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Always Appreciating What's Good...

October 2012

Company of Experts Consulting Services


As I turned the calendar to 'October' my mind wondered if somehow this was a trick. Where has the year gone? We have so much to be grateful for. In addition to our family and friends, we have the wonderful ability to work with outstanding people and their organizations. We just concluded a training here in Las Vegas that has left a warm imprint on our hearts (as most of them do). What creates an environment where the learning is so deep, the possibilities so grand with a passionate design for the future? Some may say it is the trainers/facilitators, others will say it is the training materials, and others believe it is the participants. We like to believe that it is what the collective group brings to the circle that makes the environment conducive for rich interaction and learning. An open mind and heart, a genuine interest in learning (not just knowing), trust and an intention of being the best, not just in the world but for the world. Most of our trainings have these elements.  


This year, we have had so many high energy, high value moments - leading us to believe that we are beginning to emerge from the darkness of the recession. Just like all of life, we have training failures. In the moment, it can quite devastating. We know what is possible and we want it all of the time. What makes those times different? We speculate and seek counsel from others. In the end, what seemed so abysmal is our opportunity to learn and learning is what gives us passion. The more we can be honest with ourselves, acknowledge our own imperfections, the more we can accept those imperfections of others. That is when we begin to understand empathy, sympathy, and compassion. We begin to understand that humility does not mean thinking less of oneself, but rather to understand our limitations, appreciate our strengths, and acknowledge the value that each of us brings to the World.


Staying open to see the possibilities is important to our happiness, health and general wellbeing. What helps me is to spend time reflecting on what gave me joy during the day, and equally fulfilling is giving others joy. Be open to the moments when someone helps you - like the cashier at the grocery store, the receptionist at the Department of Motor Vehicles or the secretary at your child's school - and show them your appreciation. Ask them, "What was the best thing that happened today?" or "What excites you most about your job?" You may hear something like "no one has ever asked me that question before". Be genuine in your interest, listen with your heart and you may discover that this exercise is the most joyful moment of your day.


We invite each of you to join in the high energy and well-being that gratitude, compassion, and generosity brings to each of us. As always, we thank each of you for sharing your stories of success - seeking the high points to learn, adapt, and thrive - your stories always bring such light into our office and to our work. Please keep sending us your personal stories of success via email, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.



Kathy Becker, President and CEO,

Company of Experts 

Welcome to the AI Community!!

Company of Experts is pleased to introduce its newest Certified Appreciative Inquiry Facilitators (CAIF) to its growing AI family. 

The individual(s) listed below participated in our 4-day Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT) program and submitted a practicum demonstrating their knowledge and application of Appreciative Inquiry. In reading their practicums, we are able to celebrate in their achievements and observe how Appreciative Inquiry has positively influenced their lives - personally and professionally.

New practicums are frequently posted to our blog, so check back often to see what new stories have been posted. Click here for more practicums.  

How To Be An Appreciative Listener

In Appreciative Inquiry we know the questions we ask are fateful. However, listening is equally important in the process. How do you become an appreciative listener?


The way we ask questions determines what we find. In fact, the very first question we ask begins the listening process.  So there's a big responsibility in asking questions that invite responses that keep us engaged and interested and result in what it is we are seeking to learn about.  Moreover, in the process, when done really well, both inquirer and responder are likely to learn something new about the situation and each other.  That, we call a generative or developmental conversation.

The Center for Appreciative Inquiry is happy to announce the release of its 2-day introductory Appreciative Inquiry course "Creating What Will Be".

This two-day introduction Appreciative Inquiry (AI) workshop focuses on gaining an appreciation of Appreciative Inquiry and its applications.  The objective of this course is to strengthen the capacity of your use in participatory approaches at work or at home through the use of appreciative and assets-based approaches that encourage greater self-reliance, identification of local assets, and promotion of improved decision-making within groups, teams, and organizations as a whole. By combining theory and practice, this experiential workshop provides participants with the skills to change their personal and professional relationships. Learn More>

4 Ways to Discover Your Strengths
You may have talents you didn't even know about. Here are 4 ways to discover your strengths.


Mad Men's Don Draper is exceptionally good at saving a deal gone sour. When a client dislikes an ad campaign, the fictional ad exec can weave the perfect tale to change their minds. His storytelling ability is a gift that no one else at his agency has. To become a successful business leader, identify your own strengths and talents and foster them.


Your strengths are ultimately the keys to your success. "When we do things we're already good at, our business acumen is quicker," says Todd Kashdan, a psychology professor at George Mason University and author of Curious? (William Morrow, 2009).


"When it comes to the best way to leverage your ability, it's (best) to go through your strengths." he says. Read Full Article>> 

Why I Stopped Firing Everyone and Started Being a Better Boss?
Indigo Johnson, CEO of Careers in Transition, fired her employees on a regular basis until she started focusing on their strengths instead of their weaknesses.


Coming from the Marine Corps, I always felt that you had to be hard charging and no nonsense to get results. But many of my employees withered under the pressure. I didn't give them a chance to grow. I fired them.


I had been running a human resources company for more than a decade, and I'd written a book about career management. I would help my clients' employees identify why they weren't getting promotions and develop more skills. But I wasn't doing those things for my own staff. Read Full Article>> 

How to Change the Way You Process Negative Memories
The way we think is very flexible & subject to change, so how do you change the way you process negative memories?

The way we think of past events in our lives is very flexible and subject to change.

Whenever we look back at our life story, it can change based on our perspective and what information about our lives we choose to pay attention to and find important.


We can take this flexible nature of our minds and use it to process negative memories in different ways that benefit us instead of holding us back. Read Full Article>> 

10 Ways to Create an Open Culture
"Looking to create a culture change? Grey London CEO Chris Hirst outlines how the agency built a culture based on an "Open" philosophy and what you can learn from its efforts.


Three years ago, Grey London really needed to change. The industry had changed, the media landscape had changed and Grey remained a relatively successful (in financial terms at least), safe, but dull London outpost of a global network. Not a great, or ultimately sustainable, place to be if you're in a creative industry.


Grey had tried to change before. The business wasn't in denial, but it just seemed like the "uncrackable" problem. This time, we did it differently. Our strategy for change was to change our culture. We called this Open. It is both an expression of a culture and how we believe today's people-based businesses should work in order to survive, evolve and thrive. It is a philosophy of collective creativity and collective responsibility. It encourages increased collaboration between departments, the agency and its clients. Any business can be Open; what follows is a brief description of how we did it, the lessons learned and the results we're achieving. Read Full Article>> 

5 Powerful Things Happen When a Leader is Transparent
Trust and transparency have become popular workplace demands as employees seek to be aware of what is real and true.   People have grown tired of surprises and want to exist in a work environment that allows one to have greater clarity of thought - by eliminating the unknowns that continue to creep into our minds with each decision we make or relationship we foster. 

If you survey the workplace, besides the need for job security and career advancement opportunities - employees want to be a part of a workplace culture that puts a premium on delivering the truth.  They desire their leaders to be proactive in sharing where the company is headed and forthright about its future. In other words, they just want transparency so they can plan & protect themselves.  Read Full Article>>
The Creativity of the Wandering Mind

New research suggests engaging in simple tasks that allow the mind to wander facilitates creative thinking.  


Do you have a numbingly dull job, one so monotonous that you frequently find your mind wandering? Well, congratulations: without realizing it, you have boosted your creative potential.


Mindless tasks that allow our thoughts to roam can be catalysts for innovation. That's the conclusion of a research team led by Benjamin Baird and Jonathan Schooler of the University of California, Santa Barbara's META Lab (which focuses on Memory, Emotion, Thought and Awareness). Read Full Article>>

10 Suggestions For How to Combine Autonomy and Structure
Structure and autonomy: some say those are the backbone to effective social systems. So how do you combine them in a way that brings success?

This video, which was inspired by a book chapter by Reeve and Assor (2011), explains how both structure and individual autonomy are important in social systems. Structure can provide coherence, clarity and efficiency; autonomy is a universal human psychological need the fulfillment of which contributes to human wellness. Structure and individual autonomy can be viewed as competing demands but this does not have to be so. They can be combined. When this happens the benefits of both can be reaped. So, how can it be done? Read Full Article>> 
Positive Thinking Versus Positive Psychology

In the last decade, we have also seen the growth of positive psychology, a new branch of mental science which looks at the sunnier side of life (the study of human flourishing.)  Positive psychology focuses on positive aspects of well-being including (but not limited to) positive emotions, happiness, hope, optimism and other constructs that relate to the idea of positive thinking.


To the uninformed, it would be easy to assume that positive psychology and positive thinking are strongly related.  Some might even say, "Finally, science is proving what we have always thought to be true about positive thinking."  But this is not exactly the case.  While positive thinking and positive psychology may be related, they are more like third cousins than twin brothers.  And anyone who uses one or the other would be benefited by understanding the differences. Read Full Article>>

A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce

National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) is a national campaign, each October to raise awareness about disability employment issues and celebrates the many and varied contributions of America's workers with disabilities. This year's theme is "A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce: What Can YOU Do?"  We are proud to support this campaign. Learn more at 


Company of Experts had the distinct honor of working with Disability Rights Nebraska for the past few years.  Working with DRN has been a personal highlight for us. An outstanding organization who have a deep love and commitment to creating a just and equal community. We have so much to celebrate as our communities have changed for the good over the years in structure, processes and culture through awareness.  This is from the DRN Website:


Our vision for the future is clear: All people with mental or physical disabilities are valued in their community, have control over their own lives, and have the necessary resources to live a life of quality. Read Full Article> 

Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Last October I shared in this newsletter "This will be the first time I will say "yes" on any a family medical history when asked about Breast Cancer. My sister was diagnosed with Breast cancer this year". Update: Still cancer free, my sister is thriving. Our family is appreciative for the early detection and treatment that contributes to her continued health.  We cannot be more grateful to those who have contributed in the past and encourage you to visit the Breast Cancer Awareness site and see how you might join in any way possible to raise awareness. Most importantly outreach about the importance of early detection to those in your life. To learn more:
10 Ways to Rejuvenate Your Brain While at Work

Going to Africa--literally or figuratively--refreshes your brain, which helps you be alert and propels you forward.   


As an entrepreneur, you probably work upward of 60 hours a week. Forbes interviewed 20 entrepreneurs about their work habits and found they worked an average of 60 to more than 100 hours per week. Most noted that weekdays were not much different from weekends, and that personal time off did not exist at all. One responded, "the concept of 'work' disappears-it is just what we do."


As anyone who has crammed for an exam can tell you, usually the number of hours we work without interruption is inversely proportionate to how much we accomplish. So how do these entrepreneurs manage to work so many hours without suffering from brain fatigue?

Read Full Article>>

New Workshop To Be Scheduled
Dates of new workshop to be announced soon...

Appreciative Inquiry Practitioner Training (AIPT)
In this highly experiential workshop, participants will become immersed in the practice of facilitating clients in identifying what gives life to their human systems in ways that build agile, adaptive and innovative organizations. Together, participants will experience an advanced community of practice where they can identify their personal strengths as AI facilitators, enhance their contracting skills, and expand their capacity to design and lead AI initiatives that result in accelerated, sustainable change with measurable outcomes. Participants will be encouraged to share their experiences and participate in dialogues drawn from their actual experiences while in the field.
Become a Host for our Trainings
We offer incentives to hosting organizations for their hospitality

Company of Experts is seeking host organizations throughout the world to host any of our trainings (Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT), Department Chair Institute (DCI), and Leadership Development Institute(LDI)). To show our gratitude, host organizations receive two complimentary registrations for a training held on their site when minimum enrollment is met.
Host organizations may limit the training to people at their organization or it can be open to others. If the training is open, Company of Experts partner with the host organization to help promote the training.  
Please contact Kathy or Sara for more information.

In This Issue
Welcome to the AI Community
How to Be an Appreciative Listener
How to Manage Your Team With Positive Psychology
Introductory AI Workshop: Creating What Will Be
4 Ways to Discover Your Strengths
Why I Stopped Firing Everyone and Started Being a Better Boss
How to Change the Way You Process Negative Memories
10 Ways to Create an Open Culture
5 Power Things Happen When a Leader is Transparent
The Creativity of the Wandering Mind
10 Suggestions For How to Combine Autonomy and Structure
Positive Thinking Versus Positive Psychology
A Strong Workforce is an Inclusive Workforce
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
10 Ways to Rejuvenate Your Brain While at Work
Free Downloads
Upcoming Events
Online Videos Worth Watching
LinkedIn Conversations
Webinar Recordings Available
Visit Our Websites
Free Downloads:
Leadership Excellence (March 2012) - Highlighting Appreciative Inquiry
By: Various Authors 

The Neuroscience of Leadership
By: David Rock & Jeffrey Schwartz

Aligning Strengths Through Appreciative Inquiry
By: Nancy Stetson

Managing with the Brain in Mind
By: David Rock
Upcoming Events:
Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT)
Location: Rockville, Maryland 
Dates: October 15 - 17, 2012 

Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT)
Location: Houston, Texas  
Dates: Oct. 30 - Nov. 2, 2012 

Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT)
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada 
Dates: November 13 - 16, 2012 

Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT)
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada 
Dates: January 8-11, 2013  

Appreciative Inquiry Facilitator Training (AIFT)
Location: Dallas, Texas 
Dates: January 15-18, 2013  

Department Chair Institute (DCI)
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada 
Dates: February 13 - 15, 2013  

View Company of Experts' Entire Event Calendar here >>
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Videos Worth Watching

Whole Systems Healing - Interview with Diana Whitney  

Description: An interview with Diana Whitney about Whole Systems Healing and Appreciative Inquiry.


Appreciative Inquiry in the Working Place 

Description: Prof. John Hayes discusses Appreciative Inquiry and its use in the workplace.  


The Story of Change

Description: why citizens (not shoppers) hold the key to a better world 

LinkedIn Conversations:

Using Props

As AI consultants, we try and create the space and opportunity for participants to engage in visual creation. What types of props do you like to have available to support their creativity (outside of flip charts and markers), and what do you find is a "favorite" prop among your groups? 


For those of you who have worked with organizations, what approach do you use when wanting to introduce Appreciative Inquiry to an organization? And can you measure?

We know that the Planning or Advisory team supports the development of the appreciative inquiry initiative by linking the change agenda to the organization's culture, values, and unique needs. We also know the teams can vary in size and should be representative of external and internal stakeholders. Given their importance to the success of the change agenda, what do you like to do to help them get ready for their role on the team?

What type of Appreciative Inquiry changes do you love doing?
We know that appreciative inquiry is useful across a variety of change agendas (e.g.g changing organizational culture, enhancing engagement, using it for strategic planning, etc.). What change agendas have you found that you naturally gravitate toward?


We invite you to join our LinkedIn Group called "Discovering Appreciative Inquiry". It is an open group that allows participants to ask questions and share stories in regards to AI. All are welcome!

Webinar Recordings Available On-Demand
Providing professional development tidbits on-the-go!

Company of Experts' webinar recordings provide you with the opportunity to learn at a time and place that is most convenient. Gather a group in a conference room or listen at your desktop when it works with your schedule. Company of Experts' webinar recordings are available for download which can be replayed as often as you wish and can be shared with with your colleagues and friends.


To view a list of our webinar recordings, please click here.   

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