IESE Business School Professors Mireia Gine, Yago de la Cierva, Mike Rosenberg, Mireia de las Heras and Javier Diaz-Gimenez share 5 important business trends for 2020.

What are the Business Trends for 2020?

  • Purpose is on the boardroom agenda, it is no longer sufficient to “turn a profit”
  • Social Intelligence is the key type of intelligence
  • Work and life integration will become more important to attract and retain talent
  • Consistency is the most important element of leadership.
  • GDP becoming obsolete as a measure of overall economic activity, we need to include sustainability over the long term into our measure.

Great leaders have high levels of self awareness. One element of self awareness is a good understanding of how human beings differ in terms of personality. The big 5 personality traits can be remembered with the acronym OCEAN.


Trait descriptions and impact on job performance.

  • Opennessinventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious; Openness is positively related to proactivity at the individual and the organizational levels and is negatively related to team and organizational proficiency.
  • Conscientiousnessefficient/organised vs. easy-going/careless; Conscientiousness is positively related to all forms of work role performance.
  • Extroversionoutgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved; Extraversion is negatively related to individual task proficiency.
  • Agreeablenessfriendly/compassionate vs. challenging/detached; Agreeableness is negatively related to individual task proactivity.
  • Neuroticism sensitive/nervous vs. secure/confident; Neuroticism is negatively related to all forms of work role performance.
Personality Test

If you want to get a quick analysis of your own levels on each of these traits, Cambridge University provide a 3 minute test: Mini-IPIP Big 5 Personality Test

Do you want to know what I am?

Conor’s Big 5 Personality Traits

Here are my results from the Cambridge University test taken 2 December 2019.

Understanding Personality: The 12 Jungian Archetypes

How to begin vlogging on YouTube

This is based on my last 5 years of youtubing (now at 185,000 subscribers, over 17M video views) and over 11 years of maintaining a regular blog here at My advice to you…  point 5 is by far the single most important tip.

8 Tips for Vlogging Success

  1. Do it with a primary intent to learn and build connections… Do not do it with the intent to make money, to sell… 
  2. Be yourself and have an opinion; don’t be brochureware; blog as yourself, not your position or role: CEO, entrepreneur or professor.
  3. Share what you are learning, not what you are an expert in (if you are an expert, share the expertise where it will get you more credibility – Forbes, HBS, IESE, etc)
  4. Get a notebook and add video ideas everyday… every story, every question, every quote that strikes you as interesting should go into this notebook.  I use Evernote to capture these ideas as it is both on my iPhone and my Mac. I often get ideas when running and can quickly add a note (while I run… If I wait I will forget the idea).  Lists are a good structure for my videos – 3 ways to improve X, 4 ways to identify Y.
  5. Become consistent… all successful YouTube channels have a consistent publishing routine – weekly, bi-weekly (most effective for channel growth), etc.  Best to share once a week, than to upload 3-6 at a time.  Often I get the video camera set up and hit record… and wait for a few seconds or minutes for an idea to come… Once the camera is recording, you are going to make something.  Don’t wait until you are 100% clear on the video idea before you hit record.  You can always delete and re-do.  Publishing a bad video makes next week easier… publishing a video you think is excellent makes next video harder…  Consistence is much, much more important than one excellent video.
  6. Use the camera that you have now… an iphone is excellent. For youtube Audio is much, much more important than video quality – so become expert in audio before investing massively in video cameras.  First purchase beyond mobile phone should be lavalier microphone and quality audio recorder. Here is the kit that I use
  7. The most important metric (to get YouTube algorithm proactively supporting your channel) is Watch Time in first 48 hours – build an email distribution list and generate views in the first day after publishing.  Watch time is total time of viewing… a few viewers watching the whole video is more important than hundreds who only view the first 20-30 seconds
  8. Switching on advertising on your videos seems to give them a boost…. I don’t fully understand this phenomenon but I have seen that when I allow advertising on old videos they get a renewed boost from YouTube. I switch on ads once videos have been online for 6-8 weeks. No data to support this… but there is something happening here.

If you liked this post, you will also like 13 Ideas if you are thinking about blogging and How to get paid to Speak. Also you might sign up for my 10 week Speaking As a Leader program to get practice and tips.

Shoshin (初心) is a word from Zen Buddhism meaning “beginner’s mind.” It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner would.

“Sometimes, what you already know gets in the way of what you need to Learn”

George Gan

One of the hardest challenges I face as a teacher of successful leaders is their own knowledge, and confidence in their own knowledge. I spend quite some time at the beginning of a program developing an agreement between myself and the participants about how we remain open to risk, to attempt, to iterate drafts rather than aim for perfection. When I only have 1 hour, it is hard to convey this attitude to learning… and I often lose a couple of smart people because I go too quickly into something that they cannot see how it is immediately relevant to their current situation and challenges.

If you are a teacher, how do you help students open their minds to new ideas? How do you help leaders raise their own awareness?

If you liked this post, you will also like The Wheelbarrow Story and The Art of Learning: Attention without Judgement

There are 3 reasons why a human being makes a change in their habits. If you want to effect a change in your life, or help another with a change that they say they want to make in their life – there are 3 levers that can increase the likelihood that change happens.

The 3 Reasons we Change

  1. Pain – When my perception of current pain is visceral, then I will make the effort required to change. Someone can be in great pain but be unaware of the degree to which they are suffering. If I help myself or other become fully aware of the current pain, change can begin.
  2. Vision – When I can see with extreme clarity where I want to get to, it is more likely that changes will happen. If I have a vague sense of where I want to go, nothing will change. As I make that vision clearer and clearer, more and more believable… change will begin to happen.
  3. Fear of Future Consequences – When I can see the future pain that is coming if I do not change, and I feel it viscerally as if it was a current pain, change can begin to happen. Often I know that there are future consequences, but I haven’t truly taken the time to visualise and feel how bad it will be.

If you want someone to change, including yourself, don’t tell them what to do. Help them feel the current pain, see clearly the vision or feel the future consequences. This is how we help change happen.

Marketing has changed greatly over the last 100 years. The ideas of Sigmund Freud about self and our identity have shifted how marketers persuade us to buy.

As we watch the rise of populist political movements around the world, I wanted to reflect on how political “marketing” has evolved.

In the first half of the twentieth century, politics was very much class oriented. As we moved to the later half of the century, politics became increasingly individual oriented… the question “what’s in it for me?” became key from each voter.

We moved from politics of ideals to politics of WIIFM.

Are we now moving to the politics of “WAYA”… Who Are You Against?

The idea of a self and what it is to be a complete individual are recent. Freud rejected the rationalist idea that human beings act with reason… emotion and unconscious desire have great power in moving us toward action. These forces are amplified when we act as part of a crowd.

Marketing in the late 1800s was entirely based on explaining the features of any product. Soap = it cleans better. Car = it starts easily.

In the early 1920s the ideas of Freud shifted marketing away from product explanation to telling you what type of person you would be if you bought the product. Products were no longer sold to meet needs, but as a way of showing the type of person you were. Cars were not sold for the power of the engine, but what type of man would drive a car like this.

The documentary The Century of the Self follows the journey of persuasion from the beginning to the end of the 20th century.

Documentary: The Century of the Self

This is a 4 part documentary that I watched on my travels home from USA to Barcelona over the last couple of days.

  • Part 1: Happiness Machines
  • Part 2: The Engineering of Consent
  • Part 3: There is a Policeman inside our heads, and he must be destroyed
  • Part 4: Eight people sipping wine in Kettering

Part 1: Happiness Machines

This episode introduces Sigmund Freud and how his ideas about the self and the unconscious were used by politicians and corporations in the 1920s to develop a new emotion & identity based marketing.

Part 2: The Engineering of Consent

Post World War II, politicians in the west sought to use Freudian ideas to control the destructive urges of “the masses” that had been released by the Nazi system in Germany.

Part 3: There is a Policeman inside our heads, and he must be destroyed

In the 1960s there was a push back against the repression of the unconscious. Movements in the US sought to free the individual from the constraints and repression of society. The individual needs to transcend society’s expectations to create a unique person who is fully “myself”.

Part 4: Eight people sipping wine in Kettering

Politics in US and UK in the 1980s and 1990s started to use the tools of business marketing to get closer to their electorates. Focus groups and surveys were increasingly used to “market test” speeches and political policies. Tony Blair was the epitome of this approach to politics, where every view or statement was tested on voters.

Thank you as always to my good friend Arnaud for regularly sharing books, podcasts and documentaries that help me learn.

What documentaries or podcasts have helped you take new perspectives? What would you recommend me to watch, listen or read?

The most important part of leadership?

Ensuring that the team, the organisation, the institution, the vision and mission can live on after you.

It is hard to let go of the ego part of you that enjoys being “needed”. It is difficult to accept that there needs to be a future beyond you. If an empire cannot go on beyond the ruler, this was not a great ruler.

Alexander the Great… was great at conquering and winning battles… but so totally failed to prepare for life beyond him that his children were murdered soon after his death and his five generals spent the rest of their lives fighting over the succession to his empire.

Will my organisation live on beyond my time as leader? I hope so…

Will your organisation live one beyond you?

Jobs you love are not “found”, they are created… over years of committed, generous, selfless service.

It doesn’t mean you have to “do your time”. It doesn’t mean that you wait and assume that it will come. It means you have to have the patience to find a place where you can be of service and commit to give of your best. Find a trustworthy organisation and trustworthy mentors and be a hero.

Who are you being a hero to?

(note, this is never accidental)

Check out point 2 on Mark Suster’s commencement speech “Crossroads”: Two: The World Works on a Pull Model

All of the greatest opportunities in my life came to me through people that I had served.

The 3 areas you can mess up if you are to fail at Leading yourself and others:

  1. Relationships
  2. Self Awareness
  3. Openness to Change

Check out the video below to understand what it means to not mess up on relationships, self awareness and openness to change.

What is Leadership?

An effective leader is a person who:

  1. Creates an Inspiring Vision.
  2. Motivates People towards the Vision.
  3. Executes on the Vision.
  4. Builds a team to Achieve the Vision.

Read about how to do each of these 4 steps: What is Leadership?

If you liked this post, you will also like A truly compelling vision and 17 Personal Habits for a Fulfilling Life.

Managers and Leader are very different animals.

Management is about Control.

Management controls 1 of 3 things:

  1. Quality
  2. Time
  3. Money

Management is always about tradeoffs. If you want quality, you have to sacrifice time or money. If you want fast, you have to sacrifice quality or money. If you want cheap, you have to sacrifice quality or time.

Leadership is about People

If you push people, you don’t know which way they will go. If you use your power to tell them how to act, you will create a push back.

If you can learn to pull people, they will follow.

Power comes when people freely give you their support.

If you take that power and reflect it all back to them, they give you more. If you use the power for yourself, they give you less power. If you give people back the power that they entrust to you, more and more comes to you. You get to use this power for a Just Cause, something bigger than yourself, a Vision of a better world for all of us.

“Leadership is the most valuable commodity on the planet and it is the rarest commodity we have”

Bob Davids