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Tsunami’s Big Winner on Big Island

March 30, 2011

Filed under: Hawaii,Management,observations,Uncategorized — admin @ 1:12 pm

At the risk of sounding a bit callous, it’s not too early to count Michael Dell as a potentially big winner from the Japanese disaster.

Four Seasons at Hualalai

Mr. Dell owns the Hualalai resort complex on the Big Island of Hawaii and while his two major resort hotels suffered significant damage and are now closed, it looks like the long-term impact will be positive – for him.

Both hotels, The Four Season’s Resort and Kona Village have loyal fans – albeit on distinct end of the resort spectrum. Kona Village offers a kid-friendly, family oriented, no-frills package which is popular with a wide variety of customers including Apple Computer’s Steve Jobs.

The Four Seasons caters to the upper end of the income scale and the Hualalai location has long had the highest occupancy rate of any Four-Season’s run facility.

Both resorts are currently closed –  the Four Seasons until April 30 and Kona Village permanently.

But don’t shed a tear for Mr. Dell, insurance will cover most if not all his losses and will also allow him to complete some much needed renovations that were planned, but he would have had to  finance on his own. Don’t look for construction photos anywhere though, the resort is keeping a tight lid on any information and employees who have been called in to work have to sign a non-disclosure agreement promising not to reveal the extent of the damage to the resort.

Workers are racing to meet the April 30 deadline when the insurance coverage for  employee wages runs out and many locals have doubts about an on-time completion. Several island fund-raisers, including the annual Cancer society’s Cattle Baron’s Ball, April 16th,  have already had to find new homes, but the events will be held.

Workers at the Four Seasons who have been impertinent enough to post, what they thought were innocuous pictures of storm damage, have faced disciplinary action, including firing.

Guests who were not able to be accommodated in the adjoining Hualalai condo/home complex, were shifted to nearby hotels, providing a bonanza  for the  Mauna Kea, Hapuna Prince, Mauna Lani and Fairmont Orchid properties – although they certainly are not getting the ‘Four Seasons Experience.’

As for neighboring Kona Village, many of the small homes, or hales, were knocked off their ocean-front foundations and a number were destroyed. Rebuilding would require permits under new building regulations with much larger setbacks, so Mr. Dell has decided just to convert the property into an extension of the Four Seasons.

Kona Village has always had the better beach, but if the county approves, that beachfront will now be surrounded by several hundred new rooms at $800-$3000 per night, in place of the $3,000 per week package plans that Kona Village featured.

Sounds like a win-win situation if you are Michael Dell. He wins on both ends. We’ll see what happens when the actual applications get filed – the natives are already upset.

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Making Money From Emotions

March 25, 2011

Filed under: Coaching,Management,observations — Tags: , , — admin @ 12:27 pm

A week or so ago, I posted an item about identifying emotions by reading facial expressions. It was a local test that expanded on some well-known international studies about the universality of emotions.

To me it was an interesting exercise in emotional intelligence, but, as we all know, there may be other uses. Leave it to the folks at the MIT Media Lab to figure out a way to monetize your smile. Yes, there’s an App for that.

This week’s Science Friday on NPR has all the details. I don’t have any comments beyond, it figures. Let me know what you think.

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Re-inventing the Wheel at Google

March 19, 2011

Filed under: Coaching,Management,observations,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — admin @ 2:49 pm

A week ago the New York Times, featured an article on a lengthy study done by Google on management practices.

I’ve been stewing about it ever since.

Despite Google’s protestations, it seems to me that they spent a year re-inventing the wheel so that their “data-driven employees” will understand their rationale in trying to improve the performances of the managers.

The study uncovered 8 secrets to better management and Google then ranked the ‘secrets’ and began implementing them. I’ll let you read the list and their implementation on your own, but any executive coach or organizational development consultant, or even any good manager could have created the list and developed a blueprint for implementation.

Yes, having data being behind your plans adds credibility, but so would successful implementation by a professional. What Google really found out what something that every other business discovers: technical expertise does not make you a good manager. Or put another way the skills that you need as an employee are not the same as those that you need as a manager.

I guess in all their vaunted testing they never realized that while logic and test-taking skills may be able to predict employee success, they do not translate directly to the ‘soft skills’ that managers need to make their employees better. Now, as competition grows and other businesses are stealing their employees, they have discovered that managing a staff takes some skill and actually translates to the bottom line.

I worked with first-time managers in a variety of industries and the one unanimous concern they have is that the technical skills that got them noticed as a potential manager have nothing to do with the skills they need once they are promoted. I guess it’s good to know that a year of research by Google has led to the same conclusion.

If that’s not re-inventing the wheel I don’t know what is.

Google has been in the fore

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Thinking About the Brain and Pain

March 8, 2011

Filed under: Book Review,Coaching,observations,Wellness — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 4:28 pm

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the brain recently. If you’ve read any of my book review posts you know I have an interest in how the brain works and what makes us, us.

But, over the last three weeks there seems to be a convergence of sorts. Two weeks ago the Wisdom 2.0 Conference was held in Mountain View. Billed as conference seeking “deeper meaning” in the modern technology-rich age, the event focused on mindfulness and trying to get participants to ‘be’ present, rather than always looking to something in the future.

The speakers were among the biggest in the field. If you are not knowledgeable in the field, trust me, those in the know, such as my wife, told me the people on stage were the thought leaders. What was more interesting to me was the attendees – well over half the crowd was made up of coaches of one type or another.

There were a few physicians, a couple of psychologists and many practitioners of mindfulness, or meditation of other holistic practices, but the largest group seemed to be coaches.

A key focus of the event was the effect of mindfulness on the brain and the enhancement of cognitive abilities.

Around the same time several articles came out noting the impact of the brain on pain.

One of them suggested that a patient’s expectations  would impact their pain level and that the expected outcome of a surgical procedure was affected by a patient’s  psychological state. My wife, the pain psychologist, has been telling me this for years.

Then, last week I attended a meeting of the Northern California Association of Pain Psychologists to listen to a lecture by Dr. Sean Mackey of Stanford on what happens in the brain when we experience pain. I had recently finished Melanie Thernstrom’s “Pain Chronicles” which I found quite compelling so I thought lecture would be interesting. Plus my wife didn’t want to drive alone.

Dr. Mackey is head of the Stanford pain program and is known world wide for the studies they do trying to isolate how the bran processes pain and other emotions.

Finally, I was brought full circle back to the Wisdom 2.0 coference by a New York Review of Books article on  V.S. Ramachandran’s The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Quest for What Makes Us Human , which asks the question: If we know how the brain works does that really help us understand the human mind? And further, what implications does this have for coaching, management, or psychology.

I’m not sure what all this means but it seems clear the topic is pretty hot.

Think about it and let me know what you think.

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