Have you ever noticed the phenomenon of the overnight sensation? Suddenly an actor has a starring role in a blockbuster film and becomes famous. A writer signs a huge contract for a debut novel, and people queue up to buy or borrow it. Or an obscure musician releases a chart-topping album and suddenly you can’t escape their songs on the radio. One thing I’ve noticed more and more is that from the perspective of the artist, these sudden successes aren’t sudden at all. Often they come after years of working and making the right connections that lead to the one big shot. The truth is: Overnight success is a myth. Continue reading Seizing the Opportunity: Career Advice from the Boss
Many times in life you might not be someone’s first choice for a job or a role. Often we may not even know it. You rarely know if someone else was offered your job before you were. You may have gotten your place in university off a wait list. It can feel demoralizing to realize that you weren’t the initial favorite for something you wanted to do or be. The good news is, with time, what was once someone’s second choice can start to feel like the inevitable and only choice. Behold: Continue reading Second Place? Don’t Sweat It
About a year ago I participated in a work training around collaboration and culture. We were asked to play a game which involved getting into a pair with someone else around the same height, clasping hands, and attempting to make contact with the partner’s shoulder. The objectives of the game were described as “to win” by “getting more points.” It was not clear exactly who needed to earn those points; that’s where the trouble started.
Continue reading Why Do We Sometimes Compete When We Should Collaborate?
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to go through media training. Much of the training was common sense: Prepare for your interviews, hone the points you’d like to make, and stay on message. But one counter-intuitive tip had to do with the ways we automatically insert pauses into conversations to buy ourselves time to formulate answers. Continue reading (Don’t) Repeat After Me: The Not-So-Quotable You
I’ve never felt confident in my ability to create visually compelling presentations. I’m a words person with spatial confusion, which I believe is the exact recipe for boring slides. Add to that the fact that I’ve worked in big companies that tend toward information-packed slides with tiny fonts and lots of charts, and you can see why I’m semi-obsessed with collecting tips and best practices for better presentations. Here are some good ones: Continue reading Up Your Visual Impact: Tips to Improve Your Next Presentation
With the end of the year and final exams approaching, many students are scrambling to find ways to either boost their grades or postpone their deadlines. That means that all over the world, teachers are suddenly fielding a thick flurry of emails containing variations on a theme. If you are the grandparent of a college student, you should be very fearful for your health and indeed your life around the time of final exams. Science has shown grandmothers are a whopping 19 times more likely to die before their grandchild’s final exams (when proof of death is the grandchild’s say-so). Continue reading Teachers’ Motivation, Semester-End Excuses: A Plea to College Students
I took my first psychology class in college without really knowing what psychology was or what psychologists did. When I was a first-year student at Harvard, the policy was that you declared a major by your second semester. My foray into English studies was a flop, so I declared psychology and hoped for the best. Fortunately, what I found in those early psychology classes was a revelation: A language to explain the behavioral and emotional phenomena I’d experienced and witnessed my entire life. Continue reading How to Describe What I Know: The Appeal (and Frustration) of Psychology
When do you know you’ve crossed the line from not knowing to knowing? How do you know when you can do something? I’m not talking about being an expert necessarily, but being competent and capable. These sorts of ideas have been on my mind in my new job as I find myself grasping for reassurance that I know what I’m doing. I’ve found that the more I try things, even when I’m not quite sure how to do them, the faster I learn them. This is scary, because trying things when you’re not confident about how to do them means you might fail. Continue reading Learning by Experience
I have a few general criticisms of personality tests in the workplace, many of which stem from people’s interpretation of them as deterministic diagnoses. Too often, I think people take personality tests and use the results to defend unproductive behaviors (“it’s classic ENTJ, what can I do?”) or as a reason not to work at a professional relationship (“we’re too different”). Another issue that happens when these tests are administered in a work setting is that the results are never really discussed at all. They disappear into the ether, instead of becoming a helpful tool to guide effective collaboration. Continue reading Case Study: The Lion and The Owl Share a Manager. He’s a Cat.
I’m a very detail-oriented person. Fortunately, I think I am also pretty good at looking at the big picture, but I struggle with letting go of the details. It turns out, sometimes it may be important to do just that if you want to remain organized with a busy schedule and competing demands. Continue reading Manage Your Time Like the CEO