What I’m Thinking About

If you’re on the East Coast, you’ve no doubt arisen each day to dark skies and rain more days than not. Crumby weather can have a real effect on culture and morale, so I have been especially focused on subjects related to positivity and leadership. A few of my favorites are below.

What’s Going On (And Why You Should Care)

How to Stop Saying “Um,” “Ah,” and “You Know” (Noah Zandan) – I had the immense privilege of studying public speaking and debate under the infamous Dr. Mary Betancourt of Moorestown High School. In the second week of my freshman year, I was randomly selected to be one of the first debaters in front of the class. In this same class, students were given a reception bell with instructions to ring it with the enthusiasm of a game show contestant every time a debater muttered an “um” or an “ah.” 22 years later the PTSD remains, but the lesson was learned. This article drives home the point without the PTSD.

Why should you care? Everyone wants to win a debate, whether it’s a heated discussion on politics or more lighthearted banter. Filler words like “um” and “ah” distract from your message and jeopardize your impact.

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How to Motivate Users to Complete a Difficult Task (Lorena Vargas) – User interfaces and experiences become powerful by getting users to do things that they never thought they would do. Ten years ago, the idea of sharing a ride or even a home with a complete stranger seemed like an activity relegated to the bowels of Craigslist. Now, it’s common practice. See how UI/UX designers motivate people to do things that they never thought they’d do.

Why should you care? The secrets behind design, behavior, and motivation can work just as well in the offline world as they do in the online one.

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The science behind expectations: how much do they shape what we get? (Alina Gorbatch) – MIT performed a series of studies on expectations and the results are fairly predictable. However, the extent to which confirmation bias has power over us cannot be overstated.

Why should you care? When technology continues to ratchet up expectations, it never hurts to have a reminder of how those expectations were formed in the first place.

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The Power of Positive People (Tara Parker-Pope) – Oprah said it best. “Surround yourself with people that bring you higher.” The transitive properties of both positivity or negativity can greatly influence company culture.

Why should you care? More than any nuances of leadership, positivity is the one constant in organizations that have strategized their culture.

Books I Read Last Month (That You Might Enjoy)

The Power of Moments (Chip & Dan Heath) – As many know, I’m a customer experience fanatic. In this quick read, Chip and Dan Heath break down defining moments of our lives into distinct and repeatable steps. With this framework in mind, they support the idea of making more events into moments in order to build a greater connection with peers, friends, colleagues, and clients.

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The Warren Buffett Shareholder: Stories from inside the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting (Lawrence Cunningham & Stephanie Cuban) – If there was ever a culture that I idolized, it would be the culture of Berkshire Hathaway. For the past 10 years, me and 40K of my closest “friends” have traveled to Omaha for the annual meeting, dubbed by many as the “Woodstock of Capitalism.” I don’t go for the capitalism, I go for the culture (and discount underwear… Berkshire owns Fruit of the Loom and provides great shareholder discounts). This brilliant compilation of essays on the effect that the annual meeting has had on people is absolutely worth the read.