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Vital Germaine provide content rich blogs with tips and tools to help you and your organization move forward.

 

Workplace design and employee engagement

Vital Germaine

The correlation between workplace design and employee engagement is something that shouldn’t be ignored and denied. It can be the difference between your business success and market share failure. Here are 3 tips to help you maximize workspaces.

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1. WORK AREAS: Design environments that inspire creativity and happiness.

It can be done very cost effectively and with a great ROI if you get creative. Location, location, location. Cirque du Solei adopted and transformed an abandoned fire station in Montreal, affectionately named Angus, to become their “factory”. There was no avant-garde interior design on display. There were no Oompa Loompas meandering the premises doing strange dances. I didn’t witness any magnificent sculptures or art, nor bright colored walls to inspire or promote creativity. All these elements would have helped. Nonetheless, the fact they had chosen an abandoned fire station sent a subliminal message that they were cool, fun, eccentric, and defying context of their market place — All with the purpose to be innovative and deliver entertainment excellence. It’s one of the key factors that sets them apart.

2. MEETING LOCATIONS: The environment in which you hold meetings will heavily influence the level of inspiration and collaboration.

Do something different, new and unexpected. In the book, Everybody Always, author Bob Goff shares the story of how as an adjunct law professor at Pepperdine Law School, he was required to have office hours. He saw beyond the limitations of regulations. Nowhere did it stipulate where his office had to be. He established a very unique office. He told his students they could find him in his ‘office’ at Tom Sawyer Island in Disneyland to meet. There is no admission fee and there are no lines. Walt Disney is the consummate businessman driven by imagination and the freedom, which is provides. Even important people enjoy being a big kid at heart.

Bob apparently always had more than ten students show up at meeting times. 

Adding to the story in regards to being creative to establish something different and memorable, The Supreme Court Judge of Uganda once visited the U.S and wanted to see Bob’s ‘office’. Bob picked him up at the airport with custom Mickey ears made for the visitor and took him straight to his ‘office’ at Disney Land. They apparently had a great meeting! Location, location, location. 

3. EVALUATE AND ADAPT: Take the time to evaluate your workspace environment and act accordingly. Change your perspective physically, emotionally and intellectually.

A simple design shift could be the change your company is looking for and needs to reenergize your workforce. Build an environment that is visually pleasing and stimulating… also, emotionally and intellectually safe. Employees must feel confident and supported to step out of the comfort zone, risk and fall. Setting the right tone and mindset is crucial to your company’s growth.

You client base will love you even more for getting creative with your workspace environments without knowing why. We know why… because your workforce will be inspired and engaged.

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The incite from Cirque du Soleil’s highly effective business and culture process in this blog is taken from Chapter 4 (The How of Cirque Innovation) from the book, Imagination Will Take You Everywhere. The full chapter does a deeper dive into solving this easy to fix challenge.

Vital Germaine

President of ENGAGEteams360

Vital is Las Vegas' most dynamic keynotes speaker and corporate trainer. His executive leadership experiences are designed to inspire extraordinary performance. BOOK VITAL TODAY for:

The simple science of building a strong brand.

Vital Germaine

Leadership and team members deliver the brand promise. Choose them well. Train them even better.

Leadership and team members deliver the brand promise. Choose them well. Train them even better.

Not all brands, leaders and cultures are created equal. Some fail while others thrive. And the reasons are not rocket science.

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Prior to becoming a international keynote speaker and corporate trainer, I had the honor of performing in Cirque du Soleil. I did it for over 5 years as team captain and original cast member of the ground-breaking Mystere, (and on tour with Quidam).

Here are some very simple and impactful insights I gained in regards to how Cirque was able to define and differentiate itself as a brand and dominated an industry.


  1. CULTURE:

Cirque’s culture was evident from the moment I walked through the door of their massive training facility in Montreal. Though culture is intangible, it should be apparent at a glance. Cleverly chosen words do not define a culture. Furthermore, giving culture a description on paper doesn't mean that's what it is.

The behaviors and habits of everybody that works for your business, company or organization must not only "know" those cleverly chosen words, they must become those words. Executives, in particular, must embody them through their daily habits and the way they treat their employees.

For example (let's state the obvious)

  • If you work in a fashion or lifestyle sensitive/aware industry, your CEO had better be trendy!

  • If innovation is a part of your brand or culture, then executives had better have an innovation mindset: diversity, open-mindedness, the encouragement of idea sharing, exploration, risk and failure as a footprint.

  • If you work in a health and wellness inspired industry, then people working in your stores should look healthy and athletic. And to be politically incorrect, you might not want your "overweight executives" to be on a first name basis with the local McDonald's cashiers. 

If the brand promise and employee actions are not congruent, starting at the executive levels through upper and mid management, then the core values risk becoming diluted. As a result, your frontline workers will be left confused, handcuffed and isolated without a compass or warmth. This will turn your brand anemic.

Execs, be honest with yourselves, do you personify the company core values, vision and mission?

2. INNOVATION IDENTITY:

Cirque had a clear innovation identity. It was immediately announced through their choice of facility. They established an environment designed to bring to life their vision and mission of innovation, uniqueness and excellence. They adopted and transformed an abandoned fire station in Montreal, affectionately named Angus, to become their “factory”.

Strangely enough, there was no avant-garde interior design on display. There were no Oompa Loompas meandering the premises doing strange dances. I didn’t witness any magnificent sculptures or art, nor bright colored walls to inspire or promote creativity. All these elements would have helped... they came years later in a new state-of-the-art facility. Nonetheless, the fact they had chosen an abandoned fire station sent a subliminal message that they were cool, fun, eccentric, and willing to defy context of their market place. All with the purpose to be innovative and deliver entertainment excellence.

3. VALUES:

Every person I met that first day within the confines of Angus’ walls, appeared different and aligned with the little I knew about the company... the core values. Nobody was here by coincidence — all by design and careful selection. Even those who appeared to have “mundane” jobs belonged in this “factory” where the zaniest creations were conceived and built. Even the air inside reeked of dedication, focus, advancement, passion, and a commitment to excellence. “Be Extraordinary,” echoed from each nook, cranny and crevice. That's how everybody behaved. 

4. PURPOSE:

This can be broken down or defined in different ways inclusive of the vision and mission statements. Cirque's purpose has inevitably changed since they were officially founded back in July of 1984 in Baie-Saint-Paul, Canada. The essence remains the same. In 2012, the mission statement read, “To invoke the imagination, provoke the senses and evoke the emotions of people around the world.” Many additional statements relating to their mission have been cited, including this one, which is a better summary of who they are, and what they represent: “For Cirque du Soleil, dreaming is an integral part of our philosophy: To take the adventure further, push our dreams further, and, above all, believe that our people are the engine of our enterprise. At Cirque du Soleil, we offer our artists and creators the freedom they need to imagine their most incredible dreams and bring them to life.”

I'd argue they embodied this purpose driven philosophy. Their "words" danced, flipped and contorted. The purpose ran through the arteries of their product, processes, place and people. Let's be honest, it wasn't all poetic purpose. There was and is plenty of company BS and things to complain about. And at one point they experienced massive losses before Guy Laliberté sold. Why? In part because they stopped being authentic Cirque du Soleil: less innovation, less excellence and a copy past repeat process designed for quick profits and expansion. But complaining about Cirques company BS is not the issue at hand.

5. LEADERSHIP:

Leadership and team members deliver your brand promise. If you desire to win a championship, choose your team well. Start by hiring good leaders and managers, train them, define expectations and hold them accountable for behavior and results. .

Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to. - Sir Richard Branson.

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Take time to attract and find the right talent... then train them even better. Yes, you risk investing all that time, money and resources for them to leave and give value to another company. Train them anyway.

Has your company clearly defined and communicated the vision and mission? Is your culture evident? Is leadership authentic and walking the walk? If it's not, consider investing in that area. It will make all the difference regarding your brand strength, employee retention, market share, customer loyalty and your bottom line.

Thank you

Vital Germaine

PRESIDENT of ENGAGEteams360

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Learn more about the Innovation Mindset, Leadership and Culture in the revised edition of: Imagination Will Take You Everywhere, shaping the mindset of innovation and transformation for leaders and cultures.

Learn about ENGAGEteams360's leadership and culture development strategies and solutions. We are different and definitely inspire transformation.

5 TOOLS TO TEACH SOMEBODY HOW TO CARE

Vital Germaine

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1. EMPATHY:

Anybody with a decent level of empathy and a sprinkle of care in their heart will be great at customer service.

Anthony Gucciarda, a natural health and human empowerment writer, speaker, and entrepreneur says, "Empathy is the highest form of intelligence." In an age when Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is becoming more relevant than ever (a trend), it is a gift that needs to be promoted and elevated by leadership as a requirement.

Ask your, “I couldn't care less,” employees to try and imagine what it would be like in the customer's shoes or simply the shoes of anybody else. Ask your employees if they like to feel important, appreciated and valued. The answer will be yes. if the answer is no  and you have heavily invested in them with no success, it means they might be an assclown or a heartless sociopath. Send them on their merry, "don't give a crap!" way. Not everybody can be turned around. Know when to let go.


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2. KINDNESS & FRIENDLINESS:

Even people that don't care, know how to be kind, polite and friendly. These are traits of people who do care. They are behaviors that can be taught or “faked”. Remind your non-caring employees regularly to be kind, polite and friendly. Teach them caring vocabulary; "hello, I can help you, you're welcome, sorry (when needed), thank you, goodbye, visit again..." 

Invest time in your people consistently through coaching and training. The new behaviors will eventually become a habit or a new lifestyle.


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3. SMILING:

A smile is so easy to share... even if you don't care. It’s a powerful tool. A smile is the most recognized non-verbal expression of goodness. A smile says that you are inviting a connection. It suggests you will be helpful and caring. I've seen the most indifferent people smile and look like they actually care. Danish musician, conductor and comedian, Victor Borge said, "A smile is the shortest distance between two people." Smiles are contagious if not infectious. Share many, often.

As leaders make sure that you embody the behaviors you desire from your team. Authenticity and integrity go a long way initiating cultural shifts. Non-verbal communcation (facial expressions and tone of voice) make for 38% of communication according to Albert Merhabian. 55% is through body language, with the remaining 7% the words we use.


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4. CURIOUSITY: 

Invite your employees to be curious about your customers (internal and external). Train and coach your employees to create strong human connections. Have them ask clients meaningful questions to get to know them. These questions should be somewhat personal but not invasive... don't be creepy!

Questions are the base of your needs analysis process, however, meaningful questions reveal more about your customer on a personal level (personalization and customization opportunity). Meaningful questions give the appearance that you care.  Meaningful questions also provide up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. Win win.

Questions should be open-ended ones that initiate a dialogue with a focus on the subject at hand… not the self. Be curious as to:

  • Who they are...

  • What they might enjoy... 

  • What are their interests/hobbies. 

Curiosity will make them feel like you care.


5. INSPIRATION:

Your organization needs leaders who inspire the desire to care… leaders who are passionate about the vision and mission of your brand and who will inspire team members to embody the values that define your organization.

“If your actions inspire others to learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” - John Quincy Adams.

If your lesser employees don't care about the company culture and their customers, there are ways to motivate them to act accordingly. Perhaps those lesser employees care about their personal performance. We all have a motivational trigger. Find what motivates people in your team and leverage those personal triggers. Speak their individual language. Fuel their ego to obtain the needed results. 

Ultimately you can't force change, you can only inspire it! The best form of leadership is by example… It starts with you and the cultural values. Lean on your all stars. Solicit their support to inspire the desired transformation. It won’t happen overnight. You’ll need a well designed action plan that is consistently and systematically implemented and re-inforced.

Thank you,

Vital Germaine, President ENGAGE.

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If you CARE to comment or share your best practices on how to turn non-caring employees into Customer Experience ambassadors, please do. You will provide great service to many executives, managers and leaders. Please share or forward this article to anybody you think would benefit.

Vital is Las Vegas' most dynamic keynotes speaker and corporate trainer. Contact him today to learn more about his team development and leadership experiences. They are designed to inspire extraordinary performance.

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How to optimize risks that lead to successful innovation strategies.

Vital Germaine

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Innovation cannot exist without risk and failure… and without innovation, relevance and significance fade and die. It's a scary tightrope to navigate when life and business continually change. Spencer Johnson said it best in the book, Who Moved My Cheese, "If you don't change you can become extinct."

How do you minimize risk and optimize the rewards?

There is a "safe" strategy to optimize the outcome of your risks and minimize your losses.

1. INTUITION: The great trailblazers and innovators connect with, and trust their intuition in conjunction with the element of planning and analyses (market research in business). The greats just seem to have a knack of knowing when and how to risk and expand their horizons. Intuition is not a blind act built purely on belief, it is your truest sense of knowledge. Intuition and instinct are not synonymous. Instinct is immediate and purely driven by the reptilian brain. Intuition includes your moral compass (values), gut, experience and the subconscious mind combining with your heart to tell you what is best or what is a negative vibe or energy.

Your gut or heart simply know. Modern research is showing that the heart sends more signals to the brain than the other way around. On a holistic level, the heart is connected to the source of universal knowledge. Police detective refer to this as a hunch… something they not only trust, but obey. Design a more promising future by connecting to your intuition. Leverage its power.

2. EVALUATION: Compare and weigh out your best/worst case scenarios. Clearly define and understand the situation and the consequences. Ask such questions as:

  • How influential will the value of that change be and how will the result impact your business or industry. What can you live with in terms of loss? Take the Blackjack player who takes all aspects into consideration before deciding to stick with what he's been dealt or risk his hand by requesting an additional card. What are the odds that the next card is what is desired? 

  • How much money is at stake and can the player afford to lose that amount.

  • What do the percentages suggest? If the odds are in your favor, take the risk… consult step 1 to increase the odds.

3. ALIENATION: In terms of pure business, have a pulse on what the market is ready to embrace. If the innovation you are proposing or delivering is too drastic or dramatic, the market might resist regardless of how incredible the innovation is. Take into account how much conviction and resources you have up your sleeve to counter-act consumer alienation. Do you have the time and marketing strategy to subdue market resistance? Timing, packaging and educating the masses play key roles in success or failure.

4. ADAPTATION: Innovation is a progressive journey that demands strategic change and adaptation. The willingness to fail along that journey is a must... there is always a period of incubation and a learning curve to navigate. Risk and innovation require patient nurturing while the product is sculpted.

5. OPTIMIZATION: When you take risks, the objective is to optimize the outcome, minimizing loss or "failure". Innovation offers no guarantees. The risk factor is ultimately based on what you can live with or die for? That is the boundary that confines or liberates you in regards to how far you are willing to elevate the ceiling and stretch minds.

To experience a deeper dive into the topic of innovation, read the revised version of IMAGINATION WILL TAKE YOU EVERYWHERE - it includes new chapters and improved content and a NEW COVER. Learn to leverage your inner genius, reach higher and impact your leadership, cultural and personal mindset.

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The Innovation Mindset is easily learned and implemented into corporate cultures. Contact us today to learn more about our impactful keynotes and training experiences.


Sincerely, Vital Germaine

About the author: former Cirque du Soleil performer and team captain, turned keynote speaker, trainer and topselling author.

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Do you care to elevate Customer Experiences?

Vital Germaine

During a recent corporate training, an executive raised the question, “Can you teach somebody to care?” The general consensus was surprising.

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How much we care on any given day at work is relative or dependent on our emotional state at that time. In other words, our levels of care fluctuate. What is not relative is the correlation between caring and Customer Experience Index scores. CSI scores will influence your company's reputation and determine customer loyalty. When customers feel disrespected or insignificant, they simply don't return... furthermore, their reviews will effect your profits and brand strength.

The majority of executives in attendance agreed that the art of caring could not be taught. People either care or they don’t. How disappointing.

So how do you fix the problem of non-caring employees other than firing them, because on-boarding new hires costs time and money. There is a more effective solution. It consists of not only hiring the right people, but also providing great training. Teach them these 5 simple behavioral tools and they will act as if they truly care.

Leadership must first establish a culture of caring and happiness as the barometer. Then, provide those non-caring employees with actionable behavioral tools to reinforce the culture. Tools that when implemented, give the appearance of a person that does care. Read about the five tools that will make your employees deliver extraordinary experiences.

Vital Germaine

President ENGAGE