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  • Sam Decker

Notes on "The Likeability Factor" (Tim Sanders at Austin Texchange)

Last week I became president of Texchange, a local association of Technology entrepreneurs and executives. At our June event we had Tim Sanders, formerly of, Yahoo, author of "Love: The Killer App", and more recently "The Likeability Factor". He spoke to a June audience of 130 entrepreneurs and shared some sobering statistics, research, and recommendations. Thanks to Josh Toub at BluefishGroup and Secretary of Techange, I can share these notes for you. [Note: if you are an Austin-based technology entrepreneur or in a Austin-based startup, email me to join].

  1. Biology behind increased importance of emotion in business and everyday life

    1. The amygdala (part of brain in charge of emotion) has grown ~1% in the lat 35 years

    2. Makes liking the people you do business with much more important than it once was

  2. EVP

    1. When Tim evaluates a company to invest in or do business with, he evaluates three things:

      1. What is the emotional value proposition

      2. What is the emotional cost of ownership

      3. What is the emotional compensation plan

    2. Did research at Yahoo about the essance of loyalty–it’s all about emotional attraction

    3. In life, the "likability factor" is almost always the tie break

      1. "Every presidential election since 1976 has been won by the likability factor."

    4. What is likability?

      1. Not about charimsa

      2. Not about being popular

      3. It’s about reciprocity, not attraction

  3. Emotional Attraction (EA) & Leadership

    1. An emotionally attractive salesperson will gross 40% more than a neutral person

    2. 3 benefits:

      1. Reduced risk

        1. Doctors who smile are much less likely to get sued

        2. Statistically, people do not sue people who are nice to them

        3. Discussed video screening for malpractice insurance coverage; nice people have 10-65% fewer suits

      2. Attract & retain young people

        1. Motivators for young people (decision criteria when evaluating job opportunities):

          1. 1. Experience, culture, how you can be influenced by supervisors

          2. 2. Challenging work

          3. 3. Compensation

      3. EA leads to more innovation

        1. Brain leverage capacity averages ~10%, but there are fluctuations

        2. Can drop 70% in the presence of cortisol, a stress hormone

        3. DHEA enzyme is produced when you are in a positive mood; this can increase B.L.C. up to 300% à 30% BLC when you are in a good mood

    3. Consistency is paramount for being likable.  Much more important than your personality.

    4. 7 rules for a business:

      1. 1. Must have an emotional comp. plan.

        1. Take home dignity, hope, etc. along w/ your pay

        2. Compensate supervisors (up to 30%) based on emotional state of direct reports

      2. 2. Stop the “chicken little” people

        1. Negativity is a disease

        2. Only way to overcome crisis is by saying “I have”—not “I don’t have”

        3. Story: “If you send a chicken little email, he prints it out, stamps it “chicken little” and hangs it in the lobby”

        4. SWA will suspend employees based on attitude

        5. Google poaching story: YAHOO = “You all have other options”

        6. Culture (def): Set of values that create a system of control [Not sure I got this one right –Josh]

      3. 3. Stop hiring T.O.  This leads to “horizontal turnover” (causes peers to leave) which, although less well understood and less recognized, is much worse than vertical turnover.

      4. 4. Hire people for fit, not for talent.  The first interviewer should only judge fit.

      5. 5. Cutback hours; outlaw overtime.

        1. Hours 42-70 are bad time management.

        2. 50%+ of bugs introduced after hour #45

      6. 6. Manage moods like a P&L.

        1. Show happiness on a dashboard.

      7. 7. Let the sunshine in.  It is proven that natural light and foliage improve mood and productivity.

    5. Pyramid diagram: Friendliness (bottom) -> Relevance -> Empathy -> Realness

      1. Friendliness

        1. “Gatekeeper effect.”  If you think someone does not like you, you turn off.  “Friend or foe?”

        2. Friendliness is a communications phenomenon.

        3. Friendliness advice:

          1. 1. Smile back.  

          2. 55% of friendliness cues come from facial expression.  38% from tone and 7% from verbal.  To be friendly, try to meet in person or at least pick up the phone.  Email is evil. 

          3. When interviewing, candidates must smile back at the receptionist or they are out of there.

          4. 2. Learn email etiquette.

          5. Email has been ranked the #2 factor in causing workplace frustration.

          6. 4 rule around email:

          7. 1. Email is appropriate for yes, hello, and communicating harmless info.  Don’t say ‘no’ over email.  Pick up the phone.

          8. 2. Managers should not email direct reports at times when the manager would not pick up the phone and call the person.  No late night emails.

          9. 3. Never use “reply to all.” 

          10. 4. Leave the safety on when you are mad.  80% of nastygrams are replies.

          11. 5. Keep it short.  “If it can’t fit in the preview pane, pick up the phone.”

      2. Relevance

        1. All about how you relate—developing an interest w/ someone’s passion

        2. Trust is a two-way street

        3. Learn your coworkers passions à good team building exercise.

      3. Empathy

        1. The key to empathy is deep and powerless listening.

        2. Emotion faces from

        3. Powerless listening

          1. We often try to fix problems when we listen. That is powerless listening.  Stop it.  Just listen.

          2. Say “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

          3. Do not say “Yes, but…”

          4. Learn how to make yourself emotionally available and appreciate people’s feelings

          5. Advice:

          6. 1. Show up at meetings you agree to attend, and don’t bring your phone.  When you agree to a meeting, you are agreeing to giving your time.  Don’t multitask.

          7. 2. Promise paid; promise kept.  

          8. Obsess about promise keeping, especially with direct reports.

          9. “Execution and accountability are the most likable things you can do in your life.”

      4. Realness

        1. Mastering friendliness, relevance, and empathy makes you real.  

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