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Do the Best You Can and Don’t Take Life Too Serious

Do the Best You Can and Don’t Take Life Too Serious

The Wisdom of Living

The Wisdom of Living The finger on the dock of time turns inexorably. We are sometimes saddened when we realize that time moves on, that the years are slipping out of our hands, yet these thoughts need not really depress us. Evils in the journey of life are like the hills which alarm travelers on the road.

The wisdom of living consists in making the most of what we are given. We cannot weave without threads, but it is our skill with the threads that determines whether we shall fashion a beautiful tapestry or labor without producing anything of use or beauty.

God does not fashion life for us. He does not determine the shape of our dreams, or our accomplishments, but He gives us the threads… He has endowed our hands with energy, our minds with power to reason, our hearts with the power to feel, and He placed us upon the scene of nature abounding in the raw materials with which we can build to our heart’s desire. Both appear great at a distance, but when we approach them we find they are far less insurmountable than we had conceived. Both of these, when their nature is examined, are equal.

Cultivating Gratitude Makes Each Day Worth Living

Only a fortunate few experience unadulterated synchronicity of such allegiance. Given this four ways gratitude can profit us, we have some very good reasons to return thanks more than once a year. Cultivating gratitude makes each day worth living and might even give us more days. Although some students take more than four years to discharge their degrees, most juniors and seniors are comparatively young compared with students in urban communities where working masses take part-time loads and evening classes.

An artist who has spent his days fashioning a thing of beauty rejoices in his labor when it is done. He does not fret that the days, which have passed, have made him older. Only empty days, futile days, wasted days, are a tragedy. Only the passing of days such as these is depressing. Alan Garner wrote in The Voice That Thunders,

The purpose of the storyteller is to relate the truth in a manner that is simple: to integrate without reduction; for it is rarely possible to declare the truth as it is, because the universe presents itself as a Mystery. We have to find parables; we have to tell stories to unriddle the world … The job of a storyteller is to speak the truth; but what we feel most deeply cannot be spoken in words. At this level only images connect. And so the story becomes symbol; and symbol is myth

Develop interest in life as you see it; in people, things, literature, music—the cosmos is so rich, simply throbbing with bountiful treasures, beautiful souls and interesting citizenry. The only well-founded ground of judgment of conviction would be that with the personal tastes and self-regarding concerns of individuals the public has no business to interpose.

Life Wastes Itself While We are Preparing to Live

Life Wastes Itself While We are Preparing to Live How are we using the threads that the Lord has given us? At the New Year, we ask this question. It is a disturbing question, because on its answer depends the sum of meaning in our lives. Investing a fixed sum of money at regular intervals prevents you from buying too many shares when stock prices are over-inflated, as many market seers consider them to be right now, thereby threatening your average cost per share and increasing your return. The latter tells of a German who showed various feats of this kind at Greater London, and who performed before the king and a part of the imperial family. Anyone who is perfectly certain about a belief is likely to be wrong.

Wasted threads, badly used threads, show up in the final design, but when we weave with skill, and fashion life into a pattern of harmony and goodness, and then our existence becomes permeated with serenity and peace. We can laugh though die days pass and the years go, for then we have given only time in exchange for achievement.

During this season of the year, we often recall the Psalmist’s prayer, “O teach us to count our days that we may get us a heart of Wisdom.” No, it does not really mean to count days. Anyone can do that. It is rather a prayer to make the days count. That is indeed the supreme wisdom of living.

In short, a great and brilliant plan of Almighty administration is in part opened; and nothing is omitted that may give humanity the mystifying sense of their being all the subjects of the moral regime of God. The company of concordant friends will be the best medicine in an evening; and good broth his primed supper. The risk of taking one or a handful of circumscribed experiences and generalizing them across our aggregate life.

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Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

Arnold Schwarzenegger Rejects the Idea of a Self-Made Man

'Total Recall' by Arnold Schwarzenegger (ISBN 1849839735) Actor and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s story has an inspiring premise. The son of Austrian police officer who was a Nazi party member, he moved to New York in the early 1968 to further his career as a body-builder and winning six Mr. Olympia body-building tournaments. In the intervening time, he put himself through business school at the University of Wisconsin Madison, invested in real estate, and parlayed his passion with fitness into a lucrative video- and book-sales company.

Schwarzenegger may have remained a businessperson if not for the success of the documentary Pumping Iron (1977) which transformed him into a minor celebrity and planted the seeds of his Hollywood aspirations. It wasn’t he played a 74-word part in an obscure sci-fi film called Terminator (1984) that he finally became a star.

Even after Arnold Schwarzenegger’s long march from a penniless immigrant to a Hollywood star and later the Governor of California, he declares that the notion of the self-made man is a myth. He states that we must all help each other because no one can get anywhere on their own.

I came over here with absolutely nothing. I had $20 in the pocket and some sweaty clothes in a gym bag. But let me tell you, I had this one little apartment and on Thanksgiving, the bodybuilders from Gold’s Gym came to my apartment and they brought me pillows, dishes, silverware, all of the things I didn’t have. None of us can make it alone. None of us. Not even the guy that is talking to you right now, who was the greatest body builder of all times. Not even me, that has been the Terminator and went back in time to save the human race. Not even me that fought and that killed predators with his bare hands.

I always tell people that you can call me anything that you want, but don’t ever, ever call me a self-made man. It gives the wrong impression, that we can do it alone. None of us can. The whole concept of the self-made man or woman is a myth. I would have never made it in my life without the help. So this is why I don’t beileve in a self-made man. Why I want you to understand that is, because as soon as you understand that you are here because of a lot of help, then you also understand that now it’s time to help others. That’s what this is all about.

Source: Arnold Schwarzenegger—Together on the Goalcast Podcast

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Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

The Art of Enjoying the Blessings of Life

The Gift of Life

The Art of Enjoying the Blessings of Life There is an art in enjoying the blessings of life, and unless we master it, we court disaster. It is a simple art. It consists in realizing that everything we are and everything we have is a gift, ultimately from the Creator and that every day of our lives the gift is renewed to us. This realization will deepen our joy in possession and it will lighten our grief in deprivation.

In assessing my own condition, I am often tempted to be dissatisfied. My mind wanders towards what I lack. Moreover, if I contrast my poverty with somebody else’s affluence, I am tempted to rebel against my destiny.

However, my mind is set at peace when I suddenly remember that whatever I have is not, in a final sense, of my own making. Nor is it mine by any right. For what did I bring with me into the world that is my home? I came into it utterly helpless. Moreover, the goals towards which I have grown and everything, which has been placed in my hands, to have and to cherish, is a gift given me freely, graciously. It was given in love, a love that I could not really earn and for which I can offer little in return. In addition, when I become aware of this, I find a new contentment.

This awareness of my blessings, and of their source, prepares me also for their inevitable surrender. Either for I know that the things I cherish will not last or that if they do, I, being mortal, will not always is here to enjoy them. A final separation awaits every relationship, no matter how tender. Someday I shall have to drop every object to which my hands now cling.

Enjoy the Roses, Taste of Their Beauty, Delight in Their Fragrance

These thoughts sadden me, but I can bear them more readily when I remember that the measure of my loss is also the measure of my privilege. Shall I rebel because my roses last so brief a time? Shall I grieve when none blossom in my garden? No! I must rather give thanks for those days I was privileged to enjoy roses, to taste of their beauty and their fragrance.

Each day of my life, my blessings are given to me anew. For the gift given me and for whatever time I am privileged to keep it, I am grateful. In addition, when I am asked to surrender my gift, I shall still know that I was richly blessed. Moreover, I shall say, “Praised be Thou, O Lord my God, that Thou didst grant me the privilege to know the gift of life.” This blessing has value: it discourages surrender and fuels religious zeal.

People have to confront regrets. Becoming matured means learning to admit what you cannot change, facing dissonant sorrows, and learning to love life as it truly happens, not as you would have it happen. When somebody attaches unkindness to unfavorable judgment, she is angry. Angry people need to criticize as an outlet for their anger. That is why you must resist unkind criticism. Unkind criticism is never part of a meaningful criticism of you. Its intent is not to teach or to help, its purpose is to penalize. Life is not supposed to be an all or nothing combat between miserableness and blissfulness.

Everyone Needs Positive Role Models: A Good Reputation Inspires Others

Good Reputation Inspires Others We know that before the Bank of New England went under, a lot of business firms withdrew their money and put them in other banks. In the meantime, recollecting that nothing was ever yet done which someone was not the first to do, and that all good things that exist are the fruits of originality, let them be humble enough to believe that there is something still left for it to attain. Reassure them that they are more in need of originality, the less they are conscious of the neediness. American designer and engineer William S. Cobb writes about emptiness is not what you expect in The Game of Go,

Emptiness refers to the absence of something that, for some reason, one expects to find—as when we say a glass, normally used to hold liquids, is empty even though it is full of air. The point is not that there is nothing there at all, but rather that what is there differs from your expectations.

All who want happiness want to eradicate distress? Life is not supposed to be a conflict at all. In addition, when it comes to happiness, well, sometimes life is just all right; sometimes it is well heeled, sometimes wonderful, sometimes tedious, sometimes unpleasant. When your day is not perfect, it is not a failure or a frightening loss. It is just another day. By this system, men lie much cooler, and it is more accordant in every respect, as well as healthier.

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Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

How to Build Trust in a New Job

How to Build Trust in a New Job

Many leaders in transition often do things that damage their career success. Leaders are most vulnerable during this time because they are developing new relationships, trying to affect change, and feeling pressure to meet the high expectations of others.

To put these principles into action, leaders need a six-point agenda:

  • Get an early start. Before starting a new position, learn about the company’s history, culture, strategy, competitors, and learn the names and responsibilities of colleagues.
  • Meet and greet. Meet as many people as possible, especially the informal leaders or influencers. Tools such as email, voice mail, or the company newsletter are helpful, but should not replace face-to-face meetings. Many leaders get too caught up in pleasing the boss, or in solving problems, at the expense of those who will execute the changes. Making time to listen to even the most disgruntled employees will pay off in more trust and connection.
  • Learn the critical success factors. Identify areas where the most impact or improvement can be made. Focus on one or two, ask a lot of questions, get input from key opinion-makers, and when make recommendations, back them up. Also learn what is going well, and how to leverage those areas by building continuity from the old to the new.

Learn the critical success factors.

  • Set clear priorities. At the start of any new role, you need to decipher what is important, and what is not. And then constantly reassess the message. In developing your top priorities and vision, you will gain a dear focus, demonstrate credibility, and establish a clear cause for people below to rally behind. Make sure to involve key people, as they will offer more support for what they helped create.
  • Secure early wins. During the first 100 days, a leader wants people to feel that something is different, something good is happening. Celebrate some early successes to gain the confidence of followers. To secure early wins, first identify problems that can be tackled and solved quickly, and whose solutions will yield highly visible results. These few small wins will also demonstrate competence and consistency that provides the trust for larger initiatives.
  • Plant seeds for the future. The momentum that began with small wins must be leveraged to support your longer-range vision of the future. Small change is easy, but transformational change will require coalitions of support. By including a few key individuals in your planning, you will build “referent trust” that will cascade to a broader audience as you move forward.

Sure distrust is high, leaders need to build trust early in their tenure.

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Posted in Education and Career

Why You Need a Mentor & How to Make the Most of a Mentorship Experience

Mentorship Experience: Bill Gates and Warren Buffett A mentor can be an important catalyst for career development. It’s important, therefore, to take the initiative and seek a mentor, either within or outside one’s workplace. Mentoring refers to a developmental relationship between two people where the more experienced person, or the mentor, acts as a teacher, coach and guide to the mentee, who is seeking to move ahead in education, career or life in general. Let’s take a look at what can be gained from having a mentor at this stage in your career:

  1. Perspective and Experience. A mentor can give you the benefit of his or her perspective and experience. He or she can help you assimilate to a new position and give you an insider’s view on how to get things done.
  2. Think Outside the Box. A mentor can help you look at situations in new ways. He or she can ask hard questions and help you solve problems.
  3. Define and Reach Long-Term Goals. A mentor can help you define your career path and ensure that you don’t lose focus and continue down that road even when you become distracted by day-to-day pressures.
  4. Accountability. When you know you are meeting with your mentor, you ensure that all the tasks you discussed in your last meeting are completed.
  5. Set Realistic Expectations. Idealism can be very detrimental to teachers. Think of a mentor whom you consider great. Seasoned professionals can share their failings and consequent learnings with their mentees. This will provide a foundation for accepting failures as inevitable and recoverable. Growth and learning are uncomfortable. Feeling that way is normal and expected. If you let them know it is going to happen, then it reduces fear.
  6. Trusted Colleague to Discuss Issues. A mentor can be a great sounding board for all issues—whether you are having difficulty with your immediate supervisor, an ethical dilemma, or need advice on how to tackle a new project or ask for a raise.
  7. Champion and Ally. A mentor who knows you well can be a strong champion of your positive attributes and an ally during any bumpy spots in your career. You get the insights and hindsight perspective that comes with first-hand knowledge.
  8. Expand Your Contacts and Network. A mentor can help expand your network of contacts and business acquaintances.
  9. Open Doors. A mentor can open doors within your company, in other companies, or onto a board.
  10. Inspire. A mentor whose work you admire can be a strong inspiration. A good mentor will positively impact your morale and engagement, leading to increased effectiveness in your current role.
  11. Work Better. With the help of a good mentor, you can work more efficiently with a clearer view of the future you are trying to achieve. This helps you feel more confident in your job, which leads to better job performance and more success along your chosen road.

Making the Most of the Mentorship Experience

How to Make the Most of a Mentorship Experience

  • Don’t just settle down for instructional mentoring. Instead, work on building fuller developmental relationships with mentors who help you build confidence and credibility within the workplace.
  • Don’t mistake mentoring and coaching with friendship. When selecting a mentor, choose someone you really respect and has the respect of the company you’re in.
  • When investigating new job options, talk to current employees and look at the company’s record of accomplishment in mentoring. Critically important is choosing the right environment.
  • Don’t be afraid to discuss race, ethnicity, and gender issues with your mentor, as these may significantly impact assignments, promotions, and perceptions about you within the workplace. Engaging your mentor in honest discussions can strengthen your lines of communication over the long-term.
  • Signal to the mentor that you’re willing to work around your weaknesses, that you don’t want to just be acceptable but exceptional.
  • Challenge your mentor to challenge you. If you’re stuck in a professional rut, seek your mentor’s guidance on opportunities that stretch your current talents and skills.

Realize that your development is ultimately your responsibility, whether or not your company offers formalized mentoring programs. But mentors will help you stretch yourself in ways that you might not have tried without their encouragement.

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Posted in Management and Leadership Uncategorized

Customer Feedback Systems to Go Beyond Customer Expectations

Customer Feedback Systems to Go Beyond Customer Expectations

There used to be a sofa in Microsoft’s telephone customer support center called “the Mail Merge couch”—named for a feature in Microsoft’s word-processing program that lets users customize form letters. The early version of Mail Merge was so complicated that whenever a customer called for help, Microsoft’s representative would lie down on the couch, knowing the conversation was likely to take a long time.

Clearly, something was wrong with that feature. Microsoft fixed the problem in the next generation of Word (and eliminated the need for the couch), but the story illustrates just how important customer feedback can be.

Most business managers understand that using customer feedback to guide the development and improvement of products and services is critical to success. However, some companies and individual managers are better than others are at collecting feedback and using it to make strategy decisions.

Nine Customer Feedback Rules for Managers

Managers who want to help their companies be customer-driven might observe the following nine rules.

  1. Create a system for effectively soliciting customer feedback, and then put that system to work. Boeing uses extensive customer involvement when developing new jetliner models. United Airlines influenced the design of both the 767 and the 777, and British Airways and Eastern Airlines participated in developing of the 757. As a result, the airlines were able to tailor the planes to their specific needs and preferences.
  2. Make sure your feedback system provides reliable information from a cross-section of customers. When a company has thousands or millions of customers, it can’t involve many of them in the product design, but it can involve a representative sample of customers.
  3. Make it easy for customers to provide feedback. Some companies offer a customer-feedback phone number. Surveys are another system for gathering feedback, but many people, including me, are not willing to spend much time answering them. Observing customers while they are using existing products and services is habitually the only way to identify hidden frustrations that they may not even be deliberately conscious of.
  4. Microsoft's Nine Customer Feedback Rules for Managers Send e-mail surveys to customers and offer incentives to fill them out and return them. The incentive may be a little digital money or coupons to buy products at a discount. The electronic survey will be immensely efficient for the company, because the survey results will be in electronic form, making results easier to compile and analyze. Some companies already use the Internet in this way. Encyclopedia Britannica recently e-mailed people who had accepted a free seven-day trial of the company’s online reference, offering another free week to those willing to fill out an online survey about their reactions to the product and its price.
  5. Use focus group and customer councils. Getting a few customers together to discuss their reactions to current and new products or services is another good way to collect customer feedback, although these groups and councils, too, have their limitations.
  6. Go beyond what market research tells you. The transition to graphical computing is an example of an instance where Microsoft needed to go beyond what Microsoft’s market research was telling us. Most software customers who were surveyed did not know they would prefer graphical computing because they had not tried it. Microsoft believed that customers would prefer the new way of interacting with their computers, even though Microsoft’s market research was not very positive. Microsoft’s gamble proved right.
  7. Log and evaluate all service requests, customer suggestions, and product complaints. Microsoft logs and evaluates hundreds of thousands of calls made to Microsoft’s support technicians every year. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Observe them using products and watch for frustrations they may not even notice.
  8. Require that the software engineers who develop products spend some time listening to calls from customers. These engineers need to get firsthand feedback. To get the attention of Microsoft’s group managers, Microsoft charges their departments for the cost of providing technical support to customers who use their products.
  9. Request, receive, and act on input from your salespeople. Microsoft seeks and use input for the people who are out in the field with customers. In this industry, customers are eager to share their ideas, frustrations, and enthusiasm. Microsoft is also lucky to be in an industry where products are so adaptable. Whereas it might take an automobile company five years to retool a car model to adapt to customer preferences, software companies can—and do—update their products constantly in response to customer input.

Beyond Customer Feedback

Customer feedback is critical to success of a business No system of market research is foolproof, of course. Even companies that do a good job of listening to customers can make mistakes. Business partners are relying on questionable information to make customer-related decisions. Our new understanding of customer-related decision making should be the starting point for a research approach that has impact on a greater proportion of high-value customer-related decisions.

I am a strong believer that heeding customer feedback is critical to success in any business, especially a dynamic, fast-moving industry such as ours. Despite Microsoft’s willingness to look beyond customer input, 80 percent of the improvements in products like Windows result from customer feedback. Experience has taught us that it is also important to trust your instincts, to take risks, and to provide leadership, even when the customer is not demanding that you do so.

Apply these rules to your business and use the feedback to make improvements. Companies often make the blunder of organizing customer feedback systems around one structure—say lines of business or channel—and employee feedback systems around another—say geography or function. In the end, well-designed feedback loops facilitate employees to be more empowered and companies to be more approachable, creating the competitive edge companies need to adapt and thrive.

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Posted in Business and Strategy Management and Leadership

Bill Gates on Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule

Malcoln Gladwell It’s a tempting proposal: if you practice anything for 10,000 hours, then you will become world class. In 1993, scientist Anders Ericsson learned of a group of psychologists in Berlin who were researching violin players found that, by age 20, the leading performers had averaged in excess of 10,000 hours of practice each. Less able performers, in the meantime, clocked up just 4,000 hours. Malcolm Gladwell popularized the notion further in his book Outliers: The Story of Success.

In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice-skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals,” writes the neurologist Daniel Levitin, “this number comes up again and again. Ten thousand hours is equivalent to roughly three hours a day, or 20 hours a week, of practice over 10 years… No one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems that it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery.

Gladwell applied the concept to Bill Joy, Bill Gates, and the Beatles, who sharpened their musical know-how in performance at Hamburg’s strip clubs. Gladwell says:

The Beatles ended up travelling to Hamburg five times between 1960 and the end of 1962. On the first trip, they played 106 nights, of five or more hours a night. Their second trip they played 92 times. Their third trip they played 48 times, for a total of 172 hours on stage. The last two Hamburg stints, in November and December 1962, involved another 90 hours of performing. All told, they performed for 270 nights in just over a year and a half. By the time they had their first burst of success in 1964, they had performed live an estimated 1,200 times, which is extraordinary. Most bands today don’t perform 1,200 times in their entire careers. The Hamburg crucible is what set the Beatles apart.

'Outliers' by Malcoln Gladwell (ISBN 0316017922) Coined by Florida State psychologist Anders Ericsson and made famous by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, the 10,000 hour rule reflects the belief that becoming a superlative athlete or performer rests on a long period of hard work rather than “innate ability” or talent. As stated by Malcolm Gladwell’s famous 10,000-hour rule, genuine success only comes to people who are willing to put in a great many hours to become first-class at something they value. Whether it involves learning a new piece of equipment, a new language, or developing a craft, being able to cope with setbacks and stay focused on goals regardless of how far-flung they seem. And so the importance of resolve and steadiness in success.

Bill Gates did not only have an propensity for creating software, he also had just about exceptional access as a schoolboy to a mainframe computer that the parents’ association of his local school invested in, in 1968. He got to it in eighth grade before just about anyone else in the world. Correspondingly the Beatles’ genius for melody did not come ready made. They developed it while singing in Hamburg in the early Sixties, at all-night strip clubs. In those years they dedicated more time to pop music than any of their peers. The same could be said for Mozart, or Tiger Woods. They had capability, sure enough, but they also had extraordinary family circumstances that allowed them a reasonable advantage at a very early age. They put the hours in first.

Extraordinary success depends on talent, hard work, and being in the right place at the right time, among other things. In Outliers, Gladwell contends that, to truly master any skill, leaning on various pieces of research, requires about 10,000 concentrated hours. If you can get those hours in early, and be in a position to exploit them, then you are an outlier.

When asked, “What do you think of Malcolm Gladwell’s theory that the years 1953 to 1955 were the perfect ones in which to be born for the computer revolution?” by his father William H. Gates Sr., Bill Gates reponds:

His book makes a lot of great points … that is that in all success stories there are significant elements of luck and tiny … I wasn’t the only kid born between 1953 and 1955, but absolutely to be young and open-minded at a time when the microprocessor was invented … in my case have a friend Paul Allen who was more open-minded about hardware type things and literally brought me the obscure article to talk about that first microprocessor and said you know this is going to improve exponentially … what does that mean and I said well at that means it we can do anything we want and then he was … you know … bugging me the rest of the time every time there’d be a new microprocessor he said can we do something yet and when we were in high school that can happen … so he came back to possible good job there and actually the microprocessor that was finally good enough came out in early 1975 and that’s why I i dropped out … so the timing was pretty important you know why didn’t older people see it … they weren’t this open open minded … they didn’t think about software is the key ingredient … now a lot of kids started doing software and … it’s not if somebody reads the book to say that if you spend 10,000 hours doing something you’ll be super good at it I don’t think that’quite as simple as that what you do is you do about 50 hours and ninety percent drop out because they don’t like it or they’re not good … you do another 50 hours and ninety percent drop out … so there’s these constant cycles and you do have to be lucky enough but also fanatical enough to keep going and so the person makes it to 10,000 hours is not just somebody has done it for 10,000 hours there’s somebody who chosen and been chosen in many different times and so all these magical things came together including who I know and that time … and i think you know that’s very important … when you look at somebody who’s good and say could I do it like them … they’ve gone through so many cycles that it may fool you that you know yes yes you could with the with the right luck, imagination, and and some some talent.

Bill Gates responds to Malcolm Gladwell’s theory that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to master a skill. Apart from acknowledging luck, timing and an open mind, Gates suggests that a successful person survives many cycles of attrition to make it to 10,000 hours of experience. “You do have to be lucky enough, but also fanatical enough to keep going,” explains Gates.

Unfortunately, a Princeton study, which analyzed 88 studies, established that practice accounted for just a 12% variation in performance.

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Posted in Education and Career Mental Models and Psychology

Susan Decker Got an Internship Doing a Magic Card Trick

An noteworthy anecdote on Susan Decker from ‘Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo’ by Nicholas Carlson:

'Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo' by Nicholas Carlson (ISBN 1455556610) During her first year in graduate school at Harward Business School, Decker interviewed at a small investment bank called Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette.

Decker hadn’t held a full-time job between college and graduate school, so, on her resume, she listed some of the odd jobs she’d done for money. One of them was “professional magician.” It was a stretch. Decker had once performed for a bunch of six-year-olds and made a little money.

Of course, the DLJ interviewers asked her about her magic skills.

Decker was one of those shy people who force themselves to dive into uncomfortable situations because they know that’s the only way they are going to get what they want out oflife. Decker dove in. She said to her interviewers: “Would you like to see a trick?”

They took the bait. Decker said she had an invisible deck of cards in her pocket. She made a show of taking it out and handed it to one of the interviewers. She said: “Pick a card, any card.”

She said: “What’s the card?”

The interviewer played along, made up a card, and said, “It was the eight of hearts.”

Decker pulled out a real deck of cards from her pocket. She fanned out the cards-only ene was face down. Decker turned it over: the 8 of hearts.

She got the internship.

Susan Decker Got an Internship Doing a Magic Trick Susan Decker most famously became president of Yahoo! Inc. and was passed over many a time for the role of Yahoo’s CEO. During her stint at Yahoo, while reporting to a revolving door of CEOs, she defended Yahoo’s business model. At a keynote for the 2008 Advertising 2.0 New York conference, Decker remarked on the transformation in the advertising industry as well as the opportunities and solutions for advertisers, ad agencies, and publishers. Decker asserted that new advertising products, technologies and platforms will make it more efficient to reach consumers. Decker also talked about the importance of striking the right balance between monetization and the customer experience:

Yahoo! is helping to accelerate the transformation of how display advertising is both bought and sold … First, we are developing the technology, products and platforms that are designed to help advertisers find the right audiences and publishers find the right advertisers. Second, we are partnering with publishers to secure and monetize inventory that advertisers and agencies find desirable. And third, we are partnering with advertisers and agencies to channel demand to the right consumer.

Susan Decker holds independent directorships at Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, Intel, Costco, and LegalZoom. Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s business partner is also on the board of directors at Berkshire Hathaway and Costco. Bill Gates is also on the board at Berkshire Hathaway. His father, William H. Gates Sr., is also on the board at Costco.

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Posted in Education and Career

Knowledge is Never Really Acquired

A portrait statue of Socrates The famous statement, “All I know is that I do not know,” is attributed-questionably, according to some scholars-to the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates (c. 470-399 BCE), based on two dialogues written by his disciple Plato (c. 424-c. 348 BCE).

In The Republic (c. 360 BCE), Socrates concludes a discussion with Thrasymachus on “justice” by saying, “the result of the discussion, as far as I’m concerned, is that I know nothing, for when I don’t know what justice is, I’ll hardly know whether it is a kind of virtue or not, or whether a person who has it is happy or unhappy.”

In The Apology (399 BCE), Socrates says of a well-respected politician that “he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows; I neither know nor think that I know.” The resulting slogan was adopted by later thinkers and incorporated into the tradition that became known as “Academic Skepticism.” Rather than believing that it is impossible to know anything, Academic Skeptics actually claim only that we can know very little about reality—namely, truths of logic and mathematics. This contrasts with Pyrrhonian skepticism, which involves an attitude of doubting every positive judgment, including logic and mathematics.

A serious problem with Socrates’s statements is that he seems committed to an incoherent position. If he truly does not know anything, then it is false that he knows that; but if he does know he does not know anything, then it is false that he does not know anything. Thus, the claim “I know that I do not know” is self-defeating (resulting in the statement also being known as the Socratic paradox). In response, many scholars argue that this is an uncharitable reading of Plato. They contend that Socrates’s claims are expressed in a particular context, referring only to specific concepts and not to knowledge generally (“Justice” in The Republic, and “beauty” and “goodness” in The Apology).

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Posted in Education and Career Philosophy and Wisdom

Talented People Work for More Than Pay

Reevaluate your compensation and rewards to create a performance culture

Reevaluate your compensation and rewards to create a performance culture Many companies are changing how they pay to keep the people they need. People who want to remain on a fast career track need to monitor what is happening to pay and rewards. Companies no longer just use options to get and keep the best people. And, when they move to cash compensation, this creates tax problems for key people.

  • Options underwater? Don’t hold your breath for re-pricing options. But companies are making major option grants to key people. You may not get options on your company stock at the current price for a long time. So, if you are up for pay negotiations, it may be a time for more options.
  • 'Fearless Salary Negotiation' by Josh Doody (ISBN 0692568689) 2020 incentives sparse? Many incentive plans are based on earnings growth for their dollars. And some companies missed their goals near the end of 2020. It is time to look at the measures your incentive plan has for 2021. Do they start where the missed 2020 goals left off? Do you have financial goals that are realistic and based on what your company can do in 2021?
  • Base pay adjustments? This will probably be a 4 percent budget year for most companies. So you need to focus on variable pay in the form of incentives and stock options. Companies set their plans at the start of the year, and even if things get better, they don’t change their budgeting processes easily.

Paying Smart: Time of Transition

Talented People Work for More Than Pay This year will be a watershed year for pay and rewards. The game is changing fast. Leaders will have some critical decisions to make, as companies are transitioning from a period of economic growth to a time of uncertainty. In recent years, everything we did with pay and rewards seemed to work. Now companies need a powerful business case for everything they do. Pay and rewards must add value to the business—good news for a change. But people need to be agile and adaptable.

Hiring is changing—from recruitment that placed a premium on all skills to a situation where hiring is more selective. Companies should build a performance culture employment model. Rather than designing rewards to attract and keep everyone, now they need rewards that are attractive to people who add value. As businesses offer incentives and equity lower in the workforce ranks, it is important to link rewards to what drives growth. Use rewards as the engine to make the company grow again. We now know that stock options are not the “secret sauce” of financial rewards. This gives us a chance to restart equity-sharing strategies.

You need to know how to deal with a workforce that is more “pay and reward savvy.” We will now see a return to basic design elements, including workforce involvement, alignment with business metrics, win-win for company and people, and simplicity.

'Designing Effective Incentive Compensation Plans' by Sal DiFonzo (ISBN 0692568689) Companies need pay and reward solutions that are more cost justified and based on contribution to the business. Talented people work for more than pay: total rewards in the form of providing a compelling and attractive future; individual growth so people continue to add value and adapt as they grow in economic value; a positive workplace where people want to do well; and total pay comprised of base pay, incentives, recognition, celebration and benefits.

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Posted in Business and Strategy