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The latest news on Careers from Business Insider

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    Networking is essential to building and growing a successful career. So we've pulled together 5 secrets that will help you nail your networking game. 

    Produced by Jenner Deal. Original reporting by Bonnie Marcus.

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    If you're wondering why it's so difficult for you to hold down a job, you might consider taking a personality assessment.

    Science suggests there's one personality type that's more likely to be unemployed than others.

    A new report from Truity Psychometrics, a provider of online personality and career assessments, found that, overall, being a "Perceiver" significantly predicts your tendency to be jobless.

    ISFPs (people with a preference for Introversion, Sensing, Feeling, and Perceiving) were the most likely of all 16 personality types to report being unemployed. And INFPs, INTPs, ENTPs, and ESFPs were all more likely than average to report that they were out of a job, according to the report.

    BI_Graphics_.Personality types unemployment

    Molly Owens, CEO of Truity and developer of the TypeFinder® personality type assessment, isn't too surprised by this finding.

    She tells Business Insider the result replicates previous studies of the Big Five personality model that have repeatedly found that people with high levels of a trait called "conscientiousness"— or a person's tendency to be goal-oriented and persistent — tend to earn more and be more successful in their careers.

    She says Judgers are often highly conscientious while Perceivers tend to have lower levels of conscientiousness, so it's expected that Judgers would experience more career achievement. 

    "Perceivers tend to be freewheeling, spontaneous types who dislike schedules and structure," Owens says. "At the extreme, and if they haven't developed good organizational skills, Perceivers can have trouble meeting deadlines and keeping up with demanding jobs. So they may actually be more likely to lose their jobs in the first place, if they're not meeting expectations."

    Owens says Perceivers might also be more likely to spend more time unemployed once they're out of work than Judgers. "Unlike Judgers, who dislike unpredictable circumstances, Perceivers are more likely to take the unexpected loss of a job in stride, considering it a good excuse for a little time off. Undoubtedly, it was a Perceiver who coined the term 'funemployment.'"

    "Judgers, on the other hand, are usually organized, goal-directed folks who prefer a predictable routine. They are valued in the workplace because of their attention to schedules and deadlines, so they may be less likely to lose their jobs in the first place."

    On the flip side of this, Owens says Judgers are far less likely to take to being unemployed since they thrive on structure and want to feel that they are constantly moving forward.

    "So they're more motivated to get back to work, and probably more organized about the process of finding a new job," she says.

    SEE ALSO: The Best Careers For Your Personality Type

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The way you write l, t, i, and y reveals a lot about your personality


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    Networking laughing

    New job transitions can be tough. They require abundant energy, motivation, and perseverance.

    Setting realistic expectations about the roller coaster ride ahead will help you through the peaks and troughs of your transition.

    The following tips should help, too.

    1. Take a break.

    Before you start, stop. Fewer than 30 percent of people moving jobs take an adequate break between the time they leave one job and start the next. Don't leave your role on Friday and start your new one on Monday. Take at least a week off for vacation to decompress, unwind, and reflect.

    2. Work on your relationship with your boss.

    Recently hired leaders who have an open, trusting relationship with their boss deliver results faster and take bold moves to grow the business. Don't put off the "so how do you like to work" conversation until conflict or misunderstanding arises. Proactively ask your boss what makes them happy and drives them crazy, and then reciprocate.

    3. Listen and learn.

    The Container Store gives every new employee 283 hours of training in their first year to learn the business, products, and company. Their employee turnover is only 10 percent against an industry average of 100 percent as a result of being Thoughtfully Ruthless with their resources. Don't immediately jump into action; take your time to learn the business first.

    4. Test what you heard in your interview.

    Just like houses are staged for sale, so are companies and jobs. Now you need to test the reality of the preview you saw. Make a list of all the insights you gained when interviewing and start testing and understanding them now that you are inside the company.

    5. Go back to the floor.

    I once spent three weeks sitting next to artists, animators, and watching developers code, I even recorded some voiceovers in the music studio for an early version of Perfect Dark Zero. This was how I learned how video games were made when joined British games studio Rare to manage the post acquisition transition after Microsoft acquired them. Those first few weeks were priceless and gave me great insight to the games being made and the people involved.

    Identify five critical areas of your business that you could benefit from seeing from the floor. Take some time to answer phones in customer service, shadow an account executive on a sales visit, or sit through a technical design review. Go and shadow; meet and learn from those people and be curious.

    startup

    6. Focus on your team first.

    Decide in the first two months if you have the right team. A new leader's successhinges on the strength of the team they inherit or the speed and effectiveness of repositioning that team and attracting the right talent to deliver their business strategy.

    Do your due diligence early and thoroughly on what capabilities you need on your leadership team, and assess who meets that expectation and where you may need to make changes. I have never heard an executive say that they made leadership changes too fast — I have only heard regret over not moving quickly enough. Trust your gut; validate it and act quickly to create a galvanized leadership team.

    7. Use your time wisely.

    Those first few weeks in a new role will give you more free time than you will have on your calendar again, so use it wisely. Meet key customers, peers, and stakeholders for your organization. Don’t attend every business review and financial planning meeting. Be ruthless with where you spend your time. Don’t let your calendar grow a life of its own.

    Plot out your ideal time mix of spending time with customers, getting external insights, making strategic decisions, leading your team, thinking time, one-on-one coaching, and so forth. Develop a plan to build that into your schedule.

    8. Don’t expect immediate friends.

    It can be a lonely existence in a new company if you don’t act proactively. You likely left behind solid relationships and friendships that you had cultivated over many years. Know it will take time to build a new inner circle, but patiently persevere.

    9. Learn how things are done around here.

    Remember the first time you visited a foreign country and committed a cultural faux pas? When you move companies you are at risk of doing just that. You were hired for your expertise, leadership, and specific background, but now you have to operate within a new world. Be curious and learn the new culture.

    Identify what is different and where you may find it easy or harder to adapt. Contact me for a copy of my Cultural Continuum tool to map your new company and your old company and identify where the biggest gaps are and consider how you can successfully adapt.

    10. Create your own personal growth goals.

    Use the fresh start as an opportunity to focus on your own personal goals, whether it is to empower your leadership team more or grow your understanding of emerging markets. Whatever it is, build it into your plan. Reset your own reading list of blogs, experts to follow, and conferences to attend to promote your own continuous learning.

    organized man with post its

    11. Create a new temperature gauge.

    At your old company you knew what was valued, how to be successful, and who to listen to and who to ignore. Start building your new success temperature gauge to guide you on whether you are overheating or lukewarm on the results you are producing.

    12. Find opportunities to teach. 

    The biggest mistake companies make with new hires is they fail to learn from them. What is your unique expertise or skill, and how can you teach it while learning about your new company?

    13. Find a coach fast. 

    Employees who have a coach supporting them in their launch into a new role reduce their number of days to full productivity by 60 percent. Identify someone in your new company or an external coach who can help you as you launch into your new role. I often work with new leaders weeks before they start to help accelerate their impact when they walk in on day one.

    Those who quickly deliver results as a new leader show empathy and humility but also resilience to push on the right issues. Be patient, be conscious, and be deliberate. Open your eyes and ears, and develop a trusted advisor network to help you identify where you are on track and where you need to course correct. Most of all, give yourself some time, and celebrate the successes along the way.

    SEE ALSO: 15 questions to ask yourself before you accept a job in a new city

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    NOW WATCH: The sleep habits all successful people share


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    Woman stressed about bills

    When you think of job burnout, the state of chronic stress that leads to exhaustion, you probably think of someone in the mid-to-late stage of their career.

    This isn't typically the case, however, according to burnout specialist Ben Fanning.

    "With the demands of the global economy, conference calls with coworkers around the globe, and the endless stream of emails, it's even more likely you'll hit job burnout early on in your career," Fanning says.

    The good news is there are some clear-cut warning signs you're getting burnt out, and by taking note of them, "you can either avoid burnout entirely or reignite your career," Fanning says.

    He compiled the following list of common habits of workers who are suffering from job burnout.

    1. Setting your alarm too early to use the snooze button.

    The signs of job burnout can start first thing in the morning. For example, if you're so tired that you hit "snooze" over and over and then feel frantic and late when you wake up.

    2. Being depleted after work.

    Consistently lacking the energy after work to do regular things like cook, go to the gym, or spend time with your family is not a good sign.

    3. Inconsistent sleep patterns.

    Oftentimes, people that are over-stressed at work will lose sleep over something they they did (or didn't do) at work, Fanning says.

    4. Feeling liberated after a Friday at work.

    You know you're really stressed when you truly feel like you've been freed when the weekend rolls around.

    5. Explaining your job with "fine."

    An obvious sign of burnout comes when family and friends ask you about your job, and whether it's new or you've been there for a while, you simply respond with one-word responses like "fine."

    6. Constantly being asked about your feelings.

    Do your coworkers often approach you because they're worried that you're struggling or down on yourself? This is a signal that others are picking up on your misery.

    7. Not spending time with coworkers.

    Burnt out employees tend to shy away from company-wide lunch events or happy hours because they've lost interest in building their network, Fanning says.

    8. Living like a vampire.

    Arriving before dawn and leaving well into the evening is stressful on its own. Being forced to work these hours can make the problem even worse.

    9. Dreading every Monday.

    Similarly to only looking forward to Friday night, absolutely dreading Mondays signals you're burnt out at your current job.

    tired at work

    10. Fantasizing about quitting.

    Moving to a new job for a higher salary or better hours is one thing, but fantasizing about simply quitting is on the other end of the spectrum.

    11. Not wanting to explain your job to people.

    "What do you do for a living?" is a common question at cocktail parties, but it likely becomes annoying to someone who is sick of their job.

    12. Disregarding how you treat coworkers or customers.

    If you're planning to quit or you're just sick of dealing with the same people every day, it may be reflected by how you treat your coworkers.

    13. Forgetting your last accomplishment at work.

    Not remembering the last time you felt satisfied or accomplished at work can signify the development of job burnout.

    14. Constantly feeling overwhelmed.

    Stress at work is inevitable, but every moment shouldn't be stressful. There are simple methods that can help.

    man frustrated with phone

    15. Rarely feeling like you're progressing.

    A lack of progress or feeling like you're stuck is likely a sign that it's time for a new job — or at least a vacation.

    16. Being cynical.

    Once you lose interest in the company and stop caring about helping it, you can become a liability.

    17. Frequently losing your temper.

    Stress can lead to temper tantrums, when "it feels good just to let it erupt on whoever's around," Fanning says.

    18. Over-complaining to your partner.

    There's no doubting that venting can help, but your problems at work shouldn't consistently become the problems of your significant other or your close friends.

    19. Dreading a new job search.

    Even if you know it's time for a new job, if you're over-stressed there's a chance you won't even take the time to look, Fanning says.

    20. Noticing coworkers are hesitant around you.

    If you notice that your coworkers are "walking on eggshells around you because they don't know what to expect," that's a clear sign that you're having a tough time.

    SEE ALSO: 12 signs you're suffering from job burnout

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The secret strategy samurai use to achieve laser-focus


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    interview

    Determining who you hire for a job plays a big part in forming your company’s culture and ensuring its future success.

    Selecting informative interview questions can be a key factor in finding the right employees — as well as weeding out the ones that won’t fit. A candidate’s answers can be telling.

    While different companies embody various values and cultures, success in the workplace is strongly influenced by a person’s emotional intelligence, a quality that should be a non-negotiable when vetting job candidates, says Mariah DeLeon, vice-president of people at workplace ratings and review site Glassdoor.

    Here are seven interview questions that can draw revealing answers from the job candidates you interview — and get you on your way to finding employees with stellar emotional intelligence.

    Related: 8 Revealing Interview Questions to Hire Standout Staff

    1. Who inspires you and why?

    The job candidate’s answer often gives the interviewer a peek into who the interviewee models him or herself after. The response can also highlight the sorts of behavioral patterns the interviewee respects, says Craig Cincotta, chief of staff and vice-president of communications at online home improvement marketplace Porch, where he’s heavily involved in team expansion and hiring.

    2. If you were starting a company tomorrow, what would be its top three values?

    Every good relationship starts with trust and aligned values. Insight into a person’s priorities — as well as honesty and integrity — can emerge in the candidate’s answer, explains Robert Alvarez, the CFO of ecommerce platform Bigcommerce.

    3. If business priorities change, describe how you would help your team understand and carry out the shifted goals?

    Shifting priorities happen in every company, and every job, so look for candidates who are flexible and possess the skills to help carry out change. Hire employees who are self-aware, motivated and display empathy advises DeLeon. “These skills will help employees better work in teams.”

    Related: The 5 Must-Ask Interview Questions to Determine if Someone's a Fit

    4. Did you build lasting friendships while working at another job?

    It takes a while for people to build relationships — and being able to do so is a sign of solid emotional intelligence, Alvarez says. “[A lasting friendship] tells you that relationships and caring about people are important to the person.”

    5. What skill or expertise do you feel like you’re still missing?

    Curiosity and the desire to learn are vital signs that a prospective employee wants to get better at something. “People who struggle with this question are the people who think they already know it all,” warns Alvarez. “These are the people you want to steer away from.”

    6. Can you teach me something, as if I’ve never heard of it before? (It can be anything: A skill, a lesson or a puzzle.)

    A job candidate's answer to this question can reveal several qualities:

    • Whether the person is willing to take the time to think before speaking.
    • If the candidate has the technical ability to explain something to a person who is less knowledgeable in the subject.
    • Whether the candidate asks empathetic questions to the person being taught, such as, “Is this making sense?”

    7. What are the top three factors you would attribute to your success?

    The answer to this question can determine whether a person is selfless or selfish, Alvarez says. “When people talk about their own success, listen to whether someone talks about ‘me-me-me’ or ‘I-I-I.’ Or whether they talk about ‘the team,’ ‘we’ or ‘us.’”

    “Look for a team player who brings something positive to the company,” Cincotta shares. “Someone can be the smartest person in the room, but if they are not someone you enjoy working with — because they are more concerned with their own success over that of the company — they won’t be a fit.”

    SEE ALSO: 15 of the toughest interview questions you'll hear on Wall Street

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The sleep habits all successful people share


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    Fatigue, Tired, Frustrated, Burnout, Sad

    It's easy to misunderstand job burnout as daily work stress, but identifying the difference between the two is key.

    If you're simply tired or frustrated with your job, a nice relaxing weekend or a vacation can make a huge difference. But if you're burnt out — a state of chronic stress that leads to exhaustion, detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness — the situation is more serious and can require a job or career change.

    Elizabeth Scott, wellness coach and author of "8 Keys to Stress Management," has developed a list of questions that can help you figure out if you could be experiencing job burnout:

    • Have you found yourself to be increasingly critical or cynical about your job?
    • Do you have feelings of dread about going to work?
    • Do you find it difficult to stay productive and focus on your job?
    • Are you easily irritable or constantly exhausted?
    • Do you spend most of your time at work bored or overwhelmed?
    • Do you find yourself impatient and snapping at others?
    • Do you feel that you're under an unhealthy amount of pressure?

    woman and papers stressed

    • Are you noticing that job satisfaction is practically nonexistent?
    • Do you feel a lack of control at work?
    • Do the requirements of your job seem confusing or overwhelming?
    • Are you using food, alcohol, or drugs to cope with the stress from your job?
    • Has your appetite or sleep schedule dramatically changed?
    • Are you often experiencing negative physical symptoms like headaches, back aches, or digestion issues?

    If you find yourself answering yes to many of these questions, there is a chance you are approaching or experiencing job burnout.

    "Some of these symptoms are also connected to depression and other health issues, so it is important to talk to your doctor or therapist if you experience these," Scott said.

    SEE ALSO: 12 signs you're suffering from job burnout

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: T. Boone Pickens' strict morning routine will inspire you to plan your days better


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    cliff diving

    When you think about risk, it's easy to "only imagine the worst-case scenario and choose not to take the chance, writes psychotherapist Amy Morin in her book "13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do."

    But letting that fear take control can keep you in your comfort zone and prevent you from reaching new levels of success, Morin says.

    Mentally strong people are aware of this and "carefully calculate risk so they can move forward with confidence," she says.

    Here are five ways they approach risk:

    1. They observe their emotions.

    While it's important to make sure your emotions don't dictate the decision-making process, it's equally as important to be aware of how your emotions can impact your choice.

    When you're excited about something, you're more likely to overlook the danger, Morin says. But on the contrary, if you're nervous, you're more likely to overestimate the danger.

    "Rather than ignore or suppress their emotions, mentally strong people monitor how they're feeling and how those emotions could cloud their judgment," she says.

    2. They pay attention to other sources of anxiety.

    "Anxiety can be contagious in more ways than one," Morin says. "If you're in a crowded theater and you smell smoke, you're likely to react similarly to those around you. If they panic, you're likely to head for the door. But if no one else seems alarmed, you're less likely to move."

    The same can be said about taking a risk. Mentally strong people are aware that other people's reactions are likely to have an influence on their choices, she says.

    3. They examine the pros and cons.

    When approaching a risk, it's crucial to fully evaluate the situation. Whether you're evaluating a deal or making a financial investment, be sure to do your research and "balance emotions with logic," Morin says.

    "Mentally strong people create that balance by weighing the pros and cons of taking the risk, as well as the pros and cons of not taking a risk," she says.

    4. They think about the big picture.

    Any risk has short- and long-term benefits and consequences. Mentally strong people calculate the emotional and physical risks by staying focused on the big picture.

    "Opting out of a public speaking opportunity, for example, may offer short-term relief from anxiety, but it may also prevent long-term advancement opportunities," Morin says.

    5. They take steps to reduce their risk.

    The easy thing to do is expect immediate results. Sometimes, though, reducing risk may involve delaying a decision, she says.

    Mentally strong people understand that not everything goes as planned and the long-term results are what matters. "Although they aren't likely to move forward if they expect things to go poorly," Morin says, "they do consider how they'll respond in the event of failure." 

    SEE ALSO: 13 things mentally strong people don't do

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The secret strategy samurai use to achieve laser-focus


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    Martin Luther King Jr.

    Martin Luther King Jr. was a huge "Star Trek" fan, and his love for the show wasn't mutually exclusive from his passion for ending racial prejudice.

    "I am the biggest Trekkie on the planet, and I am lieutenant Uhura's most ardent fan," the civil rights activist reportedly told actress Nichelle Nichols when they met at a NAACP fundraiser in Beverly Hills.

    Nichols played Communication Officer Lieutenant Uhura on "Star Trek" and is credited as playing the first nonarchetypal or stereotypical black woman on American television.

    So when King heard the actress had plans to leave after the first season, he was adamant that she reconsider.

    During a Reddit AMA last week, Nichols writes that King said something along the lines of, "Nichelle, whether you like it or not, you have become a symbol. If you leave, they can replace you with a blonde haired white girl, and it will be like you were never there. What you've accomplished, for all of us, will only be real if you stay."

    "That got me thinking about how it would look for fans of color around the country if they saw me leave," Nichols writes. "I saw that this was bigger than just me."

    As many "Star Trek" fans already know, Gene Roddenberry, the show's creator, saw the show as a vehicle to influence social change.

    "He didn't talk about it, he just did it," Nichols said of Roddenberry's mission to create a better world. "It was who he was. He believed in that world, if you got it you got it. If you didn't get it, you'd see it anyway."

    So when Nichols told Roddenberry that King helped her change her mind, he reportedly responded, "Finally, someone gets it."

    Star Trek Nichelle Nichols  Lt. Nyota UhuraNichols remained in her role until the show's end in 1969, and she went on to work with NASA to help recruit females and minorities, including the first American female astronaut, Sally Ride. Former NASA astronaut Mae Jemison, the first black woman to travel in space, also credits Nichol's role as her inspiration for wanting to become an astronaut.

    SEE ALSO: People are so obsessed with this household decluttering method, they're using it to transform their offices, too

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    NOW WATCH: 8 things you should never say in a job interview


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    Steve Jobs If today were the last day of your life, would you want to be doing what you're doing?

    Every day of his working life, Steve Jobs looked in the mirror and asked himself that question, he told a Stanford graduating class in a justly famous speech.

    "Whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something," he added.

    He lived by his word. At Apple, then NeXT, then Pixar, then Apple again, the answer was most often yes.

    So much so that he spent much of the last two or so years of his life continuing his work at Apple despite being desperately ill with pancreatic cancer. He worked right up to the day before he died.

    We should all ask ourselves the same question. If you knew you were in the last day, the last month, or the last year of your life, would you want to be doing the work you're doing now? Would you want the life you're living? If the answer is no, should you change something? How would you go about it?

    There aren't any easy answers, but asking the questions may help get you closer to a career that you love as much as Jobs loved his. So if your work can't pass the Steve Jobs test (most people's can't, most of the time), consider trying some of these steps.

    1. Decide if you would choose the career you already have.

    I recently began coaching with executive coach and author Wendy Capland. The process began with a survey that included this thought-provoking question: "Did you choose your career or did it choose you?"

    For most of us, including me, the answer is a combination of both. But ask yourself this: If you were starting from scratch, would you choose the career you have now? Or would you go in a completely different direction? If so, what would that direction be? Would having a career that is closer to your dreams mean making a complete change, such as quitting your job and going back to school? Or are there elements of your ideal career you could bring into the job you have now?

    bungee jumping

    2. Figure out what fear is stopping you from doing.

    Embarrassing as it is to take career advice from a tchotchke, I was very much struck a few years ago when I saw a small decorative sign hanging in a friend's house that read: "What would you try if you knew you could not fail?"

    That question is worth really thinking about. Would you swim the English Channel? Join the space program? Launch a startup? Write a novel? Now imagine yourself actually doing some of these things. Does it make your heart sing? Would you love doing it enough to put in the time and effort to do it well?

    If the answer is yes but you're still not doing what would make you happy, then it could be that fear of failing is holding you back. We all give in to fear of failure some of the time — I do, more than I like to admit. But the truth is that when we let that fear hold us back, we're robbing ourselves.

    Because, as Jobs knew even at a young age, one of these days really will be our last. And when that day comes, we should be able to look back on a life built on the choices we made and the things we dared, not the chances we missed because we were too afraid to grab at them.

    3. Imagine your ideal life.

    This was another question from Capland's survey, and it's a great one. In your ideal life, where would you live? What would you do all day? If you were working, what and where would that work be? Why would the work be important to you? What would you enjoy about it?

    Now comes the hard part: Compare that ideal life with the life and career you currently have. If they're a close match, congratulations — you can stop reading this column. For most of us, though, there's some distance between the life we would consider ideal and the one we actually have, and we need to decide if we're willing to make the changes required to close that gap.

    But before we can start that process, we need a clear idea of what we want, so take some time over this one. It's a good idea to write down some thoughts, and get as specific as you can.

    leader

    4. Figure out the steps between here and there.

    The huge distance between our current lives and our ideal ones is often what holds us back — at least that's how it works for me. Like any long trip, you can't just jump from one place to the other. You need to figure out what steps you'll have to take along the way, and what intermediate goals you'll need to reach.

    Do you need further education to have the career you really want? If so, can you take some time off to attend classes? Take evening classes? Your first steps will be to figure out where and when you want to study, and then applying to the program you've chosen.

    If you're not sure what your first step is, good! Now you know what questions you need to ask. Find some people who seem to be living the life you want and ask them how they would recommend getting started. Knowing where you want to go is the essential first step toward having work that you love so much you would do it on the last day of your life. Knowing what you need to do to get there is almost as essential.

    5. Now take that first step.

    Right now, there's something you can do that would move you closer to your ideal life. It might be something small. It may be as simple as looking up a website with information about your profession, or making a phone call, or buying a book.

    Whatever it is, do it today. And you'll be one step closer to the life you really want.

    SEE ALSO: Steve Jobs' 14 most inspiring quotes

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The sleep habits all successful people share


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    learning, employee, thinking

    Many people wonder what they can do to become well-rounded and competitive while increasing their rate of success.

    An often overlooked yet simple way to improve is to increase your knowledge by being a self-starter.

    Traditional, structured education is very important, yet much success is derived from highly motivated individuals that have dedicated their lives to the concept of lifelong learning.

    These individuals prioritize the creation of time in their busy lives each day to educate themselves on new concepts and ideas. These individuals understand the importance of creating plentiful opportunities in all spheres of life.

    Related: 15 Free Online Learning Sites Every Entrepreneur Should Visit

    Your business is only as strong as the people behind it. There’s a direct correlation between individuals who strive for growth in their personal lives and those who thrive in their professional lives. This can be accomplished by committing to the concept of lifelong learning. In an ever-changing market and world, it’s more important than ever to stay current, competitive, and up to date.

    Pursuit of knowledge is easier than it has ever been before, as technological advances can relay information instantaneously to our fingertips. It's a modern day privilege to take this convenience and utilize it in productive ways.

    First and foremost, you must be willing to expand your mind. Rid yourself of assumptions and convictions so that you can be open and receptive to new information. This at times may even contradict what you have always believed to be true. You will eventually come across information that challenges your worldview. Rather than remaining static in your comfort zone, use this time to stop, reflect and shed light on these ideas in a way that can develop and expand your vision.

    When you come across new information, take the time to think about what you believe and why. Is your outdated mindset preventing you from advancing in a modern world? Be willing to question new information and research it further. Digging deeper will separate you from the crowd and allow you to see the value in developing an independent mind.

    Cultivating the mind prior to seeking information is as essential as cultivating a field prior to a harvest. It is a necessity to weed, fertilize and create space where information can blossom and grow. As the soil of the Earth needs to be fed to blossom, our brains are the absorbent sponge waiting to be fed with new ideas and concepts. Water it daily to stimulate growth, and you will yield a bountiful harvest of information and knowledge.

    After the mind has been prepped, the next step is application. Create a to-learn list just as you would a to-do list. These are ideas and concepts you have great interest in learning more about.

    Many people may think with their hectic and already overflowing schedules there is simply no extra time to learn anything more than what is absolutely necessary to get through the mundane tasks of everyday life. To simply develop enough skill to adhere to your job description or be informed just enough to get by is a sure pathway to mediocrity.

    woman reading

    This is where the self-starters get ahead. They understand the importance of time management and prioritizing daily growth. They are constantly striving to know, learn and do more. This competitive edge they have created propels them to success in other areas of life.

    Related: Stop Thinking and Start Doing: The Power of Practicing More

    There are many simple, effective and realistic ways to implement daily learning opportunities that do not have to inconvenience your life. Learning on the go has actually never been easier! For those who are auditory learners, audio books are the perfect way to incorporate knowledge with a simple press of the button.

    While stuck in traffic on that 30-minute commute to and from work, simply play an audio book that suits your interest. Rather than listening to the same songs in rush hour, listen to a political debate on talk radio. If music is a passion of yours, try listening to music in another language.

    Learning information you can utilize in your daily life is very important to having a continuous desire to further advance your education. Skill-based learning, for example, is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on auto maintenance isn’t the same as physically changing the oil or tire on your car. Reading about art isn’t the same as picking up a brush. If your knowledge can be directly applied in a functional and fun fashion, put it into practice! Many people learn by being hands-on.

    Make time one weekend to seek a mentor or attend a personal enrichment class. Culinary, fitness, dance or art classes are all fabulous ways to attain hands-on learning and experience. Volunteering at a shelter or children’s hospital are great ways to learn and culture yourself or your children and on worldly issues that may have otherwise been nonexistent to you.

    Think about all the wasted time you spend sitting in doctors' offices, waiting to pick the kids up from school or in a long check-out line. You could be reading a few pages of a book of your choosing. A simple 15 minutes a day could have you completing a new book every other week!

    It’s estimated that Americans are spending 23 hours every week texting and on social media. Imagine spending that time every week on your craft or your personal enrichment. You could speak five languages and be a walking fountain of knowledge by changing your habits and mindset.

    cooking

    Surround yourself with like-minded individuals and try to always take something valuable away from your daily interactions. Many people are professionals in their field and have valuable information and insight to share. If you have questions, ask them! Never be too prideful, for each question you don’t ask is a missed opportunity!

    Go ahead and challenge yourself today. Commit to expanding your mind, continuing your education and becoming a student of life. Utilize the world as your classroom, and no matter how big or small, always come away with a lesson. Remember to cultivate your mind so it is prepared to expand, blossom and grow. And share your fountain of knowledge.

    My bet is you will slowly begin to notice you are not only achieving everything you are setting out to accomplish, but you have stimulated a perpetual hunger that drives you for more in both your personal and professional lives.

    SEE ALSO: 10 strategies quick learners use to pick up anything

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    Science suggests there's one personality type that's more likely to leave the workforce and stay home with their kids once they become parents. 

    A new report from Truity Psychometrics, a provider of online personality and career assessments, found that, overall, introverts are more likely to be stay-at-home parents than extroverts.

    INFPs (people with a preference for Introversion, Intuition, Feeling, and Perceiving) were the most likely of all 16 personality types to report being a stay-at-home parent. And INFPs, ISFJs, and INFJs were all more likely than average to report they were currently staying at home to take care of their children, according to the report.

    BI_Graphics_Personality types stay at home parents (1)Molly Owens, CEO of Truity and developer of the TypeFinder® personality type assessment, says it isn't too surprising that introverts tend to thrive more than extroverts by being home with the kids.

    "One of the biggest challenges that stay-at-home parents can face is the isolation that comes with being home all day with the kids," Owens tells Business Insider. "But for introverts, this can actually be a plus."

    She says introverts tend to be more comfortable in quieter, less stimulating environments, and they usually prefer to be alone or in small groups of people they know well.

    "While jobs in busy offices can tax the reserves of introverts, taking on the role of full-time parent generally means that they get to be more choosy about who enters their space during the day. That can be a real bonus for introverts who just don't love being around hordes of people all the time," she explains.

    On the other hand, extroverts tend to thrive more on the buzz and stimulation of an office, and therefore may be more reluctant to stay home, Owens says.

    "When extroverts do choose to stay home with their kids, they'll be more likely to chafe at feelings of isolation, and will thrive on social activities like parents' associations and playgroups."

    SEE ALSO: People with this personality type are most likely to be unemployed

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    NOW WATCH: Science says that parents of successful kids have these 7 things in common


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    man frustrated with phone

    If job burnout hits you, your productivity and happiness are likely already suffering. But that's not to say you can't get them back.

    There are some clear-cut warning signs that you may be approaching or experiencing burnout, which is a state of chronic stress that leads to exhaustion, detachment, and feelings of ineffectiveness. If you think you might be, it's time to take action.

    Burnout specialist Ben Fanning shares six tips that can help you conquer job burnout without quitting your job.

    1. Be proactive about solving the problem.

    Rather than being a "happy hour complainer," address the things at work that bother you.

    "You'll feel less helpless if you assert yourself," Fanning says. Not having authority is no longer an excuse to not make a difference, he says.

    2. Make a list of your regular tasks, and compare them to your job description.

    "It's often surprising how job descriptions don't reflect the work you're actually doing," Fanning says. He suggests comparing a copy of your job description to a self-made list of what you've actually been doing, and show them to your boss.

    If you point out the extra things that you've been doing, you may "gain a little leverage by showing that you've been putting in work over and above the parameters of your job," he says. 

    3. Define and visualize the perfect situation.

    It's easy to complain about the things that aren't going well, but can you give an exact description of your dream job? What work hours, activities, and relationships would be part of your day?

    "Only you can answer that," Fanning says. "If you don't take the time to define it yourself, you'll be living someone else's dream, not your own." 

    4. Propose a solution to your manager.

    Don't simply walk into your boss' office and ask to do something new, Fanning says. Make an actual proposal. "It could be a different department entirely, a new territory, or something as simple as a tweak of your current role," he says.

    It's important to prove yourself first. One way to do this is to work on a project you're passionate about during your personal time and get results. You should enjoy doing it, and you'll have solid evidence to back your offer, Fanning says.

    5. Take some time off.

    A vacation is a great way to take a break from office stress, but there are other ways to get that much needed time off. If you're truly suffering from job burnout, anything that can help is worth trying.

    Consider using your sick days or asking for a temporary leave of absence, Fanning suggests. Then take that time and completely disconnect from your laptop and cell phone. "Use the time away to recharge your batteries and get a new perspective," he says.

    6. Get a coach. 

    Venting to family and friends can help temporarily relieve stress, but it isn't a long-term solution. Plus, they'll likely grow annoyed if it continues to happen. Talking to a wellness or stress coach may help.

    "Oftentimes, a confidential, unbiased third-party perspective with your best interest in mind is just what you need to get into a more helpful mindset and generate a new path forward that works for you," Fanning says.

    SEE ALSO: 20 warning signs you're burnt out at work

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    Are you confident in all your job interview answers? Challenge yourself to see if you nail these 5 questions intentionally designed to trick you. 

    Produced by Lamar Salter. Original reporting by Jacquelyn Smith and Rachel Sugar.

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    jon stewart

    Tonight, Jon Stewart will host his final episode of "The Daily Show." He's been at the show's helm for 16 years, from the end of the Clinton years to the close of the Obama era.

    In that time, he's established himself as a national icon, taking to the air every night at 11 p.m. to, as New Yorker editor David Remnick put it, "expose our civic bizarreries." 

    In honor of the end of his Emmy-winning tenure — though not, he reminds us, his actual end ("Guys, let me make something clear," he reminded his audience at a recent taping, The Week reports. "I'm not dying.") — we looked back on the incredible and winding career of the legendary comedian.

    SEE ALSO: An inside look the historic career of 'unlikely ballerina' Misty Copeland, who went from 'pretty much homeless' to dance superstar

    Jonathan Stewart Leibowitz was born in 1962 in New York City. His mother, Marian, was a teacher who later became an educational consultant. His father, Don, was a physicist. (His older brother, Larry, was 2 at the time, and went on to work on Wall Street, and is the former COO of NYSE Euronext.)

    Sources: The New Yorker, Moment



    The Leibowitzes moved to a middle-class neighborhood in Lawrence Township, New Jersey, where Stewart grew up. His was one of the few Jewish families in town, and he was often teased as a kid, according to the New Yorker's Tad Friend. "He recalls being called 'Leibotits' and 'Leibosh--s,' and getting punched out at the bus stop when he was in the seventh grade."

    Source: The New Yorker



    When Stewart was 12, his parents divorced. According to The New Yorker, he was "deeply shaken by the breakup, and by his subsequent failure to find common ground with his father." In the 2002 profile, Stewart told Friend that his father had never seen him perform.

    Source: The New Yorker



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    jeff weiner

    Surely meetings weren’t designed to be useless time sucks that everyone dreads until the minute they’re over.

    You’ve likely been part of the drill at some point.

    Entire teams and departments shuffle into the boardroom; a few key people speak and make decisions, while the rest are lost in space thinking about they want for lunch while fighting the urge to nod off.

    But they don’t have to be that way. Employees should want to go to meetings, but this is rarely the case.

    In a recent post on his LinkedIn blog, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner shares his secret for more effective meetings, which are critical. Ask your employees, he says, and they’ll tell you meetings are one of their biggest productivity killers.

    If you aren’t motivated by improving employee morale (hey, I’m not judging), chew on that for a minute: useless meetings are killing productivity in your company, too.

    Every meeting should have a purpose, Jeff says, and meetings should be only as long as it takes to get business done.

    But everyone says that — how does he actually do it?

    "At LinkedIn, we have essentially eliminated the presentation," he writes. "In lieu of that, we ask that materials that would typically have been presented during a meeting be sent out to participants at least 24 hours in advance so people can familiarize themselves with the content."

    Meeting participants can then focus exclusively on discussion, and on generating valuable discourse. They're encouraged to provide shared context, dive deeper and (perhaps most importantly) have a meaningful debate, Weiner says.

    This enables everyone in the room to participate in the meeting, rather than just a few key people who do all if the talking (via presenting) and decision making (because only they knew coming into the meeting what was actually going on).

    Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, has a different approach to meeting strategy. It's based on an idea so simple, it's crazy more companies aren’t following suit.

    Bezos' rule is quite simple: Don't plan a meeting in which two pizzas aren't enough to feed everyone.

    His meetings are a free flow of ideas; all attendees can join the conversation and share their thoughts.

    Weiner and Bezos have similar meeting concepts, with the main idea being that time is valuable and should not be wasted. Also, everyone should be involved in the discussion.

    Personally, I'd get excited about a meeting that provided espresso! Regular coffee would do, but I'd be slightly less excited. But the point is, how can you maximize your approach to meetings to keep people excited about business? Small changes can reap great rewards.

    And have you ever actually asked your employees what would make meetings less painful and more productive for them? Their answers might surprise you.

    Before your next meeting, take the time to identify the purpose. What is the objective and what is the expected outcome? Don't have a meeting for the sake of having a meeting, even if it's a weekly tradition. Sure, it's important to keep everyone in the loop, but this legacy idea that you have to have regular meetings just to say you did is a real time waster. And how many of us can afford that?

    What if your employees were just as excited about going to your next meeting? What's your hook? You let me know … I’ll just be sneaking into an Amazon meeting to grab a quick slice.

    Read the rest of Jeff Weiner’s awesome post on a smarter meeting strategy on his LinkedIn profile.

    SEE ALSO: LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner explains his No. 1 management principle

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    einstein chalkboard learning smart

    The story has become lore.

    Albert Einstein was a rebellious student who chafed against traditional schooling and earned bad grades.

    After his university education, his brilliance was overlooked by a conformist academy who refused to give him a professorship. Broke and unemployed, Einstein settled for a lowly job as a patent clerk.

    But this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Free from the bonds of conventional wisdom, he could think bold, original thoughts that changed the world of physics.

    The reality, of course, is more complicated.

    Einstein was a rebellious student, but he always received exceptional marks in math and physics in school and on entrance exams.

    Einstein did struggle after college, but he wasn't turned down for professorships. What he failed to obtain after graduation was a university assistant ship— which is, roughly speaking, a way to fund a graduate student while he or she works on a doctoral dissertation (like what we now call a research assistantship in American graduate education).

    This was not a case of his brilliance being ignored, because Einstein was to early in his education to have done anything brilliant yet (the paper on capillary action he published the year after his graduation was mediocre). The main reason for his assistantship rejection was a bad recommendation letter from a professor who didn't like him.

    The key detail often missed in this story is that while Einstein was a patent clerk, he was continuing to work toward his doctoral degree. He had an adviser, he was reading and writing, he met regularly with a study group (pictured above).

    The same year Einstein published his ground breaking work on special relativity (1905) he also submitted his dissertation and earned his PhD. Soon after he received professorship offers, and his academic career took off.

    In other words, Einstein had to work a job to support his family while earning his Ph.D. (an exhausting turn of bad luck), but his career from university to graduate degree to professorship still followed a pretty standard trajectory and timeline.

    The conformist path to innovation

    The reason I'm telling this story is because it underscores a common habit: We like to cast innovators as outsiders who leverage their freedom from tradition-bound institutions to change the world.

    In reality, innovation almost always requires long periods of quite traditional training.

    Einstein was brilliant and original, but until he finished a full graduate education, he didn't know enough physics to advance it.

    The same story can be told of many other innovators.

    Take Steve Jobs: The Apple II was lucky timing; Jobs didn't become a great CEO until after spending decades struggling to master the world of business. Once his skills were honed, however, he returned to Apple and his brilliance had an outlet.

    This is the hard thing about innovation. If we want to encourage people to change the world, we have to first encourage them to buckle down and work inside the box.

    The tricky part is embracing this necessary conformity while somehow keeping that spark to think different alive long enough for you to get good enough to do good.

    SEE ALSO: 22 quotes that take you inside Albert Einstein's revolutionary mind

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    Woman jogging

    Some habits are more important than others — they have the power to transform your life.

    Charles Duhigg, author of "The Power of Habit," calls these "keystone habits." They are correlated with other good habits. For example, regular exercise often goes hand-in-hand with better eating habits.

    Keystone habits don't create a direct cause-and-effect relationship, but they can spark "chain reactions that help other good habits take hold," Duhigg writes.

    Here are eight simple keystone habits that can change your life for the better.

    SEE ALSO: This one-minute morning routine can improve your productivity all day long

    Having family dinners

    Gathering your family around the dinner table every night may seem small, but it has a big impact.

    As Duhigg writes, "Families who habitually eat dinner together seem to raise children with better homework skills, higher grades, greater emotional control, and more confidence." 



    Making your bed every morning

    Why waste the time making your bed if you're just going to mess it up again at night, right?

    Wrong.

    Making your bed is correlated with increased productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and better budgeting skills, Duhigg writes. "Bed makers are also more likely to like their jobs, own a home, exercise regularly, and feel well rested," Psychology Today reports.



    Exercising regularly

    Exercise triggers people to start eating better, Duhigg writes. He adds that people who exercise have increased patience, less stress, and are more productive at work. 

    Moreover, according to the Association for Applied Sport Psychology, exercise is correlated with better mood, less stress, more confidence, and better sleep.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    woman

    It is no big secret that college students want to pick a major with the most lucrative outcome.

    The sooner they can pay off those debts, the sooner they can buy that house or that sensible eco-friendly sedan.

    It is also no big secret that there is a severe wage-gap where women are making only 77 percent of what their male coworkers earn.

    However, the times may be a-changin': A new piece of data analysis reveals that in a number of fields women are out-earning men — for recent college graduates, at least.

    Economists of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Jason A. Aibel and Richard Dietz, have found that amongst college grads the 23 percent wage gap has closed to only a 3 percent wage gap among male and female graduates who studied the same college major. (Is this the part where we're supposed to jump up and down and be thrilled that the company we work for refuses to cough up three percent for the same job?).

    Furthering their studies, Aibel and Dietz found that in 29 of the 73 majors they studied, female graduates actually made more than male graduates of the same major. However, it's worth noting that these figures only held true for recent college grads; when you look at the data for those in the mid-career range, men still vastly out-earn women.

    So what are those majors? Many of them seem pretty standard. At first, a few came as a surprise to me (ones like aerospace engineering and construction services); however, it's possible that women might be in the minority in these types of careers, making them that much more vluable to a company. I have to wonder then, where is our value when it comes to the other 44 majors that male graduates are still earning higher wages in?

    Here are the top 10 majors where recent women college graduates out-earn men, according to Aibel and Deitz's analysis; head on over to Liberty Street Economics for more.

    10. Nutrition Sciences 

    NutritionistThese careers include clinical dietician, pediatric dietician, wellness instructor, food technologist, flavor chemist. Flavor chemist? I want that one! Recent female grads earn three percent more than men in this field — a small percentage, perhaps, but notable one nonetheless.

    9. Earth Sciences 

    Earth science careers can range from geology, seismology, volcanology, ocean science, and mineralogy, to name a few. Like nutritional science careers, women again earn about three percent more than their male counterparts in the earth science field.

    8. Mechanical Engineering

    Top careers in mechanical engineering include automotive engineers, construction project manager, industrial project engineer, design engineering manager, and manufacturing plant manager. Female mechanical engineers earn up to four percent more in wages than males.

    7. Business Analytics

    market analystHave a strong desire to go into companies and solve different problems, like cost control and sales improvement? Maybe you're suited for the life of a business analyst. Female analysts are earning up to seven percent more than male business analysts.

    6. Construction Services

    The list of jobs that fall under construction services is all over the place. These careers can range from cost estimators to project managers, from contractors to plumbers, and more. Women in construction services earn eight percent more than men with these same careers.

    5. Aerospace Engineering

    Aerospace engineers design spacecrafts, aircrafts, missiles, and satellites; they also test prototypes for functionality. This is another career choice with an eight percent wage gap between men and women.

    4. Art History

    art fairMaybe Charlotte York had it right all along (what is the deal with that "unmarried woman" thing?). Graduates in art history can become museum curartors, gallery owners, art advisors, estate and art appraisers, art and antique dealers, art librarians... the list goes on. Earnings for female art historians are nine percent higher than men.

    3. Industrial Engineering

    An industrial engineer's job is to effectively determine the most resourceful ways to utilize machines, materials, energy, and workers. Women see a significant wage-gap in this field, earning ten percent more than male engineers.

    2. Treatment Therapy

    Treatment therapy is another one of those umbrella majors. Careers in treatment therapy can range from physical therapy to speech therapy, all the way to psychotherapy and behavioral therapy. Women in this field earn wages eleven percent higher than men.

    1. Social Services

    Social service careers are the careers that most favor women. These careers include substance abuse social workers, child social services, school social work, healthcare social workers, speech pathologists, and school counselors. There is a whopping sixteen percent difference in wages for female and male graduates in this field.

    SEE ALSO: Why the income-inequality crowd is wrong

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    Donald Trump

    Sleep isn't just something we spend a lot of time doing. It's also something we spend a lot of time thinking about.

    Sleep deprivation can cause a variety of problems that can negatively affect your productivity, leading to anything from concentration problems to depression.

    But what is the right amount of sleep?

    The traditional number (and the National Sleep Foundation's recommendation) is somewhere between seven and nine hours for a healthy adult. However, some experts argue that anything more than seven hours is unhealthy.

    Furthermore, the C.D.C. found that some people may have a gene that lets them sleep less. Take to the internet or hit the books when it comes to sleep and you'll find a lot of disagreement, conflicting studies, and not too many clear answers. One thing is clear, though: Sleep is important.

    Some of history's most successful people — and some of the most successful people living today — have answered the sleep question in surprising ways.

    While some, like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, get between seven and nine hours of sleep every night, others have strange habits and schedules that may seem impossible to keep to the average sleeper.

    Donald Trump

    According to Donald Trump, you don't get to be a celebrity, business magnate, real estate tycoon, and presidential candidate without sacrificing some rest. Trump credits his success, in part, to the fact that he gets only three to four hours of sleep each night.

    He's said, "How does somebody that's sleeping 12 and 14 hours a day compete with someone that's sleeping three or four?"

    For some reason, possibly genetic, this dearth of sleep doesn't run Trump into the ground with exhaustion. On the contrary, it seems that the proof is in the pudding with Trump's sleeping habits.

    Thomas Edison

    Thomas Edison, one of history's most famous inventors, would not be sympathetic to discussions of healthy sleeping habits. Edison simply had too much he wanted to accomplish, and he considered sleep a royal waste of time.

    Like Trump, Edison got only three — sometimes four — hours of sleep a night, although he was known to occasionally take a power nap during the day. Allegedly, Edison once worked a full 72 hours straight, without any breaks for rest. Who knows, maybe part of Edison's inspiration for inventing the light bulb was so that he could work late into the night with adequate lighting?

    Marissa Mayer

    Marissa Mayer

    Marissa Mayer, currently the CEO of Yahoo and previously a renowned Google executive, gets very little sleep.

    It should come as no surprise — considering that she infamously worked as much as 130-hour work weeks while at Google — that Mayer prioritizes work over rest. She reportedly gets only four to six hours of sleep every night, recharging by taking week-long vacations about three times every year.

    Martha Stewart

    Whatever you think of Martha Stewart, she's a woman who needs no introduction. Stewart has achieved an astounding amount, and she hasn't done it by sleeping.

    Somehow, household name Martha Stewart manages to not just get by, but also to thrive, on four hours or less each night.

    Nikola Tesla

    Nikola Tesla, one of history's other most famous inventors, apparently was able to one-up Edison in more areas than just technological advancements in electricity. At most, Tesla would get just two hours of sleep per night.

    As a boy, Tesla would secretly stay up all night reading without being visibly any worse for wear. Keeping this extreme a sleep schedule did contribute to a nervous breakdown in his 20s, but Tesla didn't become known as the Father of Electricity by quitting — or, apparently, by sleeping.

    Extreme sleeping schedules did contribute to the success of these famous achievers, but everyone requires a different amount of sleep to be physically and emotionally healthy. Just because Tesla got two hours of sleep a night doesn't mean it's ideal — or even possible — for just anyone to copy his sleep habits. Donald Trump may think his level of success requires extreme sleep schedules, but Gates, Warren, and Bezos prove otherwise.

    SEE ALSO: 'Normal' sleep deprivation is devastatingly worse than we thought

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    email, laptop, work, office

    I have a love-hate relationship with email.

    On one hand, I love that I just need to waggle my fingers to get pretty much anything I want.

    In fact, my livelihood depends on email, and if I wield my powers of persuasion correctly, life becomes much more efficient, whether I’m requesting a client’s approval on a project or asking my roommates to submit their rent checks.

    On the other hand, I hate that I could spend all day crafting the perfect email, and still get nothing back.

    Because the truth is that people are flooded with email. And neither you nor I are guaranteed a response — let alone the response we want.

    But what I’ve come to learn from writing thousands of emails, good and bad, is this.

    When people ignore your emails or give half-hearted responses, there’s usually one main culprit: your call-to-action (CTA). That’s the part of the email where you tell the reader what to do next.

    If you want to dramatically improve your response rate and quality, you’ll need to master CTAs that are simple, well-formed, and thoughtful. Your reward for a well-crafted CTA is the exact response you want. Which is the real point of sending email, right?

    So here is a set of practical tips on how to put your emails to work for you, by harnessing the power of killer CTAs.

    Your email’s CTA is the only thing that matters

    As fun as it can be to craft a well-written note, you’re not writing email just to see your beautiful prose and impressive vocabulary on the screen. If you’re one of those people, I adore you (and congratulations on reading Merriam-Webster every morning), but you’re ultimately writing emails to get something you want. Even if what you want is to offer your insight or get to know someone new.

    With that in mind, here’s the most important step in improving your email responses: decide on your call-to-action first.

    Once you know what you want the reader to do, write it down. That’s the first line of your email.

    (Later, you can move the CTA to the middle or toward the end — but more on that in a moment.)

    This simple technique will help you clarify for yourself what you want from the reader, which will then keep your email brief, clear, and incredibly easy to respond to.

    Then, the rest of the email will fall into place with this question: “What information do they need in order to act on my CTA?” In other words, what do I need to share for this person to do what I want?

    With that question in mind, add only the information that’s absolutely necessary to make your CTA crystal clear. Because you’ve decided what your CTA is upfront, this will save tons of time writing unnecessary prose and including tangential information.

    Most importantly, it puts the focus on the reader.

    Without this step, you’ll be tempted to launch into a stream-of-consciousness email about you, you, you — what you’ve been thinking about, your problems, your ideas, what you think your reader might want to hear.

    Delete! People ultimately don’t care about anything that isn’t truly essential for them.

    So respect their time (and yours!) by sending an email with a purpose: a clear, actionable CTA.

    laptop

    The best kind of CTA results in “yes”

    The best email CTA allows the reader to hit the reply button and say “yes.” If your email gets people to do what you want, then you’re writing a perfect email.

    For example, let’s say you want to plan your mom’s birthday party by email. The basic CTA of your email is: “Decide when you want your birthday party.” 

    Here’s an example of a CTA that doesn’t hinge on “yes”:

    Hey Mom,

    When do you want to have your birthday party?

    We could do Friday or Saturday. The downside of Friday is that people who are working won’t be able to come before 6pm and they might flake out altogether. Saturday has a better chance for good attendance. Weather.com says there’s a 20% chance of rain on Saturday, but we’re in California, so who are we kidding?

    Anyway, what do you think?

    Love,

    Blake

    If you write a CTA like this — a vague, open-ended “what do you think?” — you’re asking your mom to write custom sentences back, which easily adds confusion and unnecessary complexity. She might even delay her response, or call you to discuss the matter, or just avoid the conversation altogether because she’s unsure how to respond — a common syndrome of poor email writing.

    Let’s look at an example of how to get a fast, decisive response using a CTA that hinges on “yes”:

    Hey Mom,

    I’m planning your birthday party and deciding whether it should be on Friday or Saturday.

    I recommend Saturday because more people will be able to attend, especially those who work during the week.

    Does Saturday work for you?

    Love,

    Blake

    Making the default reply “yes” increases the likelihood that your reader will respond with the outcome that you want the most. And even if the response is “no,” then you still have a simple, clear exchange, which will make the next communication even easier.

    The best part? People will learn to expect easy-response emails from you. Over time, they’ll be more likely to open your emails first and respond quickly.

    Form an opinion and lead with it

    In the last example, I reframed the email to Mom so that she can reply “yes,” rather than having to type out her own opinion.

    Of course, that kind of CTA required me to have my own opinion about the party, so I could make the email clear and pithy. Before writing it, I had to decide which option I preferred (Saturday) so that my email could lead with one recommendation, which I hope she will agree with. If the first CTA was vague and easy to ignore, it was largely because there was no firm opinion behind it.

    CTAs are connected to opinions. Crafting a great CTA forces you to have a clear stance on the topic you’re writing about, and having a clear stance makes it easy to write a great CTA.

    Having a strong recommendation is like having a spear tip — it cuts through the noise and helps you get things done faster. It’s much more effective than asking for other people to come up with opinions, because you’ve already put a stake in the ground. Sure, they might still disagree, but at least they have something to disagree about. That’s much easier for both parties than asking someone to form an opinion from scratch.

    So don’t be afraid to step up in your emails — to develop your own opinions based on your preferences and desired outcomes, and to communicate them in the form of clear CTAs. That’s the mark of a great communicator, and an essential quality in getting things done.

    keyboard typing

    Use CTAs to manage big, lengthy requests

    When you have a request for someone that involves a lot of explanation — especially when you’re asking for a favor — try using Ramit Sethi’s “One-Two Punch.”

    Let’s say you want someone to be a beta reader for your book. You might be tempted to send them an email that explains the commitment they’d have to make, how long it’ll take them, what the goals of the project are, and instructions to get started. That way, they can see what they’re in for, right?

    The thing is, a request like that can get long and overwhelming pretty quickly. Chances are they won’t fully read the email in the first place. It’s hard for someone to open an email in the middle of their busy day, see a wall of text, understand exactly what it’s asking … and, ultimately, comply with what you want.

    Instead, use the power of a simple CTA.

    You could start the email with a short request: “Hey Ron, last time I saw you I told you that I’m writing a book on corn reproduction. I’d be honored to have your feedback. Would you be willing to be my beta reader?”

    Ron is now in a position to hit reply and say “yes.” Best CTA in the world: check.

    Once Ron signs on, you can then send a response with the details on the project. Ron is far more likely to read it and comply, because he’s already committed to helping you. At each step along the way, you gave him only what he needed to know to do what you want — first to say yes to reading your book, and then to deliver on that promise.

    Email can be a powerful way to get big, complicated things done, because it lends itself so well to the quick-response “yes.” Once you have the response you want, you’ve created the initial mental commitment that will get them to engage with the rest of your request.

    Make compliance easy

    You should move heaven and earth to let your reader respond with a “yes” and nothing more.

    But sometimes you just can’t, and you need a more involved response or action from your reader. To increase the likelihood that they’ll go through with it, make it as easy as possible.

    The first tip here comes from Marsha Shandur, who describes her favorite way to end an email when her CTA is to respond to the email:

    “If you have 2 mins to hit reply and let me know, that would be awesome.”

    Saying “hit reply and let me know” walks the reader through what they need to do. It seems like the tiniest instruction in the world, but that’s precisely what helps them put one foot in front of the other and comply with your request. Imagine how helpful this sequencing can be when the instructions are more complicated.

    The second tip is to give your reader everything they need to comply by doing any work for them that you could do instead. In many cases that work comes in the form of documents, which you can attach to the email or, even better, link to with Google Docs directly inline.

    For example, if I want someone to give me feedback on a draft of a case study, I wouldn’t say, “Let me know what you think of the first draft of the case study I sent you!” That’s not specific enough, and it requires them to filter through their email to find the case study and pinpoint spots where I need their feedback most.

    Instead, I’d go with something like, “Please click on the attached draft of the Corn Repro Case Study, then reply to the comments I’ve tagged you in.”

    The difference is that I’ve served them the document on a silver platter and let them know exactly where to read and provide feedback. That courtesy and ease will make it super easy for your readers to give you what you want — and quickly.

    laptop headphones

    Put your CTA at the beginning or end of an email

    You can influence an email reader’s response to your CTA based on where you place it in the message.

    Ultimately, there are three places in your email where a CTA could go: the beginning, the middle, or the end.

    I don’t recommend putting your CTA in the middle, because it’s hard to find and your reader is more likely to forget it. That’s the serial position effect at work — people’s tendency to remember the first and last things in a series. When you remember the first things in a list, that’s the primacy effect at work. And when you remember the last thing that was mentioned, that’s the recency effect — the item that came most recently.

    So whatever comes in the middle of your email is at a disadvantage. When you want someone to remember what you’ve said, put it at the beginning or end.

    Where you ultimately place your CTA will vary from email to email. My main piece of advice here is that when your email must be long, put the CTA at the top, even if it requires the rest of the email to truly make sense. That will hook the reader and justify the time spent reading the rest of your note. Shorter emails, because they are easier to process, can punch with a CTA at the end.

    For example, this is how I get responses from a busy boss or client. I often send them a weekly update with the status of my projects, and 95% is just information they need to have on hand as an FYI. But sometimes I need to add a request to approve something or remind them of a task.

    Since this kind of email is very FYI-like, and longer than average, they may get the message that no action is needed from them or may not read it at all. So it’ll be my loss when they don’t act on the CTA I’ve buried 70% of the way through or placed at the very end of the email. Instead, I put the CTA up top.

    This is particularly handy when my CTA relates to a low-priority project and I want to talk about a higher-priority one first.

    Hi Marie,

    Here’s an update on last week’s projects. Could you please approve the attached press release?

    Thanks,

    Ella

    Project update this week

    Project #1

    • Status

    Press release project #2

    • AI: Please approve
    • Document attached
    • Status

    Project #3

    • Status

    When you’re emailing someone who doesn’t read email much or is extra busy, you can consider highlighting your CTA in yellow or making it boldface. But only do this with folks you have a preexisting relationship with so that you know that it’ll actually be helpful — some people readily admit they’re so busy that they miss CTAs in your emails, and it’s perfectly acceptable to help them out with a highlight. Otherwise, you might come off as condescending.

    If you’re emailing a group of people who each have a CTA, help them find their action items in your note. This is especially handy if you’re sending a follow-up email up after a team meeting. Organize action items by name and consider making names bold:

    • @Yolanda: Please XYZ
    • @Jungsoo: Please XYZ

    Even the most well-crafted CTA is useless if no one reads it. So put thought into how you’re presenting your CTA and how you want your reader to find it. That usually means being smart, deliberate and clear in your CTA positioning.

    Commit to killer CTAs

    The best communicators let you know in no uncertain terms what they need from you, and make it easy for you to oblige. Mastering the art of the call-to-action lets you get things done faster without creating additional work or friction. This small but crucial skill can make the difference between good and great performance, and take your productivity and leadership to a whole new level.

    SEE ALSO: Here are 2 fonts that make your emails readable — and 2 you should never use

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