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The Stress Doc Letter
Cybernotes from the Online Psychohumorist ™

JUN 03, Sec. I

Fight when you can
Take flight when you must
Flow like a dream
In the Phoenix we trust!

Table of Contents

Sec. I
       Training Kit & Book; AOL Chat
Shrink Rap:    (A) Training/Speaking Business:  Quick Ten Marketing Tips
                       (B) Designing an OD-Team Building Process:  Opportunities and               Dangers
Heads Up:       www.officeresort.com, Stress Doc speaking at ColdFusion Conference                      in DC, Towards Greater Success e-Book

Sec. II
Main Article:  
A Profile of the Violence-Prone Personality
Doctors, What Is Love?, Consultants


A.  Offerings:

1. Training/Marketing Kit: Want to strengthen your ability to lead or market a stress workshop or any kind of speaking/training program?  Consider the Stress Doc Training/Marketing Kit, which includes both "how to" manual and articles and the opportunity for phone coaching.  For more info: 
Training/Marketing Kit http://stressdoc.com/kitbook.htm or email stressdoc@aol.com.

2.  Stress Doc Book:

From Stress Brakes and Shrink Rap to Safe Stress and Cool Moon Cats:
The Wit and Wisdom of the Stress Doc, Stress Doc Enterprises, 1995

A 90 page compilation of my former syndicated radio essays, pioneering songs in the field of psychologically humorous rap music - "Shrink Rap" Productions - a creative visualization poem and other humorous lyrics/poems. "Stress Brake" radio essays are short (300 words), fast-paced and witty, covering such topics as stress, burnout, anger and conflict resolution, time management, creativity, men's and women's issues, romantic relationships, codependency, etc. (They make excellent fillers for newsletters.)

Price: $20 (which covers priority postage and handling)

Make check payable to:  Mark Gorkin

Send check to:

Mark Gorkin
Stress Doc Enterprises
1616 18th Street, NW  #312
Washington, DC 20009-2542

3. Chat Group:

Stop by my AOL/Digital City Shrink Rap (TM) and Group Chat DC Support Chat, Tuesdays, 9:30-11pm EST DC Support Chat. It's a dynamic, lively, at times witty and always warm, thoughtful and supportive problem-solving group. We raise questions and share our ideas, hopes and experiences with each other.


B.  Shrink Rap:  (A)

A couple of pieces reflecting some Stress Doc Enterprises activities:
(A) The "Marketing Tips" ten outlines key steps and strategies for promoting a training or consulting business.  Frankly, it is also a self-promotion piece for my Training/Marketing Kit as seen above.  (Just in case you missed it.)

1. Training/Marketing Kit: Want to strengthen your ability to lead or market a stress workshop or any kind of speaking/training program?  Consider the Stress Doc Training/Marketing Kit, which includes both "how to" manual and articles and the opportunity for phone coaching.  For more info:
Training/Marketing Kit http://stressdoc.com/kitbook.htm or email stressdoc@aol.com.

A recent addition to the kit is a promo CD (that is, a full version CD is being produced as you read).  The promo CD includes three of my pioneering efforts in the world of psychologically humorous rap music, i.e., "Shrink Raps."  And to help you recover from the raps, a ten-minute relaxation-visualization exercise with my dulcet tones guaranteed to induce a meditative, if not a hallucinogenic, state.
(B) The "Initiating and Sustaining Organizational Development and Team-Building Process" essay was sparked by several events:  (1) current OD-TB work with a National Institutes of Health (NIH) office high up the organizational food chain, and (2) proposals to lead an OD-TB workshop on an ongoing basis for a national training company and on a one-time basis for the Employee Assistance Professionals Associations in New Orleans.  So it will be a return of the (honorary) native in November.


Starting a Training, Speaking and/or Consulting Business
Quick Ten Marketing Tips


1.  Define, Design, and Develop Programs.  Develop a program blurb or abstract, workshop objectives, and an outline for 3-5 one-hour, a half-day, and a full day program offerings.

2.  Catchy Bio.  Develop a powerful and succinct bio, one hundred words to a half page.  You also may want to have long-and short-versions.

3.  Testimonial Letters.  After each successful program, ask for a testimonial letter from the person who brought you in to the organization or from a key person who attended your program.  A half page is fine.  Just ask the writer to try to capture the factors that made the program successful, the audience's participation, valuable working tools, fun time, your style, etc.  If necessary, try contacting former clients for testimonials.

4.  Promotional Pieces.  Create a business card, a one-page marketing flier, and a two or three panel brochure.  For the flier and brochure, organize information in succinct segments; use bullets or highlighted paragraphs to integrate the above material.  Also include a list of clients and contact information.

5.  Develop a Portfolio.  A portfolio may include some of the above information but, in addition, include any published articles, media coverage, copies of awards, etc.  Another increasingly important portfolio ingredient is having a video or CD of you leading an actual workshop.  For example, my video is about twenty-minutes of a ninety-minute workshop, professionally filmed and edited.  It's a substantial investment, but has repaid itself many times over.  Increasingly, organizations want to see you in action before signing a contract.  And if you want to cultivate a national clientele, a video is essential.

6.  Start Writing.  If you don't have any published articles, get to work.  With the Internet there are a myriad of e-zines and newsletters looking for content -- 500-1,000 word articles.  Write in a jargon-lite, nonacademic style.  Introduce a few key concepts and provide key tips for helping people gain a better understanding of their problem and tool for achieving goals.  Also, a little humor goes a long way when dealing with "serious" content.  Finally, consider producing a newsletter or regular "updates" for your own mailing list readers.

7.  Marketing Startup -- Safe and Small.  After offering programs or consulting work to former organizations, consider places that are always looking for (lunchtime or after dinner) speakers:  Rotary Clubs, associations, church groups.  While these may be freebies, you will be generating name recognition and goodwill.  You will also be getting practice, hopefully, obtaining leads and testimonials.  And, of course, ask people for the names of other potential contacts to call.  Another plus about these freebies, is you can also invite potential fee-paying clients to see you in action.

8.  Join Networking Groups and Professional Associations.  Especially in this economy, many marketing and entrepreneurial and business lead groups are forming.  This is a good way for discovering new trends, learning what your competition is doing, getting emotional support, and generating new leads.

Also, get involved with your professional association.  You might consider joining related associations, as a way of marketing to a wider audience.  For example, I've joined Professional Conference Management Association (PCMA) to connect with speakers' bureaus and association conference-meeting planners (who need speakers).  The National Speakers Bureau is another network to consider joining.

9.  Explore the Bright Side.  The Bright Side is an Internet resource that helps a variety of allied health professionals learn how to effectively develop and promote their business.  For more information about TBS-PRO email Deborah Harper at Deborah@the-bright-side.org.  I am on the TBS Advisory Board.

10.  Go Web Young Cyberite.  If you don't have a website, build one.  A website is essential for business credibility.  You don't have to be a web maven; just work with a web designer.  And be actively involved in the design, building and ongoing upkeep.  Also, you may need someone to help you with search engine placement.  However, you can influence this process.  I am convinced that because my newsletter articles get republished on a variety of sites, search engines come across my links frequently.  This contributes to good placement without having to pay for this positioning.

Shrink Rap:  (B)

In Part I of a two-part series, the Stress Doc outlines six strategic steps and structures for initiating and sustaining an Organizational Development (OD) and Team-Building Process.  And if commitment at the highest levels remains tenuous, the process can be easily undermined.


Initiating and Sustaining an OD-Team Building Process:
Opportunities and Dangers
Opportunities and Dangers

In today's economy, with organizations continuing to experience restructuring if not outright downsizing, clearly more and more are having to do much "more with less."  Big surprise that the work environment can become increasingly "lean-and-MEAN."  Morale, cooperation, and productivity can be compromised.  During rapid or far-reaching transition, it's critical for all parties to grieve and manage the stress and loss of change.  Teams must break out of silos and communicate and coordinate more effectively and efficiently, both internally and with external systems.  Another concern is that the reorganizational change process has likely increased tension and mistrust between management and employees, as well as among other departments or divisions.  Not surprisingly, outside and objective expertise in transitional turnaround may be needed to help the organization fight through the big muddy and big moody.  Strategic steps must be taken to transform tension into renewed commitment and that performance edge.

Have no fear…. the Stress Doc ™ is here with the first six (of twelve) steps, strategies and structures for helping a team, division, or an entire organization overcome burnout and "bad blood."  (Alas, as a former stress, team building, and violence prevention consultant for the U.S. Postal Service, sometimes I speak literally.)  Consider these Key Steps for Generating an Organizational Development and Team-building (OD-TB) Process:

1.  Establish Management Buy-In.  Forgive me for beginning with the obvious:  If management hires a consultant to effect organizational change and team building, but the executive leadership quickly gets out of the development kitchen when things start getting a bit warm, then positive systemic evolution is remote.  Too often I've seen a center director or division head unwilling to confront the dysfunctional behavior of a division or branch manager for fear of the inevitable conflict.  Another destructive variation, for example, is when an executive's rigid micromanaging style is pointed out and the exec axes the bearer of truthful yet painful feedback, i.e., the consultant.  Of course, if engaging with a union shop, having labor in the initial buy-in process is essential.  And with a major OD effort, Human Resources also needs to be involved in this startup phase.

2.  Initial Climate Assessment.  Depending on the hazardous nature of the work environment, the time urgency, the size of targeted systems, and project budget, organizational assessment can occur through a survey, one-on-one interviews, a team meeting, or through a large group workshop.  While anonymous surveys may be necessary in a fearful workforce, if possible, during this beginning phase, my preference is for face-to-face interviews.  I want as much honest reflection as possible regarding any authoritarian managers or interpersonal tensions, as well as dysfunctional or nonexistent team structures (such as lack of team meetings).  Interviews provide such benefits as:
(a) questioning and clarifying immediately a person's response
(b) processing verbal and nonverbal data
(c) allowing individuals to vent frustrations and fears
(d) making both an intellectual and emotional connection with individuals, and
(e) determining whether there are any large scale burnout-inducing or hazardous environment and/or diversity issues; if the system is undergoing significant change, are there issues of loss affecting individual behavior and organizational relations?

The most dramatic example of this last item occurred during a reorganization when a division of skilled crafts professionals were let go by one federal agency and were temporarily assigned to the dark cavernous belly of the beast…the basement of the Department of Commerce.  At the same time, these professionals, mostly senior and white male, were being threatened on two other fronts:  (a) the possible loss of jobs through computerization and privatization (that is, allowing private industry to bid for federal contracts), and (b) the recent influx of women and racial minorities into the shop (who were more savvy with computers than the old-timers).  Not surprisingly, during this vulnerable period, racial tension was rising and tempers were flaring.  Some folks started pulling up KKK websites; other began bringing Louis Farrakhan tapes to work.  And upper management didn't know how to handle this transitional tempest…. So they employed the ostrich defense, burying their heads in the operational sands.  It wasn't until an EEO analyst realized the government was hemorrhaging thousands of dollars in formal grievance procedures that I was brought in to stop the bleeding and prevent full-scale escalation.  (In this critical situation, one-on-one interviews were bypassed; we moved quickly into a full-day stress and anger management workshop with all parties.  After the workshops came a series of team building interventions.  More shortly.)

Getting back to the one-on-one assessment, a final benefit is that individuals get a chance to eyeball me, the consultant.  While I won't claim a sense of trust is realized, the interview at least leaves employees with an impression of my skills, style, and, hopefully, substance.  The surprise factor is reduced.

3.  Create a Safe Workshop Atmosphere.  For people to open up, occasionally, it's necessary to hold separate employee and management meetings or workshops.  Whenever possible, though, I have all levels involved in the problem-identification and problem-solving process.  Ultimately, this interaction helps expose inaccurate assumptions and begins to transform communication barriers into collaborative bridges.  There are several keys to making this opening stress and team-building workshop successful:  it has to be thought provoking yet fun; it must be very interactive, allowing for much audience participation.  (My two favorite exercises involve an innovative, slightly outrageous yet wildly popular drawing and discussion activity, as well as traditional role-playing.)

While laughter is vital, especially when a department or entire organization has experienced profound loss due to major change, the program must set the stage for group grieving.  As that comic genius, Charlie Chaplin, observed:  The paradoxical thing about making comedy is that it is precisely the tragic which arouses the funny.  We have to laugh due to our helplessness in the face of natural forces and in order not to go crazy.  With one organization, for example, we instituted a "forms funeral."  This allowed employees to acknowledge and vent their frustration with a topdown change process.  Employees were given the chance to bemoan the loss of the old ways of operating, to criticize management's exclusionary decision-making, a process that bypassed employee input, and to question the functionality of new operational procedures.  Not surprisingly, with such management-backed creative and communal problem solving, group resistance to change dissolved fairly quickly.

Also, over the years, I've learned that you can't let management or a workshop planning committee set the workshop/program agenda.  The heart of the agenda needs to emerge through the spontaneous engagement of all attendees.  In this way, the real barriers and potential bridges to organizational change have a chance to be identified and further defined, along with developing objectives, action plans, and time lines.    (Email stressdoc@aol.com for my article detailing the operations of such a Practice Safe Stress Workshop.)

4.  Reduce Pre-Workshop Decision-Maker Anxiety.  When management and employees are attending a workshop together, both groups may be on edge.  With all parties, but especially with management, it's important to establish that the workshop will not become an encounter group or blatant blame session.  A vital balance of structure and real sharing combined with solid leadership skills and group laughter comprises the performance and support mix for safe yet genuine interacting and learning.

At the same time, if employees are not participating in a meaningful way, and there's acknowledgment that mixed company is dampening discussion, you may need to ask management to temporarily leave the room.  Now employees will likely articulate at least some of their concerns.  And once management is allowed back in the room, the facilitator can confidentially summarize key employee issues.  This procedure usually reduces antagonistic tensions enough that we can find or construct a pass in the impasse.

5.  "Save the Retreat."  As mentioned previously, a successful workshop will generate some goals and objectives that have implications for organizational development and team building.  To preserve the newfound energy, the credibility of the change process, and the forward momentum, there must be some systematic follow-up.  I suggest a "save the retreat" matrix team.  This group is a cross-section of employees and management, as well as representatives from different departments or teams.  Limit this entity to five to eight members.  To strengthen a participatory atmosphere, consider an employee for meeting facilitator.  The matrix will further clarify the problems designated in the workshop, establish or refine goals and objectives, or enlist a specific task group to do the same.  The matrix team must be effective and efficient.  To sustain post-workshop enthusiasm, timely feedback on the matrix team's progress and on any remaining barriers to "save the retreat" efforts is vital.  Ideally this report back will not simply be for management's eyes and ears.  Feedback must involve all workshop participants, allowing for open exchange between the large group and the matrix team.

6.  Reassess Management Commitment.  Now comes a critical moment for any potential post-workshop OD-team building efforts.  You must meet with top management and determine if they are still on board with the change process.  And even if they use the right words, will they walk the talk…. And for how long.  Let's return to the reorganized division of skilled crafts professionals that was on the workplace violence edge.  Two one-day stress and team building workshops were held, thirty people in each program.  Management and labor leaders attended both sessions.  The drawing exercise and role-plays gave both the senior and junior folks a chance to talk about and literally act out their anger and fears.  There was a new sense of begrudging understanding, if not harmony, amongst the various segments.  And, almost defying credulity, all the grievance proceedings stopped.

Next step involved my meeting with the various work teams.  However, there was a troubling sign.  In a total staff meeting, management seemed uncomfortable allowing people to emote during a discussion about privatization.  Understandably, many of the skilled mapmakers were worried about future contracts and job stability.  The division director, alas, seemed to need an infusion of "emotional intelligence."  The final straw occurred when a female employee accused one of the supervisors of harassing behavior.  When management did not take the accusation seriously, the union was enraged.  (The director was a close friend of the accused.)  Not surprisingly, the team building process was interrupted and adversarial actions began replacing union-management collaboration. 

In disgust, the female manager who initially had advocated for bringing in an outside stress and violence prevention consultant, transferred out of this once again sinking ship.  The irony, of course, is that this dysfunctional turn of events would in the long run likely contribute to the demise of this division.  Was their a higher level power source pulling the strings or, at least, not too unhappy with this cycle of regression and possible extinction?  Who knows.… I no longer was a player on the scene.

Part I of this two-part series has outlined six strategic steps and structures for initiating and sustaining an Organizational Development-Team Building Process.  These include:
(1) Establish Management Buy-In
(2) Initial Climate Assessment
(3) Create a Safe Workshop Atmosphere
(4) Reduce Pre-Workshop Decision-Maker Anxiety
(5) "Save the Retreat"
(6) Reassess Management Commitment

Part II will examine in greater detail the building of productive teams and the dismantling of disruptive barriers to change.  Key processes include intervening with dysfunctional individuals and mediating interpersonal conflicts at all levels of the organization.  Until then, rebuild the fire and…Practice Safe Stress!

C. Heads Up:

1.  A very cool website re: all kinds of way to bring stress relief into your office.
Comments:    I would like to exchange links with your site.  Our URL is http://www.officeresort.com 

2.  I will be speaking at a conference for ColdFusion programmers called CFUN-03 in the Washington DC area on 6/20-6/22/03. I will be showing programmers how to give dynamic presentations (on June 20) and how to practice safe stress (on June 22) -- which given how pressured today's programming teams can be is both useful and timely. The conference is run by TeraTech and has 28 speakers and over 40 topics in 4 tracks. For more information on CFUN-03 see http://www.cfconf.org/cfun-03/

3.  Towards Greater Success e-Book

by John Brazic

The difference between success and failure is neither luck nor the
possession of exceptional qualities but usually a question of method. The
laws of success are the same for us all, and the qualities which enable us
to succeed are also the same. Once you discover and exploit the powers
within you, you can shape the future to your liking. This is true of
anyone, regardless of his age or sex or condition. It is all a question of

The purpose of Towards Greater Success e-Book is therefore to teach you the
laws and methods that lead to success. http://www.towards-success.com


Mark Gorkin, LICSW, "The Stress Doc" ™, a psychotherapist, an international/cruise speaker (Celebrity Cruise Lines) and syndicated writer, was recently interviewed on BBC radio.  The Doc is now a "Motivational Humorist" for The DC Improv Comedy Club as well as America Online's "Online Psychohumorist" ™ running his weekly "Shrink Rap and Group Chat" on AOL/Digital City.  See his award-winning, USA Today Online "HotSite" -- www.stressdoc.com (recently cited as a workplace resource in a National Public Radio feature on "Bad Bosses").  Mark is also an advisor to The Bright Side -- www.the-bright-side.org -- a multi-award-winning mental health resource.  Email for his monthly newsletter recently showcased on List-a-Day.com.  For more info on the Doc's "Practice Safe Stress" programs, email stressdoc@aol.com or call 202-232-8662.

(c)  Mark Gorkin  2003
Shrink Rap Productions