MYNDDCAST: Season 1, Episode 3 – Altera Life

Christian Force and Shannon Koch inspire their clients to better health and vibrant living at Altera Life. In this episode they share how their Vision of “The Other, Another” guides their thinking, their work and their relationships throughout the community.

Visit Altera online at: https://alteralife.com/

You can also find them on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/alteralife/

Keywords: Plant-Based Nutrition, Danville PA Health Club, Certified Personal Trainers, Susquehanna Valley PA Entrepreneurs

MYNDDCAST Moment, Emergent Behaviors

Do these 3 things to bring about a multitude of desired behaviors and their benefits to your organization. Many desired behaviors are emergent behaviors. This means we spend too many resources in a narrow lane seeking their improvement. Rather, we can (and must) look to core behaviors and skills that will bring about our desired behaviors. If you desire increased team creativity, collaboration or contribution, or if you seek specific improvements such as Increased Quality in Customer Service, High Impact Meetings or Increased Utilization of Time , are you focused on the proper human and organizational development?

MYNDDCAST Moment: Vision

Organizational Vision shares our vision of the future, at a point when our services and products have made the impact we’re working toward. Need a refresher on what a great vision is, click PLAY below.

A special shout out to my friends and mentors Drs. Derek and Laura Cabrera, Plectica. https://www.plectica.com/about-us. Check out their amazing Plectica software for “showing” your thinking.

Uncommon Solutions

Two powerful words voiced by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and heard most mornings on NPR segments they support. Living in Central PA as an entrepreneur, but working outside those boundaries, I feel the powerful tug of war between common and uncommon.

The Kauffman Foundation: Uncommon
https://www.kauffman.org/rethink/uncommon

Products & Services: Being an entrepreneur in small town USA can mean hanging a shingle promoting your efforts to bring the common to the community. We all know the common things. They are the services and products that a large population of humans seek or need frequently. The uncommon can feel risky, NEW and strange. Should I open that Art & Team Bar in a culture of drive-through coffee drinkers? Be too uncommon and the entrepreneur can feel the sting of common mindsets. See, that’s the point about being uncommon. It makes us, the consumers, reevaluate our needs and think deeper about what can benefit us. Is the same old, same old good? Bad? Just meh? When entrepreneurs kick us out of our comfort zones and into a new mindset….we all win. The uncommon wins!

Approaches & Tactics: Common extends into organizational structures and cultures as well. That old, dusty Vision Statement hanging on the wall is common. It’s ignored, but common. Having our Monday morning meetings, common. Ineffective, but common. Teams of people attempting to work together with little to no effort put into understanding ourselves, each other or how our unique blend of attitudes and behaviors impact organizational performance. That’s common. Not great, common. Bad actually. But common. Just like the convenience and comfort of hitting that drive through for a cup-o-joe, we get caught in a drive through mindset of work culture. “It’s not healthy, but it’s quick and we KNOW how to do it.” Pretty soon, we’re ordering an extra this or that in cultural terms. One day, we add a side of team in-fighting, or how about a crushed spirit or two? No harm no fowl. We were in line and while we’re here, why not. The common. We all know what the common drive through routine results in. Unhealthiness. So yes, the common Approaches & Tactics for organizations result in the same.

Developing an organizational mindset equipped for our volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world can become common, but for now, it is uncommon…and lovely…….and needed.

If you didn’t click through to the article on the Kauffman website listed above, here is a powerful quote:

“You should not choose to be a common company. It’s your right to be uncommon if you can. You seek opportunity to compete. You desire to take the calculated risk, to dream, to build, yes, even to fail, and to succeed.”

— Ewing Marion Kauffman

This is my challenge to every organization, be uncommon. Craft a Vision that is INSPIRING. Build a Mission that is worth doing repeatedly by the HUMANS who have joined you. Get to know your fellow teammates beyond ritualistic hellos and goodbyes and thank yous and awkward high fives. Be committed to being uncommon for those you serve because they NEED you to be uncommon, but may have no idea what that looks like. That’s your job. That’s OUR job.

Want to be uncommon, and awesome. Connect with me to bring MYNDDSET services to your organization. Together, we’ll MAP, ADVANCE and TRANSFORM your culture. We’ll be UNCOMMON together.

Entrepreneurs: Build Something, to Do Something, that Leads to Something

Todd Henry, an incredibly inspiring author, shares a simple model for “Creatives”, those who’s work demands they be creative. He presents a model that includes being Prolific, Healthy and Brilliant. Shift, remove, or lessen just one part of that model and the expected outcome (being a Creative) shifts to another outcome (being tired and not healthy for example). Here’s a link to the Accidental Creative podcast covering this topic to learn more.

What I love about this simple, three-part model is that it provides the opportunity to look at the inter-dependency of the parts and how they lead to an emergent “thing.” In the entrepreneurial world, a similar model can help us understand how to “be entrepreneurial.”

As entrepreneurs, we often get so into the weeds we’ve grown, we get distracted from our purpose. If we’re building a widget, we get blinded by the shiny parts and if left unchecked, we can start to think what the widget does is what we ultimately seek. For example, if we build a new high performance electric car, the performance of the car can easily become sweat nectar and lure us into a sense of significant accomplishment. However, have we forgot the real reason we’re building the car? What about our vision to end the world dependency on oil? Oh yeah. So, now, our high performance, $100,000 car seems not so capable of reaching the masses and that means achieving our initial vision is at risk. We just went 0-60 in 2 seconds but got nowhere. (But it was fun 🙂

Following a model of entrepreneurism can help us focus on key aspects of being entrepreneurial. Whether your an entrepreneur by title (i.e., you launched your own business) or you’re an employee with an entrepreneurial spirit, how can a simple model such as this one keep you on track?

Following Todd’s lead, what if you just Build Something that doesn’t do anything predictable? What are you then? And, what are you if you build something that does something awesome but doesn’t result in anything specific? Flip it. What if you spend all your time mapping the results you want, but don’t build something to get you there?

At the far right, let’s change that box to Vision (our future state, our dream). The middle box, make that Mission (what we do every day). The left box, that will be our Capacity (the systems we build to do our work). I made a decision years ago to pursue my entrepreneurial visions and that includes surrounding myself with entrepreneurs in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Every day, I get to unite with entrepreneurial minds in my community. Amazing, local rock stars doing amazing things. Yet, one thing we all often struggle with is the model above. Sometimes we loose sight of the far right as we keep our heads down building the something. When we get that something up and running, and it’s cranking out something, we feel a sense of “doneness.” We can get comfortable. Our vision (far right) can get fuzzy. By using the model as a whole we build a mindset (a perspective) on entrepreneurism that is simple and powerful.

How can this help you in your entrepreneurial efforts?

Man Looking in Mirror

Knowing Yourself, Knowing Others…Pre-Req to Organizational Vision Work

What drives you? How do you describe your attitudes and prominent behaviors? Are you capable of understanding others, working with those with drivers different from yours? Are you a learner? Can you describe how you think, build ideas and solve problems?

How well do you know yourself?

If your response to any of these questions is, “Uhhmmmm…..”, then I have some advice. Invest time in discovering those answers BEFORE joining your organizational visioning work. Harsh? Not at all. Kind. I’m hitting to your backhand here. I learned this by being a tennis player. My friend and doubles partner wasn’t helping me by constantly hitting to my strong forehand. They helped me grow by hitting to my backhand. That’s what friends are for.

Vision work within an organization presents an incredible opportunity to strengthen and grow. This translates into professional and personal benefits for staff and stakeholders as well. New lines of business may be part of the visioning and those bring new customers, new LIFE to an organization.

On the flip side, re-visioning an organization can feel threatening to some. Depending on organizational structure, concern around change and negative impact can be detrimental to the effort. That push-back however is a choice, one driven by ego and a lack of understanding of oneself and others. To the extreme, some can view organizational vision work as a life-and-death struggle. They will do everything they can to keep their position of influence, their jobs and their security.


“It’s difficult to have fun or to achieve concentration when your ego is engaged in what it thinks is a life-and-death struggle.”


― W. Timothy Gallwey, The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance

These ego-driven struggles are the result of not knowing yourself to the degree needed to take part in organizational development AT THIS TIME. I would NEVER suggest someone could NEVER take part in this work. But, there are those who are not ready at given times. How do you figure out where you stand?

#1 Get help! For years, I’ve helped organizations and teams build vision and conduct mission-driven work. I’ve learned that the struggles they experienced were almost 100% related to team members not knowing themselves and others. That’s why I launched my new line of assessments to help organizations provide a resource for staff. If you or your organization needs help, let me know. Spending just a few minutes to complete an assessment is an incredible professional development opportunity.

#2 Separate Personal from Organization Granted, attaining an “Organization Over Self” mindset can be life-changing and hard. But, it will allow your energies to become part of something larger than what you can accomplish on your own. Being part of an organization is not about getting YOUR way and forcing others to follow. It’s about joining forces with others to do something BIG, something BOLD, something meaningful beyond you.

#3 Trust the System Organizational vision work that is based on Systems Thinking is critical to building a meaningful vision. Systems Thinking is PERSPECTIVAL which means it is inclusive of taking many points of view and seeing things through different lenses. But, it is not about compromises. Compromising a vision means the vision is the result of everyone losing something and giving in to individual needs. To trust the system of building a new vision, check your ego at the door and become part of the process. Learn, be open and participate.

All three of these points are based on knowing yourself and others. Of course, admitting you don’t know yourself requires a certain amount of knowing yourself. So to start, just ask yourself the questions in the opening paragraph and plot a course of action. Begin with #1 above. When you do, you’ll become part of an amazing vision experience for your organization that will change your work and life.

{SIX SPARKS} Vision …

Today I start a new series of short posts called {SIX SPARKS}. The format is simple. I’ll share six statements about a specific idea to SPARK larger flames. I won’t fan the flames too much. Our collective job is to get the fire roaring through interaction, sharing ideas with colleagues or writing your own post based off one of the SPARKS. If you do that, be sure to give this post a shout out and share your link. So here we go.

Vision…What can an incredible Vision do for an organization?

Vision …

  1. Rights an organization that’s gone off course.
  2. Creates organizational purpose.
  3. Empowers everyone within the organization.
  4. Sets the highest level of organizational measurement of success.
  5. Decreases emotional instabilities within the organization.
  6. Fuels relationship management for an organization internally and externally.

Have a question about Vision…let me know. Now, it’s time to share your thoughts. Comment, share and connect.

Crowd Developed Entrepreneurial Mindset

These two simple formulas changed how I approach presentations, workshops, training events, teaching, life…pretty much everything I do.

K = I x T
L = ▲K

Knowledge = Information (times) Thinking
Learning = a change in Knowledge
Cabrera Research Lab, Drs. Derek and Laura Cabrera

Any time I have the opportunity to lead a crowd on an educational journey, I remind myself….If I DON’T get them THINKING about the information we explore, they won’t build new knowledge. And, if they aren’t building new knowledge, they aren’t learning. And, my job is to help people learn.

Crowd-based learning is INCREDIBLY powerful. Why? Because it harness these two formulas. So, that was my approach this week when I lead a session titled “Entrepreneurism is a WORKFORCE Issue.” My goal was to have the crowd build a model of an Entrepreneurial Mindset and then align that model with current needs of employers (to build a strong workforce). With over 50 people in a small room, they went about building a model. Yesterday, I roughly pulled together their thoughts.

It isn’t pretty, but it is powerful. Yesterday, I wrote this article on RISK. The group felt rather strongly that embracing, taking, accepting RISK was an attitude entrepreneurs exhibited. That was just one of the attitudes that bubbled to the top of their work. Others include:

  • Visionary Thinking
  • Leader Mentality
  • Energetic, Driven Approach
  • Creative and Innovative Thinking
  • Confident

These attitudes and ways of thinking lead to the behaviors that wrap up into what this group thought of as describing an Entrepreneur. And, I agree. This collection of attitudes, this MINDSET, exhibits what an entrepreneur is (much better than any definition of an entrepreneur). And, the important take-a-way is the one hour journey we took together to build this mindset model.

My last request of the group was “Now, look at wall and remove any item you don’t believe employers want in employees today.” No one moved. There was a rather audible “ah ha” moment. Our effort to build and understand the entrepreneurial mindset with the crowd lead to a level of learning and understanding much deeper than the attendees thought was going to take place in that one hour session. And, they have themselves to congratulate for it.

Is HOPE Killing Organizational Thinking?

There was a rather awful experiment in the 1950’s performed by Curt Richter using domesticated rats. The rats were placed in a container of water. They began swimming. The time it took them to drown was recorded. The experiment was repeated but the rats were removed from the water just before they went under. They were dried off and allowed to rest. Then, they were returned to the water. This group swam for hours and hours. Much longer than the group that drowned. The difference? Hope.

Recognize the signs of HOPE that kill your organizational thinking.

Most of us would agree, the power of HOPE is an incredible force. It keeps us alive when many things fail. Hope can be a beacon of light, a source of strength. For the rats in the second group, it provided survival. Survival, by most definitions is a great thing. But, it can also derail organizational thinking, kill vision-mission work and devalue strategy.

Organizations with a legacy are particularly susceptible to counting on hope to survive and lead them into the next fiscal year. Over time, they build a list of strong “hopeful happenings” they begin to look forward to. For example, a non-profit that ends its year with a few thousand dollars in its account feels hope. That happening, ending with a little bit of cash, is like being taken out of the water for a rest. The organization gets removed from the struggles of swimming in their work. That swimming becomes drowning over time. But, just before they go under, they get removed, dried off to rest. The horrible feeling of ALMOST drowning fades a bit as they rest. The struggles seem distant now and start to feel oddly comfortable. A mindset of “well, at least we know what to expect” creeps into the team. To compound that, other “hopeful happenings” pile on. A congratulatory handshake from a board member on staying afloat, a business cycle shift and relaxed pace, a repeat donor donation. Hope builds, but sameness, survival occurs. But, remember, that sameness means at a point in the near future, everyone will return to the water, start swimming and start to drown again.

Hope is so powerful, it can blind an organization to the power of thinking. An organization that commits to thinking can craft an incredible Vision-Mission and build the systems and capacities to support that Vision-Mission. As part of that work, they can also build strategic thinking skills among stakeholders. That work however can get sidestepped for the work to remain afloat, to depend on Hope, to survive. Hope is comfortable. Scary, but comfortable. Thinking differently, change, is scary, unknown, not comfortable for many.

What can we do?

  1. Know your organizational “hopeful happenings”, expose them for what they are and ensure everyone understands they are a drug with side effects.
  2. Stay close to those who show a strong connection to those “hopeful happenings” and are willing to recruit others to follow them. Work with them. If they can’t join, figure out an exit plan for them.
  3. Keep reminding everyone that hope will return you to a state of “almost drowning” and that will be, as expected, incredibly difficult, stressful, and detrimental to everyone.
  4. Make a distinction between a state of hope and your Vision-Mission, a future state that is special, meaningful, fulfilling and powerful.
  5. Celebrate moments when “hopeful happenings” have been eradicated. When you end the fiscal year with more than just a bit of cash, when your business cycles don’t negatively change as they once did, when you don’t have high staff turn over year over year. Don’t let those changes go unnoticed. Those changes didn’t come about from hope, they were possible because of THINKING.
  6. Don’t build new “hopeful happenings.” Be diligent and continually aware of how hope can creep back into your organization. Create events to spend time measuring how well you’re doing and assign roles to purposely be on the lookout.

This is a big moment. If you’ve been swimming for survival in your organization, you’re out of the water for a bit drying off and resting. You have a choice. Hope will throw you back in, or you can commit to THINKING and changing.

Five Components of A Vision-based Work Culture

2017 has brought a new vision for THINK’ID8.  It’s fitting that the first post on the new site focuses on vision and how vision impacts work culture.  Crafting a vision for your organization is hard work, and it should be.  After all, vision is what defines your organization.  Vision establishes a picture for your organization and like a good snapshot, needs a defined, in-focus subject that is attractive to many.  Vision informs every activity, every system, every product, every customer interaction and every employee’s role and performance.  Yes, vision is THAT important.

Walk into your morning coffee or bagel shop and start observing the environment, the team, the food, the other customers.  Can you tell what their vision is?  How does the staff respond to your arrival?  Do they care that you made a choice to visit their shop?  Do they share their enthusiasm for your patronage?  Does the team understand their individual roles in meeting your needs?  The reason you return to the shop frequently  is related to their vision.  An organization without vision will do little to attract customers, regardless of the type of organization. Staff will feel lost and not understand how to interact with each other or those they serve.  And, the products and service will have limited appeal and quality.

Crafting a vision is just part of a vision-based work culture.  An organization with a well crafted vision has little more than a statement to be framed or posted on a website.   If you’re looking to build a vision-based work culture, start by considering the following five components.

  •  An easy to remember, shareable vision.

Too often, vision statements are LONG and cumbersome.  Vision statements can’t be hard to envision.  The simpler the better.  Your team can’t remember a complex statement that isn’t easily thought about during the course of their day.  Your vision should also be something easy to post in a variety  of places.  Use this rule.  If you can’t put your vision onto your business card, it’s too long.

  • Vision-based work cultures talk about their vision…A LOT!

Start meetings with a review of the topic and how it relates to your organizational vision.  In organizational communications, include your vision and again, relate the message of the communication to your vision. Be sincere, and NEVER make light of your vision or assume everyone’s tired of hearing about it.

  • Establish an understanding of anti-vision behavior and performance.

Knowing what DOESN’T match your vision is as important as knowing what does.  As your team goes about their day, each person has a responsibility to watch and listen for anti-vision behavior from others.  Each person should be empowered to react in an instructional way to help others.  And, everyone must be open to receiving this instruction.  The key is to not make this peer level support feel like criticism or compliance.  Respect and empathy must be at the center of changing anti-vision behavior and aligning performance standards to your vision.

  • Create a vision-based working environment.

 Space, or better, use of space, is an important part of managing a vision-based work culture.  Your team’s space must support the organizational vision.  Also important is work time and place.  With many organizations harnessing the power of the conceptual age we’re experiencing today, work is becoming less about time and more about results.  As such, remote work, flexible office spaces, functional shared and open spaces are becoming more important and prevalent. Create recurring moments for your team to reflect on your work environment and build flexible, reactive systems should  changes be identified.  Set policies and permission-oriented procedures may be needed but not to a point where they create barriers.

  • Align services, products and projects to the organizational vision.

Every effort of the organization needs to have a clear relationship to the vision of the organization.  Before launching any project, spend time as a team outlining how the project will help the organization approach the vision.  If the team struggles for more than a few minutes, that project may not be of value.  If you start to notice none of your projects are related to your vision, then your team may be working form old habits, your vision may not be clear, or worse, your organization may have a vision that just isn’t valid.

A vision-based work culture is yours if you’re willing to invest the energy and persevere.  If you’re the leader of your organization, you’ll be the main character in this effort.  But, building vision-based work cultures is far from being a top-down effort.  Vision-based organizations are highly communicative, focused on learning, flexible and quick to change as needs and opportunities arise. Practice the five components above to get started and let me know the results of your efforts.

Mark T. Burke
CEO, Founder of THINK’ID8