How to deal with anger at work

Edited excerpt from How to get rid of anger by Eric Barker:

How can you control emotions of anger in yourself? Here’s how:

— Suppress rarely. They may not know you’re angry but you’ll feel worse inside and hurt the relationship.
— Don’t vent. Communication is good but venting just increases anger. Distract yourself.
— Reappraisal (changing the story you’re telling yourself about the event) is usually the best option. Think to yourself, “It’s not about me. They must be having a bad day.”

Sometimes someone gets under your skin and suppression is the only thing you can do. And sometimes reappraisal can cause you to tolerate bad situations you need to get out of. But that said, telling yourself a more compassionate story about what’s going on inside the other person’s head is usually the best way to go.

And what’s the final step in getting rid of that anger over the long haul so you can maintain good relationships? Forgive. Forgiveness makes you less angry and more healthy.

(1) On interpersonal relationships at work, see also: A better way to view people and Ideas spread inside a company due to positive energy; 8 ways to increase it.
(2) On managing emotions and pressure, see: How to stay calm under immense work pressure — Charlie O’Donnell and How to stay calm under immense work pressure — Jason Lemkin.

A better way to view people

Edited excerpt from 10,000 Hours with Reid Hoffman: What I Learned by Ben Casnocha:

People are complicated and flawed. Root for their better angels.

Too often, people classify someone’s competence or character in black and white terms. He’s brilliant or he’s an idiot. She’s got a heart of gold or she’s an asshole. He’s an ethical prince or a conniving win-at-all-costs hustler. It’s an unfortunate tendency. Expertise is always relative. Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future, as Oscar Wilde said. People are complicated.

Reid Hoffman is widely known as the ultimate connector. One of his underrated gifts is that he maintains very complicated portraits of the people he knows. He appreciates the full spectrum of strengths and weaknesses of a particular person. He’ll acknowledge a friend’s character flaw — say, self-centeredness — but also their unique strengths. Flaws that cause others to completely disengage are, for Reid, “navigable” en route to their better side.

Reid forgives mistakes in his friends. If you make a mistake (or three) or if a weakness of yours gets exposed – you’re not dead to him. It’s just another data point in a rich tapestry in a long-term relationship. He’ll rarely let a single failure or shortcoming overshadow your successes or noble aspirations. And he’ll always root for your better angels to prevail. It’s no wonder his friends are so loyal to him.

It’s a philosophy that reminds me of my late friend Seth Roberts, who promoted an “appreciative” approach to life. When evaluating someone, instead of starting with their weaknesses, first ask what’s uniquely excellent about them. When evaluating a study, first ask what we can learn from it, instead of jumping to a critique of the study’s flaws. Let an appreciative point of view imbue everything you do.

(1) Implications for managers: Try to place each person in a role where their strengths have the biggest impact and their weaknesses and flaws don’t matter.
(2) Then, you can celebrate your team’s strengths and be forgiving of people’s flaws.

How to sleep better to raise your productivity

Edited excerpt from Get Better Sleep: 5 Powerful New Tips From Research by Eric Barker:

1. Avoid smartphones and devices at night. But they’re great when you’re dealing with jet lag.
2. A good nightly routine is key. No alcohol before bed, think positive thoughts, and write down worries to dismiss them.
3. Naps are awesome. Just keep them under 30 minutes. Drink a cup of coffee before you lay down.
4. Sleeping in two chunks is natural. Get up and do something for a little while and then go back to bed.
5. Your body goes through sleep cycles of 90 minutes, so plan your sleep in 90 minute blocks.

Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy. We stay up surfing the net or watching Netflix. How can we behave better? Forget the morning alarm clock; set an alarm to remind you when to go to bed.

The minimum requirements for giving effective feedback

In How to Give and Receive Feedback at Work, Buffer suggests that these are requirements for giving effective feedback:

  1. The feedback provider is credible in the eyes of the feedback recipient.
  2. The feedback provider is trusted by the feedback recipient.
  3. The feedback is conveyed with good intentions.
  4. The timing and the circumstances of giving the feedback are appropriate.
  5. The feedback is given in an interactive manner.
  6. The feedback message is clear.
  7. The feedback is helpful to the recipient.

(1) Note the stark contrast between this and the McKinsey feedback model.
(2) The McKinsey feedback model is far more powerful because it’s a fact-based framework rather than a relationship-based framework. Feedback is about “This is what I need from you to get my job done”, rather than “I’m in a trusted relationship with you, my intentions are good, I’m doing you a favor”.
(3) Bottom line: if the feedback is irrefutable, actionable and helps you get your job done, nothing else matters.
(4) Note that giving your team effective feedback is not the same as coaching them, one of Laszlo Bock’s requirements for being a good manager.

To close a gap fast, focus on the little things

Edited excerpt from Little Things by Ben Horowitz:

Andy Grove said: “I have seen far too many people who upon recognizing today’s gap try very hard to determine what decision has to be made to close it. But today’s gap represents a failure of planning some time in the past.”

If you are worried about the quarter, you might think that it’s a good idea to call your head of sales twice a day to get the status. By doing so, you might think you are creating the appropriate sense of urgency. In reality, you are just distracting her from closing the quarter twice a day.

While it’s correct to worry about the big issues, you must resist the urge to act on them directly. Before acting, you should first translate the big thing into a related set of little things.

For example, if you are worried about making the quarter, then you should go on a few sales calls and see if you are selling your product in the most effective way possible. Are your sales people properly trained? Do they run a process that puts your product in the very best light and sets appropriate traps for your competitors? Are you selling at the right level in the organization? Is your product truly competitive?

As you get the answers to these questions, you will develop more constructive little things to take action on. These little things might not help you make this quarter, but they will certainly help you make next quarter.

How to stay calm under immense work pressure — Charlie O’Donnell

Edited excerpt from How Not to Let the Crazy In by Charlie O’Donnell:

1. Take care of your physical self.

2. Consider the worst case scenarios and have a plan for them.

3. Always try to do your best work, but know and accept your limits.

4. Try to think as linearly as possible.

5. Don’t accept other people’s timelines as your own.

6. Be extremely protective of your time.

7. Get an assistant.

8. Reverse engineer the life you want to live.

9. Let other people in.

10. Get rid of the people and relationships that drain you.

(1) The only one of these that doesn’t resonate for me personally is “get an assistant”. Perhaps that’s because scheduling is far more onerous for a VC (Charlie is a VC) than for a product-centric CEO.
(2) Cf. How to stay calm under immense work pressure — Jason Lemkin.

The “incredible beauty” of mistakes

From Principles, by Ray Dalio:

I learned that everyone makes mistakes and has weaknesses and that one of the most important things that differentiates people is their approach to handling them. I learned that there is an incredible beauty to mistakes, because embedded in each mistake is a puzzle, and a gem that I could get if I solved it, i.e., a principle that I could use to reduce my mistakes in the future. I learned that each mistake was probably a reflection of something that I was (or others were) doing wrong, so if I could figure out what that was, I could learn how to be more effective. I learned that wrestling with my problems, mistakes, and weaknesses was the training that strengthened me. Also, I learned that it was the pain of this wrestling that made me and those around me appreciate our successes.

In short, I learned that being totally truthful, especially about mistakes and weaknesses, led to a rapid rate of improvement.

(1) Thank you Guy Cohen for the tip.
(2) I often say to people in Seeking Alpha: “Bad is good!”. It sounds Orwellian, but it means this: If we’re doing something badly, there’s opportunity to fix it, and opportunity for upside. If we’re doing everything perfectly, there’s no opportunity for upside. So problems and mistakes = upside potential.
(3) The key is to ascribe mistakes and problems to weaknesses in a process, not to personal failings. The mistake is therefore a gift — it exposed a weakness in your underlying process which you can now fix.
(4) Is there a psychological similarity to How to view rejection?

How to stay calm under immense work pressure — Jason Lemkin

Edited excerpt from Jason Lemkin‘s answer to How do CEO’s stay calm?:

1. You must fake it. You cannot let anyone see you look like you are losing control. Ever. Once they see that… they will lose faith.

2. You need help. Ideally, 1, 2, or 3 others on the management team that can really help carry the load. So you don’t have to worry about 1, 2 or 3 key functional areas, at least not at an execution level. If you don’t have true help carrying the load — stop. Do almost nothing else. Recruit someone.

3. You need a break. In fact, lots of them. Some way. I ran 26 miles a week, and took long walks to think. Coffee is good too, if you take it away from the office. Something. Get breaks.

4. You need someone to confide in. At least one. One person you can really share the things with that make you …un-calm. One great advisor, whoever it is.

5. Once the business is real, self-sustaining — you need to take a real vacation. Not just a trip where you email 4 hours a day. A real vacation. Honestly, it may be 4-5 years until you can do this. But once you can, it will help a lot.

(1) Jason was answering a question specifically about CEOs. But this applies to all managers.
(2) A key element of immense work pressure for managers is the burden of making decisions. So think about limiting decision fatigue.
(3) “You cannot let anyone see you look like you are losing control” — see Tony Schwartz’ advice on how to resist emotional triggers.

What makes a great employee — Cameron Purdy

Cameron Purdy‘s answer to From the perspective of a CEO, what are the most underrated skills most employees lack?:

Ownership / stewardship – the #1 attribute for someone to be valuable to a team and to an organization.

Humility / listening ability – the #1 attribute for someone to be able to grow as a person, as a team member, and potentially as a leader.

(1) Re. ownership / stewardship: key factors (in my experience) are taking responsibility for results, ability to recognize when things aren’t working, willingness to ask for help.
(2) Re. humility / listening ability: the most important advice I give VPs in Seeking Alpha is “Ask questions more”. This is particularly true in 1:1s with me. “Perhaps you don’t ask questions enough because you feel a need to demonstrate how competent you are. Understand that I have faith in you. I’ve given you a position of responsibility (= ownership). I’m rooting for you to succeed. You have nothing to prove in conversations with me. (Your success is defined by your metrics.) So there’s no need to tell me stuff. Get from me whatever you can so you’ll be more successful. You can only do that if you ask questions and share your problems.”
(3) There are three areas where VPs should ask their CEO questions: (i) Have I understood my goals correctly? (ii) Have I understood your input correctly? (iii) Can you help me solve my problems and achieve my goals?
(4) Companies mirror their founders. If your VPs don’t ask enough questions and listen to you enough, that suggests you don’t ask them enough questions and listen to them enough.
(5) Thank you Persha Valman for the tip.

How to learn from other people’s experience and knowledge

From My First $100K in Monthly Revenue: An Interview With Hiten Shah by Alex Turnbull:

I’ll never forget one time when I was struggling for weeks with a specific product design challenge; it was a boring one, but there was a UX issue that was causing a lot of friction for our users. I had our design team try everything I could think of to make the interaction smoother. But no matter what we did, nothing really helped all that much.

One day, I was having lunch with a friend and I was telling him about the issue we were having. “Yeah, we went through the same thing”, he said. “As soon as we tried [simple but non-obvious fix], it went away.” We built and pushed my friend’s simple fix that afternoon, and just like that, the problem was solved.

That was when I truly internalized something that seems pretty obvious (though I had largely ignored it before): I am not special. Every single challenge that I’ve had has been solved before, and it’s exponentially easier and more efficient to start with those solutions and adapt them to my business, than it is to start from scratch each time. That was when I started reading every business book and blog I could get my hands on, and taking every meeting I could to learn from people smarter, more experienced and further along in their careers than I am.

(1) Cf. Should you blog (or tweet)?

How to get stuff done

I apologize for this being an atypical post — it’s long, and rather than being a quote from someone else, it’s my own. The background is this. In the notes on the excerpt about the problems with collaboration, I referenced a doc I’d written called How to get stuff done in Seeking Alpha. A few readers asked for the doc, so here it is:


Be clear about what you need to get done

  • People who get stuff done have a clear agenda. Your agenda flows from your (or your team’s) goal and key metric. What do you need to get done to achieve your goal and amazing success in your key metric?
  • You can rarely get multiple things done at once (unless you manage other people and can delegate goals and responsibilities to them). So prioritization is key. People who get stuff done always know their top priorities at any given moment. You shouldn’t have more than 3 top priorities at any time, and you should know them without having to write them down. (Though writing them down for yourself can help you to clarify and focus on them.)
  • A checklist of questions to ask yourself: (1) In what way does this help me to achieve my goal and metric? (2) Why is this one of my top three priorities?

Go for quick wins

  • A “Quick Win” is a small project you can get done fast which leads to tangible results.
  • Quick wins are crucial because you learn from successes, not from failures. When you achieve a quick win, your added knowledge changes your perspective, and opens up new opportunities. Since the biggest goal of a startup is to “figure things out”, quick wins are the fastest way to do that as they allow you to learn the fastest.
  • Quick wins are also crucial for motivation. People are motivated by making progress in meaningful work. Quick wins are the best way to achieve that.
  • Practical advice: Suppose you’re choosing between a project with a low probability of success but a big impact if it’s successful, and a project with a high probability of success but a smaller impact if it’s successful. Always go for the project with the highest probability of success, not the project with the highest probability weighted outcome.

Don’t let small projects become large projects before they launch

  • It’s very tempting when you have a good idea to think about all the great opportunities or features that would make it truly amazing. You can find yourself turning a small project into a large project before it’s launched.
  • The problem with this is that large projects almost always have a lower probability of success than small projects, because they’re more complex. So the more you add to a project, the weaker the case becomes for pursuing it. (That’s because you should always go for projects with the highest probability of success, not not the project with the highest probability weighted outcome.) So you can find that when you add to a project, it becomes so large that you then don’t do it. In Seeking Alpha, we call this bloat and burn. You bloated the project, and then it got burned up because it was too large a commitment.
  • The other reason not to bloat projects is that you succeed most by getting things “out there” and then learning from them. If you add extra features before a project launches, you might find that those features weren’t necessary, or weren’t the most important ones to add.
  • So the key question to ask yourself is: What’s the minimum necessary to get this project or product launched? In lean startup terminology, this is called minimum viable product, or MVP. But it doesn’t only apply to products; it also applies to projects.

Maximize what you can get done on your own

  • You have most power over your own actions. Anything which requires collaboration with other people is harder to get done and the outcome is less certain. So maximize the number of things which you can get done without involving other people. You always want to be running a sprint on your own, rather than the “three-legged race” with someone else.
  • If you find you’re dependent on other people to get stuff done, ask yourself how you can decouple yourself from them. What do you need to be able to work independently of them? It’s always better to eliminate the need for collaboration altogether than to figure out how to collaborate well.

Before you ask for help from others, get as far along as possible on your own

  • It’s easier to achieve things which don’t require help from others. So even when you know you’ll need someone else’s help or input, first get as much done as you can on your own.
  • People in SA are amazing collaborators. They’re happy to help other people, even if doing so means spending time on things which don’t further their own goals and metrics. But you shouldn’t expect people to help you before you’ve done your own work.
  • So before you ask someone else for help with something, make sure you’ve thought through the issues carefully, have written down as much as you can (see below), and have got as far as you can on your own.
  • Showing that you’ve put meaningful work into the issue before you ask for help not only means you get more done faster, but it also generates goodwill from people whose help you’re asking for. When they see hard evidence of the time, effort and thought that you have put into the issue before you asked for their help, they’ll respect you and will take the issue more seriously. They’ll be more likely to give you the help you need.

Identify the key person you need to collaborate with, and don’t involve anyone else

  • Minimize the number of people you need to collaborate with. It’s enough to run the three-legged race; don’t make it the four-legged race or the five-legged race unnecessarily.
  • So if you need to collaborate with other people, think about the one person you most need to help you. Concentrate on them before you involve anyone else.

Be explicit about what you need from people

  • When you ask someone for help, your goal is to make it as easy as possible for them to help you.
  • Be as explicit as possible about the deliverables you’re requesting from them. They can’t help you if they don’t know exactly what you want from them.

Minimize your “ask” of other people’s time

  • Ask yourself: “What’s the smallest amount of time I need from this person to get this done?” And then keep your ask to that minimum. So, for example, if you need someone to update your team, don’t ask them to attend your entire team meeting if they are only adding value for a fraction of that time. Ask them to come for five minutes, deliver exactly what you need them to deliver to your team, and then they can leave.
  • Great people have short meetings and short phone calls, and write short emails, because they respect other’s time.
    Bundles are always less efficient and less focused. So try to keep phone calls, emails, meetings and documents to a single topic.
  • Meetings become exponentially less effective the more people are in them. The optimal number of people in a meeting is two. If you have to collaborate with more than one person, try to do one on one meetings or phone calls with each of them instead of a group discussion, because it’s more time efficient for them and therefore more respectful of their time. (One on one conversations will also probably be more effective for you.) Then, if you need to, circle back and tell them the results of all your conversations.
  • Avoid multi-people conference calls. They’re highly inefficient, so it’s not fair to invite people to them. Most people end up doing email while they’re dialed into a conference call.

Write it down

  • Documenting things helps you to think them through. Often, before you write something down, you think you’ve thought something through. And then you start writing, and lots of questions emerge that you hadn’t thought of. Writing things down is an amazing tool for achieving clarity.
  • Writing things down also makes collaboration easier. Other people can read and reread a written document and think about the issues. In contrast, in person or phone conversations force people to react immediately without having time to consider the issues carefully. (In Amazon, every strategy meeting starts with time to read a paper on the topic prepared by the “owner”.)
  • Sharing written materials is particularly important when you’re working with people in different time zones. They can read the document and think about it while you’re asleep, and get back to you in time for the start of your next day. Unlike a phone discussion, sharing something in written form doesn’t require that both parties be working at the same moment.
  • Sharing a high-quality written document with others shows them that you’ve put the work in yourself.
  • Google docs are easier to comment on than emails, are easier to format, and don’t get lost in people’s inboxes. Emails are more direct, and can get someone’s attention fast.

Tips for writing emails to get things done

  • When you send an email to someone, the goal of your email is to make it as easy as possible for them to help you. So before you send the email, make sure you know exactly what you need from them, and keep your email laser focused on that.
  • Try to avoid CCing people. If you really need something from someone, they should be in the “To” line, and you should write their name at the beginning of the email so there’s no doubt that the email is meant for them. If someone is only important enough to appear in the CC line, ask yourself whether they should be copied on the email at all. If you still want to include someone in the CC line, explain at the beginning of your email why you’ve CCd them.
  • There’s no need to CC your manager on emails. You should update your manager about your progress on key projects in a one-on-one, not by CCing your manager on emails you write to other people.
  • Subject line: put thought into the subject line to make it as effective as possible. The goal of the subject line is to help the recipient understand exactly what’s being asked of them. So be explicit about the topic, and where possible, your request of them. For this reason, don’t forward emails with a subject line which is unhelpful to the person you’re forwarding it to. Edit the subject line for them.
  • Be explicit as you can in the email about what you need from the other person. You can even use phrases like “Action item for you:…”. What exactly do you need them to do, and why?
  • Don’t make the recipient of your email read a thread. It’s extra work for them — and your goal is to make it as easy as possible for them to help you.
  • Keep your emails as short as possible.
  • Put time into drafting your emails carefully. Read over each email before you send it, and ask yourself whether it’s clear, and whether there’s anything non-essential you can cut out.
  • Emails have advantages over phone calls: you can draft emails more carefully, the recipient can read them multiple times to ensure they’ve understood the email, and they enable people in different time zones to progress rapidly without requiring both people to be online together. Phone calls also have advantages: they are more personal, are better suited for anything emotional or sensitive, and can be more effective for eliminating misunderstandings. Sometimes the best approach is to use both, particularly if you keep your emails and phone calls short.

Think big

Edited excerpt from How To Be Successful: 6 New Shortcuts Backed By Research by Eric Barker:

“It’s easier to make something 10 times better than to make something 10% better” — Astro Teller, head of Google X.

When you try to make something 10% better, your brain is burdened with all the baggage that came before. You have no room to maneuver. When you say 10 times better, you have to reinvent the whole process. It makes you think big.

If you’re aiming for 10% improvement you are going to work within the conventional bounds of what normally happens in your product or industry. If you say that this has to be 10 times better, then it forces you to get down to the first principle of what is most essential. This is a way to force reinvention, which is really what innovation is.

Perhaps most importantly, when you think 10x instead of 10%, you behave differently. Research shows when you set bolder, more audacious goals you work harder than when you’re reasonable. Subconsciously, we actually push ourselves harder when we’re going after bigger, loftier, harder goals. Research shows people who set higher goals end up outperforming their peers or themselves because they push themselves harder or because they force themselves to find more creative, alternative, unconventional solutions to problems.

Don’t try to learn from failure

Excerpt (edited) from You Can’t Learn from Failure, You Can Only Learn from Success by Jerry Neuman:

Any complicated system is too complicated to learn from failure. Yes, you can learn a few tricks, like: “don’t spend all your money on fancy chairs” or “don’t hire your college drinking buddies as EVPs of Business Development.” But all you can learn from failure is to avoid that particular kind of failure. And so what? There are too many other kinds of failure for that to make any difference. You need to learn from success. You should be spending your time trying to learn from success.

The successful entrepreneurs I have known have had the ability to look at a failure, any failure, and pull out the couple of things that were done right. These are what they focused on.

If you’re going to learn from failure you need to learn how to avoid every possible way you can fail. It’s a waste of your time. You only need to learn one way to succeed.

Why you should take a walk at 3pm

From Why You Should Seek Quiet Every Day by Herbert Lui:

Every day at around 3PM, my brain gets weary. I’ve tried numerous techniques to counter this challenge:

– Coffee (especially when McDonald’s was giving away free smalls)
– Splashing cold water on my face
– Wandering around online
– Snacking

Yet I’ve found one technique to be the most effective: going for a walk. The longest stroll I’ve taken is around 10 minutes, and I just wander around the block.

Limiting decision fatigue

From How Barack Obama Gets Things Done by Sean Blanda:

“I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing,” he told Michael Lewis. “Because I have too many other decisions to make.”

From Wikipedia:

In decision making and psychology, decision fatigue refers to the deteriorating quality of decisions made by an individual, after a long session of decision making. It is now understood as one of the causes of irrational trade-offs in decision making. For instance, judges in court have been shown to make less favorable decisions later in the day than early in the day. Decision fatigue may also lead to consumers making poor choices with their purchases.

Note: This is one of the reasons why it’s important to delegate goals, not tasks. You can’t make decisions for everyone in your company.

Is this better than taking notes?

From The 30 second habit with a lifelong impact by Robyn Scott:

If you only do one thing, do this: Immediately after every lecture, meeting, or any significant experience, take 30 seconds — no more, no less — to write down the most important points.

I’ve been trying it out for a few months. Here’s what I’ve found so far:
– It’s not note taking
– It’s hard work
– Detail is a trap
– You must act quickly
– You learn to listen better, and ask better questions
– You’re able to help others more
– It gets easier and more valuable

Thank you Daniel Reidler for the tip.

Using exhaustive lists to get unstuck

From Exhaustive lists as a reliable tool for unsticking yourself by Seth Godin:

When in doubt, or when it’s just not good enough, make an exhaustive list.

– Every successful product in this category that you’ve ever used, and why
– Every reason your current project might not work
– Every reason you can think of to use what you’ve made

The challenge of every is that it’s exhausting. You have to go to the edges, and that act, the act of going beyond the obvious, is where innovation lies.

(1) Making an exhaustive list requires you to write things down; that in itself increases clarity.
(2) Seth Godin’s posts show how you can say much with few words, if you have extreme clarity about the topic or issue.


From Confidence is a choice, not a symptom by Seth Godin:

It’s easy to feel confident when we’re on a roll, when the cards are going our way, or we’re closing sales right and left. This symptomatic confidence, one built on a recent series of successes, isn’t particularly difficult to accomplish or useful.

Effective confidence comes from within, it’s not the result of external events. The confident salesperson is likely to close more sales. The confident violinist expresses more of the music. The confident leader points us to the places we want (and need) to go.

You succeed because you’ve chosen to be confident.

But how do you get confidence “from within”? Is it as simple as making a choice to be confident? For me, confidence comes from thinking deeply about what we’re trying to achieve, and why that will benefit people. When you really believe in your vision, you’re confident — even when times are tough — that you’ll succeed.

Embracing constraints

From Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler:

In starting our outbound sales team, we didn’t get a budget for my project beyond my own compensation. In fact, looking back, if I had had a big budget or a bunch of people to tell what to do, I wouldn’t have been forced to get so creative in solving the problem of how to predictably generate new pipeline for the sales organization.

(1) In other words: We often think constraints restrict our opportunities. But in fact constraints drive creativity.
(2) Other examples:
– In  team meetings he runs, HP manager Simon Lewis restricts the time allotted for each person’s update to one minute.
– Our managers have to write a monthly report which is capped at one page, forcing them to focus on what’s most important.
– Like Aaron Ross’s experience above, when we’ve adopted a tighter budget, we’ve often been more successful.
– There are extreme constraints in mobile app design which have likely produced better user experiences than on the web.

How to manage your energy

From 70% of Time Could Be Used Better by Bill Trenchard:

Not too long ago, the average human used to walk 12 miles a day. Now we sit. We sit a lot. We sit so much. It’s so bad for us that Harvard Business Review has called it the smoking of our generation. If you work in tech, you average 9.3 hours sitting every day. This is more than you sleep. As people, we’re meant to move. It’s vital to our health, but also our ability to be effective. Here are three quick hacks in this department:

1. The seven-minute workout. It’s scientifically proven. The New York Times has spoken. You do 12 exercises in seven minutes and it works.

2. Take walking meetings. Almost everyone has one-on-one meetings. Suggest taking a walk instead of sitting in a conference room or a coffee shop.

2. Ask for a standing desk. Most offices now accommodate these requests. They’ve been proven to reduce risks of heart disease and cancer and boost mood and alertness. And if you’re really committed to daily movement, try a walking desk.

How to view rejection

From If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enough by Chris Dixon:

One of the great things about looking for a job is that your “payoff” is almost always a max function (the best of all attempts), not an average. This is also generally true for raising VC financing, doing bizdev partnerships, hiring programmers, finding good advisors/mentors, even blogging and marketing.  I probably got rejected by someone once a day last week alone. In one case a friend who tried to help called me to console me. He seemed surprised when I told him: “no worries – this is a daily occurrence – we’ll just keep trying.”  If you aren’t getting rejected on a daily basis, your goals aren’t ambitious enough.

On which Nivi commented:

People that reject me are doing me a favor. They’re not rejecting me or my product. They’re rejecting the combination of me and them together. They’re telling me we would have a bad relationship. And they’re probably right.

Don’t lie

Excerpts from The Surprisingly Large Cost of Telling Small Lies by Rebekah Campbell:

Recently, I caught up with one of our angel investors for lunch: Peter. “The secret to success in business and in life is to never, ever, ever tell a lie,” he said.

study by the University of Massachusetts found that 60 percent of adults could not have a 10-minute conversation without lying at least once.

Peter has invested in hundreds of businesses. Every time he sees a pitch, he waits until the end of the presentation before asking the entrepreneurs to go back through the deck and point out every lie they have just told.

Peter maintains that telling lies is the No. 1 reason entrepreneurs fail. Not because telling lies makes you a bad person but because the act of lying plucks you from the present, preventing you from facing what is really going on in your world. Every time you overreport a metric, underreport a cost, are less than honest with a client or a member of your team, you create a false reality and you start living in it.

(Thanks Yigal Grayeff for the tip.)

How to say “no” gracefully

Excerpt from Greg McKeown:

There are three steps to it:

Step 1: Affirm the relationship. e.g. “It really is good to hear from you.”

Step 2: Thank the person sincerely for the opportunity. e.g. Thank you ever so much for thinking of me! It sounds like such a brilliant project. I am complimented that you thought of me.”

Step 3: Decline firmly and politely. e.g.For several reasons I need to pass on this at the moment.

Genuine praise

From Scott Adams, the famous creator of Dilbert, in How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big:

Children are accustomed to a continual stream of criticisms and praise, but adults can go weeks without a compliment while enduring criticism both at work and at home. Adults are starved for a kind word. When you understand the power of honest praise (as opposed to bullshitting, flattery, and sucking up), you realize that withholding it borders on immoral. If you see something that impresses you, a decent respect to humanity insists you voice your praise.

Explode in frustration or withdraw? How to resist emotional triggers

Excerpted from Tony Schwartz:

We have all experienced a “trigger” — the feeling of being pushed into a negative emotion by something that someone says or does. A trigger is actually a perceived threat, and it prompts a physiological shift that we know as “fight or flight.” …Fight and flight are equally dysfunctional the vast majority of the time.

The first key to managing triggers is to become aware, sooner, when they begin to arise. The signs are usually physical: a flushing in the face, a tightening in the chest, a rising heartbeat, the desire to strike out or withdraw.

Whichever one you’re compelled to do, don’t. If you’re a fighter, step back. If you tend to flee, stay engaged.

You can’t think logically once you’re in fight or flight, so instead focus on quieting your physiology. Take a few deep breaths, in through your nose to a count of three, out through your mouth to a count of six. Feel your feet, to ground yourself. As your body calms down, your emotions will follow suit and your mind will begin to clear.

Once I get my wits about me, I’ve found two sorts of reflection help most. “What part of this is my responsibility?” [and] “Who is the person I want to be in this situation?” Or even more specifically, “How would I behave here at my best?”

How to give feedback – the McKinsey feedback model

From Working With McKinsey (via Robert Lakin):

The McKinsey Feedback Model is the approach the Firm recommends for delivering feedback… The intent of the model is to make the feedback:

  • Specific
  • Fact-based
  • Less personal
  • Irrefutable
  • Actionable

Recommended format for structured feedback: “When you did [X], it made me feel [Y]. In the future, I would recommend that you do [Z]”

Why we reference specific, observable actions: The more specific the example, the more vivid and memorable the feedback. Being fact-based keeps the feedback from feeling too personal to the recipient. The first part is incontrovertible, as long as you remembered and communicated it correctly.

Why we include how it made us feel: Explaining how the recipient’s action made you feel [Y] is also unarguable – your feelings and reactions are your own and no one can deny them. The intent of the first two steps is to set the stage for giving the recommendation without getting derailed by debating the context.

Why suggestions have to be specific and actionable: The point of providing feedback is so that we can improve. If someone receives feedback that is too vague or beyond their control, it does nothing to help them do better the next time. Feedback should be provided in such a way that if the feedback recipient does what you recommend, it will solve the problem and prevent [X] and [Y] from occurring again.

Example:  “When you checked in on my progress every 10 minutes, it made me feel like you didn’t trust me to complete the project and I couldn’t maintain my focus on the task. In the future, I would suggest we agree upon specific milestones and check-in points to ensure the project will be completed on time.”

Can you be a great business leader if you’re lazy?

Ben Breen quotes Von Hammerstein-Equord:

I divide my officers into four groups. There are clever, diligent, stupid, and lazy officers. Usually two characteristics are combined. Some are clever and diligent — their place is the General Staff. The next lot are stupid and lazy — they make up 90 percent of every army and are suited to routine duties. Anyone who is both clever and lazy is qualified for the highest leadership duties, because he possesses the intellectual clarity and the composure necessary for difficult decisions. One must beware of anyone who is stupid and diligent — he must not be entrusted with any responsibility because he will always cause only mischief.

Ben then argues that clever and lazy people make good modern business leaders because they:

  • insist on taking the time and space required to create, and to find new ways forward;
  • are natural delegators;
  • are always looking for simpler, easier ways to do things;
  • focus on the essentials, and despise ‘busywork’;

But perhaps a better description than “lazy” would be “always looking for scalable solutions which reduce brute labor and complexity”. My experience is that finding those solutions requires hard work.

Ideas spread inside a company due to positive energy; 8 ways to increase it

Eric Barker, arguing that Positive energy leads to innovation, lists the following ways to increase it:

  1. At work, make time to connect with others as people
  2. Do what you say you’re going to do
  3. Make it bigger than your wants
  4. Acknowledge the positives, not just the problems
  5. Criticize ideas, not people
  6. Be visibly and sincerely enthusiastic
  7. Looks for ways to allow others to contribute
  8. Don’t let your expertise make others feel inferior