Sunday, January 06, 2008

Deepak Chopra Says Barack Obama is "Self-Aware"

Deepak Chopra, well known New Age spiritualist, holistic health advocate and author, has provided a great insight into Barack Obama in his blog "Intent Blog."

Deepak cites Obama's quality of self-awareness as his best qualification for president. There is something about Obama that is unquantifiable, and maybe that's it. Obama just seems comfortable in his own skin, and maybe that represents true self-awareness.

Deepak quotes Benjamin Disraeli in saying that in order to be successful in politics, you need to know yourself and you need to know the times. Deepak adds that you also must be sought out by the times, which seems like it is happening with Obama as well.

I must admit that I've been so hopeful for 2008 (the entire year, not just the election) after I saw that Obama win the Iowa caucuses. I think he might be the person to make a difference in our country. And, as Deepak says, maybe America will become more self-aware in the process.

A Hospital is not the Best Place to be if You Have a Heart Attack

The New England Journal of Medicine released a study recently that showed that heart attacks in hospitals are more often fatal than for people who have heart attacks elsewhere.

The study goes so far to say you would be better off to have a heart attack in a hotel or casino than a hospital. The reason is the delay. In a casino, the staff usually responds more quickly and uses a newer, smaller defibrillator which works well. Many hospitals rely on an older, clumsier defibrillator and they are dealing with many other patients, so the delay in responding to you may be a life threatening three, four or five minutes.

ABC News report is here.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Carbon Tax vs Carbon Markets vs Commons Trust

There is a debate as to whether carbon taxes or carbon markets are better to reduce our greenhouse gas problem.

Carbon tax means adding a tax amount at the retail level that will be directed to fixing the environment. The arguments for it are that it is pretty simple and it is harder for the oil companies to play games to avoid it. The arguments against it are that it is an uphill battle politically (more taxes! is this communism??) and that it would impact the poor more than the rich. For an argument in favor of carbon taxes see this article and this advocacy Website.

Carbon markets are where the goverment sets up a bunch of permits to pollute and gives them to corporations based on their current pollution amounts, then the corporations are allowed to trade them amongst themselves. When this occurs, say the advocates, the corporations start to compete among themselves to use fewer permits so they can sell more of them to the greater polluters.

People who like the idea of carbon markets say that it is a true market-based solution to the problem. People who are against it say that it will take a long time to reduce pollution because the permits represent the current level of pollution and it will take years before this system will get us down to the levels we need to be. For an article showing carbon markets in a positive light, see this.

But there is a third view on how to reduce greenhouse gases. Peter Barnes, co-founder of Working Assets, wrote a book recently called Capitalism 3.0: A Guide to Reclaiming the Commons (Bk Currents) where he states that both carbon markets and carbon taxes are too problematic to be helpful in the long term battle against pollution. He sees a better alternative with establishing a commons trust. This would be where a third type of institution (not government, not private) is built in the United States (or any country) that is solely responsible for preserving the commons. In global warming terms, the commons refers to the atmosphere, clean water and healthy forests - the general ecosystem. The trustees represent all of us, including the future unborn generations, as well as the non-human species and the ecosystem itself. Their responsibility it to those stakeholders.

Each year, the trust would collect money from corporations who "use up" our commons in any way, either through polluting our air or water, chopping down trees, contaminating the soil or any other usage of the commons. Barnes calls this "commons rent." Those fees would go into three places: towards restoration of the commons (planting trees, cleaning up polluted areas), checks to all citizens and also investments. Yes, he is suggesting that each of us receive a check each year (or month) representing our share of the commons that was used during that period.

Commons trustees would not be government employees and would not have any connection to the government or the current political party in charge. Commons trustees would have a written contract with the U.S. citizenry and future generations that would keep them from violating the commons in any way. Trustees would be appointed by the federal government and then have long terms of duty, similar to Supreme Court justices.

I think this is an interesting idea, and certainly is different than carbon taxes or carbon markets. It has a lot of benefits, but I'm sure it would take a long time to educate people/voters about it. The nice thing is that you could start small, say, just the forests in southeastern Ohio, and then see how the small experiments work and move to bigger goals later.

Systems like this are already in place today. The largest is the Alaska Permanent Fund, set up to allow citizens of Alaska to participate in oil revenues. Each Alaskan gets a check of about $1,000 a year representing their share of the oil taken out of Alaska.

Let me know what you think of these three options. Probably the best idea is to try them all in small ways and see which ones work best.

Peter Barnes' blog is here.

Friday, January 04, 2008

I received this article as an e-mail forwarded from a friend. I thought it was so appropriate for the holiday season and also for our work lives in general. I requested and received permission from the author to post it on my blogs. I don't think I have ever simultaneously posted something on both my blogs, but this article seemed to fit (for my "other" blog, see here):

Here's the article.


Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D.

During one of AT&T's many transformations, I interviewed the woman in charge of Employee Health Services to find out what she'd observed about the most resilient people in the organization. I asked her if she noticed anything that these employees had in common that helped them deal so successfully with change: Did they work in a particular geographic region? Had they reached a certain level of the hierarchy? Did they perform similar functions? Were they male? Female? Younger? Older?

The manager told me that none of those factors made a difference. She said, "People who thrive on organizational change have two things in common: They take good care of themselves and they have outside interests."

As I continued talking with professionals in thirty organizations (and seven industries), the same theme kept repeating in my interviews. People who were the most adept at dealing with organizational change, not only had a career -- they had a life.

A definition of the word compensate is "to provide with a counterbalance or neutralizing device." Change-adept individuals compensate for the demands and pressures of business by developing counterbalancing activities in other areas of their lives. They engage in exercise programs and healthful eating habits, they cultivate interests outside of the workplace -- sports, hobbies, art, music, etc. -- that are personally fulfilling, and they have sources of emotional support. Because employees with counterbalance have fuller, richer lives, they handle business-related stress better and are more effective on the job.

They also have a source of stability - external to the organization - which many refer to as their "anchor" or "rock."

One of the most memorable interviews I conducted on this topic was with the CEO of a cellular telephone company: "I've got one of those 'anchors' in my life," he told me. "It's my sock drawer." I must have looked startled because the CEO continued quickly. "I mean it," he said. "All hell can be breaking loose at work, but when I come home at night I open my sock drawer to find everything in color-coded, neat little piles. I tell you, it does my heart good."

I've included this story in my speeches for years, and only once have I had someone take offense at it. I had addressed the national convention of a real estate firm in Florida. A sales manager from California came up to me after the speech and wanted to book a similar program for his division. "I really enjoyed your talk," he said. "But when you speak to my group, please don't make fun of the sock drawer."

I told the sales manager that I would be happy to do as he asked, but was curious about the reason for his request. He looked at me sternly. "I don't want you to make fun of it because it works! I tell all of my sales people that if they are having a terrible day, where nothing is going right, they might as well go home and straighten out their underwear drawer."

After thinking about that comment, I had to agree. It doesn't matter if the source of counterbalance sounds silly to others; change-adept people know what works for them.

Leaders who encourage employees to develop counterbalance find that, beyond building a more change-adept workforce, there are additional business benefits. The president of CalTex in Kuala Lumpur told me that his company pays for any kind of training course that employees want to take -- the only exceptions being martial arts and cooking classes. He said that the most popular course is singing lessons. This was not totally unexpected since Malaysian employees regularly frequent karaoke bars after work. What he didn't anticipate, however, was the degree to which employees' singing lessons improved their ability in giving work-related presentations. People conquered stage fright and became comfortable with standing in front of groups and expressing their ideas. In fact, the only complaint from the president of the company was, "Now they think they can sing!"

So, as this holiday season progresses, remember to take good care of yourself. Encourage your staff, co-workers and team members to visit friends, to play, to laugh, to straighten out their underwear drawers - and to sing. Doing so will result in a more resilient organization. And that is very good for business.

Happy Holidays!

Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D., is a coach, consultant, and keynote speaker who helps her clients thrive on change. She addresses association, government, and business audiences around the world. She is the author of ten books including "This Isn't the Company I Joined - How to Lead in a Business Turned Upside Down." Her newest book, "THE NONVERBAL ADVANTAGE - Secrets and Science of Body Language at Work," will be published by Berrett-Koehler in May 2008. For more information, contact Carol by phone: 510-526-1727, email:, or through her website:

Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D.
Kinsey Consulting Services

Carol coaches executives, facilitates management retreats, helps change teams develop strategies, and delivers keynote speeches and seminars to association and business audiences around the world. She can be reached by phone: +1-510-526-1727, email:, or through her website:

Author of nine books, including:
* This Isn't the Company I Joined -- How to Lead in a Business Turned Upside Down
* Ghost Story: A Modern Business Fable
* Creativity in Business
* Change-Busting: 50 Ways to Sabotage Organizational Change
* Adapting to Change: Making it Work for You
* The Human Side of High-Tech

Are You Wasting Money on Annual Physical Exams?

Don't feel too bad if you missed having your annual physical exam with your doctor last year. In fact, no major North American clinical organization actually recommends doing an annual checkup. US News and World Report says that annual physicals might very well be a waste of your money and time, in the minds of many doctors.

The good thing about doing an annual checkup is that the doctor might find something that can be looked into further before it progresses. However, the bad aspects of the annual physical seem to outweigh the good: a) it costs money and time that are usually a waste, b) there is an excellent chance that there will be false positives for conditions you don't have, causing stress and more money and c) most diseases are caught when patients come in for other minor ailments anyway.

It's up to you. I haven't done annual physical exams with Western medical doctors for many years. I use a naturopathic physician and she has a more natural protocol that I prefer. To me, the false positives issue with Western medical tests is enough of a deterrent to keep me away from doing annual physicals.

Please Take a Moment to Question the Safety of Your Vaccines

When vaccines were first invented, we hailed them as a modern medicinal miracle. But in the last few years, people have been questioning a) whether they really still work and b) whether they may be harmful to children.

This article, posted on, brings some good discussion topics to the fore. Please give it a read and form your own opinions.