Journey to Success Programme

Audience: Secondary Schools, Tertiary Institutions, Fresh Graduates, Youths, Churches, Mosques, and Corporate Organizations

Format: 120-180 minute presentation


Planning for success is much like planning for a long ROAD TRIP!

You need to know where you’re going, why you’re going, and how you’ll get there.  You need that information to pack the necessary tools to ensure you’re equipped for the ride and prepared for arrival.

Participants of the Journey to Success Program explore the Six Steps to developing a Personal Success Strategic Plan (PSSP) as outlined in the book, Mapping Your Journey to Success:

  1. Determine Your DESTINATION.  Define what it means to be successful and understand why it’s important to define it personally.

  2. Identify Your PURPOSE.  Learn to identify, support and empower who you are in order to chart the best route to your personal success.

  3. Set Your GOALS.  Set goals to make the journey more meaningful and increase your optimism, lead to greater fulfillment.

  4. Develop Your STRATEGIES.  Create an appropriate plan of action to accomplish goals, fulfill your purpose and reach success.

  5. Take ACTION.  Execute your plan using a positive attitude, self-motivation, and hard work to achieve success.

  6. Evaluate Your PROGRESS.  Incorporate “checkpoints” into the journey to monitor and track how close you are to your destination. 

Learning Objectives

  • Understand where they want to go in life and why

  • Create better goals and develop strategies to achieve them

  • Use self motivation and hard work to keep moving forward

  • Make adjustments when things don’t go as planned

Program Formats

  1. Plenary Session – This two hour session can be facilitated within a 120-180 minute window.  It offers an interactive and fun overview of the PSSP elements.  This format is great for high schools and conference presentations.  It includes interactive group discussions and exercises.  Participants follow along in the presentations with a full colour PSSP worksheet (4-pages).  Students walk away with plenty of notes to build a PSSP.

  2. Workshop Session – This half-day format can be facilitated within a 180 min – 8 hour window.  It offers a high energy, interactive, and in-depth coverage of the PSSP elements.  This format is great for all audiences.  It includes small group discussions, exercises, role-playing, self-assessments, Q/A and challenging games.  Participants follow along in the presentation with their full colour PSSP workbook (34 pages).  Students walk away with a completed DRAFT of their PSSP to execute.


This program can be presented as a stand-alone presentation or integrated into other full programs, such as:

  • Freshman Orientations

  • Student Life Events

  • Career Development Fairs

  • Student Retreats

  • Leadership Conferences

  • Workforce Training Programs

  • Life Coaching Curriculum

  • Internship Prep Training

  • Rehabilitation Programs

Download PSSP Programme Flyer

Download Pre-Booking Info Sheet4PSSP

Pricing for PSSP Programme

  • Prices for seminars and conferences are all inclusive–they include all travel, flight, car, lodging, meals, etc. and vary from area to area, depending on location and date.
  • Discounts are available for two schools/organizations booking together and sharing the same date (and an even further discount for 4+ schools booking consecutive days).
  • Prices for programmes may also include student materials, t-shirts and other products.
  • T-shirts and other products are optional and may be included at a discount.

We could participate at your event as a session speaker.

Please contact us for prices and possible tours in your area.

Thank you.

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Bored at Work? Here’s What To Do!



Even the most exciting job can go a bit stale after a while, and at first we don’t even notice. We start a new job all enthusiastic, we learn new things, meet new people, and do new tasks. Once we get comfortable we often switch to autopilot, we follow the same comfortable daily routines and then get bored. It doesn’t happen over night, no- it’s gradual, and this is why we often fail to spot it.

Once boredom has taken hold it affects how we feel about our job, our career and life as a whole. We become a little less happy (again, often subconsciously) and we lose our career libido – the drive and hunger we felt at the beginning.

In that way, a job or career is similar to a relationship or marriage. At the beginning the sparks fly, and then after many happy years, routines set in, libido shrinks, and boredom creeps in. The ‘seven-year itch’ suggests that after seven years of marriage happiness starts to decline in a relationship, unless of course, you constantly work on it and you make sure you don’t lose the spark. My wife and I are just about to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary and we both know how to work on it.

Marriage is for life, most jobs aren’t. So, one way to stop boredom from creeping into your job and career is to regularly change job. And if you follow the same principles that apply to a marriage, you do this at least every 7 years (I would probably suggest 4-5 year stints, as jobs – no offence to the extremely exhilarating ones – are less stimulating than relationships).

But what if you don’t want to change jobs yet or if boredom kicks in earlier than expected? Here are my tips that should help put the spark back into your job:

  1. Stop the autopilot. It is really important that, from-time-to-time, we take an outsider’s perspective of our job and career. If you looked in on yourself, your job and your career, what do you see? What would others see if they looked objectively? Removing yourself for a little while from the daily routine and looking at everything with an objective mind will help you find things you could change.
  2. Try to change some of the most entrenched daily routines. Maybe you could start with a different task, mix things up a bit, change the time you take a break, make your calls in the morning, don’t check emails for 2 hours, etc. Just think of the little things you could change to break up the daily grind.
  3. Make new friends at work. One thing that is exciting (and scary) about starting a new job is meeting new people and getting to know your colleagues. You could try to meet other people, from other department or functions. Start looking around. Is there maybe someone or a group of people that you like the look of? Just introduce yourself and see how things go.
  4. Ask for new tasks. Instead of finding a new job, you might be able to make the existing one a little different. Maybe you could broaden your areas of responsibility, take on different tasks.
  5. Learn something new. A great way to fight boredom is to study a new and exciting thing related to your job. Have a look at what’s new and exciting in your area of work and start studying it. You might even find a course to go on. Building skills is not only good for killing boredom but also a sound career investment.
  6. Volunteer for new things. A good way of expanding your job role is by volunteering to do things that are outside your current job scope. You can either see it as an opportunity to learn new things by doing them or you can see it as an opportunity to try out existing skills at work.
  7. Build an online presence. Think about starting a blog, or volunteer to write for relevant websites. Or set up a Twitter account, LinkedIn Group or Facebook page related to your job or career. This will get you writing and will help build a valuable network for the future. Networking, as well as sharing and developing ideas is easier than you might think.
  8. Work in a different place. If your job allows you to be flexible where you work, then think about mixing this up a bit more. Maybe it’s going into the same office each day that is the problem. You could maybe decide to work from home some days to break the cycle. I ended up writing half of my last book in a coffee shop close to my office. I felt like I was away from the office and could concentrate (without interruptions) on my writing in a quite funky and creative environment.
  9. Make sure you balance work and life. I know that work is a big part of life but it should never take over your life. Make sure you leave enough time for friends, partners, children, your hobbies, etc. Boredom often sets in because we have no balance. Getting fit is another great way to counter-balance the stress of work.
  10. Go for promotion. Trying to bag a promotion or higher position in your current company is a great way of re-invigorating your job. It will automatically bring you some fresh energy, and if you are not successful, then preparing for it might have just prepared you for finding a new job with another company.

I hope these tips were useful? They are all things I have done in my own career and they have helped me keep away any boredom. I am always interested to hear your views on the topic. Also, if you have any other ideas of how to fight boredom at work, then please share them here…


As always, I really appreciate you reading my post. Here, at LinkedIn, I regularly write about management and technology issues and trends. If you would like to read my regular posts then please click ‘Follow’ (at the top of the page) and feel free to also connect via Twitter,Facebook and The Advanced Performance Institute.

Finally, here are some other recent posts I have written:

Posted by:Bernard MarrBernard Marr
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6 Unique Ways to Be Successful and Happy BY STEVE TOBAK

Tired of searching for the secret to a fulfilling career and a happy life? Look no further.

Happy At Work

What if the key to becoming successful and happy is to quit trying to be either? Would that throw a wrench into your career goals? Make a mess of your life plans? If so, then you need to read this.

Here’s the thing. Never before have there been so many people spending so much time searching for the secrets to a successful career and a happy life. Which is really a shame because they’re not going to find either, at least not that way.

There are lots of reasons why that is, but the most glaringly obvious one is that nobody ever got anywhere by doing what everyone else is doing.

Think about it. The world has never been more competitive. If you want to have a fulfilling career and live a good life, you’ve got to get ahead of the competition. The only way to do that is to do things differently, to find your own unique path that works for you.

Here are six ways to do that, to become successful and happy.

Build real relationships. What a novel concept, right? While everyone else is wasting their time developing their personal brands and building huge online networks, get out and spend time with real people in the real world. One-on-one in real time. That’s the only place you’ll find real opportunity and friendship. And that’s where success and happiness comes from. No kidding.

Groom yourself. Want to know how great companies that churn out hundreds of future CEOs develop their talent? They identify and recruit up-and-comers and then groom them by moving them around into different areas and situations. That’s how they learn a broad range of skills. Experience. Get out in the world. Try different things. Get your hands dirty. That’s how you’ll find opportunity and figure out what makes you happy.

Do nothing. So much of life is out of our control. We never seem to have enough information to solve tough problems and make important decisions. When you need to gain some perspective, resist the urge to seek out more information. Turn off all the sources of communication, all the noise that distracts you. Just be quiet and listen to your own inner thoughts. Don’t judge them; just listen. The answers to life’s most difficult challenges are always there.

Work for a great company. Everybody wants to be an entrepreneur these days. Here’s a novel thought. Go work for a great company. Learn from people smarter, more accomplished, more experienced than you. Learn from the pros. Find a mentor or two. Learn how business works in the real world. Figure out how you can help that company be even better. What you can bring to the party that really matters and nobody else is doing. If you’re meant to be an entrepreneur, an opportunity will come to you. And you’ll be ready for it.

Do one thing at a time. Everyone’s so distracted with social media and all their slash jobs these days, try picking one thing you really want to do and just get it done. Prioritize. It’ll provide a sense of accomplishment and control. It’ll help you build confidence. Even if it fails, you’ll learn from the experience. And you’ll gain strength from knowing that failure didn’t kill you. That will make you more resilient and give you courage to tackle bigger things.

Be good to yourself. Most people who want a lot out of life are their own worst enemy. They take themselves too seriously. Judge themselves too harshly. Expect too much out of themselves and others. If you can learn to let go of all your expectations, quit trying so hard to get somewhere, you’ll learn that just being you, present in this moment, is all that matters. That’s what life is all about. And that’s when all good things will come to you. Success, happiness, everything.


STEVE TOBAK is a management consultant, an executive coach, and a former senior executive of the technology industry. He’s managing partner of Invisor Consulting, a Silicon Valley-based strategy consulting firm. Contact Tobak; follow him on Facebook,Twitter, or LinkedIn.


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What I Really Want for Christmas

Each year, around this time, friends and business partners start sending presents to my office. The reception desk gets covered with tins of candy, boxes of cookies, sometimes a few bottles of wine. It’s all very nice. But what I’d really like is a flock of chicks or maybe somehoneybees.

Let me explain what I mean. I’m touched that people think to send holiday treats. It’s a fun tradition. My team at the office always looks forward to the flavored popcorn that one of our partners sends every year. So I don’t want to sound ungrateful or deprive my colleagues of caramel corn.

But I can’t help thinking that the money spent on these gifts could go to people who need it more than I do.

For example you might know about Heifer International, a non-profit that lets you buy an animal for a family in need. Send Heifer $30 and someone gets honeybees. $120 buys a pig. There are lots of other options too.

You can even give an animal or other donation in someone else’s name. So if you’re looking for a gift to send your clients and partners this year, you could donate to a group like Heifer on their behalf. They will get a card acknowledging your gift. They’ll have to go get their own cookies, but on the bright side, they will know that your generosity in their name really helped someone.

Heifer is part of a project that Melinda and I are supporting this year called Giving Tuesday. The idea is to take one day out of your holiday shopping and dedicate it to giving back. The Giving Tuesday web site lists lots of great organizations that need your support. (Although Giving Tuesday falls on December 3, you can donate any time.) Melinda and
I have posted our list of four groups that we think are especially effective, including Heifer, but there are many others to choose from. If you run a non-profit, becoming a partner with Giving Tuesday could be a great way to connect with new donors.

I’d encourage you to check out the groups taking part in Giving Tuesday. You could help them make a tangible difference in someone’s life, which is just about the best gift any of us could ask for.

Posted by:Bill GatesBill Gates

  • Syed Nizamul Malik
    Syed Nizamul Malik

    Supply Chain and Logistics Professional

    I am really impressed with the contents in this article. This is impressive that one of the richest person in the World feel like this. Alas! the billionaires in poor or developing countries shall take a lesson from him. Most of the money these people accumulate by corruption deposit in the European or North American Banks. They buy there expensive properties out of this money and rest invest in foreign banks but they never like to spend a single penny on their poor country men.This is really a tragedy. When we shall learn in these countries that honesty is a good thing. When these people will learn to share their wealth with the deprived ones. Here I would like write a quotation by Pope that “An honest man is the noblest work of God” God bless you Bill Gate

  • Patti Taylor
    • Patti Taylor

      Independent Consultant

      Syed – it is part of American culture to give to the needy. If our government would stay out of our business we would be able to give more. For instance a law here that will not allow us to give food to the hungry. Crazy right? The US is the most generous of all countries on humanitarian issues world wide and will continue to be so until we cannot or are not allowed to be generous because of some stupid law.

    • Christopher Singleton
      Christopher Singleton

      Scientist at Momenta Pharmaceuticals

      I don’t think this is relegated to the very wealthy. I have a regular career and have often felt that there is too much of a focus on material things and ‘stuff’ anyway, at almost all income levels. Once you fulfill all of your needs and a few of your wants, extra possessions don’t do much for you (at least in my case). If we opt to give to those in need in lieu of getting gifts, the opportunity and benefit that someone gets will often last much longer than the material gift we would have received.

  • S.Seshadri Srinivasan
    S.Seshadri Srinivasan

    Founder CEO at XLOG Technologies & Consulting

    You give because you have , you give because you want to , you give because you have to , you give because you can .. all these are not giving, but you give because they need. you give because they don’t have, and you give because you are given with. Giving is immortal only if you keep giving in need. that is humane, But above all , to make others think good about giving is divine.That’s what Mr. Bill Gates is doing, Salute to him.

    • Verneata Byrd
      Verneata Byrd

      Entrepreneur, Business Development, Sales/Marketing Leader

      There are still homeless, folks without jobs so there is much more that can be done.

  • David Jennings
    David Jennings

    Multi-disciplined, experienced professional well versed in finance and computer systems. Seeking new challenges

    Having been a recipient of chickens and ducks donated to people in need, it is really heartwarming to know that a couple of families somewhere in the world are able to take steps out of a cycle of poverty on their own. If we are honest, we all have much more stuff than we really need. The holiday season is the perfect time to be thankful for what we already have and think about how really privileged we are. We can give out of our abundance to those whose lives can be changed by a small flock of chickens or a cow. Give to Heifer and to the other organizations Bill recommends. Giving a gift in someone’s name will bless you, the person in whose name you give it, and the family who can see a new future by receiving it. What can be better than that?

    • Pather (Thasegan)
      Pather (Thasegan)

      Quality Assuror at Nedbank

      Why is it that people with a surplus need to be motivated by a “blessing” before they give to those that have nothing. Surely a number of you that have this surplus must have started with nothing and so must realise the pleasure of giving without want.

  • Meg Green
    Meg Green

    CEO of Meg Green & Associates

    I have been giving goats for years through Heiffer International……not only does it feed, emancipate and empower the poorest families, it teaches wonderful lessons about giving, and all of our children and grandchildren need to learn those lessons early on. So here’s to a goat or bees or cows or whatever for Hannukah or Xmas. It’s the best gift you can give.. Thanks Bill for the reminder.

  • Chris Seminatore
    Chris Seminatore

    Chris Seminatore – Digital Marketing Professional

    Really good stuff… Brings back into play what the holidays are truly all about.


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Didn’t Get The Job? Do This…

A LinkedIn reader sent me this,

I interviewed for a job with a company on my bucket list. I was one of two finalists. I nailed the final interview… or so I thought. I got the email today from the HR Manager that they went with the other candidate. She said he had more experience than me but that they loved my passion for their company.

I’m crushed. Is there anything I can do to try to get them to change their mind? How should I respond? Do I even respond at all?

When you find out you didn’t get the job there is something you can do. But, it begins with knowing…

The Difference Between “No” & “Not Today”

First, take a deep breath. I know losing out on the job feels like they said, “no,” to you personally. But, what they really said was, “not today,” to your business-of-one. They simply picked another service provider they thought was a better fit for their needs. It doesn’t mean they don’t like what you’re offering, nor does it mean they’ll never use your services. In fact, let’s look at what you’ve accomplished:

A) You beat out hundreds of candidates and got the initial interview.

B) You nailed the first interview and made it to the final two.

C) You were told they loved your passion for their company.

This is what any good salesperson dreams of making happen with a potential client. It’s the foundation of what can be a long and fruitful relationship, but only if you take the next step.

Prove You Meant What You Said

Show your exceptional character by emailing back. Better yet, make a phone call to the person who gave you the news and say,

Thank you for letting me know you made a decision. I’m really happy you have found the right candidate for the job. The interviewing process with you was very inspiring and I meant what I said about wanting to work for your company. So, I was wondering if you could advise me on what I can do to be proactive and stay on your radar screen for any future opportunities?”

By showing you have no hard feelings and still want to work for them even after not getting the job, you will make an amazing impression. Not to mention, they’ll now have a vetted candidate on file they could call on a moment’s notice for a new job and potentially bypass the hassle of posting the job and interviewing a bunch of other candidates. Don’t forget, hiring isn’t their full-time job. They’re busy. So, anytime a company can save the hassle of going through a long hiring process, they will. By telling them you want to stay in touch and do what you can to get the next job, you’re making the most of the relationship you have developed with them so far.

Don’t Let Pride Get In The Way

You invested time and energy in getting to know this company. And, they’re the type of employer you want to work for. Don’t let your pride get in the way of your ability to nurture this relationship into a potential job offer down the road. Be a smart business-of-one and leverage what you’ve created. Who knows? The person they hired might not work out. In which case, they’ll be calling you. Plus, if they’re hiring now, they could be hiring again soon. You don’t know what jobs may get created down the line that could be an even better fit for you. Get over the initial blow of not getting chosen for this position and get in gear on laying the foundation for getting the next one!

Have you ever used the approach above? I’d love to hear stories from readers on how they made the most of not getting hired.

P.S. – First time reading my posts? Thanks for taking the time to stop by! Not only do I write for Linkedin, but I’m also founder of the career advice site, CAREEREALISM, and currently run the career coaching program, CareerHMO. I hope you’ll check them both out!

If you enjoyed reading this article, you may also like:

CAREEREALISM’s Founder, J.T. O’Donnell is a nationally syndicated career expert and workplace consultant who helps American workers of all ages find greater professional satisfaction. Her book,CAREEREALISM: The Smart Approach to a Satisfying Career, outlines her highly successful career-coaching methodology. Purchase her e-book of CAREEREALISM for only $9.95 by clicking here !

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IBM’s Big Plans for Cloud Computing


In June, IBM agreed to pay about $2 billion for SoftLayer Technologies, which has a global network of more than a dozen data centers, including this one in Dallas.SoftLayer TechnologiesIn June, IBM agreed to pay about $2 billion for SoftLayer Technologies, which has a global network of more than a dozen data centers, including this one in Dallas.
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Ambition is an impressive thing, particularly when a desire for world domination is combined with existential survival.

Four heavyweight tech companies are translating that ambition into investments in their cloud computing services: IBM, Microsoft, Amazon and Google are all expected to spend more than $1 billion annually on their global networks in the coming years.

Even more important, however, is that all the companies are developing knowledge through their cloud services of how to run truly huge Internet-based computing systems — systems that may soon be nearly impossible for other companies to match. If any other company is thinking of entering the business, like China’s Tencent, for example, they’ll need to move fast or come up with something revolutionary.

IBM’s response? You ain’t seen nothing yet.

In 2014, the company will make a series of announcements that will shiver all challengers, according to Lance Crosby, chief executive of SoftLayer, a cloud computing company that IBM purchased earlier this year for $2 billion.

More than 100 products, like e-commerce and marketing tools, will be put inside the cloud as a comprehensive series of offerings for business, Mr. Crosby said. So will another 40 infrastructure services, like big data analysis and mobile applications development.

“It will take Amazon 10 years to build all of this,” he said. “People will be creating businesses with this that we can only dream about.”

Maybe. IBM already claims to lead in cloud computing revenue, with $1 billion in revenue in the past quarter alone. That’s impressive, though that revenue includes revenue from software that used to be attributed to a different category at the company. And some of the revenue is being generated by companies IBM recently acquired, including SoftLayer.

On many other fronts, such as the number of machines it operates, the number of major companies running big parts of their business on IBM’s public cloud, and the new technology it appears to have built for cloud computing, IBM is arguably the laggard among the top four providers. As the SoftLayer purchase indicates, it has had to buy big for what the others have mostly grown internally.

What IBM does have, however, is a lot of money and resources it plans to throw at cloud computing. And given its experience in the early-1990s, when it faced a near-death experience after missing a major technology shift, the company may also have a belly for a swift change.

Lance Crosby, chief executive of SoftLayer, a cloud computing company that IBM purchased earlier this year.IBMLance Crosby, chief executive of SoftLayer, a cloud computing company that IBM purchased earlier this year.

The big push will begin in February, Mr. Crosby said, with a formal inauguration of its new cloud offerings by Virginia M. Rometty, IBM’s chief executive.

IBM has also deployed 400 employees to OpenStack, an open source software project with more than 200 corporate members that goes after much of the proprietary cloud systems of Amazon, Microsoft and Google. This seems much like IBM’s involvement a decade ago in Linux, which helped that open source operating system win corporate hearts and minds.

In addition to the consolidation of online software and services, Mr. Crosby said, IBM is “absolutely” looking to sell its big mainframe computing capabilities as a cloud-based service. It also plans to draw on the insights it has gained from building and licensing technology used by Microsoft in the Xbox gaming console, and Google in its own network operations, he said, and will make more acquisitions for the cloud business.

“We make the processors in Google’s server racks,” he said, “We understand where gaming is going. Before I got here, I thought this was a big old tech company, too; I didn’t see all of the assets.”

It’s true that IBM is big. And, it is also a tech company. And undeniably 102 years old, which makes it both a survivor and a creature of successful processes. Mr. Crosby has two bosses between him and Ms. Rometty, and numerous executive vice presidents above him that may agree on the eventual future, but have their own views about the speed with which they’ll move there.


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Stay Hungry: On Creativity Part II

Many people misinterpret Steve Jobs’ famous phrase: “stay hungry stay foolish” as a lesson in ambition, but if you listen to the commencement speech where Jobs quotes the back cover of the Whole Earth Catalogue, you’ll hear the more nuanced meaning.

He tells the story of his humble beginnings (given up for adoption to a working class family), his decision to ‘drop out’ of college (and shift to taking classes that interested him rather than were required) and his getting fired from Apple (needing to start again and take new risks rather than rest on his laurels). Though a big part of his talk was to inspire students to do what they love, the subtext is that we should never stop learning.

I feel like many people today understand the first part of the message (do what you love), but fewer people really get the second part (never stop learning).

I’m no spring chicken any more. I’ve hit what is lovingly referred to as ‘middle-age’. And because I don’t really ‘act my age’, I have lots of young friends and colleagues I hang out with. Over and over again, I hear them complain that they aren’t respected or valued as much as they want to be. I listen and bite my tongue. I don’t want to be that old timer that says, “Well in MY day, sonny, I had to work my way up the ladder like everyone else!”

But I did.

My first job after graduating with a nearly perfect GPA, honors degree and a few published academic papers was to type letters and get lattes for the CEO. I felt just as under-utilized as the young people entering the workforce today. After about 6 months of lattes, the CEO I worked with overheard a conversation I was having about my Geocities ring and that I was taking Flash and DHTML classes in my off hours and he realized that I could help the company with their website and online annual reporting. I got a small promotion and raise and…got someone else’s lattes (this time in corporate communications). Every job I ‘graduated’ to I earned a little more and got a little more responsibility. And even after owning my own business, I picked up the occasional latte. My career didn’t really ‘start’ until my mid-30’s (the previous 10 years were mostly grunt work) and, hell, I can still use a dictaphone and type a mean letter and am not above doing so to pay the bills.

I know today that I benefit from that struggle. As frustrating as it was at the time, I got to learn amazing new skills under every new boss. Creativity meant nothing without knowing how to do market research – that would give me the insights into what a customer really wanted and needed. I was fortunate to work in several research departments coming up. Understanding other stakeholders, like investors and board members gave me a whole different perspective on ‘customer’. I learned budgeting and public relations skills and sell cycles and retail – all by being the person under the person who drove that position.

And even today I remind myself that the day I stop learning and growing is the day I stop living. I’ve maybe learned 1% of what I need to in my lifetime.

Humility is a big part of staying hungry. Steve Jobs didn’t start out the CEO of Apple. He started out curious and stayed curious. He was also obsessed with perfection, quite often at the cost of profits. He never let fear rule his decisions. I often wonder if he would have been as successful with Apple if he hadn’t got fired. In getting fired, he had to get hungry again. He went out and learned new skills and industries, then brought it back to Apple where the company flourished once more.

Which leads me to one of my favorite commencement speeches ever given by David McCullough Jr. titled, “You are not special”. It may as well have been a speech to all of us. There is no lone inventor or creative genius. Even Steve Jobs had to be knocked down and rebuilt to impress us all again. The moment you become complacent or think you know it all is the moment you will lose your edge.

Stay hungry. Drop the ego and pick up the lesson. It’ll make you smarter and more creative at the end of the day.

Posted by:Tara HuntTara Hunt
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Half Your Employees Hate Their Jobs







By Tom Gardner and Morgan Housel

Look at the coworker to your left. Now, to your right. At least one of them loathes their job. Maybe you do, too.

According to a recent Gallup survey of 5.4 million working adults, 52% of employees say they are not engaged in their work. They limp to work, toiling without passion. That’s half the workforce! Another 18% describe themselves as “actively disengaged” – disgruntled and spreading bitterness among coworkers. With the exception of recession periods, the majority of employees start each New Year vowing to look for a new job.

Imagine a 10-person bicycle. This means that three people are pedaling, five are pretending to pedal, and two are jamming the brakes. That’s you, corporate America. Now scale that bike higher. 520 out of every 1000 employees don’t care. 180 are trying to sabotage the place. 300 are left doing their darnedest.

The most strategic act that any organization can take is to better engage and inspire team members. Here are three (of many) ways you can make life better at work.

1) Abandon your sick-pay and vacation-pay policies.

If you can’t trust me when I say I have the flu, why are you letting me engage with customers, define budgets, and access internal documents?

There’s a radical disrespect involved in limiting the number of sick days employees can take each year. Replace that with this simple policy: Require that everyone NOT come to work when they’re sick. If you think an employee will abuse this system, you need to re-assess your entire relationship with them. Your workspace is about to get a lot healthier on multiple fronts.

From here, get rid of limited vacation days, too. Show employees that you value the sustainability of their great work by letting them take what they need, approved by their managers. At The Motley Fool, I observe that the best use of this policy is the use of half days where needed to tend to life. A culture built on trust and respect will pay for itself several times over.

2) Make your office live and breathe.

Employees spend a third of their lives at work. Make your office a place someone would actually want to spend time.

No sane person can inhabit a cubicle 8-10 hours a day, sedentarily, and remain healthy. Buy treadmill desks. Hire a personal trainer to run classes in a conference room. Contract someone to lead meditation class.

Let employees check Facebook and ESPN. They’re going to do this anyway. Don’t make them feel like they’re cheating the system. (Remember, at dynamic companies, more work is being done off hours — via mobile texting and email – than ever before. Give your workforce credit for this!)

3) Let employees write their own job descriptions.

This final challenge is more difficult, but also very rewarding.

The vast majority of employees performing well at their job are also miles below their potential and bored out of their minds. They’re doing repetitive work. You know what happens next? They leave.

To counteract that, a few months after a new employee is settled, coach them through the process of writing their own job description. Their dream job description. As a manager or boss, your job is to do everything to make as much of that dream a reality (so long as the job helps your organization fulfill its purpose).

Yale professor Amy Wrzesniewski calls this “job crafting.” It’s when employees get to reshape and redefine their work to better fit their passions and talents — passions and talents the employer probably didn’t know existed.

Maybe your accountant has unexpected marketing insights. Maybe your IT manager would like to beat traffic by leaving at 3 p.m. and working from home in the early evening. Maybe your recruiter wants to create a new training program. You’ll never know until you ask. Allowing employees to articulate their passion puts them on a path toward fulfilling their true potential. It’s a win-win for you and them. Because there is simply no doubt that the average organization is operating at less than 30% of its full potential.

Peter Drucker said that culture eats strategy for breakfast. Get your fork and knife and let’s get to work!

Posted by:Tom GardnerTom Gardner
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Passion + Partnering = Success

How do you launch the next big product or service? Many will tell you the key lies in technology – perhaps the savvy use of social media. I would argue that success in launching any new business venture does not begin with a technological element. It starts in a more human space.

The formula I’ve seen work again and again is this: Passion + Partnering = Success. By this I mean, you start with your passion, you look for ways to act as a partner to your customers, and ultimately, success flows to both of you.

Certainly, this was my experience in starting Rakuten. When I began, I had little more than my passion and I made sure to show it. When I made sales calls on my earliest customers, I would often do push-ups in the parking lot so I could burst into the customer’s store brimming with energy and adrenalin.

But it was much more than a sales tactic. I followed up my energized pitch with a promise to partner with my clients – to be part of the process that brought their stores into the digital world. In those early days, Rakuten staff often accompanied customers to the store to help them purchase their first computers. We helped them step-by-step to set up their websites and make this leap into the virtual world.

This is still our process today. Merchants in our marketplace are in close contact with their Rakuten representatives. That person is charged with acting as the customer’s partner – giving advice, support, becoming part of that merchant’s effort to be successful in the online world. When the merchant does well, Rakuten shares in the success.

Anyone can be passionate. But when you combine that passion with a commitment to partnership, you create a team. It’s that collaboration that can turn passion into success.

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The Profit in Principles

What are your core principles?

In the hustle and bustle of daily life, we can get caught up in the everyday challenges and activities. But success for an individual or a company is not about managing the daily chores. Success for anyone is rooted in a development and an adherence to core principles.

At Rakuten, our core principles are:

  1. Always Improve, Always Advance
  2. Be Passionately Professional
  3. Hypothesize, Practice, Validate, Shikuma (“Systemize”)
  4. Maximize Customer Satisfaction
  5. Speed, Speed, Speed!

These principles are all around us, every day. They are printed and pasted and distributed on every surface I can think of. You can find them on our business cards, our ID badges, on posters in our conference rooms, our web materials, and even in the way we speak to one another. Our principles flow through everything we do.

It is easy to get distracted by the flow of new information that bombards us every day. There is always something new to look at, something new to see or read or admire. In the digital space, there is little attention to re-reading material that you may have looked at yesterday.

But when it comes to core principles, those are the words you should constantly review, whether they are the principles of your company or your own personal rules for life. These are the words that act as your guidelines through the changing marketplace and the changing world.

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Why a Successful Transition is a Great Legacy


As you’ll know from my earlier posts, I firmly believe in following your intuition, especially in relation to the most important decisions in your life. When I joined Burberry in 2006, it was not without a lot of reflection – I had an incredible role and a fantastic team in New York, and family life was finally beginning to show some semblance of balance. The idea of uprooting our lives to move to London demanded a lot of soul searching and over months of consideration I thought it over so much I realized I was in danger of losing touch with how I truly felt about the opportunity. In the final analysis I realized my truest guide would be my intuition – which told me I would have the greatest partner in Christopher Bailey and that together we could build the company we always dreamed of working for.

My instincts didn’t let me down, and my time as CEO of Burberry has without question been the most rewarding period of my professional life.

As I prepare to start a new chapter in my career, I have had much cause to reflect on what our global teams have achieved these past eight years in creating not only a great brand, but a really great company. Because for me Burberry’s true success is measured not by financial growth or brand momentum, but by something much more human: one of the most connected, creative and compassionate cultures in the world today, steeped in common values and beliefs, and united around a shared vision. Today, I can honestly say that Burberry is the company I had always dreamed of working for.

So the experience of the past eight years has served to reinforce my firm belief that ‘it’s all about people’. And this has never been in sharper focus than in recent weeks, as we have begun the process of transitioning to new leadership at Burberry.

Too often management transitions are viewed with fear or suspicion, when they should be the ultimate example of a natural and healthy organizational evolution. In fact, I believe succession planning is one of the greatest responsibilities you have as a leader – so when your time comes to move on, your team not only doesn’t miss a beat but gains in momentum, embracing new challenges and realizing future opportunities.

Shouldn’t our ambition as leaders be to make a transition something to be celebrated rather than merely managed? And isn’t the reality that a successful transition could in fact be your greatest legacy?

When we announced recently that Christopher Bailey would succeed me at Burberry in the newly created role of Chief Creative and Chief Executive Officer, I felt such peace. Not only because I believe Christopher is one of the sector’s greatest visionaries and Burberry’s natural next leader, but also because my instincts told me he and the senior team were fully ready for me to pass the baton. After years of hiring and fostering the best talent, as well as constantly evolving the organization to optimize the opportunities available to the brand, the team and the culture have never been stronger. Intuitively I knew this meant the time was right for me to exit stage left, trusting that Burberry would only go from strength to strength in its next exciting chapter.

My instincts were confirmed when we shared the news with the wider organization. At this most significant moment, Christopher and I knew our most important job as leaders was to communicate openly and transparently with our global teams, taking each and every one of our 11,000 associates on the journey with us. Leveraging our internal social media platform, we posted a special video message to share the news internally at the same time as it was announced externally and allowing anyone to post a question, thought or reflection directly to us, or with anyone in the business. Where we could connect in person with our associates in London we did, holding open Q&A sessions that touched everyone in our headquarters, and stores, throughout the first day. And where geography got in the way, we connected via live video conference with teams around the world.

Our priority throughout was to stay true to the principles of open and honest communication that characterize our culture, and to create a human connection that would allow everyone in the organization to feel the same excitement that Christopher and I feel about Burberry’s next phase. The result was that the announcement of this change has united the teams more closely than ever.

As I look around Burberry now, a few weeks later and on the heels of an historic first-half performance, our teams are visibly energized to take Burberry into the future to assure its relevance for the next 150 years.

And as I look forward to what will define the next generation, I believe it is imperative that great companies add greater social value – the larger the company, the larger the obligation. At Burberry our underlying foundation is to give back and share our creative thinking culture to the wider communities where we live and work. This is not only our responsibility but also reinforces and connects our team towards a higher purpose we’re all serving. If a seamless transition is my greatest legacy, then the greatest gift I can receive in return is to see the true measure of the company’s success by how many lives are touched and transformed by the power of our performance.

Posted by:Angela AhrendtsAngela Ahrendts
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Nailing the Job Interview

In the course of my career, I have interviewed hundreds of prospective employees, and I’m always amazed by the way so many of them get the process so wrong. At the end of the day, the interview is really about one thing: Making the person across the table fall in love with you. Here are a few ideas to help you make that happen.

Don’t be a Diva

The single biggest mistake many job candidates make is to walk in with attitude. Even if you think the company would be lucky to have you, and even if – based on your talents and work history – you’re right, no one wants to work with a diva. You’ve been given thirty minutes to impress the interviewer, but the wrong attitude will lose you the job in the first five.

Dress for Success

Another deal-killer is poor aesthetics. You may think you’re the next Mark Zuckerberg, and for all I know you are, but I’m not going to be impressed if you come to see me in a hoodie and torn jeans. We’re pretty casual at RadiumOne – it’s rare to see that many ties in our offices – but if you’re coming in for an interview – remember the importance of a first impression.

Body Language

Body language is also crucial. Be articulate – not boring. Sagging shoulders, slouching, fidgeting – those behaviors make people uncomfortable, and who wants to work with someone that makes them uncomfortable? Be courteous. Smile. Make eye-contact. And treat everyone with respect, including everyone you meet. After all, they may be asked for their opinions after you’ve left the building.

Be Prepared

Another common mistake is to come to the interview unprepared. I think a prospective employee should take the time to do his or her homework, and this will become evident through the quality of his questions. When someone asks who they’re going to be working with, is curious about the specifics of the job, and talks about opportunities for growth, I feel I’m dealing with a person who’s there for the long-haul, and that’s the kind of person I want to invest in.

You should also be prepared to answer the interviewer’s questions, and these tend to be fairly predictable: Why do you want this job? Where do you see yourself in three years? What are your greatest strengths and greatest weaknesses? If you aren’t prepared, and if you’re struggling to formulate answers, that’s not going to impress anyone. Think of the job interview as a test, and try to prepare for it before you come through the door.


This is a job interview; try to remember that. Small-talk is fine, but this is not the time and place for it. The interviewer doesn’t want to hear about your crazy night at the bar, about the relationship that broke your heart, or about your horrible last boss. Focus on the job, and on yourself as the right person for the job. Be professional. Inappropriate talk and inappropriate behaviors can and will be used against you. And speaking of inappropriate behaviors, remember that everything you post online is viewable to everyone – including an employer. So if you have any embarrassing pictures of yourself, don’t post them. Or change your privacy settings. Better yet, change your privacy settings today.

Don’t Talk Money

Another common mistake is to talk about compensation. If the interviewer brings up money, fine, but don’t go there unless invited. The money conversation will take place in due course, once you’ve been offered the job. And money shouldn’t be the deciding factor, anyway. If you take the job, you’ll have plenty of chances to show the company what you’re worth. And if you turn out to be a rock star, you’re going to get rock star wages.

Be Yourself

This may be the hardest advice of all. You’re in there to get the job, and you’re worried about blowing it. Plus there’s so much to think about: Don’t be a diva. Be prepared. Dress like you want the job. Watch the small- talk. Don’t discuss compensation.

Still, at the end of the day, you’re human. Your potential new boss wants to see the person they’re hiring, not the person you think you want to see. Don’t sell anyone a phony version of yourself. If you’re there it’s because you impressed them enough to get the interview, and they’re just as eager to get to know you, as you are to get the job. Don’t overthink the situation, and don’t try to sell a manufactured version of yourself. Authenticity always wins out.

The Follow Up

Finally, I am always surprised when people fail to follow up after the interview. All it takes is a short, polite email, in which you thank the interviewer for his time and remind him or her that you are seriously interested in the job. Sometimes a candidate doesn’t do well in the room, but I hear from them later in the day and I decide to have a second look. That call or email tell me two things: The candidate has proper etiquette, and they WANT the job.


Posted by:Gurbaksh ChahalGurbaksh Chahal
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How to Protect Yourself from Failure

Setbacks in any career are inevitable, and yet some people manage to succeed despite the worst of setbacks. Their secret is that they know the difference between a setback and failure. The two aren’t the same. A setback has to leave scars before it starts to become a failure. There are ways to protect yourself from being scarred. Some of these can be applied in advance, the way you’d apply prevention before you get sick. Others can be applied after a setback has occurred. But in both cases, anyone can learn the skills that are needed.

In advance:

View yourself as a success, no matter what is happening.

Know your personal weaknesses and deal with them.

Address the influence of fear and anxiety.

Stay immersed in the details of your work.

Have a supportive family.

Participate in a supportive team atmosphere.

Identify with interests outside your work.

Develop core values.

Learn how to be centered.

As you can see, this is a sizable list, which includes some critical elements that even very successful people tend to ignore. Success is not a vaccine against failure. It would make life much simpler if it were, but there will always be challenges that lead to setbacks, and surviving the last crisis, although it will give you some measure of confidence and strength, is only part of the story. The rest depends on the things I’ve listed -let’s examine them in detail.

1. View yourself as a success, no matter what is happening.

Some people grow up feeling so worthy, loved, and special that setbacks affect them much less than other people. They shrug off setbacks and move on to the next challenge. Psychologists don’t seem to know enough about what shapes such fortunate adults when they were children and teenagers. But there’s no doubt that self-esteem can be improved – this is true for anyone. Amazing success has come to individuals with ideal family backgrounds and to those with the worst family background. The more attention you pay to increasing your self-esteem, the less you will be scarred by setbacks.

We don’t have enough space here to go into this topic in detail. There are many popular books on self-esteem. Find one that speaks to you, and begin practicing the recommended steps (I’ve written a book called Spiritual Solutions that covers the topic from the viewpoint of expanding your awareness, since low self-esteem is a form of constricted awareness).

2. Know your personal weaknesses and deal with them.

Most adults are keenly aware of the areas where they are weak, but in a culture where success is too often seen in terms of toughness, admitting a weakness, even to yourself, is considered the sign of a loser. This is far from true in real life, where knowing yourself is an enormous advantage on the road to success. It’s not possible to be all things to all people. No one is a superman or superwoman. If you look in the mirror and honestly assess what you’re good at and what your weak points are, whether it’s a hot temper, perfectionism, procrastination, or any other personal trait, the act of being honest is the first step in getting better. Hiding your weaknesses rarely works, since the people who work and live with us generally know already what our liabilities are.

3. Address the influence of fear and anxiety.

Modern life is anxious and stressful. Medical statistics tell us that prescriptions for antidepressants and tranquilizers keep soaring, but no one knows why something like 80% of these medications go to women. Perhaps they are better than men at admitting how they feel inside and taking steps to get better. The whole area of how to treat psychological problems is controversial and perpetually in flux. Popping a pill may or may not alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, but for certain it doesn’t offer a cure. You need to realize that anxiety is a natural reaction to stress. Reducing the pressure at work makes a good beginning, along with meditation, exercise, and learning to relax outside work. Listen to your body. If you are tired, have trouble sleeping, experience muscle tension or other discomforts, these signals should be heeded before you reach the stage of feeling anxious or depressed. It’s significant that a recent study found that getting enough sleep turned out to be a major preventive in depression.

4. Stay immersed in the details of your work.

Setbacks feel worse when they come as a surprise or shock. This can be ameliorated by knowing in advance as much as you can about any situation. After the economic downturn of 2007, each new crisis caused people to ask, “Didn’t they know how bad things actually were?” Quite often the answer was no. Managers and executives either turned a blind eye, refused to see the looming dangers, or otherwise ignored risks that seem obvious in hindsight. So take heed and practice foresight. Don’t trust in luck; don’t assume you are immune to risks. Don’t delegate detail work to others without keeping track of what’s going on.

5. Have a supportive family.

Fifty years ago it was typical for a husband not to tell his wife about what was happening at work. Today husband and wife are likely to both be working, and there’s no reason for either of them to go it alone. Call upon the support of your spouse, and when you are in the supporting position, lend your full attention to what is going on in your partner’s work life. All of us thrive with encouragement and wilt with discouragement. So having an encouraging partner who believes in you is an essential kind of support. If you currently don’t communicate on this level with your partner, take steps to begin to.

6. Participate in a supportive team atmosphere.

Some people are destined to work alone, writers and artists being the classic examples. Everyone else works as part of a team, and teams build their own culture and atmosphere. The ingredients that go into a good team are well known, so it’s important for you to trust that you are participating in one. If you are part of a good team, everyone is respected and listened to. Each member is given an assignment that fits their skills and interests. The ongoing success of the whole team is constantly valued. No one is an outsider, a scapegoat or bully. There’s a sense of moving forward and growing. Being part of such a team provides a major buffer against setbacks when they loom.

7. Identify with interests outside your work.

Everyone needs both down time and play time, not just on the weekends but every day. If you only live for your work, setbacks can be devastating – witness the alarming rise of depression and suicides among middle-aged men who became unemployed after the recent downturn. The value of down time and play time is that your brain, and in fact your whole body, need this change of pace in order to remain in balance. One study showed that the simple act of getting up from your desk and moving around was enough to normalize blood pressure and heartbeat. This is just one clue to the benefits of varying what your brain does throughout the day. The ability of mind and body to restore balance is miraculous – don’t turn your back on it.

8. Develop core values.

I strongly believe that building a self is one of life’s most important goals. It’s a process that proceeds consciously. The self you were born with is full of potential, and all these years you have been developing those potentials. This has been a central activity even though you might not have used the same words for it. Some potentials are skills and talents – learning to play the piano or drive a car. But by far the most valuable potential lies inside consciousness itself. Deep inside you is where core values become established. Their names are familiar: love, trust, honesty, compassion, self-reliance, devotion, reverence, loyalty, and courage. But have you consciously been working to turn these words into your own personal reality? Such core values, when firmly established, prevent you from being scarred by setbacks – a setback won’t turn into a sense of failure when you possess values that endure external crisis.

9. Learn how to be centered.

I’ve saved for last an ingredient that covers everything else. Being centered means that you can rest within yourself no matter how stormy your circumstances may be. You reside in your own existence. You don’t identify with external markers of value like money, rank, and possessions. Being whole within yourself is the prize that comes after you’ve remained centered for years, because being centered isn’t a passive state. It’s the place from which you learn, grow, observe, decide, and appreciate. People who find that they don’t change with time, who bring the same reactions to new situations, who have little appreciation for life – they are not centered enough to build a self. Instead, their existence is passed reacting to daily events. They are up on good days and down on bad days. Then truly horrible days can be devastating, and after they pass, inner scars remain. So if you decide to work on only one thing that helps prevent failure, this is where to begin.

In the next post we’ll discuss the steps to take after a setback has occurred so that it doesn’t leave scars and make you feel that you have failed.

(To be cont.)

Deepak Chopra, MD is the author of more than 75 books with twenty-one New York Times bestsellers. What Are You Hungry For? (Harmony, November 12, 2013).

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The End of the Public University?

About 8 out of every 10 college students attends a public college or university, from the local community college down the street to the massive flagship university in the middle of the state usually known for its football team. Of those students who go to public universities, most of them—some 70%—go to smaller, regional public colleges that train a majority of our teachers, nurses, and local business leaders.

The vastness and popularity of our public colleges and universities typically surprises audiences when I mention them in talks about my book on the future of higher ed. After all, only two of the top 25 national universities as ranked by U.S. News & World Report are public institutions, and the first one of those (University of California at Berkeley) doesn’t appear until #20. And if you pay attention to the national media, most of the attention is showered on universities such as Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, or small liberal-arts colleges such as Amherst and Williams.

Public universities rarely get much attention unless they reject your son or daughter, raise their tuition, or if their football team wins a national championship.

But given how many Americans are educated at public universities, especially at a time when a college degree is about the only ticket left to the middle class, we all have a stake in their future health. And right now, the signs for the health of many of these public institutions are not good.

Just this past week, Moody’s Investors Service, which rates the debt of mostly stable colleges, reported that 72% of four-year public universities are experiencing essentially flat or declining net-tuition revenue. That’s the money these colleges have left over after giving out financial aid to invest in buildings, academic programs, and faculty. In other words, most of these colleges are either treading water when it comes to new revenue or losing money every year.

“Public universities have not experienced such poor prospects for tuition-revenue growth in more than two decades,” the report said.

Now, if you’re a student or parent paying tuition at one of these colleges, you’re probably wondering why they are crying poor when your bill goes up every year even as it gets more difficult to enroll in the classes needed to complete a degree.

The problem is that these institutions have been raising tuition year after year to make up for declines in dollars from the state. Since 2008, 41 states have cut funds to higher education. At just 1 in 10 public universities do state funds make up the largest proportion of the university’s budget; in 2003, states made up the largest provider at half of the public universities.

Not all of these institutions, of course, are innocent victims in this tale. Even after years of budget cuts, many are still inefficient in their operations and in desperate need of adopting more innovative business models. But such changes can only go so far before the core of the academic product suffers.

As the numbers from Moody’s seem to indicate, public colleges and universities don’t have much pricing power left to raise tuition to make up for cuts in state aid. So unless they get infusions of cash from elsewhere, what’s likely to happen is what is already occurring in places like California, where public colleges are turning away qualified applicants and where current students find it more difficult each semester to get into the classes they need to graduate.

What’s happening to public higher education is reaching crisis proportions. So as you cheer for State U. in the big football game this weekend, be thankful for the system we have that has educated generations of Americans because it might not be around much longer, at least in its current form.

Posted by:Jeff SelingoJeff Selingo
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7 Steps to Improve Your Employee Engagement

Happy people give you happy customers. This is the mantra I used to say when I was in corporate life 12 years ago running 3,500 people in call centres around the globe. If you want to have a great Customer Experience you must focus your employees as they deliver your experience. I believed this so much that when I started Beyond Philosophy and wrote my first book, ‘Building Great Customer Experiences’, I devoted one of our seven philosophies for building a great Customer Experience to it. Philosophy 4 stated:

Great Customer Experiences are enabled by inspirational leadership, an empowering culture and empathetic people who are happy and fulfilled.

I now realise this needs updating. The important word that is missing is ‘engaged’.

…. empathetic people who are engaged, happy and fulfilled.

Over the years I have come to realise you can have people who are happy but the reality is they may do very little work! So, happiness is part of what you are trying to achieve, but not all of it, as you can have great fun at work but get nothing done.

‘Engaged’ is a really important word. Being engaged means your people voluntarily give you and their Customers their commitment. Engagement means they care for the organization and therefore their customers. Engagement means they believe in the organization and the goals. Critically engaged means they have chosen to give more of themselves.

If you are engaged you have built an emotional bond with your organization and its Customers. But how do you get employees engaged and want to provide a great Customer Experience?

Let me draw a parallel. My regular readers will know that we advocate when designing a Customer Experience that you should take a ‘human centred’ approach. As customers are human beings much of their behaviour is driven by emotions. In fact we know that over 50% of a Customer Experience is driven by emotions.

We believe you need to define the experience you are trying to deliver for your Customer and the emotions you are trying to evoke and then design your experience to achieve this. This means if you want your customers to ‘trust’ you and feel that you ‘value’ them then you should design your experience to evoke these emotions. It also means you should look at your experience and stop doing the things that are opposite to this.

How does this apply to the employee experience and engagement?

Well, as long as your employees are human beings, then you achieve this in the same way. You need to define the employee experience that will deliver engaged employees.

But here is the only change. Ideally the Customer Experience you are trying to deliver and the employee experience are the same. Therefore; if you want your Customers to feel they ‘trust’ you and feel that you ‘care for’ them, doesn’t it make sense that the employees feel the same? Doesn’t it make sense that the type of people you recruit are people who are naturally good at evoking ‘trust’ or feeling ‘cared for’ in people? Let me give you an example. I have a friend of mine who we will call ‘Peter’ (not his real name). Peter is a great guy to be around, he is the life and soul of the party and very funny. But Peter is a compulsive liar! You can’t trust a word he tells you! But he’s great fun. So if you are trying to create an experience for Customers to trust you, don’t employ Peter! If you want a fun experience employ Peter!

Back in the day, I decided to put my money where my mouth was and implement this concept when we were consolidating our call center and at the same time moving to ‘front office, back office’ working. So we defined our customer and employee experience and then put in place a psychometric test to ensure that we had the right type of people in the front of the organization. We said that people could take the test as many times as they wished as we were confident with our methodology. One person took the test 6 times and failed every time. Whilst I felt sad for the person I was pleased that the test was robust enough to identify the right people.

Here’s the shocker over 50% of the people we had talking to the Customer were the wrong people!….. 50%! I was astounded….but when we implemented this our Customer satisfaction went up dramatically.

Therefore the employee experience and the Customer Experience should match. This gives you the most chance of success on both fronts. So in short you need to define the employee experience that should ideally match the Customer Experience and then design the employee experience around this.

Too many times we see examples of where organizations do the complete opposite. One of our clients wants their Customers to trust them but they do not trust their own employees, which is quite common! For example, we have recently conducted our CEM training. The final event was planned to be a face to face event. The procedure they had to go through to get authorization for travel was so bureaucratic I was stunned. At every turn it suggested ‘we don’t trust you’.

Another example is one of the worst managers I have ever worked for. He arranged a 121 development meeting with me. The first meeting we arranged he didn’t show up! The second meeting he was late and spent most of the time fiddling with his mobile phone. The message was clear. He wasn’t interested. As a result I wasn’t engaged.

These types of things send out important messages to your employees. They say ‘we don’t trust you’, ‘you are not important’, ‘we are cleverer than you are’, ‘we don’t care about you’. These are the important subconscious signals that are bombarding your employees every day of the week. In our major study of staff ambassadorship, 18% of our respondents exhibited high loyalty to their organizations, and 20% exhibited low loyalty. Importantly, there were strong, almost polar opposite differences in organizational loyalty depending on whether an employee was categorized as an ambassador or saboteur, validating ambassadorship framework. We are conducting a webinar on the whole subject on what we call Employee Ambassadorship and how this ties to improving your Customer Experience with one of Beyond Philosophy’s Thought Leadership Principals, Michael Lowenstein.

Therefore; the practical steps to improve your employee engagement are:

  1. Define the employee experience you are trying to deliver
  2. Align this to your Customer Experience.
  3. Implement psychometric tests to ensure you are selecting the right people
  4. Recruit according to the experience you are trying to deliver to your customers.
  5. Design you employee experience, as you would a Customer Experience to gain the desired outcome.
  6. Ensure the measures and behaviors are aligned to the Customer Experience and the employee experience.
  7. Measure employee’s engagement, not satisfaction.

To provide a great customer experience you do need happy employees, but creating happy employees is only one part of getting engaged employees. You certainly won’t get happy or engaged employees if you treat them like idiots!

I would be very interested to hear your comments on how you go about creating engaged employees.

Click here to find out more about the webinar

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Posted by:Colin ShawColin Shaw
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What The Heck is… The Cloud?

The cloud, or cloud computing, is not new but it remains a major buzzword in the business and technology world. I would assume that most people know by now what we mean when we say things like: “Simply stick it in the cloud” or “Back up to the cloud”. However, I recently gave a presentation about Big Data (another one of these buzzwords) to a large business conference and in my discussions afterwards was surprised how many people were not really clear what cloud computing was. So, I promised to write a very short and clear outline of what it is.

Here we go. Cloud computing basically refers to two things:

  1. Storing data outside your computer (or phone).
  2. Performing computing tasks using software and applications that are not installed on your computer (or phone).

Instead of storing or computing things on your own machine, we use other computers that are connected to our computer via a network (such as the Internet).

Let’s look at some examples to make this even clearer:

  • If you back up your documents and photos over the Internet using services such as Dropbox or Google Drive then they will be stored in the cloud – meaning they are sent via a network to a server (which can be anywhere in the world) where your documents will be stored.
  • If you are an iPhone user and have enabled iCloud, then your photos, apps, music etc. will be backed up to a computer managed by Apple. The data will be transferred to that outside computer using the Internet.
  • If you are using services such as Gmail, Yahoo or Microsoft Exchange Online for your emails, then you are basically a cloud-computing user. These software applications are not installed on your computer but you are using them over the Internet.
  • If you use Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, then you are also a cloud-computing user. These services are provided via the internet and your up-dates, photos, videos, etc. are stored on their computers.

This means, cloud computing enables us to increase our storage capacity without the need to buy new hardware. And it enables us to use applications or access music, TV programmes, etc. on demand, via the Internet.

The same applies to companies. If companies want to increase their storage, they can simply move their data to the cloud. This is often a more cost effective solution than buying and maintaining their own data storage facilities. When it comes to software, the same applies. Instead of purchasing software licences, companies can use SAAS providers. SAAS stands for ‘Software as a Service’ and in principle works in the same way as your email providers. Instead of selling the software to clients, vendors provide access to software via the Internet. A good example is, a cloud-based customer-relationship management software.

Cloud computing also enables ‘big data analytics’, where large volumes of data are analysed using many computers that are connected via a network. The data is stored on different computers and the computing and analysis task is broken up so that individual computers perform small parts of the overall computing task.

I hope this was useful?


Bernard Marr is a best-selling author and enterprise performance expert. Here at LinkedIn Bernard regularly writes about business and technology trends in general. Make sure you click ‘Follow’ if you would like to hear more from Bernard Marr in the future and feel free to also connect via TwitterFacebook and The Advanced Performance Institute

Other recent posts by Bernard Marr:

Posted by:Bernard MarrBernard Marr
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Technology Will Not Replace Teachers

There, I said it. And with these words, I am jumping with both feet into a debate that has alternately raged and simmered since computers first began appearing in schools in the 1980s.

The debate was reignited recently when Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), online courses designed for large-scale global participation, became one of the hottest topics in education. I wrote about MOOCs in my last LinkedIn Influencer post, “Education is Having Its Internet Moment.” MOOCs have huge potential to increase access to education, and especially to expert explainers. But we know that explaining represents just one aspect of teaching. Even as technologies for learning become more evolved, they will not replace teachers — anymore than commercial airliner cockpit technology has replaced pilots.

Few would argue that without Captain Sully Sullenberger, a former fighter pilot with nearly 30 years of commercial aviation experience, there would have been no miracle on the Hudson.

And while it will be some time before we know all the facts of the crash landing of a commercial jet at San Francisco International Airport in July, initial findings suggest: the plane’s speed and engine thrust were being controlled by an automated system and the pilots failed to notice that the plane was flying too low and too slow until it was too late.

In other words, technology can augment and amplify a commercial pilot’s skills, but it is no substitute for experienced human decision-making and intervention in complex, dynamic, high-stakes situations.

There are settings in which technology has replaced people. Robots and automated manufacturing systems have replaced assembly-line workers whose jobs were based on standardized, repetitive tasks such as welding and painting. Web-based software has replaced airline and hotel reservations agents whose jobs consisted of completing transactions with a small number of options and variables.

But the highly complex and nuanced demands of teaching cannot be met by computers executing repetitive tasks or simple transactions — or even sophisticated algorithms. People learn in different ways, at different rates, and numerous variables can affect their progression on any given day — including those in the social and emotional realm.

Furthermore, while many aspects of teaching can be planned in advance, even the best-laid plans can go awry, requiring an immediate pivot to Plan B. And then there are those serendipitous moments when students become captivated by an activity, a current event or a challenge and engage with an intensity that could not have been foreseen. The best teachers harness this energy and use it as rocket fuel for learning.

No, technology will not replace teachers. But technology has already dramatically changed the role of the teacher.

In schools and classrooms all over the country, ubiquitous access to technology has given motivated teachers the opportunity to shift from being deliverers of content to what many have dubbed orchestrators of learning.

The term perfectly captures what we need from teachers in a rapidly changing world, driven by technology and the global connectedness it enables. In this world, America does not need a workforce that has memorized fleeting facts and knowledge, taught in the belief that what we need to know will never change.

Instead, the key to our global competitiveness is a workforce comprised of people empowered by curiosity and persistence – attributes that will enable them to learn whatever they need to know and do to solve a problem or do a job well.

To paraphrase a well-known proverb, if you teach me the relevant skills and knowledge of my time, I will have a job today. If you instill in me imagination, drive and the ability to adapt to a future I cannot anticipate, I will have relevant jobs for a lifetime.

Orchestrators of learning empowered by technology have so many more options for fulfilling this promise than teachers who do not use technology. They can:

  • Keep students deeply engaged in learning — connecting personally relevant content, customized options for difficulty level, alternative learning pathways, and choices for support and guidance
  • Improve students’ understanding of complex concepts by bringing animations, simulations and visualizations into learning — and yes, videos of expert explainers.
  • Increase the quantity and quality of feedback during learning, at precisely the time that adjustments and adaptations made by either the teacher or the technology can make a difference in learning outcomes
  • Provide students’ access to people, courses, materials, data sets, research and primary source documents available online and often for free
  • Enable students to connect and participate globally as they engage in problem solving with other learners around the world
  • Put the same technology tools professionals use in the hands of students for writing, publishing, organizing, producing, researching, composing, visualizing data and more

It’s not hard to see how we can vastly improve the opportunity to learn by putting the best digital learning content, tools and resources in the hands of both teachers and students. It also is not hard to see that teachers need new skills to add to the timeless attributes of caring for students and love of learning.

And so there is a corollary to the proposition that technology will not replace teachers: while technology has its limits, a teacher without technology is unnecessarily limited.

This must change.

Posted by:Karen CatorKaren Cator
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Will People With High Grades End Up Working For Those With Average?

My recent Washington Post and LinkedIn articles on how the GMAT may be the root of all evil in the business world provoked many intense reactions. I too was surprised to learn of the correlation between high GMAT scores and all the bad things we see in business: lack of ethical orientation, male domination of executive ranks, uncertainty avoidance, and individualism. So the reactions weren’t unexpected.

The most interesting response I received was from a Silicon Valley celebrity—my good friendBill Reichert. His email was so interesting and provides such a provocative perspective of how Venture Capitalists view MBAs and PhDs that I asked for permission to share this with you. Below is his message.

I enjoyed your most recent Washington Post article on the inverse correlation between high standardized test scores and entrepreneurial inclinations. But I have to ask, are you really surprised?

Anyone who has spent any time in the entrepreneur ecosystem knows that there is an inverse correlation between high prestige MBAs and entrepreneurship. It’s clear what is going on here. The GMAT, like the SAT, is focused on finding the high achievement individuals in society — not the compassionate, ethical, collaborative, or socially conscious individuals. The whole institutional educational game is focused on individual achievement and test scores on standardized bodies of knowledge, not on teamwork, risk-taking, and innovative thinking.

Almost by definition, an individual who applies to business school is risk-averse — not inclined to take chances with his or her career, but rather more interested in taking the safest path to a prestige job. Stanford and Harvard do not primarily select for and nurture entrepreneurial skills. They select the best and the brightest high achievers. Fortunately, it so happens that some of those people do have some entrepreneurial inclinations — again, more because they are high achievers, and entrepreneurship is now seen as a legitimate domain of achievement.

This is already well-known within these programs. On our first day at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, the Dean told us that those who got the highest grades in the program would most likely wind up working for those who got average grades. (Steve Ballmer was originally in my class, but he dropped out. 🙂

So none of the study’s conclusions are new or surprising. In fact, to this exact point, my partner Guy Kawasaki at Garage Technology Ventures developed a tongue-in-cheek algorithm for determining the valuation of a startup company:

Entrepreneurs ask us all the time how we figure out the valuation of a startup company. Most VCs suggest that this is a very mysterious art. But actually it’s quite simple: To determine the fair value of a startup company, multiply the number of engineers by $250,000, add $250,000 for each engineer from IIT, and then subtract $500,000 for each MBA.


The venture capital firm Sequoia Capital has expressed a similar disdain for the products of elite universities. They prefer entrepreneurs from less privileged backgrounds who have an innate street sense and scrappiness. (While MBAs learn how to be “lean,” real entrepreneurs are scrappy.) Paypal billionaire Peter Thiel advocates that real entrepreneurs shouldn’t even bother with a university degree. Another venture capitalist we know will not invest in someone with a Ph.D. because “a real entrepreneur would not have the patience to complete a Ph.D.”

I don’t mean this to be just another MBA bashing. Certainly we at Garage have seen, and have even invested in, brilliant entrepreneurs who also have MBAs. And MBA programs are investing heavily in entrepreneurship programs for their students. Mainly I’m reacting to the suggestion that it is surprising that the selection process used by our elite universities puts some individuals with talents we value highly at a disadvantage.

The question is: Can our elite universities select for and turn out graduates with the combination of talents we need?

It would be interesting and potentially very valuable for the authors to dive into an assessment of the implications of high SAT scores and high GPAs as a basis for selection into elite universities. We have the same problem at the undergraduate level that the study has found at the graduate level, I suspect. The focus on SATs and GPAs select for high individual achievers, and arguably work against those who have high “EQs” or high aptitudes for being effective in a team environment. To be fair, the selection process at many elite private schools tries to compensate somewhat by looking for individuals who may not have the highest scores but who have demonstrated great potential in some other ways. But the flood of applications at the top public universities, and even the leading private universities, largely overwhelms these good intentions.

The extreme pressure to obtain admission to the most prestigious schools forces young people to focus on individual accomplishment — in the classroom, on standardized tests, and in extra-curricular activities. Even programs that encourage community service by young people wind up being just one more field of competition to demonstrate individual achievement. A student who “saves” a village in Nepal is more likely to catch the eye of an admissions officer than a student who gets a summer job at the local deli. At the very high end, elite universities select for and subsequently graduate outstanding individual performers with very little emphasis on risk taking, team skills, and entrepreneurial thinking.

In the real world after university, however, getting things done is predominantly a function of being effective in teams and working effectively with other people. Progress almost always depends on creative thinking “outside the box” rather than conforming to standards of achievement and “best practices.” Certainly, we need to find and support individual achievers with brilliant talents who can push the boundaries of specific domains. But even at the cutting edge of science and engineering, advances are increasingly made by teams of people contributing their exceptional knowledge and insights rather than by lone geniuses in their isolated labs.

So what should we do to develop these talents in our young people? Is it the proper domain of our university system to teach team skills and social consciousness? Or do we simply accept that the current approach to finding and selecting elites is the best the university system can do, and leave it to the real world to apprentice young graduates in these skills and attitudes? It’s hard to imagine developing an effective curriculum for our educational system that will develop the non-academic team skills and creative thinking skills that we need. But we can probably do more, in early education, in the universities, and in the workplace, to foster the development of these skills and to make sure that young people with these skills are not undervalued by the educational system, or by our society.

Happy to continue the conversation over coffee, or a beer. 🙂

Bill Reichert is a managing partner at Garage Technology Ventures, a seed and early stage venture capital firm based in Silicon Valley. He spent most of his career as an entrepreneur, with four venture-backed startup companies prior to co-founding Garage in 1998.

Posted by:Vivek WadhwaVivek Wadhwa

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Instead of Monitoring Employees, Try Motivating Them

Employee theft costs the economy up to $200 billion a year. In the hopes of putting a stop to stealing, many managers have turned to surveillance systems. According to new evidencefrom a rigorous study led by strategy professor Lamar Pierce, surveillance can work. After restaurants installed monitoring software that sent electronic theft alerts to managers, weekly revenue climbed by around 7%. Servers appeared to give out fewer free drinks, and focused their energy instead on selling more food.

But what if there’s a less expensive, less risky way to eliminate employee theft? Several years ago, a forest products company was losing about $1 million a year due to employee theft. After a few simple policy changes, theft dropped to near zero, and it stayed there for at least three years—with no monitoring at all.

Employees were stealing equipment from the sawmill. When managers threatened to start video surveillance with hidden cameras, employees began plotting ways to steal the cameras. The managers responded by hiring an organizational psychologist, Gary Latham, to identify a solution.

Latham discovered that the thieves weren’t stealing for the usual reasons. They weren’t trying to get revenge at the company, or even earn a profit; they didn’t bother using or reselling the items they stole.

Employees were stealing for the thrill. When Latham interviewed the thieves under confidentiality, they reported pride in their skills—“We are so good we could steal a head-rig from a sawmill” (which weighs more than a ton)—and even offered to show them off: “tell us what you want, and we will get it out within 45 days.”

Instead of putting the employees under surveillance, Latham and the managers decided to kill the thrill. They announced a library loan policy: employees could borrow equipment from the mill. Suddenly, “the thrill was gone,” explains organizational psychologist Bob Sutton in his excellent book Good Boss, Bad Boss, “stealing something you could get for free wasn’t anything to brag about.” They also set up a return policy that allowed employees to give back previously “borrowed” equipment without punishment. When employees returned equipment, managers wouldn’t ask any questions, under the assumption that they were doing it on behalf of a friend.

“The material was returned by the truckload,” Latham writes. Much of the legwork was done by spouses, who were tired of hiding the bulky equipment in their garages.

This brilliant example shows how it’s possible to eliminate theft without surveillance. First, find out why employees are stealing in the first place. When Latham interviewed employees, he was able to understand their motivations by asking them four questions:

(1) What are the benefits of stealing?

(2) What are the costs of stealing?

(3) What are the benefits of honesty?

(4) What are the costs of honesty?

Most managers try to eliminate theft by increasing the costs of stealing. Latham’s insight was that this problem could be effectively solved by reducing the benefits of stealing, and then changing the cost/benefit ratio of honesty. The library policy eliminated the main benefit of stealing (it was no longer a challenge, so it wasn’t fun). The return policy made honesty more beneficial (spouses were thrilled to have their garages back) and less costly (amnesty on returns: no punishment, no questions asked).

Cleverness aside, this strategy for curbing theft avoided several major complications of surveillance:

  • Distrust: in the words of social psychologist Robert Cialdini, a surveillance system “sends a clear message to those under surveillance: ‘We don’t trust you.’” The result: resentment, an “us vs. them” mentality, and decreased morale, especially among employees who weren’t stealing in the first place.
  • Managerial cynicism: social psychologist Rod Kramer cites several studies showing that the act of surveillance makes managers more suspicious. If you’re busy enough looking for bad behaviors, you’re sure to find some. Pretty soon, your field of vision will be dominated by untrustworthy employees, and you’ll become increasingly skeptical of most people’s motivations. Ironically, evidence suggests that skeptical managers are poor judges of character.
  • Encouraging theft when no one’s watching: the decision to implement a surveillance system communicates to employees that theft is common. “If my colleagues are doing it,” some employees will think, “it’s probably not a big deal.” In one study, Cialdini’s team tracked the theft of petrified wood from a national park. When a sign mentioned that “many past visitors” had taken wood, theft rates spiked from below 3% to nearly 8%. As behavioral economist Dan Ariely reveals in The Honest Truth About Dishonesty,plenty of people are able to steal a little bit without compromising the morality of their self-images. Under surveillance, Kramer notes “employees may become less committed to internal standards of honesty and integrity in the workplace.”

Surveillance has its time and place. But as I wrote a few months ago, the best way to encourage trustworthy behavior is to show trust. So next time you’re trying to stop theft, it might be good to focus less on raising the costs, and instead find creative ways to lower the benefits—or set up a policy that makes honesty more attractive and less costly. There’s an excellent model already in place at your nearest library.

Posted by:Adam GrantAdam Grant

5 Things You Have to Unlearn to Succeed at Work

A big theme in my life has been how much I had to unlearn to come to the decision to homeschool my kids.

I had to unlearn all my assumptions about parenting (it turns out that kids don’t need teachers, they need love). I unlearned my assumptions about self‑management (well-roundedness is an outdated goal). And I had to change my assumptions about how much respect each child deserves (freedom to choose what we learn is a fundamental right).

Now that I’ve been homeschooling for a while, I understand that the reason it’s traumatic for most young adults to enter the workforce is because they have to unlearn so many things from school in order to survive in adult life.

No matter what age you are, the faster you start your unlearning the faster you can shed the weights that hold you back from moving forward in today’s knowledge-based workforce. Here are five things most people need to unlearn.

1. Accommodating forced learning
Gen Y’s latest thing is binge learning, where you become so interested in what you’re doing that you don’t want to stop until you’ve learned it all. But the only way that you can binge learn is to know how to find course materials on your own and choose the sequence of those materials that works best for you. This means you can’t rely on someone else’s syllabus and you can’t rely on somebody laying out the steps for you.

In the workplace, to create our own value, we must create our own learning path. You have to unlearn the habit of waiting to be told what comes next in your education if you want to take control of your adult life.

2. Studying for the grade you can get on the test
Adult life doesn’t give letter grades. Sometimes adult life gives promotions or if you’re good at sales you might win a trip to Hawaii for your family, but in general, the reward of adult life is being able to find a path that’s good for you and put yourself on it. There’s no letter grade for that because the only person who can judge whether it’s a good path or not is you.

The act of making decisions independent of letter grades is completely opposite to everything that school stands for, because if you’re doing work that is separate from earning an A, then you’re completely uncontrollable in the classroom as you start losing the need to even show up to the classroom.

So school teaches you that you should study what’s on the test. Work is the opposite. What matters will never be on the test.

3. Saving self-discovery for vacation
For those of you who don’t follow the lives of Prince William and Prince Harry, a gap year is when somebody finishes high school and takes a year off before university study, presumably because you don’t learn about yourself while you are studying, so taking time to learn about yourself is important enough to give it a whole year.

This is actually true that usually you don’t learn about yourself when you’re studying, because if people tell you what to study, then you gain no insight into who you are. But if you take a year off to learn about yourself, you reinforce the idea that education and self‑knowledge are two completely different things.

However, in the workforce, education and self‑knowledge through work are the twin tickets to adult happiness. If you’re not synchronized so that you have them moving together, you will always feel like you’re missing something.

4. Saying something even when there’s nothing to say
In sixth grade my teacher gave us a list of topics about Mesopotamia for a ten-page paper she assigned. When she got to the topic of medicine in Mesopotamia, she said it was a hard one. I picked that one.

I brought it home to my dad who can win Trivial Pursuit in one turn every time and my mom who was on Jeopardy, and they said, “Medicine in Mesopotamia? There wasn’t any. What are you going to write about this?” We did a bunch of research to determine that, indeed, there were not ten typed pages to be written about medicine in Mesopotamia. We did conjecture instead, but that only got us to five. So I learned the art of bullshit by writing ten pages about medicine in Mesopotamia.

Paul Graham, one of the premier investors of college‑age startup founders, talks about how forced yammering on topics about which you have nothing to say end up affecting you negatively in the workforce.

He talks about kids who have great ideas for startups and they think it’s time to raise money, so they force themselves to start talking about why it’s time to raise money when, in fact, it’s not time to raise money. They have nothing to say about raising money. They should just be at home doing their business idea.

Graham points out that the idea that it doesn’t matter whether something is relevant or pertinent or necessary is lost on kids who have been forced to talk about nothing for eighteen years.

5. Using video games as a reward for finishing learning
It’s fashionable right now for parents to use video games as a reward for having finished schoolwork or, for the really nice parents, as a reward for just having made it through the school day. The thing is that video games actually teach important skills for work. And kids who play video games do better as adults.

I’m really happy to tell you that human resource managers understand this so well that it’s been shown that people who play World of Warcraft at work during work hours on the work computer are higher performing employees. There are lots of reasons for this. World of Warcraft is extremely competitive. It requires long‑term commitment and strategy, and it favors people who understand how to shift between different sorts of tasks that require different kinds of thinking.

Parents need to unlearn schooling in order to parent so that their kids don’t need to unlearn schooling in order to work.

Posted by:Penelope TrunkPenelope Trunk