Book Summary of ‘Bold’ by Peter Diamandis

As Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler point out in their book Bold, this is the first time in history that you have access to everything you need to take on any challenge. As long as you are passionate and committed, you have access to the technology, minds and capital to literally change the world.

But as they would probably tell you, resources, passion and commitment isn’t enough. You need the right mindset. Actually, you need 8 of them and who better to learn these 8 mindsets from than from 4 of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time – Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Larry Page and Jeff Bezos.

Each of these entrepreneurs are self-made billionaires who started with nothing but an idea and a dream to change the world. With the right mindset, you can do it to.

Bonus Mindset: To become a billionaire, focus on helping a billion people.

Usually you get the bonuses at the end, but this bonus is so important that we’ve put it first. This one comes from Peter himself and he tells us that if we are going to make our own dent in the universe, that we need to think about creating a business that will impact the lives of a billion people.

This immediately eliminates thinking small from the equation, which is a prerequisite to becoming a billionaire. Do you know how many billionaires think small? Exactly zero.

1. Understanding the balance of risk taking and risk mitigation

Richard Branson has a reputation for being a business renegade. From the outside it would seem to most people that he takes on a ton of risk. After all, who gets into the airline business – a business where almost everybody loses an enormous amount of money – when they know absolutely nothing about airlines?

Richard Branson, that’s who.

But what most people don’t understand about him is that one of the phrases keeps near and dear to his heart is “protect the downside.”

When starting his airline, Branson bought one plane, and then negotiated the right to give the plane back in twelve months if things weren’t working out like he wanted them to.

So while they are taking bold bets and creating businesses that could potentially change the world, they are also actively trying to eliminate any and all risk that could “sink their battleship.”

2. Rapid iteration and ceaseless experimentation

Jeff Bezos has created one of the most successful business brands of all time by blending a ruthless focus on the customer experience, while at the same time rapidly iterating and experimenting with that experience.

As Bezos said in his 2014 shareholder letter,

“Failure comes part and parcel with invention. It’s not optional. . . . We understand that and believe in failing early and iterating until we get it right. When this process works, it means our failures are relatively small in size (most experiments can start small) and when we hit on something that is really working for customers, we double down on it with hopes to turn it into an even bigger success.”

One famous experiment that ended in success for Amazon was A/B testing their website experience, allowing users to check-out as guests instead of creating an account.

This one experiment alone generated an extra $300 million per year in revenue for the company.

Even the most successful entrepreneurs on the planet are constantly looking for ways to improve their businesses so that they can have a larger impact.

3. You need to have passion and purpose

Larry Page, the co-founder of Google, gave a talk at the founding conference of Singularity University, the school that Diamandis’ created with futurist Ray Kurzweil to educate, inspire and empower leaders to apply exponential technologies to address humanity’s grand challenges.

In front of 150 people attending the conference, he said this:

“I have a very simple metric I use: Are you working on something that can change the world? Yes or no? The answer for 99.99999 percent of people is no. I think we need to be training people on how to change the world.”

If you are working on something that you believe has the power to change the world, you can’t help have the passion and purpose you need in order to get it done.

4. You need to think for the long-term

Jeff Bezos did an interview session at one of their annual conferences, where he outlined his contrarian thinking about the long-term.

“What’s going to change in the next ten years?” And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: “What’s not going to change in the next ten years?” And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two—because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time.”

This is a great insight, because it allows you to build a business that serves the needs of the marketplace today, while still allowing you the time and ability to innovate over time.

For instance, Bezos says that he knows that his customers want low prices, and that this is going to be true 10 years from now. And that they are going to want their packages delivered faster. So, Amazon focusses all of their innovation capacity on delivering on those things.

A great example is Amazon’s work on developing delivery drones that can get your order to you in less than 30 minutes.

That’s big thinking.

5. Always be thinking about the customer.

Like Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson is also passionate about creating an incredible experience for his customers.

As they point out in the book, if Branson thinks that a particular service might benefit his customers, he tries it. For instance, Virgin Atlantic was the first airline to offer free seat-back TVs for each passenger, a cocktail lounge, a glass-bottomed plane and is certainly the first airline to offer stand-up comedians on select flights.

To Branson, creating a customer-centric experience is about getting every little detail right.

When you do this, he explains, customers will go out of their way to stay loyal to your brand. This is one of – if not the only – reason that Branson has been able to launch and invest in over 500 businesses that leverage the Virgin brand.

6. Using probabilistic thinking

Elon Musk has created 4 different companies with valuations north of $1 billion – Paypal, SpaceX, Tesla and Solar City. You know you’ve made it when they model a super-hero after you (IronMan).

Usually, when entrepreneurs are weighing a decision, they think about their likelihood of success, and if they are good entrepreneurs, they will try and protect the downside.

Musk adds an important nuance to this line of thinking – the importance of the objective. He says:

“Even if the probability for success is fairly low, if the objective is really important, it’s still worth doing. Conversely, if the objective is less important, then the probability needs to be much greater. How I decide which projects to take on depends on probability multiplied by the importance of the objective.”

SpaceX and Tesla is living proof of this thinking. When he started them, he thought they both had less than 50% chance in succeeding (in fact, they were both very close to bankruptcy at the same time), he felt that they were businesses that needed to be created.

So he went ahead and built them, in spite of the risk.

7. Being rationally optimistic

Larry Page wants more people to think about changing the world, but he also practices something the authors call “rational optimism.”

It means that you need to take a sober view of the facts, while still retaining your optimism about doing the impossible.

Page gives the example of when they set out to do simultaneous translation between languages, and to do it better than human translators could. The machine-learning experts they asked for advice on it laughed at them and said it was impossible.

But they forged on anyways, understanding that the technology we have available to us today was at a point where it would be possible – incredibly hard, but possible – to get it done.

Today, Google now translates between 64 different languages and in some cases do a better job than the average human translator and they provide that service, 100% free to the world.

8. Rely on first principles

One of the things that all great entrepreneurs have the ability to do is think in first principles.

Elon Musk gave an interview to Kevin Rose, and explained how first principles work when thinking about how to manufacture batteries – something critical to both Tesla and Solar City.

They thought about the materials that batteries were made out of – carbon, nickel, aluminium, some polymers and a steel can. By by-passing the battery manufacturers and buying the materials on a metals exchange, they realised that they could get the battery cost to levels well below anybody thought they could get them.

So whatever problem you are working on, question all of the assumptions built into it, and work the solution all the way through from beginning to end. You’ll find insights there that almost everybody else would miss – but probably not Elon Musk, Larry Page, Jeff Bezos or Richard Branson.

So there you have it – 8 different ways to think based on the mindsets of 4 of the most successful entrepreneurs the world has ever seen.

Now, get your mind right and get to work.

Onwards and upwards!

P.S. I need a business coach/ marketing strategist (willing to train [at my expense] the right individual with some get up and go / sales/ marketing prowess) to facilitate demand for my coaching business. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please click http://business-coaching.com/andy/ for more informationScreen Shot 2018-02-20 at 12.07.34

Book Summary of ‘Mastering The Rockefeller Habits’ by Verne Harnish

The Three Decisions and Three Habits

Over many years of working with successful entrepreneurs, and studying the life of John D. Rockefeller, Harnish boiled down their success into three simple habits and decisions.

The first habit is priorities. These are a handful of rules – some of which change, and some of which don’t (like your BHAG, for instance). You should have some for the company as a whole, and for each individual who works there.

The second habit is data. This is ensuring that the organisation has sufficient data on a daily and weekly basis to provide insight into how the organisation is running, and for what the market is demanding. Ensuring that everybody has at least one key daily or weekly metric driving their performance.

The third and final habit is rhythm – which are the daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual meetings to make sure that everybody is aligned with the short and long term goals with the business.

The decisions you need to make boil down into the following three questions:

Do we have the Right People? Are we doing the Right Things? Are we doing those Things Right?

Priorities: Mastering a One-Page Strategic Plan

As your company grows, it gets harder and harder to keep your team on the same page. The best way to do this, Harnish tells us, is to boil all of the most important things your company is focussing on into one page.

To follow along, you can download a copy of the plan here: https://gazelles.com/static/resources/tools/en/OPSP.pdf

It should cover the following items, most of which will be covered in more detail in the following sections.

Opportunities and Threats – list the five biggest opportunities and threats facing your organisation over the time frame you are considering.

Core Values – these are the five to eight statements that define the “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” that inform all decisions made at your company.

Purpose – this is the reason your company is in business. Why you do what you do. As an example, Wal-Mart’s purpose is “To give ordinary folks the chance to buy the same things as rich people.”

Actions and BHAG – this is your 10 – 25 year lofty goal, similar to Kennedy’s legendary goal to put a man on the moon.

Targets and Sandbox – the target is where you want your company to be in 3 to 5 years. The Sandbox is basically your market – where you’ll play, the product/service you’ll provide, and your expected market share in 3 to 5 years.

Brand Promise – this is the key need you satisfy for your customers. It should be measurable.

Key Thrusts/Capabilities – these are the 5 or 6 things you need in order to reach 3 to 5 year targets.

Goals and Key Initiatives – this is what your company needs to achieve this year, and the 5 or 6 key initiatives that will help you get there.

Critical Numbers – this is where you should have one or two numbers – ideally one from the balance sheet and one from the income statement. It should represent a key weakness in your economic model or operations, that if addressed, will have a significant impact on the business.

Actions and Rocks – these are your quarterly action steps.

Theme, Scoreboard Design and Celebration – create a quarterly or annual theme to bring focus to the year and post your scoreboard where everybody can track your progress on the plan.

Schedules – determine when things need to happen. Unless activities show up on somebody’s weekly to do list, nothing gets done.

Accountability – this is where you identify which person is accountable for which particular activity on your plan.

Now that we’ve figured out what we need to be foussed on, let’s take a deeper dive into the most important areas of this plan.

Priorities: Mastering the Use of Core Values

Having a few rules, repeating them until everybody is sick of hearing you repeat them, and then making sure everybody acts in accordance with them, is how you create a strong culture.

It makes leading people much easier, generally leads to better performance, higher employee retention and better alignment across the company.

Once you have those core values, you should translate them into the quarterly Individual Performance Plan of each person on your team. For each core value that you have, each employee (and you) should be able to identify actions you’ll take to live it out.

Other things you can do include creating recognition awards for people who live out your core values, communicate examples of people living them out regularly, and make them a large part of your quarterly and year themes for the company.

Priorities: Mastering Organisational Alignment and Focus

Having too many priorities is the same as having no priorities.

In order to get your organisation aligned with your long term goals, you need to identify the top 5 priorities in your company and also clearly identify which of the 5 is the most important.

There are seven common leading priorities in fast-growing companies:

  1. Not big enough to compete in the market;
  2. Lacking a key player in a key role;
  3. Your economic engine is broken;
  4. Somebody else is controlling your destiny;
  5. You need a war chest to compete;
  6. You can’t raise money until you grow;
  7. You need to scan back or you won’t survive.

Once you’ve identified your top priorities, you should put them into your Management Accountability Plan. This will ensure that each priority is assigned to somebody, that you identify the actions that need to be taken and when they need to be taken.

Priorities: Mastering the Quarterly Theme

Now we start to focus on the nitty gritty of getting the plans into motion. You’ve probably been in a work environment where goals and priorities are set and then promptly forgotten.

One of the antidotes to this is to make sure your team has an emotional connection to the goals so that you generate commitment to them.

There are many ways to do this.

You could do it in a big and flashy way like Mark Moses of Platinum Capital, who once rode an elephant into a company meeting because they were launching an expansion campaign and he wanted his employees to “think big.”

Or you could do it in a more conservative way like one CEO who handed out watches to his executive team that had their three Critical Numbers engraved on them. Every time his executives looked at the time, they were reminded of the priorities and that “time was ticking.”

You can also create rewards for your employees to help further motivate them to reach the most important goals. As long as the goals are clear and they can see progress being made towards the goals, these types of group incentives work well.

Data: Mastering employee feedback

Hassles that continue to come over and over again cost your employees a lot of time. This is the kind of work that makes people hate their jobs. It’s also likely that these issues cost you a lot of customer and revenues.

The answer is to create a system of employee feedback to figure out exactly what these problems are and a systematic process to deal with them.

To get started, ask your team a three-part question: what should we start doing, what should we stop doing and what should we continue doing? Ask them to think about these questions from both their perspective and from the perspective of your customers.

Then, ensure that you are responsive to the feedback. Find some quick wins and cross them off the list. Make sure that your team sees progress being made on them so that they continue to provide input. It’s not enough to just make progress, they have to be able to see it.

Here are 6 guidelines to keep in mind as you continue to work through your employee feedback.

  1. Relevancy – is this an important issue for us to tackle?
  2. Be Specific – make sure to capture the details of each issue.
  3. Address the Root – look at the root issue, not just the symptoms.
  4. Focus on the What, Not the Who – focus on eliminating process issues. 95% of the time it’s a process problem.
  5. Involve All Those Affected – get everybody into one room to discuss and resolve the issue.
  6. Never Backstab – never talk poorly of somebody that isn’t present.

Follow those rules for gathering and dealing with employee feedback and you’ll be well on your way to eliminating your thorniest recurring problems.

Rhythm: Mastering the Daily and Weekly Executive Meeting

At the heart of Harnish’s system for growth are tightly run daily, weekly, monthly quarterly and annual huddles and meetings. He suggests that these meetings should all have specific agendas and should happen without fail.

Here are the meetings he suggests you should have:

The Daily Meeting

In a growing company, everybody should participate in a 5-15 minute huddle, daily. These huddles utilise three of the most powerful tools you have as a leader in getting team performance – peer pressure, collective intelligence and clear communication.

You should hold the meeting at the same time every day and hold it standing up which helps to keep the meeting short and to the point.

Your agenda should include three things – what’s up, daily measurements (data) and where are you stuck?

The Weekly Meeting

The weekly meeting has a different purpose and agenda. You should be focussing on strategic issues and it should last approximately an hour for executives.

The first 5 minutes should focus on good news stories from everybody.

The next 10 minutes should focus on the critical numbers in your business.

The next 10 minutes should be customer and employee feedback. Focus on the issues that continue to pop up.

The last 30 minutes should be a focus on a single big issue. It should be one of your large priorities for the month or quarter.

Finally, close with “one-phrase closes”: ask each attendee to sum up with a word or phrase of reaction.

The Monthly Meeting

The focus of the monthly meeting is learning. It’s a 2 to 4 hour meeting for the management to review progress on priorities, review the monthly P&L in detail, to discuss what’s working or not from a process standpoint and finally to do some training.

The Quarterly and Annual Meetings

Finally, the purpose of the quarterly and annual meetings is to review the progress made on the One-Page Strategic Plan.

The X Factor: Mastering the Brand Promise

The brand promise is the key factor that sets you apart from your competition. It’s the reason that your customers keep returning to you year after year.

This is the starting point for every other executive decision. Make the right call, execute on it and you’ll win. Choose the wrong one and you won’t.

The key here is to focus on customer needs. Not their wants, but their needs. And you need to fulfill their needs in a way that is different than the competition.

After you’ve chosen that brand promise, you need to make sure that you do everything in your power to execute on it and ensure that you can remove any bottlenecks or chokepoints that might get in your way.

It goes without saying that doing all of this is incredibly hard. It should cause you to sweat a little just by thinking about it.

Lastly, realise that everything changes with time, including your brand promise. If the market changes, or your customers needs shift, you need to be ready to respond with a new brand promise that fills that void.

Conclusion

There is a lot to take in with the Rockefeller Habits. Most of the information you’ll have heard before, somewhere, but putting it all together and executing on ALL of it is where the magic is.

Get started building your One-Page Strategic Plan and you’ll be well on your way to building a scalable, profitable business.

P.S. I need a business coach (willing to train [at my expense] the right individual with some get up and go / sales/ marketing prowess) to facilitate demand for my coaching business. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please click http://business-coaching.com/andy/ for more informationScreen Shot 2018-02-12 at 15.03.00

Book Summary of ‘Breakthrough Rapid Reading’ by Peter Kump

Oscar Wilde once said that “It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.” Simply put, what you put into your brain makes an enormous difference in who you are and who you will become. So why do so few people actually read books on a regular basis after they are finished their formal education and get launched in the “real world”?

There’s no shortage of excuses, that’s for sure. When I tell people that I read a book a day, I hear all of the excuses in the book – most of them revolving around the lack of time to read. A book will sit on their nightstand for weeks.

However, there’s another side to the same coin here. Perhaps it’s because they just don’t know how to read fast enough. If you are willing to put aside the excuse that you don’t have enough time and learn how to double or even triple your reading speed, you might unlock a world of new possibilities for yourself.

In the next 10 minutes you are going to learn the skills and tricks that the world’s fastest readers use to gain access to more knowledge than you ever thought possible.

Understanding where you are today

If you are like me, you probably aren’t testing your reading rate on a weekly basis, if ever. So, just like any good exercise program, we are going to figure out where you are starting from, and where you want to go.

Grab something that you enjoy reading. It could be a novel, your favourite magazine, anything that has a passage that you haven’t read before and that is least 1,000 words long. Now, grab a timer and set it for one minute.

Remember to read at a rate that you find comfortable – this isn’t the final exam and there’s nobody you need to impress. The impressing comes later when you double or triple your reading speed.

When the timer is finished, mark the last word you read and count up the words. It’s a lot quicker if you figure out the average number of words per line and then count the total number of lines you read: (number of words per line x total lines read).

Now, find out how you stack up. Here are some broad categories across the general adult population:

Under 180 words per minute: you are a below average reader.

Between 180 – 240 words per minute: you are an average reader.

Between 240 – 350 words per minute: you are reading at an average college level.

Between 350 – 500 words per minute: you are an above average reader.

Above 500 words per minute: you are a superior reader. Now that we know where you are starting from, let’s figure out how you got there and what we can do to get you above that 500 word mark (and perhaps even up to 1,000!).

Two things that prevent you from becoming a speed reader today

Backtracking

There are two different types of backtracking in reading. Conscious and unconscious. Concious backtracking is when you read a passage of text and realise that you didn’t completely comprehend it, so you go back and read it again. This isn’t the most effective way to increase your reading comprehension, but there isn’t anything wrong with it.

However, unconscious backtracking is one of the most time-consuming reading habits of normal people. Have you ever read entire passages of text and then realised that you had drifted off to some other place and didn’t remember a damn thing you read? I sure have. In fact, the average reader re-read 15% of the material they are reading because of this.

Vocalising Words

There are 3 stages of reading “out loud”. The first one is the one you learned in kindergarten where you literally read the words out loud. We are going to assume that you’ve moved beyond that stage and can read a book on the train into work in the morning without annoying the rest of the passengers.

The second stage is subvocalising, where you are moving your lips but no words are coming out, which is usually learned in grade school as the first step away from saying words out loud. Again, we’ll assume you are beyond this point.

The third stage is another form of subvocalising and happens when you are still hearing the words in your head as you read them, even though you aren’t moving your lips. This is where most people end up and they usually subvocalise all of the words as the see them. Take a minute and read a passage right now to see if you are subvocalising.

Why are we subvocalising? Because we’ve been trained from an early age that we are only able to see and comprehend one word at a time, and that we must read them in a sequential order. Logically, this makes sense. However, like many other situations, logic places a very limiting belief on us that we never contemplate breaking out of.

Reading with a purpose and on purpose

If you are like me and most of the people in the world, you were taught to read one way for everything you read. Of course, you are going to read a novel you are reading for pleasure much differently than you will a business book that you are looking to learn a set of principles from, but there we go, reading them exactly the same way – one word at a time.

Why are you reading this, anyway?

The first thing you can do to combat this mistake is to be very clear about why are reading and exactly what you need to take out from it. If it is strictly for entertainment value, then you’ll be less worried about comprehension and speed and more worried about the atmosphere you set so that you can lose yourself in the moment.

However, if you are reading a business book that you want to apply to your life, you’ll be more worried about speed (so you can learn more, quicker), comprehension (so you understand what you are reading) and recall (so you can remember what you learned).

Understand how authors write

The second thing you can do is to understand how authors write. Fiction authors will often write in a way to keep you engrossed in the story and to keep turning the pages. They will also want you to keep from speeding ahead, so they typically don’t give you clear headings and chapter structures so you can create a roadmap before you start.

However, non-fiction authors will often lay out their books in just that way. Their books will be laid out in sequential order, usually with one concept building on top of another. Why is this important? For one thing, you can scan the material that you are already familiar with without giving up too much in comprehension and then read carefully the parts that are new to you.

Understand paragraph structure

The vast majority of the time, the main point of a paragraph will be in the first sentence of the paragraph. This means that understanding the first sentence in each paragraph is crucial in your understanding of the main concepts. This also means that you can read the rest of the paragraph much quicker because it is not introducing any new concepts, but adding context to the first sentence.

Techniques to Read Faster

The one thing that speed readers know that you and I don’t is that using your finger speeds up your reading rate dramatically. They use their fingers to guide their eyes because they realise one very critical thing: that we can see and comprehend more than a couple of words at a time.

There are a few ways to do this and you should work through them sequentially, only moving on to the next when when you are comfortable enough to push yourself further.

Underlining

The first technique is “underlining”. You can start by simply running your finger across the page as you read, underlining the words with your index finger. At first, this is going to feel odd to you, and you might get a few weird looks from strangers who haven’t seen this technique before. Once again, go and grab something that you haven’t read before and practice reading the material using your finger as a guide.

Now, start moving your finger faster. If you were reading at 200 words a minute, start using your finger at 300 words a minute. If you feel like you are starting to lose control and that you won’t remember a thing you are reading, that’s ok. Right now you are battling your tendency to vocalise your words and for the first while you will find it uncomfortable.

Dusting

The second technique you can use to read faster is dusting. Instead of using your finger as an underlining tool, now think about dusting off the page of the book with your entire hand, moving your hand back and forth down the page. I often read on my computer screen and this motion is very similar to the motion you’d use to dust of your monitor, so you should be comfortable with it.

Make sure to move your hand very quickly back and forth as you move down the page so that you are able to see the words through your hands, just like you are able to see the road ahead of you even when your windshield wipers are on at full power. Again, it is going to feel weird to read this way, but you’ll soon be reading at a much higher rate.

Circling

Now, we are going to move on to the circling hand movement, and combine it with the underlining movement we learned earlier. You’ll recall that the first sentence in a paragraph is the main thing to comprehend (usually).

So in this technique you’ll use your finger and underline the first line of the paragraph and then make circles through the rest of the paragraph on the way back to the left margin.

You’ll be sweeping the entire paragraph in 5 or 6 circles, taking in the rest of the paragraph in chunks at a time. At this point you’ll start to feel that reading at a much higher rate feels much different than when you started. You won’t be “reading” in the way that you were taught and lived most of your life – word by word. That’s ok, and you’ll get over that awkward feeling quickly.

Paragraphing 

Now that you are comfortable reading at a much higher rate, you can move on to the last stage we’ll cover here by using the paragraphing technique. You’ll start off by using the same first line technique as you did in circling, by underlining it from left to right.

Then, instead of circling the rest of the paragraph with your finger, you’ll drop down at least 4 lines and then bring your finger right back to the left margin. If the paragraph is more than 4 lines long, you can repeat the motion until you hit the end of the paragraph.

Reading Faster and Comprehending More

None of this means anything if you can’t comprehend what you are reading. Most non-fiction authors are attempting to build a mental model for you. However, they usually stop short of actually creating one for you. So, you’ll create one yourself.

The best way to do this is to create what most people would call a mindmap. You’ll start off with one concept in the middle of a page, then start branching off the sub-ideas as appropriate and making sure to keep related materials together.

So, as you are moving through the text, make sure to stop at points when you want to remember one of the concepts and make sure you build it into your mindmap of the subject. Although it is beyond the scope of this summary, you should try and make the mindmap as memorable as possible. The more memorable you make the concepts, the easier it will be for you to recall them at a later point.

So there you have it – a summary of everything you need in order to increase your reading rate to levels that you never thought possible. Good luck, and let me know how it goes.

P.S. I need a business coach/ marketing strategist (willing to train [at my expense] the right individual with some get up and go / sales/ marketing prowess) to facilitate demand for my coaching business. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please click http://business-coaching.com/andy/ for more informationScreen Shot 2018-02-20 at 12.14.10

Book Summary of ‘Instant Influence’ by Michael Pantalon

Would the ability to influence your customers, your work colleagues, your partner or even your children be valuable to you? Michael Pantalon wrote the book Instant Influence to do just that. He gives us a scientifically supported method that gets people to take action because they want to. In fact, it’s even possible to use the Instant Influence methodology on yourself. Spend the next few minutes with me exploring how you can be a master of influence.

Can you motivate anyone in 7 minutes?

Have you ever found yourself wondering why the people in your life won’t change, despite the numerous logical reasons you’ve pointed out to them? As it turns out, that type of persuasion rarely – if ever – works. As Pantalon tells us, people change because of their own reasons. That’s the secret sauce of Instant Influence –it helps people discover their own justification for doing something, even something they thought they didn’t want to do.When someone genuinely doesn’t want to change, change won’t happen. But even the most reluctant of us has a tiny spark of desire to change hidden within. Helping us find that spark can literally transform our lives.

How?

People take action when they hear themselves say that they want to. Get someone to tell you why and action to change is almost sure to follow. Pantalon uses this notion at the heart of his Instant Influence method and he extends it with the following four assumptions:

1. We are free to choose how we behave. 2. Other people can threaten that freedom by attempting to impose control. 3. We tend to react very negatively when our freedom is threatened, making us more resistant to the control being applied. 4. Our freedom can be restored by asserting self-determination and taking control ourselves.

The key point is how we frame our attempt to influence. We need to take the frame of our focus not our own. Our influencing conversation must contain statements such as:

“This is your choice, not mine.”

“It’s completely your decision.”

“You’re free to do whatever you want”

“I can’t make this choice for you – it’s up to you.”

All of these give power back to the influencee, brightens the spark and gives ignition to change.

Pantanlon’s Instant Influence method consists of six progressive steps leading to change. In challenging situations we may need to move through each stage. In other cases – having created the spark – the influencee takes control and accelerates the process themselves.

But let’s move step by step.

Step #1: Why might you change?

The first challenge we must meet is how to put the influencee in a position where they are able to visualise themselves in the desired situation. In most cases you will have identified what you want to change and what the desired outcome should look like. It’s not news to your family member who doesn’t have a healthy diet that continuing down that path might lead to health problems.

So you need to phrase questions in such a way as to challenge the influencee to see themselves in that scene. Instead of focussing on the negative behaviour, Pantalon suggests we look for desirable behaviour close to where we want to get to.

He suggests asking questions such as:

Why are you doing …..? (Where the focus is close to the target) for example, “Why did you choose salad today” for someone who wished to lose weight. Follow up with “Why would you do more?”

Pantanlon suggests we could focus on the past and ask: “Why have you ever[done the thing we’re talking about]?”

There are some questions we need to avoid especially as we have identified, those which sound like orders:

Why don’t you…? Why haven’t you…? Why wouldn’t you…?

Pantalon then suggests we use a technique psychologists and counselors call reflection. Reflection is the process of repeating back, or echoing, what the other person has just said, as if you are holding up a mirror to his words. We need to reflect back even the tiniest spark of motivation to help the other person see more clearly what it is he already wants. Having kindled the spark we need to give it more oxygen.

Step #2: How ready are you to change?

The next step starts with the deceivingly simple question: on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 means “not ready at all” and 10 means “totally ready”, how ready are you to make that change? The goal of Step 2 is to help you and the other person gauge their motivation.

Pantalon suggests we don’t attach too much importance to the numbers. A low number doesn’t mean that they’re not likely to take action, nor does a high number mean that they are likely to take action. What’s important isn’t the number but the process of thinking about why they might want to do something.

We then move quickly to…

Step #3: Why didn’t you pick a lower number?

This is where the technique gets interesting. Why would someone who they think is trying to encourage them to do more ask why we didn’t do less? If somebody picks a low number, this will usually stop them in their tracks. Then they’ll start thinking of the reasons why they didn’t choose a “1” instead of a “3”.

This is where the person starts to uncover some real reasons why they are ready to change. The critical part is that the reasons for change are coming out of their mouth and not yours. They are no longer being told what to do and will now feel like they are ready to make a change because they want to. This is incredibly powerful stuff.

Step #4: Imagine you’ve changed. What would the positive outcomes be?

Here’s where we start to crystalise the benefits of change. We can suggest that the change has already happened and encourage the person to visualise the change in detail. Ask them what would be different in their life. What would they be able to do now that they’ve changed that they couldn’t do before?

If you feel like things are going really well, you can even ask them to give a deadline of when you think the change would be complete. Pantanlon’s research has shown that people are far more likely to change if they think of the upside of changing, rather than the downside of not changing.

Step #5: Why are those outcomes important to you

In step 5 we are getting close to visible change itself. But before then we need to once more take the frame of the influencee. Pantalon asks us to ask them to dig deep for reasons to make the change. The familiar Five Whys technique is of value here. Ask, “Why are those outcomes important to you?” and for each answer ask why.

By the time you’ve got to the fifth why, you’ve most likely reached a true personal reason, close to the heart of the influence. Don’t be surprised if they become emotional at this stage. It’s sometimes quite a journey. Invariably, the answers move almost magically from the practical and impersonal to the heartfelt and deeply personal.

Again, the technique of reflection is valuable. The influencee needs to hear back how you understand how they’re hopeful, what they want, why they want it and how they truly believe things could be better.

Step #6: What’s the next step, if any?

The final step no longer looks at the whys, but turns to the hows. “What’s the next step, if any?” Adding those two little words – if any – is another way to reinforce the other person’s autonomy: it’s still up to her to decide whether there will be a next step.Now you are ready for one final action.

Ask their permission to meet again after an appropriate time has elapsed to review progress and to re-commit to the change. As stated, it’s likely that all six steps may not be necessary. Taking a structured approach to encourage change can often be the trigger for the influencee to take control themselves.

Influencing yourself

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about influencing others, but you can also use the Instant Influence technique to influence yourself. Here is Pantalon’s self-influence process:

Identify a change you’d like to make or an action you’d like to take. Formulate it in terms of behaviour, not results.

Write down the first Instant Influence question (Why might I change?), and then write down your answer. Move on to the next step, writing down your answers until you reach Step 5.

When you get to Step 5, write “Why?” then answer. Repeat four more times so that you’ve asked and answered the “five whys.”

When you reach Step 6, choose a small, manageable step, and pick a time that you will check back in with yourself to review your progress and choose a next step.

Advice for applying the method

Start small. Keep looking for smaller and smaller beginning steps until you find one that feels safe or that you can at least visualise doing.

Allow for the possibility that any problem might have many different solutions.

Focus on action, not decisions. We often focus too much on the how when we really should be looking at the why. But sometimes the how is the problem, and acquiring skills may be all that’s needed to get the ball rolling.

Don’t judge or self-censor. Just be open to the process.

Prepare to be surprised. You will almost certainly learn something new about your own reasons for wanting something.

Trust the process. You may find yourself taking action almost without realising it, so don’t feel you need to force yourself.

Have you consulted an expert? Experts may be able to identify whether the problem is one of skill or will.

Motivation is like a seed that sprouts and begins to grow while still underground. We may know it’s there, but we don’t always trust that one day it will break through to the light.

Affirm the influencee’s right to say no. Affirm their ownership of the decision.

P.S. I need a business coach (willing to train [at my expense] the right individual with some get up and go / sales/ marketing prowess) to facilitate demand for my coaching business. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please click http://business-coaching.com/andy/ for more information

Book Summary of ‘Spin Selling’ by Neil Rackham

Neil Rackham starts his book Spin Selling with some key advice: “Don’t trust what top performers tell you.“ We could surmise this is so they protect their “secret sauce” and maintain their competitive edge. But Rackham tells us it’s not. By spending a significant number of hours, he and his team have pulled together the real reasons, and all the true information we need to take on board. Having spent time observing top performers, he has distilled their expertise into a methodology we can all use to better our sales: SPIN Selling.

Lesson 1: A sales call in four stages.

Nearly all effective sales calls can be broken down into four stages.

Stage 1: The Preliminaries – the warming up events at the start of the call.

Rackham tells us there is no better way of opening a sales call. Conventional wisdom says that if we can somehow tap into an area of personal interest of the buyer we can form a relationship more quickly and the call will be more successful. For example if there is a family photograph on the desk, talk family: if there’s a golfing trophy – talk golf. But this is all conventional wisdom. It may have worked ten years ago when the world was not as connected and people bought from people they liked (or knew).

Today in the connected and distributed world, this is far from reality. The problem is greater with large sales when the transaction consists of many interconnected discussions and evaluations of your product or service, many taking place when you’re not there. It’s hard to be liked by or known to everyone in that loop. Today we are more likely to hear, “I like ______ [enter your name here], but I buy from his competition because they are cheaper.”

Alternatively we could make an opening benefit statement: “Better performance is a key issue in your market today, Sir, and our product can increase that tenfold!” Again conventional wisdom, but it’s not effective. By immediately focusing on our perception of the buyer’s needs, we are running the risk of alienating them and having them put up barriers. Who are you to tell them what they need? Who are you to offer unsolicited option?

Rackham suggests the preliminaries, whilst needed to break the ice, are not as critical in the successful large sale. Instead, he suggests we should focus more on how long the preliminaries take. Too short and we appear overly keen and abrasive, too long and the buyer can get bored and disengaged. So timing is critical and time is precious. As a rule of thumb, Rackham advocates that it’s best to err on the short side: no-one has ever complained that a seller didn’t waste their time! Get in, focus on your objectives and get on to the more important stage: investigating.

Stage 2: Investigating – Where SPIN begins.

Use open questions to elicit fact. We’ve all heard that advice. Avoid questions that can be answered with a simple yes or no. Structure questions so they invite description. Take a leaf from Inspector Columbo and ask questions and investigate. In essence this is the heart of SPIN Selling… but it’s not without structure. Rackham’s methodology for investigating breaks down into four types of questioning: Situation, Problem, Implication, Need-payoff (or SPIN).

Situation Questions focus on establishing facts. Finding out the background of the customer’s situation and what they are doing now. This is critical if we are to advance our opportunity. For a small sale it’s binary – there are only two stages: Sale or No Sale. For a larger sale there are two more intermediate stages: Continuation and Advance. The continuation stage is effectively permission given to keep talking. We may not be progressing rapidly, but at least we are moving in a forward motion and it’s not a termination of talk. The Advance stage is more positive. It’s the cue to “tell me more”.

So, the more effective situation questions we ask, the more successful the interaction with the buyer will be, and the better chance of advance. Situation questions get the buyer talking. Situation questions control attention, identify needs and give clues. Rackham warns us however that situation questions persuade while reasons don’t. Effectively, when we identify an interest in the buyer’s response, we should avoid jumping in with reasons why our products meet their needs. There’s more benefit to be accrued.

Problem identification is the second element of SPIN. A potential buyer who is 100% satisfied with the way things are, will not feel the need to change. Only when that level of satisfaction drops to 99.99% is there a chance of a sale. What we need to do is establish where there may be a problem, and from that problem, comes a need. It may start small with minor snags in the product or process , then develop into clear dissatisfaction and finally to a want, desire or intention to act. In each of these stages the problem is amplified and the need increases. That is the objective of this stage, to ask questions to identify the problem and grow its perception to the action level. Problem identification is key. Without clear definition of the need, there is simply no need to buy.

The third element of SPIN is Implication.

There are two types of need: implied and explicit. In the first type we find more complaints. “Our current systems doesn’t do X” or “I’m not happy with our product failure rate” are examples. In implied needs there is a problem but no real identification of how it can be resolved. This is not an issue to the SPIN seller. Indeed, developing implied needs is the key to breaking down 100% satisfaction, and identifying the chink in the armour which our product or service can resolve. We need implication questions. Implication questions increase the buyer’s perception of the problem’s seriousness. Implication questions tip the balance from the status quo toward the new problem-free scenario.

Rackham’s research suggests decision makers will respond favourably to a salesperson who uncovers implications. In essence, we are helping them see beyond the now and into the better future. But there is a negative side. Sellers who raise too many implications can make the buyer feel negative and depressed. If we make problems greater, we need to give a way out and that’s the fourth element of SPIN: Need-Payoff.

Need-Payoff. With implication things are a bit open ended. On the other hand explicit needs are more defined. “We need a faster system”, “We must have back-up capability”. These are explicit needs and point us, the seller, and the buyer in the same direction to problem resolution and sale. It’s in this area Rackham suggests that a great salesperson excels. When they hear implied needs they take notice and make the intangible tangible. They turn implied into explicit.

Basically, need-payoff questions build up the value or usefulness of the solution. Need-payoff questions focus the buyer on problems and solutions not problems and difficulties. Good need questions induce the buyer into personalising the benefits of the solution and with personalisation comes adoption. By asking the buyer to verbalise their thoughts we are effectively placing them as the “expert”…and everyone likes being considered an expert! This again, covertly moves the buyer to a positive decision, after all it was their idea – wasn’t it?

Rackham reminds us however, that for large sales many discussions on the viability of our product or service takes place without us being there. By focussing on needs when present, we align discussion to the buyer’s lens – their needs and their business – rather than to our product which perpetuates the need when we are not present.

Stage 3: Demonstrating capability.

In many sales transactions capability is demonstrated by informing the buyer of the features and advantages of the product or service. Better however – according to Rackham – to focus on benefits. So what is the difference? Features describe facts, data and product characteristics. They are merely statements, maybe of use in a small sale but effectively neutral in larger sales. Advantages show how products or services (or their features) can help the customer. These bring some positivity — but more so in small sales than larger. Benefits however, show how products or services meet explicit needs as expressed by the customer.

A major barrier that may remain at this stage of the sales transaction are objections. If we do encounter them then we’ve performed poorly in the earlier stages. Rackham says, rather than skilling up on objection handling – which is a regular focus of other sales training programmes – we should focus on objection prevention. Back to Need-payoff questions. Most objections are to solutions which don’t fit needs. The cure is simple, don’t talk about solutions until enough questions have been asked on needs. If objections are with costs then again there is a weakness in needs alignment. If the solution fully addresses a need, and that need is critically perceived by the buyer, money will be lees of an issue.

So the crux of demonstrating capability is to ensure the buyer embraces the advantages and visualises their use within their organisation. Again its personalisation – putting your solution in the center of your buyer’s vision.

Stage 4: Obtaining Commitment.

The journey is nearly over. We have three more activities to carry out. The first is to check that we’ve covered key concerns. In larger sales both the product and customer needs are likely to be complex. As a result, there may be areas of confusion or doubt in the buyer’s mind as commitment nears. Successful sellers take the initiative and ask the buyer whether there are any further points that need to be addressed. If none, then purchase is one step closer.

The next step is to summarise the benefits. It’s unlikely that the buyer has a clear picture of everything that has been discussed. Successful salespeople pull the threads together by summarizing key points of the discussion before moving to commitment. Finally, we need to propose a commitment. Don’t ask for an order. That is not proposing a commitment. It’s not what successful sales people do.

Successful sales people advance a sale. As a result of the commitment the sale will move forward in some way. (Remember the multiple conversations?). The commitment is the highest realistic pledge they are able to give. Successful sellers don’t push beyond this point. If an order is the commitment – well done – however one step closer is better than nothing.

P.S. I need a business coach (willing to train [at my expense] the right individual with some get up and go / sales/ marketing prowess) to facilitate demand for my coaching business. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please click http://business-coaching.com/andy/ for more information

Book Summary of ‘The Relationship Edge’ by Jerry Acuff

The Relationship Edge is a reminder that business always has, and always will be, about building relationships.

In this summary, we’ll learn what a valuable business relationship actually is, and how you can go about building them.

The payoff for following the principles you’ll learn in this summary and book are huge. Most importantly, you’ll have a systematic way to engage with people with whom you don’t naturally connect – people you meed for the first time, people you don’t know well, and people you haven’t connected with in a very long time.

What is a valuable business relationship?

Of course, it’s not enough to just build a relationship, because everybody . What we are talking about here are valuable business relationships.

The most valuable relationships, Acuff tells us, have lots of AIR – Access, Impact, and Results.

Access is exactly what you think it is. People will take your calls, answer your emails, and believe that any time with you is time well spent.

Impact means that you have you have an opportunity to influence the relationship in a positive manner, and vice versa.

Last but definitely not least, there’s results. Without it, you don’t have a great business relationship, you have some rapport or maybe a even a friendship. But not a successful business relationship.

When we have a valuable business relationship, people are proactively doing things to help each other succeed. It seems simple, but like in any pursuit, if you don’t focus on and master the basics, you’ll never succeed.

So that’s what a valuable relationship looks like, but that doesn’t tell us how to build them.

Building them includes mastering a conscious, systematic and routine process – having the right mindset, asking the right questions, and doing the right thing.

Of course, the process of building a relationship doesn’t happen overnight, and it will typically progress through six stages that Acuff calls the relationship pyramid.

The relationship pyramid

Here are the six stages, starting from the bottom of the pyramid and ending at the top:

  1. People who don’t know you by name;
  2. People who know you by name:
  3. People who like you;
  4. People who are friendly with you;
  5. People who respect you;
  6. People who value a relationship with you. This last step is your goal with any relationship you want to build to the highest level.

In any relationship you have you’ll probably recognise it at one of those stages. Before we move on to discuss how we can start moving up the pyramid, there are a few points to keep in mind.

First, movement up the pyramid doesn’t have to be sequential. You can’t skip any of the steps, but you can jump through multiple steps at once.

Second, it is a lot easier to move down the pyramid than going back up. Trust is a big issue in relationships, and once it’s gone, it’s tough to get back. So remember to continuously nurture the relationships that already have at the top of the pyramid.

Lastly, this process won’t work on everyone. Sometimes people just won’t want to have a relationship with you, no matter how hard you try. You need to learn to identify those situations, and move on when it it’s clear that you are up against a dead end.

Now let’s move on to the tools you can use in building a valuable business relationship.

Having the right mindset

Think well of yourself

As Acuff says in the book, to build any successful relationship, you must think well of yourself. If you can’t see yourself having a relationship with a high powered executive, you can’t have a relationship with a high powered executive.

Without the belief that you are capable of building relationships with the people you want to business relationships with, you won’t get very far.

Once we’ve got over that hurdle, we can move on to…

Think well of others

Zig Ziglar has a quote that is often repeated, and it’s worth repeating again here:

You can get everything you want in life if you simply help enough other people get what they want.

In order to do that, you need to have a genuine desire to help other people. If you don’t, the entire process of continuing to build relationships is going to burn you out, quickly.

Why? Because as Acuff says, relationships are built over time, and time is one of the most important elements of relationship building. Spending time with people is just part of the deal. The more time, the better.

Things that will make this better and easier for you when you spend time with people include:

  • having a natural curiosity about others;
  • focussing on others instead of yourself;
  • appreciating and understanding the other person’s points of view;
  • having a desire to make people feel important;
  • listening to other people because you want to hear.

For some people this just comes naturally. But it can also be taught. In the next section we are going to talk about asking the right questions, which will help you uncover information from people that will help you make a stronger connection with them, which will help you think better of them, which will make you want to spend more time with them, which will ultimately end with you building the relationship you want to build.

It all starts with…

Asking the right questions

The best way to make connections with people you are building relationships with is to find out what they treasure. As Acuff points out, if you know what and who people treasure, and you act on that information to show you know you care – they are much more likely to tell you want they need professionally.

The best way to find out what people treasure is to ask them questions. Lots of them.

Asking the right questions

Acuff lists out 20 questions you can use to get the ball rolling with anybody you meet:

  1. What do you do when you are not working?
  2. Where did you go to school (and how did you choose it)?
  3. Where did you grow up and what was it like growing up there?
  4. What was your high school like?
  5. What do you enjoy reading when you have the time?
  6. How did you decide to do [whatever it is they do for a living] for a living?
  7. Tell me something about your family.
  8. Where is your favourite place to vacation?
  9. What kind of vacation would you like to take that you have not taken?
  10. What community associations, if any, do you have time to be involved in?
  11. What sports, if any, do you enjoy participating in?
  12. What sports do you enjoy watching?
  13. If you could have tickets for any event, what would it be?
  14. How did you decide to settle in this area?
  15. Tell me something about yourself that would surprise me?
  16. What things would you really want to do more of, but don’t have time for?
  17. What challenges/issues in your work might I, or my company, be able to help you with?
  18. What is the most frustrating thing about being in your business these days?
  19. In your opinion, what two or three qualities make a top-notch [insert your job role here]?
  20. If all work paid the same and you could go around again, what would you do?

Of course, these are just some of the questions you can ask the people you meet.

If you want to create more questions, or make it easier to remember those 20, remember the acronym FORM. It stands for family, occupation, recreation, and motivation (as in what motivates them in life). Asking questions about those things will always get you to uncover the things that they treasure.

Asking these questions right

Once you have the right questions to ask, you need to make sure you ask them right.

There are two things you need to do in order to expect the questions to uncover anything of substance.

First, you need to create an atmosphere of comfort and safety. People will often feel more safe if you are open and share with them as well. For instance, after you ask somebody where they are from and they answer, you can respond by telling them where you are from and something about why you moved there.

Another technique for making people feel comfortable is to ask their permission to ask a question. For instance, you might say something like the following:

“Before I talk about my product, I thought it might make sense for me to ask you a different kind of question. Do you mind if I ask what you enjoy reading when you have the time?”

As Acuff points out, almost nobody will answer “no” to the permission question, giving you the ability to continue asking personal questions and building the relationship on a personal level.

The second thing you need to do is ask good questions. A good question doesn’t suggest an answer, and invites the person to answer openly and honestly.

When you transition from personal to business questions, the best questions are the one that gets your prospect to think differently about an issue than they did before.

Doing the right thing

As Acuff points out, relationships aren’t built on your mind-set or the information you gather, they are built on your actions. Ultimately, you don’t build them on what you say, but on what you do and how you do it.

One way to show that you value a relationship is to give inexpensive, unexpected and thoughtful gifts based on information they have shared with you. Let’s say that somebody told you that they really enjoy a particular author’s work. And let’s say that you happen to be at a conference where that author is presenting. You might suck it up and stand in line to get an autographed copy of the book to send to them.

But as Acuff points out, gifts like golf balls, pens or coffee mugs with your logo on them don’t count. Neither do things like dinner or taking somebody out golfing. Those things don’t show any special thought or care for the person you trying to get closer to – those are expected on thoughtless gifts.

Other things you can do to show you care about them is remembering important dates like their birthday or wedding anniversary, important family names, or special interests the person might have.

Being alert for when something relating to those things pops up, and acting on it in a timely manner, will go a long way in building the relationship.

Another thing that most people value highly in a business relationship context is access to people they view as important. So if you know somebody that the other person respects and looks up to, find a way to connect them to that person.

You can also remain alert to major events in their lives. Things like a marriage, promotion, or a negative event like a serious illness or business downturn stand out here. When it comes to the negative major events, most people turn away. If you are genuinely trying to build a real relationship with these people, being there for them in good times and bad are opportunities to bring you even closer.

Pyramid Hopping

Building relationships takes time and work. But sometimes there’s a path to accelerate the process, and it’s called pyramid hopping.

This is when you actively pursue contacts by leveraging the relationships you have with people on your Relationship Pyramid.

The higher you are on someone’s Pyramid, the stronger the endorsement you are likely to get when her or she introduces you to the person you are trying to connect with.

As Acuff says, it’s the difference between “I don’t know him very well, but I’ve been in some meetings with him and it seems like you two might have something in common” and “You need to meet Jerry because he can help you.”

Just like everything else to do with relationships, it works better if you have a strategy. The heart of the strategy involves three steps.

First, you need to uncover who has you at the top of their pyramid. You should have a pretty good sense of this already. But to be clear, it doesn’t include every one of your 500+ LinkedIn connections.

Second, you need to uncover who is at the top of those people’s pyramids. Those are the people you’ll most likely get a strong introduction to. This typically requires asking them specifically who they know in a particular field that you want an introduction to.

Third, when you ask for the introduction, you need to be as specific as possible about what you are asking for. The more specific you make your request, the more likely it is that you’ll get the introduction you are looking for.

Conclusion

As we continue to dive deeper into technology and tools designed to help us create connections with people, it’s easy to forget that we still need to build real relationships with people based on principles that work.

Building and maintaining meaningful relationships has always been, and always will be, critical to your success in business or your career.

So, as we wrap up today, think about one specific action you can take to climb your way to the top of the relationship pyramid with just one of your contacts. Do that, and then keep doing that every single day for the rest of your life.

Eventually, you’ll get to exactly where you want to go.

P.S. I need a business coach (willing to train [at my expense] the right individual with some get up and go / sales/ marketing prowess) to facilitate demand for my coaching business. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please click http://business-coaching.com/andy/ for more information

Book Summary of ‘The Leadership Gap’ by Lolly Daskal

Lolly Daskal has seen it all in her years as an executive coach. She’s spent countless hours in boardrooms, executive suites and corporate jets. She’s helped leaders navigate both success and failure.

Through her work she has identified the one thing that separates the best from the rest – great leaders have the ability to rethink who they are. Many leaders get stuck because they rely on what has worked for them in the past, even when it is no longer working. Great leaders, on the other hand, are open to learning and growing to better serve the people they lead.

In her book The Leadership Gap, she introduces us to a system of seven archetypes that will help view yourself objectively so that you can identify the gaps you face as you work towards greatness.

You’ll see parts of yourself in each of these archetypes. We shift between them depending on the situation.

But you’ll also recognise yourself in what Lolly describes as leadership gaps. These gaps sometimes lead us to the “shadow side” of our leadership archetypes, ultimately holding us back from becoming successful.

Once you are able to see yourself objectively, you can start to create a path forward. That’s exactly what we’ll explore as we introduce you to each of the seven archetypes.

The Rebel

The Rebel is somebody who sees something that isn’t right in the world, and then does everything in his power to correct it. In a business context, you’ll notice them overcoming huge roadblocks to save project, or in extreme cases, a company.

When we think of rebels, we think of people like Rosa Parks and Elon Musk. They seem to ask themselves, “how can I push the envelope?” in every situation.

The rebel’s strength is self-confidence, backed up by competence. As Lolly points out, confidence alone is not sufficient. You need both in order to become great as a rebel leader.

The rebel’s leadership gap is self-doubt – in most cases, the irrational kind. Almost every high achiever faces some degree of self-doubt. After all, they are trying to do what other people would not, or could not, do.

When self-doubt creeps in, it leads to the leadership gap archetype called The Imposter. It’s the never-ending sense that somehow you will be “found out.” It’s the need for perfection, when you know that perfection is impossible. It’s comparing yourself to others, when you know that there’s always somebody better, faster and stronger.

Luckily, there are a number of things you can do to overcome this gap and find your inner rebel when you need it most.

  1. Stop comparing yourself to others.
  2. Remind yourself that there is no such thing as perfect.
  3. Make a list of your accomplishments to remind yourself that you are indeed capable of great things.
  4. Create an inner circle for support.
  5. Assess your skills and work on strengthening the skills that cause you to doubt yourself.
  6. Constantly remind yourself of the cause you are working towards. Self-doubt has a habit of disappearing in the face of a worthy cause.

The Explorer

The Explorer is somebody who knows when to rely on their analytical mind, but also when to rely on their intuition. In particular, they use their intuition to test the boundaries of what is known, and how things are currently done.

When we think of explorers, we think of people like Jeff Bezos, Sarah Blakely and Neil deGrasse Tyson. They seem to be always asking themselves, “what can I discover?”

The explorer’s strength is intuition. Intuition is knowledge based on experience, stored deeply in your brain, and available quickly on demand. Most people commonly refer to this as listening to their gut, but as Lolly explains, it’s a little more complicated than that.

The explorer’s leadership gap is manipulation. When people trust your intuition as a leader to guide them, it’s a slippery slope to use it to get whatever you want. Sometimes this leads to using intuition to manipulate others to gain their control.

When this happens, we end up with leadership gap archetype called The Exploiter. They will set themselves up as the expert in a situation even when they are not. They will withhold information from others, and they will often make threats to get what they want.

When you find yourself slipping from the Explorer to the Exploiter, there are a number of things you can remind yourself of to get you back on track:

  1. Look for opportunities to praise instead of prey. Don’t take advantage of other people’s weaknesses.
  2. Don’t make others give up something in order to serve your own self-interest.
  3. Mean what you say and say what you mean. The Exploiter will often say things other people want to hear, but aren’t quite true.
  4. Leverage your qualities as an Explorer – the power of self-assurance, the ability of persuasion, the capacity for decisiveness, and the quintessence of preparedness.

The Truth Teller

The Truth Teller is somebody who believes he owes it to the people in his life to be honest, open and sincere at all times. He will the tell truth when it serves others, even when he runs the risk of offending people.

When we think of truth tellers, we think of people like Ronald Reagan, Indra Nooyi, and Winston Churchill. They seem to be always asking themselves, “where should I speak up?”

The truth teller’s strength is candor, which one of the hardest things we can do. A research study at the University of Massachusetts showed that 60 percent of adults can’t complete a ten-minute conversation without lying at least once. So, somebody who can speak the truth in all areas of their life is a rare bird indeed.

The truth teller’s leadership gap is suspicion. Truth tellers can easily succumb to the suspicion that those around them aren’t telling the truth. Then, little by little, it becomes easier to justify not telling the complete truth yourself.

Ultimately this path leads to the leadership gap archetype of The Deceiver. Deceivers are remarkably charming (it’s easier to be charming when you’re not restricted to the truth), they are emotionally manipulative, and wonderful at distraction. They are also notorious blamers and never take accountability for their actions.

If you find yourself identifying as a deceiver, here are some ways to get yourself back on track:

  1. Learn to be flexible. Deceivers tend to see the world in black and white.
  2. Communicate everything – the path to the deceiver often starts with withholding information, not outright lies.
  3. Look for solutions, not blame. When you create a culture where solutions are rewarded and mistakes aren’t punished, the truth can be told by everybody – including you.
  4. Model your own high standards – don’t tolerate liars and cheats.

The Hero

The Hero is somebody who takes action while others sit on the sidelines waiting for somebody else to step up. They act in spite of overwhelming odds and opposition. They are willing to put their careers (and sometimes lives) on the line for a shot at greatness.

When we think of heroes, we think of people like Justice Anthony Kennedy, Malala Yousafzai, and J.K. Rowling. People like this seem to always be asking themselves, “where is courage needed?”

The hero’s strength is courage. Science doesn’t yet understand why people take on heroic tasks, but we do know that it’s an activity that has distinct characteristics. It is performed in service of others in need, voluntarily, with the recognition of the risks, and without expectation of external gain.

The hero’s leadership gap shouldn’t surprise us – it’s fear. A hero in one situation can be paralysed by fear in another. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “fear defeats more people than anything in the world.”

Fear can lead to the leadership gap archetype of The Bystander. Why? It’s easier to watch things unfold rather than take action. What you don’t realise is that when you are a bystander to an injustice, you make it easier to rationalise being a bystander as well. It’s contagious, and it’s destructive.

If you find yourself tempted to be a bystander in a situation that calls for action, you can close the gap by doing the following:

  1. Create a bias for decisive action. As Susan Jeffers says, feel the fear and do it anyways.
  2. Stand tall, literally. Researchers at Harvard and Columbia Universities have shown that practicing the “power pose” for a few minutes increases testosterone and lowers cortisol, making it more likely you’ll take action.
  3. Remind yourself that you are in control. You ultimately decide whether or not you take action

The Inventor

The Inventor is a visionary, constantly inventing new products, or improving existing ones. An inventor typically refuses to settle for anything else than excellence. They are experimenters, knowing that small bets pay off in big wins. They are also willing to fail in order to pursue those wins.

When we think of inventors, we think about people like Walt Disney, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Blake Mycoskie. They seem to be always asking the question “how can we make this better?”

The inventor’s strength is integrity. As Lolly says, in order to have integrity you need to know who you are, you need to know what you stand for, and you have to know what your code of conduct is. When an inventor has integrity, there is no stopping him.

The inventor’s leadership gap is corruption. Every single day you’ll face opportunities to let your integrity slide. The seven deadly sins – wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony are good places to start.

Once your integrity starts to slip, you are on your way to becoming the leadership gap archetype The Destroyer. Instead of making the world better with their ideas, product and companies, they serve their own purposes and make things worse.

Here’s what to do to close the gap if you find yourself tempted to let your integrity slip:

  1. 1. Look for the good, not the bad. A destroyer tends to focus on the negative in any situation, which makes it harder to stick to your code of conduct.
  2. Set high personal standards, and avoid the temptation to cut corners, even when others aren’t looking.
  3. Get to know yourself. Integrity is created and maintained through constant self-examination.
  4. Honour your commitments.
  5. Take responsibility when you fall short on your commitments.

The Navigator

Navigators know where to go, and they know how to bring people with them. They have a way of making the complicated simple, and the simple understandable. Even more importantly, they know how to navigate themselves.

When we think of navigators, we think of people like Michael Bloomberg, Sheryl Sandberg and Nassim Nicholas Taleb. They seem to be always asking “how can we get to where we need to go?”

The navigator’s strength is trust. They trust in their own ability to lead, and they also know how to build trust in those around them. Trust allows people to open up without the fear of being hurt. To take the appropriate risks without the fear of reprimand.

The navigator’s leadership gap is arrogance. When you have a high level of trust in your ability to navigate an organisation towards success, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you know it all. “I’ll just tell people what to do and they’ll do it” is something you might find a person like that saying.

This path ends up with the leadership archetype of The Fixer. As Lolly says, a fixer is a navigator that nobody trusts. The fixer feels the need to help save people from themselves instead of leading them. They micromanage.

Here’s what you can do to close the gap if you find yourself slipping into the fixer role:

  1. Learn to fix the fixer – start with fixing yourself.
  2. Be mindful of boundaries – don’t let yourself get swallowed up in other people’s challenges. Give them the opportunity to fend for themselves.
  3. Pay attention to communication, commitment, competence and character.
  4. Demonstrate trust by honouring, admiring, and appreciating those around you.

The Knight

The Knight is a loyal protector and defender with unwavering beliefs. Knights will stand beside you and serve you before they serve themselves.

When we think of knights we think of people like Mother Teresa, Herb Kelleher and Jill Abramson. They always seem to be asking themselves “how can I serve you?”

The knight’s strength is loyalty. Loyalty expert James Kane tells us that there are three specific things that determine whether or not we feel a sense of loyalty to another person, brand or organisation: (1) a sense of trust, (2) a sense of belonging, and (3) a sense of purpose. A knight taps into all three.

The knight’s leadership gap is self-serving. As human beings, we have a bias to serve ourselves first. One of the manifestations of that is to rationalise that what’s good for you is also good for others.

This often leads to the leadership gap archetype of The Mercenary. They have a lack of dedication to the cause, inadequate loyalty, and usually a shortage of competence.

Here are some ways you can get back on the path of the knight:

  1. Realise that thinking about serving others first is what ultimately leads to the highest levels of success.
  2. Pay attention to how people respond to you.
  3. Put yourself in other people’s shoes.
  4. Get to know the people around you – it’s easier to serve people you connect with.
  5. Be honest with yourself. You can’t expect loyalty from others if you don’t model it yourself.

Conclusion

Being a leader is tough, and you will almost always find yourself in times of darkness. But as Desmond Tutu once said, “hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.”

In those situations, you now have the tools to choose the light over the darkness by choosing the leadership archetype that the situation demands.

The rebel, explorer, truth teller, hero, inventor, navigator and knight are all inside you.

Make your choice, and make it a good one.

P.S. I need a business coach (willing to train [at my expense] the right individual with some get up and go / sales/ marketing prowess) to facilitate demand for my coaching business. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please click http://business-coaching.com/andy/ for more information

Book Summary of ‘Instant Influence’ by Michael Pantalon

Would the ability to influence your customers, your work colleagues, your partner or even your children be valuable to you? Michael Pantalon wrote the book Instant Influence to do just that. He gives us a scientifically supported method that gets people to take action because they want to. In fact, it’s even possible to use the Instant Influence methodology on yourself. Spend the next few minutes with me exploring how you can be a master of influence.

Can you motivate anyone in 7 minutes?

Have you ever found yourself wondering why the people in your life won’t change, despite the numerous logical reasons you’ve pointed out to them? As it turns out, that type of persuasion rarely – if ever – works. As Pantalon tells us, people change because of their own reasons. That’s the secret sauce of Instant Influence –it helps people discover their own justification for doing something, even something they thought they didn’t want to do.When someone genuinely doesn’t want to change, change won’t happen. But even the most reluctant of us has a tiny spark of desire to change hidden within. Helping us find that spark can literally transform our lives.

How?

People take action when they hear themselves say that they want to. Get someone to tell you why and action to change is almost sure to follow. Pantalon uses this notion at the heart of his Instant Influence method and he extends it with the following four assumptions:

1. We are free to choose how we behave. 2. Other people can threaten that freedom by attempting to impose control. 3. We tend to react very negatively when our freedom is threatened, making us more resistant to the control being applied. 4. Our freedom can be restored by asserting self-determination and taking control ourselves.

The key point is how we frame our attempt to influence. We need to take the frame of our focus not our own. Our influencing conversation must contain statements such as:

“This is your choice, not mine.”

“It’s completely your decision.”

“You’re free to do whatever you want”

“I can’t make this choice for you – it’s up to you.”

All of these give power back to the influencee, brightens the spark and gives ignition to change.

Pantanlon’s Instant Influence method consists of six progressive steps leading to change. In challenging situations we may need to move through each stage. In other cases – having created the spark – the influencee takes control and accelerates the process themselves.

But let’s move step by step.

Step #1: Why might you change?

The first challenge we must meet is how to put the influencee in a position where they are able to visualise themselves in the desired situation. In most cases you will have identified what you want to change and what the desired outcome should look like. It’s not news to your family member who doesn’t have a healthy diet that continuing down that path might lead to health problems.

So you need to phrase questions in such a way as to challenge the influencee to see themselves in that scene. Instead of focussing on the negative behaviour, Pantalon suggests we look for desirable behaviour close to where we want to get to.

He suggests asking questions such as:

Why are you doing …..? (Where the focus is close to the target) for example, “Why did you choose salad today” for someone who wished to lose weight. Follow up with “Why would you do more?”

Pantanlon suggests we could focus on the past and ask: “Why have you ever[done the thing we’re talking about]?”

There are some questions we need to avoid especially as we have identified, those which sound like orders:

Why don’t you…? Why haven’t you…? Why wouldn’t you…?

Pantalon then suggests we use a technique psychologists and counselors call reflection. Reflection is the process of repeating back, or echoing, what the other person has just said, as if you are holding up a mirror to his words. We need to reflect back even the tiniest spark of motivation to help the other person see more clearly what it is he already wants. Having kindled the spark we need to give it more oxygen.

Step #2: How ready are you to change?

The next step starts with the deceivingly simple question: on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 means “not ready at all” and 10 means “totally ready”, how ready are you to make that change? The goal of Step 2 is to help you and the other person gauge their motivation.

Pantalon suggests we don’t attach too much importance to the numbers. A low number doesn’t mean that they’re not likely to take action, nor does a high number mean that they are likely to take action. What’s important isn’t the number but the process of thinking about why they might want to do something.

We then move quickly to…

Step #3: Why didn’t you pick a lower number?

This is where the technique gets interesting. Why would someone who they think is trying to encourage them to do more ask why we didn’t do less? If somebody picks a low number, this will usually stop them in their tracks. Then they’ll start thinking of the reasons why they didn’t choose a “1” instead of a “3”.

This is where the person starts to uncover some real reasons why they are ready to change. The critical part is that the reasons for change are coming out of their mouth and not yours. They are no longer being told what to do and will now feel like they are ready to make a change because they want to. This is incredibly powerful stuff.

Step #4: Imagine you’ve changed. What would the positive outcomes be?

Here’s where we start to crystalise the benefits of change. We can suggest that the change has already happened and encourage the person to visualise the change in detail. Ask them what would be different in their life. What would they be able to do now that they’ve changed that they couldn’t do before?

If you feel like things are going really well, you can even ask them to give a deadline of when you think the change would be complete. Pantanlon’s research has shown that people are far more likely to change if they think of the upside of changing, rather than the downside of not changing.

Step #5: Why are those outcomes important to you

In step 5 we are getting close to visible change itself. But before then we need to once more take the frame of the influencee. Pantalon asks us to ask them to dig deep for reasons to make the change. The familiar Five Whys technique is of value here. Ask, “Why are those outcomes important to you?” and for each answer ask why.

By the time you’ve got to the fifth why, you’ve most likely reached a true personal reason, close to the heart of the influence. Don’t be surprised if they become emotional at this stage. It’s sometimes quite a journey. Invariably, the answers move almost magically from the practical and impersonal to the heartfelt and deeply personal.

Again, the technique of reflection is valuable. The influencee needs to hear back how you understand how they’re hopeful, what they want, why they want it and how they truly believe things could be better.

Step #6: What’s the next step, if any?

The final step no longer looks at the whys, but turns to the hows. “What’s the next step, if any?” Adding those two little words – if any – is another way to reinforce the other person’s autonomy: it’s still up to her to decide whether there will be a next step.Now you are ready for one final action.

Ask their permission to meet again after an appropriate time has elapsed to review progress and to re-commit to the change. As stated, it’s likely that all six steps may not be necessary. Taking a structured approach to encourage change can often be the trigger for the influencee to take control themselves.

Influencing yourself

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about influencing others, but you can also use the Instant Influence technique to influence yourself. Here is Pantalon’s self-influence process:

Identify a change you’d like to make or an action you’d like to take. Formulate it in terms of behaviour, not results.

Write down the first Instant Influence question (Why might I change?), and then write down your answer. Move on to the next step, writing down your answers until you reach Step 5.

When you get to Step 5, write “Why?” then answer. Repeat four more times so that you’ve asked and answered the “five whys.”

When you reach Step 6, choose a small, manageable step, and pick a time that you will check back in with yourself to review your progress and choose a next step.

Advice for applying the method

Start small. Keep looking for smaller and smaller beginning steps until you find one that feels safe or that you can at least visualise doing.

Allow for the possibility that any problem might have many different solutions.

Focus on action, not decisions. We often focus too much on the how when we really should be looking at the why. But sometimes the how is the problem, and acquiring skills may be all that’s needed to get the ball rolling.

Don’t judge or self-censor. Just be open to the process.

Prepare to be surprised. You will almost certainly learn something new about your own reasons for wanting something.

Trust the process. You may find yourself taking action almost without realising it, so don’t feel you need to force yourself.

Have you consulted an expert? Experts may be able to identify whether the problem is one of skill or will.

Motivation is like a seed that sprouts and begins to grow while still underground. We may know it’s there, but we don’t always trust that one day it will break through to the light.

Affirm the influencee’s right to say no. Affirm their ownership of the decision.

P.S. I need a business coach (willing to train [at my expense] the right individual with some get up and go / sales/ marketing prowess) to facilitate demand for my coaching business. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please click http://business-coaching.com/andy/ for more information

Book Summary of ‘Make It Stick’ by Marc McDaniel

The first line in the preface of Make It Stick says it all:

“People generally are going about learning in the wrong ways.”

There is plenty of research done by cognitive psychologists to show that most of what we’ve learned about learning turns out to be wasted effort at best, and harmful at worst.

In this summary we are going to cover (a) what learning is, (b) what doesn’t work in learning, and (c) multiple strategies for making your learning more effective.

Your journey to making your learning “stick” begins now.

What Is Learning?

The definition the authors give for learning is this:

Acquiring knowledge and skills and having them readily available from memory so you can make sense of future problems and opportunities.

Then they go on to explain their three immutable aspects of learning:

  1. To be useful, learning requires memory, so what we’ve learned is still there later when we need it.
  2. We need to keep learning and remembering all our lives. Just like we can’t advance through middle school without some mastery of language arts, maths, science, and social studies, we can’t advance in work without mastering job skills and how to deal with difficult colleagues. Then, in retirement (if you ever end up retiring) you pick up new interests you need to master. You have an advantage in life if you continuously learn.
  3. Finally, learning is an acquired skill, and the most effective strategies are often counterintuitive.

Learning Is An Acquired Skill

Learning is most definitely an acquired skill, and in order to develop it, you need to believe that you can do it. Carol Dweck calls this the Growth Mindset in her fantastic book Mindset, which you should most definitely read.

Every time you learn something new, you actually change your brain. This is called neuroplacticity, which is a scientific term that describes the lasting change to the brain throughout your life.

So while it’s true that some of your intelligence is determined by your genes, it’s also true that you can learn to become a more effective learner.

How well you learn, which will become an increasingly important skill in the next ten years, is completely within your control.

Understanding this, along with understanding how to deal with failure (where the most important learning occurs), will determine the trajectory of your life.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s turn our attention to what doesn’t work in learning.

What Doesn’t Work

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

– a quote often misattributed to Mark Twain

Before we move into what works about learning, we have to unlearn a lot of the things we thought we knew about learning.

The strategies that most people use in order to get through school with passing grades are often the least effective strategies if your goal is to actually learn the material.

The first ineffective strategy is rereading. The strategy most people employ when studying for their tests are to reread the notes they took in class along with the books that they read during a course.

The authors point out that rereading has three strikes against it:

  1. It’s time consuming;
  2. It doesn’t result in durable memory (you’ll forget what you reread shortly after rereading it)
  3. It often involves a kind of self-deception, where you feel a growing familiarity with the content, which you mistake for mastery of the subject.

For those reasons, you should stop using rereading as one of your strategies.

The second ineffective strategy is called massed practice, which is the single-minded, rapid-fire repetition of something you are trying to burn into memory. The most common application of this strategy can be found in students cramming for an exam the night before.

As the authors point out, these strategies will make you feel like you are mastering these subjects, but you are not. For true mastery of a subject, those two strategies are a waste of time.

In addition to those two ineffective strategies, there’s a commonly quoted theory that people have a learning style that they learn best through.

For instance, some people are auditory learners and some other people are visual learners, and so on. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing there is no empirical research that backs up that claim.

However, there is research that suggests you’ll learn better when you engage as many of your senses as possible when you are learning.

Now that we’ve got what doesn’t work out of the way, let’s move on to what does.

What Works #1: Retrieval

Practicing retrieving new learning from memory is the primary study strategy to replace rereading.

As you are learning something, instead of just highlighting things you want to remember, pause periodically and ask yourself questions like:

  • what are the key ideas?
  • what terms or ideas are new to me?
  • how do the ideas relate to what I already know?

This works much better for a few reasons.

First, it eliminates the reliance on the sense of mastery you’ll feel because the subject matter is familiar.

Second, you find out what you actually know. If you don’t actually understand how the knowledge might connect with other knowledge you have, you haven’t really wrestled with it and fully understand it. And now you’ll be armed with where you don’t quite understand the subject, and can go back and deepen your understanding.

Third, it forces you to understand the central precepts of what you are learning rather than on the peripheral items.

As the authors point out, your brain is not a muscle that gets stronger, but the neural pathways in the brain do get stronger when you retrieve from your memories – which is what you do when you quiz yourself.

When you start doing this for the first time it will feel awkward and frustrating. It’s also likely that it won’t feel as productive as rereading your notes.

What Works #2: Space Out

Your learning is much stronger when the retrieval practice is spaced out. So, in addition to testing yourself shortly after you learn something, you’ll continue to test yourself on the knowledge over time.

In order to put this into practice, you’ll need to overcome your natural inclination to focus on one subject and work on it until you’ve “mastered” it.

Your intuition will tell you that you are making progress, which will reinforce your belief that your strategy is working.

However, you’ll fail to see that almost all of these gains are coming from your short-term memory, which will quickly fade over time.

Instead, by spacing your retrieval practice, you’ll be able to retrieve the knowledge more readily, in more varied settings, and apply it to a wider variety of problems.

You know, in a way that is actually useful to you as you try strive to accomplish your goals in our business and life.

Again, this way of learning is going to feel more awkward and difficult than cramming. But when you are reconstructing what you learn from your long-term memory, you are strengthening your mastery of the topic.

What Works #3: Interleaving

Interleaving is the practice of two or more subjects or skills during a single session.

Here’s the example the authors give in the book. Suppose you are trying to teach new employees a complicated new process that involves ten procedures.

The typical way of doing this is to master procedure 1, repeating it until you seem to have it down, and then move on to procedure 2, and so on.

Interleaving practice would suggest that you practice procedure 1 a few times, then switch to procedure 4, then to 3, then back to 1, and so on.

Doing it this way will feel slower than ploughing through the procedures one by one, and you’ll notice a difference, but the goal isn’t for you to have the topic in your short-term memory, it’s to master it and implant it into your long-term memory.

The research shows unequivocally that for mastery and long-term retention, interleaving practice is the way to go.

There’s another benefit that both variation and interleaving bring to the table that aren’t immediately obvious. It allows you to extract the underlying principles or “rules” that differentiate types of problems, further allowing you to be more successful at picking the right solutions in unfamiliar situations.

Which has to be the point of learning, right?

What Works #4: Elaboration

Elaboration is the process of giving new material meaning by expressing it in your own words and connecting it with what you already know.

There are many ways you can do this, but the most powerful way would be to explain it to somebody else in your own words, while connecting it to other material you already know.

As an example, reading these books and summarising them is my way of implementing this practice into my learning journey.

Another powerful form of elaboration is to find a metaphor or visual cue for the new information. For instance, when teaching the structure of an atom, many science teachers will use the metaphor of the solar system, with the planets orbiting the sun, just as electrons spin around the nucleus.

This technique is extra powerful because there’s no known limit to what you can learn if you make elaboration a cornerstone in your learning strategy.

What Works #5: Generation

Generation is an attempt to answer a question or solve a problem before being shown the answer or the solution.

After growing up in a school system that only rewards having the right answer in the right way, this technique might strike fear in your heart.

This is what happens in experiential learning – you set out to accomplish a task, you run into a problem, you look for information that will help you solve the problem, and then use that information to solve it.

This has the added benefit of helping you uncover the difference between what you thought the answer would be, and what it actually was. I’ve found that this helps create humility, because the answer is almost never what you expect it to be.

What Works #6: Reflection

Reflection is the act of taking a few minutes to review what has been learned in a recent class or experience, and then asking yourself some questions:

  • what went well?
  • what could have gone better?
  • what might you need to learn for better mastery?
  • what strategies might I use the next time I encounter this problem?

What Works #7: Calibration

Calibration is the act of aligning your judgments of what you know and don’t know with objective feedback so you can avoid being carried away with illusions of mastery.

For instance, airline pilots have gauges and dials in the cockpit that let them know critical things like whether or not they are on the right course to reach their destination, and whether or not the airplane is level.

Without objective feedback on what you know and what you don’t know, there’s no way to figure out where you need to improve.

What Works #8: Mnemonic Devices

Finally, mnemonic devices are tools which allow you to organise large bodies of information in a way that makes it easier to recall.

For instance, the book Made To Stick (a classic marketing book by Chip and Dan Heath) uses the acronym S.U.C.C.E.S. to help us remember what makes marketing messages stick: simple, unexpected, concrete, credible and emotional stories.

While you won’t likely be forced to recall information in the real world like you do on a test, and very little of what you do in your work will require you to make split second decisions (and thus prevent you from referring to notes you might have made on a subject), the more information you can store and recall in your brain, the more creative and innovative you can be in your solutions.

P.S. I need a business coach (willing to train [at my expense] the right individual with some get up and go / sales/ marketing prowess) to facilitate demand for my coaching business. If you, or someone you know, is interested, please click http://business-coaching.com/andy/ for more information

Book Summary of ‘When Millennials Take Over’ by Maddie Grant & Jamie Notter

About every 20 years, a new generation enters the workforce. And, often, people freak out. Today, it is the Millennial generation (born 1982 to 2004). Back in the 1990s, it was Generation X, with their disrespect for authority figures and cynicism. Before that, it was the Baby Boomers with their long hair, protests and self-focus.

This has been going on for generations and generations. Each new generation brings a shift in values, so every twenty years or so we have to adjust to the newest generation that takes over the workplace.

Millennials are revolutionising the way we view business. The social internet is powerful, but it was never going to revolutionise management on its own. And that’s where the Millennial steps in.

Over the next several years, Millennials will ascend into management positions. And with that will come change. This book is a guide for leaders who want to participate in the revolution, rather than be run over by it.

After some research, Grant & Notter discovered four organisational capacities that we think will prepare organisations to be successful:

Digital: Digital is about perpetual and exponential improvement of all facets of organisational life using both the tools and the mindsets of the digital world. Millennials are the first generation to have only worked in a digital workplace, and they are used to being able to leverage that power. Digital organisations grow faster and accomplish more by focusing on the user, both internally and externally.

Clear: Clear is about an increased and more intelligent flow of information and knowledge that supports innovation and problem solving within organisations. Clear in the Millennial era is about leveraging transparency in systems to allow better decision making. Clear organisations make smarter decisions that produce better results.

Fluid: Fluid is about increasing and distributing power in a dynamic and flexible way. Fluid in the Millennial era is about systems that enable an integrated process of thinking, acting and learning at all levels of the organisation. Fluid organisations serve customers more effectively and are more agile in strategy and execution.

Fast: Fast is about taking action at the exact moment that action is needed. Fast organisations jump ahead of the competition by releasing control in a way that does not increase risk.

We’re optimistic about this revolution and about the future of business. And optimism, not coincidentally, happens to be a key trait of Millennials.

Generations

To get a better understanding of the future of business, we’re going to take a look at the past. The hype and the oversimplifications that dominate the conversation about generations have prevented us from seeing the serious implications that generational differences have for business.

Historians William Strauss and Neil Howe are arguably the most credible authors when it comes to generations. They have discovered a pattern about the generation cycle. According to them, once every four generations (about 80 to 100 years), there has been a major war that marked the end of one era and the beginning of a new one. The first major transition was during the Revolutionary War in the 1770s, then four generations later the American Civil War, and then the Great Depression and World War II.

If you skip ahead 80 years from the Depression and World War II, it is right now. If the pattern is correct, we’re due for a significant transition from one era to the next.

In the last decade there has been a lot of evidence that suggests our machine approach to management may not be around for much longer. Not coincidentally, machines are not very good at engagement or agility. The Internet will certainly play a role in the shift, especially with how we run our organisations.

Millennials are not the first generation to be frustrated with bureaucracy and hierarchy, but they are the first generation to have been given tools to get around them. Growing up in the context of great abundance, Millennials have a hard time in a workplace where they are expected to follow orders, wait for others to make decisions, and do things the way they’ve always been done. Millennials want to do something different.

Digital

Digital is the first of the four capacities because in many ways it is the most obvious characteristic of the Millennial generation. You don’t have to be an online retailer to embrace what it means to be digital, it’s more about the digital mindset. It’s about organising and working in ways that leverage and build off of what digital technology has made possible in today’s world.

A big part of that is personal service. The digital mindset enables a personalised focus on each customer, something that was impossible in the previous eras. Organisations that embrace this mindset will put the customer first when it comes to decision making and provide as much customised attention as possible.

Digital companies are also constantly improving. Innovation is on the forefront of everyone’s mind. Companies that embrace the digital mindset can innovate business product offerings, business models and even internal management processes with a sharp focus on continuous improvement.

Being digital doesn’t mean you need the latest technology. That can be a part of it, but it mostly means putting the user first, serving the bulk of your customers, and continuously innovating and improving.

Truly digital companies integrate these principles into the framework of their organisation. They invest more in technology. They focus on internal culture. They enhance their digital collaboration.

To make your organisation digital, try to enable these principles. Create space for experiments. Let your employees try new things without fearing punishment. Guide your employees and give them better feedback. Hire for culture fit and personal growth. Revamp your HR department. Have them focus on using a hiring system that gets better candidates and reliable data around technical and collaborative skills.

Some of these may seem obvious, but that doesn’t make them easy. The digital mindset is about a relentless focus on the user (both external with customers and internal with employees), the ability to personalise their experiences, and continuous innovation – unlocking new value through learning and improvement.

Clear

There is an assumption in management that releasing too much information will lead to chaos, mistakes, misinterpretations, inefficiency and an overall lack of coordinated effort. This can be true. The solution is to control the information.

Sharing information doesn’t have to result in chaos. For example, let’s look at open-source software. By sharing the code and letting people change it, the software actually became more stable. Making it open allowed the right information to make its way into the right hands.

This is the core of clear: making more information available to more parts of the system to enable better and more strategic decision making, thus improving results. Clear organisations start with the assumption that information is and should be available. From there, they sharpen the focus to ensure that the correct information ends up in the correct place, relying on the power of an intelligent, decentralised system rather than central control.

Millennials are used to having all the information they could ever want at the tips of their fingertips. They have always had Google. In the workplace, they are frustrated by the lack of information flow. We’ve all felt it. It’s frustrating feeling like we have little power and are missing out on opportunities.

There is no one perfect way to make your organisation clear. Clear companies have a few things in common.

They work out loud. The internal work that gets done is never private; it is transparent and visible. When everything is visible, employees will make better decisions about how to get the work done, without requiring any actual layers of management.

They bring clients into their system. The clients are in on the transparency as well. They help make decisions and assist with project management. By creating a system where everything is more visible – to everyone – it becomes easier to come to decisions in a collaborative way, in which everyone’s relative expertise is accounted for in sharing the decision-making load.

To make your organisation clear, you must define your company culture. Here’s our definition of culture: the collection of words, actions, thoughts, and “stuff” that clarifies and reinforces what a company truly values. Most importantly, culture is the way people work together.

Share your data and be clear about who makes what decisions. Lack of clarity on these issues is often a huge inhibitor to good decisions. Give everyone access. Millennials know that, to do a good job, they should be able to find the information they need inside their organisations.

Fluid

Fluidity takes a look at the structure of a management system. Hierarchies have their purpose. They are efficient and coordinated, and they provide a key benefit that we cannot live without: they reduce the cognitive load. However, maintaining distributed authority doesn’t necessarily require the vertical nature of traditional management hierarchy.

One alternative to a hierarchical pyramid is a circle. In this system, people are organised based on the work they do and their domains of expertise. There are separate processes to deal with operational tensions (working in the business) and governance tensions (working on the business). This does not make everyone equal. It makes it more fluid.

It is not the lack of hierarchy or uniformity of decision-making authority that makes an organisation fluid. It is the ability to shift and morph those things to accomplish more. A fluid hierarchy learns how to shift decision-making authority and action to the individuals and groups who are best equipped to be successful given the context.

You can shift the power to those who have best access to the information or those who are closest to the customer, rather than always relying on the senior managers who may not have context-specific perspective.

The essence of a fluid hierarchy is a refined understanding of how a group of people can most effectively get done what needs to be done. “Managers” are valuable, of course, but they may not always be the best person to make every decision. Look at all of your team members as equally valuable.

A few things characterise a fluid organisation. They create power flux. They balance their expertise. Some employees have an expertise with customers, some with numbers, and some with finance. Give different employees different authority based on their expertise. Fluid organisations communicate well and thoughtfully – which is key to making a fluid hierarchy work.

To be fluid, your organisation must find its true mission. It must think beyond the profit margin. And it must be proactive. You need to look deeply at your organisation and your business model to understand what drives success and clearly identify how being more fluid does or does not connect to that.

Fluid hierarchies are more dynamic and flexible, which puts the responsibility back on the people to do a better job. The ability to confront and work through conflict, without any drama, is crucial to making a fluid hierarchy work. When decision-making is more fluid, your employees will be forced to figure things out on their own, and that will require smooth handling of conflict when it emerges.

Another key aspect to a fluid hierarchy is authenticity. Authenticity is when your external behaviour and the way you engage with others is very closely aligned with your deeper identity, purpose or even destiny. Authenticity is important because when your employees are confident that their coworkers are consistent, it will become easier to speak the truth, challenge each other and tackle the tough issues.

Fast

Fast is about speed. New technology is being developed constantly, and it’s almost impossible to stay ahead of the curve. In the last century, we’ve dramatically increased productivity and efficiency, but there’s always room for improvement.

The most important type of speed is the kind of speed that enables you to leap ahead when the context demands it. This is evident in the speed of social media growth. It took 13 years for television to reach 50 million people. Contrarily, by year 13, Facebook already had 1.2 billion active users.

Millennials are used to fast. And when they show up in the workplace, they expect this kind of speed. Millennials let go easily, while the rest of us hold on, and because of this, they’re always looking to the future. In order to leap to the next level, you need to let go of control. Giving up control is hard to do, but it’s worth it to make things go faster.

There are a few things you can do to make your organisation fast. To begin, try to build real internal and external relationships. With genuine relationships, you will gain trust. And with trust, it’s easier to give up control and gain speed.

The previous three attributes will help with speed as well. If you invest in technology and build a digital mindset, that will generate speed. If you get information where it needs to go, that will enable speed. If you give power to those on the ground, your organisation will become faster.

Get Out There

Digital, Clear, Fluid and Fast are powerful by themselves. But they will be much more successful when they are connected to a strong community. The transition needs human community to work, so integrate a community focus in addition to the four capacitates we discussed.

Furthermore, a strong and powerful culture will attract both the best customers and the best employees. And it will help you join the revolution.

Hope you enjoyed this summary. I help SMEs around the world triple their leads and double their profits. If you are interested in becoming a business coach then please watch this short video http://coachforprofit.com/andy/access/ and book some time https://www.timetrade.com/book/6KC81 or email me at andy@vanguardbusinesscoaching.com to set up a time for an exploratory discussion.


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