Tag Archives: leadership

101 of the Greatest Insights and Actions for Work and Life

20/20 hindsight: the “hindsight” bias or “I knew it all along phenomenon” is when you think you had the answer the whole time or that it is common sense. The problem with this is that it creates false confidence. 

Try a new thing for 30 days: drop a habit, take up a new one or learn a new thing for 30 days straight. This is a great way to broaden your skills and increase your capabilities.

80% of your results are from 20% of your efforts (80/20 rule): with this rule in mind, only focus your energy on the most important things. 

Make change a sense of urgency: change is not easy for many people. To get over this resistance to change, make it seem urgent. 

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder” in the long-term: you will forget the negative things and only remember the positive ones.

Only absorb what works for you: you can draw inspiration from anything and anyone but only get what suits you. Tailor what you collect to fit your circumstances. 

Look for the surprise: you easily remember whatever surprises you. Did you learn something that surprised you or a fact that was unexpected? 

Agree and compare to create a relationship: when opinions differ, compare. Contribute when key pieces are left out by others. 

Instead of telling, ask: a wandering mind is more motivated and goal-directed than that which declares its objective. Try, “will I achieve this?” instead of “I will achieve this.”

Ask, “how is this useful?”: to make the most out of information, always ask yourself how you can use it. This helps you make insights actionable.

Ask yourself if it is effective: you may often find yourself trying things that do not work. Asking yourself if something is effective may seem simple but it can lead you to your desired results.

Learned helplessness is dangerous: when things do not go your way, watch how you give yourself an explanation. Avoid making it pervasive, personal or permanent. Questions like, “why me always?” are no good.

Balance conviction and connection: connection refers to how you connect to others while conviction refers to your rigidity or flexibility as far as your beliefs are concerned. Empathize, encourage, validate and be open to new ideas without being too accommodating. 

Be-do-have rather than have-do-be; avoid holding off or having your life on wait mode. “BE” what you want, and you will “DO” according to your beliefs, leading you to “HAVE” what you want.

Careful what you wish for: the grass will always appear greener on the other side but that is not always the case. 

Lead by example: this approach gives you power to act. You will not find yourself blaming others and playing victim. Set your own example of what you consider good and influence others.

Take note of specialization: specialization is great; until things change. Adaptable people get the victory in the long run. 

“OCEAN” personality traits: the OCEAN (Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeable and Neuroticism) refers to the Big Five framework. It is meant to understand how personality relates to behavior. 

Black swan theory: some events are unpredictable but there is a way you can prepare to exploit the positive ones and persevere the negative ones. 

Blink: snap judgments may tell you a lot. If correct, a little input is more useful than a lot of input. Train your senses and mind to focus on what is right and you will make great snap judgements.

Blue oceans: stop competing where there is too much competition. Look into an untapped market space if you must. 

Blue zones: blue zones are the healthiest spots in the world. They teach people how to live longer lives.

Change the question, change your focus: changing your question will change your focus. Ask yourself, “what is right here?” instead of “what is wrong here?”. 

Change your perception or change your procedure: skillfully change your emotions. You can get over any negative emotion in a moment. You can do this by changing your solution or changing your way of experiencing it. 

Change your “How” or your “Why”: sometimes, the “what” is out of your control but if you change your “how” or “why” then you may achieve motivation. You will no longer depend on motivation from outside. 

Begin by changing yourself: it may be difficult or impossible to change someone else but changing yourself is instant. This may include changing your views or how you do things.

Avoid “Have-To” and go for “Choose-To”: choosing to do something will make it more fun. It is empowering and you will not be the victim.

Cognitive dissonance: Wikipedia defines cognitive dissonance as a discomfort brought about by having conflicting cognitions (values, beliefs, ideas) simultaneously. When one is having cognitive dissonance, one tries to change beliefs to achieve a consistent system of belief. 

Delayed gratification: are you “present-oriented” or “future-oriented”? A future-oriented person delays gratification and according to research, navigates through life better.

Deliberate practice: Malcom Gladwell, the author of Outliers: The Story of Success, says that to be successful, you must practice the task for about 10,000 hours. You become experienced by repetitively practicing a skill, tracking your performance, assessing your effectiveness and listening to feedback.

Delphi method: this technique involves using experts to predict and forecast information. A facilitator asks experts to give answers to specific questions anonymously. The collective answers are then used to conclude.

Do it daily: to get into a new habit or get out of an old one, you need to do it daily. Create a habit and condition yourself to do it.

Causational vs. correlational: when two things happen simultaneously, it does not necessarily mean that one caused the other. They may just be correlated. Knowing the difference will make you better suited to get to the root cause.

Stop waiting for inspiration: begin by acting, motivation will come.

Doublethink: learn to think twice. Focus on both the negative and the positive. When you imagine the two sides, you can visualize effectively. 

Dream big dreams: small dreams are not very inspirational. Big ones stir your blood and inspire your mind.

Emotional intelligence: EQ may hold you back or propel you forward. It is defined as the ability to point out, analyze and control your emotions and that of others. 

Energized differentiation: be different with vision, dynamism and invention. 

Enjoy the journey: take a moment to smell the roses. Come up with ways to have fun in your journey. Sometimes, your journey is all you have.

Errors in value and errors in odds: according to Dan Gilbert, people make poor choices because they fail to estimate odds well and they are also not good when it comes to estimating value. 

Relationship before influence: a relationship helps you know the concerns and needs of the other party. It also builds trust.

The third alternative: do not get into a win-lose situation. Find another option because it is always there.

A first impression is a lasting impression: you only get one chance to create a first impression. If you blow your chance, you can change their perception. Let the other person assess you in a new context or situation.

Fortune cookie effect: you can rationalize whatever you want in your mind. You take actions that cause something to come true. 

What you can control over what you cannot: not everything is under your control and this should not be a reason for you to give up. Control your actions, attitude, approach and response. 

Gambler’s fallacy: just because an action or event has not taken place for some time, does not mean that its chances of happening now are high. 

Groupthink: two heads are better than one—this statement is not always true. A group may exaggerate decisions, making the final decision too conservative or too risky. 

Remove the unessential: according to Bruce Lee, it is daily decrease over daily increase. 

Halo effect: sometimes you assess someone globally and apply that to a specific trait. For instance, you may think someone is likeable and, consequently, assume that they are friendly and intelligent. 

The end of the story: the ending of a story is more important than its beginning. 

Measure your life: the best way to measure life is regarding the number of people you touch.

Informational power: information is an impermanent form of power and holding on to it is an even weaker form of power.

Evaluate your thinking: everyone’s mind is flawed. Your thinking has traps and pitfalls. Challenge your thinking and eliminate poor thinking patterns. 

Extrinsic motivation vs intrinsic motivation: find out what motivates and drives you. Do this by connecting your job to your values. 

Irrationality: always treat each decision as crucial if you are looking to make a change. 

Energy management over time management: everyone has 24 hours in a day. The only thing that is under your control is energy. If you manage your energy, you will do more with less effort.

Jigsaw technique: if you want people to overcome their prejudice, pair them up. They will realize, as they work on the project, that they are all humans with vulnerabilities, feelings and basic needs.

Job satisfaction: to make your job more enjoyable, focus on feedback, autonomy, task significance, task identity and skill variety.

Johari window: know yourself and show yourself. This way, you will find it easier to share information that matters and enhance communication. 

Learning style: is your learning style kinesthetic, visual or audio? 

Less is more: less here refers to more focus. 

Linchpin: work towards being indispensable. One way to do this is to always go above the call of duty. Give your all, do more art and break rules to tweak the game.

Link to good feelings: a new habit will be easier to adopt if it is linked to good feelings. You can barely do things that do not feel good. Reframe the meaning of the action.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: Maslow suggested that there is a set of needs commonly shared by people. Understanding this concept will help you know more about what drives you and others. 

Mentors are short-cuts: with a good mentor, you will avoid pitfalls. A good mentor shows you what you should focus on and hasten your journey to success.

Micro-expressions: this is a very quick involuntary facial expression. It is hard to hide this type of expressions, regardless of how much you know about them.

Mindstyle: do you prefer sequential, random, concrete or abstract? Understand how you prefer to grasp information and order it. 

Mirror cells: everyone has mirror neurons that mirror the feelings or intentions of other people. They can help you explain empathy and imitation.

Flexible people are favored by nature: survival is not for the most intelligent or the strongest, it is for those that adapt very well to change.

Similarities bind; it is true that opposites attract but people attain a special connection at the values. Shared values bring people together.

Parkinson’s law: assign less time to something if you want it to be done faster. Work will expand to fill the available time.

Pygmalion effect: what you expect is what you get.

Reciprocity of liking: people like those that like them. If you do not like yourself, you will not like the people that like you.

Return on luck: Jim Collins suggests leveraging luck by seeing it as an event rather than an indefinable aura. Aim at achieving a high return on luck (ROL). 

Satisfice: to make decisions faster, experts satisfice. They look for the first solution that is perfect for that situation. 

Self-efficacy: one’s self-efficacy beliefs will determine a person’s behavior, motivation and thoughts. 

Dispositional vs situational: did the situation cause you to do that or is it just who you are? 

Get small, think big: small is a key to flexibility, increased effectiveness and more efficiency. 

Social loafing: when people are more, they work less hard. People put in less effort when they are working in groups. 

Speak to the communication needs of people: communication needs include appreciation, approval, accuracy and action. People will give you clues on what they need to hear.

Start with why: you should communicate, act and think in the same way. Start with the thought, from the inside out. Begin with why, then how and finally what.

Synthetic happiness: learn to create your own happiness; it is just as good as genuine happiness.

The effort effect: effort is what makes a difference, not talent. Your effort, in turn, is facilitated or limited by your mindset. Another thing: reward your efforts.

The long view: you cannot predict what will happen in the future. You can, however, play the “What-Ifs”. Use forecasting to prepare for what may happen. 

The paradox of choice: the more choices you make, the poorer your decision will be. You may not even be able to make the decision. 

The power of identity; be rooted in something that will last while enjoying your growth journey at the same time. 

The power of regrets: if you reflect on your worst, you will be motivated to unleash your best. 

The principle of contrast: you can easily lose perspective. Compare with something worse. This principle of contrast is useful when changing perspective, explaining value or negotiating fees.

The progress principle: small progress can significantly make your day. Perfection is not what matters, progress is. 

The “Good Life” secret: learn to allocate more time to your values. Ask yourself how you can do more of the things you love at work.

The two happiness questions: “How happy are you with your life?” and “How happy are you?”. 

Thoughts that work for you: think thoughts that will serve you better.

“To-Date” vs. “To-Go”: if you commit yourself to a goal, you will focus on what is left (and will be more motivated). If you are not that committed, you will concentrate on how much you have accomplished. 

Important vs Urgent: you will achieve your long-term goals if you spend time on the important but non-urgent matters.

Befriend stress: anxiety is a cognitive response while stress is a fight-or-flight response. Stress can be useful while performing physical tasks or simple tasks.

Willpower is like a muscle: you can strengthen willpower through practice, just like a muscle. Know that you can also fatigue it; it is limited.

Yerkes-Dodson human performance curve: do not stress yourself beyond your capacity. You will start producing less with more effort.

You are the company you keep; friends can help you grow or hold you back. They will influence your actions, emotions, attitude and thoughts.

Your strengths facilitate your growth: focus on your strengths if you want to accelerate your success. 

Thoughts shape feelings: shift your focus to change your feelings. 

Zeigarnik effect: to overcome procrastination, convince yourself to do something for “just a few minutes”. You will be motivated to finish what you have already begun.

“Some people dream of success, while others wake up and work hard at it.” 

-Napoleon Hill

Steps for Building a Habit Stacking Routine

Will Durant said that you are what you repeatedly do. Habits have been proven to be efficient in creating positive change. The challenge is breaking the bad one and adding new habits. You can set yourself up for success by habit stacking or stacking habits. This involves taking small actions and linking them together to form a routine. Habit stacking allows you to make small changes which in turn lead to huge changes in your life. In habit stacking, performing the routine is key. The routine should consist of habits that flow simply. Repetition helps you build habits. The 8 steps below will help you create a habit stacking routine.

Choose a Time and Location

A routine is built around a specific time of day, location, or both. Here are a few examples:

  • At home in the morning
  • While working out at the gym
  • While traveling
  • During your lunch break

One Routine at a Time

You will be more motivated if you take on one routine at a time. Build one for a month then you can make whatever additions or changes you want. 

Start with “Small Wins”

Where can you reap benefits from small wins? These areas can be divided into seven categories:

  • Leisure
  • Health/physical fitness
  • Spirituality/well-being
  • Organization
  • Finances
  • Relationships
  • Productivity

Come Up with a Logical Checklist

A small checklist of actions and habits will help you accomplish individual habits. The habits should flow seamlessly and work together. 

A Reason “Why”

Behind every action, have a good reason to keep you from quitting. For some people, habit stacking techniques help create time for their families.

Be Accountable

Doing nothing is easier than doing anything. Experts recommend letting other people in on your progress for accountability.

Have Small, Enjoyable Rewards

Award yourself when you complete a month, week or even a day of routine. The rewards should be small and have a positive impact. 

Focus on Repetition

When you repeat a routine, your muscle memory grows. Focus on repetition especially on the first 30 days.

Dealing with Habits Stacking Challenges and Disruptions

Expect slipups, disruptions and setbacks. What will you do when they arise? How quickly can you get up and get back on track? Check out these awesome strategies that can help you tackle your disruptions and go back to habit stacking: Have an if-then plan you cannot avoid disruptions. When these triggers occur, you need to have a plan. Do not allow them to discourage you. Forgive yourself and get ready to go on. Know your triggers: for you to create the plan, you must know what triggers you. Triggers include your bad habits and distractions that cause you to slip up. Reduce your expectations: when you exert too much pressure on yourself, you can have a negative reaction. Focus, instead, on the minimum while still concentrating on the most important habits. Start small (again): it can be discouraging to start over. However, that is what success is all about. 

 “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”
– Walt Disney

The 7 Virtues of Bushido

The Bushido was made up of seven virtues. They were the cores of the Samurai. Not only was it their way of life, but also who they were. You need to understand the Bushido first in order to understand the Samurai. Although it was not formalized and was just an unspoken code, Bushido became so popular that some elements were made into law during the Edo Period.

Bushido made its way into America around 1900 through a book, Bushido: The Soul of Samurai or Bushido: The Soul of Japan. Nitobe Inazo wrote the book. He was a Japanese scholar, author, agricultural economist, politician, and diplomat.

The book has received criticism for romanticizing a non-existent chivalrous age. Some Samurai were landowners and political figures who abused their power. Most Samurai, however, were strict followers of Bushido. So, what is Bushido and how can you apply it to your modern life? You do not have to practice martial arts to follow Bushido.

But you have to be fearless and ready to make huge sacrifices for a higher purpose. Morality/Rectitude: this is the ability to make choices and behave according to accepted moral standards.

The upper part of the kanji “Gi” represents a sheep. In ancient China, that was the symbol of beauty. The lower part is the ‘I’ character with a slanting stroke, which represents a halberd. This character can be translated to “understanding (sheep) after conflict (halberd).”

Courage: this is the quality of spirit or mind that gives someone the ability to face danger, difficulty, adversity, or pain without fear. To some people, it is synonymous to bravery. However, the two are noticeably distinct.

Bravery is the ability to face a tough situation without fear while courage is choosing to do something difficult despite the presence of fear.

The kanji “Yuu” stands for courageous. It is usually written as “Yuuki”. “Ki” is energy. Together they make courageous energy. Benevolence: this is the desire to do and be good to others. The Samurai had the physical and legal power to kill. They controlled their powers with mercy and benevolence.

On the left side of the kanji “Jin” is the human character and on the right are two horizontal strokes, representing the number two. The Jin is akin to the golden rule. Rei: this can be defined as respect or politeness.

The Japanese are known for their respectfulness and politeness.

Rei dictates your actions towards other people in a society.

The character symbolizes ceremony or rite but generally means respect. Honesty: The Samurai were so honest that they never relied on written contracts since that would signify doubting their word.

The kanji “makoto” means veracity, truth in action and in word, to truly adhere to the law of the universe.

Honor: Samurai were known to live and die by their honor. They strived toward fame and not knowledge or wealth.

“Meiyo” comprises of two kanji. “Mei” stands for reputation and “yo” is to admire or to praise. “Meiyo” is to find joy in a good reputation.

Loyalty: in the Samurai era, loyalty was of more value than life.

“Chuugi” is made up of two characters. “Chuu” is to be loyal or sincere. “Gi” means right duty or action. “Chuugi”, therefore, is to be loyal or act in faithfulness. All the virtues are interwoven together.

Everyone must embrace and practice the Bushido virtues consciously until they become second nature.

“Think lightly of yourself and deeply of the world.” -Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings

How To Learn From Failure

It is said that failure is an amazing teacher. But if that is the case, why are so many people unable to gain knowledge from this supposedly “great teacher”? Why do people keep failing? The issue is that, although failure is an amazing teacher, it is a cryptic one as well.

It is not easy to obtain its lessons, especially when you are still lost in demoralization, disappointment, frustration, and nursing your bruised ego. Sometimes failure also comes with hopelessness, resentment, and embarrassment. To be able to benefit from your failure, you need to find a way to decipher the “teachable moments” that are hidden tactfully within failure.

You need a method to help you understand what the lessons are and how you can use them to improve your chances of a successful future. The guidelines below will enable you to assess your failures and find the specific issues that you have to correct as you pursue tasks and goals. You will need to do a lot of soul searching and thinking so do not hesitate to take some time to recover from the punch of a new failure before you start.

Reevaluate your planning: how long did it take you to plan the best way to attain your goal before you began? Did you think about the problems or hurdles that you might face and how you would overcome them? A big number of people barely spend time planning things like these even though unexpected obstacles are part of life. In the future, have a general strategy, think about potential setbacks and find a way to overcome them beforehand. Reevaluate your preparation: this step is a very crucial one but still, many people skip it.

For instance, think about someone who aspires to live a healthy life by joining a gym and attending at least three times per week. This plan can be easily shattered if the babysitter cancels last minute and there is no alternative. If there is a prepared backup plan for childcare, the parent would be able to attend gym more consistently and slide into the habit.

Another example is when someone begins a diet but does not get rid of unhealthy foods in the house to replace them with healthy ones. When making future plans, take measures that will increase your chances of success. Reevaluate your execution: were your efforts consistent? Were you lacking motivation and lagging in your work ethic? Go back and analyze when and why your efforts dropped.

Understand what circumstances led to the derailment of your efforts and know how you will address them should they occur in the future.  Focus on the variables within your control: it is normal for failure to make you feel helpless and passive, leading you to believe that you may never succeed even if you try.

However, understand that these feelings are perceptual distortions. You have more control over situations than you realize. There is always something you can do to improve a situation such as being more knowledgeable, improving your network, or building relationships with potential clients. 

How To Influence People

Seduction does not work with love only. You win promotions, gain notoriety, sell products, and get jobs and promotions by influencing others. Robert Greene, in “The Art Of Seduction”, talks about the ruthless tactics of the greatest seducers in history, like Cleopatra and Casanova. Here is a summary of 24 rules of seduction by Greene and how you can use them in career situations.

Choose the right victim: let your target be someone “for whom you can fill a void”. Do not focus too much on the people who are trying so hard to please you.

Go for those who are giving subtle hints. Have a false sense of security—approach indirectly: when meeting an influential client or executive, they will automatically raise their guard if you ask them for something immediately. Try creating a friendly relationship or communicate with them through a third party before bringing in business. Send mixed signals: maintain a little mystery about yourself.

Mix your sophistication with a little sarcasm. Show yourself as an object of desire: display your success and important connections. Arouse discontent and anxiety—create a need: show your target how they are lacking in something and offer a solution for that deficiency. Learn the art of insinuation: do not be too straightforward. Drop hints subtly and avoid revealing your real intentions.

Enter their spirit: play by your target’s rules. Do as the person does and let them warm up to you so they can trust you. Create temptation: determine their weakness then play to it. Try to find out what they want to achieve and show them that you can help them get there.

Keep them in suspense: surprise people occasionally. Do not be too predictable. Utilize the power of words: tell your audience what they would like to hear. Have a keen eye for detail: your target will be more enticed if your decisions appear effortless.

Take every detail into consideration, for instance, in how you present yourself. Poeticize your presence: if your presence is centered on enjoyable experiences, your target will miss you when you are gone. Disarm through strategic vulnerability and weakness: do not overpower your target. Avoid being arrogant.

Confuse reality and desire—the perfect illusion: make your product or idea sound dramatic while remaining realistic. Isolate the victim: make your target feel special; they are the only object that really matters.

Prove yourself: if you notice your client is becoming insecure and pulling back, go the extra mile and help them. Effect a regression: try to emulate previous great experiences that your client has with your predecessor. Stir up the transgressed and taboo: this does not have to be something wrong.

You could try to show them what you are offering is a huge deal and should maybe remain a secret. Use spiritual lures: supplement your words with moral ideas. Mix pleasure with pain: avoid too much complimentary language. Be straightforward and blunt for the most part.

Give them space: when you have won them over, take a step back and let them chase you. Use physical lures: be as attractive as you can. Learn the art of the bold move: after cultivating interest, state your goal boldly. Beware of the aftereffects: employ the above strategies to avoid being disposable. 

A Facebook Exec’s 5 Tips for Building Successful Distributed Teams

With 45 offices around the world, Facebook executives certainly understand the challenges of leading a distributed team.

As Facebook’s head of platform and marketplace, Deb Liu has spearheaded projects that include things such as login to marketplace and payments, leading teams based in places from Seattle to Singapore.

During her seven and a half years at the company, she has learned some lessons in effective leadership. From incorporating people on the ground to communication methods, check out these five tips from Liu to make your remote management process as seamless as possible.

1. Incorporate local leadership.

When growing, it’s important to make sure your distributed offices feel just as important as the central office. “You don’t want them to feel like they have less opportunity and less growth,” Liu says.

That’s why it’s necessary to bring in people from that area to join the team. “Having a local leadership team creates a strong foundation in which you can build a strong office in the long-term,” she says.

Local leadership allows a company to understand what’s happening in a new office’s area and any challenges that people there face. Ask questions such as, What are the work hours in that city? What is the weather like? What are the activities people do?

Understanding that locale will help foster a stronger office culture.

2. Transplant one or two people from headquarters.

There’s no reason to start from scratch when building a new team. Although it’s important to hire locally and employ local managers, a company should also transplant one or two leaders from the company’s headquarters to get the new office on its feet.

Those people can be in charge of growing the new team, and act as a bridge between the central and distributed office. Sending ambassadors is “an opportunity to build two-way communication,” Liu says.

3. Your first hires are the most important.

A strong company culture stems from a strong local culture. That all comes down to who you hire. “Your first few hires are going to be key in the kind of culture and office you’re going to build,” she says.

These key hires help set the foundation for your distributed office and play an important role in building the local team.

“Hire people who are self-motivated, good communicators and who are open and honest. These qualities will serve them in a remote working scenario,” Liu says.

4. Use the best technology.

An obvious challenge of distributed offices is that they reduce or eliminate face-to-face communication. Today’s technology can make up for this, allowing for seamless communication and the ability to build relationships. “The level of intimacy you can create is only as good as the technology that connects you,” Liu says.

For Liu’s teams, video conferencing has been the key to their success — and she recommends it for any business with distributed offices. Here are some quick tips from Liu:

  • Be mindful of timezones.
  • Assign someone to be a video conferencing sherpa, who’s tasked with monitoring the meeting and making sure everyone is heard.
  • Take notes and send them out to everyone after the meeting.
  • Maintain message threads and group chats so everyone stays connected.

5. Host company-wide events.

Technology today can take the place of face-to-face meetings, but it’s still important to host company-wide events to boost morale, build cohesion and foster creativity.

Facebook hosts an annual “Hackathon” for its employees — giving them the opportunity to collaborate with others in the company and put their creativity to the test. Every year, the hackathon is hosted in a different city of one of its distributed offices, and Facebook employees from around the world come together to participate.

“It is these things as a company that make us not headquarter-centric,” Liu says. It teaches employees about the cultures of other offices, and ensures that everyone at the company can feel the same level of opportunity and appreciation.