7 Signs Your Company Is Depressed and 1 Surprising Solution



Of all the business problems companies have, I think they become more magnified when the chief executive officers lose sight that their organization is made up of people. When things go wrong, their focus is primarily on finance or strategy, or both: But, not on people.

This is a big mistake—to ignore the people who will actually execute any new strategy, especially if they feel disconnected and overwhelmed by your last plan. I’ve written about marketing from the inside out and the importance of inclusion over coercion. But, is the C-suite listening?

When your employees feel disconnected and that no one cares, they begin to shut down. Unhappy employees are unproductive employees, and this loss of interest affects every area of your business, particularly your customers.

It may be time to ask:

Is my company depressed?

Here are 7 signs of which to be aware:

  1. Low energy and self-esteem (Projects often seem to lose direction)
  2. Poor concentration (Costly errors are escalating)
  3. Difficulty making decisions (Deadlines are missed)
  4. Feelings of hopelessness (Recurring thoughts of layoffs)
  5. Social withdrawal (More conflict, less collaboration)
  6. Excessive negative thinking (Quality suffers. After all—why bother?)
  7. Loss of interest in jobs your employees used to enjoy (Productivity slows down or comes to a halt)

The key to all of this is day-to-day leadership, and its impact on employees and operations. The one surprising solution is the focus of a Harvard Business Review study. It is human warmth.

In the article Connect, Then Lead, Harvard Professor Amy Cuddy, along with Matthew Kohut and John Neffinger, discuss the influential leadership traits of warmth and strength. The study reveals that these 2 qualities alone account for more than 90% of the impressions we form about the people around us.

And, yes—warmth comes first.

The study found that trustworthiness is the first thing we look for in others, and warmth is the conduit to trust. In other words, “Before people decide what they think of your message, they decide what they think of you.”

Put this in a corporate setting, and warmth has a huge impact on people.  Collaboration, reliability, openness, cooperation, and motivation all greatly enhance performance and productivity.

I have found in my own leadership experience that without warmth, there is no trust, and without trust, there is no relationship. As I wrote in 7 Reasons Your Employees Hate You, you have to love people to be a successful leader. You have to be compassionate within to be effective without.

In this ever-changing world of work where stability and security are gone forever from our future, I believe it is more important than ever that leaders foster both through a sense of warmth and trust in the present. With trust also comes confidence—an essential element of well-being in people working in your company.

It’s not that strength of competence isn’t important—it is. It is a great compliment to warmth. However, as the study points out, “Leaders who project strength before establishing trust run the risk of eliciting fear, and along with it a host of dysfunctional behaviors. Fear can undermine cognitive potential, creativity, and problem solving, and cause employees to get stuck and even disengage.”

Fear is also what causes depression, so prioritizing warmth becomes even more critical.

If you’re a leader who’s a people person, you instinctively know this. You know how to talk—and listen to–your team. You enjoy sharing stories. You ask their opinion. You show genuine interest, understanding and appreciation. And when the going gets really rough, you acknowledge your team’s fears and doubts and give them the respect and attention they deserve.

If your business is depressed and not accomplishing its goals, take a good look within, and invest some time focused on your greatest asset—people. Give them leaders they can connect with and trust.

Trust me, it works.



Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan

Excerpts taken from Connect, Then Lead by Amy J.C. Cuddy, Matthew Kohut and John Neffinger, copyright 2013 Harvard Business Review

30-Second Cure for Anxiety

30-second cure for anxiety

Lose the drama. Yep—it’s that simple.

In a world where waves of feeling flood social media and “reality” TV, it’s easy to get caught up in someone else’s drama, and even mistake it for your own.

And, if you’re already an anxious person, you’re easily drawn to the negative instead of the positive. Anxiety and fear just seem to feel more natural, and you wind up making much ado about nothing.

So stop. Recognize it. Are you over-thinking and over-analyzing? Are you mistaking feelings for facts? Are you only seeing the emotional and not the practical?

If you are, then step off the stage. It’s just your drama talking. Or—someone else’s.

I remember sharing an office with a drama queen many years ago. She had angst over most things: her work, her weight, her husband, her family, our boss…you name it. She was a very kind and sensitive person, however, I never realized how much her drama affected me until I got my own office.

The difference was astounding. I felt relaxed and free.

Years later, when I started suffering from panic attacks, I began to realize that I was doing this all on my own, without any help. I had become my own drama queen.

It was then that I learned to recognize that it was just my negative thoughts that were creating the commotion.

And so I stopped, and got down from the stage.

Now I feel relaxed and free. I avoid drama–my own and other people’s–as much as possible.

And, so can you. Try it and see,



Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan


How do you know what you want (and love) to do?

question mark of confidence

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”—Steve Jobs

This is great advice, however, it is extremely frustrating—and confidence shaking—when you have absolutely no clue about what you want to do.

I’ve coached many people over the years who suffer from lack of clarity. I’ve even been there a few times myself. It is uncomfortable and draining because you’re in a constant state of confusion and indecision.

However, there are a few ways to help ease your journey. Here are 3 helpful tips:

  1. Keep a “Joy” journal. I read that description somewhere a long time ago, and it sounded ridiculous. But, it works! When you are doing something you love, take note of what it is.  Then, after a few weeks or months, look for patterns. Trust me, they will appear. For instance, I found that I felt great when I was leading a team and  helping people feel less stress and more success in the workplace.
  2. Ask yourself: “If I could have my own business, what would it be, and why?” Don’t worry about practicality here, such as costs or even the fact that you may not want to actually own a business. It’s just a fun exercise to discover where your passions lie.
  3. Create your own vision—where do you see yourself in 5 years? Very important: Let your imagination run wild here—don’t edit yourself. Anything goes! And, think BIG. Write it down—get it out of your head and on to paper. You will be amazed! Then, work backwards from your vision by asking yourself what steps do you need to take now to bring you closer to your goal. (Note: I enjoyed doing this with a trusted friend because we encouraged each other. If you do decide to collaborate, pick a friend, family member or coach who is positive and supportive. Someone who will help lift you up–not push you down– to help you get where you want to be!)

These exercises are not only fun, they allow your creativity to run wild without censorship, and help you focus on who you are and what you love to do. And, it’s amazing what bubbles up! The universe has a funny way of answering your calling with opportunity. For instance, I envisioned myself having my own TV show—and now, I do!

Once you have a destination that stems from desire, it’s much easier to take steps to get there.

Good luck on your journey!!


Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan



Derek Jeter Re2pect

At 37, Jeter might never again play the game the way he once did. But he still can show you how to win.”

This quote is from a 2011 NY Post article by Steve Serby. He is speaking about Derek Jeter, who had recently suffered a calf injury and was in rehabilitation in Tampa, Florida.

Like the rest of major-league baseball and its fans, Serby was wondering about Jeter’s future: Was his career on the decline?

This article—especially this one quote–impacted my future.

At that time, I, too, was struggling with my own career, wondering what to do next. I, too, was fatigued by stress, and was at a point where I didn’t feel that I could play the corporate game the way I once did.

However, the story of Derek Jeter made me realize that I could still show people how to win.

I began this blog two years later.

Jeter’s story made me realize that we all have struggles in our careers—it’s what we do in spite of them, and because of them, that matters.

Jeter made a stellar comeback after that injury, breaking most baseball records. Last night, we all had the pleasure of watching him play his final All-Star game.

He left the field to a standing ovation. It was all-star, all-Jeter: dignified and classy.

My hat’s off to him: Derek Jeter showed me the way to win.

With great Re2pect,




Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan

On the radio….

I was recently interviewed on a radio show called Moving Up the Ladder. We discussed confidence killers that undermine us at work.

What intrigued me most during the interview was something that I’m adding to the list: the absence of visual cues.

As a TV host, I’m used to sitting across from my guests, and reading their facial expressions and body language.

Radio is a whole other medium.

As visual cues are a big part of everyone’s message, not having them can be a confidence killer.

I learned a few things during that interview that can help you as well—especially if you have a phone interview for a job:

  1. Focus more on the intonation and the way your audience is speaking.
  2. Listen as much as you speak. Not seeing the interviewer can make you anxious, and when you’re anxious, you can over-deliver and go on and on!
  3. Check in with your audience: “Does this answer your question?” or “Was that helpful?” And, give them time to answer.
  4. Ditch the script. Learn to think on your feet. Get comfortable with improvising. That’s what makes the art of conversation fun and interesting.
  5. Most of all, be in the moment. Don’t worry about what you’re going to say next. Enjoy the flow!

Here’s a link to the interview:



Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan


What’s your one thing?

What's the one thing you want?

We each have something we want. It nags at us, as we pursue it.

It’s the thing we focus on the most–monopolizing our time and our thoughts.

The more we want this one thing, the more frightened we become that we won’t get it.

Don’t do this to yourself! Don’t let it take over. Don’t focus on the fear it creates.

Focus on the process instead. The steps you need to take to get you what you want. That’s the only thing you have control over.

Once you’re doing whatever you can, then let go and know you’ve done your best.

And, always, always remember all the wonderful things you have in your life. In fact, make a list. You’ll be surprised.

After all, you are not just one thing. You are many.

Never forget that.


Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan

Confidentially speaking……

Success begins with beliefs.

Your beliefs are your biology.

How you think spills out of your head and onto your career, your team, your company, and eventually, your consumer.

So, if you want to start being successful, start thinking successful.


Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan

Quick tips and tweets!

In honor of July 4th, this week’s tips and tweets focus primarily on startups. After all, as a country, we were a startup once!

  • Believe in yourself: Confidence comes from the inside. If you don’t believe in you & your company, how can you expect others to?
  • Convey your value in human terms, not like a presentation or speech. Think of your audience, and help them envision the future.
  • Leaders can dream & strategize all they want. At the end of the day, outcomes are the only things that matter.
  • Many startups experience anxiety in selling their ideas, but when you focus outwardly on how you help others, it builds confidence.
  • True leadership & teamwork give meaning to business, & why we sign on & stay. It is the fuel that carries companies to success.
  • You need all the positive energy you can muster when you’re poised for growth & change.

Here’s to more growth and change!

To all, a fabulous 4th!



Business a la Carte: More Tips for Better Business Etiquette Abroad

Business a la carte--basic tips for business dining

I just taped my Workplace Confidence TV show, which was all about international etiquette.

You know, most people think etiquette is all about which fork or spoon you use, but it’s so much more than that.

Etiquette is about being thoughtful in your behavior to make the people around you feel comfortable. This is even more important when you’re a guest in another country.

One of the many things we discussed is knowing, and respecting, local customs. Never assume everyone speaks English and everything is “just like home.” You don’t want to run the risk of being thought of as the “ugly American.”

Here are a few customs we shared. I think you’ll find them interesting:

  • Meals last longer in most countries, and they eat later—so don’t be surprised. In Spain, for instance, it’s common for restaurants to start serving dinner after 9 pm.
  • In Asia, it is expected that you eat with chopsticks. (So, try practicing!)
  • Loudly slurping noodles and soup is acceptable in Japan. They feel it improves the flavor of the dish!
  • Asking for a doggy bag is considered unacceptable behavior in the UK and France. In France, they’re taught at an early age to finish everything on their plate. In the UK, it’s considered greedy.
  • In Italy, they still don’t like it when you ask for cheese on your fish. (Although this attitude is beginning to change—slightly.)
  • Tipping is usually not as extravagant as here, and the tip is often included (For instance: “Service compris” means “Tip included” in French)

Remember that, no matter where you are, you are responsible for your behavior. A little preparation and common courtesy can go a long way and reap uncommon rewards.




Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan



Question of Confidence: Should I allow a colleague to ride my coattails?

While I consider myself to be the consummate team player, my answer to this question is “no”.

Teamwork is all about collaborating to reach common goals. However, each of you brings something special to the table, and it’s that unique quality that should remain just that—yours. That’s your brand and it’s what helps you build your career.

And, as the rate of change in the world of work has never been this fast, you need to be nimble and quick to adapt. So, the more people you allow to hang on to you, the slower you go.

You have to be careful with hangers-on. They are not the doers. They expect you to do the heavy lifting, and are just along for the ride.

It’s fine to offer friends and colleagues support. Just don’t let them weigh you, or your career, down.


Copyright 2014 Michelle Kerrigan