Tag: Des Hague (page 2 of 3)

The 100$ Start-Up

So often people question why they are doing what they are doing. As people, how can we spend 40+ hours doing something we don’t enjoy? Life is too short, and Chris Guillebeau explains in The 100$ Start-Up how to monetize your passion. However, the difference with this self-help/how-to book is in the specifics. Whereas most books of this genre often speak in generalities and hypotheticals, Guillebeau dives in with both feet, having identified, researched, and interviewed 1500 different individuals. He delves into the finances, the time spent, and whether or not the risk was worth the reward.

Spoiler alert: it was. Chris himself lives a similar lifestyle. Only in his early thirties, Guillebeau has traveled to over 170 countries and has never received a “regular” paycheck. Although a nomadic young man may not seem like the quintessential entrepreneur I would want to take advice from, I must say that while reading through his book, I found myself not just hearing what was being said, but truly listening and understanding. Certainly Chris’ own story is inspiring, but what really makes the book is when it goes onto speak of others who have achieved monetizing their passion. Take for example the Canadian snowboarder.

Tired of earning a meager income as an instructor, he decided something needed to be done to better his annual salary. After brainstorming different possible opportunities, he realized that there was a market for a DVD set of instructional videos. After creating, taping, and producing his own original films, this former snowboard instructor became the CEO of his very own 300,000$ dollar/year business. Although not exactly conventional, Chris’ bold defiance of traditional business models are intriguing, and in many cases, compelling.

He claims that “you don’t need outside investment (of any kind), an MBA, or a 65-page business plan that no one will ever read. You just need a product or service, a group of people willing to buy it, and a means of getting paid.” That being said, I am not advocating throwing the rules out of the window. I am saying his narrative is engaging, impressive and most of all, inspiring.

Getting paid to do what we love all too often seems impossible. Yet, maybe it isn’t. Maybe all we really need is a relevant, marketable idea, a little bit of confidence, and a push in the right direction. After reading The 100$ Start-Up, doing what you love doesn’t just seem possible. It seems plausible.

100$ Start-up, Chris Guillebeau


How to Win Friends and Influence People

BookThis timeless classic was first published in 1936 and to this day remains a prominent best-seller with good reason. Financial guru and fiscal extraordinaire Dale Carnegie details his tremendous success by laying out his pristine perception of people. By outwitting rivals, sympathizing with co-workers, and empathizing through shared experiences, Carnegie paints a comprehensive portrait of how to achieve the success most only dream of.

Mr. Carnegie gives timeless advice over and over again while supporting said advice with real-life examples that not only help you to wholly understand what is being said, but to remember what is being said. Anecdotal evidence has never proved so beneficial, until now. Utilizing literally the same techniques he preaches in the very prose of this book (anecdotes, empathy, support, rationale), Dale Carnegie transcends time through the written word to spread his knowledge.

To be a bit more specific (and perhaps to simplify a bit too much), the author stresses identifying with whom you are speaking by way of shared experiences. This way, you equalize the playing field, garner greater respect, and are able to, ultimately, exert influence. By putting yourself in the other’s shoes, you can plant a sort of desire that propels the individual to want what you want, and thus do what you want.

He goes on to speak at length about how to do this of course. Some mediums involve “throwing down a challenge,” letting the other recover from embarrassment and save face, and letting whoever you are talking with handle the majority of the dialogue. It’s funny; so much of the advice seems so simple and yet I’ve never quite put the notions into words. But here, with the words on the page in front of me, I feel the business lessons I have learned over the course of my career stand out with clarity.

These simplistically explained lessons provide explanations to nearly every situation, and are supported with comprehensive evidence. What’s more, after applying these lessons to my own life, I have experienced first-hand the success of these tactics when they’re employed. Mr. Carnegie has sincerely authored a truly easy-to-understand guide to success.

This straight-forward book is a well-written gift to the world and to all those lucky enough to pick it up. While it is certainly vastly popular, it took me awhile to thumb through its pages. Don’t make the same mistake as me; and expand your knowledge of business, of the world, and of life today.


The Zigzag Principle

In the startup industry, there is a widespread ‘get it done’ mentality, through which entrepreneurs are urged to push forward to their goal at all costs. Rich Christiansen challenges this mentality in The ZIgzag Principle, in which he postulates that forging a straight path toward a goal does not produce lasting results. Instead, Christiansen advocates for taking time to raise money, acquire resources, scale, and learn to fail. By following a select set of ‘zigzag’ principles, he asserts that a business will become profitable and surpass its initial startup stage.

The Zigzag principleThe zigzag principle stemmed from a skiing session that Christiansen had one winter with his son. The two were beginners, and accidentally ended up on the most difficult slope. Instead of attempting to ski straight down the hill, which was very dangerous at their level, Christiansen decided he and his son should zigzag down the hill until they reached the bottom. This allowed them to get safely off of the slope without injury. Christiansen says the same mentality should be applied to life and business – while shooting straight toward a goal may get you to that goal faster, there is more chance of sustaining lasting repercussions along the way.

The zigzag principle starts at the very beginning of forming a business. Christiansen challenges his readers to look at their internal motivation, rather than focus on mission statements. He believes that the motivation behind beginning a company will help determine if the company is sustainable to its founder, and therefore if the mission statement should even be written.

The first ‘zig’ principle focuses on making money. The book guides its reader through a process to determine how to make a business profitable. Far too many startups do not focus on profitability at the beginning, which increases their chance of failing. The second ‘zag’ principle is all about additional resources. Once a new business becomes profitable, it can focus on adding more people and capital to expand. The third and final ‘zag’ principle involves scaling in a big way. Christiansen guides readers through deciding how large they want to make their business, and through determining how they will get there.

The rest of the book helps its readers navigate how to deal with a creative team and how to track progress. Christiansen also includes demonstrative success stories from himself and other companies.

This book is a must-read resource for all people looking to start a new business. Christiansen’s zigzag principle is a revolutionary approach to starting a business that can guarantee lasting success.

The Power of Habit

THe Power of HabitA large portion of success depends on habit. What we do on a day to day basis and how we do it can determine how much we get done. Adopting beneficial habits can boost productivity but, unfortunately, bad habits run rampant as well, and these are hard to change.

Charles Duhigg, a reporter for the New York Times, takes a business approach to the concept of habit in his book The Power of Habit, which explores the psychology behind forming habits, and how to break the bad ones. His insight is based on years of reading scientific research and interviewing scientists. He chronicles his findings in an interesting way, which makes this book an authority on habits for everyday readers.

Duhigg wrote the book with the idea that people can change what about themselves they understand. He believed that recognizing the science behind forming habits would be able to help not only individuals, but also entire companies. Changing personal habits can influence group changes and lead even companies that struggle the most down a successful road.

His focus in the book is three-pronged – the psychological formation of habits, how habits are used in and by companies, and how habits have sparked social movement. He refers to habit formation as ‘The Habit Loop.’ Habits, he reports, are formed based on repetition until they become routine. One trigger from the environment can lead to a constant behavior that is connected to a reward. This is true for all habits; even ones detrimental to our health or productivity are associated with rewards. Additionally, our habits take up almost half of our daily operating.

Duhigg spends the first section of the book emphasizing how prevalent habits are in our daily lives and how every habit, no matter how small it may seem, can drastically affect our performance. In the second section of the book, he approaches habit formation from a company standpoint. More specifically, he writes about a feedback system to help instill habits in others. This system involves making a reward at the end of an action known and desirable, to making the action itself routine. Entire corporations have been altered by this feedback system. Creating habits based on company values instills a company culture based on value of the company and respect for its work.

The third and final section of the book, and arguably the most important, describes why habits change, and therefore how a change can be made. Duhigg writes that recognizing and addressing a specific habit’s cue is all a person, or a company, needs to change that habit entirely. He uses this part of the book to investigate how entire social movements were influenced by habit. Leaders of such movements initiate habits that are followed by others, which is how a small routine can become a societal change. Habits instilled by leaders become a part of an individual’s identity, and it is there that they thrive and endure.

This book is an important read for anyone looking to become more productive, or to boost the productivity of their team. Duhigg has written an invaluable resource that, if heeded, will surely lead to success.


The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace

One of the toughest problems in practically any industry is good employees burning out due to a number of factors. Perhaps the workload is unevenly distributed in an understaffed department, or The 5 Language of appreciation in the workplaceperhaps the employee feels like their hard work, despite stepping up to challenges, is not appreciated. Leaders – managers, supervisors, CEOs alike, can do a lot to improve on this problem. For starters, show appreciation for your employees. In The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace, by Gary D. Chapman and Paul White, you can learn to do just that with valuable insight into how people work with receiving appreciation.

If the name Gary Chapman sounds familiar, it may be because he is the writer of the popular mid 1990s book, The Five Love Languages. As a relationship counselor, Chapman is well versed in advising couples on how to talk and treat each other to better their relationship. Similarly, Chapman introduces methods that he has found to work and translates them to the workplace. The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace advises on ways to properly show your appreciation for someone who works with you. On top of that, it also makes the important distinctions between “appreciation” and “recognition/reward”

Appreciation: This is valuing the person simply for being there to work with you or for you. Even if the person is an employee that is struggling with the tasks at hand, being shown that someone is appreciative of their attempt can go a long way toward improving their performance.

Recognition/Reward: This is given due to an individual or team’s performance or achievements. If your employees do good work, tell them and show them that.

Overall, one of the most important points that Chapman tries to make is that there are various ways of showing appreciation in the workplace. Sometimes, simple gestures can make a difference in how employees feel about management or the company as a whole.

4 Books Worth Reading This Fall

The books that have been reviewed on this website, so far, have all been books for which the authors incorporate great data driven discussions and ideas. These books can be extremely beneficial to anyone, regardless of what stage of their career may be.

The following 4 books come highly recommended by Adam Grant, a professor at the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. At 34 years old, Adam Grant is recognized as the youngest tenured professor at Wharton as well as being its most highly rated professor. Therefore, a book recommendation from him is certainly a recommendation to take serious.

As Adam wrote in his original LinkedIn post:  “Here’s a preview of the exciting new books on work and psychology. Instead of just spouting their opinions, these authors bring us real data”

1. Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to your Biggest Challenges (Amy Cuddy, December 29)

Presence, by Harvard University professor Amy Cuddy, covers some of the most challenges situations people often finds themselves in in the work world. This book is built upon Cuddy’s popular TED talk about “power posing” and explains how changing the way we carry ourselves can help us achieve new levels of success.

2. Unfinished Business: Women Men Work Family(Anne-Marie Slaughter, September 29):

Equality in the workplace for men and women has been found to be very beneficial for a business. Anne-Marie Slaughter happens to be the first woman in charge of direct policy planning for the State Department. Already well known for her submission on why women still can’t have it all that was published in the Atlantic, Slaughter uses Unfinished Business to discuss how equality in the workplace and at home can be created through efforts by both individuals and policymakers.

3. Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction (Philip Tetlock, September 29)

If you could only known the future of your business or career? Years of research have led Philip Tetlock, a Wharton professor as well, to co-create the Good Judgment Project (GJP). Bringing together thousands of volunteers across several fields as varied as entertainment to plumbing, GJP works to harness the collective wisdom of the volunteers to forecast world events – so far they have been rather successful. In Superforecasting, Tetlock and co-author Dan Gardner, seek to arm the reader with the tools to turn them into “superforecasters” like the group of volunteers that the GJP has assembled since 2011.

4. Friend and Foe: When to Cooperate, When to Compete, and How to Succeed at Both (Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer, September 29)

Not knowing how to navigate the tension between cooperation and competition can really hold us back. In Friend and Foe, researchers Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzerpresent unique research that they have conducted across several fields that can help us find this right balance. Some of this valuable research answers many longstanding questions posed by people trying their best to succeed in the business world: How do we obtain power and how do we keep it? What is the best order to go in for an interview? How do we build trust and, more importantly, repair broken trust?

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

Understanding human behavior, no matter how complex it may seem, can be valuable when launching a business or moving into a new aspect of your career. Luckily for you businessmen and women out there, Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions is an excellent, and highly comprehensive guide toward understanding how not rational our decisions Dan Ariely - Predictably Irrationalusually are.

Predictably Irrational, in the own words of Dan Ariely is meant to make the reader fundamentally rethink what makes them and the people around them tick. To do this, Ariely presents scientific experiments as well as several amusing anecdotes. But why should you trust what Ariely has to say about the way we make decisions? Dan Ariely happens to be the world’s leading behavioral economist and teaches psychology, as well as behavioral economics, at Duke University. Ariely is also the founder of The Center for Advanced Hindsight at Duke University, where he leads research on topics ranging from how we spend money, why people cheat to social justice.

This book is valuable for someone launching a company or starting a new career because it makes them think and reconsider if the decisions they are making truly are as rational as they think. What you will find is that they likely aren’t. For a long time, economist have painted this image of a human making the most rational and self interested decisions, but this book begins to unmask that in ways that can be beneficial to a CEO.

If, as a business leader, you first learn how your decisions are not as rational as you think they are and, at the same time, learn how your customers make decisions, you will be able to adapt and shape your business in such ways that you can take advantage of how customers think and make decision. This could potentially lead toward your business being able to better anticipate the needs of your customers.

Aside from the various experiments Ariely runs on his own students, he also presents examples on how we decide to support a business. Why do we choose to pay a few extra dollars for a cup of coffee even though the coffee across the street is cheaper and likely just as good? Companies like Starbucks Coffee, for example, have been successful in the way they have changed how customers looking for coffee think about price and the product. Ultimately, as a business leader, your goal will most likely be to change the way your potential customers think about your business in relation to the competition.

Competing for the Future

Management practices that worked in the old days shouldn’t always be counted on presently. With all the changes that have gone on in the business world, and especially in the realm of leadership, a necessary skill to have is thinking about the future. The future doesn’t mean just some 5 to 10 year plan your company has in mind, it goes far beyond that.

A great book to help business leaders learn this important skill is Gary Hamel and Des Hague BusinessC.K. Prahalad’s, Competing for the Future. Hamel is the founder of Strategos, which formed in 1995 and has since been a leading consulting firm with offices worldwide. The late C.K. Prahalad was a distinguished scholar from the Stephen M. Ross School of Business in the University of Michigan but passed away in 2010. Like Hamel, Prahalad was a prevalent voice within the business world. That they wrote this together, with the share of their knowledge, makes it a great book already.

The authors themselves state that the goal of the book is to help business leaders learn how to imagine the future and then work on creating that future that they imagined. It’s not enough to just increase performance, let’s say, or restructure your company. What you ultimately learn from Competing for the Future is strategy – how to strategize and how to execute that strategy with your company’s future in mind.

Another great aspect of this book is that it isn’t just a must read for the Executives. Managers and other leaders within a company should not hesitate in picking it up. The more people within a company’s leadership team that are working and strategizing with a future in mind the better. Management teams, for example, can learn that a moving toward the future they want for a company depends a lot on just how fast the company can learn about the upcoming future in comparison to competitors.

The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments

Sometimes, advice that can be extremely useful for your business can come from the strangest or most unexpected places. This time, advice coming from deep in the trenches of Hollywood may be just what you need to guide you on the long journey that comes with starting or owning a growing business.Unknown

The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments: Ten Essential Tools for Business Forged in the Trenches of Hollywood, was written by Jeff B. Cohen, a former child actor and now a powerful attorney within the business side of Hollywood. To many, Jeff Cohen will always be “Chunk,” a character in Steven Spielberg’s cult classic, The Goonies. But throughout the years, it is clear that Cohen moved away from acting and focused his attention on how Hollywood does business and has found ways to apply it to business in general, not just entertainment. Cohen’s goal with this book is to share Hollywood’s applicable methodology for negotiating deals, managing time, and crisis management at the highest levels of a business.

In The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments, what you get is Cohen’s honesty and straightforward approach to becoming a better negotiator – among other things. Being a great negotiator is an essential trait for Hollywood actors and their agents, but knowing how to negotiate is essential elsewhere as well. One useful piece of advice taken from Cohen’s book is as follows: “Take Yes for Yes and take a No for Maybe.” Being persistent is important, but another piece of advice to go with that, that is also great as well is that one must deal with the reality of the situation. Accept what the reality is and don’t get caught up in what is hoped for.

The Dealmaker’s Ten Commandments is a quick read, perfect for the summer if you are taking a small break but want to return packing great ideas and even greater motivation.

Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies

Published in 1994, Built to Last, is billed as one of the most influential books in our era. It is the outline and explanation of a 6 year research project by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, both professors of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. Their research had two primary objects. The first was to identify which characteristics were common to highly visionary companies and the second was to communicate their findings in such a way that it would be useful and influential to management across the business world.jim_collins_built_to_last

In order to figure out what companies are identified as “visionary,” 1,000 CEOs across the country were surveyed. Also, along with the survey, there were criteria set out for what could be considered a visionary company. It defined a visionary company as one that is a distinguished institution within the industry it is in, admired by a wide range of credible businesspeople, has had multiple generations of CEOs, founded prior to 1950, and has had an impact in the world along with multiple life cycles of products or services.

From this, Collins and Porras extracted a list of 18 visionary companies. Some examples include, 3M, American Express, Boeing, Citicorp/Citigroup, Disney, Ford, HP, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, and General Electric. These companies and the others listed, were considered leaders in their industries, and to show how and what these companies did differently to help establish themselves as visionary, Collins and Porras compared and contrasted them to equally established competitors in their respective industries. Some of the factors that were used to compare the visionary companies to their successful competitors included how they performed in the stock market between the 1920s and 1990s. While the competitors did well, outperforming the general market by 2 times, the visionary companies listed outperformed the rest of the market by as much as 15 times. Impressive indeed.

The brilliance of Built to Last is that it brought together qualitative data from companies and how they were run to be successful with clear and understandable quantitative data.