“Happiness is a virtue, not its reward.”
– Baruch Spinoza, Dutch philosopher
“Happiness is a virtue, not its reward.”
– Baruch Spinoza, Dutch philosopher
“The brighter you are, the more you have to learn.”
– Don Herold, American humorist
A fascinating brain test that takes just 30 seconds
“What kind of person are you? Are you creative and chaotic or logical and detailed? Are you some kind of mixture? You can find out for sure with this fun and easy quiz!
The left side of your brain controls the right side of your body along with language, strategy, rules, logic, details and rationality. The right side of your brain controls the left side of your body and creativity, chaos, intuition, fantasy, images and curiosity.
Find out which side of your brain is the dominant side with 10 easy questions. There are no wrong answers and you can retake the test as many times as you like.
How well did you score? Are you one-side dominant or did you come out equal?
20 Ways to Give Negative Feedback
“Growth always hurts. But, stagnation is death. Growth requires feedback. Successful leaders are great at giving feedback.
… Done well, negative feedback is a gift. Done poorly, it devalues, demotivates, and discourages. …
Optimism is essential when giving negative feedback. Avoid giving feedback until you believe growth is possible. If growth isn’t possible, you’re on the path to terminate them or live with the problem.”
Culture and selfishness
“One person selfishly drops a piece of litter on the ground, the other selfishly picks it up.
Everything we do is done because it’s better than not doing it. “Better” is the complicated term. Better might mean, “gives me physical pleasure right now,” for some people, while better might mean, “the story I tell myself about the contribution I just made gives me joy and satisfaction.”
Society benefits when people selfishly choose the long view and the generous view. The heroes we look up to are those that sacrificed to build schools, to overcome evil, to connect and lead–even though it didn’t necessarily help them in the short run.
Culture, then, provides the bridge between childish, naive instincts to only do what feels good now, to only help ourselves and maybe our kids. Culture makes it too socially expensive to brag about not giving money to charity or, to pick an absurd example, to kill the infirm and the less fortunate. We reduce sociopathic behavior by establishing norms and rewarding those that contribute while shunning and punishing those that don’t.
Marketers have a huge role in this, because we are the amplified culture creators. When we sell people on quick satisfaction now, is it any wonder that people buy it? …
Sure, we’re all selfish, but our culture rewards those who take their selfishness to the long-term, to the narrative of leader and caretaker and gardener, not merely self-interested consumer.”
“I received this email recently:
Ron, a question for you.
If you had to pass one and only one leadership principle to others leaders, What would that one principle be and why that one?
That’s a hard question, but I thought for a minute and came to a thought. Here’s my reply:
It’s not about you.
Because, leadership is about something bigger than you.
If ever we begin to believe its about us, or our agenda, or our plan…or even more dangerous…our people…we will become controlling, prideful and eventually ineffective.”
For Engineering Students, a Lesson in Caring?
“As part of their education, engineering students learn the profession’s code of ethics, which includes taking seriously the safety, health, and welfare of the public. However, it appears that there is something about engineering education that results in students becoming more cynical and less concerned with public policy and social engagement issues.
Results showed that the students left college less concerned about public welfare than when they entered.
‘The way many people think about the engineering profession as separate from social, political, and emotional realms is not an accurate assessment,’ Cech says. ’People have emotional and social reactions to engineered products all the time, and those products shape people’s lives in deep ways; so it stands to reason that it is important for engineers to be conscious of broader ethical and social issues related to technology.’
This ‘culture of disengagement’ is rooted in how engineering education frames engineering problem-solving. ’Issues that are nontechnical in nature are often perceived as irrelevant to the problem-solving process,’ Cech says. ’There seems to be very little time or space in engineering curricula for nontechnical conversations about how particular designs may reproduce inequality—for example, debating whether to make a computer faster, more technologically savvy and expensive versus making it less sophisticated and more accessible for customers.’
Ignoring these issues does a disservice to students because practicing engineers are required to address social welfare concerns on a regular basis, even if it involves a conflict of interest or whistleblowing, Cech says. ’If students are not prepared to think through these issues of public welfare, then we might say they are not fully prepared to enter the engineering practice.’”
Make It Your Job
“When you’re feeling resentful or angry about something, it’s worth stopping to consider why.
This morning, I woke up to a dirty kitchen, and as I do most mornings, I started cleaning it up. Washing dishes, wiping counters, putting dishes away, and so on. I do this a lot. And I found myself feeling resentful. Why didn’t other people clean this up? Why am I the one who has to clean it up all the time? And I watched my resentment.
And I saw at its root a feeling of entitlement, that everyone should do things the way I want them to do it. A feeling of wanting to control others. A feeling that others should be what I want them to be. I’m at the center of the universe, and everyone else is a supporting character in my story.
Of course, that’s not true. They are their own people, and don’t want to be controlled, and want to live how they want to live. I’m only a supporting character in their lives. So I could have tried to force them to act my way. Better: I could teach them to clean up after themselves, to pitch in and be good members of our family.
But what I did instead this morning is assumed that I am a servant, and that it is my job to clean the kitchen. It’s my job to serve my family. The effect is that I released the idea that they should serve me, that they should do things my way. And instead I did the work without complaint, lovingly in the service of my loved ones.
I’ll still teach them, because that’s my job too, to serve them by showing them the best ways to live life. But I won’t do it with the resentment, only with the love.”
“Never underestimate the difficulty of changing false beliefs by facts.” ~ Harvard economist Henry Rosovsky
The Best Job Interview Question Ever
“As a young manager working for a large hotel chain, Bill Keena was tasked with interviewing a group of MBA students for potential jobs. The HR leader handed him a list of questions to ask the fresh-faced recruits.
Bill cleared his throat. ‘Um, I know I’m new at this, but …’ ‘Yes?’ the HR leader asked. ‘I think they’ve practiced the answers to all of these questions.’ ‘What would you ask then?’ the HR person wondered, not amused. ‘I’d ask, ‘How will you motivate our dishwashers.’
It’s a brilliant question, and one that the large hotel chain still uses today. According to Bill, who is now the general manager of the Rivers Casino near Chicago, there is only one correct answer: When the dishes are stacked high, as a manager you need to roll up your sleeves and start washing them, too. (For the record, only one MBA student got the answer right during Bill’s interviews that day and he was a former military officer.)
As anyone who’s worked in the hospitality industry knows, washing dishes isn’t the most glamorous job out there. Rinsing half-eaten chunks of food into a sink full of a cat food-like concoction has little appeal for most people. But say you’re the one working the sink. You’re hot, sweaty, and your boss walks by in his suit and tie and offers a glib ‘keep up the good work, buddy.’ You’d probably think that’s about as helpful the crusty cheese stuck to the plate.
But what if your boss walked up and said, ‘Hey, it looks like you’ve got a ton going on. Let me lend you a hand.’ There would simply be nothing more motivating. And that’s exactly the point: If we dig in and help rather than mutter ‘good job,’ we’ll build a sense of respect and engagement. So remember, no natter what you do, find a way to help out to strengthen your culture.”
“There is lots of talk about systems thinking. The talk sounds a little like this:
… there is a big problem with systems thinking, it is hard to see a system. So instead of managing the system… We manage the things we can see
Imagine a used car sales man who fails to make the sale. We can see the salesman, and we can see his sales figures, so we:
We manage the salesman and we manage his sales figures. We manage the things we can see… But we ignore the things we can’t … If we went and looked we might just find out that:
Are these just excuses? Or are they the reasons why he never sells a car? I don’t know. I do know that the only way to really find out is to go and look. It is hard to manage something if you don’t see it.”
The Signs of a Leader’s Empathy Deficit Disorder
“The relationship between power and focus shows up starkly in interactions as simple as two strangers meeting for the first time. In just five minutes of conversation, the person of higher social status generally gives fewer indicators of attention, like eye contact and nods than does the one who holds less social power. This attention gap has even surfaced even among college students from wealthier and poorer families. …
When attention flows along power lines, empathy also takes a hit. When strangers told each other about divorces or other painful moments in their lives, there was more empathy expressed by the less powerful person. Another measure of empathy – the accuracy with which we can tell a person’s feelings from clues like facial expression – also turns out to differ, with lower status people more skilled than those of higher positions.
This fact of social life poses a danger for leaders – after all, the most effective leaders are outstanding at abilities that build on empathy, like persuasion and influence, motivating and listening, teamwork and collaboration.
There are three kinds of empathy. First, cognitive, where you sense how the other person thinks about the world, which means you can put what you have to say in terms they will understand. Second, emotional, where you instantly resonate with how the person feels. And third, empathic concern, where you express the ways you care about the person by helping with what you sense they need.”
“The year my husband was born (1953), only 5% of Americans preferred a female boss. That number has climbed to 23%, according to a new Gallup survey. The proportion of people who prefer to work for men fell precipitously, from two-thirds in 1953 to about one-third today.
Perhaps even more important is the sharp rise in Americans who expressed no preference, even when cued to care. Gallup’s question asked, “If you were taking a new job and had your choice of boss, would you prefer a man or a woman?” Only 25% of Americans expressed no preference in 1953 but today it’s 41%. More good news: more people judge their bosses not by their gender, but as people. This is more likely to be true the higher the level of the job. Only 36% of those with high school or less, but 46% of those postgraduate degrees, expressed no preference. …
Once we scratch the surface, though, the news is nastier. Americans who currently work for men are twice as likely to prefer to do so. Only 16% of Republicans prefer a woman boss. American women still face a steep uphill climb, something the pipeline won’t fix: young people (18 to 34) aremore likely to want a male boss and less likely to express no preference than Americans aged 35 to 54.
Most striking is that a much higher percentage (40%) of women than men (29%) prefer to work for a man. Women also are more likely than men to prefer to work for a woman: 27% of women versus only 18% of men.”
Ready to Finally, Really Think Outside the Box? First, Look Inside
“Let’s do a quick experiment: You’re sitting at a table in a psychology lab. A researcher hands you a small box full of stuff: matches, tacks, and a candle. Your job, he says, is to stick the candle to the wall beside you, but not allow the wax to drip down onto your table and make a mess. As you take the objects out of the box, you think to yourself, What do I do?
Many people try to tack the candle to the wall–why not? But that doesn’t quite work, since you still have that dripping to contend with. Alternatively, you could melt the candle a bit, smear some wax on the wall, and attempt to stick the candle to the wall that way–but that still doesn’t work because, again, you’re going to get wax all over the place. So what’s the solution?
Remember the box that all the stuff came in? Let’s make use of it. While when we received the box, it was functioning as a container, that’s not the only function it can have; rather, we can use the same box in a novel way–as a shelf to be tacked to the wall, so the candle may stand securely and burn majestically, with nary a drip of wax to fall below. …
… the Candle Problem, as it’s come to be known, illustratesfunctional fixedness. As io9 writer Esther Inglis-Arkell notes:
Functional fixedness … was a person’s inability to see an object as itself, free of the meaning it has in the greater scheme of things.
What the Candle Problem illuminates is that it’s quite difficult to free an object from the context within which we receive it: since the box came to us holding the matches, candle, and tacks, we think of it only as a container.”
Performance Management and the Pony Express
“We know how great managers manage. They define very clearly the outcomes they want, and then they get to know the person in as much detail as possible to discover the best way to help this person achieve the outcomes. Whether you call this an individualized approach, a strengths-based approach, or just common sense, it’s what great managers do.
This is not what our current performance management systems do. They ignore the person and instead tell the manager to rate the person on a disembodied list of strengths and skills, often called competencies, and then to teach the person how to acquire the competencies she lacks. This is hard, and not just the rating part. The teaching part is supremely tricky — after all, what is the best way to help someone learn how to be a better ‘strategic thinker’ or to display ‘learning agility?’ …
… the chief problem with all of this is that it is not what the best managers actually do. They don’t look past the real person to a list of theoretical competencies. Instead the person, with her unique mix of strengths and skills, is their singular focus. … the person’s messy uniqueness is the very raw material they must mold, shape, and focus in order to create the performance they want. Cloaking it with a generic list of competencies is inherently counter-productive.
Some say that we need to rate people on their competencies because this creates ‘differentiation,’ a necessary practice of great companies. … True differentiation means focusing on the individual — understanding the strengths of each individual, setting the right expectations for each individual, recognizing the individual, putting the right career plan together for the individual. This is what the best managers do today.”
How the Most Productive People Nail Networking Without Being Annoying
“It’s tough to sum up Nilofer Merchant in just a few sentences because she’s accomplished so much. The “Jane Bond of Innovation” has helped launch more than 100 products, worked for the likes of Apple and Autodesk, written two books, givenTED talks and she just received a Thinkers50 Award for “Future Thinker.” So it’s no surprise that her personal network numbers in the thousands. Here’s how she manages to maintain productive relationships–and how she keeps making new ones. ….
SHE’S A: CONNECTOR
Take our quiz to find out if you’re a Connector too.”
“It is necessary for us to learn from others’ mistakes. You will not live long enough to make them all yourself.”
– Hyman Rickover, American admiral
Stop Worrying About Making the Right Decision
“… a comment made by Scott McNealy — a co-founder of Sun Microsystems and its CEO for 22 years — during a lecture I attended while I was in business school at Stanford: He was asked how he made decisions and responded by saying, in effect, It’s important to make good decisions. But I spend much less time and energy worrying about ‘making the right decision’ and much more time and energy ensuring that any decision I make turns out right.
I’m paraphrasing, but my memory of this comment is vivid, and his point was crystal clear. Before we make any decision — particularly one that will be difficult to undo — we’re understandablyanxious and focused on identifying the ‘best’ option because of the risk of being ‘wrong.’ But a by-product of that mindset is that we overemphasize the moment of choice and lose sight of everything that follows. Merely selecting the ‘best’ option doesn’t guarantee that things will turn out well in the long run, just as making a sub-optimal choice doesn’t doom us to failure or unhappiness. It’s what happens next (and in the days, months, and years that follow) that ultimately determines whether a given decision was ‘right.’”
The Rise of People Acting Like Businesses
“Earlier this year, NFL running back Arian Foster was planning on selling shares of himself. Under the terms of the deal he would earn $10 million in exchange for a 20 percent share of his future earnings. Foster’s initial public offering was postponed when Foster suffered a season-ending injury.
There are now a handful of companies offering what are called ‘human capital contracts or ‘income-share arrangements’ to normal people. These contracts don’t involve actual stocks, but they have stocklike characteristics. People who sign up for these programs agree to give a percentage of their income to their financial backers for a period of several years, in exchange for a one-time cash infusion. It’s a sort of Kickstarter for people, a crowd-funding platform that provides backers with monthly royalty checks instead of signed T-shirts.
Take Upstart for example. Individuals share there story and experience on the site, along with their future goals and intended use of an investment — anything from starting a craft beer business to paying off student loans. Then Upstart uses a statistical model to predict the individual’s future earnings and determine a funding rate that the individual can raise for every 1 percent of income they share with backers. Individuals are then able to seek out cash infusions from backers in exchange for as much as seven percent of their annual income for five to 10 years.” - Read more: New York
Booknotes: 16 quotes from Die Empty
“‘Don’t go to your grave with your best work inside of you.’ In another remarkable book, Die Empty, Todd Henry encourages you to ‘embrace the importance of now and refuse to allow the lull of comfort fear, familiarity, and ego to prevent you from taking action on your ambitions.’ Eventually all of our tomorrows will be gone, is how we choose to spend our time today is significant. Here are some ideas from Die Empty to reflect on:
“… the Second Chance Programme is a group that raises money to help reduce homelessness among women …. It’s achieved impressive results since being founded in 2001, and is run by a committee of about ten people. In the early days, a management consultant used the familiar chiefs/Indians line to predict they’d fail. This kind of thinking assumes:
… But maybe this kind of structure only works for not-for-profits?
… Valve is a gaming company that makes Half Life, Portal and many other popular games. Their software is proprietary. And they are famous for not having bosses at all. And 37Signals has a structure that looks a lot like Automattic’s, while building software that enables distributed collaboration, such as Basecamp and Ruby on Rails. …
Gore is one of the most successful firms in the world. They have more than 10,000 employees, with basically three levels in their organizational hierarchy. There is the CEO (elected democratically), a handful of functional heads, and everyone else. All decision-making is done through self-managing teams of 8-12 people: hiring, pay, which projects to work on, everything. Rather than relying on a command-and-control structure, current CEO Terri Kelly says:
‘It’s far better to rely upon a broad base of individuals and leaders who share a common set of values and feel personal ownership for the overall success of the organization. These responsible and empowered individuals will serve as much better watchdogs than any single, dominant leader or bureaucratic structure.’”
Filing for a Patent Versus Keeping Your Invention a Trade Secret
“Why do some companies choose to patent their innovation while others choose to hide it? Compare the paradigmatic early American trade secret – the one and only recipe for Coca Cola – to the paradigmatic patent – the telephone. Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone in 1876 as United States Patent No. 174,465, the most valuable patent in history.
Ten years later, in 1886, Dr. John Pemberton created what is now the world’s most famous trade secret: the Coca-Cola formula.Insiders know it as Merchandise 7X. No single contractor has the full recipe; each is tasked to prepare only parts of the classic blend. The company has kept the secret for over a century by purportedly storing it in a vault in downtown Atlanta, and restricting access to only a handful of executives. Coca Cola could have patented the formula, but that would only give the company twenty years of exclusivity rights to their classic taste. Instead the formula is locked up, literally and indefinitely.
A well-kept trade secret could theoretically last forever. But there is a risk. Unlike with patents, it is perfectly legal to reverse engineer and copy a trade secret. A patent lasts only 20 years, but during that period, the protection is far stronger: independent invention is no defense in a patent suit. …
Patents and trade secrets present opposing choices. Trade secrets derive their legal protection from their inherently secret nature. Patents, by contrast, can only be protected through public disclosure. In fact, a patent will be invalidated if the inventor refrains from describing important details. This requirement, called enablement, requires a patentee to disclose enough information for others to use the invention after the patent has expired.”
A man always has two reasons for doing anything: a good reason and the real reason.” – J.P. Morgan, American financier
The Surprising Reason to Set Extremely Short Deadlines
“… the research of organizational psychologists. Work, they say, is “elastic,” meaning that it stretches and shrinks to fit the time allotted. This has fascinating outcomes in meetings: Northwestern management professor and Creative Conspiracy author Leigh Thompson has told us about how people get the most value out of their meetings in the first portion: as in you’ll be getting as equivalent quality of ideas in a 20-minute meeting as you would in a two-hour one.
There’s even a law for this: Parkinson’s Law–work expands to fill the time available for its completion–which originated in an impressively grumpy Economist column from 1955. … the outcoume of Parkinson’s law is that if you give yourself a week to work on a two-hour task, then the task with grow in complexity as to fill that week–perhaps not with more work, but more anxiety about the work.”
Fight Like You’re Right, Listen Like You’re Wrong and Other Keys to Great Management
“A psychology study at UC Berkeley broke students into groups of three, with one person chosen to be the leader of a project. At some point, the researchers would bring in a plate of four cookies.
‘We all know the social norm is not to take the last cookie,’ says Robert Sutton, management expert at Stanford’s School of Engineering. ‘But the research showed consistently that the person in power would take that fourth cookie. They even tended to eat with their mouths open and leave more crumbs. And this is just in the laboratory. Imagine that you’re a CEO and everywhere you go you’re empowered, and everyone is kissing your ass. You can start to see why it’s so hard to be good.’”