60 pippa.io <![CDATA[Serious Soft Skills]]> http://serioussoftskills.com en Serious Soft Skills LLC All Rights Reserved. Dr. Tobin Porterfield & Bob Graham: Soft Skills Experts no Dr. Tobin Porterfield & Bob Graham: Soft Skills Experts info+5ab11850f433bbaf533d003e@mg.pippa.io episodic https://assets.pippa.io/shows/5ab11850f433bbaf533d003e/show-cover.png http://serioussoftskills.com <![CDATA[Serious Soft Skills]]> https://feed.pippa.io/public/shows/5ab11850f433bbaf533d003e <![CDATA[Serious Soft Skills Minute 4: Hiring With The Wrong Focus]]> Mon, 20 Aug 2018 04:05:10 GMT 1:00 5b6cb958ac05b4347853430d no full <![CDATA[Serious Soft Skills Minute 3: Thinking about a Portfolio]]> Thu, 16 Aug 2018 04:39:04 GMT 1:26 5b6cb7f8ac05b4347853430c no full <![CDATA[58: Dealing with Ambiguity]]> Wed, 15 Aug 2018 04:15:40 GMT 18:22 5b71e1c0462a836d0988fd55 no full 58 The world is changing faster and faster. What seemed clear yesterday may not be clear today and who knows what tomorrow will bring? Dealing with ambiguity is not just a soft skill but a necessity in today’s workplace. We will discuss dealing with ambiguity and even give some hints for how to handle it.


Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss the following topics:

  • Life isn’t predictable and it can get boring
  • How clock speed affects our ability to succeed
  • Dealing with not knowing
  • Decisions have consequences and making bad decisions can be costly. 


A few hints for how we can ensure that we can deal with ambiguity.


  1. Accept that ambiguity is real. Easy choices don’t always exist. 
  2. Keep a compass. Know what you are trying to accomplish and keep true to it.
  3. Call in the reinforcements. Find people and other sources of information and support that are solid no matter what else is happening.
  4. Heed the signs. When things appear to be faltering, recognize it and react. 


That’s it for this episode of the Serious Soft Skills Podcast. Look for new episodes every Wednesday. And if you liked what you heard today or in another episode, then give us a great review on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Share our podcast with someone you know. And by all means, go to TheSoftSkillsRevolution.com and join our revolution. We want to change the world’s view on soft skills and you can help us. 


Next week


We will explore why we are leading The Soft Skills Revolution.


]]>
The world is changing faster and faster. What seemed clear yesterday may not be clear today and who knows what tomorrow will bring? Dealing with ambiguity is not just a soft skill but a necessity in today’s workplace. We will discuss dealing with ambiguity and even give some hints for how to handle it.


Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss the following topics:

  • Life isn’t predictable and it can get boring
  • How clock speed affects our ability to succeed
  • Dealing with not knowing
  • Decisions have consequences and making bad decisions can be costly. 


A few hints for how we can ensure that we can deal with ambiguity.


  1. Accept that ambiguity is real. Easy choices don’t always exist. 
  2. Keep a compass. Know what you are trying to accomplish and keep true to it.
  3. Call in the reinforcements. Find people and other sources of information and support that are solid no matter what else is happening.
  4. Heed the signs. When things appear to be faltering, recognize it and react. 


That’s it for this episode of the Serious Soft Skills Podcast. Look for new episodes every Wednesday. And if you liked what you heard today or in another episode, then give us a great review on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. Share our podcast with someone you know. And by all means, go to TheSoftSkillsRevolution.com and join our revolution. We want to change the world’s view on soft skills and you can help us. 


Next week


We will explore why we are leading The Soft Skills Revolution.


]]>
<![CDATA[Serious Soft Skills Minute 2: What We Mean By Soft Skills]]> Mon, 13 Aug 2018 04:49:15 GMT 0:53 5b6cb730c5249d0727b6f052 no full <![CDATA[Serious Soft Skills Minute 1: Introduction]]> Thu, 09 Aug 2018 21:46:28 GMT 0:59 5b6cb634ac05b4347853430a no full <![CDATA[57: Willingness to Learn]]> Wed, 08 Aug 2018 04:30:25 GMT 16:46 5b69bbadd8584507204e859f no full 57 A willingness to learn is a powerful tool that recognizes that the processes, software and techniques that you know are just the foundation for your success. 


Among the topics cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss are:

  • How changes in the workplace necessitate the need to be willing to learn
  • How do you tease out a willingness to learn in an application
  • Employers want to see a willingness to learn
  • Curiosity is key
  • Hints for learning new things to promote your professional benefit  


Next Week


We will look at another soft skill, dealing with ambiguity. New episodes every Wednesday.


Join The Soft Skills Revolution at SoftSkillsRevolution.com

]]>
A willingness to learn is a powerful tool that recognizes that the processes, software and techniques that you know are just the foundation for your success. 


Among the topics cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss are:

  • How changes in the workplace necessitate the need to be willing to learn
  • How do you tease out a willingness to learn in an application
  • Employers want to see a willingness to learn
  • Curiosity is key
  • Hints for learning new things to promote your professional benefit  


Next Week


We will look at another soft skill, dealing with ambiguity. New episodes every Wednesday.


Join The Soft Skills Revolution at SoftSkillsRevolution.com

]]>
<![CDATA[56: Accepting Criticism]]> Wed, 01 Aug 2018 04:13:07 GMT 20:37 5b613353c11112822d974dc7 no full 56 Accepting criticism can take the wind out of our sails and hurt our ability to advance in our careers, relationships and in life. We will discuss this complicated soft skill and give hints for delivering and responding to it better in this week’s episode of the Serious Soft Skills Podcast.


Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham talk about a number of important issues, including:


  • Why the soft skill of accepting criticism can be difficult to hear
  • How accepting criticism can benefit us and our development
  • What happens when we don’t accept criticism
  • Helping you versus hurting you with criticism
  • When to discount people’s criticism
  • Filtering out the good criticism and retaining ownership
  • Finding people to trust and value who give you constrictive feedback
  • How to give constructive criticism
  • When to table someone’s criticism 
  • “The Sandwich Method” of criticism
  • When a cooling off period pays off for everyone  
  • Preventing criticism from paralyzing us 
  • Why organizations need to integrate feedback and criticism into their operations to become better
  • Making a case for writing down suggestions, rather than speaking them 


Next week


We will address another soft skill and its implications. New episodes come out every Wednesday


Have you joined The Soft Skills Revolution?

]]>
Accepting criticism can take the wind out of our sails and hurt our ability to advance in our careers, relationships and in life. We will discuss this complicated soft skill and give hints for delivering and responding to it better in this week’s episode of the Serious Soft Skills Podcast.


Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham talk about a number of important issues, including:


  • Why the soft skill of accepting criticism can be difficult to hear
  • How accepting criticism can benefit us and our development
  • What happens when we don’t accept criticism
  • Helping you versus hurting you with criticism
  • When to discount people’s criticism
  • Filtering out the good criticism and retaining ownership
  • Finding people to trust and value who give you constrictive feedback
  • How to give constructive criticism
  • When to table someone’s criticism 
  • “The Sandwich Method” of criticism
  • When a cooling off period pays off for everyone  
  • Preventing criticism from paralyzing us 
  • Why organizations need to integrate feedback and criticism into their operations to become better
  • Making a case for writing down suggestions, rather than speaking them 


Next week


We will address another soft skill and its implications. New episodes come out every Wednesday


Have you joined The Soft Skills Revolution?

]]>
<![CDATA[55: Soft Skills and the Hiring Process]]> Wed, 25 Jul 2018 04:15:59 GMT 16:49 5b578ee9aa14024e47682441 no full 55 A Forbes.com article, How to Hire the Right People to Help Your Organization Success by Sally Percy, suggests that employers are undervaluing soft skills, which seems silly in this low-unemployment business climate. We will discuss the technical skills fixation and why it hurts employers in this episode of the Serious Soft Skills Podcast.


Among the topics cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss are:

  • Why focusing on technical skills is comfortable, but difficult to enable proper hiring.
  • Why combining technical skills and soft skills is the key to business success
  • How employers have become lazy when it comes to soft skills
  • Job qualifiers and job winners
  • Why employers need to get past the fishing expedition in using soft skills to hire
  • How hiring with a soft-skills focus helps create a better cultural fit

  

Next week


We explore one of the more complicated soft skills: accepting criticism. New episodes every Wednesday.

]]>
A Forbes.com article, How to Hire the Right People to Help Your Organization Success by Sally Percy, suggests that employers are undervaluing soft skills, which seems silly in this low-unemployment business climate. We will discuss the technical skills fixation and why it hurts employers in this episode of the Serious Soft Skills Podcast.


Among the topics cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss are:

  • Why focusing on technical skills is comfortable, but difficult to enable proper hiring.
  • Why combining technical skills and soft skills is the key to business success
  • How employers have become lazy when it comes to soft skills
  • Job qualifiers and job winners
  • Why employers need to get past the fishing expedition in using soft skills to hire
  • How hiring with a soft-skills focus helps create a better cultural fit

  

Next week


We explore one of the more complicated soft skills: accepting criticism. New episodes every Wednesday.

]]>
<![CDATA[54: Starting the Soft Skills Revolution]]> Wed, 18 Jul 2018 04:12:38 GMT 9:20 5b4e818b948a24a87db08103 no full 54 In this episode we launch The Soft Skills Revolution. We discuss why it matters, what it means and how you can help. 


  • Among the topics cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss are:
  • *Why the soft skills revolution must occur
  • *How a successful revolution would change the workplace.


Join the revolution at TheSoftSkillsRevolution.com.


Next week


Why hiring is all wrong and what soft skills could do to help it. New episodes every Wednesday.


]]>
In this episode we launch The Soft Skills Revolution. We discuss why it matters, what it means and how you can help. 


  • Among the topics cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss are:
  • *Why the soft skills revolution must occur
  • *How a successful revolution would change the workplace.


Join the revolution at TheSoftSkillsRevolution.com.


Next week


Why hiring is all wrong and what soft skills could do to help it. New episodes every Wednesday.


]]>
<![CDATA[53: What Cobots Serving Lemoncello Means for Soft Skills, Really!]]> Wed, 11 Jul 2018 04:15:00 GMT 15:43 5b45309c802e4c0919bef6cf no full 53 Cobots, robots working collaborating with people to accomplish specific tasks like deep tissue massage and other tasks, and what they mean for soft skills are our topic this week.


Among the topics cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham talk about this week include”

  • How robots learn tasks
  • How robots are learning new steps and the latest in robot technology
  • Robots are becoming a bigger part of the job world
  • How new technology is changing our soft skills
  • Examples of when soft skills exceed the capabilities of a robot
  • Why humans will always be needed


Next week


Another soft skill will land front and center in our discussion. See which one every Wednesday.

]]>
Cobots, robots working collaborating with people to accomplish specific tasks like deep tissue massage and other tasks, and what they mean for soft skills are our topic this week.


Among the topics cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham talk about this week include”

  • How robots learn tasks
  • How robots are learning new steps and the latest in robot technology
  • Robots are becoming a bigger part of the job world
  • How new technology is changing our soft skills
  • Examples of when soft skills exceed the capabilities of a robot
  • Why humans will always be needed


Next week


Another soft skill will land front and center in our discussion. See which one every Wednesday.

]]>
<![CDATA[52: Celebrating a Year of Podcasting]]> Wed, 04 Jul 2018 04:25:17 GMT 13:41 5b3b9de5aa0134c62435e138 no full 52 We celebrate our first anniversary of the podcast with a celebration, with lessons learned, and even some hints of what’s in the pipeline for the podcast and soft skills on this week’s Serious Soft Skills podcast.


Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss the following:


  • What they didn’t expect about podcasting
  • How they and the podcast has evolved over the year
  • Why the podcast is so topical
  • What the Soft Skills Revolution is
  • How soft skills fit in with technical skills
  • More soft skills in more ways


Next Week


We will be discussing the emergence of cobots and what they mean for soft skills. It’s cutting edge and you won’t want to miss it. New episodes come out every Wednesday.

]]>
We celebrate our first anniversary of the podcast with a celebration, with lessons learned, and even some hints of what’s in the pipeline for the podcast and soft skills on this week’s Serious Soft Skills podcast.


Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss the following:


  • What they didn’t expect about podcasting
  • How they and the podcast has evolved over the year
  • Why the podcast is so topical
  • What the Soft Skills Revolution is
  • How soft skills fit in with technical skills
  • More soft skills in more ways


Next Week


We will be discussing the emergence of cobots and what they mean for soft skills. It’s cutting edge and you won’t want to miss it. New episodes come out every Wednesday.

]]>
<![CDATA[51: Being Culturally Aware]]> Wed, 27 Jun 2018 04:44:52 GMT 19:38 5b327c3c8ffa1ac574894f67 no full 51 A growing list of cultural differences -- from generational to technological skills, from social and political, to religious and lifestyle differences -- are realities in today’s workplace. In this episode of the Serious Soft Skills Podcast, we will discuss what being culturally aware means and how to avoid being culturally unaware.


Among the topics Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss in this episode:

  • Dealing with diversity in the workplace and how it affects performance, innovation and meeting customers’ needs
  • The example in computers and how they look differently for a 60 year old vs. a 20 year old
  • Why we need to try to see the world more broadly than only through our own eyes
  • How opportunities are lost when we go blindly or avoid situations
  • Awareness of where diversity issues arises is the first step
  • When we put people in a place of being an outsider and how it hurts us
  • Something as simple as food can raise issues or diffuse them
  • How Goleman’s work on emotional intelligence set the stage, but does not full cover cultural awareness
  • Individual and organizational responsibility for recognizing and leveraging people’s differences
  • How mentoring and one-on-one interactions, and even our peers, can help us become more adept
  • Finding similarities can overcome great challenges


Hints for Being More Culturally Aware


  1. Avoid doing anything that could marginalizing one or more individuals.
  2. Ensure your organization is setting a tone for inclusion
  3. Engage in self-reflection to become better (see Episode 14)


Next week


Serious Soft Skills will celebrate its first anniversary with a look at the last year, what’s coming up for us in the new year and a celebration. 

]]>
A growing list of cultural differences -- from generational to technological skills, from social and political, to religious and lifestyle differences -- are realities in today’s workplace. In this episode of the Serious Soft Skills Podcast, we will discuss what being culturally aware means and how to avoid being culturally unaware.


Among the topics Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss in this episode:

  • Dealing with diversity in the workplace and how it affects performance, innovation and meeting customers’ needs
  • The example in computers and how they look differently for a 60 year old vs. a 20 year old
  • Why we need to try to see the world more broadly than only through our own eyes
  • How opportunities are lost when we go blindly or avoid situations
  • Awareness of where diversity issues arises is the first step
  • When we put people in a place of being an outsider and how it hurts us
  • Something as simple as food can raise issues or diffuse them
  • How Goleman’s work on emotional intelligence set the stage, but does not full cover cultural awareness
  • Individual and organizational responsibility for recognizing and leveraging people’s differences
  • How mentoring and one-on-one interactions, and even our peers, can help us become more adept
  • Finding similarities can overcome great challenges


Hints for Being More Culturally Aware


  1. Avoid doing anything that could marginalizing one or more individuals.
  2. Ensure your organization is setting a tone for inclusion
  3. Engage in self-reflection to become better (see Episode 14)


Next week


Serious Soft Skills will celebrate its first anniversary with a look at the last year, what’s coming up for us in the new year and a celebration. 

]]>
<![CDATA[50: LinkedIn, Networking and Soft Skills]]> Wed, 20 Jun 2018 05:01:57 GMT 19:19 5b240975fe82bedb06f22a9a no full 50 Mike Shelah, an expert and early advocate for LinkedIn’s ability to connect people for business, shares his wisdom on LinkedIn, networking and soft skills in this episode of the Serious Soft Skills podcast.


Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham are joined by Mike Shelah, head of Shelah Consulting (http://mikeshelah.com) for a discussion of the following:


  • How to use LinkedIn to make quality connections
  • What not to do on LinkedIn
  • How to gain permission to ask
  • Mike’s formula for using LinkedIn effectively
  • What soft skills come into play
  • Examples of good networking 
  • Tips for being a better networker


Also, Mike talks about a side project, Pathfinders for Autism (http://pathfindersforautism.org), where he serves as a board member and helps families like his own who have children who have autism.


Next week


We look at cultural awareness and why its importance only grows in our current workplace. New episodes every Wednesday.

]]>
Mike Shelah, an expert and early advocate for LinkedIn’s ability to connect people for business, shares his wisdom on LinkedIn, networking and soft skills in this episode of the Serious Soft Skills podcast.


Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham are joined by Mike Shelah, head of Shelah Consulting (http://mikeshelah.com) for a discussion of the following:


  • How to use LinkedIn to make quality connections
  • What not to do on LinkedIn
  • How to gain permission to ask
  • Mike’s formula for using LinkedIn effectively
  • What soft skills come into play
  • Examples of good networking 
  • Tips for being a better networker


Also, Mike talks about a side project, Pathfinders for Autism (http://pathfindersforautism.org), where he serves as a board member and helps families like his own who have children who have autism.


Next week


We look at cultural awareness and why its importance only grows in our current workplace. New episodes every Wednesday.

]]>
<![CDATA[49: Understanding Ethical Implications of Decisions]]> Wed, 13 Jun 2018 05:15:57 GMT 19:44 5b1dbf4e7c78f2c616b565d6 no full 49 Whether we know it or not, our actions usually align with our ethics, and people with good ethics tend to be trusted and respected more than those whose ethical decision making is questionable. We are going to look at the ethical implications of decisions we make in this weeks’ episode of the Serious Soft Skills podcast. 


Among the topics cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss are:


A definition of ethics and how it applies to work

The value of virtue

How questionable ethics can erode trust of team members

Questioning cripples progress

The societal effect on our ethics

Are ethics black and white?

The Golden Rule

Short-term versus long-term benefits and how they relate to ethics

The personal nature of ethics

How our ethics set a tone for an organization


Tips for Good Ethics at Work

  1. Don’t be deceived by short-term benefits
  2. Matching your ethics to your organization’s ethics


A good book on ethical decision-making, The Power of Ethical Management by Ken Blanchard and Norman Vincent Peale, with three guiding questions on ethics

1. Is it legal?  

2. Is it balanced?  

3. How will it make me feel about myself? Unethical acts erode self-esteem. 


Next week


We will talk to Mike Shelah, an expert at LinkedIn on how soft skills play into that social media platform, as well as networking in general. New episodes come out every Wednesday.

]]>
Whether we know it or not, our actions usually align with our ethics, and people with good ethics tend to be trusted and respected more than those whose ethical decision making is questionable. We are going to look at the ethical implications of decisions we make in this weeks’ episode of the Serious Soft Skills podcast. 


Among the topics cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss are:


A definition of ethics and how it applies to work

The value of virtue

How questionable ethics can erode trust of team members

Questioning cripples progress

The societal effect on our ethics

Are ethics black and white?

The Golden Rule

Short-term versus long-term benefits and how they relate to ethics

The personal nature of ethics

How our ethics set a tone for an organization


Tips for Good Ethics at Work

  1. Don’t be deceived by short-term benefits
  2. Matching your ethics to your organization’s ethics


A good book on ethical decision-making, The Power of Ethical Management by Ken Blanchard and Norman Vincent Peale, with three guiding questions on ethics

1. Is it legal?  

2. Is it balanced?  

3. How will it make me feel about myself? Unethical acts erode self-esteem. 


Next week


We will talk to Mike Shelah, an expert at LinkedIn on how soft skills play into that social media platform, as well as networking in general. New episodes come out every Wednesday.

]]>
<![CDATA[48: Bringing a Positive Attitude to Your Work]]> Wed, 06 Jun 2018 05:05:45 GMT 16:34 5b16a0454307ea6a77b5405c no full 48 Positive outcomes derive from a positive attitude, but why do we say that, and what do we do when we don’t have a positive attitude at times. We’ll tackle that saying and how to maintain a positive attitude in this episode of the Serious Soft Skills Podcast.


Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham explore a variety of topics related to the soft skill of having positive attitude.


Among the topics they address are:


  • What if we bring a negative attitude to a situation
  • The negative effects of creating a hero among teams
  • “Faking it until you make it”
  • Pushing forward despite stumbles
  • Moving past problems
  • Confidence in myself and my team
  • Finding ways to overcome challenges
  • Being honest and open and how to leads to trust among team members
  • How sparks and cobbled together ideas can fuel better outcomes
  • Naysayers never get promoted
  • Not falling into the unrealistic and non-optimistic perspective


Tips for keeping or restoring your positive attitude


1. Set realistic goals and recognize when you achieve them

2. Don't let setbacks dig into you

3. Be grateful – we all need others to succeed

4. Smile

5. Sleep well and eat well

6. Laugh at yourself

7. Populate your life with positive people

8. Don’t get stuck in the weeds


Next week


We will look at the complicated soft skills of understanding the ethical implications of our decisions. 

]]>
Positive outcomes derive from a positive attitude, but why do we say that, and what do we do when we don’t have a positive attitude at times. We’ll tackle that saying and how to maintain a positive attitude in this episode of the Serious Soft Skills Podcast.


Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham explore a variety of topics related to the soft skill of having positive attitude.


Among the topics they address are:


  • What if we bring a negative attitude to a situation
  • The negative effects of creating a hero among teams
  • “Faking it until you make it”
  • Pushing forward despite stumbles
  • Moving past problems
  • Confidence in myself and my team
  • Finding ways to overcome challenges
  • Being honest and open and how to leads to trust among team members
  • How sparks and cobbled together ideas can fuel better outcomes
  • Naysayers never get promoted
  • Not falling into the unrealistic and non-optimistic perspective


Tips for keeping or restoring your positive attitude


1. Set realistic goals and recognize when you achieve them

2. Don't let setbacks dig into you

3. Be grateful – we all need others to succeed

4. Smile

5. Sleep well and eat well

6. Laugh at yourself

7. Populate your life with positive people

8. Don’t get stuck in the weeds


Next week


We will look at the complicated soft skills of understanding the ethical implications of our decisions. 

]]>
<![CDATA[47: The Super-Short Explanation of Why It Pays Off to Know More About Soft Skills]]> Wed, 30 May 2018 05:05:13 GMT 7:12 5b0076c31c6618b430f3a0b7 no full 47 47: The One Paperback Soft Skills Book You Have to Read


Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham celebrate the long-awaited release of the paperback version of The 55 Soft Skills That Guide Employee and Organizational Success and explain how reading it will help anyone who works.


Among the topics they discuss in this short episode are:

How they came up with all 55 soft skills

Their surprise at how many soft skills employees use

The logic of the book

Where employees and leaders can benefit from reading the book

How to get the book


Want to buy our book, The 55 Soft Skills That Guide Employee and Organizational Success? Visit Amazon.


Next week


We will go back to our list of 55 soft skills to explain how another one of them works and why it matters in the workplace.

]]>
47: The One Paperback Soft Skills Book You Have to Read


Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham celebrate the long-awaited release of the paperback version of The 55 Soft Skills That Guide Employee and Organizational Success and explain how reading it will help anyone who works.


Among the topics they discuss in this short episode are:

How they came up with all 55 soft skills

Their surprise at how many soft skills employees use

The logic of the book

Where employees and leaders can benefit from reading the book

How to get the book


Want to buy our book, The 55 Soft Skills That Guide Employee and Organizational Success? Visit Amazon.


Next week


We will go back to our list of 55 soft skills to explain how another one of them works and why it matters in the workplace.

]]>
<![CDATA[46: Being Able to Work Independently, Or With Minimal Supervision]]> Wed, 23 May 2018 05:05:38 GMT 12:54 5b006b2b1c6618b430f3a0b6 no full 46 This week’s Serious Soft Skills podcast explores the soft skill of working independently, or with minimal supervision, and how it fosters better teams and trust.


Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham, authors of The 55 Soft Skills That Guide Employee and Organizational Success, talk about a variety of aspects of this soft skill, including:


Letting go of micromanagement

The idea of ownership of projects and knowing when to share a project or take it to completion ourselves

Strategies for ensuring independence and appropriate intervention

The tug-pf-war between independence and either delegating or drawing on others

Independence varies by role and by supervisory style

Where entrepreneurs can overcome inherent independence to ensure greater success

The power of proper delegation

How we can take monkeys and push them away to get work done

Working with minimal supervision

How to ensure that minimal supervision yields maximum results

How more meetings may enable greater employee independence


Does your organization or team need help in putting soft skills to work for them? We want to help you. We do webinars and workshops, online, on the phone and in person, to help teams become more successful. If you or someone you know could use our help, contact us at podcast@serioussoftskills.com today. Or call 937-SKILLS5.



Next week


Next week, we will explore the soft skill of being able to work under pressure. Relax, we will make it easy. Look for new episodes every Wednesday. 

]]>
This week’s Serious Soft Skills podcast explores the soft skill of working independently, or with minimal supervision, and how it fosters better teams and trust.


Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham, authors of The 55 Soft Skills That Guide Employee and Organizational Success, talk about a variety of aspects of this soft skill, including:


Letting go of micromanagement

The idea of ownership of projects and knowing when to share a project or take it to completion ourselves

Strategies for ensuring independence and appropriate intervention

The tug-pf-war between independence and either delegating or drawing on others

Independence varies by role and by supervisory style

Where entrepreneurs can overcome inherent independence to ensure greater success

The power of proper delegation

How we can take monkeys and push them away to get work done

Working with minimal supervision

How to ensure that minimal supervision yields maximum results

How more meetings may enable greater employee independence


Does your organization or team need help in putting soft skills to work for them? We want to help you. We do webinars and workshops, online, on the phone and in person, to help teams become more successful. If you or someone you know could use our help, contact us at podcast@serioussoftskills.com today. Or call 937-SKILLS5.



Next week


Next week, we will explore the soft skill of being able to work under pressure. Relax, we will make it easy. Look for new episodes every Wednesday. 

]]>
<![CDATA[45: A Five-Step Process and More for Attacking New Situations]]> Wed, 16 May 2018 05:01:06 GMT 16:01 5afb80942faeed8e04002ad8 no full 45 Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham explore the soft skills of adapting knowledge to new situations, what it means and how it helps build teams and careers. 

Among the topics they discuss are:

  • How companies are relying more on people who can apply knowledge to solve new problems
  • Why this soft skill is so important to company growth
  • What other soft skills are included in this ability
  • Employers want people with new ideas, not the same old perspectives they already have
  • How successfully applying it can make someone a team leader, intentionally or unintentionally
  • Why compensation and opportunity follow good adapters
  • An example of adapting to the new situation of tariffs on products coming from China
  • A five-step process for applying knowledge to new situations
  • We can draw on others’ experiences to help us adapt to new situations
  • How multiple sourcing can help us find better solutions
  • Drawing on relationships and those we trust


Next week

We will explore the soft skill of being able to work independently or with minimal supervision.

]]>
Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham explore the soft skills of adapting knowledge to new situations, what it means and how it helps build teams and careers. 

Among the topics they discuss are:

  • How companies are relying more on people who can apply knowledge to solve new problems
  • Why this soft skill is so important to company growth
  • What other soft skills are included in this ability
  • Employers want people with new ideas, not the same old perspectives they already have
  • How successfully applying it can make someone a team leader, intentionally or unintentionally
  • Why compensation and opportunity follow good adapters
  • An example of adapting to the new situation of tariffs on products coming from China
  • A five-step process for applying knowledge to new situations
  • We can draw on others’ experiences to help us adapt to new situations
  • How multiple sourcing can help us find better solutions
  • Drawing on relationships and those we trust


Next week

We will explore the soft skill of being able to work independently or with minimal supervision.

]]>
<![CDATA[44 Using Storytelling to Engage Your Audience Emotionally]]> Wed, 09 May 2018 05:01:48 GMT 18:13 5af19ea977c1746339e08ac0 no full 44 Today’s episode isn’t about writing the Great American Novel, but rather how we incorporate the powerful aspects of storytelling into how we explain our work and our ideas so we connect emotionally .


Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham explore this important aspect of success, looking at it helps us at interviews, in meetings and when working with any other group. Storytelling can work in any situation where we talk about our work.


Among the topics they cover in this episode of the Serious Soft Skills podcast are:


  • Defining how storytelling fits into explaining ourselves
  • Making an idea “sticky”
  • How widely this approach can be used
  • The value of storytelling in a meeting as simple as a daily or weekly status meeting
  • The right preparation for storytelling to succeed
  • Understanding our audience’s needs
  • Why less is more in some cases and why more can be valuable at other times
  • Self-editing our stories to meet specific needs
  • Why writing the story out in advance or developing great themes and plot lines won’t work
  • Building the story from two or three key elements or takeaway you want the audience to learn from your story
  • Planting words to make things sticky
  • Sticky versus stinky
  • How to prepare for an interview to ensure you’re sticky
  • Making experiences become sticky through storytelling
  • Developing an emotional connection
  • Real examples of how storytelling can make us look better to employers and others
  • How anecdotes and stories about what you do in a job can help others understand the value you can bring to their organization
  • Going from a worker to a worker who did important work
  • Finding stories to explain how our skills can be transferrable


Next week


We’ll delve into another one of the 55 soft skills in an episode coming out Wednesday.

]]>
Today’s episode isn’t about writing the Great American Novel, but rather how we incorporate the powerful aspects of storytelling into how we explain our work and our ideas so we connect emotionally .


Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham explore this important aspect of success, looking at it helps us at interviews, in meetings and when working with any other group. Storytelling can work in any situation where we talk about our work.


Among the topics they cover in this episode of the Serious Soft Skills podcast are:


  • Defining how storytelling fits into explaining ourselves
  • Making an idea “sticky”
  • How widely this approach can be used
  • The value of storytelling in a meeting as simple as a daily or weekly status meeting
  • The right preparation for storytelling to succeed
  • Understanding our audience’s needs
  • Why less is more in some cases and why more can be valuable at other times
  • Self-editing our stories to meet specific needs
  • Why writing the story out in advance or developing great themes and plot lines won’t work
  • Building the story from two or three key elements or takeaway you want the audience to learn from your story
  • Planting words to make things sticky
  • Sticky versus stinky
  • How to prepare for an interview to ensure you’re sticky
  • Making experiences become sticky through storytelling
  • Developing an emotional connection
  • Real examples of how storytelling can make us look better to employers and others
  • How anecdotes and stories about what you do in a job can help others understand the value you can bring to their organization
  • Going from a worker to a worker who did important work
  • Finding stories to explain how our skills can be transferrable


Next week


We’ll delve into another one of the 55 soft skills in an episode coming out Wednesday.

]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 43: Managing Multiple Projects]]> Wed, 02 May 2018 05:05:00 GMT 18:52 5ae7980ed11e4ce77355ac85 no full 43 Podcast 43: Can Manage Multiple Projects


People think that being a good multi-tasker, something research says is impossible, means you are able to manage multiple projects. Most employees need to be able to manage different projects at the same time, meeting deadlines and working with others, to be effective.


Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham dig into this important soft skills. Among the topics they discuss:


  • The difference between multi-tasking and managing multiple projects
  • Why we believe multi-tasking works
  • Technology’s role
  • Are we using our time more effectively?
  • How to get ahead of multiple projects
  • What to do when things are not being well managed
  • Why looking at the Big Picture too much hurts being able to manage multiple projects.
  • A real example of managing a project to ensure it can be managed with other projects
  • How computers switch better than humans
  • Blocking out your day to ensure projects are managed well
  • More tips for ensuring you can juggle multiple projects
  • The other soft skills incorporated into managing multiple projects
  • Addressing the fact that things may go wrong once in a while

 

Next week


We will be looking at the role of storytelling. While not a soft skill, storytelling plays a huge role in being effective in a job search and in being successful in work situations.

]]>
Podcast 43: Can Manage Multiple Projects


People think that being a good multi-tasker, something research says is impossible, means you are able to manage multiple projects. Most employees need to be able to manage different projects at the same time, meeting deadlines and working with others, to be effective.


Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham dig into this important soft skills. Among the topics they discuss:


  • The difference between multi-tasking and managing multiple projects
  • Why we believe multi-tasking works
  • Technology’s role
  • Are we using our time more effectively?
  • How to get ahead of multiple projects
  • What to do when things are not being well managed
  • Why looking at the Big Picture too much hurts being able to manage multiple projects.
  • A real example of managing a project to ensure it can be managed with other projects
  • How computers switch better than humans
  • Blocking out your day to ensure projects are managed well
  • More tips for ensuring you can juggle multiple projects
  • The other soft skills incorporated into managing multiple projects
  • Addressing the fact that things may go wrong once in a while

 

Next week


We will be looking at the role of storytelling. While not a soft skill, storytelling plays a huge role in being effective in a job search and in being successful in work situations.

]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 42 Being Responsive]]> Wed, 25 Apr 2018 05:05:00 GMT 19:38 5adfb2f49da29d4b23f0c411 no full 42 <![CDATA[Podcast 41 Able To Escalate]]> Wed, 18 Apr 2018 05:00:00 GMT 14:42 5ad390a1aaae09363f6ecb06 no full 41 <![CDATA[Podcast 40: Being Mature]]> Wed, 11 Apr 2018 05:10:00 GMT 20:18 5ac540ea07a1710a52265b8b no full 40 <![CDATA[Podcast 39: Being Client Focused]]> Wed, 04 Apr 2018 05:04:00 GMT 17:21 5ac3ecee0e5abe48262ddbf2 no full 39 Being focused on the client, whoever that is — both internal and external to the organization — is a critical component of any successful business and a soft skill that we need to understand and incorporate into any business. 

Co-hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham explore client focus from two different perspectives — one looking at external customers and the other looking at internal customers. It's sure to help you better work with whatever clients you have, no matter what your business.

]]>
Being focused on the client, whoever that is — both internal and external to the organization — is a critical component of any successful business and a soft skill that we need to understand and incorporate into any business. 

Co-hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham explore client focus from two different perspectives — one looking at external customers and the other looking at internal customers. It's sure to help you better work with whatever clients you have, no matter what your business.

]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 38: Complying With Standards and How It Benefits Organizations]]> Wed, 28 Mar 2018 05:43:00 GMT 17:53 5abae6bbddec57cd3c6e1cc6 no full 38 Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham will tackle the soft skill of complying with standards. Sounds boring, right? Well, they’re going to make it interesting. We promise. 


Among the topics they will discuss this week are:

  • Why complying with standards is a soft skill
  • The difference between internal and external standards
  • Written and unwritten standards
  • How the subprime mortgage industry breaking key rules caused a financial collapse
  • When standards need to be challenged or questioned
  • How time can require the need to evaluate old standards
  • When to question standards
  • The expectations that organizations have about complying with standards
  • How organizational culture can help with complying with standards
]]>
Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham will tackle the soft skill of complying with standards. Sounds boring, right? Well, they’re going to make it interesting. We promise. 


Among the topics they will discuss this week are:

  • Why complying with standards is a soft skill
  • The difference between internal and external standards
  • Written and unwritten standards
  • How the subprime mortgage industry breaking key rules caused a financial collapse
  • When standards need to be challenged or questioned
  • How time can require the need to evaluate old standards
  • When to question standards
  • The expectations that organizations have about complying with standards
  • How organizational culture can help with complying with standards
]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 37: Details, Details, Details]]> Wed, 21 Mar 2018 05:15:00 GMT 18:33 5ab12e9fb5ca8014071e95b3 no full 37 Paying attention to details can help an individual, the team and the organization. Yet most of us struggle with this important soft skill. Learn why it matters and how to do it better in this episode of Serious Soft Skills.

Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham explore the many important benefits of paying attention to details.

Among the topics they cover:


  1. Who benefits from our attention to detail
  2. What happens when we don’t pay attention to details
  3. How to pay attention to details more effectively
  4. Eight hints for better paying attention to details


TRANSCRIPT OF EPISODE


Bob Graham: In this week's episode, we're going to talk about paying attention to detail. That's right. Paying attention to all that little stuff that sometimes drives us crazy with what matters and how to be better about it. All that and more, coming up in just a few seconds.


Welcome to Series Soft Skills. We're here to help you unleash the power of soft skills with Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham. We write books, conduct academic research and are working on vehicles like this podcast to help people better understand soft skills.


Can you set us up here?


Dr. Tobin Porterfield: I can, but I have to say the same thing is that we always talk about soft skills and how you need to develop a strategy to ensure when you're hiring into your team that you hire new people with soft skills that can fill gaps in your own soft skill list. Companies have failed miserably at this.


I'm sure we'll get some feedback from some of our listeners and folks who read our ebook and say, "Hey, you guys clearly are not experts in this detail thing because I see some errors here and there." It's humbling, 


We have some people in our circle who are very detail oriented and are able to help us with a lot of those gaps. But you and I can get so so engaged in the big picture and all, understanding the goal we're trying to reach, that some of the details can get lost and that can create a almost an embarrassing situation, where there's errors. If there's oversight and someone from the outside might looking go how can you even talk about this item or or provide this report and had made of you know this type of a mistake, it's clear that you don't know what you're doing and that's not always the case.


It's a a person who may be quite the expert in an area but failed to pay attention to detail. So I think there is hope for us and others who don't always catch all the details and I think we can cover some of those things and ways to combat that in this episode.


Graham: Just to be really clear at the beginning, paying attention to detail does not mean that there will not be mistakes. It just means that there are fewer mistakes. Every organization, every employee, every person is going to make mistakes and I think when I see we first started talking about the attention to detail with myself, I read it to be no mistakes, eliminate all mistakes. That's a popular misconception that we should probably just get out in the open. That's not what we're saying here.


What we're really saying, in my mind, is we're trying to minimize mistakes and minimize opportunities to make repeated mistakes. Does that sounds sort of logical to you?


Porterfield: I agree and I think there's the that parallel. I think it manifests itself in mistakes, but also it's that combination between the tactical and strategic. The strategic is the big picture. Somebody though needs the detailed plan of how we're going to get there so it's connecting those two things together. I often work with colleagues who clearly have the vision or have the direction of what we want to do, but they're lost in what details what would be required really to get that done. And if they attempted to do it themselves, I know that they would forget all of these steps. Will this person need to be contacted and you had to update this document and and so there are some important things that have to be done and it they can often be overlooked. I think that's part of the details they often say that old adage, the devil's in the details.


I think that's what they're referring to is that you really can fail to accomplish what you had set out to do because you weren't aware of all of the details, the the finer points of what had to be done in order to accomplish it . So you're talking about the steps in the process so a strategic person's thinking we want to accomplish acts to achieve the big goal.


Graham: There's gotta be someone, whether it's that person or someone else who's got to say A. B. C. D. E. F. G. in this sequence will lead us to that objective. Is that correct?


Porterfield: That's my view on it and and I agree with what you're saying also when it comes to making mistakes is also kind of fits well with that and like many soft skills, this also overlap some with the soft skill that we describe as project management skills because project management is all about combining that scope of what we're trying to accomplish and in making sure you've got an excusable plan to get there. This one of the kind of combines that and I think when we frame it as a soft skill, we are trying to remind people that it's everyone's responsibility to be aware that there are details and that they do need to be addressed. And how we address them, sometimes it's bringing someone alongside of you that can check things and make sure and run it past them. Sometimes, it's mapping out a vision and even bringing a group together, then mapping it out on the whiteboard to say this is what we're trying to get there. Hey don't forget we need to do this and and who's going to take it that means we quickly can figure out the path. 


It also brings up another one of our soft skills. We can delegate some of those activities to the appropriate person, who can manage. Some things we need more attention to detail for and some need less. We can determine when we need more and we can also see it as a differentiator among employees. 


Graham: Well, I have a situation that I actually have run into. I'm going to change it a little bit so it doesn't damage me, but this goes way back in my career. A manager receives a report on monthly statistics from an employee and that manager is pressed for time. The report needs to go up the ladder to her boss and her boss's boss so she doesn't check those numbers. She just passes them along without looking closely. Next thing you know, a few hours later, she finds out from one of her bosses that there was a really egregious mistake in there. 


We see this happening all the time and I know when it happened to me as the employee, it real eroded trust with my boss in the short term. She thinks, Bob, I count on you to do these things. Why wasn't this done correctly? 


We get to the idea of trust as you're building teams. If everyone's paying attention to detail, your team's going to probably flourish more so than when there's a constant need to go back and check work. Who wants to spend time figuring out if he did everything he said he was going to do.


The more we can spend our time as a team looking at the big picture, the better we can be. I agree and I love that team focus. If I had my team where I wanted them to be acting as a group, they would certainly start with a recognition of the importance of the details and that failure to address the details will result in not fully accomplishing or end up causing us a lot of additional work in the long run. So having a team that recognizes it and each addressing it in their own way means they are going to be more able and skilled at doing that than others. But everyone's recognition of it and then knowing that is key. As I put this together, before I send it around the entire group, I'm going to send it to one or two people to just double-check and see if I'm missing any major points.


So getting getting conscious of enough that they can solve problems and also rely on others to provide some feedback, it is finding the people the team that are some sort of backstop who can guard us from ourselves. 


Graham: That's really critical so in our case with you and me. You started keeping a list of what we agree to what our weekly meetings, which has really made me pay attention to detail because I can't forget it because it's on a sheet of paper that you email to me. So finding things like that is one strategy. 


But Toby we should probably take a break because I've got some other hints for how people can be a little better detail oriented.


Porterfield: Welcome back. We've been talking about details details details and how important they are to teams. Bob, we want to get kind of a more application oriented here. You have some helpful hints on not letting those details get past us.


Graham; I came up with a list from my own experience in talking to a couple of people. These are not any great order but they're sort of some of the things that when I'm on my game and paying attention to detail I'm following. The first one is keep a list. I know that sounds really elementary and many people say oh I can keep it in my head. I'm fine. But that's really easier said than done and I find one of the ways that help I can sleep at night, believe it or not, is to actually write a list of what I'm going to do the next day before I go to bed. If I don't have that list, I roll around in bed thinking about all the things I have to do because I know that paying attention to detail can be a challenge for me.


The second thing is create a schedule and stick to it. So if you check your email at 9:00 every morning, do that at 9:00 every morning you're gonna check your email and that's built to your schedule. And if you need to do something else -- exercise for me is one of those things -- I try to schedule it into my day to make sure that I do it because otherwise, it falls off that list. That's part of the attention to detail.


The next thing is probably the most foolish one and the most logical on at the same time. Avoid distractions. Now that is not the easiest thing for me and distractions come from things that are essential that you have to deal with. Someone comes and says we need to deal with this problem right now. But what I'm talking about is the distractions of listening to music or watching TV while you're working or goofing off with your friends when you really should be working. I find that when I make mistakes, it's often when I'm distracted by something out of the ordinary so closing my door and focusing on my work tends to help me with avoiding distractions and being more focused on details.


Another one that we deal with that has really come on the last 10-20 years is the idea we all think that we can multi-task, which is doing two things at one time. There's a great deal research now that says that's just impossible; you can only focus your mind on one thing at a time. So figure out what that focus is going to be, focus on that one thing, get it done and then move to the next thing.


I mentioned exercise. Believe it or not, there's research that shows that exercise will actually help build your concentration and your attention to detail so getting regular exercise gets the brain working and the synapses firing so that's real good and then conversely, believe it or not, it's good to take breaks. We tend not to be real effective when we work for long periods of time. The Perreto Rule is 25 minutes of hard work and then take a five minute break. You can look that up. 


Then the last one I would give, Toby, would be don't beat yourself up when you don't pay attention to details. I'm a perfectionist; every mistake I made is a major incident in my mind and I find that when I can get away from that just say you know what I made a mistake what and build a system to recover from that so when I do wrong, I try to find where the breakdown is and how to fix that breakdown. That's when I find that I'm actually more successful going forward and I think you told me you liked my list because you saw a preview. But you want to add one or two to it.


Porterfield: I want to add number eight because I knew this is where I get myself into trouble and it fits with some of things you're talking talking about. But let me get out a little more specific. For me, I really have to allow time for drafts and revisions and proofreading. I find that if I'm working on a two o'clock deadline I will have everything mapped out a be working and I always fall behind because there was a piece of data I needed. Then I have to go get it and sure enough I deliver the product at two o'clock as promised out in the email. And I immediately get a feat a response from someone saying I forgot to attach something or I forgot to change the date. If I had just finished it an hour earlier and sent it out to those couple people, asking them to take a look at it before I send it out, then everyone wouldn't see there's anything glaring that I'm overlooking. So I get so tied up to my deadlines and and people will probably say about me all yeah he always makes his deadlines, but if I pressed a little harder, they'll say a yeah there's so many times you know he needs to redo it. We find something in these to be fixed and and so I really have to map into my timeframe to include having time to send it out and allow that person whatever time they need to look at it and provide some additional input. So that goes into the scheduling and the avoiding distractions.


Graham: It sounds to me like your task might be remember time for revision and build that into your schedule.


I think we've given some people some helpful hints. We've put a face on one of the soft skills that people tend to overlook. Next week we're going to discuss another the soft skills complying with standards, which is when the people fear will be boring, but we're going to make it come to life. Until then, thanks for listening, good day and good soft skills.

]]>
Paying attention to details can help an individual, the team and the organization. Yet most of us struggle with this important soft skill. Learn why it matters and how to do it better in this episode of Serious Soft Skills.

Cohosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham explore the many important benefits of paying attention to details.

Among the topics they cover:


  1. Who benefits from our attention to detail
  2. What happens when we don’t pay attention to details
  3. How to pay attention to details more effectively
  4. Eight hints for better paying attention to details


TRANSCRIPT OF EPISODE


Bob Graham: In this week's episode, we're going to talk about paying attention to detail. That's right. Paying attention to all that little stuff that sometimes drives us crazy with what matters and how to be better about it. All that and more, coming up in just a few seconds.


Welcome to Series Soft Skills. We're here to help you unleash the power of soft skills with Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham. We write books, conduct academic research and are working on vehicles like this podcast to help people better understand soft skills.


Can you set us up here?


Dr. Tobin Porterfield: I can, but I have to say the same thing is that we always talk about soft skills and how you need to develop a strategy to ensure when you're hiring into your team that you hire new people with soft skills that can fill gaps in your own soft skill list. Companies have failed miserably at this.


I'm sure we'll get some feedback from some of our listeners and folks who read our ebook and say, "Hey, you guys clearly are not experts in this detail thing because I see some errors here and there." It's humbling, 


We have some people in our circle who are very detail oriented and are able to help us with a lot of those gaps. But you and I can get so so engaged in the big picture and all, understanding the goal we're trying to reach, that some of the details can get lost and that can create a almost an embarrassing situation, where there's errors. If there's oversight and someone from the outside might looking go how can you even talk about this item or or provide this report and had made of you know this type of a mistake, it's clear that you don't know what you're doing and that's not always the case.


It's a a person who may be quite the expert in an area but failed to pay attention to detail. So I think there is hope for us and others who don't always catch all the details and I think we can cover some of those things and ways to combat that in this episode.


Graham: Just to be really clear at the beginning, paying attention to detail does not mean that there will not be mistakes. It just means that there are fewer mistakes. Every organization, every employee, every person is going to make mistakes and I think when I see we first started talking about the attention to detail with myself, I read it to be no mistakes, eliminate all mistakes. That's a popular misconception that we should probably just get out in the open. That's not what we're saying here.


What we're really saying, in my mind, is we're trying to minimize mistakes and minimize opportunities to make repeated mistakes. Does that sounds sort of logical to you?


Porterfield: I agree and I think there's the that parallel. I think it manifests itself in mistakes, but also it's that combination between the tactical and strategic. The strategic is the big picture. Somebody though needs the detailed plan of how we're going to get there so it's connecting those two things together. I often work with colleagues who clearly have the vision or have the direction of what we want to do, but they're lost in what details what would be required really to get that done. And if they attempted to do it themselves, I know that they would forget all of these steps. Will this person need to be contacted and you had to update this document and and so there are some important things that have to be done and it they can often be overlooked. I think that's part of the details they often say that old adage, the devil's in the details.


I think that's what they're referring to is that you really can fail to accomplish what you had set out to do because you weren't aware of all of the details, the the finer points of what had to be done in order to accomplish it . So you're talking about the steps in the process so a strategic person's thinking we want to accomplish acts to achieve the big goal.


Graham: There's gotta be someone, whether it's that person or someone else who's got to say A. B. C. D. E. F. G. in this sequence will lead us to that objective. Is that correct?


Porterfield: That's my view on it and and I agree with what you're saying also when it comes to making mistakes is also kind of fits well with that and like many soft skills, this also overlap some with the soft skill that we describe as project management skills because project management is all about combining that scope of what we're trying to accomplish and in making sure you've got an excusable plan to get there. This one of the kind of combines that and I think when we frame it as a soft skill, we are trying to remind people that it's everyone's responsibility to be aware that there are details and that they do need to be addressed. And how we address them, sometimes it's bringing someone alongside of you that can check things and make sure and run it past them. Sometimes, it's mapping out a vision and even bringing a group together, then mapping it out on the whiteboard to say this is what we're trying to get there. Hey don't forget we need to do this and and who's going to take it that means we quickly can figure out the path. 


It also brings up another one of our soft skills. We can delegate some of those activities to the appropriate person, who can manage. Some things we need more attention to detail for and some need less. We can determine when we need more and we can also see it as a differentiator among employees. 


Graham: Well, I have a situation that I actually have run into. I'm going to change it a little bit so it doesn't damage me, but this goes way back in my career. A manager receives a report on monthly statistics from an employee and that manager is pressed for time. The report needs to go up the ladder to her boss and her boss's boss so she doesn't check those numbers. She just passes them along without looking closely. Next thing you know, a few hours later, she finds out from one of her bosses that there was a really egregious mistake in there. 


We see this happening all the time and I know when it happened to me as the employee, it real eroded trust with my boss in the short term. She thinks, Bob, I count on you to do these things. Why wasn't this done correctly? 


We get to the idea of trust as you're building teams. If everyone's paying attention to detail, your team's going to probably flourish more so than when there's a constant need to go back and check work. Who wants to spend time figuring out if he did everything he said he was going to do.


The more we can spend our time as a team looking at the big picture, the better we can be. I agree and I love that team focus. If I had my team where I wanted them to be acting as a group, they would certainly start with a recognition of the importance of the details and that failure to address the details will result in not fully accomplishing or end up causing us a lot of additional work in the long run. So having a team that recognizes it and each addressing it in their own way means they are going to be more able and skilled at doing that than others. But everyone's recognition of it and then knowing that is key. As I put this together, before I send it around the entire group, I'm going to send it to one or two people to just double-check and see if I'm missing any major points.


So getting getting conscious of enough that they can solve problems and also rely on others to provide some feedback, it is finding the people the team that are some sort of backstop who can guard us from ourselves. 


Graham: That's really critical so in our case with you and me. You started keeping a list of what we agree to what our weekly meetings, which has really made me pay attention to detail because I can't forget it because it's on a sheet of paper that you email to me. So finding things like that is one strategy. 


But Toby we should probably take a break because I've got some other hints for how people can be a little better detail oriented.


Porterfield: Welcome back. We've been talking about details details details and how important they are to teams. Bob, we want to get kind of a more application oriented here. You have some helpful hints on not letting those details get past us.


Graham; I came up with a list from my own experience in talking to a couple of people. These are not any great order but they're sort of some of the things that when I'm on my game and paying attention to detail I'm following. The first one is keep a list. I know that sounds really elementary and many people say oh I can keep it in my head. I'm fine. But that's really easier said than done and I find one of the ways that help I can sleep at night, believe it or not, is to actually write a list of what I'm going to do the next day before I go to bed. If I don't have that list, I roll around in bed thinking about all the things I have to do because I know that paying attention to detail can be a challenge for me.


The second thing is create a schedule and stick to it. So if you check your email at 9:00 every morning, do that at 9:00 every morning you're gonna check your email and that's built to your schedule. And if you need to do something else -- exercise for me is one of those things -- I try to schedule it into my day to make sure that I do it because otherwise, it falls off that list. That's part of the attention to detail.


The next thing is probably the most foolish one and the most logical on at the same time. Avoid distractions. Now that is not the easiest thing for me and distractions come from things that are essential that you have to deal with. Someone comes and says we need to deal with this problem right now. But what I'm talking about is the distractions of listening to music or watching TV while you're working or goofing off with your friends when you really should be working. I find that when I make mistakes, it's often when I'm distracted by something out of the ordinary so closing my door and focusing on my work tends to help me with avoiding distractions and being more focused on details.


Another one that we deal with that has really come on the last 10-20 years is the idea we all think that we can multi-task, which is doing two things at one time. There's a great deal research now that says that's just impossible; you can only focus your mind on one thing at a time. So figure out what that focus is going to be, focus on that one thing, get it done and then move to the next thing.


I mentioned exercise. Believe it or not, there's research that shows that exercise will actually help build your concentration and your attention to detail so getting regular exercise gets the brain working and the synapses firing so that's real good and then conversely, believe it or not, it's good to take breaks. We tend not to be real effective when we work for long periods of time. The Perreto Rule is 25 minutes of hard work and then take a five minute break. You can look that up. 


Then the last one I would give, Toby, would be don't beat yourself up when you don't pay attention to details. I'm a perfectionist; every mistake I made is a major incident in my mind and I find that when I can get away from that just say you know what I made a mistake what and build a system to recover from that so when I do wrong, I try to find where the breakdown is and how to fix that breakdown. That's when I find that I'm actually more successful going forward and I think you told me you liked my list because you saw a preview. But you want to add one or two to it.


Porterfield: I want to add number eight because I knew this is where I get myself into trouble and it fits with some of things you're talking talking about. But let me get out a little more specific. For me, I really have to allow time for drafts and revisions and proofreading. I find that if I'm working on a two o'clock deadline I will have everything mapped out a be working and I always fall behind because there was a piece of data I needed. Then I have to go get it and sure enough I deliver the product at two o'clock as promised out in the email. And I immediately get a feat a response from someone saying I forgot to attach something or I forgot to change the date. If I had just finished it an hour earlier and sent it out to those couple people, asking them to take a look at it before I send it out, then everyone wouldn't see there's anything glaring that I'm overlooking. So I get so tied up to my deadlines and and people will probably say about me all yeah he always makes his deadlines, but if I pressed a little harder, they'll say a yeah there's so many times you know he needs to redo it. We find something in these to be fixed and and so I really have to map into my timeframe to include having time to send it out and allow that person whatever time they need to look at it and provide some additional input. So that goes into the scheduling and the avoiding distractions.


Graham: It sounds to me like your task might be remember time for revision and build that into your schedule.


I think we've given some people some helpful hints. We've put a face on one of the soft skills that people tend to overlook. Next week we're going to discuss another the soft skills complying with standards, which is when the people fear will be boring, but we're going to make it come to life. Until then, thanks for listening, good day and good soft skills.

]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 36: How Setting Goals, Prioritizing Sets Up Individual, Team Success]]> Wed, 14 Mar 2018 05:36:08 GMT 18:17 no talk about setting goals and prioritizing, which together make an important soft skills for managers, leaders and any employee.

Setting goals, as in organizing and prioritizing your work, is critical for team success. To make sure everyone is working toward the same overall goal, we need to assign tasks. Those tasks have to be completed on time or else others will be waiting.

Among the topics they address:

  • Examples of where setting goals and prioritizing are critical to achieving results.
  • How most of us have deadlines each day, week or month.
  • Why these goals have to be in sync
  • Tips for setting goals
  • Being SMART

We can set our own priorities in a day, evaluating what needs to be done, what others might need from us, what we need from others. The best employees are updating their priorities as situations change throughout the day. They don’t write a list in pen, but rather in pencil, with an eraser.

Good leaders and managers set realistic priorities and goals for their staff, ideally with their consent and buy-in. Rather than telling people what to do, they work with people to align personal and organizational goals to be the same. This shared vision can be powerful, especially when things go wrong. And they will.

No matter how much we prioritize, things go wrong. How we deal with it — by readjusting — can make or break us and our organizations.]]> talk about setting goals and prioritizing, which together make an important soft skills for managers, leaders and any employee.

Setting goals, as in organizing and prioritizing your work, is critical for team success. To make sure everyone is working toward the same overall goal, we need to assign tasks. Those tasks have to be completed on time or else others will be waiting.

Among the topics they address:

  • Examples of where setting goals and prioritizing are critical to achieving results.
  • How most of us have deadlines each day, week or month.
  • Why these goals have to be in sync
  • Tips for setting goals
  • Being SMART

We can set our own priorities in a day, evaluating what needs to be done, what others might need from us, what we need from others. The best employees are updating their priorities as situations change throughout the day. They don’t write a list in pen, but rather in pencil, with an eraser.

Good leaders and managers set realistic priorities and goals for their staff, ideally with their consent and buy-in. Rather than telling people what to do, they work with people to align personal and organizational goals to be the same. This shared vision can be powerful, especially when things go wrong. And they will.

No matter how much we prioritize, things go wrong. How we deal with it — by readjusting — can make or break us and our organizations.]]> <![CDATA[Podcast 35: More Questions like How Come Few People are Discussing Soft Skills?]]> Wed, 07 Mar 2018 06:41:51 GMT 16:31 no

Responding to listeners questions the co-hosts explain why people don’t talk much about soft skills and how often we call on our soft skills, often without even being aware of it.

Co-hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham answer questions about soft skills from some of their listeners in this episode.

Among the topics they discuss:

  • How soft skills tend to be overlooked
  • Why people fail to recognize the role of soft skills
  • How combining soft skills with technical skills makes employees and organizations better

Don’t miss our free ebook offer for our ebook, The 55 Soft Skills that Guide Employee and Organizational Success, using a special coupon code that we mention in the middle of this episode.

Next Week

We will be exploring the soft skill of adapting to change and prioritizing and how it helps people be more successful in their jobs.

]]>

Responding to listeners questions the co-hosts explain why people don’t talk much about soft skills and how often we call on our soft skills, often without even being aware of it.

Co-hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham answer questions about soft skills from some of their listeners in this episode.

Among the topics they discuss:

  • How soft skills tend to be overlooked
  • Why people fail to recognize the role of soft skills
  • How combining soft skills with technical skills makes employees and organizations better

Don’t miss our free ebook offer for our ebook, The 55 Soft Skills that Guide Employee and Organizational Success, using a special coupon code that we mention in the middle of this episode.

Next Week

We will be exploring the soft skill of adapting to change and prioritizing and how it helps people be more successful in their jobs.

]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 34: Enthusiasm Is an Overlooked Soft Skill That’s Infectious]]> Wed, 28 Feb 2018 06:51:00 GMT 18:32 no

Enthusiasm is not just a soft skills; it’s an attitude, a choice we make that is often heavily influenced by our workplace culture, but more importantly, success. We’ll discuss how and why enthusiasm is important in every workplace.

Co-hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss the following:

  • The value of enthusiasm and why it’s a soft skill
  • The Fake It Till You Make It reality
  • Enthusiasm is a form of professionalism
  • How optimism fuels enthusiasm
  • Tips for how to look enthusiastic, even when you aren’t
  • Why enthusiasm is infectious and how the opposite is cancerous
  • How team members can help a person who lacks enthusiasm
  • Winston Churchill’s view of enthusiasm and its effect on success
  • Why managers and leaders have to bring the enthusiasm
  • Where journaling and daily reflection can help you retain the enthusiasm
  • Making sure failures don;’t pile up
  • Portraying things to encourage enthusiasm
  • Avoiding manufactured enthusiasm

Next week

We will answer more questions from our listeners on soft skills in their workplace.

]]>

Enthusiasm is not just a soft skills; it’s an attitude, a choice we make that is often heavily influenced by our workplace culture, but more importantly, success. We’ll discuss how and why enthusiasm is important in every workplace.

Co-hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss the following:

  • The value of enthusiasm and why it’s a soft skill
  • The Fake It Till You Make It reality
  • Enthusiasm is a form of professionalism
  • How optimism fuels enthusiasm
  • Tips for how to look enthusiastic, even when you aren’t
  • Why enthusiasm is infectious and how the opposite is cancerous
  • How team members can help a person who lacks enthusiasm
  • Winston Churchill’s view of enthusiasm and its effect on success
  • Why managers and leaders have to bring the enthusiasm
  • Where journaling and daily reflection can help you retain the enthusiasm
  • Making sure failures don;’t pile up
  • Portraying things to encourage enthusiasm
  • Avoiding manufactured enthusiasm

Next week

We will answer more questions from our listeners on soft skills in their workplace.

]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 33: Becoming a Networking Ninja Using Your Soft Skills, Part 2]]> Wed, 21 Feb 2018 06:26:04 GMT 20:22 no

More than four-in-five jobs come from connections, making networking a critical piece of any job search or path toward promotion. And at its core, any kind of networking calls on our soft skills.

Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss:

  • Why focusing on the perfect customer during networking can ruin any event
  • How every contact you make could be a vitally important one someday
  • How networking differs from speed dating
  • Building value through networking is the name of the game
  • Some examples of good and bad networking
  • How natural discussion can do more for networking than anything contrived.
  • Opening doors to discovery
  • The serendipity of networking
  • How you can’t make a customer from networking
  • The art of graceful exits from discussions and how to do it without seeming like a jerk
  • The do’s and don’ts of networking
  • Bob’s Three-Card Rule
  • Toby’s rules for giving out business cards
  • Methods to manage any followup
  • The Rule of Threes

Next week

We’ll explore the soft skill of enthusiasm and how it makes a major contribution to any business.

]]>

More than four-in-five jobs come from connections, making networking a critical piece of any job search or path toward promotion. And at its core, any kind of networking calls on our soft skills.

Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss:

  • Why focusing on the perfect customer during networking can ruin any event
  • How every contact you make could be a vitally important one someday
  • How networking differs from speed dating
  • Building value through networking is the name of the game
  • Some examples of good and bad networking
  • How natural discussion can do more for networking than anything contrived.
  • Opening doors to discovery
  • The serendipity of networking
  • How you can’t make a customer from networking
  • The art of graceful exits from discussions and how to do it without seeming like a jerk
  • The do’s and don’ts of networking
  • Bob’s Three-Card Rule
  • Toby’s rules for giving out business cards
  • Methods to manage any followup
  • The Rule of Threes

Next week

We’ll explore the soft skill of enthusiasm and how it makes a major contribution to any business.

]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 32: Becoming a Networking Ninja by Relying on Your Soft Skills, Part 1]]> Wed, 14 Feb 2018 06:02:26 GMT 24:22 no

Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham explain how to become more effective as a networker, what soft skills you should be applying and how you can overcome your fears and reluctance to make connections that can enhance your career.

 

LinkedIn.com in 2016 found that 85% of all jobs come from networking. Therefore, our ability to be successful at formal and informal networking can play a huge role in our career enhancement and opportunities.

Among the topics they discuss are:

  • How to approach networking
  • Networking for introverts or reluctant networkers
  • Negotiating your way through formal networking events
  • Ways to win at informal networking events
  • Networking as a means of building trust, which can may lead to business
  • What your network can do for you and others in your network
  • How networking can help you better understand your customers
  • Taking advantage of opportunities that come through networking
  • Getting ready to be successful at networking
  • The soft skills that underpin successful networking
  • Why “I can help you” won’t work
  • The wingman approach to networking
  • Six things help you to gain trust in seconds

Order our book, The 55 Soft Skills that Guide Employee and Organizational Success, from http://serioussoftskills.com. Use the coupon code “six weeks” to save 50% on the price. But act before the coupon code expires.

Next week

We will dig deeper into becoming a Networking Ninja by playing through some typical scenarios that face people who are networking like how to end a discussion without upsetting anyone.

]]>

Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham explain how to become more effective as a networker, what soft skills you should be applying and how you can overcome your fears and reluctance to make connections that can enhance your career.

 

LinkedIn.com in 2016 found that 85% of all jobs come from networking. Therefore, our ability to be successful at formal and informal networking can play a huge role in our career enhancement and opportunities.

Among the topics they discuss are:

  • How to approach networking
  • Networking for introverts or reluctant networkers
  • Negotiating your way through formal networking events
  • Ways to win at informal networking events
  • Networking as a means of building trust, which can may lead to business
  • What your network can do for you and others in your network
  • How networking can help you better understand your customers
  • Taking advantage of opportunities that come through networking
  • Getting ready to be successful at networking
  • The soft skills that underpin successful networking
  • Why “I can help you” won’t work
  • The wingman approach to networking
  • Six things help you to gain trust in seconds

Order our book, The 55 Soft Skills that Guide Employee and Organizational Success, from http://serioussoftskills.com. Use the coupon code “six weeks” to save 50% on the price. But act before the coupon code expires.

Next week

We will dig deeper into becoming a Networking Ninja by playing through some typical scenarios that face people who are networking like how to end a discussion without upsetting anyone.

]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 31: Helping Applicants Use Soft Skills to Make Hiring Decisions Easier]]> Wed, 07 Feb 2018 06:17:18 GMT 14:47 no

This is the last week of our Six Weeks of Serious Soft Skills Strategy and this week we look at a specific job posting and talk about how the employer could have better integrated soft skills into the job posting, valuable information for employers and job seekers.

In this week’s episode, Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss various aspects of integrating soft skills into a job announcement.

Among the topics they discuss are:

  • Getting soft skills into the competencies and qualifications an employee needs
  • How to combine soft skills into one bullet in an employment announcement
  • Taking what’s in the job add and adding a story about your soft skills
  • Talking about a situation that covers lots of soft skills in the cover letter
  • Why a story is worth a thousand promises of what we can do
  • Using an employment advertisement to set good candidates up to succeed
  • How to show growth, not experience, at a job
  • How applicants can read between the lines of a job posting
  • Being a rock versus a rock star
  • Using soft skills to develop the fiber of your organization

Next week

We start the first of two weeks of how to become a Networking Ninja. Networking is an important career skill, encompassing many soft skills. We’ll break it down and give you some real good hints for networking effectively, even if you are an introvert.

]]>

This is the last week of our Six Weeks of Serious Soft Skills Strategy and this week we look at a specific job posting and talk about how the employer could have better integrated soft skills into the job posting, valuable information for employers and job seekers.

In this week’s episode, Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss various aspects of integrating soft skills into a job announcement.

Among the topics they discuss are:

  • Getting soft skills into the competencies and qualifications an employee needs
  • How to combine soft skills into one bullet in an employment announcement
  • Taking what’s in the job add and adding a story about your soft skills
  • Talking about a situation that covers lots of soft skills in the cover letter
  • Why a story is worth a thousand promises of what we can do
  • Using an employment advertisement to set good candidates up to succeed
  • How to show growth, not experience, at a job
  • How applicants can read between the lines of a job posting
  • Being a rock versus a rock star
  • Using soft skills to develop the fiber of your organization

Next week

We start the first of two weeks of how to become a Networking Ninja. Networking is an important career skill, encompassing many soft skills. We’ll break it down and give you some real good hints for networking effectively, even if you are an introvert.

]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 30: Leveraging Soft Skills to Hire Better Employees]]> Wed, 31 Jan 2018 06:20:04 GMT 21:22 no

In Week 5 of our Six Weeks of Serious Soft Skills Strategy, we look at how to implement soft skills into the hiring process, which will provide valuable insights into the process for hiring managers and job applicants.

 

Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham, co-hosts of the Serious Soft Skills Podcast, cover the following topics:

  • Avoiding the trap of only looking at technical skills
  • Evaluating applicants’ functional skills along with soft skills
  • How applicants can articulate how they can blend soft skills with technical skills are the gold standard
  • How the best applicants can explain how they transfer technical information into actionable skills in the workplace
  • Why open-ended questions encourage good applicants to talk about their soft skills
  • How standard questions can help compare candidates and specific soft skills you are seeking
  • Gearing questions around soft skills
  • Why it might help to provide foundational questions in advance of an interview
  • Why checking of qualifications is not the best way to interview
  • Asking “how” questions
  • What are the best methods for evaluating technical skills outside of the interview
  • Proven tips for conducting a good interview for you and your interviewee

Next Week

In Week 6, our final week of our Six Weeks of Serious Soft Skills Strategy, we will dig deeper into how to integrate soft skills into the hiring process so employers can find better-fitting candidates who can help their organizations grow.

]]>

In Week 5 of our Six Weeks of Serious Soft Skills Strategy, we look at how to implement soft skills into the hiring process, which will provide valuable insights into the process for hiring managers and job applicants.

 

Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham, co-hosts of the Serious Soft Skills Podcast, cover the following topics:

  • Avoiding the trap of only looking at technical skills
  • Evaluating applicants’ functional skills along with soft skills
  • How applicants can articulate how they can blend soft skills with technical skills are the gold standard
  • How the best applicants can explain how they transfer technical information into actionable skills in the workplace
  • Why open-ended questions encourage good applicants to talk about their soft skills
  • How standard questions can help compare candidates and specific soft skills you are seeking
  • Gearing questions around soft skills
  • Why it might help to provide foundational questions in advance of an interview
  • Why checking of qualifications is not the best way to interview
  • Asking “how” questions
  • What are the best methods for evaluating technical skills outside of the interview
  • Proven tips for conducting a good interview for you and your interviewee

Next Week

In Week 6, our final week of our Six Weeks of Serious Soft Skills Strategy, we will dig deeper into how to integrate soft skills into the hiring process so employers can find better-fitting candidates who can help their organizations grow.

]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 29: Highlighting Your Soft Skills to Nail Every Interview]]> Wed, 24 Jan 2018 06:47:44 GMT 24:09 no

It’s Week 4 of the Six Weeks of Serious Soft Skills Strategy, where we will be looking at how to incorporate soft skills into a job interview. Armed with this ability, you will zoom to the top of every job search list.

In Episode 29 of the Serious Soft Skills Podcast, Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham continue to put soft skills to work for you in your quest to obtain a better job or a promotion. This week, we're going to talk through how to use soft skills as an interviewee.

Among the topics covered:

  • Soft skills are best conveyed in storytelling, which is a soft skill.
  • Rather than reciting facts, give context.
  • Show passion, show initiative, show you did more than what was required.
  • Why you want to be sticky to the interviewer
  • How long an anecdote or story should be
  • Dealing with open-ended questions
  • Highlighting your transferrable skills
  • How you want to be remembered by the employer or search committee
  • How to take control of the interview and make sure you get to explain your soft skills
  • Dealing with behavioral questions
  • What you need to do in advance to be ready to integrate soft skills into an interview
  • Why you should take EVERY interview offered

Next week

Next week we will be starting the last part of our Six Weeks of Soft Skills Strategy. For the next two weeks, we will look at the soft skills and interviewing from the employer's perspective. Not only will this help people looking to hire, but potential interviewees will obtain even more insights into how to integrate soft skills into their job search. Coming up next week on the Serious Soft Skills Podcast.

And don't forget to download your copy of our ebook, The 55 Soft Skills that Guide Employee and Organizational Success, with the coupon code “sixweeks” to get it for free. Until next time, good day, thanks for listening, and of course, good soft skills.

]]>

It’s Week 4 of the Six Weeks of Serious Soft Skills Strategy, where we will be looking at how to incorporate soft skills into a job interview. Armed with this ability, you will zoom to the top of every job search list.

In Episode 29 of the Serious Soft Skills Podcast, Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham continue to put soft skills to work for you in your quest to obtain a better job or a promotion. This week, we're going to talk through how to use soft skills as an interviewee.

Among the topics covered:

  • Soft skills are best conveyed in storytelling, which is a soft skill.
  • Rather than reciting facts, give context.
  • Show passion, show initiative, show you did more than what was required.
  • Why you want to be sticky to the interviewer
  • How long an anecdote or story should be
  • Dealing with open-ended questions
  • Highlighting your transferrable skills
  • How you want to be remembered by the employer or search committee
  • How to take control of the interview and make sure you get to explain your soft skills
  • Dealing with behavioral questions
  • What you need to do in advance to be ready to integrate soft skills into an interview
  • Why you should take EVERY interview offered

Next week

Next week we will be starting the last part of our Six Weeks of Soft Skills Strategy. For the next two weeks, we will look at the soft skills and interviewing from the employer's perspective. Not only will this help people looking to hire, but potential interviewees will obtain even more insights into how to integrate soft skills into their job search. Coming up next week on the Serious Soft Skills Podcast.

And don't forget to download your copy of our ebook, The 55 Soft Skills that Guide Employee and Organizational Success, with the coupon code “sixweeks” to get it for free. Until next time, good day, thanks for listening, and of course, good soft skills.

]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 28: Using Soft Skills to Get Your Cover Letter and Resume Noticed]]> Wed, 17 Jan 2018 06:10:59 GMT 23:22 no

Soft skills can hold important role in getting noticed in a job search, especially when integrated into your cover letter and resume. We'll discuss how to get that notice by beefing up your soft skills in these materials.

As employers and organizations look more at soft skills, applicants need to articulate their soft skills in the cover letter and even the resume. So in Week 3 of the Six Weeks of Serious Soft Skills Strategy, Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss a number of strategies for integrating soft skills into resumes and cover letters.

Don’t forget, you can still get your own copy of our ebook, The 55 Soft Skills that Guide Employee and Organizational Success, for free, using the coupon code “six weeks” at http://serioussoftskills.com/resources/the-55-soft-skills-that-guide-employee-and-organizational-success/

Among the topics they address in this episode are:

  • Why we approach cover letters all wrong
  • Helping employers include you, not exclude you, from the interview list
  • Why finding a passion match matters and where it goes in the cover letter
  • Putting you as a person in the process
  • How to connect the dot for the employer in your cover letter
  • An example with a manager’s cover letter
  • A great word to include in your cover letter
  • How repetition helps you score points with employers
  • How specificity in what you are looking for in a job helps not just you, but your circle of friends and family
  • Making sure your resume is quantified
  • Matching your soft skills to the job specifications and the unwritten components of the job
  • Blending the tools you use and they mention with your soft skills
  • Why being concise, using strong verbs and documenting outcomes helps employers
  • How storytelling fits in
  • Key tips for resumes that will make your resume zoom to the top of the pile

Next Week

We will be in Week 4 of the Six Weeks of Serious Soft Skills Strategy, where we look at how to put soft skills to work to help employers see your value in the interview process.

]]>

Soft skills can hold important role in getting noticed in a job search, especially when integrated into your cover letter and resume. We'll discuss how to get that notice by beefing up your soft skills in these materials.

As employers and organizations look more at soft skills, applicants need to articulate their soft skills in the cover letter and even the resume. So in Week 3 of the Six Weeks of Serious Soft Skills Strategy, Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss a number of strategies for integrating soft skills into resumes and cover letters.

Don’t forget, you can still get your own copy of our ebook, The 55 Soft Skills that Guide Employee and Organizational Success, for free, using the coupon code “six weeks” at http://serioussoftskills.com/resources/the-55-soft-skills-that-guide-employee-and-organizational-success/

Among the topics they address in this episode are:

  • Why we approach cover letters all wrong
  • Helping employers include you, not exclude you, from the interview list
  • Why finding a passion match matters and where it goes in the cover letter
  • Putting you as a person in the process
  • How to connect the dot for the employer in your cover letter
  • An example with a manager’s cover letter
  • A great word to include in your cover letter
  • How repetition helps you score points with employers
  • How specificity in what you are looking for in a job helps not just you, but your circle of friends and family
  • Making sure your resume is quantified
  • Matching your soft skills to the job specifications and the unwritten components of the job
  • Blending the tools you use and they mention with your soft skills
  • Why being concise, using strong verbs and documenting outcomes helps employers
  • How storytelling fits in
  • Key tips for resumes that will make your resume zoom to the top of the pile

Next Week

We will be in Week 4 of the Six Weeks of Serious Soft Skills Strategy, where we look at how to put soft skills to work to help employers see your value in the interview process.

]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 27: Using Soft Skills Effectively in Your Job Search]]> Wed, 10 Jan 2018 06:59:56 GMT 17:50 no

In the second week of the Six Weeks of Serious Soft Skills Strategy, Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham talk about integrating soft skills into cover letters and resumes.

 

Most employers continue to focus on technical skills, which are critical in their hiring decisions. But applicants who look for matches and exploit those matches can position themselves ahead of other candidates and show employers why they are perfect for a position.

Among the topics they discuss in this episode are:

  • Why job searches usually mean short staffing when they need to make the right choice when short-staffed
  • How to make an employer see how you fit into an organization
  • Understanding a company and how to be a perfect match
  • Storytelling and being “sticky” in the process
  • The categorization effect on hiring
  • How to cut through the stack of resumes
  • Why employers are looking to eliminate applicants
  • The difference between job qualifiers and job winners
  • A practical application of what we are discussing with an actual job posting
    How storytelling is key to getting interviews, especially if you are age 40 and above

Next Week

Week 3 of Six Weeks of Serious Soft Skills Strategy will explore how to integrate soft skills into cover letters and resumes to improve your chances of getting a job interview.

]]>

In the second week of the Six Weeks of Serious Soft Skills Strategy, Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham talk about integrating soft skills into cover letters and resumes.

 

Most employers continue to focus on technical skills, which are critical in their hiring decisions. But applicants who look for matches and exploit those matches can position themselves ahead of other candidates and show employers why they are perfect for a position.

Among the topics they discuss in this episode are:

  • Why job searches usually mean short staffing when they need to make the right choice when short-staffed
  • How to make an employer see how you fit into an organization
  • Understanding a company and how to be a perfect match
  • Storytelling and being “sticky” in the process
  • The categorization effect on hiring
  • How to cut through the stack of resumes
  • Why employers are looking to eliminate applicants
  • The difference between job qualifiers and job winners
  • A practical application of what we are discussing with an actual job posting
    How storytelling is key to getting interviews, especially if you are age 40 and above

Next Week

Week 3 of Six Weeks of Serious Soft Skills Strategy will explore how to integrate soft skills into cover letters and resumes to improve your chances of getting a job interview.

]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 26: The 55 Soft Skills Book Launch Starts Six Weeks of Serious Soft Skills Strategy]]> Wed, 03 Jan 2018 16:29:09 GMT 15:32 no



To launch the Six Weeks of Serious Soft Skills Strategy, Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss their new book, The 55 Soft Skills that Guide Employee and Organizational Success, its origins and how it will help every employee and leader be more effective this year.
Hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham have released a new ebook, The 55 Soft Skills that Guide Employee and Organizational Success, that offers the first comprehensive look at the 55 soft skills they have uncovered through their research of academic research and business.
The hosts also offer a special code to make the $4.99 ebook purchase free. Listen to uncover the discount code.
Get our new ebook, The 55 Soft Skills that Guide Employee and Organizational Success, at http://serioussoftskills.com/resources/the-55-soft-skills-that-guide-employee-and-organizational-success/ Use the coupon code “sixweeks” to get the ebook for free.
In this episode, they also discuss:

Their Six Weeks of Serious Soft Skills Strategy, where they will share specific ways to use the 55 soft skills they have uncovered to improve your career and your organization’s success this year and beyond
Why they wrote The 55 Soft Skills that Guide Employee and Organizational Success
Who can benefit from reading the ebook
How to obtain a free copy of the ebook
How to leverage the 55 soft skills contained in the ebook to improve your career
Where the 55 soft skills can help organizations grow and innovate

Next week
A discussion of how the 55 soft skills addressed in The 55 Soft Skills that Guide Employee and Organizational Success can boost your success in a job search.
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To launch the Six Weeks of Serious Soft Skills Strategy, Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss their new book, The 55 Soft Skills that Guide Employee and Organizational Success, its origins and how it will help every employee and leader be more effective this year.
Hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham have released a new ebook, The 55 Soft Skills that Guide Employee and Organizational Success, that offers the first comprehensive look at the 55 soft skills they have uncovered through their research of academic research and business.
The hosts also offer a special code to make the $4.99 ebook purchase free. Listen to uncover the discount code.
Get our new ebook, The 55 Soft Skills that Guide Employee and Organizational Success, at http://serioussoftskills.com/resources/the-55-soft-skills-that-guide-employee-and-organizational-success/ Use the coupon code “sixweeks” to get the ebook for free.
In this episode, they also discuss:

Their Six Weeks of Serious Soft Skills Strategy, where they will share specific ways to use the 55 soft skills they have uncovered to improve your career and your organization’s success this year and beyond
Why they wrote The 55 Soft Skills that Guide Employee and Organizational Success
Who can benefit from reading the ebook
How to obtain a free copy of the ebook
How to leverage the 55 soft skills contained in the ebook to improve your career
Where the 55 soft skills can help organizations grow and innovate

Next week
A discussion of how the 55 soft skills addressed in The 55 Soft Skills that Guide Employee and Organizational Success can boost your success in a job search.
#text_c51ea01adf2ef5cbf41aa44ae3cfa1aa_58 { margin-top: 0px;margin-bottom: 0px;}#text_c51ea01adf2ef5cbf41aa44ae3cfa1aa_58 p { color: #626B75;font-size: 16.5px;}




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<![CDATA[Podcast 25: Is Soft Skills the Right Name for These Critical Employee Skills?]]> Wed, 27 Dec 2017 06:51:53 GMT 16:59 no



A discussion of the pros and cons of the name “soft skills” and whether other names are better and avoid relegating them to second-class status in the workplace.
 
Hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham explore the name “soft skills” and if it’s a good moniker for all of the skills employees and organizations use in combination with technical skills.
Among the topics they discuss:

Why some people think soft skills is derogatory and minimizes the role these skills play in the workplace, job hunts and other aspects of work
The roots of the name “soft skills” and why those roots may make it the right name
What “hard skills” are and how they have evolved
Using the language that fits the culture you are working with
Should soft skills be called non-technical skills, professional skills, communication skills, critical skills, emotional intelligence
The complexity of soft skills doesn’t match the name
The subjective nature of soft skills and how that further complicates naming them
Technical skills alone don’t serve us
* Blending technical skills and soft skills make the difference in all workplaces

Contact us at podcast@SeriousSoftSkills.com or tweet us at @RealSoftSkills if you have an idea for a better name
Next Week
We start our Six Weeks of Serious Soft Skills Strategy. Just in time for the new year, we provide employees at all levels with the strategies to put their soft skills forth when looking for a new job — or looking for the right new hire.
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A discussion of the pros and cons of the name “soft skills” and whether other names are better and avoid relegating them to second-class status in the workplace.
 
Hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham explore the name “soft skills” and if it’s a good moniker for all of the skills employees and organizations use in combination with technical skills.
Among the topics they discuss:

Why some people think soft skills is derogatory and minimizes the role these skills play in the workplace, job hunts and other aspects of work
The roots of the name “soft skills” and why those roots may make it the right name
What “hard skills” are and how they have evolved
Using the language that fits the culture you are working with
Should soft skills be called non-technical skills, professional skills, communication skills, critical skills, emotional intelligence
The complexity of soft skills doesn’t match the name
The subjective nature of soft skills and how that further complicates naming them
Technical skills alone don’t serve us
* Blending technical skills and soft skills make the difference in all workplaces

Contact us at podcast@SeriousSoftSkills.com or tweet us at @RealSoftSkills if you have an idea for a better name
Next Week
We start our Six Weeks of Serious Soft Skills Strategy. Just in time for the new year, we provide employees at all levels with the strategies to put their soft skills forth when looking for a new job — or looking for the right new hire.
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<![CDATA[Podcast 24: Why Good Writers Are Their Readers’ Advocate]]> Wed, 20 Dec 2017 14:35:53 GMT 20:08 no



Written communication is an important skill, for it is often our first — and potentially — lasting impression of a person. We’ll discuss good writing and give tips for how to write better.
 
Hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham talk about the important soft skill of written communication in this episode. Among the topics they cover are:

How our writing is often where people first encounter us
Why writing conveys what’s inside our minds
Writing tells us about how someone sees the world, sees his or her role in the world and what he wants to accomplish.
Understanding audience and its role in writing well
How writing in our own language may not be the best way to write
The writer’s role as a “reader’s advocate” and taking the reader’s perspective on your writing
Putting actions steps early in writing
Good writing encourages reader action
How writers inadvertently discourage their readers
Why the pile of emails to get to exists and why it’s the email writer’s fault
The 3-sentence and 4-sentence email pledge
How getting away from typewriters has spawned worse writing
The deadly action of Reply All and what it says to your reader
Respecting and using your awareness of your audience to improve your writing
No matter where you are in your writing life, a list of easy ways to dramatically improve your writing today
The value of spell checkers and grammar checkers
Why big words might not be your writing friend
Why great words should not be overused
How verbs really do drive sentences
Self-editing and outside editing help
An easy, fun way to edit your writing
The financial equivalent of wasted words in your writing
Tips for helping readers find key information
Making your writing “sticky”
How subject lines and file names can help the recipient of your communication
The number one worst thing to do with email

Next Week
We’ll be looking at another soft skill on our list of 55 soft skills. Email us at podcast
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Written communication is an important skill, for it is often our first — and potentially — lasting impression of a person. We’ll discuss good writing and give tips for how to write better.
 
Hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham talk about the important soft skill of written communication in this episode. Among the topics they cover are:

How our writing is often where people first encounter us
Why writing conveys what’s inside our minds
Writing tells us about how someone sees the world, sees his or her role in the world and what he wants to accomplish.
Understanding audience and its role in writing well
How writing in our own language may not be the best way to write
The writer’s role as a “reader’s advocate” and taking the reader’s perspective on your writing
Putting actions steps early in writing
Good writing encourages reader action
How writers inadvertently discourage their readers
Why the pile of emails to get to exists and why it’s the email writer’s fault
The 3-sentence and 4-sentence email pledge
How getting away from typewriters has spawned worse writing
The deadly action of Reply All and what it says to your reader
Respecting and using your awareness of your audience to improve your writing
No matter where you are in your writing life, a list of easy ways to dramatically improve your writing today
The value of spell checkers and grammar checkers
Why big words might not be your writing friend
Why great words should not be overused
How verbs really do drive sentences
Self-editing and outside editing help
An easy, fun way to edit your writing
The financial equivalent of wasted words in your writing
Tips for helping readers find key information
Making your writing “sticky”
How subject lines and file names can help the recipient of your communication
The number one worst thing to do with email

Next Week
We’ll be looking at another soft skill on our list of 55 soft skills. Email us at podcast
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<![CDATA[Podcast 23: Does Collaboration Spark Innovative Problem-Solving or Curtail Creativity?]]> Wed, 13 Dec 2017 07:29:13 GMT 20:07 no



Some see the soft skill of collaboration as a valuable soft skill, while others say it stunts creativity. The hosts give their views on these divergent points of view.
 
osts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham explore the various views regarding the soft skill of collaboration as a followup to their discussion in Episode 22 of what collaboration is.
Topics discussed include:

Does collaboration kill creativity, as Geoffrey James suggests in an Inc. magazine article, Collaboration Kills Creativity, According to Science?
Do teams add or distract from collaboration?
Taking academic research to real-world situations
How collaboration empowers us to solve problems in this complex business world
Can collaboration fall into “group think”?
Does collaboration fuel our need for socialization?
What problems are better solved as individuals
How collaboration creates holistic and effective solutions to complex problems
What’s the line between a situation needing collaboration and individual creativity
When does collaboration fit into problem-solving
When creative processes should call in collaboration
Headline writing and collaboration
The cost benefit evaluation of collaboration
Exploring Morten T. Hansen’s views in the article, When Internal Collaboration Is Bad for Your Company
When the cost benefit should be evaluated and what the assessment can accomplish
When to quit a project

Next Week
We’ll look at another soft skill, written communication, and how it plays a critical role in relationships and effectiveness.
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Some see the soft skill of collaboration as a valuable soft skill, while others say it stunts creativity. The hosts give their views on these divergent points of view.
 
osts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham explore the various views regarding the soft skill of collaboration as a followup to their discussion in Episode 22 of what collaboration is.
Topics discussed include:

Does collaboration kill creativity, as Geoffrey James suggests in an Inc. magazine article, Collaboration Kills Creativity, According to Science?
Do teams add or distract from collaboration?
Taking academic research to real-world situations
How collaboration empowers us to solve problems in this complex business world
Can collaboration fall into “group think”?
Does collaboration fuel our need for socialization?
What problems are better solved as individuals
How collaboration creates holistic and effective solutions to complex problems
What’s the line between a situation needing collaboration and individual creativity
When does collaboration fit into problem-solving
When creative processes should call in collaboration
Headline writing and collaboration
The cost benefit evaluation of collaboration
Exploring Morten T. Hansen’s views in the article, When Internal Collaboration Is Bad for Your Company
When the cost benefit should be evaluated and what the assessment can accomplish
When to quit a project

Next Week
We’ll look at another soft skill, written communication, and how it plays a critical role in relationships and effectiveness.
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<![CDATA[Podcast 22: The Soft Skill of Collaboration: The Rallying Point and Other Keys to Success]]> Wed, 06 Dec 2017 06:11:24 GMT 16:15 no



Collaboration among workers can be the jet fuel for teams, pushing them to solve problems and achieve results that they could not have accomplished separately.
 
Hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss what collaboration is, why it is so beneficial to organizations and what it can deliver to teams and organizations.
Topics discussed include:

What collaboration is
How people’s perspectives have to align for collaboration to occur
Why collaboration gets us to a better spot
How collaboration stokes problem-solving
The distinction between collaboration for creative endeavors versus collaboration in getting products developed
Why collaboration is vital to supply chains and other services
What’s a “rallying point” and why do we need it to have successful collaboration
A “reel” example of collaboration
What underlies any effective collaboration
The soft skills that underpin all good collaboration
What mutual interdependence is and why it enables good collaboration
The best ways for collaboration to start
The role of the leader in facilitating collaboration
How passion can ignite collaboration

Next Week
Digging deeper into collaboration in the workplace.
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Collaboration among workers can be the jet fuel for teams, pushing them to solve problems and achieve results that they could not have accomplished separately.
 
Hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss what collaboration is, why it is so beneficial to organizations and what it can deliver to teams and organizations.
Topics discussed include:

What collaboration is
How people’s perspectives have to align for collaboration to occur
Why collaboration gets us to a better spot
How collaboration stokes problem-solving
The distinction between collaboration for creative endeavors versus collaboration in getting products developed
Why collaboration is vital to supply chains and other services
What’s a “rallying point” and why do we need it to have successful collaboration
A “reel” example of collaboration
What underlies any effective collaboration
The soft skills that underpin all good collaboration
What mutual interdependence is and why it enables good collaboration
The best ways for collaboration to start
The role of the leader in facilitating collaboration
How passion can ignite collaboration

Next Week
Digging deeper into collaboration in the workplace.
#text_aed1fa33c3e9831234750c5bfbe4b7b1_74 { margin-top: 0px;margin-bottom: 0px;}#text_aed1fa33c3e9831234750c5bfbe4b7b1_74 p { color: #626B75;font-size: 16.5px;}




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<![CDATA[Podcast 21: Should Being Appreciative Be a Soft Skill?]]> Wed, 29 Nov 2017 08:07:17 GMT 13:18 no



Just in time for Thanksgiving and the holidays, a listener suggests that we add being appreciative to the list of 55 soft skills and how it affects organizational culture.
 
Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham weigh whether being appreciative or thankful should be added to the list of 55 soft skills.
Topics they address include:

How the suggestion came up.
How the original list of 55 soft skills were developed.
A case for adding being appreciative or thankful.
Some soft skills that aren’t job-description items, but still important.
Where appreciation ranks on employees’ considerations at a job.
What happens when we aren’t appreciative.
The drain on organizations from a lack of appreciation.
How appreciation helps build a strong core work structure.
A discussion on the “core” skills that go before soft skills development.
How the creative process works to develop these skills.

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Just in time for Thanksgiving and the holidays, a listener suggests that we add being appreciative to the list of 55 soft skills and how it affects organizational culture.
 
Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham weigh whether being appreciative or thankful should be added to the list of 55 soft skills.
Topics they address include:

How the suggestion came up.
How the original list of 55 soft skills were developed.
A case for adding being appreciative or thankful.
Some soft skills that aren’t job-description items, but still important.
Where appreciation ranks on employees’ considerations at a job.
What happens when we aren’t appreciative.
The drain on organizations from a lack of appreciation.
How appreciation helps build a strong core work structure.
A discussion on the “core” skills that go before soft skills development.
How the creative process works to develop these skills.

#text_45563559f8092cec8fc7f2d25dc903bd_78 { margin-top: 0px;margin-bottom: 0px;}#text_45563559f8092cec8fc7f2d25dc903bd_78 p { color: #626B75;font-size: 16.5px;}




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<![CDATA[Podcast 20: Being Persuasive Is a Soft Skill Every Employee Must Use]]> Wed, 15 Nov 2017 13:41:27 GMT 17:17 no



Being persuasive is a foundational soft skill that everyone in an organization has a responsibility to use, although it’s vitally important to being a successful leader.
 
 
Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss the soft skill of being persuasive and how it use can spur an organization’s growth.
Among the topics they discuss are:

Why being persuasive makes our list
How to differentiate between manipulation and persuasion
A working definition of persuasion
How persuasion leads to “buy-in”
How persuasion is about attraction
Identifying what makes a proposal fit the goals of an organization and how being persuasive fits in
When to set aside an idea because the buy-in is missing
Knowing when to move things forward
When persuasion becomes office politics and how to avoid it
Examples of persuasive arguments
How to ask for a raise using persuasion
Tips for what any
persuasion ultimately needs to include
When persuasion can run amok
When persuasion reaches coalescence
How understanding your audience is critical to any effective persuasion
Where an organization’s history plays into persuasion

Next week
We will explore a listener’s timely suggestion for another soft skill to add to our list of 55 soft skills.
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Being persuasive is a foundational soft skill that everyone in an organization has a responsibility to use, although it’s vitally important to being a successful leader.
 
 
Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss the soft skill of being persuasive and how it use can spur an organization’s growth.
Among the topics they discuss are:

Why being persuasive makes our list
How to differentiate between manipulation and persuasion
A working definition of persuasion
How persuasion leads to “buy-in”
How persuasion is about attraction
Identifying what makes a proposal fit the goals of an organization and how being persuasive fits in
When to set aside an idea because the buy-in is missing
Knowing when to move things forward
When persuasion becomes office politics and how to avoid it
Examples of persuasive arguments
How to ask for a raise using persuasion
Tips for what any
persuasion ultimately needs to include
When persuasion can run amok
When persuasion reaches coalescence
How understanding your audience is critical to any effective persuasion
Where an organization’s history plays into persuasion

Next week
We will explore a listener’s timely suggestion for another soft skill to add to our list of 55 soft skills.
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<![CDATA[Podcast 19: How Intentionality Sparks Good Delegation and How to Avoid the Monkey]]> Thu, 09 Nov 2017 04:32:37 GMT 18:37 no



Delegation, one of the 55 soft skills, helps determine which human resources to delegate to specific tasks to ensure organizational effectiveness.
In this episode, the hosts, Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham, discuss:

What delegation is
The intentionality of delegation
How return on assets (ROA) plays into deciding when to delegate
How delegation can build a better, deeper team
When delegation becomes shirking and avoiding the Tom Sawyer approach
How to know when good delegation is occurring
What managers should always be asking themselves
How an article from the Harvard Business Review written in 1974 explains good and bad delegation ( https://hbr.org/1999/11/management-time-whos-got-the-monkey )
Why poor delegation is actually worse than no delegation at all
* The key to ensuring that delegation works well and builds organizations
* What the closed loop is and how it helps ensure effective delegation

Next week
We’ll discuss being persuasive, why it makes the list of soft skills and how it plays out in the workplace.
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Delegation, one of the 55 soft skills, helps determine which human resources to delegate to specific tasks to ensure organizational effectiveness.
In this episode, the hosts, Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham, discuss:

What delegation is
The intentionality of delegation
How return on assets (ROA) plays into deciding when to delegate
How delegation can build a better, deeper team
When delegation becomes shirking and avoiding the Tom Sawyer approach
How to know when good delegation is occurring
What managers should always be asking themselves
How an article from the Harvard Business Review written in 1974 explains good and bad delegation ( https://hbr.org/1999/11/management-time-whos-got-the-monkey )
Why poor delegation is actually worse than no delegation at all
* The key to ensuring that delegation works well and builds organizations
* What the closed loop is and how it helps ensure effective delegation

Next week
We’ll discuss being persuasive, why it makes the list of soft skills and how it plays out in the workplace.
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<![CDATA[Podcast 18: The Important Function of Environment in Using Soft Skills]]> Wed, 01 Nov 2017 20:20:21 GMT 14:47 no



Environment, while not a soft skill, plays a critical role in which soft skills we use and how we use them. Hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss the role of environment in this episode.
 
Environment is not a soft skill, but it performs an important role in determining which soft skills to use and how to use them.
In this episode, the hosts discuss:

Why soft skills are dependent on the environment in which they are employed.
How environment might play into when to ask of a raise
How to be conscious of the environment to ensure maximum success in achieving objectives
How the environment might shift and what to do when it happens
Why face-to-face discussion beats emails
How you can keep people focused when talking to them on the phone
The wrapper effect of environment in using technical skills and soft skills
Why reading the environment accurately is as important as what technical skills and soft skills you employ

In sum, recognizing and responding to specific environments is key to the success of blending soft skills and technical skills together, and success in that blending can spur creativity, growth, opportunity and innovation.
Next Week
We answer listener questions.
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Environment, while not a soft skill, plays a critical role in which soft skills we use and how we use them. Hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss the role of environment in this episode.
 
Environment is not a soft skill, but it performs an important role in determining which soft skills to use and how to use them.
In this episode, the hosts discuss:

Why soft skills are dependent on the environment in which they are employed.
How environment might play into when to ask of a raise
How to be conscious of the environment to ensure maximum success in achieving objectives
How the environment might shift and what to do when it happens
Why face-to-face discussion beats emails
How you can keep people focused when talking to them on the phone
The wrapper effect of environment in using technical skills and soft skills
Why reading the environment accurately is as important as what technical skills and soft skills you employ

In sum, recognizing and responding to specific environments is key to the success of blending soft skills and technical skills together, and success in that blending can spur creativity, growth, opportunity and innovation.
Next Week
We answer listener questions.
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<![CDATA[Podcast 17: Facilitating Better Meetings is about More than Just a Soft Skill]]> Tue, 24 Oct 2017 20:40:59 GMT 19:09 no



Meeting facilitation may not seem like a soft skill, but it can easy serve as a gateway to more productivity and opportunity for leaders, managers and organizations.
 
Hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss the cost and culture surrounding ineffective meetings and why good meetings really do require strong soft skills.

In this episode, they discuss:
The incredible cost to American companies from unproductive meetings.
Why meeting facilitation is on the soft skills list
How technology makes meeting planning and management easier
Why technology makes meetings even more difficult to facilitate
Tips for leading productive meetings
Tips for how to be a good meeting attendee
Why some meetings might not be necessary
The two times that holding a meeting really makes sense
Examples of the best and worst meetings
The soft skills at play in meetings

Share your best or worst meeting story with them at @RealSoftSkills or at podcast (at) serioussoftskills.com.
Next week’s episode will feature a discussion of the environment in which soft skills operate and how different environments could mean using different soft skills to achieve the same tasks.
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Meeting facilitation may not seem like a soft skill, but it can easy serve as a gateway to more productivity and opportunity for leaders, managers and organizations.
 
Hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss the cost and culture surrounding ineffective meetings and why good meetings really do require strong soft skills.

In this episode, they discuss:
The incredible cost to American companies from unproductive meetings.
Why meeting facilitation is on the soft skills list
How technology makes meeting planning and management easier
Why technology makes meetings even more difficult to facilitate
Tips for leading productive meetings
Tips for how to be a good meeting attendee
Why some meetings might not be necessary
The two times that holding a meeting really makes sense
Examples of the best and worst meetings
The soft skills at play in meetings

Share your best or worst meeting story with them at @RealSoftSkills or at podcast (at) serioussoftskills.com.
Next week’s episode will feature a discussion of the environment in which soft skills operate and how different environments could mean using different soft skills to achieve the same tasks.
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<![CDATA[Podcast 16: Soft Skills: The True Differentiator for Employees, Job Seekers and Organizations]]> Tue, 17 Oct 2017 20:24:36 GMT 17:50 no



Soft skills are the true differentiator that helps people with strong technical skills earn jobs and transform their organizations, the hosts explain while answering listener questions.
Introduction
Bob Graham (‘0:20'): Welcome to Serious Soft Skills, Episode 16. With me is Dr. Tobin Porterfield.  For you newcomers and those of you who have been with us for a while, you may or may not know we have uncovered a list of 55 soft skills. We dug this list up though academic research and our teaching of college students and work in various industries. Paying really close attention to these soft skills we are now doing this podcast to discover what each of these soft skills means and how they fit into our lives. Today we are going to extend that into a new direction and take some listener questions. It's always exciting. We're picked some really hard ones. Hopefully, we can find our way through them.
Soft Skills Are Not Teachable
Graham (‘1:16'): The first one comes from Anonymous, and you are going to see why in a second. Anonymous says, “Why do you guys care so much about soft skills? We either have them or don't so why are you spending so much time on them?” 
Dr. Tobin Porterfield (‘1:46”): I like to question things. I have a skeptical mind. I want to ask if this is real. The argument that sets it up most. We kind of tee this up in the beginning of our book. The business environment has really changed. The business world is hyper competitive. Things are changing quickly. Technology change is coming on. The workplace has changed. The type of work we do has changed. It has made soft skills more important. It's not that they haven't existed. There are ones of us that have stronger sets of soft skills, stronger in some areas. But it's something that we need to bring to the workplace these days. A recognition of what they are is critical, as is a solid, honest self-reflection of where we each are on those soft skills is essential to the success of organizations. We have to say soft skills are there in the workplace, and if an individual has been able to avoid developing soft skills for a long time, that avoidance time is passed.
If we are going to be effective in the workplace today, soft skills are not optional.
Graham (‘3:02'): I would agree with all of that. I would add that you and I have countless examples of students we have taught who performed better when looking for a job and get the job because they have more soft skills. They are more in demand. We know that from research, and not just our research. Employers are looking for soft skills like problem-solving, written and oral communication. When they see people that can offer those skills, those are the people who are getting hired. I tell my students all the time that there are thousands of people just like you with that same engineering or writing degree, or whatever degree. How do you differentiate yourself? 
You all know the same technical expertise. It's the soft skills, how you are going to apply them, how you are going to interact with people, that ultimately separates some from the pack.
Porterfield (‘3:57'): You said it and that is how we position soft skills. They are not in place of technical skills. It's how we implement and integrate those technical skills in the workplace. The people and the organizations that have valued and strengthened soft skills are better performers. They are able to take the same engineering skills, which we can hire into any organization if we have the money to hire people, but whether we are actually able to innovate, solve problems or transform an organization using those soft skills, that's where the soft skills are going to come in and make a huge difference. Soft skills are the differentiator between who gets the job an...]]>




Soft skills are the true differentiator that helps people with strong technical skills earn jobs and transform their organizations, the hosts explain while answering listener questions.
Introduction
Bob Graham (‘0:20'): Welcome to Serious Soft Skills, Episode 16. With me is Dr. Tobin Porterfield.  For you newcomers and those of you who have been with us for a while, you may or may not know we have uncovered a list of 55 soft skills. We dug this list up though academic research and our teaching of college students and work in various industries. Paying really close attention to these soft skills we are now doing this podcast to discover what each of these soft skills means and how they fit into our lives. Today we are going to extend that into a new direction and take some listener questions. It's always exciting. We're picked some really hard ones. Hopefully, we can find our way through them.
Soft Skills Are Not Teachable
Graham (‘1:16'): The first one comes from Anonymous, and you are going to see why in a second. Anonymous says, “Why do you guys care so much about soft skills? We either have them or don't so why are you spending so much time on them?” 
Dr. Tobin Porterfield (‘1:46”): I like to question things. I have a skeptical mind. I want to ask if this is real. The argument that sets it up most. We kind of tee this up in the beginning of our book. The business environment has really changed. The business world is hyper competitive. Things are changing quickly. Technology change is coming on. The workplace has changed. The type of work we do has changed. It has made soft skills more important. It's not that they haven't existed. There are ones of us that have stronger sets of soft skills, stronger in some areas. But it's something that we need to bring to the workplace these days. A recognition of what they are is critical, as is a solid, honest self-reflection of where we each are on those soft skills is essential to the success of organizations. We have to say soft skills are there in the workplace, and if an individual has been able to avoid developing soft skills for a long time, that avoidance time is passed.
If we are going to be effective in the workplace today, soft skills are not optional.
Graham (‘3:02'): I would agree with all of that. I would add that you and I have countless examples of students we have taught who performed better when looking for a job and get the job because they have more soft skills. They are more in demand. We know that from research, and not just our research. Employers are looking for soft skills like problem-solving, written and oral communication. When they see people that can offer those skills, those are the people who are getting hired. I tell my students all the time that there are thousands of people just like you with that same engineering or writing degree, or whatever degree. How do you differentiate yourself? 
You all know the same technical expertise. It's the soft skills, how you are going to apply them, how you are going to interact with people, that ultimately separates some from the pack.
Porterfield (‘3:57'): You said it and that is how we position soft skills. They are not in place of technical skills. It's how we implement and integrate those technical skills in the workplace. The people and the organizations that have valued and strengthened soft skills are better performers. They are able to take the same engineering skills, which we can hire into any organization if we have the money to hire people, but whether we are actually able to innovate, solve problems or transform an organization using those soft skills, that's where the soft skills are going to come in and make a huge difference. Soft skills are the differentiator between who gets the job an...]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 15: The Soft Skill of Patience and Its Many Rewards]]> Wed, 11 Oct 2017 23:54:30 GMT 15:23 no



Patience makes the list of soft skills. We'll explain why and how it fosters opportunities at work and in careers.
 
Introduction
Dr. Tobin Porterfield (‘0:20'): Welcome to Serious Soft Skills, Episode 15. With me is Bob Graham. For you newcomers, welcome. Let's set the stage. We have uncovered a list of 55 soft skills from our review of academic research and our teaching of college students, and our work in diverse industries. We use our keen eye on soft skills to help uncover how they work and how we all can improve them. We look at what they mean and why they matter in today's workplace.
Porterfield (‘0:48'): Now we are going to take a look at patience. As I say that Bob, I feel like I need to take a deep breath. Let's. Deal. With. Patience. I feel relaxed when I say it.
Bob Graham (‘1:00'): I have been waiting forever for you to ask me that question. I am at the edge of my seat. Could he have gone any longer with that introduction and the guy with the really good voice that we paid so much money for. Then back to you. I just can't wait any longer. I am just going to jump right into it.
Porterfield (‘1:23'): Maybe patience isn't your thing.
Graham (‘1:23'): It is not. I openly admit that. This is one that I cringe to see some of the people who are around me to hear that I am talking about patience. I am not a very patient person. I am hoping we can learn some things from our discussion. I did some research because it is not my strong suit.
Getting a Handle on Basic Patience
Graham (‘1:47'): There was a good article about patience in the Huffington Post in April 2015. It's by Dr. Heiger Zayed. I apologize if i misstated that name. He really explained where we start with the idea of patience. He say:
Patience gives us the option to cool down and to extend the grace to ourselves and others in the immediate moment — when we need it most. To be patient means we don't react mindlessly to minor irritations and inconveniences. Patience gives us the freedom to respond in a more kind and gentle way.
Graham (‘2:42'): He ends with a really interesting idea, which is that it is one of the greatest virtues in all religions. And if you think about that, it is really true. We really value patience — like we value gold because it's hard to find gold. And it's hard to find patience, and when I find it, it's often by just luck. I don't think I am consistent with patience at all and that's part of the challenge with it. But you want to talk a little differently about patience? Can you explain why it's a soft skill and why we think it's important?
How Patience is a Soft Skill
Porterfield (‘3:18'): We cast patience as one of our Individual skills that we bring to the workplace, but it's not one we naturally bring to any relationship. It is something most of us have to work on, myself included. It gets back to that core element. It can be so damaging to a relationship to not have patiences involved. My concern with including patience or encouraging it in the workplace is that it can run in conflict with the need to be proactive. We want to be careful that we cast patience and some similar ones that we talk about with respect for the people we work with. Empathy is one of them. Patience isn't about how we deal with time management or how we deal with proactive or taking initiative. Patience doesn't mean sitting back and letting things come, but as Zayed had said, allowing us to take a breath and think about that next step and not respond in a way that will be inappropriate or damaging. We really are talking about being patient with other people and being patient even with ourselves and our situation.]]>




Patience makes the list of soft skills. We'll explain why and how it fosters opportunities at work and in careers.
 
Introduction
Dr. Tobin Porterfield (‘0:20'): Welcome to Serious Soft Skills, Episode 15. With me is Bob Graham. For you newcomers, welcome. Let's set the stage. We have uncovered a list of 55 soft skills from our review of academic research and our teaching of college students, and our work in diverse industries. We use our keen eye on soft skills to help uncover how they work and how we all can improve them. We look at what they mean and why they matter in today's workplace.
Porterfield (‘0:48'): Now we are going to take a look at patience. As I say that Bob, I feel like I need to take a deep breath. Let's. Deal. With. Patience. I feel relaxed when I say it.
Bob Graham (‘1:00'): I have been waiting forever for you to ask me that question. I am at the edge of my seat. Could he have gone any longer with that introduction and the guy with the really good voice that we paid so much money for. Then back to you. I just can't wait any longer. I am just going to jump right into it.
Porterfield (‘1:23'): Maybe patience isn't your thing.
Graham (‘1:23'): It is not. I openly admit that. This is one that I cringe to see some of the people who are around me to hear that I am talking about patience. I am not a very patient person. I am hoping we can learn some things from our discussion. I did some research because it is not my strong suit.
Getting a Handle on Basic Patience
Graham (‘1:47'): There was a good article about patience in the Huffington Post in April 2015. It's by Dr. Heiger Zayed. I apologize if i misstated that name. He really explained where we start with the idea of patience. He say:
Patience gives us the option to cool down and to extend the grace to ourselves and others in the immediate moment — when we need it most. To be patient means we don't react mindlessly to minor irritations and inconveniences. Patience gives us the freedom to respond in a more kind and gentle way.
Graham (‘2:42'): He ends with a really interesting idea, which is that it is one of the greatest virtues in all religions. And if you think about that, it is really true. We really value patience — like we value gold because it's hard to find gold. And it's hard to find patience, and when I find it, it's often by just luck. I don't think I am consistent with patience at all and that's part of the challenge with it. But you want to talk a little differently about patience? Can you explain why it's a soft skill and why we think it's important?
How Patience is a Soft Skill
Porterfield (‘3:18'): We cast patience as one of our Individual skills that we bring to the workplace, but it's not one we naturally bring to any relationship. It is something most of us have to work on, myself included. It gets back to that core element. It can be so damaging to a relationship to not have patiences involved. My concern with including patience or encouraging it in the workplace is that it can run in conflict with the need to be proactive. We want to be careful that we cast patience and some similar ones that we talk about with respect for the people we work with. Empathy is one of them. Patience isn't about how we deal with time management or how we deal with proactive or taking initiative. Patience doesn't mean sitting back and letting things come, but as Zayed had said, allowing us to take a breath and think about that next step and not respond in a way that will be inappropriate or damaging. We really are talking about being patient with other people and being patient even with ourselves and our situation.]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 14: How Self Reflection ‘Fast-Tracks’ Soft Skills Development]]> Wed, 04 Oct 2017 20:01:48 GMT 17:38 no



Self-reflection, while not a soft skill, plays an important role in how we develop our soft skills over time.
Introduction
Bob Graham (‘0:20'): Hello, I am Bob Graham and with me as always is Dr. Tobin Porterfield. We teach college, we research soft skills and we help our students develop these skills and have seen how they play out in a variety of work settings. We'll show you that eye for soft skills in a second when we start talking about self reflection.
Graham (‘0:39'): Self reflection itself is not a soft skill, but rather a tool to help us develop our soft skills. Toby, can you explain that to us in general?
Dr. Tobin Porterfield (‘0:52): I can and our timing is great. The Harvard Business Review just this week has an article on the power of self reflection. I am getting the feeling that they folks there are listening to our podcasts and are buying into what we are doing.
Graham (‘1:12'): I love that. It's a great leap.
Another Voice on Self Reflection
Porterfield (‘1:15'): No, seriously, I do feel like it's just an affirmation of how powerful self reflection is and typical of the Harvard Business Review, they are looking to CEOs and how they dedicated large periods of time to quiet thought on their own to evaluate what's going on in their lives, what's going on, where the opportunities are. We look at self reflection a little differently. We are looking at it and saying the people we work with aren't able to carve out two hours of their day. I know there's value in self reflecting and spending that quiet time, but if I am going to spend two hours a day on that, I am going to have to get up around 3 AM. The realities for many of us in our workdays don't support that. We stay so busy. That's the pitfall of not self reflecting. It's a great opportunity to grow, and that's where we have endorsed it from a soft skills standpoint. You need to self reflect and in that time self evaluate on where you are with a couple of these soft skills and where are you growing. What were you going to try to improve from last week? You need to really be rating yourself and moving toward improvement. While it's funny to look at the HBR side, but the reality that self reflection is a powerful tool.
What Is Self Reflection?
Graham (‘2:43'): Are we talking about self reflection in terms of journaling or is it just taking some moments to be mindful of what we've done and what we are trying to achieve? Or is it interacting with someone else and being accountable? Or is it all three of those or something else?
Porterfield (‘3:00'): We have to be open to how that self reflection takes shape in each of us individually. The No. 1 core element is dedicated time. There are great examples in the Harvard Business Review article, where some people say I do an hour of self reflection every day. Some people say I do six hours, but I spread it across the week, with one or two hours here and there. I have to get out of the office so I won't get interrupted. I get up from my desk and on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I take 45 minutes and go down to the coffee shop, put my earbuds in so I don't get interrupted and work on my self reflection. I go through my list.
Porterfield (‘3:37'): For many of us, self reflection has to have a writing component, where here were the things I was working on, here's what I was going to do, did I do them? What am I going to do to make sure they happen next time? As you know, I am a person who journals. I find that productive because it introduces a personal accountability so I can look at last week and see th...]]>




Self-reflection, while not a soft skill, plays an important role in how we develop our soft skills over time.
Introduction
Bob Graham (‘0:20'): Hello, I am Bob Graham and with me as always is Dr. Tobin Porterfield. We teach college, we research soft skills and we help our students develop these skills and have seen how they play out in a variety of work settings. We'll show you that eye for soft skills in a second when we start talking about self reflection.
Graham (‘0:39'): Self reflection itself is not a soft skill, but rather a tool to help us develop our soft skills. Toby, can you explain that to us in general?
Dr. Tobin Porterfield (‘0:52): I can and our timing is great. The Harvard Business Review just this week has an article on the power of self reflection. I am getting the feeling that they folks there are listening to our podcasts and are buying into what we are doing.
Graham (‘1:12'): I love that. It's a great leap.
Another Voice on Self Reflection
Porterfield (‘1:15'): No, seriously, I do feel like it's just an affirmation of how powerful self reflection is and typical of the Harvard Business Review, they are looking to CEOs and how they dedicated large periods of time to quiet thought on their own to evaluate what's going on in their lives, what's going on, where the opportunities are. We look at self reflection a little differently. We are looking at it and saying the people we work with aren't able to carve out two hours of their day. I know there's value in self reflecting and spending that quiet time, but if I am going to spend two hours a day on that, I am going to have to get up around 3 AM. The realities for many of us in our workdays don't support that. We stay so busy. That's the pitfall of not self reflecting. It's a great opportunity to grow, and that's where we have endorsed it from a soft skills standpoint. You need to self reflect and in that time self evaluate on where you are with a couple of these soft skills and where are you growing. What were you going to try to improve from last week? You need to really be rating yourself and moving toward improvement. While it's funny to look at the HBR side, but the reality that self reflection is a powerful tool.
What Is Self Reflection?
Graham (‘2:43'): Are we talking about self reflection in terms of journaling or is it just taking some moments to be mindful of what we've done and what we are trying to achieve? Or is it interacting with someone else and being accountable? Or is it all three of those or something else?
Porterfield (‘3:00'): We have to be open to how that self reflection takes shape in each of us individually. The No. 1 core element is dedicated time. There are great examples in the Harvard Business Review article, where some people say I do an hour of self reflection every day. Some people say I do six hours, but I spread it across the week, with one or two hours here and there. I have to get out of the office so I won't get interrupted. I get up from my desk and on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I take 45 minutes and go down to the coffee shop, put my earbuds in so I don't get interrupted and work on my self reflection. I go through my list.
Porterfield (‘3:37'): For many of us, self reflection has to have a writing component, where here were the things I was working on, here's what I was going to do, did I do them? What am I going to do to make sure they happen next time? As you know, I am a person who journals. I find that productive because it introduces a personal accountability so I can look at last week and see th...]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 13: Interview Part 2 on How Customer Service, Cultural Awareness Stoke Success]]> Tue, 26 Sep 2017 22:07:36 GMT 14:45 no



Exploring the role customer service as a soft skill plays in the success of an organization om an interview with customer service expert Neal Woodson.
 
Introduction
Dr. Tobin Porterfield (‘0:21'): Welcome to Episode 13 of Serious Soft Skills. I am your host, Dr. Tobin Porterfield. Today we will have the second of a two-part interview that my cohost Bob Graham conducted with Neal Woodson. Neal has 35 years of experience across a range of environments, including 19 years in the event technology industry. Neal currently serves as director of service excellence for PSAV, where he helps management and line-level team members collaborate in driving service excellence. Last week, in Episode 12, Bob and Neal talked about the soft skills encompassed in good customer service and how the customer and employee can both use good soft skills. In today's episode, Bob talk s more with Neal about the value of good customer service to an organization and how it's developed. If you are involved in dealing with customers on any level, I recommend you start with Episode 12.
Automation Isn't an Answer for Customer Service
Bob Graham (‘1:12'): With me is Neal Woodson. I can't wait to get to the second part of this interview. We are going to dig into things a little deeper and he has a lot of great stuff to say. We have this business model that everyone is striving for — less interaction with the consumer. Do it all over the Internet. Automation, automation, automation. So as you say, the people are the company, we seem to be flying in the same direction in a lot of cases. What do you think happens when companies want more automation?
Neal Woodson (‘1:35'): It's causing a lot of problems. This is a pretty heavy subject with a million tentacles to deal with. Over the last 30 years, we have had an increase in depression and an increase in teen suicide, and I now this is a big stretch from what you just said, but I will go back to the fact that we are social animals and social creatures. We have been working over the last 30-35 years hard, without even knowing it, to become more individualistic and not connected. Connected in a virtual sense, but that's not the same kind of connection.
To be connected electronically, is not at all the same as being connected on a human level.
It Always Comes Back to People


Woodson (‘2:43'): I'll give you an example. I fly in airports a lot. I fly all over the country. When I walk in airports, I see more of the tops of people's heads than their faces. Their heads are buried in a phone. When I walk by that phone, nine times out of 10, they are looking at inane stuff. They are looking at Facebook or Instagram. It's not even interesting. They are just flipping through it. They are bored. We have lost a lot of connections. This isn't generational. We see it in all generations. We crush the millennials and say it's all their fault. But it's not. They happen to be better at it. They happen to be more ensconced in it. But that's because we didn't, I didn't, grow up with the technology and they did. That's a problem
This lack of connection among people is a problem.
Woodson (‘3:35'): I would say to every one of those companies that you so well explained that they are more electronic, every single one of them has a way to reach a human. You look at Amazon and think that's probably the quintessential company. Go online, buy something, which is great for some things. But when you have to buy something that is really technological, I will bet at some point, you go somewhere and talk to a person and ask them what they would buy. We want to know at the gut level what you think. I don't want to look at a bunch of stats or a bunch of numbers.]]>




Exploring the role customer service as a soft skill plays in the success of an organization om an interview with customer service expert Neal Woodson.
 
Introduction
Dr. Tobin Porterfield (‘0:21'): Welcome to Episode 13 of Serious Soft Skills. I am your host, Dr. Tobin Porterfield. Today we will have the second of a two-part interview that my cohost Bob Graham conducted with Neal Woodson. Neal has 35 years of experience across a range of environments, including 19 years in the event technology industry. Neal currently serves as director of service excellence for PSAV, where he helps management and line-level team members collaborate in driving service excellence. Last week, in Episode 12, Bob and Neal talked about the soft skills encompassed in good customer service and how the customer and employee can both use good soft skills. In today's episode, Bob talk s more with Neal about the value of good customer service to an organization and how it's developed. If you are involved in dealing with customers on any level, I recommend you start with Episode 12.
Automation Isn't an Answer for Customer Service
Bob Graham (‘1:12'): With me is Neal Woodson. I can't wait to get to the second part of this interview. We are going to dig into things a little deeper and he has a lot of great stuff to say. We have this business model that everyone is striving for — less interaction with the consumer. Do it all over the Internet. Automation, automation, automation. So as you say, the people are the company, we seem to be flying in the same direction in a lot of cases. What do you think happens when companies want more automation?
Neal Woodson (‘1:35'): It's causing a lot of problems. This is a pretty heavy subject with a million tentacles to deal with. Over the last 30 years, we have had an increase in depression and an increase in teen suicide, and I now this is a big stretch from what you just said, but I will go back to the fact that we are social animals and social creatures. We have been working over the last 30-35 years hard, without even knowing it, to become more individualistic and not connected. Connected in a virtual sense, but that's not the same kind of connection.
To be connected electronically, is not at all the same as being connected on a human level.
It Always Comes Back to People


Woodson (‘2:43'): I'll give you an example. I fly in airports a lot. I fly all over the country. When I walk in airports, I see more of the tops of people's heads than their faces. Their heads are buried in a phone. When I walk by that phone, nine times out of 10, they are looking at inane stuff. They are looking at Facebook or Instagram. It's not even interesting. They are just flipping through it. They are bored. We have lost a lot of connections. This isn't generational. We see it in all generations. We crush the millennials and say it's all their fault. But it's not. They happen to be better at it. They happen to be more ensconced in it. But that's because we didn't, I didn't, grow up with the technology and they did. That's a problem
This lack of connection among people is a problem.
Woodson (‘3:35'): I would say to every one of those companies that you so well explained that they are more electronic, every single one of them has a way to reach a human. You look at Amazon and think that's probably the quintessential company. Go online, buy something, which is great for some things. But when you have to buy something that is really technological, I will bet at some point, you go somewhere and talk to a person and ask them what they would buy. We want to know at the gut level what you think. I don't want to look at a bunch of stats or a bunch of numbers.]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 12: Interview on How Everyone Has a Customer-Service Job]]> Wed, 20 Sep 2017 18:10:19 GMT 13:57 no Neal's view is that customer service is the most important aspect of what organizations provide, and it ultimately is what is necessary to find any success.
Introduction
Dr. Tobin Porterfield (‘0:21'): Welcome to Episode 12 of Serious Soft Skills. I am your host, Dr. Tobin Porterfield. Today we will have the first of a two-part interview, where my cohost, the sultan of soft skills, Bob Graham, talks to Neal Woodson about how he develops soft skills related to customer service. Neal has 35 years of experience across a range of environments, including 19 years in the event technology industry. Neal currently serves as director of service excellence for PSAV, where he helps management and line-level team members collaborate in driving service excellence by analyzing customer experience, coaching the development of actionable strategies, and creating education and training techniques that ensure consistent delivery.
Soft Skills at Core of Customer Service
Bob Graham (‘1:11'): It's great to be here with Neal Woodson. I am really looking forward to the discussion….I hope for our listeners and our viewers that the weather is good for them. Let's get right to it.
Graham (‘1:29'): You are an expert on customer service. Beyond being a great golfer and great friend, and I want to talk today with you about soft skills and how they apply to customer service because believe it or not customer or client focus is one of the soft skills we uncovered in our research. You're someone who really spends your days working on it. Give us an overview of what it means.
 
Neal Woodson (‘2:01'): As far as customer service, I don't know if I am an expert, but it is something I work with all day every day. It's always on my mind. I don't like that term “soft skills.” I know that is a popular phrase. I prefer to say they are any number of things: social skills, collaborative skills. That doesn't even cover it all, obviously.
Soft skills have gotten shunted to a second-class citizenship. They have been pushed to the back of the bus.
Importance of Customer Service
Woodson (‘2:57'}: I don't think people realize how important they are. I deal with business and how business works with customers. Everybody thinks that soft skills are what customer service people do. it's not really necessary for what anyone else does in the business. So when it comes to like a soft skills training, they will send all of their customer service people or call center people to soft skills training. one of the things we forget about in business is that everybody in business deals with somebody. You deal with people no matter what. In my role, you would think that all I deal with is customer-facing folks. That's not true. I'm a big believer that what we do all throughout a business affects the customer. In other words, the way the CEO operates and the manager treat the workers — all of that affects how the company treats the customer. The best way I can put that is that if you are a parent and you come home every day and you scream and yell at your kids. Would it be any surprise to you at all to see your kids screaming and yelling at other kids?
What we do with others inside the house impacts what we do outside the house.
Need to Keep Improving Soft Skills
Woodson {‘4:26'}: To me, it's crucial that everybody in an organization works on continuously improves their soft skills. How does my job role connect to the end user customer. Say you're in accounts payable. You say that your job doesn't connect with custome...]]>
Neal's view is that customer service is the most important aspect of what organizations provide, and it ultimately is what is necessary to find any success.
Introduction
Dr. Tobin Porterfield (‘0:21'): Welcome to Episode 12 of Serious Soft Skills. I am your host, Dr. Tobin Porterfield. Today we will have the first of a two-part interview, where my cohost, the sultan of soft skills, Bob Graham, talks to Neal Woodson about how he develops soft skills related to customer service. Neal has 35 years of experience across a range of environments, including 19 years in the event technology industry. Neal currently serves as director of service excellence for PSAV, where he helps management and line-level team members collaborate in driving service excellence by analyzing customer experience, coaching the development of actionable strategies, and creating education and training techniques that ensure consistent delivery.
Soft Skills at Core of Customer Service
Bob Graham (‘1:11'): It's great to be here with Neal Woodson. I am really looking forward to the discussion….I hope for our listeners and our viewers that the weather is good for them. Let's get right to it.
Graham (‘1:29'): You are an expert on customer service. Beyond being a great golfer and great friend, and I want to talk today with you about soft skills and how they apply to customer service because believe it or not customer or client focus is one of the soft skills we uncovered in our research. You're someone who really spends your days working on it. Give us an overview of what it means.
 
Neal Woodson (‘2:01'): As far as customer service, I don't know if I am an expert, but it is something I work with all day every day. It's always on my mind. I don't like that term “soft skills.” I know that is a popular phrase. I prefer to say they are any number of things: social skills, collaborative skills. That doesn't even cover it all, obviously.
Soft skills have gotten shunted to a second-class citizenship. They have been pushed to the back of the bus.
Importance of Customer Service
Woodson (‘2:57'}: I don't think people realize how important they are. I deal with business and how business works with customers. Everybody thinks that soft skills are what customer service people do. it's not really necessary for what anyone else does in the business. So when it comes to like a soft skills training, they will send all of their customer service people or call center people to soft skills training. one of the things we forget about in business is that everybody in business deals with somebody. You deal with people no matter what. In my role, you would think that all I deal with is customer-facing folks. That's not true. I'm a big believer that what we do all throughout a business affects the customer. In other words, the way the CEO operates and the manager treat the workers — all of that affects how the company treats the customer. The best way I can put that is that if you are a parent and you come home every day and you scream and yell at your kids. Would it be any surprise to you at all to see your kids screaming and yelling at other kids?
What we do with others inside the house impacts what we do outside the house.
Need to Keep Improving Soft Skills
Woodson {‘4:26'}: To me, it's crucial that everybody in an organization works on continuously improves their soft skills. How does my job role connect to the end user customer. Say you're in accounts payable. You say that your job doesn't connect with custome...]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 11: The Debate about Project Management as a Soft Skill]]> Tue, 12 Sep 2017 19:51:25 GMT 18:09 no What Project Management Is
Bob Graham ‘1:06': We should probably start out first off with defining what project management is and explaining why it fits into our list of soft skills because most people, or some people, might be thinking that they can take a course of project management in college. Why are you saying it's a soft skill? 
Dr. Tobin Porterfield ‘1:23': Let's start that up. Let's start with what project management is because we often see the term a lot. We see it in job advertisements. It's prevalent out there. The term is often misapplied and misunderstood. A lot of time people say that it's time management. Project management certainly has elements of managing your time and your resources. But it is another animal from what we consider time management.
Routine Tasks
Porterfield ‘1:55': When I look at project management and I teach a lot of courses on it, I start my students with “Look, our whole lives, our work lives, our home lives — you can really bring everything you do into two areas: either routine things, the things I do everyday. I fill out my timesheet, I check my voice mail, I go through my email, I do my report, I do month-end close. There are things we do that are routine, that we just do. It's what we do in our business world that just keeps the dollars flowing in. We sell appliances or we develop apps and we launch them. It becomes very routine.
When It Becomes a Project
Porterfield ‘2:31': But when something moves to the elevation of being a project, that's important. To be a project, it has to meet a couple of criteria. It has to have a start date and an end date. There has to be a time component. We need to get this done. A big one is that there needs to be a specific deliverable, a definable thing, so that when we are done we know what we really accomplished. The third one is a really easy one. That is that it uses resources. But almost everything we do uses resources. I kid my students by saying that me losing 30 pounds is something that needs to happen and it's a project. But it's not really a project because there isn't a start and end date. So it's not a project. In reality, it's never going to happen. That's what we see with organizations. They need to keep the routine going. They need to keeping doing what they do.
Executing projects is how they move the organization forward.
Porterfield ‘3:30': It's how they launch that new project, open that new location. For us as individuals, an individual project for us might be to complete a certification, to write that book that you always wanted to write. Projects fit that definition of start and end date, use resources and a definable outcome. They need to be treated differently. There's a mechanical skill set to project management.
People Skills in Project Management
Porterfield ‘4:00': There a whole lot of people skills issues that are in project management that in order to get things done that integration has to happen. That's one of the reason why it earned a place in our list of soft skills.
Graham ‘4:14': You looked at all of the academic literature you could find to create our list of 55 soft skills. Didn't you find some researchers who had clearly put project management in the list of soft skills, not technical or hard skills?
Porterfield ‘4:34': Yes. We didn't just put it under our list although it's an area that's important to us. Studies were done that said project management clearly is a soft skill. Some could make the case that it's not because in some fields like engi...]]>
What Project Management Is
Bob Graham ‘1:06': We should probably start out first off with defining what project management is and explaining why it fits into our list of soft skills because most people, or some people, might be thinking that they can take a course of project management in college. Why are you saying it's a soft skill? 
Dr. Tobin Porterfield ‘1:23': Let's start that up. Let's start with what project management is because we often see the term a lot. We see it in job advertisements. It's prevalent out there. The term is often misapplied and misunderstood. A lot of time people say that it's time management. Project management certainly has elements of managing your time and your resources. But it is another animal from what we consider time management.
Routine Tasks
Porterfield ‘1:55': When I look at project management and I teach a lot of courses on it, I start my students with “Look, our whole lives, our work lives, our home lives — you can really bring everything you do into two areas: either routine things, the things I do everyday. I fill out my timesheet, I check my voice mail, I go through my email, I do my report, I do month-end close. There are things we do that are routine, that we just do. It's what we do in our business world that just keeps the dollars flowing in. We sell appliances or we develop apps and we launch them. It becomes very routine.
When It Becomes a Project
Porterfield ‘2:31': But when something moves to the elevation of being a project, that's important. To be a project, it has to meet a couple of criteria. It has to have a start date and an end date. There has to be a time component. We need to get this done. A big one is that there needs to be a specific deliverable, a definable thing, so that when we are done we know what we really accomplished. The third one is a really easy one. That is that it uses resources. But almost everything we do uses resources. I kid my students by saying that me losing 30 pounds is something that needs to happen and it's a project. But it's not really a project because there isn't a start and end date. So it's not a project. In reality, it's never going to happen. That's what we see with organizations. They need to keep the routine going. They need to keeping doing what they do.
Executing projects is how they move the organization forward.
Porterfield ‘3:30': It's how they launch that new project, open that new location. For us as individuals, an individual project for us might be to complete a certification, to write that book that you always wanted to write. Projects fit that definition of start and end date, use resources and a definable outcome. They need to be treated differently. There's a mechanical skill set to project management.
People Skills in Project Management
Porterfield ‘4:00': There a whole lot of people skills issues that are in project management that in order to get things done that integration has to happen. That's one of the reason why it earned a place in our list of soft skills.
Graham ‘4:14': You looked at all of the academic literature you could find to create our list of 55 soft skills. Didn't you find some researchers who had clearly put project management in the list of soft skills, not technical or hard skills?
Porterfield ‘4:34': Yes. We didn't just put it under our list although it's an area that's important to us. Studies were done that said project management clearly is a soft skill. Some could make the case that it's not because in some fields like engi...]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 10: How Perseverance or Persistence Helps Entrepreneurs, Organizations]]> Tue, 05 Sep 2017 20:00:25 GMT 15:24 no Introduction
Graham ‘0:21': Welcome to Episode 10 of Serious Soft Skills. I'm Bob Graham and with me as always, at least so far, is Dr. Tobin Porterfield. We each teach college; we collaborate on researching soft skills, and we both have used and seen others employ soft skills over the course of our long and illustrious careers, not that long and not that illustrious. We think our experience and expertise give us a unique lens for looking at soft skills. We're going to show you that when we talk in the next few moments about perseverance.
What Is Empathy?
Porterfield ‘0:57': Bob, you already let the cat out of the bag about what we are covering, but I am pretty excited. In these podcasts, we laid out the over 50 soft skills that we have identified through our research and we framed them into four groups — Individual soft skills, a big list with 28; ones where we interact with people, Nexus soft skills, where there are seven; then we looked at Group soft skills, where we work with a team or group; and Enterprise soft skills are the leadership ones.
Porterfield ‘1:32': Now it's time to dig in deeper. Today we want to get into one of those Individual soft skills, one of the 28. In our list, we call it persistence. The individual should bring persistence when going after an objective, to not let obstacles get in their way. Persistence is to vastly pursue when undertaking a task even when hindered by an obstacle or distracted by an obstacle.
Perseverance is different from being stubborn.
Porterfield ‘2:07': We've worked with people who have are stubborn. Then we looked at other people who we admire because they persevere. It's not usually the person who is stubborn that we admire. It's perseverance. There's a difference there that we want to make sure we unwrap today. We really need to understand what perseverance means for an individual and how an organization perseveres.
Graham ‘2:33': Can I tell you a story, Toby? I have a great story about someone who persevered. And when I get to the end I think you are going to know who this person is. I think everyone will know this person.
The Story of a Writer Who Finally Succeeded
Graham ‘2:48': For purposes of this story, I am going to call him Steve. And Steve when he was a child liked to write. He wrote his first story before he could even shave. His mother loved his story and said it should be in a book. He didn't think a lot of it. A couple of years later, he sends one of his stories to a magazine to get published. They rejected it. He put the rejection letter on his wall and he keeps writing. He keeps writing. And he gets more and more rejection letters, but he keeps writing. Ten years later, he's still getting more rejection letters. Now, he is 26 years old. He a teacher with a wife and two children and gets a telegram — back before the Internet — and the telegram is from Doubleday Publishing Co., one of the big publishing companies. They tried to call him on the phone, but he and his wife didn't have enough money for a phone at that point. But he kept on writing and teaching. The telegram isn't a rejection letter, but Doubleday wanted to publish his first novel. It was horror story about Carrie White, a teenage girl with telekinetic powers. He got a $2,500 advance for the book and not long after that, the paperback rights for Carrie sold for $400,000. That was the start of the person we know as Stephen King, one of the most prolific writers of the 20th Century and into the 21st Century. 
Graham ‘4:37': I'm a writer so that story of course resonates with me profoundly.]]>
Introduction
Graham ‘0:21': Welcome to Episode 10 of Serious Soft Skills. I'm Bob Graham and with me as always, at least so far, is Dr. Tobin Porterfield. We each teach college; we collaborate on researching soft skills, and we both have used and seen others employ soft skills over the course of our long and illustrious careers, not that long and not that illustrious. We think our experience and expertise give us a unique lens for looking at soft skills. We're going to show you that when we talk in the next few moments about perseverance.
What Is Empathy?
Porterfield ‘0:57': Bob, you already let the cat out of the bag about what we are covering, but I am pretty excited. In these podcasts, we laid out the over 50 soft skills that we have identified through our research and we framed them into four groups — Individual soft skills, a big list with 28; ones where we interact with people, Nexus soft skills, where there are seven; then we looked at Group soft skills, where we work with a team or group; and Enterprise soft skills are the leadership ones.
Porterfield ‘1:32': Now it's time to dig in deeper. Today we want to get into one of those Individual soft skills, one of the 28. In our list, we call it persistence. The individual should bring persistence when going after an objective, to not let obstacles get in their way. Persistence is to vastly pursue when undertaking a task even when hindered by an obstacle or distracted by an obstacle.
Perseverance is different from being stubborn.
Porterfield ‘2:07': We've worked with people who have are stubborn. Then we looked at other people who we admire because they persevere. It's not usually the person who is stubborn that we admire. It's perseverance. There's a difference there that we want to make sure we unwrap today. We really need to understand what perseverance means for an individual and how an organization perseveres.
Graham ‘2:33': Can I tell you a story, Toby? I have a great story about someone who persevered. And when I get to the end I think you are going to know who this person is. I think everyone will know this person.
The Story of a Writer Who Finally Succeeded
Graham ‘2:48': For purposes of this story, I am going to call him Steve. And Steve when he was a child liked to write. He wrote his first story before he could even shave. His mother loved his story and said it should be in a book. He didn't think a lot of it. A couple of years later, he sends one of his stories to a magazine to get published. They rejected it. He put the rejection letter on his wall and he keeps writing. He keeps writing. And he gets more and more rejection letters, but he keeps writing. Ten years later, he's still getting more rejection letters. Now, he is 26 years old. He a teacher with a wife and two children and gets a telegram — back before the Internet — and the telegram is from Doubleday Publishing Co., one of the big publishing companies. They tried to call him on the phone, but he and his wife didn't have enough money for a phone at that point. But he kept on writing and teaching. The telegram isn't a rejection letter, but Doubleday wanted to publish his first novel. It was horror story about Carrie White, a teenage girl with telekinetic powers. He got a $2,500 advance for the book and not long after that, the paperback rights for Carrie sold for $400,000. That was the start of the person we know as Stephen King, one of the most prolific writers of the 20th Century and into the 21st Century. 
Graham ‘4:37': I'm a writer so that story of course resonates with me profoundly.]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 9: How Empathy Builds Trust, Teams]]> Tue, 29 Aug 2017 20:00:26 GMT 19:25 no



 
Hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss empathy, a soft skill that everyone can benefit from, but it's a soft skill that is poorly understood and often overlooked. 
Introduction
Graham ‘0:24': Welcome to Episode 9 of Serious Soft Skills. I'm Bob Graham and with me as always, at least so far, is Dr. Tobin Porterfield. We each teach college; we collaborate on researching soft skills, and we both have used and seen others employ soft skills over the course of our long and illustrious careers, not that long and not that illustrious. We think our experience and expertise give us a unique lens for looking at soft skills. We're going to show you that when we talk in the next few moments about empathy.
What Is Empathy?
Graham ‘0:52': But before we talk about empathy, we need to define it. Empathy is defined as the ability to experience and relate to the thoughts, emotions and experiences of others. Now, let's compare it with sympathy, because we often confuse those two. Sympathy is being able to understand and support others with compassion and sensitivity. So sympathy is understanding, whereas empathy is being able to experience and relate to the thoughts, emotions and experiences of others. Just in those two definitions we see that empathy is deeper than sympathy. Sympathy is a lower threshold of activity that's going on. Can you go a bit deeper for us, Toby?
Dr. Tobin Porterfield ‘1:41': This is one of those topics where we are going to have some feedback from you out there. We will hear about different experiences. I do struggle with the sympathy side. We do want to express that, but it often becomes just a polite response. “I'm sorry to hear that.” It can often be so superficial. When we talk about empathy, we're really talking about a depth of, you used the word understanding, a depth of appreciation, a depth of really walking a mile in another man's shoes. You really get it. You get why someone is frustrated. I am sorry you are frustrated and I really get it. And here's what we can do about it.
The impact that empathy can have on an organization is that depth of relationship and the critical role of empathy in truly developing and maintaining relationships.
Empathy Is About Sharing
Graham ‘2:44′: It's a shared experience. So if I talk about a situation that was difficult for me. For instance, my father died two years ago. I was talking to someone who had just had his father die and we were able to talk in a way that wasn't just superficial. “Oh, I'm so sorry.” We started talking about how you hear your father's voice at various times of the day. You're in the club who lost their fathers, too. You are nodding with me. You know what that's like. You could be empathetic in that case. Until my father died, I thought when friends' parents died, I thought it was just terrible. It's deeper now. You talk about that shared experience. With this person, we had a bond that is really deep that was built over that one, 90-second discussion about hearing the voice of your father even though he is gone.
Porterfield ‘3:47': Can you find that thing? Think about it in a work situation. We aren't usually talking about those types of tings. But that's what's going on underneath the layers of a work situation. There are family pressures and experience that people bring with them into the workplace and empathy allows us in a careful way to engage in those.
When there is a shared experience, that certainly makes empathy maybe a little easier. If I haven't had that same experience, then it's incumbent on me to use good listening skills and to ask questions and help me understand how that feels.
]]>




 
Hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss empathy, a soft skill that everyone can benefit from, but it's a soft skill that is poorly understood and often overlooked. 
Introduction
Graham ‘0:24': Welcome to Episode 9 of Serious Soft Skills. I'm Bob Graham and with me as always, at least so far, is Dr. Tobin Porterfield. We each teach college; we collaborate on researching soft skills, and we both have used and seen others employ soft skills over the course of our long and illustrious careers, not that long and not that illustrious. We think our experience and expertise give us a unique lens for looking at soft skills. We're going to show you that when we talk in the next few moments about empathy.
What Is Empathy?
Graham ‘0:52': But before we talk about empathy, we need to define it. Empathy is defined as the ability to experience and relate to the thoughts, emotions and experiences of others. Now, let's compare it with sympathy, because we often confuse those two. Sympathy is being able to understand and support others with compassion and sensitivity. So sympathy is understanding, whereas empathy is being able to experience and relate to the thoughts, emotions and experiences of others. Just in those two definitions we see that empathy is deeper than sympathy. Sympathy is a lower threshold of activity that's going on. Can you go a bit deeper for us, Toby?
Dr. Tobin Porterfield ‘1:41': This is one of those topics where we are going to have some feedback from you out there. We will hear about different experiences. I do struggle with the sympathy side. We do want to express that, but it often becomes just a polite response. “I'm sorry to hear that.” It can often be so superficial. When we talk about empathy, we're really talking about a depth of, you used the word understanding, a depth of appreciation, a depth of really walking a mile in another man's shoes. You really get it. You get why someone is frustrated. I am sorry you are frustrated and I really get it. And here's what we can do about it.
The impact that empathy can have on an organization is that depth of relationship and the critical role of empathy in truly developing and maintaining relationships.
Empathy Is About Sharing
Graham ‘2:44′: It's a shared experience. So if I talk about a situation that was difficult for me. For instance, my father died two years ago. I was talking to someone who had just had his father die and we were able to talk in a way that wasn't just superficial. “Oh, I'm so sorry.” We started talking about how you hear your father's voice at various times of the day. You're in the club who lost their fathers, too. You are nodding with me. You know what that's like. You could be empathetic in that case. Until my father died, I thought when friends' parents died, I thought it was just terrible. It's deeper now. You talk about that shared experience. With this person, we had a bond that is really deep that was built over that one, 90-second discussion about hearing the voice of your father even though he is gone.
Porterfield ‘3:47': Can you find that thing? Think about it in a work situation. We aren't usually talking about those types of tings. But that's what's going on underneath the layers of a work situation. There are family pressures and experience that people bring with them into the workplace and empathy allows us in a careful way to engage in those.
When there is a shared experience, that certainly makes empathy maybe a little easier. If I haven't had that same experience, then it's incumbent on me to use good listening skills and to ask questions and help me understand how that feels.
]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 8: Soft Skills That Guide Organizational Change, Vision]]> Wed, 23 Aug 2017 13:36:33 GMT 18:21 no



Hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham look at the soft skills that guide an organization and its culture toward change and a shared vision.
 
Bob Graham (‘0:00'): Coming up, we're going to talk about the list of soft skills that play the most prominent role in organizations and organizational change. That and more in just a few seconds.
Introduction
Graham ‘0:20': Welcome to Episode 8 of Serious Soft Skills. I'm Bob Graham and with me as always is Dr. Tobin Porterfield. We each teach college, (not this month, but soon we will be back at it, we're getting close); we collaborate on researching soft skills (boy, do we), and we both have used and seen others employ soft skills over the course of our long and illustrious careers, not that long and not that illustrious. We think our experience and expertise give us a unique lens for looking at soft skills. Let's get to it.
Captaining the Ship
Graham ‘0:55': We talk about organizations big and small needing a leader, someone who can chart the course for how the company is going to evolve. Without leadership, there's no captain to the ship. That's the analogy I like to use. You've got to have a captain. Even if it's a one person company, there's got to be a captain. We both know examples of businesses that are rudderless, that no one is steering, that they are just blowing in the wind. We're going to talk about the soft skills that make captaining of a ship, whether it's a business or an organization, possible. But before we get into that, can you sort of explain where we are? We have been going over these soft skills in groupings we created over the last three or four weeks. I thought you could set it up for us.
Dr. Tobin Porterfield ‘1:43': In our research, we identified over 50 unique skills that make up what we consider that soft skill set. That number certainly is overwhelming, and where do you even start? We took the approach of how do you eat an elephant: One bite at a time. We took that 50+ and broke it into four groups. What will be challenging for us is that we formulated those groups based on where those soft skills are applied in the organization. We first started with Individual soft skills (Episode 5), which include loyalty, time management, things that the person internalizes and brings with them. Then, we moved onto Nexus soft skills (Episode 6), which are those soft skills you use in one-on-one interactions. Then, we expanded out to Group soft skills (Episode 7), which are obviously those special skills you need to operate in an environment with several people or more. Now, here we are with the top group, which we call Enterprise soft skills, because they really separate themselves. What is really challenging about these Enterprise soft skills is that they also apply in other levels, but what makes them distinct and the reason we pulled them into the Enterprise soft skill level was that they can be very clearly applied in a strategic way. 
An Example of Enterprise Soft Skills
Porterfield ‘3:10': Let me just give you an example. Being persuasive is one of the soft skills we put at the Enterprise level. Certainly at all levels of communication, we want to persuade people to our thinking, we want to be able to communicate our ideas. So we want to have that influence factor. But that is so much more critical to the leadership level or in a broader sense, when we are influencing the organization.]]>




Hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham look at the soft skills that guide an organization and its culture toward change and a shared vision.
 
Bob Graham (‘0:00'): Coming up, we're going to talk about the list of soft skills that play the most prominent role in organizations and organizational change. That and more in just a few seconds.
Introduction
Graham ‘0:20': Welcome to Episode 8 of Serious Soft Skills. I'm Bob Graham and with me as always is Dr. Tobin Porterfield. We each teach college, (not this month, but soon we will be back at it, we're getting close); we collaborate on researching soft skills (boy, do we), and we both have used and seen others employ soft skills over the course of our long and illustrious careers, not that long and not that illustrious. We think our experience and expertise give us a unique lens for looking at soft skills. Let's get to it.
Captaining the Ship
Graham ‘0:55': We talk about organizations big and small needing a leader, someone who can chart the course for how the company is going to evolve. Without leadership, there's no captain to the ship. That's the analogy I like to use. You've got to have a captain. Even if it's a one person company, there's got to be a captain. We both know examples of businesses that are rudderless, that no one is steering, that they are just blowing in the wind. We're going to talk about the soft skills that make captaining of a ship, whether it's a business or an organization, possible. But before we get into that, can you sort of explain where we are? We have been going over these soft skills in groupings we created over the last three or four weeks. I thought you could set it up for us.
Dr. Tobin Porterfield ‘1:43': In our research, we identified over 50 unique skills that make up what we consider that soft skill set. That number certainly is overwhelming, and where do you even start? We took the approach of how do you eat an elephant: One bite at a time. We took that 50+ and broke it into four groups. What will be challenging for us is that we formulated those groups based on where those soft skills are applied in the organization. We first started with Individual soft skills (Episode 5), which include loyalty, time management, things that the person internalizes and brings with them. Then, we moved onto Nexus soft skills (Episode 6), which are those soft skills you use in one-on-one interactions. Then, we expanded out to Group soft skills (Episode 7), which are obviously those special skills you need to operate in an environment with several people or more. Now, here we are with the top group, which we call Enterprise soft skills, because they really separate themselves. What is really challenging about these Enterprise soft skills is that they also apply in other levels, but what makes them distinct and the reason we pulled them into the Enterprise soft skill level was that they can be very clearly applied in a strategic way. 
An Example of Enterprise Soft Skills
Porterfield ‘3:10': Let me just give you an example. Being persuasive is one of the soft skills we put at the Enterprise level. Certainly at all levels of communication, we want to persuade people to our thinking, we want to be able to communicate our ideas. So we want to have that influence factor. But that is so much more critical to the leadership level or in a broader sense, when we are influencing the organization.]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 7: Group Soft Skills That Help Lead Teams, Fuel Innovation]]> Tue, 15 Aug 2017 22:08:54 GMT 17:37 no



Hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham talk about specific soft skills that fuel innovation and guide you when you are working in a group.
Bob Graham (‘0:00'): Coming up, we're going to talk about some specific soft skills that guide you when you are working in a group. That and more in just a few seconds.
Introduction
Graham ‘0:19': Welcome to Episode 7. It's already been a week. I'm Bob Graham and with me is Dr. Tobin Porterfield. We each teach college, we collaborate on researching soft skills, and we both have used and seen others employ soft skills over the course of our long careers. Not that long, but long. We think our experience and expertise give us a unique lens for looking at soft skills. We're going to show you that in the next few minutes.
Setting the Stage
Graham ‘0:56': Toby, let's talk about soft skills being used in groups. But before we do that, can you just set up where we are in this whole continuum. We have been doing this look at soft skills in various categories we created over the last couple of weeks.
Dr. Tobin Porterfield ‘1:08': We've got our four groups of soft skills. We started out in Episode 5 with Individual soft skills. We talked about loyalty and time management and others that you bring to work that are really internal and you need to have to operate successfully in the work environment. Then we moved outside the individual to those we call Nexus soft skills that help us interact one-on-one with others. In Episode 6, we talked about written and oral communication, patience, empathy, emotional and social intelligence, those types of things.
Sorting Out Your Soft Skills Inventory
Porterfield ‘1:51': I hope that as our listeners heard those and processed through some of those soft skills, they said some of those come naturally in me. Maybe there are others that you look at and you say that you don't even think about it. You already developed that skill, maybe it's making presentations or writing. You were just trained in it and you just have it as part of who you are now. To that, we say, that's great. We hope that you recognize those soft skills that you have and you use them. We hope you look at the others and say how can I build strength in those? How do I bring those into play? How do I make them part of how I naturally engage?
Soft Skills for Innovation
Porterfield ‘2:31': We are excited now to share some of these soft skills that really make a difference in groups. I was just thinking, if I have to be put on one more team at work, I am going to go out of my mind. It's all about groups and teams these days. Someone the other day said to me that when it comes to innovation in the academic world and in the classroom, you aren't going to lock yourself in a room and suddenly come out with a great idea of how you are going to innovate in the classroom. It's going to be in a group. It's going to be people bringing different experiences with technology, things they have done that worked and failed, but it's when a group brings things together.
When a group gets together and problem-solves, that's where our real innovation comes from.
Organizations that Work in Groups
Graham ‘3:15': You see that over and over. Look at NASA, a great example of an organization where you get a lot of people around the room to solve problems. Anyone who you meet who works at NASA will tell you that they have big teams that solve big problems and small problems. No one does it alone. We see that with SpaceX,]]>




Hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham talk about specific soft skills that fuel innovation and guide you when you are working in a group.
Bob Graham (‘0:00'): Coming up, we're going to talk about some specific soft skills that guide you when you are working in a group. That and more in just a few seconds.
Introduction
Graham ‘0:19': Welcome to Episode 7. It's already been a week. I'm Bob Graham and with me is Dr. Tobin Porterfield. We each teach college, we collaborate on researching soft skills, and we both have used and seen others employ soft skills over the course of our long careers. Not that long, but long. We think our experience and expertise give us a unique lens for looking at soft skills. We're going to show you that in the next few minutes.
Setting the Stage
Graham ‘0:56': Toby, let's talk about soft skills being used in groups. But before we do that, can you just set up where we are in this whole continuum. We have been doing this look at soft skills in various categories we created over the last couple of weeks.
Dr. Tobin Porterfield ‘1:08': We've got our four groups of soft skills. We started out in Episode 5 with Individual soft skills. We talked about loyalty and time management and others that you bring to work that are really internal and you need to have to operate successfully in the work environment. Then we moved outside the individual to those we call Nexus soft skills that help us interact one-on-one with others. In Episode 6, we talked about written and oral communication, patience, empathy, emotional and social intelligence, those types of things.
Sorting Out Your Soft Skills Inventory
Porterfield ‘1:51': I hope that as our listeners heard those and processed through some of those soft skills, they said some of those come naturally in me. Maybe there are others that you look at and you say that you don't even think about it. You already developed that skill, maybe it's making presentations or writing. You were just trained in it and you just have it as part of who you are now. To that, we say, that's great. We hope that you recognize those soft skills that you have and you use them. We hope you look at the others and say how can I build strength in those? How do I bring those into play? How do I make them part of how I naturally engage?
Soft Skills for Innovation
Porterfield ‘2:31': We are excited now to share some of these soft skills that really make a difference in groups. I was just thinking, if I have to be put on one more team at work, I am going to go out of my mind. It's all about groups and teams these days. Someone the other day said to me that when it comes to innovation in the academic world and in the classroom, you aren't going to lock yourself in a room and suddenly come out with a great idea of how you are going to innovate in the classroom. It's going to be in a group. It's going to be people bringing different experiences with technology, things they have done that worked and failed, but it's when a group brings things together.
When a group gets together and problem-solves, that's where our real innovation comes from.
Organizations that Work in Groups
Graham ‘3:15': You see that over and over. Look at NASA, a great example of an organization where you get a lot of people around the room to solve problems. Anyone who you meet who works at NASA will tell you that they have big teams that solve big problems and small problems. No one does it alone. We see that with SpaceX,]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 6: Nexus Soft Skills Backing One-On-One Interactions]]> Wed, 09 Aug 2017 11:47:09 GMT 16:49 no



Hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss the soft skills necessary to foster good one-on-one communications.
Bob Graham ‘0:00': Coming we're going to talk about the specific soft skills that can make or break your discussion with another person. That and more in just a few seconds.
The Opening
Graham ‘0:17': Welcome to Episode 6 of Serious Soft Skills. I am Bob Graham and with me is Dr. Tobin Porterfield. We each teach college, we collaborate on researching soft skills and we have both used and seen others use soft skills in a variety of jobs over our careers. We think that experience and expertise give us a unique lens to look at soft skills through. And that's what we are about to do.
Podcast Housekeeping
Graham ‘0:48': But first, Toby, I need to do some housekeeping. I was doing some driving earlier today and I happened to listen to our Episode 5 in the car. I know. It sounds very self-absorbed or something. I just wanted to see how it sounded in a car because I hadn't done that. It's now available as a podcast on iTunes so I was able to download it, which was cool. I was fascinated when I realized that I could play my voice at 1.5 or 2 times the speed or at half speed. I won't tell you that I almost crashed my car while I was doing it. But I almost crashed my car doing it. I wanted to share that with our listeners. You can actually accelerate our voices and get through our 18-20 minute podcasts in as few as 10-12 minutes. 
Where You Can Find Us
Graham ‘1:50': One last thing, Toby: You can also see our episodes, literally see them. We have videos of each of these podcasts on our website, SeriousSoftSkills.com. You can also see our show notes for each show there. We have elaborate show notes for each show. I am literally writing out a lot of what we do in each show. It's taking a bit of time, but they are really great show notes. I find when I am putting them together, I get some new insights from what we say. Those show notes are for each episode and they are on the Blog/Podcast tab on SeriousSoftSkills.com. We also write some blog posts there, as well, on other topics related to soft skills.
Framing Our Discussion
Graham ‘2:34': Let's get on with the show. Toby, why don't you start things off and frame where we are here in the whole world of soft skills because we are working through them over a series of episodes, starting with Episode 5.
Dr. Tobin Porterfield ‘2:45': We last time laid out the Individual soft skills, those skills that are really critical for a person to engage successfully in their work environment. Things like taking responsibility, being responsive, being a learner. There was a long list, almost 20, and we have that list available on our website. But those type of skills that are really about the individual. Today, we wanted to stretch that out further and look at how people engage one-on-one with others in the work situation. So we have that next layer and we have used the term Nexus to describe this. I am going to throw it back to you to explain the term Nexus, which they might not have heard before.
What Are Nexus Soft Skills?
Graham ‘3:27': Nexus, if you know anything about the word Nexus, is a word I had not used a lot. But I had seen it. It's actually a connection between people or things. In our use of it, it fits perfectly with this one-on-one communication because we are really talking about that connection between one person and another person. Just as you said before, but I want to underscore it, we are not saying that all soft skills are related to one-on-one communications. We are breaking the soft skills into four different catego...]]>




Hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham discuss the soft skills necessary to foster good one-on-one communications.
Bob Graham ‘0:00': Coming we're going to talk about the specific soft skills that can make or break your discussion with another person. That and more in just a few seconds.
The Opening
Graham ‘0:17': Welcome to Episode 6 of Serious Soft Skills. I am Bob Graham and with me is Dr. Tobin Porterfield. We each teach college, we collaborate on researching soft skills and we have both used and seen others use soft skills in a variety of jobs over our careers. We think that experience and expertise give us a unique lens to look at soft skills through. And that's what we are about to do.
Podcast Housekeeping
Graham ‘0:48': But first, Toby, I need to do some housekeeping. I was doing some driving earlier today and I happened to listen to our Episode 5 in the car. I know. It sounds very self-absorbed or something. I just wanted to see how it sounded in a car because I hadn't done that. It's now available as a podcast on iTunes so I was able to download it, which was cool. I was fascinated when I realized that I could play my voice at 1.5 or 2 times the speed or at half speed. I won't tell you that I almost crashed my car while I was doing it. But I almost crashed my car doing it. I wanted to share that with our listeners. You can actually accelerate our voices and get through our 18-20 minute podcasts in as few as 10-12 minutes. 
Where You Can Find Us
Graham ‘1:50': One last thing, Toby: You can also see our episodes, literally see them. We have videos of each of these podcasts on our website, SeriousSoftSkills.com. You can also see our show notes for each show there. We have elaborate show notes for each show. I am literally writing out a lot of what we do in each show. It's taking a bit of time, but they are really great show notes. I find when I am putting them together, I get some new insights from what we say. Those show notes are for each episode and they are on the Blog/Podcast tab on SeriousSoftSkills.com. We also write some blog posts there, as well, on other topics related to soft skills.
Framing Our Discussion
Graham ‘2:34': Let's get on with the show. Toby, why don't you start things off and frame where we are here in the whole world of soft skills because we are working through them over a series of episodes, starting with Episode 5.
Dr. Tobin Porterfield ‘2:45': We last time laid out the Individual soft skills, those skills that are really critical for a person to engage successfully in their work environment. Things like taking responsibility, being responsive, being a learner. There was a long list, almost 20, and we have that list available on our website. But those type of skills that are really about the individual. Today, we wanted to stretch that out further and look at how people engage one-on-one with others in the work situation. So we have that next layer and we have used the term Nexus to describe this. I am going to throw it back to you to explain the term Nexus, which they might not have heard before.
What Are Nexus Soft Skills?
Graham ‘3:27': Nexus, if you know anything about the word Nexus, is a word I had not used a lot. But I had seen it. It's actually a connection between people or things. In our use of it, it fits perfectly with this one-on-one communication because we are really talking about that connection between one person and another person. Just as you said before, but I want to underscore it, we are not saying that all soft skills are related to one-on-one communications. We are breaking the soft skills into four different catego...]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 5: The First Step to Improve Your Soft Skills]]> Wed, 02 Aug 2017 08:27:57 GMT 20:00 no



Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham take a deeper dive into one of the key areas of soft skills: Individual soft skills. We’re also going to talk about how best to get moving toward improving your soft skills.
Bob Graham ‘0:00’:  Coming up, we’re going to take a deeper dive into one of the key area of soft skills: Individual soft skills.
Graham ‘0:23’: Welcome to Episode 4 of Serious Soft Skills. I am Bob Graham, and with me, as always,  is Dr. Tobin Porterfield. We each teach college, we collaborate on researching soft skills, and we both have used and seen others use soft skills in various jobs over our careers. We think our experience and expertise give us a unique lens for looking at soft skills and I think we are going to show you that with what we are about to discuss. Right, Toby?
Tobin Porterfield ‘1:01’: It should be an interesting topic today.
How We See Individual Soft Skills
Graham ‘1:03’: Every topic is an interesting topic when you and I are looking into it. Let’s get right into it. In one of the past episodes (Episode 3), we looked at listening skills as one of the most important Individual soft skills. I made the case that it was the most important and we sort of wrestled with it a bit. Today we’re going to talk about more of those Individual soft skills and how they show up in people’s lives and in their work. Can you sort of help us set this up?
Porterfield ‘1:31’: In our research we have found over 50 specific skills that are part of soft skills. We talked about how that list can really be overwhelming. We have broken that list into four groupings, with one being Individual soft skills. We call them that because they are so much more internalized.
Porterfield ‘1:54’: Let me list out some of those Individual soft skills so our listeners can get a feel for the type of items. I think they will be able to connect pretty well with them. Working independently, being proactive, attention to detail, positive attitude, being a lifelong learner, being loyal, stress management, ethics, and of course, good old listening skills, perseverance, self motivation and time management. I would think that people could see how we put those together as something that’s foundation, but they’re also ones that we looked at how those soft skills play out in the workplace. So we found these and brought these together because they are ones you bring to the workplace, as opposed to ones you might use when engaging one-on-one, in a group or the ones we would use when we are trying to influence the greater organization. These come much closer to home.
Breaking Down Being A Life-Long Learner
Graham ‘3:13’: As I heard you go through that list, those soft skills seemed like the ones I can work on within the four walls of my cubicle or the four walls of my office. I can be improving on them without dealing with other people. I can be thinking about being a life-long learner. How does that show up? It’s as easy as doing an online seminar, or to prepare for our podcast, I had to learn about podcasts. I listened to about 15 or 20 different podcasts on podcasts. I read three books on podcasting. I spoke to people on podcasting and how to do a podcast. Rather than going, I don’t know how to do it, I’ll never know it, I took the time to develop those expertise. Is that an example of an individual doing the work to develop one of these soft skills, lifelong learning? Of course, that makes me more valuable. And being able to administer this podcast process really helps our company in a lot of ways, as well.
Porterfield ‘4:25’: You touched on a good point here that I hope our listeners pick up on that nuance. We are talking here about the soft skill of being a lifelong learner. But you spoke about being able to manage the software, being able to write the scripts, to do the editing. We’ve said before that soft skills and hard skills go hand-in-hand.]]>




Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham take a deeper dive into one of the key areas of soft skills: Individual soft skills. We’re also going to talk about how best to get moving toward improving your soft skills.
Bob Graham ‘0:00’:  Coming up, we’re going to take a deeper dive into one of the key area of soft skills: Individual soft skills.
Graham ‘0:23’: Welcome to Episode 4 of Serious Soft Skills. I am Bob Graham, and with me, as always,  is Dr. Tobin Porterfield. We each teach college, we collaborate on researching soft skills, and we both have used and seen others use soft skills in various jobs over our careers. We think our experience and expertise give us a unique lens for looking at soft skills and I think we are going to show you that with what we are about to discuss. Right, Toby?
Tobin Porterfield ‘1:01’: It should be an interesting topic today.
How We See Individual Soft Skills
Graham ‘1:03’: Every topic is an interesting topic when you and I are looking into it. Let’s get right into it. In one of the past episodes (Episode 3), we looked at listening skills as one of the most important Individual soft skills. I made the case that it was the most important and we sort of wrestled with it a bit. Today we’re going to talk about more of those Individual soft skills and how they show up in people’s lives and in their work. Can you sort of help us set this up?
Porterfield ‘1:31’: In our research we have found over 50 specific skills that are part of soft skills. We talked about how that list can really be overwhelming. We have broken that list into four groupings, with one being Individual soft skills. We call them that because they are so much more internalized.
Porterfield ‘1:54’: Let me list out some of those Individual soft skills so our listeners can get a feel for the type of items. I think they will be able to connect pretty well with them. Working independently, being proactive, attention to detail, positive attitude, being a lifelong learner, being loyal, stress management, ethics, and of course, good old listening skills, perseverance, self motivation and time management. I would think that people could see how we put those together as something that’s foundation, but they’re also ones that we looked at how those soft skills play out in the workplace. So we found these and brought these together because they are ones you bring to the workplace, as opposed to ones you might use when engaging one-on-one, in a group or the ones we would use when we are trying to influence the greater organization. These come much closer to home.
Breaking Down Being A Life-Long Learner
Graham ‘3:13’: As I heard you go through that list, those soft skills seemed like the ones I can work on within the four walls of my cubicle or the four walls of my office. I can be improving on them without dealing with other people. I can be thinking about being a life-long learner. How does that show up? It’s as easy as doing an online seminar, or to prepare for our podcast, I had to learn about podcasts. I listened to about 15 or 20 different podcasts on podcasts. I read three books on podcasting. I spoke to people on podcasting and how to do a podcast. Rather than going, I don’t know how to do it, I’ll never know it, I took the time to develop those expertise. Is that an example of an individual doing the work to develop one of these soft skills, lifelong learning? Of course, that makes me more valuable. And being able to administer this podcast process really helps our company in a lot of ways, as well.
Porterfield ‘4:25’: You touched on a good point here that I hope our listeners pick up on that nuance. We are talking here about the soft skill of being a lifelong learner. But you spoke about being able to manage the software, being able to write the scripts, to do the editing. We’ve said before that soft skills and hard skills go hand-in-hand.]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 4: New Soft Skills Research Revealed]]> Tue, 18 Jul 2017 17:46:04 GMT 18:01 no



Hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham share some cutting-edge research on soft skills we obtained from a survey of almost 500 business people. They further dig into results among various groups, including people seeking jobs, workers without leadership roles, mid-level managers, executives, and the self-employed. It’s great stuff that will give you new insights on soft skills.
Bob Graham ‘0:00’: Coming up, we will share some cutting-edge research on soft skills we obtained from a survey of almost 500 business people. It’s great stuff that will give you new insights into how soft skills are really being used in the workplace. That and more in just a few seconds.    
Graham ‘0:28’: Welcome to Episode 4 of Serious Soft Skills. I am Bob Graham, and with me, as always,  is Dr. Tobin Porterfield. We each teach college, we collaborate on researching soft skills, and we both have used and seen others use soft skills in various jobs over our careers. We think our experience and expertise give us a unique lens for looking at soft skills.
Graham ‘0:59’: So today, Toby, we are going to do things a little differently. We’re going to talk about some research we have done in the field of soft skills that we have only released to a list of very few people. So this is breaking news. If I had a glass, I would break it. This is big stuff.
Why This Research Matters
Graham ‘1:29’: Before we get into the research, Toby, why don’t you set up for people what the research found. Of course, whenever you are looking at research, the first question is who did you ask the questions to? Can you walk through how we got this data we are about to share?
Dr. Tobin Porterfield ‘1:45’: Bob, I am going to throw you a curve ball because I think we need to actually take a step further back because one of the problems with research is you have to cover why. Otherwise, you can look at all these results and people say, “Who cares?” Let me frame it up with why we even got into this and why we reached out to our network for some answers. It started with us looking around. As we were developing that sensitivity to soft skills, we’d have observations. We’d say that we had seen leadership do this and I see the importance of communication. We usually refer to these as anecdotal or experiential evidence. We get these little snippets. They almost turn into sound bites that you might hear on the news. We’ve even seen this in news clippings. We start to pull all these pieces together, but as people who look at research, we have to stop and say, “Hold it. Is that really a unique experience I have had and it doesn’t apply to anyone else, anywhere else?” That is what brought us to doing the survey and reaching out to our network to ask the question and validate that soft skills are really important, which soft skills are important, and who are they important for.
Porterfield ‘3:06’: Our initial survey did that and it cleared up a lot of items and it brought some focus in. It also motivated us to say this kind of work needs to be done. Back to the survey. Bob, can you give us a little background on how we reached out to collect that data?
How We Found Participants
Graham ‘3:24’: We went new school, I would say. In the past you would try to find people to do surveys by mail or by fax, and I can remember doing some surveys that way. But here, we actually used some new stuff called social media and email. We leveraged LinkedIn. We used databases we each have of LinkedIn connections. Those connections we sent an email to asking them to fill out a short survey. It took less than five minutes. It wasn’t real long and involved. We also posted it on social media, on our Facebook pages, on LinkedIn and on Twitter. We got really good response there. And we did some networking, one of the soft skills. I sent it out to a few people in my network, who were kind enough to share with their networks...]]>




Hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham share some cutting-edge research on soft skills we obtained from a survey of almost 500 business people. They further dig into results among various groups, including people seeking jobs, workers without leadership roles, mid-level managers, executives, and the self-employed. It’s great stuff that will give you new insights on soft skills.
Bob Graham ‘0:00’: Coming up, we will share some cutting-edge research on soft skills we obtained from a survey of almost 500 business people. It’s great stuff that will give you new insights into how soft skills are really being used in the workplace. That and more in just a few seconds.    
Graham ‘0:28’: Welcome to Episode 4 of Serious Soft Skills. I am Bob Graham, and with me, as always,  is Dr. Tobin Porterfield. We each teach college, we collaborate on researching soft skills, and we both have used and seen others use soft skills in various jobs over our careers. We think our experience and expertise give us a unique lens for looking at soft skills.
Graham ‘0:59’: So today, Toby, we are going to do things a little differently. We’re going to talk about some research we have done in the field of soft skills that we have only released to a list of very few people. So this is breaking news. If I had a glass, I would break it. This is big stuff.
Why This Research Matters
Graham ‘1:29’: Before we get into the research, Toby, why don’t you set up for people what the research found. Of course, whenever you are looking at research, the first question is who did you ask the questions to? Can you walk through how we got this data we are about to share?
Dr. Tobin Porterfield ‘1:45’: Bob, I am going to throw you a curve ball because I think we need to actually take a step further back because one of the problems with research is you have to cover why. Otherwise, you can look at all these results and people say, “Who cares?” Let me frame it up with why we even got into this and why we reached out to our network for some answers. It started with us looking around. As we were developing that sensitivity to soft skills, we’d have observations. We’d say that we had seen leadership do this and I see the importance of communication. We usually refer to these as anecdotal or experiential evidence. We get these little snippets. They almost turn into sound bites that you might hear on the news. We’ve even seen this in news clippings. We start to pull all these pieces together, but as people who look at research, we have to stop and say, “Hold it. Is that really a unique experience I have had and it doesn’t apply to anyone else, anywhere else?” That is what brought us to doing the survey and reaching out to our network to ask the question and validate that soft skills are really important, which soft skills are important, and who are they important for.
Porterfield ‘3:06’: Our initial survey did that and it cleared up a lot of items and it brought some focus in. It also motivated us to say this kind of work needs to be done. Back to the survey. Bob, can you give us a little background on how we reached out to collect that data?
How We Found Participants
Graham ‘3:24’: We went new school, I would say. In the past you would try to find people to do surveys by mail or by fax, and I can remember doing some surveys that way. But here, we actually used some new stuff called social media and email. We leveraged LinkedIn. We used databases we each have of LinkedIn connections. Those connections we sent an email to asking them to fill out a short survey. It took less than five minutes. It wasn’t real long and involved. We also posted it on social media, on our Facebook pages, on LinkedIn and on Twitter. We got really good response there. And we did some networking, one of the soft skills. I sent it out to a few people in my network, who were kind enough to share with their networks...]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 3: The Most Important Soft Skill, Maybe]]> Tue, 11 Jul 2017 02:08:28 GMT 15:55 no



Today we are going to look at arguably what is one of the most important soft skills, one that sets the stage for so many other soft skills to appear. Will you agree or disagree with our host?
Bob Graham ‘0:00’: Coming up, we are going to look at arguably what is one of the most important soft skills, one that sets the stage for so many other soft skills to appear. That’s coming up in just a few seconds.
Graham ‘0:26’: Welcome to Episode 3 of Serious Soft Skills. I am Bob Graham and with me, as always — well, it’s only our third episode — is Dr. Tobin Porterfield. Hey, Toby?
Porterfield ‘0:36’: I am looking forward to this episode today because I think the topic one that we don’t completely agree on. So it will cause us to have some discussion over it and I think we are going to hear some interesting responses from some of our listeners.
Graham ‘0:55’: We’ll get to that in a few seconds. But first, let me set up who we are for someone who might have come into this cold. We each teach college, we collaborate on researching soft skills, and we both have used and seen others use soft skills in various jobs over our careers. We think our experience and expertise give us a unique lens for looking at soft skills and that’s what we are going to do right now.
The Most Important Soft Skill?
Graham ‘1:22’: I’m going to tell you — are you ready for this, Toby?
Porterfield ‘1:29’: Let’s have it.
Graham ‘1:31’: I am going to make the bold pronouncement that listening is the most important soft skill of the over 50 that we catalogued. I have been working on our book project and I was writing about listening and the more I wrote about listening, the more I realized it is really the key soft skill. Do you want to argue that right away or do you want me to make my case?
Porterfield ‘2:00’: I think I will start with a slight agreement in that listening enables so many other soft skills — innovation, teamwork. There are so many ways that listening is, I’ll use that term, enabling that it’s an important one. I’ll give you that. Let’s see what you have to say about listening.
Graham ‘2:23’: Okay, I was going to go with you just accepted my case. We can call it a day and people can get on with their lives. But  now you are going to make me do a little work.
Porterfield ‘2:36’: Absolutely.
A Leader Who Didn’t Listen
Graham ‘2:38’: Did you know that Marissa Mayer, 20th employee at Google, female software engineer, one of the most visible employees at Google. She left there to go to Yahoo! to be its CEO, not a programmer, but the CEO at Yahoo!. Over her tenure of four or five years, things were a bit rocky, to say the least. And more recently, if you have been following the headlines, you know she has sort of ushered the company to be bought by Verizon Communications. And she’s basically on her way out the door. Her choice, she’s resigning. But if you look at her tenure at Yahoo!, what she really was supposed to be doing at Yahoo! was rebuilding Yahoo! Again and again in the reporting on her and Yahoo!, and this came up frequently, her inability to listen to people — she was one of those people who thought she was the smartest person in the room — and she tended to articulate things without listening to the people in the company who were trying to help her. We see this in companies all the time with leadership trying to help the leader because failure to them means failure to employees, which can mean bad things like uncertainty and other problems. I have certainly worked at several jobs where leadership challenges have made it hard to go in and do the job each day.
When you don’t have listening, you don’t have the opportunity for an organization to grow.
Listening Leads to Influencing
Graham ‘4:18’: That was my first piece of evidence. My second piece is really fascinating to me.]]>




Today we are going to look at arguably what is one of the most important soft skills, one that sets the stage for so many other soft skills to appear. Will you agree or disagree with our host?
Bob Graham ‘0:00’: Coming up, we are going to look at arguably what is one of the most important soft skills, one that sets the stage for so many other soft skills to appear. That’s coming up in just a few seconds.
Graham ‘0:26’: Welcome to Episode 3 of Serious Soft Skills. I am Bob Graham and with me, as always — well, it’s only our third episode — is Dr. Tobin Porterfield. Hey, Toby?
Porterfield ‘0:36’: I am looking forward to this episode today because I think the topic one that we don’t completely agree on. So it will cause us to have some discussion over it and I think we are going to hear some interesting responses from some of our listeners.
Graham ‘0:55’: We’ll get to that in a few seconds. But first, let me set up who we are for someone who might have come into this cold. We each teach college, we collaborate on researching soft skills, and we both have used and seen others use soft skills in various jobs over our careers. We think our experience and expertise give us a unique lens for looking at soft skills and that’s what we are going to do right now.
The Most Important Soft Skill?
Graham ‘1:22’: I’m going to tell you — are you ready for this, Toby?
Porterfield ‘1:29’: Let’s have it.
Graham ‘1:31’: I am going to make the bold pronouncement that listening is the most important soft skill of the over 50 that we catalogued. I have been working on our book project and I was writing about listening and the more I wrote about listening, the more I realized it is really the key soft skill. Do you want to argue that right away or do you want me to make my case?
Porterfield ‘2:00’: I think I will start with a slight agreement in that listening enables so many other soft skills — innovation, teamwork. There are so many ways that listening is, I’ll use that term, enabling that it’s an important one. I’ll give you that. Let’s see what you have to say about listening.
Graham ‘2:23’: Okay, I was going to go with you just accepted my case. We can call it a day and people can get on with their lives. But  now you are going to make me do a little work.
Porterfield ‘2:36’: Absolutely.
A Leader Who Didn’t Listen
Graham ‘2:38’: Did you know that Marissa Mayer, 20th employee at Google, female software engineer, one of the most visible employees at Google. She left there to go to Yahoo! to be its CEO, not a programmer, but the CEO at Yahoo!. Over her tenure of four or five years, things were a bit rocky, to say the least. And more recently, if you have been following the headlines, you know she has sort of ushered the company to be bought by Verizon Communications. And she’s basically on her way out the door. Her choice, she’s resigning. But if you look at her tenure at Yahoo!, what she really was supposed to be doing at Yahoo! was rebuilding Yahoo! Again and again in the reporting on her and Yahoo!, and this came up frequently, her inability to listen to people — she was one of those people who thought she was the smartest person in the room — and she tended to articulate things without listening to the people in the company who were trying to help her. We see this in companies all the time with leadership trying to help the leader because failure to them means failure to employees, which can mean bad things like uncertainty and other problems. I have certainly worked at several jobs where leadership challenges have made it hard to go in and do the job each day.
When you don’t have listening, you don’t have the opportunity for an organization to grow.
Listening Leads to Influencing
Graham ‘4:18’: That was my first piece of evidence. My second piece is really fascinating to me.]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 2: The Story of Doug, Who Has Poor Soft Skills]]> Tue, 04 Jul 2017 22:41:56 GMT 16:56 no



You may have heard about soft skills, but you may not know who in your office needs to use them and why. We'll explain it all.
Bob Graham ‘0:00': You may have heard about soft skills, but you may not know who in your office needs to use them and why. We will enlighten you in just a few seconds.
Graham ‘0:22': Welcome to Episode 2 of Serious Soft Skills. I am Bob Graham, and with me is Dr. Tobin Porterfield. We each teach college, we collaborate on researching soft skills, and we both have used and seen others use soft skills in various jobs over our careers. We think our experience and expertise give us a unique lens for looking at soft skills. So let’s get to it.
We explained what soft skills were and were not in Episode 1. But before we get to our topic today, let’s answer a few emails we received.
Dr. Tobin Porterfield ‘1:06': It’s always good to hear from our listeners.
Aren’t Soft Skills Just Being Nice To People?
Graham ‘1:09': Tim asked, aren’t soft skills just being friendly and nice to the people you work with? Toby?
Porterfield ‘1:13': Wow. That’s dangerous. While we certainly want to be engaging with people and interested in the people we work with, that’s an oversimplification. That casual smile and looking like you are paying attention are not what we are looking for. When we are talking about soft skills, we are talking about intentionality here. It’s not just being nice, it’s not just being there, but that’s important. It’s the intentionality of engaging in such a way that it enables us to apply our technical skills, our hard skills, in a new way.
Graham ‘2:19': You aren’t saying we shouldn’t be nice. You’re just saying that soft skills are more than just being nice.
Porterfield ‘2:23': That just isn’t going to get us where we need to go at work.
Why Did It Take So Long to Recognize Soft Skills?
Graham ‘2:27': We also have a great question from Kaitlyn. If researchers working with the Army first coined the phrase soft skills in the early 1970s, why did it take so long for people to really start talking about them?
Porterfield ‘2:49': The work for the Army in the early 70s is where they coined that term “soft skills.” I wish I had coined that term myself. It would have been a great thing. They were pretty forward-looking on soft skills. They really were able to grab hold of that. I don’t think we are arguing that soft skills didn’t exist way before the 1970s. People have been working in teams, using listening skills, perseverance. We have a country made of pioneers who persevered and captains of industry who built the economy that we live in today. It comes back to intentionality in what we have seen as we have progressed from the 1970s, the 1980s to today is, as we talked about in Episode 1, the economy has changed, the workplace has changed and there is a need now to approach work in a new way. We have emphasized those hard skills, we have a lot of disciplinary knowledge in so many fields, but those soft skills are what are coming into play today that are making us say, what do we need today to be competitive, innovative. We’ve got the hard skills and soft skills, but how do we mobilize them? That’s where soft skills really are coming into the discussion today.
Graham ‘4:26': I want to thank Tim and Katlyn for their great questions. Keep those questions coming. You can email them to podcast@serioussoftskills.com or tweet them to us at @realsoftskills. We will answer more questions in future episodes.
Which Employees Use Soft Skills?
Graham ‘5:19‘: Now, Toby, let’s talk about which employees have to use soft skills. Is it the leaders, the new employees or only people who have to interact with a firm’s “customers”? I have heard all three of these.
]]>




You may have heard about soft skills, but you may not know who in your office needs to use them and why. We'll explain it all.
Bob Graham ‘0:00': You may have heard about soft skills, but you may not know who in your office needs to use them and why. We will enlighten you in just a few seconds.
Graham ‘0:22': Welcome to Episode 2 of Serious Soft Skills. I am Bob Graham, and with me is Dr. Tobin Porterfield. We each teach college, we collaborate on researching soft skills, and we both have used and seen others use soft skills in various jobs over our careers. We think our experience and expertise give us a unique lens for looking at soft skills. So let’s get to it.
We explained what soft skills were and were not in Episode 1. But before we get to our topic today, let’s answer a few emails we received.
Dr. Tobin Porterfield ‘1:06': It’s always good to hear from our listeners.
Aren’t Soft Skills Just Being Nice To People?
Graham ‘1:09': Tim asked, aren’t soft skills just being friendly and nice to the people you work with? Toby?
Porterfield ‘1:13': Wow. That’s dangerous. While we certainly want to be engaging with people and interested in the people we work with, that’s an oversimplification. That casual smile and looking like you are paying attention are not what we are looking for. When we are talking about soft skills, we are talking about intentionality here. It’s not just being nice, it’s not just being there, but that’s important. It’s the intentionality of engaging in such a way that it enables us to apply our technical skills, our hard skills, in a new way.
Graham ‘2:19': You aren’t saying we shouldn’t be nice. You’re just saying that soft skills are more than just being nice.
Porterfield ‘2:23': That just isn’t going to get us where we need to go at work.
Why Did It Take So Long to Recognize Soft Skills?
Graham ‘2:27': We also have a great question from Kaitlyn. If researchers working with the Army first coined the phrase soft skills in the early 1970s, why did it take so long for people to really start talking about them?
Porterfield ‘2:49': The work for the Army in the early 70s is where they coined that term “soft skills.” I wish I had coined that term myself. It would have been a great thing. They were pretty forward-looking on soft skills. They really were able to grab hold of that. I don’t think we are arguing that soft skills didn’t exist way before the 1970s. People have been working in teams, using listening skills, perseverance. We have a country made of pioneers who persevered and captains of industry who built the economy that we live in today. It comes back to intentionality in what we have seen as we have progressed from the 1970s, the 1980s to today is, as we talked about in Episode 1, the economy has changed, the workplace has changed and there is a need now to approach work in a new way. We have emphasized those hard skills, we have a lot of disciplinary knowledge in so many fields, but those soft skills are what are coming into play today that are making us say, what do we need today to be competitive, innovative. We’ve got the hard skills and soft skills, but how do we mobilize them? That’s where soft skills really are coming into the discussion today.
Graham ‘4:26': I want to thank Tim and Katlyn for their great questions. Keep those questions coming. You can email them to podcast@serioussoftskills.com or tweet them to us at @realsoftskills. We will answer more questions in future episodes.
Which Employees Use Soft Skills?
Graham ‘5:19‘: Now, Toby, let’s talk about which employees have to use soft skills. Is it the leaders, the new employees or only people who have to interact with a firm’s “customers”? I have heard all three of these.
]]>
<![CDATA[Podcast 1: What Are Soft Skills Anyway?]]> Thu, 29 Jun 2017 12:16:45 GMT 18:16 no



Hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham explain what soft skills are, using powerful examples from business. 
Bob Graham ‘0:22': We’re going to explain what soft skills are in general, and explain them in a way that gives people a better understanding. Let’s start with the big question first. Why soft skills now?
Dr. Tobin Porterfield ‘0:58': We know from our research that soft skills go back almost 50 years. So they are not new. But what is new is, we are in a hyper-competitive market now, where technology and globalization have saturated how we do business. The speed of change if you are working at Apple, SAP or a company like that, is greater. The hyper-competitive world is hitting all of us, from a small business up to a global corporations.   The environment we work in is different. Then, within our organizations we are facing a multi-generational workforce; the people we work with and the way we work are different.
Where Soft Skill Are Affecting Small Business
Graham ‘2:03': Give me an example or situation where soft skills are playing a role with a small business?
Porterfield ‘2:09': We know even the term small business can a landmine, because we can be talking about a hardware store or some other business with 3-5 employees up to a small company with 100 or 150 employees. But those soft skills still come into play. We’re in an environment where we have to be able communicate with our customer, we have to be able to listen, we have to be able to respond to changes in the marketplace.
Graham ‘2:47': That makes sense. I have certainly seen that in my own small business. Things change, customers change. You have ownership changes; you have management changes, or even you have companies that change their focus like overnight. One day they are doing A and the next day they are doing B. It’s the soft skills that really allow us to adapt to those things.
Porterfield ‘6:04': I think you make a great point. We are involved in a virtual world.
What Soft Skills Really Are
Porterfield ‘3:23': We are throwing around the term “soft skills” and most people are familiar with it it.   Our argument is that soft skills are what make us responsive and allow our organizations to not be complacent in the face of all of these changes going on in our hyper-competitive business world.
Is Soft Skills The Right Phrase?
Porterfield ‘3:43': Soft skills can be a challenging term. We have had people respond to us, Don’t even use that term. Don’t even call them soft skills because it makes them seem second class. IT makes them sound unimportant. Use critical skills, communication skills, managerial skills, and I know there are a lot of other terms out there.  
Graham ‘4:14': Non-technical skills is a term we see a lot in literature.
Contrasting Soft Skills with Technical Skills
Porterfield ‘4:19': These soft skills are not your technical skills. For a marketing person, those technical skills might be understanding the message and how to take that message out to the market, how to develop that message.
Graham ‘4:40': The tools that you would use, whether you would send out a press release and other types of specific things that you can put your finger on.
Porterfield ‘4:50': If you were an architect or an engineer, those hard skills or technical skills become more obvious because I need to understand tension strengths and all kinds of other technical details of my work. So then, you might say the soft skills are everything else.   But I like to use a working definition that soft skills are the portfolio of skills that allow us to work or operate within the context of an organization.   The soft skills are the glue that allows us to move those technical skills into the ...]]>




Hosts Dr. Tobin Porterfield and Bob Graham explain what soft skills are, using powerful examples from business. 
Bob Graham ‘0:22': We’re going to explain what soft skills are in general, and explain them in a way that gives people a better understanding. Let’s start with the big question first. Why soft skills now?
Dr. Tobin Porterfield ‘0:58': We know from our research that soft skills go back almost 50 years. So they are not new. But what is new is, we are in a hyper-competitive market now, where technology and globalization have saturated how we do business. The speed of change if you are working at Apple, SAP or a company like that, is greater. The hyper-competitive world is hitting all of us, from a small business up to a global corporations.   The environment we work in is different. Then, within our organizations we are facing a multi-generational workforce; the people we work with and the way we work are different.
Where Soft Skill Are Affecting Small Business
Graham ‘2:03': Give me an example or situation where soft skills are playing a role with a small business?
Porterfield ‘2:09': We know even the term small business can a landmine, because we can be talking about a hardware store or some other business with 3-5 employees up to a small company with 100 or 150 employees. But those soft skills still come into play. We’re in an environment where we have to be able communicate with our customer, we have to be able to listen, we have to be able to respond to changes in the marketplace.
Graham ‘2:47': That makes sense. I have certainly seen that in my own small business. Things change, customers change. You have ownership changes; you have management changes, or even you have companies that change their focus like overnight. One day they are doing A and the next day they are doing B. It’s the soft skills that really allow us to adapt to those things.
Porterfield ‘6:04': I think you make a great point. We are involved in a virtual world.
What Soft Skills Really Are
Porterfield ‘3:23': We are throwing around the term “soft skills” and most people are familiar with it it.   Our argument is that soft skills are what make us responsive and allow our organizations to not be complacent in the face of all of these changes going on in our hyper-competitive business world.
Is Soft Skills The Right Phrase?
Porterfield ‘3:43': Soft skills can be a challenging term. We have had people respond to us, Don’t even use that term. Don’t even call them soft skills because it makes them seem second class. IT makes them sound unimportant. Use critical skills, communication skills, managerial skills, and I know there are a lot of other terms out there.  
Graham ‘4:14': Non-technical skills is a term we see a lot in literature.
Contrasting Soft Skills with Technical Skills
Porterfield ‘4:19': These soft skills are not your technical skills. For a marketing person, those technical skills might be understanding the message and how to take that message out to the market, how to develop that message.
Graham ‘4:40': The tools that you would use, whether you would send out a press release and other types of specific things that you can put your finger on.
Porterfield ‘4:50': If you were an architect or an engineer, those hard skills or technical skills become more obvious because I need to understand tension strengths and all kinds of other technical details of my work. So then, you might say the soft skills are everything else.   But I like to use a working definition that soft skills are the portfolio of skills that allow us to work or operate within the context of an organization.   The soft skills are the glue that allows us to move those technical skills into the ...]]>