What Michael Jordan Can Teach You About Productivity

Who are your productivity heroes? If Michael Jordan isn’t up there, he should be.

productivity
Most people know Michael Jordan for his phenomenal scoring ability, superhuman dunks, or his starring role in Space Jam. Over a 20-year span, he scored more than 32,000 points, won six NBA titles and was named the league’s most valuable player five times. But to his teammates and coaches, he was notorious for his diligent work ethic.

Jordan’s longtime coach Phil Jackson once wrote that Michael “takes nothing about his game for granted.” He spent so much time preparing for competition that when it was game-time, he didn’t have to think about what to do next. He relied on instinct and muscle memory to dominate his opponents.

Professional athletes have to squeeze as much as they can out of their prime years, making them perfect productivity case studies. Here’s what some of our most famous athletes have to say about getting stuff done.

Continue Reading

How to Have a Great First Day at Your New Job

first-day

Day one at the new job. How’s it feel? Slightly terrifying?

It should. At your old job — just last week perhaps — you were the most experienced you ever were there. Suddenly, you’re the least experienced you ever will be at this job.

It’s enough to cause a panic. But it doesn’t have to. Fresh starts come with great opportunity. Here are a few tips on how you can capitalize on this new adventure. We’ll skip the obvious — show up on time, practice the route to the new office —and focus on some of the research behind the first day and how you can use what science and experts say about the topic.

Continue Reading

3 Practical Mindsets to Empower Introverts to Succeed at Networking

I’ve never been good at networking. I’m usually standing in the corner talking with a friend at parties, if I’m at a party at all. I get worn out from being around people and need my alone time to recharge.

There’s a certain efficiency in the glad-handing ways of a freshly-minted MBA because knowing the right people is in large part a numbers game. But to an introvert relating to people in that way isn’t just uncomfortable, it seems morally repugnant. The introvert aspires to treat people as ends themselves and not as a means to feed the ego or further our careers.

The problem is that not networking, bluntly, means stunting your career and financial prospects. Not networking may sound noble to you, but all that it amounts to is a litany of missed opportunities.

introvert networking mindset

Not to worry, networking doesn’t mean changing who you are, 95% of it is in your mindset and approach to it. Here are 3 practical mindsets that’ll empower you not just to network, but to make you successful at it.

Continue Reading

The Essential Investment that Companies Aren’t Making

continuing education at Apple

It’s a super secret Apple product — incredibly polished, meticulously planned, and the result of a massive investment on the part of the company.

No, it’s not the latest yet-to-be-announced iPhone.

It’s Apple University, Apple’s internal training program that runs year-round, features courses created and taught by full-time faculty, and boasts as its dean Joel Podolny, the former dean of the Yale School of Management. “Even the toilet paper in the bathrooms is really nice,” one employee reported.

Apple University dwarfs what most companies offer their employees for internal training, and it shows in employee growth, retention, and fierce dedication to the company’s unique culture and vision. For Apple, it’s an essential investment in the people that make up the company and its future.

Unfortunately, this kind of people investment is all too rare today. According to ManpowerGroup, 36% of global employers report difficulty finding candidates with the higher-tech skills that the modern economy requires. Yet the blame, according to Professor Peter Cappelli of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, falls on employers for failing to training for employees on how to fill those higher-skilled roles — and that’s become a huge problem for companies and job-seekers alike.

Continue Reading

This Startup Pays You to Learn How to Code

Jeff Vincent Wistia

Learning the new literacy of the 21st century doesn’t come cheap.

Hack Reactor, a code school in San Francisco, costs a breathtaking $17,780 in tuition for 12 weeks of instruction. A semester at Cornell Engineering costs $23,525.

But if you learn to code, the rewards are great. Hack Reactor boasts a 99% graduate hiring rate at an average annual salary of $105,000. A fresh, 22-year-old recent graduate of the computer science from Cornell can expect a salary around $95,670. In short, learning to code is one of the most valuable skills you can develop.

Companies like Wistia are offering a brilliant way around the expensive world of software engineering education. Wistia actively looks to hire non-technical people who want to learn how to code, pays them to work in customer support, and trains them on how to become a software developer. In time, the skills they develop rival what they’d learn in school, the employees are in a position to become professional developers, and they’re well-compensated to learn and grow in a supportive, practical setting.

Continue Reading

What You Don’t Know About Internal Motivation May Harm Your Career

winning

So you want to build a billion-dollar company, and it’s because you want to make people’s lives better by solving a problem while hitting it big, rich, and famous. Sounds like a winning combo of incentives to drive you to achieve startup success.

It’s not like both motives can’t coexist. Humans, complex beings that we are, walk around with a jumble of intentions, impulses, and aspirations in our heads — instead of one clearcut reason for why we do things.

The thing is, you would think that having multiple motives would result in, well, more motivational power. When you can hit two goals with one activity, don’t you just have more incentive to do the activity? If you want that promotion because you get to expand your skillset and increase your prestige, doesn’t that help drive you even harder to go for it?

There’s one problem. There’s a tricky truth about motivation that might be preventing your best performance.

Continue Reading

Does Anybody Listen to You? 4 Steps to Becoming an Influencer

image

The things we do at work matter, but our achievements alone don’t necessarily add up to a successful career. For people who have reached a certain level of success through sheer hard work (as many high-achievers do early on in their careers), this can be a hard lesson to learn.

After all, if you’re putting in long hours and knocking critical tasks off of your to-do list every single day, shouldn’t you be the most successful person on your team? Unfortunately, many people reach a plateau in their careers because their hard work doesn’t carry them forward the way it used to. So what’s missing?

Communication and influence.

Continue Reading

My Microsoft Experience: from Promising Start to Personal Hell

In this two-part guest series, Ellen Chisa shares her experience at Microsoft and how its review system affected her psyche and productivity.

This first part gives an overview of Ellen’s time at Microsoft, providing insight into the company’s environment as well as the successes and failures of everyday management. The second part discusses stack rank specifically.

Ellen Chisa Microsoft experience

Recently Microsoft decided to get rid of the stack rank system they used for reviews.

Stack ranking is a performance review system that ranks employees against each other. Also referred to as “rank and yank”, stack rank creates a zero-sum management system in which one person’s positive ranking means another person’s loss. Critics point out that a process that creates inevitable losers and requires managers to fight on behalf of reports is unfair and disconnected from performance quality.

I’m really happy with this decision: the stack rank negatively affected me, and many people I know. I saw multiple people have the same experience:

1.  Promising start (say, 1-3 years)
2.  Something goes wrong (a project, big manager conflict, etc.)
3.  The issue isn’t addressed when it happens and festers until review.
4.  Bad review, general angst, uncertainty
5.  Talented person quits and moves on to a great career elsewhere.

One obvious takeaway is that Microsoft was probably hemorrhaging a lot of talent. The more insidious one is the toll on its employees’ self-perception and effectiveness.

I wanted to write about how that feels. Here I outline what happened in my first eighteen months at Microsoft, which were interesting and challenging — to how things started to go wrong.

Continue Reading

Attain a Flexible Mind: The Best of the Internet

Kepp Your Head UpYo ho ho and onto the best of what we shared on the interwebs this week!

GitHub + iDoneThis: Bring in your commits!

We also teamed up with Draft to make it super simple to track your writing progress and share it with your team.

Why does Jeff Bezos give a hiring anti-pitch?

Self-promotion is part of your job.

You have to stretch, little by little, to attain a flexible mind.

imageLike our blog? Sign up for the iDoneThis newsletter to start receiving thoughtful articles on how to work better, useful tips, & exclusive content.

 

Loneliness at Work: The Best of the Internet

you'll never knowWeekend edition of link love! Catch up with the best of what we’ve shared on the interwebs this week! 

Sending this one email to your boss can change your career.

Loneliness at work is everyone’s problem.

Vanquish procrastination. Seriously.

Face your weakness. Boost your confidence.

The API of You.

imageDundee’s Tip of the Week: We’re working on the start of an iDoneThis newsletter. Interested in being that super special person who will give us helpful feedback and suggestions? Sign up for some test runs until we learn how to fly here.