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The latest news on Careers from Business Insider

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    navy seal parachute

    Earlier in my career, I was a Navy SEAL. And I remember how, when we planned a mission, there were certain criteria we looked to, to tip the balance of power on the battlefield in our favor. 

    If we hadn't followed those criteria, we would have placed ourselves at a disadvantage and given the enemy the upper hand.

    That's not so different from what happens in the startup world: There are certain considerations to integrate when planning for success, and there are also key factors to avoid: no-nos that are an inevitable means toward failure.

    After all, the only differences between planning a mission on the battlefield vs. a mission in business — at least in my experience — are semantics and the end state.

    Sure, the results on the battlefield have more at stake than those with a startup, but your goal of applying human applications like performance, adaptability, and leadership in order to win are exactly the same.

    To increase your own chances of success amidst a constantly changing environment and keep your business alive, keep the following three strategies in mind as you outline your next plan:

    1. Identify what 'winning' looks like. 

    Is it market share? Revenue? Customer satisfaction? Employee engagement? If you have more than one business unit in your company, it’s imperative — critical, even — to get everybody on the same page. If your product team thinks winning means selling 100 widgets to gain product feedback, but your sales team thinks winning is selling only the highest-priced widgets, you have a discrepancy between each team’s goals.

    When you scale that confusion across the whole organization, random states of chaos occur throughout the company that impact its performance. The takeaway here is this: You can either over-communicate, or you can under-deliver. Which side would you rather be on?

    2. Plan, but be ready to adapt.

    One of my favorite Mike Tyson quotes is, “Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the face.” Don’t get me wrong; planning is necessary for a couple of reasons: 

    • To identify where you are, versus where you want to go
    • To identify potential barriers to success
    • To create the feedback loops, so you know when you’re off track

    What’s important about planning, though, is to not take it personally when that plan doesn't work. Just because you were the brains behind the “strategy” doesn’t mean you have to implement it. Remember, your goal is to achieve whatever it was you set out to win, and how you get there will zig and zag along the way.

    navy seal

    Build that into your planning by creating time to reflect, review and readjust. Making minor corrections more frequently is more efficient and far more effective than trying to bridge major gaps down the road.

    3. Your environment is everything.

    The environment in which you work, live, and operate is a huge factor that helps or hinders success. The culture at work, the city in which you live, the clients with whom you interact: All play into your overall satisfaction. If one of these factors is lagging — if you enjoy your company but dislike the people on your team — it’s only a matter of time before you pull the plug or, worse, self-sabotage.

    As the environment changes, so too does your response to it. If there’s something about your environment that is less than ideal, ask yourself what you can do to improve it. What are you looking for? Or, even better, revisit the first point above and ask yourself, “What does success look like [in this situation]?”

    There are just as many ways to win as there are to lose, and the brain tends to find whatever it looks for. Keep the above criteria in mind while outlining your next plan of attack.

    SEE ALSO: 4 ways Olympians and Navy SEALs increase their mental toughness

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This ‘Shark Tank’ investor once made a $5 million mistake

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    HandshakeWe've all been in those situations where we've forgotten someone's name.

    It's even worse when it happens immediately after meeting them.

    How can you deal with it without being too awkward? 

    Here are some helpful strategies.

    This is an update of a story originally written by Maggie Zhang.


    SEE ALSO: 7 Body-Language Tricks To Make Anyone Instantly Like You

    Ask them to put their number in your phone.

    It's the best way to get their name without even asking for it. Typically, they will enter both their first and last names, along with their number. It's a great way to stay in touch with them in the future and to assure you won't forget their name again.

    Ask for their email address.

    Most people have their name within their email address, so it's an easy way to learn the information you need and gain a valuable connection. It will also show you care about reaching out to them in the future.

    If they don't have their name, they might at least have a reference to their college, workplace, or favorite hobby within their username, so it can serve as a great conversation starter.

    Introduce them to a friend.

    At a party or networking event, making introductions is expected. Find one of your friends and introduce them first, and then wait for your conversation partner to do the same.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Trevor Noah

    Trevor Noah is days away from starting the biggest job of his life.

    The 31-year-old comedian from South Africa takes over for Jon Stewart as the host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" on Monday, and the expectations couldn't be higher. Under Stewart's leadership, "The Daily Show" won 20 Emmy Awards and last year averaged a solid 2.2 million viewers per night.

    How is Noah handling the pressure of his new job? 

    Inc. spoke with the funny man — who also happens to be a business owner — about the challenge of stepping into enormous shoes. Here's an edited version of our interview.

    You've said you're trying to figure things out yourself as much as possible, rather than calling Stewart for help. How's that going?

    Thus far I haven't called him, which has been great. But I have promised myself and him that we will definitely touch base at least once before the show. We'll probably hang out, and I'll just get one pep talk from him and get all the advice that I can absorb into my brain at that time.

    How have you approached being the new leader of "The Daily Show"? 

    For me, being a leader has always meant being part of the team. Some people choose to lead from the top, whereas I choose to lead from within. It's how I ran my production shows back home and how I run my businesses, and it's the same thing I'm trying to do at "The Daily Show." It's just a different leadership style depending on who you are.

    What are your businesses?

    I started a production company back in South Africa that did everything from live touring production to television production. And I have a few restaurants as well. I've always enjoyed business and everything in and around the business world.

    What advice do you have for someone with big shoes to fill, like you have now?

    Don't be afraid to say you don't know, because there are many things we don't know. And don't be afraid to learn. The third and most important thing is: Try to have a good relationship with your predecessor. I remember hearing stories about [going from] one president to the next in America, and how smooth or not smooth that transition was. Presidents will give each other tips and try to give each other a heads up on other heads of state and situations that they stumbled into. Having another experience to inform your decisions is often priceless.

    Trevor Noah

    How are you handling the transition from solo performer to being part of a larger organization?

    It's always a challenge when you're used to working alone to now working with others and creating something. But at the same time I'm a very collaborative person. I like to work with people. I like to talk to people. That's one aspect of "The Daily Show" that really works in my favor. I like having people around me to bounce ideas off of. 

    How do you handle the pressure of performing? Is there a routine you follow?

    I meditate every morning. I try to center my mind on my goals, think about what I'm trying to do, and think about how I could do it better. Then I set out into the day with a clearer understanding of my purpose. At night I like to take a moment to decompress and do the opposite. I'll reassess the day, look at what went wrong, what went right, and why it happened. Then I go to bed with no unresolved thoughts — or as few as possible.

    trevor noah

    Do you have any plans to be a celebrity investor, like Ashton Kutcher or Nas?

    Definitely. The matchup between the name that you can lend and certain experience that you may bring to the table from your world could help a brand or a product. If you find the right product that matches up to what you want to do, that can be a really fruitful relationship. It's something I look forward to doing.

    After you were criticized for some Twitter jokes, Mark Cuban tweeted that you should get his app Xpire, which automatically deletes social media content. Did you look into that?

    No, no, no.

    Do you think technology has reached the point where we need services to delete our digital footprint?

    Maybe what we need is a technology that encourages us to be more selective when looking at other people's digital footprint — especially companies when they're hiring people. We've gotten to a stage where we treat every single employee like they're running for president, and the same metric cannot be applied. I don't know if deleting everybody's past is the right way to go. Because then where do we stop? Do we delete kids' drawings when they're young? At some point we're going to get to a sticky place where we don't know how much to delete.

    So you're about to take over a show known for political commentary. What are your thoughts on Donald Trump? 

    I think the great thing about Donald Trump is that everything he says is about himself, so you almost don't need comments from anyone else. 

    SEE ALSO: Future 'Daily Show' host Trevor Noah breaks down his insane daily schedule

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This ‘Shark Tank’ investor once made a $5 million mistake

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    Elon Musk

    What are the secrets to success?

    Well, successful people work hard. But you work hard too, right?

    And if you keep working harder and harder you're just going to be miserable. So what's the answer?

    Successful people don't just work hard, they also work different.

    So let's see what you and I can learn from extremely successful people who achieve big things — and hear some really cool stories in the process.

    And since we're talking about big accomplishments, it only makes sense that the first thing you and I should do is lift the entire city of Chicago…

    1. When the going gets tough, the tough get creative.

    Extremely successful people make the impossible possible. And they do it by being resourceful. Creative.

    The research shows most people don't do what is best, they do what is easySuccessful people, on the other hand, struggle to find a better way.

    In the 1800's, Chicago was filthy. Not "it smells in here" filthy, but "people are dying from disease" filthy.

    Via How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World:

    The effects of all this filth were not just offensive to the senses; they were deadly. Epidemics of cholera and dysentery erupted regularly in the 1850s. Sixty people died a day during the outbreak of cholera in the summer of 1854.

    But how do you dig sewers underneath the entire city of Chicago with 19th century technology? Seems impossible. Nope.

    Maverick railway engineer Ellis Chesbrough said we'll just lift the whole city. And so he did.

    Via How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World:

    But here Chesbrough's unique history helped him come up with an alternate scenario, reminding him of a tool he had seen as a young man working the railway: the jackscrew, a device used to lift multiton locomotives onto the tracks. If you couldn't dig down to create a proper grade for drainage, why not use jackscrews to lift the city up? Aided by the young George Pullman, who would later make a fortune building railway cars, Chesbrough launched one of the most ambitious engineering projects of the nineteenth century.

    Building by building, Chicago was lifted by an army of men with jackscrews. As the jackscrews raised the buildings inch by inch, workmen would dig holes under the building foundations and install thick timbers to support them, while masons scrambled to build a new footing under the structure. Sewer lines were inserted beneath buildings with main lines running down the center of streets, which were then buried in landfill that had been dredged out of the Chicago River, raising the entire city almost ten feet on average.

    Nothing was shut down. As a 750-ton hotel was lifted, people went about their lives inside — perhaps only taking a second to marvel at the surreal experience going on beneath them.

    Hard to believe? Steven Johnson explains in the video below. (Busy? Just watch from 55 seconds in to 1:50):

    Isn't accomplishing huge stuff like this hard? Of course it's hard. But when you try to do things bigger and better you have one enormous advantage: other people's laziness. You're trying to improve and they're not.

    Elon Musk realized the same thing in his quest to build a better spacecraft.

    NASA always felt you had to have crazy high standards for equipment that would get you into space. Makes sense, but what they didn't do was pay attention to just how much better cheap, off-the-shelf technology had gotten over the years.

    Musk believed much of what was being produced now was up to the job. So, ignoring NASA, he tested it. And he was right.

    Via Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future:

    "Traditional aerospace has been doing things the same way for a very, very long time," said Drew Eldeen, a former SpaceX engineer. "The biggest challenge was convincing NASA to give something new a try and building a paper trail that showed the parts were high enough quality."

    To prove that it's making the right choice to NASA and itself, SpaceX will sometimes load a rocket with both the standard equipment and prototypes of its own design for testing during flight. Engineers then compare the performance characteristics of the devices. Once a SpaceX design equals or outperforms the commercial products, it becomes the de facto hardware.

    This kind of creativity is seen in all types of successful people… even drug dealers.

    Yes, drug dealing is illegal but undoubtedly successful, so you can learn some good from the bad.

    The Colombian authorities had finally nailed Pablo Escobar. And the judge wouldn't take a bribe. So what did Escobar do? No, he didn't kill him. Pablo got creative.

    He hired the judge's brother as his attorney, forcing the judge to recuse himself. The replacement took the bribe.

    Via Pirates, Prisoners, and Lepers: Lessons from Life Outside the Law:

    Potentially facing a long prison sentence, Escobar tried to bribe the judge, who refused the offer. Escobar then hired the judge's brother as his attorney, forcing the judge to recuse himself from the case. The next judge accepted Escobar's bribe.

    We often hear a "no" and stop. Or we double down with what didn't work the first time. Wrong.

    Do like extremely successful people do: get creative.

    (To learn the science of how to be more successful and happier at the same time, click here.)

    So you've stopped banging your head against the wall and you're being innovative. Cool. How do you impress the people who can back your awesome capers? That's easy: stop trying.

    Steve Martin

    2. Don't be great. Be consistently good.

    Everyone wants to look great during that big presentation, to excel during that critical moment.

    But that's not how Steve Martin became the king of comedy. He didn't worry about being the best at any particular time.

    He focused on improving his skills and being consistently good no matter what the situation.

    Via Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life:

    I learned a lesson: It was easy to be great. Every entertainer has a night when everything is clicking. These nights are accidental and statistical: Like lucky cards in poker, you can count on them occurring over time. What was hard was to be good, consistently good, night after night, no matter what the abominable circumstances.

    Yes, Steve Martin. The silly guy on SNL shouting, "We're two wild and crazy guys!" The comedian who performed with a fake arrow through his head.

    But in perhaps the height of irony, Martin took being silly very seriously.

    Via Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life:

    I did stand-up comedy for eighteen years. Ten of those years were spent learning, four years were spent refining, and four were spent in wild success… Enjoyment while performing was rare — enjoyment would have been an indulgent loss of focus that comedy cannot afford.

    Focus less on specific opportunities and more on improving your skills every day.

    Georgetown professor Cal Newport named his book on expertise after Martin's philosophy: you need to be "So Good They Can't Ignore You." And Steve Martin isn't alone. Jerry Seinfeld said something very similar.

    Via Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy:

    It's very easy to get a break. It's very hard to be good enough.

    Most of us think about impressing others at the important moment. But that's all about appearances. Instead, focus on constant improvement and be the real deal. As Jose Narosky said:

    Many are the varnish. Few are the wood.

    (To learn how to stop being lazy, click here.)

    You're working hard to be the best. But what happens if that big moment comes and you don't impress everyone?

    3. Use rejection as motivation.

    Any biography of an extremely successful person is a litany of rejection. But they keep going.

    Matthew Weiner, Mad MenMatthew Weiner was a writer on The Sopranos and went on to be the creator of Mad Men. But it wasn't easy to get there. How did he keep going?

    He used rejection as fuel to motivate him and he made sure to remember the compliments he got along the way.

    Via Getting There: A Book of Mentors:

    While being battered always hurts, an important survival mechanism I've acquired over the years is to both thrive on rejections and hold on to compliments. Rejection enrages me, but that "I'll show you!" feeling is an extremely powerful motivator. I'm at a point where I'm afraid that if I lose it I'll stop working. On the flip side, there's nothing like a meaningful compliment from someone you respect.

    He tells a great story of how he developed this talent while in the fourth grade.

    Via Getting There: A Book of Mentors:

    In my youth I was a miserable student and rarely did my homework. My fourth grade teacher once pulled me aside and let me have it. She said, "Talking to you is like talking down the drain; you don't hear anything. You think you are going to make it through the rest of your life because you are charming. You think you don't have to do all the work — but you do." I remember looking up at her after this tirade and saying, "You think I'm charming?"

    (For more on how you can beat rejection and get what you want, click here.)

    So you're fueling your hard work with rejection and remembering the kind words. So how do you get that big break? 

    4. Working hard is the best way to network.

    Yes, successful people show up early and leave late. But it's not just the hard work that gets them results.

    Mike Bloomberg became a billionaire and then the mayor of New York City. He credits long hours but reveals a secondary benefit to being at the office when most people weren't: the only people there are the successful people.

    So bring them coffee and make a friend.

    Via Getting There: A Book of Mentors:

    Be the first one in and the last one out. If you are there early and stay late, you get a chance to talk to people who would not otherwise take your call. I built many relationships by being early. You can call the chairman of the board of almost any company early in the morning. If he's a good chairman, he's there. The secretary's not, so he'll actually answer the phone. The best time to strike is when gatekeepers aren't there!

    When I started developing Bloomberg, I wanted feedback. So every morning I'd arrive at the deli across the street from Merrill Lynch's headquarters at six a.m. and buy coffee (with and without milk) and tea (with and without milk), plus a few sugars on the side. I'd go up and roam the halls looking to see if there happened to be somebody sitting in their office alone reading a newspaper.

    I'd walk in and say, "Hi, I'm Mike Bloomberg, I bought you a cup of coffee. I'd just like to bend your ear." Nobody is going to say, "Get outta here" if you just bought him or her a cup of coffee. When someone would occasionally say, "I don't drink coffee, " I would say, "Well, then have a tea."

    michael bloomberg

    When you're at the office at 6AM (or still there at 10PM) successful people know you're part of the tribe. So they give you a chance.

    (To learn more secrets to networking the easy way, click here.)

    But what if you do network with the bigwigs and they don't get behind your plans. 

    5. Don't wait for permission.

    John Leal knew how to prevent disease: just add chlorine to the water.

    Sounds obvious to us now but in 1898 this had never been done. And chlorine is a lethal poison. So basically what people heard was, "HEY EVERYONE, LET'S SYSTEMATICALLY POISON THE WATER SUPPLY!"

    And that got the reaction you'd expect. But Leal knew he was right and they were wrong. So…

    …he did it anyway.

    Via How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World:

    In almost complete secrecy, without any permission from government authorities (and no notice to the general public), Leal decided to add chlorine to the Jersey City reservoirs. With the help of engineer George Warren Fuller, Leal built and installed a "chloride of lime feed facility" at the Boonton Reservoir outside Jersey City. It was a staggering risk, given the popular opposition to chemical filtering at the time. But the court rulings had severely limited his timeline, and he knew that lab tests would be meaningless to a lay audience. "Leal did not have time for a pilot study. He certainly did not have time to build a demonstration-scale facility to test the new technology," Michael J. McGuire writes in his account, The Chlorine Revolution.

    It worked. Of course, this got him dragged in front of a judge, which is what happens when you do something that sounds like one of The Joker's plans to attack Gotham City.

    But Leal got off and his system was implemented across the US. What was the result?

    Via How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World:

    They found that clean drinking water led to a 43 percent reduction in total mortality in the average American city. Even more impressive, chlorine and filtration systems reduced infant mortality by 74 percent, and child mortality by almost as much.

    Similarly, scientist Barry Marshall believed that ulcers weren't caused by in-laws, they were caused by the bacterium Helicobacter pylori. Of course, nobody listened. So he drank a beaker of the stuff.

    He got sick, puked a lot and quickly developed an ulcer. Then he took antibiotics and tah-dah! The ulcer was gone. (Now that's how you deal with haters.)

    Marshall and his partner Robin Warren were awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2005.

    (If you've ever suspected that people develop ulcers on their way to getting a Nobel Prize, well, how very right you are… but probably not the way you imagined.)

    No, I'm not saying you should risk poisoning yourself or others but those who achieve success don't wait around for permission. They test things.

    And with the internet, testing ideas is now easier than ever. There's really no excuse not to.

    tim ferrissWhen Tim Ferriss was writing his first book he knew he'd need a great title. But the title had to be great to readers, not just to him. So he tested some names. He took out ads on Google with the various titles and saw which one got the most clicks.

    The answer surprised him. But that's how The 4-Hour Workweek became a runaway bestseller.

    Don't listen if they don't know more than you do. Test.

    (To learn the 8 things the most successful people have in common, click here.)

    Some might be saying, "I've done all these things and I'm still not a huge success!" Fine. You can't always have the best solution to every problem. And you don't need to…

    6. If you can't be No. 1, be clever.

    Some succeed by merely differentiating. By being clever. Doing things with a panache that people find irresistible.

    We all get email receipts and we all ignore them. Why? They're boring. They're just receipts. But Derek Sivers took it to another level by being creative where no one else was.

    When you placed an order on CDBaby, what arrived in your email inbox? This…

    Via Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur:

    Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

    A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing.

    Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.

    We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved "Bon Voyage!" to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Friday, June 6th.

    I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did. Your picture is on our wall as "Customer of the Year." We're all exhausted but can't wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

    How can you not love that? And CDBaby went on to become the biggest seller of independent music on the internet at that time, racking up over $100 million dollars in sales.

    Your stylish angle doesn't have to be the most effective method because it can motivate others to join your efforts.

    Let's go back to drug dealers for a second: after Escobar was killed, Colombia was a mess. Crime ran rampant and people didn't trust the government.

    Antanas Mockus was elected mayor of Bogotá… and he had no idea what he was doing. He had been a philosophy professor of all things.

    He had no experience in politics. In fact, he got elected because he had no experience in politics. Nobody in the country trusted politicians at the time. So what was his solution to lawbreaking?


    Yeah, he hired mimes to mock lawbreakers in public. (I'd like to post a peer-reviewed study here but I doubt there is a large body of research on the effectiveness of silent comedy as a tool of the criminal justice system.)

    But the people of Colombia loved it.

    Via Pirates, Prisoners, and Lepers: Lessons from Life Outside the Law:

    Mayor Mockus used inexpensive social pressure — such as mimes who mocked people for jaywalking or silently teased cabbies who clogged intersections — to restore a sense of civil order in Bogotá. He had "thumbs-up" and "thumbs-down" cards printed and distributed around the city so that average citizens could use to cards to actively — and peacefully — bring attention to antisocial or prosocial behavior. For a passerby who helped a mom lift a stroller onto a bus: thumbs-up. For hooligans hassling an old lady: thumbs-down. People loved the cards and used them frequently.

    What happened? It got citizens on board with the government. And crime plunged.

    Via Pirates, Prisoners, and Lepers: Lessons from Life Outside the Law:

    The unconventional measures triggered a new era of safety and trust in public officials. In 1992 only 17 percent of the population claimed to trust the police, but the level of trust increased to 75 percent by 2006. Bogota had more than 81 murders for every 100,000 inhabitants in 1992. That number dropped to just over 16 per 100,000 inhabitants in 2012. Bogota today has a murder rate roughly below that of Chicago, where the rate is 19 per 100,000.

    Even if you don't have the best solution, if you implement a clever one, people will love you. And if you can motivate people, you can work wonders.

    (To learn the 6 shortcuts to success Shane Snow uncovered studying top performers, click here.)

    Okay, we've heard some crazy stories and learned a lot. Let's round it up and learn the most important thing that's missing from your personal success system.

    Sum up

    Here are some of the secrets to success on an epic scale:

    • When the going gets tough, the tough get creative. Don't do more, do different. Lift a city.
    • Don't be great, be consistently good. Don't worry about the big break, worry about being good enough.
    • Use rejection as motivation. And remember the compliments you receive. You're charming, right?
    • Working hard is the best way to network. Bring coffee and tea.
    • Don't wait for permission. Don't poison anyone, but test and prove.
    • If you can't be #1, be clever. Energizing others with style can beat "the best way." (Mimes are nodding right now.)

    But financial success isn't everything. In the end, what makes us happy with our lives is relationships. And who better to explain this than billionaire Warren Buffett?

    Warren Buffett

    Via Getting There: A Book of Mentors:

    You have lived a successful life if, as you grow older, the people who you hope love you actually do. I have never known anyone who does not feel like a success when they have gotten close to my age and have a lot of people who love them.

    We can use these same principles to improve any area of life: Be creative in how you deal with your family. Be consistently good as a parent. And don't wait for permission when it comes to your happiness.

    As T.S. Eliot once said:

    Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. 

    So get going. :)

    Join over 205,000 readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.

    Related posts:

    How To Stop Being Lazy And Get More Done – 5 Expert Tips

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    New Harvard Research Reveals A Fun Way To Be More Successful

    SEE ALSO: 23 introverts who became extremely successful

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This ‘Shark Tank’ investor once made a $5 million mistake

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    happy employeeLinkedIn Influencer Dr. Travis Bradberry published this post originally on LinkedIn.

    A recent international study surveyed more than 500 business leaders and asked them what sets great employees apart. The researchers wanted to know why some people are more successful than others at work, and the answers were surprising; leaders chose "personality" as the leading reason.

    Notably, 78% of leaders said personality sets great employees apart, more than cultural fit (53%) and even an employee's skills (39%).

    "We should take care not to make the intellect our God; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality."–Albert Einstein

    The problem is, when leaders say "personality" they don't understand what they're referring to. Personality consists of a stable set of preferences and tendencies through which we approach the world. Being introverted or extroverted is an example of an important personality trait.

    Personality traits form at an early age and are fixed by early adulthood. Many important things about you change over the course of your lifetime, but your personality isn't one of them.

    Personality is distinct from intellect (or IQ). The two don't occur together in any meaningful way. Personality is also distinct from emotional intelligence (or EQ), and this is where the study, and most leaders for that matter, have misinterpreted the term.

    AAEAAQAAAAAAAAX6AAAAJGE1MWJiMmQzLTUzM2EtNGVlNi1hNjdhLWIyZDRkNTE1NGYwOAThe qualities that leaders in the study called personality were actually emotional intelligence skills. And unlike your personality, which is set in stone, you can change and improve your EQ.

    Exceptional employees don't possess God-given personality traits; they rely on simple, everyday EQ skills that anyone can incorporate into their repertoire.

    Leaders don't need to go searching for these skills either (though it doesn't hurt when you find them); their duty is to help everyone on their team harness these skills to become exceptional.

    Just consider some of the EQ skills that leaders and managers commonly mislabel as personality characteristics.

    These are the skills that set exceptional employees apart:

    1. They're willing to delay gratification. 

    One thing an exceptional employee never says is, "That's not in my job description." Exceptional employees work outside the boundaries of job descriptions. They're neither intimidated nor entitled; instead of expecting recognition or compensation to come first, they forge ahead in their work, confident that they'll be rewarded later but unconcerned if they're not.

    2. They can tolerate conflict. 

    While exceptional employees don't seek conflict, they don't run away from it either. They're able to maintain their composure while presenting their positions calmly and logically. They're able to withstand personal attacks in pursuit of the greater goal and never use that tactic themselves.

    woman on laptop working computer

    3. They focus. 

    Student pilots are often told, "When things start going wrong, don't forget to fly the plane." Plane crashes have resulted from pilots concentrating so hard on identifying the problem that they flew the plane into the ground. Easter Airlines Flight 401 is just one example: The flight crew was so concerned about the landing gear being down that they didn't realize they were losing altitude until it was too late, despite alarms going off in the cockpit.

    Exceptional employees understand the principle of "Just fly the plane." They don't get distracted by cranky customers, interoffice squabbles, or switch to a different brand of coffee. They can differentiate between real problems and background noise; therefore, they stay focused on what matters.

    4. They're judiciously courageous. 

    Exceptional employees are willing to speak up when others are not, whether it's to ask a difficult (or "embarrassingly" simple) question or to challenge an executive decision. However, that's balanced with common sense and timing. They think before they speak and wisely choose the best time and place to do so.

    5. They're in control of their egos. 

    Exceptional employees have egos. While that's part of what drives them, they never give their egos more weight than what is deserved. They're willing to admit when they're wrong and willing to do things someone else's way, whether it's because the other way is better or it's important to maintain team harmony.

    6. They're never satisfied. 

    Exceptional employees have unparalleled convictions that things can always be better—and they're right. No one is ever done growing, and there is no such thing as "good enough" when it comes to personal improvement. No matter how well things are going, exceptional employees are driven to improve, without forgetting to give themselves a healthy pat on the back.

    fixing computer server

    7. They recognize when things are broken and fix them. 

    Whether it's a sticky desk drawer or an inefficient, wasteful process affecting the cash flow of the entire department, exceptional employees don't walk past problems. "Oh, it's been that way forever," simply isn't in their vocabulary. They see problems as issues to be fixed immediately; it's that simple.

    8. They're accountable. 

    If you're a manager trying to decipher a bungled report, "It's not my fault" is the most irritating phrase in the English language. Exceptional employees are accountable. They own their work, their decisions, and all of their results—good or bad. They bring their mistakes to management's attention rather than hoping no one will find out. They understand that managers aren't out to assign blame; they're out to get things done.

    9. They're marketable. 

    "Marketable" can mean many things. Inside the organization, it means "likeable." Exceptional employees are well liked by co-workers. They have integrity and leadership skills (even if they're not in an official leadership position) that people respond to. Externally, it means they can be trusted to represent the brand well. Managers know they can send these employees out to meet with clients and prospects without worrying about what they'll say or do.

    10. They neutralize toxic people. 

    Dealing with difficult people is frustrating and exhausting for most. Exceptional employees control their interactions with toxic people by keeping their feelings in check. When they need to confront a toxic person, they approach the situation rationally. They identify their own emotions and don't allow anger or frustration to fuel the chaos.

    They also consider the difficult person's standpoint and are able to find solutions and common ground. Even when things completely derail, emotionally intelligent people are able to take the toxic person with a grain of salt to avoid letting him or her bring them down.

    Bringing it all together

    Take notice of what's not mentioned: coding skills, years of experience, business degrees, etc. These things matter, but they won't make you exceptional.

    Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the cofounder of TalentSmart, the world's leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training, serving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies. His bestselling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. Dr. Bradberry has written for, or been covered by, Newsweek, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Harvard Business Review.

    More from Travis Bradberry:

    SEE ALSO: 16 traits the best employees share

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    Time spent away from work on hobbies is immensely valuable — it connects us with friends and family, gives us a sense of purpose and meaning, and allows us to relax, all while developing important skills.

    Even better, some of the skills our hobbies impart can benefit us in the workplace.

    Here are three hobbies that help us develop important, resume-boosting skills, without even trying.

    1. Blogging

    When you apply for a job, there's a good chance your would-be boss, or someone from the human resources department, is going to Google you.

    One of the best ways to increase your chances of landing an interview — and, eventually, the job — is to differentiate yourself from other candidates in the search results.

    Setting up and maintaining a professional blog and social media accounts is a great way to boost your image, show off your skills and accomplishments and communicate that you have an interesting, active life outside the office.

    Plus, bloggers have a better chance of getting noticed and hired by employers because they are showcasing skills that can immediately be put into use in an office setting — from search engine optimization and social media management to writing and design.

    But your blog might also offer a peek into your personality. That's important, too, because, in many respects, employers are hiring as if they are choosing between candidates to be their new friend as well as their new worker.

    While your blog should be professional — no party pictures or political rants — it should also offer flashes of your love for cooking or affinity for backgammon. The goal is to come across as a smart, motivated, well-rounded person — not a boring, one-dimensional robot.

    Travel Globe

    2. World travel

    So you just got back from a trip around the world, or a summer spent teaching English in Nepal. Maybe you spent a month solo backpacking through South America. Wherever you were, now you're home — and you're ready to find a job. Rest assured, there's no need to try to conceal how you've been spending your time.

    While carving time out to travel was once considered by many employers to be frivolous, it's now more often seen as an asset. Translation: Your time spent hiking in the mountains, touring war-torn cities, and befriending the inhabitants of remote villages boosts your hireability.

    Employers need experienced workers who are comfortable with other cultures, aren't afraid of stepping outside their comfort zones, and have a thirst for familiarizing themselves with the unknown. Did you plan, finance, and budget your own travels? Then you probably picked up some budgeting, finance, and organizational skills. Did you befriend a child in Vietnam using only body language?

    Well, then, you're skilled at overcoming communication and language barriers. People who travel are often motivated, able to speak another language, and willing to relocate — and these are highly sought qualities in the working world. No two travelers have the same stories to tell, so be sure to use your most awe inspiring ones to differentiate yourself in your cover letter.

    3. Team sports

    Participating in a team sport or activity, like club soccer, gives you a deepened sense of self-worth, purpose, and meaning. And it means you know how to play well with others — both on and off the field. Sports can teach you how to work toward a team goal while also chipping away at personal ones.

    Intramural Basketball Students

    They're a great way to polish your time management skills and learn the importance of commitment. They teach you how to overcome setbacks and learn from your mistakes.

    These are the qualities you build while dribbling up and down the court, making strategic passes to members of your team. And it's the stuff your future boss is looking for from new hires. The best place to list sports involvement on your resume is under an "activities" subhead. It's all about the keywords and phrases. Coachable. Dedicated. Accountable. Team player. Expressed properly, any job interviewer will see how your on-the-field skills will translate in the workplace.

    SEE ALSO: 10 words and phrases you should never use on your resume

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    girl writing

    After years of resisting the idea as superficial, even saccharine, I recently started keeping a gratitude journal.

    I’m not sure if it’s my Yankee upbringing or simple biology, but I’ve always been anxious, constantly scanning my environment for threats large and small.

    Journaling has by no means cured me, but I’m amazed at how, after just a couple of months, I sense my negativity bias shifting at the edges.

    We’re all primed to feel the bad — and remember it — more than the good in our everyday lives. It’s an adaptive trait that served us well in the hunter-gatherer days, but it’s also a habit that can fray our nerves.

    Psychologist Rick Hanson explains that our ancestors were prone to two kinds of errors: believing there was a tiger waiting to pounce from the bushes when all was actually fine, and being lulled into a false sense of security when there was indeed a tiger waiting to bite your arm off.

    “The cost of the first mistake is needless worry, while the cost of the second one is no more gene copies,” he writes. “Mother Nature designed us to make the first mistake a thousand times to avoid making the second mistake even once.”

    The result? As Hanson says: “The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones.”

    Shifting that mindset is tough, especially because chasing happiness often feels as futile as chasing sleep. It’s not something you can consciously demand of yourself; it’s about creating the right conditions for the thing to happen. Gratitude, rather than happiness, strikes me as the best baseline for overcoming the indignities of life. It’s also a more tangible concept for which to aim.

    A quick perusal of my journal over the past couple of months suggests that it really is those little everyday moments — the otherwise forgettable ones — that can add real value when captured.

    Despite spending so much time in my own head, I find that I respond with gratitude most often to visceral experiences: a sunny day, a conversation with an old friend, cuddling up on the couch with my partner, comfort food. Big wins at work make their way into my notes occasionally, but they’re the exception, not the rule.

    The practice itself is about as simple as it sounds. I have a small journal and pen at my bedside, and most nights as I’m getting ready for sleep, I’ll write down three or four items from the day for which I’m thankful. I find the practice works best when I’m specific (“goat cheese from the farmers market” versus “cheese”) and add a line or two about why I’m grateful for that thing or experience. (Here’s a list of additional tips for getting started.)

    For better or worse, the vast majority of our experiences are mundane — the meetings at work that seem like they’ll never end, standing in line at the grocery store, catching happy hour with some buddies. And major life events don’t change our happiness set points as much we might think or hope.

    Once the big event has passed, we quickly get fixed in the “new normal” — what psychologists call hedonic adaptation. Appreciating the day-to-day grind is central to combatting this process.

    The science behind gratitude journals is surprisingly robust. Studies have found that practicing gratitude improves our physical and emotional health, as well as our relationships. Participants have reported sleeping better as well as feeling more alert and less lonely. You don’t even have to commit to doing it every day to reap the benefits — some research finds that writing once a week is more effective.

    Perhaps the biggest benefit for me has been what I’ll call a “mindfulness feedback loop.” By putting more awareness on the small pleasures that brighten my day through writing, I’m more likely to appreciate those moments as they’re happening, too. I’m also more primed to appreciate the big stuff I’m lucky to enjoy — family and friends, a comfortable home, a good job, and my health.

    It’s not a perfect system, and there are still too many days when I operate on autopilot, letting a snide comment or missed train ruin my morning. But increasingly, there are moments of real-time gratitude. And for that, I’m thankful.

    SEE ALSO: Adding this 10-minute exercise to your morning routine can help you focus for the rest of the day

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    happy woman

    You get all kinds of happiness advice on the internet from people who don’t know what they’re talking about. Don’t trust them.

    Actually, don’t trust me either. Trust neuroscientists. They study that gray blob in your head all day and have learned a lot about what truly will make you happy.

    UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb has some insights that can create an upward spiral of happiness in your life.

    Here’s what you and I can learn from the people who really have answers:

    1. The most important question to ask when you feel down

    Sometimes it doesn’t feel like your brain wants you to be happy. You may feel guilty or shameful. Why?

    Believe it or not, guilt and shame activate the brain’s reward center.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    Despite their differences, pride, shame, and guilt all activate similar neural circuits, including the dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, amygdala, insula, and the nucleus accumbens. Interestingly, pride is the most powerful of these emotions at triggering activity in these regions — except in the nucleus accumbens, where guilt and shame win out. This explains why it can be so appealing to heap guilt and shame on ourselves — they’re activating the brain’s reward center.

    And you worry a lot too. Why? In the short term, worrying makes your brain feel a little better — at least you’re doing something about your problems.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    In fact, worrying can help calm the limbic system by increasing activity in the medial prefrontal cortex and decreasing activity in the amygdala. That might seem counterintuitive, but it just goes to show that if you’re feeling anxiety, doing something about it — even worrying — is better than doing nothing.

    But guilt, shame and worry are horrible long-term solutions. So what do neuroscientists say you should do? Ask yourself this question:

    What am I grateful for?

    Yeah, gratitude is awesome … but does it really affect your brain at the biological level? Yup.

    You know what the antidepressant Wellbutrin does? Boosts the neurotransmitter dopamine. So does gratitude.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    The benefits of gratitude start with the dopamine system, because feeling grateful activates the brain stem region that produces dopamine. Additionally, gratitude toward others increases activity in social dopamine circuits, which makes social interactions more enjoyable …

    Know what Prozac does? Boosts the neurotransmitter serotonin. So does gratitude.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    One powerful effect of gratitude is that it can boost serotonin. Trying to think of things you are grateful for forces you to focus on the positive aspects of your life. This simple act increases serotonin production in the anterior cingulate cortex.

    I know, sometimes life lands a really mean punch in the gut and it feels like there’s nothing to be grateful for. Guess what?

    Doesn’t matter. You don’t have to find anything. It’s the searching that counts.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    It’s not finding gratitude that matters most; it’s remembering to look in the first place. Remembering to be grateful is a form of emotional intelligence. One study found that it actually affected neuron density in both the ventromedial and lateral prefrontal cortex. These density changes suggest that as emotional intelligence increases, the neurons in these areas become more efficient. With higher emotional intelligence, it simply takes less effort to be grateful.

    And gratitude doesn’t just make your brain happy — it can also create a positive feedback loop in your relationships. So express that gratitude to the people you care about.

    (For more on how gratitude can make you happier and more successful, click here.)

    But what happens when bad feelings completely overtake you? When you’re really in the dumps and don’t even know how to deal with it? There’s an easy answer …

    unhappy sad frustrated person

    2. Label negative feelings

    You feel awful. Okay, give that awfulness a name. Sad? Anxious? Angry?

    Boom. It’s that simple. Sound stupid? Your noggin disagrees.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    … in one fMRI study, appropriately titled “Putting Feelings into Words” participants viewed pictures of people with emotional facial expressions. Predictably, each participant’s amygdala activated to the emotions in the picture. But when they were asked to name the emotion, the ventrolateral prefrontal cortex activated and reduced the emotional amygdala reactivity. In other words, consciously recognizing the emotions reduced their impact.

    Suppressing emotions doesn’t work and can backfire on you.

    Via Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long:

    Gross found that people who tried to suppress a negative emotional experience failed to do so. While they thought they looked fine outwardly, inwardly their limbic system was just as aroused as without suppression, and in some cases, even more aroused. Kevin Ochsner, at Columbia, repeated these findings using an fMRI. Trying not to feel something doesn’t work, and in some cases even backfires.

    But labeling, on the other hand, makes a big difference.

    Via Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long:

    To reduce arousal, you need to use just a few words to describe an emotion, and ideally use symbolic language, which means using indirect metaphors, metrics, and simplifications of your experience. This requires you to activate your prefrontal cortex, which reduces the arousal in the limbic system. Here’s the bottom line: describe an emotion in just a word or two, and it helps reduce the emotion.

    Ancient methods were way ahead of us on this one. Meditation has employed this for centuries. Labeling is a fundamental tool of mindfulness.

    In fact, labeling affects the brain so powerfully it works with other people too. Labeling emotions is one of the primary tools used by FBI hostage negotiators.

    (To learn more of the secrets of FBI hostage negotiators, click here.)

    Okay, hopefully you’re not reading this and labeling your current emotional state as “Bored.” Maybe you’re not feeling awful but you probably have things going on in your life that are causing you some stress. Here’s a simple way to beat them…


    3. Make that decision

    Ever make a decision and then your brain finally feels at rest? That’s no random occurrence.

    Brain science shows that making decisions reduces worry and anxiety — as well as helping you solve problems.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    Making decisions includes creating intentions and setting goals — all three are part of the same neural circuitry and engage the prefrontal cortex in a positive way, reducing worry and anxiety. Making decisions also helps overcome striatum activity, which usually pulls you toward negative impulses and routines. Finally, making decisions changes your perception of the world — finding solutions to your problems and calming the limbic system.

    But deciding can be hard. I agree. So what kind of decisions should you make? Neuroscience has an answer …

    Make a “good enough” decision. Don’t sweat making the absolute 100% best decision. We all know being a perfectionist can be stressful. And brain studies back this up.

    Trying to be perfect overwhelms your brain with emotions and makes you feel out of control.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    Trying for the best, instead of good enough, brings too much emotional ventromedial prefrontal activity into the decision-making process. In contrast, recognizing that good enough is good enough activates more dorsolateral prefrontal areas, which helps you feel more in control …

    As Swarthmore professor Barry Schwartz said in my interview with him: “Good enough is almost always good enough.”

    So when you make a decision, your brain feels you have control. And, as I’ve talked about before, a feeling of control reduces stress. But here’s what’s really fascinating: Deciding also boosts pleasure.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    Actively choosing caused changes in attention circuits and in how the participants felt about the action, and it increased rewarding dopamine activity.

    Want proof? No problem. Let’s talk about cocaine.

    You give 2 rats injections of cocaine. Rat A had to pull a lever first. Rat B didn’t have to do anything. Any difference? Yup: rat A gets a bigger boost of dopamine.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    So they both got the same injections of cocaine at the same time, but rat A had to actively press the lever, and rat B didn’t have to do anything. And you guessed it — rat A released more dopamine in its nucleus accumbens.

    So what’s the lesson here? Next time you buy cocaine… whoops, wrong lesson. Point is, when you make a decision on a goal and then achieve it, you feel better than when good stuff just happens by chance.

    And this answers the eternal mystery of why dragging your butt to the gym can be so hard.

    If you go because you feel you have to or you should, well, it’s not really a voluntary decision. Your brain doesn’t get the pleasure boost. It just feels stress. And that’s no way to build a good exercise habit.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    Interestingly, if they are forced to exercise, they don’t get the same benefits, because without choice, the exercise itself is a source of stress.

    So make more decisions. Neuroscience researcher Alex Korb sums it up nicely:

    We don’t just choose the things we like; we also like the things we choose.

    (To learn what neuroscientists say is the best way to use caffeine, click here.)

    Okay, you’re being grateful, labeling negative emotions and making more decisions. Great. But this is feeling kinda lonely for a happiness prescription. Let’s get some other people in here.

    What’s something you can do with others that neuroscience says is a path to mucho happiness? And something that’s stupidly simple so you don’t get lazy and skip it? Brain docs have an answer for you…

    happy laughing friends

    4. Touch people

    No, not indiscriminately; that can get you in a lot of trouble.

    But we need to feel love and acceptance from others. When we don’t it’s painful. And I don’t mean “awkward” or “disappointing.” I mean actually painful.

    Neuroscientists did a study where people played a ball-tossing video game. The other players tossed the ball to you and you tossed it back to them. Actually, there were no other players; that was all done by the computer program.

    But the subjects were told the characters were controlled by real people. So what happened when the “other players” stopped playing nice and didn’t share the ball?

    Subjects’ brains responded the same way as if they experienced physical pain. Rejection doesn’t just hurt like a broken heart; your brain feels it like a broken leg.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    In fact, as demonstrated in an fMRI experiment, social exclusion activates the same circuitry as physical pain … at one point they stopped sharing, only throwing back and forth to each other, ignoring the participant. This small change was enough to elicit feelings of social exclusion, and it activated the anterior cingulate and insula, just like physical pain would.

    Relationships are very important to your brain’s feeling of happiness. Want to take that to the next level? Touch people.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    One of the primary ways to release oxytocin is through touching. Obviously, it’s not always appropriate to touch most people, but small touches like handshakes and pats on the back are usually okay. For people you’re close with, make more of an effort to touch more often.

    Touching is incredibly powerful. We just don’t give it enough credit. It makes you more persuasive, increases team performance, improves your flirting… heck, it even boosts math skills.

    Touching someone you love actually reduces pain. In fact, when studies were done on married couples, the stronger the marriage, the more powerful the effect.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    In addition, holding hands with someone can help comfort you and your brain through painful situations. One fMRI study scanned married women as they were warned that they were about to get a small electric shock. While anticipating the painful shocks, the brain showed a predictable pattern of response in pain and worrying circuits, with activation in the insula, anterior cingulate, and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. During a separate scan, the women either held their husbands’ hands or the hand of the experimenter. When a subject held her husband’s hand, the threat of shock had a smaller effect. The brain showed reduced activation in both the anterior cingulate cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex — that is, less activity in the pain and worrying circuits. In addition, the stronger the marriage, the lower the discomfort-related insula activity.

    So hug someone today. And do not accept little, quick hugs. No, no, no. Tell them your neuroscientist recommended long hugs.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    A hug, especially a long one, releases a neurotransmitter and hormone oxytocin, which reduces the reactivity of the amygdala.

    Research shows getting five hugs a day for four weeks increases happiness big time.

    Don’t have anyone to hug right now? No? (I’m sorry to hear that. I would give you a hug right now if I could.) But there’s an answer: neuroscience says you should go get a massage.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    The results are fairly clear that massage boosts your serotonin by as much as 30 percent. Massage also decreases stress hormones and raises dopamine levels, which helps you create new good habits … Massage reduces pain because the oxytocin system activates painkilling endorphins. Massage also improves sleep and reduces fatigue by increasing serotonin and dopamine and decreasing the stress hormone cortisol.

    So spend time with other people and give some hugs. Sorry, texting is not enough.

    When you put people in a stressful situation and then let them visit loved ones or talk to them on the phone, they felt better. What about when they just texted? Their bodies responded the same as if they had no support at all.

    Via The Upward Spiral:

    … the text-message group had cortisol and oxytocin levels similar to the no-contact group.

    Author’s note: I totally approve of texting if you make a hug appointment.

    (To learn what neuroscience says is the best way to get smarter and happier, click here.)

    Okay, I don’t want to strain your brain with too much info. Let’s round it up and learn the quickest and easiest way to start that upward spiral of neuroscience-inspired happiness…

    Sum up

    Here’s what brain research says will make you happy:

    • Ask “What am I grateful for?” No answers? Doesn’t matter. Just searching helps.
    • Label those negative emotions. Give it a name and your brain isn’t so bothered by it.
    • Decide. Go for “good enough” instead of “best decision ever made on Earth.”
    • Hugs, hugs, hugs. Don’t text — touch.

    So what’s the dead simple way to start that upward spiral of happiness?

    Just send someone a thank you email. If you feel awkward about it, you can send them this post to tell them why.

    This really can start an upward spiral of happiness in your life. UCLA neuroscience researcher Alex Korb explains:

    Everything is interconnected. Gratitude improves sleep. Sleep reduces pain. Reduced pain improves your mood. Improved mood reduces anxiety, which improves focus and planning. Focus and planning help with decision making. Decision making further reduces anxiety and improves enjoyment. Enjoyment gives you more to be grateful for, which keeps that loop of the upward spiral going. Enjoyment also makes it more likely you’ll exercise and be social, which, in turn, will make you happier.

    So thank you for reading this.

    And send that thank you email now to make you and someone you care about very happy.

    Join over 205,000 readers. Get a free weekly update via email here.

    SEE ALSO: Science says if you want to be happy, you should consider ditching the promotion and staying where you are

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    Hillary Clinton

    Influential people have a profound impact on everyone they encounter. Yet, they achieve this only because they exert so much influence inside, on themselves.

    We see only their outside.

    We see them innovate, speak their mind, and propel themselves forward toward bigger and better things.

    And, yet, we’re missing the best part.

    The confidence and wherewithal that make their influence possible are earned. It’s a labor of love that influential people pursue behind the scenes, every single day.

    Related: How to Blow Your Boss' Mind

    And while what people are influenced by changes with the season, the unique habits of influential people remain constant. Their focused pursuit of excellence is driven by nine habits that you can emulate and absorb until your influence expands:

    1. They think for themselves.

    Influential people aren’t buffeted by the latest trend or by public opinion. They form their opinions carefully, based on the facts. They’re more than willing to change their mind when the facts support it, but they aren’t influenced by what other people think, only by what they know.

    2. They are graciously disruptive.

    Influential people are never satisfied with the status quo. They’re the ones who constantly ask, “What if?” and “Why not?” They’re not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom, and they don’t disrupt things for the sake of being disruptive; they do it to make things better.

    3. They inspire conversation.

    When influential people speak, conversations spread like ripples in a pond. And those ripples are multidirectional; influencers inspire everyone around them to explore new ideas and think differently about their work.

    4. They leverage their networks.

    Influential people know how to make lasting connections. Not only do they know a lot of people, they get to know their connections’ connections. More importantly, they add value to everyone in their network. They share advice and know how, and they make connections between people who should get to know each other.

    Related: 11 Secrets of Irresistible People

    5. They focus only on what really matters.

    Influential people aren’t distracted by trivialities. They’re able to cut through the static and clutter, focus on what matters, and point it out to everyone else. They speak only when they have something important to say, and they never bore people with idle banter.

    Bill Gates

    6. They welcome disagreement.

    Influential people do not react emotionally and defensively to dissenting opinions—they welcome them. They’re humble enough to know that they don’t know everything and that someone else might see something they missed. And if that person is right, they embrace the idea wholeheartedly because they care more about the end result than being right.

    7. They are proactive.

    Influential people don’t wait for things like new ideas and new technologies to find them; they seek those things out. These early adopters always want to anticipate what’s next. They’re influential because they see what’s coming, and they see what’s coming because they intentionally look for it. Then they spread the word.

    8. They respond rather than react.

    If someone criticizes an influential person for making a mistake, or if someone else makes a critical mistake, influential people don’t react immediately and emotionally. They wait. They think. And then they deliver an appropriate response. Influential people know how important relationships are, and they won’t let an emotional overreaction harm theirs. They also know that emotions are contagious, and overreacting has a negative influence on everyone around them.

    9. They believe.

    Influential people always expect the best. They believe in their own power to achieve their dreams, and they believe others share that same power. They believe that nothing is out of reach, and that belief inspires those around them to stretch for their own goals. They firmly believe that one person can change the world.

    Bringing it all together

    To increase your influence, you need to freely share your skills and insights, and you must be passionate in your pursuit of a greater future.

    version of this article first appeared at

    SEE ALSO: 14 habits of the most likable people

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    StanfordThis post by Matt Wyndowe originally appeared on Quora, in answer to the question, "Jobs and careers: What is some good general career advice?"

    During two years of business school at Stanford, I wrote down the best advice from our professors and lecturers.

    This advice is from my favorite teachers and lecturers, including Andy Rachleff, Mark Leslie, Irv Grousbeck, Joel Peterson, Eric Schmidt, and many others.

    Admittedly, a lot of this is focused on technology industry, but much is generally applicable. Thought it might be interesting to others.

    • Successful people listen. You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in that ratio. You learn more when you listen than when you talk.
    • Pareto principle: Always look for the 80/20. 80% of the value is delivered by 20% of the product/service. Focus on that 20 percent.
    • The importance of passion. When Warren Buffet finds people to run his business, his key criteria is to find somebody who would do the job whether they would get paid or not.
    • Be likable. People who are liked have the wind at their backs. So be liked.
    • Just when you think you've got it 100% right, you can be taken down.
    • People who are lucky make their own luck. And you only make your own luck by staying in the game.
    • Put on "the cloak" of leadership. A large part of your role is to inspire and motivate your employees, and people will look to you for confidence. If you were on a plane with engine problems, you don't want the pilot to say "I am exploring a number of options and hope that ...", you want him to say, "I will do whatever it takes to land this plane."
    • The outcome of a negotiation is largely a function of your alternatives. Know your next best option.
    • You will only be as good as the people you will recruit. Media & culture celebrate individuals, but teams succeed.
    • The best scientists can explain complex issues in simple terms.Pretty good scientists can explain complex issues in complex terms.
    • A's hire A's. B's hire C's. Always strive to hire people better than you are.
    • Be a clear, fair manager. For example, when speaking to a business unit leader that isn't succeeding, say: "I want a strategy to win in 1-page and the objectives we need to hit each quarter to reach them."
    • When considering a business opportunity, look for change. What inflection point are you taking advantage of? Without change, there is rarely opportunity.
    • When in doubt, just keep selling. Not a bad default strategy to communicate to your team.
    • Be humble. The markets are brutal to those who are arrogant.
    • Understand what you don't do well. Surround yourself with people and resources that can do these things well.
    • Practice self-discipline. Set targets, have timetables, have clear unambiguous goals. Life passes quickly — days, weeks, months, years, a lifetime. "Regret for the things we did, can be tempered by time. It is regret for the things that we did not do that is inconsolable."
    • Be yourself. In group settings, you usually serve the group best by thoughtfully expressing exactly what you are thinking. Not necessarily what the group wants to hear.
    • Learn to relax. Often overachievers are passionate about many things. Yet  it's important to learn not to always care so much. Try being indifferent to things that aren't that important.
    • You've got to give trust to get trust. Treat people as you would want to be treated. Sometimes people take advantage of you. That's fine, don't do business with them again.
    • Shoot for the moon. To be successful, don't follow the pack. If you want to win, don't hedge.

    And, here is some good final advice (from Joel Peterson):

    "Appreciate the people you work with, take care of your investors, celebrate successes along the way, communicate lavishly — good news and bad news, tell the truth, don’t try to maximize everything, and stop to smell the roses. Life is pretty short and most of what really matters doesn’t happen at the office."

    SEE ALSO: Here are 2 essay questions Stanford asks MBA applicants and the best way to answer each

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    If you’re a regular reader of, you probably read the excellent post 20 Embarrassing Phrases Even Smart People Misuse.

    Here’s my humble take on the same subject:

    1. An 180 degree change vs. a 360 degree change

    A circle has 360 degrees, so a 180 degree change (being half of 360 degrees) means you’re now headed in the exact opposite direction.

    If you made a 360 degree change you would be heading in the exact same direction as when you started. If you head off in any direction between 90 degrees and 270 degrees you are being obtuse.

    2. Attorney generals vs. attorneys general.

    The top attorney in a state or country is like the general of an army, so if there are two of them in the same room, they are “attorney generals,” right? Not so! In this case, the word “general” is an adjective modifying “attorney” so they are “attorneys general.” Similarly, if they were both married to your sister, they’d be your “brothers in law.” Also in big trouble.

    3. Climactic vs. climatic

    The world “climatic” is an adjective that refers to the point in a drama where all the plot lines come together (aka the climax). The word “climatic” is an adjective that refers to the climate of the Earth or an area of the Earth. Technically speaking, halfwits should be denying “climatic change” rather than “climate change.”

    4. Curl up in the fetal position vs. Curl up in the feeble position

    The first phrase is correct; it refers to rolling yourself into a ball like a fetus. The second phrase is incorrect, although one could argue that just as the original phrase refers to the beginning of life, the incorrect phrase might refer to the end of life.

    5. Datum vs. data

    A single item of information is a “datum.” More than one datum constitutes “data.” A whole bunch of data constitutes “big data.”

    However, no matter how much data you have, it never becomes “bigger data” or “biggest data.” It just remains “big data.” More than one Data means you’re watching the “evil twin” episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

    6. Elicit vs. illicit

    To “elicit” means to ask for something. Something that’s “illicit” is shady or illegal. A person who elicits the illicit is sometimes known as a “politician.”

    7. Emigrate vs. immigrate

    These words describe the same concept, but from different perspectives. You “emigrate from” a country and “immigrate to” another. Regardless of the terminology, Donald Trump doesn’t want you to end up in the United States, though.

    espresso Toby's

    8. Espresso vs. expresso

    Coffee made through a machine that compresses air and water is an “espresso.” “Expresso” is a superhero whose power is to mimic the expressions of other people. OK, I made that up.

    9. Extravert vs. extrovert

    Both forms are correct. Deal with it.

    10. Hanged vs. hung

    The term “hanged” refers to execution of a human being. For all other situations, the correct word is “hung.” Example from the 19th century frontier: “Ma’am, we hanged your husband as a horse thief, but then we found out he didn’t do it so I guess the joke’s on us.”

    11. Memento v. momento

    The word “memento” refers to a physical object that helps you remember something. The word “Memento” (i.e. capitalized) refers to a film by director Christopher Nolan. The word “Mentos” refers to a brand of breath mints. The word “momento” doesn’t exist. I hope this is all perfectly clear.

    12. Nip in the bud vs. nip in the butt

    When gardening, to keep a plant from flowering, you remove (nip) the buds. By extension, to “nip it in the bud” is to stop something in its early stages. A “nip in the butt” is what happens if you bend over while gardening and you’re attacked from behind by your neighbor’s dog.

    13. Phase vs. faze

    A “phase” is part of a series that changes over time, like “phases of the moon.” To “faze” something is to disturb or disrupt it. Therefore, the Star Trek weapon commonly known as a “phaser” should more properly have been called a “fazer.” This has bothered me for decades.

    14. Regardless vs. irregardless

    “Regardless” is a word; “irregardless” is not. However, it’s best to avoid both just to make sure you always get it right. Instead use the word “nevertheless,” which sounds much more impressive, especially when emphasized by pointing your index finger upward.

    15. Scot free vs. Scotch Free

    “Scot free” comes from a Norse expression meaning tax-free, hence its current meaning of being released from jail. The term “Scotch Free” describes an Irish Coffee without Whiskey (aka “coffee”).

    16. Statute of limitations vs. statue of limitations

    A “Statute of Limitations” is the part of a law (aka a “statute”) that defines how long the law can be enforced. A “Statue of Limitations,” would be a sculpture modeled after somebody whose last name is “Limitations.”

    17. Vicious vs. viscous

    Vicious refers to temperament. A person who is mean and vindictive is said to be “vicious.” Viscous refers to texture. If that person is drooling, his sticky saliva is said to be “viscous.” If the drooling person plays punk rock, he is said to be “Sid Vicious.”

    I hope this has been helpful.

    SEE ALSO: Harvard linguist points out the 58 most commonly misused words and phrases

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    Misty Copeland

    Consider your life for a second. Consider all of the lessons you’ve learned on your journey and all of the experiences that have helped mold you into who you are today.

    Consider the bumps and bruises and the setbacks you’ve encountered as you did things “your way.”

    We asked some on our Levo 100 list to do just that. To reflect on their path toward pursuing their passions. If they could write a letter to their younger selves, what would they say?

    What would you say? Would you plead with yourself to break out of the traditional 9-to-5? Would you warn yourself to get more sleep?

    Here’s how they answered:

    “The path to your success is not as fixed and inflexible as you think. You can do anything you want, even if you are being told negative things. Stay strong and find motivation.” — Misty Copeland, principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre

    “It’s better to ask and be told ‘no’ than to not ask at all … recognize that you’re not alone.” — Chelsea Clinton

    Related: Redefining “Millennial”: TV host, Author & Transgender Rights Advocate Janet Mock

    “People in their early 20s, and even I did this, tend to think that they’re way more capable than they are. You start out in the wrong way by over-promising things and overselling your skills. It’s this desire to meet someone’s needs and be that go-to person. I see networkers all the time promising big things and big connections, then they fall short. If you just say what you can actually deliver, it can be really impressive.” — Kevin Conroy Smith, founder of The Number Project

    “Take pride in your work and celebrate the victories — both big and small.”— Ivanka Trump

    Related: Ivanka Trump’s Secrets to Being “The CEO of Her Household”

    “Don’t believe the hype of the dream. At 21, I was moving to New York City to attend grad school at NYU for journalism, and I was very much chasing after Carrie Bradshaw’s dream. I wanted to write for a magazine. I wanted to have some sick fashions. I wanted to have girlfriends and have brunch and kiss boys on St. Mark’s Street. But once I accomplished so many of the things that I thought were my dream things, it wasn’t fulfilling. So I would tell say, don’t believe the hype—but this is a part of the process for you to get to what your vision is for your life.” — Janet Mock, author and host of MSNBC’s So POPular!

    “The funny thing about time is that you actually can’t manage it. Time is constant. No matter how many projects you take on, meetings you schedule, or deadlines you assign, there will always be 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, and 24 hours in a day. Time doesn’t stretch to meet our professional and personal commitments (if only!).” — Erica Dhawan, CEO of Cotenial

    Ivanka Trump

    Related: 4 Reasons Why Nepotism Doesn’t Guarantee Success, According to Michael Jackson’s Nephew

    “It would be a waste of time to learn all this stuff and not be able to remember it or apply it in relevant situations. Being able to learn provides an exponential return on the investment. It’s like wishing for more wishes.” — Emerson Spartz, CEO of Spartz Media

    “I would just try to tell myself to take it easy. You don’t have to be in such a rush. I always felt like I was running out of time and that’s not true. Slow down, take it in.” — Austin Brown, singer-songwriter

    Related: Levo 100: The 20 Most Inspiring Quotes to Tweet ASAP

    “Be confident and don’t be afraid to be smart. One time a woman said to me, ‘Oh, well aren’t you a little smarty pants!’ because I was speaking up in a meeting. I wish I had said, ‘Yeah, I am!’ I wish I was more confident back then.” — Jesse Draper, CEO of Valley Girl, Inc. 

    “Don’t slow down in terms of working hard, but stop being frustrated by not being where you want to be. Take that energy and be more strategic instead of being frustrated.”— Rebecca Minkoff, fashion designer

    “If I saw my 25-year-old self, I’d just look at him and say, ‘It’s going to be OK. Don’t ever stop trusting your gut. When you trust your gut, it always works out.’”— Scooter Braun, founder of SB Projects

    Check out all of the amazing journeys of the Levo 100!

    SEE ALSO: The CEO of a $2.6 billion company shares his best piece of advice for young people

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    angela lee duckworth

    In today's business world, leaders are emerging at all ranks. The role of the leader is not exclusive to executive-level positions. 

    But being a great leader doesn't have to mean going to management school.

    You can emerge as an effective trailblazer in your office by being true to yourself and constantly learning from the information that is at your fingertips.

    Start by watching these short lectures and embodying their lessons.

    SEE ALSO: 10 TED Talks that will make you smarter about business

    1. Carol Dweck: The Power of Believing That You Can Improve.

    Unleash potential in yourself and in those you lead by encouraging a growth — rather than fixed — mindset.

    In this talk, Dweck discusses the power of students receiving a "Not Yet" grade versus a failing grade — it increased their motivation and ability to succeed.

    In another talk about mindset, Charlie Reeve found that employees with a growth mindset were constantly looking to adapt and to grow in their professional and personal worlds; they didn't believe that their talents and futures were predetermined.

    Think about how you can shift your mindset to be more growth oriented. Now, imagine the results if you helped your peers and employees shift their mindset as well. 

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    2. Sam Richards: A Radical Experiment in Empathy.

    This is, as the title suggests, a radical and often misunderstood TED Talk about the importance of putting ourselves in others' shoes.

    Not only is empathy a quality of being a good person, it is also key to being a great leader.

    It helps us understand how to better communicate with and understand our superiors, peers, and employees. Do not underestimate this key characteristic. 

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    3. Angela Lee Duckworth: The Key To Success? Grit.

    Duckworth defines grit as "passion and perseverance for long-term goals."

    Grit is one of those intangible concepts that we still know very little about, but one thing is clear: The grittier we are, the more successful we become.

    This is just another reason to find your true passion and purpose in life and truly dedicate yourself to it. 

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    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Buddhist Guru statue

    I played baseball for 17 years of my life. During that time, I had many different coaches and I began to notice repeating patterns among them.

    Coaches tend to come up through a certain system. New coaches will often land their first job as an assistant coach with their alma mater or a team they played with previously.

    After a few years, the young coach will move on to their own head coaching job where they tend to replicate the same drills, follow similar practice schedules, and even yell at their players in a similar fashion as the coaches they learned from. People tend to emulate their mentors. 

    This phenomenon — our tendency to repeat the behavior we are exposed to — extends to nearly everything we learn in life.

    Your political or religious beliefs are mostly the result of the system you were raised in. People raised by Catholic families tend to be Catholic. People raised by Muslim families tend to be Muslim. Although you may not agree on every issue, your parents political attitudes tend to shape your political attitudes.

    The way we approach our day-to-day work and life is largely a result of the system we were trained in and the mentors we had along the way. At some point, we all learned to think from someone else. That’s how knowledge is passed down.

    Here’s the hard question: Who is to say that the way you originally learned something is the best way? What if you simply learned one way of doing things, not the way of doing things?

    Consider my baseball coaches. Did they actually consider all of the different ways of coaching a team? Or did they simply mimic the methods they had been exposed to? The same could be said of nearly any area in life. Who is to say that the way you originally learned a skill is the best way? Most people think they are experts in a field, but they are really just experts in a particular style.

    In this way, we become a slave to our old beliefs without even realizing it. We adopt a philosophy or strategy based on what we have been exposed to without knowing if it’s the optimal way to do things.

    tiger buddhist monk

    Shoshin: The beginner’s mind

    There is a concept in Zen Buddhism known as shoshin, which means “beginner’s mind.” Shoshin refers to the idea of letting go of your preconceptions and having an attitude of openness when studying a subject. 

    When you are a true beginner, your mind is empty and open. You’re willing to learn and consider all pieces of information, like a child discovering something for the first time. As you develop knowledge and expertise, however, your mind naturally becomes more closed. You tend to think, “I already know how to do this” and you become less open to new information.

    There is a danger that comes with expertise. We tend to block the information that disagrees with what we learned previously and yield to the information that confirms our current approach.

    We think we are learning, but in reality we are steamrolling through information and conversations, waiting until we hear something that matches up with our current philosophy or previous experience, and cherry-picking information to justify our current behaviors and beliefs. Most people don’t want new information, they want validating information.

    The problem is that when you are an expert you actually need to pay more attention, not less. Why? Because when you are already familiar with 98 percent of the information on a topic, you need to listen very carefully to pick up on the remaining 2 percent. 

    As adults our prior knowledge blocks us from seeing things anew. To quote zen master Shunryo Suzuki, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

    How to rediscover your beginner’s mind

    Here are a few practical ways to rediscover your beginner’s mind and embrace the concept of shoshin.

    Let go of the need to add value. Many people, especially high achievers, have an overwhelming need to provide value to the people around them. On the surface, this sounds like a great thing. But in practice, it can handicap your success because you never have a conversation where you just shut up and listen.

    If you’re constantly adding value (“You should try this…” or “Let me share something that worked well for me…”) then you kill the ownership that other people feel about their ideas. At the same time, it’s impossible for you to listen to someone else when you’re talking.

    So, step one is to let go of the need to always contribute. Step back every now and then and just observe and listen. For more on this, read Marshall Goldsmith’s excellent book What Got You Here Won’t Get You There (audiobook).


    Let go of the need to win every argument. A few years ago, I read a smart post by Ben Casnocha about becoming less competitive as time goes on. In Ben’s words, “Others don’t need to lose for me to win.” This is a philosophy that fits well with the idea of shoshin.

    If you’re having a conversation and someone makes a statement that you disagree with, try releasing the urge to correct them. They don’t need to lose the argument for you to win. Letting go of the need to prove a point opens up the possibility for you to learn something new.

    Approach it from a place of curiosity: Isn’t that interesting. They look at this in a totally different way. Even if you are right and they are wrong, it doesn’t matter. You can walk away satisfied even if you don’t have the last word in every conversation. 

    Tell me more about that. I have a tendency to talk a lot (see “Providing Too Much Value” above). Every now and then, I’ll challenge myself to stay quiet and pour all of my energy into listening to someone else. My favorite strategy is to ask someone to, “Tell me more about that.”

    It doesn’t matter what the topic is, I’m simply trying to figure out how things work and open my mind to hearing about the world through someone else’s perspective.

    Assume that you are an idiot. In his fantastic book, "Fooled by Randomness," Nassim Taleb writes, “I try to remind my group each week that we are all idiots and know nothing, but we have the good fortune of knowing it.”

    The flaws discussed in this article are simply a product of being human. We all have to learn information from someone and somewhere, so we all have a mentor or a system that guides our thoughts. The key is to realize this influence.

    We are all idiots, but if you have the privilege of knowing that, then you can start to let go of your preconceptions and approach life with the openness of a beginner.

    SEE ALSO: 12 Dalai Lama quotes that will make you think differently about happiness

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    Hiring managers spend just six seconds on your resume before they decide on you — this is exactly what they look at.

    Produced by Matt Johnston

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    Staying productive can be a huge part of developing your personal brand, especially if you work in a competitive industry.

    Because of that, you may feel tempted to go without your lunch breaks in the interest of getting more done.

    Here, we’ll look at why that’s usually not such a good idea.

    More importantly, we’ll offer tips that should help you change your ways.

    Your lunch break offers time to relax

    If you’re in a high-stress job, it may seem like tensions are always high and people are constantly looking to you as an example of someone who excels. In fact, thriving under pressure may be a capability that makes up a big part of your personal brand. But an excess of stress and lack of relaxation is a recipe for burnout.

    Top tip: Research guided meditations that can clear your head quickly and help you refocus in a flash. If meditation isn’t your thing, consider taking a brisk walk around the area near your workplace. Often, physical activity can help you calm down. And exercise stimulates the creation of endorphins, which boost the mood.

    A lunch break could help you eat better

    Frequently, people who don’t place very much value in their lunch breaks find themselves wandering to the vending machine in search of sustenance. They’ll choose calorie-laden snacks that may provide a quick burst of energy, but one that’s short lived.

    You may be trying to make improvements by at least storing nutritious snacks in your desk drawer. Even so, you can make the most of your lunch break and find fresh food that’ll fuel you up without packing on the pounds.

    Top tip: Experiment with some microwave-friendly slow cooker recipes. The preparation method tends to bring out the flavors of meat and vegetables, which might give you a renewed appreciation for familiar cuisines. Once you find good recipes, you can make large batches and portion them into reusable containers for the workweek.

    Lunch breaks might help you burst the workplace bubble

    When you’re concentrating on creating an authentic and admirable personal brand, your career may seem like the only priority in your life. It might even feel like your workplace is the only world you really know well. Your lunch break offers an ideal opportunity for community engagement: It’s time to explore the exciting experiences outside the doors of your office.

    Top tip: Expand your horizons by choosing to take an off-site lunch break at a restaurant that’s a community favorite. In the process, you’ll probably gain a much richer understanding of the place where you live. Maybe that means learning about how a historic Chicago pizza chain got its start, or checking out a new vegan restaurant that’s already getting rave reviews in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    business lunch

    Lunch breaks allow you to interact with more coworkers

    You might work at a very large company that offers the welcome convenience of an on-site cafeteria. If that’s the case, use that amenity to specifically reach out to fellow coworkers who are assigned to other tasks.

    While working in the marketing department, for instance, you might confer with colleagues from sales and public relations on a daily basis, but never talk with fellow employees who handle the customer service side of things. A lunch break allows you to get to know others who are also contributing to your workplace, and probably working towards similar or mutual goals.

    Top tip: At the very least, spend one lunch break per week in a communal dining environment. Look for employees you don’t know well and specifically ask if you can sit down at their table to strike up friendly conversations.

    If you went to a high school that was notorious for its cliques, the thought of spending even a minute eating in a cafeteria might cause your stomach to turn. However, you can make great progress on strengthening your personal brand by making it clear you understand the value of working as a team. More specifically, demonstrate you know how important it is to get to know as many people as possible at your workplace, and not just individuals you see regularly.

    Lunch breaks let you take care of life's necessities

    There are some errands which must be handled during common workplace hours, like going to the post office or bank. Your lunch break offers a handy chance to tackle those tasks without feeling stressed about being away from the office. By using your lunch break wisely, you’ll avoid cutting into your personal time with chores while also enjoying a change of pace from the stress of a typical work day.

    Top tip: At the start of each workweek, spend about 15 minutes figuring out which essential items you can do while on a lunch break. If you love using your lunch break to get some fresh air, arrange to walk to the destinations so you include a little exercise and a gentle breeze in your hair.

    As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t sacrifice your lunch breaks.

    Your decision to appreciate lunch breaks could also be beneficial for strengthening your personal brand. It shows others you understand the value of not running yourself ragged, and are trying to strike a balance to prevent losing productivity.

    Taking breaks might make you feel guilty at first, but once you make the transition, you’re not just taking lunch breaks: You’re making them worthwhile.

    SEE ALSO: 3 things productive people do during their lunch breaks

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    Being successful demands that you manage your priorities.

    There is enough time in the day, every day, to get done what needs to get done.

    You don’t have too much to do. You aren’t running out of time.

    You just don’t know what matters.

    When you can’t manage your priorities, you won’t manage to be successful.

    Which is the slow, miserable, frightful death of your dream.

    It will crush your spirit and rob you of your money.

    You’ll chase strategies that promise you the quick and easy path to success when your real priority is to find the courage to do what’s hard.

    You’ll follow advice that’s good but not great.

    You’ll be busy, but not clearly possessed with a purpose.

    It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of not being clear about your priorities.

    Unless you’re careful, you’ll forget to constantly review and refine how you spend each moment of your day.

    What you think about. How you spend your money. The friends you spend time with and books you read.

    Look at how you spent the day yesterday.

    And the week before that. And the months before that.

    Chances are, you spent your time being busy. You were tired at night from the day’s efforts — but not because you were invested in activities uniquely crafted by you to catapult yourself towards success.

    That has to change.

    You need to get clear about your priorities. Pick anything. Aim high. Build a plan.

    Stay disciplined.

    Use smart tools to keep you scheduled and hold you accountable each day.

    There’s no excuse for spinning in circles. There’s no good reason to waste your time, money, and courage on things that don’t matter.

    You won’t accidentally be awesome. You have to work for it.

    SEE ALSO: 10 ways to stop feeling overworked and overwhelmed

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    career fairThis answer by Laura Parker, an MBA from NYU's Stern School of Business, originally appeared on Quora as an answer to the question: What are some common mistakes people make when job hunting?

    1. Not having enough leads going at the same time  

    I went to the career office to get assistance when I was looking for a job and the advisor suggested I actively follow up on 40 leads/positions. 

    I was so shocked — that seemed like a lot. Granted it was during the abysmal 2009 economy, but you need to have a lot of irons in the fire.

    2. Not doing enough research on the company

    Read recent articles and press releases, know about recent product launches, or shifts in top leadership, understand what major moves their competitors have made, and know if they have done any recent acquisitions. And think about how those things could affect the department and role that you are interviewing for.

    3. Not doing a Google/LinkedIn search on the people you are interviewing with 

    It shows true interest and is probably expected. It may give you something in common to talk about — maybe you both worked at the same company before, or have colleagues in common. It can help you make a strong connection.

    4. Not reaching out to your network — and following up

    It is the most important thing that you get a job, but it might not be the most important thing to your well-intentioned friend. Make sure you follow up if they said they'd help you or connect you with someone, because it could easily slip their mind. 

    5. Not following up promptly with a thank you  

    I have interviewed many people in my life and I am always baffled by people who don't take the 30 seconds it takes to send a thank you email.

    6. Relying on only one way to get jobs

    I've gotten offers for great jobs through LinkedIn, old bosses, careerbuilder, even a GREAT one through Craigslist! (I was shocked too) You just never know which of your contacts will be the one that comes through.

    7. Finally, one great piece of advice a guy gave me ...

    Instead of talking about what you definitely don't want, talk about what you are looking for — the type of role, the type of company, the industry, talk about it with everybody. 

    One of my friends started to do this, and randomly got a phone call from a friend of a friend who remembered he was interested in "insert dream job here" and passed him on to the contact that helped him get it.

    SEE ALSO: 46 companies where the interviews don't suck

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    first date couple smiling laughing

    When you’re working hard and doing all you can to achieve your goals, anything that can give you an edge is powerful and will streamline your path to success.

    Mind tricks won’t make you a Jedi, but using the brain’s natural quirks to your advantage can have a positive impact on everyone you encounter.

    None of these tricks are deceitful or disingenuous, except for number six, and I trust that you’ll only use that one with good reason.

    As soon as you become aware of these 12 tricks, they start popping up wherever you look.

    With minimal effort on your part, their unconscious influence on behavior can make a huge difference in your day-to-day life.

    Related: 15 Secrets of Really Persuasive People

    1. When a group of people laughs, members makes eye contact with the person they feel closest to.

    This trick can make you an astute observer of relationships of all types. It can tell you which members of your team are bonding and learning to trust one another, just as easily as it can tell you if you might have a shot at landing a date with a certain someone.

    Of course, you’ll learn a lot about how you feel about other people just by paying attention to whom you make eye contact with.

    2. When someone does a favor for you, it actually makes them like you more.

    When you convince someone to do you a favor, they unconsciously justify why they are willing to do so. Typical justifications include things such as “he’s my friend,” “I like him,” and “he seems like the kind of person who would return the favor.” These justifications serve you perfectly. Not only did you just get help with something, but the other party also likes you more than they did before.

    3. Silence gets answers.

    When you ask someone a question and they’re slow to respond, don’t feel pressure to move the conversation forward. Remaining silent plays to your advantage. Moments of silence make people feel as though they should speak, especially when the ball is in their court.

    This is a great tool to use in negotiations and other difficult conversations. Just make certain you resist the urge to move the conversation forward until you get your answer.

    4. Open hands and palms create trust.

    There’s an employee policy at LEGOLAND that says whenever someone asks where something is, the employee “presents” (open-palm gesture) their directions instead of “pointing” them.

    This is because the open-palmed gesture conveys trust, making people more likely to agree with what you’re saying and to find you friendly and likeable. Pointing, on the flip side, is generally seen as aggressive and rude.

    work conversation

    5. Nodding your head during a conversation or when asking a question makes the other person more likely to agree with what you’re saying.

    The next time you need to win someone over to your way of thinking, try nodding your head as you speak. People unconsciously mirror the body language of those around them in order to better understand what other people are feeling.

    When you nod your head as you speak, you convey that what you’re saying is true and desirable, and people are more inclined to agree with you.

    6. If you have to tell a lie, add embarrassing details to make it more believable.

    The more detailed a lie is, the more likely people are to believe it. When you add detail, people begin to put a picture to your story. When you include embarrassing details, the picture becomes all the more vivid and believable. After all, if you were going to make up a story, you would be much more inclined to make yourself look good.

    Related: 15 Habits of Mentally Tough People

    7. People remember unfinished things better.

    The natural tendency to remember unfinished things is called the Zeigarnik effect. Ever notice how some television commercials get cut off early? The company paying for the commercial cuts it off so that it sticks in your head longer than other commercials.

    The best way to forget unfinished things (commercials or songs) is to finish them in your head. If a song gets stuck in your head, try singing the last lines to yourself. You’ll be amazed how quickly it goes away.

    chewing gum

    8. Chew gum to relax and focus.

    Chewing gum actually lowers your cortisol levels, the hormone responsible for stress. But chewing gum doesn’t just reduce stress, it also makes you more alert and improves your performance in memory-oriented tasks. It does so by increasing the blood flow to your brain and alerting your senses.

    When you experience a stressful situation while chewing gum, your body is less likely to go into the primal fight-or-flight mode (which results in poor decisions and inability to focus).

    9. People’s feet reveal their interest.

    When talking to someone, pay attention to their feet. If their feet are aimed at you, they’re interested and listening to what you’re saying, but if their feet point away from you, they’re most likely disinterested and mentally checked out.

    10. When you meet someone new, work their name into the conversation.

    The goal here is to repeat their name three times in the first five minutes. It works extremely well, but the trick is to do it naturally. When you rattle off their name unnecessarily, it sounds foolish and awkward. Try to use phrases like “Hello ____,” “Nice to meet you _____,” and “Where are you from _____.”

    11. Showing excitement makes other people like you.

    This one goes back to the idea that we mirror the behavior of those around us. If you show excitement when you see someone, they naturally mirror that excitement back at you. It’s an easy way to make a strong first impression and to get people to like you.

    12. Maintain eye contact for 60% of a conversation.

    The key to eye contact is balance. While it’s important to maintain eye contact, doing so 100% of the time is perceived as aggressive and creepy. At the same time, if you only maintain eye contact for a small portion of the conversation, you’ll come across as disinterested, shy, or embarrassed.

    Maintaining eye contact for roughly 60% of a conversation comes across as interested, friendly, and trustworthy.

    Bringing it all together

    Give these tricks a try, and you’re bound to notice a difference in how people respond to you.

    Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book, "Emotional Intelligence 2.0," and the cofounder of TalentSmart, the world's leading provider of emotional intelligence tests, emotional intelligence training, and emotional intelligence certification, serving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies. His bestselling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. Dr. Bradberry has written for, or been covered by, Newsweek, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Harvard Business Review.

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    Science suggests there's one personality type that's more likely to manage larger teams.

    A new report from Truity Psychometrics, a provider of online personality and career assessments, shows pronounced differences in managerial responsibility by personality type. Across all personality types, extroverts tended to manage larger teams.

    Of all the survey respondents who answered the question, "How many people do you supervise or manage at work," ENTJs (people with a preference for extroversion, intuition, thinking, and judging) on average managed the largest number — about six — of employees, while ISFPs (people with a preference for introversion, sensing, feeling, and perceiving) tended to manage far smaller teams — with closer to two people on average.

    BI_Graphics_Personality types managers (2)

    Molly Owens, CEO of Truity and developer of the TypeFinder personality-type assessment, says this isn't too surprising, since organizations traditionally look for extroverted leaders who are dynamic, outgoing, and able to rally the troops around a cause.

    "These personality traits are often valued over introverted personality traits like introspection and being reserved," Owens explains. "In the workplace, that often — unfortunately — leads to more extroverts being placed in managerial positions."

    Another reason she cites for why extroverts tend to manage more people than is that they're generally more likely to ask for management responsibilities.

    "Many introverts shy away from being in managerial roles, despite being more than qualified. Extroverts, on the other hand, generally feel more comfortable in high-visibility roles and so may express their interest in these positions outright. Because of this, extroverts are often the first employees managers think of when looking for talent to promote," she says.

    All this isn't to say, necessarily, that extroverts make the best leaders.

    While research suggests extroversion is a common trait for the majority of successful leaders, these findings have more to do with predicting the likelihood of someone holding a leadership position than their leadership effectiveness. 

    In fact, a growing body of research suggests that extroverts and introverts can be equally successful in leadership roles overall, and that introverts, in certain situations, actually make better bosses because they tend to be better listeners, more thoughtful, considerate, and more thoroughly prepared.

    "What will be especially interesting to see is how or if this trend changes due to the focus many people are putting on the advantages introverted leaders have in the workplace," Owens says. "In today’s media, there is a big push to beat back traditional stereotypes about introverts and uncover the benefits that introverted traits offer employees in all levels of an organization."

    SEE ALSO: People with this personality type are more likely to be a stay-at-home parent

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