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Action, Interaction and Reaction from the Ritz team

“Talent is nothing without focus and endurance.”

Posted: December 1, 2011 - 7:30 PM ET - by Elisabeth

I’ve seen this quote by Haruki Murakami several times in the last few days, so I’m pondering the message from the universe.

There’s lots of evidence to support the idea, from the “10,000-Hour Rule” in Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” to the simple joke “How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. Practice. Practice.”

Friends and colleagues, from those who run companies to the ones who run marathons, would say neither effort stands a chance without “focus” and “endurance.” (… and once I can figure out what to focus on besides the pain, maybe I’ll start that marathon training!)

So “focus” and “endurance” are the magic ingredients?

…but I believe there’s more to it.

I know I’m not alone.

The motivational quotes under the glass on my desk and pinned to my bulletin board and jotted in notebooks remind me I’m not alone.

“Whatever there be of progress in life comes not through adaptation but through daring.” (Henry Miller)

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” (Goethe)

If inspirational phrases about daring action and boldness aren’t enough, there’s science.

Studies in fifth-graders show that praising children for “effort” over “intelligence” creates a mindset that encourages hard work; a willingness, even a desire, for difficult problem sets from which to learn; and confidence. Those students who displayed a “growth mindset” even favored learning over grades in school while students with a “fixed mindset” were more concerned with appearing smart than learning.

Researchers saw the same impact in business, discouraging “fixed mindset” managers and employees from taking advice and constructive criticism. (… and I’m sure there’s a lesson in “daring to be wrong” at work!)

Maybe that’s the point of my message from the universe?

Right or wrong …

Success or flop …

Like any wise fifth grader, marathoner or entrepreneur … “Fortune favors the bold.” (Virgil)


“Chance favors the connected mind.”

Posted: October 6, 2011 - 9:50 PM ET - by Elisabeth

My last blog post addressed the critical role of emotional connection in communications (with a little help from Brene Brown).

My mind wandered down the path of wondering if emotional connection has been helped or hurt by technological connection.

There are lots of arguments that we have more connections with less depth thanks to face book, Twitter and other social media formats … that we have fallen into the trap of texting rather than talking and emailing rather than interacting?

I don’t advocate tech talk over face-to-face interaction, but it’s not all bad.

“The great driver of scientific innovation and technological innovation had been the historic increase in connectivity and our ability to reach out and exchange ideas with other people,” according to Steven Johnson, author of “Where Good Ideas Come From” and yes, another great TED speaker.

Take four minutes to listen to his great, visually interesting presentation and it may just inspire your next great idea!


From doubt to determination

Posted: June 2, 2011 - 5:32 PM ET - by Elisabeth

The other day Joe Biden asked me, “Why do we doubt our capacity?”

Well, not just me …

but it’s a question I can relate to.

Entrepreneurs know doubt … and how to plow right through it to whatever is on the other side: anything in the spectrum from triumph to disaster. Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I’m pretty open about voicing my doubts. I guess it’s how I avoid letting them turn into fear; it’s my version of peeking under the bed to face what scares me.

What never ceases to amaze me is the amount of support and reassurance I find once I do voice my doubts. Friends and colleagues get it; everyone feels vulnerable and apprehensive sometimes. Speaking up gives me an opportunity to find answers and reassurance.

Despite what you might be thinking, Joe wasn’t asking because of his doubts. While the Vice President’s every gaffe has been highlighted by the media, you wouldn’t have known it from his confident delivery of an impressively articulate and heartfelt speech. He addressed a group gathered at the One Mind for Research forum in Boston on the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s famous “moonshot” speech. Biden compared the national urgency of landing a man on the moon to our current need to advance our understanding of cognitive and brain disorders. His words about the vision, leadership and resolve required to do so were stirring.

Members of the audience certainly knew doubt and fear – men and women who face mental illness and the uncertainty of treatment, physicians and scientists who work to weigh the risks and benefits of  treatments, and soldiers who struggle to readjust to the life of freedom they have provided for the rest of us. These scientists, patient advocates and politicians shared their knowledge in an effort to abolish the stigma of illnesses which marginalize men and women, to unravel the workings of the body’s most complex organ, and to support servicemen and women who return from war with unseen wounds.

The collective dedication to finding answers overwhelmed everyone’s doubts.

I admit well-crafted political rhetoric makes me want to find the nearest flag and wave it, but after the stories of personal triumphs and scientific breakthroughs, Biden’s talk of promises, potential and possibilities made me forget my doubts and remember why I really love what we do at Ritz Communications. We communicate critical health information to people who need it.

I can’t count the number of business seminars I’ve sat through thinking about the company’s mission and vision and “big audacious hairy goals,” but the commitment and enthusiasm at the forum was like a great big reminder waving right in front of me. We communicate critical health information to people who need it – to patients looking for a diagnosis or treatment, to doctors looking for medical data and advancements, to caregivers looking for information and support. We don’t even have to do the hard part with scientific equations and lab rats. We get to use language and communications tools that change and improve daily. We get to make people’s lives better every day that we work hard enough … every day that we contribute to a cause larger than ourselves.

I’ve heard over and over again as I’ve built the agency, “don’t get so caught up working in the business that you don’t have time to work on the business.” Yet all it took was a couple of days of diving back in to remind me what all of the doubting is for … and no-doubt worth.