Author Archives: Alisa Blum

Are You Maximizing the Power of Your Holiday Events?

Successful business people celebrating with a high-five

As the holidays approach, think about the last time you attended a holiday gathering at work that felt meaningful?  How can you strategically use your upcoming holiday event to help your employees understand the unique contributions they each bring to the workplace?

Research has shown that recognition increases productivity, enhances employee engagement, improves team culture and increases retention. Your upcoming holiday gathering can be an opportune time to show employees the value they bring to your organization.  Make sure you are specific about how each employee has contributed to your organization’s success this year.  And follow up with frequent recognition throughout 2019.

If you would like assistance developing specific recognition strategies, we would love to help.  We can be reached at (503) 481-7586 or

4 Steps to Getting Over Stage Fright

It’s one of those problems we don’t talk about a lot.  Yet many business people suffer from a fear of speaking in public that’s severe enough to damage their career.  You can change!  Do these simple steps and it improvement will be rapid.

First, before a specific talk:

  1. Be prepared. This is the MOST important thing you can do.
  2. Practice the first 5 sentences at least ten times.Know them very well.  You can go on automatic at that point and get over the initial jitters.
  3. Practice the whole talk 1-3 times.
  4. Look good! Dress well, comfortably, loose waistbands, nothing fussy or worrisome.

Second, just before the talk:

  1. SING!!! Sing at the top of your voice in the car on the way.Sing scales.  Hum in the bathroom. (Loosen vocal cords, deepen breathing)
  2. Try tensing a hand, abdominals, jaw.Do it deliberately, then release.  The idea is to consciously give yourself control over tension and relaxation.  One public speaker says that isometric tension of abdominals is her key to preventing stage fright.
  3. Take a few deep breaths with a LONGER EXHALE to signal relaxation to your overwrought nervous system.

Third, just before you open your mouth:

  1. On the way to the chair or podium, sing in your head!Hear some music that makes you feel upbeat and powerful.
  2. Check the self-talk – switch from “I’m so scared” to things like:“I am prepared.” “I can HANDLE THIS!”  “I talk well.”  “I may actually enjoy this.”  “I’m the one they choose to talk.”  “I’m good at my job.”   (Self-talk is a large part of what is scaring you to death!  Say your new phrases with happily, with enthusiasm!)
  3. Pause and look at your audience. Get their attention. Breathe.

Four, here are strategies to have more fun as a speaker: 

  1. Go to Toastmasters or something like it. This will build your “speaking muscles.”
  2. Find ways to practice – groups, church, school, etc.
  3. Keep a journal of your public speaking – hopes, fears, successes, feedback.No failure, only feedback.
  4. When you feel a twinge of fear, practice diaphragmatic breathing – exhale 2 times before you inhale.Feel the belly rise and fall as you breath (this means clothes are loose enough).  Loosen your shoulders and jaw as you exhale.
  5. What’s your belief about fear?Some fear may be helpful – you just want to do a good job.  Some beliefs generate the fear.  Write them down and “dispute” them:

            No one else is scared.  Dispute: I know that stage fright is common.

            People will know I’m scared.  Dispute: True, so what? May not be true—my team says I sound just fine.

I’ll forget my part.  Dispute: Maybe, but I have my notes.

Fifth, visualize for better speeches.  Maybe you’ve rehearsed fear and failure in your head for a long time.  Try this instead!

  1. Imagine someone giving your talk successfully. See and hear them, hear the applause.
  2. Make any improvements to this scene.
  3. Now, step in and imagine yourself doing the same thing.See, hear and feel yourself successfully going through the talk as if you were there.  Hear the applause!  Hear yourself say “Good job!” “I did really well” to yourself.
  4. Write down anything you learned from this exercise that will help you. You can practice as much as you like.

Speaking in public can be rewarding and powerful for your career.  Take the next step.

Judith Sugg, Ph.D. is an author, teacher and consultant who helps people and organizations clarify their vision, improve their interactions, understand conflict, and thrive in their surroundings.  She partners with Alisa Blum at AIM for Organizational Health to raise Awareness, achieve Integration and enable Mastery of mindfulness tools to improve individual and organizational effectiveness.  Judy is the author of Six-Word Lessons for Fearless Presenting: 100 Lessons to Beat Anxiety and Give Stellar Presentations available on Amazon.





What is Your Employee Retention Strategy?

Successful business people celebrating with a high-five

Finding high quality candidates is a major concern for businesses these days.  Although we can’t change the fact that many Boomer employees are retiring or that people will leave their jobs for personal reasons, turnover can be significantly reduced by developing and implementing  employee retention strategies

Gallup’s State of the American Workforce Report gives detailed information about the relationship between employee engagement and employee retention.  Unfortunately, engagement is not increasing because many businesses and organizations are not prioritizing efforts to engage and retain their employees.

If your organization is being impacted by employee turnover and you are having a hard time filling your positions, it is essential to make engaging and retaining your employees a priority.  You can start by letting your employees know you value their contributions and gather their input as to what you can do to keep them long term.  You may also want to conduct a survey based on the engagement factors the Gallup Organization has identified as critical to employee retention.  When you make a plan to increase retention and take the steps necessary to implement this plan, you will see decreased turnover and reduce the need to fill open positions in this tight job market.

Alisa Blum & Associates helps businesses & organizations select, develop and retain top employees.  You may contact us for a complimentary consultation to discuss strategies  to retain your top talent at (503) 481-7586 or Information about our services can be found at


Are You Aware of the Impact Negative Stereotyping is Having on Millennials?


A recent report from Udemy, based on a survey of more than 1,000 Millennials across the U.S., found that 86 percent feel undermined by negative stereotypes in the workplace

I’ve spent many years providing training to help employees work better across generations.  Here are some ways I’ve found helpful in understanding Millennials and reducing negative stereotyping:

  1. Younger generations historically are the victims of negative stereotyping. If you are a Boomer, think back to how employers felt about your generation of hippies entering the workforce.  If you are a Gen X’er, you probably remember your generation being called  “slackers” when you entered the workforce.  You proved that you were productive employees and you will find that many young employees, if they have appropriate support, are and will become productive employees.
  2. Millennials are labeled as being too demanding when they are vocal about expressing their needs in areas such as equity, positive feedback and flexibility. Productivity and retention improve when employees feel supported and perceive they are being treated in an equitable manner. Listen to your employees and try to meet their needs.  When you can’t meet their requests, discuss the business rationale for doing so.
  3. Entitlement” is often confused with ambition.Employees from this generation may want to get promoted faster than those in older generations.  Rather than labeling them as “entitled”, they need to be given guidance about the skills needed to move to higher levels in the organization.
  4. Appreciating the unique contributions each individual makes can lessen the tendency to stereotype and enhance engagement.  Get to know your employees and determine how to leverage each individual’s strengths.

What do you think are the business costs of negative stereotyping?  What is your organization doing to address this?

I am very interested in your input on this topic.  Please feel free to leave a comment or get in touch with me here.


How to Engage & Retain Millennials

Business and organizational leaders are becoming increasingly concerned about how to retain talented millennial employees, because they know that their organizations will only be sustainable with a cadre of employees committed for the long term.  Here’s a clip of a recent interview I gave to the MEECO Institute that addresses steps managers can take to increase the engagement and retention of millennial employees: 

Successful business people celebrating with a high-five

The Hazards of Mindlessness

I recently experienced the hazards of mindlessness. I was getting ready for a dinner party and couldn’t reach the plates I wanted, so I stood on a counter height chair to reach them. As I was getting the plates down, I was distracted by a news story on T.V. I lost my focus and tumbled to the ground. Fortunately, I was not hurt too badly, but the episode could have easily ended in disaster.

For the past 3 years, Judith Sugg and I have been providing training to organizations that want to integrate mindfulness techniques to improve individual and organizational effectiveness. Through this work and my own experiences integrating mindfulness practices into my own life, I have been able to see how mindfulness can decrease stress, improve communication and enhance productivity.

I am now acutely aware of the continuous attention and effort that is required to truly integrate mindfulness into our lives. My “mindlessness” incident made me think about all the times we create problems because we lack focus and intent. How many car accidents and falls occur because we are distracted?

And, how much miscommunication happens because we are not thinking about the impact of our words on others?

I ask you to consider how you and the people you work with are impacted by mindlessness. And think about how safety and workplace relationships can be improved when people become more mindful.


 Alisa Blum, MSW and Judith Sugg, PhD are principals at AIM for Organizational Health.   Information about their programs can be found at  They can be reached at or (503) 481-7586.

It’s Time to Focus on Respect


As the public has become increasingly aware of the sexual harassment and sexual assault women have been receiving in the workplace, there has been much discussion about what to do to prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault at work. The solution to the prevention of the behaviors that lead to sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace is quite complex as legal issues, corporate culture and individual behavior change all need to be addressed.

One way to prevent this abhorrent and destructive behavior is to create a culture of respect in the workplace.   So, how do we do this?

First, it is important to develop the capacity to reflect on your own behavior. Are you communicating with others in a way they find demeaning? Do you even know if you are communicating in this manner? Do you have the courage to find out? What would happen if men in executive positions asked female employees what types of behaviors they found disrespectful — And then, changed behaviors that the female employees found to be offensive? If these discussions were modeled and encouraged by executives, would others in the organization feel free to have these discussions?

Creating a safe environment is key to developing a respectful workplace.   One way to create a safe environment is to demonstrate empathy. Whether you agree with the other person’s perspective or not, put yourself in their shoes and show them that you understand their perspective and their feelings.

When developing new strategies to create a respectful workplace, collaborate with others. Our best solutions happen when we ask for input and capitalize on the strengths of those we work with day to day. And finally, when all of these aspects of respect are put in to place, you will create a thriving work environment.

Keep this acronym in mind to help you remember the qualities for creating a respectful workplace:




Perspective taking




Employers can’t afford to wait to take the steps now to create a respectful work environment.

© 2017, Alisa Blum, Alisa Blum & Associates, All Rights Reserved

Alisa Blum & Associates works with businesses and organizations to build relationships that enhance individual and team effectiveness.  Information about our services can be found at

Can You Resolve Conflicts Mindfully?

By Judith Sugg, PhD and Alisa Blum, MSW

AIM for Organizational Health


How much time do you think a typical manager spends dealing with workplace conflicts? Would it surprise you to learn that managers typically spend 25-45% of their time dealing with workplace conflicts? Consider the consequences of unresolved conflict such as distraction from the work that needs to get done, employee turnover and harassment allegations. What are the potential business costs?

Our responses to conflict are hardwired into our brain. Some of us automatically engage (and may get verbally or physically aggressive when provoked) while others automatically withdraw.

Healthier engagement in conflict requires that we choose, rather than react. The seeds for developing a choice are found in self-awareness and mindfulness, both of which ameliorate our brain’s natural alarm response and provide that moment of re-evaluation.

So what is the opposite of destructive conflict? Perhaps it is curiosity and creativity — both products of focusing attention, opening our minds, and staying in the present. The powerful benefit of this shift is a real and true engagement, a real if uncomfortable connection, between two humans. In this engagement, the shift to problem-solving an issue, rather than judging a person is easier. Resolution uses reason and skill, and one can learn and become better at the engagement. The only way to become better at destructive conflict is to have a bigger bomb.

Fortunately, with practice and increased skill, we can all learn to resolve conflicts at work. Imagine how the workplace would change if managers are spending less time dealing with workplace conflicts and more time helping employees become more productive, enhancing innovation and creating a positive atmosphere.

 Tips to resolve conflict mindfully can be found in our book, “Transforming Conflict with Mindfulness: 100 Lessons for More Presence & Skill in Resolving Conflicts”.   Contact us for a free consultation at or (503) 524-3470.


Enhance Leadership Success by Building Trust









Stephen M.R, Covey, in his book, The Speed of Trust, says that when trust is developed and leveraged it is “that one thing that has the potential to create unparalleled success and prosperity.”  Our experience and research (Interaction Associates, 2013) tell us that teams that trust each other, and workers who trust their leaders, are simply more productive and effective. And probably happier.

Whether we are talking about family, or friends, or the workplace, the trust we feel is about predictability and reliability, as well as respect for the quality of the actions. Think about someone you trust — don’t they show skill in their actions, do what they say, and are consistent? When we feel trust towards someone, especially a leader or boss, we are willing to do more, sometimes risk more, learn something, and make the effort.

Certainly, we bring our individual history, beliefs, and values to a situation. Many of us have people in our past who didn’t deserve the trust we gave them. They didn’t do what they should have done in their position, they let us down, their words didn’t match their actions, and their values weren’t in tune with what we think is important.

It’s really not much different at work. A leader who inspires trust does what he/she says. They communicate clearly and fully. They see the best in their team and are ready for problems. They are open and self-aware. They have commitment to the goals of the team or organization, and they inspire us to commit also. When we are in their presence, they are really there. Some people might experience as safety. We feel known, and while no worker or leader is perfect, feeling trust inspires us to be better.

Trust is a sense or feeling. We have this feeling in our body, and often know whether or not we “should” trust a person. At some point, each of us decides that we have enough information or evidence to trust another person. However, most of us have flawed gauges. Maybe we trust too easily and get stepped on. Maybe we are biased and negatively evaluating someone because of their culture (or race, gender, culture, age, even clothes). Knowing our personal tendencies biases (and confronting them) is a strong step towards calibrating trustworthiness accurately.

If you are a leader, you may not have thought about your presence in terms of whether or not people trust. Now is a good time to reflect:

  • Trust is based on history and consistency: Is my behavior aligned with stated values and consistent?
  • Is there anyone I need to rebuild trust with?
  • Are there situations in which I can build trust and become more transparent by encouraging questions and answering honestly?

A good way to start enhancing trust is to pick one of these questions to discuss with your employees. Let them know you want honest and constructive feedback. See how this changes the relationship.

Judy Sugg, Ph.D. and Alisa Blum, MSW, provide leadership development that incorporates mindfulness techniques and skills to enhance emotional intelligence. Learn how to apply these skills at our September 13th workshop, “Mindful Leadership Essentials”.  Information & registration can be found hereFor more information, contact us at (503) 481-7586 or

How Mindfulness Can Prevent Burnout Among Healthcare Providers

The strong desire to help others, along with natural tendencies toward compassion and empathy, serve to enable healthcare providers to develop high quality relationships with their patients. These qualities also put healthcare providers at risk for compassion fatigue, burnout and secondary post-traumatic stress.

Compassion fatigue is the point at which a helping professional or employee no longer is focused on the clients needs as well as before because the emotional “well” (the ability to empathize and manage the relationship) is dry. Burnout denotes a level of incapacitation of the provider/profession, often without acute awareness of the problem. Vicarious trauma often applies to workers who deal with aftermath crisis situations and deeply disturbing situations, such as abuse, war, violence, and, we would add, homelessness, deprivation, and domestic violence. Thus health care professionals start to take on the trauma of clients and feel the effects physically and emotionally, contributing to burnout but also to damage to their own health.

When providers are drained, distracted, overwhelmed, stressed, and unaware, they are unable to fully use their skills.   Not only does patient care suffer but these providers are more likely to lose time from work due to stress related illnesses and some will choose to leave the profession altogether.

In short, to care for others — or even deal with others in stressful situations — we need to take care of ourselves.   We have found that mindfulness practices, self-care techniques and a supportive work environment can greatly reduce the likelihood of burnout. We teach a number of mindfulness practices that can be easily integrated into the workday.   Strategies such as verbal recognition, short breaks and opportunities for support will enhance the ability of healthcare providers to present their best selves at work, thereby providing the highest quality of patient care.

Alisa Blum, MSW & Judy Sugg, PH.D. co-direct AIM for Organizational Health, providing customized training, facilitation and coaching, to raise Awareness, achieve Integration, and enable Mastery of mindfulness tools to improve individual and organizational effectiveness.  Our upcoming public workshop, “Seven Tools for MindfulSelf-care“, will help participants develop skills to prevent burnout & compassion fatigue.