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The best managers have a fundamentally different understanding of workplace, company, and team dynamics. See what they get right.

A few years back, I interviewed some of the most successful CEOs in the world in order to discover their management secrets. I learned that the “best of the best” tend to share the following eight core beliefs.

1. Business is an ecosystem, not a battlefield.

Average bosses see business as a conflict between companies, departments and groups. They build huge armies of “troops” to order about, demonize competitors as “enemies,” and treat customers as “territory” to be conquered.

Extraordinary bosses see business as a symbiosis where the most diverse firm is most likely to survive and thrive. They naturally create teams that adapt easily to new markets and can quickly form partnerships with other companies, customers … and even competitors.

2. A company is a community, not a machine.

Average bosses consider their company to be a machine with employees as cogs. They create rigid structures with rigid rules and then try to maintain control by “pulling levers” and “steering the ship.”

Extraordinary bosses see their company as a collection of individual hopes and dreams, all connected to a higher purpose. They inspire employees to dedicate themselves to the success of their peers and therefore to the community–and company–at large.

3. Management is service, not control.

Average bosses want employees to do exactly what they’re told. They’re hyper-aware of anything that smacks of insubordination and create environments where individual initiative is squelched by the “wait and see what the boss says” mentality.

Extraordinary bosses set a general direction and then commit themselves to obtaining the resources that their employees need to get the job done. They push decision making downward, allowing teams form their own rules and intervening only in emergencies.

4. My employees are my peers, not my children.

Average bosses see employees as inferior, immature beings who simply can’t be trusted if not overseen by a patriarchal management. Employees take their cues from this attitude, expend energy on looking busy and covering their behinds.

Extraordinary bosses treat every employee as if he or she were the most important person in the firm. Excellence is expected everywhere, from the loading dock to the boardroom. As a result, employees at all levels take charge of their own destinies.

5. Motivation comes from vision, not from fear.

Average bosses see fear–of getting fired, of ridicule, of loss of privilege–as a crucial way to motivate people.  As a result, employees and managers alike become paralyzed and unable to make risky decisions.

Extraordinary bosses inspire people to see a better future and how they’ll be a part of it.  As a result, employees work harder because they believe in the organization’s goals, truly enjoy what they’re doing and (of course) know they’ll share in the rewards.

6. Change equals growth, not pain.

Average bosses see change as both complicated and threatening, something to be endured only when a firm is in desperate shape. They subconsciously torpedo change … until it’s too late.

Extraordinary bosses see change as an inevitable part of life. While they don’t value change for its own sake, they know that success is only possible if employees and organization embrace new ideas and new ways of doing business.

7. Technology offers empowerment, not automation.

Average bosses adhere to the old IT-centric view that technology is primarily a way to strengthen management control and increase predictability. They install centralized computer systems that dehumanize and antagonize employees.

Extraordinary bosses see technology as a way to free human beings to be creative and to build better relationships. They adapt their back-office systems to the tools, like smartphones and tablets, that people actually want to use.

8. Work should be fun, not mere toil.

Average bosses buy into the notion that work is, at best, a necessary evil. They fully expect employees to resent having to work, and therefore tend to subconsciously define themselves as oppressors and their employees as victims. Everyone then behaves accordingly.

Extraordinary bosses see work as something that should be inherently enjoyable–and believe therefore that the most important job of manager is, as far as possible, to put people in jobs that can and will make them truly happy.





By Eric Schurenberg

This classic 25-word definition pares entrepreneurship to its essence and explains why it’s so hard. And so addictive.

As an entrepreneur, you surely have an elevator pitch, the pithy 15-second synopsis of what your company does and why, and you can all but repeat it in your sleep. But until recently, I’d never seen a good elevator pitch for entrepreneurship itself—that is, what you do that all entrepreneurs do?

Now I’ve seen it, and it comes from Harvard Business School, of all places. It was conceived 37 years ago by HBS professor Howard Stevenson. I came across it in the book Breakthrough Entrepreneurship (which I highly recommend) by entrepreneur and teacher Jon Burgstone and writer Bill Murphy, Jr. Of Stevenson’s definition, Burgstone says, “people often need to say it out loud 50 or 100 times before they really understand what it means.” Here it is:

 Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.

I talked to Stevenson about his classic definition this weekend. Back in 1983, he told me, people tended to define entrepreneurship almost as a personality disorder, a kind of risk addiction. “But that didn’t fit the entrepreneurs I knew,” he said. “I never met an entrepreneur who got up in the morning saying ‘Where’s the most risk in today’s economy, and how can I get some? Most entrepreneurs I know are looking to lay risk off—on investors, partners, lenders, and anyone else.” As for personality, he said, “The entrepreneurs I know are all different types. They’re as likely to be wallflowers as to be the wild man of Borneo.”

By focusing on entrepreneurship as a process, his definition opened the term to all kinds of people. Plus, it matched the one demographic fact HBS researchers already knew about entrepreneurs—they were more likely to start out poor than rich. “They see an opportunity and don’t feel constrained from pursuing it because they lack resources,” says Stevenson. “They’re used to making do without resources.”

The perception of opportunity in the absence of resources helps explain much of what differentiates entrepreneurial leadership from that of corporate administrators: the emphasis on team rather than hierarchy, fast decisions rather than deliberation, and equity rather than cash compensation.

What would you expect, asks Stevenson: When you don’t have the cash to boss people around, like in a corporation, you have to create a more horizontal organization. “You hire people who want what you have and not what you don’t have,” Stevenson says. In other words, entrepreneurs offer their team members a larger share of a vision for a future payoff, rather than a smaller share of the meager resources at hand. Opportunity is the only real resource you have.

Or, as Burgstone puts it:

Every time you want to make any important decision, there are two possible courses of action. You can look at the array of choices that present themselves, pick the best available option and try to make it fit. Or, you can do what the true entrepreneur does: Figure out the best conceivable option and then make it available.

And that, folks, is what makes entrepreneurship so friggin’ hard. And so friggin’ necessary.

You have more important things to focus on than, um, focusing. Get back on track with these tips.

You probably don’t want to admit it but you love distractions. In fact, just like monkeys, you get a shot of dopamine every time something pulls you in another direction. Why do you think you check your email so much?

Want to be more productive and get your focus back? There are no secret tricks here… do one thing at a time. Stop multitasking—it’s just another form of distraction.

Easier said than done, I know.

Recently I sat down with Tony Wong, a project management blackbelt whose client list includes Toyota, Honda, and Disney, to name a few. He’s an expert in keeping people on task, so I thought he’d be a good person to ask.

Here are his tips for staying productive:

  1. Work backwards from goals to milestones to tasks. Writing “launch company website” at the top of your to-do list is a sure way to make sure you never get it done. Break down the work into smaller and smaller chunks until you have specific tasks that can be accomplished in a few hours or less: Sketch a wireframe, outline an introduction for the homepage video, etc. That’s how you set goals and actually succeed in crossing them off your list.
  2. Stop multi-tasking. No, seriously—stop. Switching from task to task quickly does not work. In fact, changing tasks more than 10 times in a day makes you dumber than being stoned. When you’re stoned, your IQ drops by five points. When you multitask, it drops by an average of 10 points, 15 for men, five for women (yes, men are three times as bad at multitasking than women).
  3. Be militant about eliminating distractions. Lock your door, put a sign up, turn off your phone, texts, email, and instant messaging. In fact, if you know you may sneak a peek at your email, set it to offline mode, or even turn off your Internet connection. Go to a quiet area and focus on completing one task.
  4. Schedule your email. Pick two or three times during the day when you’re going to use your email. Checking your email constantly throughout the day creates a ton of noise and kills your productivity.
  5. Use the phone. Email isn’t meant for conversations. Don’t reply more than twice to an email. Pick up the phone instead.
  6. Work on your own agenda. Don’t let something else set your day. Most people go right to their emails and start freaking out. You will end up at inbox-zero, but accomplish nothing. After you wake up, drink water so you rehydrate, eat a good breakfast to replenish your glucose, then set prioritized goals for the rest of your day.
  7. Work in 60 to 90 minute intervals. Your brain uses up more glucose than any other bodily activity. Typically you will have spent most of it after 60-90 minutes. (That’s why you feel so burned out after super long meetings.) So take a break: Get up, go for a walk, have a snack, do something completely different to recharge. And yes, that means you need an extra hour for breaks, not including lunch, so if you’re required to get eight hours of work done each day, plan to be there for 9.5-10 hours.

Article: Ilya Pozin/


Here are 14 quick strategies to get and keep yourself motivated:

1. Condition your mind. Train yourself to think positive thoughts while avoiding negative thoughts.

2. Condition your body. It takes physical energy to take action.  Get your food and exercise budget in place and follow it like a business plan.

3. Avoid negative people. They drain your energy and waste your time, so hanging with them is like shooting yourself in the foot.

4. Seek out the similarly motivated. Their positive energy will rub off on you and you can imitate their success strategies.

5. Have goals–but remain flexible. No plan should be cast in concrete, lest it become more important than achieving the goal.

6. Act with a higher purpose.  Any activity or action that doesn’t serve your higher goal is wasted effort–and should be avoided.

7. Take responsibility for your own results. If you blame (or credit) luck, fate or divine intervention, you’ll always have an excuse.

8. Stretch past your limits on a daily basis. Walking the old, familiar paths is how you grow old. Stretching makes you grow and evolve.

9. Don’t wait for perfection; do it now! Perfectionists are the losers in the game of life.  Strive for excellence rather than the unachievable.

10. Celebrate your failures. Your most important lessons in life will come from what you don’t achieve. Take time to understand where you fell short.

11. Don’t take success too seriously. Success can breed tomorrow’s failure if you use it as an excuse to become complacent.

12. Avoid weak goals.  Goals are the soul of achievement, so never begin them with “I’ll try …”  Always start with “I will” or “I must.”

13. Treat inaction as the only real failure.  If you don’t take action, you fail by default and can’t even learn from the experience.

14. Think before you speak.  Keep silent rather than express something that doesn’t serve your purpose.

The above is based on a conversation with Omar Periu, one of the world’s best (and best known) motivational speakers.



Some of these are unusual choices that don’t fit neatly into the “business book” genre. But being an entrepreneur involves a lot more than nuts and bolts and outcomes, so this list includes books about leading people, making decisions, the broader meaning of wealth… all the other “stuff” that goes into starting a business and running a company. Most importantly, each will make you think—and that’s the best measure of a great book. — Jeff Haden

Best reason to read it: Thirty pages into Thinking, Fast and Slow and you’ll start to question a lot of the decisions you’ve made. Kahneman looks at fast, intuitive, emotional decisions vs. slower, theoretically logical decisions and shows how the two combine (and compete) to help us make judgments—many of them wrong. You’ll learn about risk, predictions, overconfidence, and how to make better decisions. It sounds like heavy going but Kahneman makes it fun, especially if you enjoy laughing at yourself.

Fun takeaway: Framing matters; German judges tended to give a shoplifter a longer sentence if they had just rolled a high number with a pair of dice. Think about that the next time you start to negotiate.

Best reason to read it: Granted it’s a little on the fan-boy side, but In the Plex is probably the best account of the birth and growth of Google. You’ll get a look at the decisions, both technical and business, that made the company what it is. It’s a true inside look at the company and its major (and relatively minor) players, and a non-geeky description of how the various technologies work.

Feel free to skim: Don’t fret if the technical details, especially early on, are hard to follow. Understanding how technologies work isn’t as important as knowing how their use impacts the business.

Best reason to read it: If you like sports, this is your book. If you like behind the scenes access to personalities you’ve watched and listened to for years, this is your book. If you like learning about key decisions that turn a struggling company into a global phenomenon, this is definitely your book. If you don’t like sports and hate ESPN, stay away—otherwise it’s a great read and an instructive tale of how a number of smart, driven people built a business… and how a few might have let a business get away.

Spoiler alert: It’s safe to say Mike Tirico wasn’t a fan of Tony Kornheiser after all.

Best reason to read it: Starting a business is both art and science, and The Lean Startup provides a framework for the science of founding a company. “Lean” doesn’t only refer to bootstrapping, though; it also refers to developing a minimum viable product and then deciding, based on data, when to stay the course or shift directions.

Key Takeaway: As odd as the thought may sound, creativity and innovation can be efficient processes.

Best reason to read it: Many entrepreneurs create a company based on a technology, or a service, or a value proposition… and many have absolutely no leadership or management background. Managing Right for the First Time lays out a simple, logical, and intuitive blueprint that helps new leaders avoid the mistakes the rest of wish we hadn’t made.

Tip: Buy five or 10 and hand them out the same time you hand out promotions.

Best reason to read it: Some companies go through expensive formal transformation initiatives. No matter how comprehensive or “groundbreaking” the process, they won’t work when, as Practically Radical explains, leaders haven’t first challenged and transformed themselves. Taylor shares plenty of behind-the-scenes stories that make the book an easy—in a good way—read.

Key takeaway: If you want your company to stand for something, first you have to stand for something—and look for ideas and innovations where others don’t. Sounds simple but it’s not, and Taylor describes how to turn your big ideas into actions.

Best reason to read it: While the financial crisis is hardly breaking news anymore, the effects will reverberate for years. Boomerang provides an international perspective that will at the very least make you sound a lot more intelligent at parties.

Tip: Anything by Michael Lewis is a great read—he’s the king of making complex subjects light and entertaining reads. Start with Liar’s Poker and work your way forward.

Best reason to read it: Every successful entrepreneur has his or her “what’s it all for?” moments. Beyond Wealth will make you think about a broader, personal approach to success and living a “good life.” (You, of course, get to define what a “good life” is.) If you like to think about your place in the world—and in the world of your family, friends, and community—you’ll enjoy this book. If you like to have your assumptions challenged, you’ll love it.

Key takeaway: The only definition of “true wealth” is the one you choose—and live by.

Best reason to read it: If you’re of a certain generation you’ll love I Want My MTV if for nothing more than all the stories behind the music videos. If you’re not, you’ll love the insiders’ account of how a few people with an idea built a company and sparked massive cultural change. Either way you’ll wish that you too could create a business where other people created and provided your product at no cost to you.

Unfortunate outcome: You’ll feel really bad for Billy Squier.

Best reason to read it: I have a heavy process improvement background, which means I typically run screaming from process improvement books. Little Bets is different, because it transforms those formal, rigorous, boring processes into something a lot more fun: experimenting, taking chances, just giving lots of stuff a try. Sims argues that if you’re not doing the bulk of your learning by doing, you’re probably not learning much.

Fun fact: The writers for The Onion dream up about 600 possibilities for every 18 headlines they run; that’s experimenting.

Best reason to read it: While technically not a business book, Moonwalking With Einstein offers a lot to every entrepreneur. Why? We are what we remember, in life and in business. Foer shares practical—and easy—ways to improve your memory while describing his attempt to win the U.S. Memory Championship (the existence of which is a sure sign there’s a competition for almost anything.)

Cool quote: “People used to labor to furnish their minds. They invested in the acquisition of memories the same way we invest in the acquisition of things.”

Best reason to read it: It’s one of the best underdog stories you’ll encounter. Unlike most founding fathers, Washington didn’t attend college and was always self-conscious about his “defective education.” He got over it, becoming one of the wealthiest Americans of his time, a great general (he lost a lot of battles, but still: You try holding an under-paid, under-fed army together for eight years), allowed public service to cripple him financially, and walked away when he could have become a quasi-king. Oh, and he also helped build an economy and a country.

Tip: Chernow’s other books are also wonderful, especially Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller. Read it and then build your own empire.

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