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Author: Luki Danukarjanto

Communication and Connection In a COVID World


Luki, Communication, Connection, COVIDFor many of us, it’s been a while since we bumped into a colleague in the lunchroom or in the hallway to catch up on how they are doing and what they are doing. Lockdowns and social distancing has made communication and connection more difficult. Perhaps not difficult, just different.

While COVID May have made it more challenging to connect with folks on The same floor or in the same office, the acceptance of video conferencing has helped stay connected with folks that are outside the building, city and perhaps even country. 

Proactive Connection

One of the biggest changes with staying connected with coworkers is to be proactive with your connections. Allocate the time on your calendar to connect with folks. 

  • If you regularly bumped into someone at the water cooler, perhaps schedule time on both your calendars to catch up for a 15 minute zoom call. 
  • Block off 30 minutes in your day to message and connect with folks that you haven’t connected with in over a month. 
  • Allocate 60 minutes a week to further develop relationships with folks who haven’t spoken to in over three months.

Play with the frequency and duration based on the relationship and your circumstances. At the end of the day, be proactive and allocate the time. 

Communication Styles

Well some people prefer to communicate in person, that luxury is not quite available anymore. Consider furthering your relationship with a video call to stay connected, or engage in text or email chats or even phone calls can still happen even in the age of video and digital communication. Some people have a preference for video chats. Others would rather communicate via text or email. Others just want to hear the sound of your voice. Consider what communication style is relevant for the other person.

Think about exercising the “platinum rule” instead of the “golden rule”. The platinum rule suggests: “do unto others as they would want done unto themselves”. So even if you are an email person, if that person prefers phone calls, then give them a phone call.

Feedback and Praise

One important type of communication that you should consider making more regular if you are not already is feedback. Letting people know how they are doing and where they can improve.

Feedback should express concern, demonstrate curiosity, seek to clarify, as well as be constructive, consistent. clear, candid and close in time to the activities in question. 

You can use the ADNs approach:

  • Ask: are they open to feedback at the moment? “May I…”
  • Describe: specific behaviour and impact “… when you … “ “Here’s what happens…”
  • Next steps: what to do ongoing “How can you do this differently?  How can I help?” “Thanks, keep it up!”

An important form of feedback that is often neglected is praise. Oftentimes we are quick to connect with folks to provide some corrective feedback. Consider allocating more time for praise and positive feedback. become a “praise prism”. Praise is actually an infinite resource and you might find that your praise gets amplified across your organization like a prism. 


Take some time to reflect on how you are communicating and connecting during these interesting times. Consider adding some proactive connection time to reach out to folks that you would normally connect with, as well as connect with those that you might not. be mindful of people’s communication styles and preferences and adjust appropriately. Don’t forget feedback and especially remember to spread the praise. It’s often harder to know how you’re doing when you see your coworkers less frequently. So be sure to support your team whether you stay remote, go hybrid, or return to the office.

What will you do to connect and communicate better?


About Luki

Luki is a career coach and likes to say that he has found his purpose helping others find theirs. A former management consultant and campus recruiting lead, he shares his SIWIKE Stuff I Wish I Knew Earlier through books, podcasts, videos and other content. Connect with him on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/lukidanu/ or Subscribe on YouTube to access other content https://youtube.com/focusinspired



Habits to Become the Best Version of Yourself

I’ve been asked more and more to share my insights on developing habits with various organizations since the start of the pandemic. Many have found themselves with extra time with their commutes removed from their day. Some are choosing to feel that extra time with habits like exercise, reading, meditation, and a multitude of other activities. Some are successful at turning them into habits. Many or not. I share my insights as to why.

Why are habits important in the first place?

For anyone who has ever tried to start a new routine, oftentimes an act of sheer willpower is needed to get started. That willpower often drains energy and you don’t want to be using that much energy every time you do something. Habits can help you reduce that energy train so you can use that energy for other things.

Parts of a habit

Habits can be sliced and diced into various segments. I like to use Charles Duhigg’s version. 

  • Cue: A trigger that signals the habit to start
  • Action: The activity of the habit itself
  • Reward: A reinforcement for the behaviour

Habits don’t always form when you start doing things primarily because without the cue or the reward, The habit has nothing to anchor itself to in your brain. 

Getting rid of a habit or starting a new habit

One of the most surefire ways to get rid of a habit is to remove all cues for that habit. Unfortunately that is easier said than done if you cannot completely control your environment.

Consider the FOGG behavioural model. Think of one vertical axis for Motivation and a horizontal axis for Ability. There would be an action line that starts from high Motivation and low Ability and curves down and flattens towards low Motivation and high Ability. When something is above the line then it occurs and happens. When something is “below” the line then it does not occur or happen.

That means to get rid of a habit you need to decrease your motivation or decrease your ability. 

You can decrease your motivation by pairing your habit with a consequence.

  • Want to stop snoozing and sleeping in? Set an embarrassing social media post to go out just after your alarm wakes you up. You better get up, or that post will tell the world about your embarrassing moment!

You can decrease your ability by making your habit more difficult to do. 

  • Want to stop snacking on some junk food? Stash it way towards the back of your cupboard where you have to inconveniently take out other items to get to it.
  • Want to stop spending so much? Put your credit card in a hard to access spot. Or even freeze it in a block of ice so that you literally have to melt it to access it – Hopefully by the time you get your credit card out, your impulse to buy has subsided. Make sure you also delete any saved credit cards on your browser for online sites. 

On the other hand, if you want to start a habit, you need to increase your motivation or increase your ability. You can increase your

You can increase your motivation by finding the core purpose for wanting to set up the habit or finding a partner to hold you accountable for your actions. 

  • To find your core purpose or why for the habit, ask yourself: why is that habit important to you? With whatever answer you provide, ask yourself: why is that important to you? Repeat that five more times. If you don’t repeat yourself and really focus on it’s important to you then you’ll often find the core reason
  • An accountability partner can help many stay on task. That’s why study buddies, gym buddies and other type of accountability partners can’t be so helpful 

NOTE: for most people one or the other works better. Take a look at when you’ve been successful in starting a habit in the past and repeat your success.

To increase your ability, understand your tendencies.

The acronym SPACEBEAR can help you to find some of your tendencies. 

  • Step-type: Do you prefer small steps, or do you “go big or go home”?
  • Pace-type: Are you a marathoner (consistently spend time to move towards your goal), sprinter (hit things hard, then take a break then hard and break), procrastinator (wait until the last minute before you get something done)
  • Aversion-type: Do you react better to a “carrot”, or a “stick”?
  • Chrono-type: Are you a Lion (get stuff done early in the morning often before anybody else is awake), Bear (slower to rise and get stuff done in the middle of the day), or Wolf (our most productive late night) 
  • Expectations-type: Are you an Obliger (need someone to help hold them accountable) or a Questioner (need to know why something is important to them)
  • Buying-type: Are you an Under-buyer (buy just enough or wait until you’re almost out), or an over-buyer (buy so much that you’ll never run out and always have some in reserve)
  • End-type: Are you a Finisher (like to check things off your to-do list), or an opener (like to start new things – though not necessarily finish them)
  • Availability-type: do you prefer simplicity, or abundance
  • Recognition-type: do you prefer familiarity, or novelty?

Knowing your tendencies can do wonders to get that habit going. For example: you might start a habit like exercise and only continue it if you constantly find new and novel parts of it to do. Or you might need to start with familiar and easy to do exercises before you gradually move on two more difficult exercises. 


Wow there are many more ways and considerations to effectively start or stop a habit, these will hopefully be some useful tips to get you started.

By setting up habits, you might find that you have more energy to do other things throughout the day. 

Pick something from the above to implement. Try it out for a few days or weeks. If it sticks then keep it. If it doesn’t, then try something new. 

You’ll likely find that when you set up these habits you become even more productive in your work and life.

About Luki

Luki is a career coach and likes to say that he has found his purpose helping others find theirs. A former management consultant and campus recruiting lead, he shares his SIWIKE Stuff I Wish I Knew Earlier through books, podcasts, videos and other content. Connect with him on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/lukidanu/ or Subscribe on YouTube to access other content https://youtube.com/focusinspired

Staying “Mentally Fit” During COVID to Combat Job Stress

I’ve received many positive reviews on workshops on staying “mentally fit” during COVID. These sessions were delivered for the staff and faculty of a few colleges/universities. Here are a few highlights from the session to help combat job stress. 

It’s worth noting that stress is helpful. Stress is what kept our ancestors alive. We wouldn’t be around without stress. However, even though we no longer have to deal with the threat of sabre tooth tigers eating us, our modern day stresses often seem just as dangerous.    

In these challenging times, many are having their mental states tested. It is interesting how we are often ready to take care of our physical health, yet when was the last time that you prioritized your mental health? Whether you’re an employer or an employee, faculty or staff, (or really anybody), we could all use a little help on the “mental fitness” front. Here are a few of my favourite helpful concepts.


The first step is to admit that you have a problem. You may not be on a 12-step program to recover from addiction, though you may be stressed from work, constantly changing circumstances, uncertainty of the future or a number of other anxiety-inducing thoughts many of us are having during lockdown. 

Take a note of when you have those thoughts. Or think back on your day/week and identify those moments of stress and anxiety. If you have stress in your workplace you might not be able to remove the factors that cause it, though you could change your perspective. Start with Awareness then you can shift your perspective. 


“For there is nothing good or bad and thinking makes it so” -Hamlet, Act 2 Scene 2: William Shakespeare

Here’s a thought: COVID is neither good nor bad. Our thoughts about COVID make it good or bad. 

Wait, how can I say that when people have lost loved ones? Could that loss turn into gratitude for the times you’ve spent with that person or the people that you still have around you? Could you give it meaning so that you can move on and thrive instead of just surviving? I’m not saying that you have to, I’m just asking if you could. 

Go through those points of stress and anxiety that you recorded in Awareness and see if you can change your perspective. Gratitude can be a helpful tool to change that perspective. 

  • “I have so much more work now that everything has been moved online” can turn into “I’m so thankful I have a job”.
  • “I lost my job due to COVID” can turn into “I can find my next new opportunity and chapter in my career”.
  • “I have no idea what the future holds” can turn into “I’m excited about the infinite opportunities and possibilities for the future”.

While it might seem like semantics, consider if your thoughts become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Wouldn’t you rather have better thoughts to be fulfilled?

Think of perspective as your “mental COVID mask”. You may encounter negative thoughts, though with an awareness to reflect and potentially change your perspective, you can prevent those thoughts from “infecting” you and ruining your day.


“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom” -Viktor Frankl

If you’re with me so far, you might be asking yourself: How do I change my perspectives? 

Something out there (or maybe in your head) happens and you often just react to it. Sometimes in a positive way. Sometimes in a negative way. What if you took some time to reflect?

I use the acronym STFAR to help with the reflection process:

  • Stimulus: Something that happens. That something could be outside. Or sometimes that something is inside your head. 
  • Thought: The Stimulus triggers a thought. Sometimes conscious. Often not. 
  • Feeling: An energy in your body that comes from the Thought. 
  • Action: What you did as a result of that Feeling (which could be doing nothing)
  • Result: The outcome based on what you did (or didn’t do).

Let’s put this into practice. 

What comes to mind when I say COVID?

For many, it is THOUGHTS of stress. Cabin fever from having to stay locked down. Missing summer vacations. Loss of opportunities. 

Those thoughts may cause you to FEEL sad, lonely, angry, and even more stressed. 

The ACTION you take might be to eat to distract yourself, escape in your social media feed, or watch a streaming service to numb the stress.

However, the RESULT is a few extra COVID-pounds gained. 

Let’s try that again while intercepting thoughts and changing perspectives.

What comes to mind when I say COVID? Let’s find a beneficial perspective.

For some, the THOUGHT of not having to commute comes to mind and having more time to do what you want to do.

With that thought you might FEEL more motivated to exercise or learn that skill you’ve always wanted like speaking a new language or the ukulele or whatever that is.

Hopefully that feeling is enough for you to take ACTION and start practicing your Spanish/Mandarin, chord positioning or strumming. 

The RESULT is a new skill plus a sense of achievement on the growth.

While being aware, and changing your perspectives may seem challenging now, consider that if you were training to run a marathon, you’d slowly but surely be able to run a kilometer, then 10, then 20, then 42 and beyond! With practice, you can do it.


“Knowledge is only potential power. It becomes power only when, and if, it is organized into definite plans of action, and directed to a definite end.” -Napoleon Hill

Mental fitness is not about just knowing a tactic or strategy. It’s about putting them into practice consistently and over time. Being aware of your thoughts can be hard enough. Let alone constantly changing your perspective on the thoughts that don’t serve you.

The key is to prioritize time. I use the concept of “non-negotiable time” to help. That’s 60 mins daily (or 30 mins or as much time as you can manage) to invest time on these and other helpful mental fitness activities.  Just like you might take time to go to the gym, take some time to go to the “mental gym”. 

Use part of your non-negotiable time to reflect on your awareness throughout the day. As you reflect on your thoughts, look to change the perspectives for the thoughts that don’t serve you. Turn those thoughts and perspectives into action towards whatever result that you want. 

Meditation is another great practice to help with your mental fitness. Think of it as practice to increase the space between stimulus and response. When meditating, you focus on your breath, your thoughts, a word or something else depending on the type of meditation. Mediation exercises your focus on the present moment.

Even simple mindfulness exercises where you pay attention to mundane activities (I.e. washing your hands), or use your non-dominant hand to do something (I.e. brush your teeth), could help you put your mental fitness into practice.


Start your path to mental fitness with awareness. Take that awareness and change your perspective. Use the STFAR model to help reflect and change your perspective. Allocate time to “exercise” and put your mental fitness activities into practice. When you do so, you’ll probably find that you’re less stressed at work, as well as less stressed at home. Especially in these trying times. They have worked for many others. 

Why not give it a shot?

About Luki

Luki is a career coach and likes to say that he has found his purpose helping others find theirs. A former management consultant and campus recruiting lead, he shares his SIWIKE Stuff I Wish I Knew Earlier through books, podcasts, videos and other content. Connect with him on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/lukidanu/ or Subscribe on YouTube to access other content https://youtube.com/focusinspired 

Are You Recruiting Proactively vs Reactively?

Are you recruiting efforts proactive or reactive? As I asked that question to many recruiter friends, most would say that they are definitely proactive. After all, they spend countless hours at events to get candidates to apply. Then they comb through resumes to filter for the candidates that best fit their needs. For some conversations, I can see the point when they realize that they are only screening the resumes they receive. They “react” to whatever resumes are submitted to the posting. Then they ask themselves whether or not the right candidates are applying. They see how they can become more “proactive”.

Another way to put this would be to imagine that your job is to find the best apple in the orchard. You want a sweet, tasty, juicy apple. However, you can only make guesses based on what you see on the outside. You want an apple that is big, but not too big. Red, but not too red.
You have two choices:
Going into the vast orchard and finding potentially perfect candidate apples.
The other is to go into a basket of apples that were randomly put there by other people.
Which option would you choose?

When I was the lead of the undergrad campus recruiting program for one of the big four consulting companies, we were often at the mercy of the quality of the candidates that applied. We hoped that our info sessions and branding got some good candidates to submit their applications. However, it wasn’t until we decided to go more proactive with our efforts that we saw more fruits of our labour…

Reactive recruiters often choose the basket option. Posting a job on their corporate website and job boards. Then hoping the right candidates will apply. To “be proactive” and increase their chances of having better “apples” in their basket, they run info sessions, go to career fairs and networking events to encourage the right candidates to head into the basket. While these activities may seem proactive as they are out in the market, they are really at the mercy of whoever decides to show up. They pick the best apple in the basket. Which might not be the best apples in the orchard.

For me, the challenge of reactive recruiting was magnified when recruiting for a not-for-profit. The not-for-profit has a much less known brand and fewer resources to react to the candidates, let alone be proactive. We weren’t able to attract as many of the right apples into the basket as we wanted.

Proactive recruiters will often choose the option to go into the orchard. They look at their contact list and past connections to see who might be qualified. They leverage platforms like LinkedIn to actively search for qualified candidates. They leverage their networks to crowdsource candidates. they’ve already built, to cast the net wide in search of the perfect candidates. They go into the orchard and fill their baskets.

Keep in mind that the orchard is huge. It would take much too long to search each tree in each part of the orchard on your own. Or it would be too costly to hire other “apple searchers” to search around the orchard where you haven’t looked before.

However, keep in mind that past searches can be an investment. You might find that certain parts of the orchard have better trees. Those trees tend to yield better types of apples. Also keep in mind that you could also create some magical magnetic properties of your basket to allow apples to be attracted to your basket. You’ll just need to take care that the apples you’re attracting are the right ones.

To be proactive, we still did info sessions, BUT we also started implementing referral programs to crowdsource the apple search. As the saying goes “birds of a feather, flock together”. So if we hired them, they’ll likely have friends and acquaintances with similarly attractive characteristics. We looked to have our coops become our brand ambassadors to help spread the word on their great experiences. Great experiences seem to attract “tastier apples” (yes, the analogy gets a bit weird here, but you know what I mean).

We looked to reverse-engineer where our best candidates came from or correlating attributes so that we could hunt in that part of the orchard and look at those trees.

We judged and sponsored case competitions, hackathons and other events where we could see candidates in action. After all, the best-looking apples (according to their outward resume), aren’t necessarily the sweetest or juiciest.

We look to find more innovative proactive search and attraction methods.

So as you think of all of the work you’re spending to screen your apples, take a moment to think whether you’re spending the time to make sure the right apples end up in the basket in the first place!


About the Author

Luki Danukarjanto is Toronto’s youth career coach with a goal to make Toronto the mentorship capital of the world. Published author of “SIWIKE Stuff I Wish I Knew Earlier, educator, youth startup advisor, dad. Career catalyst, “personal trainer for careers” and DJ for personal/professional development with goals to elevate education, weave mentorship into the fabric of society and positively impact a billion people. Former Senior Manager Tech Consulting with Deloitte and undergrad campus recruiting lead. Connect with Luki on LinkedIn​.