The Problem with Saying “Don’t Bring Me Problems, Bring Me Solutions”

It’s time to retire the saying “Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions.” Even though advocates of this approach believe it reduces whining, increases empowerment, helps employees manage up, and boosts careers, it’s fraught with challenges.

Not every problem has an easy solution. Tackling the complexity of most significant business issues can take a pool of talented people with diverse points of view. What’s more, according to Wharton professor Adam Grant, solution-only thinking creates “a culture of advocacy instead of one of inquiry,” where each person comes into the situation locked into their way of solving the problem and lobbies hard for that particular solution rather than considering multiple perspectives. Continue reading “The Problem with Saying “Don’t Bring Me Problems, Bring Me Solutions””

How can leaders help employees find meaning at work?

Leaders can’t rely on organizational mission statements to inspire employees. They have to help their people find inner purpose. One way is through action identification theory, exploring levels of meaning attached to any task. Another is through regular check-ins that help employees think about what they’re good at, what they enjoy, what makes them feel useful, what propels them forward, and how they relate to others. Continue reading “How can leaders help employees find meaning at work?”

Top 10 Books Every CTO Should Read

As a CTO in a rapidly evolving industry, the knowledge you had when you first entered the industry is no longer sufficient. In fact, the knowledge you had this time last year is already outdated.

But when you have a long list of responsibilities, a team to lead, and deadlines to hit, keeping up with the latest technological trends and ideas can be difficult — although it is your job to do exactly at.

Reading the right blogs and subscribing to the right newsletters will help, but those bite-sized nuggets of knowledge won’t keep you at the cutting edge of tech.

Regularly attending conferences and networking events is one way to go, but that strategy isn’t friendly to your schedule. A book on the other hand, can be moulded around even the most crammed calendar. To help you get the most out of your reading time, we’ve hand picked ten books we think every CTO should read.   Continue reading “Top 10 Books Every CTO Should Read”

Help Employees Create Knowledge — Not Just Share It

Many leaders see organizational learning simply as sharing existing knowledge. This isn’t surprising given that this is the primary focus of educational institutions, training programs, and leadership development courses. It’s the “sage on the stage” model, in which an expert shares what they know with those who are assumed not to know it. These “best practices” are presumed to work in a variety of different contexts and situations. Continue reading “Help Employees Create Knowledge — Not Just Share It”

6 Crucial Things to Do in Your First 100 Days in a New Leadership Role

The rate of change in technology is unmatched. Companies are constantly being funded, getting acquired and, unfortunately, going out of business. These dynamic conditions create both challenges and opportunities for leaders. Changing roles is becoming more frequent across industries. Being able to successfully transition into a new leadership position is a must-have skill for entrepreneurs and company leaders. Continue reading “6 Crucial Things to Do in Your First 100 Days in a New Leadership Role”

What Can a 1,800-Year-Old Book Teach You About Leadership? Turns Out, A Lot

Marcus Aurelius was the emperor of Rome from 161 AD to 180 AD. During his time as the leader of Rome, he was the most powerful person in the world. Though massive power corrupted many leaders throughout history, Marcus is widely documented as being a noble leader with strong moral character.

His book, Meditations, has been read by countless leaders spanning over centuries. He documented parts of his life and how he worked to manage his emotions and perceptions of the world around him. His personal growth throughout the book is paralleled by his growth as a leader. Aurelius never intended for his writing to be released, giving it a sense of purity throughout the pages. It’s stoicism at its finest. Continue reading “What Can a 1,800-Year-Old Book Teach You About Leadership? Turns Out, A Lot”

When to Solve Your Team’s Problems, and When to Let Them Sort It Out

After careful review of her harried work life, Charla, an IT manager, discovered that 20% of her time over the previous two months was spent managing escalations. It seemed that each interaction with her team ended with her feeling a need to exercise her authority to rescue them from a crisis. Continue reading “When to Solve Your Team’s Problems, and When to Let Them Sort It Out”

Motivating Employees Is Not About Carrots or Sticks


Vincent Tsui for HBR
Motivating employees seems like it should be easy. And it is — in theory. But while the concept of motivation may be straightforward, motivating employees in real-life situations is far more challenging. As leaders, we’re asked to understand what motivates each individual on our team and manage them accordingly. What a challenging ask of leaders, particularly those with large or dispersed teams and those who are already overwhelmed by their own workloads.
Leaders are also encouraged to rely on the carrot versus stick approach for motivation, where the carrot is a reward for compliance and the stick is a consequence for noncompliance. But when our sole task as leaders becomes compliance, trying to compel others to do something, chances are we’re the only ones who will be motivated.
Why not consider another way to motivate employees? I’d like to suggest a new dialogue that embraces the key concept that motivation is less about employees doing great work and more about employees feeling great about their work. The better employees feel about their work, the more motivated they remain over time. When we step away from the traditional carrot or stick to motivate employees, we can engage in a new and meaningful dialogue about the work instead. Here’s how:
Share context and provide relevance. There is no stronger motivation for employees than an understanding that their work matters and is relevant to someone or something other than a financial statement. To motivate your employees, start by sharing context about the work you’re asking them to do. What are we doing as an organization and as a team? Why are we doing it? Who benefits from our work and how? What does success look like for our team and for each employee? What role does each employee play in delivering on that promise? Employees are motivated when their work has relevance.
Anticipate roadblocks to enable progress. When you ask anything significant of team members, they will undoubtedly encounter roadblocks and challenges along the path to success. Recognize that challenges can materially impact motivation. Be proactive in identifying and addressing them. What might make an employee’s work difficult or cumbersome? What can you do to ease the burden? What roadblocks might surface? How can you knock them down? How can you remain engaged just enough to see trouble coming and pave the way for success? Employees are motivated when they can make progress without unnecessary interruption and undue burdens.
Recognize contributions and show appreciation. As tempting as it is to try to influence employee satisfaction with the use of carrots and sticks, it isn’t necessary for sustained motivation. Far more powerful is your commitment to recognizing and acknowledging contributions so that employees feel appreciated and valued. Leaders consistently underestimate the power of acknowledgment to bring forth employees’ best efforts. What milestones have been achieved? What unexpected or exceptional results have been realized? Who has gone beyond the call of duty to help a colleague or meet a deadline? Who has provided great service or support to a customer in crisis? Who “walked the talk” on your values in a way that sets an example for others and warrants recognition? Employees are motivated when they feel appreciated and recognized for their contributions.
Check in to assess your own motivation. What if you’ve done all of the above but are still struggling to motivate others? You may need to assess your own motivation. Employees are very attuned to whether leaders have a genuine connection to the work. If you’re not engaged and enthusiastic about your company, your team, or the work you do, it’s unlikely that you’ll be a great motivator of others. What aspects of your role do you enjoy? What makes you proud to lead your team? What impact can you and your team have on others both inside and outside the organization? How can you adapt your role to increase your energy and enthusiasm? Employees feel motivated when their leaders are motivated.
The bottom line is: Don’t rely on outdated methods and tricks to motivate employees. Talk with your team about the relevance of the work they do every day. Be proactive in identifying and solving problems for your employees. Recognize employee contributions in specific, meaningful ways on a regular basis. Connect with your own motivation, and share it freely with your team. Put away the carrots and sticks and have meaningful conversations instead. You’ll be well on your way to leading a highly motivated team.

How To Learn In 2 Days What Normally Takes 6 Months How To Learn In 2 Days What Normally Takes 6 Months


https://unsplash.com/?photo=RgTI2KaQ5N4
Research has found that having clarity about your goals is essential to having motivation to achieve those goals.
If you’re not clear on what you’re doing, it’s hard to be motivated. Which is why seemingly easy tasks, like sending a fax, could end up taking months. There’s a lack of clarity on how to do it, so you don’t — until either you have to or it’s too late.
Can you relate?
Unfortunately, having a lack of clarity is why so many people settle for less than their dreams. Said Robert Brault, author of Round Up the Usual Subjects, “We are kept from our goal not by obstacles but by a clear path to a lesser goal.”
You want clarity so bad that you’re willing to settle for lesser goals, simply because the path to getting your true goal is less obvious.
When you’re trying to accomplish something big, you have the why but rarely the how. The path to achieving your goals is far from obvious.
You have no clue how you’re going to do what you want to do.
According to some scholars, fear of the unknown may be the foundation of all other fears. In order to avoid the unknown, most people bail on their dreams.
Embracing the Unknown
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” — J.R.R. Tolkien
When you experience the unknown, what is your emotional experience?
Most people perceive the unknown as threatening, signifying a low tolerance for ambiguity. However, some people are more open to the unknown.
Interestingly, researchers have found that children generally have a higher tolerance for ambiguity than adults. Children are often more willing to accept murky conditions — situations where the likelihood of winning or losing is unknown. As you get older though, your desire for surety and security keep you safely protected in your comfort zone.
Research has found that the more satisfied you are with your work, the higher will be your tolerance for ambiguity. In other words, if you enjoy and believe in what you’re doing, you’ll take-on the emotional discomfort of the unknown. Said Bill Walsh, former 49ers Head Coach, “If your why is strong enough you will figure out how!”
Get Clarity as Quickly as Possible
It’s settled then. If you want to achieve big things, your path will be unclear and hazy. The emotional need for clarity and fear of the unknown leads people to abandon their dreams for more straight forward pursuits.
Having goal clarity is essential to motivation. Consequently, in order to get motivated to achieve your big dreams, you need clarity. However, this does not mean you have “it all” figured it. It means you’re clear on the next step or two.
If you’re at mile marker 1 and your dream is at mile marker 50, you just need enough info and support to get to mile marker 3 or 4. Once you get there, you’ll need further instructions. But you have no clue what those instructions will be, because you don’t currently know what you don’t know. When you get to the next step, you’ll be able to ask better questions. You’ll be able to better assess who can help you get to mile marker 5, 6, 7, or 8. What got you here, won’t get you there.
You’re on a treasure hunt and you’re finding clues and guides along the way. This is the process and emotional experience of pursuing a big dream.
Here’s what you need to move forward right now:
1. A clear “check-point” (so you actually know what to do)
2. A hard and fast time-line
3. The right tools and systems
4. A support structure
If you have these four things, you’ll have enough clarity — and thus enough motivation — to move forward. You’ll be stretching, growing, and moving while most other people are overwhelmed by the distance between mile marker 1 and 50. While they’re staring at the forest from a distance, you’re winding your way through the trees. And soon enough, you’ll be on the other side.
With this backdrop, here’s the most effective way I’ve found to getting just enough clarity to continuously move forward.
Context-Based Learning
How the Mormon church trains their young missionaries to speak foreign languages so efficiently has garnered lots of attention. When an 18 or 19 year old enters the “Missionary Training Center” (MTC), they enter something of a language learning boot camp. Students at the MTC learn in a few weeks what takes most college students three or four years.
Many universities have applied the MTC’s methods to their language learning curricula. The U.S. Military has also studied and teamed with the MTC for decades to better understand how to efficiently train their soldiers. As a result, the Army’s Intelligence Brigade, based in Utah, draws on former Mormon missionaries to fill their ranks.
So what are some of the MTC methods?
Primarily, the MTC uses what is called, “Context-based learning.” They start by reciting a phrase and working on the pronunciation. Once the student has a basic grasp, they are put into groups of two to role-play real world scenarios. Role-plays make up approximately 70% of learning at the MTC — learning while doing — with a teacher standing by to individually coach when needed.
The system is simple:
1. Learn a concept
2. Practice and use that concept in a real-world scenario
3. Get coaching and feedback
4. Repeat
5. Get coaching and feedback
Interestingly, researchers examined the effects of role-playing on the self-concept of shy adolescents. One group of adolescents got traditional discussion-based training while another did role-play based training. The group that did role-plays experienced a significant positive change in their self-concept, which has a significant impact on their behaviors.
In our digital world, simulation training — based on role-playing real world scenarios — is becoming increasing popular.
Additionally, research has found that getting consistent feedback is essential to effective learning.
How to Apply Context-Based Learning
“If you want lasting change, you’ve got to give up this idea of ‘trying something.’ You’ve got to decide you’re going to commit-to-mastery. Most people dabble. They say, ‘I’d like to change my body,’ or ‘I’d like to make my relationship better.’ These people don’t have enough detail to follow-through.” — Tony Robbins
In this article, I define learning as a permanent change in cognition and or behavior. In other words, true learning involves a permanent change in how you see and act in the world. The accumulation of information isn’t learning.
If you want to learn something quickly, you need to immerse yourself in that thing and immediately implement what you’re learning.
The fastest way to learn Spanish, for instance, is by immersing yourself in a Spanish culture. Flash-cards for 15 minutes a day will eventually get you there. But you’ll make deeper connections with a few days fully immersed than you would in months of “dabbling.”
You need enough clarity to have high motivation to move forward. The more clarity you have of the path set before you, the higher will be your motivation to go down that path. Thus, rather than trying to motivate yourself, your goal should be to clarify the next few steps ahead of you.
1. Get a Teacher
“When the student is ready the teacher will appear. When the student is truly ready, the teacher will disappear.” — Lao Tzu
When you move beyond dabbling to full commitment, you’ll want to learn quickly. So, you’ll need a teacher. Someone who can help you take the next few steps.
This teacher can be in the form of a book or an online course. Or, it can be an actual person. The benefit of a real person is getting immediate and relevant feedback and direct answers to your questions.
Recently, I hired someone to help me learn software for my online business. I wanted an immersion-type experience. Turns out, he lives seven hours away from me. So I drove down to his house and spent two days straight with him. I slept on his couch in my jeans and t-shirt.
In these two days, I learned more than I could’ve learned in six months on my own. My teacher could quickly assess where I was. I was able to ask him questions. On an easel board, he would explain to me the software and how it worked.
After explaining the concepts and answering my questions, he would have me immediately apply my learning. This exposed the true gaps in my understanding. Being able to apply something, after all, is the difference between knowing something and understanding it. Hence, Napoleon Hill has said, “Knowledge is only potential power. It becomes power only when, and if, it is organized into definite plans of action.”
2. Repetition Until Your Learning Becomes Unconscious
While implementing what I learned, my teacher would watch me from a distance. He let me struggle as I tried to remember what he had just shown me.
The first time applying what he taught took a lot of time and effort. So we did it again, and again, and again. Overtime, I become competent and thus also and confident.
Learning something new is all about memory and how you use it. At first, your prefrontal cortex — which stores your working (or short-term) memory — is really busy figuring out how the task is done.
But once you’re proficient, the prefrontal cortex gets a break. In fact, it’s freed up by as much as 90%. Once this happens, you can perform that skill automatically, leaving your conscious mind to focus on other things.
This level of performance is called “automaticity,” and reaching it depends on what psychologists call “over-learning” or “over-training.”
The process of getting a skill to automaticity involves 4 steps, or stages:
1. Repeated learning of a small set of information. If you’re playing basketball, for instance, that might mean shooting the same shot over and over. The key here is to go beyond the initial point of mastery.
2. Make your training progressively more difficult. You want to make the task harder and harder until it’s too hard. Then you bring the difficulty back down slightly, in order to stay near the upper limit of your current ability.
3. Add time constraints. For example, some math teachers ask students to work on difficult problems with increasingly shortened timelines. Adding the component of time challenges you in two ways. First, it forces you to work quickly, and second, it saps a portion of your working memory by forcing it to remain conscious of the ticking clock.
4. Practice with increasing memory load — that is, trying to do a mental task with other things on your mind. Put simply, it’s purposefully adding distractions to your training regimen.
Essentially, you want your understanding of something to be fluid and flexible. You want to be able to apply your learning in different contexts and for different purposes. Thus, you learn your skill in-and-out.
3. Set Specific Goals with a Hard Time Line
“Inevitability Thinking is thinking and acting as if what you are doing is a forgone conclusion because you set up the conditions for it to happen.” — Eban Pagan
Once the “training” is complete, you need to take it into the real world. You do this by setting huge goals requiring you to use the knowledge you’ve just acquired.
Just before leaving my teacher’s house, we set goals together. Although the goals seemed overwhelmingly big, I felt confident I could achieve them because I now had clarity.
The time-line to achieve my goals was three months. At the end of those three months, I’d be back at his house for more training. We were on each other’s Google calendars and I paid him in advance for our next immersion learning experience.
4. Tracking and Accountability
“When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.” — Thomas S. Monson
• Clarity is what creates motivation.
• Tracking is what creates awareness.
• Reporting is what creates accountability.
Having these three are essential for rapid progression and learning.
If you’re not tracking your daily behaviors, you are undoubtedly doing worse than you think you are. For example, most people have no clue where there money goes, because they don’t track their expenses.
According to research, self-regulation is the psychological process that detects inconsistency between your goals and your behaviors. It is the ignition of your motivational forces helping you get from where you are to where you want to be.
Specifically, self-regulation works in three ways:
• Self-monitoring determines how well you are currently performing.
• Self-evaluation determines how well you are performing comparative to your goals.
• Self-reaction determines how you think and feel comparative to your goals. When you feel dissatisfied with your performance, self-reaction pushes you to reallocate your motivation resources.
Beyond tracking, research has found that accountability improves performance. When you report your performance to someone, particularly someone you respect, it adds external and relational motivation to succeed.
During your accountability sessions, you can get coaching and feedback on where you can improve.
Conclusion
Striving to accomplish big goals is not easy. Most people will give-up on their dreams in order to have a clear path to lesser goals.
If you want to move quickly toward your big goals, you’ll need to become proficient at acquiring clarity for the next few steps of your journey. The best way to do this is through context-based and immersion-style learning.
The deeper and wider your clarity, the bigger your goals can be. In order to ensure you achieve those goals, you’ll need to daily track your behaviors and have an intense accountability system in place.
It’s all in the set-up. When you set up the conditions effectively, you make the achievement of your goals inevitable.
Call To Action
Look, if you’re like most people, your finances are a mess. You’re not in control, and it’s affecting your mental and physical health, as well as your relationships.
If you’re ready to take control of your success, time, and finances, check out my free checklist. Click here to get the checklist right now!


https://unsplash.com/?photo=RgTI2KaQ5N4
Research has found that having clarity about your goals is essential to having motivation to achieve those goals.
If you’re not clear on what you’re doing, it’s hard to be motivated. Which is why seemingly easy tasks, like sending a fax, could end up taking months. There’s a lack of clarity on how to do it, so you don’t — until either you have to or it’s too late.
Can you relate?
Unfortunately, having a lack of clarity is why so many people settle for less than their dreams. Said Robert Brault, author of Round Up the Usual Subjects, “We are kept from our goal not by obstacles but by a clear path to a lesser goal.”
You want clarity so bad that you’re willing to settle for lesser goals, simply because the path to getting your true goal is less obvious.
When you’re trying to accomplish something big, you have the why but rarely the how. The path to achieving your goals is far from obvious.
You have no clue how you’re going to do what you want to do.
According to some scholars, fear of the unknown may be the foundation of all other fears. In order to avoid the unknown, most people bail on their dreams.
Embracing the Unknown
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” — J.R.R. Tolkien
When you experience the unknown, what is your emotional experience?
Most people perceive the unknown as threatening, signifying a low tolerance for ambiguity. However, some people are more open to the unknown.
Interestingly, researchers have found that children generally have a higher tolerance for ambiguity than adults. Children are often more willing to accept murky conditions — situations where the likelihood of winning or losing is unknown. As you get older though, your desire for surety and security keep you safely protected in your comfort zone.
Research has found that the more satisfied you are with your work, the higher will be your tolerance for ambiguity. In other words, if you enjoy and believe in what you’re doing, you’ll take-on the emotional discomfort of the unknown. Said Bill Walsh, former 49ers Head Coach, “If your why is strong enough you will figure out how!”
Get Clarity as Quickly as Possible
It’s settled then. If you want to achieve big things, your path will be unclear and hazy. The emotional need for clarity and fear of the unknown leads people to abandon their dreams for more straight forward pursuits.
Having goal clarity is essential to motivation. Consequently, in order to get motivated to achieve your big dreams, you need clarity. However, this does not mean you have “it all” figured it. It means you’re clear on the next step or two.
If you’re at mile marker 1 and your dream is at mile marker 50, you just need enough info and support to get to mile marker 3 or 4. Once you get there, you’ll need further instructions. But you have no clue what those instructions will be, because you don’t currently know what you don’t know. When you get to the next step, you’ll be able to ask better questions. You’ll be able to better assess who can help you get to mile marker 5, 6, 7, or 8. What got you here, won’t get you there.
You’re on a treasure hunt and you’re finding clues and guides along the way. This is the process and emotional experience of pursuing a big dream.
Here’s what you need to move forward right now:
1. A clear “check-point” (so you actually know what to do)
2. A hard and fast time-line
3. The right tools and systems
4. A support structure
If you have these four things, you’ll have enough clarity — and thus enough motivation — to move forward. You’ll be stretching, growing, and moving while most other people are overwhelmed by the distance between mile marker 1 and 50. While they’re staring at the forest from a distance, you’re winding your way through the trees. And soon enough, you’ll be on the other side.
With this backdrop, here’s the most effective way I’ve found to getting just enough clarity to continuously move forward.
Context-Based Learning
How the Mormon church trains their young missionaries to speak foreign languages so efficiently has garnered lots of attention. When an 18 or 19 year old enters the “Missionary Training Center” (MTC), they enter something of a language learning boot camp. Students at the MTC learn in a few weeks what takes most college students three or four years.
Many universities have applied the MTC’s methods to their language learning curricula. The U.S. Military has also studied and teamed with the MTC for decades to better understand how to efficiently train their soldiers. As a result, the Army’s Intelligence Brigade, based in Utah, draws on former Mormon missionaries to fill their ranks.
So what are some of the MTC methods?
Primarily, the MTC uses what is called, “Context-based learning.” They start by reciting a phrase and working on the pronunciation. Once the student has a basic grasp, they are put into groups of two to role-play real world scenarios. Role-plays make up approximately 70% of learning at the MTC — learning while doing — with a teacher standing by to individually coach when needed.
The system is simple:
1. Learn a concept
2. Practice and use that concept in a real-world scenario
3. Get coaching and feedback
4. Repeat
5. Get coaching and feedback
Interestingly, researchers examined the effects of role-playing on the self-concept of shy adolescents. One group of adolescents got traditional discussion-based training while another did role-play based training. The group that did role-plays experienced a significant positive change in their self-concept, which has a significant impact on their behaviors.
In our digital world, simulation training — based on role-playing real world scenarios — is becoming increasing popular.
Additionally, research has found that getting consistent feedback is essential to effective learning.
How to Apply Context-Based Learning
“If you want lasting change, you’ve got to give up this idea of ‘trying something.’ You’ve got to decide you’re going to commit-to-mastery. Most people dabble. They say, ‘I’d like to change my body,’ or ‘I’d like to make my relationship better.’ These people don’t have enough detail to follow-through.” — Tony Robbins
In this article, I define learning as a permanent change in cognition and or behavior. In other words, true learning involves a permanent change in how you see and act in the world. The accumulation of information isn’t learning.
If you want to learn something quickly, you need to immerse yourself in that thing and immediately implement what you’re learning.
The fastest way to learn Spanish, for instance, is by immersing yourself in a Spanish culture. Flash-cards for 15 minutes a day will eventually get you there. But you’ll make deeper connections with a few days fully immersed than you would in months of “dabbling.”
You need enough clarity to have high motivation to move forward. The more clarity you have of the path set before you, the higher will be your motivation to go down that path. Thus, rather than trying to motivate yourself, your goal should be to clarify the next few steps ahead of you.
1. Get a Teacher
“When the student is ready the teacher will appear. When the student is truly ready, the teacher will disappear.” — Lao Tzu
When you move beyond dabbling to full commitment, you’ll want to learn quickly. So, you’ll need a teacher. Someone who can help you take the next few steps.
This teacher can be in the form of a book or an online course. Or, it can be an actual person. The benefit of a real person is getting immediate and relevant feedback and direct answers to your questions.
Recently, I hired someone to help me learn software for my online business. I wanted an immersion-type experience. Turns out, he lives seven hours away from me. So I drove down to his house and spent two days straight with him. I slept on his couch in my jeans and t-shirt.
In these two days, I learned more than I could’ve learned in six months on my own. My teacher could quickly assess where I was. I was able to ask him questions. On an easel board, he would explain to me the software and how it worked.
After explaining the concepts and answering my questions, he would have me immediately apply my learning. This exposed the true gaps in my understanding. Being able to apply something, after all, is the difference between knowing something and understanding it. Hence, Napoleon Hill has said, “Knowledge is only potential power. It becomes power only when, and if, it is organized into definite plans of action.”
2. Repetition Until Your Learning Becomes Unconscious
While implementing what I learned, my teacher would watch me from a distance. He let me struggle as I tried to remember what he had just shown me.
The first time applying what he taught took a lot of time and effort. So we did it again, and again, and again. Overtime, I become competent and thus also and confident.
Learning something new is all about memory and how you use it. At first, your prefrontal cortex — which stores your working (or short-term) memory — is really busy figuring out how the task is done.
But once you’re proficient, the prefrontal cortex gets a break. In fact, it’s freed up by as much as 90%. Once this happens, you can perform that skill automatically, leaving your conscious mind to focus on other things.
This level of performance is called “automaticity,” and reaching it depends on what psychologists call “over-learning” or “over-training.”
The process of getting a skill to automaticity involves 4 steps, or stages:
1. Repeated learning of a small set of information. If you’re playing basketball, for instance, that might mean shooting the same shot over and over. The key here is to go beyond the initial point of mastery.
2. Make your training progressively more difficult. You want to make the task harder and harder until it’s too hard. Then you bring the difficulty back down slightly, in order to stay near the upper limit of your current ability.
3. Add time constraints. For example, some math teachers ask students to work on difficult problems with increasingly shortened timelines. Adding the component of time challenges you in two ways. First, it forces you to work quickly, and second, it saps a portion of your working memory by forcing it to remain conscious of the ticking clock.
4. Practice with increasing memory load — that is, trying to do a mental task with other things on your mind. Put simply, it’s purposefully adding distractions to your training regimen.
Essentially, you want your understanding of something to be fluid and flexible. You want to be able to apply your learning in different contexts and for different purposes. Thus, you learn your skill in-and-out.
3. Set Specific Goals with a Hard Time Line
“Inevitability Thinking is thinking and acting as if what you are doing is a forgone conclusion because you set up the conditions for it to happen.” — Eban Pagan
Once the “training” is complete, you need to take it into the real world. You do this by setting huge goals requiring you to use the knowledge you’ve just acquired.
Just before leaving my teacher’s house, we set goals together. Although the goals seemed overwhelmingly big, I felt confident I could achieve them because I now had clarity.
The time-line to achieve my goals was three months. At the end of those three months, I’d be back at his house for more training. We were on each other’s Google calendars and I paid him in advance for our next immersion learning experience.
4. Tracking and Accountability
“When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported, the rate of improvement accelerates.” — Thomas S. Monson
• Clarity is what creates motivation.
• Tracking is what creates awareness.
• Reporting is what creates accountability.
Having these three are essential for rapid progression and learning.
If you’re not tracking your daily behaviors, you are undoubtedly doing worse than you think you are. For example, most people have no clue where there money goes, because they don’t track their expenses.
According to research, self-regulation is the psychological process that detects inconsistency between your goals and your behaviors. It is the ignition of your motivational forces helping you get from where you are to where you want to be.
Specifically, self-regulation works in three ways:
• Self-monitoring determines how well you are currently performing.
• Self-evaluation determines how well you are performing comparative to your goals.
• Self-reaction determines how you think and feel comparative to your goals. When you feel dissatisfied with your performance, self-reaction pushes you to reallocate your motivation resources.
Beyond tracking, research has found that accountability improves performance. When you report your performance to someone, particularly someone you respect, it adds external and relational motivation to succeed.
During your accountability sessions, you can get coaching and feedback on where you can improve.
Conclusion
Striving to accomplish big goals is not easy. Most people will give-up on their dreams in order to have a clear path to lesser goals.
If you want to move quickly toward your big goals, you’ll need to become proficient at acquiring clarity for the next few steps of your journey. The best way to do this is through context-based and immersion-style learning.
The deeper and wider your clarity, the bigger your goals can be. In order to ensure you achieve those goals, you’ll need to daily track your behaviors and have an intense accountability system in place.
It’s all in the set-up. When you set up the conditions effectively, you make the achievement of your goals inevitable.
Call To Action
Look, if you’re like most people, your finances are a mess. You’re not in control, and it’s affecting your mental and physical health, as well as your relationships.
If you’re ready to take control of your success, time, and finances, check out my free checklist. Click here to get the checklist right now!

10X Your Results, One Tiny Action at a Time (The Power of Incremental Progress)


Peter Drucker once said “People often overestimate what they can accomplish in one year. But they greatly underestimate what they could accomplish in five years.”
Many people can’t follow through on the things they really want to achieve in life because they are obsessed with the big picture, instead of keeping an eye on the crucial, tiny daily actions.
The problem with big goals is that they can be intimidating. The picture can paralyze you into inaction.
But if you start focusing on an incremental system designed to help you take action daily, you can easily make 10x progress over time.
Consistent action coupled with time guarantees lasting progress.
Small improvements add up to massive differences. Compounding works in other areas besides money.
Sea levels are rising. It’s happening every day, and it’s been going on for a while. But nobody notices until it gets worse. Until it causes a flood. And when it does, the impact is huge.
Tom Clancy said, “An overnight success is ten years in the making.”
There are no “overnight successes”. Think of all the great people you truly admire. They didn’t succeed because of one giant move, but rather a series of small and consistent actions over time.
Every incredibly successful person you know today has been through the boring, mundane, time-tested process that eventually brings success. So, stop looking for “quick hacks” that bring faster results.
Your 10x output is hidden in your small consistent actions!
Coordinated, accelerating work makes the most impact.
Seth Godin says “The thing is, incremental daily progress (negative or positive) is what actually causes transformation. A figurative drip, drip, drip. Showing up, every single day, gaining in strength, organizing for the long haul, building connection, laying track — this subtle but difficult work is how culture changes.”
The big picture can be overwhelming, but in little parts, it seems achievable. Every step forward brings you closer to a goal.
Progress is in your control.
Lasting progress is incremental
Many people underestimate the power of incremental progress. They think they have to take massive action to achieve anything significant.
Radical change doesn’t stick.
In “The Compound Effect: Jumpstart Your Income, Your Life, Your Success,” author Darren Hardy writes, “It’s not the big things that add up in the end; it’s the hundreds, thousands, or millions of little things that separate the ordinary from the extraordinary.”
Darren says, “Small, Smart Choices + Consistency + Time = RADICAL DIFFERENCE”
In order to get what you want, you have to choose one direction and move towards it, constantly improving over a prolonged period of time.
Jim Rohn said “Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.”
Defining your direction as early as possible is the most important decision in sport, and everybody knows it. But, curiously enough, this is also the most important decision in life in general, but much fewer people realize it.
Robert Collier once said, “Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” Consistency and a series of purposeful actions will transform the way you work and hone in your chosen craft.
Be consistent. Be relentless.
Instead of focusing on the outcome, concentrate on your small actions.
Narrows your focus to a few minutes or hours of work on your goal, rather than looking at the goal as one big step or achievement.
You can easily write a 50,000-word book in 100 days if you focus on one 500-word piece at a time.
Big goals require momentum. By starting with small, but challenging, action-oriented goals, you spark sustainable momentum.
Sometimes the progress appears nearly invisible, but small, daily investments are the way to produce big changes.
“I’m convinced you can do almost anything if you are willing to clarify your goals and then make the incremental investment over time to achieve them,” says Michael Hyatt.
Whatever you intend to do in the next few months, prioritize your incremental actions.
Don’t wait for a big breakthrough. Choose the “incremental progress” path.
The simplest strategy to achieve larger success is to break down the end goal into management and attainable milestones. Something you can act on daily.
Measurable, sustainable progress over time should be your aim. And when you embrace it, record your progress. Keeping score helps you identify action trends and see what’s working and what’s not.
Regardless of your goal, narrowing down your focus to small manageable tasks that can be done daily is the secret weapon to achievement.
Before you go…
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Finding the Platform in Your Product

Five of the 10 most valuable companies in the world today—Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft—derive much of their worth from their multisided platforms (MSPs), which facilitate interactions or transactions between parties. Many MSPs are more valuable than companies in the same industries that provide only products or services: For instance, Airbnb is now worth more than Marriott, the world’s largest hotel chain.
However, companies that weren’t born as platform businesses rarely realize that they can—at least partially—turn their products and services into an MSP. And even if they do realize it, they often wander in the dark searching for a strategy to achieve this transformation. Here we provide a framework for doing so. It lays out four specific ways in which products and services can be turned into platforms and examines the strategic advantages and pitfalls of each. These ideas are applicable to physical as well as online businesses.
Why seek to transform products and services into MSPs in the first place? As one Intuit executive told us, it comes down to “fear and greed.” Greed, of course, refers to the potential for new revenue sources that could speed growth and increase a company’s value. Fear refers to the danger that existing and incoming competitors will steal market share from your product or service. Transforming an offering into a platform might enhance your company’s competitive advantage and raise barriers to entry via network effects and higher switching costs. We’re not suggesting that every company should try to emulate Airbnb, Alibaba, Facebook, or Uber. But many companies would benefit from adding elements of a platform business to their offerings.
Our goal is to help managers discern how their products or services could become multisided platforms—and what challenges and opportunities might arise—so that they can decide whether or not to make the change. Our framework derives from our combined experience studying and advising more than a dozen companies (including several mentioned below) during product-to-MSP transformations. Managers might want to use this article as the basis for a corporate-strategy offsite at which everyone is given the task of articulating MSP strategies around existing company offerings. That assignment should include answering questions such as: (1) Are there benefits to turning some or all of our products and services into MSPs? (2) Are there risks involved in doing so? (3) What key resources, relationships (including how we interact with customers), and organizational changes would be required for such a transformation?
The reason regular products and services are not multisided platforms is that they do not serve multiple groups or facilitate interactions between customers or groups. In this article we discuss four ways in which regular products and services can bridge this gap and become MSPs.
1. Opening the Door to Third Parties
In this scenario your product or service has a big customer base that third-party sellers of other offerings are interested in reaching. You become an MSP by making it possible for those third parties to connect with your customers. “Connect with” can mean advertise or sell (or both) to them. The third-party products may be independent of your product or service or may be apps or modules that work in combination with your offerings.
Consider three examples:
Intuit is the leading seller of financial management, accounting, and tax software products for consumers and small businesses in the United States. In the past six years or so it has taken significant steps to turn QuickBooks, its flagship financial-accounting product for small businesses, into an MSP. It opened up application-programming interfaces and introduced a developer program and an app store to allow third-party developers to build and sell software products to QuickBooks’ customer base. Those products leverage data about small-business finances provided by QuickBooks. Since 2013 QuickBooks has also enabled its customers to apply directly to several third-party financial institutions for loans through a service called QuickBooks Financing.
Health clubs are increasingly renting space inside their gyms to specialty studios so that the latter can serve health club members. This allows a club to offer a greater variety of classes, which helps it retain existing members and attract new ones. For instance, the Forum Athletic Club, in Atlanta, recently reached an agreement with Cyc Fitness, a national cycling-studio chain, which now operates a self-contained studio inside the Forum’s 22,000-square-foot gym.
The Lawson chain of convenience stores in Japan started in the 1990s to turn its shops into MSPs that facilitate transactions between its customers and third-party service providers. Today Lawson customers can pay utility bills and insurance premiums, ship and pick up parcels through postal service providers, and claim items ordered from e-commerce sites just by visiting their local convenience store.
For your product or service to become a true MSP in this scenario, at least some of the connection between your customers and third parties must be made through your product. Intuit could simply have sold aggregated (and anonymized) QuickBooks data to third-party developers and financial institutions. That would have added a potentially profitable new offering for Intuit, but it would not have turned QuickBooks into an MSP that could exploit network effects.
For this type of transition to make sense, your product or service must have an established brand and a large customer base—but that alone won’t elicit interest from third parties. It must also meet one or both of the following conditions:
It serves a baseline need for many customers, yet leaves a large number of heterogeneous customer needs unserved. You can encourage and enable third parties to fill those gaps with products and services that are typically complementary to yours. Most third-party apps in Intuit’s app store target market niches and customer needs not served by QuickBooks on its own.
It generates frequent customer interactions. That makes it a good candidate to become a one-stop shop for other, not necessarily complementary products and services. The third-party services that Lawson’s customers can access are largely unrelated to its own products and services, but customers find it extremely convenient to access all of them in the same location.
It’s important to be aware of several pitfalls associated with this approach to an MSP. One is that customers who come to you primarily for a product or service may object to the advertising of third-party offerings, especially if they are paying for yours. Intuit faced this when it started exploring services to offer through QuickBooks. As a result, the company is very careful to allow only offerings that align well with the needs and desires of QuickBooks customers and to obtain explicit consent to participate in tests for targeted third-party offers. In addition, Intuit has rebranded QuickBooks as “the operating system for small business” precisely to change customers’ perceptions and to minimize potential backlash.
Another possible pitfall is that because you have an existing provider relationship with your customers, they may hold you responsible for the quality of their interactions with third parties. By enabling those parties to interact with your customers, you are implicitly endorsing their offerings—to a greater extent than does a company born as a multisided platform. For instance, a customer taking a spinning class offered by a third-party studio in a health club’s gym is likely to blame the health club for a bad experience. As a result, you must curate third-party products and services much more carefully than a company born as an MSP has to.
Finally, some third-party products and services may cannibalize your offerings. The natural inclination would be to allow only those that are either complementary or unrelated to yours. But that approach can be misguided. In some cases it may make sense to coopt offerings that compete somewhat with yours and capture some of the resulting value to your customers. The Forum Athletic Club has replaced its own cycling classes with the Cyc Fitness classes offered at its gym. Cyc’s spinning classes have proved more popular with members and allow the Forum to focus its resources on other services while converting Cyc from a competitor to a complementor.
The underlying logic is that if substitution from third parties is inevitable, bringing them onto your platform may expand its overall appeal to your customers, resulting in more demand and opportunities to sell your own services. It may also encourage you to reevaluate your offering’s core competitive advantages and focus on them, which may mean ceding ground to third parties in some areas.
2. Connecting Customers
In this scenario you are selling a product or service to two distinct customer segments that interact or transact with each other outside your offering. You can become an MSP by modifying or expanding your offering so that at least some element of those interactions or transactions occurs through your product or service.
QuickBooks is used by both small businesses and accounting professionals. Intuit is in the process of adding a matchmaking function within QuickBooks that would enable small businesses to find and contact accountants with relevant expertise in their geographic area and would allow already-matched business-accountant pairs to exchange documents through the product.
Garmin and other fitness wearables are used by both consumers and personal trainers. Many companies that offer these products also host online systems (Garmin Connect, for example) to store fitness-training and health data. Garmin could enable users to share their data with personal trainers, thereby enhancing the interactions between those two groups. To further capture value from this strategy, Garmin could charge trainers for a “pro” subscription—software tools that would let them access clients’ data to oversee activities and progress.
This scenario highlights how different customer segments of the same product or service can become customer groups on an MSP. For example, men and women are customer segments for a hair salon (no interaction between them is facilitated by the salon), but they are customer groups for a heterosexual dating service. An entrepreneurial hair salon that started offering matchmaking services to its customer segments could convert men and women into customer groups.
There are two pitfalls associated with this strategy. First, you run the risk of wasting resources on a feature that ultimately creates little additional value for your customers or your company. Worse, the MSP feature can be a detriment if customers perceive it as misaligned with the value of your underlying product or service. Some customers of a hair salon that provides matchmaking services might not want to risk encountering matches that didn’t work out. Others might worry that offering a dating service means the salon isn’t focused on giving the highest-quality haircuts.
Blizzard Entertainment’s ill-fated Auction House for its popular Diablo video game provides a cautionary tale. Having noticed that Diablo players were routinely trading digital items on eBay and other external platforms, Blizzard created the Auction House in 2012 to make those transactions easier. It allowed players to buy and sell digital items in exchange for “gold” (digital currency in the Diablo game) as well as real dollars—and Blizzard was able to charge a transaction fee. It quickly became clear, however, that this feature created perverse incentives. Many players decided that buying items at the Auction House was an easier way to reach the game’s advanced stages than devoting several hours to killing monsters and searching for loot inside the game. Other players strove to accumulate game items for the sole purpose of selling them in the Auction House. Realizing that this behavior was undermining the value of the game itself, Blizzard shut down the Auction House in 2014.
It is imperative that you conduct market research or run experiments to answer the following questions: Would significant proportions of our offering’s various customer segments derive substantial benefits from interacting or transacting with one another? If yes, can our product or service enhance those interactions in a significant way? How will our customers react to the addition of an MSP feature, and how will that feature affect the way they interact with the original offering?
The second pitfall, as in scenario number one, is that although your offering is now simply facilitating a connection or a transaction between two parties, if one party is dissatisfied with the other, you may be held partly responsible. That means you need to put governance mechanisms in place to minimize (if not eliminate) the likelihood of unsatisfactory interactions. Intuit will have to carefully curate the accountants it recommends to QuickBooks customers through its matchmaking feature.
3. Connecting Products to Connect Customers
In this scenario you are selling two products or services, each to a different customer base, and the two customer bases interact outside your offerings. You can become an MSP by modifying or expanding your offerings so that at least part of those interactions occurs through one or both of your offerings.
The popular game Cards Against Humanity lets players complete fill-in-the-blank statements with humorous (and often tasteless) words or phrases printed on physical playing cards. Its creators continue to sell the game and its numerous expansion packs to consumers, but they have also created Blackbox, a separate website through which they sell back-end fulfillment services (credit-card processing, customer service, shipping) to independent artists who want to sell their products—including third-party developers of other card games. Currently these are separate offerings, but the company could create an MSP by linking them. For instance, it could allow Blackbox customers to advertise their games to Cards Against Humanity’s users with expansion packs. A more sophisticated implementation would allow Blackbox customers to test game concepts on willing Cards Against Humanity users, who would provide feedback.
Credit bureaus such as Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion offer a suite of services for consumers (access to credit scores, identity theft protection, and so on) and a suite of services for financial institutions (credit reports on consumers and businesses). These suites are based on the same data, but the two types of customers interact outside the services (as when a consumer applies for a mortgage); the credit bureaus do not directly facilitate those interactions.
Credit bureaus could create online MSPs where consumers could obtain their credit scores and receive targeted offers from financial institutions. (This is the business model of start-ups such as Credit Karma and Lendio.) These MSPs could go further and enable consumers to create and manage a digital data profile that they could then use to apply directly for financial products at participating institutions (similar to the way Intuit allows QuickBooks customers to apply for financial products through QuickBooks Financing).
Nielsen offers “watch” products to media companies (data on consumers’ viewing habits) and “buy” products to consumer goods manufacturers (data on consumers’ purchasing habits). One could easily imagine Nielsen’s adding the ability for a consumer-packaged-goods company to connect with relevant media companies for advertising purposes.
This scenario highlights how a multiproduct company can become a multisided platform that benefits from network effects. For example, by increasing sales of credit and identity-theft-protection products to consumers, credit bureaus can improve their offerings for financial institutions (which leverage consumer data), thereby achieving greater cross-product economies of scope. While that alone might be valuable, credit bureaus could create and capture even more value by linking the two kinds of products to facilitate interactions between consumers and financial institutions (as described above). This would create an MSP and generate network effects: If more consumers use the credit and identity-theft-protection products, that increases the value of the offerings for financial institutions, which can then transact with more consumers more effectively and vice versa.
Two risks are associated with this strategy. First, as with scenario number two, you may waste resources on a feature that ultimately creates little value for your customers or your company relative to the underlying product or service. Second, optimizing for interactions between customers of different products may lead to design choices that limit the growth potential of one or the other product on its own. Once again, it is imperative to use market research and experiments to answer a few questions: Would considerable proportions of your offerings’ respective customers derive significantly greater benefits from interacting or transacting through you? If yes, can your offerings substantially enhance those interactions? How will the customers of your two offerings react to the addition of an MSP feature? How will that feature affect the way customers interact with the original products?
4. Supplying to a Multisided Platform
In this scenario you become an MSP by creating an offering for your customers’ customers that enhances the value of the product or service they buy from your customers. (Although this strategy is logically possible, we are not yet aware of examples of its successful implementation.)
It is important to emphasize that this strategy goes beyond the more traditional “ingredient brand” strategy, which is also a “customers’ customers” approach. Indeed, some (essential) ingredient suppliers have created brands in the eyes of their customers’ customers (for example, Intel’s “Intel Inside”) that allow them to extract more value from their customers. But because these ingredient suppliers offer no products or services directly to their customers’ customers, they are not MSPs.
The major pitfall with this scenario is that your customers are likely to react negatively to any attempt to go after their customers. Nevertheless, we believe this strategy could work under certain circumstances. The key is to convince your customers that the product or service you provide to their customers is truly complementary to—rather than competitive with—their own offerings.
Shopify is a leading provider of e-commerce tools to online and retail merchants. Currently the company has no direct connection with its customers’ users. It could, however, start offering a common log-in or loyalty program to users of its customers’ sites. Whether such an initiative would be successful would hinge on whether Shopify could persuade its merchant customers that the offering was a valuable added service rather than simply an attempt to take control of their customer relationships.
The decision whether and how to convert an offering into an MSP should be informed by who your current customers are, how you currently interact with them, and how they interact with one another. The most fundamental challenge associated with this endeavor is transitioning from a world in which you have 100% control over what your customers are offered to one in which you can only influence the value that is created for them (by third parties or by interactions among themselves).
A final consideration is organizational and leadership challenges. If a company has a solid reputation that is rooted in creating and offering products, shifting to an MSP-focused strategy might be difficult for employees who deeply identify with those products. And companies that sell successful products or services often have strong research and development operations and many engineers in leadership roles; shifting to an MSP strategy that depends on the adept management of third-party relationships might require putting business-development and marketing professionals in significant leadership roles, generating internal conflict. Furthermore, as a company’s strategy moves from a product or service orientation to being more MSP-centric, boards, CEOs, and senior management teams may find it difficult to deal with multiple or hybrid strategies, adopt and track new performance metrics, and enforce some degree of technological or customer experience consistency between previously separate products and services.
Nevertheless, if you decide that creating a platform will provide great opportunities for growth and increased profitability and thwart potential competitive threats, the effort to make the transformation may well be worthwhile.

10 Books Every Aspiring CEO Should Read


If being a leader was easy, then everyone would do it. What exactly sets apart those who reached the pinnacle of business achievement? What is their secret sauce?
As an aspiring leader, your goal should be to create not just a good company, but a great one. That’s why it’s important to study those who have gone before you.
Below I’ve listed a few of my favorite books to help get you started. From management to personal inspiration, they provide a broad palette to help you gain as much leadership insight and knowledge as possible.
As an aspiring CEO, one of the first things you’ll learn is that people hate meetings. In fact, they’re despised so much that COO Alliance founder and entrepreneur consultant Cameron Herold decided to write a book on the subject. After speaking with a variety of firms, he analyzed why we have such strong antipathy toward meetings, and how companies can become better at running them, making them more efficient and worthwhile.
This book is an classic in the genre of personal development and leadership. As someone who hopes to stand at a company’s helm, it’s imperative that you look at how to be effective and efficient with your time. Covey offers time-management advice that every CEO should take into consideration to improve the lives of everyone at the company.
When it comes to leadership, no one does it better than the Navy Seals. In this book, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin go into detail about what makes Seals great at what they do. The book deftly translates first-hand combat stories into life and business advice. As any leader can tell you, split-second decisions can make or break your success, so it’s important to mentally prepare yourself.
4. Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace
The most important thing in your entrepreneurial pursuit will always be those you surround yourself with. If you can tap into their creative spirit, that will be even more beneficial. That’s why Pixar co-founder Ed Catmull and journalist Amy Wallace crafted this beautiful guide to creative management. Creativity, Inc. dives deep into how to tap into creativity as a leader, and will help you make the most out of your organization.
Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power has been lauded by CEOs and rap stars alike. It’s a pretty simple (and quick) read reflecting on the power dynamics between people that most of us face on a day-to-day basis. This powerful book justifies its cult-like following.
Start with Why takes a look at some of the most crucial questions every leader should ask: Why are we in business? Why are we inspired? Sinek relays how asking why at the outset is the core to understanding your value system and how it translates to your customers and team. This mentality has taken numerous folks far, and could do the same for you.
Another classic book on leadership and how it relates to yourself, How to Win Friends and Influence People has been a bestseller for almost a century. Written in 1937 by Dale Carnegie, the tips are still relevant to today’s leaders, and this book should be on every businessperson’s shelf.
8. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
Outliers tells the tale of what defines exceptionally successful people and outlines the commonalities they share. The book makes an interesting point that every CEO should take note of: success is driven by hard work, but isn’t necessarily defined by it. Whether you succeed or fail, there’s a science to what occurred and why.
Ferriss is the man who gave us The 4-Hour Work Week. His follow-up, Tools of Titans, relays the tactics, routines and habits of successful people. And as his podcast has featured numerous noteworthy guests, Ferriss considers this something of a personal journal for each one’s contribution.
Good to Great looks at what makes a good company and what makes a great one, and offers advice on how to get from the former to the latter. Collins does an excellent job of identifying myths and defining the paths successful firms take on their journey to greatness.
Though there are several insightful business books out there, these are my favorite. I often read them every year, as they provide a new outlook on business strategies that I can continue to implement.
Read next: Why the hell does Tesla want to launch a streaming music service?

Use Stories from Customers to Highlight Your Company’s Purpose

Leaders commonly try to influence their company culture with a lofty statement of purpose. But despite the time and money an organization pours into crafting its own special statement, the result is often vague and generic — it sounds like every other well-meaning company’s purpose statement.
One simple way around this is to highlight specific stories that illustrate the values leaders want to emphasize. Stories are free, always available, and are such a core part of our human DNA that they automatically make us feel good. Especially when they’re true. And best of all, when a company brings true stories to light, the culture becomes one of paying attention. Leaders and managers learn to keep their eyes and ears on what’s most important — the real experiences of real people.
Sweetgreen is a healthy grab-and-go food chain that always seeks to “add a sweet touch,” as the company describes it. Not only does it want to serve customers delicious food with stylish sustainability baked into every bite, but it also wants to make its mark as a fine-tuned instrument of tightly aligned, mission-driven business. It uses stories to show what adding a sweet touch really looks like in practice.
One such story is of a loyal customer, recently recovering from cancer, who visited her favorite Sweetgreen location in Washington, DC. The team member behind the register recognized her and mentioned that he hadn’t seen her in a while. He told her she looked great, remembered her favorite salad order, and gave it to her on the house. The woman was so moved by this kindness — especially, one can imagine, coming from such a vulnerable place — that she wrote Sweetgreen a letter telling them how much this personalized attention meant to her. This story made the rounds through the Sweetgreen community, strengthening the company’s core values and empowering team members to live them.
As Sweetgreen cofounder Nate Ru told me, “Stories are the way humans exchange concepts and ideas. We want to create intimacy as we scale, and stories are the key, [so] we empower everyone to collect, on a day-to-day and weekly basis, stories of people living core values.”
Lyft is the San Francisco–based ride-sharing company increasingly known as the friendlier version of Uber. By encouraging passengers to sit in the front seat and engage in conversation, Lyft emphasizes human connections. Its mission is “to reconnect people through transportation and bring communities together.” It also seeks to spread its values through storytelling.
During an all-hands meeting of 500 Lyft employees, a woman stood on a stage and told the story of the Lyft driver who not only drove her daughter to safety from a violent roommate situation but actually helped her pack and unpack her belongings into a hotel room. A picture of the driver’s smiling face appeared on the screen behind her as the choked-up mother recounted the impact this man’s kindness had on her and her family.
According to Ron Storn, VP of People, one of the company’s most important values is “uplift others.” This story highlights more than the driver’s determination to do just that — by sharing the story publicly, every single one of Lyft’s employees gets uplifted as well.
When JetBlue was founded, in 1999, its mission was “Bring humanity back to air travel,” which has since been shortened to “Inspire humanity.” It doesn’t get loftier than that! And its values are safety, caring, fun, integrity, and passion, in that order. It also uses storytelling to spread these values among 20,000 crew members.
At JetBlue University, the training site for new and returning JetBlue employees in Orlando, Florida, orientation is upbeat, emotional, and often story-driven. From their auditorium seats, 170 crew members watch a video of one of their own, a man from an airport operations crew, tell the story of his ill granddaughter and how his crewmates chipped in to help pay for her medical care. It’s not uncommon for this video to move the audience to tears.
JetBlue keeps the storytelling going after orientation, with its company-sponsored homepage showcasing a constant news feed of shout-outs, its Blue Hero program, which highlights crew members who go above and beyond, and daily notes from the Head of People often sharing an inspiring story or two that have crossed his desk. These stories fly, no pun intended, throughout the organization.
Stories make us all pay closer attention to what matters. Start paying attention to the stories unfolding in your organization, and figure out how to help the best ones spread. Because people have a lot to say, and if we’re smart, we’ll start listening.

Why Harmonized Teams Beat Unified Teams


Jason Davis/Getty Images for Barbershop Harmony Society
Members of unified team put aside differences to work together as one. They are reliable and predictable. In contrast to that, harmonized teams value differences. Their working relationships are messy and unpredictable. That messiness makes them more likely to be open to changes in their environment and be better able to adapt. This is why you should assemble people with diverse strengths, prompt different points of view and reward harmonic thinking over unity.
A quick search for “Team Unity” yields:
• “Two Main Ingredients that Create Team Unity”
• “How to Create the Kind of Team Unity That Drives Results”
• “The Importance of Team Unity in Employee Retention”
The trouble with all these articles is their fundamental premise that team unity is to be desired. It’s not. It is to be avoided.
Think about these:
Barbershop quartets are far more interesting when they are harmonizing than when they all sing the same note.
An American football team of 11 identical running backs would get dramatically outscored by a team that could block, throw and catch as well as run.
A business made of all salespeople would not fare as well as one that had the ability to build, deliver and service what its salespeople sold.
I could on, but I think I’ve made the point. Unity is bad. Harmony is good. Jefferson was wrong. All men are not created equal. Each man and each woman is unique and special.

It’s not hard to argue that this is the most important attribute of a high performing team. The difference between a collaborative group and team is interdependence. Individual members of high performing teams know that they can achieve more together than any of them can on their own. This is because they have differential strengths and have figured out how to work in harmony to take advantage of those differences.
Implications
Assemble people with diverse strengths
This starts with recruiting briefs. There are only three questions in any interview, getting at strengths, motivation and fit. Your recruiting briefs should set up those interviews, clarifying the differentiated strengths you need for any particular role, the dimensions of motivation that are important and what you mean by fit. Fit is not congruence. You’re assembling a team of puzzle pieces. The pieces need to fit together, but they should not be identical.
Then use the recruiting briefs to guide your interviews. Make sure you are evaluating candidates based on their ability to add to the team, not mirror the team.
Finally make sure your onboarding accommodates your new hires’ needs, assimilates them into the team and then accelerates their progress. The best new hires will converge into the team and then help it evolve. If all they do is assimilate, they don’t really add value.
Prompt different points of view
Embrace Michael Brown’s concept of antecedents, behaviors and consequences. Don’t expect anyone to change unless you prompt the change and then reward it. If you want people to bring their unique perspectives to bear and challenge the prevailing thinking, invite them to do so – explicitly. Following the crowd and following your lead is always the safe bet. But that’s not what you want. You desperately need people to go against the grain. Invite them to do so.

Reward harmonic thinking.
Get the balance of consequences right. This is the second and critically important part of “Please and Thank You Leadership”. Prompting different points of view and then punishing those that dare to be different is worse than not prompting them at all. Make sure you are recognizing and rewarding those behaviors. Because it’s risky, the absence of a negative consequence is not enough. Over-invest in positive reinforcement.
If you’re like most, this requires a fundamental mind shift. Stop worrying about diversity by sex or race. Instead, invest your time and energy to assemble, prompt and reward diversity of perspectives and thinking.
Click here to see all my Forbes articles and get a summary of my executive onboarding book: The New Leader’s 100-Day Action Plan

Culture Is Not the Culprit

Change management
When organizations get into big trouble, fixing the culture is usually the prescription. That’s what most everyone said General Motors needed to do after its recall crisis in 2014—and ever since, CEO Mary Barra has been focusing on creating “the right environment” to promote accountability and head off future disasters. Pundits far and wide called for the same remedy when it came to light that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, deemed a corrosive bureaucracy by federal investigators, kept veterans waiting months for critical health care. Cultural reform has likewise been proposed as the solution to excessive use of force by police departments, unethical behavior in banks, and just about any other major organizational problem you can think of. All eyes are on culture as the cause and the cure.
But the corporate leaders we have interviewed—current and former CEOs who have successfully led major transformations—say that culture isn’t something you “fix.” Rather, in their experience, cultural change is what you get after you’ve put new processes or structures in place to tackle tough business challenges like reworking an outdated strategy or business model. The culture evolves as you do that important work.
•  Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail


Though this runs counter to the going wisdom about how to turn things around at GM, the VA, and elsewhere, it makes intuitive sense to look at culture as an outcome—not a cause or a fix. Organizations are complex systems with many ripple effects. Reworking fundamental practices will inevitably lead to some new values and behaviors. Employees may start seeing their contributions to society in a whole new light. This is what happened at Ecolab when CEO Doug Baker pushed decisions down to the front lines to strengthen customer relationships. Or people might become less adversarial toward senior executives—as Northwest employees did after Delta CEO Richard Anderson acquired the airline and got workers on board by meeting their day-to-day needs.
The leaders we spoke with took different approaches for different ends. For example, Alan Mulally worked to break down barriers between units at Ford, whereas Dan Vasella did a fair amount of decentralizing to unleash creative energy at Novartis. But in every case, when the leaders used tools such as decision rights, performance measurement, and reward systems to address their particular business challenges, organizational culture evolved in interesting ways as a result, reinforcing the new direction.
Revisiting their stories provides a richer understanding of corporate transformation and culture’s role in it, so we share highlights from our conversations here. Most of these stories involve some aspect of merger integration, one of the most difficult transitions for companies to manage. And they all show, in a range of settings, that culture isn’t a final destination. It morphs right along with the company’s competitive environment and objectives. It’s really more of a temporary landing place—where the organization should be at that moment, if the right management levers have been pulled.
Doug Baker
Doug Baker took over as the CEO of Ecolab, an industrial-cleaning-products company, in 2004. At the time company revenue was $4 billion, and he set out to triple that figure, a highly audacious goal. By 2014 he had completed some 50 acquisitions, most notably buying Nalco, a water treatment company based in Naperville, Illinois. Sales had grown to $14 billion, and the workforce had more than doubled.
The acquisitions allowed Ecolab to offer a more diverse set of products and services—essentially one-stop shopping—for its customers’ cleaning needs. But as it absorbed each new entity, complexity grew. Organizational layers multiplied, and managers became siloed into different offices and units. Key decision makers spent less time interacting with customers and with one another. The expanding bureaucracy was eating into Ecolab’s customer-centric culture, and that was hurting the business.

Doug Baker
Baker wanted to restore customer focus as a core strength at Ecolab. The company’s model was to provide on-site evaluations and training for customers and build them customized portfolios of products and services based on those visits. Many of its clients had worked with the company for years, and it was essential to maintain those strong relationships.
The answer, Baker believed, was to encourage more decision making on the front lines, by carefully training the employees who were closest to customers. The more they learned about all the products and services the company provided, the better equipped they would be to figure out on their own which solutions fit customers’ needs.
It may seem risky to push decisions down, but Baker found that the bad calls were caught and fixed faster that way. Eventually, managers began to let go and trust their employees—which was a huge cultural shift. It took time to train employees, and it required constant tweaking and reevaluation as customer preferences and business dynamics changed. But ultimately fostering frontline responsibility allowed Ecolab to stay connected with its customers.
Baker also emphasized the importance of meritocracy in motivating employees to carry out business goals. “People watch who gets promoted,” he says. Advancement and other rewards were used to signal the kind of behavior that was valued at the company. Baker found that public acknowledgment mattered even more than financial incentives over time. “What do you call people out for, what do you celebrate, how do people get recognized by their peers? The bonus check is not unimportant, but it is silent and it’s not public,” he points out. Kudos went to managers who delegated decisions to customer-facing employees and encouraged them to take the lead when they showed initiative.
This was especially critical at the smaller organizations Ecolab acquired. They included a number of private companies that had a “father knows best” style of management: The founders issued the orders, and people followed them. Although that could work in small organizations, it hindered growth and made it difficult to collaborate across divisions at Ecolab.
As frontline employees were rewarded for owning customer relationships and coordinating with one another, a culture of autonomy emerged. (This also freed up senior management time, allowing executives to focus on broader issues.) Once people throughout the ranks felt trusted, they in turn trusted the company more and began to view their work and their mission—to make the world cleaner, safer, and healthier—as real contributions to society. And in their enhanced roles, they could see firsthand how they were making customers’ lives better. This shift took time, though, because the process had to happen again and again with each acquisition.
“When we buy businesses, they’re not going to love the new company right away,” Baker says. “Love takes a while.”
Richard Anderson
Soon after he became Delta’s CEO, Richard Anderson oversaw the 2008 acquisition of Northwest, which created the world’s largest carrier, with approximately 70,000 employees. At the time, both airlines were emerging from bankruptcy protection and entering a major downturn in air travel.
Unlike Baker, who didn’t rush postmerger integration, Anderson felt that this acquisition demanded speed and force. He didn’t have the time or inclination to do any wooing. “There’s no such thing as a merger of equals,” he says. “We called all the shots here. It was going to be based in Atlanta; it was going to be called Delta; there was going to be no joint branding. It was pretty dictatorial.”

Richard Anderson
To quickly integrate systems, processes, and people in a hugely complex industry, Anderson had to empower those around him to lead. He firmly believes in having a nonexecutive chairman, who oversees board agendas and processes, and a separate president, who independently manages deals. “The president and I carry the same cachet,” Anderson says, “so we can get twice as much done. He can go run the Virgin Atlantic transaction while I’m in China trying to work a deal with our two Chinese partners.” Anderson has also delegated a lot of responsibility to his chief operating officer and chief marketing officer.
Because Anderson had previously served as Northwest’s CEO for three and a half years, he had an insider’s view of the company—and he knew about a major obstacle he would encounter there. Northwest was highly unionized, which in his view set up an adversarial dynamic between employees and management. It also made communication between the two groups difficult. Management relied on unions to learn about employee needs as opposed to interacting with workers directly. With both management and employees going through a third party, it took longer to address issues.
That’s why a critical part of this quick integration—once Anderson had clearly laid out that Delta was running the show—was to build strong relationships with employees. So he looked for ways to satisfy them and motivate them to serve the company and its customers. He decided to focus on meeting their needs both on the job and personally. Delta offered employees first-rate training, flexible scheduling, well-maintained airplanes with world-class equipment, and good crew hotels. Those things were relatively inexpensive, especially compared with fuel—and they paid off handsomely in loyalty and trust.
Compensating people well made a difference, too—it motivated them to perform. “You want them to be very productive and work very hard and do everything right,” Anderson says, “but in return you want to provide a really good benefit system and a very good pay system.” Each year Delta earmarked 10% of its earnings before taxes and management compensation for employee bonuses. One year after the merger, the airline put 15% of the company’s equity into a stock-ownership plan for pilots, flight crews, and ground and support staff. The higher compensation demonstrated that management cared about its people, further feeding the culture of trust.
He also recognized that each employee had specific needs. Take the equipment service workers on the second shift. “It’s 10 below zero outside in Minneapolis this morning, with a blizzard, and they’ve got to get their job done,” Anderson says. “They’ve got to get up in the deicing bucket and get that airplane deiced and get off the gate.”
The bets that Anderson placed on meeting employee needs seem to have reversed the troubling “us versus management” dynamic. Two years after he took over as CEO, workers voted to get rid of unions (except for pilots, who gain industry influence from being in a union because it puts them on par with their peers at other airlines). Today Delta is the only major airline outside the Middle East that remains largely nonunionized.
The happier workers are, the longer they want to stay. So the company’s “lifer” culture has grown even stronger, which Anderson sees as a good thing. “We have a lot of 40- or 45-year employees in this company, and they may be second or third generation,” he says. “But we don’t have a nepotism rule, because I want generations of the same family working here.” His philosophy is that having relatives of employees join Delta tends to increase loyalty all around. Those hires come in with a certain understanding and a positive view of how the company operates.
Alan Mulally
When Alan Mulally took the helm at Ford, in 2006, the company was on the brink of bankruptcy and had lost nearly 25% of its market share since 1990. But, having managed Boeing through a rough downturn, he knew how to make tough calls and act decisively during a crisis. At his first financial meeting at Ford, he realized that the company was just months away from running out of cash. Mulally reversed the firm’s course: By the time he left, in 2014, Ford had been reporting profits for five years, and the stock price had jumped significantly.
The challenge he faced wasn’t just financial, though. To set the company straight, he had to get the management team working more collaboratively. It was notorious for being cutthroat and aggressive. Executives from different units hid information from one another instead of sharing it. Mulally says that Ford was like a “bunch of separate companies” when he took over. Each unit made different cars, targeted different markets, and operated independently—all of which reinforced the defensive “turf” mentality and generated enormous waste.

Alan Mulally
Drawing on his experience at Boeing, Mulally instituted regular meetings where several levels of executives gathered to share updates on their units. They used a color-coded system (green for good, yellow for caution, and red for trouble) to assess Ford’s overall performance on a variety of initiatives quickly and holistically.
At the peak of the company’s problems, the group met daily. Mulally hoped the meetings would help identify issues before they became intractable and encourage executives to share ideas and support one another. He also wanted to foster personal accountability; managers had to explain the problems they had and the headway they were making.
Mulally also launched “One Ford,” a strategy to integrate Ford units around the world so that the company could eliminate waste and streamline processes. He created global heads for manufacturing, marketing, and product development to lead collaboration internationally and simplify operations.
With all executives working openly, as a team, Mulally could more easily identify low-performing brands. He sold off several of Ford’s luxury vehicle brands to focus on the production of smaller, energy-efficient vehicles, including the Fiesta and the Focus, which had potential to expand. Ford returned to its original mission of producing quality cars for the masses.
At the beginning, executives were afraid to speak up about problems—they worried that their colleagues would pounce on any sign of vulnerability. In the first several meetings, all the charts were green, but Mulally pushed back: “We lost billions last year, and you’re telling me that there is not a problem?” Eventually, a few brave executives started speaking up, and he praised them for their transparency. (One of them was Mark Fields, who would succeed Mulally as CEO.) In time people realized that being honest allowed them to work together and find solutions more quickly, and their charts reflected what was really happening in their units.
Dan Vasella
After Dan Vasella orchestrated the merger between Sandoz and Ciba-Geigy, in 1996, he was named chief executive of the combined company, Novartis. It eventually became the largest producer of pharmaceuticals in the world.
To meet a broader range of customer needs—and better insulate the company—Vasella led the shift from a prescription-drug-based business to a diversified portfolio of health care products. This major transformation required a much more complex organization.
For Vasella, leading change started with a clear sense of purpose at the top. He had a series of early discussions with a small group of senior managers to establish the company’s vision and objectives. The chief goal—“to discover, develop, and bring to patients better medicines again and again”—spoke directly to the challenge of broadening the company’s offerings. To achieve it, Vasella increased spending on research and development during his tenure.

Dan Vasella
In those meetings, he also clearly spelled out his expectations for employees. They needed to be flexible, for one thing. As a growing company developing new medicines, Novartis would face challenges no one could anticipate, and the team would have to roll with whatever issues came up. And employees had to be accountable and act in the customers’ interests.
To that end, Vasella set up clear metrics for gauging performance and ensuring quality across the company’s increasingly diverse units and product groups. As Novartis grew, he knew, more people would need to take charge, and a good performance management system would help keep employees focused on the right things. “You also have to make it clear what you won’t tolerate,” he says. “I will not tolerate bribing. I will not tolerate bad stories internally.”
Vasella believed that collaboration and alignment across divisions should not be forced in a growing company, so he decentralized decision making to empower people to do what was best for their own units. He felt that this allowed teams to move faster and to think and act more creatively. “My view was to focus on the outside—on the competition and the customers,” he says. “Don’t get inhibited or slow down because of concerns about whether you’re behaving in a collaborative way with people you don’t need to collaborate with for your results.”
As the new practices were implemented, Novartis employees became more customer-centric and performance-minded at the same time. “First you have to deliver to your customers what they hope for [better medicines and vaccines],” Vasella says, “and then you can ask for a return for what you deliver.” With each organizational change he made, he realized that the company’s culture was starting to match the vision he’d outlined in his early meetings with senior executives.

Research Says Nearly Everyone Wants These 3 Things to Be Truly Happy at Work


CREDIT: Getty Images
An increasing body of evidence from positive psychology experts the likes of Richard Davidson, Shawn Achor, Barbara Frederickson and others confirm a simple fact: Happy people are better workers. And that translates to good business outcomes.
Yet most of us are still afraid of accepting the notion that “feelings” belong in the workplace. While we’re wired for experiencing positive emotions in romantic relationships, at home, with our children and spouses, the workplace is where we hide our true emotions. Just grin and bear it when stress or conflict comes knocking, right?
Wrong.
Positive feelings at work lead to increased creativity, resilience, optimism, motivation, and that overused term straight out of old-school HR: employee engagement.
Actually, I’m fine with the term employee engagement. It defines a high-performing company culture invested in creating the kind of work environment that will release discretionary effort in its people. You can’t beat that with a stick.
The Research Boils It Down to 3 Things
In fact, in Annie McKee’s popular HBR piece, “Being Happy at Work Matters,” her research team concluded that to be fully engaged and happy, virtually everyone wants three things:
1. A meaningful vision of the future.
2. A sense of purpose.
3. Great relationships.
1. A meaningful vision of the future.
Her research team found that most people wanted to be able to see a compelling vision of the future and know how they fit in. This requires strong leaders able to link the organizational vision to people’s personal visions, then communicating that vision consistently.
Sharada Bhansali, co-founder of AccountantsWorld — a leader in cloud solutions for accountants — know this too well. She has worked with the same group of engineers since the company first launched nearly two decades ago. Her secret to retaining talent includes keeping her staff connected to the organization’s goals to keep them mentally and emotionally engaged.
She tells Forbes, “Our staff knows that we had a well-defined mission for creating AccountantsWorld. I work with our employees personally to keep people informed and excited about our mission and technology. This genuine enthusiasm has fostered more loyalty than financial compensation and perks ever could alone. When employees believe in the work they are doing, both work and the workplace becomes more meaningful.”
2. A sense of purpose.
McKee writes in her HBR piece that “people want to feel as if their work matters, and that their contributions help to achieve something really important.”
In Give and Take, famed Wharton professor and author Adam Grant says that when people find purpose in their work it will not only improve that person’s happiness, it will boost productivity. So, give the people what they want — purpose. How exactly do you do that?
According to Grant, allow employees the chance to connect with and meet the people they are serving. Having employees meet customers or end users firsthand so they can see the human impact their work makes is the greatest motivator, even if limited to a few minutes.
3. Great relationships.
In McKee’s research, close, trusting and supportive relationships lend to strong collaboration and are critically important to people’s state of mind at work, whatever their level, status, or position.
Another important research bears pointing out. In Sigal Barsade and Olivia A. O’Neill’s study on “companionate love,” they concluded that companies that build an emotional culture founded on the relational elements of warmth, affection, and connection led to better performance.
Here’s Barsade in the Harvard Business Review:
Whole Foods Market has a set of management principles that begin with ‘Love’ and PepsiCo lists ‘caring’ as its first guiding principle on its website. Zappos also explicitly focuses on caring as part of its values: ‘We are more than a team though…we are a family. We watch out for each other, care for each other and go above and beyond for each other’.
Conclusion
McKee drills home the point when she states, “Added up, brain science and our organizational research are in fact debunking the old myths: emotions matter a lot at work. Happiness is important. To be fully engaged, people need vision, meaning, purpose, and resonant relationships.”

5 Hidden Social Media Hacks Millennials Can Use to Boost Their Careers

Opinion: You are marketing yourself and, thus, you must use marketing tactics

Hello, millennials: Enjoying your avocado toast and unicorn-themed beverages? Millennial life doesn’t have to be known only for fidget spinners and casual dating: It’s important to start building yourself as a brand—an employable brand at that.
Now I know that the landscape of careers has changed greatly for your generation, and you’ve moved to a more dynamic setting. The first and foremost thing to remember about advancing your career is that in that respect, we all work in marketing. You are marketing yourself and, thus, you must use marketing tactics.
So, with that in mind, here are five things you can do on social media to actually change the way your career is going.
1. The basic level of any social medium is content. It doesn’t matter what platforms you want to be active on for your career-advancing endeavors (Hint: It should be all of them): Content is king, and you are the king maker. But, you don’t have to work too hard in understanding what kind of content you should create. is a great service that tells you what type of content performs best in specific industries, so no matter in what field your career is heading, you can optimize your content to make sure it resonates with any potential employers.
2. One of the things people are always looking for is insight. Nowhere is this more common than on social media. The people you want to impress the most are probably leading the field in insight on social media, as well. Tools like Klout and can help you identify influencers in your industry. Those people probably know people, and impressing them could go a long way in shaping the future ahead of you.
3. As a millennial, you probably know what has been doing on social media as of late. With a different approach to social media other than the regular, “We’re wacky but we’re still corporate,” Wendy’s has risen above the noise and managed to generate the most retweeted tweet of all-time. In today’s world, where inboxes are flooded with resumes, being weird and different when talking to industry leaders, and even potential employers on social media, could just be the ticket that keeps you in their top of mind. Don’t be afraid to speak truth to power or give an opinion not commonly voiced. Most people aren’t looking for yes men, and if they are, you don’t want to work for them.
4. No marketing campaign has ever left the gates of a major corporation without rigorous testing. Now, we’re not saying you should assemble a focus group of human-resources pros to test your resume, but some has never hurt anyone. Present yourself in various ways in various social media posts and see what garners the best response. Try focusing on the specific people who are in your industry and understand how they react to your content.
5. The basis to marketing anything or anyone on social media is understanding what kind of response you’re getting, and the only way to do that is by understanding the data behind your content. Most social media platforms will give you a rudimentary version of this, but tools like and AgoraPulse can measure your engagement and let you know if you’re doing a good job or not.
There you have it: You can have your avocado toast and eat it, too, and still be proactive about your future. You can use these tools and tactics to optimize your career hunting efforts and make sure you’re on the right track. Building your social media presence is a most important part of making a first impression in this day and age, so make sure you do it right.
is CEO of online presentation software provider emaze.
Image courtesy of monkeybusinessimages/iStock.

The law firm Cooley is updating its packet of startup tips and financing documents


The law firm Cooley is putting out a new package of seed investment documents for public viewing on its “GO” microsite, the firm said today.
It’s a way for entrepreneurs and early stage investors and business owners to access what the firm considers to be best practices for early stage investment and to streamline the process for committing capital at the seed stage.
The firm said its new release was prompted by the increase in convertible notes for early stage financing.
Since the investment structure is so popular, and relatively uncomplicated, it’s quickly becoming a default structure for early stage financing. The documents that Cooley is making public are the same ones it uses in the hundreds of transactions the firm has completed for startups.
The new documents will also be available on Github, where Cooley’s documents have received several comments from the community.
The company said that the new documents will act as a “fork” of the original GitHub repository under an open source licenses and on the Cooley GO website.
Other documents that support signing agreements for seed stage deals are also available on the Cooley site.
Any new business owner who wants to can access and amend the Series Seed “Notes” and equity financing documents directly through Cooley GO’s document generators.
Featured Image: CSA-Archive/Getty Images

How HR Can Become Agile (and Why It Needs To)

If software has eaten the world, then agile has eaten the software world. While initially designed to improve the responsiveness of software development teams, more recently agile has become the default team-based operational model for companies big and small, across industries and sectors, with the promise of a substantial and sustained spike in team productivity and efficiency.
And there is no shortage of information and advice on how agile should be implemented in your tech organization. The tactics are clear, well-documented, and offered up in a myriad of flavors. For example, a Google search for “agile software development” returns over 14 million results. An Amazon search on the same phrase returns nearly 2,300 books and other materials. The bulk of this agile canon will teach your individual teams to deliver higher-quality code, faster. The next layer of books and articles will help you scale these practices to 10, 50, or 500 teams.
But a big and growing challenge is emerging: Once your tech teams have begun to master these new ways of working — improving time to market, continuous learning, responsiveness, and collaboration — they often find that the pace of work they desire is substantially hindered by the lack of agility in HR.

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With agile processes and new technology permeating every corner of our organizations, there is surprisingly little published knowledge about how to integrate HR and other crucial supporting functions into the product development process or how to increase the agility in the ways they work. Agile espouses short cycles, regular reflection, and course correction based on evidence collected during the software production process. Yet HR regularly works in annual (or, at best, quarterly) cycles.
In an agile organization, HR needs to provide the same services it’s always provided — hiring, professional development, performance management — but in ways that are responsive to the ongoing changes in the culture and work style of the organization.
Consider the cautionary example of a large bank I recently worked with. The team I was engaged with had its agile vocabulary down. Team members spoke in a way that would make any outsider believe they were one of the more advanced, enterprise-level agile successes (and, in many ways, they were and continue to be). But although the vocabulary the organization was using had changed, the qualities being evaluated in the performance management system, for every employee, reflected a different mindset. Agile espouses collaboration, customer centricity, team-based culture, and continuous improvement. These ideas and practices, however, were nowhere to be found in the evaluation criteria of the bank’s employees. Instead, the manufacturing-era qualities of individual heroism, delivering product on deadline (whether proven or not), and contribution to high-level, often unaccountable business metrics were the main determinants of employee competence, success, and promotion. Yes, the words they were using every day had changed (which is a good start), but without changing their incentives, they were continuing to work in the same ways they always had.
A success story in building agility at scale comes from ING, which understood that language shifts, and even new incentive structures, were necessary but not sufficient. Agile HR also requires having the right people in place to practice and refine these new processes. To prove this, ING made every employee at its headquarters (nearly 3,500 people) re-interview for their job. Staggeringly, 40% of these people ended up in new positions or parted ways with the company. And this result wasn’t just about their skill sets. In fact, in many cases the employees’ skill sets were still highly relevant. Rather, it was a specific mindset that was lacking — one that could embrace the uncertainty of a software-based organization while seeking out new, better ways to deliver that service. The HR team had to play a major role in understanding what this mindset looked like and how best to determine which staff members possessed it, which could be trained, and which had to be let go.
Here are two essential activities your HR team can do today to help your organization’s agile efforts succeed.
Go and See
To understand what qualities are required to support an agile way of working, your HR team needs to go see these teams at work. If they’re not up and running in your organization, visit other companies that are doing it well. This is exactly what the leadership teams at ING did. They visited digitally native companies like Spotify, Netflix, and Zappos to understand what makes their cultures nimble, responsive, tech-centric, and attractive to top talent. By visiting these teams at work, you get a sense for the collaborative work environment and style of agile teams across the whole organization.
While visiting these teams, talk to them. Interview them to understand what they like about this way of working, what’s frustrating, and what they look for in colleagues, not just in their own discipline but also in other groups with which they collaborate. Read their job requisitions. Notice that while hard skills are important, they can be taught. The crucial soft skills needed for agile environments — curiosity, humility, and collaboration — can only be encouraged and modeled.
Try HR Retrospectives
As we detail our book, Sense & Respond, there are valuable agile practices that, while originally intended for software development teams, must be broadened to the whole organization, including to supporting disciplines like HR. A retrospective is a regularly cadenced (e.g., biweekly) meeting with a team involved in a particular project or initiative to review how things have gone since the last retrospective. Often, the time between “retros” is short, to allow new ideas to be tested and to review their efficacy.
Retrospectives can be held with the HR team alone, as well as with their internal clients. For example, on the hiring side, several recruiters can meet regularly to review job requisition language that seems to attract better candidates, or interview questions that reveal a candidate’s propensity for agile work, and use this shared insight to optimize their process. Colleagues can then take and modify these ideas in their own practice to see whether they’ll have similar successes.
Retros can also be held with hiring managers, particularly after a new “HR event” like a hiring, firing, or performance review cycle. This is a “customer-centric” approach that agile espouses. The point is to understand whether the work HR is doing is delivering the intended value. If not, what can you change in the next cycle to try to improve that? Retrospectives reveal that and help assess the impact of small changes over short periods of time.
Agile offers many benefits to large organizations, but getting the full set of benefits requires going beyond being simply a software development process, to become a mindset for the entire organization. When HR is included and buys into the values of organizational agility, the promise of increased productivity, efficiency, and higher-quality products and services can be fully realized.