13 Business Cliches That Are Making You Terrible At Your Job

clichecover
At some point — long, long ago — someone would say “bull in a china shop” and you would actually picture the scene. Here’s this bull, all big and mad and energetic. But he’s in a dainty little shop filled with dedicate plates and teacups. You can picture it, you might even chuckle a little. And you would definitely remember that conversation.

But hear that same phrase today? You’d get the point, but the message doesn’t stick nearly as well. There’s no imagery to make the point extra clear. You register the phrase and what it means, but the benefits of the metaphor are washed out. You might as well be saying nothing. You basically are.

This is what a cliche is. And they’re insanely common in business. And they’re making you terrible at your job. Terrible? Yes. Talking in empty cliches makes you — and the things you say — forgettable.

Continue Reading

Why Remote Companies Are Doing Employee Perks Better Than Google

perkscover
Employee perks. The idea rushed into our vocabulary sometime around the year 2000. The world feared Y2K, it got foosball and laundry service. Since then perks at tech companies have covered all positions on the field, from the practical (catered lunch) to the silly (birthday parties).

Some perks — casual dress, equity — are so common in Silicon Valley that they don’t even seem like perks anymore. We take them for granted.

In your parents’ or grandparents’ day, insurance and sick days were the only perks needed. Even weekends and holidays started out as a wacky and progressive idea. Those days are gone. Today’s employees expect ping pong, pizza Fridays and bring your dog to work policies. Or at least that’s what we’re told.

In reality, many companies are evolving their understanding of what a good employee perk really is. We’ve gone from the early perks of the dot-com bubble (ping pong tables to seem cool and attract press attention) to the perks designed to help keep you sitting on your squishy exercise ball writing code all night. Now, a new kind of perk is emerging, and remote companies are leading the way.

Continue Reading

15 Beautiful Tools For Managing Time Zone Differences

timezonescover

If you work on a remote team, there’s a good chance you’ve struggled with managing time zones.

With coworkers spread all over the world, it can be hard to keep track of what time it is where your colleagues are. Even if you’re not working remote, it’s easier than ever to end up doing business with someone in a different time zone.

As our world becomes more connected, our differences in time zones become even more important to manage and understand. Here at iDoneThis, we’re a small team and lucky enough to have all our U.S.-based workers in Eastern Standard Time. But our European colleagues are six hours ahead of us. It’s why asynchronous communication is so important. Because their work day is finishing up just as ours is getting started. That means there’s a short window of time for us to talk synchronously if we need to. And sometimes, you need to talk in person.

Here’s a look at some of our favorite tools for managing time zone differences.

Continue Reading

The 5 Daily Habits of a Terrible Boss

terrible-boss

About half of workers at some point have left a job to get away from their manager.

Not the work, not the clients or coworkers. The manager.

We’ve written before about how 95 percent of managers are wrong about what best motivates employees at work. Now we know that many managers are so bad they’re making half their employees leave the job. According to another survey, 19.2 hours are wasted every week — 13 during the workweek and 6.2 over the weekend — worrying about what a boss says or does.

It’s not easy being the boss. But terrible habits make it hard to be a good boss. Don’t be a terrible boss. Avoid these common habits of bad managers and maybe your employees will stick around a while.

Continue Reading

How Travis CI Is Fixing Company Culture By Taking On ‘Culture’

Travis CI

Travis CI

Here’s a loaded phrase in the startup world: culture fit.

It’s a term with humble early intentions that has grown weeds and sprouted out of its container. It started as a simple way of talking about whether a new hire and current team would work well together. It’s grown into a loaded gun of baggage and misappropriation. It’s used to hire unqualified people and fire great ones.

Mathias Meyer, CEO at Travis CI, started to notice a problem with “culture fit” and the way it was implemented at many companies. It seemed to him like “culture fit” was doing the opposite, and holding company cultures back. Companies, if not careful, would create a monoculture, with everyone acting and thinking the same way. This is terrible for creativity and growth.

Or as Meyer put it in an excellent blog post:

“There’s one fundamental mistake in both using and looking for culture fit as a means for hiring: You’re assuming that your current culture is healthy and doesn’t need to be changed.”

I chatted with Meyer about his thoughts on culture fit, growing Travis CI and what they’re doing to create an authentic company culture.

Continue Reading

51 Free Tools To Start A Business

 

pablo (3)

Trying to start a business is never easy. Being an entrepreneur means sticking your neck — and wallet — on the line for a product you believe in. It won’t be cheap. There will be plenty of costs, some you’ve never expected. Thankfully, there are free tools to start a business available online.

We’ve compiled this list of free tools to start a business. Many of them we used here to help build iDoneThis. Others we wish had existed when we started.

Building a business will be one of the hardest things you ever do. But thankfully there are these free tools get you started building the business you’ve always dreamed of.

Continue Reading

How To Obsess Over Customers Like Jeff Bezos

obsess over customers like Jeff Bezos
What external metric is your company most proud of? Facebook likes? SEO ranking?

For Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, it just might be this: each year, the company is ranked at the top of its category and often top overall on a national index measuring customer satisfaction among America’s largest companies.

Sounds a little dry, a little technical. But it reflects Amazon’s mission in the strongest way possible.

Bezos is famously customer-focused. “Obsess over customers,” he has said. While some companies chose to obsess over competition (or default to obsessing over competition because it feels right) Bezos has consistently chose to push Amazon to obsess over the customer.

Continue Reading

What Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg Love But 1 in 4 Americans Ignore

Bill_Gates_2004
What’s the secret weapon of highly successful people? Reading books.

Throughout history, Bill Gates and many of the world’s most successful and influential people have been avid book readers.

Unfortunately, many Americans are not. One in four Americans did not read a single book in 2013, according to a Pew Research Center poll. In 1978, that number was 8 percent. By 2005 it was 16 percent.

It’s a trend to avoid it you want to do great things.

Continue Reading

What Managers Are Getting Wrong About The World’s Greatest Job Ad

InSightOfOurGoal-NearingSouthGeorgia

Here’s how the story usually goes. Sometime in the early 20th Century, British explorer Ernest Shackleton needed to hire a crew for an upcoming expedition to the South Pole. So he placed a newspaper ad:

“Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honor and recognition in event of success.”

The copywriting — and its strong, direct language — has been printed, reprinted and talked about for decades. It’s beautiful. Possibly the world’s greatest job ad.

Though his accomplishments went largely uncelebrated in the years after his death, Shackleton in recent years has become a revered leadership figure thanks to new literature on his life and career.

The ad copy has taken on a life of its own, with hiring managers and entrepreneurs pointing to it as an example of how to lure exceptional people to your organization.

But there are two problems here. For one, the ad probably never existed. Even if it did, many people — it seems — are missing the point.

Continue Reading

Why Amazon Hires Good Managers, Not Great Ones

pablo (1)

Really great managers are hard to come by. They’re even harder to hire.

Those who are truly and undisputedly world class are already working. And the company they’re working for will do whatever it takes to keep them. These managers are rarely, if ever, on the market. Even if you’re Amazon.

The top 1 percent of product managers, for example, are so rare that one Amazon director believes he has never encountered one in a job interview.

“I’m not sure I’ve ever met a 1% PM, certainly not one that I identified as such prior to hiring,” Ian McAllister, Director of the AmazonSmile program at Amazon, wrote on this Quora Answer.

So how does Amazon consistently hire world-class managers? Here’s how. Identify the areas a 1 percent manager excels at, and hire someone who excels at some of them, but not all.

Continue Reading