Saturday, February 23, 2008

Dealing with Stress

I was recently asked by a writer to jot down some thoughts on creating a better team and dealing with stressed co-workers. I was also recently interviewed about dealing with a "bully" at work. So, I guess I am the go-to guy about negative people at work.

When the bully article is posted, I will send a link. Until then, here are some thoughts on teamwork and dealing with stressed co-workers.

1. To me, successful teamwork is asking yourself one question: “How can I make the other people around me more successful?” If you answer that question and act on it, you can help create a better team (and help your stressed co-worker in the process). Most people come to work and say, “How can everyone else make ME more successful?” If you don’t care who gets the credit, if you learn to support and take care of the person next to you, the entire work environment will quickly change.

2. Help your teammates (stressed or otherwise) take ownership of their happiness and passion. Too many times, employees let other people’s actions or words determine their happiness. Happiness is a choice. Unfortunately, when we give control to other employees, managers, customers, partners, or vendors, we are never very happy. We have to take back that ownership. Would you, as a normal, sane person, really make the choice to wake up in the morning, comb your hair, brush your teeth and say, “Man, I am bitter, frustrated and angry. I can’t wait to get to work.” No, you wouldn’t. Yet, people do that every day. We have no control over many things at work. We always can have control of our reaction and our attitude.

3. Be patient and positive in your tone of voice. Sounds simple, but a reassuring and patient tone in your voice will do wonders for teamwork and for helping your stressed co-worker.

4. Take a break. Again, a simple idea but something that has very real results. Ever try and assemble something from the store? Ever get frustrated? Ever throw the directions across the room in frustration? Stop, take a break, and then reassess. Just a few moments away will give you the energy to move forward.

5. Be in the moment with your co-workers. Working in the moment means being focused and connected. Listen to each other. Make eye contact. Engage in the communication process. If you want to create more stress, then check your e-mail on your phone during a meeting. During one recent meeting with a new client to discuss their conference, one VP wouldn’t make eye contact. The other two participants kept sending texts on their mobile device. Nobody was in the moment with me or with each other.

6. Tell your co-workers you appreciate them. We all want positive support at work. When we don’t receive appreciation and thanks, we are not very happy. You know how you feel when someone says, “You made a difference,” or “Great job,” or “I really appreciate your help.” You get an incredible feeling right in the middle of your chest. Giving that feeling is a gift. And it doesn’t take a budget, plan, or approval. It just takes a few seconds from your day.

Joel Zeff ( is a national workplace expert, speaker and humorist. His spontaneous humor and vital messages have thrilled audiences for years. Corporations and organizations nationwide seek him out to motivate and energize their employees on such topics as work/life balance, passion at work, creativity, communication, teamwork, and leadership. His first book, “Make the Right Choice: Creating a Positive, Innovative and Productive Work Life” was just published by John Wiley & Sons. For more information on his book, please visit

Joel Zeff and Joel Zeff Creative retain the ownership and rights to this article. If you would like to reprint or publish this article in your blog or other media, please send an e-mail to the author for permission.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Welcome to my Amazon visitors

If all goes well, this blog will start showing up on the Make the Right Choice page on Amazon. The "if" part takes into consideration:

1. That I correctly signed up for the feed.
2. That I correctly signed up for the Amazon Connect, allowing my blog to be shown on the book's page.
3. That I have any idea what a "feed" or "Amazon Connect" really does.

So, welcome to my little blog. I will post recent articles I have written, interviews I have done about the book or other topics, and various musings on life, work, and happiness.

Enjoy the blog. Enjoy the feed. Enjoy my feeding the blog or blogging the feed.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch

I haven't posted an entry in quite some time. The reason? I think I best explained my lack of new writing in my last newsletter:

November came and went and there was no newsletter. “It’s Thanksgiving,” I said. “Nobody needs a newsletter during Thanksgiving.”

December came and went and there was no newsletter. “It is the Holidays,” I said. “Nobody needs a newsletter during the Holidays.”

January started and my wife asked when I was planning to write a newsletter. “It is Bowl season and the NFL playoffs,” I said. “Nobody needs a newsletter during Bowl season and the NFL playoffs.”

And then my wife told me to get off the couch and write a newsletter, except she didn’t use the word “couch.”

I hope everyone has a wonderful 2008. And, I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday Season. Okay, it is time we all get off our “couch” and get back to work. Here is the first blog entry of 2008.

First, this should be the first post that will have a feed on Amazon. So, if you stumbled on my book in the great big world of Amazon, I welcome you with the embraced arms of my blog link. For more information, check out the book's web site at or my speaking web site at

Second, I recently appeared on the CNBC show, The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch. I had a wonderful experience on the show. I walked past Carmen Electra. Donny massaged my shoulders on the air. I ate vegetables in the green room. Yep, a great day.

You can see my interview with Donny here:

I also posted an entry on the show's blog:

The first part of show's blog is below:

The whole experience as a guest today was exciting, fun, energizing; and happened extremely fast. I have watched the Big Idea since it started because it really is the only show that captures the spirit, energy and ideas of the people who make business work in this country.

Every show is an eclectic mix of personalities talking about their passion.The show was kind enough to ask me to blog about my experience. So, I thought I would jot down a few thoughts and then include a recent article I wrote that will give some more details to the five points I discussed on today’s show.

1. One of the coolest aspects of appearing on The Big Idea is sitting in the green room before the show and talking to the other guests. It is very energizing to be in a room with people, just like you, who are passionate about their work and ideas. I spent most of my time talking with the Blender Guys and the team behind Just Between Friends. The Blender Guys have inspired me with their great idea using funny videos on You Tube to market their product. And, as a father of two children, Just Between Friends, is a brilliant idea. I can’t wait to get home and clean out my garage.

2. Bill Zanker (I think it was him) threw out the perfect new name for the Grill Charms. Stake Your Claim gets my vote.

3. At different times during my interview, I have no control of my arms. Many people suffer from this affliction during an interview. I am just the one pointing it out to everyone.

4. During the interview, Donny massaged my shoulders. Frankly, that small fact makes me feel very special. To put that in perspective, I was on the same show as Carmen Electra, and I was the only one to receive a shoulder massage during the interview.

5. Speaking of Carmen Electra, unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to meet her. We did walk past each other in the studio. I am not sure, but she was probably thinking, “Is that the guy Donny just massaged on air?”

6. During the show, the other guests are watching the taping in the green room. When the Blender Guys were putting together the final ingredients to blend, we all kept cheering to add a bottle of glue. The glue didn’t make the final very cool mixture. Still, I think it was funny that everyone kept yelling at the monitor, “Put in the glue!”

7. Donny and I were wearing very similar suits. Our shirt color schemes were also the same (we were both working the purple). I pointed this out during my interview. I am pretty sure Donny had no idea what I was talking about. I am not sure why I am bringing this up now. Actually, I have no idea why I used valuable national air time to discuss our similar tastes in clothes.

8. I do want to thank the wonderful staff of The Big Idea. Thank you for all of your help, support and advice. And, thank you for making me feel comfortable and welcome. It was a pleasure working with everyone.

To read the rest of the blog (which includes an article about dealing with "grumpy" people at work) go to the CNBC blog and hit the link for the jump: