Monday, May 23, 2011

Enchantment: Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions ... in your family

This past weekend, I was lucky to go to SheCon New Media Expo in Miami Beach (hi, new friends!), where the keynote speaker was Guy Kawasaki. At the conference, he dived into details that highlighted what's in his latest book, Enchantment: Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions. After his talk, I got to meet Guy Kawasaki in person! He signed the cover of my book (provided free at the conference). He seems like such a genuinely smart, funny and nice guy. Uh, Guy.

I know Enchantment was written for achieving success in business, but as Guy Kawasaki was talking, I couldn't help but think his tips also apply to family life. I don't think that's such a stretch, because he mentioned his family to illustrate some of his points.

For example....

1. Achieve likability. Guy Kawasaki said, "Start with a smile. You want crow's feet." I do believe in the old adage that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. When it comes to family, if you want your child to do something or encourage him to grow in a certain direction, I think you will be more successful if you are sweet -- or likable.

2. Achieve trustworthiness. Guy said to trust others and ask, "How can I help the other person?" Kids need to know whom they can trust. And I believe, innately, they do. If they don't trust their parents, they will find someone else to trust. In the worst-case scenario, it could be a drug dealer, gang leader or a pedophile. So, a parent needs to be there for the kids so they will be trustworthy.

3. Prepare. Guy talked about coming up with a "premortem" -- what you might do if your plan fails. I think most in-tune parents have a Plan B for their kids. (OK, if I put the baby in the crib and he wakes up crying, this is what I'm going to try next to get him to sleep in his own bed....)

4. Prepare to Launch. Guy said, "Plant many seeds." He was talking about spreading your business' story far and wide because it's the "unknown" people who tell others about your product or service that can make it successful. The takeaway for family life, I think, is to plant many seeds within your children. Kids are still developing and becoming the person they are going to be. They need seeds. They need for parents to plant those important messages about life, many times.

5. Overcome Resistance. If anyone knows about (or dreams about) overcoming resistance, it's parents. One of Guy's tips was to find a way to agree -- to harmonize objections. He said to find a bright spot -- instead of overcoming an obstacle, go where things are flowing well. I think these ideas definitely apply to getting along with children in your family. I don't think of this as giving in to a child's demand to, say, eat a cookie in bed after you have tucked her in for the fourth time in one night. But there is wisdom in giving kids options so they feel in control of (at least part of) their lives and making it seem to your child that you are both on the same wavelength, as detailed in Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach and other books about parenting spirited or downright defiant kids.

6. Endure. Like businesses, parents need endurance. The nature of parenting demands it! Guy said to build an ecosystem -- a supportive community -- to make enchantment endure. I'm fortunate to be part of a couple mom groups where we share ideas and tips on raising kids or even just commiserate with one another on how hard it can be to be a mom. And we have fun together. Having fun with your kids and others goes a long way toward being able to endure, I think. Another big point here that Guy made was to invoke reciprocation. He said when people thank you, say, "You would do the same for me," in addition to "You're welcome." In other words, enable people to pay you back. I think this would work great with teenaged kids, and also teach them the value of reciprocity.

Guy talked about using push and pull technology, and then how to enchant your employees and your boss. I think the chapter about enchanting your employees would be a great read from a parenting angle. One of his tips is to provide a MAP (mastery, autonomy, purpose), and as parents, this is our goal for our kids: people who are independent and filled with a sense of purpose for their lives. Another, sometimes humbling, key from Guy is to suck it up and show you are willing to do what it takes -- that you would never ask someone else to do something you wouldn't do yourself. I love this tip because I hate it when I see parents using their children as gophers in unpleasant tasks. (One time, my stepmother made me take an overdue rent check to our landlord because she didn't want to face him. I felt awkward, and when the landlord complained about how late the rent check was and told me to give my parents the message, I felt ashamed even though it wasn't my fault. I'd never want to put my kids in that position.)

Guy Kawasaki's presentation at SheCon was full of good advice for bloggers and business owners -- and parents -- who want to be so enchanting that resisting them is futile (as he wrote on the cover of everyone's books).

If you'd like to win my extra copy of Enchantment, please leave a comment about family life, the book, Guy Kawasaki or another related topic. I'll randomly select a winner next week. Good luck!