Words Create Worlds®
September 2015 Newsletter
Company of Experts Consulting Services
Celebrating Life... 


It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we share with you the passing of Charles Miller. Charles was so much to so many of us. Charles was the co-founder, with Nancy Stetson, of the Company of Experts and the Center for Appreciative Inquiry. Together they mentored thousands of people around the globe in the art of Appreciative Inquiry.

Charles was my AI guide, mentor and coach. What stands out for me is that he was a learner who found great joy in sharing this passion with others. He worked on many trainings and consulting projects that touched the lives of thousands of people -- those people are out in all parts of the World creating positive change.

His sudden passing has us in shock. Some of the reflections that we have heard over the past few days are: mentor, inspiration, coach, wisdom, deep spirit of life and energy, and that he always taught us through his actions that life is about relationships. Below is just but one example:

"Like a great many of the people whose lives Charles touched and affected in powerful ways, I first got to know him as a "student" of his, when I was a participant in one of the early Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Trainings in St. Louis nearly fifteen years ago.  The lessons I drew from that experience, and from the professional and personal relationship we developed afterward, have been some of the most important and meaningful in my life and career.  I learned to trust my optimistic instincts, and to believe in the process of appreciation and inquiry.  I learned to "look under the hood" at the mechanics of instructional design, in order to be a more effective teacher and facilitator.  I re-learned the importance of "wholeness," and bringing everyone into the room.  And perhaps most importantly, with Charles I was always reminded about the value of seeing the world around us through eyes that wonder, and marvel at the abundance and beauty of it all." ~ Lane Glenn, College President and Certified Ai Trainer

Charles is a good example of not just being the best in the World, but the best FOR the World. He will live on in the hearts of all the people he touched.

Kathy Becker,
President and CEO,
The Center for Appreciative Inquiry
In This Issue:
Appreciative Resources:
Be More Successful: Harvard Research Reveals a Fun Way To Do It
By Eric Barker, Writer, Barking Up The Wrong Tree

We all want to be more successful. But everything you read probably sounds like a lot of work. Isn't there a scientifically proven method that's a little more... fun? There is.

Shawn Achor is the bestselling author of The Happiness Advantage and for years at Harvard he studied exactly that: happiness.  He gave an extremely popular (and, in my opinion, the all-time funniest) TED talk.

His ideas even attracted the attention of Oprah Winfrey, who filmed an interview with him. What's so special about Shawn's work? His research shows that success doesn't bring happiness - happiness brings success.

He did what a lot of researchers never do: instead of scrubbing the freak outliers from the data he aggressively studied them. He wanted to know what people with happiness superpowers do that we don't. Read Full Article>>
30 Questions to Ask Your Kid Instead of "How Was Your Day?"
By Sara Goldstein, Parent Co

When I picked my son up from his first day of 4th grade, my usual (enthusiastically delivered) question of "how was your day?" was met with his usual (indifferently delivered) "fine."

Come on! It's the first day, for crying out loud! Give me something to work with, would you, kid?

The second day, my same question was answered, "well, no one was a jerk." That's good...I guess.

I suppose the problem is my own. That question actually sucks. Far from a conversation starter, it's uninspired, overwhelmingly open ended, and frankly, completely boring. So as an alternative, I've compiled a list of questions that my kid will answer with more than a single word or grunt. In fact, he debated his response to question 8 for at least half an hour over the weekend. The jury's out until he can organize a foot race. Read Full Article>>
Importance of Core Teams in Appreciative Inquiry (Podcast, part 1)
By: Melissa Robaina, Marketing Director, The Center for Appreciative Inquiry
Core Teams, as many of us know, serve as our champions for Ai interventions - igniting and fanning the energy within a group or organization to keep the excitement alive as they move towards their shared vision of their preferred future.

Kathy Becker, the President for the Center for Appreciative Inquiry, has (and continues to do) amazing work in the field of Appreciative Inquiry. Having seen the role Core Teams play in the success of Appreciative Inquiry interventions, Kathy designs and delivers workshops to provide continuous development and learning opportunities for Core Team members. She has delivered these workshops around the World - and with great success.

In her interview with Robyn Stratton-Berkessel of Positivity Strategist, Kathy shares her learnings and insights in her work with Appreciative Inquiry and Core Teams.

" Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." -Margaret Mead. Listen to Podcast>>
Companies Start to Re-Imagine The Annual Performance Review
By: Patrick May
It wasn't quite the storming of the Bastille, but a fledgling revolution was unfolding this past spring inside the conference rooms of the palm-studded, fairway-lined Trump National Doral Miami.

With a who's-who of corporate human resources chieftains in the crowd, from Disney to Cigna to Bank of America, a conga line of speakers called for the overthrow of an American workplace institution: the time-tested and usually dreaded annual performance evaluation.

"The conference session on blowing up the traditional performance review was standing room only," recalled David Niu, CEO of Seattle-based TINYpulse, a software tool for tracking employee sentiment through weekly one-question surveys. "One speaker after another got up and said 'We blew it up at our company' or 'We got rid of it at ours,' and the crowd was cheering because nobody likes performance reviews; people have started to re-imagine the whole process.". Read Full Article>> 
Appreciating All Generations Through Intergenerational Dialogue
By: Robyn Stratton-Berkessel, Positivity Strategist

What are the stereotypes we attach to the different generations? Is there a lack of intergenerational dialog? If you were to generalize, how might you complete these sentences?

Old people are. . . .Young people are. . . .

If you have difficulty generalizing, that's a good thing, as we are all unique and different.

Expanding our World Views
It appears our world is moving toward greater tolerance in many things and greater acceptance of diversity-culture, generations, working styles, education, diet, entertainment and so on.

Fashion, music and performance art often lead the way, as they are indicators of new movements and emergent trends. Moreover, movies and YouTube videos from all over the world are available to us 24/7, so we are more exposed to and welcoming of difference.

We see bright young people with great wisdom doing amazing things with games and technology and music and movement. We see old people with youthful curiosity who have energy and sparkle, and are interested in everything, and are willing and keen to share their stories and insights of earlier times. Read Full Article>>
7 Steps to Reframe and Change Your Relationship With Stress
By: Thai Nguyen, Writer, Huffington Post

Stress is the modern-day plague. Anxious, overworked, and overwhelmed are the words describing many American's lives. Stress has been associated with high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer. Stress can even shrink the brain according to new studies. In the workplace, stress-related health problems amount to more than $180 billion in healthcare expenses each year.
t's pretty clear that stress is the enemy. But could stress also be an ally? Psychologist Kelly McGonigal has led the charge with her research undermining the conventional view that stress is bad. Rather than be at the mercy of your stress, their are powerful benefits when you choose to master your stress. McGonigal says that people are able to "transform fear into courage, isolation into connection, and suffering into meaning."

Here are seven steps to change your relationship with stress and make stress your ally... Read Full Article>>
Meeting Them Where They Are
By: Mary Jo Asmus, Aspire Collaborative Services

Visualize someone at work who gets under your skin. Do you remember all of the (often small) things they've done that bother you? Your tendency may be to carry someone's habits (the ones that you don't like) and forget that they are capable of something more.

You may have to work closely with them; they may be a peer, direct report or even your boss. What happens when you're in conversation together? Your mind is chattering away, making less-than-complimentary judgments about their intent or ability. Your emotions are running high based on past history, and your thoughts are somewhere else making up unflattering stories about them while you aren't listening to anything they say.

This damaging thought process has put you right back in a past where there is little hope for a change in your relationship. You feed on it a little bit (it's not entirely unpleasant, a quirk of your shadow side), but you've recognized that you'd really like to change how things are. You know that if the relationship stays stuck in the past, the work you do together will too.

There's magic in that desire to change, and it's the beginning of snapping out of the negative thoughts you hold on to. The next step can change the way you see them and upgrade your relationship (and consequently, your leadership). This is the secret to a better relationship: Meet them where they are. Read Full Article>> 
Why Curious People Are Destined for the C-Suite
By: Warren Berger, Author, Harvard Business Review

When asked recently to name the one attribute CEOs will need most to succeed in the turbulent times ahead, Michael Dell, the chief executive of Dell, Inc., replied, "I would place my bet on curiosity."

Dell was responding to a 2015 PwC survey of more than a thousand CEOs, a number of whom cited "curiosity" and "open-mindedness" as leadership traits that are becoming increasingly critical in challenging times. Another of the respondents, McCormick & Company CEO Alan D. Wilson, noted that business leaders who "are always expanding their perspective and what they know-and have that natural curiosity-are the people that are going to be successful."

Welcome to the era of the curious leader, where success may be less about having all the answers and more about wondering and questioning. As Dell noted, curiosity can inspire leaders to continually seek out the fresh ideas and approaches needed to keep pace with change and stay ahead of competitors.

A curious, inquisitive leader also can set an example that inspires creative thinking throughout the company, according to Hollywood producer Brian Grazer. "If you're the boss, and you manage by asking questions, you're laying the foundation for the culture of your company or your group," Grazer writes in his book, A Curious Mind. Grazer and others maintain that leading-by-curiosity can help generate more ideas from all areas of an organization, while also helping to raise employee engagement levels. Read Full Article>>
Appreciative Questions as Initiators of Positive Change
By Ralph Weickel, Center for Positive Change

In our previous discussion regarding Appreciative Consulting tools were mentioned that facilitate the consistent results Appreciative Consulting is able to deliver.  One of these tools is the Appreciative Question, which is the gateway to positive change occurring in an organization and/or individual.  In our work, we are frequently asked about our ability to identify key topics and achieve high levels of engagement when initiating change - the answer is the Appreciative Question.

What is an Appreciative Question and what makes them so powerful - that is the focus of today's conversation.  There are three key components to an Appreciative Question:
  • Curiosity
  • Positivity
  • Future-Focused
While we could spend hours discussing each component, I will do my best to identify the essential aspects.  In my experience, curiosity starts the process and it is borne within each person.  As an appreciative consultant, it is imperative that I have a sense of curiosity and wonder about any engagement and situation.  This curiosity is genuine and leads to questions that are not 'normally' asked.  A sense of wonder is fueled by the desire to learn more about any given situation with which we are presented understanding when a client presents a situation we are hearing only their perspective from their frame of reference. Learn More>>
We Are Looking for Appreciative Inquiry Trainers

The Center for Appreciative Inquiry is seeking experienced trainers, coaches, consultants and facilitators to become certified to teach its Appreciative Inquiry Trainings and Workshops. Trainers will be certified to deliver our various workshops (to business, community, non-profit, education, etc.) to support the growth and interest in Appreciative Inquiry focusing on dialogue, collaboration and how the human systems thrive.

We are looking for high energy people with a commitment to helping others develop and grow as internal facilitators and to be part of creating a better World Community.  If you are grounded in humans systems flourishing demonstrated by your views of social change and by participating in the AI Community, you may be a good match for this program. Learn More>>