February 4th-9th – Treat Everything as a Case Study

This article is called “Treat Everything as a Case Study” and focuses on approaching your day to day problems with a new mindset (http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2013/01/treat_everything_as_a_case_study.html).  It explains the writer’s experience with this new method of looking at things, from everything as little as questioning a car dealerships’ setup to fixing broken headphones, everything can be treated as a business case study, and thus solved accordingly. Every problem that one encounters, especially concerning a product or service, can be traced back to poor planning on the part of the company manufacturing or providing the service. For example, if there is an issue connecting to a wireless network, the real question is, “why didnt the company test signal strength before selling the router?” When such questions come to mind, the common thing to do is to leave them unanswered and just assume that it is the way that is it. However, in order to actually solve problems and come up with constructive solutions, one has to treat the question as part of a case study, consider external factors, and eventually come to a conclusion based on research and effective planning. The real solution is to debate such questions, and in most cases, debates lead to imaginative problem solving. Using this method has the ability to sharpen your debating and imaginative skills because it helps develop your own cognitive processes. Furthermore, it introduces the idea of creative, adaptive and innovative thinking in the workplace which can help inspire those around you in order to increase productivity on a regular basis. Using this will naturally also be applied in the workplace, and it will help your company find innovative solutions, while also helping create a better environment for leadership and management by effectively assisting any issue that fellow employees bring to you. 

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January 28th-February 2nd – 7 Signs You`re Ready to be Your Own Boss

This article (http://www.inc.com/steve-tobak/what-great-employees-do.html) takes a new approach on entrepreneurship. It states that the key to starting your own business is great leadership skills, because they build the foundation for your company, and allow you to manage others effectively. The 7 signs that you’re ready to be an entrepreneur include firstly, that you manage your responsibilities, rather than managing your personal brand. Secondly, you tell the completely honest truth rather than sugar coating everything. You must always find a way to meet your commitments and get the job done, which requires motivation. Next, you shouldn’t interview particularly well, because on the job performance is more important. You should seek achievement, not power or authority because those arent the key to success. You ask “how high” hypothetically instead of questioning what is asked of you. Lastly, you dont ever whine because running your own business is hard work and you should be able to handle the work without complaints. Finding these 7 qualities within you can ensure that you’re ready to become an entrepreneur.

January 21st-26th – How to Become Open Minded

This article (http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkwilliams/2013/01/07/the-5-secret-tricks-of-great-people-how-to-become-open-minded-in-2013/) talks about strategies managers can use to become open minded. This is a valuable feature to many managers beause it allows them to accept and integrate new ideas into the operations of a business. It starts by listing the benefits of being open minded, which are listed below:

– letting go of control

– experiencing changes

– making yourself vulnerable

– making mistakes

– strengthening yourself

– gaining confidence

– being honest

For some people, being open minded comes easily while others struggle with it. The following steps can teach you to be more open minded through changing your habits. Firstly, listen more than you talk, because by doing this you break a habit and can actually absorb others ideas. Next, avoid making snap decisions, because you should get all the facts before coming to a conclusion. Thirdly, you should thank people for their suggestions, because it makes them feel appreciated and allows them to contribute on a frequent basis. Furthermore, you should encourage frankness because people grow and learn best when they hear the complete truth. Lastly, you should hunt for new opportunities because by being open minded, you can constantly find new opportunities for growth and improvement.

Jan 14-19th – 4 Ways to Be a Leader Who Matters

This article (http://www.inc.com/les-mckeown/4-ways-to-be-a-leader-who-matters.html) talks about leadership techniques that make you a more effective leader. It mentions that what we need in the world of business is a leader who has the ability to make positive, long term changes. It states that the greatest challenge is to build companies that grow and are profitable in the long term, which provide employment that is rewarding and which help add to a fair society. To do this, you need to be a leader who are prepared to not just rush to new opportunities and extract short term gain, we need leaders who think and act in the long term, which has the ability to change lives and leave a legacy. This can all be achieved by 4 simple steps to effective leadership. Firstly, leaders should find a place of solitude; a place where they can think in order to work on their mental strength and contemplate their lives so that they can further improve themselves. Secondly, you should find your contemplation trigger, in which you question your greatest challenge and discover what the important factors are within it, so that you can accordingly prioritize how to deal with any challenge that you face. Next, leaders should go beyond instant gratification, by choosing to pause and invest in reflection (not only for yourself, but also for others) by using the “rule of 90” where you wait 90 seconds before sharing an accomplishment of your own or others. Lastly, you should model more than you share, because leaders are the role models of the office, and by actually exhibiting behavior you expect, you inspire others to act in the same manner. 

January 6th-12th – Acing 3 Job Interview Questions

This article is called “Acing the Only Three True Job Interview Questions” (http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgebradt/2013/01/02/acing-the-only-three-true-job-interview-questions/) and deals with answering commonly asked interview questions. The 3 that the article sees as most important are can you do the job, will you love the job and can we tolerate working with you? The focus of these three questions are your strengths, your motivation and whether or not you are fit for the role. There are three steps to answering these questions; think before opening your mouth, answer the question asked and bridge to answer the true underlying question. When you think, you should formulate your thoughts without just jumping straight to an answer. You must answer the question asked because if you dont, the interviewer will automatically write you off, but dont say too much or too little. You must answer the question just enough to satisfy the interviewer without getting them to tune you out. Lastly, you must bridge to answer the true underlying question, by connecting the dots between your response to the question asked and the answer to the underlying question. You have to find that link, and use it to convey your message correctly. The combination of these techniques helps with a successful job interview by displaying your strengths, motivation and your fit with the company.

December 17-22: 8 Beliefs That Make You More Resilient

This article (http://www.inc.com/geoffrey-james/8-beliefs-that-make-you-more-resilient.html) “8 Beliefs That Make You More Resilient” discusses the importance of your personal beliefs regarding the business world. It starts by talking about how many people focus on aspects of their lives that they can’t control, including outside events, what other people think, etc. It shifts itd focus to highlight the importance of factors in your life that we actually can control; our attitude, emotions, behavior and beliefs. Of the four, beliefs is said to be most important because it influences the other 3 factors. Your beliefs have the ability to prepare you for any emotional distress and propel you to a level at where you can conquer any dilemma in the business world. According to the article, the 8 most important personal beliefs are:
1. Today’s success can create tomorrow’s failure if I let success determine my motivation.
2. I learn more from failure than from success.
3. I use phrases like “I will” and “I must.”
4. If I don’t take action, I’ll fail by default.
5. What I say reinforces what I think.
6. I am responsible for my own happiness, so when other people are unkind to me, it reminds me to be kind to myself.
7. The magic words are: “Do not take it personally.”
8. While there are situations where strong emotions are appropriate, most business situations do not require misery.

These beliefs are based off of a combination of theories by motivational and personal growth experts Art Mortell and Omar Periu, and demonstrate the kind of mentality that some of the most emotionally intelligent people in the business world have.

December 10-15: Keep Your To-Do List Fresh

This article is entitled “Keep Your To-Do List Fresh with the 3-Day Rule” (http://hbr.org/tip?date=112912) and deals with 3 major tips in order to keep to-do lists up to date and as effective as possible. To-do lists are only useful is items on the list as constantly being taken care of and crossed off as they are completed. If theres an item which has been on your list for more than 3 days, there are 3 things that you can do. Firstly, try to do it immediately because it may take less time than you think it will. This ensures that the task gets done as soon as possible and gets it off your list. Secondly, you could try scheduling it into a time of your calender and making an appointment to get the task done, because by making an appointment for it you are more likely to get it done. Thirdly, you could let it die because if you dont want to do it now and dont want to schedule it, it most likely isnt going to get done. Accept that it is not a priority and can be taken off your list. By using this set of rules your list continuously gets items taken off of it so that it remains current and up to date, while also ensuring that your tasks are getting completed in time. 

December 3-9: How Not to Use Powerpoint and Other Creative Presentation Ideas

This article entitled “How Not to Use Powerpoint and Other Creative Presentation Ideas” (http://brainzooming.com/all-kinds-of-advice-on-what-not-to-do-with-powerpoint/583/) discusses ways to bring creativity to presentations and make them more effective. The following tips discussed in the article maximize how effective your presentation is while also engaging your audience.

– Use fewer words on slides – Don’t show every word you plan to say in your presentation because fewer words help maintain audience attention and cover your mistakes in speech.

– Prioritize the material on the Powerpoint slide – use the forced choice technique to limit what you put on the slide.

– Help the audience focus– if it’s a complicated chart , consider using custom animation in Powerpoint to circle the area you’re addressing or a picture insert to enlarge what you’re referencing.

– Do something completely different –consider that there may be a story, anecdote, or image you could use to make your point in a more effective way.

– Practice less – and listen more – Record your presentation and listen to it in order to hear what isn’t working, and fix it before you present for a more effective presentation.

– Cut back on multimedia & animation – Using various sounds, moving images, and videos won’t fix poor presentation skills, it just puts more pressure to hit cues in the presentation.

– Have fun – Look friendly and approachable as you present, but avoid telling bad jokes if you arent “funny in real life” or forcing a smile if it isn’t genuine as audiences will get annoyed.

Using these principles  will demonstrate to your audience that you’re thinking about them and are making an effort to deliver value to them with your presentation design.

Article # 7 – 12 Most Valuable Listening Skills

This article is called “12 Most Valuable Listening Skills” (http://12most.com/2012/11/05/12-valuable-listening-skills/) and basically deals with the literal skills involved in listening to a person. This can be relevant to management because a critical part of leadership is communicating with your team, most of which could be through listening to their ideas and input. The first skill the article discusses is paying full attention, because it gives them a sense of value and that their idea is important. Next, ask another question, because it helps develop your interest and gain further knowledge on the topic. Thirdly, seek clarification when you’re not sure, so that the person knows you are following along and so that you fully understand the concept. Next you should maintain eye contact, because it helps build a relationship with the person you’re talking to – eye to eye contact is typically best. Follow up by summarizing what you hear, because it shows the other person that you were listening to their opinions. Number six is to avoid being disturbed, so that the person feels more important by having your undivided attention, free of distractions. Next you should say less in order to make it about them, because your job is to listen thoroughly to their ideas without putting your own two cents in. Next is to follow through on what you said you will, because a major part of listening has to do with reflecting on what you heard and keeping your word. Remember that body language counts, because by being expressive in a positive way, you can show the other person that you have an interest in what you’re hearing which can once again exhibit their importance. Number ten is to switch stuff off and focus, major distractions present day include phones, computers, pagers, etc., but by turning off these distractions, you are once again giving the person your undivided attention. Next, ask them to say it again for effect, because this can avoid confusion by simply asking the speaker to rephrase what they have said, which can also deepen your understanding of the conversation. Lastly, prepare for action, because by listening effectively to others, there is better chance that they will listen to you, thus building trust in the relationship and giving you support in critical times of need. The article ends by talking about the main benefit of effective listening – the improvement to your leadership skills which is inevitably an advantage to everyone who you are in charge of. 

For the week of November 26th.

Article # 6 – 7 Habits of Highly Effective Freelancers

“7 Habits of Highly Effective Freelancers” (http://www.forbes.com/sites/susannahbreslin/2012/11/11/7-habits-of-highly-effective-freelancers/) is an article basically outlines 7 suggested habits for freelancers to adopt in order to increase productivity and improve overall work quality. The first habit is to start early, which, according to the article, allows you to accomplish more because your brain is at its best in the morning. The second is to always be pitching, which means that you should always be selling yourself and your brand image. Habit number 3 is to create your space, meaning your office space should be somewhere designed for you to be productive. The fourth habit is to diversify yourself, because defining and letting the world know who you are help build your image. Number five reminds you to negotiate and to never settle for less than your worth. Habit number six is to mingle or to network, because it not only allows you to work with other leaders, but also allows you to earn money through networking. The last habit is to “get a life”, because working too much can lead to less productivity as a result of burn out, and taking breaks to do what you enjoy can improve work quality. The combination of these habits can allow oneself to become a more effective freelancers and therefore a better leader.

For the week of November 19th