How to Force Yourself to Improve

Tim Ragan:

Really like this blog post about the important roles that “pushing your limits” and “failure” play in ultimately achieving success. Thoughts to live (and keep trying) by.

Originally posted on Superordinary:

Gary Cohn owes his first job on Wall Street to a cab ride1.

Cohn was twenty-two and working as a salesman for U.S. Steel in Cleveland. On one particular day, he found himself in Long Island and decided to venture down to Wall Street. While he was there, he decided he wanted a job.

The only problem? Cohn didn’t know anything about finance.

Since he had no connections on Wall Street and little experience that would qualify him for a job, he couldn’t pursue the ordinary route of handing in a resume. So, he went after a different angle. He stood outside of the commodities exchange until he overheard a well-dressed man catching a taxi to LaGuardia. Without missing a beat, Cohn asked if they could share a cab ride.

This gave Cohn an hour in the car with a higher up in one of the top brokerage firms on Wall Street.

Throughout…

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Seminar Bingo

Having taught at the university level for a handful of years, and now offering workshops and seminars from my own company(s), I couldn’t resist copying this from fellow blogger Jim Rose (thanks, Jim!) and re-publishing here on my blog. I’ll try to remember to post this up as my first slide at our next workshop as an “icebreaker”…

http://utopiayouarestandinginit.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/wpid-wp-1411778178613.jpeg?w=640

 

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The impact of regulations…

France has enacted small business regulations that kick in for companies having greater than 50 employees… I wonder how that might impact the owner’s decision-making?

Of course, this shouldn’t come as any surprise — it is, however, very clear evidence as to how regulation impacts day-to-day decision making and overall company strategies Thanks to Jim Rose’s blog post for providing me this delightful graphic from the Economist — here is Jim’s full blog post if you want to read more details about the regulations and their impact.

 

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Quotable: On “visions” and “tasks”

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Quotable: On “ideas”

Only he who handles his ideas lightly is master of his ideas, and only he who is master of his own ideas is not enslaved by them.

Lin Yutang

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Quotable: On Thinking and Acting

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Words of wisdom about Wall Street

I just came across this short little summary statement from the HBR’s “Shortlist” weekly summary (which sadly, is being discontinued).  It’s by Michael Lewis, the highly regarded author of various Wall Street oriented books, along with gems like “Moneyball”. My favorite Lewis book is “The Big Short” which is a fascinating look at the shenanigans behind the 2007-2009 financial meltdown. Lewis does indeed seem to know his stuff:

Michael Lewis knows a little something about Wall Street. And getting past the usual employee complaints about the financial sector (long hours, for one), he offers several often-hidden occupational hazards for the stellar university graduates who think they can make it in the industry while also holding on to ethics and personal responsibility. One: “Anyone who works in finance will sense, at least at first, the pressure to know more than he does.” And many of the things you have to pretend to know can’t even be known in the first place, he argues. “You will be paid a lot more to forget your uneasy feelings.” Two: Working in finance does not involve joining “a team of professionals committed to the success of your bank.” Instead, most who work on Wall Street and are successful “have no serious stake in the long-term fates of their firms.” And three: “Anyone who works in big finance will feel enormous pressure to not challenge or question existing arrangements.”

So for those embarking on a career in finance, Lewis has one last piece of advice: “Watch yourself, because no one else will.”

The full article from Michael Lewis is here. Enjoy. Or cringe. Depending on your view of where Wall Street fits into the scheme of things.

 

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Detailed instructions for achieving a happy life

Came across this gem in a response to somebody’s Quora inquiry — I love the simplicity, although I do appreciate that “the devil is in the detail” of the instruction for action!

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Vertical Dancing. Coolest commercial ever?

Beautiful. Elegant. Beyond words.

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Asking for a raise (TV interview)

Just came back from a short TV interview segment on “tips on asking for a raise”. I think it went pretty well, however of course I am quite biased in that respect. I’m very interested in any feedback and suggestions people want to share with me!

Here is the interview itself : http://ottawa.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=416486&binId=1.1487308&playlistPageNum=

… and here are my speaking notes and thoughts I pulled together to prep for the interview itself.

Top 5 Tips for Workers who Want to Ask for a Raise

Key themes here are:  timing and affordability; external validation; internal value generation; exploring options Continue reading

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Quotable: Instructions for living

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On zillionaires and pitchforks

Straight from the mouth of a plutocrat — a reasonably coherent analysis (20 minute TEDTalk) of where the real power lies in capitalism: a strong and vibrant middle-class.

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Infographic: The science of persuasion

Persuasion strategies to overcoming buying cycle objections Infographic

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Quotable: The greatest victory

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Job Applications: How the process seems to work

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Gary Hamel: “Change itself has changed”

Manage Change in a Hyper-Changing World

May 1, 2014, 12:00 AM
Bt_change_2_final

There is so much attention being paid today on how to embrace change. But management expert Gary Hamel, the bestselling author of What Matters Now, says that leaders need to understand that change itself has changed. Grasping the evolution of change will prepare leaders to anticipate shifts and the unstoppable innovations that drive them. Continue reading

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Competing visions of Hell.

 

Thanks to Quora contributor Nilay Parikh for this one.  While I really like the message here, I have always had a soft spot for Gary Larson’s take on a more traditional view of Hell…!

 

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US education levels vs. income

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Dan Pink: On personal roadmaps and plans…

The following short extract is taken from Dan Pink’s recent 2014 Weinberg College convocation speech, given at Northwestern University earlier this year. It’s a great summary of the “got to have a plan” approach versus the “just gonna do it” approach that many of us struggle with throughout our professional and personal lives. For fully committed Dan Pink fans, I’ve also embedded the actual commencement speech, which clocks in at some 15 minutes…

Sometimes you have to write to figure it out…

This advice wasn’t just savvy guidance for how to write — it might be the wisest advice I know for how to live… The way to be okay, we all believe, is to have a specific plan — except may it’s not…

The smartest, most interesting, most dynamic, most impactful people … lived to figure it out. At some point in their lives, they realized that carefully crafted plans … often don’t hold up… Sometimes, the only way to discover who you are or what life you should lead is to do less planning and more living — to burst the double bubble of comfort and convention and just do stuff, even if you don’t know precisely where it’s going to lead, because you don’t know precisely where it’s going to lead.

This might sound risky — and you know what? It is. It’s really risky. But the greater risk is to choose false certainty over genuine ambiguity. The greater risk is to fear failure more than mediocrity. The greater risk is to pursue a path only because it’s the first path you decided to pursue.

 

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A new take on “innovation”: Deploy or Die.

Great 12 minute TED Talk about a new way of thinking about innovation — basically start doing it now and deploy it quickly, experiment, learn, and improve.

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Migratory flight paths of humans

Here is a beautiful (short, at less than 2 minutes) little animation showing all the transatlantic flight paths of 2,524 planes during a day. Globalization is alive and well!

 

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“Data shows” UFO sightings increase with drink, interrupted sleep

I came across this gem in the latest copy of the online version of the Economist magazine (which is one of my favorite reads!). Here is a link to the full article.

From the article:  “It turns out that aliens are considerate. They seldom disturb earthlings during working or sleeping hours. Rather, they tend to arrive in the evening, especially on Fridays, when folks are sitting on the front porch nursing their fourth beer, the better to appreciate flashing lights in the heavens (see chart). The state aliens like best is Washington—a finding that pre-dates the legalisation of pot there.”

Wonderful stuff!

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Quotable: on past, present, and future states

Thanks to John and “Doug Does Life” for bringing this “quotable” to my attention!

people-dont-realize

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Quotable: On personal exploration

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Quotable: On spirtuality and human experience

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What? Am I a failure…?

Having just clocked in with another birthday, I was amused and just a little frightened at this infographic. I have absolutely no idea about the accuracy of these charts (how would you go about plotting these things out, I wonder…?) however here is what I take away from it, as it applies to me at my current age:

  • could I be a failure?  Well, apparently I’m getting up there…
  • could I be awesome? Not yet, but much hope for me in the next 25 years
  • could I be high? Apparently not.
  • could I be a loser? Good chance.. wait a minute, is that the same as being a failure?
  • could I be important? Diminishing daily… if I can get to be 100 things will turn around!
  • could I be an entrepreneur?  Falling off quickly…
  • could I be depressed?  Every chance of that, it seems.
  • could I be misunderstood? Apparently, not much chance of that.
  • could I be a liar? Yes. No wait, no. What was the question again?
  • could I have all the answers? Come back when I’m 100 and I’ll tell you.

Continue reading

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Nicholas Negroponte’s “big think” advice to recent graduates

Short and to the point, this advice to recent graduates from Nicholas Negoponte (founder of the famous MIT Media Lab) basically can be summarized as “do what moves and excites you”.

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REPRINT: 10 most important work skills for 2020

Quite candidly, I usually stay away from these types of “top 10 skills you need for the future” because generally I find them quite one-dimensional and often even quite simplistic. However, I am  impressed with this one (presented in an infographic format)  and I think it does a very reasonable job of pointing out some broad drivers of change (they identify 6) and then linking those to their “10 important work skills”.  The work skills Continue reading

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TV interview: resume tips

I just got back from a short (less than 5 minutes) TV interview this morning on the topic of “resume tips”. It was a gorgeous morning to sit outside and be interviewed! Check it out here…

 

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“Top 5 resume tips” from a reluctant observer

I’ve been asked to appear on one of the local morning TV shows early next week and talk to the “top 5 resume tips” for students seeking summer employment. So far, so good.

Only, I’m not a big fan of “resume focus” because I fear that this is too often done to the exclusion of understanding what’s really going on behind the scenes — in other words, how the hiring process REALLY WORKS. People inherently believe that the job application is a “matching game” (which is of course the way companies and job boards promote it) and so applicants play the game by embedding the “action words” from the job listing directly into Continue reading

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Quotable: on the pursuit of vacations

Thanks to blogger Doug Does Life for bringing this to my attention — well worth repeating!

life

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How to be productive

“Stumbled upon” this recently (literally!). I’m doing some of this, and I realize I probably need to do more of them:

http://www.entrepreneur.com/dbimages/article/1386958356-get-done-35-habits-most-productive-people-infographic.jpg

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What would brutal honestly really sound like?

a friend sent me this great parody YouTube clip of what company management might tell you if they were being brutally honest about how they align their words and their actions. Warning — the language is a bit rough….!

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Quotable: On future possibilities

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Quotable: On influencing the future….

“It takes a noble man to plant a seed for a tree that will someday give shade to people he may never meet.”

David E. Trueblood

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Gamechanger? A crowd-sourced fully transparent rating agency

Here is a 10 minute TED Talk from June 2013 given by Annette Heuser, executive director of the Washington branch of the German Bertelsmann Foundation. In this talk, Ms. Heuser presents a blueprint for a new, non-profit solution to loosen the market grip that the 3 current rating agencies have on the global economy. She doesn’t quite go as far as building it around crowd-sourcing concepts, however the idea has the power to change the current playing field in a provocative and engaging fashion. An interesting experiment worth watching (and contributing to, if rating agency reform is your cup of tea!).

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Quotable: On power and corruption

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Quotable: On disobedience and virtue

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Quotable: On climbing to success…

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Quotable: On making change happen…

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Quotable: On having and desiring…

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Quotable: On changing times

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7 years, 7 habits — a personal journey

Recently while on one of my daily walks, I was reflecting on how much my day to day life had changed – for the better – with the adoption of various habits over the past several years. I started thinking about how many major habits I had built into my life, and determined that there have been  7 major habits that I have successfully adopted over the past six or seven years.

This has not been a planned annual activity of adding a new habit per year, although some people do in fact suggest that kind of approach. With me, it has been an ongoing process over the years of identifying new areas where I decided I could benefit from some specific improvement in my regular routine. I would then “design” an appropriate habit and would go about working to “program” that improvement into my daily life. Also, these are not the only Continue reading

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Quotable: On change itself

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How “big data” disrupts everything…

Talk about your “disruptive technologies”. Philip Evans of BCG makes a compelling case for how and why the emergence of “big data” is going to drive massive disruption and transformation of our traditional business and governance institutions. Guaranteed to be painful and not at all pretty…

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Coping Techniques for Lonely Change Leaders (reprint)

I came across this little jewel in a recent (February 2014) HBR blog post, authored by Sachin Jain. The general advice certainly “rings true” with my previous experiences as  an internal change agent to large corporations, and in my ongoing consulting roles as a “business performance catalyst”. Here is the complete reprint of the article: Continue reading

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Who do you trust?

Interesting chart — “generationally speaking”, it seems that the younger you are the less you buy into the concept that “most people can be trusted”.  Worth pondering? Blogger Steve Boese highlights a few reasons why this might be so.

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Quoable: On seeking your true self…

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You know the economy is improving when…

A very interesting chart from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for December 2013, showing labor turnover. This was brought to my attention by blogger Steve Boese in a recent post. The full BLS government report is available for your viewing pleasure if want to see more analysis and detail.

What I found interesting was the clear correlation between the reduction in company-driven layoffs (a sign of improved business performance and probably greater company confidence in the situation going forward) and the measurable increase in number of employees quitting (probably an indicator of improved confidence in their prospects, or long standing attempts to find something “better” starting to pay off).  Either way, it speaks somewhat to the ongoing volatility of employment — from an employee’s perspective: “…either business sucks and you’ll lay me off, and in better times, I’ll end up quitting since the job sucks!”.  Heck of a foundation to build a vibrant economy on….

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Quotable: on “real” and “reality”

REAL

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