudged the truth a touch in their online dating profile? But Jeff Hancock doesn’t believe that the anonymity of the internet encourages dishonesty. In fact, he says the searchability and permanence of information online may even keep us honest.

Jeff Hancock studies how we interact by email, text message and social media blips, seeking to understand how technology mediates communication

Speaker’s bio:

Seven Somewhat Unexpected Truths About Liars and Lying Reply

By Kare Anderson, Contributor –

Observing the seemingly glorious times others are having, based on what they share online, tempts us to embellish our own tales. Further, until recently, we could click on a Facebook FB -2.61% advertisement to hire someone to lie for us – about our brilliant successes at past jobs or where we were last night, for example.

Modern “social” life is ripe for temptation so it’s especially helpful to recognize some myths and counter-intuitive truths about lying.

1. What Do Those Apparently Shifty Eyes Mean?

When someone is telling you something and looks up to the right, they are lying, according to an often-cited Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) claim. And they are telling the truth if they glance up to the right. Yet at least three studies show no differences in truth telling by which way you look up. While a co-director of the NLP Training Center of New York, Steven Leeds recently asserted that NLP only cites eye movement as a way to recognize whether someone uses visual, auditory or kinesthetic (physical) cues to take in information, even that is disputed.

2. There are Unexpected Personal Benefits of Lying

Knowing when to remain silent, or to tell a white lie is, in fact, a social believes Feldman said. “We don’t want to hear hurtful things.” Bizarrely people who lie tend to be more popular. And embellishment-as-lying has its benefits. In interviews, college students who exaggerated their GPA later showed improvement in their grades. Their lies were self-fulfilling prophecies. Further, “exaggerators tend to be more confident and have higher goals for achievement,” according to University of Southampton in England psychologist, Richard Gramzow who concluded that, “positive biases about the self can be beneficial.”

Yet, our overall psychological health improves when we tell fewer lies.

3. Few Are Good Lie Detectors

“Most so-called lie detection experts — experienced detectives, psychiatrists, job interviewers, judges, polygraph administrators, intelligence agents and auditors — hardly do better than chance,” wrote Adam M. Grant. “In a massive analysis of studies with more than 24,000 people, psychologists Charles Bond Jr. and Bella DePaulo found that even the experts are right less than 55 percent of the time.”

Yet amateurs and so-called experts (from police to custom inspectors) over-estimate their ability to read body language, including detect deception. According to Sue Russell, that confidence, “is counterproductive and even lowers the accuracy of judgments. People under stress—being wrongly accused certainly qualifies—can behave in ways impossible to distinguish from those who are lying.”

Yet, in a study of a business situation where business professionals, “amateurs” at lie detection, were asked to interview prospective employees, which kind of person was better at detecting liars and thus less likely to hire them, the more skeptical or the trusting evaluators? *See the answer at the end of the column.

4. Some Situations Seem to Spur Lying

• “Both men and women lie in about a fifth of their social exchanges lasting 10 or more minutes.

• When meeting with another person, face to face, we deceive others about 30 percent of the time.

• In one out of two conversations, college student lie to their mothers a whopping half of the time, according to psychologist and researcher, Bella DePaulo.

5. We Usually Lie to Get Along (A Lie We Tell Ourselves?)

How often do most of us lie? About once or twice a day according to Allison Kornet, “and sometimes we tell the biggest lies to those we love most.” Not you, of course, which may be a lie. According to social psychologist Robert Feldman, most of us lie to avoid others’ hurt feelings or anger, and “to feel better about ourselves,” or so we tell ourselves. We are also more likely to lie to someone we just met.

6. One Thing We Miss When Our Self-Awareness Isn’t Off

Ironically, those who see themselves as emotionally intelligent tend to be worse at spotting liars.

7. Three Ways You May be Able to Trap a Liar

It takes considerably more mental focus and energy to keep one’s lies straight. Consequently three approaches adopted by those who interview suspects may be adapted to your situations:

• Ask open questions that encourage others to talk, and allow you to listen for inconsistencies, both in what they say, and in what they say and you already know.

• Ask unexpected questions at unexpected times.

• When asking about a situation, ask them questions that relate to parts of the event in reverse chronological order. In other words, rather than asking what happened, begin by asking about something you know happened near or at the end of the incident. If someone is lying it is more difficult to keep the sequence straight in their minds.

*Following up on #3, the evaluators who were trusting were better at detecting lying and less likely to hire those who most lied in the interviews.

Three Actionable Truths

“One may outwit another, but not all the others.” ~ Francois de la Rochefoucauld

“Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what every man wishes, that he also believes to be true.” ~ Demosthenes

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”  ~ Mark Twain