Nine Habits of Successful People

March 10, 2011

Nice reminders from HBR:

  1. Get specific.
  2. Seize the moment to act on your goals.
  3. Know exactly how far you have left to go.
  4. Be a realistic optimist
  5. Focus on getting better, rather than being good.
  6. Have grit.
  7. Build your willpower muscle.
  8. Don’t tempt fate.
  9. Focus on what you will do, not what you won’t do

More on each here: Nine Things Successful People Do Differently – Heidi Grant Halvorson – The Conversation – Harvard Business Review.

Juggling, Priorities and Communication

January 26, 2011

JugglerThe idea of a checklist is so simple, so mechanical that many people ignore them as a process, but embrace them when it comes to getting things down – how many of us have our ongoing to-do lists piling up in our notebooks but struggle to articulate how to perform a repeated and repeatable task to a newcomer?

From a manager’s viewpoint, it is easy to assume everyone is doing everything they should and not dropping any balls but balls get dropped as people get busy and stop communicating. One of the best ways to stop this happening is with super clear communication and I like to use the alliteration:

Who Will Do What By When.

Simple to remember and it contains all the information you need to move forward – the task, who it is assigned to and what the deadline is. It’s also a very easy to read book.

HBR also has great handoff list which inspired this post. Never drop another ball again, ever. Well, not really, but we can dream.

Handoff Checklist

  • What do you understand the priorities to be?
  • What concerns or ideas do you have that have not already been mentioned?
  • What are your key next steps, and by when do you plan to accomplish them?
  • What do you need from me in order to be successful?
  • Are there any key contingencies we should plan for now?
  • When will we next check-in on progress/issues?
  • Who else needs to know our plans, and how will we communicate them?

via The Secret to Ensuring Follow-Through – Peter Bregman – Harvard Business Review.

UPDATE – nice additional resource, also from HBR.

The New Purchase Journey

January 10, 2011

When consumers purchase something, almost anything, these days, they no longer go through the traditional “awareness, familiarity, consideration, purchase, loyalty” funnel so many sales and marketing teams are brought up on.

Instead, there is a continuous evaluation and feedback loop going on – consider, evaluate, purchase, enjoy, advocate.

From this:


Traditional Purchase Funnel/Journey


to this:


New Purchase Funnel/Journey


It’s up to us as marketers to acknowledge and adapt to these changes in as smart and sophisticated way as possible.

via Speed Summary | HBR on Social Media & New Rules of Branding | Social Commerce Today.

Harvard Business Review: The Best Way to Use the Last Five Minutes of Your Day

January 5, 2011

If you feel you’re not taking the time to step back and see the big picture of your role, your career and your colleagues, why not take HBR’s advice and spend five minutes answering the following questions:

  • How did the day go? What success did I experience? What challenges did I endure?
  • What did I learn today? About myself? About others? What do I plan to do — differently or the same — tomorrow?
  • Who did I interact with? Anyone I need to update? Thank? Ask a question? Share feedback?

Click through for a case study: The Best Way to Use the Last Five Minutes of Your Day – Peter Bregman – Harvard Business Review.

How to Sell: Four Presentation Tips

September 25, 2010

More than presentation tips, these are more like selling techniques. Remember, there is no such thing as a no sale presentation. A sale is made on every presentation  you make. Either you sell the audience some ideas or they sell you a reason they can’t action the ideas. Either way, a sale is made.

  1. You can gain leverage with your colleagues by telling the truth rather than sticking to familiar cant.
  2. Finding the simplicity amidst complexity will allow you to set the agenda.
  3. When you’re dealing with a difficult crowd and contentious issues, give a few presents away early on.
  4. Once you’ve told the truth, sweetened the pot, and kept it simple, it’s time to ask for the hard things.

via Four Presentation Tips from Obama’s U.N. Speech – Nick Morgan – The Conversation – Harvard Business Review.

Quote from the Boiler Room:

Six Ways You Can Supercharge Your Productivity

September 14, 2010

It feels like we’re all running at top speed, trying to cram more and more into a finite amount of time. If that’s the case, here’s how you can at least be as efficient and productive with your time as possible. Explanations and detail in the link below.

  1. Make sufficient sleep a top priority
  2. Create one to-do list
  3. Do the most important thing first
  4. Live like a sprinter, not a marathoner.
  5. Monitor your mood.
  6. Schedule specific times for activities in your life that you deem important but not urgent

via Six Ways to Supercharge Your Productivity – Tony Schwartz – The Conversation – Harvard Business Review.

How to Excel at Anything

September 6, 2010

Six steps to achieving excellence from the Harvard Business Review – not how to use the dastardly spreadsheet programme from Microsoft! More detail on each after the click.

  1. Pursue what you love.
  2. Do the hardest work first.
  3. Practice intensely, without interruption for short periods of no longer than 90 minutes and then take a break.
  4. Seek expert feedback, in intermittent doses.
  5. Take regular renewal breaks.
  6. Ritualize practice.

via Six Keys to Being Excellent at Anything – Tony Schwartz – The Conversation – Harvard Business Review.

Eight Career Lessons from John Tarbell

May 28, 2010

If you were dying and wanted to pass on  your knowledge to your children, what would you say? Hopefully you won’t be faced with this dilemma but if you are, you could do a lot worse than sharing these 8 career lessons from American executive and, sadly, cancer victim, John Tarbell.


1. Seek out a mentor — possibly someone who was involved in your hiring process. Learn what to expect two or three years ahead and prepare for it.

2. Assume the behavior and habits of the people at the next level, and you will demonstrate that you can get there.

3. Whatever you do, be sure your involvement and actions’ ethics and results will look honorable and wise if they appear in the right hand column of the Wall Street Journal’s front page. They just might.

4. ”Try to find out what you’re good at, and have a passion for, and get someone to pay you for doing it” — advice I was given early on, and it has always proved to be the path for success and, just as importantly, happiness.

5. The first job is rarely anything but a start. Do the best you can, try to work with people you like and admire, and hope for the best. In your lifetime, you may change jobs, if not your career path, many times.

6. Avoid bosses who promise promotions and advancement but who take credit for your work. They won’t fulfill their promises to you.

7. Save for a rainy day and always be able to support yourself. You can lose everything in a flash, and scenarios of financial adversity do present themselves in life, even to the best prepared.

8. Avoid speculative ventures. If making money were easy, everyone would be wealthy. If someone can’t answer all your questions and ”what ifs,” there’s something wrong.

via A Dying Father’s Lessons on Life for His Teenaged Daughter – Our Editors – Harvard Business Review.

Asking Better Questions

February 17, 2010

One of the things I am very bad at is asking the right questions. So it was great to see the Harvard Business Review with some tips to asking those questions.

  • Be curious. Being curious is essential to asking good questions.
  • Be open-ended. Open-ended questions prevent you from making judgments based on assumptions, and can elicit some surprising answers.
  • Be engaged – show that you are interested with affirmative facial expressions and engaged body language. This sets up further conversation and gets the individual to reveal information that could be important. People will open open up — especially on sensitive subjects — if you actively show interest.
  • Dig deeper – so when information surfaces in your dialogue, dig for details without straying into recrimination. Get the whole story. Remember, problems on your team are your problems.

Learn to Ask Better Questions – The Conversation – Harvard Business Review.

Managing Your Inner Critic

January 6, 2010

Without doubt, I am my own worst critic. Nothing is ever good enough, everything could have/should have been done differently, everything going wrong is my fault.

I deal with this inner dialogue by reminding myself that no matter what situation I find myself in, those who have allowed me to get into that situation believe in my ability to make the most of it, to get myself out of it or if I truly fail, to learn from that experience.

Here are three ways Harvard teaches you to deal with that inner critic, insidiously eating away at all of us.

  • Examine your inner critic.
  • Understand that your inner critic can actually help you.
  • Act in spite of your inner critic.
  • Thank your inner critic for its opinion and speak up anyway.

More here:

How to Manage Your Inner Critic – The Conversation – Harvard Business Review.


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