Their only shot

August 19, 2013

By Heidi Grant Halvorson via   Article

“Nobel Prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman has written, “For most people, the fear of losing $100 is more intense than the hope of gaining $150.

… it might be more accurate to say that some of us are particularly risk-averse, not because we are neurotic, paranoid, or even lacking in self-confidence, but because we tend to see our goals as opportunities to maintain the status quo and keep things running smoothly. Higgins calls this a prevention focus, associated with a robust aversion to being wide-eyed and optimistic, making mistakes, and taking chances. The rest of us are promotion-focused, see our goals as opportunities to make progress and end up better off.

prevention-focused people work more slowly and deliberately, seek reliability over “coolness” or luxury in products, and prefer conservative investments to higher-yielding but less certain ones. … prevention-focused people are more likely than the promotion-focused to behave ethically and honestly — not because they are more ethical per se, but because they fear that rule-breaking will land them in hot water.

… everything I just told you about prevention-focused people is true when everything is running smoothly — when the status quo is acceptable. … When the prevention-focused feel they are actually in danger of loss — and when they believe that a risky option is the only way to eliminate that loss — it’s a very different story.

… prevention-focused people … will embrace risk when it’s their only shot at returning to status quo. … These are the people who, counter-intuitively, will take the most dangerous risks under the right circumstances.”

Yelling improves performance

August 12, 2013

By Sami Honkonen via   Article

Yelling improves employee performance

“If you yell at resources (e.g. people) when they perform poorly, they will perform better next time.

This is easy to demonstrate. Take a normal 6-sided die and throw it. When you get a 1 or a 2, yell at the die and make it understand how worthless it is. Then throw again, and observe how most of the time the results improve after yelling.

With the dice example it’s easy to understand that there is a correlation, but no causality. … The phenomenon we’re witnessing is called regression to the mean.

Regression to the mean “is the phenomenon that if a variable is extreme on its first measurement, it will tend to be closer to the average on its second measurement”[Wikipedia]. If you yell at people after poor performance, their results are likely to improve. However, they’re likely to improve even if you don’t. Similarly, if their performance is exceptionally high, it’s likely fall. …

The die doesn’t have feelings you can hurt. Instead the variation in outcomes stems from the die itself, or rather, from how it was built. Similarly, the variation of performance in our organisations stems from how they are built. With too many mandatory meetings, too many urgent emails, too much pressure and too much hostility the system actively prevents individuals from succeeding. Yet it’s the individual that is most often blamed.

Yelling at the individual is the same thing as yelling at a die. If your company is performing poorly, it’s the system that needs fixing.

And PS. Don’t call people resources.

(This blog post is based on the work of Kahneman and Deming.)”

Authentic confidence

August 5, 2013

Note: Thanks to Dr. Ray Littlejohn for bringing this article to my attention.  … Wayne

By Dharmesh Shah via   Article

9 Qualities Of Truly Confident People

“1. They take a stand not because they think they are always right… but because they are not afraid to be wrong. …

2. They listen ten times more than they speak. …

3. They duck the spotlight so it shines on others. …

4. They freely ask for help. …

5. They think, “Why not me?” …

6. They don’t put down other people. …

7. They aren’t afraid to look silly…

8. … And they own their mistakes. …

9. They only seek approval from the people who really matter. …”

Getting in the wheelbarrow

August 5, 2013

By Issie Lapowsky via   Article

Master the Art of Appreciation

“… business owners stand to learn a lot about employee engagement from the 19th Century French tightrope walker Charles Blondin. … Elton, co-author of the book All In: How the Best Managers Create a Culture of Belief and Drive Big Results, recounted the story of how Blondin, already famous for being the first tightrope walker to cross Niagara Falls, once asked a roaring crowd of fans if they believed he could cross the Falls again. They all said they did. Then, Blondin asked who believed he could cross the Falls with a wheelbarrow. Again, the crowd declared they believed. Finally, Blondin asked the crowd of supposed believers who among them would ride in the wheelbarrow as he crossed the Falls. Suddenly, the crowd fell silent. 

The moral of the story? ‘There’s a difference between saying you believe and getting in the wheelbarrow,’ Elton said.

Elton, who studied hundreds of thousands of businesses while researching his book, says that one thing all succcessful businesses share is employees who are true believers in the company’s mission. Elton told story after story of employees who deeply believed in–and were actively part of solidifying–their company’s culture. There was the Hard Rock Cafe waitress who joined right in when a customer started dancing on a table in the restaurant. There was the Apple employee who, after accidentally dropping a customer’s already broken iPod on the ground, replaced it with a working iPod at no extra charge. And then there was the Avis rental car agent, who kept the airport location open an extra 45 minutes to wait for a customer whose flight was delayed.

‘When people truly understand and believe in why they do what they do, they do it better,’ Elton said.”

Beyond excuses

July 22, 2013

By Harish Kumar via   Slideshare

The thing you measure

July 22, 2013

By via Seth’s Blog   Article

Set Godin

Measuring without measuring

“Find a goal, make it a number and measure it until it gets better. In most organizations, the thing you measure is the thing that will improve.

Colleges decided that the SAT were a useful shortcut, a way to measure future performance in college. And nervous parents and competitive kids everywhere embraced the metric, and stick with it, even after seeing (again and again) that all the SAT measures is how well you do on the SAT. …

It costs a credit card company (and especially their merchants) a lot of money when fraudulent charges are made, because they often have to eat the cost. So this department of thousands of people works to make the number of fraudulent charges go down at the same time they keep expenses low. Which sounds great until you realize that the easiest way to do this is to flag false positives, annoy honest customers and provide little or no fallback when a mistake is made.

Simple example: I regularly get an automated phone call from the bank with an urgent warning. But even when I answer the phone, the system doesn’t let me ring through to an operator. Instead, I have to write every detail down, then call, wait on hold, prove it’s me, type in all the information, and THEN explain to them that in fact, the charge was mine.

And this department has no incentive to fix this interaction, because ‘annoying’ is not a metric that the bosses have decided to measure. Someone is busy watching one number, but it’s the wrong one. …

Measurement is fabulous. Unless you’re busy measuring what’s easy to measure as opposed to what’s important.”

It’s the big prod

July 22, 2013

By  via   Article

Washington ‘Spends’ More on Tax Breaks Than on Medicare, Defense, or Social Security

“Tax expenditures are funny, They’re not taxes, exactly, because they save us money. They’re not spending, exactly, because the dollars are never actually spent. They’re somewhere in between. So think of it as tax spending.

Or just think of it as the ultimate nudge. The carrot hiding behind the tax code’s big stick, tax spending guides us by making certain behaviors and actions cheaper. We encourage employers to provide health care by taxing wages and not taxing health benefits. We encourage investing by making a dollar earned from dividends cheaper than a dollar earned from a salary.

And as the CBO reports in a new study today, Washington’s tax spending budget — comprised of everything from mortgage deductions to the child tax credit to lower tax rates on capital gains — is so massive, it’s technically larger than Medicare, Defense, or Social Security. The tax spending budget is equal to 1/17th of the US economy.

Like the federal budget, the tax spending budget isn’t all bad or all good. It’s a collage of interests lurking in the shadow of the tax code that represents all factions, including large corporations, small corporations, institutional investors, low-income families, and every slice of America you can name. … It’s the big prod.”


Contemplate your behaviors

July 15, 2013

By  Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic via   Article

Can You Really Improve Your Emotional Intelligence?

“Studies have shown that a high emotional quotient (or EQ) boosts career successentrepreneurial potential, leadership talent,healthrelationship satisfactionhumor, and happiness. …

… if you’ve been told you need to keep your temper under control, show more empathy for others, or be a better listener, what are the odds you can really do it? … Nearly 3,000 scientific articles have been published on EQ …

1. Your level of EQ is firm, but not rigid. Our ability to identify and manage our own and others’ emotions is fairly stable over time …. realistically, long-term improvements will require a great deal of dedication and guidance. …  One good piece of news is that EQ tends to increase with age, even without deliberate interventions. That’s the technical way to say that (most people) mature with age.

2. Good coaching programs do work. … While no program can get someone from 0 to 100%, a well-designed coaching intervention can easily achieve improvements of 25%. … the most coachable element of EQ is interpersonal skills — with average short-term improvements of 50%. …

3) But you can only improve if you get accurate feedback. … Most of us are generally unaware of how others see us — and this especially true for managers. As noted , ‘it is remarkable how many smart, highly motivated, and apparently responsible people rarely pause to contemplate their own behaviors.’

4) Some techniques (and coaches) are more competent than others. … The most effective coaching techniques fall under the realm of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Attempts to enhance psychological flexibility — the ability to accept and deal with (as opposed to avoid) unpleasant situations — are also effective. The most popular (not necessarily the most effective) methods are relaxation and meditation. Contrary to popular belief, interventions designed to enhance self-esteem or confidence are rarely effective and often counterproductive.”

Mind-numbing sedative

June 24, 2013

By Shane Parrish via   Article

The Buffett Formula — How To Get Smarter

“The best thing a human being can do is to help another human being know more.” — Charlie Munger

“Go to bed smarter than when you woke up.” — Charlie Munger

“Most people go though life not really getting any smarter. Why? They simply won’t do the work required. It’s easy to come home, sit on the couch, watch TV and zone out until bed time rolls around. But that’s not really going to help you get smarter.

Sure you can go into the office the next day and discuss the details of last night’s episode of Mad Men or Game of Thrones. Sure you know what happened on Survivor. But that’s not knowledge accumulation, it’s a mind-numbing sedative.

You can acquire knowledge if you want it. In fact there is a simple formula, which if followed is almost certain to make you smarter over time. Simple but not easy. It involves a lot of hard work.

We’ll call it the Buffett formula, named after Warren Buffett and his longtime business partner at Berkshire Hathaway, Charlie Munger. These two are an extraordinary combination of minds. They are also learning machines. …

We can learn a lot from them. They didn’t get smart because they are both billionaires. No, in fact they became billionaires, in part, because they are smart. More importantly, they keep getting smarter. And it turns out that they have a lot to say on the subject.

How to get smarter ….”

Dumbest comments

June 24, 2013

By  via   Article

10 Dumbest Salary Review Comments

“… real-life comments made during real-life salary reviews:

10. ‘Yes, I know you are my best employee and you train all our new employees.  However, I don’t see how that qualifies you for a raise.’

9. ‘That’s right, no raise this year. Maybe next year when you come off that high horse, you’ll get my coffee when I ask you to.’

8. ‘No, I’m not going to send your staff off for training. Those idiots have no idea what they’re doing!’

7. ‘No, we don’t promote family members first. It’s just coincidence.’

6. ‘I’ve got great news. You managed to avoid a salary decrease.’

5. ‘Before you came to my department, you were such a shining star–full of new ideas and enthusiasm. What happened to you?’

4. ‘I don’t care if you worked nights and weekends to meet an impossible deadline.  Around here, hard work doesn’t count, only results.’

3. ‘I don’t know why you are complaining about the small raise. Your wife is working and I know that with both of your salaries, you guys make more than me.’

2. ‘I’m very disappointed in your communication skills. Not once during the year did you ask me to review your shortcomings. Now I’m forced to rate you poorly in all those categories.’

1. ‘This is a salary review. Let’s not focus on the money.'”

Let’s go for a walk

June 24, 2013

By James Gree via   Article

What Steve Jobs Taught Me After I said “No” to Him

“If he felt it was going to be a particularly difficult conversation, he’d take me out for a walk. It was never, ever, a good sign when Steve dropped by and said Hi James, ‘let’s go for a walk.’ …

So what did I learn from Steve Jobs?

I learned that you must pay incredible attention to what someone wants to do when you hire them. If what they want isn’t exactly what the company needs, you shouldn’t hire them, no matter how smart, driven, or successful they are. … If someone isn’t working out in the position you hired him or her for, it rarely turns around. If the fit is wrong, as a leader you should end it quickly, but not aggressively, and don’t make it about the person. I remember when I walked out the door he said, “Life is long and I’m sure our paths will cross again.” And sure enough, Steve and I stayed in touch. …

Building relationships first and doing business second is another lesson I learned from working with Steve. When you are going into a new situation, build relationships with people before anything else. Make sure everyone is on board before you make decisions or you will alienate people (sometimes your best ones) in the process.”

The certain shortcut

June 17, 2013

By Seth Godin via   Article

Set Godin“The shortcut that’s sure to work, every time:

Take the long way.

Do the hard work, consistently and with generosity and transparency.

And then you won’t waste time doing it over.”

Stop being so average

June 10, 2013

By  via Management Excellence Blog   Article

8 Ideas to Kick Mediocrity to the Curb in Pursuit of Extraordinary:

1. Start with the belief that your attitude and your actions will make a difference. In a world where mediocre is the norm, your extraordinary effort to help, serve, lead, please, thank, teach, manage, fix and engage will all be noticed. Not by everyone, but by many of us.

2. If your team works on the phone, teach them to lead with their smiles. Customers hear smiles over the phone and that helps us forget that we just navigated a 42-step phone-tree and a 36-minute wait …

3. If your team works in front of customers teach them to lead with direct eye contact and a smile. … the only downside of your employees smiling and making eye contact will be the fainting and momentary loss of equilibrium of your customers. …

4. Extraordinary starts with the behaviors you model you set as a manager. Define “extraordinary” in your environment and then teach and model the behaviors. If you don’t, who will? …

6. Remember, extraordinary isn’t just for external customers. Model extraordinary across employee groups and watch it grow. …

8. Make hiring for extraordinary a religion. … Your challenge is to identify those underlying values and behaviors that are so critical to transcending mediocrity in your world and then recruit and hire for those items. Few of us would pass Southwest Airlines’ rigorous filters for fun and love of people and Zappos is so committed to getting just the right people, the firm offers new employees a cash incentive to leave once they’ve completed the firm’s training program. In Zappos’ case, it’s cheaper and more productive to pay someone who isn’t feeling the firm’s definition of ‘extraordinary’ to leave than to retain them and have them poison the well.)”

Spot a bad boss

June 3, 2013

By Ben Lichtenwalner via   Article

Bad Boss vs. Good Leader Image

1. Role of the Team: The Bad Boss expects the team to serve them. The Good Leader serves the team.

2. Command vs. Participate: Bad Bosses command others to do what they are no longer willing to do themselves. Good Leaders never ask from the team, what they are unwilling to do themselves.

3. Role of the Mission: Bad Bosses sit on top of the mission. They use the mission to promote themselves. In contrast, Good Leaders focus on the mission for the mission’s sake.

4. Expectations of Self: Bad Bosses expect to reap rewards from the hard work that got them to their position. The Good Leader understands the workload only increases as they progress.”

Champs and chumps

June 3, 2013

By Mark Crowley via   Article

Extreme Giver Adam Grant Lends Us His Advice on Becoming a More Generous Leader

The Common Denominators Of The Uber-Successful

successful people shared three things in common: motivation, ability, and opportunity. … ‘there’s a critical yet often neglected fourth ingredient that profoundly influences high achievement: how one approaches interactions with other people.’ …

Takers: Takers like to get more than they give. …

Matchers: The majority of us are matchers, and we generally give to others in expectation our favors will be returned. …

Givers: Givers want to help others independent of an easily foreseeable payback. …

which of these reciprocity styles proves more costly and ‘sinks people to the bottom of the success ladder?’ … the answer is the givers. Going out of their way to help people prevents them from getting their own work done.

… If givers are most likely not to succeed, who’s most likely to land at the very top? … it’s the givers again. ‘Across occupations, if you examine the link between reciprocity styles and success, the givers are more likely to become champs–not only chumps.’

research proves that the big winners in our society, across all fields and occupations, are those … who take determined action to achieve their own ambitious goals while routinely contributing to the success of others.”


Build the airplane in the air

May 27, 2013

By by Dan Rockwell via Leadership Freak Blog   Article

When Teammates Collide

“Forward-focused teammates clash with foot-draggers. 

My approach to an opportunity is grab it and go. Planning isn’t high on my list. I know it’s important but can’t we plan as we go. Just do something is my motto. Build the airplane in the air. “Just do something people” drive planners crazy. …

Heidi Grant Halvorson and E. Tory Higgins explain motivational collisions in their new book, “Focus.” They explain how some tend to promote and others prevent.

Promoters play to win.
Preventers play not to lose.

Promoters tend toward big ideas.
Preventers are great with details.


“For a promotion-focused person, what’s really “bad” is a nongain: a chance not taken, a reward unearned, a failure to advance… But for the prevention-focused, the ultimate “bad” is a loss you failed to stop; a mistake made, a punishment received, a danger you failed to avoid.”


Everyone, according to Halvorson and Higgins, has both motivations and, depending on the context, brings them out.”



One’s principles

May 27, 2013

It is easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them.”

– Alfred Adler,
Austrian medical doctor and psychotherapist

The benefits of being stupid

May 20, 2013

By Megan Hustad via   Article

The benefits of being stupid at work

“Superior intelligence often comes with hidden costs. Say you’re a person for whom schoolwork was always effortless. You may be more likely to become frustrated when a job doesn’t yield readily to effort.

“I often think that having had to work harder for good grades would have taught me much earlier that not everything worth doing comes easily — and not being immediately good at something doesn’t mean that mastery can’t come with hard work,” says Sara Grace, host of Ferrazzi Greenlight’s “Social Capitalist” podcast. …

The trick is not to play dumb, exactly, but rather to learn when to assert your superior intelligence and when to hide your light under a bushel. (And mix metaphors.) In other words, there’s being terrifically clever, and there’s making sure everyone realizes you’re terrifically clever. Those of us who don’t feel the urge to make sure everyone in the room understands, at every available opportunity, just how smart we are might do best of all. …

If you’re not worried about being perceived as a bit slow, you can ask better questions — better in the sense that they will likely yield more illuminating answers.”

The $1.80 beer lesson

May 20, 2013

By:  via   Article

The Invaluable $1.80 Beer Lesson on Selling Products and Buying Habits

The great bear experiment

People were offered two beers–a premium one at $2.50 and a bargain beer for $1.80. … About 80 percent chose the more expensive one.

In the next experiment, an even cheaper option joined the first two–a beer for just $1.60. … 80 percent of people nabbed what became the middle option–at $1.80–and the rest bought the $2.50 offering.

Then the third take happened: the $1.60 beer was switched out for one of those ultra-premium offerings at a cool $3.40. … most people chose the $2.50 option, relatively few chose the low-cost $1.80 option, and about 10 percent nabbed the most expensive option.

…  Shifting the options influenced buyer behavior. The experiment confirms an old sales heuristic: if you offer different price points, people will choose between the plans rather than whether to buy the product or not. …

… The most obvious application would be to incorporate the three-way price-plan into your product … use the strategy on your friends and colleagues. … say you want to grab lunch with your work BFF but you don’t want to boss them into going to your favorite Cuban place–you’d rather allow them to arrive to that decision on their own.

… suggest three lunch spots: cheap and average Italian, reasonably priced and conveniently located Cuban, or distant and expensive Chinese. So instead of contemplating the worthiness of Cuban in and of itself, your BFF is comparing it to the crap Italian and the too-fancy Chinese, which should tip the lunch-scales in your favor–if that beer experiment was any indication.”

Be afraid

May 20, 2013

By Mike Shipulski via   Article

What They Didn’t Teach Me in Engineering School

“The technical stuff is the easy part. Technical systems respond predictably, but people don’t. …

Engineering analysis can win minds, but not hearts. And hearts govern minds. …

What people believe is far more powerful than what they think. …

All technical systems are really human systems masquerading as technical systems.

If you let it, fear dominates. Be afraid and do it anyway.”

Optimists lose (most of the time)

May 13, 2013

By  via   Article

A New Way to Look at Optimism’s Role in Success

“General Stockdale was held captive for eight years during the Vietnam War. After being tortured 22 times and losing many friends in prison, he eventually made it out alive. A few decades later, Jim Collins, author of the famous book Good to Great interviewed Stockdale about his experiences as a prisoner of war. … Collins asked: ‘Who didn’t make it out alive?’

Stockdale’s answer was blunt: ‘Oh, that’s easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas …  We’re going to be out by Easter’ … then Thanksgiving … then … Christmas again … they died of a broken heart.’

… I had always considered myself an optimist, as anyone out there striving for greatness might. But was I setting myself up for failure?

The Stockdale paradox: Faith trumps optimism

There is a very clear line between keeping faith and plain optimism that everything will be okay. The last words that Stockdale shared with Collins stress that more than anything else: ‘You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end–which you can never afford to lose–with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.’

… It’s a small change in thinking that made huge difference … If you have faith that you will eventually succeed, by changing and trying over and over, without being frustrated after each individual setback, that’s when things work out. Then the fact that optimists lose (most of the time) isn’t so bleak, after all.”

Takers, Matchers, Givers

May 13, 2013

By  via   Article

The Three Things It Takes to Be Wildly Successful

” … research shows … our relationships play an even more important part in an individual’s success. We need to operate in a much more interdependent manner. …

  • Project-based work is on the rise. … Having strong interpersonal skills has a huge impact on the results the team is able to achieve.
  • Shift to a knowledge and service economy. Having a “service mentality” to meet client/customer needs … You have to understand and CARE about their needs.
  • The rise of online social networks. You and your reputation is out there for the world to see. …

those who put the interests of the team (others) first are the ones who will achieve long-term success.

“Takers” strive to get as much as possible from others and “Matchers” aim to trade evenly. “Givers” are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return. … behave more like a Giver …

  1. Be willing to give more than you receive. It could be something as simple as sharing an article …
  2. Find your “helping” speciality. … a networking master? Invite people to join you at an event or make introductions.
  3. make an unpopular task … more fun, interesting or meaningful. How about playing music while filing or putting together binders? …

… Helping others does ultimately serve you best and sets you up for a wildly successful life. Amen to that sista!”

The Power of Prayer

April 22, 2013

By  via Article

The Power of Prayer for Business

“You don’t need to be a religious fanatic or even believe in a particular god to use prayer effectively in business. Here are some basic components:

1. Be Thankful

Whether it’s God, Buddha, Mother Earth, Allah, Ganesh, the Force or even just the universe around you, express your gratitude for the many wonders of the world and the fact that you get to enjoy them every day.

2. Be Humble

Acknowledge that no matter how successful you are or how many people you employ, you are a small part of something bigger. Accept that your role has impact and requires commitment to make the world a better place.

3. Be Hopeful

…  recognize that the universe is not Santa Claus. Ask for that which you are ready to be worthy and deserving.

4. Be Open

So often what I think I want turns out not to be what I really need. … Express that you are open and ready to accept whatever comes and make the most of it.”


April 15, 2013

“It is always the secure who are humble.” — G.K. Chesterton, British writer

Ego depletion

April 15, 2013



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