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Quote of the Month

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." 

Coach's Calendar

The Personal Qualities that Bring Influence

Getting In: Standing Out and Breaking Some Rules

Build Efficient & Effective Social Network

Acting & Speaking with Power

Overcoming Opposition and Setbacks

The Price of Power

Recommended Reads

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Volume 15, Number 1 - Winter 2016


Are You Ready for a Quantum Leap in Your Life?
In February it will be time to say goodbye to the Wood Goat of 2015 as he crosses over the mountain. However, 2016’s Fire Monkey will quickly swing in and take his place.

The New Year seems to have gotten off to a turbulent start with a weak global economic outlook, falling stock prices and major snowstorms to name just a few.
However, thanks to the unusual alignment of cosmic elements (February 2016 has four of each day of the week, which happens only once every 823 years), astrologers are claiming that the year of the Fire Monkey is the ideal time for a quantum leap in life.
This rare combination of the number 4 (the lucky number for the Monkey this year) will offer a wealth of opportunities to quadruple your chances of success.
According to Feng Shui consultants, the Year of the Fire Monkey is blessed with enthusiastic energy associated with ambition, intelligence, adventure, activity and mischief. This makes 2016 the perfect time to shake things up, initiate change in your life and discover new ways to achieve your goals.
Are you ready for a Fire Monkey year?
Karin Genton L'Epée

The Power Breakfast started on January 21st

2014 saw the launch of the Power Breakfast series, which will continue into Winter 2016 with a new series The Price of Power inspired by Jeffrey Pfeffer’s book Power: Why some people have it –and others don’t.

"Power is desirable to many, albeit not all, people, for what it can provide and also a goal in and of itself." Jeffrey Pfeffer

The first breakfast of this series, entitled “The Personal Qualities that Bring Performance” took place on January 21st. During the first session we identified and analyzed the seven personal qualities needed if we are to obtain and hold on to power. In Pfeffer’s terms these are: Ambition, Energy, Focus, Self-knowledge, Confidence, Empathy with others, Capacity to tolerate conflicts & Intelligence.

Rotary Dragon Boat Charity Challenge 2016

On Saturday May 14th, Rotary Club Prague International invites you to participate in an excellent team building event on the Vltava River… A dragon boat race!

Dragon boat racing is an ancient Chinese water sport that is very popular in the Czech Republic. The long boats are similar to a canoe, but with a decorative dragon’s head and tail. To enter a team you need 16 paddlers and a drummer.

Taking part is easy, as boats,helmsman to steer the boat, life jackets and other safety equipment are all provided by the organizers. It is possible to book training sessions before race day.

It’s great fun, requires no experience, anyone can do it, and you’ll be supporting some wonderful charities in Prague!

You and your company can underwrite a team to participate in the Rotary Dragon Boat Race Challenge. Or you can just come with friends and family to watch the exciting racing, enjoy the atmosphere, have some food and fun, and more.

When: Saturday May 14th 2016
Where: On the Vltava River at Žluté lázně (
Who: You and your friends. Boat teams should be 18 to 20 people, some for support
This event benefits Nadace Nase Dite (a children's charity), and Zivot 90 (providing support for the elderly). For more information, please visit or email

Are you listening to me?

As the only beings on the planet blessed with the power of speech, we often take for granted how complicated the communication process can actually be. Understanding how we communicate with one another and the needs involved can help us become more effective as professionals, both when speaking and when listening.

To help illustrate the importance of listening in effective communication, allow me to share one of my clients’ recent experiences with you. 

As the newly-appointed project manager of an international consulting company, Pavla was offered the chance to participate in the company’s leadership development training program. She returned from the two-day seminar motivated, filled with enthusiasm and ready to apply her newly-acquired communication skills. 

One of the primary challenges Pavla had been facing prior to the seminar was her sometimes difficult relationship with her boss. As the only female manager in the production department, she often felt that her boss wasn’t listening to her. The result was a growing sense of frustration and futility when attempting to communicate with him. There was certainly a need for learning in the situation. 

When I asked Pavla which aspects of the program had been most beneficial, her answer was that she “finally understood that listening is an active process which involves a sender and a receiver”. She shared her discovery that both parties are responsible for their role in the process. In other words, it is the responsibility of the sender to make sure that the receiver hears and understands the message and the responsibility of the receiver to let the sender know that he/she has received and understood the message. Pavla also came to the realization that the more involved and engaged both parties are in the process of communicating, the better the results. 

During the communication process, the sender faces the challenge of appropriately involving the receiver in order to ensure that the message is correctly received and understood. This puts the onus on the receiver to give appropriate feedback on how the message has been heard and understood.

What Pavla realized is that listening can be difficult when the speaker is perceived as boring or when the advice or information is unsolicited. Indeed many of us simply tune out in situations in which we have no control over the incoming information, and no way of stopping the conversation. On the other hand, we are generally willing to listen to someone we find likeable, interesting or when we’re seeking specific information.

To my surprise, a few minutes into the conversation, Pavla blurted out, “But that’s not it. The main benefit of the training was realizing that the best way to get someone to listen to me is to be able meet one of his/her four core needs”.

Although the leadership development program Pavla attended was mainly devoted to effective communication, listening skills and feedback, it also covered the elements that shape the direction of our life, such as our goals, our values, our behaviors and needs. 

The Four Core Needs

The first of these four core needs is Certainty, which is connected to our need for comfort. One of the easiest ways to make people feel comfortable when we speak to them is to synchronize our communication style with theirs by matching and mirroring (using the same body language, tone of voice etc.), or to speak about something they know and/or like. Certainty is also related to our desire for control. One question remains however: how much certainty do we need in order to feel secure about who we are and what we do? That raises an additional question: how much uncertainty do we need to learn and grow? Too much certainty and we run the risk of losing interest in the person or topic we are dealing with, too little certainty and we can face a lack of self-esteem and self-confidence. 

The second need is Variety, which is related to our desire for novelty and change. We can satisfy this need by sometimes behaving in an unexpected way, by surprising someone or by putting forward new ideas. In today’s fast-moving, ever-changing world, the quality of our life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty we can tolerate in our lives. It is in the realm of uncertainty that our passion and brilliance is found. Yet too much unpredictability can create a high level of stress and insecurity. While some people like their work to be structured and predictable, many, especially the younger generation, enjoy what some might consider more challenging and diverse activities.
The third need is Significance, or the desire to feel that we are unique, appreciated and valued. 
Many times over the years my Czech clients have told me that they feel most respected when people listen to them and take their opinions into account. With that in mind I asked Pavla what need she was trying to fulfill by expecting her boss to listen to her. She smiled and admitted that when she heard the definition of someone with a strong significance need, she realized that her expectations came from her own personal need to feel appreciated and respected by her boss. 

Pavla’s new training, and the discoveries it led her to, helped her view communication with her boss from a broader perspective. This empowered her to adapt her style and put more of her focus and energy into achieving her primary goal rather than simply fighting to have her personal need for significance met.

The final core need is the combined concept of Connection & Relatedness. For many Czechs this need is paramount. Above all, anyone who wishes to communicate effectively with Czechs would be well advised to find a genuine way to make them feel good about themselves. 

Years of experience has taught me that many Czechs prefer a sincere exchange between sender and receiver. Their deep desire to feel appreciated and supported is often missed by those who do not have the need for connection as their main expectation.

We are all guilty of assuming that people process information in the same way we do, which is the reason we tend to communicate on the basis of our own needs.  If we favor order and structure in our own life, we will tend to communicate in a structured manner irrespective of the other person’s expectations. In contrast, if we’re in need of change and variety we’ll likely offer a more jumbled or creative perspective on an issue.

What Pavla discovered during the leadership seminar was that the key to understanding her boss’s needs lay in the way in which he himself communicated with her and those around him. Until recently, she had dismissed this information as irrelevant.

To develop her listening skills, Pavla acknowledged that she had to change her approach to communication and start with a clear objective in mind. In her relationship with her boss, she needed to change her focus from, “I cannot work with this guy because he never listens to me” to, “What is my boss’s primary need, and how can I meet his communication needs in order to make him more receptive and open to what I have to say?”

Our ability to listen depends on what we are listening for or, put another way, why we make the effort to listen to someone. It’s certainly worth asking ourselves what we are expecting to get out of the interaction. Which of the needs (Certainty, Variety, Significance and Connection) are we trying to meet when we speak, when we need someone to listen to us and when we listen?

Next time you find yourself in a boring but unavoidable listening situation, I suggest that you make try to identify which one of your core needs you are trying to meet. Then take things a step further by making the effort to identify the needs of the speaker. I’m willing to bet that you’ll be able to find enjoyment and value in the learning experience.

About Karin

Karin Genton-L’Epée is a business coach with 34 years of professional experience in the United States, France and the Czech Republic. Based in Prague since 1995, for the past 17 years she has developed a range of coaching and training programs for mid and top-level managers, focusing on leadership development, cross-cultural understanding and effective communication in a global environment. 

By providing a structured environment that supports people in clarifying who they are and what they want, Karin enables her clients to devise more effective strategies to achieve their personal and professional goals. 

Thanks to her knowledge, skills and range of international experience, Karin is in demand as a speaker at business conferences and educational institutions on both sides of the Atlantic. She is also a regular contributor to business journals and magazines. She works in English and French and can be reached at

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