Downtown Working

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September 29, 2003 // UPDATED 11:05 am - April 30, 2007
By: Elana Centor
Elana Centor

Flirting -- the doldrums antidote? Does it seem like motivation is lagging in Corporate America? Quick, it's the multibillion dollar motivational industry to the rescue.

In a Gallup study, 55 percent of employees said they felt no enthusiasm for their work. Curt Coffman, author of "First, Break All the Rules," took to calling these energy-drained workers "ROAD" warriors: Retired On Active Duty. Now, the politically correct term is that these employees are "not engaged." Gallup concluded that if companies could get just 18 minutes a day more work out of each employee, the Gross Domestic Product would increase by a staggering $350 billion.

It's not surprising then that companies are looking for ways to motivate their staff, from creating incentive trips and reward programs to bringing in motivational speakers to rally the troops.

Minneapolis-based Jill Spiegel is one of these professional motivators. Spiegel co-owns Goal Getters, is an author and radio show host, and runs a motivational seminar called "Flirting for Success." She also presents this seminar every other month at the Open U, 706 N. 1st St.

Despite the risqu title, Spiegel has presented "Flirting for Success" to Fortune 500 corporations all over the country. She cites Honeywell, Medtronic, various financial institutions and the Department of Defense as previous or current clients.

"Corporate executives will sometimes say, 'We're a little concerned with the word 'flirting,'" admitted Spiegel, who understands that the title of her seminar may be politically incorrect. Yet she insists that flirting really just means being genuine, natural and passionate with people. When corporations balk, she changes the name of the program to "The Art of Building Rapport." However, once she starts presenting, she reverts to her preferred terminology.

In Spiegel's world, flirting is simply about re-teaching people how to be as natural and instinctive as they can be, something Corporate America has made the mistake of discouraging.

Kim Anderson first heard Spiegel present at her church. Anderson, an executive at one of Downtown's major retailers, then asked Spiegel to present to her work team.

"She was so energetic and powerful," reminisced Anderson, "I liked her flirting message. It's about finding energy and being positive, and expressing it at work."

When Anderson first brought up the idea of having Spiegel talk about flirting, she said, she got some pushback from some team members. In the end, though, she said the people who were initially the most critical were the ones that liked Spiegel the best.

After the presentation, Anderson said she could definitely see its impact on her team. Now, two year later, however, the team impact has faded as many who attended the program have changed jobs. However, Anderson feels that the seminar had a semipermanent effect on her, "It impacted the way I think all the time. Still, I could probably use a refresher."

While corporations spend billions in their search for a magic motivational bullet, academic types have also been studying what gets employees psyched about work-life. Their findings: there is no evidence that motivational spending makes a difference.

Nevertheless, while programs like "Flirting for Success" may not give corporations those extra 18 minutes they're looking for; they can and do touch some individuals. And like the saying goes, if you can change just one life . . .

If you have a good story to tell, please contact Elana Centor at ecentor@mn.rr.com. You can remain confidential, as can your company.