About Erika Andersen

Over the past 30 years, Erika has developed a reputation for creating approaches to learning and business-building that are custom tailored to her clients’ challenges, goals, and culture.

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Archive for the ‘Media’ Category


Tikatok Ticks On

Just over a year ago, I posted about working with the team at Tikatok to clarify their core values.  Tikatok is a cool little entrepreneurial company that lives within Barnes & Noble.  Tikatok describes itself on their website as “a fun world where kids create and share their own books.”

At the time, I noted that the five core values the team identified seemed powerful for a couple of reasons – they applied equally to relationships with customers and with each other, and they seemed like clarifications of an already-existing culture on the team, vs. something contrived or overly aspirational.  Their values are:

1)      (TRUST)  We believe in our customers and each other. 
2)      (EMPATHY)  We care and we build communities that care.
3)     (PERSONAL IDENTITY)  We encourage self-expression.
4)     (ACHIEVING FULL POTENTIAL)  We inspire everyone to achieve their full potential.
5)     (HAPPINESS)  We invite people to do what makes them happy.


I remember leaving the session feeling Sharon and her group had a great foundation for success.

Just today, Sharon sent me a link to an article in this month’s edition of Hemispheres, United Airlines inflight magazine.  She and five other entrepreneurs are profiled as “innovators who promise to change the way we live.”  I’m thrilled to see that Tikatok continues to thrive and grow – it reinforces my belief that people can do well by doing good.


The Donald Comes Up Short

As I’ve observed the whole “birther” movement over the past few months, with Donald Trump and various Tea Party adherents declaring with absolute certainty the “fact” of Obama’s  foreign origins, my overall response has been…what?

Well, maybe a little more colorful than that but – you get the point.  When the state of Hawaii finally released Obama’s birth certificate a few days ago, and then when the President went to town on the Donald at the Washington Press Correspondents’ Dinner, I was pretty pleased; at last this silliness can be laid to rest.

But I suspect that some other goofy movement will arise; some other reason why Obama shouldn’t be – can’t be – the president.  I could chalk it up to simple, awful racism, but I actually think it’s a little more complicated than that.  I think some people just can’t get their heads around the fact of Obama’s ‘differentness’ on lots of levels: too young, too black, too smart, too straightforward (contrast his “I did drugs in high school” with Clinton’s “I never inhaled”) too obviously in love with his wife – who is clearly his partner and equal, vs. his very secondary helpmeet…all things that we’ve come not to expect from Presidents.

So, for some people, if Obama doesn’t look, act and sound as they think a President should, based on their pre-existing assumptions, it’s not the assumptions that are off – it’s him.

Reminds me of my last post about dandelions…


Two Blogs for the Price of One

That is, absolutely free of charge.  Not a bad deal.  I began my blog at forbes.com, How Work Works, on Wednesday, and I invite you to take a look.  It will be less free-form than this one (where I talk about pretty much whatever strikes my fancy).

I actually established my  intended turf in my first post. I talked about my belief that work should and can be both productive and fun – and my related belief that doing good work and having a good time are what most people want from their jobs. I set a goal of focusing on making work what we want it to be.

I’d love to have you be a part of that conversation, if that sounds interesting to you: let’s share things at work and in business that we observe are working well, and think about how we can help those things spread. And let’s talk about things that aren’t working so well, and how we might be able to fix them.

In the spirit of that, my second post was about Groupon – a company that seems to be doing well on a how bunch of levels: building a “tribe” of highly engaged employees who are providing a useful service in a simple way that benefits consumers, businesses and groupon.  Not just win-win: win-win-win!

Posted in Media,News,Web/Tech


Blogging for Forbes

I’m very excited – my wonderful publicist Barbara Henricks and her colleague Kaila Murphy have just told me that the folks at forbes.com are inviting me to be a regular blogger for them.

What a great platform!  I’ll keep blogging here, of course, as I have for the past four years, and this will stay the same mix of personal and business that it’s been all along.  My Forbes blog will be more business-focused, though my lens will be what I’m always curious about: I’ll explore how we and others can make work a place where people create the careers and lives they most want, and where we can get great results that also make a positive impact on the planet (or at least not a negative impact), while having a good time.

They’re asking me what I want to call my blog. It’s supposed to be my name, and then a title – kind of a tagline. I’m considering either  “Talking About Work” or “How Work Works.”

I’d love your feedback, or any other ideas…


One to Many – How Things Spread

Patrick and I are going to Amsterdam next month for a little mini-vacation.  I’ve never visited, and he’s sending me links to interesting, fun things we can do while we’re there.

One of the places that sounds particularly intriguing is the Hortus Botanicus Amsterdam, the Amsterdam Botanical Garden.  In reading about it online, I discovered that they consider the coffee plant one of the “crown jewels” of their collection – which piqued my curiosity; coffee would seem to be the most common of plants.

But as it turns out, the first coffee plant in Europe was grown in the Botanical Garden greenhouses, in 1706. Coffee then went to France as a gift to Louis XIV, via France to its colonies in Central and South America, and finally to Brazil – which is today the largest coffee-producing country in the world.

A fascinating story. And then I realized that this is how ideas spread, as well. Someone thinks of something for the first time — using a pulley, conceiving of zero, E=mc² — and it behaves just like a seed.  Sometimes it lies fallow, to be brought to life at a later time (European philosophers re-discovering the Greeks); sometimes it takes root in one place and not another.  But eventually, if it’s broadly compelling (the idea of personal will), or it seems to be an accurate understanding of an important phenomenon (the law of gravity) it will spread throughout the world.

It took coffee centuries – by ship and horse-drawn cart – to move from Ethiopia to the the Middle East, to Indonesia, to Europe, to South America.  Today, on the internet, an idea can spread throughout the world in days.

And depending on the quality of the idea, that can be a great thing, or a very bad thing.  For instance, the viral spreading of ideas seems to be making it more difficult for truly repressive regimes to control large populations over long periods of time.  But, on the other hand, there’s the idea that we are all stuck in an endless economic malaise from which we my never recover…the daily reseeding of that idea throughout the world’s media channels is a powerful negative force in prolonging our economic difficulties.

What’s an idea you’d like to see better spread – or one you’d like to see wither and die?



HR Matters | on Core Competencies.

Pictures of Malaysia collage

Last summer I got an email from a lovely woman named Rowena Morais, who is the editor of HR Matters, a Malaysia-based magazine for Asian Human Resource professionals.

She had bought, read, and reviewed Growing Great Employees, and was writing to ask if I'd be interested in doing an email interview with her about some of the topics in the book.

This is the link to that interview. As you know, dear readers, I love globalness. Globality?  In any case, I believe, like Friedman, that a flat world serves us all. 

And, it also just makes me really really happy to think that Growing Great Employees might be helping people in Malaysia.
Posted in Media


Thank you, Leslie!

Link: Making Your Garden Grow | Developing Your Employees.

Just today, I discovered this lovely series of blog posts by Leslie Levine, reviewing Growing Great Employees. She’s extremely kind, and – even more important – she’s simpatica. I love this word; it means – in both Italian and Spanish – one who is like-minded or compatible with oneself, and who is also an easy, pleasant and companionable person.

As I read Leslie’s blog posts, I first thought – “Wow, she really gets what I’m trying to say,” then “Oh, we’re on the same page,” and finally, “What a nice, easy, friendly way she has of writing.” Simpatica!

So, thank you Leslie…it’s very much appreciated.

Posted in Media


Lesson Learned

How dependent are you on your computer? Has your computer ever died?

Until last Thursday, my answers would have been “very” and “no.” Not only no, but no with dismissive arrogance: I’m a Mac person, have been one for 20 years, and have never experienced a crash. Macs are perfect, right? Backups – sure, kind of…well…actually…

Then, Thursday at 6pm, my trusty Mac Powerbook turned up its toes, gave out an extended death rattle, and stopped working. Auggghhh!!

Fortunately, I was able to get in a cab and race down to Tekserve, here in NYC. Bad news: they told me my hard drive was toast. Moderately good news: they told me they have an 85% data recovery success rate. More bad news: it would take a week to even find out whether they could salvage anything. Moderately good news: they could put a rush on it – and let me know by Tuesday, at the latest. Good news: they had a beautiful new Macbook Pro in stock for me to buy while I waited to hear the verdict (and freaked myself out thinking about what it would take to recreate my output since my last back-up).

Suddenly, my answers to the first two questions changed to “completely,” and “oh my god – yes.”

There is a happy ending. Our good friend Scott Serota, who works at Tekserve, called us with regular updates, and let us know on Saturday afternoon that, after numerous attempts, they’d salvaged everything on the drive.

I felt kind of like I’d been pulled back from the very edge of a cliff.

And the moral of the story is: BACK UP YOUR DATA. I’m now going to be the zealot queen of backup. Every time I create something, I’m going to make sure there are two of it. At least two of it.

How would you answer the questions? Tell us your story!

Posted in Media


Penguin Speakers Bureau – Live!

Erika Andersen – Penguin Speakers Bureau –

I just wanted to share with you the launch of the Penguin Speakers Bureau. They unveiled their excellent (I think) website last month; I’m honored to be included in their inaugural roster of speakers, in the company of authors like Ray Kurzweil, Harlen Coben, Mary Pipher and Eric Jerome Dickey. The link above is the page they created for me.

This leads me to one of the many unexpected things that’s happened since Growing Great Employees was published. I knew (because my agent, my publisher, my brother-the-bestselling-author and my business partner had all told me) that part of what authors do – if they want to create an audience for their work and take best advantage of having been published – is speak to large audiences. Though I’ve spoken to groups in various contexts for many years, and wasn’t nervous or anxious about it, I simply didn’t know whether I’d like it.

The group work that I do most often is highly interactive and in-depth: I’m either teaching management or leadership skills, or helping senior teams envision and plan for the future of their organization. And that work I love: it feels as though I’m helping them to be more strategic and more effective in a very personalized way. I wasn’t sure if speaking to large groups – mostly them listening and me talking – would be satisfying to me; whether I could be as helpful to the audience as it is always my goal to be.

Fortunately, now that I’ve been doing it, I find it has its own unique set of satisfactions, and that it does seem to be helpful to people. While I don’t get a chance to interact personally with each attendee, I can still engage everyone with the topic in a variety of fun and personal ways. And – this is the feedback I’m getting, anyway – people are finding my presentations informative, thought-provoking and inspiring: they say they feel motivated and supported to behave in new ways or move in new directions.

And I want to thank two resources that have helped hone my skills in this endeavor. A couple of years ago, I took a communication skills course through Speakeasy, inc. that provided some great foundational skills. And earlier this year, I worked with a remarkable women named Isabelle Anderson, who really helped me to understand how to leverage my existing strengths as a speaker and develop new ones.

It’s great to discover that something you need to do is also something you enjoy doing!

Posted in Media


Forbes.com Video about Growing Great Employees

Link: Forbes.com Video Network.

I recently had the pleasure of being interviewed by Forbes with long-time Proteus client Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group. We talked about the book, and about how Danny has worked with us over the years to help them create a culture of good people management and great employees.

Danny is a gifted leader, in addition to being a lovely human being, and one of the things he and his team have done really well – he talks about this in the video – is to make explicit those characteristics that are most essential to the organization they’re trying to create. As Danny said, to get it out of his head and articulate it clearly, so that everyone is clear about what makes them who they are. He credits us with helping him see the importance of doing this; I credit him with truly understanding the importance, and then translating it into reality by building it into every aspect of his organization, from recruiting to hiring and training, to how they develop and promote their employees. You can find out more about how he does that in his book, Setting the Table.

In my next post, I’ll talk more about this idea of “core competencies,” and how you can use them to create the workgroup, department or organization you want.

Posted in Media