Life is too short to figure everything out on your own.
Humans spend the years from birth to 12 learning how to survive. Our parents have a vested interest in helping us develop the Stop there: we merely survive.
We live in a highly complex society. There is intense competition for status in whatever hierarchy you compete in. It doesn’t matter whether you choose to compete or not, society and humanity are designed to compete for resources. It is not those born strong that rise to the top of status hierarchies in today’s human society. It is those who learn to use their capacities most effectively and adapt quickly to changes in the environment.
There are two ways we learn to make positive progress in this society – 1) our own experience, or 2) through the experiences of others. Our own experience is a slow and expensive way of learning.
If I am to choose to learn most effectively, through the experiences of others, I must learn the art of meaningful conversation. Through my work with Entrepreneurs’ Organisation forum and Vistage groups I have worked extensively over the last 15 years on creating the type of meaningful conversation that allows one to learn from the experiences of another.
I’m sharing 4 ideas that I took from Jordan Peterson’s book the 12 Rules for Life when I read it this year.
“Your current knowledge has neither made you perfect nor kept you safe”
Your knowledge is insufficient. You must accept this before you can converse philosophically, instead of pushing opinions, convincing, oppressing, dominating or joking.
“Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t”
It is necessary to respect the personal experience of your conversational partners. You must assume that they have reached careful, thoughtful, genuine conclusions (and, perhaps, they must have done the work that justifies this assumption). You must believe that if they shared their conclusions with you, you could bypass at least some of the pain of personally learning the same things (as learning from the experience of others can be quicker and much less dangerous).
It takes conversation to organise a mind
“people organize their brains with conversation. If they don’t have anyone to tell their story to, they lose their minds.” The input of the community is required for the integrity of the individual psyche.
“Life is short, and you don’t have time to figure everything out on your own”
They say Aristotle was the last man who knew everything there was to know. Since the time of Aristotle (over 2300 years ago) society has become too complex for any one individual to know all that is known.
When I was in school, I took huge value in solving from first principles. I would prefer to solve mathematic problems from first principles and avoid using formulaic recipes that allowed you to shortcut to a solution. This was symptomatic of my whole approach to life. If I hadn’t figured it out myself, I didn’t value the knowledge. There is a heroic valor to this approach, but it is dumb heroics.
Life 101: Develop competence. Build the discipline to finish small projects. Solve interesting problems. Help good clients succeed. Do lots of small good things for other people. Share the credit. Take the blame. Share your journey. Associate with good people. Help others realise they are capable of more than they think. Give them confidence. Lift them up if they fail. Celebrate their courage. Ask them what they learnt. Be present in their lives. Live with purpose and intention.
The days of sending your CV over to HR and waiting for the job offer are dead. No great job offers come through HR.
As Seth Godin says “No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself.”
“My boss won’t let me”
“They won’t give me permission”
“I don’t have a publisher”
“Oprah Winfrey won’t respond to my emails”
Stop “waiting to be chosen” and “Pick yourself”.
If you want to write, write. If you want to make videos, make videos. If you want to be creative, make things with creativity. If you want to run an event, invite 50 people to an event. Don’t wait for permission… because there is nobody left to actually give you permission.
If you ask your boss for permission to do something, this is what they hear: “If this fails, blame goes to you (because you gave me permission); if this succeeds, credit goes to me (because I did it)”. Only an idiot would take this deal. Your boss didn’t get there by being an idiot.
Great problems create great leaders. Take the time to build the foundations before you build the skyscraper. Take responsibility. Become a trusted team member.
You’re doing everything right at work, taking all the right advice, but you’re just not moving up. Why?
Susan Colantuono shares a simple, surprising piece of advice you might not have heard before quite so plainly. This talk, while aimed at an audience of women, has universal takeaways — for men and women, new graduates and mid-career workers.
Business, Strategic and Financial Acumen
Susan’s argument is that mentorship and organisation-wide leadership development have a tendency to focus on the personal effectiveness and organisation leadership aspects, but do not work with women to take full charge of their Business, Strategic and Financial acumen.
What are Business, Strategic and Financial Acumen?
Business Acumen: Understand your business, where it is going, what role you and you work play in it. Do you do your job well, or do you contribute to the success of the organisation?
Strategic Acumen: Look outside the organisation and see opportunities and risks. Do you take time to see the big picture within which your company operates? How are demographics and major political changes going to impact your organisation? Are you part of industry associations?
Financial Acumen: Aware of the finances of the organisation and flagging risks and highlighting opportunities to impact the numbers Can you read a balance sheet? Can you rapidly draw up a simple income statement of your division? Do you know the EBITDA, the contribution margin, the CAGR of the different products in your business?
Gary Burnison, the CEO of leading global headhunters Korn Ferry recently shared a tool for understanding the current health of your career, the Career Momentum Index (CMI).
Gary says that, in our careers, we also need to honestly know “Where am I right now?”. For a healthy body, we can check out our heart rate, our body mass index (BMI), cholesterol, blood pressure, etc. For careers, Korn Ferry have the Career Momentum Index (CMI).
Do you have Career Momentum?
Are you engaged in your current job? Do you wake up every morning, ready to go, or do you hit the snooze button–literally and figuratively?
Does your boss recognize your contribution? When was the last time your boss acknowledged what you did? How well did you do on your last performance review–have you even had one in the last 12 months?
Are you considered indispensable? Are you the go-to person for your boss and the team who does whatever it takes it get things done?
When was the last time you were promoted? Two years ago? Five years? Longer?
When was the last time you learned something new in your job? Are you stretched and growing, or is it the “same old, same old” every day?
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 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?
I had the pleasure of attending TEDxIESEBarcelona a couple of months ago. My good friend and fellow EO member Raul Aguirre gave a passionate talk on a special secret that has led to his success.
The hidden secret that led to Raul’s success
This talk reveals new insight about the real reasons of success of famous and not-so-famous people – and how to apply these principles to be much more successful – and happier – in any field.
Raul is the Founder and first CEO of Tango/04 Computing Group, Inc. He does wonderful drawings and has a cool instagram account @osplo. He Graduated in Computer Science (University of Buenos Aires), EO/MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Entrepreneurship Master Program, and the Superior Institute of MorphoPsychology (ISM, Barcelona). Designer of award-winning technologies (such as the APEX Award of Penton Media for VMC, USA, 2004) and products sold in more than 50 countries.
Check out the full playlist of speeches from the first 2 editions of TEDxIESEBarcelona:
Question for you: What do you have as your description line in your LinkedIn profile?
Mine says “Moving People to Action”
What does your LinkedIn Description say?
I see several varieties of description. Some people just put their job title: “VP Marketing at Corporation Inc”. Some people an abstraction of their past experience “Experienced Manager in Telecoms Industry”. Some people describe what they aspire to be. I leave it at the somewhat vague “Moving People to Action”. What is your profile description? It is important. The founder of LinkedIn says so.
I am reading Reid Hoffman’s book “The Startup of You” at the moment. He speaks of treating your own career like an entrepreneurial startup.
Life on Permanent Beta
One powerful idea from the book is to keep your career on “Permanent Beta”. Beta is an IT term for a not-yet-fully-tested version of the software. We release beta software so we can find out how it is really used by customers and make many iterative changes before the final delivery of finished software. Permanent beta is to assume that I am never finished, I am always a work in progress. Permanent beta is to stop the search for a comfortable, coasting job that pays the bills with little or no effort on my part.
Plan A, B & Z
He speaks of Plan A, Plan B, Plan Z thinking. Plan A is your current career. Plan B is your aspirational career. Plan Z is what you would do if Plan A and Plan B fell apart, the worst-case scenario.
An example in the case of myself 11 years ago: Plan A was working as a manager in Accenture and working towards promotion to partner. Plan B was starting up my own company. Plan Z was living off my savings for a year while studying.
Moving forward to today, Plan A is teaching at IESE, speaking and writing. Plan B is unclear and needs some work. Plan Z would be living off my savings for a year or two. I clearly need to do some work on Plans B & Z. Reid says you are in danger of unexpected environmental changes if you don’t have some meat on the bones of these 3 plans.
Plan B should be based around the Meaningful Contribution venn diagram. Jim Collins calls it the hedgehog concept. It is a combination of what you do well, what you enjoy doing and what the market will pay you to do. Reid calls them:
Your aspirations and
the market realities.
Your assets include hard assets like money in the bank; however the really important inventory is your soft assets – skills, network, personal brand. What are you known for? Reid is very, very strong on taking choices that value learning over monetary reward. The more you learn, the more valuable you can become.
Who you know is What you know
I haven’t read this chapter yet, so I am assuming… but in a world where google, wikipedia and youtube allow us to find any knowledge in an instant, it is no longer of great value to know stuff. Practical wisdom – which increasingly is knowing who to call, and knowing that they will answer and take action because it was you that called is the valuable stuff.
Are you Indispensable?
If your boss gives you lists of tasks to complete, you are dispensable. You are not “you” at work, you are a processor of standardised tasks. The recipe for being “you” can be written down, and will be outsourced to cheaper labour.
If your boss gives you interesting problems to solve, you are of value. You are “you” at work.
If you are the one that identifies the problems, and ask others the interesting questions: then you might just be on the path to Indispensable.
How does one become indispensable? The first step is changing the profile description on your LinkedIn profile. If your description is your current job title, then it is likely that you have no Plan B. You are not actively investing in yourself to make Plan B a reality.
To become indispensable, first make your profile description your Plan B “aspirational” title. Click here to begin that change.
Now, start to invest time, money and energy in making yourself ready to live up to that aspiration. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and dreams and aspirations are supposed to take some work.
Curiosity, Learning and Adaption.
Curiosity is the first step towards Learning. Explore beyond. How did he do that? Why did they do that? What is happening here? Curiosity is to wonder at the things I do not yet understand.
Learning is the most important daily task to adapt to the changing reality.
Rapid Adaption for yourself and for those around you: you become indispensable.
If you are not indispensable, you are dispensable.
If you are dispensable, you are commodity. You are competing on price. There are some mighty cheap people out there, cheap & able to follow recipes, cheap & able to follow a process manual.
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