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Action, Interaction and Reaction from the Ritz team

Is my smartphone really smarter than I am?

Posted: August 25, 2011 - 7:05 AM ET - by Elisabeth

I think technology is wonderful thing. My business has thrived on the access to information and 24/7 availability that computers, tablets and especially smartphones ensure, and technology has definitely presented new, inspiring ideas I might not have found without social media, apps, and the like.

… but I’m reading more and more frequently that the stress I feel (okay, pretty often), the moments of “overload,” and the (let’s say occasional) lack of creativity or insight might be the fault of all my tech toys too (thank God it’s not the chemicals in my blonde highlights).

More experts than I can begin to name have addressed how much we need to disconnect from technology for our mental health.

Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert, wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal article that we don’t know how to be bored anymore … and he argues that boredom is source of creativity: “Experts say our brains need boredom so we can process thoughts and be creative. I think they’re right. I’ve noticed that my best ideas always bubble up when the outside world fails in its primary job of frightening, wounding or entertaining me.”

All these articles I keep reading (yes, on my fabulous little iPad), made me wonder …

Are we so focused on “connections” that we don’t really “interact” anymore?

Look around at a restaurant or event; how many people are looking at the phones or tablets, not even interacting with the people around them. Think about how many of your hundreds, or even thousands, of facebook friends you really talk to.

Are we so busy “gathering information” that we’re not really “learning” anymore?

How many news articles did you really read about the cause of the earthquake vs. clicking on the photo of the tipped over lawn chair.

And, for myself, I have to wonder … Is my smartphone really smarter than I am? At least when it’s battery runs down, I know I have to recharge it.

So I’m off on a little vacation … to recharge my batteries and reconnect with family and friends. I’ll try not to let the outside world frighten, wound or entertain me. Maybe I’ll try to be bored … but, in that case, I’ll probably just catch up on sleep in a sunny lounge chair.

See you back here on September 8 … maybe I’ll get a creative charge by then!

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Whom do you trust?

Posted: August 11, 2011 - 7:11 PM ET - by Elisabeth

I read a really scary, sort of sad, article recently about how our level of trust is at an all time low in the Western world: “We don’t trust our lawyers, or accountants — they shred lots of documents. Many believe that bankers recently brought the world economic system to its knees in the crisis of 2008 and subsequent recession. Most people aren’t too enamored of politicians, either. And increasingly we don’t trust our business leaders.”

The article goes on to talk about business scandals, crises in business leadership and the threat to our whole system and way of life: “Democratic capitalism relies upon trust in order to function …”

At the risk of sounding like Chicken Little, Democratic capitalism is falling apart???  What are we going to do???

The authors identify the challenge as “re-establish[ing] the social conditions for trust and … redefine[ing] leadership in this new world. …”

So … Whom can I trust? Whom can I rely on when it sounds like the sky is falling? When the chips are down (and the clichés are flying) whom do I tell my team, my clients and my friends they can count on?

Well … me.

I may be just one person, but I can set example of integrity and fairness (and I will even tell you if that dress makes you look fat if you ask me to, but not if you don’t because then it’s just being mean, not honest).

If I can be honest and authentic, then maybe the people who work with me can be honest and authentic (and my friends can tell me how I look in that dress) and we can “re-establish social conditions for trust” and “redefine leadership in this new world.”

A little personal accountability and a commitment to making thoughtful business decisions will create a culture that encourages the same behavior. Trust me.

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