Also in this compendium: Surviving a new boss and how to handle the seven categories of e-mail
As 2017 approaches, are you primed for greatness?
Blogger J. D. Meier, director of digital business transformation, enterprise strategy, at Microsoft, believes you can prepare your mind for growth and greatness. "You can use priming to bring ideas top of mind. We get more of what we focus on," he writes on his blog.
So as you prepare for a fresh start in 2017, try these ideas he promotes:
– Answer these three questions: What do you want? Why do you want it? What do you need to learn or what quality do you need to build to achieve it?
"Ask these three questions to start priming your mind to figure out what do you want for this year. If you know why you want it, and your why is strong, this will keep you going through the tough stuff. When it comes to the how, you first need to identify what you need to learn so that you can find the right strategies," he writes. And turning your goals into a learning journey prevents you from putting things off in the distance for when you feel more capable.
– Read stories of personal transformation, to help inspire you. You can find them in books or blogs or, rather than reading, take in a movie.
– Write your personal success story. Write a simple narrative describing your ideal life. It sounds like he's asking you to write fantasy but in fact he stresses it should be real: Who do you want to be and what experiences do you want to create? "This is your chance to be the author of your life, and the more authentic it is, the more you will free yourself from the shackles of other people's ideals and ambitions for you. You will own your vision, and your story will be your North Star," he says.
– Build on that picture of the future by finding images representing the life you seek and creating what he calls "a vision board." Don't ferret out all the traditional images of North American success. Find images that make you come alive. "What do you want to spend more time doing? Who do you want to spend more time with? What new things do you want to learn? Who character traits do you want to develop? What is your vision for your mind, your body, your emotions, your health, your career, your relationships, your finance, and your well-being? Use these prompts to create a collage of your ideal life. Dream big," he says.
– Prime your mind with amazing people, great quotes, great books and TED Talks. Live and learn vicariously from the feats of people you admire, whether individuals you know personally or heroes that you have read about. Add to that inspiring quotes and reading – and some fascinating TED talks – to prepare for success next year. Dip into the great philosophers and draw some lessons.
– Learn something new, be it a new musical instrument or language. He points to resources like the free courses at Khan Academy, new skills taught at Udemy or MIT Open Courseware. Among the programs at Master Class are Kevin Spacey teaching acting, Serena Williams tennis, James Patterson writing and Reba McIntyre country music.
– Push yourself to answer some of the tough questions about your life – 101 of them – he shares on his blog.
– Build a better board of directors. You may not even realize you have such a board but motivational speaker Jim Rohn said we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. As well, of course, there are trusted advisors you generally turn to. "If they aren't helping you direct your life more effectively, then find the people who can. Teachers, mentors, and coaches are everywhere. But mostly you want to find the people that really get you. You want the friend that knows you better than you do, or the wise person in your life that always seems to help you gain a new level of clarity or knows just the right thing to say to help you get unstuck," he says.
– Challenge the status quo. Explore new ideas, as you prepare for growth next year.
2. Surviving (and thriving) with a new CEO
When you get a new CEO – or, more generally, a new boss – you need to adjust. Quickly.
Consultant John Mattone identifies some "must dos":
– You must understand the new boss's mindset: Obviously your new boss wants to succeed and needs a strong team to assist. New bosses don't take long to start distinguishing between allies and rivals – and you obviously want to be viewed in the former camp. "One thing you might not realize is that new CEOs sometimes experience profound isolation, coupled with new levels of pressure to succeed," he says.
– You must display the crucial three "Cs": Capability, commitment, and connection, the latter a "must do" attitude that aligns you with their vision of the organization. And keep in mind that you have already sent signals about yourself in those three critical areas, through how you act. "Ask yourself every day if you were more capable than yesterday, more committed, and more connected," he says.
– Ensure that your boss's opinion of your 3 Cs is accurate. Set up a meeting early on to share more about who you are, what you do, and how you think. But avoid making recommendations and stating your own agenda, because it's the boss's agenda that counts right now. Just demonstrate you are a leader of strong character.
– As well as learning the new boss's mission and vision, probe to find out about style and agenda. Here are some questions to ask (the boss will be happy to answer): "What has shaped you and your leadership style?"; "what advice or theme do you live your life by?"; "what is your greatest professional accomplishment?"; "what do you consider your greatest leadership gift?"; "what are you working on?"; and "how can I work with you in a positive, productive way to help you achieve your objectives?"
3. A system for e-mail productivity
To help handle your e-mail, business coach George Kao sets out seven categories they fit into:
– No need to reply and not important to read: "Most of your e-mails are in this category. Therefore, generously apply the archive or delete function! And if it is a newsletter you rarely read, do yourself a favor – unsubscribe," he says.
– File away: This covers things such as tax receipts and specifics on a current project.
– Optional response: No need to respond, but courteous to do so.
– Optional reading: Would be interesting to read but not required.
– Required to respond today: If important and urgent respond in the moment or at the end of the day.
– Required to respond but not today: Distance can provide perspective so if a response is not required immediately put it in one of seven folders named for the days of the working week, choosing when you intend to respond.
– Undecided: If not sure which category it fits, just put it in one of the above.
Create folders for those "file away" e-mails, optional response, optional reading, and the days of the week for emails you'll handle another day.
4. Quick hits
– The worst hire you can make is someone who doesn't solve your problem but just makes it a bit better, says HR consultant Tim Sackett..
– Close the loop on customer comments in surveys. If someone spends precious time telling you what they think about your business, strategist Alain Thys says you should check whether you follow up in an effective manner on each one who needs attention. That definitely means detractors but should also include people who volunteer that they want to promote your business to friends and colleagues.
– Jim McCann, founder of 4,500-employee 1-800-Flowers, each month has dinner with 15 employees at a restaurant to hear what's up. He says the ratio of what he learns to what employees learn is 90-10.
– A good advertising campaign has a "narrative arc" that engages the mind of the prospect, revealing layer after layer of information about your company, product and service, advises consultant Roy H. Williams. It also has a "character arc" that entangles the heart of the prospect by allowing them to feel they understand why you do the things you do.
– Words to avoid using in your resume – LinkedIn found these the most overused and predictable: Creative, strategic, motivated, passionate, track record, enthusiastic, driven, successful, innovative, and ambitious.