Planners’ Picks — July 11, 2023

Planners’ Picks

A collection of resources from CSN planning committee members worth mentioning

We’re staying on the gratitude bus for a while longer, with some tips on recognition for you and your team, as well as resources on communication, a decision matrix for making decisions, and more.


:: Image of the Week

Life is a series of thousands of tiny little miracles. Notice them.

Life is a series of thousands of tiny little miracles. Notice them.


:: Summer of Gratitude Resources

Showing Gratitude for Staff: How to Use Recognition to Supercharge Your Engagement & Retention

In the current economic climate, the pressure is on for HR leaders to discover cost-effective strategies that enhance engagement and retention within their organizations. According to Achievers Workforce Institute (AWI) 2023 State of Recognition Report, there’s a significant return on investment that recognition initiatives can yield, as frequent recognition has been proven to motivate and retain employees effectively. Listen to the replay of this webinar and discover the best practices for enhancing the quality and quantity of recognition, equipping HR leaders with valuable insights on maximizing engagement and retention through recognition initiatives.

Discussion Points:

  • Discover why employee recognition has a high ROI that motivates and retains employees effectively
  • Understand the optimal cadence to recognize employees which helps boost job commitment
  • Learn the most cost-effective strategies for recognizing employees and their contributions
  • Importance of tracking recognition data to offer customizable rewards
  • How to leverage technology to facilitate p2p recognition allowing employees to acknowledge and appreciate each other’s contributions

Experts Still Agree: Gratitude Is Good for You

For decades, psychologists and researchers have studied and reported on the positive effects of gratitude on overall well-being. In this New York Times coverage, many experts weigh in to assert that gratitude is still a boon to physical and mental health—and evidence in support of the power of gratitude has only increased in recent years. Dr. Emmons, who led an early landmark study on the topic says, “Gratitude heals, energizes, and changes lives,” and multiple studies show that activities like writing thank-you notes or listing things you’re grateful for “provide mental health benefits—reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety, increasing self-esteem, and improving satisfaction with daily life.” Dr. Emmons also marvels at “the objective, biologically verifiable outcomes,” of gratitude such as “lower blood pressure,” and other physical health markers. Leaders looking for practical ways to apply the research can rest assured that incorporating gratitude doesn’t have to be a lofty undertaking; experts say “one moment a day is enough,” and you can link “your gratitude practice to an already ingrained routine,” like drinking your morning coffee or turning on your computer. And, when recording your gratitude in writing, or expressing it to someone else, the experts say to “be specific,” because specificity “intensifies our grateful emotions and thoughts.”

A Little Gratitude Goes a Long Way

“You may never have proof of your importance, but you are more important than you think. There are always those who couldn’t do without you. The rub is that you don’t always know who.”

That little nugget is by Robert Fulghum in his book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. By the time we can tie our shoes, we know the importance of saying “thank you.” It’s one of the first social courtesies we’re taught. Somewhere between the kindergarten classroom and the corporate boardroom, the practice of gratitude often gets lost. Let’s face it… life moves fast and people are busy. There is a never-ending race to be better and faster and first to market, analyzing numbers, improving processes, and trying to keep employees engaged to deliver a better bottom line.

Read on and watch a couple of short videos from Dr. Melissa Hughes on the importance of gratitude in your daily lives, especially at work.

“Life rewards action, not intelligence. Many brilliant people talk themselves out of getting started, and being smart doesn’t help very much without the courage to act. You can’t win if you’re not in the game.” – James Clear

Give a Little Bit—The Benefits are Astounding

Think about the last time you received a genuine compliment. How did that feel?  When was the last time you gave someone else a genuine compliment? Sincere compliments have a powerful effect on our mood and our productivity.

They not only make us feel good but also significantly impact memory, learning, motivation, and other cognitive functions. Recent research in neuroscience has shown that receiving sincere praise activates the reward and pleasure circuitry in the brain – the ventral striatum and the ventral medial prefrontal cortex. It is also said to release the neurotransmitter dopamine which is associated with motivation, focus, and positivity.

And if all of that isn’t enough, it just makes the world a better place! Watch this Neuro Nugget from Dr. Melissa Hughes on receiving compliments.


:: Resources on Communication

The Way to Have Conversations That Matter

Celeste Headlee is an award-winning journalist who has appeared on NPR, PBS World, PRI, CNN, BBC and other international networks. She hosts a daily talk show called “On Second Thought” for Georgia Public Broadcasting in Atlanta. She’s the author of the book We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter*. Listen to her on this Coaching for Leaders podcast for some insight into having better conversations with those in your care.

11 Ways to Foster Dialogue and Understanding on Campus

College campuses have traditionally served as the forum where ideas are formed, discussed, contested, and refined. Colleges and universities are charged with advancing societal knowledge, grappling with complex ideas, and preparing future civic leaders. But in recent years, many U.S. college and university leaders have found it increasingly challenging to advance the mission of higher education in the context of hyperpolarization, societal division, and social conflict.

The teams at the Constructive Dialogue Institute and the Aspen Institute collaborated to help shed light on the path forward for higher education leadership. Specifically, they wanted to examine the question: When tensions arise on campus, how can campus leaders respond in a manner that does not avoid conflict but transforms it into an opportunity for learning and dialogue, while maintaining institutional trust and building community? This topic will be especially relevant to those of us who work closely with students at UW-Madison but is worth understanding at any level of the organization.


:: Resources on Self-Leadership Development

How Managers Can Make Time for Their Own Development

Managers today must balance their day-to-day work with multiple “ands,” such as delivering on quarterly objectives and thinking strategically. Given these numerous demands, managers tend to deprioritize their own career development. It doesn’t have to be that way. The more managers take control of their development, the better able they’ll be to avoid the common career mistakes that will get in the way of their growth. And the more their team members see the positive impact of investing in their career development, the more likely they are to do the same.

“Speed is irrelevant if you are going in the wrong direction.” – Mahatma Gandhi

How Will This Choice Affect Me?

The next time you’re making a choice, ask yourself these three questions:

​1. Does this choice align with my goals? ​What are your long-term hopes? If you’re like most of us, they probably include things like great relationships, a loving community, well-being, making an impact on the world, and happiness. How will this choice support or detract from these goals?

​2. Will this choice help me to grow? ​Some choices look really scary and require a lot of courage to make. It can be all too easy to keep choosing to stay in a place that’s no longer working for you. That’s why we need to seek growth: it helps us to face discomfort in the most productive way, while also grounding us in what we need. Remember: only you know what growth means for you. Sometimes it means saying yes and sometimes it’s saying no.

​3. Will this choice have a positive impact? ​Our choices don’t happen in a vacuum; what we choose to do has an impact (sometimes a profound one!) on other people and the world around us. Zoom out and consider: how is your decision affecting others? Is there a way to make it a win, too, for the people around you? How will it enable you to contribute more positively to your own life and the world around you? This lens of responsibility helps us to make the choice that works not just in the short-term, but also in the long-term.

From the weekly newsletter The New Happy:

“You’re never ready for what you have to do. You just do it. That makes you ready.”  – Flora Rheta Schreiber

Growth Opportunity in Leadership with UWRA

UW-Madison’s Retirement Association seeks a #Volunteer Executive Director. This is a part-time position, 10-12 hours per week. What a great way to give back to the organization with your time and talent in leadership!

For more information on the position, please go to:


:: Resources on Developing Better Habits

To Change Your Behavior, Change Your Environment

Most people think that building better habits or changing your actions is all about willpower or motivation. But the more we learn, the more we believe that the number one driver of better habits and behavior change is the choice architecture of your environment. Read this article by James Clear, author of the book Atomic Habits, on how the environment we are exposed to has more bearing on our actions and habits than we give it credit for.


:: Resources on Work Culture & Team Development

How to Manage: Negotiating for Your Team

When you manage people, they ask you for things: to extend a deadline, to make an exception, to give them a raise or more resources. Maybe they don’t even have to ask; you notice the need and start thinking about how to meet it. As successful as women tend to be at advocating on behalf of others, knowing which approaches research shows are most effective will only strengthen your case. Listen to this Harvard Business Review audio broadcast from their Women at Work series.


:: Take Five*

*Note: CSN occasionally adds “Take Five” articles to take you off the beaten path. Articles will be about local or regional areas of interest, but not necessarily focused on leadership development. The intent is for you to take a break from being a leader and relax for a moment!

The History of Washburn Observatory

Presented by Jim Lattis, Director, UW Space Place

Tuesday, July 11 at Noon on YouTube

Washburn Observatory has been an important part of the UW landscape since 1881, as well as a critical piece of UW’s early history as a leader in astronomical research. Join UW Space Place Director Jim Lattis for a quick peek into the history of Washburn Observatory, and the people who had a hand in its creation and early use.

Jim Lattis holds a Ph.D. in History of Science from UW–Madison and is the author of many publications in that field. He helped create UW Space Place, the outreach and public education center of the UW–Madison Astronomy Department, and has directed it since its founding. He manages the historic Washburn Observatory, teaches courses in introductory astronomy and its history, gives frequent public talks, and consults widely for the media. He has also led many trips focused on astronomical tourism.

Click the following link at the time of the event to watch it live on the Badger Talks YouTube channel:

Can’t catch the live talks? The talks remain available for viewing later on.


:: Upcoming Events

Gratitude Encounters with Kevin Monroe

Want to take your gratitude to another level? Join Kevin Monroe for a Free Gratitude Encounter™, a 60-minute guided exploration and expression of gratitude. People describe these as energizing, heartwarming, reinvigorating, and soulful. Our encounters happen on the first Tuesday of every month.

What is that? A time to explore, express, and experience gratitude through a guided encounter. These encounters prove to be heart-expanding experiences every time, so consider this event for yourself!

Upcoming Dates are:

Note: this is not a UW-sanctioned event, but members of CSN’s planning committee will be attending.