Ask leaders about the most efficient way to be inefficient, and I bet most will say “bad meetings.” But the hard truth is that meetings are not only inevitable, they’re also essential. Why?
If our teams are going to achieve major goals, we need to be able to plan, coordinate, and tackle problems together. The problem is that many meetings are the least productive use of our time, right?
One key to leadership is being willing to take responsibility for your mistakes. Good leaders do this even when they’re guilty of only 10 percent of the problem or accusation. But the truth is we’ve all had cases where we’ve been guilty of the whole enchilada, right?
I once had a teammate—this was years ago now—who was caught viewing porn on her computer at work. I don’t know how she thought she’d get away with it. Her computer screen was visible to just about anyone walking by.
More than a decade ago, I decided I needed to get back into regular exercise. I was overweight and tired of feeling exhausted. I needed to do something. But like everyone else, I was busy.
I had a habit goal I wanted to install: Exercise for thirty minutes, Monday through Friday, at 6:00 a.m. There was only one problem. I couldn’t seem to follow through. If you’ve ever failed at reaching a New Year’s resolution, maybe you can identify.
In all my years of using Apple products, I have never returned one. Until now. Last month I purchased the new MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. What a letdown. It’s the first Apple device that’s actually made me less productive.
When I watched the company’s October keynote, I left feeling disappointed. At the time, I said I thought they’d lost their product mojo.
Why? The company has lost touch with Steve Jobs’ vision for simple, elegant machines. Using the new MacBook Pro for the last several weeks confirms my hunch. It’s a dud.
I’ve read dozens of books on planning. But after the planning is done, the execution begins. In my experience, this is ninety percent of success. Yet, surprisingly, very few books have been written on this topic. In this book, the authors identify four disciplines of execution (4DX): focus on the wildly important goals (WIGs), act on lead measures, keep a compelling scorecard, and create a cadence of accountability.
Not only do the authors explain each discipline in detail, they provide scores of real-world examples from companies big and small. They also explain exactly how to “install” the disciplines in your organization. Based on consulting with hundreds and hundreds of clients, they provide practical solutions and best practices.
My team and I used 4DX for most of 2016, and it was incredibly helpful in reaching our organizational goals.
Mindset (Ballantine Books, 2007)
What is a mindset? According to world-renowned Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, it is an established set of attitudes or beliefs. We all know instinctively that attitude is important, but Dweck argues that it is basically everything.
She explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success—but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset. A fixed mindset is one in which you view your talents and abilities as … well, fixed. In other words, you are who you are, your intelligence and talents are what they are, and your fate is to go through life avoiding challenge and failure.
A growth mindset, on the other hand, is one in which you see yourself as fluid, a work in progress. Your fate is one of growth and opportunity. Which mindset do you possess? This book challenged me, because I realized that in some areas I possess a fixed mindset and others a growth mindset.
Deep Work (Grand Central Publishing, 2016)
If we want to be productive, we have to stay focused on the kinds of projects that add real value to our businesses. But that’s harder than ever today. When I talk with busy leaders, they tell me the biggest productivity challenge they face is constant distraction.
The problem is that even if those distractions qualify as work, they don’t add much value. Cal Newport, associate professor of computer science at Georgetown University, labels most of these activities shallow work. Think about bouncing in and out of email, checking social media, or tweaking lists. This is low concentration work just about anyone can do. Deep work, on the other hand, requires intense focus and concentration. It’s demanding but adds a lot of value.
The turn of the year is always a good time to evaluate what’s working in our lives, what’s not, and make any changes that will start us down a better path.
As we pause and reflect on where we’ve been and where we want to go, we normally have a sense of what to do. But that sense comes with a risk.
Even if it only represents an inkling of clarity about what to do, it’s imperative that you act immediately. If you don’t, you can fall prey to the Law of Diminishing Intent.
Like most of you, I take time at the end of every year to review and take stock of the last twelve months—and that includes the stats on my blog and podcast.
Every now and then people ask me about my motivation for what I do. The short answer is that I love to help people create transformation in their lives. That’s what I mean when I say I help people win at work and succeed at life.
It’s only one measurement, but traffic is a good indicator of how well I’m succeeding in my goal. Here are my top-10 blog post and top-10 podcast episodes from 2016, along with my takeaways on what’s working and why.
I’ve worked in and around publishing my entire professional life, and I’ve written several books of my own. I believe in the power of books to help people improve and grow. Read the right books, and you can trigger massive transformation in your life.
More than any other business books I read this year, five titles especially challenged me, stretched my thinking, and helped me to grow personally and professionally. Each one also benefited my team in different ways. I bet they can do the same for you.
I’m already seeing a lot of Christmas images on Instagram, and I expect to see a flood in the next few days. The company just announced it surpassed 600 million users.
Instagram launched in 2010. I joined a year later, but I only became a heavy user a couple of years ago. The company’s growth curve is phenomenal.