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About the Author

Author and professional speaker Dr. Jack Singer is a licensed Clinical, Sports and Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, author, trainer and consultant. His expertise includes a Doctorate in Industrial / Organizational Psychology and a Post-Doctorate in Clinical / Sports Psychology.

Proven Psychological Strategies that Corporations Should Use to Maximize Peak Performance Among Employees!
Sep 22

Proven Psychological Strategies that Corporations Should Use to Maximize Peak Performance Among Employees!

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Workplace Wellness

I have written extensively about how more and more companies are recognizing that putting health and wellness programs on board ultimately helps their bottom line by maximizing peak performance in employees.  Do you wonder why such programs are directly related to profits?

Nearly One Million Employees Miss Work Each Day Because of Overwhelming Stress

Lost hours due to absenteeism, reduced productivity, turnover, medical, legal, and insurance costs have been estimated to cost $300 billion per year, or $7500 per worker.

A ton of research has now proven definitively that stress is linked to six leading causes of death, including:

  • heart disease
  • cancer
  • suicide

According to the American Institute of Health & Productivity Management, which phrased the term, “Presenteeism,”

There is also a major cost each year due to employees who are at work but not working up to their potential, because of the stressors they encounter.

In our 24/7 global society, stressors abound, both on and off the job. I-phones, instant messaging, and e-mail all are designed to make life more convenient and easier, but they effectively leash us to work and other obligations.  We have become a society of people with OCD as it pertains to looking for information and instant feedback.  This adds even more stress as we constantly fight to keep up with our competition.

Add to this family demands, our pervasive fear of terror striking close to home, and worrying about the future of our Country, constant stress surrounds us.

The Emotional Well-Being of Employees has Been Shown to Positively Impact Performance, Absenteeism, Lower Health Insurance Claims, and Enhance Quality Control

Where the workplace can really help is to focus on programs that enhance the well-being of their employees.  Here you have a captive audience, where their company can show a genuine interest in enhancing their emotional well-being.

The American Psychological Association launched their annual Psychologically Healthy Workplace award several years ago in order to give corporations an incentive to develop programs that will help workers to thrive emotionally.  Examples of programs that enhance the psychological health of employees in the workplace are:

  • offering growth and development opportunities
  • innovative employee recognition programs
  • encouraging work-life balance opportunities
  • participative decision-making opportunities
  • enhanced communications and respect between managers and workers
  • offering confidential counseling to employees from well-trained mental health professionals

Companies whose employees achieve peak performance understand that the emotional well-being of their employees is the key to such performance.

To learn more about how to develop a psychologically healthy workplace for your employees, contact me for more information.

Psychological strategies
Sep 07

3 Proven Psychological Strategies to Add Years to Your Life!

By Dr. Jack Singer | Confidence , Self Improvement , Stress Management

No, we haven’t found the fountain of youth. However, psychologists and neuroscientists have conducted a ton of research regarding how people can flourish in this life and enjoy happiness, while actually extending their lives— in both a physically and mentally healthy way. This post truly captures the essence of the three most powerful, research-based psychological strategies to make this happen – quickly and permanently!

1. Maintain optimistic expectations

Optimistic expectations can help you challenge setbacks that come your way. Neuroscientists have discovered that self-talk can actually re-wire your brain in either a very positive or very negative way, depending on whether it is optimistic or pessimistic. This re-wiring process is called “neuroplasticity.” One of the best ways of changing your thinking is to develop an optimistic interpretation of negative events that you experience.

Burgeoning research by Dr. Martin Seligman (“Learned Optimism”) involved hundreds of studies where people were trained to change their hard-wiring from reacting to disappointing events pessimistically, to reacting optimistically. Thus effectively changing feelings of helplessness and hopelessness (the main contributors to depression) to hope and self-confidence helped them eliminate their feelings of depression.

Many of these studies also show when people develop an optimistic attribution of negative events, they can often recover from the physical challenges associated with chronic depression and anxiety.

So, how do you explain setbacks and unfortunate events to yourself?

How do you persevere and remain resilient under adverse circumstances?

Do you look at setbacks as overwhelming catastrophes or as hurdles that can be overcome?

How Pessimistic People View Setbacks

I refer to this kind of self-talk as “linguistic toxicity.” When bad things happen, pessimistically hard-wired people tell themselves such things as:

  • Internal Cause (“It’s my fault.”)
  • Permanent (“It’s a permanent flaw.”)
  • Pervasive (“It’s always going to be this way for the rest of my life.”)

How Pessimistic People View Good Outcomes

When good things happen to pessimistically hard-wired people, they view it as

  • External Cause (“It was a fluke, or luck.”)
  • Temporary (“This won’t last.”)
  • Exclusive (“I was lucky with this, but the rest of my life is awful.”)

How Optimistic People View Setbacks

I refer to this type of self-talk as “linguistic nutrition.” People who are hard-wired, or learn to give themselves optimistic explanations for setbacks, view them as follows:

  • External Cause (“This was a fluke and an exception to the rule of how things go with me.”)
  • Temporary (“This is a fluke occurrence. It won’t happen again.”)
  • Exclusivity (“I had difficulty dealing with this, but in the rest of my life I am thriving.”)

How Optimistic People View Good Outcomes

People that are optimistic expect good outcomes to occur frequently.

  • Internal Cause (“It’s my skills, work ethic and motivation that caused this to happen.”)
  • Permanent (“I certainly expect good things to continually happen to me.”)
  • Pervasive (“This is just one example in my life where I have the skills and talent to be successful.”)

Obviously, it is extremely important for people who are not hard-wired to attribute unfortunate outcomes in an optimistic sense, to learn how to remove their pessimistic thinking habits, and change them to positive thinking.

2.  Laugh as often as possible

Research on the amazingly powerful effects of laughing on the body and mind started with the groundbreaking book by Norman Cousins (“The Anatomy of an Illness”).  Cousins chronicled how he completely recovered from a terminal diagnosis by laughing out loud several times a day, for at least a few minutes each time.  He produced the humor by watching the funniest videos he could find (“The Three Stooges,” “Candid Camera,” and others) while hospitalized for his illness.

Once he saw how his pain subsided while laughing, he convinced the medical staff to take his blood pre and post laughing episodes.  The results were remarkable.

His symptoms immediately went into remission, and he helped fund massive research projects studying the power effects of laughing and having fun on brain chemistry, and the eradication of physical symptoms.  One of the more modern advocates of the power of bringing fun and humor into ones’ life is Dr. Steve Allen, Jr., a physician and the son of the famous comedian, Steve Allen.

3.  Maintain a strong support system of friends and family

Depression affects nearly 15 million Americans and each year close to 43,000 commit suicide in this country. Recent research into how to minimize depression without using psychotropic medication demonstrates the idea of an “Anti-Depression Toolkit.”

Three powerful tools in the toolkit are are:

a) using healthy self-talk (“linguistic nutrition”)

b) any form of spirituality, including prayer and meditation

c) frequent exercise.

However, the most important “tool” by far is having a caring, empathetic, and non-judgmental support system.  While depressed individuals often lack the energy or motivation to reach out, it is a critical component of mental health. For example, widows and widowers are particularly vulnerable—having lost their soul mate, and they can slip into depression if they do not build an alternative support system. If you suffer from depression, you must also stay away from critical, judgmental, anxiety-provoking, and demanding people. You can always consult with a therapist to decide who to include and exclude from your network.

Research shows that when one has a strong support network their emotional strength grows. This means getting involved with an objective sounding board of like-minded peers, and removing yourself from the isolation that accompanies depression. Social interaction is conducive to a healthy and active lifestyle.

There you have it. Do you want to build amazing resilience to stress, add joy to your life, and extend your well-being far more than you have ever dreamed? Add an optimistic and expected habit. It brings fun and laughter into each day, and nourishes your support system.

Behind the Scenes at the Olympics: Sports Psychologists and Positive Psychology
Aug 18

Behind the Scenes at the Olympics: Sports Psychologists and Positive Psychology

By Dr. Jack Singer | Applied Sports Psychology , Blog , Elite Athletes

I am so proud that my emerging field of “Sports Psychology” is always on display during the Olympics, as the US teams each have sport psychologists who specialize in their sport.

Now, I apply the exact same techniques for sales, HR, and Financial Professionals.  The article below was written by psychologist, Rodney L. Lowman.  He says it better than I can.

– Dr. Jack Singer


Guest Post by Psychologist Rodney L. Lowman

They christened themselves the “Final Five” in recognition that they would be the last U.S. gymnast team coached by Martha Karolyi, who will be retiring after the 2016 Summer Olympics after coaching gymnasts through 11 Olympic contests. As the required routines progressed, the U.S. gymnastic team’s scores became nearly insurmountable, winning 12 of 12 routines. The team beat out its closest rival, Russia, by a whopping 8.209 seconds.

Outstanding Olympic Athletes

All of the members of the gymnastics team were superstars delivering dramatic, near-flawless performances, but one, Simone Biles, particularly stood out. She has been dubbed the best gymnast ever but was not born into a life of privilege. Her single mother (now clean and sober) gave up her children due to drug addiction; her father, also an addict, had abandoned the family. Adopted by her maternal grandparents and subsequently raised in Houston, Biles owns more Olympic and world gold medals than any other female gymnast ever. She is 19.

There’s more. The “Final Five” (Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and Aly Raisman) work together remarkably well as a team. They get along with and support one another, celebrate each other’s victories and console their misses.

Then there are the swimmers Ryan Phelps, age 31, and Michael Lochte, 32, having won to date 25 and 11 Olympic medals, respectively. And let us not overlook Kristin Armstrong, who turned 43 today, and who just made history by winning her third gold medal in timed cycling.

Behind-the-Scenes Champions: Sports Psychologists

We rightly credit the Olympic winners for their victories but behind the scenes are a myriad of coaches, trainers, medical staff, supportive families, and yes—sports psychologists. Little known fact: the U.S. Olympic Committee includes a Sport Psychology Team. It’s now become widely accepted for athletes to have a sports psychologist or performance coach.

Sports psychology is not new. Coleman Griffith worked in the field in the 1920s. Today, sports psychologists use a variety of techniques with athletes: relationship building, arousal regulation, mental imagery, focus-building and goal setting, enhancing self-efficacy and resilience, self-talk and support. Athletes, who face extraordinary stress and high stakes, where fractions of a second determine outcomes, perform better with psychology.

Many contemporary sports psychologists such as Joan Steidinger (running and cyclist), Gio Valiante (golf), and Caroline Silby (running and triathlon) were themselves accomplished athletes. Others, like Steven Bucky, have been counseling NFL athletes for years.

Positive Psychology Can Improve Your Career Too

All of this work reflects a move in psychology to focus on performance and achievement not just deficit and dysfunction. This is often called the positive psychology revolution, whose founders include Donald Clifton and Martin Seligman (“Learned Optimism”)—and those before them like Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow who concerned themselves with human happiness and well-being.

Salutogenesis – the promotion of health and well-being – is rapidly becoming an important theme in psychological research and Psychology is a remarkably broad field and its premiere professional organization, the APA, and its Division 47, Society for Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology, reflect that diversity.

sales success
Aug 04

Simple Secrets for Using the Power of Positive Affirmations to Supercharge Your Sales Success

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Confidence , Sales Professionals , Self Improvement

Since Ruth Fishel published her classic book, Change Almost Anything in 21 Days,” the power of using positive affirmations has gained much attention.  We now know from the rich research conducted in the field of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) that our belief systems and the thoughts connected with them drive our success or failure.

Much outcome research has been conducted with sales professionals. Why do some sales professionals get overwhelmed and flee the profession within a year, while others flourish and continue to build successful careers?  The answer lies in the self-talk habits that sales professionals bring with them when they first enter the profession and continue to use as they adapt to the stresses and strains of selling as a career.

What Are Affirmations?

Affirmations, positive or negative, are the statements we make to ourselves, based on how we interpret the situation in which we find ourselves at the moment.

All too often, our affirmations are negative and self-defeating, such as “That client said ‘no’ to the sale because I screwed up.”

Such a negative affirmation will produce serious damage to the sales professional’s confidence and self-esteem, thus leading to more “failed sales attempts,” and a self-fulfilling prophecy of feeling hopeless and helpless results in continual selling failures.

The good news is that we have choices in the types of affirmations that we say to ourselves, and positive affirmations said consistently can have powerful benefits, both in career success and even your health.

World-renowned experts, such as Dr. Bernie Siegel and Dr. Martin Seligman, the father of the Positive Psychology Movement, point to many cases of people overcoming devastating illnesses, using positive thinking, including repeating positive affirmations.

Dr. Seligman sites 40 years of his own research connecting sales success with affirmations that sales professionals use to maintain an attitude of optimism and gratefulness, discarding “failed” sales as flukes and focusing on the next sales opportunity.

5 Characteristics of Successful Affirmations

1. They must be positive.

The verbiage must always be positive. For example, saying, ”I am confident about my sales skills” is much better than saying “I no longer doubt myself in terms of my sales skills.”

2. The must be said with passion and gusto.

When we believe that our affirmations are true and in the present, and we repeat them with power and energy, we begin the process of conditioning our subconscious minds to actually strive toward making these beliefs true in the present.

Affirmations must be given more than lip service. When you say it with conviction, feel it by visualizing it as real, and let the wonderful feelings of having already accomplished this, then you re-program your mind and your body to accept it as part of the new you.

“I know that what I have to offer my customers will absolutely impact them in a positive way and they will thank me over and over for providing these products (or services) to them!”

3. They must be said in the present moment.

Our subconscious minds do not know whether something is happening in reality or in our minds. For example, if you close your eyes and visualize holding a half of a lemon and see yourself taking a juicy bite out of it, you will salivate, as your subconscious mind believes this visualization is in fact really happening.  Our bodies respond to what we think about just as if it were actually happening at that moment.

So, with affirmations, be sure to state them in the most positive way and as if they are happening and real, right now. Even if you don’t know who your next prospect is, state it as if you have already met this potential customer:

“I know exactly how my product (service) will benefit this customer and if I were this customer’s best friend, I know exactly what I would say right now to convince him to buy.”

4. They must be realistic.

Giving yourself unrealistic affirmations sets you up for frustration and disappointment. Positive affirmations should reflect views of yourself and your success that are truly possible, not only in your fantasies.   For example, I cannot realistically affirm that I am becoming a famous actor or athlete, but I can affirm that I am a terrific psychologist and mentor for sales professionals.

5. They must be personal.

We can only make affirmations about ourselves, not what we want other people to be.  So, give yourself affirmations about your success as a sales professional, living out your career goals in the present.

A wonderful example of using a positive affirmation to explain ones’ success, despite missed opportunities in the past, is this quote from Michael Jordan:

I have missed more than 9000 shots in my career.  I have lost almost 300 games.  On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game-winning shot and I have missed.  I have failed over and over again in my life.  And that’s precisely why I succeed!”

How to Get Started Using Positive Affirmations

  • Use your computer desktop to post your affirmations and repeat them at least 10 times a day, rotating new ones weekly
  • Use sticky notes posted on your bathroom mirror so you will begin to repeat your affirmations while brushing your teeth or brushing your hair
  • Use more sticky notes on your refrigerator, your car visor, or other places that you frequent daily
  • Use affirmations as mantras to use during meditation, while engaged in yoga and while conducting mindfulness exercises

The key to success is repetition and, as Ruth Fishel has shown, if you are consistent, you can change your life and your success in as little as 21 days!

Smart Communication Tips for Creating a Healthy Workplace
Jul 21

Smart Communication Tips for Creating a Healthy Workplace

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Workplace Wellness

In previous articles, I mentioned the ongoing research cited by the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Center for Organizational Excellence in embracing the principles of a “Psychologically Healthy Workplace.”  This is another piece of the Workplace Excellence puzzle—the role of smart communication in the design and implementation of healthy workplace practices.

Smart Communication in the Workplace

Bottom-up Communication

Management cannot initiate new workplace programs or initiatives without understanding employee needs, perceptions and concerns.

When a company invites me to help them develop a new workplace program, the first step is opening a series of programs where employees are encouraged to communicate.

Anonymity is often necessary in order for employees to feel safe in objectively relating their needs, perceptions and concerns.

Examples of Bottom-Up Communication Strategies:

  1. Employee surveys
  2. Suggestion boxes
  3. Individual or team meetings with managers
  4. Maintaining a participative, open, two-way communication culture

The information obtained by communicating with employees must be given genuine consideration by management.  Employees need to believe that the company is truly interested in their perceptions, concerns, and suggestions for improvement, rather than simply soliciting feedback from employees in order to make them feel important.  This includes not only assessing employee needs but directly involving them in the development and implementation of workplace practices that address those needs.

Top-Down Communication 

How management communicates with employees is critical to the successful implementation of new workplace practices.  Not only do employees need a basic awareness of the availability of new programs, but they need to know clearly how to gain access to them, along with strong messages that management encourages and supports these new initiatives.

Examples of Top-Down Communication Strategies:

  1. Newsletter, memos, etc. that explain the goals of Management
  2. Using multiple channels (e.g., print, electronic, and video, orientation and training sessions, staff and team meetings, etc.)
  3. Leading by example, where all levels of management regularly participate in the same psychologically healthy workplace activities with the employees

Nothing encourages employees more than knowing and believing that top management embraces the same workplace activities they are promoting for their employees.

Smart communication is an important part of building a psychologically healthy workplace. On that topic, the honorable Alexis M. Herman, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, said it best:

“This is not pie in the sky: this is about the bottom line. Building psychologically healthy workplaces isn’t just the right thing to do.  It’s also the smart thing to do.”

Tips for Healthcare Professionals - 3 Keys to Preventing Burnout
Jul 07

Healthcare Professionals: 3 Keys to Preventing Burnout

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Stress , Stress Management

We don’t often think about the extreme stress that medical practitioners endure while shouldering the tremendous responsibility for the lives of their patients. Burnout and early career termination are frequent occurrences among these professionals, whether they are doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, trauma first responders, EMS professionals or emergency room staff.

Some of these medical professionals work with a population of clients whose needs are dramatic and immediate—victims of catastrophic injuries and/or those who are in overwhelming pain. As any family whose life has been turned upside down by a catastrophic injury will attest, navigating the healthcare system and coordinating the multiple aspects of care is a monumental and overwhelming undertaking. In the split second that it takes for the accident to take place, the family’s lives change dramatically and often permanently.

Dealing with catastrophic injuries and complex pain conditions necessitate a complex approach that supports not only the victim but everyone connected to the victim, every step of the way.  Successful outcomes require an extremely dedicated and professional case management team, with a laser focus on optimal medical recovery.

I am honored to be invited to keynote the 2016 Summit for a company that has taken on these challenges and has done so with an amazing track record of success.  This company, filled with unsung heroes, is Paradigm Outcomes.  Like all companies charged with taking on dramatic and often life-threatening cases, Paradigm’s teams are extremely vulnerable to burnout. Attaining optimal outcomes can have burnout side effects.  Of course, burnout is no stranger to any occupation, so the tips below apply to any industry where stress occurs simultaneously with job performance.

3 Keys to Preventing Burnout

1. Make Stress Resilience Practice a Part of Every Day

Healthcare professionals, especially those working with urgent, catastrophic cases, rarely afford themselves the time to develop stress resiliency skills.  They are so focused on the task at hand that they concentrate on providing their skills to others, neglecting themselves in the process.  Such activities as taking a brisk walk during breaks and after meals can go a long way toward calming and rebuilding mental strength.

The new rage in mental health is “mindfulness.”  You can obtain free mindfulness apps on your phone, and these relaxing exercises can attain powerful results in literally minutes.

Having a break room with relaxing chairs, calming music and pictures/posters of island paradises, pristine mountain scenes, etc., can help to melt away stress.  Being able to discuss the difficult cases with colleagues in such places can eliminate feelings of helplessness that often undermine burnout.

2. Have Realistic Expectations

Many healthcare professionals are hard-wired with Type A personality traits.  Among those traits is the need to be perfect in everything one sets out to do.  You can imagine how such a need is self-destructive.

Healthcare professionals often go into this career field with the admirable desire to help people recover and save lives, but they will never be able to solve every issue and save every life.  You need to recognize that you can diligently diagnose, design treatment plans, consult with colleagues and treat your patients, but you will not always save them…no one can.  Moreover, a large part of “saving” patients depends on the patient being compliant with the treatment plan.  Sadly, that important ingredient is often missing.

Change your expectations to doing the best you can with the available technology and medicine, rather than feeling like a failure when patients do not recover.  Self-acceptance without judgment is an important trait for everyone to embrace.

3. Embrace SELF-Compassion

Self-acceptance involves self-compassion. Healthcare professionals are hard-wired with empathy and compassion for their patients, but all too often self-acceptance and self-compassion are missing.  Simply put, if your best friend was suffering from the stress in which you find yourself, what advice would you give to her/him?  I’m certain you would be empathic and make a myriad of healthy suggestions, but, do you ever follow the same stress-reducing prescriptions for yourself?

Treat yourself like you would advise your best friend or close relative.  Understand that it’s natural to be stressed under these circumstances.  Give yourself a break!

Another powerful suggestion is to recover your balance through the balance of others.  During the devastating bombing of Britain in WWII, the population was able to maintain their balance by identifying with the calm, not-to-worry demeanor of their leader, Winston Churchill.

Make sure there is at least one person in your life who faces and reacts to stressors very calmly.  Reach out to that person to discuss the stressors you face, and resonate with her/his calmness.  This is the essence of giving yourself permission to have self-compassion.  Our bodies have evolved to mobilize to stressors, which can be exhausting.  Absorbing the calmness of others enduring the same stressors can serve to de-activate your stress.

These are the important keys to resilience that I will share with the catastrophic event teams attending the Paradigm Outcomes Summit in October. They are some of the key ways that healthcare professionals – and indeed anyone in a stressful career – can use to prevent burnout.

2016 APA Work and Well-Being Survey Shows that We Still Have a Long Way to Go in Job Stress and Workplace Wellness
Jun 23

2016 APA Work and Well-Being Survey: Still a Long Way to Go in Workplace Wellness

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Stress , Workplace Wellness

Every year the American Psychological Association conducts a survey to study stress, workplace wellness, and other critical factors among America’s workers. The 2016 survey was conducted in March and findings were released in June, so it’s time once again to examine the results of the APA Work and Well-Being Survey. The results show key areas where employers can improve their respective workplaces.

My overall thoughts on the 2016 APA Work and Well-Being Survey? The results are both surprising and disappointing.

Main Findings of the APA Work and Well-Being Survey

Overall, the findings show that after all of these years of consistent research findings by professional industrial/organizational psychologists, many companies are still failing in several critical areas.

Some of the most disappointing findings I read:

  • Only about half of those surveyed feel valued by their employer.
  • About half of workers still do not believe that their employer provides opportunities to participate in decision-making, solving problems, or setting goals.
  • The main sources of worker job stress are low salaries and insufficient opportunities for development and advancement

Feeling valued and having the opportunity to challenge yourself, reach goals, and grow as a worker are basic needs that every company must address. These crucial elements help employers nurture their most valued assets—their employees.

Workplace Wellness Findings

In addition to job stress, the APA Work and Well-Being Survey also examined workplace wellness, a topic that I have covered in recent blog posts.

Despite the research and anecdotal documentation of the wonderful benefits of workplace wellness programs, the survey found that only one-third of American workers regularly participates in such health-promoting programs, when provided by their employers.

Secondly, despite the plethora of research proving that workplace wellness programs promote health (for example, by proactively teaching employees how to manage stress), more than half of those surveyed believe that their work climate does not support employee wellness and a third still complain of chronic stress in their jobs!

There is evidence that more than half of the companies in the U.S. still do not see the benefits of promoting worker and job site wellness initiatives.

Much more education regarding the health and bottom line benefits for employees and their companies, respectively, must be provided for HR professionals.

What Key Element Differentiates Companies that Embrace Wellness Initiatives from Those that Do Not?

From the survey results, it seems that the key determinant of whether a company embraces workplace health and wellness programs is whether senior leadership supports and encourages wellness.  A whopping seventy-three percent of employees who have senior managers who show support and commitment to well-being initiatives said their companies encouraged and nurtured healthy workplace and healthy lifestyle plans.

There are also other significant, positive outcomes for employees with senior leadership that supports and encourages wellness. These employees:

  • Feel motivated to do their best.
  • Have higher job satisfaction.
  • Have positive relationships with their supervisors and co-workers.

Eighty-nine percent of these employees also recommended their company as a “good place to work” and were less likely to leave their job the next year.

Using the Findings to Create Better Workplaces

Results of the APA Work and Well-Being Survey demonstrate that the presence of senior leadership that embraces wellness programs is linked to many far-ranging outcomes. As David W. Ballard, director of APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence, concludes, “When supervisors’ actions match their words, employees notice.” 

The take-home message from the APA Work and Well-Being Survey is that employers must focus training on their senior leaders and be sure they understand the critical need for workplace health and well-being initiatives.  Ballard puts it succinctly: “Employers who truly embrace well-being as part of how they do business create a workplace where both employees and the organization thrive.”

rivet your clients and friends to your brand
Jun 10

A Fabulous Idea to Firmly Rivet Your Clients and Their Friends to Your Brand

By Dr. Jack Singer | Featured , Workplace Wellness

With so much competition in the marketplace, many businesses are continually looking for ways to build their brand and expand their reach to new markets. This requires a business to develop a solid foundation of people and products in their own organization, which is fundamental to building a solid brand. However, some smart businesses are taking their growth to a whole new level by finding ways to rivet their clients and friends to their brand. Let me explain what I mean.

I was recently speaking with the marketing director of a wealth management firm that is heavily invested in wellness for their advisory team, as well as all of the other employees that make up their “family.” It was remarkable hearing about the kinds of wellness programs they conduct on a regular basis, and I am privileged that they are going to bring me in to conduct my unique programs as well. These types of programs are key to developing your employees – an essential part of your business foundation.

While we were chatting about the possibilities, she mentioned that they sometimes invite their clients to the workshops. What a terrific idea that is! It’s like passing forward the incredible, life-altering skills they are learning to their own clients. Now there’s a firm that GENUINELY cares about their clients!

And how do you suppose the clients now view this firm? Think they’ll start telling all their friends about the wonderful service and workshops they are getting? Of course, they will! This firm is creating brand advocates that will do their marketing for them – it’s brilliant!

You can incorporate this same initiative in your business. Here are some tips on how to start:

  1. Start from Within. Just as the company I mentioned above did, you need to start by investing in your internal teams to ensure that they are full supporters of your business and brand and have the skills necessary to offer your customers the best possible product and service. Just remember, it’s not only about what they know, but how they act and manage themselves around customers and clients.
  2. Offer Something Your Competitors Do Not. If you are looking for a sure way to stand apart from your competitors, find something they don’t offer and add it as an offering for your customers. Keep in mind; it has to have value and be something that your customers would want. Try using customer surveys to learn more about what they want and get creative to find something of value to offer.
  3. Ask Customers for Referrals. Your customers and clients are your best brand advocates, but businesses often fail to ask them to refer their business to friends and family that might be interested. While you can offer incentives for referrals, it’s not necessary. If you are providing excellent service and products that they can’t get elsewhere, and your customers actually feel that you have their best interest at heart, they’ll happily recommend you.

By investing a little time and money into your employees and customers, you’ll begin to see big returns on the building of your brand and business. Just ensure that you are taking the right steps towards success!

The Important Link Between Optimism and Sales Success
May 26

The Important Link Between Optimism and Sales Success

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Confidence , Sales Professionals , Self Improvement

How do you explain unfortunate events to yourself, such as not getting the sale? Is the tone of your self-talk optimistic or pessimistic? As it turns out, the way you explain negative life events matters because there is a link between optimism and sales success. Based on over 1000 studies, we know that optimism has the power to boost your sales.

Research on the link between optimism and sales began with an investigation of a major life insurance carrier, and since then it has been replicated in more than 1000 studies over 40 years, across many industries and sales organizations. The findings of these studies proves definitively that maintaining an optimistic explanatory style brings dramatic success.

Optimistic VS Pessimistic Explanatory Styles

Explaining Failures

It boils down to how you explain unfortunate events to yourself.  For example, if a sales professional has a disappointing sales call, how does he/she react and explain that disappointment to himself/herself?  People with an OPTIMISTIC explanatory style rationalize the “failure.” They see it as a fluke, a temporary setback and not representative of who they are in general.

A person with a PESSIMISTIC explanatory style, on the other hand, will view unfortunate events as directly related to their inadequacy. They see it as a permanent issue and representative of other “failures” in their lives.  They often view the situation as an insurmountable obstacle and conclude that they may need to consider a change in career.  Sales professionals who quit or are fired are most often pessimistic in their explanatory style.

Explaining Successes

When good outcomes occur, such as closing a sale, OPTIMISTS believe it was exactly because of their skill. These successes will repeat themselves and they view the success as proof that they have the talent to continue to be successful.  Optimists have what social scientists refer to as an “Internal Locus of Control.”  They perceive that outcomes are in their control.

When good outcomes occur to PESSIMISTS, they are more likely view them as “lucky.” The success was temporary and not indicative of their skill and effort.  Pessimists embrace an “External Locus of Control,” where they believe that circumstances beyond their control impact them constantly.

This ground-breaking research by Dr. Martin Seligman led to a questionnaire which can easily determine whether someone tends to maintain an optimistic or pessimistic explanatory style. Knowing the link between optimism and sales, companies often use this instrument to select the optimistic applicants.

Want to learn more? Check out Dr. Seligman’s book, Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life. You can also take this Learned Optimism quiz from Stanford, which is adapted from the book.

Research on Optimism and Sales

Here is a sample of the many research findings that show a clear link between optimism and sales:

Insurance

Optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by 38 percent, and extremely optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by 88 percent.

Real Estate

Optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by 33 percent, and extremely optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by a whopping 319 percent.

Banking

Top sales people are 25 percent more optimistic than below-average sales people.

Automotive

Optimistic sales people outsell pessimists by 20 percent, and optimistic sales managers outsell pessimists by 27 percent.

Telecommunications

Optimistic sales people outsell pessimists by 29 percent, and extremely optimistic sales agents outsell pessimists by 39 percent.

Customer Service

Top customer service staff are 50 percent more optimistic than below-average staff.

In addition, optimism is good for more than just posting excellent sales numbers. Research also shows that optimistic people live longer and have stronger immune systems.

The link between optimism and sales may have you wondering – are you doomed if you are hard-wired with “Pessimistic Genes?”  Absolutely not!  Developing optimism can be easily learned, so there is hope for all professionals. Every individual can start today by practicing a more optimistic style of self-talk. Also, if you think your sales team could benefit from a lesson, I am available to help – just email me at DrJack@FunSpeaker.com or give me a call at 800-497-9880.

How Corporate Wellness Programs Boost Employees AND Companies
May 05

How Corporate Wellness Programs Boost Employees AND Companies

By Dr. Jack Singer | Self Improvement , Stress , Stress Management , Workplace Wellness

Corporate wellness is a current buzz word, but the fact is, some businesses have been offering corporate wellness programs for years or even decades. New research on corporate wellness and the physical effects of stress is making more and more corporations interested in implementing their own wellness programs, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes the norm in the future.

Arguably the most convincing study on corporate wellness was recently published by the American Psychological Association (APA). It tackles the argument that some companies have for not enacting wellness programs – more specifically, some argue that although these programs benefit employees, they are costly and don’t help the business’s bottom line. As it turns out, this thinking is wrong.

APA Study Shows the Financial Benefits of Corporate Wellness Programs

This study looked at stock portfolios from two different groups of publically-traded companies. The first group had established wellness programs for their employees – robust wellness programs that had won industry awards. The second group was composed of traditional publicly-traded companies that had no wellness programs.

The researchers then compared the performance of each groups’ stock portfolios over a period of 14 years. In the end, they found that companies with wellness programs outperformed the S&P by more than 200 percent.

This study demonstrates that not only do corporate wellness programs benefit individual employees – they also impact a company’s profit. This shows that it is financially and fiscally smart to implement wellness programs in order to increase revenue and profitability.

How Corporate Wellness Works on the Individual Level

Obviously, this study took a macro-level view of corporate wellness, examining performance at the company level. So how does corporate wellness work at the individual level to produce these astounding results on corporate profit?

On the individual level, corporate wellness programs work to raise the health of your workers. By focusing on physical health, mental health, diet, and exercise, your employees stay healthy and strong. They get sick less often, which means fewer insurance claims and fewer missed days of work. And their work improves because they are alert, confident and perceptive. They make fewer mistakes, their productivity improves and so does their morale. These individual effects then add up to company-wide improvements which fuel profit growth.

Corporate wellness programs contain a range of elements related to physical health, exercise, diet and mental health. Although all of these components are important to a well-rounded corporate wellness program, I argue that mental health is a crucial concern for any business starting a corporate wellness program.

This is because mental health impacts other forms of health and there are proven ways you CAN change the amount of stress in your life. This is done by understanding how stress forms – that it isn’t a result of events but rather your interpretation of those events – and then taking steps to change your interpretations. Doing so not only improves your mental health, but your physical health as well.

How Stress Impacts Physical Health - Fight or Flight in the 21st Century
Apr 21

How Stress Impacts Physical Health: Fight or Flight in the 21st Century

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Stress , Stress Management

In my last blog post over at Advising the Advisors, I talked about how stress forms. Although most people view stress as the result of specific negative events in their lives, stress is actually not formed by these events but rather how you interpret them. A negative event can trigger a series of negative thought patterns, and when you get caught in these tangents you, yourself, create your own stress.

Fortunately, we are capable of changing our thought patterns. With every event we encounter we make choices about how we interpret the event (whether we realize it or not). By becoming mentally aware of how we interpret events, we can reduce and even eliminate stress in our lives. Saying goodbye to stress means living a happier, more productive and fulfilling life.

However, a focus on mental health does more than just reduce stress. Actually, this reduction in stress will improve your physical health as well. Let me explain how stress impacts physical health by first taking a look at fight or flight in the 21st century.

Fight or Flight in the 21st Century

Think back to the last biology class you took and you might remember an idea called the fight or flight response. This is a biological system that originated back in early human history when physical threats were abundant. A sudden noise, for example, would trigger the fight or flight alarm system to go off in your brain. This stress response would make us more vigilant so we could protect our own lives. If a hungry tiger was lurking around the corner, we were primed to process that information quickly and make the right choice (fight or flight) so we wouldn’t end up as dinner.

Our fight or flight response still works in the 21st century, but the things we respond to are a lot different than when the system was first developed. Many of us live in safe environments, so we don’t have to worry about being devoured by a predator. However, events in our lives can still trigger the fight or flight alarm system. Our subconscious mind doesn’t know if this is a life-threatening event or not, but it is not going to take any chances. If we interpret the event as a threat, we create stress and flip the switch that turns on the fight or flight nervous system.

How Stress Impacts Physical Health

The fight or flight response has not changed much from our early days. Our body physically tenses up as we prepare to flee or to battle. We become hyper-vigilant and on edge.  And our other systems shut down or become minimized so we can expend our energy in fight or flight mode.

All of these things impact our physical health:

  • Anxiety and tension can raise blood pressure and make you susceptible to heart disease and other illnesses.
  • Our hyper-vigilant state means it is hard to sleep and can bring about insomnia.
  • Our immune system is minimized during the fight or flight response, making us more receptive to illness with a decreased ability to fight that illness off.

This demonstrates how stress can have a physical impact on our bodies, and how reducing stress can improve our physical health. In fact, the American Medical Association has admitted that ‘gatekeepers’ in the medical community (such as family practice doctors and internists) say that 2 out of 3 of their clients don’t have a physical disease. They do have real symptoms, but these symptoms are caused by some kind of stress. They run busy practices so the most efficient procedure is to treat the symptoms. However, what we really need to do is deal with the original cause of these symptoms – stress and our ability to manage it.

Knowing how stress impacts physical health, every individual who wants to live a happier and healthier life should focus on their mental well-being. Not only is it possible to reduce your stress by changing how you interpret events, but in doing so you can also improve your physical health.

Psychologically Healthy Workplace
Apr 07

The Power of a Psychologically Healthy Workplace

By Dr. Jack Singer | Blog , Featured , Work-Life Balance , Workplace Wellness

For many years now, the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Center for Organizational Excellence has recognized companies across the U.S. that embody the principals of a “Psychologically Healthy Workplace.” For years, I’ve been involved in cutting-edge research on the specific ingredients that make up such workplaces.  All organizations should strive to embrace these characteristics, not simply because they are psychologically healthy for the employees, but because with healthy employees, absenteeism is less, morale is higher, and the quality of products is consistently higher.

Characteristics of a Psychologically Healthy Workplace

Employee Involvement

When employees participate in decision-making, including encouraging and considering their suggestions, they embrace those decisions and it foster’s creativity.

Work-life Balance

Helping employees to handle the challenges outside of work, such as the responsibilities of single parenting, takes much pressure off of them. Flexible working hours, for example, is one ingredient of the work-life balance equation for employees.

Personal and Professional Growth and Development

What does the company offer employees to increase their competencies? Cross-training opportunities for employees to rise within the company also keeps employees from looking elsewhere.

Employee Recognition

Getting a raise is a form of recognition, but there are many other types of recognition, from company-wide awards ceremonies to fancy trips for top producers. The bottom line is that everyone loves recognition for his or her efforts and loyalty.

Health and Safety

Providing health and wellness workshops directed at educating employees about healthy lifestyles and preventing potential health problems is a must, not simply for the employees and their families, but for the overall health of the organization. For example, when companies bring me in to provide wellness workshops, my goal is to teach employees how to develop permanent resiliency skills, so that they never get overwhelmed by the stressors inherent in their jobs.

Examples of Comments from Employees About Why They Love Their Jobs

The APA surveys employees to determine what aspects of their jobs they love and they post them in their Highlights from the Good Company Blog. Here are some examples:

“Management listens to our concerns. There are regular Q&A’s where we can submit anonymous, public questions.”

 

“I love my job because I get to work from home every day, with flexible hours.”

 

“My co-workers are fun to work with.”

Having fun in the workplace is a major motivator, yet is missing in most work settings. Think strategically how you can improve this within your company and you’ll see a significant improvement in employees morale and overall dedication.


Ready to start reducing stress in your life so you can Develop the Mindset of a Champion? Download my FREE 5 Step Mental Toughness Guide HERE!

Emotional Wellbeing
Apr 15

How Stress Can Knock the Health Out of You!

By Dr. Jack Singer | Stress , Stress Management

Robert Sapolsky in his wonderful book, “Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers,” said it best: “A critical shift in medicine has been the recognition that many of the damaging diseases of slow accumulation can be either caused or made far worse by stress.

Accordingly, a wealth of research has surfaced over the past 30 years showing clear relationships between stress and major diseases, including asthma, back and neck pain, various cancers, cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, GI disorders and a variety of headaches.

The Mind-Body Relationship

Our bodies have been hot wired genetically to deal with stressors involved in perceived physical danger, since we lived in caves. Seeing a saber-toothed tiger lurking outside of ones’ cave automatically sets off the “fight-flight-freeze” nervous system, which begins a chain of physiological reactions directed at protecting the internal organs and preparing the body to escape the danger.

This is all well and good, except that to be completely efficient, this “fight-flight-freeze” reaction harnesses all of the energy in the body and shuts down many systems that are not necessary for immediate survival, while this nervous system is pressed into action. Critically, one of those systems is the immune system. Most danger can be dealt with in a matter of a few minutes, after which the body resumes normal functioning, much like a zebra goes back to calmly grazing after escaping a stalking lion.

So, shutting down the immune system for a few minutes while someone deals with a dangerous situation, is not a problem. The problem for we humans in the 21st Century is that we are worriers, and each time we worry, the fight-flight-freeze system switches on, so if one is often worried, stressed, and anxious, her/his immune system is continually shutting off, making the onset of disease highly likely.

This is why learning stress mastery skills reverses the process and keeps the immune system strong and efficient.

In my own 33- year practice as a Clinical Psychologist, using a combination of psychotherapy and hypnotherapy, without medication, I have resolved symptoms of irritable bowel, headaches, hypertension, and even bulging back discs and cancer! The power of the mind over every system in the body is truly amazing.

Apr 08

Advisors: 4 Steps to Reduce Stress

By Dr. Jack Singer | Advising the Advisors , Stress Management

The foundation of stress is not an event, such as dealing with an angry client, having difficulty with your prospecting calls, or watching the market tank unexpectedly. It is your “self-talk” about each event that either causes stress or doesn’t.  These “self-talk” habits are part of what I call your “internal critic.”

Your “internal critic” is that little voice within that spews out an average of 55,000 words per day, 77% of which are negative, self-defeating messages. Current cognitive psychology research shows that self-limiting, negative and pessimistic thoughts inhibit your success because they undermine your self-confidence.

The negative messages that pass through your mind immediately lead to muscle tightening, rapid breathing, and perspiring. These physiological responses are perceived as “stress,” so the more we allow these self-limiting thoughts to continue unabated, the more stress we suffer.

The wisdom about how critical our inner thoughts and beliefs about events are to our well-being has been around for centuries.  The Greek philosopher Epictetus said, “Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of them.”  In Hamlet, Shakespeare wrote: “There’s nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Advisors need resiliency skills to counter the self-doubt and lack of confidence they frequently experience. It’s one thing to recognize that you are producing stress by worrisome, anxiety-producing thoughts, but how do you avoid doing it?

The first step is to stop the negative thought as soon as you recognize it. A trick that works is wearing a rubber band and snapping away whenever you catch yourself beginning one of your habitual negative thinking habits.

Next, ask yourself some key questions about that thought, such as, “Do I have any evidence that I won’t be able to control my client’s rampage?” “What can I do differently this time?” “Can I use ‘active listening’ to focus on his emotions and concerns, rather than justifying my recommendations in a defensive manner?” “Can I assert myself with this client and not worry about losing him?”

Now give yourself positive descriptions about who you are.  For example, tell yourself that you have helped many clients and their families to successfully manage their wealth through many market fluctuations and you can do so with this client as well.

Finally, take a series of slow, deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth, until you feel calmer.  Simultaneously, visualize yourself feeling relief after having the upcoming conversation.

Practicing these simple techniques will help you overcome the negative thinking habits that cause the bulk of your stress.

You may, indeed, be a wonderful financial advisor, but that doesn’t mean you can please every client.  If a client is a constant thorn in your side, perhaps it’s time to refer him elsewhere or recommend that he move on. The income you give up is not worth the constant aggravation he causes you and your peace of mind is worth more than the problems this client presents.  Being calmer will ultimately result in you making better decisions for your clients,  and in doing so, that lost income will quickly be replaced.

Advisors: 4 Steps to Reduce Stress
Apr 01

Solutions for the Stress of Wealth Management

By Dr. Jack Singer | Advising the Advisors

Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent annually because of stress: stress-related medical insurance claims; workers’ compensation benefits; reduced productivity and so on.

UNDERSTAND THE SOURCE

Feelings of stress, including the symptoms mentioned above, are not directly caused by the necessity to make cold calls or generate referrals, by market fluctuations and disgruntled clients or by fiduciary and compliance hassles. These situations may invite you to feel stressed, but they do not cause stress.

Here is an example: I was booked to be the opening general session speaker for an important financial advisor’s conference. After landing at the first airport for a transfer, a storm moved into the area, grounding all flights for the remainder of the day. It became clear that I would be able to get to the conference in time to open the next morning.

When I learned the flight was cancelled (the negative event), I had a choice regarding what I could say to myself. One option was: “Oh, that’s just great…now I won’t make the meeting, everyone is there expecting a rousing keynote, they’ll be disappointed and the meeting planner for the conference will be so angry at me that she’ll never book me to conduct a program again.”

Such a negative, self-defeating statement would immediately activate the nervous system necessary to deal with life-threatening situations. My brain would conclude that I was in an emergency and my body would react accordingly. My blood pressure would rise, my anxiety spike, and my behavior might become irrational…all resulting from my worried perception of a situation over which I had no control.

POSITIVE ‘SELF-TALK’

It is important to remember that you do have control over your self-talk. Although we are creatures of habit, we can learn to change any habit that causes stress for us.

Suppose that when I learned that the flight was cancelled, I told myself the following: “It is what it is! This is really unfortunate and I feel badly that I will not be there on time, but it is absolutely beyond my control. I will phone the meeting planner right away and see if she would like me to find a substitute speaker who is based in the city where the conference is being held.”

I could also have suggested postponing my keynote until the last day of the conference or even doing the keynote via Skype.

Consider this possibly stressful situation: You get a message from your assistant that your least favorite client is angry about how poorly the last product/equity you recommended is doing in the current, downward market and he wants you to call him as soon as possible.

This potentially negative event does not have to be stressful, depending on the self-talk in which you engage. If say to yourself: “I hate it when this client gets angry whenever the market dips and he blames me. I would like to dump him and suggest he find another advisor.” Just imagine how your stress and anxiety will spike.

But, you have choices. You could tell yourself that you will use active listening skills to allow the client to vent, you will empathize with his frustration, and once he is calm, you will remind him how you went over the risks with him when he purchased the product/equity and that this dip in the market is like all past dips–temporary. You’ll explain to him that your overall strategy in helping him manage and expand his wealth takes these unpredictable market dips into account and the strategy is still viable. Gently point out to him that patience will prove to be his most valuable learned skill, etc.

Using this technique you can convince yourself that, although you still wish that you didn’t have to deal with this client, you have dealt successfully with him before and you will so once again.

Ulitmately, the amount of stress you feel is up to you, isn’t it? Will you listen to the rational, positive voice in your head, or will you fall prey to the irrational, negative, “Internal Critic”? The choice determines your stress level and the choice is always yours!

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