It’s Time to Intentionally Connect

by Dianna Brodine, vice president, editorial, Plastics Business

I’m traveling more these days – to tradeshows, conferences and plant tours – and it feels GOOD to connect with people again. From hugs with old friends to handshakes with new acquaintances, these relationships are filling my tank with energy, ideas and purpose. However, it’s not easy for everyone to reach out and make genuine connections. I’m definitely more of an extrovert than an introvert, but I still struggle to move beyond the superficial pleasantries sometimes. Asking other people to share their struggles and successes so that I can translate those to articles in the magazine means that I, too, need to be open and honest during our conversations. That’s not always easy! Want me to talk football? No problem. Ask questions about how I’m managing a heavy workload while training new employees and sending my middle daughter off to college … well, that gets a little harder.

In this issue’s Booklist, I’ve pulled together expert authors who have written about the challenges in making connections and the ways those connections make us all better when we take that first step by being vulnerable and interested. The next time we run into each other at an industry event, maybe we can chat about what we’ve learned.

Bring Your Whole Self to Work: How Vulnerability Unlocks Creativity, Connection and Performance
Author: Mike Robbins
Released: May 1, 2018

In today’s work environment, the lines between our professional and personal lives are blurred more than ever before. Whatever is happening to us outside of our workplace – whether stressful, painful or joyful – follows us into work as well. We may think we have to keep these realities under wraps and act as if we “have it all together.” But as Mike Robbins explains, we can work better, lead better and be more engaged and fulfilled if – instead of trying to hide who we are – we show up fully and authentically.

Robbins’ clients have ranged from Google to Citibank, from the US Department of Labor to the San Francisco Giants, and from small start-ups in Silicon Valley to family-owned businesses in the Midwest. Robbins believes that for us to thrive professionally, we must be willing to bring our whole selves to the work that we do.

In this book, Robbins outlines five principles we can use to approach our own work in this spirit of openness and humanity, and to help the people we work with feel safe enough to do the same, so that the teams and organizations we’re a part of can truly succeed.

Experience, Inc.: Why Companies That Uncover Purpose, Create Connection, and Celebrate Their People Will Triumph
Author: Jill Popelka
Released: May 3, 2022

In Experience, Inc., veteran business leader and growth strategist Jill Popelka delivers a hands-on guide to building a flexible, adaptable and engaged workforce that can enable your organization to evolve with emerging challenges. You’ll find the insights you need to build a company culture that prioritizes your people, resulting in an empowered and future-ready workforce. Filled with stories from the author’s extensive experience as the president of SAP SuccessFactors, the book also offers:

  • Advice from global thought leaders on some of today’s most pressing issues
  • Practical resources for any employee to improve their productivity and impact
  • Tips on creating a culture that works for the organization and its people

Experience, Inc. is a must-read for organizations looking for ways to build a sustainable, productive and exciting workplace centered around the most critical driver of business success: employees.

Create Magic at Work: Practical Tools to Ignite Human Connection
Author: Amy Lynn Durham
Released: July 14, 2021

“Creating positive company culture originates from bringing diverse people together, pinpointing their unique skills and celebrating those skills in a way that contributes to the whole of the team.” Create Magic at Work helps leaders fill a void for individuals who may feel isolated and exhausted from loneliness in the workplace. IGNITE your employees and infuse a real connection within your teams! FORGE new partnerships utilizing field-tested ceremonies that promote human connection! DARE to set an intention which will transform your workplace! Connection within a team doesn’t happen by accident, it happens with intention. With actionable skill building activities which elevate Emotional and Spiritual Intelligence (EQ & SQ), Amy Lynn Durham gives you step by step tools to help improve employee morale and profitability.

Ask Powerful Questions: Create Conversations That Matter
Authors: Will Wise, Chad Littlefield
Released: April 22, 2017

What might happen if “small talk” was replaced with conversations that matter? In their bestselling book, Will Wise and Chad Littlefield explain how the questions we traditionally ask often are meaningless when it comes to establishing a connection. Introducing a set of practice tools for understanding others by changing the way we ask questions, the authors show how to transform “How are you? – I’m fine, thanks” into conversations that change not only how you lead but who you are as a person. He unpacks the art of asking questions that lay the foundation for trust, psychological safety, productivity and impact. Littlefield complements the personal stories and examples with fascinating facts and nuances in neuroscience that are behind the art of asking. Together, the art of asking and the science behind it join to create a simple and powerful framework for leaders to build a culture of connection.