11 of My Favorite Posts from October 2015

This is my effort to provide a little signal by curating some of the best/most interesting posts I encountered during the month of October  2015. I recommend identifying and diving into 2-3 that resonate with you. Focus less on the dopamine rush you get from hopping from article to article and more on how you apply the wisdom in these posts to your own life.

Please use the comments section to recommend and share other posts you’ve recently found useful and/or your best posts of late.

The commentary below the link is typically the author’s own words that I’ve extracted as a key takeaway; however, sometimes I add my own commentary and make connections as well.

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[Blog Posts/News Articles]:

Promotion, Demotion and Opportunity – Seth Godin

In a fluid system, when people are moving forward, others are falling behind.

The question, then, isn’t, “when am I going to get promoted?”

No, I think the question is, “will I grab these openings to become someone who’s already doing work at a higher level?”

Act ‘as if’. If the people around you don’t figure out what an asset you’ve become, someone else will.

How Mindfulness Fixes Your Brain, Reduces Stress and Boosts Performance – Dr. Travis Bradberry

Mindfulness is a simple, yet effective form of meditation that enables you to gain control of unruly thoughts and behaviors. People who practice mindfulness are more focused, even when they are not meditating. Mindfulness is an excellent technique to reduce stress because it allows you to stop feeling out of control, to stop jumping from one thought to the next, and to stop ruminating on negative thoughts. Overall, it’s a great way to make it through your busy day in a calm and productive manner.

  • Focus on your breathing
  • Go for a walk.
  • Repeat one positive thing about yourself, over and over. (i.e. “I am capable.”)
  • Interrupt the stress cycle.

This sounds very easy, but in fact, it’s quite challenging. I’m currently working on my own mindfulness by reading Sit Like a Buddha: A Pocket Guide to Meditation.

Everything You Know About Leadership Is Wrong – Darren Murph

  1. Ditch the Ego – The most effective leaders usually don’t brand themselves as such.
  2. Exist to Serve – If a leader seeks first to serve, it’s amazing what else falls into place.
  3. Empower with Impunity – Teams that are empowered to make judgement calls without approval are able to be more nimble.
  4. Distribute Credit, Absorb Blame – A leader’s true value is measured by the accomplishments of his or her staff.
  5. Lead in Life, Then in Work – Having a healthy mind, body and soul enables leaders to think more clearly, act less impulsively and show genuine care for the well-being of those working around them.

 

The 20 Habits of Eventual Millionaires – James Altucher

  • Solve difficult gratitude problems. When angry, or stressed, find one thing to be grateful for.
  • No excuses. Blaming is draining. Complaining is draining. Explaining is draining.
  • Warren Buffett’s 5/25 rule. Make a list of the 25 things you want to do in life. Now do the top 5. Don’t think about the other 20.
  • Don’t be in a rush. Celebrate small successes. Along the way to overnight success (20 years) you will have many many small successes.

 

Click the link above to see the other habits including: say “no”, sleep, plant seeds and more.

10 Habits to Be Happier and More Productive – James Altucher

  • Want Less. The fewer things I want, the more I love what I have.
  • Read an Archive. The archives of yesterday are the secrets of today.
  • Over Deliver. Give people what they deserve, not what they expect.

On Full Horizon Planning and the Under-Appreciated Power of Workflow Systems – Cal Newport

Most people don’t dedicate much thought to such systems. The default, instead, is to run your day as a reaction to events and deadlines on your calendar, an inconsistently referenced task list, and, most of all, the flux coursing through your inbox.

Consider my own workflow system (evolved over a decade of close scrutiny). I call it full horizon planning.

I don’t deal in abstractions, I like to work directly with the brute physicality of time. This makes sure I get the most out of the cycles I have available, and it prevents me from committing to more than is feasible. (Check out the full post above for more details on how you can double the amount of value the average employee produces.)

Why I Don’t Care if My Employees Come to Work – Adarsh Pallian

I’ve tried to inject an ethos of “do what works for you” into my team’s schedule. I encourage them to identify what their most productive hours are, and then work those hours.

I like to challenge those people with the fact that the 40-hour work week as we know it was invented in the year 1840. We’ve managed space travel, disrupted the tech industry 1000 times over, and made the microwave into a household product. I think it’s time to shake up our schedules.

Productivity is as much about being empowered as it is getting the right amount of sleep. So I empower my team to do what they need to do.

Slash and Burn Your Calendar – Rohan Rajiv

Slashing and burning calendars periodically challenges a company to allocate its most scarce resource, employees’ time, more effectively. By torching all the scheduling chaff that accumulates over time, companies can start fresh and cultivate a schedule to maximize company and employee performance (and happiness). – Tom Tunguz

James Reinhart and the team at ThredUp, a clothing marketplace metamorphosing through hyper-growth, slashed and burned their calendars by deleting every standing and recurring meeting in their agendas. During the next few days, the team questioned what meetings should exist, who ought to attend them, and what their agendas and goals should be. In addition, the team pushed to cut meeting times in half from 50 to 25 minutes.

How Can we Thrive in a World of Chaos – Fred Destin

Humans were not designed to deal with a chronic, sustained exposure to stressors — this is slowly killing us. What are we to do ? The answer is : reprogram what we perceive as stressors.

We should all stop trying to predict the future bur rather let ourselves be malleable and open to whatever may happen. A sense of purpose is in my mind the most important element in thriving in a world of chaos. We need to let Chaos wash over us, embrace it to achieve performance and happiness.

On parenting in chaos:

I think we’re not just trying to teach skills at this stage and put people on rails for success, we’re trying to bring up little individuals who know how to thrive in chaos. We need grit, character, the ability to fail and to get back on their feet. We also need to give them the ability to determine what they will be great at. I believe anyone can be exceptional at something, and being in touch with your true self and having a strong sense of purpose is how kids will achieve greatness and happiness. It is unfortunate that we live in a world where we try to constantly shield them from risk, responsibility and failure. By trying to protect what is dearest to us, we’re keeping them from learning much of what they need to thrive.

How to Get Any Job You Want (even if you’re unqualified) – Raghav Haran

Credentials and paper qualifications DO matter for some (mainly academic) industries like medicine or law, but for most other fields, job requirements are surprisingly negotiable. If you can prove to them that you can solve their problem, you instantly decommoditize yourself, and none of those things on paper matter as much. Do the job before you get the job.

Doing a pre-interview project makes you stand out because the secret sauce is hard work. So most people will never do it.

It’s just human behavior. People want their problems solved, and they’re much more likely to hire someone who’s already working on solving them than someone who MIGHT solve them.

To Get More Out of Workers, Invest More in Them –  Tony Schwartz 

When I ask business leaders whether they believe that their employees perform better when they are happier, healthier and more fulfilled, the answer is always yes. When I then ask if they systematically invest in making their employees happier, healthier and more fulfilled, the answer is almost invariably no.

What fuels people at work is deceptively simple. We want to feel valued and valuable — cared for by our bosses and colleagues and encouraged to develop and express our talents.

[Ryan’s note: This is deceptively simple and yet most managers (and companies) are still terrible at it. It’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about it. See this month’s “thoughts I’m chewing on” below.]

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[Thoughts I’m Chewing On]:

On Leadership:

  • CFO asks his CEO, “What happens if we invest in our people & they leave the company?” CEO answers, ‘What happens if we don’t and they stay?”
  • There are few tenets of leadership that are as fundamental as –“Take responsibility when things go wrong & give credit when things go well.”

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[Quotes]:

“The wisest decisions are made by those closest to the problem — regardless of their seniority.” – General Stanley McChrystal

“The ego that arises out of insecurities makes a lot of noise attempting to announce, explain, and justify.” – Rohan Rajiv

“Turn back the pages of history and see the people who have shaped the world. Security was never theirs, but they lived rather than existed.” – Hunter S. Thompson

“If you can’t learn from people you disagree with, you’re not just dumb — you’re going to stay dumb.” – Umair Haque

“Great work doesn’t come out of nowhere. It comes out of interactions with the people you seek to change.” – Seth Godin

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If you made it this far and found this post valuable in any way, please let me know in the comments which of these reads caught your attention. Better yet, why don’t you share something you’ve read recently that you think I’d find interesting.

If you like this post, you might also like my favorite reads from September or this curated list of 125+ of my favorite posts from 2014.

  • Thanks as always for curating, Ryan! Always honored to be part of your list. 🙂

    [Reply]

    Ryan Stephens Reply:

    Of course, Rohan.

    I’m grateful Seth introduced me to your writing. I often learn something from you, hence the number of times you’re featured in these monthly curations.

    [Reply]

    Rohan Reply:

    Works both ways – I really enjoy your curation too!

    [Reply]