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Whale Done!: The Power of Positive Relationships [Paperback]

Ken Blanchard , Thad Lacinak , Jim Ballard
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 6 2003
What do your people at work and your spouse and kids at home have in common with a five-ton killer whale? This work explains that both whales and people perform better when you accentuate the positive. It shows how using the techniques of animal trainers - specifically those responsible for the killer whales of SeaWorld - can supercharge your effectiveness at work and at home. It explains the difference between "GOTcha" (catching people doing things wrong) and "Whale Done!" (catching people doing things right).

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About the Author

Jim Ballard has written a number of inspirational books, including Mind Like Water and What's the Rush? He has coauthored several popular books along with bestselling business guru Ken Blanchard. Teachings of the worldrenown author and yogi Paramahansa Yogananda inspired Jim to write this wave fable. Jim is a business consultant, hospice volunteer, and Big Brother. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. Please visit Jim's website at www.littlewave.org. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter One

How do they do that?

A collective gasp rose from a crowd of over three thousand spectators as they thrilled to the amazing performances of leaping killer whales. It was another show in Shamu Stadium at SeaWorld. All eyes in the grandstand were glued to the huge animals and their trainers, so no one noticed the wide range of emotions reflected in the face of a man in khakis and a blue shirt who sat in their midst. Each time the crowd exploded in applause and cheers as the animals performed one of their spectacular feats, the man's eyes would sparkle with surprise and delight. At other times his face would cloud over and his eyes assume a faraway look.

Wes Kingsley had come to Orlando to attend a business conference. Since the schedule left room for conferees to relax, play golf, or visit one of the area's attractions, he had decided that a visit to the world-famous marine zoological park would help him forget his troubles for a time.

He was glad he had made that decision. Earlier, along with throngs of other people eagerly crowding the huge stadium, he had taken his seat above the blue waters of the large main pool. Following a welcome and a review of safety rules by an animal trainer, a mysterious fog had begun to shroud the surface of the pool. From behind and above them, the crowd heard the scream of a fish eagle. The mighty bird suddenly swooped over their heads, dove toward the pool, and took a lure from the misty waters. As it flew away, huge black dorsal fins broke the surface, and onlookers caught their breath when they saw monstrous black shapes circling deep in the pool. A wet-suit-clad trainer came through the mists paddling a kayak, to be instantly surrounded by the fins of enormous killer whales.

Following this dramatic opening, the crowd witnessed a series of astonishing acrobatic leaps and dives by a trio of whales -- a 10,000-pound male and two 5,000-pound females. These marine mammals, among the most feared predators in the ocean, waved their pectoral fins to the audience, allowed trainers to "surf" the pool by balancing on their back, and with sweeps of their great tails splashed the first ten rows of spectators with cold water. The roars of laughter, the oohs and aahs, and the thunderous applause attested to the crowd's enjoyment.

Wes Kingsley also found himself entranced by the spectacle unfolding before him. By the finale, when the three finny costars hiked their gleaming black-backed and white-bellied bodies up onto a raised section of the pool to take some well-deserved bows, he had scribbled several entries in a small notebook.

As people exited the stadium, scores of them were still dripping from the soaking they'd happily received sitting in the "splash zone" of the first ten rows. Despite this -- or perhaps because of it -- their faces sparkled with smiles. Still in his seat in an upper row of the emptying stands, Wes Kingsley remained staring down into the pool. Its blue depths, recently awash with great waves but now still, seemed to echo his mood.

After the crowd had left and the place was quiet, an underwater gate opened and a giant black form moved into the pool and began circling it. A trainer came through a door and strolled out onto the lip of the pool, and the huge killer whale immediately swam over to him. "Nice going, big guy," he said, stroking its head. "Enjoy your playtime. You earned it." As the trainer rose and walked along the pool's edge, the whale moved with him. It seemed to be trying to stay as close to him as possible.

The blue-shirted man in the stands shook his head and thought to himself, You'd think that after doing a whole show that whale would hoard its free time. But what does it want to do? Play with the trainer! A question was forming in the man's mind, a need to know that had been building up in him ever since the start of the show. He had an impulse to go down there and ask the trainer that question, but fear of embarrassment held him back. Then suddenly he got up off the bench and quickly descended the stairs.

"Excuse me," Wes called as he reached the deck of the pool and started toward the trainer.

The trainer looked up in surprise. Then he gestured toward a door. "Sir, the exit is over there."

"I know. But I need to ask you something." As Wes approached, it was evident that he was not ready to take no for an answer.

"Sure," the trainer said. "What do you want to know?"

Pulling a wallet from his pocket, Wes offered two fifty-dollar bills to the trainer. "I'm willing to pay you for the information. What I want to know is probably what everyone who sees the show wonders: What's your secret? How do you trick these animals into performing for you? Do you starve them?"

The man in the wet suit controlled an impulse to react angrily to his visitor's impertinent attitude.

Patiently and quietly he said, "We don't trick them, and we don't starve them. And you can keep your money."

"Well then, what is it? What do you do?" Wes

demanded. But after a long silence from the other, Wes's manner softened. Realizing he had given offense, he put his money away. "Sorry," he said, holding out his hand. "I'm Wes Kingsley. I don't mean to bother you with this, but I really have to know how you get such a tremendous performance from these animals."

"Dave Yardley," said the trainer as they shook hands. "I'm in charge of the animal training here, so I guess you might say you've come to the right place. The answer to your question is that we have teachers. Would you like to meet one of them?"

Kingsley looked around to see if they were being joined by someone else. When he looked back, Yardley was pointing to the whale. "This is one of our teachers. His name's Shamu. He and all the other whales here at SeaWorld taught us all we know about working with these wonderful animals."

Wes squinted warily. "Come on. You mean to say you've been trained by an animal? I thought it was the other way around."

Dave shook his head. "Shamu is one of the world's largest killer whales living in a zoological park. As far as who trains whom, let me put it this way. When you're dealing with an eleven-thousand-pound animal who doesn't speak English, you do a lot of learning."

Wes glanced down at the rows of enormous, two-inch-long teeth in Shamu's enormous mouth. "I think the only thing he would teach me is to stay on his good side."

"There's plenty of data to back that up," Dave said. "Killer whales are the most feared predators in the ocean. They can kill and eat anything in sight."

"I guess if he's not learning his lessons, you don't make him go and stand in the corner," Wes ventured.

"That's exactly right. One thing we learned quickly was that it doesn't make much sense to punish a killer whale and then ask a trainer to get in the water with him."

"Not unless you want your career shortened!" Wes exclaimed. Then, recalling the prodigious leaps Shamu had performed in the show, he added, "It's hard to

believe a creature that size could get ten feet out of the water on its own. How do you get him to perform so well?"

"Let's just say it didn't happen overnight," said Dave. "Shamu taught us patience."

"How so?"

"Shamu wasn't about to do anything for me or any other trainer until he trusted us. As I worked with him, it became clear that I couldn't train him until he was convinced of my intentions. Whenever we get a new whale, we don't attempt to do any training for some time. All we do is make sure they're not hungry; then we jump in the water and play with them, until we convince them."

"Convince them of what?"

"That we mean them no harm."

Wes said, "You mean you want them to trust you."

"You're right. That's the key principle we use in working with all our animals."

Wes took out his notebook and pen and began to write.

"Are you writing an article?" Dave asked. "Or doing research?"

Wes Kingsley smiled grimly. "I guess you'd call it research of a personal nature. I've got to learn some new things myself or else..."

Dave Yardley waited and watched. It's hard for this guy to trust anybody, he thought. That's what his bluster act is about.

After a long pause, Wes spoke, avoiding eye contact with the trainer. "I live near Atlanta and work for a big industrial-supply outfit. I came to Florida to get away for a few days, using a business conference as the excuse. But over there at the hotel with my manager buddies, all I could think of was how I don't want to go back home to face the same old problems."

Dave was listening with evident interest.

"For a long time I've been having a hard time getting my people at work to perform well," Wes continued, then grinned. "Not to mention getting my kids at home to pitch in around the house and do better at school. When I was complaining to a friend of mine about it, he had a nice way of suggesting that since I was having management problems both at work and at home, we might look for the common denominator."

"What was that?" Dave asked.

"My friend said, 'Did you ever notice, when your life isn't working, who's always around?'"

Both men chuckled. "I know I'm not managing effectively," Wes went on, "and I might be about to lose my job. Frankly, I'm getting a little desperate."

Dave was aware of Wes's anxious, almost pleading tone of voice and said, "Let me take you on a little backstage tour. Then we can talk more about this."

Dave led Wes through a gate and over to a training pool where a few feet away the huge black backs and fins of two killer whales were gliding through the clear blue water. Their beautiful bodies exuded an air of calmness, and at the same time the promise of explosive power. As the two men walked from one holding pool to another, the trainer identified each whale by name and supplied interesting anecdotes about them.

"It takes a long time to build trust and friendship with each of... --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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HOW DO THEY DO THAT? A collective gasp rose from a crowd of over three thousand spectators as they thrilled to the amazing performances of leaping killer whales. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Hardcover
Give yourself...or better yet your co-workers, family and friends a Whale Done.
Who would have thought that you could use whales as an example of how to make positive relationships, but leave it to Ken Blanchard, the master of the story to do it.
Whale Done is a great story with insightful application. It follows those concepts that they use at Sea World to train the Killer whales. The books uses an effective illustration of this training to teach you how to improve all your relationships that you have and to become more productive while your at it.
The Whale Done Approach is rather simple, but powerful. Build trust, accentuate the positive, and when mistakes occur, redirect the energy.
So how do you do this? Ken points out that you build trust by being sincere and honest. This is important because people know when you are not. You have to show people also that you mean no harm and you have to realize that building trust takes time. This is similar to the Emotional Bank account that Stephen Covey talks about in the 7 Habits. When you value the relationship by building trust you make deposits, but when you make a mistake or blunder you make a BIG withdrawal.
Accentuating the positive is done for a rather intriguing reason, as Ken points out, the more attention you pay to what someone is doing, whether it is right or wrong, the more that behavior will get repeated. So it is important to accentuate the positive to reinforce the positive behavior in others.
Redirecting energy requires several different parts. First and foremost, Ken indicates that you have to catch people doing things right rather than always finding what they are doing wrong. This way you encourage people to continue to do right things and help with the first part, building trust.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An okay read! June 19 2004
By Dizziey
Format:Hardcover
"Whale Done!: The Power of Positive Relationships" by Ken Blanchard talks about the importance of building trust, accentuating the positive side of things and redirecting the energy when mistakes are made. According to Blanchard, it is crucial to provide recognition appropriately to either co-workers or family members. He uses the example of training the killer whale, Shamu at the SeaWorld. When it comes to training killer whales, trainers have to reward the whales when they do something right to reinforce the same behaviors and that it is basically useless to punish killer whales if they make mistakes.
I think this is an okay read because there are basically nothing new here. However, I do like the "training of killer whales" illustrations that help to reinforce what Blanchard is saying - rewarding animals/people appropriately. Like a few reviewers here, I do prefer "Who Moved My Cheese?" and "Fish!" better. I also agree that some of the lines in "Whale Done!" are sort of cheesy. It's basically an okay read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read! June 7 2004
Format:Hardcover
Ken Blanchard of One-Minute Manager fame draws on the positive training techniques that SeaWorld whale trainers use to get their whales to want to perform. Although using whale training as a teaching model is a unique twist on the literature about training and motivating employees, the material itself is not nearly as exotic. Much of it draws upon traditional principles for getting along with others, such as building trust, emphasizing the positive and redirecting undesired actions into more productive channels. If you've read Blanchard's previous book about being aware when people do something right so you can praise them, some of this content will seem familiar, though he says this is his "most important" book. The story line tracks mythical businessman Wes Kingley's discussions with whale trainers who reveal what they do to train their creatures, gradually, carefully and with real warmth. These conversations blow some very basic points up to whale-size, but Blanchard writes with charm. We recommend this splashy manual, the first course in Whale Psyc 101.
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Format:Hardcover
Written as a fictional story with unnatural dialogue, very simplistic message, does not even scratch the surface of human motivation. Nothing new here, this would not even be noticed as an article by a popular magazine. A typical example of low content book that is no more than a streched and pumped-up 4-page article. Nuff said. Leave on the shelves.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Bravo! Or, Whale Done! April 25 2004
Format:Hardcover
To you if you've picked up a copy of Ken Blanchard's book. It could be the first step toward improving your relationships both at work and at home.
Ken demonstrates how the concepts used by trainers at Sea World-build trust, accentuate the positive and, when mistakes occur, redirect the energy-can be utilized to improve our relationships-both personal and professional-and become more productive while doing it.
When Wes Kingsley opted for a trip to Sea World rather than one of the other activities offered during his business conference, he had no idea how educated he'd become. He sat in awe as he witnessed such incredible performances by these killer whales. He was so intrigued that, following the show he sought out the chief trainer, Dave Yardley, to find out exactly how he got these animals to do such amazing performances.
Dave told him how they have to build trust with the whales-you don't want to get in the water with these killers! You have to be sincere and honest, and your motives may be questioned initially depending on the relationship you're trying to repair or improve. This will take some time. Be patient! Next, he told him how and why they pay a lot of attention to what the whale does correctly. Progress is constantly being noticed, acknowledged and rewarded. The more you pay attention to what people are doing right, the more that behavior will be repeated. Even if things aren't exactly right, praise progress, set them up for success and build from there, or accentuate the positive. And, when the whale doesn't perform his task correctly, they immediately redirect his behavior elsewhere. You have to focus on the behavior and not the person. When a good performance is followed by something positive, naturally people want to continue that behavior.
In Whale Done! Ken does an incredible job in showing how simplistic his concepts are, and how readily they can be applied both at work and at home.
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Most recent customer reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Like Rusty Screws to the Eyes
Here we go again; more canned material from Ken Blanchard that involves characters who are stale and annoying, advice that is common sense and recycled, and a catch phrase that... Read more
Published on Feb. 12 2004 by Kelly Hahn
5.0 out of 5 stars You won't go wrong with this book
For me, the most important part of Whale Done is that it reinforces and goes way beyond one of the principles in The One Minute Manager. Read more
Published on Nov. 14 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Read!
Ken Blanchard of One-Minute Manager fame draws on the positive training techniques that SeaWorld whale trainers use to get their whales to want to perform. Read more
Published on Oct. 15 2003 by Rolf Dobelli
4.0 out of 5 stars great message, hokey dialogue
There are many sound success principles in this book. Build trust, accentuate the positive, redirect the energy when mistakes occur. Read more
Published on Sept. 21 2003 by Larry Hehn
4.0 out of 5 stars A Little Over the Top, but A Positive Read
Hokey to an extreme, if you take this for what it is--a fable with a message--there are some pertinent gems to extract. Read more
Published on Aug. 29 2003
3.0 out of 5 stars No harm done
If the first principle of medicine is: first do no harm, then Mr. Blanchard's book is at least primarily successful medicine. Read more
Published on March 28 2003 by Tapetum
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Quick Read
It is always good to get a new twist on the idea of treating people well. The more you read, the better you get. Read more
Published on Feb. 15 2003 by Joseph Sanders
5.0 out of 5 stars Take a balanced approach.
Shamu, the giant killer whale is the hero of this story. He does incredible things at Seaworld and his trainer Yardley, ends up learning a lot from the whale on what makes the it... Read more
Published on Dec 12 2002 by B.Sudhakar Shenoy
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