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 Helping Managers and Salespeople Thrive in Turbulent Times Vol. 1, #4, April 2003 
in this issue
  • The Real Ambassadors
  • About Jim Schaffer & Associates

  • Greetings!

    This month we discuss what to do when you're staring your own survival in the face.

    Just click "reply" to send along your comments at any time.

    Best regards,

    Jim Schaffer
    President, Jim Schaffer & Associates

    The Real Ambassadors

    "As we let our own light shine,
    we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
    As we are liberated from our own fear,
    our presence automatically liberates others."

    — Nelson Mandela

    In my travels this past month, one word has leapt out at me from salespeople and managers throughout Corporate America, seeming to hang in the air wherever I turned: survival. We may try to avoid it, but the nastier side of business is rearing its ugly head. Political squabbles, swipes at management and fingerpointing are on the rise. All of us seem to be focused on one thing: making sure we're not part of the roadkill.

    In times of fight or flight, though, there is a middle way: that of taking care of others. Though it requires the fortitude and presence of mind to step back from one's own plight and look at the much larger context of what is going on in our collective lives, being a generous, positive, even courtly force in threatening times can open a path of richness in which we can surprise ourselves.

    Which brings to mind one of my favorite jazz albums of the 70's, a Dave Brubeck set called The Real Ambassadors. It's a recording of a "jazz opera" Brubeck performed on a State Department tour around that time. The main thrust of the piece is that, though appointed officials may come and go, the real ambassador from America is Jazz Itself and its genuine, pulsating celebration of life. Putting life out there "as it is" with its bluesy side as well as its delights, the recording says, will triumph over slick diplomacy any day.

    By adopting the middle way we become the Real Ambassadors to the business world.

    It sounds hokey, but let me ask you a question: if the money started flowing freely again, do you think you, your colleagues and bosses, your customers, would be happy? My bet is the answer would be "no." The other day a colleague and I were discussing the boom times of the late 90's and we both remarked that people didn't seem particularly happy during that period, though it's common practice right now to look back on it fondly.

    The legacy of the past decade of excess followed by scarcity is a cynicism and sickness of spirit that will not soon go away. Honestly take a look around you and remember your own private discussions of the past six years or so. When was the last time you had a hopeful discussion about the future? When was the last time you believed, deep down, in your own career?

    We have a chance right now to lead what I'll call the Real Recovery: the recovery of spirit that always precedes positive change in the world. It's time to extrapolate from Brubeck's fundamental point: the best gift you have to give the business world is, in essence, You.

    So how, then, does one become an Ambassador? Here are some tips:

    1. Listen to the temple bells. I know you don't really have them in your office. But temple bells are used to pull you back to the present moment, to stop your talk and your thought and bring you back to just life. We get bogged down in our thoughts during the day. Step outside of them for a moment and think about what it means to be alive and part of this complex dance we call humanity.
    2. Be for real. This is not a time for phony positive thinking hype. Nor can we be passive- aggressive and act as if we're the enlightened ones and everyone else is crazy. Show others that you have the courage just to be yourself, without fear, without hiding behind a business role.
    3. Be gallant. As in the French pronunciation. When you find yourself obsessing about your own business problems, step back and look for things you can do for those around you. Even simple things like opening doors for others or taking time to make your employees comfortable before launching into your business agenda go a long way.

    But wait a minute. What about the numbers? We all want to be good citizens and take care of those around us, but we're in survival mode here — what about our necks?

    I promised you that this newsletter would help you get results and keep morale on even keel — regardless of what was going on around you. So let's do this: Follow the above advice for awhile. Call me in a year or two and let me know how rich in every way your life has been between now and then. If the results haven't been positive, I will come to your home and teach you and your significant other my entire dance syllabus from 1959-1969, with some smokin' 40's swing thrown in for good measure.

    For those of you who observed my meager gambling habits at Caesars Palace during COMDEX days, you know I'm as conservative a bettor as you're likely to find, so don't get out those dancing shoes yet. I'm willing to bet that, as you focus your energy on taking care of others, your own needs will be fulfilled, you'll feel more powerful rather than less, and the shining light of your spirit will begin to lift others and help get this Real Recovery off the ground.

    Tryin' to make it real, compared to what? click here

    About Jim Schaffer & Associates

    Jim Schaffer & Associates helps management teams & salespeople stay focused, get results and keep high morale — regardless of what may be going on around them.

    Copyright 2003 by Jim Schaffer & Associates.


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  •      email: jim@jimschaffer.com
         voice: 617-332-9105
         web: http://www.jimschaffer.com