More on taxes than food and clothes combined

October 30, 2017

By  via   Article

Americans Spent More on Taxes Than Food, Clothes in 2016

“Americans on average spent more of their 2016 income on taxes than they did on food and clothing combined.

The fact was revealed in data released earlier this week by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, CNS News reported. The data was collected by the Census Bureau.

The BLS numbers show that the average ‘consumer unit’—each financially independent family—spent $10,489 for federal, state, and local taxes compared to spending $1,803 on clothing and $7,203 on food.

The new data also revealed that taxes paid by Americans increased from 2013 to 2016. Personal taxes, on average, went from $7,423 for a consumer unit up to $10,489. That is a 41 percent increase for combined local, state, and federal taxes. …

Despite the amount Americans spend on taxes, the U.S. federal government has run a deficit nearly every fiscal year since 1970. The current national debt is approximately $20 trillion.”

Smarter, faster decisions

October 30, 2017

By Leah Fessler via   Article

Want to make smarter, faster decisions? Add this third element to your pro-con list

“Pro-con lists can be helpful, no doubt. But they often feel like a zero-sum game—with the extensive costs and benefits canceling each other out. As it turns out, there’s a way to upgrade your pro-con list so that you can make smarter, faster decisions. It involves adding a third element: Mitigations.

… When facing a difficult decision with two or more possible solutions … write exhaustive lists of the potential costs and benefits for each solution. Then … write ‘mitigations’ for each solution. ‘… how to soften, allay, or distribute the risks associated with each of the options’ … this exercise forces you and everyone to think through what it would really be like if that option were selected.’

Basically, mitigations are the compromises a group of people would make if solution A wins, to ensure that people’s concerns over solution A are addressed and that they don’t lose out on all the benefits of solution B. For example, Shklarski told First Round about his team’s debate over whether their professional titles should be changed to indicate seniority, or whether everyone should just be ‘engineers.’

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Each solution had upsides:

  • Seniority titles provide clarity on CVs, and can help in hiring.
  • Flat-titles promote equality, and diffuse tension and drama between peers.

And downsides:

  • Seniority titles pull rank into technical discussions, and amp ego and politics.
  • Flat-titles invite less recognition, and hurt people’s future marketability, as their CVs are less clear.

Mitigations made the negotiation far less divisive. For example, if the company kept the flat titles, they decided that they would find other ways to recognize and demonstrate employees’ individual contributions. And if they switched to titles that reflected seniority, they would clarify that seniority didn’t give employees freedom to pull rank on each other during debates.”

Get people to trust you

October 30, 2017

By Stacey Hanke via   Article

Research Shows Doing This One Easy Thing Is the Best Way to Get People to Trust You

“We sprint through our day, shooting off email after email, running from meeting to meeting and posting messages via social media, hoping all of these messages stick and influence action. While living in a world of noise where we receive messages 24/7, it is easy to overlook the importance of connecting, engaging and building trust with our listeners to be influential Monday to Monday.

It is impossible to influence others to take action without building trust. Your listeners need to be certain that you truly care about what is important to them before they will follow your lead. This is accomplished through eye connection.

Eye connection goes beyond eye contact. Instead, look at an individual’s eyes and focus 100 percent on that person for a full sentence. When speaking in a group — even to a large audience — you continue eye connection by looking at one individual’s eyes for a full sentence before moving on to the next person for a full sentence. You only speak when you see eyes. No eyes, no talk. (Now, that’s tweetable!)

Every time you look away from your listener, pause. If you continue to talk when you look away, you disconnect with your listeners. When you spend most of your time not looking at your listeners, you cannot read them. This prevents you from adapting your message to their needs. Once you try eye connection, you will understand the huge difference between scanning and connecting for a full sentence.

Eye connection is the primary delivery skill that builds trust. Scanning your listeners or looking away mid-sentence creates the perception that you are untrustworthy. …

Maintaining eye connection signals to listeners that you are 100 percent focused on them and their needs. No matter how busy you are, the reputation you have built communicates to others that you care and are interested in their needs. When you are focused with your eyes, you are focused in your thoughts.

Eye connection is the only delivery skill that conveys trust and believability, research has found. Without this influence skill, you increase the risk of not creating or maintaining a relationship with your listeners. If they do not trust you as a partner, leader or motivator, they will never be influenced to take action based on your message.”

Proving yourself right

October 30, 2017

By Shane Parrish via   Article

The Wrong Side of Right

“One big mistake I see people make over and over is focusing on proving themselves right, instead of focusing on achieving the best outcome.

People who are working to prove themselves right will work hard finding evidence for why they’re right. They’ll go to the ends of the earth to disagree with someone who has another idea. Everything becomes about their being right.

These otherwise well-intentioned people are making the same costly mistake that I did.

One of the biggest differences between running a company and working for a company is how I think about outcomes.

As a knowledge worker employed by someone else, I wanted to be right. I saw being right as how I proved my worth. The best outcome was my being right. Because …

If I wasn’t right, then what was I? Wrong?

But … I couldn’t be wrong. My ego wouldn’t let me.

Other people? They could be wrong. But not me.

If I was wrong, then what was I?

For the longest time, I thought that if the winning idea wasn’t my idea, then I’d be nothing. I thought no one would see me as valuable. No one would see me as insightful. People would think I wasn’t adding value. And worse, I’d see myself as not contributing.

I’ve never been so wrong.

I had so much of my identity wrapped up in being right that I was blind to how the world really works.

At Farnam Street, one of our principles is that we work with the world as it really is, not as we want it to be. My desire to be right reflected how I wanted the world to work, not how it actually worked.

The most important lesson I’ve learned from running a company is that the more I give up trying to be right, the better the outcomes get for everyone. I don’t care who gets the credit. I care about creating the best win-win outcomes I can.”

2,000 chocolate bars

October 23, 2017

By Melanie Curtin via   Article 

Neuroscience Says Doing This 1 Thing Makes You Just as Happy as Eating 2,000 chocolate bars

“Wanting to be happier is a universal trait. It’s rare to find a person whose reply to, ‘How would you like to feel today?’ is, ‘Morose, please.’

The scientific study of happiness (aka positive psychology) has mushroomed over the last two decades. Major research institutions have taken on substantial and often thought-provoking forays into the joy of joy … researchers used electromagnetic brain scans and heart-rate monitors to generate what they called ‘mood-boosting values’ for different stimuli. In other words, they had participants do, look at, or listen to different things, and measured how happy it made them.

One thing trumped all else. It emerged as giving participants the equivalent level of brain stimulation as up to 2,000 chocolate bars. It was just as stimulating as receiving up to $25,000. What was this magic stimulus? A smile.

Smiling, as it turns out, has truly remarkable effects. First, doing it actually makes you feel good even if you’re not feeling good in the moment. A 2009 fMRI study out of Echnische Universität in Munich demonstrated conclusively that the brain’s happiness circuitry is activated when you smile (regardless of your current mood). If you’re down, smiling actually prompts your brain to produce feel-good hormones, giving credence to the adage, ‘fake it til you make it’ when it comes to your state of mind.

Smiling is also a predictor of longevity. In a 2010 out of Wayne State University, researchers looked at Major League baseball card photos from 1952. They found that the span of a player’s smile actually predicted his lifespan — unsmiling players lived 72.9 years on average, while beaming players lived a full seven years longer.

Similarly, a 30-year longitudinal study out of UC Berkeley examined the smiles of students in an old yearbook, with almost spooky results. The width of students’ smiles turned out to be accurate predictors of how high their standardized tests of well-being and general happiness would be, how inspiring others would find them, even how fulfilling their marriages would end up. Those with the biggest smiles came up on top in all the rankings.

Finally, research demonstrates that when we smile, we look better to others. Not only are we perceived as more likable and courteous, but those who benefit from our sunny grins actually see us as more competent (something to keep in mind while giving presentations or interacting in the office).

Want to know where you stack up when it comes to smiling? Know this: under 14% of us smile fewer than 5 times a day (you probably don’t want to be in that group). Over 30% of us smile over 20 times a day. And there’s one population that absolutely dominates in the smile game, clocking in at as many as 400 smiles a day: children.”

Stuck at average

October 23, 2017

By Dan Rockwell via   Article

Why Leaders Get Stuck At Average

“The longer we do something, the more likely we are to do it like we’ve always done it. … The only way to improve performance – in any field – is purposeful practice. …

… Identify the components of leadership.

… You never become a better leader with vague aspirations like, ‘I want to be a better leader.’ Improve small aspects of your game in order to develop your whole game.

  1. Leading meetings.
  2. Communicating.
  3. Inspiring.
  4. Directing.
  5. Challenging.
  6. Encouraging.
  7. Listening like a leader.

… Focus.

In order to improve your whole game, you must focus on one part of your game. You might decide to lead meetings where everyone participates equally.

… Try new behaviors.

What will you do to engage everyone equally?

  1. Sit at the side of the table.
  2. Monitor participation.
  3. Ask quiet members a question.
  4. Practice kind candor. ‘I notice you haven’t said anything, Mary. What’s coming to your mind?’
  5. Explain your goal to the team.
  6. Send the agenda the day before the meeting.
  7. Prepare and ask open questions.

New behaviors feel awkward, but improvement begins at the point of discomfort. If you aren’t feeling some discomfort, you aren’t improving.

… Seek feedback.

  1. Keep track of who talks for how long.
  2. Notice behaviors that energize and engage people.
  3. Explain your goal and ask for feedback from the team. …

… [Repeat  in the same area or another area of leadership.]

Leaders improve when they work on small aspects of their leadership game.”

Change managers into leaders

October 23, 2017

By   via   Article

6 Simple Habits that Change Managers into Effective Leaders

“The debate about the difference between a manager and leader has been settled. Without question, there is a difference in both definition and behavior. Just to ensure we are on the same page, here are my favorite definitions of both in action form:

Management: The manipulation of others for your own success

Leadership: Serving and empowering the lives that have been entrusted to you

… Here are six habits that can help change managers into leaders.

1. Find a Purpose Beyond Money

… one of the best ways to make a leap towards being a leader is to find a true purpose in your work beyond money. If the only reason you go to work is for money, your people will know and you will never make the leap to serve. …

2. Decentralize Decision Making

Most people move into a position of management because they were good at their job. Typically their first actions are to solve all the worlds problems and be a major part in every decision facing the team. … The key here is to not only be ok with your people making decisions make it a core part of their job.

3. Give and Serve Outside of Work

I don’t mean to give financially, I mean give your time. Winston Churchill famously said ‘We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.’ …

4. Focus on Your Example

… Leading by example encompasses all your actions, from what time you show up at the office, how much vacation you take, what you wear, to the moral and ethical decisions you make both at work and home. …

5. Thinking You Have to Be the Hero

Like most professionals, I met my biggest weakness early on. I thought I was the only person who could do things right, and I had to have my hand in every decision. Then someone told me, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ …

6. Stop Making Excuses

If you habitually struggle with saying or thinking on a regular basis ‘There is never enough hours in the day’ or ‘this quarter is so important,’ stop and reflect on what you are saying. Every quarter is important and every day is important but it shouldn’t for a minute stop you from thinking critically about how you are leading other people.”