Sunday, 25th February 2018

Kristi Hedges, The Power of Presence

Posted on 01. Feb, 2012 by in LEADERSHIP


Photography by Kea Taylor

Kristi Hedges, local executive leadership coach and longtime D.C. executive, has just released her book, The Power of Presence. Kristi not only sheds light on what presence is, but gives actionable advice on how to improve your presence. Let’s face it, our presence has such an impact in our careers and lives because it’s how people perceive us. The Power of Presence is a mix of sound advice, actionable steps, and science, as well as personal stories, making the book an enjoyable read.

I caught up with Kristi and asked her a few questions about the book, her thoughts on presence, and being local here in D.C..

What was the inspiration for your book? I would say this book found me.
I have been acutely aware of presence and have had personal interest and passion in studying it and cultivating it. Throughout my career, which spans politics, public relations, and leadership coaching, I’ve seen the issue of presence continually surface as a personal success factor. Many leaders want to have a stronger or more inspirational presence, and I absolutely believe that with the right approach anyone can build leadership presence. I have seen it many times, even with people who consider themselves better behind-the-scenes or are serious introverts. I’ve spent two decades working around what I call the “secret lives of struggling communicators” and have developed approaches to common communication challenges that are more comfortable and natural. I figured it was the right time to put all these ideas together into the book.

I know you have been on a speaking circuit with Vistage and have clients all over the country. Do you think D.C. leaders are the same as leaders elsewhere? Or are we unique in some way?
There are similarities among leaders of all different companies and locations. It never ceases to amaze me that, for instance, someone running a construction company has many of the same issues as someone running a technology company. You’d think that they would be entirely different.

Leaders have the same issues they are tackling everywhere. How do you manage conflict? How do you get people motivated toward a common goal ? And the list goes on.

That being said, in D.C., we have a smart, well-informed, globally oriented group of leaders. Part of it is our proximity to government and the fact that many businesses have a government component to them. We’re in the know, and actively figuring current events into our business strategy. Plus, we can discuss any topic at a cocktail party. Don’t try to outtalk a Washingtonian.

I personally love the D.C. business community. It’s very open and accepting of new people and embraces them. When I decided to start my own technology PR firm, which later became SheaHedges Group, I was blown away by the help I received from prominent business leaders.

This was 1998, and the technology scene was just developing, with an influx of people coming in from other regions and different sectors within DC. Fast forward almost 15 years, and I find that it’s still the same vibe here. We appreciate and welcome new energy.


I found it interesting that your grandmother had such a strong influence on your work in presence. Can you tell me about this?
I start the book with a very personal story because I wanted readers to think about presence expansively, and to consider the range of role models who have inspired them. They are all over – coaches, teachers, family members, friends, or co-workers. For me, my first model of presence was my grandmother. She had tremendous stature, even though she was about five feet tall. She was able to confront any issue in front of her. She was the person you asked if you wanted to get something done. She somehow managed to be both assertive and compassionate. I watched from the wings how she moved through the world. She anchored my notion of presence, and her voice is still in my head every day.

Many people think of presence as being inspirational. But your book says there is more to it than that.
I developed a model that speaks to this called I-Presence, which I use in my work with executives. The three components of IPresence are being intentional, individually connected, and inspirational. It’s an insideout approach, which is far different than the typical communications training which focuses on external factors only, and frankly, produces limited, often fleeting, results.

When someone wants to develop more presence, they will usually start and stop at what I call the inspirational piece. That’s really the outward communication, or what people see. It’s how you speak, stand, nonverbal communication, message points, etc. But, there’s more to the presence story. We all have seen people with perfect speaking skills who still seem disconnected. That’s because there are two other equally important components of presence.

First, presence is being intentional. You need to understand what your thoughts are, what you want to communicate, and how you are perceived. Then you need to gain alignment between them. Many of us skip that step and it has ramifications for every bit of how we show up. To me, it’s the most seldom used, yet highly leverageable aspect of developing presence.

The other piece I discuss is how to be more individually connected, and mindful of what makes people drawn to you as a leader and as a person. It’s not just having the perfect words to say, it’s about fostering trust, empathy, and approachability. This does not require you to be someone you’re not. You can use the best parts of your true self to build connection to others.

Can you give an example of an intention for presence?

There are two different types of intentions I discuss in the book. There’s an in-themoment situational intention and a personal presence brand, what you want to be known for overall.

Let’s take the situational intention which is the thought you’re carrying in your head as you head into an event or interaction. Believe me, whether you’re cognizant of it or not, it’s there and either constructive or destructive. Being more intentional is taking hold of that narrative to make it positive toward your goal. Otherwise the chatter in our heads can take over, which shows up in our body language, decisions and actions.

Here’s a common example. Let’s say you have a big presentation at work. Many people will go into the presentation with the thought in their heads of “Let’s just get this over with” or something similar. Not a positive thought! It is absolutely going to impact your body language, how you present yourself, the content you include, and how you handle questions.
It has an impact. So if you’re able to just lasso that thought, challenge your thinking, and set a helpful intention that aligns with your goal, you can transform the entire event.

Often the best way to think about what intention to set is to determine what reaction you want to get from the people in front of you. If you want them to get excited about your presentation, you need to be excited. So if you back out of that, what intention do you need to have in order to feel excitement? It might be around content you believe in. Perhaps: “I am so glad to be able to present this content to more people because it’s incredibly meaningful.”

I love all the neuroscience in your book. How does that help people achieve a stronger presence?
I think anyone who is involved in leadership should be paying attention to what’s going on in neuroscience. In fact, there is a whole fi eld called neuroleadership, which applies neuroscience to leadership. It’s changing the way we’re looking at how people adapt to change, how to inspire others, and certainly many aspects of presence. And what I like about neuroscience is it takes what was considered a personal fault or attribute and shows how it’s a universal, human reaction that can even be observed on a brain scan. It reframes many chronic management problems and sheds light on refreshed solutions.

For example, take a common complaint from managers that they can’t get employees to change their behavior. Perhaps the manager has counseled the person and still he or she seems intractable. Th rough neuroscience research, we know that there is deeper layer to it. First, our brain literally seeks out and parcels information to us that supports our existing beliefs, and resists information that counters them. You’ll have more success helping another person to see for themselves what needs to change rather than telling them. Second, we’re prone to triggers that put us in a reactive mode, and two of those are uncertainty or threats to status. Knowing this as a manager provides you some tools to address the issue with the employee by helping them feel secure enough to take risks, and to highlight a path for moving forward.

By the way, these same findings also help us manage ourselves. Ever feel intimidated or uncomfortable around someone and not sure why? If you look closer, you’ll usually fi nd a trigger behind it. Once you name it and rationalize it— i.e. that’s just triggering a status threat since she’s so successful—you may fi nd it easier to move past it.

Can you talk about the process of doing a presence audit?
First, I encourage everyone to do this at least once. It’s a gift to have this feedback.

The presence audit is fi nding a small number of people that you know and trust to give you some very honest feedback about your presence. Most of us only get feedback in a performance review, which focuses on things like your functional expertise. It’s far less likely to tell you how people actually perceive you.

For example, let’s say you’re in fi nance and your boss feels that your quarterly analyses should be more descriptive. But he also knows that when you talk in a meeting, people tend to tune out. You’re much more likely to get that fi rst piece of feedback than the second. And which one is more important to your career? Th oughts around presence are widely known but seldom shared. Th is feedback is considered too personal even though it holds great power for us.

In the book, I walk through how to get your own presence audit. With the right people, you simply have to ask them: What’s the general perception of me? And what could I do diff erently that would have the greatest impact on my success? Th e hardest part is to manage your reaction so you don’t defend or explain yourself, a very natural instinct. You’ll get feedback as good as your ability to receive it.

Do you find people are shy about asking these questions?
It’s kind of hard, right? It feels very personal to ask these questions. And let’s face it. We’re a little bit afraid of the feedback. Sometimes people will say that this seems so selfabsorbed to be asking these questions about myself, or I don’t want to be bothersome.

I tell people to put the shoe on the other foot. If someone came to you and said, “Hey, I’d really love to have this feedback. It would be incredible for my career. Would you just please honestly tell me what your perception is?” Most people would say, “Of course I will give you that information.”

So can you talk about approachability and why it’s not just touchy feely but good business sense?
Leaders need to be approachable so others invest in them, take risks, and freely share information. Th e alternative is you have a team who safely hugs the middle. You want your people feeling that they know where you’re coming from and if they have a problem they can put themselves out there a little bit. Even, God forbid, fail and still live to fi ght another day. And they will only do this, if they feel with some degree of certainty that things are going to be okay on the other side. Approachability is key for that.

Why is storytelling a business art form?
Storytelling is a hot topic in business, but it’s an ancient rhetorical infl uencing art. Th ankfully, you don’t have to study Aristotle to make it work for you. I challenge leaders to use storytelling to enable approachability. It helps people know you. Stories can help people understand what your values are, what challenges you have overcome and how much you share in common. Stories of how people come together and rally as a team can also be very inspirational.

Leaders have to find ways to keep important ideas top of mind in ever-busy workdays. Stories do this. Humans have evolved to retain stories much more efficiently than facts. Our brains light up differently from storytelling. If I’m in a seminar and I tell a story, people literally relax, put their pens down and look up.

We can hear facts all day long, but we process a single story much more efficiently than even the best chart or figure. It’s no wonder the expression death by PowerPoint exists!

The balance between the emotional and logical seems to be a theme in your book. Very compelling. Do executives accept this in your coaching and speaking?
Most do, but some resist it. It’s often predicated on the culture that they work in . Some people work in companies where they understand the whole person goes to work everyday. Other companies say, whoa, we don’t want the whole person here. The work person comes to work and the other person stays home. We all have to work within cultural boundaries. And, of course, there’s a balance.

We know that we are emotional beings. So, instead of fighting it, we can find a way to put this human facet to good use in business. When I started my first business, I was given advice to not take business too personally. And I thought, what could be more personal than my business? It’s intensely personal. Passion has a key role in great leadership. For entrepreneurs, there are times it’s all you have. It’s better to consider how to manage your emotions to support your goals, rather than trying to deny them.

So, what would you say to someone who had doubt that they could improve their presence?

I say, what you may consider your weakness can actually be your strength. For example, someone who is shy or introverted might not believe they can have presence. In actuality, that person might be acutely aware of the emotions of the other people around them and be a student of human behavior. They might be able to go into a room and incisively hit the exact point a group wants to hear. By using their personality to their benefit, they can build a presence that takes great strengths and puts them to use.

There are many paths to a stronger presence. It’s not a one-sized-fits-all endeavor. One of my themes in the book is don’t try to be perfect. Don’t feel you have to do everything. Take one or two ideas that feel most natural to you and start with those. A little presence goes a long way.


Modern DC Business Magazine Presents


March 8th Lunch and Learn: The Power of Presence

Join us as we welcome Kristi Hedges, communications expert, leadership coach and author of the newly released The Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others.

Everyone recognizes leaders with “presence.” They stand out for their seemingly innate ability to command attention and inspire commitment. But what is this secret quality they exude, exactly?


Learn how to build trust as the foundation for leadership, eschew perfectionism for authenticity, banish limiting thoughts and behaviors, and galvanize your team through visionary, inspiring communications.


Come hear from the author how to build a powerful presence whether you’re a:


· Business owner or CEO
· Senior leader inspiring teams
· Mid-level executive looking to advance
– Professional transitioning between careers


Mar 8, 2012

11:30 AM – 2:00 PM

8000 Towers Crescent Drive
The Tower Club
Vienna, 22182


Positively Profitable– Be Happy, Work Better

Posted on 27. Oct, 2011 by in OPERATIONS


So, the economy is sputtering and perhaps your business isn’t doing as well as you hoped.   Perhaps you think it’s time to start cracking the whip.  Well, think again.  If you want to increase profits, you might want to check out the field of positive psychology.

Positive psychology is about making the lives of people more productive and fulfilling by identifying and nurturing their highest talents—not about treating mental illness like traditional psychology.  It’s a new branch of study that was championed by Martin Seligman, who is often referred to as the father of positive psychology.

So, why should we business leaders be interested?  Because we can add to the bottom line while creating a company with a culture that is more enjoyable for all, including management.  A study conducted by Alex Edmans of the Wharton School of Business has shown that corporations listed in Fortune’s “100 Best Companies to Work For in America” have equity returns that are 3.5% per year higher than others.  Put simply, employee satisfaction directly correlates with returns to shareholders. Likewise, as a result of decades of clinical trials, we now know that feeling happy reduces workplace errors, increases productivity, and reduces employee turnover and absenteeism—all of which positively impact the bottom line.

“Our brains are literally hardwired to perform at their best not when they are negative or even neutral, but when they are positive, ” says Shawn Archor in his book, The Happiness Advantage: the Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work.  Biologically, when we release dopamine and serotonin, the learning centers in the brain perform well, better organize new information, retain new information in the brain longer, and retrieve it faster.

Barbara L. Fredrickson, professor of psychology at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, discovered that humans are most creative when our minds are flooded with a stay-and-create chemical—quite possibly dopamine—the opposite of the well-known “fight or flight” response. The “stay-and-create” chemical makes us more receptive to new ideas, more likely to explore, more flexible, and more likely to deepen relationships. This, as one might imagine, results in greater teamwork and mutual respect.  Fredrickson’s theory is that “fight or flight” historically helped us avoid being eaten alive, but that civilizations were created via a more enlightened “broaden-and-build” state of mind.

5 Elements of Well-being

According to Seligman, the goal of positive psychology is well being. Well-being is described as having the following five main elements.

1.      Positive emotion.  This one is self explanatory—It’s simply feeling good.

2.      Engagement. Also called “flow.”  Flow is when you feel one with your work.   It is also called “being in the zone,” and is characterized by losing all track of time. Those who achieve flow will say they have a strong purpose and a love for what they do.  Getting into the flow is best served by using our “Signature Strengths,” explained below.

3.      Meaning.  Having a purpose in life—this happens when we belong to or serve something that we think is bigger than ourselves.

4.      Accomplishment.  The mastery and achieving of goals for the sake of the accomplishment.  It involves grit, or stick-to-it-ness, which has been found to guide accomplishment even more than intelligence.  According to Seligman, studies show “self-discipline counts for twice as much variance as IQ” in accomplishment.

5.      Relationships.  Relationships bring a sense of community and a sense of connectedness to others.

What are Signature Strengths?  In the workplace, studies have shown that human strength—not the absence of weaknesses—are the keys to productivity, increased job satisfaction, and reduced turnover.  Signature strengths are our top innate strengths, and are likely the signature by which we are known. Examples of signature strengths are: perseverance, integrity, critical thinking, kindness, and ingenuity.  Feelings that might signify we are using a signature strength might include feeling like “this is the real me,” having a feeling of excitement when using that strength, or experiencing a sense of inevitability while using it.  When people capitalize on their signature strengths, they tend to be happier and more satisfied.  Gallup Studies have shown that companies whose employees are encouraged to use their strongest skills are the most successful.

The Growth of Positive Psychology:  Positive psychology is now making its way into many different fields, such as the Military, education, law, medicine, politics, engineering, the arts, and business.  Many universities offer courses in positive psychology, and several offer degrees specializing in positive psychology including the University of Pennsylvania, Claremont University, and the University of East London.  The University of Pennsylvania, where Seligman is currently the Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology and Director of the Positive Psychology Center, offers a Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP degree).  60% of alumni with MAPP degrees return to their original area of work, spreading positive psychology into different fields.


A great example of positive psychology in the corporation is Zappos, international shoe and apparel eTailer. I am a big fan of Zappos, and according to Business Week and Forbes, they are one of the best places to work.  Tony Hsieh, CEO, used positive psychology to make Zappos such a wonderful place to be employed.

So how is selling shoes online meaningful?  For Hsieh, it’s not about shoes—it’s about delivering happiness to customers and employees. He delivers happiness to his customers in the form of amazing customer service. Zappos employees strive to deliver “Wow!” and are trusted to do the right thing with customers in regard to making decisions to please each customer. Uniquely, if you call Zappos, you will be talking to a person without scripts – they are trusted to use their best judgment to fulfill the charter for best customer service.  Zappos delivers an acclaimed culture and work environment to its employees.  Hsieh integrated elements of positive psychology into his culture and operationally in a way that is enviable.  Here’s a short peek into Zappos:

  • Working at Zappos feels purposeful. Delivering happiness is big and it’s bold. The company has values that are more than lip service or, as Hsieh puts it, not “just a plaque in the lobby” but values that have been operationally and culturally integrated.  Here are their values:

o   Deliver WOW through Service

o   Embrace and Drive Change

o   Create Fun and a Little Weirdness

o   Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-minded

o   Pursue Growth and Learning

o   Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication

o   Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit

o   Do More with Less

o   Be Passionate and Determined

o   Be Humble

  • Social interaction is increased in many ways. For example, before employees can log into their computers in the morning, they must identify the “mystery employee” whose photo is displayed on their computer screens. Everyone gets to be that mystery employee at some time. In this way workers get to know the names and the faces other employees whom they may not meet otherwise. In addition, there is only one entrance at headquarters.  The other entrances in the building have been turned into emergency exits.  All employees entering through the same door greatly increases happenstance interactions between employees.

These are just a few of many Zappos examples.  I highly recommend reading, Delivering Happiness, A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, and checking out the The Zappos Family 2010 Culture Book (which you can order for free at from

With the success of the book, Delivering Happiness has now evolved into its own company, with the sole purpose to grow a global movement to spread and inspire happiness at work, in communities and everyday life.

If you want to learn even more strategies to use for your own business, Zappos recently created a whole new branch of their organization, Zappos Insights and DH@work, which can be found at and  Through these programs, they are sharing with the world the secret sauce that makes Zappos a great place to work, and ways other companies can successfully apply happiness as a business model.  Already, the program has helped many businesses, which report an increase in sales and morale almost immediately.

Happiness Myths

As much as we are learning about ways that we can be happier, we also have many beliefs regarding ways we can be happier that simply aren’t true.  Here are a few widespread myths about achieving happiness.

Getting the best will make me happy.

One of the most persistent myths of happiness is that getting the “best,” will make us happier.  Barry Schwartz, in his book The Paradox of Choice, points out that there are two types of decision makers—Satisficers (someone who attempts to meet a decision criteria for adequacy) and Maximizers.  Maximizers try to make the best decision every time—they look for the best mate, the best job, and so on. Satisficers make a decision once they satisfy their criteria.  They are satisfied if they find a restaurant that has the qualities they want, instead of searching for the #1 restaurant available.  But while Maximizers are paralyzed and can’t make a decision until they have thoroughly examined every option, Satisficers have eaten a delicious meal and are happily moving along to the next big thing.

More money will make me happy.

When we do not have enough money to pay the bills, we know and studies show our sense of well-being decreases.  But once bills are paid and there is a margin of disposable income, people in general (and those who are very wealthy) actually fare about the same on the happiness scale.  Clearly, money plays a serious role to the negative—that is, if we seriously lack money we are less happy—but it’s much less impactful to the positive.  A good example of this can be found in the behavior of lottery winners.  Studies have shown that their happiness spikes when they first win, but months later their happiness levels are similar to where they were prior to winning.  In other words, we tend to return to our usual happiness level in a matter of months regardless of the amount of winnings.

I will be happy as soon as I _________.

You fill in the blank.  I will be happy when I meet Mr. (or Ms.) Wonderful.  I will be happy when I make law partner.  I will be happy when I wear a size 4.  In Arrival Fantasy, Tal Ben-Shahar explains that the “arrival fallacy” is a fallacy because the arriving actually rarely makes you as happy as you expect.

Happiness Tips

Now for the nitty gritty.  How can you bring happiness to our company and to your culture?

  • Find a larger purpose that your company can rally around.  Zappos isn’t simply selling shoes—they deliver happiness.
  • Create an environment that inspires, and motivation will follow.  Build your culture and your brand around what stand for, and integrate it into your operations.  Take every opportunity to speak about your culture and brand within—and outside of—your company.  Then live it.  As one worker in an enviable work environment said, “I would have come in as a dishwasher to be in this environment.”  Now that’s inspiration.
  • Foster a strong sense of community and a deep belief in your people.
  • Hire for strengths—and screen for strengths during the recruitment process.
  • Let employees be themselves as much as possible.
  • Find ways to apply existing strengths in new ways. Move employees if necessary.
  • Ask employees for ideas about positive changes. What do they want to do?  In what environment do they feel most comfortable and happy?  What ideas do they have for the company?  How can they bring the most value to the company?
  • Read Tribal Leadership, Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization. Being part of a “tribe” and having a shared purpose—propelled by values across your company and employees—is big.  It helps strengthen relationships and fulfill the need to be part of something important.
  • Have fun. Southwest Airline’s CEO and cofounder, Herb Kelleher, built a company where celebrations are a normal part of business. Southwest—in the meantime—grew revenue by almost 400% in the last decade.  Celebrations can be small, spontaneous, or all-out affairs.  In another Zappos example, it is commonplace for a department to have impromptu parades.  That may not be appropriate for every company’s culture, but adding more fun to your culture—in your own way—adds to positive feelings and camaraderie.
  • Look for Positive Deviance. Find pockets of individual successes where a problem is being solved differently and employ more widely.
  • Start all meetings positively. Ask managers and participants the three things that are going well in their departments.
  • Use teamwork. In the past decade, business has seen large growth in productivity because of teamwork, which has taken larger hold in business.  This is primarily driven by the technology business that requires teams at every stage of development.  This shift has been followed by many other business sectors, as well. When working in teams, weaknesses do not matter nearly as much as they do when someone is working as an individual because the team can still function effectively.  Also, working in teams makes people happy.
  • Be more positive than negative. Sure, there are negative things we need to focus on, but change the ratio.  Several recent studies have shown that negative occurrences are more powerful than positive.  You need to outnumber the “bad” with the “good.”  Marcial Losada calculated that the tipping point need for positive feelings and experiences is 2.9013 positive interactions/occurrences for every negative one, coined the “Losada Line.” And, for workgroups, the research shows that a ratio of 6 to 1 is where teams produce their very best work.  You don’t have to ignore the negative, but remembering to note the positive will shift morale.
  • Give employees chances to succeed and achieve. Consider followings Zappo’s lead on this one.  They used to promote their merchandise assistants to assistant buyers every 18 months, as long as they met all the requirements to qualify.  Currently, after gaining more understanding of human nature, they give smaller promotions every six months with a large promotion occurring at the 18-month mark.  The result is the same in terms of training, certification, and pay, but employees are happier because there have an ongoing sense of progress.

Still Unconvinced?  Here’s More Science.

Happiness can actually be seen—in the form of brain-scanning technology, which has confirmed the effect of positive psychology exercises in studies.

“The adage that we become what we think is more than an expression – it’s a scientific fact,” says Kristi Hedges, leadership coach and author, Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others.  Hedges explains that neuroscience has shown that what we consistently think creates synaptic connections that become a veritable path of least resistance in the brain. This has tremendous implications for people, and deserves to be taken seriously and developed strategically.  There’s even an entire field dubbed neuroleadership that’s emerged.

In Hedges’ book, she discusses that in the corporate world we have tended to delegitimize positive conceptualization or self-talk as a New Age indulgence. But think of athletes. We admire their ability to visualize a successful outcome and to mentally propel themselves to achieve. The reason positive thinking works for them is the reason it works for all of us. If we think we can win, we’ll embody that thought and change our actions. And each time we are actually creating neural pathways and eventually, with repetition, they become the path of least resistance.

The trick for changing your brain, and subsequent behavior, is to approach positive thoughts with focus and deliberation. For most of us, this requires structural changes and systems to keep the ideas top of mind. This can be as simple as scheduling five minutes each morning to reflect on the tone you want to set for your day, or as involved as meeting with a coach or mentor regularly. Feedback can be a valuable catalyst to test and refine a person’s thinking.

Need a Bit of Help to Get Going?

Leadership is critical to a positive work environment and is essential to bringing out the strengths of the workforce.  If you want a jumpstart, you may consider getting some outside expertise.  There are many good coaching and consulting companies that are specifically trained to help you or your employees increase happiness and shift culture. Coaches who are trained in such things can often facilitate change more quickly.

Local Washington DC Coach/Trainer, Shannon Polly, a graduate of the MAPP program at the University of Pennsylvania, offers a suite of workshops for companies to achieve optimal performance using positive psychology techniques.   One workshop Polly led for Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort and Spa incorporated the strengths research of Dr. Martin Seligman and Dr. Chris Peterson, as well as Appreciative Inquiry (AI), which is a change management technique created by Dr. David Cooper rider in the 1980s.  The workshop for the Westin Savannah had 100 employees for a day, and the process guided attendees to discover their strengths so they could leverage them and envision the future they wanted to create.  The hotel manager was amazed at the level of engagement from the part-time employees, especially.

Finding a coach/consultant that can have such an effect on your business is not difficult.  Search online or use the International Coach Federation’s referral service of credentialed coaches at  And, Of course, Kristi Hedges and Shannon Polly, mentioned above, are also local DC coaches.   Either way, good luck on your path to delivering happiness and increasing your company’s success.

The Coaches Interviewed

Kristi Hedges
Executive coach, leadership development consultant, author
The Hedges Company

Kristi Hedges is a leadership coach with a specialty in executive communications, and the author of Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others. Her workshops and leadership coaching programs have been utilized by CEOs and teams in companies spanning the Fortune 500, government, non-profit and small businesses. She is also a founding partner in the leadership development firm, Element North, and a leadership contributor for
2010 Corporate Ridge Drive, STE 700
McLean, VA 22102

Shannon M. Polly, MAPP
Trainer, Consultant and Coach
Accentuate Consulting

Accentuate Consulting, does corporate training and coaching in two areas:  communication skills (using theatrical techniques) and optimal workplace performance (using positive psychology techniques).  They have designed a suite of workshops for companies on such topics as Strengths-Based Managing, the Neuroscience of Change, Positive Communications & Feedback and Optimism & Resilience.

1117 10th Street, NW, STE W2Washington, DC 20001

Callout Box #1:

Some Great Reads

Delivering Happiness, A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, Tony Hseih


Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being, Martin Seligman


Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment, Martin Seligman

Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others, Kristi Hedges

The Happiness Advantage: the Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work, Shawn Archor

Tribal Leadership, Leveraging Natural Groups to Build a Thriving Organization

Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others, Dave Logan, John King and Halee Fischer-Wright

Callout Box #2:

Strength Assessment Tests

Via Signature Strengths

Clifton Strength Finder





Archor, Shawn, The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work


Fredrickson , Barbara, Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive

Hedges, Kristi, Power of Presence: Unlock Your Potential to Influence and Engage Others

Hseih, Tony, Delivering Happiness, A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose

Seligman, Martin, Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment

Seligman, Martin, Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being


Brandi, Joanna, Are you Deviant, Success Magazine (August 2011)

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Posted on 03. May, 2011 by in LEADERSHIP


MindShare - Photography by Michael Vonal

I knew about MindShare long before I was an invited CEO. So, when I was invited as CEO of OptiView Technologies, I considered it an honor. I knew several CEOs who I respected that had gone prior and I was happy to attend. So what is MindShare? Let me back up.

In my words, MindShare is one of the best networking opportunities and resources for CEOs for emerging companies in the Washington, D.C. region. More formally, as Mind- Share’s board describes it as “an exclusive, invitation-only organization for CEOs of the most promising, high tech, emerging growth companies.” The organization was formed 15 years ago to create a sense of community and spirit of innovation for entrepreneurs on the east coast, similar to that which was established in Silicon Valley. MindShare’s mission is to help CEOs build long-term, sustainable companies by creating opportunities and a sense of community.

MindShare - Photography by Michael Vonal

MindShare - Photography by Michael Vonal

As a MindShare CEO, you join about 50 other CEOs of the hottest emerging companies in the region for that year’s class. The program meets once a month for dinner, networking, and a panel discussion related to critical topics for building a business at the CEO level. Topics include everything from raising venture capital to hiring the best team to how to generate PR for your company. I found the series to be interesting and informative and looked forward to Q&A where the discussion sometimes got even more interesting. But, to me, the real value is in being part of the network once you are alumni. This is a group of seasoned entrepreneurs with many name brand CEOs you would certainly recognize, including Philip Merick (webMethods), Tim O’Shaughnessy (LivingSocial), and Patrick Sweeney (ODIN Technologies). The group communicates and collaborates continuously via Listserv for the most part, but a few other social media tools are used as well. Should you have a question in your daily business on anything operational, financial, marketing related, you name it, you can throw it out to the group. And I have found the group to be responsive. And supportive.

Also useful and quite enjoyable are the MindShare Network social gatherings. The largest gathering each year is the MindShare graduation for the new class, which generally draws out about 150 MindShare CEOs. The current leadership is co-chaired by April Young, Gene Riechers, Harry Glazer, as well as 13 other business leaders in the technology community. The broader MindShare Network is led by two CEO graduates of MindShare, Edwin Miller and Charlie Thomas. Edwin is known for Everest Software and Charlie Thomas for Net2000 and Razorsight. Their biggest goal this year is to “energize the Mind- Share Alumni Network leverage the power and value of what MindShare has built,” according to Edwin.

As of now, more than 550 CEOs have graduated from MindShare and it’s entering its fifteenth year. Here are some stats that I personally find quite impressive. MindShare companies have created more than 20,000 jobs and over $5 billion in revenue in our region. Many MindShare companies have gone public via IPO and the group has raised over $1.2 billion in venture funding. Now that is some MindShare.