I witnessed the power of making a personal connection on my flight to San Francisco. I was seated near a couple from Russia who spoke little English. This created some tension during boarding. A flight attendent became increasingly frustrated, which showed on her face and body language. Nearby passengers became increasingly tense as well.

Fortunately, another United flight attendent stepped in, and using a mix of German and pantomime, learned that the couple were Russian tourists, with a background in the Russian army. Once that connection was established, the necessary admonitions about storing bags, etc were navigated with additional miming and smiles. Nearby passengers were amused as the flight attendent asked if he could join the Russians' vacation.

The power of a personal connection is strong indeed - a key take-away I learned from my early career in hospitality. Here are some ways to make your connections a bit more personal:

• Use names. I don't mean dropping names to impress people ... I mean using the name of the person whom you are thanking or to whom you are speaking. Afraid of misprouncing the name? Ask how to pronounce it correctly.

• Be positive. Positive energy is infectious. Give a hearty smile and good morning. Give a compliment, or make a positive comment. You'll feel better and establish the basis for positive rapport.

• Ask a question to facilitate small talk. Good standbys include asking about an unusual name or item, or asking an opinion of the book they are reading. Fully listen to their answer, and determine whether they are interested in a continued conversation or not.

• Consider your body language. You say just as much (if not more) through your nonverbal cues as your chosen words. Smiles and touch, when used appropriately, can quickly establish a positive connection.

(P.S. - Composed at 30,000 feet
using BlogPress lite from my iPhone.)
Here's a problem-solving methodology designed to support finding creative solutions:

And yes, that's a fridge magnet -at my parent's house!

- Posted using BlogPress lite from my iPhone
I recently shared that I was committed to taking back control my incoming email in 2010. So far, I have unsubscribed from at least 25 mass mailing lists that had been clogging up my inbox. Most I just deleted. Some I redirected to my personal email account. Let me share, it has been fantastic! In addition to reduced volume, I am able to better focus my attention. It is a real time saver, and productivity booster. Fresh off those gains, I have begun looking at other ways to be a more effective manager of my time and productivity. Here are a few things that are helping:
  1. RSS feeds to my iphone via MobileRSS - I had tried an iGoogle page previously, but it didn't fit well into my routines. MobileRSS is great for me ... I can skim google alert notifications, favorite blogs, as well as ASAE & The Center news releases and other feeds all on my commute on the subway. When I see a topic worth additional consideration, I can view the full item and/or email the link for follow-up.
  2. Online Bill Payments coupled with online banking- Who likes opening envelopes, writing checks, putting a stamp on, and getting the envelope in the mail? Now, I get simple notification of most new bills by email, review the details in a flash, and authorize direct debit from my bank. And a email series of email notifications from my bank allow me to track payments and account balances.
  3. A mix of online and in person shopping. When I know what I want and can wait a few days for it to arrive, online shopping is an excellent convenience, especially with two small children in the house. On the other hand, our BJ's membership has really been great too. Perhaps surprisingly, though, it is not the prices that I really like (in fact, often I think I can do as well or better on specific sale items at supermarkets). Rather, what is most valuable to me is that I am able to get diapers, groceries, printer cartridges, and other needed items such as car seats in one trip. And the BJs close to my house is open late enough that I can do all that after the kids are tucked in.
Jeffrey Cufaude hits on a creativity standard-bearer ("the best ways to find great ideas is to have lots of them") in a whole new way, warning us to Beware of Combover Creativity. But how to generate more ideas and encourage experimentation? If you've hit a wall (or just want to strengthen your creativity skill set) check out these resources:

Got your interest? Consider picking up a copy of Creative Leadership: Skills That Drive Change. For a sneak peek, click here.