Sunday 27th September 2020
  • Start Your Day on Purpose And You Will Have Your Best. Day. Ever.

    Your morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. Use them to achieve your goals and accomplish some pretty amazing things. If you win most of your days, the years will take care of themselves.

    Rather than depending on your mood and your circumstances for a great start to your day, choose to be proactive and make mood and circumstances respond to your work. Jim Rohn said "Either you run the day or the day runs you."

    A default routine for so many people is to immediately pick up their phone, check the news, email and social media and go about their day. There's no way you can think clearly, focus and do your best work in the morning if you are constantly reacting to others' expectations or getting distracted by the news.

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  • Under-Management Is the Flip Side of Micromanagement- and It's a Problem Too

    Micromanagement gets most of the attention, but under-management may be just as big a problem.

    This is the term I've given to a constellation of behaviors that I've seen occurring together often during my 24 years in management: weak performance management, a tendency to avoid conflicts with employees, and generally lackluster accountability. As the name suggests, there's just not quite enough management being done - and results often suffer as a result. But under-management can often fly under the radar because the managers who have these tendencies aren't necessarily incompetent; on the contrary, they often know their business well, are good collaborators, and are well-liked.

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  • Boomerang CEOs: What Happens When the CEO Comes Back?

    Many companies have turned to their former CEOs in times of need, but little was known until now about the implications of this practice.

    In the spring of 1985, the board of Apple Computer made the fateful decision to force out cofounder Steve Jobs. Apple struggled over the next decade, losing much of its market share and dominance in the personal computer industry. As it neared collapse in 1996, Jobs returned to retake the reins of the company he had created. Through a series of brilliant changes and innovations, Jobs helped refocus and rebuild Apple, which ultimately became one of the largest and most powerful companies in the world.

    Jobs is certainly a unique case - yet, surprisingly, many other large and high-profile companies have turned to former CEOs, often called boomerang CEOs, in times of need. Dell, Enron, Google, Twitter, Snapchat, Best Buy, Starbucks, Yahoo, DuPont, Procter & Gamble, J.C. Penney, Reddit, Bloomberg, Urban Outfitters, and Charles Schwab, among others, all had former CEOs return to lead their organizations. But while boomerang CEOs appear to be prevalent, little was known until now about the implications of this practice.

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  • The Great Paradox of Peak Performance

    Trying really hard works - and then it gets in your way

    Peak performers often do their best when they are not consciously putting in effort, also known as the 'flow' state. Unfortunately, you can't just pick up an activity and decide to get into flow. Even something as simple as running requires a learning period during which you've got to put forth effort and try. You've got to make things happen before you can let them happen.

    A model of human development called the four phases of competence captures this progression quite well. Developed in the 1970s by an employee of the Gordon Training Institute, this model suggests that individuals advance from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence, to conscious competence, to unconscious competence. The endgame may be a total release from trying - flow - but you've got to work your way there.

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  • The unexpected benefits of virtual education

    Let's just say it: there is nothing ideal about students and teachers dealing unexpectedly with remote learning, as millions have been doing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    That said, there may be a silver lining to virtual classrooms and distance learning, which many universities and schools this academic year are defaulting to, in various degrees, due to the coronavirus. As students and teachers may have to compensate for logistic challenges, collaborating online might prepare high school students with the kind of organizational acumen, emotional intelligence and self-discipline needed for modern careers, particularly those that allow for the growing trend of working in remote, distributed teams. The sooner that students master those proficiencies, the better off they'll be when they reach the job market.

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  • To Achieve Big Goals, Start with Small Habits

    Hey, it's the middle of the week and you need some motivation to get through the rest of the week, right? This HBR article has some (of the usual) advice about breaking big goals into small daily habits, but the part that stuck with me is 'how we are often not able to think small enough and how being too aggressive in growing the daily habit can kill the overall project, whether it's running a 10k or becoming a writer'. An excerpt below:

    It's hard to think small to begin with; it's even harder to stay small. Jake's micro habit was doing two push-ups a day. After earning 10 Y's in a row on his Yes List, Jake was eager to do more. For the next two days he did five push-ups, soon pushing up the number to 10 and then adding a 20-minute workout after. The sad result? Within two months, Jake had given up exercising as he'd enlarged his goals unrealistically fast. You've stuck with your original micro habit long enough when you feel bored with it for at least two weeks in a row. Then increase it only by about 10%.

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  • Customer Surveys Are No Substitute for Actually Talking to Customers

    I'll never forget the questionnaire handed to me midway through a flight from Los Angeles to Sydney. It was massive. Page after page of detailed tick-the-box or circle-the-response questions - it seemed to me it would take the full 13-hour flight to complete. I started, but it was too much work and I abandoned it halfway through. I thought to myself: does management really believe they get valid and reliable data from these surveys?

    For many organizations, surveys like this qualify as "talking to the customer." They're ubiquitous - appearing in hotel rooms, after online purchases, and in hospital emergency departments. But do they really qualify as customer consultation? Or are they a symptom of an isolated management just putting on a show of interest? What can be done instead?

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  • 3 biggest mistakes founder CEOs make when building that crucial first team

    I've recently been reflecting on challenges many founder CEOs face - myself included - in getting a company off the ground, and I keep coming back to the importance of the team. All startups have a vision and seeds of a product that has the potential to be something great, but success comes down to how well you execute the vision and build the right team to act on it.

    Far too often, technical CEOs who have brilliant ideas cannot execute on them, leading to their replacement by seasoned CEOs. These CEOs with years of experience know the ins and outs of the business world, but they often lack the vision and passion that the one who came up with the idea brings to the table. Therefore, the vision goes unrealized.

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  • Evolution made really smart people long to be loners

    Psychologists have a pretty good idea of what typically makes a human happy. Dancing delights us. Being in nature brings us joy. And, for most people, frequent contact with good friends makes us feel content.

    That is, unless you're really, really smart.

    In a 2016 paper published in the British Journal of Psychology, researchers Norman Li and Satoshi Kanazawa report that highly intelligent people experience lower life satisfaction when they socialize with friends more frequently. These are the Sherlocks and the Newt Scamanders of the world - the very intelligent few who would be happier if they were left alone.

    To come to this conclusion, the researchers analyzed the survey responses of 15,197 individuals between the ages of 18 and 28.

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  • The psychological origins of procrastination- and how we can stop putting things off

    "I love deadlines," English author Douglas Adams once wrote. "I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by."

    We've all had the experience of wanting to get a project done but putting it off for later. Sometimes we wait because we just don't care enough about the project, but other times we care a lot - and still end up doing something else. I, for one, end up cleaning my house when I have a lot of papers to grade, even though I know I need to grade them.

    So why do we procrastinate? Are we built to operate this way at some times? Or is there something wrong with the way we're approaching work?

    These questions are central to my research on goal pursuit, which could offer some clues from neuroscience about why we procrastinate - and how to overcome this tendency.

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