Don’t let a poor communicator hold you back

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A core aspect of management is communication. So of course, most managers find a way to screw it up. They hold back important feedback. They fail to provide a meaningful vision or strategy. And they struggle to communicate expectations, setting people up for failure. Instead of helping people grow, they let them stagnate.

Lou Solomon, writing for Harvard Business Review, reported that 69% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with their employees. The biggest surprise about this statistic is how low it is.

Over two-thirds of managers, likely well-paid and well-trained professionals, are uncomfortable with an essential part of their jobs.

I’m Hoping You Can Learn from My Mistakes

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I turned 38 years-old today. Looking back on a myriad of past mistakes and bad decisions, here’s my birthday present to anyone interested — 38 lessons that I wish I’d learned much earlier in life.

  1. We almost always know what we should do to get what we want. We just rarely do it. We don’t want to pay the price. Recognize that there’s always a sacrifice that comes with achieving something of significance.
  2. Trying to keep score in a relationship is a recipe for disappointment.
  3. Action isn’t just the effect of motivation…

The quicker you can spot them, the easier you can avoid them.

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No company openly tells you that they have a toxic culture. They don’t advertise that their employees are unmotivated, their customers are dissatisfied, or their leadership has less trust than Ellen DeGeneres.

And yet you need to know this. In today’s world, culture remains our best sustainable advantage. Others can copy a service or reverse-engineer a product. But few can replicate a high-performing culture.

If you’re evaluating a prospective employer, considering a new supplier, or deciding on a potential merger, you need to understand a company’s culture. Or you’ll end up living with the results.

While few companies actively advertise…

Key behaviors to differentiate yourself from the pack

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“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great,” wrote Jim Collins. It’s not difficult to be a good employee. Follow instructions and do what you’re told. Show up on time and answer the mail. The world is full of good employees and it’s why we have so few great ones. People settle for good and stop there.

Yet today’s good is tomorrow’s mediocre. And companies are learning that organizing around the average continues to be more expensive and a poor strategy for differentiation. Trying to find…

To be or to do? What will you choose?

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My cousin told me that she’s an influencer now. She’s 19, unemployed, and I wouldn’t trust her to babysit my dog for a night. I’d link to her Instagram account, but I can’t in good conscience suggest that anyone takes her advice. On anything.

When I asked her how she was going to become influential, she gave me an odd look. As though I didn’t get it. Apparently, she’s going to post videos to TikTok, make comments on Instagram, and the money will start rolling in.

Maybe they will. I won’t…

Don’t Let a Lazy Coworker Bring You Down

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“There’s nothing more unequal than the equal treatment of unequal people,” said Thomas Jefferson. While not his intent, Jefferson’s words help articulate why it’s so frustrating to work with a slacker. You work hard all day while your coworker goofs off and forces the rest of the team to cover for him. It’s demoralizing to feel as though you’re working much harder than the person next to you. It’s hard not to resent a situation where you’re toiling away while your coworker spends the afternoon on social media.

Left unchecked, slackers bring…

Because Great Leaders Ask Great Questions

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“The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge,” said Thomas Berger, echoing Claude Levi-Strauss’s words, “The wise man doesn’t give the right answers, he poses the right questions.” As change becomes more prevalent, and disruption becomes the norm, the ability to ask good questions is a hallmark of strong leadership. It helps challenge past assumptions, focuses strategic priorities, and uncovers the biases that blind us to future risk.

If Rumsfeld was better at asking questions, he wouldn’t have had to worry so much about his unknown unknowns.

Yet posing…

Because Problems Never Get Better on Their Own

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Blaise Pascal attributed our problems to our “inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” I tend to believe that the far bigger culprit is our unwillingness to have difficult conversations.

We don’t consider difficult conversations to be a skill. We don’t train people to handle them. We just assume everyone should be able to figure it out. You know where this is going — they rarely do. Instead of dealing with issues head on, they try to avoid them.

I tend to think that people don’t hold these conversations because they…

Dial Up the Awkward at Work and Stay Safe in the Office

Tucker Carlson doesn’t need a vaccine. He learned a key lesson early in the pandemic: you don’t need to worry about social distancing if no one wants to be around you.

While the rest of us worried about keeping people six feet away, Carlson found a much more elegant solution — repulse everyone and they’ll stay much farther than that. You don’t need to worry about airborne contamination if no one wants to talk to you. Masks have nothing on that.

It’s not just Tucker Carlson. Pick your…

It’s the Only Way to Make an Impact.

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In 2007, a Nebraska senator tried to sue God. He was seeking restitution for the “widespread death, destruction, and terrorization of millions upon millions of Earth’s inhabitants.” The court eventually threw out the lawsuit as they couldn’t deliver a subpoena to God, not knowing his address.

At some point in life, we all learn one brutal truth — we can’t control many of the things that happen to us. At that point, we all have the same choice. We can acknowledge this and focus on what we can control. Or we can…

Jake Wilder

Writing helps me realize just how little I know.

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