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The latest news on Careers from Business Insider

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    Steve Jobs and Richard Branson

    Steve Jobs founded Apple and changed the way we think about technology. Richard Branson founded the Virgin Group, which started as a record label and now includes more than 58 companies around the world.

    They're two of the most famous entrepreneurs of the century — and according to Alexa Clay and Kyra Maya Phillips, that's because the share the same "hybrid DNA."They're a special breed of innovator: they're misfit entrepreneurs.

    As Clay and Phillips explain in their book, "The Misfit Economy," that's not necessarily a common cocktail.

    Misfits and entrepreneurs do share some traits, but they shouldn't be conflated. Both groups are "natural risk takers who pursue freedom and autonomy through their own passion and hustle." 

    But there's more to being a misfit than hustle and passion.

    In Clay's and Phillips' analysis, misfits stand out because they're "countercultural, self-questioning, and vulnerable. They push boundaries. They challenge systems."

    It's a rare combination — plenty of entrepreneurs fit in all too well, and lots of misfits aren't up for playing so close to mainstream society's rules. But when "a misfit personality finds herself in the body of an entrepreneur, and when these identities merge, the results can be explosive," they write. And for evidence, we need look no further than Jobs and Branson.

    Steve Jobs was confident, he was a risk-taker, he was "achievement-oriented," and he cared about winning over others. And had that been all he was, he still might have been a wildly successful entrepreneur.

    But that isn't all he was: he was also a misfit. To see his vulnerability, all you need to do is rewatch his legendary Stanford commencement speech. And it's no accident that Apple's most famous ad began "Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes." (In fact, the montage for that ad featured none other than Sir Richard Branson, the the version below — narrated by Jobs — never aired.)

    Jobs was able to encourage what Clay and Phillips describe as an "alternative, renegade spirit" at Apple — and to do it at a time when the tech industry full of "buttoned-down" organizations — because of he was a misfit. 

    Richard Branson is hardly a Jobs doppelgänger, but his success, the authors argue, is due to that same "maverick blend." His misfit status allowed pursued avenues that other people were "too afraid" to consider — and he continues to do so. (Exhibit A: Virgin's play for the space tourism market.)

    In interviews, Branson has said as much himself, arguing his dyslexia has proved one of his greatest assets. Having a different way of processing language made him think differently, he's explained — and it's that ability that's helped him to go beyond the bounds of "normal," to be, per the Apple ad, a "round peg in a square hole."

    SEE ALSO:  11 apps that will make you smarter

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: 6 scientifically proven features men find attractive in women

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    james dean

    To get ahead, you want to play by the rules — to an extent.

    But new research suggests that people who were moderate rule-breakers as teenagers  — we're talking about skipping class or breaking curfew, not engaging in serious crime — seem to have certain traits that may make them more likely to go onto leadership positions.

    And, moreover, those traits may be written in your genes. Specifically, in DAT1, a dopamine transporter that's been shown to correlate with certain leadership characteristics.

    Of course, it's more complicated than that. As it always does, the pendulum swings both ways: in this case, the same rule-breaking inclinations that can make someone a good leader can also get in their way.

    "It's a mixed blessing," Wen-Dong Li, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of psychological sciences at Kansas State University, tells Business Insider. 

    Here's what we know: based on Li's study, people who have a specific version of the DAT1 gene — the 10-repeat allele — were more likely to have been adolescent rule-breakers, and having pushed the boundaries as a teen positively correlates with assuming leadership positions as an adult. 

    Your teen rebellion may have annoyed your parents, but it was setting you up for success. Except, the Li explains, there's a wrinkle.

    While the 10-repeat allele positively correlates with teen rebellion, which in turn positively correlates with certain types of adult success, it negatively correlates with what scientists call a "proactive personality." And having a "proactive personality"— that is, being deliberate, good at planning, and considerate of risk — is also good for leadership.

    In other words, the 10-repeat allele is a double-edged sword: like so many other traits, it's a boon, unless it's a liability.


    The study is important because it suggests a possible relationship between genes and leadership. But, Li cautions, the mechanisms of that relationship "may be more complicated than people expect."

    Rather than there being specific and definitive "leadership genes," he explains, it could be that environmental factors are what determines "the overall influence of specific genes on leadership." There are thousands of factors at play: individual genes and gene-environment interactions, but also interactions between genes. 

    But while we're a long, long way from unpacking what Li calls the "black box of genetic disposition for leadership," the findings do suggest practical implications.

    Individual differences are real, Li says, and organizations would do well to take them more seriously, adjusting their practices to "allow employees to fully realize their human potential"— potential that's likely related to their genetic makeup. 

    Similarly, if people knew their genetic information and understood how to interpret it, they might be able to "seek out jobs and organizations that provide them with most suitable environments to optimize their development and potential."

    For now, though, the main takeaway isn't that people with certain genetic codes should do certain jobs — and Li told the Washington Post he doesn't foresee employers ever using DNA testing to pick leaders, even if we understood genetics a whole lot better than we do right now. 

    Instead, Li's research is an argument for taking differences seriously — and making the most of them. 

    SEE ALSO: If you want to seem smarter, pick up the phone

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    NOW WATCH: How Elon Musk can tell if job applicants are lying about their experience

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    warren buffett

    When you think about leaders who lead authentically, and want to follow their example, you may wonder what you will have to give up — what the price of authentic leadership will be.

    Related: Authenticity Is Your Brand's Greatest Social Media Asset

    But that's the wrong question to ask because the fact is that when you are authentic, you are much more effective as a leader. People want to follow you.

    Here are five ways you can start to step into your natural power right now.

    1. Embrace leadership.

    People want to follow. When you walk into a meeting, as a leader, people are waiting to hear your vision. It’s your job to lay down what’s going to happen. Too many entrepreneurs, especially those who founded and bootstrapped their own companies, don’t embrace the leadership role.

    Some leaders want their management team to come up with the strategy, reasoning that their managers will be the ones to implement it. But that perspective simply doesn’t work: Managers aren’t strategic. And you as leader end up just trying to make everyone happy without accomplishing your main strategic goal.

    Have you ever been in a locker room when a coach is talking to his players? Was there any question as to who the leader was in that situation?

    Have courage. Leadership means having a vision, then getting everyone on board with it.

    2. Be a servant to the vision.

    Your first and foremost loyalty is to the company. Not the investors, the customers or the employees. It’s to the company and your vision. So everything you do should be toward moving the company in that direction. Become obsessed with it. Remove anything standing in the way.

    Do you have an employee who's been with you for a long time, though your company’s been growing and the employee no longer fits into the larger organization? Time to let that person go. Keeping employees like this around is one of the biggest mistakes growing entrepreneurs make. You're doing everyone a disservice by keeping them around — including the employees themselves.

    Related: The Business Impact of Authentic Leadership

    Consider the leaders who create excellent offerings. Do you think that Steve Jobs ever allowed people to stay on his team if they weren’t pulling their weight? Are you letting people slide? You are are losing integrity by keeping them around.

    Instead, give them the freedom to find a company where they can again add massive value. It’s your job to bring in the best and make sure only the best stay on the team.

    3. Be vulnerable — but in a healthy way.

    There was a time I worked with a CEO whose company had had ten straight years of growth, before his industry went into a tailspin. He was worried. He faced a companywide meeting where he would have to share the news that, for the first time, his enterprise was going to lose money.

    I asked if anyone else knew the company wasn’t doing well, and he said of course, all of his competitors were doing poorly.

    I then worked with him to face things head-on. He shared the situation with the rest of the company but, instead of caving, used the bad news as a rallying cry to cut costs and make the company more efficient while earning a lot of trust from his people.

    Your alternative, trying to "BS" people, simply doesn’t work, no matter how good you think you are at it. Intuition is a real thing, and when you don’t show up as authentic, people realize it in their gut and start to distrust you. When, instead, you can be both vulnerable and strong at the same time, you become a leader that people want to follow.

    4. Employ "neutral honesty."

    When you have a difficult situation to overcome, you will be surprised how well the truth works. You do have to understand the healthy way to utilize it.

    Say you have a salesperson that isn’t working out. Instead of trying to find a new one behind that person's back, then giving him or her the sudden axe, try this:

    Have a sit-down. Tell this person that it’s not working out. Give six weeks' notice. The person can look for another job, while agreeing not to take along any company information, and to do a good job turning over accounts to the sales manager or the next in line (which can all be put into writing).

    This lets the departing employee leave on a good note, saves you from making an enemy and gives you time to find a replacement with the least amount of stress possible.

    I call this type of action “neutral honest" because you aren’t blaming anyone. You're just focusing on the facts. And no one can argue with facts. So, take the personal emotions out of things; creative solutions will appear.

    5. Take complete ownership.

    I’m going to let you in on a secret: You’re responsible for everything that happens.

    If your company doesn’t make the sales numbers, it’s not just your VP of sales' fault. It’s both yours and his (or hers). And it’s not half for either one of you. It’s 100 percent yours.

    Unless the people you are leading see you take full responsibility, they won’t either. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you increase your workload; it’s a simple shift of mindset. When things happen, immediately reflect on how your leadership allowed it to happen, then start figuring out what needs to be done to fix it.

    People will quickly get the message that it’s not about pointing fingers, but about getting results.

    Consider a real-life example. In 1982, someone tampered with Tylenol capsules, putting the poison cyanide into a number of unsecured bottles, and seven people died. Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer, immediately did a recall of all Tylenol bottles, issued an apology and provided relief and compensation for the families -- though legally it had done absolutely nothing wrong.

    The story became a case study for how to handle a crisis — by taking ownership and being honest. Many say J&J's action increased the profile of Tylenol and made it a more trusted brand.

    Compare J&J's strategy to that of Pete Rose or Lance Armstrong, two people who lied over and over to the public, which later heard that those two athletes were, indeed, guilty. Look at these men's legacy. Now, think what kind of person you want to be remembered as.

    6. BONUS: Give yourself a break.

    The last step I’m going to throw in is free: It’s about self-compassion.

    Keep in mind how many positive things you help bring about in the world. In your work, your personal life, philanthropy. When things aren’t perfect, when you’re not perfect, be kind to yourself. Remember that you are a risk-taker, a creator. Smile and chuckle when you aren’t perfect. Embrace your humanness.

    The good things about these steps is that they revolve around changing the way you go about leading every day. You don’t have to do anything more, just change the way you are doing them.

    The benefits will be enormous. You will be more likable, people will trust you more, and you will turn into that “natural leader” we hear so much about. You have it in you; you just need the courage to live that way.

    It’s all worth it. I promise.

    SEE ALSO: 13 highly useful skills you can learn in a minute

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This showering trick will make you more energized for the workday

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    men walking

    I turned 40 last year. It was not celebrated in quite the same way as when I turned 18, or 21, but it's a milestone nonetheless.

    And it got me to thinking … what should I be learning now that I have hit this major landmark?

    What can any of us who are in our 40s learn to make life even better, and prepare for the next 40 years?

    Here are eight of the best life skills you can embrace once you reach the big 40.

    1. Overcoming Procrastination

    When we're young, it's easy to think that there's plenty of time to do this, or that, later. But after hitting "middle age," perspective is everything.

    You should realize that there is no time like the present to get things done, but also that you must have achievable goals. Saying "That's it, I'm redecorating the kitchen this weekend" will probably lead to failure because you have set yourself too great a task in too short a time. Instead, portion out the tasks ahead into very attainable goals.

    So, this weekend, you will remove the wallpaper from two walls, and choose new paint or paper from the home improvement store. Use your smartphone to set these goals, and have a checklist. When you see the list getting shorter, you'll feel good about your progress.

    2. Meditation

    Say meditation to some people and they think you're some new-age whacko or "hippie." But meditation is simply a way to internalize and focus on ourselves, rather than the hectic world around us. It's a way to find a little peace, without grabbing a drink, watching TV, or flat out falling asleep. This is awareness, and helps us achieve an emotional balance. It's very easy to get started, too.

    You need to find a place in your home, or office, free from distractions. You cannot do this with constant interruptions. Then, make yourself comfortable, but don't lie down.

    This is no time for a nap, this is about being focused. Sit up straight, preferably without the help of back support. Begin to breath, in and out, and pay close attention to your breathing.

    Some people use an affirmation or chant, some like to listen to some instrumental music or sound effects. Others simply focus on their own heartbeat. This is about finding time for you, and some inner peace. Do this for 15–30 minutes per day, and you will be amazed at the results it generates for you.

    3. Yoga

    On the back of meditation comes another skill that many people confuse. Yoga is obviously not meditation, but it can bring about some of the same benefits. It can internalize your thinking, and bring you a great sense of peace and relaxation.

    However, yoga is also good at this time of life, when our bodies aren't as supple and regenerative as they were 20 years ago. There are many types of yoga available, including bikram, power, ashtanga, iyengar, hatha, and more. Try your local athletic club for yoga classes. Some employers even offer them for free, as they are very beneficial to the workforce.

    4. Patience

    They say it's a virtue. When we're kids, we don't have it. When we're in our 20s, we fake it. By the time we're in our 30s, we often let it slide because "I've been doing this a long time and I deserve what I want, when I want!" Now, after hitting 40, it has dawned on me that learning how to be patient is something I should have done a long time ago. And it's not difficult.

    The most important part of learning patience is figuring out what triggers your impatience. For example, one of my biggest bugbears is lateness. If people aren't on time, I get irritated…quickly. Or at least, I used to. Now, I try to remember that my attitude cannot change their schedule. I can either be annoyed, or use the time wisely. I breathe deeply, remember what good things are happening on that day, and realize that some things are just out of my control.

    5. Arguing

    In a perfect world, we wouldn't have to argue with other people. Then again, it sounds like quite a dull world, too. Arguments happen wherever there are other people to argue with. They are unavoidable.

    ross rachel friends argue fight

    However, learning how to argue is going to save you a lot of time, energy, and even money. In our youth, arguments can be childish and uncivilized. There can be name-calling and hurtful statements.

    The arguments can start out being about something small, and end up becoming monstrous. Knowing how to argue well, or fairly, can really be of great service to yourself, and those around you.

    Try to see things from the other person's point of view. Always think before speaking, and make sure that whatever you are saying has a positive intention. You want to reach an agreement, not hail yourself as a victor and puff up your chest. If you're in your 40s, you should be beyond such trivial wins anyway. You want the best for both parties, and you get that by listening, having empathy, and working as a team trying to solve a problem.

    6. Forgiveness

    For many years in my 20s, and even into my 30s, I had a passionate dislike of certain people. And the reason — they did something to me that I just couldn't forgive. As it turns out, the "unforgivable" acts were very easily forgivable, I was just young when I was hurt, and let it build up into a mountain of disdain over time.

    This is no way to live. A famous quote says "holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die." Oh, how true.

    So, start learning how to really forgive people now. You don't have to forget what that person did to you, but you can make a concerted effort to talk it over with them, and offer your genuine forgiveness. Remember, the person suffering the most from these feelings is you. The other person probably doesn't think about it half as much as you do, so let it go. Forgive them, move on, and you'll feel better.

    7. Thinking on Your Feet

    You could also call it decision making, but that doesn't put the emphasis on time. I was in a restaurant a few weeks ago, and I heard a couple trying to figure out what they were going to eat. After 20 minutes, they still hadn't decided. It was starting to become a heated argument, and for what?

    The difference between ordering lasagna or spaghetti? In many aspects of life, quick thinking is invaluable. And the biggest enemy of it is self-doubt, or second-guessing. By the time you hit 40, you should know what you like, what you want, and where you're going.

    Trust your gut, listen to yourself, and stop umming and aaahing. This doesn't mean making hasty decisions, but it does mean getting to the right decision quickly, and confidently.

    8. Letting Go

    We have a dogged determination to stick with things in our teens, 20s, and 30s. If we give up, we fail. We don't want to be seen as failures, so we will often keep on going with something that should have been dead and buried long ago. This can apply to anything, from personal projects and careers, to relationships and ambitions.

    Now, I know some people will think "You should never let go of your dreams," but what if your resoluteness to achieve something unattainable is getting in the way of something that could be just as great?

    Some teens want to be astronauts. Is that something to keep gunning for when you hit 40? Are you in a relationship that you keep promising yourself will get better? Maybe it's time to let go.

    It can also be as simple as walking out of an awful movie. Think about it. Time is a precious resource, and one that we have less of every day. Is it worth sticking things out when we could move onto greener pastures?

    SEE ALSO: 3 steps that can help you get a promotion

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    NOW WATCH: This showering trick will make you more energized for the workday

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    Woman on computer

    Business Insider, the fastest-growing digital business publisher, has a great entry-level opportunity for someone who wants to begin a career in Human Resources. 

    We're hiring a Talent Associate to join the Talent team, to support our fast-paced, ever-changing and growing environment. 

    The Talent Associate will be exposed to all aspects of talent management including the recruiting process, onboard, benefit and payroll administration, and culture enhancement opportunities. She/he will be part of a collaborative, passionate, and supportive team to help us maximize our talent across the US and UK. 



    • Work directly with candidates to schedule interviews, maintain calendar invites, confirm itineraries, travel arrangements, and monitor daily interviews
    • Communicate professionally, tactfully and with the utmost diplomacy with candidates, maintaining a high level of confidentiality at all times
    • Help create an amazing candidate experience

    Talent Administration

    • Generate offer letters and distribute paperwork for incoming new hires
    • Assist with executing and tracking all new hire onboarding tasks
    • Create new employee files and keep our filing system up-to-date
    • Help with HRIS maintenance and entering new employees into our system
    • Actively participate in maintaining a smooth day one experience for new hires, including but not limited to: welcoming new hires in orientation, collecting and processing I-9s, distributing building IDs and adding new hires to the company directory
    • Assist with stock option administration (tracking and paperwork preparation)
    • Process payroll semi-monthly
    • Contribute to various Talent team initiatives and team projects
    • Ad-hoc projects as needed working with our President/COO and the senior Sales team


    •   Bachelor’s Degree 
    •   An interest in pursuing a career in Human Resources 
    •   Strong written and verbal communication skills; presentation skills
    •   Strong follow-up and organizational skills
    •   Exhibit great flexibility
    •  Ability to prioritize and multi-task in a fast-paced environment        
    •  Proficient in Excel, Word and PowerPoint                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

    This job is full-time and based in New York City. Business Insider offers competitive compensation packages complete with benefits.  

    If you're the right person for this opportunity, please apply directly!

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's what it takes to be President Obama's right-hand man

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    In the typical interview process, you have an initial meeting. You may have a second meeting, and maybe a third. You talk the decision over with your family, but those conversations happen behind closed doors.

    As far as your future boss is concerned, you operate in a vacuum. And when you receive the offer, it comes to you alone. 

    At ThoughtSpot, a company that provides search-based analytics for enterprisesthings work a little differently.

    Founder and CEO Ajeet Singh isn't just interested in meeting with you as part of the interview process. He also wants to meet your family.  

    To Singh, it's only logical. "In my family, making career choices is a joint decision between my wife and me," he tells Business Insider. "And I believe all spouses and children will play a part in ThoughtSpot's long-term plan."

    So when a candidate is in the final rounds of interviews, Singh makes the offer: would the candidate's partner like to meet him?

    That's because on a fundamental level, Singh believes supportive families are what makes ThoughtSpot possible. 

    "I started my first company the same week my son was born," he recalls. "People said we were crazy." He was leaving a secure job at Aster Data. He was about to be a dad. He didn't yet have a green card."You can't do crazy things like that without a supportive family," he says.

    Starting that company — the enterprise virtualization and storage company Nutanix —  required "a leap of faith," and Singh is well aware he wasn't the only one jumping.

    When you join a startup, everybody in your family has to be willing to "see past the ambiguity" that's inherent to the process, he explains: What will it take? What if it fails? Why can't you just get a job at Google? 

    It should be a joint decision, he says. And accordingly, families are "just as important to the company's future as the employees themselves." 

    By that logic, meeting with a potential hires' spouse only makes sense.

    "I want [spouses] to know that we’re not a company full of mercenaries that are going to bleed their families dry and not care about their life outside of work," he says. No one sleeps under their desks, he says. You're allowed to go home on weekends. "There are so many myths," Singh says, and he's out to dispel them. 

    Silicon Valley HBOBut he also wants to verify that families are on board. The spouse meeting isn't a formal part of the interview process — and certainly, it's not required — but it's not not part of the interview process, either. 

    "As much as I want to make sure the candidate is a good fit for our company, I also want to be sure that ThoughtSpot can support their goals outside of work," Singh explains.

    Worries come up organically, he says — he's not interrogating anyone. And usually, he's found, a spouse's concerns can be resolved. But if and when they can't, Singh is willing to call it a deal breaker. 

    "If a spouse is worried about an issue that I don’t think we can solve, then it’s likely a sign that we’re not a good fit," he explains. "For instance, if in our conversations I discover that working at ThoughtSpot is going to be too disruptive to their home and relationships, I’m comfortable sharing that — even if it means ending the hiring process with an awesome candidate." 

    There's something unsettling about the idea that your partner could play such a role in your professional life. Even if you accept the Sandbergian wisdom that who you marry is the most important career decision you make, the idea of your CEO meeting your husband before the paperwork is signed takes the blurring of the personal and the professional to the next level.

    But in Singh's experience, the meetings have been nothing but a positive.

    "In every case where [the spouse] agreed to the meeting, afterward they were glad they did," he says. "I know because they've told me." They feel more comfortable with the company after the meeting, Singh finds. So far, it's never prevented him from making an offer, though he acknowledges it could.

    Paternity Leave

    According to Singh, the process isn't a clever innovation; it's a "no-brainer," he says. "My career choices, highs, and lows are all experiences that affect my spouse and children deeply." The weird thing isn't that he involves families; the weird thing is that other places don't.

    "[S]startups can be pretty brutal about not having other priorities," one anonymous tech executive told the New York Times. But Singh says it doesn't have to be that way — and his interview process is one way of putting his money, quite literally, where his mouth is. 

    SEE ALSO: The surprising danger of being good at your job

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How Elon Musk can tell if job applicants are lying about their experience

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    Oprah hug

    The benefits of projecting trustworthiness are enormous, and as Columbia University professor Heidi Grant Halvorson explains in her book "No One Understands You And What To Do About It," the costs of failing to do so are significant as well. 

    One study published in the Journal of Knowledge Management shows that employees are more willing to share information with colleagues when they trust them. People feel less territorial when they think of their coworkers as friends. And companies with the lowest turnover rates are the ones in which leaders inspire trust in their people.

    To figure out if you are trustworthy or not, a person would analyze your words and deeds to determine if you have good intentions toward him and if you have what it takes to act on those intentions.

    People's perception of you as trustworthy, then, lies in your ability to convey warmth and competence. Luckily, there are ways you can easily communicate this to others:

    1. Put your best face forward.

    You could come right out and tell someone, "I mean you no harm," but due to the "weirdness factor" of uttering such things, you'd be better off signaling your warmth more indirectly, Halvorson says. The first step to doing this showing that you're paying attention.

    To do this, Halvorson recommends smiling, keeping eye contact, and nodding to show that you're really focusing on what the other person is saying.

    couple eye contact"Above all else, really focus on what is being said to you — people need to feel that they have been heard, even when you can't give them what they are asking for or can't be of particular help."

    2. Show empathy.

    Put yourself in your perceiver's shoes and try to relate by finding common interests, dislikes, and experiences.

    One effective but often overlooked method is saying "I'm sorry," Halvorson says. You're not saying this as a way to accept blame but to express your regret that something bad has happened to your perceiver.

    Researchers at Harvard Business School and Wharton found that people were far more likely to lend someone their cell phone when he first said, "I'm so sorry about the rain!" Expressing you understand someone's experience and hope the best for them produces tangible increases in trust.

    3. Trust people yourself.

    People are naturally inclined to pay it forward, Halvorson says, and reciprocity holds true when it comes to trust.

    "We are more likely to feel we can trust someone who has trust us first — someone who has been openly cooperative rather than competitive and put others' interest above their own," Halvorson writes.

    She suggests trusting someone with personal — but appropriate — details about yourself. "Far from seeing you negatively, the perceiver is likely to feel that this invitation to intimacy indicates that you are on the same team."

    4. Demonstrate your strong willpower.

    Would you trust a colleague that has a serious self-control problem with an important project? Probably not.

    A study out of VU University Amsterdam found that when you publicly engage in behaviors indicative of low willpower, your trustworthiness diminishes.

    While someone's personal behaviors would ideally remain personal, they suggest to outsiders whether or not the individual is able to adhere to the standards of any healthy relationship, which could include the ones you have at work.

    To better convey competence to your colleagues, you either need to quit your bad habits or at the very least keep them to yourself.

    5. Don't be cocky.

    no one understands youWhatever you do, don't confuse confidence with competence. While you can never have too much competence, there is a healthy — and unhealthy— dose of confidence to be aware of.

    The dangers of overconfidence include being underprepared, setting unrealistic goals, biting off more than you can chew, and generally making bad choices, Halvorson explains. And all this leads to being the least-popular guy in the office.

    Instead, convey a realistic sense of confidence that shows modesty. You'll be less likely to threaten your colleagues' self esteem, and your mistakes won't elicit nearly as many cheers from your cubemates.

    6. Use body language to your advantage.

    An easy way to appear more competent is by simply making eye contact while speaking. Studies have shown that those who do so are consistently judged as more intelligent.

    Halvorson also suggests speaking faster, gesturing and nodding, and sitting up straight, which have all been found to lead to greater perceptions of competence.

    Another interesting tactic is adopting power poses made famous by social psychologist Amy Cuddy. By standing or sitting in an expansive way (legs apart, arms spread wide, leaning forward) you're not only conveying confidence to others, but you're also triggering immediate changes in your body chemistry that make you more powerful, which Halvorson explains goes hand-in-hand with competence.

    Amy Cuddy Power Pose"Adopting a high-power pose is a great way to subtly signal your competence — especially if you aren't the type to sing your own praises — while simultaneously providing a power boost to help you tackle your next challenge," Halvorson writes.

    7. Emphasize what you can do, not what you have done.

    We have an unconscious bias to be more impressed with the "next big thing" than the "big thing" that's already happened.

    During a recent study by Harvard and Stanford researchers, participants evaluated two job candidates and determined their fit for a leadership position. Both candidates had equally impressive backgrounds, but one had two years of relevant job experience and high scores on a test of leadership achievement and the other had zero years of relevant job experience and high scores on a test of leadership potential.

    The study participants believed the second candidate — who had no experience, but great leadership potential — would be better suited for the job, which is not surprising considering how our human brains work.

    Our brains pay more attention to uncertain information, Halvorson explains, because they want to figure it out. This leads to longer and more in-depth processing of this information, and as long as the information available is favorable, the extra processing leaves us with a more positive view of someone's competence.

    So even if you have an impressive track record for success, Halvorson suggests focusing your pitch, whatever it may be, on your future, not your past. "It's what you could be that makes people sit up and take notice," she writes.

    SEE ALSO: An accountability partner might be the key to building a successful business — here's how to find one

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    Job searching

    Every boss is different, and every worker has their individual quirks. But while it may be impossible to please everyone, Liz Rodbell, president of Lord & Taylor and Hudson's Bay, says her biggest employee pet peeves revolve around one common theme: lack of clear communication.

    In a recent interview with the New York Times' Adam Bryant, she explains two common office missteps that drive her nuts. The good news? They're both ridiculously easy to fix.

    1. Not asking necessary questions 

    Meetings are meetings for a reason, and to make them productive, everybody's got to be on the same page. "They're very purposeful and we have agendas," Rodbell says. "If somebody isn't listening and following the trail of where we are in conversation, I get annoyed."

    And by the same token, she expects her team to speak up if they have questions. "If there's something they don't understand, they should ask about it," she tells Bryant — and that can mean putting ego aside.

    "[S]ometimes new executives want to prove themselves a bit." Rodbell's sympathetic to that, but ultimately, she says, it's a counterproductive impulse. "You're hired," she says. "You're in. So you don't have to do that." 

    2. Not responding promptly to email

    You don't have to have the answer to her question, but you do have to respond with some kind of acknowledgment fast. "If I don't even get an 'I'll get back to you' or a 'Got it' or something, I'm unsure if the message got through," she says. "So I do expect follow-up. I'm very busy and I want to be connected to make sure that we keep moving." 

    SEE ALSO: Tech CEO says this is the first thing you should do when you start a new job

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    NOW WATCH: Malcolm Gladwell: Here's why Harvard needs 'dumb' kids too

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    laptopA Mixed Response

    Late last year, Pew Research found that online workers identified email as their most important tool, beating out both phones and the Internet by sizable margins.

    Almost half of the workers surveyed claimed that the technology made them "feel more productive."

    As Pew summarized: "[email] continues to be the main digital artery that workers believe is important to their job."

    Around the same time this research was released, however, Sir Cary Cooper, a professor of organizational psychology, made waves at the British Psychological Society's annual conference by identifying British workers' "macho," always-connected email culture as a factor in the UK's falling productivity (it now has the second-lowest productivity in the G7).

    Cooper went so far as to advocate companies shutting down their email servers after work hours and perhaps even banning all internal email communication.

    This bipolar reaction to email — either it's fundamental to success or terrible — extends beyond research circles and often characterizes popular conversations about the technology.

    So what explains this oddly mixed reaction?


    I propose that the productivity curve at the top of this post provides some answers …

    The email Productivity Curve

    The above curve shows the rise and fall of productivity (y-axis) as email use (x-axis) increases from a minimum of no email to a theoretical maximum of non-stop email use.

    Notice, at the left most extreme (i.e., no email use) productivity remains healthily above zero. This captures the obvious reality that even if email (and similar digital communication tools) were banned, companies could still get stuff done, as they did in the many decades before such technologies were introduced.

    As we begin to move to the right (increasing email use) productivity increases. This point should also be obvious. It's hard to argue against the proposition that email is an immensely useful technology: universal addressing, instant information transfer, asynchronous storage and retrieval — these are all hard communication problems that email solves elegantly.

    As we continue to move to the right, however, things get interesting.

    Eventually we will arrive at a theoretical maximum point on the x-axis where all workers ever do is check and send emails. At this point, no time is left for any actual work, so productivity would be zero.

    If we step back, we see our three obvious observations from above tell us the following about any curve that describes a measure of productivity versus increasing email use: the curve will start above zero; it will rise for a while; and it will eventually decrease all the way down to zero.

    Any curve matching these criteria will, like the sample curve above, features two crucial points: one where the productivity produced by email use hits a maximum point (marked by the first blue X above), and a break-even point after which email use makes users less productive than if they didn't have email at all (the second blue X).

    I propose that the mixed reaction to email summarized at the beginning of this post can be better understood with respect to the different regions of this curve.

    In more detail …

    Those who aggressively defend the email (like the workers surveyed by Pew), are responding to the reality that much of this productivity curve is above the no email level. That is, they're reacting to the true observation that email can make you more productive than no email.

    Those who decry email (like Cary Cooper), are responding to the reality that an increasing number of organizations are to the right of the first blue X (and perhaps even to the right of the second X), and therefore their email habits are making them less productive than they could be if they were more discerning about their use of this technology.

    It's possible, in other words, for your email use to be both making you more productive (as compared to no email) and less productive (as compared to its optimal use).

    Holding both these thoughts in one's head at the same time can be confusing — thus explaining, to some degree, the muddled polarization of email rhetoric.

    From Explanation to Opportunity

    Once we understand this style of productivity curve, however, we can do more than simply demystify our confusion, we can also recognize a major management opportunity.

    With few exceptions, email use arose organically within organizations, with little thought applied to how digital communication might best serve the relevant objectives.

    The result is that email habits tend to fall somewhat haphazardly on the email productivity curve, with a bias toward to the right-hand side (as increased connectivity tends to be more convenient for people in the moment, especially when unchecked by other metrics).

    It's important to note that there's nothing fundamental about these current email habits: an observation which leads to the conclusion that forward thinking organizations could consider exploring different regions of this curve in search of the optimal point.

    By thinking in terms of a search for optimality, such organizations could escape the email is either bad or good dichotomy that often cripples such initiatives before they get too far, and instead cast the efforts in terms of process optimization.

    To reduce email use, in other words, is not necessarily a repudiation of the technology, but can be instead an embrace of its full potential.

    SEE ALSO: Why this tech CEO and his employees work just 32 hours each week

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    University California Berkeley Students College Graduation

    The investments of time and money put into a obtaining a college education are huge.

    But the monetary investment is becoming increasingly significant as college tuition continues to rise nationwide.

    With that rise in tuition has come a steady increase in student-loan debt. Today the average college graduate faces a deficit of about $30,000, and total student debt throughout the country is well over $1 trillion.

    Katie Bardaro, the lead economist at PayScale, the creator of the world's largest compensation database, said in a press release that the country was "reaching crisis levels in terms of student-loan debt."

    "This situation has broad economic implications for students facing underemployment and possibly delaying life decisions like marriage, home buying, and starting a family," Bardaro added. "These major milestones help drive the economy, and a weakened economy affects everybody, not just new college grads.”

    In an effort to inform students about each colleges' potential return on investment, PayScale released a report in March on the best colleges for your money. Included in the report is a list of the leading colleges from a general standpoint, along with separate lists focused on individual majors, career paths, locations, and other categories.

    Here are the top 15 colleges for business majors:

    Screen Shot 2015 06 24 at 2.24.49 PMThe University of California at Berkeley appears twice on the list, holding the top two spots, because of its differing in-state and out-of-state costs. The University of Pennsylvania, Babson College, and Santa Clara University round out the top five.

    If you factor in financial aid, the top five changes. The University of Pennsylvania jumps ahead of Berkeley (out-of-state) in the No. 2 spot, and Cornell University moves to fifth from seventh.

    All data used to produce PayScale's Return on Investment (ROI) Package were collected from employees who successfully completed PayScale's employee survey. To calculate ROI, Payscale looked at the investment in each college, which includes the cost of attending, as calculated by the cost for a graduate in 2014, on and off campus — and then looked at the return for each college, which is the expected future income stream. (Click here to read more about the methodology.)

    SEE ALSO: The 15 best colleges for your money

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    man with headphones and sunglasses smiling

    Throughout my years as a career coach, I’ve always been interested in learning what other people do for a living.

    While even I can admit that, “What do you do?” may not be the best question to lead with when you’re meeting someone for the first time, I’m compelled to ask it at some point because I truly am interested in their professional lives and what excites them (or doesn’t) about work.

    Once I discovered the vast world of podcasts, I started listening and voraciously gathering information about careers, finding one’s passion, and using one’s career to contribute to making the world a better place.

    I’ve also contemplated how to apply key points from non-career episodes to some aspect of the world of work and vocation. Below is a list of some of my favorites — check them out this summer to spark your career exploration:

    1. The Good Life Project

    This is the one that got me started on my podcast kick. Each episode features a “changemaker” with an extraordinary life created by a profession or passion project with meaning, vision, and inspiration.

    My favorite episodes:

    • The Power (and Heartbreak) of Being Called To Serve  opened my eyes to the dire need for medical supplies throughout Africa, as told in Danielle Butin’s poignant story of starting her nonprofit, Afya Foundation. Her passion for her work led her to manage the logistics necessary for finding funding and supplies to run her organization.
    • In Working for Free: The Good, The Bad, and The Truth, Good Life Project’s founder Jonathan Fields addresses how to take a strategic look at the work you do for “free” to identify the alternative value-add components: a “test kitchen” to experiment your ideas with your target market, publicity, and other forms of “non-cash compensation.”

    2. Radiolab

    This “show about curiosity” may not directly focus on careers, but allows the listener to take episode topics as fodder for further exploration.

    My favorite episode:

    • Buttons Not Buttons inspires the listener to take a closer look at the portals of life that exist around us — buttons, such as the ones in elevators and on your podcast player. The hosts visit the Elevator History Museum leading to the discovery that most “door close” buttons on elevators don’t even work! What other ‘door close’ buttons exist in life? What do we have at work that serves as a source of comfort or familiarity rather than a functional purpose?

    3. Invisibilia

    I was instantly intrigued by the fascinating concept of this show! Invisibilia is a podcast that invites the listener to explore the intangible and challenge us to “feel differently.” It promises to explore ideas, assumptions and beliefs by, “interweaving narrative storytelling with fascinating new psychological and brain science.”

    My favorite episode:

    • The Power of Categories wins by default as I am a new listener to Invisibilia and have not had the opportunity to listen to other ones yet. This episode addresses our need for categories, the need to both differentiate oneself yet identify with something. For example, what does it mean to be a “dog person” or a “cat person”? Taking it further: How do the ways you categorize yourself affect your career choices?

    4. The Moth

    One of the most famed organizations “dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling” The Moth’s themed showcases allow the audience an intimate glimpse into ordinary life as lived by novice and veteran storytellers alike.

    My favorite episodes:

    • Listen Here, Fancy Pants! is a lively yet emotional account of Anthony Giglio’s  (a wine and spirits connoisseur and writer of “Food + Drinks” for Details Magazine) journey of acceptance and making peace with his father. How has your career path been shaped by your childhood, familial expectations, or even lack of communication among those who are supposed to care about each other? If you had the opportunity to really talk with a family member, how might it affect the decisions you make?
    • About to Eat Cake is a hilarious journey among friends after one experiences a failed relationship. Their hours-long ride to nowhere in particular meanders to a Baptist church, where the question, “Who gets to decide what I need healed?” comes up. What if we were to reframe our assumptions about what needs to be fixed in the world? Perhaps what we see as a “deficit” would cause more harm if we were to “fix” it.

    5. Chef’s Story

    Hosted by Dorothy Cann Hamilton, Founder and CEO of the International Culinary Institute, Chef’s Story is a series of flavorful interviews with extraordinary chefs “about special memories, beliefs, inspiration and the passions that made them the success they are today.”

    My favorite episodes:

    • Episode 94 – Soulayphet “Phet” Schwader’s narrative of growing up in Kansas after immigrating from Laos illustrates how his natural talents for cooking emerged. He later had to make the decision of which culinary school to attend. While he could have selected the Natural Culinary Institute of America, his assessment of the student-to-faculty ratio caused the New England Culinary Institute (with a 7:1 ratio as opposed to 30:1 ratio) to win out. If you are contemplating going back to school, would you add studio-to-faculty ratio to your list of criteria? What are other important considerations for you?
    • Interested in the business of food? Episode 90: Traci Des Jardins identifies the important business acumen necessary whether you are interested in opening a restaurant or take on any other entrepreneurial endeavor. Traci is also on the board of La Cocina, a San Francisco-based nonprofit business incubator that helps low-income food entrepreneurs develop formal plans for and grow their businesses. What lessons from Traci’s kitchen can you bring to your own nonprofit career?

    SEE ALSO: Why you're probably getting more sleep than you think

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    man sitting on floor on laptop

    Have you ever thought to yourself, “I’m a capable, hard worker; are the stars misaligned? Why did he get that promotion when I’m so much smarter/better qualified/have seniority? Why isn’t my boss recognizing what I have to offer?”

    If you’ve entertained even a fragment of this type of thinking, you’ve landed on the right article.

    We’re going to look at the number one reason (and a few other reasons) why you might not be moving up in your firm.

    You Should Get Noticed – But You Don’t

    First, let’s establish that you are a highly competent professional; you know what you’re doing and don’t doubt your ability. People (your co-workers and bosses) know that you are a great, responsible worker. But they haven’t yet seen the core value you bring to the table: that special thing only you can do.

    In my coaching practice, I’ve labelled that thing you do better than anyone else your “superpower.” If you’re a terrific generalist — you’re OK at everything — but you haven’t been able to clearly communicate what your superpower is in the workspace, chances are you aren’t standing out.

    If you’re blending in, even though your work is high quality, then you’re not getting noticed. That plum promotion might go to someone who is actually less qualified than you are because they’ve been willing to display their unique talent.

    When you’re passionate about some aspect of your work, people will notice.

    What If I Don’t Know What My Superpower Is?

    If we dive a little deeper, another reason you might get passed up is because you don’t actually know yourself and your true talents well enough to have molded them into a shining gift.

    When I work with clients, I want to understand them. I ask several questions to get people to reconnect with themselves. Who are you really? What are you passionate about? What are you really good at in life? What excites you? Why do you do what you do?

    Peel back the layers you’ve accumulated in the past 30 or more years to understand your core values. Those will become your guiding principles, like an inner compass to help you know what is right or wrong for you, what excites you or doesn’t and what feels good or bad.

    Ready For a Promotion

    “I’ll speak up when I’m ready to get promoted.” But what if you never feel truly ready? Then you won’t get that position. Ask yourself if “readiness” is an illusion.

    I see internal struggles about perceived readiness for a promotion most frequently with women and there’s even data to back it up: Women tend to wait around and men tend to act.

    If there’s a job description listing numerous requirements, often a guy will say, “Oh I can do that.” But a woman might focus more on the one or two skills she doesn’t have out of the fifteen that are listed and say, “This job isn’t for me.” Neither of them has every single requirement, but one says “I can’t do it,” and the other says, “I’m ready.” Or at least he’s ready to jump in.

    If you want a promotion just for the sake of getting a promotion, that’s tough to get excited about. The promotion isn’t the destination; it’s just a point in the journey of your career and life. Good leaders are leaders in every aspect of their lives. They set the vision, commit, and decide to take action. How do you ultimately want to lead your career and your life?

    SEE ALSO: There are only 229 Master Sommeliers in the world — here's how one 27-year-old worked his way into this exclusive club

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    Liz Rodbell Hudson’s Bay Lord & Taylor

    Age shouldn't matter, at least not when it comes to how you manage people.

    But it can feel uncomfortable to be the boss of people much older than you.

    Liz Rodbell, president of Lord & Taylor and Hudson's Bay, recently told the New York Times' Adam Bryant that her first management experience came when she was 22 and right out of college. She was managing associates twice her age.

    "It was an interesting challenge — showing them respect but also coaching them to do more," she said.

    At the time Rodbell was an assistant buyer at New York City department store Abraham & Straus. She managed a small team of selling associates at the flagship store in Brooklyn, New York, she told Business Insider.

    "The challenge wasn't about age so much as learning how to lead and inspire," she said. "It was new for me and I had to find my way and learn what worked for me."

    She quickly realized that regardless of whether you manage people your age, younger, or older, the principle is the same: "Treat people with respect and dignity, and be true to who you are. Whatever I asked them to do I was willing to do myself."

    With a strong vision of what salesmanship qualities she needed from her people and high standards for visual displays and housekeeping, Rodbell said it took a few weeks to get aligned with her team. But her approach to management helped smooth the transition.

    SEE ALSO: An accountability partner might be the key to building a successful business — here's how to find one

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    cool office working laptops couch

    LinkedIn Influencer John A. Byrne published this post originally on LinkedIn.

    Numbers are the language of business.

    They drive decisions. They are the truest measure of performance.

    Cash flows dictate how much you invest — and projected returns tell you where.  

    Like any language, how numbers are used reveal cultural mores, priorities, and power centers.

    Without a basic knowledge of accounting and finance, you’d be hard pressed to decipher a balance sheet or an income statement.

    Financially illiterate? These MOOCs can get you up to speed — fast!

    If you haven’t fully grasped debits and dividends, assets and amortization, or earnings and liabilities, here’s some news to lighten your worries. With six major courses in accounting and finance, July is the month for you.

    Let’s start with two offerings from Wharton. First, Michael Roberts, a decorated teacher and researcher, is taking the reins of Introduction to Corporate Finance, a foundational course required of all Wharton first-years.  In this course, which starts July 6th, finance is more than a collection of formulas and models. Instead, it is a way of evaluating the health of organizations and industries.

    At the same time, Brian Bushee returns to take a more in-depth look at business operations with his Introduction to Financial Accounting, another Wharton foundational course. Here, you can get exposed to key concepts like balance sheets, income statements, and cash flow statements to help you better identify where you are — and where you want to be.

    For a broader view that spans both annual reporting and day-to-day costs, check out Introduction to Financial and Management Accounting, which was developed by the ACCA, the global body for professional accountants.

    And that’s not all. Still unsure about the role of the Federal Reserve and how it operates? You’re not alone. That’s why William Addiss, a former partner at Lehman Brothers and instructor at the New York Institute of Finance, is offering Understanding the Federal Reserve, which starts on July 1st. In this course, you’ll understand the structure and inner workings of the Fed, along with its relationship with government and how its decisions shape economics globally (and locally).

    Similarly, the University of Melbourne is offering another section of The Role of Global Capital Markets, while Baruch College (part of Columbia University) will hold the second part of its Economics of Money and Banking course, which takes a deeper dive into the global financial infrastructure.

    Something for everyone in July

    Already mastered accounting and finance? No problem. This month, you’ll find courses covering leadership, entrepreneurship, and job hunting too.

    But first, take a look at two courses inspired by lean management practices. Quality Engineering and Management, for example, covers the quality engineering fundamentals that inspired six sigma. And Acumen applies such concepts to sustainability in its Lean Data Approaches to Measure Social Impact MOOC. Speaking of which, Acumen is also introducing Social Entrepreneurship 101, to help students channel their passions and concerns into enterprises that help others and bring value.

    If you’re looking to enter the sports business, there is no better resource than Wharton’s Kenneth Shropshire, a former top sports lawyer. Starting July 6th, he’ll be co-teaching The Global Business of Sports, where you can learn about everything from sponsorship sales to media strategies.

    Delft University is back with its highly-regarded course on creative decision making. And Social Psychology, one of Coursera’s most popular classes, makes another run beginning July 14th.

    To learn more about these courses — and register for them — click on the links below.

    Introduction to Corporate Finance / July 6 / Wharton School

    Understanding the Federal Reserve / July 1 / New York Institute of Finance

    Entrepreneurial Strategic Management / July 20 / University of New Mexico

    Creative Problem Solving and Decision Making / June 28 / Delft

    Introduction to Financial Accounting / July 10 / Wharton School

    Quality Engineering and Management / July 1 / Technische Universität München

    Lean Data Approaches to Measure Social Impact / July 9 / Acumen

    The Global Business of Sports / July 6 / Wharton School

    Inclusive Leadership Training: Becoming a Successful Leader / July 7 / Catalyst 

    Social Psychology / July 14 / Wesleyan University 

    Statistics For Business I / July 7 / Indian Institute of Management (Bangalore) 

    The Role of Global Capital Markets / July 6 / University of Melbourne 

    Social Entrepreneurship 101: Discovering Your Path And Passion To Change The World / July 7 / Acumen

    Introduction to Financial and Management Accounting / July 6 / ACCA

    Economics of Money and Banking, Part Two / July 5 / Barnard College

    Globalization and You / July 7 / University of Washington

    How to Succeed at Interviews / July 20 / University of Sheffield

    Additional Business Courses for July

    More From John A. Byrne:

    SEE ALSO: Startup investor says one-third of the pitches he sees contain a total lie

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    woman on cell phone distractedLike many people, Katy Milkman knew she should be exercising more.

    But each day she left her job as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania feeling exhausted and drained.

    By the time she made it home, all she wanted to do was curl up on the couch and read a book or turn on her favorite TV show. On this particular day, she wanted to read The Hunger Games.

    That’s when she had an idea.

    What if she created a rule for herself? What if she was only allowed to read The Hunger Games when she went to the gym?

    Temptation Bundling

    “I struggle at the end of a long day to get myself to the gym even though I know that I should go. And at the end of a long day, I also struggle with the desire to watch my favorite TV shows instead of getting work done.

    And so I actually realized that those two temptations, those two struggles I faced, could be combined to solve both problems.”

    -Katy Milkman, Wharton School of Business 

    Milkman’s strategy worked. Not only did she go to the gym more often, she actually looked forward to going to the gym because it meant that she got to do one of her favorite things: read a good book or watch her favorite TV shows.

    This idea that you can make it easier to perform a behavior that is good for you in the long-run by combining it with a behavior that feels good in the short-run is what Milkman refers to as “temptation bundling.” You are essentially bundling behaviors you are tempted to do with behaviors that you should do, but often neglect.

    Milkman was happy with the progress that she was making in her own life, but she wanted to see if the idea extended beyond her own behavior. Given her interest in behavioral economics and her teaching post at one of the country’s finest universities, she naturally decided to design a research study.

    Milkman and her colleagues studied the exercise habits of 226 students, faculty, and staff at the University of Pennsylvania. After teaching a cohort of the participants how to use temptation bundling, Milkman found that people who used temptation bundling were 29 percent to 51 percent more likely to exercise when compared to the control group. The findings were quickly published in Management Science (full study). 

    How to Create Your Temptation Bundle

    There is a simple exercise you can use to figure out your own temptation bundling strategy.

    You’re going to create a two column list:

    1. In column one, write down the pleasures you enjoy and the temptations that you want to do.
    2. In column two, write down the tasks and behaviors you should be doing, but often procrastinate on.

    Take your time and write down as many behaviors as possible. Then, browse your list and see if you can link one of your instantly gratifying “want” behaviors with something you “should” be doing.

    Here are a few common examples of temptation bundling:

    • Only listen to audiobooks or podcasts you love while exercising.
    • Only get a pedicure while processing overdue work emails.
    • Only watch your favorite show while ironing or doing household chores.
    • Eat at your favorite restaurant when conducting your monthly meeting with a difficult colleague.

    temptation bundling

    Always Important, Never Urgent

    There are many factors that contribute to success, but you can make a strong argument that consistently accomplishing tasks which are important, but not urgent is the one ability that separates top performers from everyone else.

    Consider how many tasks are important to our progress, but not urgent in our daily lives.

    • Getting a workout in will never feel like an urgent task on any particular day, but exercising consistently will change your health and your life.
    • Cleaning your office space or kitchen will rarely feel like an immediate need, but reducing clutter can clear your mind and reduce chronic stress.
    • Practicing the fundamentals of your craft is often boring, but when you master these core skills you begin to separate yourself from your competitors.

    Temptation bundling offers a simple way to accomplish these tasks that are always important, but never feel urgent. By using your guilty pleasures pull you in, you make it easier to follow through on more difficult habits that pay off in the long-run. 

    SEE ALSO: Why you're probably getting more sleep than you think

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    stooges graduation

    I quit college and used the money to buy a car. 

    The car was a used Honda Civic. I drove around for a few hours and then I dropped the car back off at the dealership and cancelled the check and went back to college. 

    Two huge mistakes in one day. One was fun and stupid. The other cost me years and money. 

    There's two types of mistakes: ones that eventually make you a better person. And ones that make you a worse person, afraid to break out of the box, afraid to explore and be an artist and take risks and surrender to what isn't in your control. 

    Some mistakes are out of your control. Some mistakes you make because you listen too much to others. ("be a good boy and do THIS").

    Having them and complaining about them and blaming others and not learning from them is the worst mistake a young person can make. 

    And here are some other mistakes that young people (i.e. me) make: 

    Having an opinion.

    What opinion can you possibly have? Global warming? Ok, good luck changing the world.

    War? Ok, good luck stopping the $200 billion defense lobbying industry from having war. 

    She/He should treat me better! Again... good luck. 

    A friend of mine works at The New Yorker and no longer speaks to me (so maybe she is not my friend). She said, "if everyone thought like you then the world would be a mess." 

    Oh really? I have one word to say back (which breaks my later statement about defending myself). 


    4.5 million tons of manure were being dropped on the streets of Manhattan in 1890, EVERY YEAR, by horses carrying people to work.

    That was the big environmental problem of the day. "NYC will be buried in horse manure by 1950!" screamed the headlines. 

    It doesn't matter what your opinion about this was. None of the people living in NY solved the problem despite the 1000s of opinions. 

    People with passion for mechanics in Detroit made something called a car. 

    Problem solved. 

    Do what YOU love to do today. Surrender to the results. The more you surrender, the more results there will be. 

    The way you solve the world's problems is to solve your problems. Then trust. 

    Thinking there is something special you are here to do.

    You realize there are 8.7 million different species on the planet?

    Do you think the trillions of members of all of them were put on this Earth with a special purpose? 

    Like they have to be an opera singer. Or solve a hard math problem? 

    There's 1000 different species (species, not individual organisms, which are around 10,000,000) living on your body RIGHT NOW. 

    80 in your mouth. So you better shut up. 

    The last part of our body to evolve was our pre-frontal cortex, which allows us to adapt to different environments. No other species has one. 

    This let us move from hot Africa to cold Alaska and every place in between.

    But it also is the part of our body that fools us into thinking we have a special purpose. 

    Our own unique little, private purpose which will win us awards and acclaim and make us feel better. Mmm, my special special purpose that makes me so SPECIAL! 

    We don't. We won't. We shouldn't. 

    But I understand you feel that way if you are young.

    So here's the solution and it works and can be applied at any age: get good at three or four or five things. 

    Then find the intersection. 

    Then become the best in the world at the intersection. That's how you can pretend to do your special purpose. 

    When I say "get good" it doesn't mean 10,000 hours of practice with intent. 

    Maybe it means 1000 hours. Or even less. 100 hours. 

    Then if you get good at 5 things you're now the only one in the world who has put 1000s of hours into the intersection. 

    Now you're the best in the world at that.

    Trust me when I say: you will end up loving what you are the best in the world at. 

    Talking too much.

    smiling professional young networking

    You really don't have to talk as much as you do. 

    The average human says 10,000 words a day. Maybe cut that in half. Or say nothing. 

    I tried saying nothing for a whole day the other day. It's hard. But it started to feel like melted chocolate was in my mouth the whole day. 

    It felt like magic when I finally spoke again. I valued every word that came out of my mouth. 

    But try to talk less when you're young and know nothing. 

    Like when you're 19 years old and you want to talk about the status of your relationship. 

    There is no status. You're 19. 

    Guess what. Even if you're 50 you don't need to talk about it. Treat the other person nice. Then your status will be good. 

    If you hit the person you are living with then your status won't be good. 

    Talking won't do anything. 

    This holds for most things. 

    Listen to me. 

    Or better yet, just listen. 

    Having a career.

    The average person has 14 careers. And that number is probably going up. 

    My careers have been: academia, computer programmer, writer, "web series creator", CEO of a web design company, day trader, hedge fund manager, writer about finance, venture capitalist, book writer, speaker, internet entrepreneur (made a website that got popular), deal maker, self-improvement blogger, podcaster, and a few more I'd rather not say because they are either horribly embarrassing or might get me into legal trouble. 

    I got a letter from an 18 year old the other day. It said, "Please, sir, I'm 18 and I don't know what I want to do and this is making me very depressed." 

    There is no way to know what you want to do at 18. Rodney Dangerfield, one of the biggest comedians ever, was an aluminum siding salesman. Ray Kroc, who built up McDonalds, was a milkshake salesman. 

    You have to live in order to love. You have to love in order to know. Then you have to un-know, in order to do something new. 

    I got another email a few weeks ago: "I'm a nurse and I have $210,000 in student loan debt and now I don't even want to be a nurse. What should I do?" 

    I don't know. You're probably screwed. 

    Believing you need X to get Y.

    "I need to look good (or have a good job), to meet a boyfriend/girlfriend." 

    "I need to have a million dollars before I can write a novel and relax". 

    "I need to go to travel the world to get life experience." 

    "I need to do what my parents say." 

    "I need to go to go a gym to get healthy". 

    Here's the reality that many people don't get. 

    There are many paths to that mysterious "Y". Don't assume you know what they are. 

    I told my daughter something the other day. I said, "you know that quote I always tell you?" 

    She rolled her eyes, "Ugh. 'There's always a good reason and a real reason'." 

    "Ok, I'm going to tell you another one. 

    'There's always a back door.' "

    "What does that even mean," she said. We were walking around Washington Square Park. She was looking with envy at all the college students walking around. I think she wants to be one. 

    "It's ok if you don't know what it means," I said. "I can't explain it. Just don't assume the front door is the only way to enter something you want." 

    Richard Branson missed his plane so he decided to start an airline. He had no experience. 

    Elizabeth Holmes dropped out of Stanford as a teenager to start a company curing cancer. Now she's a billionaire.

    I'm sure people said they were ridiculous. I'm sure people were upset. 

    If you say and do 1000 ridiculous things then 1% of them might work out. 

    But you know what: then you have a ridiculous and amazing life. 

    The rest of us don't say any of these ridiculous things. So nothing ridiculous and amazing happens to us. 

    sara blakely richard branson

    Thinking 'If I don't do this then bad things will happen.'

    "If I don't go to college I can't get a job" 

    "If I don't get a house, I won't have roots. I'll waste money on rent." 

    "If I don't have money, I won't be able to buy anything. People won't like me." 

    Society is very powerful. We get 2500 media messages a day telling us our Dos and our Dont's. 

    All 2500 of those message are wrong. How do I know? Because people wouldn't have to pay to show you those messages if they are right. 

    They know the messages are wrong so they pay to put them in front of you.

    For instance, if you believe the messages then you would think you can join the army, and either A) choose to go to war or B) go hiking and learn computer programming at the same time. 

    You can't. 

    Don't let the media messages program your brain. 

    Don't let the media messages predict the future. Because it's a fake future. 

    Believing you can't leave.

    Young people think they can't leave. 

    How many times did I spend an extra year in a relationship, or a city, or a job, or a school, because I was afraid to leave. 

    Afraid I had the power to truly hurt someone with my decision. Afraid my life would be ruined if I made a change. 

    You can get up and leave right now if you are not happy or if you want to do something new. 

    We evolved to master change. Don't fight evolution.

    Defending yourself too much.

    In the next 60 years, a lot of people are going to hate you. 

    In fact, the more people you try to help, the more people will hate you. I don't know why this rule exists but it does. 

    For every ten people you help, one person will hate you. And you will want to defend, to explain, to argue, to respond back. 

    It's a mistake to defend. 

    You can't change their mind. They are going to hate you no matter what. They are going to try and get in your head so you wake up thinking about them.

    Delete them. Delete their comments, their emails, their connections to you, any contact you have with them. You can't change them. You can change YOU to not care. 

    The more haters you have, it means you will have 10 times the number of people who love you but are silent. 

    When they offend, don't defend. 

    Don't forget one thing: 

    You are the coach of your future self. You are the ONLY coach of your future self. 

    Everything that happens in your future is a direct result of what you do today. 

    I've made a lot of money and lost it miserably and got scared and depressed and cheated and ran and hurt and cried and was suicidal.

    None of that helped my future self. 

    Here's what did, when I was at my lowest and darkest moments:

    • I took a walk every day.
    • I stopped dealing with the people who I felt bad around. This was very very painful to me. But better that then dying. Or defending. 
    • I spent more time with the people who I felt good to be around. 
    • I started reading every day. Only 40% of people who graduate college ever never read a book again. 

    If you are in the 60% you are 1000x ahead of everyone else. 

    I started writing down 10 ideas a day. Then I started sending ideas to people, without expectation back, with the hopes that the ideas would help people. 

    • I forced myself to practice being grateful for everything I had. Two arms. Two daughters. A friend. Then two friends. Then three. 

    The more grateful you are, the more you attract things to be grateful for. 

    And by doing so, all the mistakes I made in my youth turned into blessings.

    SEE ALSO: 24 daily habits that will make you smarter

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Forget the Apple Watch — here's the new watch everyone on Wall Street wants

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    confusedSavvy hiring managers can glean a ton of information about you by asking just a few, well-chosen questions.

    But while they may seem simple — that's the point — some are actually designed to get you to reveal information you may have been trying to conceal. In other words: they're trick questions.

    "To uncover areas that may reflect inconsistencies, hiring managers sometimes ask these tricky questions," says Tina Nicolai, executive career coach and founder of Resume Writers' Ink.

    But they're not just about exposing your flaws, says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job." These types of questions can help hiring managers break through the "traditional interview noise and clutter," and get to the "raw you." 

    Here are 17 common examples, complete with advice on how to ace each one.

    Check out these cover letter mistakes to avoid:  The 8 most common cover letter mistakes that could cost you the jobe

    How would you describe yourself in one word?

    Why do they ask this? The question is likely being asked to elicit several data points: your personality type, how confident you are in your self perception, and whether your work style is a good fit for the job, Taylor explains.

    What makes it tricky? This question can be a challenge, particularly early on in the interview, because you don't really know what personality type the manager is seeking. "There is a fine line between sounding self-congratulatory versus confident, and humble versus timid," Taylor says. "And people are multifaceted, so putting a short label on oneself can seem nearly impossible."

    What response are they looking for? Proceed cautiously, warns Taylor. "If you know you're reliable and dedicated, but love the fact that your friends praise your clever humor, stick with the conservative route." If you're applying for an accounting job, the one word descriptor should not be "creative," and if it's an art director position, you don't want it to be, "punctual," for example. "Most employers today are seeking team players that are levelheaded under pressure, upbeat, honest, reliable, and dedicated. However, it would be a mistake to rattle off adjectives that you think will be well received. This is your opportunity to describe how your best attributes are a great match for the job as you see it."

    How does this position compare to others you are applying for?

    Why do they ask this? They're basically asking: "Are you applying for other jobs?""The hiring manager is first trying to figure out how active you are in your job search," Nicolai says. Then, once you open up, they want to see how to speak about other companies or positions you're interested in — and how honest you are. 

    What makes it tricky? If you say, "This is the only job I'm applying for," that'll send up a red flag. Very few job applicants only apply to the one single job — so they may assume you're being dishonest. However, if you openly speak about other positions you're pursuing, and you speak favorably about them, the hiring manager may worry that you'll end up taking another job elsewhere, and they won't want to waste their time. "Speaking negatively about other jobs or employers isn't good either," she says. 

    What response are they looking for? It is appropriate to say, "There are several organizations with whom I am interviewing, however, I've not yet decided the best fit for my next career move.""This is positive and protects the competitors," says Nicolai. "No reason to pit companies or to brag." 

    Can you name three of your strengths and weaknesses?

    Why do they ask this? The interviewer is looking for red flags and deal breakers, such as inability to work well with coworkers and/or an inability to meet deadlines. "Each job has its unique requirements, so your answers should showcase applicable strengths, and your weaknesses should have a silver lining," Taylor says. "At the very least, you should indicate that negative attributes have diminished because of positive actions you've taken."

    What makes it tricky? You can sabotage yourself addressing either. Exposing your weaknesses can hurt you if not ultimately turned into positives, she says. "Your strengths may not align with the skill set or work style required for the job. It's best to prepare for this question in advance, or risk landing in a minefield."

    What response are they looking for? Hiring managers want to know that your strengths will be a direct asset to the new position and none of your weaknesses would hurt your ability to perform. "They are also looking for your ability to self assess with maturity and confidence," says Taylor.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    You see a job posting. You read the description. It fits exactly with what you're doing now (in fact, you're a master at this stuff). So, naturally, you assume you're a perfect match.

    And a lot of the time, that'd be a pretty safe assumption.

    But if you're interviewing with Ajeet Singh, founder of ThoughtSpot, you might want to rethink your strategy.

    The Silicon Valley tech CEO isn't looking for people whose experience perfectly matches the gig. In fact, a too-proven track record could hurt more than it helps.

    "We are looking for people who want to be a part of something bigger than themselves — people who want to make a dent in the universe and take on a new challenge," he tells Business Insider. 

    "If they have done the exact job we're asking of them before, then they are not going to be as motivated to grow and achieve — they've already been there and done that. Where is the intrinsic reward?" he says. 

    A lot of companies are looking for insurance, Singh observes. He's looking for potential — for people who have the right skills, but haven't, for whatever reason, had a chance to fully test them yet. Hiring that way, he says, pays off tenfold. "If we give them that chance, they will feel empowered and excited and it raises the odds that they will excel."

    "We want people who don’t want to do the same old thing again," he says. "You can’t win by just following 'best practices.' We want people ready to take risks and do something new and different." 

    SEE ALSO: Tech CEO says this is the first thing you should do when you start a new job

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    signing declaration of independence art

    Writing the body of an email is the easy part. The hard part is signing off.

    Is "cheers" too casual? Too pretentious? Too British? Is "sincerely" timeless and professional, or stodgy and overly formal? "Best" seems fail safe — unless it's too bland?

    Perhaps, as Matthew J.X. Malady persuasively argued at Slate, we should just call the whole thing off and ditch the email closer altogether.

    But as anyone who has sat staring blankly at a screen, weighing "best" versus "all best" versus "all the best" knows, not signing off doesn't feel quite right either — especially if the context is professional.

    "Not closing seems way too abrupt," business etiquette expert Barbara Pachter tells Business Insider. "If you have a salutation, you should have a closing to balance it out."

    Will Schwalbe, one of the authors "SEND: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do it Better," agrees, pointing out that "we don't go around in life barking orders at one another and we shouldn't on email either."

    And manners aside, the email close serves a practical function. It helps "define the personality of the email's content," says Aliza Licht, SVP of Global Communications for Donna Karan International and author of the career guide "Leave Your Mark."

    It's also an opportunity to define or redefine your relationship to your correspondent, Schwalbe adds. (A shift from "love" to "best," for example, indicates you may have a problem.)

    If we accept — at least for the moment — that email signoffs are here to stay, the question becomes which one to use, and in what contexts to use it.

    We had Pachter, Schwalbe, and Licht weigh in on 29 common email closings to help you sign off with minimal risk and maximal charm. 

    1. Thanks

    "Fine if it's for a favor the person has done, but obnoxious if it's a command disguised as premature gratitude," Schwalbe says. Licht agrees. It "comes off as not really that thankful," she says. While it doesn't particularly bother Pachter, the consensus is that you can probably do better. Skip.

    2. Thanks again

    Again, Schwalbe and Licht aren't fans. It's "even worse then 'thanks' if it's a command and not genuine gratitude," he says.

    3. Thanks!

    Everyone agrees that what Schwalbe calls the "whole 'thanks' family" really only makes sense when you're genuinely thanking someone for an actual thing they did for you. That said, the exclamation-pointed version is Licht's go-to for internal communication when she's expressing actual gratitude. It's happy and sincere, she says. (Schwalbe, too, considers himself a general "fan of exclamation points," within reason.)

    4. Thanks so much

    Licht and Pachter think it's fine. Schwalbe has had enough of my questions about the "thanks" family.

    woman on laptop5. Best

    I really want someone to argue that the ubiquitous "best" is actually terrible — a pleasantly contrarian opinion — but no one does. The "best" backlash is "a media invention," Schwalbe says. All three experts agree that it's probably among the safest possible choices, inoffensive, and almost universally appropriate.

    6. All best

    Pachter notes that in general, the rule is that the more words you use, the more formal the closing, which makes "all best" slightly more formal than "best." Licht, though, isn't a fan of this one, calling it "too effusive."

    "Are you really sending ALL your best, or just some?"

    Still, it's a relatively safe choice.

    7. Best wishes

    "Ever so slightly more formal than 'all best' or 'best,' it's a good one for initial contact," Schwalbe says. Licht thinks it's "stuffy." Another pretty low-risk option.

    8. Sincerely

    "Is this a cover letter? Because otherwise, no," says Licht. "Very formal, and could seem cold if it follows more intimate sign-offs," Schwalbe cautions. But Pachter feels that it all depends on the opening salutation. If you began with "dear," then "sincerely" is appropriate, she says.

    9. Looking forward

    Totally fine, they agree — assuming you're actually going to see that person in the near future.

    10. Speak with you soon

    "Only if you really want to," Schwalbe says. If you do, though, it's a good option.

    11. Talk soon

    The more casual cousin of "speak with you soon," this one follows pretty much the same rules as its relative. If you actually will be talking soon, it's fine (though Licht isn't sold on it). If you don't actually plan to talk soon, it's insincere.

    12. More soon

    "You are committing yourself to a second reply," Schwalbe cautions. "Do you really want to do that? Or should you just take a moment and answer the thing properly right now?" Licht feels even more strongly. "Promises can be forgotten, she says. "Under-promise, over-deliver." Skip.

    art painting writing13. xx

    "Absolutely not," says Pachter, who feels it's just not professional. But Schwalbe says it has become "remarkably accepted even in casual (very casual) business correspondence."

    That said, it's "best to use in reply to someone else who is using and not initiate."

    Licht says she uses a version of it herself — "Aliza x"— for "friendly yet professional" notes, but agrees you have to have a "pre-existing close relationship." Use cautiously.

    14. xoxo

    Ironically, it's the hugs, not the kisses that make this one inappropriate. While "xx" may have a place in the working world, "xoxo" is "really for dear friends and people with whom you are even more intimate," Schwalbe says.

    15. Warmly

    A fan of the whole "warm" family, Schwalbe thinks "warmly" is less formal than "sincerely," but a little more formal than the whole "best" family, and Pachter likes it, too.

    Licht, however, is unimpressed. "Snorefest," she says.

    16. Warmest

    This one is unexpectedly controversial: Schwalbe likes it, Licht thinks it's a "double snorefest," and Pachter finds it "a little teenage." Tread carefully.

    17. Cheers

    "It's fine," Pachter says, though she's not sold on it. "It always seems a bit like you want to be Australian," Schwalbe says.

    To Licht, it seems "pretentious, unless you're actually British."

    Schwalbe suggests a test: Would you say it to people in person? If so, go for it. If not, reserve it for the British.

    18. — [your name]

    Licht and Schwalbe agree it's "cold" and "abrupt."

    19. First initial ("A.")

    The problem here is confusion. "I personally don't like it," Pachter says. "What does it stand for? I guess it's okay, but it's not something I would do."

    Schwalbe points out that unless you know someone well, it's annoying because "you aren't telling them what to call you. If I do "W," people don't know if I'm "Will" or "William."

    20. [nothing at all]

    While it's "absolutely fine as a chain progresses," Schwalbe says, "it's nice to end the first volley with a sign off." Once a conversation is underway, though, Pachter approves of getting rid of both the salutation and the close.

    21. Yours

    "I never understood this one," Licht says. "Yours what?" If you are going to use it, though, Schwalbe says it's one of the more formal options, though it's not quite as formal as "sincerely."

    22. Yours truly

    According to Pachter's "more words, more formal" rule, this is a step above "yours." Still, Licht says it strikes her as "fake."

    23. Yours faithfully

    "I always assume it's going to be a marriage proposal," Pachter says. Don't use it.

    24. Respectfully

    "A little stiff," Schwalbe says. "Also, it brings to mind, for people of a certain age, Diana Ross singing 'Upside Down.'" Unless you're addressing the President of the United States, Licht says it's too formal.

    If you do happen to be addressing POTUS, though, you're on the right track. A variation — "respectfully yours"— is indeed the standard close for addressing government officials and clergy, Pachter explains.

    pope barack obama

    25. Regards

    "Hate, hate, hate," says Licht, though she says she hates the supposedly more casual abbreviated version — "Rgds"— even more. "It's like you're so busy you can't even spell it."

    Schwalbe, however, doesn't mind it. "Nice," he says, noting that it's "a little formal." Think of it as equivalent to the "warm" family, he advises.

    26. Take care

    Licht gives it a lukewarm "ehh," and Schwalbe says it provokes anxiety. "I feel this is akin to 'safe travels,' albeit with a slightly medical connotation." It makes him "a bit paranoid," he says. "Like you know I'm in danger and I don't."

    27. Looking forward to hearing from you

    A minefield of power dynamics, this one is "a bit presumptuous, but fine if you are doing a favor for someone," Shwalbe says. It's not fine, however, if you're the one asking.

    Plus, as Licht points out, it puts you in a "subservient position where you can't take action, but must wait for the other person's cue."

    28. VB

    Licht says that while this one doesn't seem to have made it across the Atlantic yet, her British colleague sees VB — for "very best"— a lot. It's "cooler and more casual," she says, though "some might not get it and think it's Victoria Beckham or something." Still, she says she could get behind it.

    29. As ever

    This one is Schwalbe's personal favorite for repeated contacts. "There's something very reassuring about 'As ever.' It means, whatever you were, you still are that. Nothing has changed."

    SEE ALSO: Your email typos reveal more about you than you realize

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    Last week we did an interview with Jeff Boss, a leadership coach who focuses on adaptability and brings his experience from being a Navy SEAL into the corporate world. You can learn more about him on his website

    According to Jeff the  principles for success are the same in the Navy and the corporate world: self-awareness, open communication, trust — all the fundamentals of leadership that are covered in every HBR article.

    What are the key factors for  a good internal environment in an organization?

    Trust. Everything stems from trust. Trust in one’s competence to execute a task correctly and trust in one’s intent to do so positively.

    For example, when we fly on an airplane we trust the pilot with two things, that he has: A) the skill to fly the plane and B) the will to do so with positive intentions (and not nose dive it into the ground).

    Everything else — a willingness to face conflict (or avoid it), communicate, collaborate, share a common purpose — is built after the foundation of trust exists.

    What sort of mistakes are common among new leaders and managers, and what sort of mistakes do experienced leaders make most often?

    The biggest mistake I see is taking the tacit knowledge from one’s previous position (because that’s what worked before) and wanting to use it at the next position higher.

    The failure to see through a strategic optic is pervasive among leaders, because their whole careers they were evaluated on subject matter expertise. But that’s not the role of a senior leader. As a leader, your new job is to see not just your own forest but also neighboring habitats.

    The question is a little provocative, but, from a leader's point of view, where is the balance between personal development and team development? What is more important to run a successful company?

    You need both. You need the professional development to ingrain knowledge into a worker and then you leverage the human needs of autonomy, mastery and purpose by having that person build the team. Everything is personal development, but not everything is team development.

    By that, I mean that if the employee isn’t sharing knowledge to build the team in a way that aligns with strategic objectives, then what purpose does he or she serve?

    Obviously a team is composed of individuals who share a common purpose, so to the extent that each individual gets the training and development that he or she needs, and leverages it toward that common purpose that binds them (the team), then that is what distinguishes extra-ordinary from ordinary teams.

    Things get infinitely more complicated the more people get ingested into a group. You may have 10, 20, or 1,000 genius people, but if they don’t work well together, then their capabilities are limited. So, leaders should focus roughly 30 to 40 percent on individual development and 60 to 70 percent on enhancing the team. After all, nobody is smarter than everybody.

    How can they overcome those mistakes?

    Be transparent about strategic intentions. Be inclusive. Have meetings with a clear agenda, explicit roles, responsibilities and expectations, and follow up with (i.e. be accountable for) deliverables. Trust oftentimes never develops because people are never held with their feet to the fire.

    How do you build trust? You do what you said you were going to do. How do you build integrity? You do what you said you were going to do despite not being held accountable for it.

    Can you compare life in the Navy and life in the corporate world? What are the similarities in communications and what are the difference.

    The corporate world is much slower. Decision-making takes time because oftentimes roles, responsibilities, goals, and guidelines aren’t clear. Not so in the Navy. In the SEALs, we had a clear mission and we solved for it. Change was immediate and ongoing. We also expected to win, so mindset was different (but that was also a byproduct of our training).

    However, whether it’s the Navy or the corporate world, the principles for success are the same: self-awareness, open communication, trust—all the fundamentals of leadership that are covered in every HBR article.

    In Entrepreneur you wrote about growth mindsets and the need to drill them into employees. What are the best ways to engage your workforce so that they come along with you?

    It’s my firm belief that people want to do well; they want to succeed. Abraham Maslow (father of the hierarchy of needs) called this self-actualization, and it’s something organizations can leverage to empower their people to align with the company’s goals. Offering autonomy, decision-making power, and opportunities to learn and master their skills are all seeds that further personal and professional growth.

    What do you think the main challenges will be for running a company in 2020?

    Same as it is today: adaptability. Specifically, the need to stay relevant amidst a constantly changing technological landscape and the organizational systems and processes that lag behind. When infrastructure doesn’t match human potential, it creates a gap between expectation and execution.

    SEE ALSO: This tech CEO and his employees only work 4 days a week

    Join the conversation about this story »

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