Tag: Learning (page 1 of 2)

Thought of the Week


Thought of the Week


Thought of the Week – Guard Against Confirmation Bias

At times we are so invested in our beliefs that when we hear a rumor or get an unconfirmed report that matches our thinking we want to take the new intelligence as fact. In these moments we must fight that urge and question our confirmation bias. Always get the facts. Challenge the source and make sure you remain open minded.

The times when I have miscalculated the error could easily have been avoided if I had not wanted the story to be true and therefore I allowed the story to be true.

No matter where you are in your career questioning your confirmation bias is paramount. My thought of the Week is practice this skill in your daily life.



  • Original posting on LinkedIn

How to Rectify Flaws in the Creative Process

While creative thinking and problem solving are both key concepts that are interconnected with the notion of business, entrepreneurship, there comes a time when these strongly ingrained ideas can hinder any sort of innovative process moving forward in your brand.

The inspirational book titled ‘Winning the Brain Game; Fixing the 7 Fatal Flaws of Thinking,” by Matthew May provides readers useful insight to tackle managing and developing your creative side once challenges in your business seem out of your reach.

Known as a very prolific author, May has crafted a myriad of books that include “The Elegant Solution”, “In Pursuit of Elegance”, “The Shibumi Strategy” and “The Law of Subtraction” that all collectively examine different strategies from design thinking to lean thinking. In terms of “Winning the Brain Game,” May gives advice to his readers so they can utilize their minds in ways to more effectively produce complex solutions to issues or problems that you previously felt were impossible to successfully approach.

winning the brain game

Although May discusses business related issues when it comes to approaching a new business plan, he also takes a step back to access how the various flaws of our educational system. He finds the root of our incapability to brainstorm from the ingrained mentality from school to never question or create new ways to approach a problem, but rather find the correct answer through a standardized exam.

In turn, May notes the fact that this does not only obstruct the problem solving process from an early age, but also conditions us to think very narrow-mindedly in a stage of our lives when innovation should be maximized in every way possible. Throughout the book, the author makes it clear that to advance the creative side of your brain, the first step is to come up with various questions as a means to address the problem instead of forming solutions.

The logic is that these questions have the potential to initiate new ideas or ways to approach the problem instead of immediately conjuring up solutions with a limited originality.

As doubt is one of the many fundamental hindrances that negatively affect the creative process, May makes it known that censoring this is essential not only for your sanity, but also in terms of bettering yourself in your respective field. He then claims that in order to muster up the courage or bravery to improve creatively, we need to return to a mental state similar to how children act upon their curiosity or desire to experiment without concern of the outcome.

Also, he finds that this “ideacide” is rooted from fear, which allows us to engage in self-censoring to a point when we become completely incapable of producing anything that challenges normalcy or the situation’s conformed state. Thus, May argues that among all of the fatal flaws, self-doubt is by far the most dangerous any form of innovation.

To better respond to the self-doubt fatal-thinking flaw, the author makes an interesting point to undertake new scenarios or situations with a mindful framework as a means to better approach the matter at hand with active thinking, instead of indifference or perhaps rejection. The act of questioning or taking other perspectives into account is highly important when it comes to any sort of professional, personal or academic growth as you move forward in your path.

Finding Your Strengths

There is no question that the ability to find and be secure in your strengths is an incredibly difficult task that is becoming increasingly hard to deconstruct. Insecurity about strengths or weaknesses in the workplace is something everyone feels from their day to day lives, which the author of “Standout” examines with the release of his most recent book. Marcus Buckingham, who many people believe is a prominent presence in what is called the strengths movement, has been a leading voice in rethinking how we can uniquely succeed in the workplace through the process of specific online tests.

people at work



Different from his previous books that have focused on the first two steps of finding your strengths, his latest book titled Standout: The Groundbreaking New Strengths Assessment from the Leader of the Strengths Revolution, emphasizes the last step of the process is utilizing the online assessment to discover what your two primary strength areas are to essentially excel in the workplace.Instead of taking the approach to improve your certain weaknesses, Buckingham supports the evidence used in his book on thorough behavioral and statistical research which he used to analyze some of the world’s top business leaders. In terms of the exam itself, below are the twenty strengths that are in the assessment crafted to find areas in which you stand out and should further capitalize on in the workplace.



Charismatic people that have the innate ability to connect and interact with people on a high energy level very different from the average person. They value collaboration and better understanding people through interaction.



This role depicts someone who essentially values the community around them and does their best to support their environment in any way they can. Some forms of this include knowledge or other intellectual resources.



The person who is constantly guiding others either on your team or others in the office who are willing to learn.



You create and are constantly coming up with new ways to approach a certain process or idea. Generating interesting ways to tackle a specific situation is something you love to do.



These types of individuals strongly feel as though everyone’s work should be at an equal level as their own. They strive to be better, while expecting the same strong work ethic in return.



Based on very clear verbal directness, influencers are keen on finding ways to achieve a goal in various circumstances by capitalizing on charm or other enticing means of communication.



Intrigued by the spontaneous or exciting experiences, these individuals love to constantly challenge themselves by trying to break out of their comfort zones.



A nature leader, your high energy influences other to engage what you have to say or do at a level very different from the other strength areas.

Unlike other books that have a clear focus on improving or finding your strengths, Buckingham does not use excessive theoretical jargon or complex language to effectively achieve his message to his readers. More than anything, he holistically explains the highlights of his research so that you, the reader can find success in your respective career path full of skills that are waiting to be tapped into.

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.


Learning from Pixar: Creativity Inc.

Known for creating some of the best, highest rated animated movies in the world, Pixar Animated Studios is an example of management and leadership done right and on an immense scale. Some Pixar - Creativity Incinsight into how this was possible in just under 30 years is undoubtedly helpful and Creativity, Inc., by Ed Catmull (co founder and brains behind Pixar), provides just that.

Ed Catmull co founded Pixar with the help of Steve Jobs back when Catmull was working at Lucasfilms. After Steve Jobs bought Lucasfilm’s digital division, Catmull became the Chief Technology Officer for what would become Pixar. Just years later, Toy Story was released in 1995 helping solidify Pixar as a studio that not only makes beautiful, innovative animated films but ties them well with captivating, timeless stories. But how was all of this achieved?

In Creativity Inc., we learn of the close relationship between Steve Jobs and Pixar as well as the impact he had with recruiting the right people. Catmull, of course, being one of those people. His contributions to digital animation technology have been a driving force behind the movies adults and children enjoy today. But Catmull’s academic and industry achievements alone do not explain Pixar’s impressive success – 15 movies under their belt with all but one receiving critical acclaim. So we have to look at how their management makes things work as well as they do.

Here are some important lessons we can glean from Creativity Inc., on the leadership over at Pixar (now owned by Disney following a $7 billion deal in 2006):

  1. Delegating tasks and ideas to be worked on: At Pixar, good ideas are given to great teams that can either find flaws in those ideas and improve on them or come up with something even better.
  2. While agreement is essential to getting things done or make changes happen, a lot more has to go into actually implementing what everyone agrees on.
  3. The leadership should strive to make a company into a place where employees can take risks and not a place where the main goal is to prevent risks. Along with that, it costs a lot more to prevent errors than to fix them.
  4. While we talk about “leadership” and “management” things should not be so cut and dry. Communication should not be structured in this way and everyone should feel comfortable with talking to anyone further up the existing structure.

The importance of these philosophies behind Pixar’s success is that they were developed in order to sustained this creative culture that has propelled Pixar. This culture, however, was not something that Pixar’s leadership tacked on later on – it was built and developed from within as the company rose to greater heights. A good take away from that is that established companies looking to mimic this sustainable creative culture should work with what they already have and develop it in a similar fashion.

Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success

In business, how does one create more value for themselves and for society as a whole? In Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success, Adam Grant argues that there are 3 kinds of people in the workplace and one of adam-grant-give-and-takethose types is the one bound to readily find more success down the line. If the name Adam Grant sounds familiar, it’s because this isn’t the first time this blog has mentioned him. Just some weeks ago, we covered some of his recommendations for your 2015 fall reading list. Adam happens to be the youngest tenured professor (at 34) at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, one of America’s finest business schools.

Adam Grant’s cutting edge research, which has given him a lot of notoriety aside from also being Wharton’s highest rated professor, covers success, motivation, and other social behaviors as they relate to economics and the workplace. In Give and Take, Grant dives into 3 types of personalities in the workplace and how they relate to success, which is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others – not just on skills or experience.

The three types of people that Grant points out are:

  1. Takers – Takers make the attempt to take as much from others as possible without having to take time to return favors if they can get away with it.
  2. Matchers – Matchers try to trade equally, matching the work someone does for them with the work that they will do for that person in return.
  3. Givers – Givers are more selfless and willing to go beyond to perform favors for a coworker, sometimes never expecting anything in return.

Using his own research, Grant demonstrates that Givers end up achieving more success across several types of industries. Of course, many Givers do get exploited by fellow coworkers (Takers, perhaps?), but in all their willingness to cooperate and help others leads to higher levels of success. In a way, this makes a lot of sense because Matchers, for examples, although not exhibiting selfishness like Takers, are more likely to just coast on by and doing just enough to get the work done.

The book contains several useful tips on how to be more like the more successful type as well as how to deal with the other types. For Givers, for example, Give and Take shows how one can be charitable with their time and skills yet not come to regret it after (get taken advantage of).

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?