The Small Blog

Mon, April 08, 2013 - 12:12:40

Imagine a Nicer Universe

For many years, we’ve hoped that one day we would have the chance to work with the ADL and help them spread their mission of putting an end to bigotry and hatred around the world. Recently, our agency was asked to create a video celebrating the ADL’s 100th anniversary, so naturally, we jumped at the opportunity.

As we contemplated what kind of film we’d create, we sadly recalled all of the lives that have been cut short by hate crimes: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Anne Frank, Matthew Shepard, and Yitzhak Rabin to name a few. How much could each one of them have accomplished in a different kind of world?

We could only imagine. That’s when the idea hit us: what if we imagined a world without hate? In that world, we would be celebrating all of the accomplishments we can now only dream of.

The result is a video we’re deeply proud of—one that took a simple, emotional idea, touched peoples’ hearts, and made an impact. We hope you’ll share it with the people who have touched your own life.

And it all started with a simple idea: imagine what the world would be like if there was no hate. What if instead, people were only kind to one another?

We shouldn’t have to wonder. One by one, we can all help to make this movement happen. In your work, in your life, in your relationships…everywhere, if there’s one thing we want you to take away from this blog, it’s that nothing we do is insignificant. Even one random act of kindness can be transformational.

There is untapped potential in each action we take, large or small. Even the tiniest good deed can have a multiplier effect powerful enough to do big things. You just have to give it the opportunity to flourish.

So, let’s all take the next little step together. And then keep on going until we change the world.


Posted by Linda and Robin
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Mon, March 11, 2013 - 2:04:55

It’s the Thought That Counts

There’s no question that compensation is an important part of job satisfaction. But, contrary to conventional wisdom, money isn’t the primary motivator for most professionals. A kind manager can be just as effective, if not more. As it turns out, even in the business world, it’s really the thought that counts.

Research has shown that “cold, hard cash” bonuses can still provide a motivational boost, but better still are gestures with a warmer sentiment. In fact, multiple studies have found that more personal efforts, like giving a gift as a token of thanks, providing personal mentorship, and verbally conveying feedback are all more effective.

In 2011, McKinsey conducted a study that revealed some rather surprising findings. All emotionally based motivators, including attention from higher ups and opportunities for leadership roles, were more effective than financial ones. Particularly powerful was praise from a direct manager.  67% of participants in the study rated it “effective” or “extremely effective.”
Just like a kind and helpful remark, a thoughtful little gift can make a big difference too. As Ray Fisman writes on, in a study called “The Currency of Reciprocity: Gift Exchange in the Workplace,” German and Swiss researchers found that gifts were far more motivating than unexpected cash bonuses, and could improve productivity by up to 20 percent. What’s more, the study found that small, personalized gifts spur the highest levels of motivation and loyalty. For example, a book on photography may be a more inspirational gift to an Instagram-addicted employee than a gift card to the local coffee shop.

They’re just two examples of how going the extra inch can have a profound effect on the happiness of your employees. Showing them that they are valued as individuals makes their jobs mean more than just a paycheck. Encouraging them to continue their great work? Now, that’s the real bonus.

Posted by Linda and Robin
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Wed, March 06, 2013 - 1:51:27

How to Make “Fast Friends” and Accelerate Your Career

Ever heard the old adage, “Curiosity killed the cat?” Well, we’re of a differing opinion. As we see it, curiosity kills the competition.

It’s one of the most effective NICE skills you can have, for several reasons. Yes, being curious and asking questions can help you learn essential little details you might otherwise never find out, but perhaps more important, it’s one of the fastest ways to make a great first impression. Think about it. Who would you rather sit next to at a dinner party: the bore who drones on incessantly about himself, or the charmer who finds you utterly fascinating?

When starting a new job, being curious is a great way to appear immediately likeable. It shows that you’re humble, willing to learn, and motivated. It also makes others feel important by answering your questions, and helps foster friendship.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, there is a special technique that can actually quicken the bonds you form with your coworkers. Pioneered by psychologists at Stony Brook University, the technique known as “Fast Friends” uses a series of questions asked over the course of 45 minutes to help break down barriers and form meaningful connections. But, even during the short timeframe, the connection is formed gradually. This is key, as oversharing—or on the contrary, being overly inquisitive—gives most people pause.

Scientists ask participants to complete the Fast Friends exercise in just 45 minutes, but you can give it all the time you need. It may be helpful to think of it as a template you can use when making friends during your first few weeks at a new office.

Here’s how the technique works.

• The first questions are only slightly personal. For example, “What would constitute a “perfect” day for you, here at the office?”

• The second questions are little more personal. For example, “What do you value most in a working relationship?”

• The last step is to get personal. Try sharing a problem you’ve been facing at work and ask for your new friend’s advice on how he or she might handle it.

Demonstrating an interest in your new work friends and showing that you value their expertise and opinions is an ideal way to plant positive seeds. Before you know it, you’ll have made fast friends that will serve you well long after you’ve moved on to your next position.

Posted by Linda and Robin
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Wed, February 27, 2013 - 12:33:20

Beauty and Brains

Do you ever take a moment at work simply to look out the window and daydream for a few minutes? You might think that doing so is a little unproductive. But, particularly if you can catch a glimpse of something green, enjoying the view outside can actually improve your work in the office. It’s just one of the amazing ways in which author Lance Hosey explains that beautiful things can affect the brain in a positive way.

In his recent New York Times article, Hosey writes that small, seemingly insignificant visual elements, like color, shape, and texture, have a powerful affect on the brain. As he writes, research has found that a view of the landscape can speed patient recovery in hospitals, aid learning in classrooms and spur productivity in the workplace. For example, in a study of call centers, workers who could see outside completed tasks six to seven percent more efficiently, saving the company more than $3,000 per employee, per year. In other words, seeing a little green can help your company see more green.

But, you don’t need to be near a lush landscape. Beauty’s effect on the brain works in surprising ways. Believe it or not, simply looking at the color green can elicit the same chemical reaction within the brain, promoting creativity and motivation. No wonder Emerald green has been named Pantone’s 2013 color of the year!

From a verdant view to a textured surface, taking the time to notice and appreciate the little things can have a powerful affect on your life. Not only will it make everything more enjoyable, it can actually prime your mind for success.

Posted by Linda and Robin
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Thu, February 14, 2013 - 12:10:34

In Love, A Little Gesture Can Say a Lot

We’ve all heard the old expression, “Actions speak louder than words.” According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, this is especially true when it comes to matters of the heart.

Dr. Harry T. Rice, a psychology professor at the University of Rochester, tells the WSJ that couples who regularly demonstrate their affection through acts of “compassionate love”—putting your partners needs ahead of your own—are happier in their marriages than those who do not.

It’s just further evidence that NICE people are luckier in love. As we found when we were writing our book, THE POWER OF NICE: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness, research has shown that people who are considered kind and congenial have lower divorce rates than those who are not. With Rice’s new findings, psychologists can better understand why.

As we often say, it really does pay to be nice, but these gestures of kindness needn’t be over the top. In fact, repeated small acts of kindness have a much more positive effect than infrequent, large ones. According to Dr. Rice, small, selfless acts are essential to a healthy relationship. Not only do they make your partner happier, they make you happier, too.

So, with Valentine’s Day upon us, what better time to harness the power of SMALL in your own life and do a little something nice for the one you love? It might not sparkle or come wrapped in a big red bow, but we guarantee it will make your partner feel like a million bucks.

Posted by Linda and Robin
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