Zoom Lives: How to Read the Room, When You’re Not in the Room

What does eating at the blindekuh in Zurich have to do with communicating remotely?

Five research-backed ways and best practice to read the virtual room, interact with co-workers in a more meaningful way, and create a more productive working environment. ways to get attention and network with powerful people.

My most recent article, in IE Insights HERE.

Most popular piece at IE Insights of the fourth quarter, 2020.

What you don’t hear about Crisis Communications (Podcast)

Proud to be interviewed by Nicky and Dave, where I shared:

1) Who you should take care of first, *before* taking care of your employees, 2) Why and when you should be inauthentic, and 3) The first — and most important — question to ask people around you …


Your weekend podcast listen [25 min – time stamps below]. Thank you to David Smith and Nicole Catchpole for inviting me — and hearing out my contrarian views on #leadership:

Time stamps:
1:20 “What do leaders need to keep mind during crises like now?”

2:10 Who leaders should take care of first.

4:00 When you may wish to be “inauthentic” 

5:35 Leadership lessons from NZ PM Jacinda Ardern, and U.S. rapper Killer Mike. 

9:15 Nicky and Michael: How cultures are different — and is there is a “crisis” playbook?

15:50 Dave and Michael discuss how expressing anger can work for you…

19:00 Michael shares a powerful phrase you can use to connect to employees.

22:00 Dave and Nicki explore work-life balance, and Michael shares how constraints and limits imposed by the pandemic may actually lead to better change, faster.

The Value of Experiential Learning

We need in-person contact, face-to-face dialog now, more than ever:

— my recent article on the Value of Experiential Learning, in China Currents, publication of the China Research Center.

Article Link HERE.

Proud to have started and continue to support the Chang-Lan Fellowships at Carleton College, set up in the memory of my Chinese grandparents. 

“Amid the pandemic, polarization, people living in their own social media echo chambers, and the deteriorating US-China relationship, we need fellowships and initiatives that create dialog and understanding, now more than ever.”

Thanks to Marynel Ryan Van Zee Christine Solso RJ Holmes-Leopold Rachel Leatham and C-L alums Nicole Catchpole Anthony Wong Jessica Lilu Chen David RiedelKyle Schiller David Jinkins Sara Karbeling Pierce McDonnell Sebastian Tovar Montanez for sharing insights that became this article… and to the Editors Penelope (Penny) Prime and Jim Schiffman for accepting it for publication.

What Are Your Sources of Power (thoughts from recent presentation to Fuse Corps)

Fellows are engaged in tough challenges focused on urban renewal — great conversation with them on Power Mapping last week.

Thanks to Kevin Williams, Dir of Learning, for inviting me to speak.

Key Questions I asked the Fellows:

1. *Who* has the biggest impact on achieving your goals?

2. Are you engaged in activities that are actively moving the needle?

3. What are *your* sources of power?

Why *Not* Apologizing May Be Good For You

“As a matter of simple strategy, apologies may not be a great idea.”

Yes, apologizing may be the morally right thing to do, and is what (most of us) have been raised and instructed to do.

But apologies are complicated: Plenty of research shows that apologizing makes you look weak, that we overestimate the benefits an apology brings, and – in a recent NYTimes piece by Prof Cass Sunstein – that apologies can decrease your support.

Scan the corporate and political world and it’s clear that those who don’t apologise tend to go unpunished. In fact, they seem to keep their jobs and fair better: Franken vs Trump in politics; or Tony Hayward (BP, Deepwater Horizon crisis) vs Lloyd Blankfein (Goldman Sachs, Financial crisis) in corporate – an example used in Prof Jeffrey Pfeffer’s course on Power.

So think twice, just as I challenge leaders in my Exec Coaching practice: Apologies are overused and the advantages of *not* apologizing are insufficiently recognized.

Full article in the NY Times HERE.

Rhetoric And Reality In The U.S.-China Trade War: The View From Shanghai

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As the U.S. heads to the polls for midterm elections and China wraps up the second day of its highly touted China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, both country’s leaders have sought to control the narrative in the escalating trade war.

Don’t believe the hype of either leader.

Read about three realities on the ground in China, and what that means for the U.S.-China relationship, in my recent article, published in Forbes, HERE.

Want to enhance your Personal Leadership?


If you are interested in Leadership or the world-renowned STANFORD Exec Ed LEAD Certificate, join us for a free 2-week Course preview.

I coach in the Stanford Exec Ed LEAD Program and will facilitate the Leading Effective Teams Preview with Professor Brian Lowery, which will be part of the newly launched year-long PERSONAL LEADERSHIP CERTIFICATE.

The preview kicks off with a Live Session, Thurs March 29 @9-10 AM Pacific. To join and for more info: https://stanfordlead.novoed.com/leadpreview-teams