Dec 15

Business Insider – How to train your brain to make better decisions

Overcoming obstacles is synonymous with entrepreneurship. The ability to engage with difficulties and stress in an empowering way is described as the biggest factor for success in life — more significant than your IQ, social networks, physical health, or socio-economic background.

When you encounter stressful situations, there are two basic ways your brain will respond: fight or flight. Whether you fight or flee can be boiled down to how you’ve been conditioned from past experiences. This negative pattern of responses is known as “learned helplessness.” If you’ve given a terrible presentation at a business meeting, you’ll have a stress-induced flight response in similar future scenarios.

If left unchecked, this pattern of “learned” avoidance behaviors will lead to passive and poor decisions. You cannot dominate in entrepreneurship and leadership if you have a pattern of unhealthy risk-averse decisions — always fleeing from challenges.

More of the Business Insider article from Thai Nguyen

Nov 15

Margaret Heffernan – The secret ingredient that makes some teams better than others

“The trust, knowledge, reciprocity and shared norms that create quality of life and make a group resilient. “Thanks, Emily Theis, for sharing this.

Culture defines any business, but it’s one of the hardest things to manage. In this extract from her new TED Book, Margaret Heffernan lays out the often-overlooked element necessary to build an effective, efficient organization: social capital.

Running a software company in Boston, I recognized — and my board told me — that we needed to reposition the business. Our product was too bland, too generic to stimulate excitement or loyalty. I needed a team to help me, and I ended up working through the problem with a motley crew: a young web developer, a seasoned and eccentric media executive, a visual artist, and me. We spent a week in the private room of a burger joint, exploring options, rejecting easy answers, pushing one another to find something none of us could see. Looking back, I recall that intense period as one of the most thought-provoking learning experiences I’ve ever had. The team was outstanding — and successful — but why? How did such an eclectic combination of people manage to work together so well? What made this experience of creative conflict so productive?

More of the Ted Idea from Margaret Heffernan

Oct 15

ReadersRead.in – 9 Classic Books That Will Change Your Life And Career

The appetite for books that inspire us, move us forward, and give us practical guidance seems to be only increasing. The publication of new business books alone tops 11,000 every year — an overwhelming choice for readers.

The ones that tend do well these days seem to be grounded in humanity.

Perhaps that’s because creativity, innovation, leadership, entrepreneurship — they all begin within us; each is very much a human process.

So naturally, the more we humanize the way we think and work, the more progress we can make in these arenas. If we understand the mental and emotional drivers of innovation and creativity, we can be more innovative and creative.

Today’s authors and thinkers have the privilege of standing on the shoulders of giants. Their works, a diverse arrangement of titles and backgrounds, have inspired me to understand what’s behind things like mindfulness, creativity, innovation and leadership, and I believe they will inspire you, too:

More of the Readersread.in post from Faisal Hoque

Apr 14

Harvard Business Review – The Daily Routines of Geniuses

Juan Ponce de León spent his life searching for the fountain of youth. I have spent mine searching for the ideal daily routine. But as years of color-coded paper calendars have given way to cloud-based scheduling apps, routine has continued to elude me; each day is a new day, as unpredictable as a ride on a rodeo bull and over seemingly as quickly.

Naturally, I was fascinated by the recent book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work. Author Mason Curry examines the schedules of 161 painters, writers, and composers, as well as philosophers, scientists, and other exceptional thinkers.

As I read, I became convinced that for these geniuses, a routine was more than a luxury — it was essential to their work. As Currey puts it, “A solid routine fosters a well-worn groove for one’s mental energies and helps stave off the tyranny of moods.” And although the book itself is a delightful hodgepodge of trivia, not a how-to manual, I began to notice several common elements in the lives of the healthier geniuses (the ones who relied more on discipline than on, say, booze and Benzedrine) that allowed them to pursue the luxury of a productivity-enhancing routine:

More of the HBR article

Mar 14

Buffer – What Would Happen If You improved Everything by 1%: The Science of Marginal Gains

In 2010, Dave Brailsford faced a tough job.

No British cyclist had ever won the Tour de France, but as the new General Manager and Performance Director for Team Sky (Great Britain’s professional cycling team), that’s what Brailsford was asked to do.

His approach was simple.

Brailsford believed in a concept that he referred to as the “aggregation of marginal gains.” He explained it as the “1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do.” His belief was that if you improved every area related to cycling by just 1 percent, then those small gains would add up to remarkable improvement.

They started by optimizing the things you might expect: the nutrition of riders, their weekly training program, the ergonomics of the bike seat, and the weight of the tires.

But Brailsford and his team didn’t stop there. They searched for 1 percent improvements in tiny areas that were overlooked by almost everyone else: discovering the pillow that offered the best sleep and taking it with them to hotels, testing for the most effective type of massage gel, and teaching riders the best way to wash their hands to avoid infection. They searched for 1 percent improvements everywhere.

More of the Buffer blog post

Mar 14

LifeHacker – The Ways Your Brain Tricks You Into Doing Things You Shouldn’t Do

We often discuss how your brain can trick you and, by proxy, how you can hack your brain, but there are a few things our minds are very good at tricking us into that we should be aware of. This video from the folks at DNews is a crash course in three of them: Sunk cost, optimism bias, and confirmation bias.

The video’s about three minutes long, but it serves as a great crash course for some of the nastier things our brains are hard-wired to do, even if we think we have the willpower to do something differently. For example, the sunk cost fallacy is that thing that makes us prioritize what we’ve lost over what we could possibly gain—leading us to keep eating when we’re full, justify poor buying decisions, or make us keep watching a TV show that we say we hate. The video also tackles the topic of optimism bias, or our natural tendency to believe that bad things just won’t happen to us, even if we’re the ones engaging in behaviors that are bad for us. Of course, optimism bias is a good and a bad thing, and helps us strive to better, greater things.

More of the LifeHacker post

Mar 14

BetaBeat – Forget Productivity Apps: What Time Do You Wake Up?

Joel is one of the most productive people I know and he has a secret that all of us can use to become more productive.

Like most of us, Joel has a lot on his plate. He’s the father of two kindergarten-aged children. Both he and his wife work full-time demanding jobs. That’s more than enough for most people but not for him. On the side he’s a budding author and a voracious reader. He also plays in a garage band and always makes time for his friends.

Within five minutes of meeting him for the first time and discovering all that he fits into the same 24 hours we all have, people inevitably ask “How do you fit it all in? What’s your secret?”

“There is no secret,” he tells them. “I just get up earlier than everyone else.”

Say what?

Most of us are at our peak in the mornings. Not only do we think better in the wee hours of the morning but, because everyone else is still sleeping, we’re able to focus on what we want to do rather than what we have to do. We’re more creative and more productive.

More of the BetaBeat post

Feb 14

Buffer blog – The secret to creativity, intelligence and scientific thinking: Being able to make connections

When we shared this image from the @buffer Twitter account recently, it got me thinking. The Tweet resulted in over 1,000 retweets, which somehow was an indication that a lot of people seemed to agree with this statement. There’s a key difference between knowledge and experience and it’s best described like this:

(See post)

The original is from cartoonist Hugh MacLeod, who came up with such a brilliant way to express a concept that’s often not that easy to grasp.

The image makes a clear point—that knowledge alone is not useful unless we can make connections between what we know. Whether you use the terms “knowledge” and “experience” to explain the difference or not, the concept itself is sound.

Lots of great writers, artists and scientists have talked about the importance of collecting ideas and bits of knowledge from the world around us, and making connections between those dots to fuel creative thinking and new ideas.

This is a really fun, inspiring topic to read about, so I collected some quotes and advice from my favorite creative thinkers about the importance of making connections in your brain. I’ve added emphasis to the important parts, but if you have time I’d recommend reading the whole post and even digging into the sources I’ve linked to.

To start with though, I want to look at some research that shows intelligence is closely linked with the physical connections in our brains.
Intelligence and connections: why your brain needs to communicate well with itself

Research from the California Institute of Technology showed that intelligence is something found all across the brain, rather than in one specific region:

More of the Buffer post by Belle Beth Cooper

Feb 14

Zenhabits – Procrastination is a Mindfulness Problem

We all procrastinate, and by and large, we all know the solutions to our procrastination.

I put off writing this article (ironically, I know, and yes I know you’ll put off reading this article) by doing a bunch of smaller tasks, for example. They were less important and I knew it, but they were quick tasks and so easier than writing an article on a tough topic.

Honestly, I know the solutions: clarify what task is most important, clear away everything but this more important task, clarify my motivations for this task, break it down into something smaller and easier if I feel difficulty.

These aren’t hard solutions.

But they don’t work unless you’re aware of what you’re doing.

More of the ZenHabits post by Leo Babauta

Feb 14

TNW – Here’s how to trick your brain into making habits stick

Every habit you want to build can be broken down into a sequence of steps.

For example, a gym workout can be broken down into the following steps: getting off your butt, changing your clothes, putting a gym bag together, traveling to the gym, doing your workout, showering, and going home.

You know working out is good for you but when it comes time to exercise, your brain doesn’t just see the glory part of the process where you’re pumping iron like you’re training for the next “300“ movie— it sees all the before and after steps too. Because our brains love taking the path of least resistance, these before and after steps are often seen as barriers.

You know you should workout today but your brain is telling you things like,

Don’t forget about the time it takes to drive to the gym, pack your stuff, do your workout, and travel back home. That’s going to take hours. Do you really have time today?

More of the TNW post