Over on the Inc blog there is an article titled 20 Executives Share Lessons They Wish They Could Have Told Their Younger Selves.  I share my top 4 from the full list, in the order that I think they are important.

The most relevant for me was number 9, not for the “decide issues quickly” but for “figure out what typically slows down your decision making and find ways to work around it”.  I took some time to reflect…

What slows down my own (business) decision making?

…this is a brain dump of thoughts that come to me now…

  1. Fear of being wrong
  2. Fear of a better idea coming up tomorrow when we have already committed to this course
  3. Feeling like I have to figure out all the implementation details now rather than allow them to be decided when they become necessary.
  4. Feeling like I need to have a really good explanation of my decision that will impress others and have them see me as a “decisive visionary leader”
  5. Feeling like I have to be 100% sure
  6. Feeling like I should speak to a few more people and get their inputs first
  7. Worrying that I have messed up similar decisions in the past (particularly people decisions)
  8. Not seeing the costs of delaying the decision (both financial, and that it then hangs on my mind while I wait to actually commit to a decision)
  9. Not being systematic about the approach to taking decisions
  10. Not distinguishing between small decisions and big decisions and having a clearly different process for each
  11. Not trusting myself to figure out how to make it work down the road
  12. Not stopping to clarify exactly why the decision is important and how it relates to my vision and purpose

What slows down your decision making?

Here’s the four lessons from the article that I found most valuable and important to me right now.  Numbers are from the Inc Article, Bold text is my own addition…

9. Maximize your time.

“The fastest way to maximize your time is to decide issues quickly. If you need to speed up your decision making, figure out what typically slows down your decision making and find ways to work around it. Pass responsibilities down as far as your people are comfortable. This is another way of speeding up your decision making, by giving others power to decide. You’ll often find that this motivates your employees, building their confidence and enthusiasm, and over time they will gradually accept more responsibility. Clarify your company’s vision, so everyone on the team intuitively understands when projects should be prioritized.”

Jesse Robbins, founder and CEO of Orion Labs, an enterprise voice platform which secured $18.25 million last fall to expand its next-generation of services to the broader speech and voice recognition market, on track to be worth $18.3 billion by 2023

If you want to explore more about taking better decisions quickly, you could continue reading How to Choose in Life Decisions and Agonizing over Decisions.

1. You don’t have to be strong all the time.

“It’s OK to be vulnerable. In high school and college, I spent a lot of time learning to be mentally strong, which can be a good thing, since resilience will wear down mountains given time. However, you don’t have to be strong all the time. Tell people when you don’t know, and when you’re worried. You’d be amazing how much help you’ll get, and how much of a connection that creates.”

Mike Tuchen, CEO of Talend, a provider of cloud and big data integration solutions which saw its stock rise nearly 60 percent over the past year

If you want to explore more about leading as a real human being, you could continue reading Freedom is not Fun and 17 Personal Habits for a Fulfilling Life.

3. You need people who question your beliefs.

“CEOs need people around them who are going to question their fundamental beliefs. These people should test and push, so CEOs are forced to question the decisions that they’re making and plan for the inevitable ups and downs that building a company will bring. If you surround yourself with coaches, prodders, and different thinkers, you will create a feedback loop that will fundamentally change your view of the world and make you a better leader.”

Gordon Ritter, founder and general partner of Emergence Capital, an enterprise cloud venture firm which was recently named Venture Capital Firm of the Year by the National Venture Capital Association

If you want to explore more about getting good feedback for your growth, you could continue reading Accepting Feedback and Managing Oneself.  

You should also check out Entrepreneurs Organisation, Young Presidents Organisation or Vistage as these organisations will help you find a group of peers who can challenge your beliefs and inspire you to be the best that you can.

18. Speak up.

“The one thing I wish my younger self knew was how to find a balance between acting smart and expressing achievements without hesitation. Stereotypes of women’s behavior can dominate perceptions, and as a woman in a male-dominated, STEM-related field, I’ve learned how to take a seat at the table and deliver my message so that it’s heard and respected.”

Chris Mackey, CEO of MackeyRMS, a research management platform for investment professionals that has taken no outside capital/funding, with clients on its platform managing over $1 trillion in assets

If you want to explore more about speaking up, you could continue begin my free 10 week program Speaking as a Leader and Five and a half reasons why you should start a blog today.

What is the activity that you could do for €10 that would give you the most happiness over 1 hour? for €100? for €1000? for €10,000?

This video is from Dublin. My dad makes an appearance. Some scenes from the Ireland vs Argentina rugby, and from Trinity College and at UCD Smurfit Business Schools where I was teaching during the week.

The Wise Man and the Bowl of Lentils

If you liked this post, you will like Happiness, It is about the quality of your Relationships and The 14 Habits of Highly Miserable People.

What would you do with €10/$10?

What is the activity that you could do for €10 that would give you the most happiness over 1 hour? for €100? for €1000? for €10,000?

Billionaire Ray Dalio is the founder of Bridgewater, one of the world’s largest and best-performing hedge funds.  Recently, Ray published his lessons in his book, Principles.

Here’s the opening paragraph of Ray Dalio’s book…

“Before I begin telling you what I think, I want to establish that I am a “dumb shit” who doesn’t know much relative to what I need to know. Whatever success I’ve had in life has more to do with my knowing how to deal with my not knowing than anything I know. The most important thing I learned is an approach to life based on principles that helps me find out what’s true and what to do about it.”

The Number 1 Hurdle to your growth and potential?

Closed Mindedness.

Closed Mindedness is not knowing that you don’t know (and not taking deliberate steps to overcome this natural human state).

You must learn to be Open Minded.

Here are some cues that will tell if you are Open-Minded.

  • Open-minded people are not angry when someone disagrees, Close-minded people don’t want their ideas challenged.
  • Open-minded people genuinely believe they could be wrong, Close-minded people are more likely to make statements than ask questions.
  • Open-minded people always feel compelled to see things through others’ eyes, Close-minded people focus much more on being understood than on understanding others.
  • Open-minded people approach everything with a deep-seated fear that they may be wrong, Close-minded people lack a deep sense of humility.

Read more about Ray Dalio and the dangers of Closed Mindedness on Carmine Gallo’s column on Inc magazine.

Question for you: Who is the person that challenges you and your strategies? Who helps you see new perspectives? Hit the comments down below and I’d love to hear who and how 😉

LinkedIn is testing out a new free service for members that will match them with other professionals who can give them career advice. LinkedIn will help to make matches between mentees and mentors via its online platform.

Mentorship is a significant part of the careers of every successful person that I know. I personally have sought out and found mentors since my early 20s working in Accenture.  I used to think this was normal, but I discovered over the last decade that many talented friends have never found a formal mentor relationship.

I have run the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Mentorship Program in Barcelona for the last 3 years and have learnt a lot as we have got 15 mentor-mentee pairs connected and working together to achieve specific goals.  Personally I have have benefitted from some wonderful mentors throughout my life – in particular Michael (my first long-term manager at Accenture), Brian (the reason I teach at IESE Business School), Harry (helped me take a big decision last year).  I personally mentor 5 people each year and it is hugely valuable for me to reflect on my own life as I listen to the challenges and opportunities of these inspiring individuals.

How will Mentorship work on LinkedIn?

Hari Srinivasan, director of product management at LinkedIn, says, “As people spend less and less time at a company, it’s hard to find people you need to talk to.”  LinkedIn user analysis shows that 89% of senior leaders (on LinkedIn) would be interested in giving advice.

This is how it works: There will be a section on your profile called “dashboard”. This will display the “career advice hub” where you can sign up to be a mentor or a mentee.

The first screen is a basic overview of the function and its value for both those giving and getting advice. From there, you are instructed to provide specifics on who you’d like to talk to with parameters such as region, industry, school, etc.

LinkedIn’s matching algorithm will immediately send recommendations for matches. If you select someone who is a match they will get a message immediately notifying them of your interest to connect. Once both parties agree, they can start talking.  Read more about LinkedIn’s plans for mentorship on Fast Company.

Two of the reasons mentorships fail are…

  1. the mentee isn’t able to articulate what they need or
  2. asks too much of a mentor.

Check out my blog post: “How to be a Good Mentor

LinkedIn is working on ways to make the conversation flow more smoothly so both sides get what they need.  LinkedIn say that it’s not meant to be a replacement for long-term mentorship. It’s meant to tackle those “quick question” requests such as whether you are taking the right approach in different scenarios.

Do you have a mentor?  Are you searching for a mentor?  Are you interested in becoming a mentor?  

Sometimes we paddle frantically and make no progress, other times we make little effort to accelerate and see great advances in our life. What if we spent more time seeing the flow of our life, and not so much time in frantic paddling.

Mastermind groups such as Vistage, EO or YPO are powerful in helping you see more strategically.

This video is about Verne Harnish’s 5 habits of the Leaders that will succeed in the next decade.

Conor and Verne before the ScaleUp Conference in Barcelona

The 5 habits are:

  1. Ratio of “No” to “Yes”
  2. Meals with Influencers
  3. Calender hours on Gold Chip actions
  4. Total brains involved in your decisions
  5. Regular Reading and Thinking Time

Verne C. Harnish founded Entrepreneurs’ Organization, and the Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs, both international entrepreneurship organizations. He also serves as Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Gazelles, Inc., a strategic planning and “executive education” company. He chairs the “Birthing of Giants” leadership program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

ScaleUp Barcelona

Here’s some of the action from last week’s ScaleUp Barcelona conference:

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In a 1954 speech to the Second Assembly of the World Council of Churches, former U.S. President Eisenhower said: “I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent.”

jp-kantorRobert Glazer shared this simple but powerful life management tool on his blog today – Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important matrix.

The image to the right shows a 2×2 matrix using the two axis of Important and Urgent.  This gives us 4 types of task:

  1. Urgent & Important
  2. Urgent & Not Important
  3. Important & Not Urgent
  4. Not Urgent & Not Important

In an un-disciplined person, category 2 tends to be completed before category 3.  In a disciplined person, category 3 is completed before touching category 2.

Success is rarely Urgent

Jim Rohn gives one of the most powerful definitions of success:

“Failure is a few bad decisions repeated every day.  Success is a few simple good habits practiced every day” Jim Rohn

There is a saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”.  Health success is an apple a day.  Failure is a donut instead of an apple each day.  You can say “what difference does 1 donut make?”  You won’t notice the damage today, you won’t notice tomorrow… but over a year: a donut a day starts to extract a price.

The urgent is often the result of avoiding the important.

By the time the painkillers are needed, it is too late for the vitamins.

Vitamins are important.

Practice Saying “No”

If you wish to spend more of your life on the important things, and less on the urgent things, there is a tool…

Warren Buffett’s definition of integrity: “you say No to most things”.  If you are not saying No to most things, you are dividing your life up into millions of little pieces that are being given to other people’s priorities.

Learn to say “No”…

…without the word “no”.

The most powerful ways to say “no” do not involve the actual word “no”.

  • Here is one powerful way: Strategic Unavailability.
  • Another is to raise the cost of your “Yes”: If someone wants to meet for coffee, I say “yeah sure, I am free on Friday at 7am at my office in Sabadell [25 mlles away]”. If the person still wants to meet then it must be important.  90% end up not following up.  The few that do, will come prepared and have done their research.  They know what they want from me.  They know whether it is worth their time.

Celebrities and Politicians have entire staffs dedicated to restricting access.  Bono, the singer of U2, has 25 people who review requests for his time, his money, his attention in order to allow only the important requests to reach Bono himself.  Barrack Obama has a whole White House staff whose mission is to ensure that he only spends time and energy on important things, that only he can deal with.

If you don’t start developing methods of saying “no” now, it will only get harder as you become wealthier, wiser, more famous, more experienced and more resourceful.

What urgent task will you say “No” to today?

Some other great posts on Robert Glazer’s blog Friday Forward:

 

The human condition: to be aware that we are free to take decisions and that these decisions can turn out to be poor choices.

It is normal to suffer and regret decisions.

Nobody has an anxiety-free life: not even in the movies, not even in romantic songs.  Alain de Botton shares a wise insight into existential crises in this School of Life video.

Learning to Accept Myself as I am

Wisdom is to accept that we do what we do and that is enough.  Even if I don’t do my best, it is the best that I could deliver at that time and that moment.  We can learn from poor decisions, but we get nothing from the emotion of regretting past decisions and we get nothing from the emotion of anxiety over current decisions.

My father takes decisions very quickly.  He has the attitude that he will change direction tomorrow if he is wrong, but he will not wait to take a decision.

Maybe I only see the outside of my father – maybe inside he does face anxiety and frustration at himself for not doing better to get prepared for something.  He does a good job of hiding it.

I feel like I spent far too long in agonising worry over decisions.  I should take a direction more quickly, but also be open to reversing the decision tomorrow.  (As some that know me well will attest: I am poor at accepting that I am wrong).

To be wrong is to have learnt something new.  If I take a decision now, and tomorrow I realise it was wrong for me – this new wisdom could only come because I had taken the decision.

What about you?

Are you good at taking decisions?  Are you good at dealing with anxiety?  I’d love to hear how you approach decisions and deal with yourself.

 

This graphic captures it all…

efficiency

Thanks to XKCD for the original.

“I take good decisions and then I work to make them great.”

It reminds me of a story about one of the founders of Tata Industrial group. He was asked “How do you take good decisions?”

He paused before answering:

“I don’t do anything special to take great decisions.”

“I take good decisions and then I work to make them great.”

If you commit to a path, you will find a way to make something great out of the path.  If you wait to see, you will ensure that it is a poor path.

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One anecdote does not make a proof.

The danger: humans are more easily persuaded by 1 clear and concrete anecdote than by big data and expert statistical analysis.

“My friend’s brother bought a house in downtown Barcelona 2 years ago and is now selling it at twice the price!”

This statement has far more impact on me as a human than: “the real estate market in Barcelona metropolitan area has an undersupply of mid-range housing and this scarcity will result in an acceleration of asset prices”

An anecdote is a one off. It is not data. It is not science. It is dangerous.

In statistics this is called a Type I error.  In slang: “a false positive”.  More simply stated, a type I error is detecting an effect that is not present, while a type II error is failing to detect an effect that is present (Wikipedia on Type I and Type II errors)

Success Literature and Type I Errors

I just read a blog post that reported lessons from the lives of 13 billionaires. It reported that each billionaire had built their empire based on a product that they had wanted as a consumer.

I suspect if you interview 2,000 failed and bankrupt entrepreneurs, the majority would also say that they had build their companies around a product that they had wanted as a consumer.

So often, success is luck and failure is luck. However, those that succeed sell their story as a systematic managed process of step by step success, and those that fail sell their story as a perfectly executed plan blown to bits by a black swan event (I tell people I failed because of the failure of Lehman brothers and the collapse of the financial markets during 2008-2010).

I suspect that the recipe of success is “try something, if it works, do it again… if it doesn’t work, try something else… and keep going until you succeed” The determination to succeed combined with the commitment to really learn from each setback is the root of all success. Luck will adjust whether the success comes at age 25, 25 or 75.

Be careful of anecdotes. One man’s good deal is not a sustainable marketplace.