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    Published on: April 9, 2011

    Note: This week, the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) offers a preview of some of the most anticipated sessions scheduled for its Future Connect conference, slated to be held May 10-13 in Dallas, Texas.

    This morning, an e-interview with author and motivational speaker Desi Williamson.

    From the Future Connect brochure:

    “After surviving the mean streets of St. Louis as a child, Desi Williamson went on to have a successful career with Johnson & Johnson, PepsiCo, and several other companies. Leveraging his learnings into a successful professional speaking career, Desi had a serious setback in 2005 when he fell and broke his neck. Along the path from paralysis to recovery, he discovered new perspectives and was inspired to write “Where There's a Will, There's a Way: Succeeding in the Face of Turbulent Times. “ Desi is dedicated to showing people how to do more than just survive turbulent times - he shows them how to thrive despite adversities.

    Williamson will be speaking on Thursday, May 12, from 10:45 - 11:45.


    Could there be more turbulent times these days?  Environmental disasters, natural disasters, economic hardship, political turmoil, a trio of wars, competitive challenges for almost every business ... how does one convince oneself to get up in the morning and actually put foot in front of the other?

    Desi Williamson: Yes, things could always be worse. The thing to remember is the power of perspective. Just think of the hardships that people had to endure before modern medicine, technology and the advances that have made life expectancy almost double in the last one hundred fifty years. Yes, there are challenges, but there are also solutions to those situations.

    In many cases, it is not necessarily easy, but our attitude always determines how we will approach a situation. The fact that we were born in America gives us a tremendous advantage because there are so many resources to help us deal with challenges. We just have to locate them and ask for help.

    What is the best way to deal with adversity?  Are there tricks that one should employ?  Is it purely a matter of attitude?

    Desi Williamson: I’ve found that the best way to deal with adversity is to keep your focus on solutions. Most often, the tendency is to ruminate about the problem over and over, long after we have identified it. When we spend the majority of our time on solutions, we ask ourselves more empowering questions. Instead of asking, Why did this happen?” We instead asked, How can I solve it? Who can help? Where can I find them or it? When do I want to get started? This causes a complete mind shift from victim to problem solver.

    Do you see differing approaches to “transformational thinking” in young people who are just starting out in the workforce, as opposed to people who have established careers (and perhaps have been beaten down a bit by the recession).  And how about differences between men and women in how they approach this challenge?

    Desi Williamson: Many young people want to rise to the ranks of success without paying the necessary dues and many older workers feel as though they have earned a “right of passage” because of their experience. The truth of the matter is that each of us must earn our keep each day by adding value to the marketplace on an ongoing basis. It’s just too competitive out there to become complacent.

    Younger workers must learn to be patient while they gain the necessary skills and realize that success is not an overnight phenomenon.

    It takes time to get experience and then turn that into wisdom so they are qualified for more responsibility.  This is their currency for the future. More experienced workers must insure their future attractiveness by continuing to learn and gain new insights to compliment their experience. It’s a balancing act for both!

    If you take a look at the gender differences, one can see that fifty percent of all new businesses are being started by women. Women are enrolling in college at a faster rate, and are also earning advanced degrees at a higher rate. This speaks to an overall attitude shift as both genders look at the same situation. For many women, the current condition  represents opportunities that were not available to them in the past as they were not for many minorities, so they are approaching things with a different set of lenses. In many cases, women feel as though they had nowhere to go but up because of past discrimination so they are taking a much more proactive approach.

    How does a company create a culture of transformational thinking within an organization .. especially an organization that has been in existence for a period of time?  (As opposed to a new company that can create such a culture from scratch?)

    Desi Williamson: A company can create a culture of transformational thinking by involving it’s employees in the process. Simply ask for help!

    In the old paradigm of thought, senior management would come up with all the answers and cascade marching orders throughout the organization. We now know that some of the best ideas in an organization come from those who work closest with the customer. The television show Undercover Boss is such a huge hit because it taps into that nerve center that creates commitment and not just compliance from a group of people by asking for their input. I refer to my six power questions, Who? What? When? Where? How? Why? The answers to these questions is where opportunity in an organization often lies dormant.

    When you take a look at companies like Google, you can see that they’ve create a culture that is all about tapping into their human resources. Google Time is known around the company as the time the organization allows people to take in order think about the best approaches to create new ideas and solve existing problems. That approach has been very successful to say the least!
     
    For registration information about Future Connect 2011, click here.
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