A Connection Culture Success Story at Yale New Haven Health

Dr. Tooba Kazmi and Patient Services Manager Lauren Thayer of Yale New Haven Health

During the challenging times of the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr. Tooba Kazmi and Patient Services Manager Lauren Thayer of Yale New Haven Health were tasked to spearhead a novel unit designed to provide care for chronically ventilated patients. The outcome of their dedicated efforts was they achieved record results in successfully weaning patients off ventilators.

Register Now for Human Capital Institute (HCI) Webinar on Connection Culture

Example of social integration - People Looking Choosing at Colleagues Photo

I’m excited to share that I’ll be participating in the Human Capital Institute’s (HCI) #StorytellingTuesday webinar series on Tuesday, November 20, 2018. We’ll be talking about why there really is one “best” type of culture, and how people analytics and workforce planning are instrumental to achieving the human connection that is essential for both individuals and organizations to thrive, no matter what comes their way.

Find the full details and register for the event here.

Remembering 9/11: Dave Barry’s “On Hallowed Ground”


Where were you when you first heard the news of an airliner striking World Trade Tower One on the morning of September 11, 2001? I was in my office near Times Square in Manhattan. At first I assumed it was an accident. Then came the unbelievable news that a second plane had hit Tower Two.

That night I hardly slept, concerned about the fate of people I knew who worked at the World Trade Center. In the days that followed I learned of those who did not survive the attacks and others who lost spouses, siblings, or parents.

Much has been written about September 11 since that day. One piece in particular moved me, although it came from an unlikely source. The humorist Dave Barry wrote a column about the heroism of the passengers on United Airlines flight 93 who organized the first resistance to the terrorists and the grief of those who lost loved ones who were passengers or crew on that flight.

In memory of all the innocent victims and first responders who lost their lives, and to their families and friends, here is “On Hallowed Ground.”

Assessing Ballmer’s Leadership

Check out technology critic David Pogue’s “How Ballmer Missed the Tidal Shifts in Tech” which appeared on the New York Times’ website on August 24.

I believe the most relevant question to ask in assessing Ballmer’s leadership and why Microsoft missed the tidal shifts in tech is: did Ballmer and his leadership team develop a culture of control, a culture of indifference or a “connection culture?” (These are the three types of psychosocial cultures in organizations.) Connection Cultures are required to maximize innovation, employee engagement and productivity, a case we made in our book Fired Up or Burned Out: How to Reignite Your Team’s Passion, Creativity and Productivity

Sympathy is NOT Empathy

Connecting with people requires empathy i.e. you feel the emotion another individual feels.  This is different from sympathy where you recognize the emotion but don’t feel it.

In Fired Up or Burned Out, I wrote about the company Cranium and how it designs “high five moments” into its games.  High five moments are times when people connect via the shared empathy of joy (remember that we define “the force of connection” as shared identity, empathy and understanding).  When you are interacting with people you want to connect with, feeling and expressing emotion helps.  When you feel someone’s joy or pain, it connects.

In the news

Here are a few recent articles related to connection that you might enjoy:

Walter Isaacson wrote about leadership lessons from Steve Jobs’ life for Harvard Business Review.  In the article, Isaason addresses issues relevant to Connection Cultures including the elements of Vision, Value and Voice.  Jobs was brilliant when it came to Vision, terrible when it came to Value and mixed win it came to Voice.  Fortunately, there are other members of Apple’s senior leadership team whose strengths helped overcome Jobs’ weaknesses.

David Brooks just wrote a column for The New York Times entitled “The Relationship School” that touches on aspects of Connection Cultures in schools.

The Atlantic had a piece entitled “Stress Makes You Sick: Exploring the Immune System Connection.” The article explores how stress weakens the human immune system and mentions the link between stress and connection. (Remember I shared with you that recent research over a 20-year period showed people who work in cultures with supportive relationships had mortality rates that were 2.4 times lower than people who worked in cultures with weak relational support. This supports the longstanding view that lifestyles with little relational support produce chronic stress will kill you.)

While teaching seminars on leadership and Connection Cultures at the Darden Graduate School of Business, Professor Marian Moore introduced me to the work of her colleague Jonathan Haidt, a social psychology professor at the University of Virginia.  Haidt just wrote The Righteous Mind.  Here’s a well-written review of the book entitled “Why Won’t They Listen?”  The book review clearly shows it addresses issues related to the Connection Culture elements of Value and Voice.  I’ve ordered a copy but not read it yet.

Finally, I recently spoke with Jim Blasingame about the competitive advantage of culture on his nationally syndicated radio program entitled “Small Business Advocate” that you can hear at this link.  Also, I wrote an article on the  “Science of Engagement” for Training Industry Quarterly.

New Media on Connection

Tomorrow I fly back to the U.S. after a 10-day trip to Amsterdam, Brussels, London and Edinburgh where I taught seminars for the Institute for Management Studies, spoke at ITV, saw several friends and spent a couple days on vacation with my wife, Katie.

While here, I learned about several new items of media coverage related to connection. Several items came from my friends Sean Witty and Jay Morris. Here are the items below.

Dr. Suzanne Zeedyk’s research on the importance of connection to babies and their ability to connect

Mental Heath Foundation of the UK report on rising loneliness and declining connection in the UK

UNICEF summary report on meeting children’s need for connection in the UK, Sweden and Spain

Article in Entrepreneur magazine “Forget Networking. How to be a Connector

Center for Creative Leadership article on introverts who connect well with colleagues

Dr. Stephen Jones on the need to connect with others to keep your mind and memory sharp

Best Practice: Stories to Encourage Good, Avoid Evil

In the workshops we teach, we use stories of great leaders in business, government, the social sector and sports who inspired people to do what’s right.  This is a best practice to strengthen the positive effects of an organization’s identity (i.e. mission, values and reputation).

Check out this outstanding TED video of Stanford psychology professor Philip Zimbardo speaking on the topic of how culture encourages or discourages evil.  In the video, he recommends heroic stories that encourage people to do what’s right and shares a couple inspiring stories of his own.

What heroic stories have inspired you?  Please share below or feel free to email me at mstallard@epluribuspartners.com.  I’m going to write about some of my favorite stories in a forthcoming series of posts.

Gap’s Chief Innovation Officer Recognizes Connection Required to Innovate


I’m encouraged to see more leaders recognize that individuals and organizations need connection to thrive. Here’s a video of Polly LaBarre at MIX interviewing Ivy Ross, Gap’s Chief Innovation Officer, about the need for connection to innovate. To learn more about “Connection Cultures” download the Connection Culture Manifesto published by changethis.com. You can go even deeper into Connection Cultures by signing up for my new quarterly email newsletter after which you will receive an email that contains a link to a free download of Fired Up or Burned Out, the book that introduced Connection Cultures.

Character Strengths of Your Business

“…while there are indeed great, often unfathomable forces in history before which even the most exceptional of individuals seem insignificant, the wonder is how often events turn upon a single personality, or the quality we call character.”

Historian David McCullough

“Ability may get you to the top but it takes character to keep you there.”

— Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

— Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

This morning I’ll be a guest on my friend Jim Blasingame’s Small Business Advocate radio show.  Jim and I will talk about developing character strengths in your business such as passion for excellence and beauty, kindness, persistence, creativity and citizenship. Strength of character makes us better leaders in business, government, education and the social sector.  It also makes us better human beings.

On the show I will mention downloads available on my blog. Here they are below:

List of the Character Strengths and Virtues

Character > Connection> Thrive Chain

Fired Up or Burned Out: How to Reignite Your Team’s Passion, Creativity and Productivity.